Survive or Become

It’s finally through all the rounds of edits and layout.

Night Zero: Second Day

It will release on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited on June 10, 2020. The link to pre-order is here:

If you’re the type who likes their books in a more tangible form, so you can smell the paper and hear the crackle of the spine when you open it for the first time, the paperback is already out and available to order here:

If you’ve read Night Zero, then you’re ready to continue the story. Here’s a peak at the back copy.

“From international bestselling author Rob Horner comes Night Zero: Second Day.

Second Day continues the epic story begun in Night Zero, redefining the ZomPoc genre and bringing new life to the lifeless.

When the government tried to take choice away from Americans, they ended up causing the very thing they sought to prevent—an outbreak which threatens everyone.

That was yesterday.

Today, the virus continues to spread, the dead attack the living, and only a few lucky souls are immune.

After escaping from the hospital, Buck and his friends find the infection has spread much further than they anticipated. Their families are in danger, and a vicious hunter is on their trail. Jesse struggles to complete the request of a dying man, “Get this to the CDC,” but a stop to refuel his plane puts him right back in danger.

A new group of survivors emerge in Tuscaloosa. They’ve got the skills and the ammo, but will they be able to stem the tide rushing at them?

Zombies that can think and plan. New mutations guaranteed to propagate the species. And a new front, as a cruise ship receives a dusting of virus-laden debris.

Get ready for the Second Day.”


And because I love giving teases, here’s a scene from the book, just to get you wanting more.

Robbie loved camping.

He didn’t know if being outside spoke to some inner harmony with nature or if it just meant an escape from city life and a few days without Twitter and Facebook posts interrupting every thought, and it didn’t matter. What mattered was he’d spent two days waking up to the sound of bird calls. He’d bathed in the creek and cooked meals over a propane stove top. He’d made coffee in a pot, dug a small latrine, and went to sleep each night with sore muscles and a raging erection, something Jasmine was more than happy to help take care of.

Maybe, when you put Jasmine in the mix, he liked camping with her because he got laid on the reg. Half the reasons sex got put off at home was because of all the distractions. Some girlfriend with baby-mama-drama would call, or post, and off Jasmine went to counsel and console.

But out here, with bugs humming outside the tent and Jasmine humming inside, her long, dark hair falling all around her head, tickling his stomach, his legs, and even his balls, there was nothing to interrupt them.

Except Desiree House.

Robbie had to admit to a certain excitement when Jasmine informed him one of her friends wanted to come along.

Come on, one guy and two girls alone in the woods for a few days? What guy wouldn’t be flying a flag at half-staff most of the day before? And when they got to her place to pick her up, and he saw two large knockers over an ass that probably earned twenty-dollar bills as tips? Half-staff went to DefCon 5, full alert, missile ready to launch status before she even got in the car. Pulling away from the curb, he saw big, dark eyes in the rearview and small teeth nervously teasing a full lower lip and his brain went into visual stimulus overdrive.

Then she opened her mouth and started talking, listing her gripes and complaints, and it was an immediate False alarm, stand down.

How could a girl who looked like a dirty blond Jessica Alba turn a horny daydream into an episode of The Exorcist during a two-hour drive?

The chick had more baggage than a TSA screener.

No way he wanted anything to do with her.

But he was nice. He acted friendly and welcomed her to their camp.

And that night he got amazement sex from Jasmine, so it was all good.

Robbie smiled. He liked that term. Everyone knew about breakup sex and makeup sex, I do sex and drunk sex.

Amazement sex was when your girl showed how much she appreciated you for welcoming her friend and for not trying to drag her into a threesome.

It didn’t beat threesome sex—not that Robbie had any basis for comparison—but it sure as hell beat a weekend pounding his own pud because he’d acted like a complete douche and thought “bring a friend” meant “add another woman to the party.”

She didn’t need to know he’d been thinking about it.

If thoughts were enough to send a guy to breakup hell, there wouldn’t be a married man left anywhere in the world.

So him and Jasmine had fun, enjoying a couple of nights screwing each other to sleep. And if she seemed a little distracted, he didn’t mind. It must be hard to concentrate on your friend’s problems with a stud giving you mind-blowing orgasms.

Robbie sighed, feeling himself get hard while he waited on the girls to finish using the rest area bathroom.

They’d packed up camp and loaded the car only an hour before, but of course the girls needed to stop at the first available bathroom. He wondered if they’d held their crap the entire trip and only now felt safe to let it out.

Reaching down to give his little buddy a quick adjustment, his fingers brushed across one of his pants pockets, causing the quarters inside to jingle.

The rest area off Interstate 20 near Fosters, Alabama featured a brick shed with a bunch of vending machines. Living off the grid and drinking lake water purified with iodine tablets and beer purified by Miller might be enough to sustain a guy, but sometimes something with a little more sugar and caffeine was called for. The only other vehicle in sight was a rundown Hyundai parked as close as the driver could get to the restroom hut. He didn’t see anyone inside it but that didn’t mean anything; poor slob might have the seat jacked all the way back, trying for some Z’s.

Robbie climbed out of his two-tone green 2011 Honda Element, enjoyed a quick stretch, and headed for the vending area.

A scream from the direction of the restrooms made him forget the Pepsi.

* * * * *

Jasmine hustled from the Element to the bathrooms like her ass was on fire and her hair was catching. While the hair part was an old add-on to an old saying, the ass on fire part was just about gospel to the choir. Thank you very much, and I’ll be here all week.

She loved camping with Robbie, but the filtered water and greasy campfire food played havoc with her digestive system. Add to that a healthy fear of lingering poo-scent, and the combination left her stopped up, bloated, and aching for the first chance to plop her ass on a proper toilet, even if that was in a dirty rest area off the highway.

If she walked out of here with a lingering restroom aura, well, it wouldn’t be her fault.

Desiree followed her, though she didn’t immediately go to a stall as far as Jasmine could tell. Granted, she wasn’t thinking of anything other than checking the seat for wet areas—there were none—and the toilet bowl for leftovers. Thankfully, from the floor to the sinks to the toilets, everything looked clean, as though whatever public works group handled rest area bathrooms in this part of Alabama had just come through. Still, she spent several moments with her cheeks clenched tight while laying out a protective toilet paper lining. Despite what the medical websites said, she believed you could catch all manner of things from a dirty toilet seat.

That was another reason she didn’t like doing her business in the woods. If there were fish in the Amazon that could swim up your peestream and hook themselves inside you, there were probably bugs or fungus or maybe even little snakes that could climb a poo rope and set up their own camp in your backside.

Giving a little shudder, she perched gently on the seat, careful not to disturb her TP-condom, and allowed her muscles to relax. Relief came almost instantly, and she sighed.

“Courtesy flush, please,” Desiree shouted, making a gagging noise.

Jasmine gigged and twisted, reaching for the flush handle. “There’s going to be more,” she reported back. “It was almost touching cotton to begin with.”

“Oh, I’ll be joining you as soon as I get these contacts rinsed. I won’t mind so much then.”

“Always better to be first.”

“True that.”

A thump sounded from inside the restroom, like a body bumping against one of the metal stall walls.

“You okay?” Desiree asked.

“That wasn’t you?” Jasmine replied.

“Nope. Guess I’m not the only one offended by your skunk butt.”

The thump repeated but softer, not a body but maybe a hand slapping or knocking.

Jasmine leaned forward, ignoring the brief view between her legs of brown water in the toilet bowl. She couldn’t see any feet under the walls to either side.

“It’s coming from the end,” Desiree said. Then, “Miss? Hey, you okay in there?”

Jasmine didn’t hear a response, and something about the situation unnerved her. She “pinched it off,” as Robbie was fond of saying, and reached for the ultra-thin toilet paper.

The rattle of a stall door surprised her.

“Ma’am? The door’s locked. You’re going to have to unlock it before I can help you.”

The person in the stall thumped against the walls. The door rattled again.

Jasmine wiped as fast as she could—front to back to clean your crack—then stood, pulling her panties and cargo shorts up together.

“Wow. Um…miss…you don’t need to crawl under—”

“What?” Jasmine asked, stepping out of the stall. There was a space of perhaps five or six feet between the stalls and the row of sinks, each of which a polished steel “mirror” set in the wall above it. Looking at her reflection, she could see why they avoided glass in places like this. Her chocolate brown hair was a bit dirtier than normal, thanks to two days of rinsing in a lake. She’d pulled it into a messy ponytail when they got up and struck camp. The smattering of freckles across her forehead and nose stood out like beacons, begging to be covered up. Robbie said he loved them, but he’d say anything to keep her happy. Unlike some people she knew—cough, Desiree, cough—Jasmine worked very hard not to take advantage of people like him. He was a good man, loving and gentle, great in bed. He wasn’t the smartest guy out there, but he didn’t make stupid mistakes…

“Um…Jazz, you seeing this?”

…like staring at himself in the mirror while a stranger crawled out from under a locked bathroom stall door.

She turned from her reflection. Desiree was standing near one of the stalls, hands shaking and flapping in the classic I should probably do something but I don’t know what to do dance. It fit. There were people who made things happen and people to whom things happened. Desiree was one of the latter.

Jasmine stepped forward.

Two arms and a head showed under the door. The arms reached and pulled, dirt-caked hands clawing at the bathroom tiles. The upper torso slid into view. It was a woman, at least. A very dirty woman, if the smell rising off her and the clumps of matted, dark hair were any indication.

“Are you all right?” Jasmine asked.

The woman responded with a low moan. Not words, at least, none that Jazz could hear. More like a long, low utterance of sound without meaning.

“Jazz, give me a hand. Let’s pull her out of there.”

The woman reached and pulled again. Her shirt, or blouse, or whatever was ripped in several places. It was impossible to tell its original color. Stains of black like grease or oil streaked over her back. There were other colors mixed in, a strange puke green and dark red like dried ketchup.

Who spills ketchup on their back?

The stink of the woman filled her nostrils as she knelt with Desiree. Mixed with body odor and dirty hair was the earthy smell of dirt, the stank of old shit, and something else with a coppery tang.

“Come on, Jazz,” Desiree said, already reaching to grab the woman’s hand.

Jasmine reached as well, telling herself her disquiet wasn’t about the woman, but about the circumstances which led her here, wretched and ragged, probably bloody after some asshole beat her.

“Who did this to you?” Desiree asked.

Jasmine got a grip on the woman’s left hand and wrist. The hand clenched and squeezed, tighter than necessary, but she couldn’t blame the woman for it. Her skin felt cool, though God only knew how long she’d been hiding in the rest room. They didn’t heat or provide AC in the place. You were only supposed to come in, do your business, and leave. Heated bathrooms were a year-round invitation to vagrants and homeless squatters, and not in the usual sense reserved for potty parlance.

It’s the nerves, Jasmine decided. The nerves and the environment and this poor, fucked up woman which keep my mind rolling off on tangents. Come on, Jazz, get it together.

“Good grip,” Desiree said.

The two friends pulled, and the rest of the woman came sliding out.

The shirt must have been a blouse, though it had come untucked, exposing enough skin to the sides to say the woman had a few extra pounds on her, but not enough to be called fat. A no-nonsense skirt of some dark color ran from waist to knees. The same stains decorating the blouse covered the skirt as well. With the dark fabric, it was even harder to guess at their source. Her pantyhose were in as bad a shape as the rest of her clothes, torn and hanging like snakeskin in mid-slough. One foot was bare, while the other was squeezed into a dark, no name flat.

“Okay, you’re clear,” Desiree said cheerily, already shifting her grip from hand to underarm, thinking to help the woman rise. Jasmine moved to do the same, almost gagging at the smell coming off her. It was stronger now, as though exposing more of her allowed more smell to be released. There was definitely shit and vomit in the fragrant bouquet, and the coppery undertone came to the fore.

The woman didn’t seem to understand. She hung from their grip, head swaying side to side. Maybe she was stoned. Or worse. What if she’d been hit so hard that her brain didn’t work right anymore?

“Come on, work with us,” Desiree said. “And maybe ease up on the grip. Gosh!”

Rather than pulling her legs, or trying to use them as a brace to pull against, or any of a half-dozen other things she could’ve said or done to indicate compliance, the woman suddenly jerked her head to the right, mouth opening and closing on Desiree’s helping hand.

“What the fuck?” Desiree yelled, jerking. Her free hand began slapping at the back of the woman’s head. When that proved ineffective, the slaps turned to punches, all while Desiree hissed and grunted through clenched teeth.

Jasmine didn’t know what to do. She felt as confused as Desiree looked a moment before. The only reason her hands weren’t ringing was because she was using then to hold up the weird woman biting her friend. Finally, as Desiree continued her weird I’m trying to get away but I can’t move too fast because the bitch has my hand between her teeth dance, Jasmine relinquished her supportive grip and transferred everything she had to grabbing the woman’s head and squeezing, probing with her fingers, trying to find some weak spot which would enable her friend to get free.

The woman’s hair was as greasy and nasty to the touch as it looked. Jasmine half-expected to feel the tiny legs of lice or some other insect exploring her fingers. She didn’t want to hold on too long but didn’t know what else to do. The woman’s mouth moved. By God, she’s chewing! And maybe she let go for a second because she wanted to get a better grip with her teeth. Jasmine didn’t know, but the release was just enough for just long enough. Desiree was able to pull away, immediately drawing her wounded hand to her breast.

Jasmine backed away. “Are you all right?”

“I…don’t know. Crazy bitch!” Tears stood in Desiree’s eyes, but her cheeks were flush and her expression hard. She drew back a foot.

Then the woman pushed herself to her feet.

Jasmine couldn’t help it.

She screamed.

The woman lunged at her.

* * * * *

If you want more, the paperback’s waiting for you, or just hang on til June 10th, when the ebook releases.

Otherwise, I’ll be back with more updates in a few weeks.

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