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Kieren "Ren" Walker, the protagonist, is a teenager who was treated and released for his Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) from a treatment centre in Norfolk. Just before the outbreak, his best friend, who he had a romantic interest in, Rick, a young man in his same class at school, was killed in Afghanistan. Kieren's acute depression, activated by Rick mysteriously abandoning him days before they were to move to London together, and escape their homophobic village, leaves him in a stupor, and keeps him in his village. Ren spends his days isolated in his room, painting pictures of Rick and himself together and rereading love letters from him. His friend's death overseas leaves him no hope, and he commits suicide by slashing his wrists. His parents and sister have to deal with the aftermath, and know why he was driven to the extreme measure. Kieren left instructions to be cremated, but the night before The Rising, he was buried in the local cemetery. Back in the village he hated so much, Kieren has to face the almost unbearable combination of guilt for having hurt his parents with his suicide, a hostile sister who is an active member of the local militia avowed to put down "all rotters", medicated or not, the return of all the painful memories of losing Rick, and the fact that he must 'stay in the closet' as a zombie, which means he cannot leave the house so that no one who knows he is dead can see him. In addition, he has frequent flashbacks of when he was untreated, rabid, and attacking the living to feed.

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