A New Zombie Horror Novel
Available in Summer 2009

I pulled a cigarette from the soft pack in my shirt pocket, and lit it with a Zippo. Inhaling sharply, then let the cloud of smoke blow slowly out of my lungs, I stared at the kitchen wall in utter abject misery. "Shit!" I muttered under my breath.

I knew I was meeting Geraldine at High Heath for our special night. We'd been together for a year, and I had booked the best room in the Hotel to celebrate. Mrs. Paterson had even gotten in a few special bottles of Champagne for us to take to our boudoir. I knew I was being a pig, but somehow being mad at Margery made it easier for me to carry on with the deceit. But the arguments always got me down terribly.

In retrospect, I think this was my conscience telling me I was to blame; but at the time, I needed to remind myself what a travesty my marriage to Margery truly was, and propagating the fights was my way of convincing myself I was actually the injured party.

I remember popping upstairs to Pauline's room to check in on her and seeing if she was all right.

The room smelled of Vic and rolled up balls of snotty tissues. My daughter was wrapped up in her favourite duvet watching her portable flat screen TV. When talking about my daughter, the old nursery rhyme always comes aptly to mind. "When she was good, she was very very good. But when she was bad she was horrid." This day, weak from coughing and tired from lack of sleep, she looked so sick and feeble; my heart went out to her.

"How you doing little champ?" I smiled.

"Getting better I suppose, Daddy.... Mummy says I can have a puppy when I'm better." Her eyes were full of hope and excitement. I pushed back the sudden flush of annoyance I felt at her Mother (Margery knew I was allergic to dogs) and smiled down at her.

"Well, we'll have to see wont we." I kissed her on the forehead and pulled her covers up slightly higher. She stared up at me with just her eyes and nose peeking out. "Can I Daddy, can I... pleeeease?"

We'd been here before, and the answer was always the same. But this time, perhaps I was still feeling a bit guilty, I replied. "When you're better okay."

The happy smile which played across her face was a picture. Her sore red nose wrinkled into her freckles, and she reached forward and gave me a big hug. For just a moment I loved her very dearly, and found myself regretting not having spent as much time with her as I should. Amidst a fit of fresh coughing, I extricated myself from her room; accidently knocking my head on a seagull mobile dangling from the ceiling. This made the plastic birds flap their wings as though they were giving me a round of applause... like a judgmental fanfare from a flock of critical onlookers."You're the best, Daddy." My little girl called out to me. And when I closed the door behind me, that was the last time I ever saw her alive again.

© 2008, Stephen A Gilbert