Author Blog Tour Excerpt: The End of the World Playlist by Dan O'Brien

Welcome to the sixth day of the The End of the World Playlist blog tour. It will run until August 1st and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this dystopian world:

The world as we knew it had ended. Deep in the mountains of the west coast, six men survived. In the town of River’s Bend, these six friends continued on with their lives as zombies inherited the Earth. As they navigated the world that had been left behind, the soundtrack of life played on.

 

A few questions for the author:

Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing? 

 

I am doing what I believe in, though it takes a lot of work. There is a high probability of failure when you do what you believe in. I do not believe in settling; life is too short.

 

If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently? 

 

I wouldn’t change a thing. I am living the kind of life that I want, doing the kind of things I want do, and making the kind of goals that I think will increase my happiness. Though it would mean that I only had 8 years left…

 

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken? 

 

There are many events in your life that are fixed points, but most of what we do is predicated on previous decisions. The consequences of our actions become the backbone of our lives. Think about your choices and the possible consequences and live life accordingly.

 

 

Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:

 

The two-vehicle caravan pulled into the empty streets of River’s Bend. The Bronco rumbled and then subsided. The van barely made a sound.

Doors opened; men emerged.

Kenny and Will were back at it again.

“You absolutely could not kill a zombie high. Fuck, you are high for even thinking that,” spoke Kenny riotously.

Will had dark sunglasses on.

He pointed an accusatory finger at Kenny. “It would mellow me out, calm me down, man. I get fucking stressed walking around here.”

Dan walked over and slapped Will hard on the back, jarring him forward. “Try and keep the bickering to a minimum. You guys sound like a couple.”

“Fuck you,” retorted Will.

“Nice. You two head down to Wal-Mart, grab what we need and whatever you think we might not. Take the Bronco.”

Kenny nodded and hopped back in the driver’s seat, revving the engine once more.

“We going alone?” asked Will.

“It’s daytime, you’ll see them coming if they come,” replied Dan with a smirk.

“That’s not nearly as reassuring as you think it is.”

Dan started to walk back, turning back to Will.

“Isn’t supposed to be.”

“Just fucking wonderful. Fucking Liberace over here,” spoke Will verbosely.

“You’re saying I’m a gay musician. What is that supposed to mean?” challenged Dan.

“Wait, no, I meant Mussolini, fuck.”

“Italian dictator?” queried Dan.

“How about grammar Nazi?”

“Grab a fucking thesaurus while you’re there,” replied Dan.

“Fuck you. You wouldn’t be giving me this much shit if Mary was…” Will stopped, the smile disappearing from his face. “I didn’t mean…”

“Get in the Bronco and do what I told you.”

Will saluted mockingly. “Right, boss.” As he leaped into the passenger seat, the Bronco roared to life and disappeared down the road.

Jesse stood beside his brother, looking at the slowly-disappearing SUV. “Tact was really never in her brother’s vocabulary, was it?”

“Not so much.”

Allen walked up, two giant duffel bags hung over his upper torso. He carried an assault rifle, a shotgun, and a cadre of handguns littered across his shoulders and waist. Links and links of shells and rounds overlapped.

“We meet back here?” asked Allen.

Dan nodded.

“Two and a half hours, not a second longer, and then we head to the Tower.”

“Tower? You didn’t say anything about the Tower today,” spoke Jesse.

Dan looked into the distance. “It has been a while since we gave it a try. I will remind the wonder twins to grab some extra generators and supplies.”

“Do you think that is a good idea?” queried the younger brother.

Dan shrugged. “Ran out of those a long time ago.”

Allen started to walk down the street, melting into the distance. It was nearly noon already and the wind was cold. Brandon carried the .50 cal over his slender shoulder with ease. “Brandon,” called Dan.

The much smaller man turned, looking at Dan through Aviator sunglasses. “Yeah, boss?”

“Play Watchtower. Watch the babies. Keep in contact.”

“As you say, boss.”

Brandon disappeared, ascending one of the many medium-sized buildings in River’s Bend. Dan and Jesse moved forward, walking down the street toward the library. It had been a dilapidated building before the apocalypse, now it looked more like a mausoleum than a house of books. 

“Here we go,” spoke Dan with a sigh. Jesse looked at him strangely, the box of books in his hands.

*

The Bronco pulled across the faded lines of parking spaces. Will was the first out of the vehicle, bounding like a school kid exiting a school bus on a field trip. He carried his rifle loosely.

Kenny lumbered out, depositing his chainsaw on his back and grabbing the riot shotgun––that Dan previously wielded––in one hand and used the other to shut the heavy door of the Bronco.

Will jumped up and kicked his door shut.

“Hey, monkey boy, don’t kick the beast.”

“Don’t be so sensitive about your behemoth, man, she’s resistive.”

This seemed to brighten Kenny’s demeanor. “That’s true. This beauty here is a lot more resilient than you are. Fucking killing the English language, man. Boss would be pissed.”<

“Low blow, man.”

“I call it likes I sees it, motherfucker.”

Will rolled his eyes and started forward, running ahead of Kenny, whooping and jumping about like a spaz.

“Didn’t you hear Dan? Keep the noise to a minimum, man.”

Brandon’s voice sounded over static.

“This is Eagle Eye, Dee and Dumb acknowledge.”

Kenny smirked. “Eagle Eye this is Dee. Dumb is accounted for. We can hear you loud and clear.”

“Dee keep the bullshit to a minimum. Grab extra generators, we are hitting up the Tower later.”

“Acknowledge, Eagle Eye. Dee and Dumb out.”

Will was already damn near the front doors of Wal-Mart. His eyes were wide open, and he knelt on the ground like he had made a spectacular soccer goal.

“Asshole, wait up,” called Kenny.

*

The interior of the Sports Authority was darker than outside. There was little ventilation in the store, so Allen reacted to the smell, scrunching his nose.

“Disgusting.”

The front counter retained its circular construction.

A groaning zombie stood behind it, indentured to the counter with the same silver bolts as the others. Allen approached the counter, hanging the assault rifle around his neck. Feinting a jumping motion, he drew the zombie forward. Bob the Sports Authority Zombie attempted to lunge, but did not budge.

With a shrug, he continued farther into the store.

*

The inner sanctum of the library was shadowed. There was a smell of old books––stale and ever-present––in the air. “There is something rather comforting about the smell of old books. Makes me forget the world for a while,” spoke Jesse as he strolled.

Dan nodded and moved forward, his weapon in front of him and ready. Jesse navigated toward the library counter and placed the box of books on the old faded wood. “Shall we simply leave the books here or place them where they were once at home?” asked the younger brother with a bemused grin.

“I am guessing that is a rhetorical question.”

“Very astute, it is all part of the ritual.”

Dan smirked and slid the strap of the rifle over his shoulder and grabbed a handful of books before moving into the stacks. Jesse smiled, though his was more reserved. He picked up another handful of books, leaving only a few left in the box, and followed his brother into the long bookshelves.

*

Brandon found his way to the top of the building. The .50 caliber was set up, sights and barrel pointed through an open window at the town below. A duffel pack sat beside Brandon, and a headset clung around his head, which was much larger than his thin body. He chewed gum thoughtfully, leaning back in a fold-up chair, arms behind his neck.

He sung quietly to himself.

“I can’t get you out of my head….”

Leaning forward, Brandon continued to hum as he looked through the scope at the streets below, which were momentarily empty.

Author Bio

A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here.

 

 

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