Zombies seem to be everywhere and attack anything living. They are a true killer who does not worry about, race, religion, gender, type of creature, or sexual orientation. All they care about is that their prey has a heat beat and warm blood running through the veins. It also helps that the prey be bit squishy so they can really sink their teeth in to their meal. It’s a great thing, at this time, they are only found in the mind of writers.
Yes I realize I’m painting a wonderful image of zombies but there isn’t much in the way of a killer that is as lethal, and patient as a zombie who has gotten your scent.
This takes me to the novella, Asylum, which was written by author Mark Allan Gunnells whose book The Quarry introduced me to his writing. I will warn those with younger eyes there is some sexual acts in this story that could bother those of a younger nature. To those who like that kind of stuff, there are sexual acts between consulting adults (men) that are mentioned in this story.
Asylum is not just the name of the novella but it is also the name of the bar we find the bulk of the story revolving around. The place is owned by Madam Diva a drag queen who wanted a place for others to go and be safe from the ignorant of the world. Diva employees an older Ex-military bartender, Gil, a black stripper named Devon and her lighting and music is handled by Devon. Others in the bar are Lance and his female friend Autumn, and another pair of men named Clive and Toby. These are the last of the people in the bar as the night is winding down.
The story opens with two college age young men in the parking lot with the more experienced of the two in a car with some accountant. This young man, Jimmy, is used to this lifestyle, hence his hookup and eventual fun in the car. He has brought his young, naive, friend Curtis along to give him a glimpse of what small town America had been hiding from him. At that moment in time Curtis is not only thinking about this evening but also about voiding his bladder.
Jimmy is “busy” in the car and Curtis decides he cannot wait any longer and goes around the corner of the bar to relieve himself. As Jimmy goes about pleasuring the accountant their night of fun is destroyed when the car window shatters and before Jimmy knows it the object of his attention is being pulled out the open window. It was quite the picture as the accountants pants were down by his knees. Due to the bigotry of others Jimmy’s first thoughts are it’s some “haters” out to beat up the gay men. He will find out just how wrong he is when he jumps out of the car looking for a fight, but instead finds the accountant being eaten, ALIVE!
This is where the books action steps into primary action as Curtis comes back, grabs his friend and they run to the only safety they have, Asylum.
Asylum will take you, ever so briefly, into the lives of those who find themselves in the bar. Each character will have to face some type of realization of what is going on outside their walls. The fact there are only two doors that are keeping the horde from braking in is not going to make things easy for those inside.
The story does more than make the reader face the zombie horde, but pieces of the story may also make you question who the monsters are? As you read the story and find out some of the back stories of the characters you realize these are just men. They are men who like anyone else just want to survive the craziness of the outside world. It’s possible when you read that you will get the underlining subtext of the statement. The outside world is not just the zombies outside as there are all types of monsters.
The other great thing about the story it will have you asking yourself a few of the questions these men ask themselves. The question of how to spend the potential last minutes of your life. Do you go down fighting? Do you partner up with someone for that last romp? Do you crack and just go nuts? How do you react?
Asylum is a nice entry into a very crowded zombie genre. The thing that sets this story apart the most is how well Gunnells does in developing his characters. You begin to feel for them and want them to survive. You will of course have to read the story to find out if they do or not.