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Authors: Saul Tanpepper

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Contain

BOOK: Contain
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CONTENTS

CONTAIN

BUNKER 12 Series, Book 1

Excerpt

THE FLENSE

Companion series to BUNKER
12

‡ ‡ ‡

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share?

Copyright Notice

Acknowledg
ments

About the
Author

Tanpepper
Tidings Newsletter

(subscribe for exclusive early
access to THE FLENSE)

‡ ‡ ‡

Contain (Bunker 12, Book 1)
by Saul
Tanpepper
Copyright © 2015 by Saul Tanpepper
All rights reserved.

May 4, 2015 by Brinestone Press, San Martin, CA 95046
Cover credit K.J. Howe Copyright © 2015
Photo licensed from Depositphoto.com
PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This book is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and
any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.

LICENSE NOTES

Without limiting the rights
under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written
permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of
this book. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book
via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of
the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase
only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or
encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support
of the author’s rights is appreciated.

http://www.brinestonepress.com
Tanpepper, Saul (2015-05-04). Contain (Bunker 12, Book
1)

Brinestone Press Digital
Edition (rv150423)

For more information about this and other titles by this
author:
[email protected]

‡ ‡ ‡

 

CONTAIN

a BUNKER 12 novel

by Saul Tanpepper

© 2015

All rights reserved
(
full
notice
)

[email protected]

(rv.150423)

wraith
/rāTH/ (
n
)

1.
a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen
shortly before or after death.

2.
an individual infected with, or carrying, the
Flense.

flense
/flens/

(
v
) to slice or strip away the skin
and fat from a carcass.

(
n
) a highly contagious disease,
spread by touch, capable of stripping away an individual's life
essence.

The scream builds in my chest, threatens to erupt out of
me.

Harper, run! Get the hell
out of there!

And my mind does that thing where the
scene warps: the background shrinks away while the terrified looks
on my brother's and sister's faces zoom in. They fill my vision, my
mind, permeating me with such horror that I'm unable to
move.

Harper, please, run. Leah,
run.

The words never make it past my
throat. My jaw clamps shut. I don't dare make a sound. To do so
would be suicide.

Someone behind me whimpers— one of the
children with us on the bus. There's movement, and the vehicle
rocks the tiniest bit. The shocks let out a soft, rubbery squeak,
and someone hisses in distress. Too loud. It’s all much too
loud.

The whimper comes again, is abruptly
stifled.

Don't make a
sound.

Don't draw any
attention.

Don't let them know we're
alive.

Dad edges closer to me. I'm aware of
the smell of sweat on his skin, the musty tang of three days
without benefit of a shower or air conditioning or change of
clothing. He slowly slips his hand onto my shoulder so I won't be
startled. He whispers into my ear to be still and urges me not to
look.


You don't want to see
this
,” he whispers.

But I have to. I have to know the
manner of their death, even though it’s always the same.

I pray they die quickly.

I also watch because I'm transfixed by
those things, the way they move, like smoke. Like phantoms, but
with physical form, silent deliverers of death.

They emerge from the trees, slither
down the mountainside, drift along the curves of the road as they
draw near, drawn by the flames spouting from the van blocking our
path.

My plea changes:
Don't run, guys. Please don't run.

It’ll only be worse if they
do.

Some of the creatures are still on two
legs, but most are on all fours. Hunting. Pack hunting. Getting
ready to circle Harper and Leah, stalking them like prey. Moving to
block their escape, blocking any path to us and safety.

Harper guides Leah behind his back as
they slowly edge their way toward us. His eyes are locked onto the
closest ones directly in front of them, some forty-odd feet away
now. Trying to judge what their next move might be. He doesn't see
the ones closing in on either side.

The bus engine keeps
chugging, a low rhythmic thing, like the growl of a half-rabid dog,
waiting . . . waiting. Steady now steady now
steady . . .
steady . . . steady
.

The creatures act as if they don't
know we're here.

The stink of burning flesh pinches my
nose. Their hands sear and blister on the sun-baked pavement. Why
don't they feel it? How can they not cry out with pain, or when the
broken glass from the shattered windshields slices open their
palms?

Because they're gone,
Finn
, the ghost of my father's voice
whispers in my head. Words uttered just seventy-two hours before,
words I'd refused to believe until the scene before us resurrects
them.
Whatever made them human is gone,
stripped away by whatever disease now courses through their veins.
They're nothing but empty shells now
.

Filled with a sickness that seeks only
to spread itself. And when challenged, to utterly
destroy.

A single touch, that's all it takes.
Skin to skin contact. So easy to execute, seemingly so simple to
prevent, yet almost impossible to avoid.

I have seen it happen now a dozen
times. And each time it's the same: You can see the life leaching
out of the victim, whatever force made them human. You can see them
become like the ghouls that made them.

Soul-suckers.

That's what one man called them, back
at the evac center.

I’ve watched how, within minutes of
being touched, their faces go slack. The light leaves their eyes,
turns them black. Their skin loses pigment, assumes a pearly white
hue. Then gray. They remain cognizant for several more minutes.
Then the insanity of what is happening to them sets in. Finally,
they're completely gone.

Soul-stealers.
Soul-eaters.

Soul-destroyers.

We've been calling them Wraiths. It’s
as apt a name as any, even if it’s not very accurate. They're not
dead, not ghosts. They still have corporeal form; their bodies are
still intact. They can be killed. Not easily, but still
possible.

As long as you can avoid being
touched.

Harper and Leah are less than twenty
feet away now, still slowly edging toward us. More Wraiths are
emerging out of the woods, but they're not attacking. Not yet.
They're circling. Drawn to my brother and sister as if their
absence of infection is a scent on their skin. Hunting
them.

But there are too many, and we're too
far away to help them. And now I begin to hear a whisper from the
people behind me, fear that the Wraiths will overwhelm the bus once
they've finished outside. Then they'll figure out we're in here,
and when they realize they can't get in to steal our
souls—

Then they'll stop being ghosts and
start being Death.

I've seen this terrible side of them,
as well. A hundred times. A thousand. Fleeing through town I saw
them ravage those victims who fought back or ran. The blood isn't
the worst part. Or the sound of flesh being torn from bone. Or the
smell of them eating.

It's the howls. The howls steal into
your mind, settle in, take root.


Go!
” someone hisses behind us, ordering the driver.

Knock the van out of the way. Get us the
hell out of here!

The engine revs. The tires begin to
move, crunching over the broken glass.

No!
I want to shout. My father holds me tighter. I wrestle with
him.

But it's already too late. I can see
that. Harper and Leah are surrounded. The Wraiths are twelve feet
away from them now. Ten. Eight.

Don't run. Please don't
run.

It's my last prayer.

But Harper is a hero. he's always the
hero, right to the very end. He turns around to face the ones
behind them. He presses his back against Leah's and raises the tire
iron in his hand. He swings it and roars.

And the change comes over the Wraiths.
They swarm. Their movements are a blur.

A fine red mist begins to lift into
the air, and, finally, I cannot hold back my scream as it explodes
from my throat.

 

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