Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Fistful of Zombie 15

***Hey. So. Uh....kind of dropped the ball last week. Like, utterly. Which is kind of a shame because...FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND HITS!!! That means that half a million people (or, more accurately, ten people fifty thousand times each) read and adore my site. Ladies and gentlemen...I salute you. To quote Robert Duvall: "You do not thank The Great Stalin. The Great Stalin thanks YOU." The best thing I can do for you right now is give you more of what you "love" and try not to miss another update.***

Miguel, Bernardo, Denver, and Taylor hurry breathlessly into the desert.

Stop, stop. We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what to do.

What the hell are those things? What the hell happened to Bob?

You ask me like I know.

Well you seem to know more about this than I do. You knew how to deal with those three things.

Yeah, I know how to fight when something’s trying to kill me. Doesn’t mean I know what I’m fighting. I never saw anything like it before. I must’ve unloaded two pistols into each of them and they didn’t stop coming.

I cut off Bob’s head and stabbed him and he was still alive when I left.

They’re not alive. I don’t know what they are, but they’re not alive.

I know what they are.

Everyone stops and looks at Taylor. Taylor is white and shaking. Clearly shock has set in.

Well, talk, little boy.

Miguel slaps Taylor. Denver grabs Miguel’s wrist and holds it hard.

Don’t you ever touch him, spick.

I’m trying to help him. Trying to snap him out of it. He’s dazed, see.

Miguel snaps his fingers several times in front of Taylor’s face, eliciting no response. Denver goes up to Taylor, sits him down and throws his coat around the boy. Miguel and Bernardo gather around.

It’s ok, James. You can talk.

Taylor swallows. Obviously it is a great effort for him to speak of this matter.

I heard these stories, growing up in New Orleans, from the Haitians. They said there were these magicians back in Haiti that could do lots of things. There were good magicians that did things like cast out demons or heal the sick. But there were also bad magicians called Bokors and they…they…

Miguel is loading his gun.

They raised the dead. I’ve heard this story, too.

Miguel snaps his revolver together. Taylor swallows and nods.

They’re called zombies. A zombie will be the Bokor’s slave as long as he’s alive, but if the Bokor dies then they just kill. They kill and the people they kill become zombies. It’s like scarlet fever. I never believed in zombies, but…I just saw it.

Did they ever say how to stop these zombies?

Fire…salt…holy things. The Bokors hate God, they hate him with a passion. They always kill missionaries.

So we’ll be safe there?

They all look up. Bernardo points to a gorgeous Catholic church.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 14

Denver, realizing that Taylor is paralyzed, holds down Zombie Bob with some difficulty with his foot and pulls Taylor’s bowie knife out of the man’s sheath. He slices off Zombie Bob’s head. That doesn’t stop Zombie Bob from writhing, so he thrusts the bowie knife through Zombie Bob’s torso and pins him to the ground. He jumps up and grabs Taylor and pulls him into the street. They see Miguel and Bernardo running towards them.

Hey, gringo, truce, ok?

Sounds good to me. Where are we going?

To church, man, to church!

The four former enemies haul ass down the street and disappear. Meanwhile, Zombie Bob manages to pull himself out of the dirt, but the bowie knife is still a big part of his anatomy. He grabs his head and staggers down the street where he meets the other three zombies. The four of them stagger into the saloon and walk up to the bar. The saloon is pretty well full, and the bartender is wiping down the counter. The bartender seems not to notice that they are zombies and that Zombie Bob is carrying his head.

Well, good evening, gentlemen, what can I do for you?

The zombies growl. The bartender suddenly starts to get scared.

How about some beers?

The bartender puts four beers down on the counter. The zombies all take them and begin drinking, including Zombie Bob who must pour the beer into his mouth. The zombies begin wandering around the saloon, killing people and drinking their beers. As the people die, they too become zombies. After a little while, the bartender whistles sharply.

Last call. I don’t care where you go, but you can’t sleep here.

Groaning and mumbling angrily, the barful of zombies staggers out into the street and begins terrorizing the populace. The bartender bolts the door.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 13

***Hey, kids. I didn't post on Wednesday and then Thursday seemed too late, but too early to be a Friday post...anyway, enjoy this brief interlude! We'll try to get up to speed again soon.***

About a second away from becoming zombie chum, Miguel finally clicks his revolver together and starts firing at the two zombies marching towards him. They look at each other, then look back at Miguel and swipe at him, but he ducks out of the way under their arms, and out into the street. From the street, he fires two more shots, one at each of them, but realizes quickly how pointless it is. He turns and sees Bernardo shooting at Juan’s corpse. He rushes down the alley, cold-cocks the zombie, grabs Bernardo, and drags him out into the street. The zombies laboriously pursue them.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Well, kids, this has nothing to do with the story, but since blog hits have really tapered off, I need to do something to drive traffic. So here is something you've probably never seen, the deleted scene from Return of the Jedi where Luke finishes building his lightsaber while Poppy fucks with him:

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 12

Denver and Taylor look at each other.

Are they shooting at each other?

Sounds like it.

Why the fuck would they…

Taylor starts screaming as the zombie Dylan grabs his arm and twists it like a pretzel. Denver steps forward, kicks Zombie Bob off of Taylor, and puts a rifle shot into his face. Unperturbed, Zombie Bob starts to get up again.

Taylor, give me your knife.

Horrified by his shattered arm, Taylor stands there, hyperventilating.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 11

On the other side of the street, Pacifico and Bernardo are in hiding. They see Juan staggering about.

Juan! Juan! Over here, man!

Juan turns, sees them, and staggers towards them. When he finally gets there, he stumbles into Pacifico with his arms out (the way zombies tend to do.)

Hey, don’t try to hug me, man.


All right, you big goofball, give me a hug.

Pacifico throws down his pistol and hugs the zombie Juan. Juan hugs back, and starts to crush Pacifico.


Juan takes a big bite out of Pacifico’s face and then snaps his back. Bernardo, spooked, jumps back and starts firing his pistol at Juan. Juan drops Pacifico’s body, and keeps coming, despite the bullets ripping his flesh apart.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 10

***Same deal as Friday. Whatevs.***

You son of a whore!

Miguel starts going wild, firing down the street, forcing Denver and Taylor to jump out of the way down an alley, with the body of Dylan. After a minute, Miguel runs out of ammunition, but keeps clicking. He turns around. Tuco and Benedito have both stood up, and, although they have gaping holes in their chests, they seem all right.

Tuco! Benedito! You’re alive!

Tuco and Benedito suddenly bare their teeth, stick out their arms and lumber towards Miguel.

Holy fuck!

Miguel struggles to reload his pistol, but it is especially tricky as he has been spooked by the two zombies. He drops some of his bullets and has to bend over to pick them up.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 9

***Sorry for the lateness of this post. Eh, who am I kidding, I could give a fuck whether the post is late. Enjoy it, though. Good comedy here. See if you can figure out the origin of the character names.***

JOHN DENVER, an aging sheriff, looks out of the window of his office and sees Miguel’s men walking down the street. His office has no light except for a single candle. Denver is well-dressed, almost like an Easterner, but still a down-home boy. He is like the typical sheriff about ready to turn in his tin star when he is drawn into the business once again. He is obviously prepared for Miguel, as he is holding a rifle in his hands. He stands up. He turns to his two deputies, JAMES TAYLOR and BOB DYLAN.

Well boys, they’re coming. It looks like we’re a bit out-numbered, but we’ve faced worse.

Dylan is composed and professional, but Taylor is jittery and nervous.

Let’s do it.

Denver and Dylan both walk towards the door. Taylor is kind of fumbling with his pistol.

Wait, now, uh, maybe we should see what they do first. Maybe I’ll just wait here.

If you want to be here alone when they get here, be my guest.

Spooked, Taylor jumps up and follows the other two out. Out on the street, the banditos stop. The law and the outlaws stare each other down from opposite end of the street. A few of the townspeople in their pajamas are watching the showdown.

Miguel, I think you’d better saddle up and ride back to Mexico.

Miguel strokes his moustache as if in thought.

No, sheriff, I think you ride out of town. Maybe back East where they appreciate pussies like you.

Denver steps forward.

You’re asking for it, spick.

Blow me, gringo.

The two sides open fire. Juan is killed almost instantly. The rest of them duck into cover and continue firing at each other. Juan stands back up.

He’s still alive! Shoot him!

All three of the lawmen shoot at Juan, and although they hit him several times, he keeps walking forward. As he stumbles forward, rigor mortis begins to set in and he moves gradually slower and slower.

What the fuck…

Distracted, Dylan is suddenly struck in the head viciously by a bullet. His head snaps backwards and he falls.

Bob! You bastards!

Denver walks across the street, stepping into full view, full of rage, and shoots at the banditos. He hits Tuco and Benedito, killing them both.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why the sky is, perhaps, not falling

I'd like to take a few moments of your time to regale you with my thoughts on the coming apocalypse. Not the zombie apocalypse (a post for another time) or the much overhyped Mayan end of times (which may better be described as a society-sized version of the re-stock note at the end of your desk calendar.) No, I'm talking about the end of publishing.

(I'm allowing time for you to panic, Glenn Beck style.)

Yes, that's right, if you're an ordinary civilian you have no idea what i'm talking about, but if you are a member (real or aspirational) of the publishing industry you are nodding in grim agreement. "Too true," you're saying, "I've read countless stories about the death knells of the book as a thing." And right you are about the phenomenon, and far be it for me to have an opinion on the matter, but here's my opinion on the matter:

I think it's bullshit.

Now, if you know me in real life (or, indeed, really even from this blog) you know that I'm a contrarian. But in this case I'm not being contrary just for the hellz of it. I just think it's kind of a stupid concept. The basic conceit is this: with the advent of e-readers, due to basic pricing and access realities, people will no longer buy "dinosaur" books from brick and mortar "stores." Furthermore, since people just plain don't read anymore, at least, not books, the novel is dead and only super-ridiculous bestsellers by Dan Brown will ever be published again.

I'm exagerrating a bit, but if you know what I'm talking about, you know what I'm talking about, and if you don't, that's the Reader's Digest version. ("Reader's Digest version?" What a quaint and soon-to-be-archaic expression!)

So, here are my thoughts. First of all, I don't think the publishing industry is dead or really even dying, but just changing. And not like, to a solely e-books distribution system, that's bullshit. "Real" books will be around forever and not because of their inherent value or any kind of reason of their mystique, but simply because they fill a niche. Now, don't get me wrong, that niche is changing. As recently as, say, twenty years ago, you had three or four options for entertainment at your house: read a book, watch TV, play a video game, or do some knitting or some other crafty bullshit. That was what people did. So books sold like gangbusters. It was like 1/4 of what you could do at home.

Now the computer has eclipsed virtually all of what you can do at home. If you're in my generation you probably spend more time on the computer than almost anything else when you're at home, including watching TV, which used to be your baseline level of entertainment for idiots. Back then there was a preconception (tell me your parents didn't tell you this a hundred times a year) that smart people read and stupid people watched TV, given a choice. Now smart people and stupid people use the internet and there's just not much time for reading at home. Even if you want to, the new idiot's lantern will suck you in as soon as you sit down with a book.

"But, Redleg," you're saying, "Doesn't this all just prove the party line? That nobody reads anymore and publishing is dying and blah blah blah?" Quiet with your leading questions, straw man. That is true, but this is leading me into a greater point: radio. "Radio isn't a point," you reply, "It's just a word." Shut up, straw man, I'm trying to make a point here. What did people in the '30s do at home? Pretty much listen to the radio or die of cholera. Nowadays, when was the last time you listened to the radio at home? Quite possibly never. I don't think I even have a radio in my house. But when was the last time you listened to radio PERIOD? I'd wager earlier today, if not right now. Because, if you're reading this at work, you've probably got a radio on in the background, and if not presently, you almost certainly listened to the radio during your commute this morning.

So what does any of this have to do with anything? Simple. Books are the new radio. Everyone said when television came along that radio would just disappear. Well, it didn't, because it still had a niche, filling our cars and workplaces with smooth oldies and mindless DJ blather. Similarly, books still have a niche. When was the last time you took your laptop on the beach? Or a plane? (Well, okay, maybe you did, but God, what a sad person you are if that's what you do.) Books are just going to shift to the left a little bit.

"Well, okay," you're saying at this point, "I get why maybe the novel isn't a dead art form, because it's like a modern day radio and people still want it, only in different place. But what about the way you get it? Won't everyone just get e-readers?"

Well, first of all, I want you to ask yourself a question. When was the last time you met someone who owned an e-reader? Okay, truth be told, if you're a publishing industry professional, you damn well may know someone like that. But a real, regular, honest-to-God person who just went out and bought it? I don't know anyone like that. Do you? Probably not. And here's the reason:


Sorry. This is really the point of the whole article here. If you're a blogger or a writer or an agent or whatever, you've spent so long over the past year or so worrying about e-readers that you probably didn't notice that nobody in the general public gives a shit. And you know why? For the same reason the Kin failed. It's so specific it's useless. Nobody wants one. Nobody owns one. Sorry to burst all your publishing industry myths, there, guys. People might buy e-books when they can get it on their iPhones, but as it stands right now, why are you going to carry around a Nook, a Kin, a GPS, and a cell phone for a bunch of individual functions when your smart phone can do it all on one?

So, sure, e-books will take off to some extent. To the extent that people love fancy new technologies and will buy anything. But when you get down to brass tacks, have you ever bought your uncle a software download for Christmas? Have you ever gone to school and the teacher said, "Open your .pdf files to page 7?"

Anyway, that's my useless opinion and you're all welcome to it. Back to the story on Friday.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Fistful of Zombies 8

Night of the same day, a small nearby town. There is a gang of Mexican banditos on the street. Their leader, MIGUEL GARCIA, looks from side to side at his companions. Miguel has a handlebar moustache and an unshaven face. He is wearing an Indian poncho and a sombrero. He looks cagey and clever, like he is a real threat to the law around here. Miguel has five companions, TUCO, BENEDITO, PACIFICO, JUAN, and BERNARDO. They are all brandishing a variety of weapons. They start walking ominously down the street.
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