Stories rarely come to me in dreams. Sometimes, while I’m falling asleep, a character or an opening line or a plot nugget might sneak into my mind, and I’ll have to struggle awake to scrawl down the idea in the dark before it vanishes. But to see the story entire, to have it bubble up very nearly fully formed—that only happens once every few years. My subconscious normally requires that I do most of the work.

But in the case of “Goobers,” published in October 2002 in Jim Lowder’s second zombie anthology, The Book of More Flesh, my subconscious did all the heavy lifting.

In a dream earlier that year, I was a projectionist hiding from zombies in an old movie theater, and in a moment of existential terror, I thought of a unique way to communiate with them. I’ll let you discover the exact nature of that communication in the story itself, but remarkably, the plot as written was not that far from the gift my sleeping mind had given me that night.

I wish I didn’t have to wait several more years for lightning to strike again—but unfortunately, that’s the way it is.

“Goobers” was reprinted in my zombie collection What Will Come After.