Saturday, June 22, 2013

FREE CHAPTER! From My Hit Thriller: "Northern Lights" by T.Rico

Chapter 19

The Dead Have Risen

“By the time I got to the ward they had already taken Geena’s
body to the basement,” Johnny said. “She is being held down
there along with all seven of the fly fisherman. They’re all dead
now. They’re storing all the bodies down there: Officers Amble
and Madsen, who burned to death in my backyard the night of the
landing; Frank and Maureen, the young couple who burned by
River Glomma. With the exception of the couple that had the SUV
accident up on ‘reaper 172,’ they’re all dead. That couple is still
hanging on. I think they’re going to finish doing autopsies on all
the bodies, but I’m guessing the results will be the same: infected
by the same brain parasite they found in the fisherman who killed
himself.”
“Johnny, you’re in no shape drive all the way back home. I
insist that you stay at our place. You can keep Ella company while
Hannah, Freddy, and I go to the U.K.” I offered. “We’re going to
make plans to fly out tonight to hunt down this Professor Shryll we
heard about on the news. He’s an archeologist who was at a dig site
near Stonehenge when the second landing happened last night.”
“Well, thank you, guys. That’s very nice of you,” Johnny said,
still trying to compose his emotions. “Why don’t I meet up with
you in a bit? I want to go back inside and say goodbye to Geena.
I haven’t viewed her body yet. I’m going to have to start with the
funeral arrangements tomorrow and before I do, I want to bid her
farewell alone.”
“Are you sure you’ll be okay” Hannah asked.
“Yes. Please, I have to see her, you guys go back and I’ll catch
up with you in about an hour.”



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Hannah, Freddy, and I gave Johnny a loving hug, and then we
hopped into the car back to our home, with the intent of making
our travel plans while we awaited Johnny’s return. As we pulled
out I turned and saw Johnny approaching the doors of the ward,
yelling for Dr. McCrum.
“Dr. McCrum, it’s Johnny Briten, the CDC cleared me to view
Geena’s body one last time.”
As I knocked, the smell of my own regurgitations on the side of
the porch permeated my nostrils. I shook my head at the tragedy of
it all, and peeked through the door’s glass to find that Dr. McCrum
was approaching. The door opened.
“Have you come back to say ‘goodbye?’” Dr. McCrum asked.
“Yes, doc, is it okay? I know you’re under quarantine now.”
“Well, okay, but make it quick, Johnny. We need to secure the
facility and evacuate the premises. I’ll go with you and we’ll grab
a couple of gas masks the CDC left for us.”
McCrum and I walked towards the elevator and descended to
the basement. The smell of rotting flesh drifted up the elevator
shaft and became more pungent the closer we got. I barely got the
taste of puke out of my mouth and now had a lovely flavor combo
stirring inside, with the smell of dead flesh entering my nose,
greeting the lingering puke taste in my mouth. We both put the gas
masks on before we got to the bottom floor.
The doors opened and all the gurneys were laid out next to one
another. Twelve of them in a row, it struck me that I was going
to have to play Russian roulette lifting each blood-soaked sheet
looking for my dead sister. My tears had run dry by this point. I
was now just gripped with fear, the fear of looking at the dead,
most of whom had all gone mad just before dying, doing the same
thing Geena had done, tearing and ripping at their faces and hair,
trying to get at the parasite that was eating them from the inside



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out. I lifted the first sheet up, and it was one of the detectives that
were in my backyard the night of the landing. I couldn’t tell if it
was Amble or Madsen. The body was severely charred, but there
were burnt remains of his officers’ uniform that gave his identity
away. There wasn’t much left but bone and ash. His eye sockets
had sunken inside his skull, I glanced down and could swear I saw
his temple move a bit, like one of those little buggers was still
inside, having a feast of burnt brains for dinner. I glanced back,
and it was gone. This was sure to be the easier of the bodies to
view. The others were fresh and the wounds were new. The gas
mask would help keep out the odor, but the sight would be burned
into my memory forever. I wasn’t sure I was prepared to see my
beautiful sister in the state the doctors had explained she was in. I
wanted to say goodbye and knew I wouldn’t believe she was dead
unless I saw her for myself.
I moved on to the second gurney. It was the fly fisherman who
had committed suicide. I could tell because his head was bashed in
from the impact with the pavement below. The inside of his head
was on the outside of his body now. Brain tissue had cascaded
down the front of his face and onto his chest. His meaty bloody
frontal lobe and temporal lobe were completely eaten away, with
the remains hanging across his left shoulder and his brain stem was
severed.
I could have looked away, but it was like a train wreck. I just
had to see what this creature was doing to the host bodies, in a way,
so I could understand the agony Geena endured and the misery that
caused her to take her own life.
With my luck, I would have to endure ten more viewings
before I’d finally reach Geena’s body. With apprehension, I walked
around the head of the fly fisherman to the third gurney, all the
while keeping my eyes on the previous body, half expecting the
parasite to jump from the corpse. But I continued, hoping I’d be
lucky enough to stop at the next gurney that followed. Slowly, I
pulled the sheet back. I was careful not to touch any of the blood
that saturated the linen, and glancing at McCrum, noticed that he



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had decided to keep a safe distance. I noticed the hair color at first,
hair that resembled the locks that fell across Geena’s once beautiful
face.
Did I get lucky? Would this be the last body I would have to
endure viewing? Either way, this wasn’t luck. I pulled at the sheet
a bit more. It was her. My poor baby sister was gone. I wanted
to drop to my knees and weep, but this was no time to be weak.
Tears welled in my eyes, and I fought to hold them back. She must
have been clawing at her eyes. Thick meaty pieces of flesh were
clipped from her face and blood streamed from her eyes down the
nape of her neck. The claw and clipper marks had left deep gouges
in her skin. She couldn’t have done this damage prior to writing
her farewell to me. The self-inflected mutilation persisted long
after her letter was complete, before the combination of Xanax and
Percocet laid her to rest. Rest, I thought to myself.
Rest in pieces Sis, the irony of the term, and the state of her
body made me quiver in fearful disgust.
The gas mask was cumbersome, and my breathing was getting
heavy. A vapor was developing on the inside of the mask. I looked
at Geena’s face and could swear I saw movement in her eyes. I
leaned in, until my mask was three or four centimeters from her
face.
There was a momentary twitch in her eye socket then, to my
astonishment, her eyes

opened.

Her mouth dropped open, and she let out a howling growl, like
that of a wild animal. Her eyes were white and glazed, devoid of
any pupils. She couldn’t see me, but she moved her head from
side to side as a hunger-crazed wolf might. She seemingly was
picking up the scent of her prey as a blind starving animal might
do. I leaped backwards and knocked into the gurney behind me,
that gurney hitting the one behind that. Two of the gurney’s I had
previously inspected flew across the room and the bodies that lay
atop teetered on the edge for a moment, and then fell to the floor.



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The fly fisherman’s body, already badly broken from the suicide
jump, snapped in half on impact. I could hear the sound of his
spinal cord snapping and the tearing of flesh as he hit and the body
broke in two. I turned my gaze to McCrum. He let out a scream
and scrambled for the elevator.
Geena’s growl stirred the others under their sheets; one by one



they all began to rise.




Amble or Madsen, whichever it was, began lifting his body
from the floor and sniffing the area for fresh flesh. All of them were
waking up with the exception of Earl. His body lay motionless on
the floor in two separate bloody sections. The blood from his body
being severed in two was streaming towards a drain in the corner
of the room. I backed away slowly from Geena as she was sitting
up and trying to pick up a scent.
The elevator was our only way out and it was sure to make a lot
of noise as it rattled down the shaft. The room was dim and murky
with only one light bulb shining down on the rising dead. My mask
was still fogged up, which made my endless creeping backwards
even more arduous. McCrum was feverishly pressing the button
over and over again, groaning at the slow speed of the approaching
elevator, and cursing whoever used the elevator, returning it to an
upper level.
I looked over my shoulder towards the elevator. It was the kind
that opened horizontally rather than vertically. It had a big heavy
gate behind it, sure to keep us safe from the undead if we could
just get behind it, and lock it safely. The zombie-like creatures
were moving slowly, but the fact that they

were moving seemed

surreal. The banging of the elevator hitting the basement floor got
their attention, and they gathered in a group walking towards us,
led by their sense of smell rather than their eyes. They couldn’t see
us for sure, or they would have focused on us, their target. Some
of them just stumbled towards us, as if their insides were not
connected by sturdy bones anymore. Others dragged various limbs



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along the floor that caught the nearby table as they snarled and
moved closer and closer. Finally McCrum opened the horizontal
doors, and gate behind it, the bottom half of the horizontal door
didn’t fully sink into the pocket below, which left it protruding
from the floor. McCrum attempted to navigate climbing over the
door, but tripped as he went catching his right leg on the bottom
half not fully collapsed. I scurried quickly and hopped over it, and
passed McCrum, then threw my back against the far wall. One of
the affected dead grabbed at McCrum’s ankle.
He screamed in panic.
“Help me Johnny; they’ve got me, Johnny. Help me quick!”
I tried to pull him in, but feared I would pull the undead in
with him. The affected one that had a grip on him wore a badge.
It was one of the cops from my yard I saw the letters “Mads—”
on the badge, the rest of the name was covered in dried blood.
It was Madsen, the same man I had offered hot chocolate to the
other night in my home. He was a big guy, and apparently death
didn’t make him lose any of his strength. He grabbed at McCrum’s
ankle with his fingers. Then he snagged McCrum’s left and right
ankles all at once, and now with one leg in each hand, he dragged
McCrum over the partially closed door that stuck up from the floor.
His head snapped back as it hit the door protruding upwards. The
other zombies picked up the scent and grabbed at him as well,
pulling his screaming body backwards into the pack of savage
mutants. They knelt around his body. One of them ripped into his
neck with one deep starve-crazed bite. Blood squirted and hit some
of the other undead on their hands and faces. The splash of plasma
seemed to delight them as they licked the warm blood from their
hands and wiped the dripping blood from their mangled faces, and
then licked their hands once again.
He was gone.



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There was nothing I could do but make my escape as they
enjoyed the banquet of his flesh. I lifted the bottom half of the door
that McCrum, the poor bastard, had tripped on. That could easily
have been me. Just one missed step and you’re dead. I was lucky. I
pulled the top half of the door down and latched them together. For
a split second, that gave me a sigh of relief. I closed the gate and
pressed the button for the lobby. I heard banging on the doors from
the floor above. The few CDC guys that were left in the building
must have heard the cries of terror from below and were attempting
to help, calling down to us.
My heart was throbbing in panic over what just happened. A
mere hour or two ago, I was alerted of my sister’s death and tossing
my guts up over the porch railing. Now, to see her rise from the
dead was more than this guy could handle. The ascent to the lobby
seemed to take an eternity. The banging from above and the sounds
of the risen dead at feeding time from below had me gripped with



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fear, sweat beaded on my forehead. I tried to calm myself by
humming a nursery rhyme.



Row, row, row, your boat gently down the stream, merrilymerrily-
merrily-merrily life is but a dream


.

I checked my arms and legs to make sure I hadn’t gotten bitten.
I gagged at the thought that the gas mask had not done its intended
job—keeping me parasite-free. I thought that in just twenty-four
hours or so, my body and mind could be relegated to what lurked
in the basement below. I felt faint, nervously repeating the calming
affect of the nursery rhyme.



Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrilymerrily-
merrily-merrily life is but a dream.




I heard the guys calling out my name from above, getting
louder as I drew close. “Mr. Briten, Mr. McCrum, what’s going on?
Are you okay? Answer us.”
“I’m all right, alive anyway” I yelled.
The elevator finally came to a halt and I opened the gate and
unlatched the doors dropping the bottom first and lifting the top.
Two CDC guys were outside. They questioned me about what
happened, and I found I couldn’t explain it without sounding like a
raving head-case. They were having a hard time believing the story,
but the chaotic moaning from below and the blood all over my shirt
and face was quickly making them believers.
We found the switch in the elevator that would stop it from
descending. We closed the gate and tied it off with some rope. With
McCrum dead and the rest of the building evacuated, my thoughts
turned quickly to the security of the basement. I’d never been here
before, neither had the CDC guys.
“I wonder if there is any way for them to get out besides the
elevator,” I said.



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All three of us still had our masks on and it was making it
difficult to communicate. I thought the best thing to do would be
to get out of the building before the affected ones did and alert the
cops of the newly risen dead. The three of us busted through the
double doors, out to the parking lot, and split up into our cars. The
CDC guys jumped into their van and hit the gas so fast, that the
dirt, ice, and snow kicked back and splashed chunks against my
windshield. Pebbles flew at the front of my car as the van peeled
out of the lot. I followed close behind and, at high speed, ripped off
the gas mask and took a deep breath of unprocessed air. Fumbling
for my cell phone, I called Dante and Hannah’s house to tell them
the dead had risen. Freddy picked up.
“Thorgen Ranch, Freddy speaking. Can I help you?”
Frantically I explained to the doc what happened at the Psych.
ward. Oddly enough, he was not shaken by the news.
“I was afraid something like that was going to happen. I knew
when I heard about the mutated parasites that they had the ability
to make their host bodies reanimate in order to seek a new host. I
was just hoping that the human brain would be more evolved, and
not fall prey to the

Toxoplasmosa gondii it had swarming inside.

It’s starting to get dark, Johnny. You should get here as soon as
you can and alert the authorities so they can handle the situation.
Dante, Hannah, and I have a red eye flight booked to the U.K. this
evening. You should get here and stay with Ella as they suggested.
I think the two of you will be safe here. I’m sure they will be happy
to know that Ella has someone here with her.”
“Okay, doc, I’ll be there just as quick as this ole shit-box car
can get me there.”
“Drive safe, Johnny. We’ve seen enough death for one day.”
After I hung up with Freddy, the CDC van and my car came
to a fork in the road. They sped off one way, and I went the other,
heading towards Thorgen Farm, and

 
hopefully far enough away

from the freak show I left behind.



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