Excerpt & Giveaway! Plague Land: Reborn by Alex Scarrow

Plague Land: Reborn
by Alex Scarrow
Series: Plague Land #2
Publication: September 4th 2018
by Sourcebooks Fire
Category: YA
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction

Add-to-Goodreads-button Amazon-button
*Purchase links support this blog

THEY THOUGHT IT WAS DEAD. THEY WERE WRONG.

Two years ago, a virus hit London, killing thousands of people and driving the rest into hiding. But Leon has somehow survived, making it through two harsh winters. Now he’s living on the fragile hope that the freezing snow and ice of the English climate wiped out the virus for good. Word even reaches Leon of a rescue boat on its way.

But all is not as safe as it seems. The virus has been busy…

~Excerpt~

TWO YEARS AGO

Tom Friedmann stared out through the smoked glass of the foyer at a scene he couldn’t make sense of. The sky was spilling flakes like Thanksgiving Day parade ticker tape. It vaguely reminded him of the billowing clouds of office stationery that had fluttered down over Manhattan after the first American Airlines impact all those years ago. These were smaller though, like those big, fluffy snowflakes that stick and you know damn well are going to make a serious mess of your travel plans.

Channeled down by the tall glass-and-chrome office blocks all along Wall Street, the flakes fluttered in clouds that, at a distance, looked like a descending bank of fog.

And people were dropping. Dying.

Not immediately…not gas-attack immediately. He’d seen that at work in the Middle East. The shocking sight of civilians dropping in waves. No mess, no fuss, just death by chemical agent. But, Jesus, this was happening almost as quickly.

Too fast for nature, surely?

Tom watched a cop on the other side of the road. A minute ago, he’d been waving pedestrians inside, into various corporate foyers. Now he was on his knees, swaying like a drunkard and staring at the glistening skin of his hands.

“Tom, there’s no answer!”

He turned. Elaine Garcia—she was holding his phone up at him. She’d been trying to reach her mother.

“Give it to me!” he demanded. He took it from her.

“Tom, what’s happening?”

He ignored her as he swiped through his contacts: half a dozen numbers in a quick-retrieve list. The first number started with the White House prefix. It was busy.

The second number was his son’s cell phone. It rang twice before Leon picked up.

“You OK, Dad?”

“That you, Leon?” He sounded different. Not Leon’s usual lazy, for-parents-only drawl, the voice version of an eye roll.

“Dad, what’s goin—”

“It’s here, Leo. It’s right here in the city!”

“What? In…in New York?”

“Yes! There are people dying in the goddamn street!”

The line rustled and crackled with telecommunication overload. He wondered how many people were saturating the network with panicked calls right now.

“Dad, where are you? Are you safe?”

“Leo, listen to me! Son! Listen! This thing is airborne! You have to stay inside! Stay at home! Tape up your windows and doors, and stay inside!”

“But we’re on a train, Dad! You said get out of London. You told us to—”

Tom winced. He had said that. That had been his advice exactly: Get away from London. Outside in the street, a police car with a wailing siren had pulled up. The fallen cop’s colleagues were getting out to help him. Tom banged his fist on the glass to warn them to stay in their squad car, but with the noise outside, the siren, people’s screams, his banging fist was lost in all of that.

“I know. Shit…shit. Are you close to Mom’s family?” He tried to remember where Jennifer’s parents lived. A small chocolate-box village just outside a city called… “Are you near Norwich?”

“I don’t know… Train’s about—” The rest of what Leon was saying was covered by crackling.

“OK, as soon as you get there, you tell Mom, you tell Grandma and Granddad they’ve gotta stay inside. Do you understand me? Stay inside! Close the windows. Don’t go out again!”

The cops outside were now looking up at the artificial snow, batting the flakes away from their faces. The infected officer had flopped over onto his side, his good hand clawing at the other glistening, reddening one.

“Oh God, Tom!” cried Elaine as they watched.

The man pulled some flesh away from his hand. It came off far too easily, like slow-cooked beef. Blood streamed down his forearm; a tendon hung from the bones of his hand in a tired, swinging loop.

Jesus Christ!

A few yards farther down the street, where a woman had collapsed earlier, the process seemed far more advanced. Under the woman’s now-stained clothes, her previously bulky frame had shrunk, and dark trickles of liquid seemed to be spreading out around her.

The cop on the ground was flailing his dissolving hand around, screaming for help from his colleagues. There were other people outside converging on the squad car—other people infected like him, shambling toward the cops in a state of shock, like toddlers crying for their mothers. They stared bewildered and frightened at their hands, their arms, swiping at glistening, erupting blisters, pleading for help.

The cops seemed to be ignoring the light, fluttering “snowfall” as if that was much farther down the list of things to note. They backed away from the screaming mass of infected people approaching, barking commands at them to stay back.

Jesus…it’s like a frickin zombie movie.

A gun came out. A single shot went up into the air. Tom could see by the wide-eyed look from the young cop standing over his stricken colleague that the next shot was going to be aimed at someone. He was aware Leon was still on the other end of the crackling line. Waiting for advice. For help.

“Listen to me…listen… This thing’s in the air. You can see it. Like flakes. It’s fast! It’s killing people everywhere…touching their skin, then they’re dying…melting…”

The signal was breaking up badly.

“Don’t let it touch you…the flakes! Don’t let them near you!”

He heard his son reply, something chewed up and spat out by the failing signal.

“I love you, Son!” he shouted into the phone, as if that might make a difference. “I love you, both you and Grace! God, I wish I were with you—”

Someone barged into him, nearly knocking the phone out of his hand. A guy in a gray suit and a white button-down shirt damp with sweat. He tried to snatch the phone from Tom’s hand.

“Hey! Get the hell away from me!” Tom shoved the man backward into the smoked-glass window. It rattled and boomed but didn’t crack.

“You got a signal there? I gotta make a call!”

“Get your own phone!” Tom snapped. The man backed off and went in search of someone else on a phone. Tom put the cell back to his ear. “Leon! You still there?”

Just a crackle and hissing.

“Leon! Leon!”

He was gone.

Elaine was staring at him as he disconnected the call and slid the phone back into his jacket pocket. “Tom?”

Outside, the cops were now reacting to the flakes that had landed on them. One was staring intently at his own hand like a corny carnival palm reader; the other was rubbing the bridge of his nose with the back of a hairy forearm.

“Tom?” she bleated again, more insistently this time.

“What?”

“What are we going to do?”

He shook his head, furious with himself. He’d had advance warning. Twenty-four hours ago, the president had been advised to mobilize FEMA resources. He’d been ahead of the herd…just barely. And yet he’d failed to capitalize on it, failed to take steps, and here he was, stuck in the reception area of some Wall Street reprographics company, watching people die all around him.

He stared out of the window. The downfall of flakes seemed to be lessening, or perhaps the ever-present Manhattan wind, funneled between the tall buildings, was pushing the cloud of particles farther down the street. The two policemen who’d turned up in the squad car were beginning to falter. One had dropped down to sit heavily on the curb, like a late-night reveler trying to figure out how he was going to get home. Most of the other people around were in the same state, slumped on their haunches, dizzily trying to comprehend what was happening to them.

Tom reached for the door that led to the sidewalk.

“What the hell are you doing?” cried Elaine. Her perfectly threaded brows were arched in horror.

He nodded at the police car parked on the far side. “I’m going.”

“We can’t go out there!”

“I’m going. You can come with me, or you can stay. Up to you.”

She shook her head frantically.

Act quickly or don’t act at all.

“I’m going, then,” he said firmly.

“You can’t leave me!” she cried, reaching out to grab his arm. “Please! You can’t—”

He shook her off roughly. “You’re a grown-up, Elaine. You’ll have to figure something else out.” He pushed the door open, pulled his jacket over his head, and hurried across the sidewalk and into the late-afternoon sunlight now painting the ground with shades of salmon pink and shadowy lavender, like vast Rothko-esque hard-edged brushstrokes. Behind him, he could hear Elaine banging on the glass and howling after him.

He approached the younger cop sitting on the curb.

“Officer?”

The cop looked up at him and blinked back the sun in his eyes.

“Keys?” said Tom. “Your car keys? Are they in the ignition?”

The cop grinned, vacant and childlike. “Hey, Steve? That you, man?”

He’s gone. He’s out of it.

Tom looked past him. The driver’s side door was wide open. The emergency lights were still flashing, which presumably meant the keys were there. “Never mind.”

He quickly hopped in, pulled the door closed, found the keys dangling from the ignition, and turned them. He shot one more glance back at Elaine, standing beyond the smoky-colored glass, banging her fists on the window for him to come back to rescue her.

She’s not your responsibility, Tom. Leon and Grace. OK? Just Leon and Grace. That’s it.

~About the Author~

Award-winning author Alex Scarrow spent years as a video game designer before turning to writing. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed TimeRiders books for teens, as well as a number of adult thrillers. He lives in Norwich, England. Learn more at the following links…

Alex’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

~Giveaway~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The following two tabs change content below.
Wife, homeschooling mom, YA author of paranormal, dark fantasy, and horror, huge fan of the Oxford comma, book blogger, crafter, baker of sweet things, lover of the culinary arts, self-appointed zombie slayer.