Authors: Nathan Barnes
Tags: #richmond, #undead, #reanimated, #viral, #thriller, #zombie plague, #dispatch, #survival thriller, #apocalyptic fiction, #zombies, #pandemic, #postapocalyptic fiction, #virus, #survival, #zombie, #plague, #teotwawki, #police, #postapocalyptic thriller, #apocalypse, #virginia, #end of the world
A PERMUTED PRESS book
Published at Smashwords
ISBN (trade paperback): 978-1-61868-1-928
ISBN (eBook): 978-1-61868-1-935
The Reaper Virus
copyright © 2013
by Nathan Barnes
All Rights Reserved.
Cover art by George Cotronis, Ravenkult
This book is a work of fiction. People,
places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s
imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or
historical events, is purely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without
the written permission of the author and publisher.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1 - Infectious Headlines
Chapter 2 - Preparation and Mutation
Chapter 3 - Corrosive Revelation
Chapter 10 - All Good Things Must Come to an
Chapter 11 - Budding Wasteland
Chapter 14 - Preconceived Notions
Chapter 19 - Desperate Measures
Chapter 26 - Whispers From Home
Dedicated to my three reasons for surviving.
In the fall of 2011, I was at the Baltimore
Comic-Con promoting my podcast Torres vs. Zombies when I meet this
guy and his wife. We struck up a nice conversation and it turns out
that he and I have some things in common: we both live in Virginia,
we both have an incredible partner who is supportive of what we do,
and we were both starting out trying to make a living doing
something that we love within a genre we were passionate and
knowledgeable about. Here is the biggest thing we had in common—we
both have the ability to ride the passion we have to the top. Since
I was looking to do some interviews and no one wanted to bother
with me (you know since I’m not Max Brooks, no offense Max, love
ya’, babe), I figured, “What the hell, let me interview this kid
and see what he’s got.” It turned out to be a great interview. We
exchanged emails and phone numbers and he asked me if I wanted a
preview copy of the book; it still had some editing and changes but
for the most part was ready to go. I said, “Sure, why not?”
What I got when I opened up that email was
nothing short of incredible. You see, this wasn’t a story about
some super soldier. This wasn’t the story about Johnny Badass, the
Navy Seal, or Frankie Never-die, the tough as nails survival guy,
or Sammy Sure-shot, the most incredible marksman who ever lived.
This was the story about me, or rather someone like me. An average
Joe. Mr. Ordinary. Some regular guy, who has a regular job, who has
a regular family whom he loves dearly and what happens when the
shit hits the fan. How does the regular guy survive? How does the
love he feels for his family drive him to do things that he never
thought in his wildest dreams he would or could do in order to make
it back to protect those that mean the most. I never thought about
it in the way that Nathan writes.
You see, in my dreams, just like in yours, we
are Johnny Badass, but in reality we are Nathan, both the writer
and the character. We are the average Joes who want nothing more
than to protect our families or die with them. That is what makes
this book so powerful. Nathan gets it. I didn’t have to be a
superhero to save my loved ones; I can do it as me. I got to
interview him once again when the book was finally published and
that is what you hold in your hands right now. The story of you and
I—Johnny Average—and what we would do and how we would survive… —or
die in a world where the living dead walk and all the superheroes
are gone. Exactly how Nathan does.
Nathan, let’s do it again when the second
books comes out. I’ll bring the watermelon and the vodka; you bring
the knives and the beer…
Host, Torres vs Zombies
What do you see when you close your eyes? Maybe your
imagination takes over and shows you the things you’d like to see.
In those moments you become a hero, a savior, a lover, or anything
else that takes you away from the life you know.
A lifetime ago those fleeting moments once
brought me imaginative satisfaction. Now all I see are rabid, once
human mouths tearing away at whatever remains of my soul. All
things considered, escaping the end of days with my life and
haunted memories should be considered luck…
But now the world is dead, with hordes of
evil wandering about in search of any remaining life to consume.
No, I’m not lucky… I believe the undead are the lucky ones.
Before the end I was a police dispatcher,
experiencing civil service in all its thankless glory. The position
yielded only tidbits of information on all happenings. Long ago I
grew to accept that during any event, local or global, I would
never get the whole picture, only a cryptic mental mosaic.
A viral epidemic began to appear in the
headlines. My work gave me slightly more information than the
general public received. After the story broke, I sat at a state
computer all night reading news stories looking for tiles to add to
my “mosaic”. I knew this situation was different. The news rarely
keeps a common theme for this long of a period. No matter how
tragic something is, something worse always comes along to take its
place because the media is the embodiment of Attention Deficit
Disorder. I listened to the talking heads report about the
spreading virus, and I began to understand more than ever that
there was more to it than they were leading the general public to
believe. Sometimes there is nothing worse than being right.
So who am I? My name is Nathan; I'm a thirty
year old husband and father of two. I'm a big dork, a good
dad, and married a woman far better looking than someone like
me deserves. I'm lazy, on the overweight side and see myself as
kind of a “professional quitter”. I dropped out of college where I
had gone for criminal justice as part of my lifelong quest to be a
cop and save the world. Actually I
cop for a short while. At least I was until the rigorous training
at the police academy kicked my fat ass and I got injured.
Something as minor as a twisted ankle and busted finger served as
just enough to have to drop out. The dispatch center ended up
becoming my home.
My level of dependability matched the
department well. Eventually I found that my co-workers on the night
shift shared my twisted sense of humor, which made the hours of the
shift bearable, even enjoyable at times. Being twisted is almost a
prerequisite for spending at least eight hours a day listening to
people in their worst moments, or just plain bitching.
The police department was far from normal; in
fact my department was quite unique. It served a college campus
integrated throughout the city of Richmond, Virginia. When most
people hear "university police" they get a bit of a stereotypical
image in their head of a bunch of wannabe cops beating drunken
college asses, but it wasn’t like that at all. The agency was home
to around 140 sworn officers, a special narcotics unit, a
security department, and provided exclusive police protection for
the regional trauma hospital.
University pamphlets bragged that the school
was a "diverse, enriching, unique, and fulfilling higher education
experience!" Diverse? To an extreme. Enriching? Ha! Unique? Doesn't
even cover it. Fulfilling? That depended on who you asked. The
reality is that the university was a thriving school buying up as
much of this festering historical city as possible. Maybe the
campus was just a completely different city within a city at night.
Or maybe the problem was I only heard the bad things... actually
that's exactly the problem, hearing the bad things.