Friday, October 05, 2007


So - like I said earlier this week, I finished my new novel and have begun the arduous task of editing, rewriting, and fleshing it out. Then comes the hell of trying to get it published. My first novel was published based on pure luck... let's hope lightning strikes twice...

So, anyway, I've decided to go ahead and post up the short story I wrote a few years back that inspired the novel. It was originally included as a prologue to my novel, but I cut it because of various reasons, including the fact that; it didn't match the tone or narrative style of the novel, I wasn't pleased with the way it was written, and finally, that it was - truthfully - just too long for a prologue.

So - - as I'll probably never send it out to try and publish it, I figured I'd post it up on my site.

So, if you're feeling especially literary, and want to read a so-so short story, here it is.

I make no promises about spelling or grammatical errors... like I said, it became the basis for my new novel, and I pretty much left it as is once I started writing the new book...


And so began the end of the world…

The town of Wisteria was a small bucolic place. It had a Main Street, a town square, and storefronts that hearkened back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Ladies Social Club maintained the obligatory wisteria trees that graced the small park in the town square, their grape-like flowers hanging heavily over manicured lawns and bright red, orange, and pink roses. A memorial statue dedicated to the young men who had given their lives in the last half dozen U.S. involved wars looked sorrowfully towards the south of the square. There, the Presbyterian Church cast a long, all day shadow on the small gazebo where the Shriner band played every Friday evening during the summer.

The side streets off of the square where all quaintly named after trees. Streets with names like Oak, Elm, Beech, and Birch ran quietly away from town, terminating in dead ends, cul-de-sacs and, in some cases, empty fields. On the east side of town, they ran for endless miles through corn fields and soy farms until they merged and emptied onto State Route 25. The side streets near town were populated by many gamble-roofed, Victorian style homes that slumbered beneath the thick, gnarled limbs of ancient trees. Flagstone walks led to immense porches with heavy, stained glass doors and foyers with high ceilings and real oak crown moldings. In the winter, radiator heat hissed in the large rooms and, year round, the floors creaked with age.

It was no different than any small town - save one thing.

Where Main Street crossed the Little ProsperityRiver, amidst the hulking and empty remains of several warehouses that perched over the brown, sluggish river waters - there was a newer building. It was a modern building. Its green, glass face glinting blindingly in the afternoon sun. It seemed out of place between the abandoned warehouses that once thrived in Industrial Revolution corpulence.

It was a research extension for the Centers for Disease Control. Rumors about its purpose ran the gamut from bio-weapons development to medical research. In truth, it was somewhere in between.

As night fell, and the evening stretched into night, something very bad was happening at the silent, green building near the river.


Dr. Byron Walker was a brilliant, but eccentric, biologist. His specialty was contagious diseases and, in a lab in the basement of the research facility, he was working on pure evil. Working on grants provided by legitimate, if somewhat shadowy, government agencies, his objective had been simple - design and develop a virus that was genetically engineered to demoralize and destroy enemies of the United States

Dr. Walker had no qualms about his highly illegal work. In fact, he loved it. The idea that someday the world may very well go to hell in a hand basket appealed to him. He was an expert in contagious viruses and knew that it was only a matter of time before some terrorist in a turban walked into Times Square with an aerosol container of Anthrax, or Ebola, or Hanta, or any of a dozen other microscopic assassins. He was certain of it happening, and he was also certain that it would prove so destructive that the government would quickly not care about any silly little rules regarding ‘ethical’ warfare.

There would be retaliation, and it was very likely that Dr. Walker’s little bug would do the dirty work. And, it was his sole ambition and goal to ensure that he was responsible for designing the most monstrous, most effective, and most lethal virus to do so.

Walker Virus X would be the worst virus ever seen, thus earning him a place beside Nobel and Oppenheimer. Whereas immortality is something many scientists hunger for - Dr. Walker was starved for it. He worked twenty hour days and burned through lab assistants the way a chain smoker works his way through a pack of cigarettes. His quest was all consuming and there was no other facet of a normal adult life that appealed to or interested him.

Thus it was that he was alone in the lab on a Friday night, working late, when tragedy struck.

The most current incarnate of Walker Virus was part of batch number 117. Per CDC regulations, all contagious and lethal microorganisms were never directly touched by human hands. The Walker Virus was bred in a closed incubator, accessible by remote operated robot only. The glass incubator had several safeguards; including a powerful exhaust hood that would instantly turn the container into vacuum, radioactive lights to irradiate and kill any microbe, and a caustic chemical bath to kill anything else left. The scientists manipulated the Petri dishes, microscopes, and instruments through the use of a 'Waldo'; or a set of industrial strength, impermeable rubber gloves that prevented any human contact with the dangerous pathogens within the glass box.

Dr. Walker had moved a slide of the virus to the microscope and was examining it when he first felt the itch on his left ring finger. He thought nothing of it as he turned from the containment unit to take some notes. As he did so, the itch grew maddeningly worse, spreading to the palm of his hand. With a frown, Dr. Walker glanced at his palm as he got up.

He had to sit down again, a feeling of terror striking him like a bucket of ice water thrown in his face.

“God, no...” he whispered, studying the very visible spread of the virus across his hand. That was one of its attributes. It was a very visually distinct infection, as was requested by the government when they had contracted him.

Ever the scientist, his first thought was, ‘How...?’

He rushed to the containment unit and pulled the left glove inside out, studying the rubber on the left ring finger. With a sense of rage and indignation, he quickly deduced what had happened.

“That bitch!” he cursed, examining a worn part of the glove. He was referring to his newest lab assistant, a snobby graduate student who had only received the job because she had a father in Congress. She had recently acquired a too big engagement ring and worn it to work, reluctant to remove it for even an instant. She had known it was a direct violation of CDC protocol, but she was too wrapped up in the glory of snagging some Ivy League fiancĂ©e.

Her vanity was now going to kill Dr. Walker.

He sat on the floor abruptly, the realization of his situation striking him in its enormity. He looked at the tell-tale bluish-grey spread of the virus as it reproduced itself with frightening speed. That was the first sign of infection - the discoloration of skin and resultant itch. Already there was a painful numbness in his fingers and hand, like pins and needles as a limb slowly wakes up from being slept on. Accompanying that was an itch like ants were trying to crawl their way out of the skin of his arm. His left arm, to the elbow, was now infected.

He knew what would come next. He had, after all, designed it. The discoloration would eventually cover his entire body and his epidermis would die, falling off of his musculature like a snake shedding its own skin. But before all of that, the madness would come. The blind, angry, inhuman madness as the virus destroyed his mind and turned him into a subhuman killing machine.

He started sobbing as the horror fully gripped him, although the part of his brain that was logical, analytical, and always a scientist gave a small cry of surprise that it worked so quickly in human physiology.

Of course, that’s what he had designed it to do.

An hour later, Dr. Walker was no longer really human. The thing that had been the doctor crept out of the lab and made its way through the dark, silent halls of the research building. It was drawn by a dark desire and fragments of its life of earlier that day. It came upon the security guard at the front door soundlessly. With a primeval and inarticulate cry, it fell upon the hapless guard as he dozed at his post. It fed for a time, but then grew restless again.

The creature stalked to the door and let itself out, setting off silent alarms. It stood on the marble steps, savoring the cool, rich scent of the night. The darkness called to it and it flinched at the brightness of the moon. Quickly, it turned from the lunar orb’s baleful gaze and searched the shadows about it. The brightness of lights to the south, and the smell of humanity drew him to Wisteria like a magnet. He grinned, a disturbing expression that was all blood and gore stained teeth.

Another side effect of the virus was a forced atavism; a reversion to a more primitive, primate state. Besides the obvious visual deformities his body was undergoing, besides the cannibalistic and homicidal impulses it felt, it also felt the desire to assert itself as an Alpha Male. It felt a need to sow its genetic material, to propogate, to breed. He needed a woman to slake this growing lust that filled him with rage and unrealized aggression.

What he sought lay in the direction of Wisteria.

Pushed by the perversions of the virus, he loped off into the darkness.


The creature was almost mad with lust when it reached the town. The desire to find a woman was almost overwhelming and consumed what small part of its brain that was left. It was late, almost midnight. Wisteria was quiet and slumbered in that early way in which all small towns do. The monster padded past the small post office at the corner of Main and Oak Streets. In its run from the river it had shed its shoes and just as quickly forgotten it had done so. The creatures bare feet slapped on the concrete sidewalk, leaving a trail of bloody footprints from the already decomposing skin on the soles of its feet.

It ran on and stopped at the first house it came to, sniffing the air expectantly. It had caught the scent of a female and it snorted hungrily.

The monstrosity ran across a manicured lawn and around the side of the house, pausing again, searching in the moonlight. It finally found where the scent was coming from. An open window on the second floor, above the porch, beckoned to him. The odor of a fertile, ripe woman poured from the window like water over a dam. He was dizzy with desire, his heightened senses threatening overload at the overwhelmingly close, but still unattainable woman. With a harsh, sobbing moan, it ran to the rear of the house.

Wisteria, as in all small towns, did not believe in locking doors, and the creature that had once been Doctor Walker quietly crept through the house’s open screen door into a darkened kitchen.

Its prey was now within its grasp.

It padded soundlessly across the linoleum kitchen floor and down a hallway courteously lit with night lights. Taking the steps two at a time, it leapt on soundless bare feet to the second floor. The creature paused at the top of the steps, its nostrils flaring. It looked down the hall at a partially opened door, the flicker of candlelight barely visible at the crack. Lust rising in its blood like a drug, the creature reached down, tearing its already shredded clothes from its loins as it stalked towards the bedroom soundlessly. As it reached the door, though, it paused. There was another smell; a smell that had been drowned out by that of the woman.

There was another man in the house!

It knelt, pushing the door open with a hand that was covered in its own dripping blood and it saw them then.

They were on the bed, making love.

Their names were Dan and Kathy Barstow and they were still newlyweds. Dan was on top of her and she was below, and they were both near the peak.

The creature saw this all in an instant and was filled with an unimaginable black rage. Kathy moaned an encouragement to Dan; a low, husky sound of impending pleasure that goaded the monster that watched from the open doorway. The sound pushed the creature over the edge.

“’INE! ‘INE” It roared, its ruined lips now longer able to say the ‘m’ in ‘mine’.

It launched itself onto the bed, catching Dan by surprise. The two rolled off the far side of the bed as Kathy screaming in terror at the creature that could only have come from the darkest, most evil depths of hell.

Screaming inarticulately, the creature landed on top of Dan and began tearing at him and biting him. Dan, still in shock, was unable to mount any kind of defense and screamed in horror at the monster that straddled and assaulted him.
In an instant, the creature bit down on Dan’s throat. Sharp teeth dug in, piercing Dan’s windpipe and carotid artery. There was a gasp of escaping air and the spurting, rhythmic spray of bright pink arterial blood. An arc of blood sprayed the end table and struck one of the candles there, extinguishing it with a hiss. Dan was dead within seconds.

The monster looked up from its victim and looked at Kathy with a lipless and gaping jack-o-lantern grin; Dan’s blood still shiny on its cadaverous face.

With a scream, Kathy turned and ran from the room, skidding on the throw rug in the hall way. The sight of her nakedness was like a cattle prod on the consciousness of the monster and it was after her as if it had been shot from a cannon.

The beast caught her in the hallway, leaping on her back and pounding her to the hardwood floor painfully. It savaged and raped her there, in the darkened hall.


It was sometime later that Kathy awoke to find the creature snoring in exhaustion on top of her. Surprisingly, Kathy Barstow was not dead, even after an eternity of hell, even after the monster had so savagely abused and raped her

Kathy slid out from under its filthy bulk. The only sound in the hallway was the creature’s guttural snoring and the snuffle of Kathy’s breathing as she tried to take in air through her broken, bloody nose. She was dizzy and disoriented from the blows she had received and she felt a burning wetness between her legs. She also felt her insides roll unnaturally. She could tell she was not right internally, and knew she was seriously injured from the beast’s attack. With all of her strength, she pulled herself slowly across the hall floor. She almost screamed with the pain of it and her vision grew fuzzy.

There was something broken inside of her, something seriously wrong. She sobbed and winced, panted and cried at the agony and the hurt she felt, forcing herself to keep crawling. She knew she should have stayed still, and she was certain that her struggle was further ripping the internal injuries that assailed her with wave after wave of pain, but she also knew she had to get away from the thing that had killed Dan and had so badly mauled her.

She had made her way to the top step of the stairs, her broken and leaking body trailing an unbelievably wide path of blood behind her, when the monster awoke. It stopped snoring and abruptly sat up, looking at her with red eyes and an oozing, pus covered face.

Its skin was falling off in wet, dripping sheets. It was like the skin of wax on a recently extinguished candle and, as the creature turned towards her, a piece of its face fell to the floor with a soft, moist plop.

It grinned at her and rolled onto all fours, coming for her again.

It took Kathy Barstow a very long time to die...


To the government’s credit, it only took them a few hours to respond to the alarms Dr. Walker had tripped when he had left the building earlier that night. In conjunction with the CDC, the government agency responsible for Dr. Walker’s research had been prepared for this sort of tragedy and there was a contingency plan already in place.

A coded, encrypted call was made by the CDC director in the field to the commanding officer of a special army unit at Fort Bragg. This military unit was composed of specialists in anti-terrorism - specifically biological terrorism. The members of this team also held the highest possible security clearance that military personnel could hold and were the ultimate ‘problem solvers’. They did work the other elite military areas, like the Navy SEALS or Army Recon, couldn’t legally do.

They were efficient and deadly.

Within an hour of Dr. Walker’s escape, the response team was aboard a specially designed Concorde that was utilized by their unit for just such an emergency. They were briefed about what they were faced with and shown security video of what was left of Doctor Walker as he scurried from his lab, killed and ate the guard, and then boldly walked out of the research facility.

Even as hardened as the soldiers were, the nature of Dr. Walker’s pathogen was difficult to reconcile and even harder to contemplate having to face; but that’s what they were trained to do. They were on the ground with a half an hour of activation and at the CDC facility within another.

The team leader, Captain Christopher Woods, immediately ordered his men to secure the perimeter of the town.

They began hunting.

Quarantine restrictions were established and road blocks were thrown up, sealing the town up. The CDC and Army commandeered the gymnasium at the Rutherford B. Hayes Elementary School and began setting it up as a temporary hospital, and Captain Woods’ men continued the hunt.

They quickly found the course the monster had taken and established with certainty that he was within a one block area. A secondary perimeter was set up and plans were implemented to begin a house to house search. They quickly found the home of Dan and Kathy Barstow. Lieutenant Joe Garcia the team leader, radioed his superior officer.


Woods’ radio squawked in his ear. He was standing at a table in the post office examining a map of the town. He had commandeered the building as his de facto command center.

“Go ahead, Garcia,” he replied.

“I’ve got the trail. Subject has been located, sir.”

Woods sighed, switching his radio so that all of his men could hear him, “Garcia, you and Alpha Team have the ball. Bravo Team, assist Alpha Team if they call for backup. They’ve got a definite ID and will lead the pursuit. Alpha Team, relay your position if it changes.”

“Yes, sir!” his men all responded in unison. They were professionals and, despite the horror they were inevitably going to face tonight, they remained professionals. Woods was proud of them. Garcia and his team moved in for the kill. Woods, meanwhile, jumped into the nearest HMMV and raced to the search perimeter.


The creature returned from the bedroom, where it had been snacking on Dan’s corpse. It wiped a bloody hand across its bloody maw. The monster’s face had mostly sloughed off, leaving glistening muscle and white eyes peering about madly. The effect of this unnatural molting gave the impression that the bottom portion of the creatures face was mostly gore stained teeth. Some unforeseen mutation of the virus was twisting its bones, elongating them. It was a nightmare made real.

It shuffled down the hall towards the woman, but wrinkled its nose at her. She was quite dead and cold, her limbs twisted in the beginning throes of rigor mortis. It pushed her belly with a sharp finger, piercing the skin there. The lust was coming upon it again and it needed to find another woman. The creature knelt and licked some coagulating blood from Cathy’s navel, snorting and grimacing at the coldness of it. It was time to hunt again.

Suddenly it heard a sound downstairs.


Slowly, Garcia and Rogers entered the house, their breathing sounding harsh and strident in the enclosed space of their helmets. Close behind, covering the insertion, were Katz and the team medic, Kosminski.

“Backup teams, close the perimeter up. I don’t want this thing slipping out!” Woods ordered. There were four additional four man teams and they all took up positions at the four corners of the house, watching for any sign of an escape attempt. They were also fastidiously mindful of their crossfire. It wouldn’t do to shoot one another. Woods was getting ready to radio Garcia and ask for a report when the shooting started.

There was the sustained fire of silenced machine guns. Unlike those portrayed in the movies, a silenced gun is only slightly less quiet than a regular gun. The dampening got worse as additional rounds are fired through the silencers until it is as if they are nonexistent. The same went for flash suppressers and, as the shooting went on and on and became louder and louder, the windows were lit by the muzzle flashes of the MP5’s.


Within an hour, the CDC had secured the neighborhood and begun the elaborate cover up of the night’s events. After decontamination and an in-field debriefing with the CDC and Woods’ superiors, Woods and his men were ordered to stand down. Woods turned control over to the CDC and he and his men were ordered back to Fort Bragg.

As they boarded the black plane that was to take them home, Woods addressed the men.

“It’s been a hard night, men,” he said over the whine of the plane’s engines as they warmed up, “Although it doesn’t feel like it, we won a battle for the good guys tonight. I’ve got the first round when we get back to base, boys.”

“Hoo-rah!” the men called back, laughing and slapping each other in congratulations. Woods smiled back, recognizing that they were still keyed up from the mission and needed to blow off some steam. In fact, he was pretty sure he himself would need a few drinks to dull the memory of the video tapes and the aftermath of the Doctor’s spree.

Before he sat down, he glanced at Garcia. He saw that his right hand man was not joining in the post-battle celebrations. Lieutenant Garcia was staring out the window, shivering slightly. Woods let it go; believing that Garcia was dealing with what he had had to do that night. He decided to give his lieutenant some room.
That was the biggest mistake he could have made.


Garcia looked out the window, and then looked down at his shaking hands. His skin itched something terrible and his veins seemed to be darker and bluer than normal. He thought it must have been the lighting in the plane. Either way, he didn’t feel well.

Unknown to all of them, Garcia’s bio- suit from earlier in the night had had a bad seam and was not completely airtight. Given the transmission nature of the Walker X virus, that shouldn’t have been a problem. However, Doctor Walker’s true genius lay in the mutability of his work. As the virus had percolated in the late Doctor’s gory, misshapen body; it had changed and gone beyond even its creator’s darkest desires.

It had become airborne.

And Garcia’s faulty hazmat suit had allowed the virus entry.


It took the plane over an hour to reach Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In the hours between Garcia’s initial infection, his subsequent exposure to the team, and the long flight; the entire team had been infected, and began tearing each other to shreds. The pilot and co-pilot themselves were dragged screaming from their seats, torn to pieces and fed upon by what was once the tactical team. The plane, on autopilot, returned to Fort Bragg, but then simply flew in programmed circles.

For several tense hours, the control tower tried to contact the plane, but it would only occasionally get crackling static or the more disturbing sound of snarls and growls and screams. They could do nothing, only watch as the plane circled about the base, waiting for the inevitable. When the unavoidable happened and the plane ran out of gas, it plummeted to the ground carrying its howling, gibbering, deadly cargo.

The crash, unfortunately, did not kill all of the occupants. Two of the former Special Ops team; Garcia, and a corporal named Braddick; crawled from the wreckage just as the Search and Rescue teams arrived. Braddick tried to attack the emergency teams and was just as quickly shot and killed.

Garcia, however, slunk away through tall grass and kudzu covered undergrowth, wincing at the bright searchlights that were even now being poured over the crash sight. Being farther gone, and more driven by the urge to mate, Garcia went seeking a different prey.

His skin had long since fallen off and his bones had warped and twisted so much that he was unrecognizable as anything human. His teeth, had elongated and sharpened and his exposed muscles oozed a constant blood and pus. The virus had so twisted his mind that his thoughts were no longer even thoughts. He was an evil, instinct driven monster that might have crawled from the nearest hell of one’s preferred religion. The blood that oozed off of him, like his entire body, teamed with the Walker X virus. His very breath was an invisible, steamy cloud of pathogens and infection.

None of this mattered to the creature that was once Garcia. All it cared about was the smell of women that arose from the town before it.

He loped into the town, infection following behind him like some dark, evil cape.


As the dawn of September 18th rose over the town of some 15,000 people, the infection caught and spread. Those who weren’t killed or eaten were themselves infected. The horrifying work of Doctor Byron Walker spread across the countryside like a cancer, growing and metastasizing.

A police officer, who had killed a disease victim on his front lawn, passed the infection to several people he later stopped at a CDC roadblock.

Those people drove on, infecting several others at a rest area.

Those people took the infection with them on the road.

Soon, two towns were infected, then three, and then counties, and then entire states.

A businessman, having drank infected water, boarded a plane to Germany. The plane, like the military transport that had killed Captain Woods’ team, crash-landed outside of Berlin.

The infection then began its march across Europe.

It all happened so quickly that no medical, law enforcement, or government agency could move quick enough to stop it. There efforts to do so were as ineffectual as shouting into the swirling, black winds of chaos.

And so began the end of the world...

1 comment:

Randal Graves said...

Found your blog through Becca's place. Best of luck with the novel. All hail Cleveland.