The Hungry 5: All Hell Breaks Loose (The Sheriff Penny Miller Series)

BOOK: The Hungry 5: All Hell Breaks Loose (The Sheriff Penny Miller Series)
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The Hungry 5
All Hell Breaks Loose
Steven W. Booth and Harry Shannon
Copyright © 2014 Steven W. Booth and Harry Shannon
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Author or Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events is entirely coincidental.
Cover Photography and Design: Yossi Sasson and Dotan Bahat
Cover Model: Gillian Shure
Published By:
Genius Book Publishing
5805 White Oak Ave #17752
Encino, CA 91416
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Follow us on Twitter: @GeniusBooks
CONTENTS
Dedication
We gratefully dedicate this novel to our readers, with thanks to our families and friends for all their support.
PROLOGUE
First it chanted
unhh hunhh unhh
like a zealot at prayer, and then the foul, rotting creature lumbered towards the panicked soldiers, whose weapons clicked uselessly, ammunition expended. Hundreds of hot shell casings littered the cement floor and the air was thick with smoke from burnt gunpowder. The zombie in question was a huge, rotund Caucasian male wearing overalls and rubber boots. Its right arm was missing at the elbow and splintered white bone protruded from the ragged flesh of the socket. The zombie’s stomach had a bayonet tear, and as it approached, long entrails escaped to dangle like sausage. One of the horrified soldiers vomited. Behind his wet retching, the low rattle of gunfire echoed in the background. It sounded like thunder from a storm that was rapidly fading away.
The battle was almost over, and the humans were losing.
“Shit. Fall back!” The short, athletic lieutenant lost whatever small amount of composure she’d had left. Her eyes searched the tired faces of the other three members of her team. “What the fuck are you waiting for? I said fall back, damn it.”
One of the team members, a young black corporal with a medical caduceus on his collar, licked his dry lips. “There’s no place to fall back to, Lieutenant. We’re surrounded.” His voice was hoarse from shouting and tight with barely repressed fear. He stared past her and the officer spun around to face their rear. “This isn’t a battle. It’s a fucking massacre.”
When the lieutenant turned she saw two more zombies approaching. This duo moved deliberately. They positioned themselves to keep the soldiers from escaping. The lieutenant was horrified to discover that these zombies wore uniforms. They had been very recently turned—one was a captain in the Marines, the other a civilian EMT that the officer clearly recognized.
The lieutenant spoke clearly. “Jesus, not Ellie.”
The Marine captain had been chewed up like a dog bone. He was missing large chunks of flesh from his arms, neck, and face. The EMT she’d recognized, whose nametag read CARUTHERS, was probably the one who had bitten him, considering the overwhelming amount of fresh blood still dripping down the front of her blue uniform. The EMT zombie grunted, gave off a burbling sound. As the soldiers stared, she spat up scraps of uniform, a thick glob of blood and a few scraps of human flesh.
Uhh-hhunnh!
“Follow your training,” cried the lieutenant, but the order came out in a high-pitched wail. It was clear that her mind was going. She panicked and could not face her friend, the dead EMT. She spun around instead and raised the rifle over her head. Holding the barrel like a club she rushed forward and brought the stock down to crush the skull of the zombie with the open stomach wound. It went over sideways, and crashed into some shipping containers. Suddenly the way forward appeared clear.
“Retreat, go that way,” said the lieutenant, pointing across the tarmac. She seemed to regain confidence. “Head for the generator room. Go, go, go!”
The other soldiers ran, slowly crossing the wide breadth of the underground hangar. They coughed and staggered and struggled to breathe in hazy air fouled by the stench of gunfire, death, and voided bowels. Satisfied they had a head start, the lieutenant tried to follow her men. She’d made three strides forward when the clubbed zombie—the one whose skull she had tried to crush—reached up and grabbed her by the right ankle. The young officer fell heavily and her head struck the concrete. She lost consciousness for a moment, but came back to her senses just as the zombie attacked. It bit down on her foot, but its teeth were not able to chomp through the jump boot. The woman swung at the zombie again with the rifle, but the angle was wrong, and she could only affect a glancing blow on its shoulder. The other two zombies were now closing in from behind, completing a triad. Their strategy had worked. She’d been manipulated into giving herself up for slaughter.
The lieutenant rolled sideways on the cement. She sat up slowly, holding her bleeding forehead. She turned to the last remaining member of her team, and thus stared directly into the digital camera that had been recording the entire battle. She screamed at the cameraman, whose hands were now shaking and jiggling the picture to and fro. The female officer’s eyes were wide and white with terror.
“Damn it! Put that fucking camera down and come help me!”
The scene changed angles with a sickening lurch as the camera fell to the cement, bounced and came to a stop. The camera operator, a young man in his twenties wearing the uniform of a corrections officer from a nearby prison, appeared on screen as if running sideways. He fought to drag the lieutenant away from the fallen zombie. He tugged hard and her boot slipped free. He’d just managed to get the officer away from its clutches when the other two zombies—the Marine captain and the EMT—closed the trap. The EMT attacked the lieutenant and the Marine got the struggling videographer. The officer fought silently to keep the undead friend from biting down on her exposed throat. The cameraman punched uselessly at the Marine’s head and shoulders. The four of them thrashed and struggled. The fight rolled closer and closer to the camera, and then the EMT bit down and the lens was splattered with blood. The images disappeared.
The sounds that followed were sickening.
“Okay, I’ve seen enough.” Dr. Charlotte Williams took the remote control off the conference table and aimed it at the wide-screen monitor. She stabbed at the buttons until one of them quieted the agonized screeching of the dying soldier. She rose to stand near the conference table. Dr. Williams was tall and slender and middle-aged, a hazel-eyed brunette in Prada business attire. Her steely eyes bore through the unfortunate major giving the presentation. “Is that the best footage you have?”
“That’s the least graphic and most comprehensible selection we were able to recover from the site, ma’am,” said Major Evans. “I think it gives us a superb feel for what it was like to actually be there on the ground.” The young Army technician looked like a dog waiting to be patted on the head. Dr. Williams found his enthusiasm both inappropriate and irritating. She stared. Evans’ smile slipped a notch. “I’ve also got some excellent security camera footage that can be assembled to give us a panoramic view of the entire battle, but there’s no sound on that.”
“That won’t be necessary.” Despite the horror of what they had just witnessed, Dr. Williams did not appear disturbed, just impatient. “How long was this after the arrival of Sheriff Miller and her people?”
The major checked some notes. “The Black Hawk carrying Sheriff Miller touched down at 1530, and the final battle took place a little after 1700 two days later.” Accustomed to the precision required by Dr. Williams, the major looked up, and waited.
“What is that exactly, about fifty hours, give or take a few minutes?” Raymond D’Amore leaned back in his chair to make a steeple of his long fingers. D’Amore was impeccably dressed as usual, tan and fit. He pinned the major in place with a set of piercing blue eyes.
“Yes, sir,” replied the major. “That makes it fifty-one point five, plus or minus a few minutes. The records aren’t entirely clear, unfortunately. People panicked.”
Williams turned to free the major before D’Amore could ask another question. “Thank you, Major. You’re dismissed.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” The major turned crisply and exited the conference room.
D’Amore waited until the door closed. He lowered his hands and drummed his fingers on the polished wood. “Well, Charlotte, that’s most certainly a new record. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an entire, ten billion dollar, top-secret base being destroyed in fifty-one hours before. You must be very proud of yourself and the decisions that brought us all to this point.”
“Raymond,” Dr. Williams said, leaning forward in her chair, “don’t adopt that condescending tone with me. You’re not my superior and you lack the authority to take me to task. I’m still the chairperson of this committee, and you will show me the respect I deserve.” Dr. William’s displeasure was palpable.
D’Amore stared back with a small smile. The two other men in the room exchanged uncomfortable glances. Dr. Williams flipped a switch under her desk and the fluorescent lighting clicked back on. The long silence was enough to crush a weak man’s soul.
Finally, Miguel Crespi cleared his throat, speaking as if for the official record. “He does have a point, though, Charlotte. You’re the one who wanted Dr. Rubenstein in charge of TK-501. We gave him carte blanche based on your recommendation. It now seems that our trust was misplaced and that your judgment was wrong.”
“I didn’t realize that you were so easily swayed, Miguel.” Dr. Williams’ tone changed to one of control and self-confidence. “I’m sure the Special Assistant will be interested to know how spineless you are.” She turned her head to D’Amore, but addressed them both. “I believe you’ll both find that the minutes of our meetings on those subjects will show that the decision to give Rubenstein the mandate was mutual and unanimous, and completely above board. Gentlemen, we are all on the hook for this one.” She sat up and tugged at the hem of her coat to straighten it. “I called this meeting to discuss our next move, not to assign a scapegoat. I propose we think things through before we panic or place blame.”
“All right, then what
is
our next move?” D’Amore sat back in his chair, slowly rocking as if amused. “I’m awaiting your thoughts with bated breath.”
“We look at the science.” Dr. Williams looked through the sheaf of papers on her desk. “We have everything but this metabolite that renders serum two-six alpha nontoxic, the one that Captain Sheppard reported, is that right?”
Crespi nodded. “The database is intact, and everything seems to be there but that small—but quite critical—piece of data.”
“Which we would already have in our possession if we had left Karl Sheppard in charge. As I had suggested, I might add,” said D’Amore. “It was Sheppard who discovered the secret to the virus in the first place, and Sheppard understands it better than anyone else alive.”
Dr. Williams set her jaw. “All right, Raymond, you want to play Monday morning quarterback again? Fine. Let’s get this charade over with. What exactly is it that you want us to know?”
“Just this, Charlotte,” D’Amore said, unctuously. “Karl Sheppard succeeded in finding the answer to the toxicity of serum two-six-alpha within twelve hours of the arrival of Sheriff Miller and…” He looked through his own notes, “this… this man, James ‘Scratch’ Bowen, apparently a companion of hers. Sheppard was professional and thorough and was the right man for the job. I believe I made my position clear on that, and also my reluctance to approve your choice of Dr. Rubenstein. I went along with the majority to keep things uniform. I believe I registered my concerns in the minority report. Rubenstein was a hack who wanted to play God. He conned you, and you conned Miguel and me into supporting him. This fiasco should be laid at your doorstep.”
BOOK: The Hungry 5: All Hell Breaks Loose (The Sheriff Penny Miller Series)
3.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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