Authors: Amy Cross
Tags: #Science Fiction/Horror
Copyright 2015 Amy Cross
All Rights Reserved
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events, entities and places are either products of the author's imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual people, businesses, entities or events is entirely coincidental.
Edited by Ben Townley
Published by ACBT Books
This edition: February 2015
“Your Book of Revelation is our Book of Genesis.”
It began with a strange new kind of cancer, born on the other side of the world. Then it erupted on a British hospital ward. And now it's reached a campsite...
Camp Everbee is a place for sick and dying teens to get together and try to have fun. Unfortunately for Lizzie Miller and the latest batch of campers, contaminated medical waste has brought a deadly mutation to the area, and it soon becomes clear that something is lurking in the forest near the camp, something that needs bodies.
Soon Lizzie and the others find themselves engaged in a fight for survival against an enemy that not only lurks in the dark, but also hides within.
Ward Z: Revelation is the story of a deadly new species emerging from within human bodies, and four girls' attempts to escape with their lives.
Stumbling through the night air, she almost ran straight into the wooden sign that stood slightly askew at the side of the gravel road. As she steadied herself, she placed a hand on the sign for the moment, before pulling it back and leaving a blood-stained print. Desperately out of breath and with blood still running down her left leg, she stopped and looked back the way she'd come. Her terrified eyes scanned the darkness, looking for any hint of movement, but all she saw was the curve of the road and the glint of moonlight catching the tops of nearby trees. The scene looked almost peaceful, almost safe.
She could hear leaves rustling in a gentle breeze.
And then something else.
Rushing past the wooden sign, she almost fell as she made her way across the gravel and then down into the bushes on the other side. Hoping against hope that somehow she'd be safe if she kept away from the road, she fought her way through thick foliage, bumping several times into trees that she could barely see coming. With the forest's canopy blocking almost all the moonlight, her visibility was more or less zero, but she had no time to be careful. She knew he was still coming, that he could still track her through the might, and she knew she had only one hope:
Tripping on an exposed tree root, she fell to the ground and let out a cry of pain as she felt something cutting into her ankle. Reaching down, she slipped her blood-soaked sock down and found a thorn embedded in her skin. After ripping the thorn out, she got back onto her feet and limped away, all the while checking over her shoulder in case there was any sign of her pursuer getting closer. She felt certain that he was getting closer, that he'd lunge out of the darkness at any moment and drag her down.
A few minutes later, she clambered up a small embankment and finally she saw the cabins up ahead, their flat slanted roofs glistening in the moonlight.
“Lucy!” she screamed. “Sophie! Kate! Help!”
Hurrying across the grass, she made her way to the first cabin. Trying the door, she found that it was locked, so she hauled herself up to the window and looked inside. Hoping to see sleeping figures through the dusty glass, she instead saw nothing more than a couple of empty bunks, while the cupboards on the far side of the cabin had been left with their doors open, revealing unused shelves within.
“Oh God,” she whispered, turning to look back across the grass, “please, no, you can't have left me behind...”
She watched the line of trees for a moment, convinced that at any moment she'd spot movement. Her eyes scanned the moonlit scene, and finally she began to consider the possibility that she'd managed to -
Suddenly she spotted something a few hundred meters away, disturbing the long grass at the edge of the trees.
“Help!” she shouted, racing around the cabin until she reached the next one along. “Lucy! Sophie! Help me!”
She pulled at the door, only to find that it was locked. Looking through the window, she saw more empty beds, and finally she realized the truth: they'd really gone and left her behind, which meant they must have assumed she wasn't coming back, which meant...
“I'm not dead,” she whimpered. “Please, I'm not, I'm right here...”
With tears in her eyes, she ran to the next cabin, and then the next, and then the next until suddenly, by some miracle, she found an unlocked door. Stumbling inside, she pulled the door shut and slid both bolts across before taking a step back and looking over at the dirty window. The cabin was freezing cold, and she could see her own breath as she listened for any hint that her pursuer was outside. She was certain he must have seen and heard her, and she knew full well that the window would be easy enough to break.
She was a sitting target.
Looking around, she tried to find something she could use as a weapon. A few weeks ago, when she'd been in the cabin with her friends, they'd had plenty of things that might be suitable, but now the place had been stripped bare. As she continued to search, she saw only one possibility: an old smoke pipe that ran from the floor to an opening in the ceiling. Grabbing hold of the pipe, she tried to pull it free, only to find that it was screwed tightly in place. As she tried to think of some other way to prize the pipe loose, she spotted some marks on the wall, and she froze for a second as she realized it was the marking that she and the others had scratched into the wood just a few weeks ago:
Lucy + Kate + Sophie + Ally forever.
She remembered that moment, when the four of them had laughed and joked as they carved their names with a pen-knife that one of them had smuggled in from home.
And now the others were gone, and she was being -
Hearing a noise outside, she ducked down and rolled under one of the bunks. She held her breath as she listened to the sound of someone walking around the side of the cabin, and a moment later she heard the door handle being tried several times. After a moment, she dared to peer out from under the bed, watching as the handle was turned again, and then she pulled back as she saw a shadow fall across the window.
“Please,” she mouthed silently, “go away, go away...”
“Go away. Leave me alone. Please, God, make him go away...”
A moment later, she heard footsteps heading past the side of the cabin, and then finally she heard someone trying the door to the next cabin along. She continued to say a silent prayer as the footsteps moved further and further away, trying door after door, and after a few minutes she realized that there were no more sounds coming from outside. She still couldn't quite believe that she'd escaped, but as the minutes ticked past without any hint of movement outside, she dared to wonder if her pursuer had moved on. If he thought she wasn't in any of the cabins, he'd probably head back to the road and make his way down to the parking lot, so she figured she had to take the long route around, past the main valley and over to the small village she remembered spotting a few weeks ago. The journey would be difficult, but she hoped that pure adrenalin would keep her going.
After what felt like an eternity, she began to crawl out from under the bunk.
She paused again, listening.
“He's gone,” she whispered, feeling a rush of relief as she got to her feet. “He's -”
Suddenly she cried out in agony as a jolt of pain throbbed through the left side of her body, rippling up into her chest and through her neck and then exploding at the base of her skull. She fell forward, clattering into one of the other bunks before falling down onto her knees. The pain in her torso was intense and sharp, and even as it faded for a moment she could feel something long and thin moving through her belly, as if it was reaching up through her guts and slipping a sharp, greasy tendril past her lungs and wrapping itself around her spine.
She let out a shocked gasp as she felt a tightening sensation in her hips. Whatever was in there, it had begun to tug at her bones.
Struggling to her feet, she took a step forward before leaning against the wall. She could feel something burrowing through her body now, as if it was searching for a way out. With sweat running down her face, she opened her mouth to speak, but her throat felt somehow blocked.
“Help,” she whispered, before pausing to summon a little more strength.
She could feel it moving under her flesh now, exploring the inner world of her body, unfolding its full length.
“Help!” she screamed, turning to the window. “Come back! I need -”
Before she could finish, she felt something wet and sharp rising up through her throat and flicking the back of her tongue. Barely able to breathe, she stumbled across the cabin, trying to reach the door, but suddenly a sharp pain sliced through her chest and she looked down just in time to see something moving under her shirt. Pulling the fabric aside, she saw a thin, black tendril slipping out through a hole next to her left breast; slowly, the tendril began to creep up past her collarbone until it was flailing against her lower jaw.
She tried to call out again, but her airways were blocked and all she could manage was a faint gurgle.
More black tendrils began to poke out through her skin, twitching and flexing as they slithered across her flesh and left greasy trails in their wake. She took one final, stumbling step forward before dropping to her knees as tendril after tendril broke through her skin and began to wrap her in a wet, slimy embrace.
Outside, the clouds parted for a moment and the cabins were briefly bathed in moonlight. All the cabins stood silently, except for one near the middle, where a faint gurgle of pain could be heard coming from within. Finally, a thin black tendril began to slither up the inside of the window, leaving a trail of blood in its wake.
Three months later
“That one's single, I think,” she muttered.
Raising her binoculars, she focused them on the handsome mid-to-late-thirties guy who was loading a backpack into the coach's luggage compartment.
“I don't see a wedding ring,” she continued, as she watched the man kissing his daughter goodbye and then shepherding her onto the coach. “Okay, Lizzie. The girl is medium build with black hair and a Ramones t-shirt. No pressure, but while you're at camp I want you to get to know her and find out if her father is single. If he
, I'd appreciate it if you could make friends with her and engineer some kind of social gathering later in the summer. Also, check for a dead mother in the picture, they always complicate things. I'd prefer it if he's just divorced.”
She continued to watch the man through her binoculars as he made his way across the parking lot and got into his car.
“That's a Porsche,” she whispered. “Oh my God, he's a professional!”
She kept her gaze on the man as his car rounded the far end of the parking lot and then disappeared along the gravel road that led back to the motorway. After a moment, she lowered her binoculars and turned to her daughter, who was sitting in the back seat.
“Lizzie? Did you get all that? Black hair, Ramones t-shirt, kinda punky, check for a dead mother. Make friends with her.”
She waited for a reply.
“How exactly am I supposed to
with a random person?”
“You've got two weeks of summer camp to figure it out. Just be outgoing, be gregarious and...” She stared at her daughter for a moment. “Come on, it'll be good for you too.”
“Can't you meet a guy the old-fashioned way?” Lizzie asked. “Like, on the internet? Don't you think there's something a bit desperate about trying to use your daughter's stay at Cancer Camp to find your next husband?”
“Don't call it that!” she replied, gently slapping Lizzie's knee.
Cancer Camp,” Lizzie pointed out.
“It's a summer relaxation and character building camp!”
“For kids with cancer!” She held up the leaflet.
“For people whose lives have dealt them a bad hand!”
“I'd rather go to Cripple Camp,” Lizzie told her. “At least that wouldn't be quite so depressing.” She looked out the window and watched as various other teenagers were led by their parents toward the waiting coach. “I had plans for the next two weeks, you know. I was going to work on some poems, hang out with Donna, read some books. You know, things that I actually want to do with...” She paused for a moment. “Well, with whatever time I've got left.”
a positive attitude,” her mother replied, forcing a smile. “Lizzie, don't you remember what I told you about the importance of a positive attitude?”
“A positive attitude will tell my cancer that it's not welcome in my body,” Lizzie sighed, as if she was reciting the line from rote. “I really don't think that's how science works, Mum, a positive attitude doesn't count for anything. Neither do crystals or herbs or any of those candles you light up whenever I'm in the room. By the way, I really hate the smell of lavender.”
“Lizzie, if -”
“I don't want to be here.”
Her mother sighed.
!” Lizzie continued. “Mum, I know you paid a lot of money for me to come here and I appreciate that, but I might not have very long left, maybe -”
“Don't say that!”
“Don't say it!”
“This is a two week camp,” she continued. “so it might represent 4% of my remaining life. That's actually quite a big chunk of time, when you think about it, so why do I have to come and hang out with a bunch of people I don't know, who I don't
to know, doing pointless character-building exercises and learning how to tie knots? It's a complete waste of time!”
Her mother stared at her for a moment. “You really hate the idea of camp, huh?”
“I'm sorry. If you'd asked me before signing me up.”
“You know it's non-refundable, right?”
“I just want you to get out of the house,” her mother continued.
Staring out the window, Lizzie watched as other reluctant campers headed toward the coach.
“I'm not a social person,” she said finally.
“You've got lots of friends!”
“Donna is my only friend!”
“Donna's weird! You're a very social person, Lizzie, if you just put your mind to it. I happen to think you've got leadership qualities.”
“Seriously? Where did you get that idea from?”
Climbing out of the car, her mother walked around and opened the door next to Lizzie.
“You might actually have fun,” she pointed out. “The weather's glorious, you're going to be in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, you'll be miles and miles from civilization and... You could use some time being social, Elizabeth. Actually being face to face with people, in fresh air, instead of computer screens and avatars and whatever else you've got that computer hooked up to do at home. Don't think I don't hear you up in your room, playing your war games and chatting away to people on the other side of the world.”
“Can't I just spend my remaining time doing what I
? Mum, I'm dying and -”
“No, you're not.”
“The doctor said -”
“The doctor said you have a good chance.”
“When I talked to him.”
“Yesterday, okay? He told me yesterday on the phone that you have a good chance.”
“He did, did he?” Lizzie replied, getting out of the car and hauling her backpack onto her shoulders. “Are you sure about that? 'Cause he sure as hell didn't say anything like that to me. Every time he talks to me, he always has that look in his eyes, like he knows I don't have long left. It's subtle, but I see it. He's never exactly
that I'm going to die, but about a month ago, after my last test results came through, he
telling me I'm going to live. That's a subtle but important change, don't you think?”
They stood in silence for a moment, as raised voices could be heard in the distance and car horns were beeped.
“Camp is fun,” her mother said finally, with the faintest hint of tears in her eyes. “Camp is normal, it's something normal kids do. You're eighteen years old, Lizzie, you
be...” Her voice tailed off for a moment. “One day you'll look back on this as...”
They fell silent again.
“I should get going,” Lizzie said after a few seconds. “I don't want to miss the coach, do I? I mean, I
, but...” She paused, before stepping forward and giving her mother a hug. “I'll miss you. I actually mean that, I'm not being sarcastic. And I'm grateful, in my own messed-up way. I know you did this because you thought I'd like it.”
“It's only two weeks.”
“This time,” Lizzie mouthed, feeling tears welling behind her own eyes before she let go and took a step back. “Black hair and a Ramones t-shirt, wasn't it? And I have to check on the status of her mother.” She gave a mock salute.
“That was just me being silly.”
“No it wasn't. I'll do my best.” With a faint smile, Lizzie turned and made her way toward the coach, where her other camp-mates were already mostly onboard and waiting for the ride up to the campsite. As she reached the coach, Lizzie tossed her backpack into the baggage compartment and then headed to the door, before stopping and glancing back to see that her mother was still by the car.
They exchanged a brief wave, as a shiver ran up Lizzie's spine.
“This is going to be fun,” she muttered as she climbed up the steps and onto the coach. She was immediately met by a sea of faces, most of which appeared to share her lack of enthusiasm. Some looked sick, some didn't, but no-one seemed particularly enthusiastic and Lizzie couldn't help noticing a faint smell of plastic and chemicals in the air, which reminded her of the hospital ward where she'd spent so much time recently.
“All aboard!” the driver's voice called from outside.
Making her way along the aisle, Lizzie looked for somewhere to sit, although she'd already begun to notice that most people had chosen to place a bag on the spare seat next to them, as if to emphasize that they really didn't want to have company. Spotting a free space, she was about to sit down when the skinny guy in the adjacent seat put his coat in the way. With a faint smile, Lizzie continued along the aisle until she spotted one other free space.
She quickly sat down, before the girl next to her had a chance to place her sweater in the way.
“Ramones, huh?” Lizzie said, glancing at the girl's t-shirt as she realized that this was the girl with the father her mother had noticed. “Cool. Do you -”
“Please don't talk to me,” the girl replied, making a point of adjusting her headphones and turning her music up so that Lizzie could hear it from her seat.
Sitting back, Lizzie watched as the driver closed the door at the front of the coach. A few seconds later she heard the engine starting up, and finally the coach began to reverse out of its spot. Turning to look out the window, Lizzie saw her mother still standing by the car, still waving. She waved back, but as she noted the sadness in her mother's eyes, Lizzie was suddenly overcome by a sudden but very strong feeling that they were waving goodbye, that somehow they wouldn't see each other again.
Forcing herself to ignore the sensation, she turned and stared ahead, watching the back of the seat in front of her as the coach bumped across the gravel. After just a few minutes, they passed a large wooden sign, slightly askew at the side of the road:
Welcome to Camp Everbee, Home of Dreams and Hope.