Tamarine turned from the punch table and looked toward the surprisingly full dance floor. She squeezed her eyes shut, hoping to replace the image she had just seen with bursts of yellow light in the nothing. It didn’t work. The lights were there, but so was his hand, trailing over
Lydia’s bare shoulder. It would’ve been a tender moment, if it weren’t for the fact that Lydia had been dead three days already.
This is what‟s called a “hidden gun.” You mention there‟s walking dead, and only later on we learn the how and what. It‟s nicely done, but you need to add something here. Also, who is the male character in the line: “The lights were there, but so was his hand, trailing over Lydia‟s bare shoulder.” Personally, I think it would work better if you turn it the other way
around. That Tamarine (or Lydia) who are still human get stroked by the „boyfriend‟, and then show us what kind of sensation or emotion they feel with this touch.
There are more stages of decomposition than most people think. Over the last sixteen days, Tamarine had become personally acquainted with four.
This is superfluous. You are going to tell us anyway.
October 1 – Initial Decay ; I think you missed a period here.
Riding the bus to school was always a great way to get the day started. Lydia sat next to Tamarine, and Paul and Kevin sat opposite them in the very last seats. The four had been best friends since kindergarten when Tamarine, a mid-school transfer, was seated at their table. She fit right in with them and ever since they had been inseparable except when Kevin caught the chicken pox the others had been vaccinated against.
A comical start where we more or less forget about the inevitable going to happen: everyone will turn into living dead. Especially the chicken pox is funny.
As Tamarine made her way back to her bus seat, Kevin and Lydia were already throwing their hands up and shrugging their shoulders. Paul’s seat was empty.
“You didn’t notice he wasn’t at the stop?” she accused Kevin.
“Naw, I was late. Almost missed the bus myself.”
“Well this is a first; wouldn’t he have called one of us if he was sick?”
Lydia, the most level headed of the group, raised one eyebrow dramatically, “He’ll probably come strolling in during first period claiming aliens abducted him or something.”
I think the word level headed needs a dash instead of a space.
They spent the rest of the bus ride contemplating what the aliens would look like, and whether or not Paul had been implanted with any tracking devices, and if so, where the aliens implanted it.
To continue to “fool” the reader, you could tell us the funny things the three think off concerning the aliens. Make this funny to drive us further from the fact that they will turn into zombies later.
When Paul didn’t show up by lunch, the three turned their thoughts instead to concern.
“Don’t you think he would have called if he was just sick? I know something happened. He’s probably trapped in his house under something heavy and can’t get to a phone.”
That‟s funny, but in the time of two cell phones per person a bit unrealistic. Maybe they
can laugh about this statement.
Lydia patted her arm,” Tam, don’t be silly, I’m sure he just forgot to call or something.”
“Hmmm,” Kevin pulled at his bottom lip, “ I don’t know. In the nine years we’ve been
hanging out, not one of us has ever forgotten to call when something is up. There‟s a superfluous space between the quotation mark and I, and you need an ending
quotation mark at the end, behind up.
“I think we may have to bug out early and check his house out. “
Who is saying this? Kev still? And there‟s a superfluous space after out.
“Sounds good to me.” Tamarine leaned in close to the other two, “Besides, I don’t think I can stomach sitting next to Andrea Meers in band. She sits in front of me in Algebra, and I almost passed out from the smell.”
This is nice. But you could do a bit more unpacking. Maybe show us a class where Tam sits behind Andrea earlier this day. And, being a horror story, get on the body. Let the reader smell the stink themselves. Get on the body.
Skipping school and not getting caught was really easy as long as you got counted in the morning attendance. After that, all you had to do was slip out the back. Behind the school was heavily forested since a bunch of city engineers decided it was better to plant scores of trees in the name of beautification, than lose all that money to the roads at the beginning of the fiscal year back in 1972. In the eighties there were a rash of crimes committed right in those woods and a fence was put up between it and the school, but over time kids had pulled back fence pieces and worn a track through the forest floor that lead all the way around to Martinez Road, which was well out of sight of the school.
I think you need “it” in the sentence “Behind the school it was heavily forested […] ”
Though I think this line is a bit long and doesn‟t really add anything. You can tell it is heavily forested but the how and why isn‟t necessary.
Since so many people in the area home-schooled their kids, and Martinez Road had the best used bookstore with a huge area for kids to study and read in, it was common to see kids in groups walking along, and adults in the area never questioned why they weren’t in school.
You don‟t need the comma behind “kids.” I would start a new sentence after “read in.” This bookstore comes a bit out of nowhere. Maybe you want to weave it in somewhere earlier. Like that the three are talking about it during the bus trip.
“Oh, look, Bookstop is open. Let me just pop in to see if they have any copies of book six in
the Rick Taylor series yet.” Lydia was a hopeless book nerd and it figured that seeing the bookstore would sidetrack her from their mission of stealthily avoiding school and checking on their friend.
I don‟t think “mission” is the word you want here.
The door to the store opened and a woman stepped out into the sunshine holding her squirming young daughter’s hand. She looked dead-tired with purplish circles under her
drooping eyelids and she had pasty, chalklike skin. She looked up and smiled at the group, holding the door wider so they could pass. Tamarine looked into the woman’s pale blue eyes and got a little freaked when a fly landed on the inside corner of the woman’s right eye, who didn’t even blink, much less shoo it away.
Personally, I think using just the fly is more powerful. Let woman look perfectly healthy, maybe even over-healthy, if you know what I mean.
She grabbed Lydia’s jacket and Kevin’s hand and pulled them back before they could pass. “No thanks, we’re not going in.”’
There‟s a superfluous apostrophe at the end.
The woman nodded vaguely, let the door go, and proceeded down the sidewalk away from them. The little girl glanced back over her shoulder and shuddered.
“Come on, it’ll take just a second to ask about the book.” Lydia turned back, annoyed at her friend until she saw Tamarine’s face had gone slightly green.
I‟ve never seen a face going green. Pale would be better. And I also would like to see a better description here. How turned her face from normal to this color exactly? You need to show us these things in a horror story (at least that‟s my opinion).
Kevin saw it too, “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing, I just…I just thought,” Tamarine smiled weakly,” I just thought for second she was dead.”
Maybe not mention Tam‟s thoughts, and let her just say “Nothing.”
Lydia rolled her eyes, “Girl, you had me totally freaked out for a sec. Forget the book, let’s just go see about Paul.”
Paul’s street was right off of Martinez, and even though Martinez was a pretty commercial
road, Forest was not. All down the street trees towered two and three times as tall as the houses, sheltering them from the busy road. In the summer months, the trees provided much needed shade but this time of year, the fall, they left a mess of pine needles up and down the street. Paul was out front systematically raking pine needles toward the base of the tree in the center of his lawn.
Even though Marines was commercial, Forest was not… that doesn‟t really make sense. You‟re almost saying it is weird that Forest isn‟t commercial, but why so?
“Dude,” Kevin called when he spotted him, “What’s up? Today national blow your friends off and do yard work day or what?”
Paul turned, smiled and waved to his friends. “How are you doing today, Kevin, Tamarine,
Would normally call al your friend‟s names or just say, “How are you, guys?”
The three friends looked at each other then back at Paul. He was staring at them waiting for an answer. His hair was parted and combed. He was wearing khakis and a t-shirt, both of which looked like they had been ironed. His face was frozen in a smile, as if he was amused by their dumbfounded expressions.
“Dude, are you alright?” Kevin took a half step forward, then rescinded instead.
Lydia pushed past Kevin and continued walking toward Paul. “What Kevin means is, you don’t seem quite like yourself. Are you feeling ok?”
I don‟t know, this reaction seems weird to me.
She paused and looked back at Kevin and Tamarine, giving them the don’t-be-such-big-
babies-look she usually reserves for them when they are about to do something really stupid. As usual, it worked and they joined her on the lawn just 6 feet from the funny acting Paul.
I believe you need to write numbers below twenty full, so six instead of 6.
Now that they were closer, they could tell something was really, most definitely wrong with the boy. His skin was ashen with a greasy sheen. His lips were dry and cracked and pale purple in color. His normally chocolate eyes were a pale, yellowing, tan color. The part: “wrong with the boy.” doesn‟t work. It‟s their friend not just a boy.
Paul took a step toward the trio, “ I am doing alright. My mother let me sleep in this morning because she thought I was ill, but I feel fine now. I got bored cleaning inside the house, so I thought I would take care of this yard work she has been asking me to get to for the last three weeks.
Superfluous space between the quotation mark and I. I guess Paul normally isn‟t a guy
who cleans the house and irons his clothes. But maybe he is. We don‟t know anything
about Paul so this doesn‟t strike us as weird behavior.
“And you? You did not answer my question about how all of you are doing.”
Lydia stepped even closer to Paul, “Paul?” She reached for Paul’s arm.
Tamarine stepped forward as well. She was immediately assaulted by a putrid rotting odor that made her gag. She tried to say something to stop Lydia touching Paul’s arm, but it was too late. Lydia placed her hand on Paul’s forearm and pulled it back as if she had touched a
Unpack the smell. Unpack the feeling Lydia has after touching Paul‟s arm.
Lydia stumbled backwards and threw up on Tamarine’s boots. Kevin got to Lydia and pulled her hair back from her mouth.
Paul stepped forward too with a look of deep concern on his face. “Oh my goodness, Lydia.
Let me help you.”
The three friends looked up at Paul in shock as a blowfly crawled out of his open mouth.
Kevin grabbed Lydia and pushed her and Tamarine away from Paul. He didn’t give much more than a slight shove, but the girls needed no more than that to start running back up Forest towards Martinez Road again.
When Lydia, Kevin, and Tamarine left Paul they rushed back up to Bookstop where Mrs. Wade was sure to have a phone. When they pulled open the door to the shop, the same rotting flesh smell oozed into their nostrils. Mrs. Wade smiled and invited them in, but her normally pale-blue eyes were almost completely white now. She had to be dead too.
I want to know more about her eyes.
Everywhere the trio went to get help it was the same; all the adults along Martinez Road seemed to be dead. Finally, Lydia broke down, “They’re dead – they’re dead – they’re
dead…” she kept chanting.
Tamarine’s house was the closest. With Kevin’s help to guide Lydia they were able to get
there without seeing another dead person.
Kevin walked into Tamarine’s bedroom carrying a glass of water and some Tylenol. He’d looked in the medicine cabinet in Mrs. Wood’s bathroom hoping to find some sleeping pills or something. His mom always had a stash to help her through her migraines, but Tylenol was the strongest thing Tamarine’s mom had.
“Shhh. She’s already asleep.”
Tamarine backed out of the room and partially closed the door. She slid down the wall and started weeping. Kevin slid down next to her and put his arms around his friend.
“It’ll be alright. We’ll just wait here until it all stops. Your mom gets home at four, right? She’ll know what to do, or at least who to call if it turns out we’ve just gone looney-tunes.”
I think you need to come back to where you started. I don‟t really understand the „dance
floor‟ in the opening paragraph either. I think you should go back to paragraph one at the end where Tam is touching Lydia‟s shoulder, and shivers. Then you can end with Kevin‟s ending line.
As I said, the premise is good, but I personally think you need to engross the reader a bit more: the color of skin, the smells. Things like that.