Title: Secret of the Corpse Eater (Undertakers 3
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Author: Ty Drago
The Corpses are up something.
U.S. Senator Lindsay Micha had been kidnapped and replaced with a “dead” ringer, the sister to Lilith Cavanaugh, the Queen of the Dead. Now Will Ritter must go undercover in our nation’s capital to ferret out the truth and try to stop this ambitious deader. But his mission becomes even more dangerous when he learns of a mysterious ten-legged monster that prowls the halls of the Capitol Building — a lethal monster with a taste for Corpse flesh.
Can such an alien “enemy of his enemy” truly become Will’s friend?
Guest Post by Ty Drago:
The Idea Machine.
That's what I call it: The churning, roiling “mechanism” inside my head that keep spitting out stories. Sometimes, the Idea Machine misses the mark, dropping a theme into my lap that leads nowhere. Other times, better times, it produces something with which I can work. With which I can run.
My middle grade horror series, “The Undertakers,” is one such something. And, in this particular instance, the Idea Machine used for its raw materials — my childhood.
I've been a storyteller all my life. In fact, I have the old photos to prove it. In them, a fat little kid is sitting in the middle of the living room rug with a piece of paper and a crayon and his tongue stick out the corner of his mouth, scribbling. Afterward, I'm told, I would hold up the fruits of my long labors and yell something akin to “Cow!” And my parent, may they rest in peace, would smile and fuss and wonder what on Earth I was trying to say tell them.
But in my head, you see, I was telling a story.
By the time I was eight, I'd graduated to the creation of badly drawn comic books.Really badly drawn comic books. These I shared with the kids in the neighborhood. All of them were centered around a group of child superheroes that I invented called “The Kid Kidets.” Kidets was spelled as it was because, well, I was eight and didn't know any better.
The Kid Kidets had all the typical superpowers. Some could fly, while others movews things with their minds, or controlled the weather, or fired flames from their fists, or did some other such thing. Their secret HQ was a huge building deep below the ice of Antarctica (I still don't know why!) and, whenever trouble brewed, this entire installation would come crashing up through the ice and the Kid Kidets, led by the intrepid brother and sister team of Tom and Sharyn Jefferson, would sally forth into the world to right all wrongs.
This went on for years — hundreds of badly drawn comic books.
Until, one day, the Kid Kidets inevitably faced a villain whom they could not defeat. I grew up. And I forgot about them. In fact, I forgot about them for almost thirty years.
Then one day in the mall, my then twelve-year-old son Andy asked me, “Why don't you ever write a book for my age group?” This, I thought, was a rather interesting notion. So I started up the Idea Machine.
Over the next few days, it did its thing, churning out one idea after another, none of which seemed workable.
Then I remembered the Kid Kidets. Not the superpowers, Antarctic installation nonsense, but the notion of a child army, a fighting force composed strictly of kids fighting a war that only they can fight — because only they know it's even happening. A good notion. A strong notion. A workable notion.
But still only half an idea. For what good is the hero without the villain?
So the Idea Machine churned on, this time pondering the question: Who will my child army fight?
And perhaps because the Kid Kidets were comic books, I gravitated at first toward comic book bad guys. The problem was that, even as a child, I never understoodcomic book bad guys.
As a boy I read a lot of comic books, which I suppose is why I ended up writing them. Back then, I was a big DC fan. Superman. Batman. Green Lantern. Not Aquaman; he's lame. But their villains always confused me. Take the Joker for example. A scary guy, sure. But he never won. Never. In every month's issue, the Joker who have an evil plan, Batman would find him, beat the crap out of him and throw him in jail. Then, in the next month's issue, he'd get out and launch another evil plan, Batman would find him, beat the crap out of him and throw him in jail. And so forth. It got such that, as a ten-year-old, I started feeling sorry for the guy. I wanted to take the Joker aside as a friend and say, “Dude...you suck at this. The score's Batman 750, Joker 0. Maybe you should considering selling shoes!”
So I turned instead to the classic villains. Vampires. But did we really need another vampire book? They're out there by the scores: good vampires, bad vampires, teenage vampires, old vampires, young vampires, sparkly vampires. Enough.
I then considered werewolves. Here's the thing: I like werewolves. But I like them as good guys. I've always wanted to be a werewolf. I mean, who wouldn't? As a kid, I used to go outside and stand in my backyard under the full moon, spread my arms and close my eyes and think “Come on!” Of course, it never happened. I did get hairier as I got older, but I'm pretty sure that's something else.
Then I thought about zombies.
Zombies are cool. Zombies are disgusting. Zombies have parts falling off them, their eyes are dangling out of their sockets, and they have bugs crawling under their skin. Seriously, Zombies are awesome.
Okay then: a child army battling an invasion of zombies...that only they know about.
Well now, that just doesn't work. After all, were there a zombie invasion, chances are we adults might notice!
And therein lies the problem with zombies as villains, a problem that is demonstrated in all the movies and books, graphic novels and television shows, including “The Walking Dead.” And that problem is this: zombies are really, really stupid. And slow. It's almost as if the characters should be saying, “Oh no! There's a zombie chasing us! We'd better...walk a little faster!”
There's no getting around it. Zombies are moaning, shuffling morons.
But what if they weren't? What if they were smart? And fast. And organized. What if when you looked at a zombie, he looked right back at you. What if when you said “hello” to a zombie, he said “hello” right back — just before he went for your throat? And what if they had some means to disguise the fact that they were dead, some sort of illusion that made them appear living and normal, an illusion powerful enough to spread to photographs and video, even to fingerprints?
And what if the only people would could somehow penetrate this illusion was my child army?
And so, the Undertakers were born. Led, as their precursors were, by a brother/sister team named Tom and Sharyn Jefferson, the Undertakers are teen and preteen runaways who've had to flee their homes and families. Each of them started seeing “Corpses” — you never call them zombies! — and, when no one would believe them, and when the Corpses began to hunt them, were forced to run.
They've banded together in Philadelphia, the source of the invasion. And there they've become a fighting force. They've learned that the Corpses, alien invaders who animate and occupy the bodies of the recently dead, are slowing infiltrating American society. Corpses are policemen, teachers, even politicians. And when they find a “Seer,” a kid who can penetrate their carefully crafted illusion, then they kill that kid, and quite possibly his or her whole family.
The Corpses are well-organized, powerful, and utterly ruthless.
The only fly in their ointment, the only bug in their machine, is the Undertakers. Well hidden, these intrepid young heroes strike at the invaders from any angle, foiling plans, rescuing endangered Seers, and trying to make the world understand the danger. They're alone, outnumbered and outgunned. And they're our only hope.
The third book in the Undertakers Series is “Secret of the Corpse Eater,” and it's being released by Month9Books on March 25, 2014. There will be two more installments.
You gotta love the Idea Machine, don't you?
In addition to the first two books in UNDERTAKERS series, RISE OF THE CORSPES and QUEEN OF THE DEAD, Ty Drago is the author of PHOBOS, a Science Fiction whodunit and THE FRANKLIN AFFAIR, an historical/mystery about Benjamin Franklin. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues, including the 2009 anthology YESTERDAY, I WILL ..., and he has written articles for WRITERS DIGEST. His first UNDERTAKERS novelette, NIGHT OF MONSTERS, is currently available for FREE on Smashwords.com and barnesandnoble.com.