Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wake The Dead -- Primer

Hello everyone! I apologize for my extended absence, but am excited to tell you more about my new project, WAKE THE DEAD, as well as to give you a taste, with the entire Prologue/Primer.

I is also released on WattPad , too, and I implore you to join the site and follow me (and any of the other thousands of talented authors there) if you would be so kind!

Wake The Dead is the tale of one man's trials and tribulations of what has become his 'normal' world—a world in which humans have come back from the dead as flesh-eating, crazed zombies, driven only by an insatiable hunger for flesh and blood.

The Prologue, or Primer here, sets the background and gives the brief accounts of one of the scientists responsible for inadvertently exposing what would become known as the ‘zombie plague’ upon mankind.

I am still in the middle of edits, do not have a cover yet,--a design concept or two, though!--but am hoping for a March release.

Zombie by William Kenney
I also need to warn people who are used to my Realm of Ashenclaw works: This is much different, in that I took a no-holds-barred approach and wrote with no limitation on things such as language and the 's' word. The word ends with: 'ex.'

Once again, I need to thank Nicholas Titano and Michael Cowan, two amazing friends that do my beta-reading, for all of the incredible and insightful input they offered, along with a few others, whose names will appear in the dedication section.

Warning: The following contains adult language.

Doctor Charles O’ Shea was the sole survivor.
He was hungry, tired, desperate, and managed to survive for the last few days on what food remained in the vending machines. However, that too was dwindling. His stomach was churning with hunger pangs, as all he had eaten these last few weeks was sugar, processed foods, and candy.
He wanted desperately to get home, to see if his wife and daughters were alive. That, above all else was the driving force that kept him going. 
How long has it been now? he wondered, trying to recall the time. He lost the exact count after the first eleven days when his pen lost the last of its ink, after which he began carving marks in the wooden table. He etched out single strokes into the face of the table with a knife he found in one of the offices during one of their early exploration missions. It had been thirty-seven days or so now, give or take a day, as he supposed he may have missed recording one along the way. 
There were a dozen survivors in the lab that first week. 
That was before the shit hit the fan inside the lab—before the changes occurred. And before the fevers decimated them. He was the sole survivor now after everyone else had either transformed into one of them, or was killed by one. They were something else entirely…something not yet alive, but not dead, either…an animated corpse: a zombie, in its basest terminology.
He realized after a few weeks that the zombies were drawn to sound and that, for some unknown reason which they hadn't really theorized, they had slowed their pace, becoming less hasty in their pursuit. However, they were still a major threat, even in this less-savage state.
They were immediately incentivized upon smelling human flesh, hearing loud sounds or movements other than their own, or upon seeing one of us running. Those things seemed to rile them up. Charles realized this firsthand running for his life back to the lab only yesterday, Strain slamming the door shut behind him as he entered. One of the ‘slower’ zombies was chasing him, and Charles was no couch potato. He was in good shape from a cardiovascular standpoint.His last investigation during the zombie’s ‘dormant’ cycles—which was what they called the time frame after being stimulated by movement or otherwise— netted him a notebook and a desk full of pens. It wasn't much, and after that close call, he would not be doing so again for a while. 
And so, he began to write his memories and recollections so that: a) he would not forget, and: b) so that someone might find it and learn something by it. It had to be recorded. 
It was then that Charles opened his journal and began to read and recollect.
Begin journal.


It wasn’t long after the incident that people began to get sick. They presented with fevers, that seemed to last for anywhere from hours to days. But it ultimately ended in the same thing, They changed. They weren't human anymore. After they died, that is. They were…things; zombies; cannibals; anthropophagi, i.e. man-eaters, as a more technical term. Whatever it is that we were calling them—each of us seemed to have something different.
We were a group of top-notch scientists and bio-physicists working on state of the art biochemical mixtures for a private, undisclosed entity, with a ton of financial backing, and with intentions of selling what we perfected to the good ol’ U.S. of A. military. Once it had been perfected, that is. 
And we were close. Or so we believed. It is funny, in retrospect, how delusional even the most intelligent, analytical minds can become when seduced by ego.We had developed an aeriform version of the drug, the subject able to absorb it into their skin, to breathe it in, which was the quickest and most effective way in which to introduce the drug into their systems. 
Of course, that’s when we discovered the side effects, during the first round of testing on a human male. We saw things in the human subject that we had not seen in the slightest on any of the animals we tested. The animals presented with amazing vitality, vigor, strength, and all signs pointed to success. The human testing…that was something entirely different. 
Subject One died after the resulting contact caused incredible signs of aggression from the first exposure. Odd thing was, the drug affected none of the animals negatively, not even the primate. Who knew? All that testing on apes and mice was all for nothing; they weren’t affected in any adverse way.
The subject died shortly after the exposure. 
We should have immediately gone to a ‘cease and desist’ protocol and warned the investors of the possible side effects. But Cowan and Schiariti wanted to play God. They insisted that we could make adjustments and fix it. They convinced us that we had spent too much time and invested too much of ourselves in the project. It made sense at the time and we collectively believed that the side effects on the human were worth studying from a scientific standpoint. 
Curiosity got the best of us. But, unlike the cat, we only have one life with which to gamble. 
We lost that wager. Subject One came back to life after he died, and when he did, he wasn't human any longer.
It had no heartbeat, no brainwave activity per se, nothing that would indicate that it should even be able to use its motor functions. And it presented with incredible strength and vitality, as did the animal subjects. 
The glass tube which held it, cracked repeatedly under the sheer power of its blows, and it wasn't until fear motivated us that one of us activated the failsafe, enclosing and incinerating whatever was within the tube, in order to keep containment therein.
We believe that was when one of our own went rogue and developed a conscience. We think it was Gilmore who ‘came to her senses’ and sabotaged the whole experiment going forward. 
Looking back on it now, she was right. However, what she did ultimately led to this. 
Explosions in the facility were what started the whole thing; the machines that pumped the vapor began to overheat. The backup generators kicked in and we thought we were out of the woods as the team made repairs. However, that idea was born of false hope. The virus went airborne, but was initially contained within the plant. 
We found that after the virus breached containment and hit the air, that everyone outside the lab space was doomed. The lab had its own backup generator and precautionary quarantine responses for just such an occasion. We watched in horror on the security cameras with the few that remained behind, the ones who hadn't rushed off to attempt be with their families, as terrible acts of murder and mayhem were taking place outside of our protected lab space. Of course, everyone who tried to escape met with sealed walls and windows. That was the continuation of the initial protocol in case of a catastrophe: no one got out.
The facility shut itself down, and quickly. We discovered all of this by watching on the security cameras, before that went to shit, too. Of course, through the glass of our lab windows, we were able to witness some of the alarming effects firsthand.
It took no more than minutes in some cases for the first signs of the infection to take victims. They presented with blood seeping from eyes, nose and ears, along with vomiting blood. After they died, and that was the interesting part, they all presented the same as Subject One had done.   
Their skin was the color of ash and the real tell that they were the living dead was that their eyes glazed over with a milky white film that covered the pupils, dulling the color of the eye. It made the pupils look grey and the outside of the eye seemed to reflect eerily in the light. 
The facility went collectively mad, and eventually, someone got out. It should have been impossible, but someone, somehow, in his or her desperate paranoia, opened the door to the outside world, exposing all of God's creatures to what we described as an apocalyptic plague. 
Any hope for plant-containment was over, and so was the quarantine. We witnessed dozens of our friends and colleagues outside with the zombies, or dying and turning into one themselves. 
The authorities had already been notified en masse, or so we thought. Over the first few hours, we witnessed emergency units and authorities arriving from outside through the cameras, but none ever made it inside. They all died, choked out by the virus, or were attacked by the zombies and quickly swarmed over. The zombies were—and are even now!—brutal and swift in their craving for consuming flesh. And they are absolutely merciless…the perfect killing machines. 
The infected are emotionless vessels of destruction, with no remorse, no conscience, and are unable to feel pain—this zombie plague was unwittingly the ultimate extinction event. 
It wasn't long after, that Clarke and Hahn began to present with the fever. It was terrifying to comprehend and to witness in person. We realized at that point that even the quarantined areas were not safe anymore. We locked them outside the lab, by their own selfless choice. Maybe an hour later, Clarke snapped his own neck, and I was looking right at him when he did it, his eyes filled with undue anguish.
I was shocked, to say the least, at seeing that kind of morbid death sentence…but we were not exactly under normal circumstances any longer. I cannot imagine what that must have been like, to be faced with that hopeless a condition and I wondered if I would have had the guts to do the same thing. I hoped in that moment that I would never have to find out. 
Hahn tried to wait it out as long as he could, running the gamut of emotions, before ultimately putting a bullet in his brain. 
Soon after that, Strain and I were the only ones alive. He killed himself a week later. He hung himself while I slept, holding a picture of his wife and kids, which I found beneath him covered in blood when I awakened to the moans of his undead form hanging by that very noose. Inventive he was for sure, finding enough fabric and such to tie together, stringing it quietly over an exposed joist above us in the drop ceiling.
I put him down with one of the last bullets, putting him out of his misery, and weighed my own options. I was on the last of the food. There were only a few cans of soda left and so I ate the last Twinkie as I formulated a plan. I would make my way out the back with a distraction outside to draw them away from my car. 
End Journal. *** Charles placed the book down, went to the control panel, running on the last of the backup generators power, and went over the plan once more. He’d gathered the last of the soda, guns and ammo, tossed them into a satchel, and grabbed a baseball bat that Clarke had found in one of the abandoned offices. He turned on the camera’s one last time, sounded the siren at the back of the facility, and watched with hope as the ensuing noise drew the zombies away, and out of the parking lot, which held his car. He gripped the bat tightly and made his way out into the halls. 
The daylight persisted, offering him enough light coming in from the windows, which was enough for him to navigate his way through the halls carefully and quietly. 
He encountered only two zombies in the facility that he subdued silently but brutally with the bat, trying to keep as quiet as he could. He did note that the zombies were not as dangerous at this point again, but had no time to consider this as he raced toward the exit. 
He opened the door to reveal the parking lot and saw only a few of the zombies, and they were nowhere near his vehicle. He took the keys out of his pocket one last time, threw the door wide and ran to the car, hoping beyond hope that it would start. 
It has been sitting for over a month! 
As he arrived to the door of his Camry, one of the zombies caught sight of him and charged toward him at breakneck speed. 
That one is so fast! Charles thought as he fumbled with the keys and finally got the door open. Just in time, he slammed the door shut as the zombie crashed into the car window face first, with no consideration for its own bodily harm. A car alarm beside him sounded loudly, echoing throughout the vast, mostly-barren parking space. 
“God dammit!” Charles swore, his heart thundering in his chest as the zombie clawed at the window. He turned the key and the car started right up, but his elation was short lived as another half-dozen of them made it to his position. He put the car in reverse and held his foot above the accelerator. That was when he saw them approaching in his rear view mirror—a horde of zombies so vast that they escaped the borders of the mirror. He held his breath involuntarily as they advanced. 
He jammed on the pedal, turned the wheel to the side, and slammed the car into a wall of flesh and bone. The impact was so great that his head hit the driver side window, which dazed him. He heard the window shatter and felt the cold hands of the zombies on him and fought in vain to free himself from their grip. 
Then the darkness swallowed him. *** Visions of contemptible, terrifying events assaulted his senses as he visualized tearing flesh from bone from that moment forth…and he experienced a hunger so deep that it could never be quelled.

End Prologue

Well, that's  what I have for you so far. I will be releasing chapters 1 and 2 probably over the next few weeks, both here and on WattPad, so stay tuned...oh, and stay never when that zombie will be creeping up behind you.


Also, Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!

All Artwork and covers of my works by William J. Kenney

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios 2014 unless otherwise noted.

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