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Young Adult Fiction Lgbt

Zombie Apocalypse Running Club

by (author) Carrie Mac

Random House Publishing Group
Initial publish date
Aug 2024
LGBT, Zombies, Survival Stories
Recommended Age
14 to 18
Recommended Grade
9 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2024
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2024
    List Price

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When twins Eira and Soren escape from their survivalist home into a world overcome by zombies, there's only one way to stay alive: run!

Eira and Soren are queer twins living with their survivalist parents when a plague starts spreading that turns people into zombie-like monsters. They disagree with their parents about a lot, but they can't deny that their way of life keeps them safe while much of the world perishes--for now. When it becomes clear that their safety won't last, the twins decide to strike out on their own.

They don't get far before encountering the one remaining person in the closest town: their friend Racer, a gold medal-winning Special Olympics champion. Racer is appalled at the twins’ slow speed and tells them that their survivalist skills aren't worth anything if they can't outrun the monsters. He sets them on a training regimen that comes in handy when they embark on the bigger journey ahead of them.

On their trek they find friends, enemies, and even love. But with zombies on their heels at every turn, will they ever be able to slow down?

About the author

Carrie Mac is an award-winning author who has moved too many times to count. For now, she lives in Pemberton, a very small town nestled in the mountains north of Vancouver. Carrie Mac's first novel The Beckoners won the Arthur Ellis YA Award, is a CLA Honour book, and is being adapted for film. Her contributions to the Orca Soundings series continue to get reluctant teens excited about reading. She is available for school and library presentations, and has been known to hold the interest of a couple hundred teens where others have failed. Maybe it's the tattoos.

Carrie Mac's profile page

Excerpt: Zombie Apocalypse Running Club (by (author) Carrie Mac)

July 20, 2030

According to Racer’s beloved training guide, the Coachpotato, a person can go from not running at all to comfortably running three miles at a stretch in thirty days of training. We are three weeks into it. I suggested that maybe we wouldn’t be able to train every single day for thirty days, what with the brutal heat, dwindling food supply, and constant threat of zombies taking us down. Racer says we practice, no matter what. It’s fitness science, he says, and because he’s a three-­time Special Olympics gold-­medalist triathlete, and a World Down Syndrome Games track-­and-­field rock star, and the one who taught running clinics for the Special Olympics, the Seniors Center, and the entire staff of Dicky’s Pizza one spring when they wanted a chance at winning Marion Gap’s annual Toilet Trot, he is our final authority. On running, and zombies.

If they’re gray and their skin is falling off, he says, they’ve been zombies a long time. If they look like people, they are fresh.

Racer is the head (and only) coach of the Zombie Apocalypse Running Club—­note my club shirt in his favorite powder blue—­membership of three. Or four, if you include his brother, Eddie, who made the shirts and is probably dead, but we haven’t gotten into that with Racer yet. The chicken I’m gripping so hard by the feet squawks and thrashes, slapping me with her wings and pecking my leg. Behind me, the first two zombies—­I’d call them fresh, sort of—­run down the middle of the road, gaining ground. The third one is gray and broken; a dangling foot attached by a thin ribbon of ligament slows him down. My thighs burn and my bones protest each time my sneakers hit the pavement. I feel like I’m running the fastest I’ve ever run in my life—­and at the same time like I cannot move fast enough, no matter what’s at stake.

The damn chicken slows me down, but there is no way I’m going to let her go. She is supper, and we all really, really need supper. I pause just long enough to wring her neck, add the tiniest second to bask in her new and blissful stillness, and then start running again.

I’m mad that Racer made us train this morning, because that used up the tiny bit of energy I started the day with, and now I don’t have any at all to run from these zees. I’m hungry. So hungry. I want a huge meal that will fuel my giantess body. If I was a tiny thing, like Soren or Racer, maybe our tiny so-­called meals would be enough. But they are not. I did not start out in this zombie apocalypse with stamina worth shit. I thought I was a fit person, hauling hay bales and wrangling sheep my entire life. It’s only now I realize that the only thing that matters is if you can run faster than the zombies. It’s not like they’re super fast. It’s just that I am not. My lungs burn as I suck in the hot summer air. And then, all of a sudden, I am entirely out of breath.

My vision narrows with each bounding heartbeat. My head thumps toward blackness. I feel my grip on the chicken slipping, so I focus all my brain power to command my fingers to squeeze her dry, scaly legs so hard that I feel one crack like a twig. Supper secured, I teeter and fix my sight on the moving truck jackknifed across the road just ahead of me. I take a couple of very precious seconds to check on the zombies; the first two are close enough that I can hear their low warbling, like they’re chewing on the language they used to have. I have about the same number of seconds left to reach the cab, swing up, open the door—­it will have to be unlocked—­and get inside and out of their reach. My body wants none of it. Conditioning, Racer says. Very important, he says. You need it, he says. You are not a strong person, Eira Helvig. So he says.

But that’s not true.

I am the strongest person I know. At six and a half feet tall, 270 pounds, I can haul three fifty-­pound sacks of horse feed at a time without thinking about it. I’m just not a good runner.

In this moment, I have to run. It’s not an option to stop. I will not be turned or killed by those wretched human remnants. Those garbage skin sacks of infection and filth. I haul myself up, fumble with the door handle for a second that I cannot afford, and collapse into the stifling heat of the cab, which reeks of—­it takes me a second to place it—­bananas. The smell is so pungent that I can taste the fruit I haven’t had in over a year, but it’s sour too, and rotten, and I cannot catch my breath in this stifling oven. I let the chicken drop onto the gas pedal and then retch and retch, my head hung over the passenger seat floor. When nothing more comes out, I sit up.

The two fresher zombies bang on the truck with their dirt-­and-­blood-­blackened hands. When I put my face to the window, they don’t even look up, and as much as their fingers scramble across the door as if they’re reading braille and they touch the handle over and over, they obviously don’t know what to do with it. They still look like people from up here, recent turns, filthy people whose clothes are in tatters and with only one work boot for footwear among them, even now that the one with the broken foot has caught up. That one looks up just now; his cloudy eyes vibrate back and forth. The bite-­shaped gash that turned him has rotted away that entire cheek, leaving his teeth as two clacking rows. It makes it easy to think of him as a monster that needs to be slayed rather than someone’s once-­beloved.

I hear the pfft of a flare coming from down the block. There’s Soren on the roof of the library, another flare in hand. The one he threw has landed in the back of a pickup truck filled with leaves from last fall, which are now on fire. The zombies circle the truck, not at all interested in me anymore, but they are now positioned exactly where I need to go, and moving past will surely get their interest again.

The stench of bananas is from what used to be two paper sacks of them but is now a dehydrated puddle of rot, the peels split and dried up like long beans, curling and hard. There is also a paper sack full of plastic bags of what used to be chewy, whole sun-­dried bananas—­Liv’s favorite—­which have been demolished by rats and mice, leaving only the packaging.

But, but, this banana aficionado—­or desperate looter of a banana shop?—­also had several containers of dried bananas, from the bulk section, it looks like. They’ve mostly been raided by vermin too, except there are two jars that have fallen in the wheel well, out of the splash of my vomit, and these two jars are full of those creamy-­colored crunchy discs of heavenly goodness.

I grab the chicken, pry the jars out of the well, and then scramble over the banana mess. I open the door as quietly and slowly as I can and only hop down when the door is wide open and won’t slam shut behind me.

Run, Eira.


You can do it. You’re a stronger runner now than you have ever been in your life. Move your glorious self forward with your legs—­legs that have more muscle in them than Soren does in his whole body.


One and a half blocks to make it back to the others. One and a half blocks of running in the exact same direction the zombies went. Not great apocalypse logic, but going any other way would mean taking longer, and I wouldn’t know what I was getting into. At least this way, it’s the devils I know.

I cut through the maze of cars and trucks and abandoned and looted suitcases and duffel bags and leathery corpses and bodies held together by bones and fraying clothes. I grip the chicken’s feet so tight that I can feel a talon digging into my palm. I hold the jars of banana chips to my chest as if they are jars brimming with actual gold coins. Soren and Racer keep waving me over from the library roof.

“Go, go, go, Eira Helvig!” Racer shouts down as I approach the door. “Go!”

I take the turn around the edge of the building and scramble over the makeshift barrier that I now realize will actually keep the zombies at bay (if not intruders) and jump down the steps to the basement door, which Racer opens just in time for me to fall in.

“So proud!” He hugs my waist, smashing his cheek against my sweaty shirt. “You did it!”

I drop the bag with the jars of banana chips. When I hear the breaking glass, I roll onto my back, cover my face with my hands, and cry.

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