Saturday, July 26, 2014

TRANSPORT Helper - The Ken Campbell Interview

Ken Campbell is a friend of mine. We work at the same place. We have some of the same interests as far as movies, books and illustrated digests (comic books). Ken also appears in the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT page of all three TRANSPORT books, so I thought it would be interesting to interview him.


GRA: Your name appears first in the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS page in TRANSPORT: BOOK ONE. A soldier with your last name also appears near the end of the novel as one of the Muskegon High Commissioner Holtrop guards. You have obviously been a part of story input on the TRANSPORT series. Inquiring minds may want to know more about you.

I got you involved on the TRANSPORT project because we have the same interest in action-packed tales and zombies. I’ve used you as a sounding board, kind of a Beta tester, on some of the story concepts, scenarios and plot lines to get your reaction—yay or nay—and input.

With these bouncing around of ideas, and some actually appearing in story, does this ruin the book for you if and when read? Why or why not?

KC: Nah, not any more than a movie preview to the actual movie.  The ideas bounced around are just points in the story.  When reading the finished story, and I’m in the ebb and flow, the "ideas" merge and I get to see the bigger picture.  Besides, it is always tweaked a little from the material/ideas discussed.

GRA: If your in-story character was played by an actor in the Big Screen, who would it be?

Jason Segel
KC: I had to think a long time on this, thank goodness my work is easy enough to allow me such time allowances.  I would have to go with Jason Segel.  He has that "innocent" outward appearance, but has that smirk and head bob that indicates otherwise, just like me! LOL

GRA: What type of books, movies, magazines, comics do you like to read, and why? Do you have some absolute favorites?

KC: I would say for books it’s the sci-fi/magic/steampunk stuff by Cherie Priest ( and Barbara Hambly (  I like the escapism of those fantasy genres.  I also like the historic battles seen through the eyes of a fictional character series by Patrick O'Brian ( and Bernard Cornwall (  To re-live those epic battles, without getting hurt, from the prospective of a lowly frontlines man instead of a rich guy sitting in the back with the luggage is cool.

Picking a specific movie is hard.  I have favorites in most genres.  I guess for brainless, chest-thumping, manly action movies I would go with the Expendables trilogy, the Transporter trilogy, and Serenity.

For small budget, foreign movies with good, interesting plots I would go with Lawn Dogs, Amile, Let the Right One In, The Girl, Thale, Attack the Block and Chocolat.

For the "DUH" brainless lowbrow humor, it’s got to be the Harold and Kumar films and American Pie movies.

To round it out, anything from Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

Comics would be superhero types.  Wolverine tops the list.  I also like Empowered by Adam Warren ( and The Devil's Panties ( by Jennie Breeden.

GRA: A reviewer mentioned TRANSPORT “is far more than a rehash of the military elements that show up in Danny Boyle’s viral fast-zombie opus, Romero’s Day, Land, and Diary, Brooks’ World War Z.”
Would you agree? What are your thoughts on the TRANSPORT World?

KC: Oh, I agree.  Usually the military is the only thing keeping the zombies from taking over the world.  TRANSPORT has the military doing more humanitarian works, at least with the "docile" zombies.  They try and protect them instead of all-out extermination.  It reminds me of what the old Wild West is portrayed as: small pockets of humanity surrounded by wide tracks of wilderness where all matter of nastiness resides.

GRA: Do you think the whole ZOMBIE genre has run its course, or is there still a lot of UN-life left in this typically Horror milieu?

KC: I don't think the zombie genre will ever run its course.  The basic premise of a zombie - a being that is hard to kill in the usual way (shot in the torso, hack off a leg, etc.) and can turn you into one of them with just a scratch or bite goes to a primitive, deep seated, cavemen-sitting-around-a-fire-type of fear that can be used in multiple genres; from World War Z, to Shawn of the Dead and Fido, to name a few.

GRA: You are an avid runner and bicyclist. Which activity do you do more of? What are some of your biggest achievements relating to these? Is there anything on your BUCKET LIST relating to these you want to do before the zombie apocalypse?

KC: I started out as an avid bicyclist, but was introduced back into running when I started working at my current job (ran x-country and track in high school).  Some accomplishes would be participating in several 24hr bike challenges, several DALMAC rides, riding a century ride under 5 hours, running the Fifth-Third Riverbank Run, and being able to eat all the Twinkies I want knowing I will burn them off.  The only real thing on the bucket list would be to finish the Grand Rapids Zombie Dash with, at least, one life strip left.

GRA: Who would you rather meet on a darkened UCRA neighborhood street? Bob the 1950’s gas station attendant zombie, or front gunner of the M213 HURON, Sgt. James Stokes? And why?

KC: Hmmm, since I'm not good at learning new languages and would have a hard time conversing with Bob, I would have to go with Stokes.  The stories Stokes could tell...

[Welmerink comment: the lewd and crude Sgt. Stokes most likely does have a lot of tales to tell as his morals are a little… loose.]

GRA: What is one story in the TRANSPORT World that you haven’t heard discussed yet that you’d be interested in either reading about or understanding better?

KC: That's a toughie.  Since I actually went to college in Allendale, I think I would like to read more about the scientists at the university campus and what REALLY happened out there.

[Welmerink comment: There was A LOT of bull out there, that’s for sure.]

GRA: Thanks Ken!!

Ken Campbell as Rick Grimes from THE WALKING DEAD for Grand Rapids Zombie Dash 2013

TRANSPORT (Book One) is available and can be found here:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bob the 1950's Gas Station Attendant Zombie Short Short Story

Face the Face

by Peter Welmerink
**These events occur after TRANSPORT (Book 3) UNCIVIL WAR**

“Keep your eyes peeled. I don’t want other undead civilians thinking we’re laying down lunch for them,” Lieutenant Gil “Gillie” McPherson said as he watched four men wrestle the gurney from the back of the big armored MRAP parked at the street corner of Bridge and Indiana. “City spent enough cash on old Bob here, and I’m sure we’d take the blame if the old man got chewed up right after we re-planted him.”
The four soldiers huffed and puffed with the stretcher in tow. They glanced all about as they got the litter to ground level. A few locals teetered by but seemed more attracted to the gentle growl of the big Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle than the grunts and groans of the men.
“Not sure why they didn’t ‘plant’ the old dead fart,” young Private Leon Jansen said, skinny, all-muscle arms straining. Sweat ran down his brow in rivulets. “It would beat spending the cash on the rotter and lugging his carcass back out here.”
The other three grunts assisting Jansen rolled their eyes. One boasting DIETRICH on the name tape of his tactical vest, just loud enough to be heard, uttered: “Newb.”
On the olive drab canvas stretcher lay Bob the 1950s Gas Station Attendant zomb who was usually found rummaging about the defunct Marathon Service Station on the southwest corner of Indiana Avenue and Bridge Street. Bob, for short, had become a well-known local fixture within the confines of the Grand Rapids UCRA (Urban Civilian Retention Area) on the west side of town. Appreciated for his special ability as a SZ, “satellite zomb,” Bob, somehow able to mentally acquire and verbally communicate Intel on activities of the undead both within and outside the city limits, was looked upon fondly as a friend-of-sorts to the GRCC military personnel. They got a kick out of trying to decipher his grunting and snarling dialect, finding a majority of it revolving around his “memories” of the 1950’s.
A grievous blow to the head had almost sent him to the realm of the truly dead-dead.
McPherson didn’t answer the Private, instead he pointed towards the old brick and mortar gas station with the paint-peel white walls. “Set him indoors for now. We’ll hang out a bit, see if he comes around, and make sure none of the neighbors bother him.”
“Only another Zee could love a face like that,” Dietrich said peering down at the natural, red pock-marked side of Bob’s face. “Though they did a helluva job repairing the other side of his head.”
The undead gas station attendant’s injury left the upper right side of the man’s face and skull obliterated. The surgeons on Spectrum Hill used a series of skin grafts over a hard plastic polymer that replaced sections of damaged skull bone.
The four-man team carried Bob into the buildings front entrance. They cleared a spot to lay him, putting him behind the wood counter where a pyramid of rusty oil cans perched.
“So peaceful,” Jansen said peering very closely at the dead man’s reconstructed face. “How long do we have to stay here until the extra dope keeping him in sleepy time wears off?”
“As long as it takes,” Dietrich said as the other two men carried the empty stretcher out of the building.
“That can’t be soon enough. I hate this place,” Jansen said looking over his shoulder at the other soldier.
BOB by artist Tim Holtrop
(with some additions by me)
“Don’t let anyone in town hear you say that. They’ll throw you in the hoosegow for being a Loyalist or something.”
Bob emitted a groan.
Jansen looked back at Bob, finding rheumy eyes open and peering at him.
“Ah!” the young grunt screamed and ran from the building.
With hand on sidearm, Dietrich sniffed, smiled at the undead service station attendant, and said: “Thanks, old man. You won’t have to worry about that kid.” He stood, sniffed again, and backed out of the door, calling over his shoulder, “Jansen’s gonna need a change of underwear.”
They waited the rest of the day for Bob to get up and start shuffling about. The mission was not only to return the old one to his “residence,” but also see if he still “functioned” with his surgical modifications.
“I see blips of brain activity but none of the usual spikes when SZ’s are transmitting,” McPherson said as the team sat in the MRAP watching the service station and the neighborhood surrounding them.
“Probably nothing around to hone in on. The others seem to avoid this area since the plane crash and chemical spill.” Dietrich scratched at a spot under his helmet.
“HAZMAT crew cleaned that up good.” McPherson continued to watch the handheld device monitoring Bob. “Just goes to show, these folks retain memories to some extent,” he said referring to Grand Rapids local undead.
The handheld pings.
“Here we go. Bob’s up, starting to transmit.”
Jansen leaned forward to see what the Lieutenant was seeing. “Retina-Optic Nerve Image Defragging and Reintegration. How much did that cost the taxpayers?”
Dietrich thought perhaps the kid was pretty smart after all, until he saw the words scrolled below the small screen on McPherson’s handheld.
McPherson ignored the young soldier. “Bob’s coming outside.”
They watched as the old zomb teetered out of the service station door in his new duds: blue mechanic coveralls and a sky blue long sleeve shirt. He walked by the rusted gas pumps and halfway to the street corner. Stopping, he stood stock still and appeared to stare straight at the big MRAP parked a few feet in front of him.
“What’s he doing?”
“He’s just staring at us.”
McPherson’s screen showed a menagerie of fuzzy images: outlines of Cadillac cars, a group of women in poodle skirts, a group of hunch-back humanoid creatures skip-hopping through a field of tall grass.
“Is he picking up something? Is that what he is seeing or what his, what? Zombie ESP is satelliting to him?” One of the other grunts said looking at the Lieutenant’s handheld, then out the small rectangular visor next to him.
Jansen peered out the port slot next to him. “We’re just seeing the little reminiscences of what’s flitting around inside his rotted gray matter. What a waste of time and money.”
The grunt pulls a combat shotgun from the stanchion next to him, pushes the barrel out the window, and yells: “Hey, stupid, quit standing there and show us something good.”
Trigger is pulled.
The shotgun booms.
Jansen is gang-piled to the floor of the MRAP. Dietrich kneels on his chest while another soldier pulls the shotgun out of the Private’s hands.
“Dumb shit!” Dietrich snarls, fist cocked back ready to feed his fellow a knuckle bone, or four.
“What the--?” McPherson says, eyes on the monitor then out the window, then back to monitor. He grabs a pair of field glasses and looks through them, lowers them, looks at the screen, then back through the binoculars.
Bob bolted around the back of the gas station upon Jansen’s shotgun blast. Next, the old station attendant appeared on the flat roof of the garage. The zomb, now turned towards the west, again stood stock still except for his mouth which seemed to be moving as if he was speaking to someone.
On the monitor, a fuzzy image of a dark-haired soldier; a captain by the look of the twin bars on the patch of his tactical vest. Amazing as it was, the man’s name tape could be read: BILLET.
“What the hell? Bob seeing one of our own,” McPherson said as he looked at the monitor and then back to the old zomb on the station roof.
Bob turned to face them.
Dietrich took the field glasses from the Lieutenant and looked out and up at the Bob.
“Well, shit, that’s a new one on me,” Dietrich said, eyes glued to the binoculars.
“The image of one of our own guys?” McPherson replied.
“No,” Dietrich said lowering the field glasses and turning to the Lieutenant. “I think the old zomb is crying.”
“Your memory is a monster; you forget – it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things from you, or hides things from you – and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!”--John Irving
“The world shrieks and sinks talons into our hearts. This we call memory.”-- Tim O’Brien


TRANSPORT (Book One) is available and can be found here: