Author Archives: rchazzchute

About rchazzchute

Ex Parte Press publishes suspense, fantasy and killer thrillers. Check out your next binge read at AllThatChazz.com.

The Apocalypse Problem

There’s nothing wrong with escapist fantasy. The problem comes when we confuse reality with fiction. Some people are doing that right now. In an actual emergency, that’s dangerous.

One of my favorite reviews of This Plague of Days mentioned a scene that takes place at a mall. A large group of young people have gathered together to find shelter. What pleased the reader was that it wasn’t about kids coming together to form a Lord of the Flies situation. They’re doing their best to look out for each other. No warlords need apply. Sadly, some folks seem to be taking the wrong lessons from apocalyptic fiction.

The common fantasy goes a little something like this: My name is Dirk Badass and I’m a prepper/former Special Forces hero/king with what might as well be a castle, an infinite supply of ammo, and all the guns. All of ’em. I have no idea how to grow cabbages but I’m here for the shootin’ without regrets or consequences. Society has fallen and I am the law. Zombies are fair game. Screw all y’all! Also, anyone else trying to survive isn’t an innocent and desperate scavenger like me. They’re all looters and they’re easy targets, too. No, I can’t even spell PTSD. Why do you ask?

As I mention somewhere in This Plague of Days, reality doesn’t reflect that narrative. We came down from the trees and managed to survive many thousands of years camping without ergonomic pillows and CPAP machines because we worked together. We formed tribes that eventually became communities which evolved to countries. Like it or not, we all rely on each other. Something as simple as a #2 pencil requires resources from two or three countries.

Sure, there are a few hermits out there, but those are outliers (and tend to be crazy.) The longest surviving hermit in modern history lasted in the woods almost 30 years. He survived because he broke into other people’s cottages for supplies and shelter. Nobody’s alone, especially in a pandemic that touches everyone and everything.

On Walden Pond was a nice experiment. Henry David Thoreau had a small garden and supposedly lived off the land because he felt the most free in nature. That’s not the entire story. He managed to live there for a couple of years, but he also extolled the virtue of visiting neighbors. He found it especially nice to be social just about the time his poor neighbors were putting dinner on the table. Fans of Thoreau play down that he was a mooch. Not exactly the independent type, after Walden he became a house sitter for Emerson.

We didn’t make it as a species because we are rugged individualists. That’s almost entirely a myth. Cowboys worked farms and ranches. The Inuit worked together to survive. Even lower primates have mutually beneficial social structures. Fight alone, you die. Fight together, we have a chance. Since we’re on a war footing with COVID-19, working together is the attitude we have to take. Rambo would die quickly. Band of Brothers is a realistic military template because that’s how you really fight a war: together.

Right about now, some guy with a stack of food barrels he bought from a televangelist or Alex Jones is getting antsy.

Let’s let that guy talk

“I know how to grow my own food! I don’t need anybody!”

If you know how to grow enough food to support your family, that’s a good thing. Many preppers and doomers do miss that step. How big is your harvest? Will it come in time? Do you know how to deal with mites that rot the roots of vegetables? Do you know not to plant your squash next to your zucchini? Are you good at canning, too? Are you on the grid? Have you got a generator? How long can you keep that going if the power goes out?

“I’ll…uh… I’ll steal fuel for the generator and freeze everything!”

Not sure how long that’ll be sustainable, but try not to get shot when you go out for fuel for that generator.

“I’m not afraid! I’ve got guns!”

Other people have guns, too. But, okay, let’s assume you’re a crack shot and a little sociopathic so you don’t mind shooting your neighbors if they object to you siphoning gas. Do you sleep?

“Huh?”

If you take my means of transportation and you’re terrorizing my family with weapons, I’ll cooperate. Then I’ll come back at 3 a.m. to poison your well, steal your crops and burn your house down with you in it. Remember the cardinal rule of every zombie apocalypse: Save a bullet for yourself.

“We’ll establish a perimeter! We’ll have guards.”

Sounds like a big operation. You’re going to need more crops and more scavengers to meet everyone’s needs.

“Then we’ll do that.”

So you’ll have a community.

“A small community, like the Amish. They don’t have to pay taxes. I like that. They seem to do fine.”

Yeah, living Amish could be…interesting, I guess? Here’s something I know having worked with a Mennonite community much like the Amish: When their kids get tumors, they step out of the 18th Century and head for the hospital. How are you set for medicines, hypothetical prepper guy?

“I took first aid in Boy Scouts. We’ll be fine.”

“Excellent! Everyone should have first aid training. How are you set for root canals? Or prostate cancer?”

“Uh…I guess we’ll have to take medical personnel into our community.”

By force?

“If necessary. It’s a survival situation! Anything goes! We do what it takes!”

For a guy so concerned with freedom…never mind. Cool, cool, cool. Who’s going to do the blood tests? Got a lab in the back forty? Where you going to get the MRI machine and the dude who fixes the MRI machine? You’re going to need medical supplies at some point. Everybody does.”

“We’ll get everything we need to survive.”

Uh-huh. So you’ll need to establish some kind of set up so somebody can take care of your kids and your grandchildren and teach others how to set a bone and pull teeth without the anaesthesia that mostly comes from China.

“Like I said, whatever it takes, smartass. We’ll gather everyone with the skill sets we need.”

I see. Like the civilization we have now?

Harumph. I’m starting to think you’re weak and not in the survival mindset. Stop it. Alarmists are tools of the establishment.”

I wonder what establishment you mean, but I want to be fair. This is not the apocalypse you were prepping for. You talked a lot of shit about fighting back against the federal government that was supposed to take your guns away. Obama didn’t and now you’re…what? Pissed at the new government that’s not trying to take your guns away? Conflict is your thing, man, but who’s making you a victim?

“It’s about freedom! For instance, me and mine protested forced house arrest so we could go out.”

That’s not what house arrest is, but even if it were, you got so angry because you wanted to go get haircuts. Gotta be honest, that doesn’t sound very badass.

“We don’t like being stuck inside. That’s no way to live.”

Dying on a ventilator is no way to live. You do want to protect you and yours, right? That’s what the guns are for, I guess.

“You betcha!”

You can’t shoot a virus so I guess the guns are to intimidate…who? Cops working crowd control and issuing citations? I thought you were pro-police.

“We carry guns to defend ourselves, from whoever.”

Protection. That’s what all that canned soup in your basement is for, too, right? In case the food supply chain breaks down, I think having food set aside as backup is a good idea. I’m starting a garden. That said, you know governments are asking you to isolate for your protection.

“I’m uncomfortable that you’re agreeing with me on anything so I’ll move the goalposts back and say this virus is a hoax and I need to work to eat.”

Second thing, first. I understand not having money set aside for emergencies. I’m not rich, like, at all. Huge companies claim to have nothing set aside for a rainy day, so why should people like you and me? I sympathize with that problem. How about we take 90% of the money that goes to the Pentagon and save every citizen of the USA, starting with you.

“Communism!”

Enlightened Socialism. The threat is disease and economic collapse, not terrorists. More terrorists are getting killed by COVID-19 right now, not drones.

“I don’t believe in handouts.”

“It’s almost May 1st. How are you going to make rent? That $1,200 bucks that’s coming should help, right?”

“My sister got her check but it’s already gone for essentials. I haven’t got my check yet. I didn’t file taxes in time so I might never get it.”

I am sorry to hear that. I’ve got a lot of friends in the same situation. That $1,200 sure won’t last ten weeks like they said, huh? How about another emergency stimulus check to stop you from becoming homeless? I don’t want you to starve. For everyone’s sake, testing and treatment should be provided free of charge to the individual.

“A check would be helpful but the government doesn’t move that fast and probably won’t do it. Besides, how are they gonna pay for it? Freedom ain’t free.”

By reallocating tax dollars. Social programs aren’t free and no one ever said they were. It’s about getting your money’s worth from the taxes you pay. I have to say, you’re a very good person.

(Eyes me suspiciously) “Yeah? How’s that, libtard?”

You have to be a very good person to be so concerned about how the government is going to pay for your bailout.

Whut?

I mean, it’s so selfless. You’re willing to go homeless and starve rather than let anyone help you. Is that pride? I want you to know, I don’t look down on anyone who needs help. Mega-corporations don’t get embarrassed for all the tax breaks and assistance they get, so we shouldn’t feel bad. Everybody needs help now and then.

“Don’t talk down to me! Obama — “

Obama’s not in charge. Hasn’t been for years.

“China — “

Covered up how bad things were, but they weren’t the only government to downplay the danger of a worldwide pandemic, were they? (Smiles.)

“The media — “

Also not in charge of the pandemic response.

(Prepper Guy mumbles inaudibly and curses.)

I guess we could wait for the billionaires to save us. They’ve got plenty of spare money to fund research, expand research, supply PPE, ramp up testing —

Prepper Guy laughs. “Never gonna happen. No such thing as spare money to those people.”

You’re right, Prepper Guy. Those same people want you to rush back out to feed the economy, especially the funeral home industry, I guess. Sounds like we actually need to pool our money and use government in an organized way to get things done. It’s possible. Other governments have been successful in curbing COVID-19 death rates.

“Yeah? Name one.”

New Zealand.

“Shit. I heard about that. Name two more.”

Germany and Cuba.

“IT’S ALL A HOAX!”

Oh, yeah, We were going to get back to that, weren’t we? Dude, if you honestly think the world pandemic is a hoax, I am sorry. Are you also a Flat Earther? Did you not see the chaos in Italy? If it’s a grand conspiracy, what’s the goal? I don’t understand why all these doctors and nurses would cooperate with that and keep the plot a secret. Surely, these can’t all be crisis actors.

“The plan is to make my president look bad!”

The same president who hasn’t expressed a word of condolence to the victims and their families? The guy who ignored repeated warnings from the intelligence community and tried to wish it away? The leader who never says sorry and blames everyone but himself?

“Saying that stuff would imply guilt!”

Gee, I wonder why that would be?

(Pauses. Eye widen.) “Shut up.”

The same guy who, in the middle of a horrific crisis, mused about injecting disinfectants? And then claimed it was sarcasm? Even if that were true, doesn’t riffing about this to bait the media on a national stage make it worse that he did that? Do you really think now, when you and your family is in danger is a time to joke around, just to see what would happen? I don’t think now, with 56,000 dead Americans and more to come, is the best time to yuk it up.

“Okay, people are dying but more people die of other things!”

Shouldn’t we try to prevent death, though? Isn’t that what governments do? To work for the national defense to protect their citizens? I thought you were a pro-life kind of guy. Suppose you choose which of your loved ones will perish. You don’t want to be that guy. You’re better than that.

“If we all stay inside, we’ll all starve to death.”

False choice. That’s what the bailouts are for. When a ship is sinking, you bail it out. I know this isn’t easy and there aren’t a lot of choices. When the options suck, you choose what’s least damaging. If you get a flat tire, you don’t shoot the other three.

“But, stupid, if everybody keeps in isolation, the economy will go in the shitter.”

You could give everyone the all-clear today, but not many people will go out tomorrow. Telling people it’s safe isn’t enough. It actually has to be safe.

“The president says we’re doing the most testing in the world. #1!”

You’re #41 in testing across the world. To reopen the economy, the science says test and contract trace so the contagion doesn’t spread.

“This is all nonsense. You just want me to be scared. I’ll go out.”

That won’t save us from another depression. Your way, more people die a horrible death and the economy implodes, anyway. I’m worried you’ll make other people sick and spread the disease, starting with your own family. I guess that’s the difference between you and me.

“Oh? How do you figure?”

You don’t care about my life but I want to save yours, because we’re all in this together. The virus doesn’t care who you vote for, but it does hit the poor and otherwise disadvantaged harder. Plus, I’ve got some dangerous comorbidities going on.

“Don’t be silly. I’m not trying to kill you– “

But you don’t care if I die. I don’t think you want to commit murder on a mass scale. You’re not evil. You’re just misguided by people who don’t care about you. You follow people who don’t care about you and I worry you’ll only realize it on your deathbed. Or at a memorial service for people you care about.

“It appears this hypothetical conversation has played out.” (Crosses arms.) “I’m not going to admit I’m wrong.”

That is the pattern. Look, I only mean well. I don’t expect you to admit you’re wrong, certainly not to me. By now, you hate me. If it makes you feel better and less invested, I don’t need your capitulation. Just please think about it and consider what’s more likely. If you don’t have empathy, no one can teach you that. But look at it as self-interest: It would really stick it to your perceived enemies if you lived.

Please note: Though a fiction that will probably only make the like-minded nod, Prepper Guy is a composite of many people I’ve observed in comment threads on Twitter and Facebook. I wish them well and hope they get the help they need.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute, author of two zombie apocalypse trilogies, This Plague of Days and AFTER Life. I’ve written a bunch of killer crime thrillers and novels about the end of the world. My latest, Citizen Second Class, pits the rich against the poor in the hellscape of Atlanta.

Check out all my books at my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Further Recommended Links

Podcast listening:

COVID Tests are free, except when they’re not

Like a fire with no one to call

If I get COVID-19, what good will my insurance do me?

Why Fear-based Democracies Aren’t Free

Reading:

5 Common Beliefs That Make Disasters Worse

What good and bad people have in common



My Review of Weep

Just a few minutes ago, I finished a zombie novel set in Ireland. I was unfamiliar with the author, Eion Brady. However, since I’m currently writing a prequel to This Plague of Days that’s set in Ireland, I dove in. I’m so glad I did.

Weep has something in common with This Plague of Days, Season One. I loved that Mr. Brady takes us from normal living to the depths of the Irish epidemic of “weepers” in the first book of this series. As much as I loved 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead, both begin with a coma patient waking up to the zombie disaster. I realize conventional wisdom is to “come in late” and begin in media res. However, in showing how a society breaks down, there’s a lot of interesting territory to explore.

Mr. Brady leaves no stone unturned in regard to civilization’s collapse. Fin, the main character, is no superman. He’s got a regular job working at a hotel. Unfamiliar with weapons, he’s not in great shape, either. His journey is mostly an attempt to avoid trouble and get back to his family despite huge obstacles. Many books in this genre are simply killing sprees, less concerned with infection and more about emptying the business end of machine guns. The author is astute in hampering his protagonists. They’re unprepared so they have to improvise. Each narrow escape is well-earned.

There are lots of good ideas to deal with the apocalypse, too. What about evading detection with a ghillie suit? Or trashing the first floor of your safehouse and fortifying the attic? That way, other survivors will think all’s been looted so they pass you by? Other survivors can be just as deadly as the weepers.

As the dread builds, the author fleshes out his world with many savvy details. Mr. Brady has a fine eye for evocative descriptions. For instance, when the good guys are trapped in the upstairs of a house and the infected are coming, Fin notes the family pictures on the wall beside the stairs. Makes you think of your grandmother’s house, doesn’t it? Or possibly your own house. There’s some gore, but I didn’t find it particularly unrealistic or overdone. Whether it’s zombies in a thick fog or clumping along a riverbank, several scenes induce the claustrophobia of an intelligent horror movie.

I appreciate any author who contextualizes the fantastic with real-world experience. I try to do that in my own work. Suspension of disbelief is easy here because Brady doesn’t skip over the psychological devastation of enduring the horrors of the epidemic. The fear of infection and the measures taken to avoid contamination are particularly salient while reading this in my blanket fort during a global pandemic.

In short, read Weep. It’s a zombie novel with plenty of action. I’m not sure I can say it offers slivers of hope so much as it is a testament to the human condition. There is existential dread to which we can all relate, but the subtext is about the quest to help each other. We need that right now, don’t we?

Can Fin remain decent when human decency may be in short supply? I look forward to finding out in future books in this series.

Links:

Find Weep in the Amazon UK store here.

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

To learn more, here’s Eoin Brady’s Facebook profile.


In a frightening time, the novel for this moment

New cover!

Universal link:
mybook.to/CitizenSecondClass

Trapped in a failing United States in the near-future, Kismet Beatriz struggles to to eat, to live and to save her grandmother. She must find her way inside New Atlanta, the fortress of what’s left of America’s wealthy elite. The Resistance depends on Kismet.

Can she help her family? Can she save the downtrodden without bloodshed? Find out in a new dystopian adventure, Citizen Second Class
!

~ To see all books by Robert Chazz Chute, check out his author site and subscribe at AllThatChazz.com.


What to Read in Isolation

The *other* zombie apocalypse is a free ebook today (Friday, April 3.)

This Plague of Days went supernatural.

The AFTER Life trilogy is the sciencey zombie apocalypse. Yes, more twists await.

mybook.to/AFTERLife1

AFTER Life: Where technology and brain parasites meet

Dan Harmon (not the creator of Rick and Morty of the same name) is new to the Emergency Task Force. When a bio-weapons lab far beneath Toronto’s streets is compromised, Dan is tasked with going in to take control of the vault. Complications ensue as nanotechnology and brain parasites are weaponized.

Enter a fresh take on the zombie apocalypse in the three books of the AFTER Life: Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise.


You can grab the box set here.

The Omnibus (print edition) of AFTER Life is a huge honkin’ book you can pick up here.


This Plague of Days: About the Beginning

I’ve been writing professionally for quite a while now, from newspaper journalism, magazine columns, speech writing to book doctoring. And books, of course.

On my main author site, I have a new page that gets into the details of the journey and how This Plague of Days came to be.

Working on a fresh story in this series, a prequel. Stay tuned.


This Plague of Days 2020

TPOD1 on sale today for just 99¢!

New year, new cover and lots more in the works! Yes, 2020 is going to be a challenging year. Between scary news from North Korea, worrying developments in the Middle East and political strife in the US and the UK, there’s a lot of take in and deal with. When you need a respite from all that, there’s fiction. This Plague of Days was my first big success as an author and continues to be my big seller. That’s why I’m excited to say I am working on This Plague of Days: Dungarvan.

(In the works, grinding through the neural gears.)

But what to read while you wait?

I’m happy to say I’m participating in two book promotions this month with authors of a similar bent. For readers like you, this may be the New Year’s treat you’ve been searching for.

Check out the Dystopian Book Fair here.

And here, have a peek at all the books in Here Comes the Apocalypse!

Lots to read, lots to enjoy. When I’m stressed, I retreat into fiction. Books are therapy. When in doubt, pull a book over your head.


Coming in 2020: More This Plague of Days

I thought This Plague of Days was behind me. Then I remembered Desi.

Desmond Walsh appeared in This Plague of Days, Seasons Two and Three. A member of the Guarda, he’s not exactly comedic relief. However, despite all the horrors of the plague and the rise of zombies, Desi is the optimistic sort. Appearances can be deceiving.

Before the refugees from England meet him in Ireland, compelling drama goes down in the little town of Dungarvan. Constable Walsh takes on a lot of responsibility as he tries to save the town. Not everyone is on his side and everything will spin out of control.

Desi’s part in This Plague of Days is his redemption arc. I can’t wait to get back into the world of TPOD to tell his story.

That’s what’s coming in 2020. In the meantime, Citizen Second Class was just published and AFTER Life: INFERNO is on sale for just 99¢ for a limited time.

AFTER Life is a zombie trilogy that will blow you away…and possibly change you.

Citizen Second Class is a dystopian thriller set in the near future with warnings ripped from today’s headlines.

Not to sound too pushy, but, yes, pick them all up now!

Find all my work here.


America has fallen to fascism. What comes next?

Life’s not fair. It’s our job to make it that way. 

Hopes to save the nation have faded but Kismet Beatriz remains defiant. The intrepid young survivor embarks on a desperate mission to storm the castle of the Select Few. To win, she must face the future without flinching.

The same is true for all of us.

Don’t hope. Do.

Citizen Second Class
comes out Christmas Day, 2019!

You can get the paperback or order the ebook here.


A gift to lovers of apocalyptic science fiction

All Empires Fall: Free for a few days!

Explore several compelling doomsday scenarios in All Empires Fall. How do you think the end of the world will come? Meteor strike? Pandemic? Check out these possibilities, choose your hero, and see if your avatar survives.

This anthology is a fun short read to keep you turning pages and wondering what might come next.

For more details on all my books, here’s your universal Amazon link: author.to/RobertChazzChute

Don’t miss another deal or update! Subscribe to my newsletter at my main author site: AllThatChazz.com.

Are you a fan of my fiction and want to go deeper? Each day I post to my private Facebook group about my work, what goes on behind the scenes, what’s funny and, sometimes, what’s deadly serious.

Join our cocktail party at Fans of Robert Chazz Chute.

Mmkay, that’s enough douchey self-promotion from me. Enjoy your free book and, please, if you dig it, leave a review. Cheers!

RCC


What if you had the power to erase all the evil in the world?

If it seems to you like the world has devolved into chaos, you are not alone. We are all looking for more control in our lives. In Amid Mortal Words, that wish is granted to Lt. Col. Zane Salvador. The results could be wonderful for the human race. On the other hand, Zane might end up summoning the apocalypse.

The story begins with Zane Salvador on leave from NORAD. He awakes on a train bound for Chicago. Beside him sits a mysterious stranger with a book that has the power to delete all the evil in the world. The catch is, how much collateral damage is acceptable?

Pick it up now at the Amazon US store.

This may sound crazy, but I got the idea for Amid Mortal Words as I was surfing the internet and reading comment threads. It seems that no matter how benign the subject of a post, a tweet or a YouTube video, there is always a troll ready to pull the trigger and snipe with some awfully negative comment. It’s draining. These people are quick to tear things down but have they ever brought anyone any joy?

I’m not even sure how many trolls actually mean what they say. Some merely enjoy cranking up a fight. There are dumb and negative people who genuinely believe the nonsense they spout, of course. It occurred to me, as I’m sure it has occurred to you, that life would be better if all these trolls suddenly got raptured to Stupid Heaven, erased or otherwise deleted from public discourse. That was the seed of Amid Mortal Words.

I used to sit on a committee for freedom of expression. I was a rabid free speech advocate. I even believed the old saw about how I would support your views but I’d die for your right to express them. Um. Not anymore. After trying to digest some people’s views, I can say with certainty that their shitty ideas and lousy prejudices aren’t worth my life. They aren’t worth an iota of my time, either.

We all play King or Queen for a Day in our heads, imagining how the world might run so much better if we were in charge. Amid Mortal Words is a surprising exercise in wish fulfillment. However, all good things come at a cost and Lt. Col. Salvador has to figure out the cost/benefit analysis on eliminating evil from the world. Together with his guide, a mysterious young woman named Quire, Zane travels across the United States to figure out how he’ll handle the awesome power of the killing culling spells in Amid Mortal Words.

If you’re into apocalyptic epics, I’m sure you’ll have fun with this adventure.

Learn about all my books at my author site: AllThatChazz.com.

This universal link will take you to your country’s Amazon store and my books: author.to/RobertChazzChute



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