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Dex

A world of mindless zombies. A lone traveler kills to stay alive. To survive a new threat, his only choices are trust or death…

Dex fears humans more than the hordes of wandering undead. After 11 years in survival mode, he’s learned how to fight the wandering killers. But humans are unpredictable, and in the chaotic ruins of civilization, one unplanned move can get you killed…

After an attack by the zombified version of a beloved family member, Dex resolves to travel back to his hometown. As he searches for surviving friends and family, he encounters a new breed of wanderer… less grotesque, but just as hungry for flesh…

To combat the new enemy, Dex must re-learn how to trust his fellow travelers. If he fails, he has no chance of reaching his hometown alive…

Dex is a post-apocalyptic zombie adventure with both thrills and heart. If you like tales of undead survival, compelling characters, and new twists on classic horror, then you’ll love Stacy Claflin’s edge-of-your-seat thriller.

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Excerpt

Dex Sheahan held his breath and readied his bow. He stepped back, inching away from the dozen or so insatiable wanderers. They growled, hissed, and reached out, scratching one another but not finding Dex. The rancid odor of rotting flesh and exposed internal organs made his eyes water, but he held still. They would soon forget about him and move on as long as they couldn’t find him.

The zombies were nothing if not predictable. Chase after anything with warm internal organs and fresh brains. Rip them out and eat. Repeat. They were strong, but incapable of intelligence. And that was how Dex had managed to live as long as he had—he used his brain, unlike so many other people he’d run in to over the years. Use it or lose it. That was the law of life in the wild.

How many years had he managed to survive? His guess was close to eleven years, but it was only that. A guess. He’d lost count of how many cold winters and hot summers had passed since escaping the safety of the tiny town he’d grown up in. But if he was right, he’d spent exactly half his life on his own, fighting to live.

The groans and grunts grew quieter. Several of the wanderers stumbled away in the opposite direction. They meandered without direction, which was no doubt how they had earned the name.

Dex released a quiet sigh of relief. The others would soon follow suit. Then he could carry on his way and find a place to sleep for the night. With any luck, it would be better than the tree branch that had been his bed the night before. It hadn’t been his worst night of rest, but there was nothing like finding an old bed or couch to crash onto, no matter how lumpy or stiff.

Growl.

His heart skipped a beat. That hadn’t been one of the monsters. It was his stomach.

Growl-growl.

Several of the wanderers turned his way and reached into the bush that separated them from him.

Crack. A branch broke in two.

Dex swore. Why now? It was surprises like that which would get him killed like so many other before him.

Cracked yellow claws reached for him. Growls and hisses grew louder as the creatures inched closer.

He tightened his grip on the arrow, aimed his bow at the nearest head, and released. It flew the short distance and burst into the monster’s temple. It—Dex never referred to them as he or she, despite what they once had been—cried out and fell to the ground. Three more pushed through the thick bushes, snatching at him.

He reached into his quiver and readied another arrow. Unfortunately, he was running low on ammo. He hadn’t had much time lately to make more or go back for the ones he’d shot. He had four, but five chased him.

Dex backed into a tree, stopping him from going any farther. His heart raced. He would need to either kill two with one shot or run from the last one. His only other option was to pull out one of his knives, but that would be a last resort. Using a blade meant allowing them close enough to bite or scratch him. If that happened, he would soon turn into one of those mindless freaks of nature.

He shot an arrow at the nearest one and again hit it directly in the temple. After an over-dramatic display of hissing and thrashing, it finally fell to the ground. Dex maneuvered around the tree while pulling out the rest of the arrows. He used each one in rapid-fire succession.

The remaining wanderer raced for him, growling and snapping. This one was fast, which meant it was especially hungry. A dirty, torn floral dress hung in tatters off its shoulders. Maybe the garment would impede its reach enough that Dex would stand a fighting chance with a knife.

Dex slung the crossbow over his shoulder and reached for his longest blade. It was seventeen inches from tip to handle and had once belonged to his dad. It would have to be good enough.

Behind the fast zombie, a group of three more headed his way. All the noise from the ones he’d just killed had gotten their attention.

Dex took a deep breath and focused on the one in front of him. It moved faster with each step. Definitely hungry for his organs.

The trees and other plant life were especially thick, making his getaway all the more challenging. He kept his attention on the rapidly-approaching creature while trying to map an escape. It was never easy, but this time would prove extra difficult with the thick trees and poison oak blocking his way.

He stepped back, barely avoiding the itchy plant, and bumped into another tree. All the branches were higher than he could reach, and the bark too smooth for him to scale. His breathing grew labored. The three behind this one closed in.

Dex stumbled over a rock. He reached down, picked it up, and threw it at the monster’s face. It flinched and hissed, clawing at the air. While it was distracted, he ran past it, barely getting by. Then he rushed past the other three, careful to stay out of reach.

Dex came to a new-growth tree. It was too weak to climb, but it had plenty of branches. He ripped a few off. They weren’t arrows or spears, but they would have to do. The group of three was now closer, so he turned to them and dug the pointed end of the longest branch into the nearest temple. The creature flailed about and hissed, but crumbled to the ground.

One of the zombies behind it tripped and face-planted onto a stone. Pieces of flesh and gray matter—though it was yellow and red—splattered out, some landing on Dex’s pants. It wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last. The last of the group lumbered toward Dex, staring with hollow eyes and grasping for him with long ragged nails. A torn t-shirt barely hung to its body with the phrase World’s Greatest Dad scrawled across the blood-spattered front.

“Not anymore.” Dex ran at it and aimed another branch into the wanderer’s temple. The thing screeched, spraying something orange onto Dex’s shirt and snapped its few remaining teeth at him. Before Dex could dig the weapon into the skull, the zombie reached out for him. Dex jumped out of the way and missed getting scratched by less than an inch.

His heart jumped into his throat. He hadn’t had a close call like that in some time. Dex raised a foot and pulled his leg close to his body before side-kicking the thing in its stomach and then knees. It reached for Dex, hissing, as it stumbled backward. The thing managed to keep its balance, proving to be more difficult to kill than its now-dead friends.

It hissed, spraying orange into the air, and marched toward Dex. The zombie in the dress had finally figured out where Dex had gone and rushed toward him, twice as fast as the world’s greatest dad approached. In less than thirty seconds, he would have to fight them both off at the same time.

There was only one thing to do. He held both branches in the air, aimed them at the nearest one, and launched them with all his might. One hit the dress-zombie, who crashed into a tree with a loud thud. The world’s greatest dad turned toward the noise, and Dex took advantage of its distraction. He grabbed another branch and threw it. It sailed silently through the air and smashed into the zombie’s temple, shattering the skull upon impact. Dad convulsed before falling only feet from his companions.

No time to catch his breath. The dress-monster raced over, screaming and growling. As it ran toward him, intestines fell out and hung from its middle, but it didn’t slow down. It bared its graying teeth and reached for him with disgusting jaundiced nails.

He aimed his last branch at the monster, but froze before throwing it. A sliver of sunlight shining through the trees reflected off the creature’s necklace.

Dex recognized it. He’d seen it countless times as a boy. It was one of his family’s few heirlooms. His mom never took it off. Ever.

The monster trying to kill him was his mom.

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