Read Season of Rot Online

Authors: Eric S Brown,John Grover

Tags: #apocalyptic, #eric brown, #Zombies, #anthology, #End of the World, #Horror, #permuted press, #postapocalyptic, #collection, #eric s brown, #living dead, #apocalypse, #novella, #novellas, #Lang:en

Season of Rot

BOOK: Season of Rot
7.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

Season of Rot

Eric S. Brown

Published by Permuted Press at
Smashwords.

Copyright 2009 Eric S. Brown

www.PermutedPress.com

 

 

Introduction

 

You hear their moans and the sound of them
pawing over each other to get to you. Swarms of them now flood the
room as you load the last of your rounds into your gun. They’ve
devoured your family, your friends, and you are the only one left,
alone, isolated, empty, your soul shattered. They will kill you now
in unimaginable ways, but you are determined to take some of them
to hell with you. You aim and pull the trigger…

Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Welcome
to Eric S. Brown’s
Season of Rot
. Here you will find a sense
of paranoia, dread, isolation, shock and horror, and all of it
adeptly woven into one tasty, flesh-eating morsel.

I have worked with Eric firsthand on some
projects in the past, and his stories have always captivated me.
His bleak, intense world vision gets under your skin and makes you
face the biggest, scariest “what if” you could ask… What if the
undead took over the world and the last hope of humanity was an
inch away from oblivion? Well, the zombie man, as I like to call
him, delivers again with
Season of Rot
.

Eric has become known for turning out the
most original end of days, apocalyptic, zombie-mashing tales
around. From the get-go, his stories assault you with relentless
action, twists and turns and enough human drama to give you
nightmares for weeks. They’ll make you stay far away from
cemeteries for as long as you can until the end finally comes.

Season of Rot
does all this and much
more. This isn’t just a zombie fest. It’s not just an end of the
world scenario. It’s a glimpse into a universe, one created and
orchestrated by Eric himself. If you think you know where this
story is going, think again. It’s not your mom’s zombie story.
Forget that old black-and-white
Night of the Living
Dead
—this is full-blown color in your face.
Season of
Rot
takes the zombie convention and turns it on its head.

I guarantee that you won’t know where the
story is going until Eric wants you to know. He successfully
reinvents zombie fiction and makes us think. His mix of
characterization, plot and action is well done and makes us care.
You will be with these characters all the way; they are alive, they
breathe and you will beg to know what happens to them next. You
will pick a favorite and follow them all the way through. You will
feel their horror, their fear, their sense of isolation, their
hopelessness and helplessness. But you will also feel their
courage, their sense of community, their determination to live and
their hope. Yes, hope. Hope in a world gone to hell. There are
glimmers of it here and there, but you never truly know how it will
play out, and just as you think you know, it sucker punches
you.

In recent years Eric S. Brown has spawned
more zombie fiction than you can shake a corpse at. From
The
Queen
to
Zombies: The War Stories
, to his most recent
Zombies II: Inhuman
. In these tales you will find no
ordinary zombies. They think, act in groups, plan, communicate,
run, and kill with intelligence. Through these tales you discover
how much like us they are. They really are us. The enemy is within.
They are our sisters, our brothers, our neighbors, our fathers and
mothers. Everyone you could trust and love is now out to kill you
and ravage your flesh, and it happens in the blink of an eye.

If anything Eric’s tales have made us analyze
ourselves and the human condition, our interaction with each other
and the world around us. For the battlefield, when it comes down to
it, is the entire world. Eric has turned the formula of the living
dead into a world-ending apocalypse. As if nuclear war, the
greenhouse effect, disease and starvation weren’t enough, now we
have the undead rising from their graves to end the world. And this
is his universe, spanning volumes of stories, chapbooks,
collections and novellas, all woven together to tell the ultimate
tale of humanity’s survival.

Add to this
The Season of Rot
—a fine
collection that only enhances this universe. From beginning to end,
the book sucks you in with its seemingly simple premise, but then
snags you deeply, forcing you to ride alongside these people as the
unreal unfolds and the real story takes hold.

You might think that after all the zombie
fiction there would be no new way of telling this tale. Eric shows
you that is painfully untrue with his new offering of undead
delight, a feast for his fans, an homage to all those who love the
living dead.

It’s clear that Eric has much more to say on
this subject, many more poor souls to thrust into a world overrun
and overthrown by legions of the undead. It’s clear that Eric isn’t
done twisting and turning this new icon and reinventing it. This
tale, like his others, is no ordinary zombie tale… it has bite.

Prepare for the
Season of Rot
; it’s
going to be a rough season, one you won’t soon forget. Grab your
shotgun, your hunting knife and food rations, and turn the page,
brave fan. The
Season of Rot
has just begun.

 

-John Grover

Author of
Terror in Small Doses
,
Shadow Tales
, and
Space Stations and Graveyards
.

 

 

Season of Rot

 

One

 

Daniel dangled his feet over the edge of the
demolished stairwell. Two floors below, the creatures waited,
stretching their decaying arms toward him. Frustrated, unable to
reach their prey, they pushed each other and occasionally knocked
one or two of their brethren off the jagged end of the stairs.
Daniel imagined the bottom of the stairwell, dark and littered with
broken bodies, masses of them crawling and dragging themselves
about, unable to work their way back up the stairs or find their
way out of the hospital.

When Daniel and his group took refuge here,
they destroyed the stairs and cut the cable to the elevators,
leaving the dead no way up to reach them. The effort had proved
well worth it; now the refugees could sleep in peace.

Daniel shifted the rifle across his lap and
checked its chamber, then lifted the gun to his shoulder and aimed
at the horde below. Only a headshot, or general destruction of the
brain, would send the things back to Hell. Daniel found a target
and squeezed the trigger. The rifle kicked as the high-velocity
bullet tore through the dead thing’s skull in an explosion of wet
pulp. It was a futile gesture, really: millions of people, nearly
everyone in the city, had turned into walking mounds of rotting
flesh whose sole purpose was to tear off your face and eat it;
Daniel and his group could never kill all of them. But he enjoyed
it from time to time. He joked that it was his tiny piece of
vengeance.

No one from the floors above came running to
investigate the shot. They knew Daniel was on watch today and were
accustomed to his habits.

Aside from Daniel, more than four dozen
living souls called the hospital home. They collected rainwater on
the roof, tried to grow crops in or on the building wherever they
could, and rationed out the dwindling supplies from the hospital’s
cafeteria and emergency stores. They’d moved the generators and the
fuel supply to the upper floors and had limited the use of
electricity as much as possible. Even so, their time here was
running out. One day soon, if help didn’t come, they’d all be
forced to pack up and move... assuming they could find a way
through or past the thousands of creatures occupying the bottom
three floors of the building and surrounding its walls outside.

Daniel sighed and lit up a cigarette. He was
down to three packs and getting nervous about the supplies running
out. Luckily only two other people in the group smoked, or the
cigarettes would have been gone already. He took a deep drag and
held it in, savoring the taste before exhaling. Glancing at his
watch, he noticed his shift was almost over, and hoped it wasn’t an
omen of some sort. He stood up, thanking God he could return to his
real job in the communications room, and headed out of the
stairwell to meet his replacement.

***

Laura sat up in bed as the coughing fit hit
her. She threw back her blankets and slammed her bare feet onto the
cold tile in a frantic dash for the bathroom sink. She stumbled
into the room, wearing only a t-shirt, and she grabbed the sink’s
edge to support herself as the coughing grew more intense. What she
hacked up was more solid than mucus and drenched in blood. She
stared at it in horror as the coughing died down.

Letting go of the sink’s edge, she slid to
the floor and tried to catch her breath.
I’m a doctor, damn
it
. This kind of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to her. She
had never touched a cigarette in her life. She worked out and ate
right, yet here she sat dying of cancer in a time where people
needed her skills and knowledge more than ever.

No one else knew how sick she was. She hid it
well and put up a good front. The hospital was stocked with the
medicine she needed, enough medicine to curb her symptoms and keep
her comfortable most of the time. At least it
had
been
enough until things began to get worse.

With her t-shirt, she wiped the blood from
around her mouth and got to her feet. Today was going to be a busy
day. Not only was she the doctor of the group, she was also a
member of its leading tribunal, a responsibility she shared with
Jack and Vince.

She was also
supposed
to be finding a
cure for the plague, but that was a joke. She wasn’t a research
scientist, just a doctor, and even after months of studying the
plague she knew little more than when she started.

Today, her focus was on her administration
duties and helping Jack and Vince agree on an evacuation plan for
when the time came to find a new home. According to Jack’s last
inventory check, even with their rationing system they had a month,
tops, before people started starving and their tiny piece of the
civilization collapsed into mutiny.

Laura changed into her day clothes and put on
her happy face. Then she headed out to meet up with the boys.

***

Jack stood on the roof of the hospital,
looking out into the city, parts of which were still ablaze. Dark
smoke joined the usual clouds of lingering smog, making the day
seem pale like the rotting flesh of the creatures on the streets
below.

It was hard for Jack to remember what the
world had been like before the creatures came. Less than a year ago
things had been normal, but the plague had spread so fast that no
one, not the government, the military, nor the C.D.C., had been
able to stop it. The city around him had changed from his home to a
sick version of Hell on Earth where only the strong and the
determined stayed alive.

Jack was a tall man and well built. Standing
there on the roof he looked every inch a king, and in a sense he
was. This new world had forced the burden of leadership upon
him.

He lifted his binoculars to his eyes, trying
to figure out a path through the dead. The only vehicles he had at
his disposal were locked away in the hospital’s garage. They were
mostly simple cars built for civilian use, not for fighting through
a horde of hungry, flesh-eating monsters. The only larger vehicles
were a few dump trucks left behind from his work crew. None of them
were what he needed, and even if they were, reaching them would be
a problem.

The safest way to the garage was a long and
difficult climb down an elevator shaft. At the end of the shaft
dozens—maybe hundreds—of the creatures waited; like the first three
floors of the hospital, the garage was infested with the dead.
There simply hadn’t been time to close it off when Jack and the
group had taken refuge here.

BOOK: Season of Rot
7.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Harvest Dreams by Jacqueline Paige
Heroes by Ray Robertson
Dare to Love by Tara Taylor Quinn
One Twisted Valentine by T. Lee Alexis
An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff
Cookie Cutter by Jo Richardson
Tribesmen by Adam Cesare
Living in Sin (Living In…) by Jackie Ashenden