Today we have an excerpt from Dana Fredsti’s new novel, Plague World (available today from Titan Books)!
Here’s what the book is about:
The thrilling conclusion of the zombie apocalypse begun in PLAGUE TOWN and continued in PLAGUE NATION! The zombie plague has gone airborne, and the conspiracy that began it all reaches the boiling point.
Having been ambushed in San Francisco, which is now fully engulfed in the zombie plague, Ashley and the wild cards must pursue the enemy to San Diego. There they will discover a splinter of their own organization, the Dolofónoi tou Zontanoús Nekroús, which seeks to weaponize the plague. But that isn’t the worst news. The plague has gone airborne, making it transferable without physical contract. It cannot be controlled by anyone, so reports of the zombie swarm are coming in from across the United States – and across the world.
Read on for the excerpt!
“Hello, my name is Marcy,” Noopar said. “How may I be of assistance to you today?”
Noopar gave an inward sigh as she started yet another customer service call for Philatelic Inc. The stamp collecting firm was one of the smaller companies to outsource their IT to India, but they had as many IT issues as the huge global monsters, and just as many irate customers.
She used to have sympathy for her many callers. On an intellectual level, she understood that hearing a foreign accent could be off-putting when calling from New York about a problem in a New York office. But she did her best to help, no matter how abusive some of the callers could be.
After a year at the job, working ten to twelve hour shifts, six days a week, in cramped conditions, her well of sympathy was drained dry. She was hungry, her head hurt, and she very much needed a bathroom break. On top of that, her coworkers in the surrounding cubicles were ill with the latest flu that was going around.
It had just hit India in the last day or so, and according to the news, it was a bad one. Already there had been fatalities, and at least a dozen people in her section had caught it, bringing it to work. The noises were disgusting enough, but now Noopar worried about catching it herself.
She didn’t blame her co-workers. Calling in sick wasn’t an option-employees were expected to come in first, and be sent home if they deemed sick enough. As a result, the call center was a Petri dish of germs.
An angry voice brought her back to the present.
“I am sorry to hear about your inconvenience, sir,” Noopar said, trying to remember the angry caller’s complaint. “May I have your name and contact information, so I may assist you more thoroughly?”
She typed in the information given by one Chris Anderson-“That’s Anderson with an ‘o,’ not with an ‘e’!”-trying to keep up with the flow of angry words and ignore the wet hacking cough coming from Vijay’s station directly across from her.
Noopar eyed the bottle of hand sanitizer next to her phone as she kept typing.
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir. I believe I can help you resolve this issue-” She paused as a new spate of words blasted through her headpiece. “”Yes, sir, I understand and apologize for this inconvenience and-”
A rattling cough and what sounded like liquid splatting onto a hard surface broke Noopar’s already shaky focus. A foul smell rose from Vijay’s workstation.
“Excuse me, sir, but may I place you on hold so I may further research this issue?” She cut off the response in mid-stream, slamming her finger on the hold button and slowly standing up to peer over the top of the partition computers.
In his early twenties, cocky, and in love with American cinema, Vjiay was both a source of annoyance and amusement. His use of American slang made her wince, especially when he tried to sneak it into the sacred customer service scripts. He was as harmless, irritating, and endearing as a hyperactive puppy.
“Vijay, what is wrong?” she gasped.
He looked up at her with yellowed, bloodshot eyes, black fluid coating his lower lip and chin. Blood oozed out of his eye sockets, nose, and ears.
“Noopar,” he said in a bewildered tone. “I am not feeling well.”
He fell forward, splayed hands knocking a penholder and scattering its contents over his desk, miring the pens in the black vomit already there.
“Vijay!” Noopar stared in horror as his body convulsed once, than again, before settling with ominous finality face down on the desk. She waited for him to move again.
“Vijay?” Her voice sounded small against the background buzz of dozens of voices.
The hum was suddenly broken by a scream coming from somewhere behind her. Noopar snapped around so quickly she pulled a muscle in her neck. A sharp, almost nauseating pain instantly radiated up into her head and down her left shoulder, but it barely registered as she took in what was happening.
All across the vast floor of the call center, dozens of workers were going through convulsions similar to Vijay’s, while others doubled over in coughing fits, spewing up the vile smelling black fluid. Yet more lay unmoving in the narrow corridors between rows of stations, or draped across their desks.
Another scream, and them more echoed through the building as people tried frantically to help their friends and co-workers, or make their way over the fallen to one of the exits.
Then-as Vijay liked to say-the shit really hit the fan.
Some of the people who had collapsed on the floor or at their desks began to move again. Poonam, a woman who sat only a few stations away from Noopar, used unsteady hands to push herself to her knees where she swayed back and forth for a moment, staring blankly in front of her with the pale eyes of a corpse, blood and fluid smearing her face and darkening her green cotton top. In what seemed an almost random gesture, she reached out and grabbed the leg of another worker who was trying to squeeze by her.
He gave a startled yelp as she yanked on his leg, pulling it toward her now gaping mouth. She sank her teeth into his thigh, ripping through fabric and flesh with ease.
The man-Noopar thought his name was Amil, but she wasn’t sure-screamed in pain and fear, the high-pitched sound bouncing off the low ceiling. Blood gouted from the wound, most of it drenching his attacker as she went for another bite.
Noopar’s mind flashed briefly on the Aghori, an obscure Hindu sect whose followers practiced cannibalism. But those corpse-like eyes told her that Poonam was something even worse.
All across the room similar scenes played out with equally deadly results. Few of the victims had the presence of mind to fight back against their former co-workers. The attacks happened quickly, and the corridors became clogged with frantic men and women climbing over one another to flee the madness. Those who managed to reach the exits crowded up against the inwardly opening doors, making it impossible to escape.
The smell of blood mingled with the stench of the horrible black vomit, and screams mixed with now constant ringing of dozens of phones, Noopar quietly slid down behind her chair and crammed herself into the space under her desk. Perhaps if she was very quiet, no one would notice her. Maybe she would get out of the call center alive.
The hold button continued to flash for another five minutes before finally going dark.
[End of excerpt]