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 (6 page)

Pulling his pocket knife from his belt,
Pauley snapped it open. He was close enough now that his brother,
still lashed to the crude frame, had resumed his frenzied

Careful to avoid any teeth, Pauley moved
behind the frame and reached his arms through two of the larger
holes. With the left hand he pulled back the fabric, and with the
right he sliced through the thin green canvas material covering his
brother. The cloth parted easily to the sharp blade, and the
thrashing helped to quickly expose his brother’s head.

Pauley gaped at the diminished features. The
skin was pulled tight against the skull and was streaked with black
veins. The flesh around the eyes was sunken so completely the
eyeballs appeared to bulge from their sockets, enormous and
gruesome. Somehow in the struggle the previous day, the nose had
started hemorrhaging. The dried black remnants of blood left a dark
trail down over the upper lip, and into the mouth, where it covered
the teeth with brittle crusty scales and flew from the snapping
jaws in small flakes.

Pauley positioned himself facing away from
the camp once again and lifted the jerky up to his brother’s mouth.
As soon as the jaws were within range, they snatched the offering
from Pauley’s grip and the creature gorged on the thin strip of

Almost immediately, the potion from the green
bottle started taking affect. The thrashing quickly subsided.
Pauley swiftly lifted the handgun, pointed it in the general
direction of his brother’s head, and fired a single shot into the
empty jungle behind him.

His brother’s eyes were still eerily open,
but the body was limp. Pauley had decided he could not handle his
brother’s death, and had come up with the only solution he could
think of. He was not sure exactly how much of the potion he had
administered, but he hoped it was enough to allow his brother to
remain here peacefully for any years he had left.

Pauley cut his brother from the rack,
removing the tents and the rope. The unmoving body fell to the
ground and there lay without any movement.

Pauley turned around and went back into the
camp. He avoided talking to anyone, and the others kept their
distance out of respect. Secretly he was pleased with the solution
he had come up with. He walked with his head down, staring at the
ground, not wanting anyone to realize he was not as dejected as he
should have been.

Looking over at his brother on the opposite
side of the large clearing under the deep shadows of the jungle
canopy, all Pauley could see was the desiccated body lying on the
ground. It was not possible to tell from this distance if there was
any life remaining there.

Pauley pulled his pack over his shoulders. He
looked around the area to make sure he was not forgetting anything,
and headed east out of the camp, following the same path they had
arrived from. He knew the others would follow soon.


~ Chapter


Manon watched Pauley walk out of camp alone.
Having never lost anyone close to him, Manon could not imagine the
loss and sadness. Not knowing what to say to comfort Pauley, he
kept a respectful distance.

There was one more thing to do before leaving
camp. They group had multiple empty hard plastic containers which
originally had carried food and coffee. These containers stacked
into each other, so as food was used, the packs became smaller and
lighter. The team always carried anything man-made out of the
jungle with them and Manon counted six empty containers available
to be used.

He washed out three of these containers. He
was not sure if the spiders needed to be able to breath, but using
the K-Bar knife he carried on his belt, he stabbed two narrow holes
into the top of each.

Capturing three spiders was easy. Many stood
out in the open in the large clearing. Whenever anyone approached
they would stand threateningly on their back four legs with the
front legs high in the air, but would never retreat.

With heavy gloves and a couple of long sleeve
shirts on just to be safe, Manon approached. He carried a sturdy
stick about a meter long. He had whittled the end of this stick
into a horizontal wedge, like the end of a flat head screw

After hearing about the spiders surviving the
fire, he was not overly concerned about killing them. He dropped
the horizontal end of the stick onto the spider’s back, flattening
it to the ground. Remarkably, they appeared to struggle very little
other than the fangs which searched relentlessly for something to
latch onto. He would then drop the container in front of the spider
with the open top facing it, and sweep the spider in as if using a
broom. As a continuation of the sweeping motion, he would catch the
lip of the occupied container with the stick and tip it upright. A
moment later he popped the top on, and the spider was trapped

He secured each of the three containers with
multiple pieces of parachute cord to insure the lids would not
dislodge. Lastly, he wrapped each box in shirts pulled from Rock’s
surplus clothing. Much to their mortification, he strapped one
container securely to the top of each of the large backpacks
carried by Armando’s crew.

“I can hear it scratching around in there,”
Armando protested as he looked over his shoulder at the box nearly
touching the back of his head.

“You will get used to it,” Manon replied. He
was exhausted and not really in the mood to deal with the
complaining. “You can move it when we stop if it bothers you.”

Conscious of the need to get away, and the
quickly disappearing hours, Manon still felt the need to record one
last video explaining the crew’s actions and plan. He quickly set
up the camera and hit record.

As he explained their decisions and recorded
their recent observations, Armando yelled over to him. “It is past
time to start moving, Manon.”

Manon could see Armando had finished
dispatching the figures scattered across the clearing. A sharp
thick branch pushed into the temple was all it took to still the
mindless creatures, and Armando had performed the task with
indifferent efficiency.

“You guys go ahead, I will catch up,” was
Manon’s reply.

Armando walked into the picture and spoke
seriously. “There is no time for this. We have to stay

“Okay, okay. I will wrap this up. Seriously,
go on ahead. I am one minute behind you.”

Armando walked out of the picture, and Manon
stared back into the camera.

“We have discovered a terrible secret here
deep in the Brazilian rainforest. If I do not make it back to
civilization or nothing is done to address this dreadful threat to
mankind, and you are seeing this, please find a way to get this
information to the people who can make a difference. Please don’t
let this danger stay hidden until it is too late. The consequences

A scream split the air and Manon’s head
snapped to his right. He bolted to his feet and lunged towards the
camera. He reached for the button to stop the recording, but
missed. A second scream and a gunshot caused him to jump and look
off again into the distance. Manon stumbled, upsetting the tripod.
The camera fell directly into the dirt and leaves, lens first,
before leaning to its left and hitting the ground with a jarring
impact. The video camera briefly flickered out, showing only a
black screen, before it continued recording. The filth covered lens
ended up pointing towards the turmoil, but only a portion of the
scene was visible.

Manon regained his feet and the camera
recorded him sprinting away. In the distant background, a few
meters into the trees and brush, blurred by the dirty lens, vague
shapes could be seen struggling on the ground, while others stood
with weapons pointing towards the commotion.


~ Chapter


As Manon had predicted the night before, the
biggest problem of all were the spiders… just not in the way he had

The howler monkey fought the instinct to flee
as the three large men approached. The guns gave off the
particularly disturbing scent of metal and oil. He grew more
unsettled as they got closer. He moved further behind the trunk of
the tree he was in, and there remained motionless.

Only when the men approached within ten
meters did he begin to sense the spiders secured to the top of
their packs. Gradually, his caution turned to a blinding rage. The
nearest man passed just below him and the second was just behind.
The primate could sense a spider near the man’s head.

The howler monkey dropped down directly on
top of the second man and attacked the back of his head with teeth
and claws. The man, bleeding copiously, screamed and clawed at his
attacker. Panicked, he stuck his rifle over his right shoulder,
next to his ear, and shot at whatever was on his back. Blood flowed
from his ear and a loud buzzing invaded his head. From the
remaining working eardrum, he heard another scream, though he was
unable to tell which direction it came from.

The man threw off his backpack behind him.
The monkey fell to the ground with it. Sensing the spider’s
presence in the box, the primate started ripping at the thin
material covering the plastic with teeth and nails in an
uncontrolled frenzy.

The bitten man turned quickly around, fully
intending to shoot his attacker. At that moment, with his weapon
half raised, he fell to the ground and started convulsing.


~ Chapter


Armando turned around to face the screams and
gunshots behind him. The scene was overwhelming in its

One of the soldiers with him was down on his
back, face bloody, shaking uncontrollably. His weapon still tightly
clutched in one hand clattered against the hard soil. Next to the
man on the ground, a black ball of thick fur was savagely ripping
strips of material from a backpack, tossing them into the air.
Further down the trail, the third soldier in line was kneeling on
the ground, bent halfway over, holding his hands tightly over a
bleeding wound in his chest. Blood poured through his fingers.

Armando took quick aim at the attacker
ripping through the backpack and shot three times. At this short
distance each shot hit and the thing was thrown back down the
trail, rolling, where it collided with the third soldier in the

The ball of fur jumped back to its feet
disoriented, and Armando could see now it was a monkey. He could
not risk another shot since there was no way to avoid hitting the
other man behind it.

The third soldier punched feebly at the
bleeding hairy beast which had appeared in front of him. The monkey
attacked the threat in return, and soon the two were rolling on the
ground. The quickly weakening man with the chest wound was reduced
to fending off the bites and scratches of his incredibly powerful
attacker when Armando arrived.

Armando grabbed the monkey and threw him from
the man. The furry creature flew through the air and landed hard up
against a tree trunk. It was quickly back on its feet and striding
towards Armando with incredible dexterity.

Armando just had time to pull his pistol up
and take a snap shot at the creature before it leapt up and locked
its jaws onto his forearm.

Time seemed to slow. Events moved frame by
frame. Armando noticed Manon running their direction. He noticed
the third soldier at his feet convulsing uncontrollably with his
backpack still secured tightly around his torso. The assailant
latched to him had blood filled eyes like a madman, nostrils
flaring, as it worried his arm.

Armando was surprised there was no pain. In a
motion that seemed to take minutes he brought the pistol up, placed
the end of the barrel at the side of the monkey’s head, and
squeezed off a shot. The top of the head disappeared in slow
motion. The body fell lifeless to the ground in front of him,
taking a portion of his arm in jaws which had locked up tight in

As time returned to its normal speed, Manon
arrived. He was digging around through the destroyed pack and
finally located a first aid kit. Manon pulled out a spray bottle
containing disinfectant and large gauze pad before approaching

“Let me see your arm,” Manon demanded.
Logically, he knew there was no hope of stopping what was going to
happen next, but years of experience in dangerous situations had
taught him to instinctively care for his team.

Armando held out the arm. Shock still
counteracted his pain. Manon liberally applied the disinfectant
spray to the gaping wound.

“Hold this,” he instructed Armando, and
pushed the large square of gauze into the wound in an attempt to
stop the bleeding. Armando put his hand on the white fabric and
held it there while Manon started wrapping it tightly with more
gauze from a roll he had found.

Armando asked “Why am I not changed? The
others all fell quickly when they were bitten.”

“I think you are immune,” Manon suggested. “I
believe you would have turned into a Jombi when Rock attacked you
if you were susceptible to the infection.”

Armando stared into the distance. He was
getting weak from blood loss. The adrenalin had quickly worn off
and left him tired. “Immune?”

A shot caused him to come back to the
present. Peering around Manon, Armando saw Pauley holding a pistol.
He had taken a shot from behind the soldier without the backpack
who had regained his feet and was lumbering, with arms extended,
towards Manon. Pauley took a second shot which hit between the
shoulder blades, causing a gout of blood and tissue to explode from
a hole in its chest, but the creature continued approaching.

Manon watched as Pauley moved the gun towards
him. At first, Manon was sure Pauley was aiming directly at him,
but then he noticed the gun was pointing directly over his
shoulder. It was then Manon realized he had forgotten about the
threat behind him; the soldier still wearing the backpack

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