Authors: Bisi Leyton
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
By Bisi Leyton
Cover Art by Olivia Smith, http://aivilo0.deviantart.com/
No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied for reviews.
To my hero and close friend.
To the soko soup, made when I’m feeling down.
To the one person I know who comes running when I fall,
I love you, Mummy.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
: A Black orb used by the Family, to generate power.
: A human infected with Nero Disease. Biters are extremely violent and only eat the flesh of healthy humans. Also called the
: The wisteria plant. Also called
by the Family.
: The list of people or items empirics are sent to retrieve.
A brown fruit indigenous to the Family’s realm.
Small unit of the Family, traveling together.
: Euphemism for killing a biter.
An insult in the dialect.
Houses or accommodations used by the Family while on earth.
The language spoken by the Family.
: Title given to the Famila by the Thayns.
A Famila trained to conduct special investigations.
A member of the Family’s race.
A Thayn selected to serve a Famila closely.
Device used by the Family to renew humans. It looks like a playing card. The faycard was a powerful focal point of the energy used by one of the Famila. Can also be used for playing simple tricks on children and humans.
Another term for biter.
Another term for biter.
: The rite of passage every male in the Family must go through. It lasts 1,000 days.
: The fourth caste in the Family and the lowest. They work with the Thayns.
The High Street:
The main business street of a town. The British version of Main Street.
: The highest caste of the Family and made up of the leaders.
: The second caste; they include warriors and soldiers.
: A green ocean near the Family’s home.
To travel between realms via the thresholds.
: The master /mistress of a Thayn. The person who renewed them and to whom the Thayns are loyal.
: A deep emotional and mental bond between two people in the Family.
: The British word for highway.
A sickness that causes humans to turn into biters. Also called
: Stands for Order of the British Empire. An honor given by the King or Queen of England.
: Red coral used by the Family that enables them to journey through thresholds without dying, as thresholds are very dangerous and will rip any traveler apart.
: Synthetic obsidian coral, deadly if used to travel through thresholds.
: A clan within the Family. There are seven Pillars in the Family. Each Pillar has four castes.
: An artifact used by the Family to conceal their dens on Earth from humans.
: A blue light that emanates from the family. The blue light has many uses including: converting of humans to Thayns, healing the injured Family, and sometimes healing humans.
: The first child and heir of a Sen.
: An insult in the Family Dialect.
: A period of long rest during which Famila heal themselves.
: The process of turning humans to Thayns.
: A strong beverage.
: Okay in Yoruba.
(singular and plural): Tattoo-like dots on some Famila.
: A chief and head of a Family Pillar.
: The son of a Sen.
The Seven Elders
: The heads of the seven Houses of the Family. Also referred to as the
English equivalent to the American 11
Grades. Sixth Form takes two years to complete.
: What some humans call Thayns.
: What the Family calls Bean Vine.
: The Famila word for Earth.
: What the Family calls humans. It means Dirt people.
: A human who has been turned into a devoted follower of the Family by being renewed. Also called
: A Gateway used by the family to travel between realms.
: Means jerk or ass in the Family’s Dialect
: English equivalent to the American 10th Grade.
Thirteen months after the first official case of Nero Disease
“Wisteria, run!” Rebecca O’Leary screamed over the radio.
Wisteria Kuti whipped around and came face-to-face with the blood-red eyes of a hungry flesh-eating biter. The biter was a man, infected by Nero Disease, who had long lost his mind. He looked more animal than human and he wanted one thing—to feed on the flesh of uninfected people. The biter growled and staggered toward Wisteria.
She fled down the deserted road to the nearest house. The front door was locked. She kicked at the door, but it didn’t open. Taking out her handgun, she smashed through the window of the door.
“Ugh,” more biters growled behind her.
She spun around, fired once, and hit one in the head. She unlocked the door by reaching in and turning the lock. Once inside, she chained and bolted the door.
—a biter smashed through another window into the house.
Wisteria’s heart jumped and she darted up the stairs as fast as she could.
“Get out of the house, Wisteria!” Rebecca radioed.
A biter grabbed her ankle as she ran. Falling hard on the steps, she wailed in pain. “Ah.”
No time to cry, Wisteria.
She fired at the biter holding her.
One bullet left
Three more biters appeared below and started coming up the stairs. Leaping up, she sprinted to the top floor and dashed into the first open doorway that led to the master bedroom. Locking the door, she headed straight for the window.
The infected clawed at the door, tearing it apart and snarling as they entered.
Trying to open the window, she found it was stuck and the panes were too small to fit through. She pulled harder—nothing. Then she heard the biters’ cries. They were now in the room with her.
“Just hold on,” Rebecca said over the handheld radio.
Wisteria fired at a biter.
The bullet went through one and hit another—two fell.
She fired again.
. No bullets. “Wonderful.” She stoned the biter with her useless weapon, but that had no effect.
Noticing a red-handled samurai sword in the corner of the room, she dove for it. Another biter entered the room. She took the sword out of the sheath and pointed it at the approaching biters. The blade trembled in her grip, and then there was a gunshot… two more biters fell.
Thirty-something Lara Kuti stood in the doorway with two handguns trained on Wisteria, which she slowly lowered. “Wisteria, what the hell are you doing here?” the older woman seethed.
“I was cleared to work,” she explained to her mother.
“You’re prepared to die out here?” Her mother glared at Wisteria. “You think we’re playing here? And how the hell did you leave Smythe?”
“Major Coles cleared me.” Wisteria shook her head.
“Coles knew?” Her mother’s eyes thinned at the mention of Coles.
Something moved in the corridor.
Her mother whipped out her handguns and aimed them at the door.
A few seconds later, red-headed Rebecca O’Leary entered. “You’re all right.” She was red-faced and out of breath. “I told you that you would be.”
“You sent her out here alone?” Wisteria’s mother didn’t lower her weapons.
“Mum, it’s Rebecca,” Wisteria said. “I don’t think she’s infected.”
“You almost got her killed.” Her mother ignored Wisteria.
“Lara, the girl’s fine.” Rebecca seemed unfazed. “We almost get killed every day.”
Her mother stomped her way over to the taller woman. “Don’t ever take my fourteen-year-old daughter on one of your boozed up, pathetic patrols again.”
“Whatever, Lara.” Rebecca tried to sound nonchalant, though she did look rattled by Lara’s fierce words.
Turning away, Wisteria cautiously made her way through the quiet house. Bodies of cured biters lay motionless on the ground. Making her way down the stairs, she saw a tall brown haired man at the front door, Lieutenant Andrew McDowell, her mother’s patrol partner.
He shook his head and chuckled when he saw her.
Still without a word, Wisteria walked toward him and out the front door. She felt like such a fool.
“Hell of a first day,” Andrew commented as he followed her. He then unlocked the backdoor of the battered SUV they used for patrols.
“I messed up,” Wisteria replied nervously and slid inside. She felt foolish because her mother had had to rescue her. Wisteria wanted to be a tracker to prove she could take care of herself.
“So, Coles agreed to this, knowing you’re only fourteen?” Andrew frowned and took her firearm from her.
It was partly true—he had agreed, Wisteria thought to herself without answering him. She’d convinced Major Coles that she was sixteen.
Two years later
“Summertime, boys and girls,” the gravelly voice of Jake, the controller, crackled on the radio that was on the dashboard of the beaten up and much abused SUV.