Evolution z book 3 stage.., p.1
Evolution Z (Book 3): Stage Three, page 1part #3 of Evolution Z Series
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EVOLUTION Z – STAGE THREE
Evolution Z – Stage Three
Evolution Z - Stage Three
Translator: Frank Dietz Editor: Pamela Bruce
Copyright © 2017 David Bourne
Cover design: UndPunkt - Design
All rights reserved, including that of complete or partial reproduction in any form.
Author’s note: Geographical locations in this book are products of the author’s imagination and do not necessarily correspond with reality.
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For all people who believe in the truth of their dreams
1What‘s Happened So Far...
Set in our world after the rapid spread of an unknown and highly contagious virus, Stage Three is the third part in the Evolution Z series that continues this apocalyptic saga about those who fight for survival.
In Stage One of the series, chaos suddenly and inexplicably erupts in several locations of the northeastern United States. It is in this dire situation that characters from various backgrounds are brought together: Commercial airline pilot Raymond “Ray” Thompson is a hardcore alcoholic who rarely sees his children after divorce Number Two from his second wife Melissa, and who generally leads a jaded, miserable existence. The only things that seem to cheer Ray up—with the exception of spending precious time with his children Tom and Eve—are his affairs with an attractive younger flight attendant named Cathy, and a bottomless bottle of good ol’ Jack Daniels.
On the day the outbreak occurs, Ray is the pilot in command of a Boeing 737 passenger plane en route from Portland, Maine to Washington, D. C. when an infected passenger randomly attacks others on board during the flight. This forces Ray to make a dramatic emergency landing on a lake in a remote Maine forest, during which many flight crew and passengers perish. Ray and Cathy, along with other crash survivors, manage to escape from the submerged wreck and are rescued by Chris Forster, a young man who owns a spacious vacation home near the lake. After this initial sense of relief, the survivors soon begin to worry why no emergency crews have responded to the crash, and why both the cellular networks and the landlines seem to be no longer working.
It’s not very long before the crash survivors form different opinions on how to proceed from this point onward: Should they all stay in relative comfort at Chris’ home, or try to strike out on their own to the nearest town some miles away? After a major fight occurs between Ray and the muscular, aggressive truck driver Duke Powell, the survivors splinter into two groups—one of which sides with Duke and decides to make their way to the town, known as Muntly. Ray and Cathy, along with other crash survivors—Phil Brook, his children, and two severely injured men—choose to remain with Chris at his house. A primary reason for their decision is because the two injured men, Greg and Howard, are unable to be moved across long distances due to their injuries.
Ray and Chris drive to the small town of Muntly to look for additional supplies. While on their way there, they briefly manage to pick up an ominous, static-filled radio broadcast in which the Vice President announces that the entire country is in a state of emergency. Once both men reach their seemingly abandoned destination, they gather medication for Greg and Howard, which Chris takes back to his home, while Ray keeps watch at a PC that has a working internet connection. Unfortunately as he waits for Chris to return, his gnawing addiction gets the better of him, and Ray manages to locate his best friend in a bottle—Jack Daniels—and drinks himself into a stupor. He is completely unaware that a group of ravenous undead, or zombies, is steadily approaching the office of a supermarket where he is located.
A brawny lumberjack, Scott Gerber, who has been walking for hours and just happened to reach Muntly, shows up in the nick of time and saves Ray. Scott left his home in Augusta after his parents were killed by a swarming horde of undead, and his wife Jane and his son Sam went missing. When Chris returns, Scott joins him and Ray. The three of them manage to contact Chris’ brother Gregory via email who—along with other survivors—has sought refuge at Fort Weeks Army Base. This news gives Scott and Ray some faint hope their families might be found there as well. After a group discussion back at Chris’ house, a specific goal takes shape: As soon as Greg and Howard are healthy enough to travel, the group will head out for Fort Weeks.
Another person desperately trying to reach Fort Weeks is a scrawny, 20-something medical student, Joshua “Josh” Pelletier. He is currently completing an internship at the Department of Pathology in an Augusta hospital. While he is working in the basement morgue during a routine autopsy, a corpse suddenly becomes reanimated and goes on the attack. After a brief but intense struggle with the undead man takes the life of Josh’s boss, Josh luckily manages to escape to the elevator and flees from the hospital. When he reaches his home after a harrowing getaway through a chaotic city, Josh realizes he completely forgot that his mother, surgeon Dr. Margaret Pelletier, is still at the hospital. He becomes distraught about his unintentional callousness, but he nevertheless decides to make his way to Fort Weeks. Josh has a specific reason for wanting to do this: His father, Master Sergeant William Pelletier, is stationed there and had earlier left him and his mother a note at their home strongly suggesting that they both should make their way to the base as soon as possible.
The evening before Ray’s group plans to depart for Fort Weeks, a menacing presence appears on the horizon: A large horde of groaning, moaning undead is swarming toward Chris’ house. The survivors defend themselves as best they can against the invaders until they are confronted by an unexpected challenge in the form of an alpha zombie. This much stronger, more agile undead creature jumps over the seven-foot high fence surrounding the house without any effort. In no time, the monster then springs up into the house’s second story and mauls to death the barely-recovered Greg and Howard. The worst is yet to happen for Ray: He tragically witnesses this uber “jumper” zombie kill Cathy, whom he has developed a deep affection for. After a fierce, relentless struggle in front of the house’s living room fireplace, Scott finally manages to kill the alpha zombie. During the fight, however, the house is set on fire, and the remaining survivors are forced to flee in the middle of the night in a VW Multivan.
Stage Two follows our protagonists on their arduous and dangerous journey to Fort Weeks. Late d
Meanwhile, Josh Pelletier has reached Fort Weeks after encountering a reconnaissance squad at an outpost and being taken directly to the military base. The entire base itself is preparing for the worst after the virus outbreak: large areas are being fenced off, plus fortified guard posts and a level high alert confirm the underlying suspicion that the virus won’t be brought under control any time soon. Fort Weeks is slowly turning into a meeting point for survivors from the region seeking refuge. For these people, a health assessment camp has been established, and Josh uses what he has learned in medical school to examine the newcomers. He is overjoyed and relieved when he is reunited with both his mother and his father, Master Sergeant William Pelletier, who by now is the acting commander of Fort Weeks.
While on their way to Fort Weeks, Ray and the others are lured into a trap by a man named Richard Fuller. The eloquent, intellectual Fuller is soon revealed to be an ice-cold, calculating leader of a survivor group of miscreants who quickly rob our protagonists of their weapons, gear, and drive off with their VW van. Left behind in the dust and armed only with a baseball bat, Ray, Scott, Phil and his children, accompanied by Watson, have to walk the rest of the way toward Fort Weeks–while also having to carry Chris the entire time. Needless to say, they are all completely exhausted once they finally reach their destination.
After the group has settled in at Fort Weeks, they become friends with Josh, and soon each one is given assignments to help with the base workload: Phil and his children help in the cafeteria; Chris, who has meanwhile recovered and is also reunited with his long-lost brother Gregory, assists in the communications center with him; Scott supports the soldiers in fortifying the base’s outer perimeter; and Ray works in a hangar together with a mechanic nicknamed Screw.
One day, Ray is told by Master Sergeant Pelletier that his ex-wife Melissa might be alive. According to an informer, she is at a survivor camp called Sanctuary in northern New Hampshire, however Pelletier wants something in exchange for his information. He reveals that Fort Weeks has been in contact with the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier that had been sailing from Japan to the U.S. when the virus outbreak occurred–which means no one on board this ship is infected. There also happens to be a very special passenger on board: the scientist Dr. Daniel Abbadon, a geneticist who worked for a company called Vita Invicta that he claims was responsible for spreading the virus. Dr. Abbadon is offering the U.S. military his cooperation in exchange for his family being rescued and brought to him. His family is also at the Sanctuary camp, and this seems to be the reason why Ray–together with Josh, Scott and two soldiers–is instructed to fly a helicopter from Fort Weeks to the USS George Washington. After their arrival, they receive shocking information about the virus: It is the result of a failed experiment by Vita Invicta, where the so-called Fox-O gene was manipulated in order to offer its rich clients–all billionaires–an extended lifespan, perhaps even immortality. Unfortunately, the horrifying result was that the test subjects unwittingly became carriers of a virus triggered by a botched genetic variation that became active after an incubation period of six months. Therefore, anyone might be infected, unless a quick test developed by Abbadon produces a negative result. The scientist also explains the origin of the alpha zombies observed by the survivors, like the “jumper” at Chris’ house: It turns out that an extreme genetic mutation occurs if people suffering from hemophilia are infected with the virus. Even though Ray loathes Abbadon, the hope of finding Melissa and his kids forces him to accept the assignment. General Dixon and Admiral Jackson, both of whom command the aircraft carrier, also reveal that they are in contact with the Vice President of the United States, and the success of this mission could be crucial concerning the further development of the virus outbreak.
Meanwhile, during these talks on the aircraft carrier, Fort Weeks is threatened by two factors: A hemophiliac little girl receiving treatment in the medical center has probably been infected, and Pelletier and his people are completely unaware of these new factors concerning the virus. The exterior threat is even more urgent: In order to rescue their employee Dr. Schaefer–whose exact role in this conspiracy is still unclear–the Company has infiltrated two undercover agents into Fort Weeks. One of the Company’s helicopters stages a diversion and lures a huge horde of undead creatures toward the base. Events then turn chaotic. At dawn, a bomb explodes and blasts a hole in an outer wall of the base, while the helicopter appears as it leads an enormous mob of zombies toward the main gate. Schaefer and the two agents use this moment to flee from the base.
Stage Three begins shortly before the explosion at Fort Weeks.
Humanity would not have stood a chance during evolution,
if it had not accidentally developed a little bit of brain.
Enough to survive, but not enough to really think.
That night, Private James Nelson was alone on medical duty at the base hospital. He had joined the U. S. Army about a year ago in order to receive training as an assistant medical technician. Considering the state of the current situation, this was probably was the best idea he’d had his entire life because when the zombie plague erupted, he happened to be at one of the safest places in America: Fort Weeks Military Base.
Nelson carefully tapped his finger against the IV bag filled with saline solution suspended on a metal pole next to the young girl’s bed. The cold fluorescent light illuminating from the hallway made little Sarah Mitchell’s face even more colorless than it already was. Almost as pale as a ghost, he thought.
The child had received another blood transfusion the previous day, but afterwards her condition only seemed to have worsened instead of improving. The pain in her leg appeared to have lessened, but later in the afternoon Sarah complained of having chest pain. By the early evening she had developed a slight cough, and the doctor in charge–Margaret Pelletier–had injected her with antibiotics and a light sedative so she would be able to sleep peacefully through the night.
When he saw the child looking so drawn and fragile under the thin hospital blanket, Nelson wasn’t so sure he shared the doctor’s optimism. He doubted the little girl would survive the night. Nelson pitied her. You wouldn’t wish anyone to suffer like this, least of all a helpless child.
Except for the soft beeps of the ECG machine, the hospital was completely quiet. The chest of the small patient slowly rose and fell below the blanket in rhythm with her ragged and flat breathing. Nelson brushed tenderly across the blanket at the spot where he thought her hand was, and then turned around and carefully tiptoed out of the room. He found it odd that Sarah’s diminutive hand under the blanket had felt unexpectedly hard and surprisingly cool, even through the fabric. Nelson felt shivers running down his spine and he briefly stopped, immediately suppressing this uneasy feeling. He did not want to check on her, as he was concerned this m
The moment the young private reached the door to step out into the hallway, he heard a low, raspy voice cry out from behind him.
“Daddy, don’t let him take me away!”
Nelson spun around in shock and held his breath.
As he stood in the doorway, the room now seemed much darker than before and he could not see the little girl too well. She sat upright in her bed and her empty eyes, with pupils resembling jet-black marbles, stared in his direction. The private felt his blood run cold as if he were suddenly thrust into a scene from a horror movie. Daddy? She’s hallucinating. Nervously, he managed to utter a stammer.
“E-everything is fine, sweetie. Now just lie down. I’m right here with you.” He took a step into the room toward the bed.
“No! He told me he’d take me away! He’ll get me, and then he’ll get you.” To Nelson, it seemed like the temperature in the room had just dropped below the freezing point. His heart was hammering in his chest and he breathed rapidly.
“Who, sweetie? Who wants to get you? It’s okay, honey, just calm down. It was only a bad dream. Everything is fine now.”
Sarah did not seem to hear him and continued speaking in her horrible, raspy voice.
“But he said so. He–the bad boogeyman! He’s going to get us all! He’s going to eat us!” The little girl slowly moved her head and looked past Nelson toward a corner next to the door.
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