Read The Search For A Cure Online
Authors: C. Chase Harwood
Tags: #Amazing and unique zombie series.
Seventeen minutes earlier, when the first Fiend had started to climb the cage, Jon and Nikki hadn’t hesitated. They each climbed one of the two dead transformers and tried to pull themselves up using the cable above while walking on the one below. With the rain, the cables might as well have been sheathed in ice, cold hands offering little grip. Nikki quickly slid off her belt and looped it around the cable above her, then wrapped her fists in the ends and pulled the looped section tight. By doing this she was able to pull herself forward, and with a quick release, slide, grab again, and pull herself up. Her feet slipped, but her grip on the belt didn’t. Jon tried the same trick and had the same success. It was slow going, but they were making progress. The other prisoners piled up against each other to be next.
Acting as the gatekeeper, Will said, “Quick now. Everybody up. No time to lose.”
Miraculously, everyone owned a belt except for Ingrid who had been wearing a dress the day they stuck her in the cage.
Will grabbed a fallen blanket and climbed up to the cables. He twisted the threadbare cloth around the upper one and gave it a tug. He handed the woman his belt. “Use mine, Ingrid. This blanket seems to do the trick.” He spoke with a smile in his voice and for Ingrid, it was both remarkable and unsettling.
Kathy was last. She stood upon her crutches and smiled weakly at Will. “Go,” she said.
“Kathy,” he admonished, panic overtaking his cheerful cadence.
She looked over her shoulder into the gloom. The fencing was alive with grunting humans. “You wouldn’t know anything about breaking necks would you, Will? You could kill me quick.”
He helped her up onto the transformer base and she got her belt around the cable. She pulled herself up a few feet but her legs just didn’t have the strength or balance and she slipped and fell back into his arms.
“Here, climb on my back.”
She did her best, but her hip made it hard to hold on with her legs. Will tried to climb, but her weight was too much. He simply couldn’t pull them both up. She cried out as she loosened her grip. Will begged, "Hold tight!"
“Oh, Will. Oh, God. God, help me.” She let go, dropping back to the ground with a thud, losing her wind.
Will looked down, released his belt, and started to climb down for her. “I’m coming. Hang on!”
She got her breath back. “No, you go!”
He hesitated. The pause allowed the sound of the climbing killers to be firmly drilled into their heads.
“Go for God’s sake!”
He closed his eyes for a second and then without looking back at her, renewed his climb.
Jon took his eyes off Nikki’s back.
They were almost to the top of the first tower, and he looked over his shoulder during a lighting flash. In that blink of a moment he counted only Nancy Green, Loren Haymaker, Doctor Smith, David Miller and just barely, Ingrid the mousy woman. He had to assume that the rest were coming. At this point, everyone was on their own.
Beyond this first tower there was a sudden spread in the distance between the cable above and the one they were walking on. The one above was now out of reach, making it impossible to continue in the fashion that Nikki had worked out. At least this tower was within the compound, the base only thirty or so yards from the power plant. As Jon joined Nikki on the tower railings, she panted, “We’ll have to climb down. Try to steal a boat.” She then began to work her way down the slippery rails. The night was so dark that there was no seeing the ground. They could hear the Fiends though. The chain link fence was singing its own tortured tune.
They were perhaps half way down when there was a slight gentle yelp and tall skinny Loren Haymaker flew past them having slipped on a wet rail. His body hit another rail below them and then spun crazily in the dark until there was a wet thump.
Big Patricia Gould was struggling valiantly to get her heft up the cable while bawling over her plight, her tears quickly swept away in the heavy torrent. Will caught up to her in moments. The angle was simply too much for her, and her feet kept slipping. Will goaded her, “Come on Pat. You’re a strong woman. Keep going. Pull yourself up.”
Patricia stopped instead and simply shook her head while holding on with a death grip. There was no way for Will to pass her. He had to get her to move. He reared one leg back and gave her a hard kick in the ass. It was like kicking sand. She didn’t even flinch. He whispered loudly in her ear, “Patricia Gould, move your ass or you’ll kill us both!”
Then both of them felt more than heard a buzzing sound in their heads – sudden disorientation – the sense that the infected were all around them – mud under their feet – grunting humans – strong smells. Patricia involuntarily let go to put her hands over her ears. She turned as she fell. Lightning struck and she locked eyes with Will before landing in a heaving mound of screaming humans. Just as suddenly, Will’s head cleared. “What the hell?” The roar from below got him moving again.
Nancy Green was acrophobic. She had climbed up the cable without a second thought - fear of getting eaten alive overcoming any fear of heights, but now she was on the tower within the safety of the compound and she watched one by one as Nikki then Jon, Paul, Ingrid and David worked their way down. She heard rather than saw Loren fall; the sudden intake of breath, the sickening sound of flesh and bone careening off steel girders.
Will reached her, his breath coming in great gasps, “Where are the others?”
She pointed down without looking.
“Got it. Patricia and Kathy aren’t coming. I’m last. Go.”
“You go ahead, Will. I’ve got to rest a moment.”
“Come on, Nancy. Get going. We’ve already lost two.”
“I’ll be right behind you. Just please, let me rest a moment.”
“I’ll stay with you.”
“Will! Go!” she whispered loudly.
“Okay. Please don’t wait long. There’s no time.” Without another word, he began to climb down.
Nancy had decided to stay. She really was tired: tired of being afraid, tired of running, tired of being tired. The survivors below waited a full minute for her, but when the guard had stepped out of the bunker and headed for the cage - nearly walking right past them - they didn’t wait another moment. There was no choice but to move on.
When dawn broke over Flagstaff Lake, those Fiends who weren’t feasting on or infecting the castle residents - or blowing themselves up by setting off mines - stared up at Nancy Green like ravenous hyenas. Her muscles were all one great cramp as she clung to the frigid steel, the sense of touch having left her fingers and toes hours before.
The rain had tapered off to a light mist and she could see for at least a mile. The infected were everywhere. It was like watching a great migration as hills and valleys became black with tattered, hungry looking wraiths.
When she finally decided that she couldn’t hold on any longer, she pried her fingers from the steel, forced her fingers to painfully bend, and carefully took off her prized Patagonia Jacket. Her daughter Piper had given it to her the previous Christmas, when the world had mostly been as she’d known it – mundane and safe in easy suburbia.
Piper, her son Taylor and her husband Cal were all gone now. At least that’s how she thought of them. She couldn’t bear the reality that they were just as likely running mad across the countryside killing and eating people.
All three had contracted the infection at the hospital where they’d been sent. Cal had lost control of their mini-van on an icy road just a mile from their Maryland home. Ironically, they were on their way back from a seminar on Cain’s survival. Nancy had chosen not to go, she had been feeling under the weather and didn’t want to get anyone ill.
The previous morning, the hospital had received a group of sickened train passengers who had arrived from down south somewhere. It turned out that they were carrying the disease. The hospital was a massacre. Her attempts to get there and save her family were thwarted by roadblocks in every direction. Within a day the entire county was a contamination zone. She was evacuated to New York and never saw her family again.
Nancy took another quick glance at the ground below, her stomach twisting over the height, dizziness overtaking her. She spotted something curious among the mass of Fiends below her. A female was holding an infant to her breast. There was something odd looking about the child; it was feeding as any other baby might, the female holding it with care, but…. The female looked up and caught Nancy’s eye and then laughed in the horrific way that Fiends do.
The child let go of the teat and looked up as well. Nancy’s blood ran cold. “Oh my God.”
The child’s eyes were just as wicked, but they were also huge with big black irises – twice as big as a normal baby. Its overly large ears tapered slightly at the tips and pointed forward at the sound of her voice. Nancy suddenly experienced a sensation like nothing she’d ever felt before: Her mind’s eye was filled with the presence of another – like a second conscience communicating to her – it was incomprehensible – a series of images – horrible images, blood and guts and screaming and laughing and crying and then that mother’s face down there, close up, looking into her eyes, but not her eyes, and the swell of the mother’s teat, and Nancy could taste – she could taste the unique flavor of mother’s milk in her mouth. Nancy screamed at this invasion of her mind.
Two wretched looking twin females watched the mother and child. A rudimentary element of their original bond had been retained since their infection and they hadn’t separated since. They had been tracking the mother and her newborn for days…
they both thought
. Want the infant Other that finds food better than any of the Others
. They were tired of the hunger and they watched with envy the female Other that held the baby. She always found food first, leaving nothing for them, the little one able to keep them away
– making their heads hurt.
One got a running start, followed quickly by her sister, and snatched the infant off the mother’s teat – then running, running through the mass of infected, and escaping up along the edge of the lake.
Nancy shuddered as her thoughts became clear again and she nearly fell while briefly losing her balance. She looked down and vertigo caused her head to swim. A few of the more adventurous Fiends had started to climb the tower. Many watched, but many others joined. In moments, the tower’s base was covered in howling, screeching, laughing monsters. Then she spotted another child held in its mother’s arms. This one was bigger, long legs for a baby, with long feet. A leg kicked out - long strong muscles. The foot looked jointed like that of a cat’s rear paw. The things were breeding, and something was dreadfully wrong. Then she could see the baby-bulges of many females, many others holding newborns. Almost as one, thousands of Fiends and their bizarre offspring turned and looked at her. Nancy gasped as her head buzzed with a crowd’s worth of human babble, one voice canceling out another so that what remained was a sea of background noise – all of it carrying the weight of profound malevolence.
The Patagonia jacket was a rugged thing meant for all kinds of weather. It would be strong enough. She looped her belt through one of the sleeves and then tied the other to the railing. Next, she looped the belt to itself, then around her neck.
She looked up to the sky and mountaintops for a clean view of the world, scrubbed of the nightmare that writhed below. She took a deep breath and then smiled with the memory of her family on Christmas morning.
As the body quivered and swung, it was too far away for any to reach. The Fiends quickly lost interest and climbed back down.
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Part 3 of Of Sudden Origin is just as intense a ride. An excerpt from the book follows this page.
C. Chase Harwood
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C. Chase Harwood made a career in Hollywood, decorating sets for film and television before turning his passion for story telling into clicks on a keyboard. While scaling the walls of the screenwriting world, he chose to experiment with prose and found a fondness for Scifi-action-adventure. Within that framework he gets to explore the countless ways that humans interact while under duress. "Life is all the more lived when the consequences are high. When told as a tale it can be quite a page turner," says Harwood. He lives in Los Angeles with his costume designer wife and young boy girl twins.
The following are some other storytellers with whom the author finds a kindred spirit: HUGH HOWIE, STEPHEN KING, SCOTT SIGLER, DJ MOLLES, RHIANNON FRATER, SEAN PLATT, JUSTIN CRONIN, JAMES S.A. COREY, PETER CLINES, SUZANNE COLLINS, ERNEST CLINE, MAX BROOKS, VERONICA ROTH, LOIS MCMASTER BUJOLD, ORSON SCOTT CARD