Home > Zombie Rage (Walking Plague Trilogy #2)(3)

Zombie Rage (Walking Plague Trilogy #2)(3)
Author: J.R. Rain

God, my head was on fire. What was going on? My hand hurt, too. I tried to rub it, but my other hand was chained, too. So I settled with rubbing the inflamed hand on my jeans.

Struggling now to concentrate, I recalled something about Mike. He had been cured, apparently. How? By drowning? Sweet Jesus. Anna had come up with this idea. I remembered looking at her with an insane lust for feeding. I remembered Carla restraining me. Damn Carla.

No, I tried to reason, Carla was good. Wasn’t she? She’d saved me from hurting Anna, who was the center of my existence. I was in the wrong. But my rage at being confined overtook me and I pitched forward to get free. I felt a sharp pain in my shackled hand, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care at all. I was hungry.

I was mostly gone, but I fought for reason. Mike had been cured, it seemed, by drowning. Suddenly, I knew what they were going to do. They were going to drown me, too. And I would die. Or at least I would be different than I was now, and I wasn’t sure I wanted that.

Part of me, a tiny part, was still fighting for life but mostly, I just wanted to get the hell out of there and have...satisfaction. Food. Flesh. Warm brain. God, what the hell was wrong with me?

Suddenly, I heard voices up above and I looked toward the cellar stairs. I cocked my head toward the voices, and my mind went away...far away.

Chapter Three

Carla sat with Mike in the living room. Both were silent for the moment, each lost in their own thoughts, each puzzling out the situation.

“Mike, I’m a good career cop,” Carla said. “But this is personal, too, so I’m glad you’re here to help figure out this mess.”

Mike nodded, let out a lot of air. “We’re going to have to do the same thing to Jack that he did to me.”

“I’m...” She looked away, tried again: “I’m almost sure...but not a hundred percent.”

Mike knew that for the first time since he’d been infected, he felt human again. Yes, he’d fed while he was out. Up in Griffith Park. He’d gotten a hold of a couple of transients, but he couldn’t remember if he’d killed them or had just bitten them. That part was hazy. He felt horrible about it. And worried. He had spread this disease. Or killed. How many more people were infected by now? He had no way of knowing. The details were just too hazy.

But Carla was right. Was it the gunshot wound that had cured him or the drowning? Just hours earlier, he’d experienced both. Thankfully, the zoo vet, at Jack’s request, had removed the bullet in his side.

“I don’t think the bullet would have killed me,” Mike said. “I mean, I was strong, Carla. Extremely strong. And tough. And vicious.”

Carla shrugged, “Easy, tiger. You would have probably been killed if you’d been shot in the head.”

“Either way, I remember being conscious but not conscious,” he told her. “And the water filling my lungs and then just kind of fading away.” He paused, remembering it all again for the dozenth time in the last few hours. So unreal. So bizarre. He shook his head at the memory and continued speaking, “I then remember choking, gagging. My mind was awake again, somehow, in a cognizant way instead of an instinctive one. I don’t know what happened but it took all my strength to turn onto my side and get the water out of my lungs.”

Working as a cop in the Hollywood area, Carla had seen and heard a lot of crazy things, but she’d never heard anything like this. Mike’s gaze on her never wavered during this description; she knew he was telling the truth. It was a hideous truth. Is this what it’s going to come to in order to bring Jack back? she wondered. Will he have to really be drowned to save his life?

“It’s ugly, I know.” Mike seemed to read her mind. “But I’m also thinking about Joe. I was personally on the verge of...” he sought the right words, “...on the verge of not caring. At all. Jack is a few days behind us with this...whatever it is. He may still have a little time. And he’s safe, for now. Not happy, but safe.”

“What about Joe, his brother?”

“Joe’s running out of time.”

“So what are you thinking, Mike?”

“I’m thinking Anna’s idea of contacting Joe is the best we’ve come up with,” Mike answered. “Only, I’d bet that by now he’s probably beyond reason.”

“I guess you know better than anyone else about Joe,” she said.

“Right. Joe and I had a connection, an understanding, if you will, about our condition. I could try this drowning cure on Joe, if it’s not too late. But I think I will need to first fool him into thinking I’m, well, still infected.”

She didn’t like it. Who would? “You could be killed, or, if things get out of hand, you could kill Jack’s brother.”

Mike picked up his glass of water and gulped down half of it. Water had never tasted so sweet to him. He relished another mouthful and swallowed. He looked at her. “I’m close to Joe. We’re buddies. Seen and done everything together. But tell me if you don’t think it’s the most logical choice here. We don’t have much else. If there’s a chance to save Joe, then we need to do it.”

Carla thought of Jack in the cellar, probably trying to tear his hand through the damn cuffs. She thought of Anna upstairs, going crazy with worry. Mike did have a point. Jack hadn’t progressed to the point Mike had—and where Joe probably was at now. It was a great risk, but, yeah, they were out of other options.

“Okay,” she locked eyes with Mike. “Call Joe and talk him into meeting with you.”

That is, of course, she thought, if Jack’s brother was even coherent.

Chapter Four

Joe Carter parked down the street from the cottage where David Stetson and the Agent in Black were staying. Joe had gotten the call from the Agent—Cole, as he now called himself—and had decided to accept the invitation to come to them instead of turning himself in to the naval base at Seal Beach.

It sounded like a good plan, Joe thought. The three of them had been changed. Joe and Stetson were feeling great now, and they just had to get Cole (who was no longer an Agent of the CREW, everyone was sure) through the rough stage before Cole could feel better. Then the three of them would return to the base and, with their strength and heightened senses, take over the damn place.

Joe left the stolen car on a side street and ambled down the road to the cottage. Stetson had promised food, and Joe was hungry. He’d never been so hungry in his life and he relished the scent of the people inside the small beach homes as he passed them. Not yet, he told himself firmly. He wanted to feed, but Stetson had promised him a good meal and Joe had agreed not to do anything foolish before he got to the cottage. Not yet. Soon, though, he grinned.

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