Broken Pieces

Chapter 1 #Excerpt from LEVELING UP by @JR_Tague #AmReading #YA #Fiction

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Before I died I was a giant loser. I’m not trying to be modest here or set the stage for a feel-good, underdog-gets-the-girl-and-wins-the-game kind of story. What I mean is: I, Max McKay, was a huge dork! I only had one kind-of friend, a kid I grew up around that I’d sometimes ride the school bus with or sit next to at lunch. I’d trudge through my days, doing the bare minimum at school to maintain average grades. At night I’d suffer through dinner with my family and, at the first possible chance, rush up to my bedroom and spend the rest of the night in front of my monitor. For me, the real world was made up of gnomes, dwarves, and two different kinds of elves. Good and bad were tangible things that could be identified by race or alliance.
I know that sounds lame, but my world made sense. It was contained. The ability to re-spawn made me brave. I took risks and did great things. Great digital things, that is. I lived—or should I say existed—this way until just after my sixteenth birthday.
What happened to me then was ninety percent my own stupidity, and ten percent plain old bad luck.
See, my family came over and gave me some stupid presents: socks, ugly T-shirts, handmade sweaters—the works. Then they sang “Happy Birthday” until I thought my face would catch fire. It was the worst. I mean, what’s the point in having a party where all the girls are related to you?
So I snuck off to my room at the first chance possible. I didn’t want to celebrate my years of existence at all, let alone with these people, in this world. I mean, really. Was living for sixteen years all that impressive? If zits, biology tests, and spontaneous erections were as good as it got, then what was the freaking point? I wanted to complete a mission, slay some orcs, save a princess. I wanted to explore the only realm in which I could be a man. That’s right, even nerds have secret, unrealistic aspirations like that.
I booted up my computer and…nothing.
It was at that moment, and because I was unable to see five minutes into the future, that I officially declared my birthday to be an epic fail.
I knelt in front of my computer tower and opened the casing. It was totally hopeless—the processor was shot. I had begged and begged for a new computer for my birthday, but for some reason my mom thought my feet being warm was a higher priority. Typical. She said I’d just play “those online games” and neglect my homework. She was right, but I hated her for saying it. So I fussed around with the components, hoping for a quick fix until I could cash in some birthday checks and buy a new part. I noticed some loose wiring and reached into my desk drawer for a screwdriver so I could take out the hard drive and get to the wires.
It was over in an instant. No tense music, no slow motion, no bird’s eye view. What I’ve put together is that when I raised my arm up to search the drawer, I also bumped my head on the bottom of the desk, setting in motion a chain reaction so ridiculous I still have trouble believing it.
See, there was a warm, flat, half-finished can of Mountain Dew on my desk—the desk I had just bumped with my head. Do you see where this is going? Somehow in the process of reaching for my drawer I hit my head hard enough to knock over the can of Mountain Dew and spill it into the open computer. I was still touching the open computer with my other hand.
What I’m saying is, I electrocuted myself. With soda.
Max McKay gets a second chance at life when, after a bizarre accident on his sixteenth birthday, he is reanimated as a new breed of thinking, feeling zombie. To secure a spot for his eternal soul, Max must use his video game prowess as well as the guidance of Steve the Death God to make friends and grow up. As if all that weren’t hard enough, Max discovers that he’s not the only zombie in town. As he enlists the help of his new friends, Adam and Penny, to solve the mystery of their un-dead classmate, Max discovers that he must level up his life experience in order to survive the trials and terrors of the upcoming zombie apocalypse. And, even worse, high school.
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Genre – YA
Rating – PG
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