In this dystopian thriller, the majority of humanity has been infected with a virus that turns people into powerful, mindless killers. Jason Roberts and his father, William, lead a ragtag handful of humans in a war to salvage their community and, for all they know, the remnants of the human race. Simultaneously they search for survivors as they strive to determine how to survive the pandemic and its slaughter. Against overwhelming odds, will they find the strength to fight back and save the human race from Extinction?
The infected mutated quickly. People who had lost the ability to speak turned into mindless brutes within hours. They changed from humans to humanoid creatures that walked crouched with their knees bent. These creatures, a reporter had nicknamed “Links” after the missing Link, turned violent toward humans who had not mutated. News reports showed footage of masses of the creatures attacking and killing every human in their path.
Luckily, Nicole Roberts was in class in the main building at the hospital when the university closed its campus. She immediately gathered bedding, bottled water, snacks from the nearest machine, and the contents of her hospital locker. She secured a small back office and made it as livable as she could. Many medical personal slept at the hospital when the plague victims began arriving. Other staff found places on each floor. Spread over the hospital, they controlled immediate access to all the emergency facilities, ORs, and patient rooms.
Before the end of the first semester, Nicole had decided not to go home for the holidays. She opted to work at the hospital to cover for the personnel going home for Christmas. The money was great, and she hoped to make some contacts she could use later. Plus, working with the doctors could certainly help when she applied to their med school in two years.
A few days before the quarantine, Nicole’s dad called and did everything he could to talk her into leaving. He stopped just short of actually ordering her to come home. Nicole remained firm. After all, how bad could it be? She was already at the hospital. She remembered the bird flu and how dire the warnings had been. It never really amounted to a significant danger. The hospital was prepared for contingencies, and this new virus should not present a serious crisis. Only a few infected cases were quarantined in the ER. No one at the hospital expected the outbreak to get worse.
The catastrophe struck, and overnight, masses showed up unable to speak. At this stage in the mutation, patients were still manageable. The staff admitted small numbers and secured them in restraints in case they became violent, but the number with active infections increased. Hospital personnel began to mutate. The hospital ran out of room, and the remaining staff locked the doors. Security prevented people from breaking in to get help because there was no help to be given. The National Guard arrived to disperse the hordes outside with orders to shoot to kill anyone who became violent.
A mob of the Links collected at the bottom of the hill below the entrance to the hospital. A few still wore ragged clothes. They wandered aimlessly around the park, nibbling grass and berries and the buds on the bushes. One male paused to look at the building and noticed the guardsmen. His mouth opened and he uttered a horrible, shrill scream. It sounded like the word “die” drawn out into a high piercing shriek.
When the one Link screamed, the entire mob screamed. Seconds later, they charged in mass up the hill. The guardsmen opened fire. Blood splattered as bullets ripped through their targets. The Links at the front fell by the score. Many of those, torn in the hail of bullets, got up and charged again. The troops lay down a withering barrage of fire, but the mob surged over piles of their dead and smashed into the soldiers.
The mob ripped the soldiers apart. In moments, the last guardsman’s headless torso fell against the hospital doors. When the last guard died, the mob stopped screaming. They milled about, some of them gnawed on the dead bodies and pieces of the dead. Some of them wandered away. Some nibbled on the buds of the winterberry shrubs. A few wandered toward the hospital entrance. The Links’ sole purpose in the attack was to kill the human beings.
Nicole was on the third floor helping Dr. Kennedy analyze blood samples when the Links screamed. The sound penetrated the walls and filled the hospital. They covered their ears—the sound made Nicole’s teeth ache. Quickly, they hid in a small, windowless storage room behind the nurse’s station. Metal shelves stocked with supplies filled the tiny space. Nicole locked the metal door. They listened to the shrieking and the gunfire. Nicole’s heart pounded in her temples. The shooting stopped. The hospital went deathly quiet.
Sweat beaded across Kennedy’s forehead. His eyes were misty and his jaw set. He clutched the shelf post, his knuckles white. After several minutes of listening to the silence, Dr. Kennedy shuddered and looked at Nicole.
“Nicole, I have to get these samples to the main lab. You can stay here if you want, but I have to go.”
“I’ll go with you. You’ll need all the samples,” she replied. “If it makes you feel any better, I have a pistol my dad gave me when I left home. It’s in my pocketbook.”
“Let me have it,” Dr. Kennedy said, holding out his hand.
“No sir, I’m sorry, but I’m not giving you my gun. I know how to use it.”
“Give me the gun, Nicole,” he said sternly.
“No sir … if you want my help with the samples, you got it, but you’re not getting my gun.”
Her short brown hair swayed when she shook her head. Kennedy sized her up. She was about average height with a nice trim shape and not at all imposing. Kennedy stepped toward her. As he grabbed the bag, she stepped in and slammed her knee into his groin. He groaned and lurched forward meeting a palm strike under his chin that sent him flying backwards against the door. His eyes glazed over, and he slid slowly down the door. Kennedy slumped on the floor and Nicole waited cautiously. Slowly his senses returned and he looked up at her.
“I deserved that,” he said, wiping the blood from the corner of his mouth. “I’m sorry, Nicole. I was scared. …I know that’s a poor excuse, but I’m sorry.”
“I’m scared too, sir.” She continued to watch him warily as he struggled to stand. Her dad always told her to “trust most people not quite as far as you can throw them.”
As he got up on one knee, he stuck out his hand as though asking for assistance.
“I’m sorry, sir. You showed me I can’t trust you. And just so you know, you try to grab me again and you won’t walk away.”
“Fair enough,” Dr. Kennedy replied, standing up slowly on his own. “I really am sorry. It was a stupid thing to do.”
“We’ll be cool, as long as you don’t try something else.”
He picked up his tray of samples.
“You first, sir.”
“Do you really know how to shoot?”
“Yes, doctor, I do. My brother and dad taught me to defend myself. That included shooting.”
“Okay, then, maybe you should take that pistol out of your pocketbook.”
She handed him the tray of blood samples she was holding. “I’ll need my hands free.”
She stepped close to the wall just to the left of the door. It would afford a better view. She nodded, and Kennedy opened the door several inches.
“It’s okay,” she whispered.
They moved slowly into the hall. Pictures of families dotted the tops of desks and computers in the empty nurses’ station. A half-eaten candy bar lay beside the phone on the far end of the counter. The remaining hospital personnel had retreated to secure areas for shelter and had stopped attending the patients. All the patient room doors were shut. Monitors with patient information flickered on the desks behind the wraparound counter. Kennedy stopped to study one of the readouts. Wow… the metabolism on these mutations … it’s absolutely amazing. Their numbers are almost off the scale.
“Stay here.” Nicole mouthed the words and moved toward the adjoining hall. She listened carefully before motioning for the doctor.
“Might be better to take the stairs,” he whispered.
She nodded and stepped into the hall. Windows on the opposite wall looked out over the yard where she saw most of the western campus. Hundreds, thousands of Links wandered across the grounds. Stunned, Nicole stared at the creatures before she moved down the hall to the stairs. A door stood ajar on the left. She held up her hand. Damn, I wish Jason were here. I don’t know how to do this. She heard movement and a faint grunting.
“Get ready,” she mouthed and slowly reached to close the door. Moving quickly, she yanked at the door handle. Through the rapidly closing opening, she could see the Link walking around in the room still wearing restraining cuffs on his wrists. When he saw Nicole, he threw back his head, emitted the spine-chilling shriek, and leaped reaching for her. The latch on the door clicked shut one heartbeat before the Link crashed into it. Other Links throughout the hospital took up the scream and burst into frenzy. The building came alive with screaming and the sound of equipment crashing against walls and floors. Screams from outside answered their hysteria.
“Come on!” Nicole shouted.
Kennedy ran as quickly as he could, clutching the trays in his hands. They threw open the door to the stairwell. Screaming and rapid footsteps resounded from the stairwell below. She slammed the door closed—with no way to lock it.
“Come on!” She shouted again and ran back down the hall.
They heard a human cry but it ended abruptly. Other human shrieks pierced through the yowling of the Links and died away as Nicole and Kennedy ran down the hall to the next stairway twenty feet ahead.
When they neared the door, it suddenly opened, and a large black man sprang into the hall. Nicole raised her gun.
H.V. Purvis was born in 1952 and reared in rural North Carolina near Siler City. He was raised in the country where he was exposed to farming, raising animals, hunting and fishing. While a youngster, he learned to handle guns, shoot, ride horses and spent many hours daily riding the trails around his home.
His talents in music lead to an Associate in Arts degree in music from Sandhills Community College, a Bachelor in Arts in music education from Pfeiffer University and a Masters in music from Appalachian State University. After college, he worked as a church music director and taught high school chorus and theatre. In 1992, he left teaching and started Purvis Appraisals, a real estate appraisal business.
He has three children from his first marriage. He considers them to be three of his best friends.
He and Ally, his current wife, live on a small ranch in Scotland County adjoining forty-three thousand acres of State wildlife preserve. They have eleven horses, a faithful dog, an affectionate cat, some Guinea hens and a few chickens. They ride regularly on the wildlife preserve, at the beach, and in the mountains.
Purvis is an avid reader. Several years ago, he and his active imagination developed a story idea. He wrote it out and began to develop it as a book. That story and the encouragement he received from his friends and family led to an obsession for writing.