GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter
by C. A. Verstraete
Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C. A. Verstraete is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Every family has its secrets ...
One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become ... zombies?
Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.
Q. You saw his face covered with blood?
A. Yes sir.
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you see his eyeball hanging out?
A. No sir.
A. No sir.
Q. Did you see the gashes where his face was laid open?
A. No sir.
A. No sir.
—Lizzie Borden at inquest, August 9-11, 1892, Fall River Courtroom
August 4, 1892
Lizzie Borden drained the rest of her tea, set down her cup, and listened to the sound of furniture moving upstairs. My, my, for only ten o’clock in the morning my stepmother is certainly energetic. Housecleaning, already?
For a moment, Lizzie forgot her plans to go shopping downtown. THUMP. There it went again. It sounded like her stepmother was rearranging the whole room. She paused at the bottom stair, her concern growing, when she heard another thump and then, the oddest of sounds—a moan. Uh-oh. What was that? Did she hurt herself?
“Mrs. Borden?” Lizzie called. “Are you all right?”
She wondered if her stepmother had taken ill, yet the shuffling, moving, and other unusual noises continued. Lizzie hurried up the stairs and paused outside the partially opened door. The strange moans coming from the room sent a shiver up her back.
Lizzie pushed the door open wider and stared. Mrs. Abby Durfee Borden stood in front of the bureau mirror, clawing at her reflected image. And what a horrid image it was. The sixty-seven-year-old woman’s hair looked like it had never been combed and stuck out like porcupine quills. Her usually spotless housedress appeared wrinkled and torn. Yet, that wasn’t the worst. Dark red spots—Blood, Lizzie’s mind whispered—dotted the floor and streaked the sides of the older woman’s dress and sleeves.
Lizzie gazed about the room in alarm. The tips of Father’s slippers peeking out from beneath the bed also glistened with the same viscous red liquid. All that blood! What happened here? What happened?
She gasped, which got the attention of Mrs. Borden, who jerked her head and growled. Lizzie choked back a cry of alarm. Abby’s square, plain face now appeared twisted and ashen gray. Her eyes, once bright with interest, stared from under a milky covering as if she had cataracts. She resembled a female version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Another growl and a moan, and the older woman lunged, arms rigid, her stubby hands held out like claws.
“Mrs. Borden, Abby!” Lizzie yelled and stumbled backward as fast as she could. “Abby, do you hear me?”
Her stepmother shuffled forward, her steps slow but steady. She showed no emotion or sense of recognition. The only utterances she made were those strange low moans.
Lizzie moved back even further, trying to keep some distance between her and Mrs. Borden’s grasping fingers. Then her foot hit something. Lizzie quickly glanced down at the silver hairbrush that had fallen to the floor. Too late, she realized her error.
“No!” Lizzie cried out at the strange feeling of her stepmother’s clammy, cold hand around her wrist. “Abby, what happened? What’s wrong with you?”
Mrs. Borden said nothing and moved in closer. Her mouth opened and closed, revealing bloodstained teeth.
“No! Stay away!” Lizzie yelled. “Stop!”
She didn’t. Instead, Mrs. Borden scratched and clawed at her. Lizzie leaned back, barely escaping the snap of the madwoman’s teeth at her neck.
“Mrs. Bor—Abby! No, no! Stop!”
Lizzie’s slight advantage of a few inches in height offered no protection against her shorter stepmother’s almost demonic and inhuman strength. The older woman bit and snapped like a rabid dog. Lizzie struggled to fight her off, and shoved her away, yet Mrs. Borden attacked again and again, her hands grabbing, her teeth seeking the tender flesh covered by Lizzie’s long, full sleeves.
The two of them grappled and wrestled, bumping into the bedposts and banging into furniture. Lizzie yelped each time her soft flesh hit something hard. She felt her strength wane as the crazed woman’s gnarled hands clawed at her. Lizzie wondered how much more she could endure.
Lizzie’s cries for help came out hoarse and weak. “Em-Emma!” She tried again. “Help! Help me!” She knew Emma had come in late last night from her trip out of town. But if Emma already woke and went downstairs, will she even hear me?
Lizzie reeled back, her panic growing as her spine pressed against the fireplace. She pushed and fought in an attempt to keep this monster away, yet Mrs. Borden’s ugly face and snapping teeth edged closer and closer.
Then Lizzie spotted it: the worn hatchet Father had left behind after he’d last brought in the newly chopped wood. No, no! Her mind filled with horror, but when her stepmother came at her again, Lizzie whispered a prayer for forgiveness and grabbed the handle. She lifted the hatchet high overhead and swung as hard as she could. It hit her stepmother’s skull with a sickening thud.
As impossible as it seemed, Mrs. Borden snarled and continued her attack.
Lizzie hit her again, and again, and again. The blows raked her stepmother’s face and scraped deep furrows into tender flesh. The metal hatchet head pounded her stepmother’s shoulders and arms, the bones giving way with sickening crunches. Mrs. Borden’s broken arms dangled, hanging limp and ugly at her sides… and yet, dear God, yet she continued her attack.
With the last bit of her strength, Lizzie raised the hatchet again and brought it down on Mrs. Borden’s head. Only then did her stepmother crumple and fall into a pile at Lizzie’s feet.
It took a few minutes for Lizzie to comprehend the horrible scene. It didn’t seem real, but it was. With a cry, she threw the bloodied hatchet aside. She gagged as the weapon caught in the braided artificial hairpiece hanging from the back of Mrs. Borden’s gore-encrusted scalp.
Retching, Lizzie ran to the other side of the bed, bent over, and vomited into the chamber pot. She crossed the room and leaned against the wall, her shoulders shaking with each heart-rending sob.
Her hands trembled so hard she could barely hold them still, but she managed to cover her eyes in a feeble attempt to block out the carnage. It didn’t stop the horrific images that flashed in her mind, or the many questions. And it certainly did nothing for the soul-crushing guilt that filled her.
Why? she cried. Why? Dear God, what have I done? What have I done?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"... When you add the current zombie apocalypse craze to the ever-enduring interest in the Borden cold case murder mystery, you have something as fresh as a brand new laceration for horror devotees ..." ~ Deborah Allard, Fall River, Mass. Herald News
"In this fun, undead-filled and intriguing re-telling, Lizzie appears as not a murderess or a victim, but the hero. I really enjoyed this outlook on Lizzie's story with a fascinating blend of historical fiction and zombies!" ~ Stephanie's Book Reviews
"I loved this book! It was unlike any other zombie tale I've read and I thoroughly enjoyed it." ~ ClaireRees, Girl-Who-Reads.com
"I had so much fun reading this book! Lizzie is a strong willed heroine who must help solve the mystery of what is causing the zombie outbreak and how her father was involved, all while trying to stay out of prison. I loved her bad-assitude and take charge manner as she learns how to deal with the ever rising zombie threat." ~ Horror Maiden Reviews
"A nice combination of history and science fiction, with a healthy dose of zombies and gore." ~ S.J. Guynn, ZombiesandToys.com
Guest Post by the Author
Getting into Zombies
Thanks for letting me come visit your blog.
Let’s face it. Zombies can be pretty disgusting. All that gore and blood and stuff.
If you’re a horror buff, then the ghastly, horrible parts - the things that make you jump and scream and cover your eyes - are why you read or watch. It’s why some of us (yeah, me) like to ride in the front seat of roller coasters, I guess.
We like being scared.
Okay, not heart-pounding real life scared like in a disaster or a dangerous event, or being chased or confined by a real-life danger.
It’s the pretend danger. It gets the adrenaline pumping. It releases the endorphins. Maybe it’s that there are enough of those real life dangers and horrors in life that the pretend stuff is a relief. It’s a way to cope. Not that murders or crime aren’t terrible. They are. But sometimes you want a solution. Monsters and horror give you that.
Besides, zombies are kind of fun to write. When my non-zombie-loving friend goes "eww" after reading part of the book, I know I’ve succeeded:
"It made a disgusting rasping sound, its pocked and blackened tongue wriggling from between the decayed lips like a snake."
And if that isn’t enough, here are a few more "zombie" lines from Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. Heh-heh. (Don’t read them alone. In the dark. Before you go to sleep. Or go ahead. I dare you!)
"The thing shuffled faster, dragging its boney feet across the paving stones with a sickening scrape."
"Several of the undead crouched over the remains of a few of the more unlucky students who hadn’t made it out in time." (I’ll let you discover the more gruesome end of this line for yourself.)
"It clawed at her with the two remaining fingers left on its rotted left hand."
About the Author
Christine (C. A.) Verstraete enjoys putting a bit of a "scare" in her writing. He stories have appeared in various anthologies and publications including Mystery Weekly, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Siren’s Call Magazine, and more. She also is the author of books on dollhouses and a YA novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie.
Her latest novel is Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one or two Kindle copies or one of two ebook copies of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C. A Verstraete.