Read The World's Next Plague Online

Authors: Colten Steele

Tags: #zombies, #apocalypse, #infections, #plague, #disease, #undead, #cure, #infection, #diseases, #plagues

The World's Next Plague (4 page)

“Eventually I give in to the pressure and get
on the plane because it is the thing to do. I will not know if I
made the right decision until either I am hurtling towards my death
or the plane lands safely.”

“Of course, the only people you ever hear
this story from are the ones who listened to their internal warning
and made the decision not to board the plane that crashes. They get
interviewed afterwards and talk about the ‘feeling’ they had which
caused them not to get on. Those who land safely never mention
their foolish premonition to anyone.”

From somewhere behind him and out of the
picture Rock yells, “Let’s go, Manon.”

Manon continued, “Those who board the plane,
but do not land safely… well, we don’t hear from them either, do

Manon pressed the button to stop the
recording. He stood up, gathered his gear, put the video camera on
his shoulder, and started walking behind the departing party.

Pauley and Rock led the way. Rock carried one
of the tents. Manon could see Rock held the top two corners and had
folded it for carrying. By extending his arms it would quickly
unfold into a rectangle approximately the size of a small bed

Armando followed. He was carrying a large
wooden frame made from the thick branches Rock had been cutting,
spliced together with strong parachute cord. The frame, consisting
of ten horizontal and five longer vertical branches, was taller
than Armando and wider across. It must have been extremely heavy,
but Armando carried it behind his back easily. “They must be
planning to lash Pauley’s brother to the frame,” Manon thought, “if

The other two large soldiers followed closely
with two tents identical to the one Rock held folded loosely in
their arms. All three of the men had their rifles slung across
their backs.

Manon noticed the old shaman, hands tied
behind his back, lashed with a long rope to one of the nearby
trees. The old man was pleading with him as he went by, but Manon
did not understand the language and soon left the camp behind.

After a short walk through the jungle Pauley
stopped. He leaned close to Rock’s ear, whispering low enough not
to be heard by the others. Pauley pointed ahead and to the right
into the surrounding growth.

Manon peered hard into the brush where Pauley
was pointing, but the leaves were so thick he could not see even
five meters ahead of them.

Rock turned. He walked stealthily back
towards Armando and gave him some instructions. Armando then turned
to the other men and the three of them disappeared quietly into the

Rock made his way back to Manon. “Pauley’s
brother should be just ahead. I sent the other guys to surround
him. When I give the whistle we all go in,” Rock whispered.


~ Chapter


As he was turning away from Manon, Pauley’s
brother burst from the overgrown brush to their right, directly
behind Rock. In a moment the attacker was within reach and started
yelling incomprehensively. Rock barely turned around in time to see
the shambling creature before it crashed into him from the side.
The little native was not large enough to tackle Rock to the
ground, but did cause the larger man to stumble awkwardly.

Manon had been in the process of bringing the
video camera up to his shoulder when it happened. The camera never
made it.

To Manon, the short creature burying its
teeth in the back of Rock’s hand had a wild predatory look. The
pupils had grown larger than the iris leaving a pitch black hole in
the middle of the eye. This pupil was surrounded by a pool of dark
blood where the whites of the eye would have normally been.

The blood spattered face appeared to be
lifeless. The skin was hanging as if there was no more elasticity
or muscle tone. It was more terrifying for the obvious pleasure the
creature was experiencing while tearing a chuck of meat from Rock’s
wrist. The yells coming from it had turned to moans of fulfilled
gratification, almost sexual in nature.

The television star screamed loudly and tried
desperately to push the small man away, but it clung to him with
supernatural strength. Within seconds Rock was no longer able to
fight back. He fell, pulling his attacker down with him, and was
writhing on the ground in a terrible seizure. The creature had torn
away Rock’s sleeve and was now pulling mouthfuls of bleeding flesh
from his lower arm.

He saw Pauley bolt into the jungle wildly
without a moment’s hesitation, but Manon was unable to bring
himself to move. He stared dumbly at the unbelievable scene
happening two meters away. Years of experience as a cameraman in
dangerous situations caused him to instinctively move the camera to
his shoulder and start recording.

Manon started to back away, but had only
moved a few feet before the two men holding the now unfolded tents
burst into the small clearing. They nimbly covered the two
struggling forms, pinning them down, and applying their entire body
weight to the endeavor.

Rock’s long legs stuck out below the bottom
of the tent. They were unmoving. The creature on top of Rock was
struggling mightily to free itself. The men managed to get first
one tent, then the other, completely wrapped around it. Using all
their considerable strength, they stood up lifting the struggling
creature off the ground. The completely covered head was thrashing
wildly, causing the tent’s thin material to whiplash into the faces
of the men carrying it. The teeth could be heard crashing together
through the layers of now bloody fabric.

Armando had made it back and was directing
the two men to come his way. He had a thick rope out and was
threading it through the gaps between the branches in the frame he
carried. The three men had the creature, still completely wrapped
in the tents, tightly lashed to the frame within minutes. Thick
ropes crisscrossed the treacherous wiggling captive in dozens of
places. The bottom and top of the tent cocoon were tied off tightly
preventing any possibility of escape.

Manon noticed movement at the edge of his
viewfinder and directed the camera back towards it. Rock’s legs
were moving.

Manon yelled to be heard over the now loud
raging beast trapped helpless on the frame, “Guys! Rock!”

The three men turned around to look at their
ravaged leader lying just out of reach. Rock sucked in a deep
choking breath, and his eyes snapped open. The head turned and
Manon saw the eyes had the same large black pupils Manon had seen
in Pauley’s brother.

“This way guys, he has turned,” Manon called
loudly. The three men did not need much urging. Armando picked up
the two top corners of the frame and started dragging it back
towards Manon. The other two raised their guns as Rock started
climbing to his feet.

The new threat turned to face them, and
without saying a word, unsteadily moved their direction with arms
raised before him.

“Rock,” Armando called in a pleading voice.
“Answer me Rock. Back off, man. Don’t make use shoot.”

He came steadily towards them, moving faster
as his body slowly recovered from its recent death. The blood
weeping from his wounds had an unhealthy darkness to it and carried
pieces of flesh and muscle as it ran down his arm. The jaws opened
wider than Manon thought possible, elongating the terrifying face,
and stayed opened waiting to be filled.

“Put one in his thighs, guys,” Armando
directed the other two loudly. He was moving backwards too slowly,
still dragging the frame, and he started losing ground to the
approaching figure.

“We can’t, Armando, its Rock,” one of them

“It is not Rock! I just need you to slow it
down so we can get away. Do it!”

The first shot seemed extremely loud. Though
Manon was used to gunshots, he still jumped, causing the camera to
jerk wildly. When he was able to focus again he noticed Rock had
stumbled, but quickly stood upright again. There was a sizable hole
in his thigh from the bullet. Only missing a step or two, he kept
coming towards them, as fast, or faster, than before.

The roaring of the creature strapped to the
frame had previously drowned out any sound coming from Rock, but
now he was getting close and load moans of overwhelming need could
be heard. Upon hearing this Armando started to lose his

He held up the frame with the struggling
cocooned figure between Rock and himself and stuck his rifle around
the right side at shoulder height. At this close range it was
child’s play to put three successive rounds in the approaching
figure’s chest. Each round drove Rock back one step, but the shots
did not stop the approach. The only indication Rock had been shot
was the dark blood pouring from the wounds. Armando concentrated
and put three more carefully aimed rounds directly into the heart.
Again, this only caused a slight pause in the relentless

Rock was just a couple meters away.

In desperation, Armando went for a headshot.
His military training dictated shots should go to the torso unless
there was time to aim. The body was a much larger target, thus
easier to hit.

The first shot hit Rock in the throat,
tearing out a large portion of the right side of his neck and
sending a great explosion of blood and tissue out behind him.
Rock’s head jerked violently to the side with the impact. Armando
let the natural rise of the gun position the second shot. It would
have been perfect a moment before, but the head had now moved and
the shot only managed to graze Rock’s cheek. The third shot
completely missed.

Rock slammed into the frame throwing it back
to the ground with Armando underneath. The large beast flailed
wildly in frustration, reaching with snapping jaws for the living
flesh it could not reach just inches away. The tent covered
creature on top of the frame frustrated Rock’s efforts with its
continuous struggle.

Rock’s arms reached for his prey, but could
not find a sizable gap through the wooden frame dividing them. Only
his fingers were able to reach through. The finger nails of Rock’s
right hand scratched Armando’s cheek in multiple places, leaving
wet red abrasions.

Armando, who had never given in to fear in
his life, lay crying in terror, unable to move. Rock’s dark blood
streamed from the gunshot wound in his neck, seeping down onto
Armando’s face. Dark red blood covered his nose and cheeks. It fell
into his open mouth, and when Armando screamed, Rock’s blood spewed
forth in a fine burgundy mist.

The man who earlier shot Rock in the thigh
was somehow still under control. He took careful aim at the
twisting pile of figures in front of him. His first shot missed
Rock low and tore a chuck of wood from the frame sending splinters
flying. The second shot struck where aimed. Rock’s head
disintegrated in an explosion of skull and brains. The impact threw
the large body off of the struggling pile. The frame, still
clutched tightly in one of Rock’s hands, fell with the body and
ended balanced with one edge on the ground, and the other resting
on Armando’s chest.

Armando’s eyes had rolled back in his head.
Prostrate, he trembled, shaking with a seizure for many seconds
before his body collapsed limply, and lay perfectly still. One arm
lay out fully to one side and at the end of it the fingers twitched

The others looked on cautiously from a
distance, weapons drawn, prepared to shoot Armando if he showed any
signs of changing.

A minute passed.

Then another. The standing men looked around
and at each other. Nobody moved.

Armando’s eyes snapped open. He immediately
threw the frame off of himself and jumped to his feet. Panicked, he
sobbed, and frantically attempted to wipe the blood and gore from
his face, only succeeding in smearing it everywhere.

Manon, realizing Armando was not trying to
attack them, stopped recording and put the camera down on the
ground. He took off his long sleeved shirt and approached the blood
soaked man. Manon poured water from his canteen onto the shirt,
soaking it liberally, and handed it to Armando. The large man took
it gratefully and, after a few minutes of scrubbing, was
recognizable again.

“Thank you, thank you,” he repeated. “Thank


~ Chapter


The four men arrived back in camp carrying
the frame and its struggling occupant with them. Pauley was already
there ahead of them. He had untied the old shaman and was deep in
conversation with the man.

Manon, still visibly shaking, approached and
sat heavily on the ground next to the two talking men. They ignored
him. He brought his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around
them, head hanging forlornly, waiting patiently to talk to

Armando removed his clothing and, using water
from a canteen and a bar of soap, started a thorough cleaning. He
and the other two men talked privately a few meters away. Constant
snarling came from the creature on the frame where it lay on the
ground on the edge of camp.

After a lengthy conversation, Pauley turned
to Manon. “He says there is a cure.”

Manon’s head popped up, and he stared at
Pauley. Lost in thought, terrified they had just killed Rock when
there was a remedy available, Manon said nothing.

“It won’t bring my brother back though.”
Pauley paused. “The shaman, Tanis, says nothing will bring him back
to life. His body does not function any more. The cure will remove
the aggressiveness. In essence, my brother would be a passive body,
unable to think for himself, without the need to experience
happiness, or any ambition to do anything. He would feel no pain.
He would not even make a good laborer or soldier since he would not
take, or understand, commands.”

Pauley hung his head, holding it in both
hands as if it would fall off without support. He lamented. “He
would not require, nor consume food and water… he would waste away
like these poor souls around us. Years from now, when his body was
unable to go on, he would collapse and just continue to exist, like
the people in this camp have done.”

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