The Scattered and the Dead Book 0.5, by Tim McBain and L. T. Vargas, is a disturbing story of a world gone chaotic. A plague is sweeping through the land, zombies are rising from the dead, and the infrastructure is crumbling. In this setting, the protagonist, Decker, adjusts to a rapidly devolving society.
As his world descends into emptiness and inhumanity, Decker ascends from the prison of his own self-imposed isolation. This powerfully written story explores the essential question: How does one survive in a disintegrating world? For Decker, it means inuring himself to the horrors he encounters by extreme pragmatism.
The social compact at the center of the story is between Decker and the girl down the hall, to whom he is writing an account of his thoughts and actions. He feels solicitude for her and is concerned for her welfare – he wonders whether or not she is even alive. Hence the effort to communicate with her by means of a letter. (He cannot bring himself to knock on her door.)
The skillful writing of Decker’s internal monologue with the girl is an implied answer to the essential question. That is, even as Decker trades his humanity for survival, his connection to the unseen girl keeps his personal zombie in check – for now. What happens to Decker once that connection is finally broken? What happens to any of us when the last “I-Thou” link is shattered? We become scattered and dead.