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Authors: Brian Parker

Origins of the Outbreak

 

 

 

 

Origins

Of the

Outbreak

 

a
novel by

Brian Parker

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

Notice: The views expressed herein are NOT endorsed by the United States Government, Department of Defense or Department of the Army; they are the views of the author.

 

Origins of the Outbreak

 

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 by Brian Parker

Edited by Aurora Dewater

Cover Art by Andre Vazquez Jr

 

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America.  Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

 

 

Works Available by Brian Parker

 

Published by Brian Parker

The Collective Protocol

Origins of the Outbreak

Zombie in the Basement

Zombie in the Basement: The Coloring Book!

Self-Publishing the Hard Way

 

Coming Soon from Permuted Press

Enduring Armageddon (May 2015)

 

Washington, Dead City

GNASH (February 2016)

REND (March 2016)

SEVER (April 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along this amazing journey to make my dreams of being an author come to fruition.  First, my family has been there for me and I’m so thankful for their love and support for every book that I’ve written.  I’d like to thank my go-to beta reader, Andrea Goergen; she always does such a great job finding the holes in the story and bringing my rough draft into a workable product that I can pass off to my editor, Aurora Dewater.  Aurora has done an outstanding job, once again, of taking my first draft and polishing it into a finished book for you to enjoy.

The feeling that
some type of global disaster is going to happen soon pervades our society.  We see it everywhere in literature, television, movies, religious programs, and ten-thousand year old calendars; hell, even our scientists talk of mega-disasters, asteroids and plagues.  It’s all about entertainment in popular culture, but how quickly could a doomsday event spread from the proverbial patient zero to a full-fledged global disaster?  Read on and remember, if something seems out of place, it probably is…

 

 

DAY ONE

 

The Biology Assistant, 4:50 p.m.

 

Thank God, it was almost time to go home.  It had been such a long week and the graduate assistant felt like shit.  Steven was sick and tired of all the damned little rich kids who didn’t take his biology class seriously.  Doctor Harrison took it out o
n
hi
m
when the students got bad grades, not
those
social degenerates.  The old man said that the bi-weekly biology lab that Steven oversaw was where the students actually learned the lessons – not in the lecture hall – so it was Steven's responsibility.

After almost an entire semester as a GA at the private Christian school in Belton, Texas he was emotionally drained.  To top it all off, he’d had some strange mixture of allergies and the flu for almost a week.  He would have just stayed in bed, but he needed the money and being a graduate assistant helped to offset the cos
t
of tuitio
n
for his Masters of Science in the ridiculously overpriced school.

I bet that little slut
, Karen, gave me mono
, he thought to himself as he wiped the thin layer of sweat from his forehead.  He’d hooked up with her a few weeks ago in exchange for passing her on the mid-term exam.  At the time he thought that he’d gotten the better end of the deal, but apparently that was coming back to bite him in the ass.

On top o
f
being sick, he was nearing the end of this semester’s research period for his own thesis.  His thesis was on the possibility of developing an anti-tumor vaccine by harvesting the spores fro
m
Ophiocordycep
s
unilaterali
s
– the so-called “zombie fungus” – and breeding them in a lab.  It was really ground-breaking stuff and if he could make it work, then he’d be both a medical hero and one rich son-of-a-bitch.

As he wiped all the sticky undergrad shit off of the lab table, he thought about his thesis. 
O
.
unilaterali
s
was a fungus that infected carpenter ants in South America.  Once the ant was infected with the fungus spore, it would go into convulsions and fall out of the nest to the ground.  Then, the infected ant would climb up the stem of a plant and out to the underside of a leaf.  When it got there, the ant would clamp its jaws down onto the main vein of the leaf and die.  The fungus would then spread throughout the ant’s body and in the shade of the leaf it would eventually reproduce enough to cover the ant’s entire body with spores.

What made the fungus so freaky was that every ant that got infected would climb to about the same height on the plants.  He’d experimented with hundreds of ants
and the overwhelming majority of them, 93.2% to be exact, would all perform in exactly the same manner.  The temperature had to be between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius – about 68 to 86 Fahrenheit – and the humidity had to be just right, but once the conditions that had been observed in the wild were replicated in the lab, the damned ants did almost the exact same thing every time.  The fungus really did create “zombies” that helped it reproduce.

That was where his theory came in.  He believed that harnessing the consistency o
f
O. unilateralis

performance was where there could be all sorts of medical breakthroughs.  He’d chosen an anti-tumor vaccine because that’s where the money was.  Where there was money, there were girls.

He scrubbed
the table harder as he thought about all the women that would flock to him when he was rich and famous.  He’d always had a hard time finding girls that wanted to date him, so of course he wanted to find a way into their pants.  Even as a young child, his superior intellect had made him an outcast, add to that a severe under bite and an overabundance of body hair that began to sprout once he hit puberty and he wasn’t exactly Prince Charming. 
But once I’m rich, all that will change
, he told himself. 
Bitches love the money
.

His furious scrubbing was interrupted by a fit of coughing that left his joints aching while a chill settled into his bones. 
Shit, maybe I picked up meningitis
, he thought.  That was the problem with self-diagnosing symptoms on the internet.  Now every little thing that developed could be tied to something else.  He had a touch of the flu, nothing to worry about.

Steven interlaced his fingers and stretched his arms out in front of him in an effort to relieve the pain in his shoulder blades.  It was such a strange feeling, like someone had removed the bursa sac from between his bones and was grating them together.  Even now, a full minute after the coughing fit had caused the pain, his joints still ached and a new pulse of pain seemed to emanate from them every few seconds.

He hated that bitch; she must have given him mono.  With her stupid blonde hair, her tiny little waist, those perky little tits and that dumb fake valley girl accent that she tried to superimpose over her central Texas drawl.  He’d show her.  There wasn’t a chance in hell that he was going to pass her on the final.  He’d teach her to go around spreading diseases.  Fuck!  Even when he had a good thing going, it turned to shit.

He released his fingers and slowly relaxed his shoulders.  The pain was still there.  His father always used to tell him that the quickest way out was through, so he picked up the rag and started
to wash down the lab table again.  Maybe once he got back to his little apartment, he’d be able to take a nice warm bath and soak the pain away.

The work went quickly as he thought about the bath and a warm cup of herbal tea.  He also thought about his thesis and Karen’s tits.  Geez, the more he thought about all the girls that he’d have after he became rich, the more he kept remembering how firm her breasts had been in his hands.  It was the first pair that he’d seen in real life
, since freshman year, when he became known as one of the campus nerds.  He had to adjust himself inside his jeans several times to avoid some serious pain.  Maybe she’d want to get a passing grade for the semester and would offer to go farther with him….

The graduate assistant had one more table to go when another coughing fit struck him.  He coughed so violently that he nearly doubled over in pain.  The dull ache in his joints exploded into new-found levels of misery and a gigantic headache mushroomed inside his head. 
Oh geez, I am never going near that girl again
, he moaned to himself as he tried to force his body upright.

Something wasn’t right.  The muscles in his back were beginning to spasm as well.  He collapsed in pain as his body was wracked with full-body contractions.  The floor was dirtier than he’d expected it to be
.
The thought hammered its way to the forefront of his migraine headache. 
Wait
.
I’m dying and I notice the fucking floor?

As he contemplated the filthy floor he noticed a crimson smear spreading across his line of sight
.
That’s strange
.  Steven’s abused body tried to resist his effort to move his arm so he could figure out what the red stuff on the floor was.  Sheer willpower finally forced his arm to move and he was rewarded with a wet splash across his face as his hand landed in the puddle.  That’s where his body quit on him and it refused to allow him to move his arm any more.  The only thing that he was able to do was to pull his head back in order to see what his hand was in.  It was blood.

Of fuck!  I must have hit my head when I fell.  No wonder my head feels so horrible
.
What the hell could he do?  His hand seemed to stretch out away from him and his vision began to go dark around the edges.  Slowly the darkness worked its way towards the center. 
That fucking whore,Karen
!
h
e
screamed silently to himself.  Shit.  He was dying with a fucking hard on.  His mind wandered away into the comfort of oblivion.

His last coherent thought was whether his erection would go away when he died or if it would stay hard and his eulogy would include something about his closet perversions.

Twenty-five minutes later, Steven’s body jerked upright.  The mutated fungus’ host had to spread the spores in order for it to survive.

 

The Sorority Girl, 6:20 p.m.

 

The sisters of Sigma Kappa Tau sat at their usual table in th
e
Cambo
w
Student Union.  The table was the sorority’s territory and no one dared to violate their sacred space.  Like most days, the area immediately surrounding the SigKaps was full of young men trying to catch the eye one of the socialites or with girls who were either trying to pledge the sorority next semester or just have their popularity increase by being in close proximity to the premier sorority on campus.

The University of Mary Magdalene prided itself on being a small, private Christian university.  As such, the school tended to attract some of the more wealthy kids in the state of Texas whose parents wanted their children to get a Christian education.  Sigma Kappa Tau was the most elite of the sororities at the school and the sisters knew it.  By earning the covete
d
SigKa
p
paddle they were almost guaranteed to achieve their personal goals.

Some of the girls had aspirations of state and even national politics.  Others planned to go to law or medical school after these first four years were done.  Some of the sisters simply wanted to find an amazing guy and graduate with thei
r
MR
S
degree.  While their goals and intelligence level varied greatly, they all had one characteristic in common: they were devastatingly beautiful.

Karen Hartley was new to the sorority and had pledged during the freshman Rush period earlier in the semester.  She didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life yet, but she knew that the mandatory freshman classes were kicking her firm tanned behind.  She’d had to make out with two graduate assistants just to pass mid-terms and would probably have to do so again during finals
so she could pass this first semester and begin taking the electives that she actually came to college to take.

Her sorority sisters had publicly acted mortified that she admitted to kissing the biology nerd and allowing him to fondle her breasts, but in private several of them had told her that they’d done the same thing with other professors; it wasn’t that uncommon of an occurrence at the small university.  In fact, several of the girls had even told her that they’d
gone farther than she had just for a passing grade on a regular test, so she didn’t feel like such a skank anymore.

The crowd of coeds around th
e
SigKa
p
table began to thin out as the girls conversation turned away from the scandalous to the more mundane topics of campus life.  Both of the sorority house’s washing machines were on the fritz and Nina Simmons was telling the girls about her horrid trip to the publi
c
laundroma
t
earlier in the day.  Karen half-listened to the story while she texted her best friend Cara, who was sitting across the table from her.

Karen typed,

Can u believe this dumb bitch
?


Ya, I know!  She’s acting like she had to go to Iraq to do her laundry
!


LOL
!
I can’t stand her.  She’s so fake and dum
b
.”


What u doing later
?
” Cara replied back.


Reading.  Psycholog
y
.”


Huh?  Just have sex with teacher tomorrow and come out tonit
e
.”


Eww, my teacher is a girl!!
!

Cara gave her a wicked, lopsided grin and then replied back,

So
?

Karen looked across
the table at her friend who raised one eyebrow and gave her a little air kiss.  Her hands flew up in front of her face to hide the huge grin.  She and Cara had been messing around when they got drunk together since two or three weeks into the semester.  This was the first time that either of them had mentioned it when they hadn’t been drinking though.


You want me to come to your room when I’m done studying
?
” Karen typed with trepidation.


Yes, cum :
)

Karen’s eyes went wide and she almost dropped her phone.  Her friend’s room was on the third floor of the Sigma Kappa house.  It wasn’t strange to see girls up at all hours of the night in the house, so she didn’t have to worry about others guessing about her intentions.  She nodded her head and gave Cara a smile that would have melted any boy’s heart.

She glanced over to the louder end of the table where Nina was still babbling about the potential drug dealer who was doing his laundry there as well. 
Oh please, it’s th
e
laundromatright next to the polic
e
station
!
Karen thought and rolled her eyes.  She actually liked most of her sorority sisters, but they were so out of touch with reality.  Several of them had grown up with real, honest-to-goodness butlers and maids, not just the housekeeper that her parents had come clean the house once a week.

Karen let out a slight yelp of shock as Cara ran her foot up the inside of her leg, following the curve of her calf muscle.  Nina stopped her story and everyone looked over at her.  “Well, what is it Karen?” Nina asked in her fake valley girl accent that she tried hard to superimpose over her Texas drawl.

“I’m sorry, Nina.  I just accidently bit my tongue and it really hurt,” she lied.

“Oh, are you okay, honey?” the girl next to her asked.  “I just hate it when that happens.  It hurts so much.  I bet if you go over
to the soda machine and get some ice it’ll make it better.  You want me to go get some?  I can, you know.”

“No.  No, I’m fine McKenzie.  Promise,” Karen said to her over-talkative friend.

“Well, if the freshman is done making a scene, I'd like to finish my story,” Nina hissed.

“Sorry, Nina
.
Go ahead.”

“Yeah, sure
.
Thanks for your permission!”

Her phone vibrated slightly in her hand. 

What crawled up her ass
?


Hasn’t liked me all year
.
Don’t know why
,
” she replied.

After that, the girls spent the remainder of the dinner hour listening to a few of the sisters’ tales and exploits of the day.  Karen’s mind constantly strayed to the homework that she needed to do, but the sorority had a strict hour-long group dinner policy.  If she left before the allotted time was up, she’d be hit with a hefty fine that she really couldn’t afford right now.

“Hey, isn’t that your biology teacher?” Cara asked while she pointed to the far end of the Student Union cafeteria.

“Huh?” Karen grunted.  “Uh, yeah I think so.  I don’t have my contacts in right now. Why is he walking like that?”

“He’s probably drunk.  Or, maybe he’s coming over to claim a piece of that sweet ass of yours!” Cara whispered.

“I can’t fail his class, I’ll do whatever it takes,” she sighed.

“Gonn
a
have to fuck him then.”


Eww, gross!” she blurted out.  After a moment of watching the hapless grad student stumble around the cafeteria she said, “Okay.  Maybe I’ll go a little further for a passing grade, but I’m not having sex with him.”

“What’s the big deal Karen?  It’s just sex.”

“It is a big deal.  I’m saving myself for my wedding night,” she retorted.

“You’re the most experienced virgin I know,” Cara whispered as she playfully slapped her friend’s hand.

Karen reached across the table and rested her hand on Cara’s forearm.  “You know what I mean,” she said.

“Hey, seriously, what is wrong with your teacher?” Cara asked.

“Huh, what?”

“Look at him.  He’
s
gott
a
be one of the worst drunks ever.” 

Steven Prescott stumbled and fell forward into a table.  Several college kids jumped out of the way and hurried towards the exit.  He watched them go, but turned back to where Karen sat.  She swore that his eyes locked onto hers and he increased his drunken pace to reach her.

“Uh oh
.
Looks like lover boy’s seen you,” Cara teased.

“What the hell is wrong with him?  He’s falling over and moving all strange.”  Her hand flew to her mouth and she gasped.  “You don’t think he’s been huffing do you?”

“Well, if he has been, they’ll kick him out for sure.  You’ll have to hope for a replacement that is just as willing as him to make a deal.”

“What the hell are you two prattling on about?” Nina asked.

Karen pointed towards the strange shuffling graduate assistant.  “That’s my biology lab teacher.  It looks like he’s really drunk.”

“What a loser,” Nina said while the rest of the girls giggled.  “Why the hell would he come to the Student Union if he was that drunk?  He’
s
gonn
a
get fired.”

“Maybe he’s hungry,” McKenzie offered.

“Hungry for more of Karen’s pussy!” someone mumbled.

“I didn’t sleep with him!” Karen shouted.

A loud crash drew her attention back towards Steven.  He was only one table away now and he’d fallen again.  This time he tipped over the table and landed hard on his knees.  His feet scrabbled to gain traction on the cement floor.

“Go home Steven, you’re drunk,” Karen called out to him.  “You’ve made such a mess of things already that the campus police are probably on their way here right now.”

He muttered something unintelligible and Karen thought that maybe he needed to get his stomach pumped.  That had happened to her during Rush Week.  She got so wasted o
n
SoC
o
and lime that they actually had to take her to the hospital and force that nasty charcoal shit down her throat and then pump it out.  She almost didn’t finish Rush because of it and hadn’t been able to touc
h
SoC
o
ever since.

“Hey man.  Can you hear me?  You’r
e
gonn
a
get fired if you don’t get out of here!” she yelled.

Steven finally pulled himself up from the floor and she was shocked at his appearance.  She’d seen him a few hours before, but there must have been some kind of accident in the lab or something.  His skin hung from his face like it had been melted in a fire and he had cuts and scrapes all over his face that bled some kind of dark, almost
black liquid.  She’d noticed that he had bad skin when they were hooking up, but it was nothing like the pale, waxy complexion that he had now.

“Are you okay?” Cara asked.

He glanced at her and grinned.  “What the fu—

sh
e
didn’t get a chance to finish her statement before he’d closed the distance between them and buried his face in her neck.  Cara flopped uselessly against him and tried to push him away.

“Hey pervert, leave her alone!” Karen yelled and threw her phone at the weirdo.  He pulled away from Cara with a sound like a shoe coming out of the mud.  He held a large portion of the coed’s larynx in his mouth and blood exploded in a fountain from her throat.

That was the catalyst that finally got everyone to move.  Men and women screamed in sheer terror as the madman lunged at anyone who came within reach.  He was able to inflict a few minor wounds to people who came too close in an effort to get past him and to the safety of the glass doors that led outside.

Karen stood rooted in shock at the sight before her.  Her best friend, her lover – when they were drunk

la
y
bleeding and dying on the ground, clutching uselessly at her ruined neck.  The man that she’d been discussing having relations with in exchange for a passing grade stared back at her vacantly.  The blue of his eyes had dulled and they seemed almost milky, like a blind person’s eyes or one of those bug-eyed dogs that always got cataracts.  He stared right at her, but it was almost like he couldn’t quite see her.

“What the fuck is wrong with you Steven?” she wailed suddenly.  He launched himself across the table towards the sound of her voice and his outstretched hands gripped the lapel of her jacket.  She screamed and tried to pull away, but he was just too strong for her and he tried to bite her, just like he’d bitten Cara. She held his disgusting, ugly face away from hers with both hands.  He put all of his effort into pushing forward
and she was completely caught off guard when he twisted his head to the left, sinking his teeth into the meaty part of her palm.

She screamed again and released her hold on his head.  His momentum carried him into her and pain rippled across her face as his teeth scraped downward across her cheek before he gripped the skin on her jawline and tore a huge chunk of it away.  She sank to her knees and sobbed in pain.  She was going to be horribly disfigured for the rest of her life and no boy would ever want anything to do with her now.

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