Review of Gerald Dean Rice’s “Fleshbags”
Fleshbags takes place over the course of the initial hours on the what might be the first day of the zombie apocalypse, though the creatures involved are enough of a variation on traditional zombies to be considered their own subspecies. Of course, they would fall into the zombie category, but have some different characteristics, that’s for sure. The author has taken time to create a man-made virus that is fascinating in its assault on its victims. The story itself goes from hour to hour of the growing infection, with the elements of confusion and hysteria that come along with it. We get to see where the virus is being developed (and still tweaked), with hints as to why it’s been created. We see how far it has spread, or so we think, though once again, there are hints at a larger story at play, with the military getting involved pretty rapidly. There is plenty of confusion and no clear understanding of what is going on by virtually anyone running through the pages of this story, including the victims themselves. Each is focused on their own desire to survive with a lot of the plot taking place in and around a daycare that is close to the epicenter of the virus’s release.
As I mentioned, it would be tough to call the victims of this virus zombies. They certainly share enough traits with that category of monster, but they still live, or at least retain a level of cognition for a time, that allows the reader to see what is going on inside their minds. The author hints at more hidden beneath the depths of their gory exterior, with expressions on some of these creatures faces that show they seem reluctant to carry out the violence they are prone to perpetrating on the innocent. As the author (and one of the characters in the story) has dubbed them, they are fleshbags. Parts of their anatomy seem to go runny around their midsection, and their skin appears to be more like a transparent bag showing their insides rather than skin. Again, these zombies are different…they act different in many ways, they look different, and on some level, retain the ability to think, if only for a short time.
The story itself follows several different characters maneuvering through the northern suburbs of Detroit. I recognized many of the streets mentioned due to my travels in that city. This is a novella-length story, and there are quite a few characters, so we move from place to place and person at a quick pace. There are loose ends at the end, which lead me to believe that this might be the start of a larger project by the author. As a stand alone, it is an entertaining bit of gore splashed apocalyptic fiction that moves at a quick, and sometimes blurred pace. I liked how the author delved into the minds of some of the fleshbags as they transition-they seemed as confused and bewildered as the living surrounding them. I would be curious to see more of this tale, if indeed this develops into something larger from the author. Especially with the so many questions left unanswered at the end.
As an added bonus, the author includes two more zombie-centric short stories and excerpts from two of his other long form works as well. The short stories were both non-traditional tales of the undead that were interesting and thought provoking reads for me. Overall, a fun zombie-centric read that make me interested in seeing more from this author.
Fleshbags can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Fleshbags-ebook/dp/B005IDGQNY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323548281&sr=8-1