On my 15th birthday, after I’d read The Zombie Survival Guide numerous times, my uncle presented me with a life-changing gift: an olive colored Cordura duffle bag with the words “zombie survival kit” painted in red on the outside.
Inside were various zombie-killing weapons, such as a baseball bat with “zombie killer” inscribed on it, a golf club, a crowbar, and a machete. The tactical vest I still wear today in almost all my shoots, complete with a first aid kit in the back pouch, as well as the Blackhawk tactical gloves. Later that year, for Christmas, he would give me a Blackhawk thigh holster.
A few years later my other uncle would give me a shotgun shell bandolier. I’d also begin buying my own real weapons, like my Kahr CW9 and Bear compound bow, and gear like my Rocky Mountain boots and load-bearing suspenders.
But back to the first gift on my 15th birthday! After Joe gave me that gift I became obsessed. So obsessed my aunt and uncle were a bit disturbed. I was already deeply into zombies, having read TZSG so many times, and was just starting to write my first novel. But the zombie-killing gear put me over the edge. One night when the power went out, I came into the hallway with my bat and said, “This is my time,” convinced the zombie apocalypse had started.
My aunt and uncle were definitely frightened.
But I always give credit to Joe for where I am today. If he hadn’t given me that gift and got me manic about tactical gear, guns, and survival, Cyrus might not have been the same character. If I hadn’t been so obsessed—and I hate to admit this—the zombie thing might’ve been a passing fancy. At 15, most things are.
And the moral of the story is, dear readers, be sure to remember those who helped you get to where you are today!