When I’m not writing, I operate telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Most people may not think of this as a very spooky job, but it involves late nights on a remote mountaintop in mostly empty buildings that range from eerily silent on still nights to wailing like banshees when the wind is blowing.
This week, in particular, I had an incident where the telescope’s drive power turned itself off for no apparent reason. The rational part of my mind knows I’m dealing with 50-year-old systems that work remarkably well for their age, but it can be easy to imagine dark forces at work, keeping us from understanding the mysteries of the universe.
People sometimes ask if working at an observatory inspires my science fiction. It does, but it also has inspired some of my spookier tales. This week in particular I was inspired to write a new zombie story in my off hours.
I haven’t written a lot of zombie stories, but I do find them an interesting challenge. I like setting my stories in unusual times and places. My story “The Zombie Shortage” is set during a post apocalyptic future. The story I wrote this week is set during the wild west. Both stories really get their horror from the people who would utilize the relentlessness of zombies for their own purposes.
“The Zombie Shortage” was published in Zombiefied: An Anthology of All Things Zombie edited by Carol Hightshoe. You can find copies of the book at Amazon.com and Smashwords. The story will be reprinted soon in a slightly different form in the benefit anthology The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno. I have an anthology in mind for the new zombie story and will be sure to let you know when and where it’ll appear.