BLACK TIDE by Del Stone Jr © 2007
£7.99 + £1.50 UK P&P
What would you do if you were stuck on a deserted island with a beautiful girl, her clueless boyfriend, and a mid-life crisis? Well, if you're Fred Miller, then you're fighting off what amounts to a zombie invasion.
Miller is a college professor who recently experienced a humiliating separation and divorce from his wife, who left him for a younger man. When the opportunity to conduct an environmental impact study in a deserted island comes his way, he decides to ask Heather, a nubile young assistant, to accompany him. To Dr. Miller's great dismay, she also brings her boyfriend, Scotty, along for the expedition.
The story opens with them taking a boat across Santa Rosa Sound to a spoil island by Okaloosa—a barrier island—to investigate a red tide outbreak in an area due to be flushed out by the opening of a new channel. When the three of them are alone on the island, Scotty decides he wants Heather to play Frisbee, rather than work: but when a toxic fog released by the irrigation threatens to overwhelm them, the quick-thinking professor uses the Frisbee to bury them all in the sand, until the fog rolls over and past them.
When the fog clears, they see people on the opposite shore combust, and walk into the water. They hear the havoc on the mainland. Apparently, everyone is either dead, or dying. The problem is worse than your run-of-the-mill red tide. It is a kind of black tide. It caused the fog which had earlier rolled over them.
The fog had turned the people on the mainland into photosensitive zombies, ones that burn at the slightest indication of unfiltered light. The three of them manage to incinerate a few with flashlights between dusk and dawn. In the daylight, Scotty decides to swim to the mainland in search of help. Not that he makes it...
BLACK TIDE sets the zombie mythos on its ear.
Del has zombies that can "live" underwater, filtered from the direct light of the sun. Starlight is too far removed to affect them, and sunlight filtered through the water, or if they are in shade, leaves them unaffected.
In a way, Fred gets what he wants at the end, Heather's undivided attention, though he does not really want it, by then. ;-)
The story is an interesting read, and throws an unlikely protagonist into an horrific situation. Can Fred and Heather make it out of this situation alive? Well, you'll have to read it BLACK TIDE find out. It's worth the journey.
Oh, and stock up on batteries, and candles. ;-) You never know...