Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How the Literary Agent Killed Zombies

I put this in for a contest over at The Rejectionist's, but thought I'd put it up here, too. Because, hell, it was fun to write and this is the Halloween season. Which lasts two weeks. Nobody tell me otherwise. Yes, I have free rein to eat chocolate for that period. It's Halloween. Oh, and props to my collaborator on this one, Dr. Seuss. Kind of a nutty fellow, but fun to work with.

How the Literary Agent Killed Zombies

Every Ghoul down in Boo-ville likes Zombies a lot…
But the Steve, who lived just North of Boo-ville, did not!
The Steve hated zombies! The whole zombie season!
Now please… ask us why, we quite know the reason.

It seems there was once a query quite right
But the novel itself was a disappointment, all right!
The Zombies had pompadours just a little too small
And heaped zombie adjectives up like a wall!

Yes, that was the reason he barfed on his tools!
And so he sat there a-reading and hating the Ghouls
Staring down from his office with a sour, Stevie frown
At the orange-lighted windows below in their town
For he knew every ghoul down in Boo-ville beneath
Was busy, just now, hanging a black, glossy wreath

"And they're plotting their sequels," he snarled through his beer
"Tomorrow they'll query, it's practically here!"
Then he growled, his red pencil nervously drumming.
"I must find a way to keep queries from coming!"

For tomorrow, he knew, all the ghoul girls and boys
Would start typing away on their bright Macintosh toys
And then they'd do something he liked least of all
The ghouls down in Boo-ville, the tall and the small,
Would all gather 'round for group therapy writing!
And yes, in each story, there would be zombie chaps biting!

Then he got an idea, an awful idea!
The Steve got a wonderful, awful idea!
"I know just what to do," the Steve laughed in his throat
And he made a quick skeleton skull and a boat

"All I need is a paddle…" The Steve looked around,
But since paddles are scarce there were none to be found.
Did that stop the old Steve? No! The Steve simply said
"If I can't find a paddle, I'll make one instead."
His assistant, a fox, he wrapped in black thread
And he tied a big board on top of her head.

Then he pulled on a black cloak, peered at his clock
Fetched up his assistant and pushed off from the dock
Then the Steve said "Ahoy!" and the boat started down
Toward the homes where the Ghouls lay a-snooze in their town

All the homes were dark, quiet groans filled the air
As the Ghouls were all dreaming dead dreams without flair
"This is stop number one," the old skeleton hissed
And he climbed to the roof, red pen in his fist

Then he slid down the chimney, like an arm through a sleeve
If Santa could do it, then so could the Steve
He never got stuck, not for a moment or three
(There was little to him but some old bones and one flea)

And the little Ghoul keyboards all sat in a row
"Those keyboards"," he grinned, "are the first things to go."
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile almost daft
Around the whole room, and he took every draft!
Zombies! And Vampires! Apocalypse drums!
Werewolves! And Chick Lit! Articulate bums!

Then he slunk to the cabinet. He took the plot feast!
He took the chapter titles and giant squid beast!
He cleaned out that cabinet as quick as a flash
Why, that Steve even took the last can of Ghoul-Rash!

Steve snatched up the drafts, and he started to slash
When he heard a small sound like the kiss of a lash
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Ghoul
Little Cindy-Lou Ghoul, who was eating a stool!

The Steve had been caught by this little Ghoul hood
Who'd got out of bed for a bite of cool wood
She stared at the Steve and said "Skeleton, why?
Why are you cutting our manuscripts? Why?"

But you know that old Steve, he was so smart and so slick,
He thought up a lie and he thought it up quick
"Why, my sweet little rot," the fake skeleton lied,
"There's a verb in this draft that I just can't let slide.
So I'm taking it home to my study, my dear,
I'll edit it there, and then I'll bring it back here."

And his fib fooled the child. He patted her head
Then got her a drink and sent her to bed.
And the last thing that he did was to light up the fire
And he threw on every manuscript, oh what a pyre!

Then he did the same thing to the other Ghoul houses
Leaving ashes too small for the other Ghoul louses!

It was quarter past dawn… all the Ghouls still afloat
All the Ghouls still a-snooze when he packed up his boat
Packed it up with their hard drives! Their iPhones and wrappings!
Their post-it note memos! Their sketches and flappings!

Three thousand feet down, down the length of Lake Slumpit
He rowed and he rowed to the middle to dump it.
"Ha Ha to the Ghouls!" he was Steve-ishly humming
"They're finding out now that no stories will be coming!
Their mouths will hang open for a minute or two
Then the Ghouls down in Boo-ville will all cry Boo Hoo!"

"That's a noise," grinned the Steve, "that I really must hear!"
So he paused. And he put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the glow
It started in low. Then it started to grow.

But the sound wasn't mad! Why this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so! But it was merry! Very!
He stared down at Boo-ville, the Steve popped his eyes
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Ghoul down in Boo-ville, the tall and the small,
Was typing! Without any stories at all!
He hadn't stopped the zombies from coming! They came!
Somehow or other, they came just the same!

And the Fox paddle stopped in the midst of a row
Steve puzzled and puzzled: "How could it be so?"
It came without outlines! Came without speech tags!
It came without realism, but, yes, yes, with great bee plagues!
And he puzzled three hours til his puzzler was sore
Then the Steve thought of something he hadn't before
"Maybe zombies," he thought, "don't just come from a bore
Maybe zombies, perhaps, are a little hardcore!"

Well, what happened then? Well, in Boo-ville they say
The Steve's in-box shrunk three sizes that day
And the minute his inbox shrunk right out of sight
The Steve sat back in his chair in the bright morning light
And he penned a form letter as black as the night
For just such a moment as this, quite right!
He penned it with venom and vitriol spite
(So hoping you'll jump from a very great height)

Yes He, He Himself, signed the grim form
Because zombies, yes zombies, are only lukewarm.


L. T. Host said...

Holy COW. I admire you sir, this was a true masterpiece.

If you do not win... well... I will be shocked and appalled and all forms of disappointed.

Ink said...

Thanks, L.T.! It was sort of a hoot to write, a nice escape from the busyness of revisions and bookselling.

L. T. Host said...

How are things at Ye Olde Bookstore?

Ink said...

Selling books faster than I can put them on the shelf... a bag-sale will do that. :)

L. T. Host said...

Glad to hear it :) Are you going to be able to stay in business, then? Or is it still curtains? (Not to pry, I just adore your store vicariously through your blog, haha.)

Bane of Anubis said...

Go Lakers! (sorry, random intrusion. Couldn't help myself :)

Ink said...

No, it's my closing sale. But, going out with a bang! If I'd known closing was so profitable I would have done it ages ago!

Ink said...


Lakers spam! A low blow, my friend, a low blow...

Susan Quinn said...

*choking from laughter*
Zombies, hardcore! *gasps for air*
No, not the ChickLit!

Oh my, Ink, that was funny. Thank you.

There was a time when I could recite Cat in the Hat verbatim from the front seat to calm an unhappy traveling toddler. Good Times.

I love me some Seuss!

Ink said...

I have a two year old and a four year old, so let us say that I've recited a bit of Seuss in my time...

Mira said...

L.T.: Holy COW and masterpiece - couldn't say it better myself.

I said it there, and I'll say it here.

You outdid yourself Bryan.


And dare I say......encore?!

Donna Hole said...

I just read this at the Rejectionist and thought I'd pop by to say "brilliant; truly brilliant".

And Ulyssis; that was an awesome re-write of Poe.

Sounds like things are going well for you with your sale. I hope you're still feeling pleased a month from now.


Ink said...

Thanks, Donna. And I liked Ulysses' too. And the one with the song rewrite at the end... And Mira's non-entry. :)

Susan Quinn said...

Because I love your Zombies meets the Grinch entry so much I gave you an award. I apologize for the pinkiness.

I'm still crossing my fingers, the Rejectionist will see his/her way clear to your genius later today.

Ink said...

Susan, thanks! Always nice to be appreciated. And I must admit I have the worst time trying to download those award icons. Admittedly, I'm a techno-rube. I'm pretty sure the hover car I stole broke down somewhere on the side of the Information Highway and I got stranded zigabytes away from Cyber City. Left staring at the distant lights from the cracked window of the Luddite Motel...

Susan Quinn said...

I'd send the cyborgs in to help you, but their new emo-chip makes them afraid to go in that neighborhood . . .

Ink said...

Hey, I won! Okay, tied for second. :) But it was a total hoot.

Susan Quinn said...

Yes! See, it was Seuss-tastic! And wallabies even made it into the top entry. So there.

Is your query/MS all ready to go??

Ink said...

I'll do the manuscript pages, as I'm never too worried about queries. I've had good success with those. Whereas beginnings of stories are my nemesis... I always find openings the greatest challenge, so a professional eye on an opening will be handy. Plus a treat! Oooh!

L. T. Host said...

Hey Ink! Congrats :D

Hey-- I don't have to be shocked and appalled and all forms of disappointed, because you won!!!! :D


Ink said...

You can't go wrong when the Grinch is in your corner.

L. T. Host said...

Very true, sir. PS-- I'm calling it winning. Close enough, eh? :)

Wanu said...

Ooooohhh, wonderful! I hear it in Anthony Hopkins' voice!

Ink said...


Thanks, my man.

Mira said...

Yay! You won, you won. Well, second, but I think they got you on the technicality that it wasn't actually a form rejection. But it was so AWESOME, they created a prize just for you!

As they should have.

I'm so proud of them for recognizing your awesomeness! Congrats!

Mira said...

Oh, and thanks for the nice words. :)

So, now that you've re-written Seuss, I was thinking it was time to move onto a new challenge, a new poet. What about that Shakespeare guy? He's ripe for a re-write. Personally, I can barely understand a word the guy says. I think you're just the person to finally take that Shakespeare stuff and make some sense out of it.

Anna Claire said...

OK, just came over from The Rejectionist and completely agog. THis is awesome.You ROCK.

Reesha said...

Wow. I love it!
Sounds like I'm going to have to go over to the Rejectionist and check it out!

Reesha said...

Ack! Not so cool anymore!
I went back to typing my NaNoNovel and everything sounds rhymy to me! I keep reading in that same rhythm!

Actually, to tell the truth, it's quite enjoyable.

Ink said...

Thanks, Anna!

Ink said...


Should I do The Cat in the Hat to thoroughly vex you?


Reesha said...

Oh yes, please do!
(But I promise not to read it until after NaNoWriMo.)

Richmond Writer said...

Excellent! Well written and entertaining. I bookmarked it for rereading because it was that good.

Ink said...

Thanks, RW! I had fun writing it, so I'm glad people are having fun reading it.