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Authors: Cian Campbell

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Land of the Dead (Book 1): Infected

BOOK: Land of the Dead (Book 1): Infected
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Contents

Title Page

THE INFECTED

Land of the Dead

Book One

 

by

 

Cian Campbell

 

The Western World went first, but not without a fight.  What would soon be named the DOR-Z virus (an acronym for Delayed Onset Rabies – Zombie Virus) was brought into dozens of European nations, and North America, by Syrian and Iraqi refugees beginning December of 2015.  There was no malice on the refugees’ part, they had been unwitting carriers.  Though it was never proven, the most likely creator of the DOR-Z virus was Doctor Hassam Salama, an Egyptian geneticist and virologist that had abandoned the comforts of his research laboratory in London to join ISIS in November of 2014. 

The delayed onset was a key factor in the virus’ early success.  It took between 17 and 24 days for the virus to incubate and for the first symptoms to appear in the airborne virus.  Then, the symptoms would rapidly manifest in fever, swelling of the brain, violent behavior, increased strength and a near-total resistance to pain.  Untold thousands of people (mostly social workers, medical personnel, and airline travelers) were infected, and were in turn infecting others, before the first group began to show symptoms.  There were attacks in the first month, but they were easily treatable with one dose of human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period.

 

For the past week or so Dillon’s routine had been fairly standard.  He would meet with the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) and the Director of U.S. Aid and International Development (USAID) at 0800 every morning.  Often, the Regional Medical Officer, Charlie Cohen, would be present as well.  Afterward, he would call Bryce on his SAT phone and report in.  Then, he would check on the 505 and 611 complexes, mostly to make sure the locally hired guards and local police officers showed up for work.  Finally, he would visit the USAID offices, which would usually give him an excuse to eat a late lunch with his wife, Hannah.

Dillon had met Hannah during his second rotation to Iraq with the 5
th
Special Forces Group.  There, he had taken a bit of shrapnel to his legs; nothing life threatening, but enough to put him on the next plane to Rammstein AFB in Germany.  At that time, she was a nurse and a captain in the U.S. Army. In a morphine-induced blur, Dillon had loudly announced that she was the woman of his dreams.  Later, towards the end of his month of physical therapy, CAPTAIN Hannah Weiss had stopped by to check on him and jokingly asked if he had been serious.  He had, and thus started a whirlwind romance that led to marriage in 2003 and a son, Michael, in 2005.  Now, she was working as a nurse for the U.S. Embassy, though she was working out of the clinic at USAID.“Happy Birthday, sweetheart.  Looks like the mail ate your presents.  Michael made you something, though.”

“I’m sure it’s great.  He’s a mad inventor, isn’t he?” Dillon said, skirting around the real issue. Things were pretty bad in the U.S., and more than just the mail was affected.

“I didn’t let him get into anything TOO dangerous.  I’ve been meaning to ask you:  do you think we should pull him out of school?  The buses have been having some problems with those local checkpoints.”

“Nah, I’m sure they’ll just adjust the routes.  I’ll talk to Mahmoud later today and have him give me the best way around everything.  CAS will take my advice.  Besides, what would he do?  Stay home by himself?” CAS was Cairo American School, the only accredited school in Cairo, and the only option for a decent education.

“Well, they’re going to be moving me to part time this week or next, just Wednesday and Friday.  You could also spin by and check on him on the days I’m working.”

“I could do that.” Dillon realized that he could, as things currently stood, check up on Michael two or three times a day without issue.

“Okay, then, I’ll pull him out of school starting tomorrow.”

“Won’t he be bored?” A bored Michael was serious trouble.

“We can give HIM a few of his presents early.” Michael’s birthday was next week, on the 17
th
, and Hannah had ordered them right after Christmas and hid them. When you did all of your shopping on Amazon.com and had everything shipped to you from overseas, it was just easier to shop ahead. “Like I would have done for you, if you would have kept your wish list updated and not procrastinated. If you took care of your own needs as well as you do your job….”

“I know, I know.” Dillon was always the last to get his time sheet in, or complete a voucher for travel, or completed his yearly evaluation. If it was for him, it always seemed to go on the back burner. He looked at his watch, noting the time. “Damn, I have to go.”

“Do you have something scheduled that is more important than lunch with your beautiful wife?”

“We have a Conference Call from D.C. in ten minutes.”

“I was talking to your mom this morning. She said things are pretty bad in the States.”

His parents, John and Susan Shay, a history professor and a cardiologist, respectively, still lived in Huntington, West Virginia. They had never approved of his military service, but loved their son nonetheless. Certainly they had hoped that he would follow in their footsteps and attain an advanced degree. In the end, Dillon had just been too restless, and had barely managed to complete a Bachelor of Arts on line through the University of Maryland.

“Yes, they are. Things are bad enough that they didn’t order us all back to the U.S.” Dillon reached across the table and squeezed her hand. “We’ll get through it, somehow.”

He wasn’t sure he believed what he was saying, and it showed.

“Well, you should get to your conference call. I assume it’s upstairs, or you would have left an hour ago.”

“Yep. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Okay. I’ll boil up some chicken tonight. Can you shred it when you get home? Chicken tacos…..”

Dillon laughed. “Sure. Taco Tuesday it is.” Then, he gave her a hug and a kiss before he headed for the stairs. Did he hug her for just a little longer than normal?

The Director of USAID was a Texan named Alex Carver. Alex seemed more farmer than administrator, though he hadn’t worked on anything more than a small garden plot in twenty or more years. Still, you could tell that it ran in the blood by the way he approached problems. Doctor Cohen was there as well.

“Hey Dillon, what’s this conference call all about?”

Dillon shrugged. “I don’t know, Alex. Maybe we’re being evacuated to a safe haven location, maybe D.C. wants more information to feed the beast.” In the State Department, employees often felt like they spent as much time updating Washington as they did responding to issues in their country of assignment. When it became particularly politically sensitive Washington would become insatiable in its constant demand for further updates. Often, junior officers felt like they were shoveling paperwork into the maw of a hungry monster. Thus, the expression “feeding the beast” was born.

“Well, let’s just hope that they aren’t having a problem with payroll.”

“That would be a real problem.” offered Doctor Cohen with a wry smile.

Dillon liked Cohen a lot. He was practical, very liberal, and very….granola. He had worked with the Peace Corps, as an ER physician in Los Angeles, and then with Doctors Without Borders before coming on with State for what he felt would be a grand adventure. His assignment was supposed to be over in two weeks, but his home leave had been canceled and his arrival date in New Delhi delayed because of the current crisis. He had taken it like he took everything, in stride and with a grain of salt.

“Well, we should figure out how to turn this system on, then. I hate this damned machine.” The Director of USAID had many talents. A mastery of technology was not one of them. Dillon smiled as he imagined the blinking lights on all of the Director’s home appliances, the clocks perpetually flashing 12:00.

“I got it.” He said, switching on the system and dialing the number. After putting in the conference call number they were instantly connected, though the lag was significant.

Assistant Secretary Julia Howe and her entourage were on the other end of the call. In the lower screen boxes, Dillon could see that Ambassador Johnson and RSO Monroe were already on line as well.

“USAID is here.” said Director Carver.

One of A/S Howe’s assistants spoke up. “Director, we have most of the NEA region on the line. Could you identify yourself by name, country, and position please.”

“Alex Carver, Director of USAID Cairo.”

“Do we have everybody?” asked A/S Howe?

“No, we’re still waiting on Dubai and Tunis.” answered the assistant.

“Well,” she said, looking at her watch, “They’ll have to catch up as they can. I have a meeting with Secretary Kerry in ten minutes.”

She paused to clear her throat and shuffle her notes before starting.

“Everyone, the CDC is going to announce that the DOR-Z virus is rapidly mutating. I don’t have the specifics, but it’s bad. It’s really bad. Further, WHO has announced that the mutated virus, called the KSROR-Z virus, will be a worldwide epidemic in a matter of days. Anyone infected is dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs. At this time, we are advising against quarantine, as the subjects are dangerous carriers.”

Questions erupted from over a dozen countries simultaneously.

“I’m not going to be able to answer most of your questions. Further information will be provided via classified email as it becomes available. As of this moment, safe havens are being set up in Malta, Crete, and Cyprus. Ambassadors… each of you will be provided with an evacuation plan within the next hour. Regional Medical Officers will be responsible for the implementation of all required procedures, which will include administering the vaccine and certifying that the mandatory quarantine period has been observed. Thank you and good day.”

With that, the conference call was shut down, and the three men were left in stunned silence for the next thirty seconds or so. Dillon was the first to start talking again.

“Doc, what do you think she meant by implementation?”

“Well, at a guess, I think that there is some sort of mandatory quarantine time required before we can board the planes.”

“Well, that’s just ridiculous, Charlie. We need to get our people out of here before whatever is going on spreads to Cairo.”

Though Director Carver had a point, it was a misguided one. Two months in, an estimated twenty percent of the population of the Western World was a carrier, though only half of those would ever show systems. Panicked people did not show up to work, and only martial law kept the lights on and the water running in many countries. The Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, along with at least a dozen university think tanks and the National Institute of Health, tried to make progress. On February 3rd, 2016, they had developed early diagnostic methods that allowed for the early identification of the infected. On February 6th, 2016, the CDC had developed a vaccine. The problem was producing enough of it to make a difference.

“These evacuation spots are all islands. I think they are virus free, at least right now. If they shut down air transportation, or limit it to flights that are thoroughly screened, they could have a shot at staying relatively safe. It’s the best course of action.”

Dillon was still thinking it over in his head. “Doc, what do you think she meant when she advised against quarantine? I mean, I’ve heard some zombie rumors….”

“It’s a rabies virus. Even if it has become more virulent because of cross-hybridization with something else, like the flu, it’s still just a rabies virus. Dead people don’t walk around, Dillon. Though rabies carriers do experience swelling in the brain that can often cause violent behavior.” Doc Cohen was obviously a little annoyed at Dillon’s mention of zombies.

“Okay. Let’s just wait for the Ambassador to tell us what’s going to happen, then. Damn, I hate waiting. We need to be moving NOW.” said the Director.

Dillon didn’t like this situation one bit. The security problems were going to be tremendous. “I think it would be highly imprudent to tell the Embassy community at this point of the process. We don’t want everyone pulling their kids out of school and causing a larger panic. The bottom line is this – there are over five thousand Americans living in the Cairo metropolitan area, and the evacuation plan probably won’t transport more than the 200 or so that work for the Embassy and US AID. The rest are, most likely, going to be abandoned. Whatever we do, it’s going to have to be done quietly, or we’re going to be fighting with thousands of people to get on however many C-130s they send to pick us up.”

BOOK: Land of the Dead (Book 1): Infected
2.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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