So you think you want to participate in this writing collective? Here is the overview of this project:
The idea is this. Take your standard post-apocalyptic story of the zombapoocolypse milieu, following the episodic format found in recent books like World War Z and the anecdotes accompanying the practical instructions in Zombie Combat Manual. Record the last days of the final survivors. But flip it.
The standard zombie story presents a zombie archetype which is brainless, constantly searching for humans, who, upon receiving a bite, end up turning into the zombie, and joining the roving horde.
Has anyone ever wondered WHY this happens? How is it that the zombie virus turns a human being, which has about an equal chance of being good or evil, constrained by his upbringing, into a ravenous cannibal? How is it that a person’s actual moral character can change when one gets zombism? Has anyone ever really given any thought to this question? I mean, a person can die and come back to life, that is not too much of a stretch, but why is it that they come back as an automaton, dedicated either to eating the flesh of living humans, or interested in spreading the disease to those who don’t have it.
But the more interesting question is: why is that it can’t go the other way? Why do zombies have to kill without any reason? Why are they completely amoral braindead… well, zombies? Wouldn’t it be just as likely that they would become like paladins? Why wouldn’t they become moralists?
Project: Dyszombie takes these questions seriously (because, to my knowledge, nobody has really asked them before now.) The Project proposes a new archetype of zombie, the “dyszombie” or anti-zombie.
Here then is the project: suppose a standard zombapocolypse started, but instead of turning the dead into murderous cannibals, they turned into moralists. They would still hate the non-infected, because they would see these people as plagues in the world, preventing them from establishing a utopia, and would set about to kill the uninfected or turn them into dyszombies. In a sense, the disease was enlightenment, and the dyszombie sees the uninfected individual as a monster that needs to be exterminated. In the end it is the same as the regular zombapocolypse: a few survivors against the hordes of infected trying to kill them, in a world which no longer resembles “normalcy”. But the story is that the survivors are actually the “bad” guys (though they don’t know it, and certainly don’t think of themselves in that way), and the dyszombies are the “good” guys (who kill to rid the world of wickedness, though they also most certainly do not know it…). This sort of flips the traditional zombie script upside down.
The story would revolve around several episodes written by survivors (that is, the people who didn’t turn for some reason or another), and compiled and edited by myself. The secret is, “I” (or the fictional editor of this collection) am one of the dyszombies that discovered this collection of accounts of the survivors after the last of them have been exterminated, a twist that will be revealed at the endof the compilation. By the time this is revealed, the last of the uninfected had long been wiped out, and the disease which took hold of the dyszombie’s mind has run its course, leaving a population of ultra-moral super healthy, but now conscientious and aware people who are confused and left without any sort of idea of how the world got this way, or what they are as a people. Of course the uninfected don’t know any of this will occur: The last of them are wiped out long before this ever happens.
I (the real me) have provided the “official” history of the dyszombie apocalypse, which I will call “The awakening”. Each individual account flows from what little is actually known about the Dyszombie, including the Field Report on the Character of the ADZ infected human. Each of the submitted accounts will tell the tale of the individual as the world they once knew collapsed around them and the dyszombies grew in number and began hunting the survivors one by one.
If you join the project, your role is to submit accounts to this project.
First, read what has already been submitted on the milieu.
Second, begin writing. These are tales of survival in a world which has gone completely bonkers. Your writing should be with the aim of producing between 2000 and 4000 word account, in whatever style you like (could be like a set of journal entries, or a blood-soaked final account, or a tactical document outlining your character’s initiative to take back a village which is written right before he/she dies in such an attempt… The point is that people have different natural writing styles, and our goal is to tap into that, as well as provide content. This is why a community based approach is necessary.) that covers your character’s attempt to survive, and additionally, something that may lead to your character’s ultimate death.
The tale should be first person, and should end shortly before your main character’s imminent doom. It also may be like in a modified third person, like “I once knew this fellow, and he wanted to make sure I put his story down on paper. He is dead now, and I am keeping a promise."
Make sure you follow the rules of the milieu. Those submissions that fail to follow those guidelines will be rejected from publication.
Your account can be set anywhere in time (within the constraints of the milieu), but must end during the four or so years before and during the "Awakening” of the dyszombie and the ultimate end to the type of human we are (including maybe two years or so before the outbreak).
It can also include tales of the “Awakening” where survivors have launched a coordinated assault on the dyszombie population, which subsequently caused the dyszombie to simultaneously switch into crazy mode and begin dismembering any human within a four block radius, and then hunt down whoever remains.
Your character(s) can be any kind of people, but the one thing they cannot be is a person with a lot of power. Like, for example, a general of one of the squads that coordinates and launches the final attack on the centers of the dyszombie. You can put your character in the army of one of those people, or even make him or her or them advisors to one of those people, but your character must not have the power to potentially determine the outcome of the story. Basically, your character must be literary fodder, destined exclusively for a bloody, miserable, and/or unreknowned death, and must only come to the full realization of the odds truly stacked against him or her in the last moments of their lives, if ever. (Sometimes, characters can and should be killed off randomly, mid story. This is completely fine.) It is not up to your character to get his or her story out. I will take care of that in the “compilation” chapter at the end of the story. Your job is simply to tell the story of your character’s life, and ultimately allude to his or her death.
Remember: Every non-infected human eventually dies. There are no survivors. Period. Nobody gets to hold out, nobody gets to witness a society where the disease has run its course. The reminiscences will be “found and compiled” by a dyszombie when they regain awareness of the world around them. By then all humans are long gone.
The stories can be kinda gory, but keep it PG-13. The focus should be on the survival aspects of the narrative, not on the gore. We can read about how your guy smashed in the head of a dyszombie without counting every piece of skull or drop of blood in detail. The tales should also occasionally exhibit a sort of macabre humor, if possible. People rarely spend their entire life in absolute dread. Most of their time is spent trying to find something to smile about. And in a situation as hopeless as this, that time is more important than ever, especially after the character gets over the initial shock of realizing that the world is over. But no gross humor, please. There is a fine line, and the kind of humor I am referring to crosses it pretty seriously. Humor should be used as a juxtaposition to the end of the world.
I will then check them for consistency with the milieu, and publish the best ones. Consistency will be determined by the milieu, which can be found by following this link.