I don’t love zombies’ stories, but I like this one because, as the Author tells, the zombies are not the main focus of the problem, only a complication. Plus, I love Atlanta and reading a book set there, even in a post pandemic fashion.
The book is The Post by Kevin A. Munoz, a Dystopian Thriller.
Ten years after
the world’s oil went sour and a pandemic killed most of the population, Sam
Edison is the chief of police of The Little Five, a walled-in community near
Atlanta, Georgia. Those who survived share the world with what are known as
hollow-heads: creatures who are no longer fully human.
A man and a pregnant teenager arrive at the gate and are welcomed into the town. They begin to settle in when suddenly both are murdered by an unknown assailant. In the course of investigation, Chief Edison discovers that the girl was fleeing a life of sexual slavery, and that some members of the Atlanta community were complicit in the human trafficking network that had ensnared her.
In retaliation for Edison’s discoveries, agents of the network abduct the stepdaughter of the town’s mayor. Chief Edison and three companions track the kidnappers to Athens, Georgia, where they discover that the entire city is engaged in human trafficking. By the time Edison has recovered the kidnapped girl, the other three rescuers have been killed, leaving Edison alone to bring the mayor’s stepdaughter home while evading both human and non-human monsters. Against such great odds, will Sam ever make it to Little Five alive?
“So it’s true? People beyond the wall? On foot?” She shoves her thick glasses back up the bridge of her nose.
“That’s what I’m told.”
“Ask them if they have any copper wire. We’re running low, and I’d really like to have spare wire in case Leuko has trouble again.” Leuko is a white Volvo station wagon. “Oh, and glow plugs. That’s what we really need. But they probably don’t have those. No one bothers to keep them around if they don’t know what they are.”
“I’ll ask, but I don’t think they came bearing car parts.” I walk more briskly, following Luther, until it occurs to Braithwaite that I’m in a hurry, and she wanders back onto her property, still asking questions but no longer directing them at me.
The tunnel is just beyond the biodiesel farm, and the tunnel wall is one third of the way through on both northbound and southbound sides. We built the wall closer to our side of the tunnel so that we would have some measure of control if any shriekers found their way here and decided to call their friends. Most days, we only get one or two hollow-heads, and if they come too close, they’re easily dispatched with arrows. There is always one rifleman from the sweep team on the wall as well, but they spend most of their days playing solitaire.
Mayor Aloysius Weeks is waiting for us with my other two officers, Pritchard and Kloves. Pritchard has about twenty years on me, but he’s a good shot. I brought him on mainly to satisfy the previous mayor’s paranoia about an invasion of the infected. Pritch has done a good job keeping the peace since then, so I haven’t seen any reason to let him go. And Augustus Kloves was my idea: a big,
powerful black man with an intimidating voice, he styles himself as my enforcer whenever someone winds up too drunk to go home quietly at three in the morning. I like to tell myself that in his
pre-collapse life he had a paradoxically benign occupation, like a certified public accountant, but it doesn’t matter. The end of the world changes a person. I’ve never seen an exception to that rule.
Mayor Weeks is Regina’s husband, but if I didn’t already know that, I would never have guessed it. Where Regina is friendly and forthcoming, Weeks is closed off, reticent. He never says anything
with ten words that he could say with none. I find this to be an admirable quality in a politician. There is a much lower risk of hearing a lie. Perhaps it comes from his time as a professor, before the collapse. He told me once that he used to teach a subject called “Southeast Asian religions.” One of his books is near the bottom of a stack I haven’t read yet.
The mayor shakes my hand as I approach the tunnel door. “A young girl, maybe fourteen, and a man. Thirties. With a shotgun.”
So that’s why I was called out here. With a few quick gestures I position Pritch and Kloves on the upper platform and Luther at the reinforced door at ground level. Pritch and Kloves make themselves
visible and draw their weapons. Once they’re in position, I spin the combination lock to the door and pull off the chain. I step through, and for the first time in what feels like ages, I am outside the Little Five.
I keep my own weapon holstered and my arms relaxed at my sides. Luther closes the door and locks it behind me. Before I approach the strangers, I scan past them at the light beyond the tunnel, checking for signs of hangers-on. Of course, if the strangers had made enough noise to be noticed by a group of hollow-heads, they wouldn’t have gotten as far as the tunnel wall. Clearly, they were careful. If there are any roaming hordes nearby, they’re here by chance alone.
“Good morning,” I say, keeping my body language as nonthreatening as possible.
Chatting with the Author
Kevin Muñoz grew up just outside of Philadelphia. After wandering across the country for a few years, he received a PhD from Emory University in 2008. A little later, he decided to leave the academic life behind to pursue his first passion: writing. He has lived in seven U.S. states over the years, observing and adopting each new place as settings and inspiration for his fiction. He spent fifteen years in Georgia, where the seeds of THE POST were planted. He now lives near Seattle with his two beagle traveling companions.
Here’s how the post came to life.
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but the “real work” of writing began in 1998 when I was 25 years old. But I didn’t start The Post until 2014, and the story of how it came to be is… well, if not interesting, then perhaps mildly amusing.
I started work on The Post as a challenge to myself. The genre isn’t one I’d worked in before, and I was curious to see what it felt like from the inside. The thing is, “zombie post-apocalyptic fiction” is a well-trod path. Most stories in the genre focus on the tropes of zombie invasion and are set during the peak of whatever precipitating disaster sets the stage for the story. There are some stories, novels, comic books and films that break the mold, however, to varying degrees. I wanted to break the mold and then grind it into powder.
The result is what I like to call a “zombie-slash-detective adventure novel” that has almost nothing to do with zombies. They are there – on the periphery, and occasionally right up in your face – but they don’t drive the story and aren’t the main antagonists the characters are facing. Some say that supernatural monsters, like vampires and werewolves and zombies, are metaphors for prosaic human evil. But human evil, I find, is more compelling than any artifice that masks the depravity in the shell of something that is very obviously not real.
The Post started as a challenge to myself, but it became something greater, more insistent, the deeper I got into it. This was a story I really wanted to tell, using all of the practice and skill I’d developed over the prior 16 years of writing. And now four years later, and a week out, I’m pretty happy with the result.
Keep in tough with Kevin here:
- Signed Copy of The Post , $20 Amazon
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