I’m not afraid of flying. Better put, I’m not afraid of flight, but I don’t particularly like being stuck in a metal tube with a bunch of other humans breathing the same air and having far too many elbows. My daughter, for example, is positively made out of them. And it’s not even so much the usual blah-de-blah about crying babies and pretzels and halitosis as it is plane travel post 9/11. And that isn’t even my fear of terrorists – I think Flight 93 pretty definitively showed that no hijack could ever work that way again – as it is my fear of all of the other assholes on the plane thinking about 9/11 and how they’re going to jump up and save the day, or even worse, that they are going to preempt them terrorists by being the worst people ever. It wasn’t much after 9/11, when feelings were obviously much hotter, when a red-faced dickhead with delusions of USMC browbeat my teenage step-brother to the point of tears because my step-brother wasn’t following Mr. Angry White Man’s codes of conduct. Apparently, dangerous devices such as ipods, even when they are allowed by the flight crew, should be put away to make every paranoid jerk more comfortable. The worst thing about about it was that absolutely no one stood up to this dick. Oorah.
So, a collection of short stories that opens with a zombie outbreak on a plane and involves a number of other mass transit zombie outbreak situations that are similarly public-yet-confined is absolutely perfect reading for a plane flight on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I probably would never have read this had my daughter not completely commandeered my ereader on the way back, leaving me stuck reading whatever random kindle freebie I downloaded whenever ago off my phone, but it turned out okay for me. None of these stories are going to be anthologized anytime soon – these aren’t notable examples of the short story form at all – but they certainly got the job done for me in the creeping dread in public department. Good job, me. Excellent timing.
These stories are apparently vignettes of people glimpsed in the full length LZR-1143 novels – which, I might add, is a terrible name for a novel, as it is impossible to remember – and as such, limits the snap of wondering whether these cats are going to survive. Despite some really bad scene transitions – like, really bad – I probably liked the boy’s narrative the best. The boy had enough lightly-touched backstory and teen survivalist goodness, in addition to an upsetting restraint when it came to the gore – sometimes things are worse if you can’t see them – to feel deeper than its short pages. The fry cook pulls off a pretty nice zombie joke in its opening scene – omg, the lunch rush is like zombies – and the one about the pilot is fine. I also liked the businessman on the DC subway story, partially because I read it on the DC metro schwink schwink schwink. The sniper story I could take or leave, and the inmate one is terrible, just terrible. I’m on the fence whether to bother with the full novels – and I get the impression this freebie is there to entice me into them – but maybe the next time I travel I’ll give it a shot.
So, I made it through both flights with neither zombie outbreak nor blowhard dickhead ruining my fragile calm, my luggage was not lost because I didn’t check it, and I got to see the Smithsonian. Oh, and here’s a pro-tip: if arrivals is totally full up with holiday travelers, call your ride and have him meet you up on departures, which will have that empty, garbage-spinning-in-the-wind feel about it, so you can make your clean getaway once the outbreak begins. You’re welcome.