Just a quick update to let you know Contamination 5 is coming along well. I've finished the draft and am in the process of editing. If all goes well, the release will see the light of day soon! I'll keep you posted when I know more, but for now, here's a sneak peek!
Contamination 5: Survival continues the journey of Noah Chambers, who split from the group back in Contamination 2. Below is an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. Enjoy!
PART ONE – HUNTED
The men were coming. Through the haze, Noah could hear the rumble of motors and the cry of voices. He struggled to open his eyes, but they were swollen shut. His face burned with pain.
After a few attempts he cracked his eyelids. The rays of the midday sun pierced his retinas and he squinted to reduce the glare. The fact that he was alive was either a miracle or a curse; at the moment, he couldn’t decide which. He wiggled his fingers and toes. As far as he could tell, nothing was broken.
But that didn’t make him feel any better.
He lifted his head, biting back a fresh swell of pain. He was lying in the forest about fifty feet from the road. Around him was a legion of pines. Just minutes ago he was thrashing through the underbrush, hoping to find respite in the depths of the forest. After expending his last bit of energy, he’d dropped to the ground behind one of the large, sap-covered trunks.
Now he lay exhausted, listening to his pursuers approach.
He patted his pockets, hoping to find something they’d missed, but his ripped khaki shorts were empty. His only hope was to summon enough strength to continue.
The men were going to kill him.
If he didn’t move, he’d die.
He thought of his family in Portland—of Mom, Dad, and Ricky—and clenched his teeth. For the past few days, the image of his relatives had been the only thing keeping him going. Now he found himself wondering if he’d ever make it to see them again.
Don’t give up now.
Noah forced himself to his knees, ignoring his aching muscles, and crawled through the thickets. Keep low, and keep moving. He needed to gain distance between himself and the road. If the men couldn’t find him, perhaps they’d grow bored; maybe they’d even give up.
The forest floor crackled under the weight of men’s footsteps. The men had stopped talking, but their breathing echoed through the trees behind him. In a matter of minutes Noah had become their target, their prey. Seconds after seeing him, they’d forced his truck off the road and into a tree.
If only he’d taken another road…
For the past few days he’d been practicing the art of avoidance, doing his best to steer clear of the infected and the survivors. After a few close calls with trigger-happy lunatics, he’d been hesitant to trust anyone. At the same time, he’d known the solitude couldn’t last forever. Sooner or later he’d be forced to fight or flee. As much as he hated to admit it, his current situation was long overdue.
He should’ve stayed at the salvage yard.
Leaving his former companions behind had been one of the hardest things he’d had to do, and the guilt had eaten at him for days.
At the same time, he needed to find his family. Whether they were alive or dead, he wasn’t sure, but he needed to try. He needed to know.
He scrambled ahead through the forest, listening to the crackle of underbrush behind him, using his pursuer’s movements as cover. When they moved, he moved. When they stopped, he stopped. He darted from tree to tree, using the thick trunks for cover as if he were in the real-life version of a video game.
Beads of sweat dotted his forehead. Over the course of the day the sun had grown progressively hotter, and as he ran, it enveloped him like a warm blanket. Aside from his tattered shorts, Noah was wearing only a t-shirt and shoes. He should’ve been comfortable, but instead he was red and overheated.
One of the men coughed.
Noah ducked behind an oak. After a minute of waiting, he peered behind him. On the road, a few hundred feet away, he could see his pickup truck. All four tires had been flattened; the hood was smoking. One of the men was standing guard next to it.
His pursuers weren’t letting him get away. If he doubled back, he’d be trapped. His only hope was to head deeper into the woods.
Hide or move.
Noah clambered forward. Given that the men had rifles, he was hopelessly outmatched. There was no way he could face them.
One glimpse of him and they’d shoot.
He thought of his former companions. Had they escaped the madness around them, or had they been killed as well? Would he ever know?
After several more minutes of running, he realized the men had stopped. He listened closely as their low, muffled voices seeping through the forest. What were they talking about? What were they planning?
Noah assessed his situation. The forest in front of him was thick with foliage, but there was a clearing in the distance.
If he could get to it, perhaps he’d find help.
The area he was in wasn’t exactly brimming with people, but civilization had to exist somewhere. He stared at the distant patch of light, gauging how many steps it would take him to get there.
Twenty? Twenty-five? How far could he go before he was shot down?
Staying where he was would mean certain death. He’d rather die on his feet than be mowed down on his knees.
Behind him, the forest fell into silence.
He flexed his hands and prepared himself to run.
This is it, Noah. This is the last sprint of your life.
Gritting his teeth, he broke from the trees and ran.