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Authors: Dirk Patton

Voodoo Plague - 01

BOOK: Voodoo Plague - 01
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Voodoo Plague

 

 

Book 1

 

By

Dirk Patton

 

Text copyright © 2013 by Dirk Patton

Copyright © 2013 by Dirk Patton

All Rights Reserved

Also By Dirk Patton

Crucifixion: Voodoo Plague Book 2

Rolling Thunder: Voodoo Plague Book 3

1

 

 

The Boeing
737-800 banked slightly as it aligned for touchdown at Atlanta’s Hartsfield
Jackson International Airport, slight turbulence causing a few bumps as we
descended the last hundred feet to the tarmac.  The elderly woman beside me let
out a slow sigh, like an inner tube deflating, as the landing gear thumped onto
the runway.  My back and ass were sore from the four hour flight from Phoenix
to Atlanta with almost another hour in my seat before takeoff since I was in
first class and had been the second person to board the plane.  Part of me
thought I should feel sorry for all the people jammed into coach, but I’ve
logged enough hours in the air that I only feel relief that I now have enough
miles under my belt that the airline always upgrades me to first class.

As usual for
Atlanta we taxied so long that it felt as if the pilot was trying to drive the
plane back to Arizona, but we finally made it to the gate.  There was the normal
scramble to stand up and be ready to go as soon as the captain turned off the
fasten seat belt sign and I quickly made my way down the jet way and started
the long, weaving trek through the terminal. 

Even though I
was absorbed in reading all the emails that were popping up on my phone it
didn’t take long to notice the increased security in the airport.  Uniformed
police were everywhere.  Standing and watching the crowds, walking in pairs,
working dogs along the crowded concourses.  I was really surprised when I
boarded the airport subway train to see a uniformed officer in each car.  I fly
in and out of Atlanta on business at least three times a month and I’ve never
seen a cop in any of the train cars, let alone all of them.  They looked alert
and intense, not bored like a cop who gets assigned a security detail just
because the politicians want things to look good for the public.  I was glad to
get off the train and exit to fresh air through baggage claim.

The curb was
jammed with police vehicles of every stripe.  Marked cars, vans and SUVs took
up much of the curb space, but there were also a good amount of unmarked
vehicles that were too new and shiny to belong to any agency that was not
federal.  Uniformed officers were very visible as well as a good contingent of
unsmiling men wearing suits and small ear pieces.  The usual crush of cabs and
courtesy vans was continually being waved on and not allowed to stop.  It
seemed that every traveler was being scrutinized by no less than a dozen pairs
of eyes.  Glad to make my way to the rental car center train without any
problems, I checked a car out with minimal effort and got on the road to my
hotel in Alpharetta.

Alpharetta is a
suburb north of Atlanta, about 45 miles from the airport.  My company’s
corporate offices are located there and it was my home away from home.  Driving
north on I-75 from the airport there was again a very large and noticeable
police presence.  Georgia State Police cruisers were sitting on the shoulder
every three or four miles.  Many of the overpasses as I drove through downtown
Atlanta had a Georgia State Trooper parked on them, standing at the railing
watching the freeway traffic.  Some were using binoculars to get a better look at
vehicles or drivers that caught their attention.  All looked like they were on
high alert.

I thumbed on the
rental SUV’s radio and set it to scan for stations hoping to find some news
about what had triggered such a massive police presence.  I’ve travelled a lot
over the past decade or so and this was comparable police activity to
immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Centers on 9/11. 

No news on the
FM dial, I fiddled with the unfamiliar settings until I got the AM band and
repeated the scan.  Lots of talk, in fact all talk except for a faint music
station that was playing mariachi music, but the topics were about football,
politics, or finance; anything except local news.  I shut the radio off and
dialed my wife’s cell phone back in Arizona, intending to ask her to look on
the internet for any news reports, but I kept getting a ‘call failed’ error
from the phone.  I finally gave up trying.  I’d call her from the phone in my
hotel room when I checked in.

The sun was low
on the horizon when I parked at the hotel.  It was a nothing special Hilton
Garden Inn with the best features being that there was a Starbucks a couple of
doors down and it was walking distance to my company headquarters.  Checking in
I asked the desk clerk if he had heard any news that would explain all the
police, but he hadn’t and didn’t seem at all interested.  Handing my room key
across he informed me about the breakfast that was served in the lobby each
morning and jangled my nerves a bit with the news that the hotel’s phones and
internet were down.

In my room I
dumped my bags on the floor and tried calling my wife again from my cell.  Same
‘call failed’ message.  I picked up the room phone and was momentarily excited
to hear a dial tone, but when I pressed 9 for an outside line I was only
greeted with silence.  I tried texting, but the message never sent, and I tried
to access the internet with my iPhone browser, but the connection timed out.

Experiencing
some mounting anxiety I clicked on the TV and sat on the edge of the couch
cushion, lighting a cigarette as I waited for the TV to finish starting up. 
When it did I quickly scanned through channels looking for any news.  There was
the standard assortment of pre-primetime shows for the first 10 channels until
I landed on CNN.  Someone was interviewing a soccer player about something I
cared nothing about.  I kept clicking and found MSNBC, equally devoid of any
real news, then Headline News reporting on a market bombing in Iraq that had
happened yesterday.  Nothing.  I tried my cell and the room phones again with
no better results.

I spent ten
minutes surfing channels looking for any information, then finally turned the
TV off, grabbed my room key and car keys and headed downstairs.  My corporate
office was only a couple of blocks away and I knew that we paid a lot of money
for redundant and hardened data circuits that also carried our Voice Over IP
telephone traffic.  I was sure I would be able to make an outgoing call from
the office.

Normally I would
have walked, but I was a little spooked and didn’t want to be far from my
rental car, so I drove the short distance.  I absently noted the swamp that
filled the land bordered by my hotel and the street that led to the office. 
The sun was now down and there was a faint mist starting to form over the
surface of the water.  I’m not a superstitious man, and in my day was something
on the bad side of bad ass, but I hit the lock button for the SUV’s doors and
felt better when they promptly thunked into place.

The parking lot
at the office was empty but well lit when I pulled in.  It’s a large lot that
stretches out from the building to a green belt on two sides, the swamp on the
other.  I parked as close to the doors as I could, not really giving a crap
about using a handicapped spot in an empty parking lot at night.

My key card
tripped the lock and I tugged open the heavy glass door and entered the marble
floored lobby.  To my left was a receptionist area, but when I picked up the
phone handset off the massive phone bank sitting on her desk there was no dial
tone even though an extension light started glowing red.  Not sure if there was
something special that needed to be done to use this phone I hung up, noted the
extension light went out, and headed deeper into the building to find a phone
that was not more complicated than a physics experiment.

I used my key
card to access the executive conference room, the lights automatically coming
on as I entered.  A normal looking phone sat on a side table between a couple
of leather chairs, and again no dial tone when I lifted the handset.  I gently
returned the handset to the cradle, not sure why I was being careful to be
quiet.  Looking around the room I spotted a large plasma display mounted to the
wall, the remote control precisely placed in the center of the mahogany
conference table that nearly filled the space. 

My company subscribed
to satellite TV service and there were many more channels than what the hotel
offered.  Sinking into a plush leather conference chair I spent the next hour
surfing any news channel I could find.  Nothing.  Not even the normal news
cycle.  It seemed that every news outlet was pre-occupied with Hollywood
gossip, pop culture puff pieces or interviews with minor celebrities.  I don’t
watch enough TV to know if this was normal or something out of the ordinary,
but it didn’t make me feel any better.

After an hour,
and multiple checks of my cell phone, the office phone and the internet, I gave
up and decided to go back to the hotel and get some rest.  I couldn’t find any
news to indicate there was anything strange going on in the world and I passed
my case of the willies off on being jet lagged and needing some rest.  I
stopped at a convenience store on my way back and was only mildly surprised to
see a sign on the door that read “Credit Card machine is down.  Cash Only.”  I
bought a six pack of beer, paid cash and headed back to the hotel. 

Room service provided the burger
and fries that I washed down with three beers before falling into bed and a
deep sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

I don’t know
what woke me.  Whatever it was didn’t repeat, but it was enough to bring me
fully awake with creeping gooseflesh on my arms.  The case of the willies from
the evening before was back with a vengeance.  I laid there for a time,
listening, but the hotel was quiet.  It was too far from the Interstate to hear
any late night truck traffic, plus I’ve found in the past that it really is
pretty well insulated and quiet as far as hotels go. 

After a bit I
gave up on falling back asleep and rolled out of bed and checked my cell.  No
calls, texts or emails, and now it also showed no service.  The room phone
still had dial tone, but nothing when I tried to get an outside line.  Turning
the TV on I dressed quickly in yesterday’s travel clothes of jeans, polo shirt
and running shoes.  As I was tying my shoes the TV came up and I got a glimpse
of a harried news anchor with a look of horror on her face before the damn TV
followed its startup programming and changed to the hotel information channel. 

Cursing I
grabbed the remote and stabbed the channel button repeatedly with my thumb
until I was back on the news channel.  When I saw the banner across the bottom
of the screen the remote fell out of my hand and clattered onto the glass
coffee table.

“America
Attacked – Millions Dead” the banner screamed.  I read the words over and over
as if they would say something different if I just read them enough times. 
They didn’t.  It took an effort of will to tear my eyes off the banner and look
at the images on the screen and listen to the shaking voice.  Apparently we
were looking at New York City, but it looked more like hell on earth.  The
image was shaky and grainy from being taken from a great altitude, and as I
listened it was explained that this was a feed from a military drone flying
over New York City at 45,000 feet.  Through the smoke and dust all that was
visible were ruined buildings that were on fire.

“- - again, at
11:33 PM Eastern time a series of nuclear bombs were detonated in the greater
New York City area.  The information we have at this time is that there were
nine separate detonations that all occurred within seconds of each other.  We
have received wildly varying accounts of the size of the bombs, but no formal information
from the White House or the Pentagon at this time.  New York appears to be
mostly either destroyed or on fire at this time.  The population of the area
attacked is greater than eight million and so far we haven’t seen any sign of
life.  We’re expecting a statement from the White House sometime this morning
but we…”

The reporter
paused but the video feed of the destruction in New York continued to play on
the screen.  After a moment,

“We’re receiving
unconfirmed reports of attacks on other cities on the Eastern Seaboard.  These
attacks are being reported as non-nuclear, but we don’t have any other
information at this time.  The fires burning in New York are visible as far
away as Philadelphia and Boston and we’re trying to get information on the direction
of the radioactive fall….”

The screen went
black for a moment then changed to the logo for the Emergency Broadcast System
overlaid with a banner that read ‘This Is Not A Test’.  I grabbed the remote
and changed channels, but every channel was displaying the same screen and over
the TV speakers sounded the familiar high pitched tone unique to America’s
EBS. 

I sat stunned,
staring at the TV, not really believing what I had just seen.  This was the
type of thing that only happened in the movies.  Inactivity didn’t last long
before my need for information kicked in.  Remembering the clock radio on the
night stand I dove across the bed and grabbed it, fumbling for the power
button, then the AM band when only static was found on FM.  Rolling through the
band I found some garbled stations, and then frantically reversed when I heard
a voice that was static covered but clear.  It took some fine tuning before a
stressed sounding male voice blared out of the tiny speaker.

“We have been
attacked.  The New York area is just gone in multiple nuclear blasts.  The
following cities have had some type of nerve agent released in them and should
not be approached:  Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Charlotte,
Miami, Atlanta, Memphis, Chicago, St Louis, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cleveland,
Dallas, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.  Reports
are that the nerve agent was released from aerial sprayers attached to small
planes that flew over each of these cities and their suburbs.  What the nerve
agent is we still don’t know, but it seems to be dangerous whether inhaled or
just touching the skin.  Paralysis within seconds has been reported by many
witnesses.

“Communication
across the country has been disrupted, apparently as part of a pre-planned
Homeland Security response.  All telephones, data lines, TV and radio have been
shut down, and I’m sure we’ll be shut off as soon as we’re found.”

There was the
sound of papers and objects being shuffled and it was obvious this was an
amateur who was keeping his microphone open while he gathered his thoughts. 
There was some unintelligible conversation in the background then the voice resumed.

“This is Max. 
I’m back with you to tell the truth about the events that are unfolding in our
great nation.  Unconfirmed reports are now coming in from several places across
the country of missile launches.  These would be American ICBMs and so far
we’ve had reports from Kansas, South Dakota and Texas of missiles launching and
appearing to head west.  Now if this was the Russians, those missiles would be
heading north to go over the pole, but they’re heading west.  That’s not the
Middle East either people.  That’s China.  Or North Korea.”

More muted
conversation then Max came back on, “And another report of launches, this time
from the Gulf of Mexico.  Reported missile launches from far off shore.  My
guess would be submarine based missiles.  They headed west also. 

“The end of
times is here my friends.  Prepare for the anarchy that will reign on our
world.  Don’t approach cities, and if you’re in a city, get out!  We aren’t the
only country with missiles and I don’t believe for a moment that we can launch
and no one else will.  Take food and water with you.  Get away from the
cities.  I only hope you exercised your second amendment rights and have a gun
to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

There was a
pause and the longest exchange yet of muffled background conversation.  It
seemed that Max had someone helping him somehow gather information, but the
only way they could relay it to him was to tell him.  After a few moments there
was total silence, then the sound of a match being struck and the inhalation of
smoke.

“My friends,”
Max paused to exhale what sounded like a big hit off a joint, “I’m getting some
more information and I just don’t know what to believe, but I’ll pass it on and
you decide.  Victims of the nerve agent are coming out of the paralysis and
attacking anyone around them.  Someone has suggested that maybe the nerve agent
is triggering hyper aggression, but my youngest boy thinks that the Zombies are
finally here.”  Max tried a derisive laugh but didn’t pull it off.  It turned
into more of a strangled cough.

“We have to move
now before the federals find us and shut us down.  Keep listening to this
frequency for the truth about what’s happening.  This is Max and God save us
all.”

There were a
couple of snapping sounds then nothing but static.  I peered at the radio dial
but couldn’t make out the frequency.  I thought it was 650 AM and was digging
through my back pack for my reading glasses when the power went out and plunged
the room into darkness.

BOOK: Voodoo Plague - 01
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