Read The World's Next Plague Online
Authors: Colten Steele
Tags: #zombies, #apocalypse, #infections, #plague, #disease, #undead, #cure, #infection, #diseases, #plagues
Zombie Threat: The World’s Next Plague
Spread of the Infection
Published by Colten Steele -
Copyright 2014 Colten Steele
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Before you read…
This is the third short story in my Zombie series.
While it is fine to read this book first, I would recommend reading
Zombie Threat: The Undead Arise
Undead Genesis: Zombie
before delving into
this one. Both are available at most online bookstores.
Table of Contents
~ Introduction ~
Throughout my career as a journalist with the
Archive Channel I have had the opportunity to travel to many remote
and dangerous places. I remember almost all of these expeditions
fondly, but what I saw in the deep rainforests of the Amazon will
intrigue and disturb me for the rest of my life.
Those of you as old as I am will remember the
mysterious disappearance almost two decades ago of survivalist Rock
Santana, host of the highly rated show New Worlds, along with his
entire crew. They disappeared in a stretch of rainforest
approximately the size of the United States and all attempts to
find or communicate with them at that time failed. Years of
searching for the crew produced no results and the attempt to
discover their fate ended over fifteen years ago.
Many people today have forgotten Rock’s
disappearance, but those of us who worked with him at the Archive
Channel never will. This is partly due to the large portrait in the
Archive Channel’s foyer, but mostly due to his enigmatic
personality. Rock could be a complete pain in the neck, but nobody
was more entertaining. His charismatic storytelling was legendary
and people could not get enough of him.
Rock and the members of his crew were
supremely gifted to survive in any environment. They had been
everywhere and seen everything. Had you locked them in an empty
bank vault naked they would have been cooking a snared rabbit over
a campfire within an hour. We never gave up hope of them one day
just walking out of the forest and calling the network.
When I pitched the idea to the network of
taking another camera crew to search for the missing men, they were
understandably reluctant. It seemed suicidal to the higher-ups to
send any more journalists into a place dangerous enough to take
Rock. I had to assure them we would be travelling with the latest
equipment, including two items they did not have way back then: a
handheld GPS and a remote beacon so I could be easily located.
I went in with the best team and local guides
available. We had enough weaponry to take out half the remaining
native population if necessary. Now that we are back, I am thankful
to tell you we never needed the weapons. We walked out unscathed
about four months after we walked in.
You may have seen the resulting show the
Archive Channel broadcast after we returned. If not, I can
summarize it for you. The show details how we found no skeletons or
physical proof of what actually happened to the crew, but
unbelievably, after weeks of searching blindly, we stumbled upon
their equipment… literally. A guide we called Poppo tripped on a
pack frame buried in the brush. Many critics blamed the network for
faking this stunt for ratings, but I was there and it happened.
Anything made of cloth had rotted from the hot and humid
environment, but some of the hardier equipment, including items
such as guns and canteens, were still intact.
If you did see the show, you probably also
know of the recovery of a camera and audio cassette tape belonging
to Manon Morales, the cameraman on the crew. Some of the more
mundane recovered footage from the video camera was used for the
television special and made it a spectacular success. What you have
never seen is the rest of the unbelievable video Rock’s team
After a few minutes of listening to the audio
cassette, the ribbon broke. I was not able to ever hear much of
what was recorded there, but I included what I did hear in the
story that follows. However, the video camera, after being charged
with our portable battery packs, remarkably still functioned. The
tape inside had been protected from the elements and was still
intact with all of its footage.
When we returned with the camera and showed
the network executives the tape, they quickly confiscated it. As
far as I know it is still there in Archive’s archives somewhere,
but I doubt anyone will ever see it again. When I insisted they
show the world what was on the tape, I was summarily dismissed and
have had trouble finding a job with any of the other networks. My
career as a journalist may be finished, but I now have the time to
share the truth concerning my discoveries with the world.
What follows is the fantastic adventure Rock
and the rest of his crew experienced put together from the footage
I saw on those missing tapes. From the video I was not able to tell
every detail, such as how the infection you will read about was
transferred to the first guide. These missing pieces are filled in
using educated guesses based on my experiences during the search
for answers in Brazil. Even so, much of the unbelievable account
you are about to read is true.
~ Prologue ~
The howler monkey watched the men walk into
the clearing below. Like many young male howlers, he had
instinctively left his mother’s troop to lead a solitary life when
reaching sexual maturity. He had been searching for another troop,
where he planned to test his youthful strength against the group’s
dominant male in hopes of securing his own females.
Weeks ago, the clearing had drawn him in with
its tempting fruits and leaves. These delicacies had been picked
clean in many other areas of the jungle by the birds and other
monkeys, but here there was no other competition. He warily watched
the odd creatures lying on the ground in the clearing while he ate
enthusiastically, but they seemed to pose no threat.
In his experience, the large hairy jungle
spiders had never been a problem. The two species ignored and
avoided each other when possible; instinctively knowing an
encounter could be deadly for both. Unaware of the aggressive
nature of the spiders in this one small section of the jungle, he
went on about his business as usual. The monkey was startled when,
just after lying down in the bed he had built high in a tree, he
felt something large land on his back, and then experienced an
intense sting of fangs sinking into his shoulder.
The primate reached up past his neck and
grabbed the spider, flinging it away from him. He watched
mesmerized as the spider spun away from him through the canopy with
legs spread wide.
He felt the poison rapidly spread through his
body, and lay shaking uncontrollably in the bed of leaves and
branches before blackness overwhelmed him.
In the morning he woke, weak and exhausted.
He would never be able to determine what had changed. He had lost
all memories of his life to this point, though he still maintained
his instincts. He was stronger and more aggressive. He had lost the
desire for food and drink.
He had also acquired a single-minded hatred
for the spiders. He could sense them, even if he could not see
them. Their presence beckoned him. No longer concerned with the
agony of their sting, the howler went out of his way to attack and
dismember the abhorrent little creatures. It did not bring any
pleasure, he was past feeling emotions now, but instead filled an
The men below scared and enticed him. He
ached to destroy, but far up in the trees, the need was weakened by
distance. The more time they spent in his vicinity, though, the
worse his needs became. His insatiable desire to consume the life
within them wrestled continuously with generations of instinct,
which pushed him to keep clear of the large upright creatures in
the clearing below. Often the men would make loud startling noises,
causing the howler monkey to flee temporarily… but he always came
back a little more anxious then before.
Over the days that followed he gathered the
courage to sneak closer; hiding in a low branch just out of sight.
He could faintly hear the life-giving blood pulsing through their
veins. There he waited… undecided.
~ Chapter I ~
Manon had never seen anything like it in his
years as a cameraman… not in his most terrifying nightmares,
fabricated from near fatal encounters with the most savage men and
beasts the world had to offer, had he imagined anything this
disturbing. Everywhere he pointed the camera another desiccated
figure lay moaning and feebly reaching towards the nearest member
of the crew.
Ricardo “Rock” Santana yelled from the other
side of the clearing, “Hey… this way.”
Manon stopped recording, carefully avoiding
any contact with the suffering beings scattered haphazardly across
the clearing, and headed over towards Rock. He noticed the clearing
was eerily quiet. Occasional echoing calls from a howler monkey
could be heard in the nearby trees, but otherwise the area was
silent. There were no birds singing or insects chirping.
The international television star combined
the suave good looks of his Hispanic parents with the body of an
Olympic athlete sculpted during his years with the Fuerzas
Especiales, the Mexican Navy’s Special Forces. Rock had supreme
confidence, an unerring instinct for survival and a smooth baritone
voice. If he had a flaw, it was his overwhelming love for himself,
which he personally considered his greatest asset.
He was kneeling near two figures barely
recognizable as human. A large spider was perched on the lower leg
of one of the bodies and arched upwards as Rock came close.
“Start recording,” Rock instructed Manon.
“Zoom in on me until I motion towards the bodies.”
Manon had been part of Rock’s crew for the
previous two full seasons of the show. He knew what to do, but he
also knew Rock was the star and expected immediate deference, so he
made no reply to Rock’s unnecessary filming instructions. Looking
into the camera with his dramatic dark brown eyes and an expression
of grave concern, Rock started speaking.
“I am deep in the rainforest of Brazil. I
have been here for weeks exploring areas film crews have never
before recorded. I have discovered new species of insects and
plants the civilized world has never documented… but I was not
expecting to find anything like this.”
Manon panned back to capture the disquieting
scene as Rock gestured with a magician’s flourish.
The two nearest bodies were of an adult and
preadolescent child. It was impossible to distinguish the sex of
either without looking under the simple ragged loincloths, which
still offered a small shred of modesty. The bodies lay on the
ground, the child across the adult’s chest. Their once dark olive
skin was now cracked and dark gray, and stretched over the bones of
a body which appeared to have consumed itself from the inside. The
arms of both figures weakly reached towards Rock with grasping
hands. The heads extended towards him and the jaws opened and
closed slowly in a seemingly desperate attempt to reach the man.
Rock squatted just out of reach.
“I have had the unfortunate opportunity in my
lifetime to witness people starving,” Rock continued, “but these
bodies are well past the point of starvation. There does not appear
to have been any way for these poor creatures to obtain water or
food. As you can see, they can barely lift their arms, much less
“There is no attempt to communicate with me.
They seem only to want to grab with their desiccated arms and bite
with teeth protruding beneath paper thin lips. I don’t think I have
ever been this disturbed, and I am truly grateful these poor people
are unable to get to their feet. They seem to lack human intellect