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As zombies invade all manner of pop culture, so does THE
WALKING DEAD tighten its death grip across media. A comic that’s
since spawned a phenomenon of a television series and one of this year’s most
acclaimed video games, THE WALKING DEAD has also expanded to literature where creator
Robert Kirkman has been filling us in on The Governor’s early days. The latest, THE ROAD TO WOODBURY, finds the fascinating, fear-inducing tyrant entangled in a survior skirmish prior to the hell unleashed by Rick & co. FANGORIA is happy
to present this exclusive excerpt from THE WALKING DEAD: THE ROAD TO WOODBURY below.
In THE ROAD TO WOODBURY (available now from Thomas Dunne
Books/St. Martin’s Press), the afraid, hungry and barely alive Lilly and her
band of survivors are saved by the walled-in community. Despite Lilly’s initial
hesitations about Woodbury, her vote to keep moving is outnumbered by the
others in her group. And as she considers the grim alternative of solitude,
Lilly finds no choice but to rely on the residents of Woodbury for refuge and
thus, accept their mysterious leader – The Governor – as her own. Her
suspicions about Woodbury and The Governor soon come to fruition and ultimately,
Lilly and a band of rebels devise a plot to take over The Governors reign – and
in doing so, open up a Pandora’s box of mayhem, destruction, and irrevocable
Special excerpt from THE WALKING DEAD: THE ROAD TO WOODBURY by
Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
The behavior patterns of the walkers continue to baffle and
enthrall the deeper thinkers among Woodbury’s inhabitants. Some believe the undead move as bees in a
hive, driven by something far more complex than mere hunger. Some theories involve invisible pheromone-like
signals passing among zombies, producing behaviors that depend upon the
chemical makeup of their prey. Others
believe in dog-whistle sensory responses above and beyond mere attraction to
sound or smell or movement. No single
hypothesis has stuck, but most of Woodbury’s residents feel certain about one
aspect of zombie behavior: the advent of a herd of any size is to be dreaded
and feared and treated with respect.
Herds tend to grow spontaneously and take on troubling
ramifications. A herd – even a small
one, like the cluster of dead forming at this very moment north of town, drawn
by the noise of the gladiatorial match the previous night – can overturn a
truck, snap fence posts like kindling, or topple even the highest wall.
last twenty-four hours Martinez has been marshalling forces in order to
suppress the imminent attack. Guards
posted on crows’ nests at the northwest and northeast corners of the wall have
been keeping tabs on the progress of the flock, which first began to morph into
a herd about a mile away. The guards
have been sending word down the chain of command that the size of the herd has
grown from a dozen or so to nearly fifty, and the pack has been moving in a
lumbering zig-zag through the trees along Jones Mill Road, covering the
distance between the deep woods and the outskirts of town at a speed of about
two hundred yards an hour, growing in number as they come. It has taken them fifteen hours to close the
distance to four hundred yards.
some of them begin to emerge from the leading edge of the forest, shambling out
into the open fields bordering the woods and the town. They look like broken toys in the hazy,
distant twilight, like wind-up soldiers bumping into each other, running on the
fumes of malfunctioning engines, their blackened mouths contracting and
expanding like irises. Even at this
distance the rising moon reflects off their milky eyes in shimmering coins of
has three Browning 50-caliber machine guns – courtesy of the ransacked National
Guard depot – placed at key junctures along the wall. One sits on the bonnet of a backhoe at the
west corner of the wall. Another one is
situated on top of a cherry picker at the east corner. The third is positioned on the roof of a
semi-trailer on the edge of the construction site. Each of the three machine guns already has an
operator in place, each man equipped with a headset.
gleaming bandoleers of incendiary armor-piercing tracer bullets dangle from the
stock of each weapon, with extras in steel boxes sitting nearby.
guards take positions along the wall – on ladders and bulldozer scoops – armed
with semi-automatics and long-range sniper rifles loaded with 7.62-millimeter
slugs that will penetrate drywall or sheet metal. These men do not wear headsets, but each know
to watch for hand signals from Martinez, who positions himself at the top of a
crane gantry in the center of the post office parking lot with a two-way. Two enormous klieg lights -- scavenged from
the town theater -- are wired up to the generator chugging in the shadows of
the post office loading dock.
crackles on Martinez’s radio: “Martinez,
thumbs the TALK button. “Copy that,
Chief, go ahead.”
and I are on our way up there, gonna need to harvest some fresh meet.”
frowns, his brow furrowing under his bandana.
voice sizzles through the tiny speaker: “How much time we got before all the
fun and games start?”
gazes out at the darkening horizon, the closest zombies still about three
hundred and fifty yards away. He thumbs
the switch. “Probably won’t be within
head-shot range for these fellas for another hour, maybe a little less than
says the voice. “We’ll be there in five
Bob follows the Governor down Main Street toward a wagon
train of semi-trucks parked in a semi-circle outside the looted Menards home
and garden center. The Governor walks
briskly through the wintry evening air, a bounce to his step, his boot heels
clicking on the paving stones. “Times
like these,” the Governor comments to Bob as they march along, “must feel like
you’re back in the shit in Afghanistan.”
sir, I have to admit it does sometimes.
I remember one time I got a call to drive down to the front, pick up
some marines coming off their watch. It
was nighttime, cold as a well diggers ass, just like this. Air raid sirens screaming, everybody hopped
up for a firefight. Drove the APC down
to this godforsaken trench in the sand, and what do I find? Bunch of whores from the local village giving
out blow jobs to the grunts.”
you not.” Bob shakes his head in dismay
as he walks alongside the Governor.
“Right in the middle of an air raid.
So I tell them to can it and get in before I leave them there. One of the whores gets in the APC with the
men, and I’m like, what the hell.
Whatever. Just get me out of this
take off with the gal still going at it in the back of APC. But you’ll never guess what happened then.”
keep me in suspense, Bob,” the Governor says with a grin.
a sudden I hear a crash in the back, and I realize that bitch is an insurgent,
and she brought an IED in with her, set it off in the cargo bay.” Bob shakes his head again. “Firewall protected me, but it was a
mess. Took off one of the boys’ legs.”
the Governor marvels as he approaches the circle of eighteen-wheelers. Full darkness has fallen, and light from a
torch illuminates the side of a Piggly Wiggly truck on which a grinning pig
leers down at them in the dim light.
“Hold that thought a second, Bob.”
The Governor pounds his fist on the trailer. “Travis!
You in there? Hey! Anybody home?”
cloud of cigar smoke, the rear door springs up on rusty hinges. A heavy-set black man sticks his head out of
the cargo hold. “Hey, Boss… what can I
do you for?”
one of the empty trailers down to the north wall, on the double. We’ll meet you there with further instructions. Got that?”
black man hops off the rear rail and vanishes around the side of the
truck. The Governor takes a deep breath
and then leads Bob around the circle of trucks, and then north along a side
road toward the barricade. “Pretty
goddamn amazing what a man will do for nookie,” the Governor muses as they
stride along the dirt road.
girls you came in with, Bob, Lilly and… what’s-her-name?”
the one. That little thing’s a
firecracker. Am I right?”
wipes his mouth. “Yeah, she’s a cute
flirty… but hey. Who am I to
judge?” Another lascivious grin. “We do what we do to get by. Am I right, Bob?”
as rain.” Bob walks along for a
moment. “Just between you and me… I’m
kinda sweet on her.”
Governor looks at the older man with an odd mixture of surprise and pity. “This Megan gal? Well that’s great, Bob. No shame in that.”
looks down as he walks. “Love to spend
the night with her just once.” Bob’s
voice goes soft. “Just once.” He looks up at the Governor. “But, hell… I know that’s just a pipe dream.”
cocks his head at the older man. “Maybe
not, Bob… maybe not.”
Bob can muster a response a series of explosive clanging noises go off ahead of
them. Brilliant sunbursts from the klieg
lights suddenly tear open seams in the distant darkness from opposite corners
of the wall, the silver beams sweeping out across the adjacent fields and tree
lines, illuminating the oncoming horde of walking corpses.
Governor leads Bob across the post office lot to the crane gantry, on which
Martinez now prepares to give the order to open fire.
your fire, Martinez!” The Governor’s
booming voice gets everybody’s attention.
gazes nervously down at the two men.
“You sure about this, Chief?”
rumble of a Kenworth cab rises up behind the Governor, accompanied by the
telltale beeping noises of a semi moving in reverse. Bob glances over his shoulder and sees an
eighteen- wheeler backing into position by the north gate. Exhaust vapors pulse from the truck’s
vertical stack, and Travis leans out the driver’s side window, chewing a cigar
and wrestling the steering wheel.
your walkie!” The Governor gestures at
Martinez, who is already descending the metal ladder affixed to the side of the
crane. Bob watches all this from a
respectable distance behind the Governor.
Something about all this mysterious business makes the older man uneasy.
the wall the meandering herd of zombies closes the distance to two hundred
reaches the bottom of the ladder and hands over the two-way. The Governor thumbs the switch and barks into
the mouthpiece. “Stevens! Can you hear me? You got your radio on?”
beat of crackling static the doctor’s voice replies, “Yes I hear you and I
don’t appreciate –“
up for a second. I want you to bring
that tub-of-lard guardsman, Stinson, to the north wall.”
voice crackles: “Stinson is still
recovering, the man has lost a lot of blood in your little –“
fucking argue with me, Stevens… JUST FUCKING DO IT NOW!”
Governor clicks the radio off and throws it back to Martinez.
the gate!” the Governor shouts at two workmen, who stand nearby with pick axes
and anxious expressions, awaiting orders.
workmen look at each other.
heard me!” the Governor bellows. “Open
the goddamn gate!”
workmen follow orders, throwing the bolt at one end of the gate. The gate swings open, letting in a gust of cold,
ask me, we’re pushing our luck with this routine,” Martinez mutters under his
breath, slamming an ammo magazine into his assault rifle.
Governor ignores the comment and hollers, “Travis! Back it into position!”
truck shudders and beeps and rattles backward into the opening.
put the ramp down!”
watches, completely vexed by the proceedings, as Travis hops out of his cab
with a grunt and marches around behind the truck. He throws open the vertical door and lowers the
ramp to the pavement.
glare of spotlights the zombie contingent approaches to within a hundred yards.
footsteps draw Bob’s attention back over his shoulder.
the shadowy center of town, in the flicker of burning trash barrels, Doctor
Stevens emerges with his arm around the wounded guardsman, who hobbles along
with the lethargic gate of a sleepwalker.
this, Bob,” the Governor says, throwing a glance over his shoulder at the older
man, and then, with a wink, the Governor adds, “Beats the hell outta the Middle
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