Chapter 1

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A wide-eyed corpse gawked up at the sky. The bright sun shone down on his brown face, occasionally interrupted by the shadow of a palm leaf swinging in the light, warm breeze. He was stinking and putrid from rot. The wind picked up becoming strong and forceful, blowing the wisp of hair he had left to one side. His skin was dark and his clothing was leafy and stark, typical of the natives of this tropical island off the coast of Haiti. His entire body was withered and parched from exposure to the elements.

He appeared mummified, just like you'd expect of any other dead body left in the harsh tropical elements with the exception that it was moving. The corpse was walking, shambling down the beach, eyes fixed on the sky and swaying palm trees. The beauty of the tropical paradise, complete with salt water lapping the white sand beach of the shore was lost on the creature. The expression on the shambling creature's face looked slightly confused, maybe about his condition, perhaps about why he was consumed with such an insatiable hunger, or maybe just the chopping sound floating on the breeze, getting louder by the second. Unexpectedly, the corpse had on something unique. A bright, shining, metallic collar, foreign to the simple native. A long spike on the inside of the collar stabbed firmly into the spinal column of the shambling monster.

"Gaah?" the zombie moaned in agony.

The wump, wump, wump noise got closer and louder, recognizable to anyone who wasn't a Haitian zombie as an approaching helicopter. Soon the confused zombie's wide, dead eyes fixed upon the loud chopper as it grew in the sky. The helicopter slowly hovered above the island. The zombie simply stood and stared, mouth agape.

Someone in the helicopter was looking back.

"Damn, dirty, stinking zombies!" a dark-skinned black man wearing a com helmet and a disgusted grimace on his face said.

The man's name was Zeb and he had become a charter helicopter pilot after he took early retirement from the U.S. Air Force.

Inside the cockpit, Zeb slowly squeezed his controls, lowering the chopper as he continued to voice his disgust. A woman with dark hair and Hispanic features sat in the cargo area, her shoulder-length hair dangling over a thin turquoise tank top and cargo shorts nearly small enough to be briefs. Although the clothing did just enough to obscure her firm and gym-toned body, the shorts had enough pockets to hold all the supplies she needed to complete her job as an investigative journalist. Her name was Marija. Next to her sat a young man with fair skin and ginger hair with matching ginger beard named Jeremy. Jeremy wore more substantial cargo shorts and a T-shirt. Despite the increase in material, the shorts he wore had no hope of holding all of his supplies, not that he was too big for his clothes, he was in decent enough shape for a recent college grad who had spent equal time partying as he had studying. He needed to lug a black duffle bag, which sat on the bench next to him, to make sure he had all of the supplies needed to complete his job. Jeremy was Marija's photographer on this assignment for their employer, Timely Magazine.

Jeremy marveled at the macabre scene. The young man snapped a long telephoto lens, meant for taking high-quality photos, onto his camera and lifted it. He levelled his lens toward the zombie gawking from the beach, targeted the shambling corpse and snapped off some pictures. The zombie took up more and more of the frame in each consecutive photo as the helicopter descended to the soft, white sand.

"A whole damned island of them!" Zeb carried on.

"Eewww! They're so gross looking!" Marija chimed in.

"Call me crazy, but I think it's cool," Jeremy replied, immersed in the analysis of life around him through his lens.

Marija gave Jeremy a playful nudge and a smile.

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