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Authors: Linus Locke

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Decay (Book 2): Humanity

BOOK: Decay (Book 2): Humanity
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Decay:

Book2
Humanity

 

 

 

 

 

Linus Locke

Decay: Humanity

Copyright © 2015 by Linus Locke

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the copyright holder, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

All rights reserved

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Chapter 1

The warm ocean surf marched insistently up the sand like a carpet being rolled out for royalty.
The beach awaited the arrival of the Ocean Queen.
The sounds of the water trampling over itself to be the first in line was like thousands of small hands clapping together in applause. A calm breeze from the west blew the scent of the salty water across the island. The cool night air was quite refreshing in comparison to the heat from the past few days.

Solar energy had been established throughout much of Honolulu. Large mirrors were set up to catch as much of the sun’s rays as possible. Many of the people living on the island believed that that was causing the temperature spikes throughout the days. The birds unlucky enough to fly too close to the mirrors were catching on fire in the super-concentrated light, like ants under a magnifying glass.

On some of the other islands, government engineers were able to set up geothermal systems to capture heat from the lava fields and convert that to power. However, even with access to electricity, most of the islands were kept fairly dark at night. The government officials believed it would draw less attention to the islands. The belief that people would be drawn to the light was widespread, and although the islands were well guarded, nobody wanted any more messes to clean up.

Corporal Mark Davis was always blown away by the beauty of the Kahanamoku Beach. He volunteered for patrol every night so he could have the beach all to himself. He loved the ocean, yet he didn’t spend his nights splashing in the blue waters that surrounded him. Instead, his nights were spent leaning up against a palm tree while listening to the sounds of the waves crashing off in the distance, watching the ocean charge up the beach like an army.
The Ocean Queen would be here soon; her army was clearing the way
.

His father was a businessman, so most of his childhood was spent traveling around the world with his parents on business trips. Taxis and planes were their main mode of transportation, Rent-A-Car on the weekends so they could head out to explore whatever city in whatever country they had stopped in. If the client or business partner his father was going to see was particularly important, his company would set him up with a limo and put them in the nicest of luxury suites.

Mark could still see the disappointment in his parent’s eyes when he told them he was joining the Army instead of going to Harvard or Stanford. That was not the life they wanted for him, but it was the life he wanted. He was surprised to see them at his graduation of Basic Combat Training. Only his mother had written to him during that time. After the graduation ceremony, his father hugged him, cried, and apologized. They were proud of their son.

The chance to protect the country he loved while still traveling around the world was exactly what he needed. Unfortunately, the past year has not at all been what he signed up for. He has watched innocent people slaughtered to keep them off of the islands. Recently, people looking for water and supplies were imprisoned. Most of the residents and vacationers have been held captive or enlisted to serve in this perverse military, if they could even be called a military anymore.

He always looked the other way, forcing himself to believe it was the best thing to do until the United States could be rebuilt. Nights like this, however, helped him forget about the terrible things he had seen. They helped him forget that the world had become a far more terrible place than it ever was. He could sit right here and await the Ocean Queen forever. She would come for him eventually, riding that cool blue water, the water that rolled out like a carpet.

As he walked along the beach, he noticed that there were lines drawn deep in the sand.
Probably one of the children
building trenches for a war game they were playing with their G.I Joes
. Stepping closer, he could see that they were words. A message that was dug deep, yet it was too dark for him to read what it said. He traced the lines with his eyes and found that there was a line that led up toward the wooden fence that was set up around the perimeter of the island.

“What the –“ Mark followed the line to a large box about the size of a computer tower that was nestled into the sand. As he stepped around to examine the box, the moonlight from behind him illuminated the front.

Through a small opening he could see wires and a small antenna. He wasn’t EOD, but he knew a bomb when he saw one. He didn’t see a timer, so he assumed whoever had placed it here was about to watch him die. He wouldn’t be awaiting the Ocean Queen. Instead, he would be going to her.

Mark inhaled the ocean air one last time. Before the explosion ripped his body apart he had two thoughts.
I’ll be with you soon mama. I hope this doesn’t hurt for long.
With his eyes closed tight he waited his death, accepting it as better then he deserved for what he has allowed to happen.

“How long are you going to stand next to that bomb, asshole?” The voice came from off in the distance, causing Mark to open his eyes and look around.

His father had plenty of business in Sydney, so he recognized the accent as Australian. It was too dark to see the source of the voice, but he was sure it came from out in the water. None of his training was necessary in this moment. Mark knew that he was given the chance to run, and he took it.

Despite how relaxed things have become with the physical fitness requirements (some of the men were beginning to soften up around the midsection), Mark kept in great shape. Thanks to his continued workouts, he was able to sprint a hundred yards across the soft sand in eleven seconds. He slowed down as he felt he made it to a safe distance and turned just in time to see the explosion.

The heat from the blast enveloped his body. He couldn’t tell if the moisture on his face was sweat or tears. The blast was bright and flashy, sending a fireball streaking into the sky and illuminating the entire beach, but when his eyes finally adjusted to the dim moonlight he saw that it wasn’t a very destructive blast. Small fires burned in the sand just out of reach of the ocean.

Mark walked up next to one of the fires. It reminded him of being a child, sitting on the beach with his parents. They would always roast marshmallows for S ‘Mores. After his near death experience, Mark could really use that comfort again. Mid-turn he noticed that the words were burning in the sand, but the fire was too large to make it out this close.

He glanced around the beach and found the palm tree he often relaxed under. It stood about 40 feet away and slightly above the letters on the beach. His legs made quick work of the distance, and his powerful arms made climbing the tall tree seem like he was just jumping a fence. The view was great from this height. He looked into the island and saw that the explosion–no, explosions–had created chaos all around the island. Fires burned in various places as far as he could see.

It took a few seconds of the flames flickering as the wind brushed through before he could make out what it said in the sand. The bright burning words,

“I AM COMING”

 

Chapter 2

Kadavre glinted brilliantly in the sunlight as it sliced through the cool mountain air. This wasn’t the original Kadavre, of course, as it rested eternally at the bottom of a pool filled with repugnant water that even the insects avoided. The freshly polished blade of this Kadavre, the one made from the blade of a John Deere riding mower, was spattered with blood that was wet and clumpy and almost black. Blood that ran in clotty streamers as the blade travelled quickly. With each powerful swing, Guillermo Alvarez swung the ferocious lawnmower blade with deadly accuracy. Fiend bodies dropped in heaps next to their heads in the red-speckled snow. The cold slowed the fiends down quite a bit, but it also slowed down the living.

Elliot James, a powerfully strong man with dark brown skin, a cleanly shaved head, something he started doing recently, and a desire to crush anything in his path carried a sixteen pound Wilton sledge hammer that he picked up from a Home Depot on their way out of California. The black rubber-lined handle felt good in his hands. Its once yellow forged-steel head was brown from the dried blood and flesh of its latest undead victims. Although his powerful arms swung it with a destructive force, he couldn’t swing it for long before it wore him down. Jonathan kept telling him to take it easy and not wear himself out swinging it, but Elliot would respond with, “Mind your own damn business.”

Jonathan Sawyer was shivering as he stood out in the open with little to block the chilling winds that carried the freezing air from high up in the mountains. Tufts of his scruffy brown hair hung from under a black stocking cap and tickled his forehead as the wind whipped it around. The only good thing about the icy breeze was it washed away the smell of death that seemed to consume every town they stopped in. His fingertips were white as he held the cold grips of his nine millimeter Springfield XD handguns. He would only shoot if necessary. The gunshots could attract unwanted attention, so Guillermo and Elliot took care of the few fiends that shambled from the gas station in the small Colorado town just west of Denver.

They didn’t catch the name of the small town as they came in. The sign had been painted over with messages left to loved ones regarding where they should head if they read this. The gas station sat roughly in the center, and most of the small town was residential. Jonathan guessed there were probably three or four hundred people that lived here before the attacks. More than likely, the entire town worked for the large factory that sat in the mountains to the north. Jonathan didn’t know what kind of factory it was for sure, but its setting gave off a bottled water feel.
Crisp, clean, refreshing mountain water.

Tyler Smith stood on the roof of his white Prius, holding binoculars up to his eyes and scanning the town. His nose was red from the cold. There wasn’t much happening. He assumed that this was probably as active as this little town has ever been. A few fiends wandered about several blocks south of them, unaware of their presence, but the rest of the town was clear with the exception of the fiends in the gas station. There were always fiends in the gas station. Except for that truck stop in Utah, that place was deserted yet practically untouched. They still had supplies left over from there, but it never hurt to grab more.

Layla Smith sat in the passenger seat with the windows up and the heat blasting from the vents. She hated the cold; that’s why she lived in a state where it could be avoided for the most part. Pulling down the visor, she checked her makeup, grabbed Tyler’s iPhone (her phone hasn’t worked since they took a dip in the bay surrounding Alcatraz), and snapped a selfie. There were no longer any friends to share them with; no social media sites to post them on, yet it comforted her, made her feel like things were still normal. She knew she couldn’t be blamed for holding onto whatever she could of her old life.

“You know, you really should consider naming that hammer something awesome. Kadavre is already taken, though,” Guillermo said as they confirmed the gas station was clear. He stood there looking at the large black man with the sledge hammer resting across his massive shoulders and a hand clasped around each end.

“I told you before, I’m not naming a goddamned hammer,” responded Elliot in a tone that was too controlled to tell if he was irritated by the suggestion.

“Your loss, man.” Guillermo stuck his head out of the gas station and said, “It’s all clear, Jon. Come on in.” He turned the sign hanging on the window to show the store was open.

“Give me two minutes, Ty,” Jonathan said. “Then I will trade you spots and you can come look for whatever you two need. I need to find some gloves. I feel like my fingers are going to fall off.”

Tyler gave him a smile and a thumbs up.

Jonathan stepped in through the door and instantly found himself gasping for breath in the stagnant air of the gas station. The smell was a combination of spoiled milk and rotting meat, and it made his eyes water. He could see that there were hotdogs moldering on the warmer next to the fountain pop; a sign that this town was evacuated in a hurry. It was quite some time before the first survivors scavenged this place. For the most part, it seemed as if not too many people have been through here. They are a ways off of the interstate, after all.

Walking past the cooler along the back wall, Jonathan couldn’t help but smile. He was remembering the fiend trapped in the cooler back in his home town of Clay Hills, California. The way they had laughed and joked about the poor undead guy’s predicament felt wonderful. Too bad there wasn’t one here; he could use a good laugh right now.

His smile faded as he thought of Deacon, and of Sophia and the twins. He could really use Deacon’s help. He had Guillermo, which was great, but there was something about Elliot that Jonathan wasn’t quite sure about anymore, and having Deacon around also would make him feel safer. Elliot gave off that vibe that he may be self-destructive, or destructive to the group. He’s only known the man a couple weeks, but in that time, Elliot had gone through terrible mood swings that come and go as if he were changing outfits.

“Can I help you find something, Jonathan?” The deep voice caused the teen to snap out of his thoughts. He hadn’t realized that he had walked through the whole store without looking at anything.

“Oh, um. I am looking for some gloves,” Jonathan said as he looked up at the tall black man. Elliot was standing in the next isle over leaning his muscular body on the shelf between Jonathan and himself.

“I’ll keep my eyes open. I found a couple of cans of veggies and fruits that must’ve been knocked under the shelf in the back,” Elliot said. “We’ll split it all up when we get the hell out of here.”

Jonathan just nodded before returning to his thoughts. He stayed aware of his surroundings this time, and he was aware that Elliot was walking just a few steps behind him in the next isle over. He had this strong feeling that he was being watched. Perhaps he was just being protective. Maybe Elliot could sense that Jonathan was thinking about him. Perhaps it was all in his head. This new world had a way of messing with the mind.

There were a few pairs of gloves and a couple stocking caps on the spinning rack next to the hall leading to the restrooms. He tried on a few pairs before grabbing them all and proceeded toward the exit. He stopped dead in his tracks as a gunshot shattered the quiet tranquility of the creepy gas station. Jonathan looked back at Guillermo, who had been stabbing the hard, moldy hotdogs with Kadavre before freezing in place.

“Was that Tyler?” asked Guillermo. He sounded as if the wind had been knocked out of him.

Jonathan looked through the window behind the counter and saw Tyler lying on the top of his Prius. He had slid down the window; his head came to rest on the hood while his legs were sprawled out on the roof. Layla was climbing out of the passenger’s side of the white car with her hands in the air, but Jonathan couldn’t see any more of the scene than that.

“Please don’t!” Layla’s screams carried into the store.

“Tyler is down,” Jonathan said with panic in his voice. The three men in the gas station regrouped in the center of the store. They crouched in-between shelves that were once full of chips, beef jerky, and candy bars but were now bare.

“What was that?” Guillermo asked. He hoped there would be a way to save Layla before something bad happened to her.

After listening to the quiet for a moment, Elliot said, “There’s an exit in the back of the store. There’s also a ladder that led to the roof in a small room in the back. You guys sneak out the back and I’ll h—“

He was interrupted by a deep
foomp
from outside, which was followed by a metallic
clang
that grew closer in a hurry. The small canister slid across the floor, stopping at the end of the isle just a few feet from the three men. Elliot knew what it was before he saw it, yet he hadn’t expected it. It all happened too fast.

The bang pummeled their eardrums at one-hundred and eighty decibels and was followed a split second later by the brightest flash Guillermo or Jonathan had ever seen, somewhere along the lines of one million candela. Elliot had been subjected to this before when on patrol in a small village on a hot desert night, but there was no way to avoid the effects.

Jonathan’s head pulsated and it took a few seconds before his vision returned. When he could finally see, everything was a blur. His ears rang. He could only watch as dark figures walked up to his friends. He wasn’t even sure if he could hear the shotgun blasts or not, but he saw Elliot take the first, followed by Guillermo. He tried to scream for his dead friends, but he couldn’t tell if his voice was audible or not.

The dark figure stopped over Jonathan, whose hands still covered his ears. The dark figure was fuzzy, yet Jonathan could make out the shotgun clearly as he stared into the black void at the end of the barrel. He heard this blast. He saw the muzzle flash. He felt the slug tear through his chest. The pain only lasted for a split second before the world went black again.

 

“I’m gonna ea—“ the voice faded away.

“I don’t really ca—“ Multiple voices, but what they were saying was garbled.

Did he say he was going to eat the black guy?
No. That is ridiculous. Nobody says that.
Jonathan listened to the voices for another minute with no luck of understanding anything they said. Finally, he lifted his throbbing head, tried to rub his temples, but his hands were gone. He couldn’t feel them. He panicked and tried moving his body. His body was gone, too.

It took some effort to finally open his heavy eyelids. It was a few more minutes after that before he could finally see. Everything was blurry. It hurt to breathe. He must be waking up in hell. His mouth was so dry that he was sure a fire could be started with his tongue being used as tinder.

“Jonathan,” the whisper came from a mile away. “Jonathan, wake up.” It was a woman’s voice.

“Mo—“ the word wouldn’t come out. His throat was so dry that the word just stuck there. He let his mouth fill up with saliva, and then swallowed. It was painful yet satisfying. “Mom?” His voice came out as a croak. “I do not think I should go to school today.”

“I’m not your mom.” The whisper sounded a little irate, yet he was sure he could hear some level of humor.

He concentrated on the voice, and then tried to focus on the source. A few feet in front of him was a man sitting against a pole. The man was hunched over, either dead or asleep. There were others, all sitting in the same position. As he turned his head, he saw the woman sitting next to him. She was a few feet away yet still out of focus. Jonathan could tell that she was looking at him.

“Layla?”

“Yeah, it’s me Jonathan. How are you feeling?”

“Are you dead, too?”

Layla giggled quietly. “We’re not dead. They shot you guys with rubber bullets or those bean bags. Something.”

“What about you?”

“I went quietly. They came at us so fast that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t see any blood when they shot Tyler, so I assumed he wasn’t dead, but I was in complete shock. I wanted to attack or something, but my mind had shut down and all I could do was scream at them to leave us alone.”

“Is anyone else awake? Do you know where we are?”

“Everyone is still asleep. We ain’t far from where we were. Just up in the mountains a bit. There is a camp up there behind us. I can turn just enough to see it. Doesn’t look permanent.”

“Will you two keep it down?”

“Elliot? How long have you been awake?” Layla asked in surprise.

“Since we left the gas station. You’re right. The camp isn’t permanent. Nice call. Judging by the ground surrounding the area, they have only been here a few days. By their knowledge of the area, there is either a central camp they report to, or they just stay close but keep moving,” Elliot whispered from across the circle where he was tied up.

“What do they want with us?” asked Layla, scared.

“They’re cannibals. They want to eat us. More than likely they’re a hunting party for a bigger camp,” replied Elliot, almost too calmly.

Layla began crying, trying to bury her face in her hands but couldn’t reach. “Oh, God. Oh, God. I don’t want to die this way.” She sobbed harder.

“Why does it seem that everything wants to eat us all of a sudden,” Guillermo said.

“Guillermo, you are alright.” Jonathan was relieved to hear his friend’s voice. His vision had improved enough that he could make out who was who. “Tyler is the only one still knocked out.”

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