Published by NES Publishing on June 11, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Zombie
Source: eARC from Author
March Madness has begun and college basketball playoffs are heating up, not that Robert Walker—a graduate student from Texas—particularly cares. He has decided to skip classes for the day, sleep in, and get some rest. Unfortunately, a brief spat on the phone with his fiancée makes that impossible. Hoping to take his mind off of it, he scans through TV channels in search of entertainment and instead finds one news report after another that warns of violence erupting in the streets.
People are randomly and savagely attacking one another all along the East Coast from Maine to Florida. Some speculate it may be related to strange lights that have appeared in the sky above the outbreaks. Before any solid conclusions can be drawn, however, the brutality spreads, sweeping across the country until it hits Houston, then proceeds on to the West Coast. Robert, a handful of classmates, and a few others manage to survive the first wave and find themselves in the midst of civilization’s blackest hour, surrounded by pandemonium, bloodshed, and masses of people who have been stripped of their humanity. Hours later, as those strange lights continue to dominate the sky, the vicious horde undergoes a new transformation.
There is no escaping the horror. Unable to reach his fiancée by phone, Robert sets out to find her, joined by a small ensemble of fellow survivors. The thirty-five miles they must cover are fraught with danger, and their terror grows with each step they take as they witness the genesis of a new Earth. Can they find a way to stop it? Will they even survive it?
“I’m here, Bobby,” Ms. Walker said, barely audible above the static. The alarm and urgency infusing her voice frightened him more than everything that had happened thus far.
“We have to get outta here!” Alex shouted.
“Quiet!” he shouted back at her. Then, in a calm voice, he said to his mother, “Talk to me.”
“My father called from Chapel Hill—”
“—that people had gone mad, killing each—”
“He said it was happening all along the East Coast. The news didn’t know what—”
“The president was attacked by two of his own Secret Ser—”
“—beating him and—”
“—if he’s alive or dead.”
“We have to go,” Big Walt said and hurried to the window to survey the area. “I think we can make it if we go now. Right now!”
Robert raised a hand and motioned for Big Walt to stop speaking for a minute.
Alex moved to stand in front of the door and curled both hands into fists. Kicking off her house shoes, she bounced like a boxer waiting for her moment to knock out an opponent.
“—ad,” she said softly. “Robert.” Her voice rose a bit.
“What happened, Ma?” Robert asked as he placed an index finger in his other ear.
Big Walt unlocked the window and raised it to its full height. He looked toward the sky. “Humph.”
“Ma, I can’t hear—” He broke off. “Wait. Big Walt, what are you doing?”
“I have to live, my friend,” Walt said. “Good luck.” He pushed the screen outward with both hands, letting it fall into the flowerbed four feet beneath the window. In one fluid motion, Big Walt dove outside.
Alex glanced over one shoulder. “Where’s Big Walt?” She dashed over to the window with Robert on her heels.
Big Walt ran toward the parking lot where a female student had rammed her car into the automatic gate. With tight fists, two male students beat on the semiconscious woman. Her tired sobs and weak battle against the duo proved fruitless.
Bellowing a war cry, Big Walt struck both students with his fists and knocked them backward. They looked like the crooks in the old Batman TV show when they tumbled almost exaggeratedly over the curb.
The Hummer slid to a screeching halt.
Robert grabbed the back of the seat to steady himself. What the hell?
“Trouble, kids,” Anthony announced.
Robert followed his gaze. Ahead of them, the overpass that crossed the Southwest Freeway was impassable. Smashed cars blocked all lanes in both directions. And the driveways and lawns of the homes that led up to it were clogged with some sort of wreckage. Pieces of another downed plane? He couldn’t tell.
No way out.
Suddenly fists struck the back of the Hummer as the first wave of crazies reached them. Robert tightened his grip on the hammer. Eyes narrowing, Alex raised both her stun gun and pepper spray.
Rachel scanned the area in front of them. Pointing west, she said in a calm, cool tone, “Go left.”
“But—” Anthony began.
A dirty palm slammed against his window. Anthony drew back, hands clenching into fists.
“Between the truck and car,” Rachel said. “Closer to the house.”
Anthony hit the gas. The Hummer leapt forward, jumped the curb, and rammed both the truck and car in the driveway. Anthony never lifted his foot from the accelerator. He plowed into a gated chain-link fence that blocked access to a strip of land maybe two car lengths wide that separated the houses from the freeway. Swerving, he jammed the brakes, spun onto the cut grass, and floored it.
The Hummer burned dirt and gravel and a piece of fence while they sped west on the grassy strip that ran parallel to the freeway.
“Dunlavy is the next overpass,” Alex said.
“I know,” Anthony shot back. “The fire station is right up Dunlavy at Richmond. Home sweet home. Yeah, yeah.”
“Um, guys,” Rachel said in her annoyingly calm voice. “Look at that.” She pointed toward the Southwest Freeway.
“Saw it,” Anthony spat out.
Alex turned to stare in silence.
Robert glanced over the low guardrail at the wide stretch of pavement eighteen or twenty feet below.
Cars, buses, trucks of all sorts, and a destroyed 747 strangled the entire freeway as far as the eye could see. The smells of petroleum and burning flesh choked the air, creeping through Robert’s window.
Crazies wandered between the derelict vehicles, finding the few people among the wreckage who still clung to life. Until the lunatics found them. Some fought. They lost the battle, but they fought.
“We have to get past it,” Anthony said. “We have to ignore it.”
“It’s madness,” Rachel said softly. “I think—”
A long, deep crack parted the earth in front of them, unseen until they were upon it. Anthony didn’t even have time to hit the brakes.
Robert flew forward and slammed into the back of Alex’s seat, then went weightless as the truck flipped upside down.
The truck rolled forward, jostling Robert back to reality.
They eased past the barriers.
Anthony opened the back door and slid in without John having to stop.
Up on the right, Mount Vernon Street met and ended in West Main. As the truck approached the intersection, fear rippled up and down Robert’s spine. “Guys, look.” He pointed to a soccer field just beyond it.
It brimmed with crazies. Shrubbery pressed against the low fence that surrounded the field, thinning and dying in some places. Large dead or dying oaks with outstretched branches lined the west side of the field. But Robert took little notice of them. He was too distracted by the hundreds of light-people who swayed subtly beneath the soccer lights that burned brilliantly as if illuminating a night game.
“What’s the swaying about?” Alex asked.
Robert shook his head. “I don’t know, but I don’t like it.”
The truck inched onward along West Main, parallel to the lunatics.
Robert watched uneasily as more than one or two light-people looked their way. “How close are we to the library?”
“This is it to my left,” John said. “Solid brick on three sides.”
Without warning, the unconscious owner of the truck sprang to life. “Get them off me!” he screamed, eyes wide.
More light-people in the soccer field looked at the truck and began shuffling toward them.
Robert clamped a hand over the truck owner’s bloody mouth. The guy twisted and fought and swung meaty fists at John and Robert. The back of one fist struck Robert in his nose. Pain exploded in his face, adding to the pounding that already assaulted his head from the accident, as warm blood poured down over his upper lip. Swearing, he tried to get the guy under control.
“Get them off me!” the truck owner cried out a second time. “Get them off!”
“Shut up, guy,” Alex whispered loudly.
“Knock him out, Robert,” Anthony urged.
“I’m trying,” Robert growled, frustration rising as he stole glances at the soccer field.
And just like that… more bad news.
To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below to win
4 lucky winners will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card, International.
Note: Book Briefs Contest Policy applies. All of the prizes, terms and conditions of the giveaway should be contained in the rafflecopter below. No Purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law.