Friday, September 4, 2009

Writing Prompt: Bringing the Undead to Immortal Fiction

by Scott Rhoades

They say that imitating great authors is a good way to improve your own writing. I recently discovered a fun way to not only imitate your favorite writers, but to collaborate with them.

I was browsing the rather weak book section at the Orem Target the other day while my wife and daughter were busy in a section where I feel kinda weird just kind of standing around, when I came across PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, a novel that takes the actual Jane Austen story and infuses it with the undead. Apparently it's a massive hit although not reviewed especially well. A follow up, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND THE SEA MONSTER is coming out this month, and other publishers are scrambling to do their own mashups.

Not being one to see a good idea and not steal it, I thought that would make for a fun writing prompt on this blog. So here's my challenge to you: take a famous (or favorite) scene or passage and change it to include zombies, or aliens, or vampires, or whatever you feel like adding. Or turn the idea on its head and replace the monster in a classic horror tale with fluffy kitties. Make sure you stay as close to the original author's style as you can. Remember, the idea is to make it look like your "fixes" are part of the original. When you're done, post your version in the comments of this post.

I can't ask this of you without doing it myself, so here, with all due respect and apologies to Ms. Potter, I present:


Once upon a time there were four little rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter. They lived with their mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir tree.

"Now, my dears," said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, "You may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden. Your father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor. She choked to death on a bone and is still angry at little rabbits because of it. Now run along and don't get into mischief. I am going out."

Then old Mrs. Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella and a large silver crucifix and went through the wood to the baker's. She bought a loaf of brown bread, five currant buns, and a string of garlic.

Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail who were good little bunnies went down the lane together to gather blackberries.

But Peter who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's garden and squeezed under the gate! First he ate some lettuces and some French beans and then he ate some radishes. And then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.

But round the end of a nightshade trellis, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!

Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees, pawing at the grave of Mrs. McGregor. His face was pale and his skin was falling off, and around his eyes were circles as black as night. He jumped up and ran after Peter, dragging his left foot and calling out "Braaauuggghhh!"

Peter was most dreadfully frightened; he rushed all over the garden, for he had forgotten the way back to the gate. No matter how he hurried, Mr. McGregor shuffled after him.

Peter lost one shoe among the cabbages, and the other amongst the potatoes. After losing them, he ran on four legs and went faster so that I think he might have got away altogether if he had not unfortunately run into a gooseberry net and got caught by the large buttons on his jacket. It was a blue jacket with brass buttons, quite new, but Peter thought about other things. He thought about his mother and how angry she would be. Mostly, he thought about Mr. McGregor, who showed fangs longer and sharper than Willibald Wolf's. He also thought about Mrs. McGregor, who had just crawled out of her grave and crept behind her husband, carrying Mr. Rabbit and looking as hungry as if she had not eaten a pie or a beating human heart or one of the farmer's cabbages in a dreadfully long time.

Peter gave himself up for lost and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by the still-dead Mr. Rabbit, who shouted, "Braaauuggghhh!" Peter understood that to mean, "Exert yourself."

Mr. McGregor's hand fell off. He picked it up and reattached it and reached for Peter, but Peter wriggled out just in time.

Leaving his jacket behind him.

He rushed into the tool-shed and--

Jumped into a can.

It would have been a beautiful thing to hide in, if it had not had so much blood in it and the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hedgehog.

Mr. McGregor was quite sure that Peter was somewhere in the tool-shed, perhaps hidden underneath a flower-pot. He began to turn them over carefully, looking under each. Wherever he turned a flower-pot, he left behind a puddle of bloody drool.

Presently Peter sneezed "Kertyschoo!"

Mr. McGregor was after him in no time, and tried to put his foot upon Peter, but his foot fell off and Peter bounded away. Peter jumped out of a window, upsetting three plants. Mr. McGregor picked up the can and took a drink.

Peter sat down to rest; he was out of breath and trembling with fright, and he had not the least idea which way to go. Also he was very bloody with sitting in that can.

After a time he began to wander about, going
not very fast and looking all around.

Soon he saw Mr. and Mrs. McGregor, shuffling
sniffing the air and coming straight for him.

He found a door in a wall; but it was locked and there was no room for a fat little rabbit to squeeze underneath, even one who was slippery with the blood of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hedgehog.

An old mouse was running in and out over the stone doorstep, carrying peas and beans to her family in the wood. Peter asked her the way to the gate but she had such a large pea in her mouth she could not answer. She only shook her head at him and pointed toward Mr. and Mrs McGregor as they drew ever so near.

Peter began to cry.

Then he tried to find his way straight across the garden, but he became more and more puzzled. Presently he came to a pond where Mr. McGregor filled his water-cans. A black cat was staring at some gold-fish; she sat very, very still, but now and then the tip of her tail twitched as if it were alive. Peter thought it best to go away without speaking to her. He had heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny, who should have paid more attention to what he had told Peter so perhaps he would not have been eaten by a fat orange tabby with stitches on its leg.

He went back towards the tool-shed, but suddenly, quite close to him, he heard a noise--scr-r-ritch, scratch, scratch, scritch, crunch, slurp.

Peter scuttered underneath the bushes, but presently as nothing happened, he came out and climbed upon a wheelbarrow, and peeped over.

The first thing he saw was Mr. McGregor gnawing on the black cat. His back was turned towards Peter and beyond him was the gate!

Peter got down very quietly off the wheel-barrow and started running as fast as he could go, along a straight walk behind some black currant bushes. Mr. McGregor caught sight of him at the corner, but Peter did not care. He slipped underneath the gate and was safe at last in the wood outside the garden.

Mr. McGregor hung up the little jacket and the shoes on Mrs. McGregor's gravestone, thinking she would enjoy the shiny buttons next time she crawled out of her coffin.

Peter never stopped running or looking behind him till he got home to the big fir-tree.

He was so tired that he flopped down upon the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit hole, and shut his eyes. His mother was busy cooking; she wondered what he had done with his clothes and why he was so covered in blood. At first she thought he was dead and was about to place him in the pot, but then he moved and she thought better of it. That would have to wait for another time.

I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother made him take a bath and then put him to bed and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter! "One teaspoonful to be taken at bedtime." But--

Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.


Cathy Witbeck said...

That was just freaky. One of the best laughs I've had in a long time.
Do you know why the lepers had to quite playing hockey?
There was a face-off in the corner.
Okay,it's not zombie humor, but it's close.

Scott said...

If you think zombies get a raw deal and their contributions to our society are under-appreciated, you might want to look at