Zakk reviews “Zero Lives Remaining” by Adam Cesare. 104 pages published by Shock Totem Publications.
“He was flesh and blood, but he didn’t smell like cooked meat as much as he did burning plastic and fresh-poured asphalt.
She looked at the soles of his feet, the bottoms of his boots were melted strings, some strands still connected to the tarmac. The tips of his fingers were black and singed, two of them had popped, the ends looking like an exploding cigar in a cartoon.
Screaming was her first reaction, getting him help her second. Her third was realizing, looking at the chard holes of his eyes, that help could only come in the form of a priest, if he’d been religious at all.”
Robby Asaro is dead.
He’s a ghost in the machine, keeping a watchful eye on the arcade where he lost his life two decades before. And the afterlife is good. The best thing ever to have happened to him. But when the conscious electric current formerly known as Robby Asaro makes a decision to protect one of his favorite patrons, Tiffany Park, from a bully, he sets loose a series of violent supernatural events that can’t be stopped.
Trapped inside the arcade as the kill count rises, Tiffany and a group of gamers must band together to escape from what used to be their favorite place on Earth…and the ghost of Robby Asaro.
“Hank looked back at the screen, watched himself lose another life, his last. Game over. There was a static spark as his fingertip grazed one of the screws connecting the control panel to the rest of the cabinet.
There was an audible zap, but, upon thinking about it, what Hank had heard was a single word. Kill.
‘Are you all right?’ Yosef asked. They’d been friends for over twenty years, but right now Hank couldn’t think why.”
There’s nothing like a nice taste of nostalgia right off the bat to really help you connect to a story that you are reading. Like finding a character that you can relate with and/ or worry about or dialog that speaks to you. A location also works to sweep you up in a narrative. It just makes for a satisfying reading experience.
It’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve had an arcade in my immediate area but I remember good times, hanging out playing TMNT IV, The Punisher, Captain America & The Avengers and games of that ilk. While looking over my shoulder at the dudes killing Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat, reminding me that I don’t have the skills for competition games. Back before it was all about ticket redemption “games”.
But none the less, good times. Great times, hanging with friends. It’s an experience my kids won’t fully get to experience. Their loss, suckers. Shoulda got your quarter up sooner!
Zero Lives Remaining is a very enjoyable read. A one day, if not one sitting, romp through a modern reimagining of your youth. Harkening back to Velcro shoes and iron-on DIY t-shirts. It’s a charming stroll of nostalgia, until the other shoe drops that is, then it is even more appealing.
When the pixels hit the fan it conjures the best of 80’s genre cinema. Loud noises, vibrant colors and over the top, graphic violence (more schlock than shock) to go along with the slightly over the top personas inhabiting this world. Pleasantly reminding me of “Bishop of Battle”, Emilio Estevez’ segment in Nightmares (1983) that I watched during a sleep-over as a young lad (and never again oddly enough).
I’m pretty sure that Zero Lives Remaining will get a reread and is something I’d greatly recommend to to any horror fan alive in the classic Arcade’s heyday and 80’s genre cinema (not just horror). Queue up your favorite 8bit inspired music (for me Horse the Band) and tap player one start.
“Nothing. Play your fucking game.”
Overall score: 4.5/ 5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
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