Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eaters: Dark Journey Excerpt

No writing tonight. I'm going to do one final read through of Eaters: Dark Journey, so I can post tomorrow. Here is the short synopsis and an excerpt:

What could be more frightening than finding yourself alone in a world that has been overrun by zombies? As she wanders the streets of Golden, Colorado, Cheryl Malone’s only friend is the AK-47 that has helped to keep her alive ever since her fiancĂ©e, Mark, came down with the infection that turns people into Eaters and made her leave their shelter. The first survivor that takes her in is just as dangerous as the ghouls outside. After escaping from him, she meets Aidan, a saner companion, whose love for his Harley is only second to the love he had for his dead girlfriend. After barely making it up to the mountains with their lives intact, they meet a young couple who have to be convinced of the apocalypse that happened while they were camping, unplugged from civilization. The four of them retreat to Aidan’s cabin, but they soon find out that it is not a safe haven. The night has more horrors in store for them all...

       They kept on driving as the rain pelted them and limited their visibility. Cheryl worried about Aidan taking the curves so fast as they drove higher. One slip on the wet pavement could send them careening over the edge, flying out over a couple hundred foot drop into a grove of pine trees and aspens. She closed her eyes and held on, trusting that this wasn’t his first time driving in such dismal weather and hoping that he knew this road like the back of his hand after commuting from his mountain home to his job day after day.
She didn’t open her eyes until she realized that they were slowing down. The rain was still hammering down as he came to a full stop in the middle of the road.
“What are you—”
She looked ahead, through the sheets of water pouring down. A dozen yards in front of them, the road ahead was a solid wall of Eaters—a small infected army.
“Aidan,” she yelled with a trembling voice. “Turn around.”
As the mass started shambling towards them, he revved the engine, but didn’t move.
“What are you doing? Let’s go…”
“We can’t.”
She screeched now. “What do you mean?”
“Look behind us.”
She saw them in his side mirror before she turned around. There was another group closing in on them from the rear. They hadn’t heard the approaching moans, because of the loudness of the motorcycle engine. Now, they were trapped between the two oncoming groups with a mountain on one side of the road and a sheer drop down the other.
Her heart pounded, and her breaths came shallow and fast—not enough oxygen getting to her brain. “What are…we…going…to do?”
He revved the engine again. “Go through them.”
“You’re crazy. We can’t—”
“No time to debate it hon’. Just tuck in and hold on…”
Just as the Eaters in the rear came dangerously close, he charged forward like a lone knight with a lancet…into a formidable army. With her head buried in his back, and her arms tight around him, she couldn’t see anything, but she could smell the stench before they hit. It was like a thousand rotting corpses with flesh decayed into a nauseating stew of blood, pus, urine, and feces all mixed together. There was no time to gag as they crashed into the wall of bodies. The impact almost knocked them off, and it was clear that the group hadn’t parted at all as they drove over arms, legs, …heads? But, that was only a few. The rest hadn’t fallen like dominoes—they were a sea of snapping teeth and bloody grabbing hands. They clawed at their clothes and their hair, pulling and yanking at anything they could. Then, the motorcycle began to slow…
       Oh no. Oh, God. Please no.
      An Eater had a fistful of her hair. She held on to Aidan, screaming with pain as the Eater pulled it and tried force her head back. She knew that if it succeeded, her face and neck would be an open buffet for the crowd surrounding her. So, just as if she was holding on for dear life to the edge of a skyscraper, thirty stories up, she held on…as the roots of her hair tore away from her scalp from underneath the helmet.
Aidan revved the engine, trying to break free of the hold of so many hands, but they were slowing down from the drag of so much weight. “Hit them!” he yelled.
      She kicked to one side than the other, smashing her boots into shins and kneecaps. Then with one great exhale, she lifted her head and unshouldered the rifle. Using her elbows and the heavy gunstock, she began to hit left and right. She slammed into heads and chests, impacting some with a thunk, and into others with more rotten flesh with a squish.
       She could see Aidan kicking as he tried to do the same. They picked up a little speed, but still weren’t free enough to break away. They were too close to try to shoot, and she was worried that they might grab the gun barrel if she tried, so she alternated between using the gun as a bludgeon and punching with her fist. Her knuckles cracked into jaws, sending teeth and blood flying. She bashed another on the head with the gunstock then was about to defend the other side again when a shirtless infected man, whose flaking gray skin and bald head, mottled with rivers of blackened veins, grabbed her wrist. She couldn’t get the gun around quickly enough to bash him, as he started pulling her arm towards his mouth. She felt his cold, sick breath on her wrist as the motorcycle leapt forward. He didn’t let go. He stumbled forward along with them, crushing her arm with a vise-like hold.
      “Aidan!” she screamed as she was close to being pulled off.
      He looked back and saw her plight, slowing the bike just a hair. “Hit him! In the face!”
      It was a dangerous proposition—she’d have to let go of Aidan’s back in order to reach around and butt the Eater in the head with the gunstock. She wasn’t sure she had the strength left to hit him hard enough to knock him off, especially from such an odd angle. She had another idea, that upped the danger another couple of notches, but there was no time to do math and weigh the pros and cons, because he was leaning forward now as he stumbled along, jaws snapping, as he tried to gouge at her arm with his teeth. In another second or two, he’d find his mark if the others around her, clawing to get a hold, didn’t first.
Sophomore year in high school, she’d been on flag team—she’d twirled a flag on long poles with the band at football games and a few times—a fake wooden rifle painted white. She prayed that her muscle memory, after so many years, would still be there. Because, she’d only have one chance.
Clenching the sides of the motorcycle painfully hard with her knees to hang on, she let go of Aidan. Then, in one swift motion, she twirled the rifle around so the barrel faced away from her. She grabbed a hold of it like a spear then spun around and slammed it into the Eater’s cheekbone. As it connected, it slipped upwards and pierced through his right eye socket. She almost went with it as her knees popped up, but using every muscle in her core, she was able to swing back around. The gun barrel popped out of the Eater’s skull with a sucking pop sound, barely audible above the moaning and the whine of the engine. In the same instant, they shot forward, and broke free of the mob.
      She had not even realized that the rain had stopped until she saw a bright streak of sunshine slanting down over the road. They drove through it, and for a quick second, were in a spotlight slicing through the gloom. She thought it was like God’s flashlight, shining down. You made it kiddo…didn’t think you had it in you.

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