Z-Strain (Book 3): Fallout, page 1part #3 of Z-Strain Series
By SJ Morris
Copyright © 2019 by Forever Morris Publishing, LLC
This book is a work of fiction. The name, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real in any way. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, business establishments, or actual events, or organization(s) is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission of the author. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of any author’s rights.
First Edition October 2019
Published by Forever Morris Publishing, LLC
This book is for everyone who didn’t believe in me. I knew deep inside that I could live my dream of being a writer, and I have. I wish you the best of luck and encourage you to follow your own aspirations in return.
It has been just over eight months since the Perdition Virus was unintentionally released in Germany resulting in a plague of unprecedented proportions across the globe. Those infected with the virus, die, reanimate, and become rapacious undead versions of themselves seeking to infect every living being they come into contact with.
Abbigail Norrington finds herself having narrowly escaped death from the infected more times than she can count, but the survivors of this plague prove to be even more deadly. Unfortunately, two of her three children have not survived this epidemic. Abby has witnessed the death of her youngest child, Allycia, tragically at the hands of the infected. She has also watched her late husband, Jack, murder their son, Lance, out of sheer madness and rage over Abbigail no longer wanting to be with him after his repeated and heart-wrenching betrayals.
Abbigail was kidnapped and inoculated with the Antivirus 1015 against her will, making the infected believe she is one of them. The antivirus was administered as a test to see if the mind behind the madness, Dr. Constance Brigantine, could successfully create a serum making humans invisible to the undead monsters she had created. The antivirus worked on Abby thanks to a unique genetic marker only she and her daughter, Allycia, shared. Unfortunately, during an experiment gone wrong, and thanks to a betrayal against Dr. Brigantine by her second in command, Dr. Stuart Dodges, a new strain of the Perdition Virus was released that Abbigail is not inoculated against. Dr. Dodges, however, didn’t stop there. His treachery eventually led to Dr. Brigantine’s death, Abbigail’s narrow escape from her murderous late husband, and Brigantine’s main compound being entirely overrun by the undead carrying both the old and new strains of the Perdition Virus.
With Jack and Brigantine now deceased, Abby, the two babies Brigantine inseminated her with, and her new friend, Private Jimmy Smith, set off on the journey back to Abby’s home. She needed to find out if any of her family and friends were spared from Brigantines brutal raid on their cabin a few months prior to her captivity.
Along the way, they meet a peculiar man named Peter, and a young boy who Peter claimed to be his son, Grayson. Just before arriving at the cabin, Peter disappears into the snowy darkness and Grayson reveals how he came to meet Peter. Grayson explained that Peter was abusing him and that he was also one of the soldiers who helped murder hundreds of survivors, including Grayson’s parents, at a FEMA camp weeks before the two joined Abby and Jimmy.
Abby connects the dots figuring out that not only was Peter a pedophile and a vile waste of life, he was also part of Brigantine’s army. Peter knows where Brigantine concealed bombs, and a nerve agent Brigantine planned to use against the infected and the remaining survivors who were not on board with her plans of world domination.
Peter was going after those weapons and Abby knows they cannot fall into the wrong hands. After she finds her son, Tyler and her companion, Chris, alive back at the cabin, they are successful in securing the ordnances. Peter was nowhere to be found, but there were signs of a struggle, and Abby hopes that with any luck, Peter has somehow ended up dead. She also knows her luck is never that good.
Abbigail, with what remains of her family and friends, still have to try and make a life for themselves within this infected post-apocalyptic world. There is a lot to prepare for with two babies on the way, and the constant threat of the undead may prove to be the least of Abbigail’s troubles.
I was carefully draped over one of the strongest and most caring men I had ever met in my entire life. Chris, who was snoring softly, unknowingly being the focus of my thoughts, muttered something in his sleep. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, so I leaned in closer, my face pressing gently against the scruffiness that was his unshaven cheek. A muffled cry escaped his lips. I pulled away from him quickly and noticed the room had filled with the odor of rotten flesh. My mind raced with thoughts of the infected breaching our home.
“It couldn’t be possible,” I said to myself, “There’s no way they could get down here, not to the bunker.”
I wanted to jump up. I wanted to scream and shake Chris awake to warn him of the danger I felt coming for us, but I couldn’t. I was frozen in an unbreakable paralysis. I shrieked for help inside of my head, hoping some of what I was saying inside my mind would breach my now dry lips.
I felt a cutting pain in my stomach and immediately thought of the babies. I tried to reach down and touch my swollen belly, but I was still suspended, unable to move any part of my body except for my eyes. I looked as far down to my stomach as I could, but my usually round, pregnant abdomen was now flat.
I screamed within the confines of my mind, “What had happened? Where are my babies?”
Before I could ask myself any more questions, I found I was being stalked by my answer. The cold, dead, lifeless, white eyes of twin girls who looked precisely like Allycia had when she was a toddler. The girls focused on Chris and I lying in bed, unable to move or defend ourselves.
The two infected children stood side by side in the doorway of the bedroom, holding hands. Their mouths dripped with bright red, fresh blood with the hint of a smirk on their cherub-like faces.
I heard Tyler yell my name from the living room, and I wanted to tell him to run, but the words wouldn’t come.
In a blink, the girls disappeared from view. I could still smell them, so I knew they were near, and I feared the absolute worst.
Tyler entered the bedroom, laughing and smiling, holding a tray filled with food. He leaned over and put the plates down next to Chris and me. Before he could straighten, the twins leaped onto him scratching and screaming as they gorged themselves on the flesh of Tyler’s face and neck.
Tyler screamed out in shock, clawing at the monsters now seemingly attached to him. Once he realized he couldn’t pull them off, he reached out to me with his gore-covered hands screaming for me to help him... but I couldn’t. I was still unable to make my body move, no matter how hard I tried. I watched as the two little girls tore my only living child to pieces in front of my eyes.
Tyler stopped moving, and in a rush, the two girls stood in unison, reaching out to one another, holding hands once again, smiling. Blood and pieces of Tyler’s body dripped from their chins, framing their faces in a mess of morbid red and black grime.
The girls whispered in unison, their voices sounding exactly like Allycia’s had, “Look what you have done, Mommy. Just look, Mommy.”
Then, Tyler stood. His broken body missing pieces but still m
My three children reached out to me, whispering softly, “Mommy, you let this happen. You are the reason we are the way we are. It’s your fault, Mommy, and you can’t stop this, Abby. Abby!”
I closed my eyes, forcefully, sucked in a gulp of air, and felt like I was falling. My eyes popped open, and Chris was grabbing my face, yelling at me, “Abby! Wake up. It’s a dream, honey. It’s all a bad dream… there you are.”
I shook my head, trying to clear my crazed brain as I took in my surroundings. I was lying in bed, and Chris was hunched over me, a towel barely covering his waist as he held me at arm’s length, making sure I was indeed awake and with him in this world. His now long hair dripped water onto my face, and I felt the cold moisture trickle down my cheek. I reached up my hand to brush away the water and took notice that my arms did as I instructed once more. I instantly reached down to my stomach to feel and see that I was still pregnant. I was rewarded with the soft stretched skin of my belly and a few kicks from the two babies still growing inside.
I smiled up at Chris as he took my face in his hands. “It was a dream. The most horrible dream yet, but still... it was only a dream.” I said flatly.
Chris smiled back at me. “By the sounds of your screams, it was a nightmare of Freddy Krueger proportions. I heard you all the way in the bathroom, with the shower running. I’d be surprised if Kamil isn’t banging on our door to check on us soon. These walls are thick, Abby, but your screams... I think they’re going to give me nightmares.”
“I’m so sorry, Chris. I don’t know why these nightmares are so terrible lately. They seem to be getting worse the closer I get to the end of the pregnancy. I’m scared one of these dreams is going to put me into early labor.”
“Well, no more red sauce before bed for you, little lady. I bet the acid in the food isn’t helping,” Chris said as he reached out to caress my stomach.
“I don’t have heartburn, Chris. It’s... I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I’m scared of giving birth to twins in the middle of the damn apocalypse. Doc Bakers is great, and so is Troy, but neither of them is a gynecologist. I’m having twins. If I was giving birth this before this whole zombie mess started, I’d probably be scheduled for a c-section already and have a team of ten to fifteen doctors and nurses on standby for any possible complications. My current standby team consists of Jasmine. She’s learned a lot from Doc, but still. She’s no board-certified midwife. Excuse me if I’m having a few anxiety-driven nightmares about the inevitable future,” I snapped at him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that. Ugh, these hormones are killing me. I feel like my moods are bouncing all over the place.”
Chris adjusted his towel, and the muscular v shape of his abdomen was briefly visible, making my stomach now flutter with lust causing me to feel even crazier as he sat next to me on the bed. First rage, and now romance. My emotions were truly all over the place. It was all making my head spin.
“You have to give yourself some credit here, Abby. You’ve been on bed rest for weeks, and you’re not one to be confined. I know that better than anyone. I understand it’s been hard on you these last few weeks, staying in bed while everyone else goes about their day. I know it doesn’t help that spring is here. I know you want to be outside helping instead of being confined to this room and the bathroom. You only have a few more weeks before the babies are here, maybe even sooner. Just take a deep breath in and out to clear your head. I’ll bring you some of that green tea you love so much. Do you think that will help you relax a little?”
“I guess so, thank you. Hey, if you happen to see Jasmine when you go up, can you tell her I’d like to see her please?”
Chris looked at me sideways. “Sure, but is there something wrong? Do you feel something?”
I laughed at his quick concern. “No, nothing like that. I just think a conversation with another woman might make me feel better. You dote over me too much. I need to talk to someone who doesn’t take every scrunched-up face I make as a sign of labor or something bad when it’s actually gas or a foot pushing on my rib cage.”
A loud banging on our front door interrupted our conversation.
“See, I told you Kamil would be in to check up on us thanks to your screaming.” Chris grinned as he got up to throw some clothes on and answer the door.
I heard hushed talking between Chris and Kamil at the front door, but I couldn’t make out the words. Soon enough, Kamil was pulling a chair over to the edge of the bed to sit with me. Chris yelled from the front room that he was going to get my tea and something for both of us to eat. My educated guess was Chris wanted Kamil to watch over me while he wasn’t directly at my side. It angered me a little to have him think I needed a babysitter, but it was also nice not to be alone. Especially after my horrific nightmare.
“So, Abby, what’s going on? Chris tells me your nightmares are getting worse. Is everything okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I think it’s just the anxiety of the babies coming soon. I’ve had three kids, but the labor for each one was so different, and I have no idea what to expect with two of them at the same time.”
Kamil placed his hand over mine. “I hear ya. I’d be scared shitless to give birth with Troy in there acting as a nurse too,” Kamil laughed as he squeezed my hand. “I’m just kidding. I’m sure everything will be fine. Like you said, you’ve done this three times already. Twins or not, your body will know what to do, and Nancy, I mean Doc Bakers, will be there to help should anything happen. You’re in the best hands possible, Abby. Doc was telling me the other day that she helped a woman in Afghanistan give birth inside of a tank. It was a remarkable story. You should have her tell it to you some time. I’d recount it to you, but I know I wouldn’t do the story justice.”
“I might have to do that. I’ve got plenty of time, so I’m always up for some good storytelling. So, how have things been with you? I know it’s been tough on you since Dana past, but are you doing all right?”
Kamil sat back in his chair, taking in a slow, deep breath. “Yeah, I’m okay, I guess. There are still times where I think I see her out of the corner of my eye or hear her humming in the kitchen. Is that weird?”
“No, Dana meant a lot to you, to all of us. It’s good that you still remember her. I’m the same way. Every now and then, I think I hear Allycia or Lance laughing. They will always be with us in our hearts and our minds. It’ll never stop hurting, but we have to remember them. Oh, look at me. Now I am a blubbering pregnant mess, I’m sorry,” I whimpered as I used my sleeve to wipe away my tears.
I looked up at Kamil, and he was drying his own eyes, making me feel like an ass for even bringing it up.
Kamil cleared his throat, “It seems like it was just yesterday, not five months ago. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about anyone else. Not the way I felt towards Dana, but I’m not going to let that stop me from living. If she was my one true love, then so be it. I only got a short amount of time with her, but at least I got something. That’s more than I can say for some people, so I’ll take it.”
“Good, I’m glad you feel that way. Now can we please talk about something bright and cheery? I don’t think I can cry anymore today without giving myself a tremendous headache, and it’s only nine in the morning.”
Kamil smiled, “Yes, please let’s change the subject. So, what have your nightmares been about?” he laughed, “Joking, I’m joking!”
I punched him as hard as I could in the shoulder from my sitting position in bed, which wasn’t very hard.
“You’re the worst joke teller ever, Kamil. Don’t quit your day job, my friend. On a lighter note, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m having girls.”
I went about my regular daily routine, which wasn
Christine, Chris’s daughter, told me about how much Grayson was improving and interacting with the other children. She talked about how he wasn’t so jumpy around men anymore, either. It was terrific to hear that Grayson was feeling safe with us. I knew he missed his parents, but I also knew that everyone here treated him as if he were their own son or sibling. He had a home with us, and I was happy it seemed he was feeling that way too.
Tyler came in to check on me while his new shadow, Chase, lingered in the doorway. Chase was Dan and Kristen’s son. He was also one of Lance’s friends. Tyler was younger than Chase by a few years, but I didn’t think age mattered much anymore. Both boys were mature well beyond their years. I think they grew close out of a need to have a bond or a friendship with someone who shared in the fact that this mess of an apocalypse made them grow up too quickly. I did see, however, that Chase didn’t yet know how to act around me after Lance’s death.
Chris had told me that Chase and Lance were together the night Brigantine raided our home. The two boys got separated, and that was when Lance was taken. Chris thought Chase blamed himself for Lance’s abduction and in turn, felt responsible for his death. I knew Chase wasn’t accountable for my son’s death, but it didn’t seem like he was ready to hear that yet. I assumed that was the reason Chase kept his distance from me.
Just as Tyler was leaving, Jasmine came in, saying that Chris told her I was looking for her.