Teaser for Contain (a BUNKER 12 title)
“Phones are down.”
“Phones? How is that even possible?” I notice that the lights on the street are out. In fact, lights everywhere are out. I smell smoke. “What’s happening?”
“Not now, Finn,” he says, his words clipped. He slips past the front of the car, keys jangling in his hand. “Hurry!”
A block away, someone is running down the sidewalk in our direction, a woman. I can’t tell who it is, but she’s really in a hurry. And something in the way she moves strikes me as odd.
“Get in the car!” Dad hisses.
“But maybe she knows—”
“Get in the goddamn car, Finn! Now!”
I glance back at the woman, and suddenly I’m terrified. She’s moving way too fast, and I don’t like the way her legs scissor. It’s not natural.
“Dad, what’s going on?”
The door opens and slams into me, jolting me away from the car before he grabs my shirt and yanks me inside. My head hits the edge of the roof. I see stars.
“Close the damn door!”
The engine starts up, howls angrily as he stomps on the gas. But it’s not in gear. He shifts, and then we’re tearing off down the street, tires screaming.
We approach the running figure, and just for a moment I see her face in the car’s headlights. There’s nothing but darkness in her eyes. No emotion, no awareness. She turns as we pass and she reaches out for us. Dad swerves.
As we accelerate away, something about her shifts, and a howl of rage erupts out of her throat, sending an icy shiver through me. She grabs for us, but her fingers slip off the metal and she tumbles to the pavement.
“What the hell?” I shout. “I think you hit her! Stop!”
What the hell was wrong with her?
“Get your seatbelt on, son.” He throws a glance at my lap, then into the rearview mirror. “Do it!”
I reach over and clip it on. “Dad, please, tell me what’s going on?”
He grips the steering wheel and barely slows when we reach the stop sign at the end of the block. The tires screech and the car fishtails around the corner.
“Finn! Not now. I need to think.”
“Think about what? This is crazy! Slow down.” I point out the windshield, gesturing at the road ahead. “Speed limit’s twenty-five here! You’re going to kill—”
And that’s when I see them.
They’re everywhere— in the streets, on lawns. Standing around with their faces in the air, as if they were watching something in the sky but suddenly forgot that they were. They all turn to look at us, and they all have those dead, empty eyes.
Every coherent thought in my head completely vanishes. They look like zombies.
“Can’t go through town,” Dad mutters. “Too many.”
“Too many what? Dad, what’s wrong with them?”
The muscles in his cheeks ripple as his jaw flexes. He casts a look over at me, purses his lips, then focuses again on the road.
“It’s some sort of disease,” he answers, and once more the Z-word comes to mind. But there’s no blood. No one is trying to eat anyone else. No blood yet, anyway, because nobody realized what was happening until much later, when most people were already lost to the infection.
Only then was there blood. And a hell of a lot of it.
“What kind of disease?”
But he refuses to say anything else. He doesn’t explain how he knows, and I don’t press him on it.
The erratic driving makes my nose throb again. Thankfully, it’s not bleeding. A lump has formed on the side of my head where I hit it on the door jamb.
We drive for another thirty minutes, taking side streets and avoiding crowds of people. Everywhere, the power is out. Signal lights aren’t working. There’s surprisingly little traffic on the roads. Apparently, everyone decided to walk instead of drive.
Dad tells me not to look, but I can’t help it. What happened to them? How long will it last? How did it spread so quickly?
The afflicted are in no hurry. They just amble along. At least until we get close enough to pass them. Then they run, and they all have that same loping, slithering gait I first saw in front of the house.
At some point, panic finally sets in among the unafflicted. People are beginning to understand that something very bad is happening, that there’s something very wrong with these people. They start fighting back, which only makes matters worse. That’s when I see my first killing.
It’s a horrible, bloody, violent ordeal, over in a matter of seconds, though in my mind it stretches out to an eternity. And when they’re done, there’s practically nothing left of the victim but a few tattered strips of flesh and glistening white bone.
“Finn,” my father pleads with me, “don’t look.”
When I turn to him to beg him to wake me up, when I see the tears on his own face, I know I’m not dreaming. This is real.
We end up at the small regional airport that services the tiny jets of the rich folks who live and work in the valley. I ask where we’re going, if we’re flying out. He sighs and says, “Don’t worry.”
“What about Mom? What about Harper and Leah?”
“We had a plan,” he explains. “In case this sort of thing happened.”
This sort of thing? I want to shout. This sort of thing is absolutely crazy. How do you plan for this sort of thing? But my throat has constricted. I scramble for my inhaler before remembering I still don’t have it.
Through the fog of the asthma attack, I hear him say, “They’re supposed to meet us here.”
They never did.
* * * * *
The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.
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