Sadie Walker Is Stranded: A Zombie Novel

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9780312658915: Sadie Walker Is Stranded: A Zombie Novel

From the New York Times bestselling author of ASYLUM


...when an unknown virus spread throughout North America and then the world, killing millions of people. However, that is where the horror only started. The dead began to rise and when they rose they had an insatiable appetite for the living. A new hell had been unleashed on earth and the fight for survival had just begun.

Sadie Walker is one of the survivors in this new world. Living in north Seattle behind barrier that keep the living in and the dead out, she trying to get back to a normal life, while raising her eight-year-old nephew, if anyone even knows what "normal" is anymore. Then everything goes sideways when Shane is kidnapped by a group of black market thieves and they bring down a crucial barrier in the city while trying to escape, and flood the city with the walking dead. After rescuing her nephew, Sadie and Shane escape Seattle on the last remaining boat, along with other survivors. However, now they must face the complete chaos of a world filled with flesh eating zombies and humans who are playing with a whole new rule book when it comes to survival in their journey to find a new place that they can call home.

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About the Author:

MADELEINE ROUX is the New York Times bestselling author of ASYLUM. She received her BA in Creative Writing and Acting from Beloit College and, shortly after, she began the experimental fiction blog Allison Hewitt Is Trapped. She lives in Wisconsin, where she is preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


“I can’t make this.”
“But Jason...”
“There’s just no audience. No one will want to read this so no one is going to make it, especially—especially—not me. I’m sorry, Sadie, but it’s not gonna happen. The pictures are great, maybe some of your best, but it’s too soon. Way too soon.”
“You said things were changing,” I said. A whining note crept into my voice. “We could run just a short issue, a teaser. Maybe see if there’s interest...”
“There won’t be. It’s a waste of my time and—sorry—yours too.”
Jason was a genius, a penny-pincher and—sometimes—an idiot. Most successful people are. But I thought he would go for it, I really did. My sketches sat spread out in front of him, panels and whole pages with empty speech bubbles where words would eventually go. Well, with Jason’s latest decision, make that where words would never go. With his green light, that would have been someone else’s job—a writer’s job. Me? I’m just Sadie Walker, illustrator. I handle the art, the “way too soon” art that apparently nobody wanted to see.
At least Jason had given the pages a good look-see. He tried. His fingertips were smeared with pencil lead when he peeled them away from the drawings and raked them through his thinning gray hair. With a little sighing laugh I gathered up the pages and stuffed them back in my folder. I’m not sure what I expected. It’s not like life was a series of triumphs these days. Just managing to eat and not smell like a sewer was a big accomplishment.
I turned to go, one corner of my drawings sticking out, a blood-drenched ax peeking at me like a winking albino eye.
“Well, thanks anyway,” I said. “Maybe next year.”
“Probably not.”
Jason’s apartment, his “studio,” sat on the western edge of what’s left of Capitol Hill in a cozy and crooked brownstone nestled against the east side of Melrose Avenue. The whole place reeked of corn beef hash from the abandoned diner downstairs. He said something I didn’t quite catch as I shut the door and made my way down the cramped hall to the stairs that led into the diner’s storeroom. It was empty now, stale and spotted with months-old coffee and ketchup stains. Nobody had eaten there since September, when The Outbreak started. The chairs and tables and fry baskets were still overturned from when things went bad, and the kitchen doors remained cocked open, showing the messy, pillaged shelves and countertops beyond.
With the portfolio of sketches close to my chest I stepped back outside. A stiff wind caught a few street pamphlets and sent them wheeling down Melrose; cold for April but not unbearable. March was worse, colder, and the food was leaner, making every drop of blood in your veins run a little bit slower. Nothing like hunger to intensify a chill. There were two bus lines up and running now and the pamphlets said there might even be three by the end of April. Who could guess? Two was all we had and even that felt like a luxury.
Leaving Jason’s studio, I considered just how lucky I was to still have something, however small, to remind me of what I used to be. “Illustrator” didn’t mean much now. My friend Andrea joked that I took my old job too seriously, that the only job that mattered now was survival. But I’d go mad, completely nuts without those pages, even if survival really was the only thing worth fighting for.
The view here looking down to the waterfront was mostly unobstructed. The Space Needle was still standing, of course, jilted and sad in the dark blue overcast sky, and the few skyscrapers we had never toppled. But entire city blocks had vanished, burned down in the panic or pulled apart afterward to make room for gardens and livestock pens. The streets used to smell like rain and earthworms, with the occasional waft of coffee or donuts from a café. Now the aroma is more Tombstone than Sleepless in Seattle—dirt, manure and decay stamped out the clean rain smell.
This early in the morning—four o’clock, to be exact—Seattle wore an eerie cast of rising purple, like an embarrassed flush, and it was easy to see why. In the chaos, big cities fared the worst. So many people, so many things to destroy and burn—it was unavoidable that the aftermath here would be bleakest. From here, miles away from the waterfront, you could still see the Golden Princess cruise liner in the harbor, half sunk, like a miniature city descending gradually to its demise, a white-gold Atlantis. The rumor at the time was that everyone on board the cruise perished, and not only that, but someone on board was the carrier, the undead transmitter that spread The Outbreak to Seattle.
Looking at her now, all broken windows and crumbling stern, she seemed like a stand-in for a movie, a Titanic played out in small, modern scale.
At that hour the buses had started running but I hoofed it anyway. It was about a three-minute drive to the market by car, but nobody really drove. Any spare gasoline went straight to the buses. With the wind biting at me, I kept the folder and my sketches close in to the chest. They were precious—to me, at least—a blueprint, a project I’d been working at for months. I tucked the corner page with the ax down into the folder and turned up the woolly scarf around my neck, hunkering down for the mile or so walk to the market. By now the lines would be massive, but there was a hungry nephew waiting at the apartment, still asleep, if there was any justice left in the world. I couldn’t be sure there was.
A few months ago, a casual walk through town to the market wouldn’t have been possible. Back then, the terror of The Outbreak was still in full-swing. What was empty, stained pavement now was covered in moldering corpses, some just waiting to get up and have a second go. There were lots of strays, too, some bitten, but the virus seemed to affect animals differently. I guess their systems can’t handle it the way ours can. A bitten dog would be a threat for a few short hours and then they would keel over. Some parts of town had looked like Cruella de Vil’s Dumpster.
The walk to the market, unfortunately, left plenty of time to mull over Jason’s chilly reception of my work. He was no stranger to me and I showed up at all hours with new sketches for him to peruse. Months ago, and what feels like forty million years ago, Jason was my boss, my editor. He was the only one left at the press and these days one of only three presses in the city. And when I mean press, I mean it literally—a nineteenth-century cast-iron book press. Everything he produced now was by hand, painstakingly inked and pressed, and every illustration was done by yours truly. Electricity was still unreliable so it was safer to just use the ancient press. Mostly we did what we always had—make quirky little books for kids about talking gophers and otters with adventure on the brain. There were still small kids around and they still needed entertainment.
But Jason had one rule, and it was the one rule I tried to break today: Nothing heavy.
It made sense—at least for a while—to focus on the uplifting. When your mom or dad or sister or brother had been eaten by a next-door neighbor or burned to death in a fire, it was nice to have an escapist tale about a wily, quick-thinking sea anemone outsmarting a shark. But I was hoping that Jason would be ready to try something new, something daring. So while my nephew, Shane, continued helping me think up cute stories to trade to parents for vegetables or clothes, I was leading a sort of double life, drawing what I really wanted to draw.
I felt a disappointed shiver, then a quiver in my lip. The panels had taken months of late nights to complete, with me bent over a row of candles, destroying what was left of my eyesight to sketch and ink a comic aimed at adults. I thought the story might give them hope in a different kind of way. But maybe Jason was right. It was too soon—too soon to be telling stories about fighting the undead, about the pain of loss and the greater pain of being betrayed by the living.
As I trooped down Boren the city came slowly to life. Lanterns behind windows sent up low, orange signal fires and men and women in Wellingtons and fingerless gloves emerged from their homes to tend community gardens. It was hard work, keeping a winter garden, and the kind of labor that got you out of bed at ungodly hours to rake mulch or repair raised beds for beets and cabbages. Too much carelessness, too much oversleeping meant someone went hungry.
Looming over the vegetable gardens, hooked to street lamps and windows, hung painted wooden signs and graffiti. THEY’RE NOT YOUR FAMILY IF THEY’RE INFECTED, read one. DO THE RIGHT THING: ALERT THE AUTHORITIES or another, OBSERVE THE CURFEW.
A street pamphlet careened up the street toward me, grabbing at my ankle. I paused and bent to retrieve it. The flyer, as usual, was garish—bright green paper, bold black font like a flyer for a topless bar. Impossible to miss. I read as I walked, perusing the latest news. There were radio shows and even a few television programs, but Shane and I weren’t the types that could afford them. Most citizens relied on the street pamphlets to deliver their news, and the presses that provided them took an immense amount of pride in their work. It was old-school journalism. No celebrity birthdays or overdosing starlets, no CEOs fleecing their hardworking employees, just facts—weather tables for farming, locations where someone was giving away food or clothing ...
And of course there was always at least one article about the population freaks. They preferred the term Repops or Repopulationists, a kind of religious or social group (som...

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