Read Outbreak: A Survival Thriller Online

Authors: Richard Denoncourt

Outbreak: A Survival Thriller











© 2014 Richard Denoncourt

Land Publishing


rights reserved.


Edit: Shelley Holloway,


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


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Peltham Patch
Excerpt (Prologue)

Clean World Gazette
Excerpt (Epilogue)

About the Author


Excerpt from
The Peltham Patch
, Peltham Park, New Hampshire

March 27, 2016




An article published in our
February edition, inaccurately titled, “The Virus is Just Another Bogeyman
Meant to Keep Us Spending,” turned out to be a grievous mistake. Our humble
editorial team failed to fully research the incident now known as the “Outbreak.”
We can only hope our words did not result in the loss of life.

We had planned a public apology,
but in the face of what appears to be an unstoppable global threat—and
because this will be our last edition of the
—we feel that a more fitting message to share with our
readers is a warning:

Hide, protect your loved ones, and pray for mankind.


After the world fell apart, my
father’s house became our prison.

He and I were all that was left
of my family—maybe all that was left of our town, Peltham Park. And who
knew about the world at large? The radio had been dead for years. All we had
were our walls, our guns, and each other.

Which was why, when I found him
in bed around lunchtime—T-shirt soaked through with sweat, his face the
color of ash—I gave in to a crippling panic that froze me in the doorway.
That awful word hissed through my mind.


It’s the virus.


When he opened his eyes, he flinched
at the slats of light seeping through the boarded windows. The blankets were in
a twisted pile on the floor, and I forced myself to walk over, pick them up,
and drape them over his body. If he had tried to lash out at me, the blankets
would have slowed him down while I went for my pistol. I was glad he didn’t try

Instead, he spoke in a voice so
thin it chilled me.

“It’s not what you think, Kip.
It’s sepsis. You remember how that works?”

“I’m pretty sure,” I said,
feeling his pulse. “Where’s the wound?”

He lifted the blanket, uncovering
his right leg, and I saw the dark stain on the lower part of his pant leg.

“I was stupid. I’m sorry, son.”

I gently lifted his pant leg as
he explained what happened. He had fallen three days earlier while fixing a
hole in the ceiling and had cut his calf on the stone hearth. Lucky it wasn’t a
broken bone. He had kept his mouth shut because that’s what old, stubborn war veterans
like him do. Plus, we had run out of antibiotics the year before, and he didn’t
see the point in worrying me.

The wound wasn’t deep, just a
gash he had tried to stitch up on his own. He had done a good job of it, too,
but curse bacteria for being so small. I found myself seething. Three days
earlier, we could have made the trek to the pharmacy together, two guns instead
of one.

Now I would have to go alone.

“Not happening,” he told me.
“Don’t you dare put a foot outside this house. I mean it.”

He was breathing fast, over
twenty-five breaths per minute. I counted.

“There’s no other choice.”

“There’s always a choice,” he
said. “And I’m not going to let you go.”

“You can’t stop me.”

“God damn it, Kip.” He closed his
eyes, took a halting breath, and opened them again. “Let’s think this through
rationally. Going out there is a death sentence. You and I both know that. If
you die, I’ll die. Let me take my chances. At least you’ll live.”

I shook my head. “No way.
Besides, if you die, I’ll have to go out there alone when the supplies run out.
Or, I could save your life. Then we could go together.”

“But the infected…”

“No point in arguing, Dad. I’m

?” His voice thickened with anger. “You really think the
pharmacy is going to have medicine? After all these years, you think the
raiders left it alone because, what, they’re doing us a favor? What’s the
with you?”

I looked away as he scolded me. I
could never look him in the eyes when he got like this, not since I was a kid.

“I’m going,” I said in a meek

“Speak up, Kip.”

“I said I’m going.”

“You understand what could happen
to you out there? That those
you’ve only seen from the safety of our roof are the most dangerous predators
has ever known? That if you fire a single shot,
they’ll surround whatever part of town you’re in so no matter what direction
you run, you can’t get through?”

I nodded and looked away again, reconsidering.

“Then why would you go out
there?” he asked.

I fought back tears.

“Because I can’t let you die,

Seeing that he was on the verge
of protesting again, I got up and turned my back on him. But I couldn’t move. I
was waiting for him to say the magic words that would keep me from going
through with it. What those words might have been, I still don’t know.

“You want this,” my father said,
“don’t you.

It didn’t sound like a question,
so I didn’t answer it.

“How long do you have left?” I
asked instead.

“Sleep here tonight,” he said.
“You have to. The dark—”

“How long before it’s too late?”

A smacking sound as he tried to
swallow with a dry mouth.

“Forty-eight hours,” he said. “

The pharmacy was ten miles away.
At a constant walking pace, I could make it there and back in
seven hours. And if I didn’t find antibiotics there, I
could check houses on the way back.

Plenty of time.


I knelt in front of the open
closet where we kept the outdoor survival gear and packed my bug-out bag with
machine-like intensity. My father had taught me how to do it in the quickest,
most efficient way possible. There was an art to it. A perfectly packed B.O.B.
was a thing of beauty, except that, unlike a work of art, it could save your

He was full of that kind of
wisdom, my father—and stories like you wouldn’t believe. In the army, he
had been a Ranger, and then a Green Beret, and eventually he became a decorated
war hero, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after a mission in
Afghanistan in which he took a bullet saving a fellow soldier’s life. He had
just carried the man out of a burning building when an enemy combatant shot him
in the thigh. They both would have died had my father not kept running.

When I trained, I always
fantasized about a life in which the Outbreak had never happened, and I was a
Green Beret like him.

But on this day, all I could
think about was my gear.

Food and water came first. For
hydration, I filled a
with water from our
tanks, which were connected by plastic tubes to a discreet collection and
filtration system we had built on the roof. Then I dropped a purification
tablet into the water and strapped it to my back.

For food, I packed five cans of
diced peaches in syrup—sugary enough for a quick energy boost, tinned
beans and tomatoes, four of each, and six PowerBars for protein.

“Take three MREs,” my father
shouted at me from the living room. Earlier, I had helped him move to the couch
in front of the hearth.

“MREs”–for the
uninitiated—are “Meals-Ready-to-Eat,” also known as military rations.
They’re what soldiers eat during missions, and what lucky survivors get to eat
when restaurants and grocery stores have become extinct.

“Not necessary,” I shouted back
at him. “I’ve already packed enough calories.”

We both knew the truth. Our
supply was dwindling. Plus, it was the only food we had left that tasted
halfway decent. I would enjoy a few with my father when I got back.

If I got back.

“Kip, God
it, will you listen to me for once? Take three and don’t

I let out a quiet sigh before
raising my voice again.


I made a rustling sound in the
boxes where we kept them, but didn’t actually take any. The extra weight would
only slow me down, anyway.

Warmth and protection came next.
I donned a fire-resistant
FR Coverall that
gloved my entire body, with a zipper in front and buttoned flaps for when
nature called. I stuffed a poncho into the extra front pocket of my pack and
set aside a rolled sleeping mat to secure to the top when I was done.

I pulled out a pair of never-worn
tactical boots—their fresh, leathery scent deliciously thick—and
put them on over three pairs of socks. There would be a lot of walking
involved. I’d have to avoid the roads entirely in case of raiders, which meant
trudging through thick underbrush in wild, overgrown forests.

The inner layer of my pant legs
could be tucked into the boots, while the outer layer could slide over the tops
to create a protective pocket. Even if I got caught in a heavy rainstorm, my
socks wouldn’t get wet.

Then came the weapons, my
favorite part. I opened one of the shoeboxes containing our limited stock of
grenades. There were multiple varieties, all with nicknames my father had
picked up in the army: stingers, stunners,
smokers, flamers, and
course, your standard-issue,
anti-personnel fragmentation grenades. We called them “

They had been incredibly
difficult to come by. Three and a half years ago, before this part of the
country was mobbed with infected, my father and I used to go out in search of
“foot markets,” which were sort of like black markets but not illegal. These
were mobile groups of survivalists like us who used radio communication, Morse
code, and other means to gather in secret locations away from raiders and
muggers. Most of these people had been in the army, which was how my father
gained access to the network. In exchange for things like grenades and
automatic weapons, we traded gasoline. It was useless to us since we didn’t
rely on a generator and had traded our car for MREs.

The grenades were for
intimidation in the event someone broke in and posed a threat our guns couldn’t
handle. My parents and I had decided we would rather blow the place up than let
anyone else
it. Otherwise, they were pretty
useless—unless you
attract every enemy within a five-mile radius.

I left the grenades where they
were and moved on.

My father was correct when he
said leaving the house was a death sentence, though a more accurate term might
have been “suicide.” But that only applied to those who went outside unarmed.
The rest of us—armed with the proper skills, appropriate gear, and
deadliest weapons—still had a fighting chance.

That’s what I told myself as I
strapped on my holsters and ammo belt.

My father’s Glock 17 slid
naturally into the holster on my chest, while his black-bladed combat knife
went against my right thigh. The knife was for stealth attacks against raiders.
Against infected it was useful for everything
combat. Getting their blood on your skin was a sure way to
catch the virus yourself, so for that reason, I wore a pair of Blackhawk
Assault Force gloves made of Kevlar. They were
waterproof, couldn’t be sliced open, and made gripping and firing a gun seem
like the moral thing to do.

Sweating now from the coverall,
heart pumping like a piston, I packed two boxes of 9mm ammunition, mostly into
the pouches on my belt.

Just two,
I could have grabbed more, but I didn’t. Believe it or not, ammo
was near the bottom of useful things to pack. It was heavy, and a gunshot would
only attract unwanted attention. Plus, having an abundance of ammo made you
feel invincible and less likely to be effective at stealth. To get through
this, I would have to be as quick and quiet as possible—a “mouse instead
of a lion,” my father liked to say (though I preferred a wolf).

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