“Just a wonderful, fantastic, blood and gore splattered story! Great characters, action, plot.
Love the way it unfolded. I can’t wait for the next book…really I can’t wait.”

Allen Gamboa, author of the Dead Island series.

We all know the Zombie Apocalypse is coming. You know it, I know it. The people working on the virus in the so-super-secure-it’s-not-at-all-secure secret lab know it too. It’s against this backdrop that Rich Baker created the Zed’s World universe. The well-received novella has expanded into a second, full-length book with a third volume on the way.

Zed’s World is a zombie story written about a regular set of people dealing with extraordinary events. Be warned: once you start reading, you’ll get drawn into it and you’ll feel compelled to share it with your friends. The Gathering Horde and Roads Less Traveled are available for Kindle on Amazon, and the print version contains both.

After wrapping up the Zed’s World trilogy, Rich will be expanding into other genres – thriller and sci-fi – with an occasional return to Zed’s World to ensure the universe keeps expanding as it should! Be sure to check out the blog section of this site. You’ll find everything from prep advice to gear reviews and status updates on what’s next from Rich. And, sign-up for the mailing list. You’ll get the inside track on release dates, sales, events, and more! Thanks for reading!

Book Preview

step into zed's world

Enjoy this preview of the novella The Gathering Horde, book one in the Zed’s World series.


Zed's World: Book One

Zed's World: Book One

Contents

Prologue: All Good Things
Chapter 1: Doubt
Chapter 2: The Last Hurrah
Chapter 3: Betrayed
Chapter 4: …Must Come to an End
Chapter 5: Too Little, Too Late
Chapter 6: The Kids Aren’t Alright

Dedication

With thanks to my support team: Mom, Dad, Mike, Cookie, and David for feeding my obsession and keeping my creative space filled with both the undead and the tools to fight them, the folks who read the serial on Zedprep.com and seemed to think it has merit (Mick James and Uncle Bob chief among them), and to Wendy for her undying support, proofreading, editing and belief that ‘you can do it!”

Prologue

All Good Things

Sept 29, 2013 – Z-poc plus 135 days

The compression bandage has stopped the bleeding but twenty-eight-year-old Jason Bowling, forever called “D-Day” because he was born on June 6, knows he will not see twenty-nine. The blood vessels leading away from the wound have turned a dark gray even as the surrounding flesh loses its color. All around the bite, the skin is painful to the touch and getting worse as the minutes pass. He knows he needs to make a decision about what to do next; too much time has passed for amputation to be effective, so either he’s going to have to ask one of the people he’s been staying with, has trained and has bonded with, to kill him, or he’s going to have to punch his own ticket.

Marc Wallace comes rushing in, out of breath from running. Marc is forty-four years old and is in the best shape of his life. It only took the end of the world—the end of human domination of the world—to get him out from behind his desk. He was a work-from-home web designer before the z-poc and still displays his nerdish leanings, but he’s leaner and tougher now than he was in the spring. Of course, everyone is, D-Day thinks. He redirects his focus to Marc, still panting from his sprint into the room. He’s holding his iPad out in front of him.

“The Parrot has more bad news!” he gasps, catching his breath.

On the ten-inch screen, they can see the familiar field, about a third of a mile south of them. Instead of out-of-control alfalfa grown by the former owner so he could claim the tax advantages of being a “farm,” they watch about 2500 zeds loping toward their housing development. Some stagger and fall in the ruts left from the last time the field was plowed, more than a year ago, while some trip over the railroad tracks that run east to west at the edge of the field.

Some of the zeds that trip find themselves impaled on a length of rebar protruding from the ground … several through the head, thanks to the statistical measurements Marc has provided. Even on this uneven topography for every one that has been auto-speared, there are fifteen more who flow like water, along the path of least resistance, following a single row until they reach the dirt road that borders the acreage. Some have already crossed the road and are stuck at the fence that separates the field from the green space that marks the southern end of their housing development.

Soon they’ll find the opening where a gate used to be, and once the first zeds make it through the opening, the rest will follow like molecules being dragged by invisible atomic bonds, following the sounds of the battle that just ended. Marc puts to words what everyone is thinking. “We’ve got about fifteen minutes to dig in or bug out.”

They’re all spellbound for a moment, watching the image being transmitted by the Parrot. The Parrot is Marc’s four-bladed helo-drone, originally bought for having fun in the park, or spying on his neighbor’s property as a virtual neighborhood watch. Now it’s their early warning system. At 150 feet in altitude, the Parrot can see for miles in any direction with the on-board HD camera. It has saved their skins several times, many of them on supply runs, and it gave them the upper hand in the battle that they just finished. Recharging the Parrot’s batteries and the iPad, which controls it, always gets priority on their makeshift electric grid.

Kyle Puckett, the group’s leader—though he does not like that title—takes about ten seconds to do the math in his head. “Kids, go-bags, now! We’re bugging out!”

D-Day watches as the five younger members of their crew spring into action, their adrenaline from the battle they just escaped still coursing through their systems. They move with purpose, though; they’ve practiced this before and they each know what to do.

They’ve forgotten his condition for the moment as well, D-Day thinks. It’s the combat mindset. Since May 17, 2013, there has been little time for mourning the dead or weeping for the dying. In fact, in Zed’s World, dead and dying are the same thing. D-Day knows they all wrote him off the minute he’d been bitten, knowing that when the time came, someone would do what was needed. Afterward, they’d bury him in the vacant lot down the street, next to the last member of the group they’d had to put down.

Marc goes back to the basement window and climbs into the tunnel that connects the houses. He has to get ready to move as well. At least now, with the images of that horde still fresh in his mind, D-Day knows what he needs to do about his own situation.

“Kyle, load me up. I’ll need a popper too,” D-Day says, using their colloquialism for a hand grenade, as he struggles to his feet.

“D-Day …” Kyle starts to say, but D-Day holds up his good hand.

“I’m done, Kyle, and you know it. But before I go, I’m going to buy you all some time.” He looks at his graying arm. “Time which neither of us have much of, by the way, so stop wasting it and help me get geared up.”

Kyle looks at D-Day through tired eyes. Eyes that have seen more death, more horror over the last half year than anyone should see in a lifetime. They all have seen the same things, but Kyle bore the burden of leadership, whether he wanted it or not. He had made the hard decisions when other people had not had the desire to do so.

No one said it out loud, but it was easier to follow an order than to decide it was necessary. They have all been glad to have him make these choices since it absolved them of being the ones responsible, but that weight has taken a toll on Kyle these long five months. Here at the end of D-Day’s time on this planet, someone other than Kyle is making the decision about how to end a life. D-Day has decided to go out on his terms, and Kyle respects his choice. He knows if the roles were reversed, he would do the same thing.

“Okay,” he says as he reaches for the well-used rifle D-Day brought with him to their sanctuary. It was all he could say, but nothing more was needed.

Enjoying this preview? Buy the ebook on Amazon

Chapter 1

Doubt

May 3, 2013 AD – Z-poc minus 14

Khaleed Farouk is dying. It’s more painful than he thought it would be. Maybe he thought it would be like going to sleep; he can’t remember now, but if he did think that, he could not have been more wrong.

It feels like having razor blades drawn across his skin followed by gasoline being sprayed in the wounds. The brown flesh at the injection site where the pale green serum had been introduced to his body has faded to a pale gray, and the pain which began there radiates throughout his body. His heart, which beats WAY too fast, feels like it’s pushing broken glass through his arteries. It wasn’t until the virus reached his brain that he knew what the torment of Jahannum must feel like. For a moment, he feels pity for the kafir and their fate, then, as his heart goes through its final spasms and his synapses begin to shut down, he feels nothing. Khaleed Farouk is dead, martyred for the Jihad. He has died the honorable death of a true believer making the ultimate sacrifice for the cause.

In the raised antechamber, Almahdi Maloof and Najm al Din Abdul-Malik look through a large window of inch-thick polycarbonate ballistic glass at the prone figure of Khaleed on the stainless steel table. Both men have been in America for more than twenty years, waiting for the time when they would be called to support the Jihad. In the corner of the room below them, the man they simply call “The Scientist”—Asad Sajjad Bitar—packs up his gear. They’ve just watched him set up an IV drip into Farouk’s arm and inject a pale green serum into the line. Farouk lies on the stainless steel table with his arms, legs, and waist restrained.

Even from this distance, they could see the effects of the serum when it hit his system. He started struggling against the restraints and screaming in pain. They could see the blood vessels closest to the skin turn grey as the drug worked its way into his system, followed by the skin draining of its color. The entire process, from injection to Farouk lying still, took about two minutes.

Enjoying this preview? Buy the ebook on Amazon

Reviews

hear what readers have to say about zed's world...

“I don't know how Rich Baker packed so much awesome into 62 pages.”

Brian Parker, author of the Washington Dead City series

“The Gathering Horde is a whole lot of zombie fun…Rich Baker took me on a maniacal ride through the beginning of the end of the world as we know it.”

Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews

“What a GREAT read. Rich baker has created a world in the here and now with zombies and made the whole thing believable…The characters are awesome. It is just fantastic to read this kind of writing. Rich Baker, you ROCK. Looking forward to more from you.”

Casey S.

“Perfect for your zombie fix!! Original characters and an intriguing plot - especially if you know Colorado. Loved loved loved it & can't wait to read the next one!!!”

Leslie Schirrmacher

“The adventure continues as the world crumbles! I'll have to wait (impatiently) for the next installment in the 'Zed's World' series.”

Sabrina Jean

Meet Rich Baker

author, runner, zed fanatic, clown hater

Rich lives on the front range of the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado and may or may not have a Danny Harris-style bunker where he can take refuge from the zombies when the inevitable apocalypse strikes. When he’s not writing or working, he enjoys running in the Colorado sunshine, even if it’s 20 degrees outside! He also enjoys an occasional round of golf and binging on the latest Netflix sensations.

"The ride is just starting. Keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times and keep your head on a swivel. It's going to be a fun trip!"