Thursday, October 10, 2013
Ground Zero by Nicolas Ryan
Aboard a freighter bound for Baltimore harbor, an Iranian terrorist prepares to unleash an unimaginable horror upon the United States. The 'Wrath' is an undead plague - an infection that consumes its victims with a maddening rage and turns them into mindless blood-thirsty killers.
Jack Cutter is just an ordinary guy dealing with a dreadful guilt when the virus tears through his home town. Before it's too late, Cutter will have to find a way to survive, and find a reason to fight: HIS REDEMPTION.
They came from the buildings. They came from the shadows into the glaring warm sunlight – and they came at a run.
The street suddenly filled with the demented wail of hundreds of undead voices, clamoring and screeching in hideous fury. Cutter turned back for the open doors of the building and ran.
More dark shapes came from his left, moving to intercept him. They spilled onto the sidewalk and burst towards him, their arms and legs flailing as they closed on their prey.
Cutter crashed back through the doors and leaped the barricade. He dropped to his knees and flicked the lighter, focusing all his attention on the task. It wouldn’t light.
He heard the sound, like a storm surging closer. He glanced up and the glass façade of the building was suddenly enveloped in shadow as the undead filled the sidewalk.
He flicked the lighter again – and a table and sofa erupted into flames with a sudden ‘whoosh!’
Cutter didn’t pause. He scrambled to his feet and threw himself at the stairs. Behind him he could hear the crackling sound of the fire as it leaped across the entrance. He could feel the intense heat on his back. And he could hear the sudden sounds of glass smashing and the shrieks of the zombies as they spilled into the foyer and were confronted with a solid wall of flame.
He snatched up the bottle of thinners and took the stairs two- at-a-time. The noise behind him rose to a crescendo. He reached the top of the stairwell and glanced over his shoulder.
The zombies were surging into the foyer, moving like a dark wave. The press of their momentum was impossible to stop, forcing the first ones through the doorway onto the wall of flames. Their clothes and hair caught alight and they spun and flailed their wretched burning bodies in wild confusion. Some fell into the barricade and became part of the erupting blaze. Other crashed through and staggered like fiery torches into the ransacked ground floor apartments. The whole foyer became filled with flame – and still the press of the demented filled the sidewalk beyond.
Then they saw Cutter through the fire and billowing smoke – and a hundred undead voices suddenly shrieked with malevolent fury. They hurled themselves at the flames, driven by insane madness, and the barricade blew apart in an explosion of shattering timbers and burning embers.
Cutter leaped the final steps onto the landing and splashed lighter fluid over the sofa that he and Samantha had prepared. The fabric burst into sudden flames and he heaved at it with his foot until it reached the point of balance, and began to slide down the stairwell.
He turned and ran.
The whole apartment block was going up in flames, and the heat rising up from the foyer was intense. Paint began to blister on the walls and he heard pounding footsteps behind him, sounding like the maddened beat of a thousand drums. He pushed himself on, driven by fear and panic. The footsteps came closer, became louder, and when he reached the second story landing he turned to see one of the undead staring up at him from the bottom of the stairs. The thing was hideously deformed. Once it had been a man, but now it was a disfigured wraith. It was naked, its body blackened and festering with running sores and open wounds. Its head was grotesquely swollen, and the fire had burned away its hair and eyelids and lips so that all that remained was smoldering melted skin. It hissed at Cutter, and then suddenly vomited thick black bile. Cutter stared in horror. The sickly sweet stench of burning flesh swept over him, mingled with the fetid odor of rotting corruption. Cutter drew the Glock and fired.