A Red Plague Novella
Red Plague Series 4
Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Mild Red Books
Date of Publication: July 26, 2016
Number of pages: 175
Word Count: 45,000
The red plague has devastated the human race, turning billions of people into zombies with red eyes and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.
Seventeen-year-old Callie Crawford is used to fighting. She was an all-star wrestler in high school, and since 212R destroyed her world, she hasn’t stopped fighting. When her high school boyfriend Levi caught the virus, Callie saved him by keeping him chained in a rural North Carolina barn, waiting for something to change.
Before 212R, Roman Duran was a computer nerd, but since the virus, he’s become a guard in the survivor enclave in Washington, DC. After volunteering for a rescue mission, Roman has been belittled, robbed, and left for dead. He hasn’t saved a single person.
Until he stumbles across Callie. Because she has a zombie on a short leash, and Roman is carrying a syringe full of zombie cure.
Callie and Roman will face soulless survivors and rabid zombies on their journey to save a single infected. Along the way, Callie will have to choose between her past and a whole new future.
Anna Abner lived in a haunted house for three years and grew up talking to imaginary friends. In her professional life, she has been a Realtor, a childcare provider, and a teacher. Now, she writes edge-of-your-seat paranormal romances and blogs from her home in sunny Southern California about ghosts and magic. You can connect with her online at AnnaAbner.com.
Roman Duran ran a step behind Jared and saw the moment the other man faltered on his wounded leg, careening into a chain link fence. Without missing a step, he ducked under Jared’s arm and forced him forward. The pack of infecteds was only two or, at the most, three blocks behind.
“Here,” Pollard Datsik, the third member of their trio, hissed, slipping around a block wall and sprinting up a set of exterior stairs to an apartment above a liquor store. Roman dragged Jared behind him.
While Roman helped Jared to a sagging sofa, Pollard shut the door with a quiet click and peered through the window, his breath a puff in the silence.
“Are they following?” Roman whispered. “Are they swarming the stairs?”
Pollard stretched his neck to see further, and then soft-stepped to the next window and stared at the street below.
“I’m fine,” Jared murmured unnecessarily. “I tripped. It won’t happen again.” He shoved Roman away. “I just need a couple minutes.”
Roman didn’t buy it. The injury in question was a jagged slash above Jared’s knee he’d earned climbing a fence the night before. Though they’d stopped running long enough to wrap it, Jared wasn’t as energetic as he’d been before the wound.
Separating from Jared, Roman peered through a broken windowpane, blinking away the exhaustion that had dogged him for the past couple of days. Without enjoyment, he chewed one of their last handfuls of goldfish crackers, the food dry and pasty in his mouth. Water was about to become a serious issue.
“I’m so thirsty,” he complained in a whisper. “And dirty.” What he wouldn’t do for a clean, clear stream of fresh water.
Roman glanced at his companions, noting their equally stained and stinking uniforms. Maybe volunteering to leave Washington, DC had been a crappy decision all around. Maybe the veep should have sent older, more experienced survivors on her search and rescue mission. Maybe his eighteen years on the earth weren’t enough for this kind of mission.
A pack of infecteds had caught their scent in Raleigh and hadn’t let go. Forty-eight hours without sleep or rest. Two days of running, of hiding, of trying to lose the predators. And now, they were out of food and water.
“What if we climb on the roof?” Roman whispered. “We could wait them out.”
Pollard took the bag of crackers from him and crammed a handful into his mouth.
“We’re out of water,” Jared reminded them. “What if they trap us for days? No.” He shook his head at the room’s closed door. “We could end up a lot worse than we are now. I say we keep running.”
“Forever?” Pollard scoffed. “There has to be a point where we say we can’t continue like this. A point where we circle around the pack and head home.”
Roman wouldn’t call Washington, DC home. But then he’d never called anywhere home. An orphan kicked into the system after his mother abandoned him, none of the dozen foster and group homes he’d lived in had ever been his home. And DC was no different. It was a way station to somewhere else, no matter whether he had an apartment or a job or a purpose. It still wasn’t home.
Roman had yet to find his real home.
Swallowing dry crackers, Roman double-checked the number of rounds for his M-16. When they’d left the safety of DC’s walls, they each carried forty rounds for their personal firearms. It had sounded like a lot at the time, but he was down to nineteen rounds. The other two men had less.
For an entire day, Jared had fired warning shots at their pursuers—a mistake, Roman realized now—but the only result had been bringing even more infecteds into the pack, as nearby stragglers were attracted by the noise.
His ears perking up, Roman rushed to the far window and scanned for movement. Was he crazy, or did he hear a car engine?
Roman had left DC wanting to help people, both infecteds and survivors. After running into people, one worse than the last, his companions were nearly to the point of abandoning the mission. But Roman hadn’t given up. Even though they hadn’t helped a single person.
Between two rooftops, he caught a glimpse of a fast-moving white Range Rover driving in a westerly direction. A part of him wanted to catch up to the driver, but another part of him, a starving and sleep deprived part, wanted the vehicle to pass them by and disappear.
The sound of the Range Rover’s engine quieted as it drove out of sight.
“Let’s try the distraction method again,” Roman suggested. The last time they’d thrown empty cans near the zombies, they’d been curious enough for Roman and the other two men to escape. “It worked before.”
Their rescue mission to Myrtle Beach could still be salvaged once they shook this pack. Unhindered by the starving horde of infecteds, the three men could scavenge for food and water, sleep safely in shifts, and cover ground at an easy pace. This running for their lives, though, couldn’t go on forever. Without water and more substantial food than goldfish crackers, he wasn’t going to survive much longer.
“I’ll open fire,” Pollard said, as if Roman hadn’t spoken, “and you two run for the cell tower at the end of the street. I’ll meet you there.”
“Good plan,” Jared said, “except you’re a horrible shot. I’ll do the shooting, thanks.” He stood, trying to hide a wince of pain and failing.
Pollard clenched his jaw at the insult. “Fine.” He grabbed Roman by the sleeve and dragged him toward the door.
“You sure about this?” Roman asked, still thinking his idea would work better than wasting more bullets and hoping to find each other under a tower.
“Just run fast,” Pollard said.