Love and Zombies – Dianne Hartsock (31 Days of Halloween)

Love and Zombies

Hello! Thanks so much for
stopping in at Brynna’s 31 Days of Halloween Fest. Yay! When my publisher,
Breathless Press, first put up the call for zombie submissions *now that sounds
a little naughty!* I was a trifle skeptical. Zombie stories tend to get rather
gory and I wasn’t sure I could write something like that.

But then I got an idea. Ah ha!
Why not write a story about REAL zombies, you know, the ones claimed to be seen
down in the old Bijou country of Louisiana? I’ve always been fascinated with
Hoodoo mysticism and here was my chance to really dig in and do some serious
Do you know how to make a zombie?
It’s really quite sad and frightening. I stumbled on the recipe while digging
through some old stories and legends concerning Hoodoo.
It takes two special powders being introduced into the blood stream
(usually via a wound). The first, coup de poudre (French: “powder
strike”), includes tetrodotoxin (TTX), a powerful and frequently fatal
neurotoxin found in the flesh of the pufferfish (order Tetraodontidae).
The second powder consists of dissociative drugs such as datura. Together,
these powders were said to induce a deathlike state in which the will of the
victim would be entirely subjected to that of the bokor.

Once they had been issued the coup
, the subjects being prepared for their descent into zombidom by the
bokor would appear to die insofar as their heart rate would slow to a near
stop, their breathing patterns would be greatly subdued and their body
temperature would significantly decrease. The public, thinking that the person
was dead, would bury him/ her as if they were a corpse. They would then be
exhumed, still alive, by the Bokor and, although their body remained intact,
their memory would be erased and they would be transformed into mindless
drones. “Though still living, they remain under the Bokor’s power until
the Bokor dies.” (Keegan,
Scary stuff, huh? But makes for a
very potent scene in my story.
When it comes to the dark
weavings of hoodoo magic, only a few can survive.
It’s started. Bodies have been
found in the French Quarter, torn limb from limb. The undead have been seen
walking. For Detective Matthew Rieves, this is the worst news he can imagine.
Having spent his entire life in Orleans Parish, Matt’s no stranger to the
bizarre. Though, despite the growing evidence, he still has a hard time
believing in the occult. But when two hoodoo bokors vie for supremacy, it’s the
innocent civilians that pay the price.
For Jesse Dalembert, he’d left
New Orleans to sever his ties with hoodoo. But when a friend is brutally
murdered by the bokor’s zombies, he returns, falling at once into danger and
into Detective Rieves’s bed. With their lives on the line, their simmering
attraction flares into a passion they can no longer deny.
Working against time, can the
lovers find a way to stop the hoodoo war, or will they fall victim to the dark
magic, maybe becoming zombies themselves?
Mini Excerpt
Jesse nibbled on his lip, again
feeling the power washing over him from the zombie. “I’m as strong as she
is,” he said hesitantly. “But there’s something you must understand.
There are places I won’t go with my abilities, powerful, dangerous things I
won’t do that Alexia won’t stop at. She’s already twisted nature with her
creation of these undead men. Sweet lord, Matt. Do you know how to make a
zombie?” He continued at the quick shake of the detective’s head.
“New Orleans is a city of old-world magic. You think we live in modern
times, but here, time has stood still. Hoodoo is woven into the very souls of
the population. A bokor is a powerful hoodoo leader, skilled in enchantment.
You call us witches and scoff at our abilities, but the people here believe and
fear us. We can make charms for health and safety, but everything can be
twisted to evil. Their absolute belief in us gives us the power to make almost
anything happen.”
“Including a zombie?”
Sorrow touched Jesse’s heart.
“Yes. Through fear and terrorization, a bokor can weave a lie into a
person’s mind, make them believe that they are dying. Then the witch cuts
symbols into their flesh and rubs the powder strike into the wounds, the
mixture of tetrodotoxin and datura that paralyses the body but causes extreme hallucinations.
The men are told they are dead and believe it. Then they’re buried alive.”
“For two days, Matt. When
they’re dug back up, their minds have wandered into madness. They’re the
bokor’s slaves, unable to think beyond the witch’s commands. They believe they
are dead and start to decay. There’s no saving them after that.” Jesse put
his face in his hands. “I won’t cross the line between what I consider to
be good and evil, and that’s where I could fail.”
Drawing a tired breath, he waited
for the detective’s censure.
Dianne Hartsock