Tag Archives: apocalyptic fiction

This Plague of Days launches today! Think of it as the Ungrateful Living versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy + The Stand + 28 Days Later = This Plague of Days

An autistic boy + The Stand + 28 Days Later = This Plague of Days

 

TPOD season 1 ecoverThis Plague of Days is kind of like two books in one. It begins with a world flu pandemic that makes civilization grind to a halt. Then the virus mutates to a form of human rabies that turns ordinary people into cannibals. As a terrorist organization works to spread the contagion, the new strain of the virus rises with the mayhem. In the heartland of an America falling apart, a boy on the autism spectrum discovers he has curious abilities in the midst of the chaos. A war is coming as forces for good and evil come together on a collision course. 

I’m so excited to finally release season one. You can get the episodes week by week for 99 cents each or buy the full first season for just $3.99. (Take the discount!) If you enjoy the book, please do review it. 

Thanks to Kit Foster of Kit Foster Design for his great work on this project (and there’s more to come for the print version.)

Thanks to the editorial team at Ex Parte Press. Many thanks for your suggestions as I built this huge story. Season Two arrives in September.

 

 

 


This Plague of Days: The Pitch

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin'.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, click to read other books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin’.

This horror serial is about an autistic boy trapped in The Stand and trying to survive 28 Days Later. I’ll have a cover blurb from horror author Armand Rosamilia.

In a future that could begin any day now, a virus of mysterious origin begins its lethal outbreak. The first wave kills millions. The second wave is a weaponized mutation that ups the stakes by turning ordinary survivors into cannibals. This is the zombie apocalypse you can believe in.

The brain of the story is a villain like you’ve never encountered: the visibly pregnant British woman in a red dress. She is an eco-terrorist who calls herself Shiva. She’s out to make history and a new future by a massive cull of Earth’s worst infection. You’re the infection: Your car, your technology and your conspicuous consumption. Don’t take it personally. To defend the Earth, genocide is Shiva’s answer to global warming. Killing Queen Elizabeth and her Corgis is just the delightful start.

The heart of the story is Jaimie Spencer, a sixteen-year-old American boy on the autism spectrum. He’s a selective mute with an obsession for English dictionaries. His special interest is Latin phrases, but it’s Jaimie’s hidden gifts that become the surprising key to his family’s survival. To live, they must face the ravages of the Sutr virus, looters, plague profiteers and cults. Worse? This Plague of Days zombies are fast.

Who is This Plague of Days for?

Horror fans and anyone with a pulse who wants theirs to beat faster. Young men and women embracing existential angst will get hit between the eyes. The autistic community and their families will love it.

From the beta read team, the women love Jaimie and the relationships of the family under siege. The men can’t get enough of Shiva since she’s deliciously wicked in her ruthlessness with men’s hearts and minds.

This book also has a lot of fun with language. There are more Latin phrases than Harry Potter had spells, so this one is also for the word nerds.

It’s time we hit the world with an oddly cerebral zombie apocalypse.

The Breakdown

I want to be especially generous with Season 1 to get every horror fan on my crazy train.

Season 1/Book 1:             The Siege            105,000 words, 5 episodes

Season 2/Book 1:            The Journey            75,000 words, 5 episodes

Season 3/Book 3            War                        75,000 words, 5 episodes


New Sample Snippet: This Plague of Days isn’t all grim

PlagueAnna turned up the radio, concentrating on the thin signal. 

Cat McCloud, the lone DJ, was a fellow with a booming voice that slipped into gravel when he was being serious. He wasn’t serious often. “You want a weather report, look out the window and there’s your goddamn weather report,” he said. “Excuse my Balinese but the FCC don’t run me no more. The Powers That Be always were killjoys, censoring us and suckin’ the good outta you like a bad night’s sleep.”

Cat reported where he’d been — all over the eastern United States. He said he’d ridden out Sutr X’s first wave in a campground in Delaware. “The lights are on in Delaware and there’s still plenty of food and gas around if you bother to look — at least there was three weeks ago. I guess what I got isn’t news ’cause it’s so old, but we all needed to slow down anyways, didn’t we? In honor of what was, let’s spin some more vinyl — that’s right, I said vinyl! Coming up, more Rush ’cause I love ’em and they play long songs so ol’ Cat can step out my door and take a tinkle without worrying about the cops spoiling the joy of peeing out my front door no more!” 

“Later on you can lick your chops over some Foghat, Grand Funk Railroad and a Pink Floyd marathon. Far as I know, I got the last radio station in these former United States of Dystopia so I’ll play what I like, long as I’m kickin’ and poppin’ garlic pills and smokin’ the magical herb of happiness! Commercial-free, brothers and sisters! Back atcha after side one of Rush’s album Caress of Steel from a good year, 1975, back when we still thought the apocalypse was coming in the form of nuclear annihilation. Right on!”

Anna looked stricken. “The only radio station we’ve heard in weeks and the DJ’s the last hippie on earth. And he’s armed with a time machine.”

And there are fun pop culture references to make grim situations a little lighter:

The Spencers were joined by more cars on the highway, usually travelling in the same direction. Past the juggernaut of Montreal, they had noticed a trickle of fellow travellers in vehicles. Farther east, the trickles became streams. Traffic moved well and, wary of accidents for which no help would come, no drivers were reckless and, perhaps to conserve fuel, none sped, either. Most drivers made no eye contact so no contact could be invited nor implied. 

“This is somewhat more civil than The Road Warrior led me to expect,” Anna said. 

The cars and trucks were always packed full. Once they spotted a tiny car with a piano strapped to its roof. Back windows were often filled with bedding, perhaps to block anyone’s view of how many people might be travelling in the car.  

They followed a farm truck with a group of young women huddled against the wind in the open back. 

“Saviors or slavers?” Anna asked.

Jack shrugged. “I’m uncomfortable with that question. But it makes me think we have to somehow get hold of guns.”

“Papa Spence has a deer rifle and shotguns for pheasant season on the farm,” Theo said.

“Let’s hope we won’t need a gun before we get to Maine.” Anna watched the women in the truck, searching for some sign of a plea in their forlorn faces. Before long, the truck turned onto a dirt road and dust clouded their last look. 

Anna gritted her teeth. “If this is going to turn into a misogynist Game of Thrones world, then I’ll have to personally go all Katniss and turn it into a Hunger Games planet.”

 


From the revision well: Chapter 2 of This Plague of Days

The moon lit the boy’s face as he peered over the fence into the next yard. Jaimie Spencer watched the couple on the lawn chair. The chair’s squeak had drawn him closer, curious. He wasn’t allowed in the neighbor’s yard, but moon shadows amid thick hedge leaves concealed him. A  woman he’d never before seen sat in the older man’s lap. The man, Mr. Sotherby, lay still beneath her. Jaimie could not see the man’s  face, but there was something grim about him, as if the couple were reluctant joggers in a cold wind. 

A cool hand slipped to the back of the boy’s neck. Without looking, Jaimie knew it was his sister, Anna. “Ears,” she whispered, “You’re being creepy again.”

The woman froze and turned her head. The couple whispered to each other, too. Sotherby’s voice was insistent. Hers was afraid. 

Anna guided her little brother away from the hedge line. Anna did not speak again until she and Jaimie stood by their own back door. “Mr. Sotherby has brought home another one of his flight attendant friends. You shouldn’t spy on them. It’s wrong.”

Jaimie did not look at Anna directly. He never met her eyes and he rarely spoke. Her brother cocked his head slightly to one side. That questioning gesture was a rare bit of Jaimie’s body language that few outside the family could read easily. Anna told Jamie that when he cocked his head that way, he looked like Fetcher, the cocker spaniel they’d once had. In every picture they owned of that pet, the spaniel’s head was tipped slightly sideways, perplexed by the camera. Jaimie thought the entire breed must cock their heads slightly sideways, hence their name. The boy abhorred instances of imprecision and illogic in language, and so he was frequently disappointed.

This Plague of Days III“Mr. Sotherby brings home his friends. Remember Mr. Sotherby’s a pilot? He gives rides to lots of people, Ears. He was just giving her a ride. That woman you saw thought she was part of a couple, but they were really just coupling.”

Couple: a noun and a verb. Jaimie had read these words in his dictionary. Overlaps of meanings and terms irritated. He wondered if his sister was trying to bother him. She often called him Ears when she was angry with him, though sometimes she called him that when she hugged him, too. More confusion and imprecision. 

“Dad says it’s a terrible thing what’s happened to flight attendants,” Anna said. “He says when they were called stewardesses, they were cuter. Now the older ones have a waxy look.”

Jaimie wondered how the change in the name of their occupation could have changed the way they looked. He’d heard there were magic words. “Flight attendant” must have powerful, and dangerous, magical properties.

Anna pulled her little brother into the house. “Let’s keep this between you and me,” Anna said and then burst out in a giggle. “Mom would worry you’re getting corrupted. I won’t say anything and I know you won’t.”

Jaimie followed Anna up the back stairs into the kitchen. She pulled out a box of cereal and poured a bowl for herself and one for her brother. He never asked to eat but was usually cooperative if a bowl and spoon was placed in front of him. 

He couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. Sotherby and the woman. Jaimie liked to watch colorful patterns that flowed around people. He had seen the colors around living things all his life. He assumed everyone saw them. The boy had seen something pass between Mr. Sotherby and the flight attendant he had never before seen. It was disturbing because it muddied their colors and made them less vibrant.

Jaimie stood at the sink and gazed out of the kitchen window as he ate.  The moon hung so low and full, the tip of a distant church spire reached, its tip stretching to split Clavius, a large crater toward the base of the moon’s face. The boy’s mind wandered over the words spire and aspire. Surely, the terms shared the same arrogant word root. But the spire would always be bound to the earth, many miles short of aspiration’s heights. The gap between hope and doomed reality turned the boy’s mind back to the naked woman in the next yard.

Small black spots had hovered between the pair like greasy flies. The black smear spoiled the usual pleasing weave of colors. There had been many of them, like a cloud of feeding insects, around the woman. They spread over Mr. Sotherby, too, reaching for him. Jaimie didn’t know what the black spots were, but he sensed a yearning and purpose in their movement. They aspired to reach Mr. Sotherby and overtake him. He sensed the black cloud’s aspirations would be fulfilled. 

That was Jaimie Spencer’s first glimpse of the Sutr Virus at its deadly work. He was sixteen. He might have mentioned it to someone, but Jaimie Spencer was a selective mute. 

“A very selective mute,” his father, Theo Spencer, called him. “Jaimie has something we all lack: A super power. My son can shut up until he has something to say.”

But Jaimie’s ability to communicate well still waited on a distant time horizon then. Billions would have to expire — and one death would have to transpire — before Jaimie found his voice.  

~ This Plague of Days will be ready to launch in roughly a month. In the meantime, please check out all the links to books by Robert Chazz Chute at AllThatChazz.com.

 


What do we really need to survive disaster?

I just ran across a great website called Survival Cache!

Follow this link to their 100 suggestions about stuff you need and what disappears first in a disaster. 

It’s a thorough and fascinating list. In the first four episodes of This Plague of Days (to be released soon!) the Spencer family is under siege from the world flu pandemic.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin'.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin’.

They stock up on what they can as prices soar and canned goods are flying off the shelves. 

I’ve seen that happen personally on a small scale. During the SARS crisis, you couldn’t buy a bottle of hand sanitizer for any price where I live. The supplies were all gone in the worry and panic over SARS.

Then, at the end of the first season of This Plague of Days, the crisis shifts. Over the next four episodes, The Spencer family loses a lot, including much of their cache of emergency supplies. Once they’re on the run, they can’t take everything they need. Then they can’t carry everything they need. When traffic jams block all escape routes, survivors have to get innovative.

So we need to think carefully about our go-bags.*

What do we absolutely need and what luxury will feel like it weighs a ton by the fifth mile of our hike to safety? Individual capacities will vary. Maybe you’re a Marine who can huck a heavy ruck 25 miles a day, but what weight can your ten-year-old daughter carry? Is the weight in the harness rig on your dog balanced? Can grandpa walk out of the flood zone unassisted or should he stay behind and hope for a helicopter? Do you have alternate escape routes and fallback positions? What’s the backup plan behind the backup plan behind the backup plan? 

What’s in your backpack?

When many people think of prepping, they picture a fortress, panic rooms, a bunker, a defensible Wal-mart or a castle with a moat. They picture infinite supplies and relative comfort. But what if the hurricane takes away your supplies and screws up your plans for holing up and waiting out the flood, fire and armies of crazed zombies?

To be zombie-ready, we have prepare to be mobile, too. Get out your clipboards, pack and repack and weigh. Start crossing stuff off your awesome list. Figure out what gets packed in the basement, the family van and what you can carry on sore, aching shoulders to safety.

*More on go-bags in a coming guest post by friend and fellow author Jordanna East.


Extended, special sneak peek: How This Plague of Days begins

“Basically,” Dr. Julian Sutr said, “Viruses are zombies. They are neither classifiable as living nor dead. When given the opportunity, they reproduce using a host. Their molecules form complex

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin'.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin’.

structures but they need hosts to reproduce. Nucleic acids, proteins — ”

The Skype connection froze for a moment and then the doctor understood he was being interrupted. “—preciate your summary, doctor.” Two men in uniform and one woman in a suit, each with their own screen, regarded him with impatience.

“The virus has grown more…opportunistic. What fooled us early on was the varied rate of infection and lethality. I suspect individual variance in liver enzymes accounts — ”

The woman cleared her throat and Sutr lost his place in the notes he’d prepared for this meeting. She sighed as he fumbled with his iPad. He had too many notes and not enough time. The woman sighed and tapped a stylus on her desk. “I’m meeting with him soon, doctor. I need the bullet, please. What do I tell him?”

Sutr removed his glasses and closed his eyes. This was too important to stammer and stutter through. Finding the correct words had never mattered more. He took a deep breath but kept his eyes closed and pretended he was speaking intimately with his beloved Manisha. His wife’s name meant “wisdom” and she shared her name with the goddess of the mind. He needed her and her namesake now. “My team and I…” He took another deep breath. “The virus has jumped.”

One of the men in uniform, an admiral in white, spoke, which automatically muted Dr. Sutr’s microphone. “First it was bats, then birds, then migratory birds, then pigs and cows. What animal do we warn the WHO about now? What animal do the Chinese have to slaughter next to keep the cap on this thing? A vaccine won’t help billions of Chinese peasants if they starve to death first.”

“I’m very aware of the stakes, sir, but the virus has jumped to humans. I asked my contact at Google to watch the key words. The epidemiological mapping of the spread is already lighting up in Japan, Malaysia, Chechnya and I already have confirmation it’s in parts of the Middle East, I’m afraid.”

“What’s your next step, doctor?” the woman asked.

Sutr opened his eyes. “I’ve sent my team home. They should be with their families now. As should we all.”

The man in the green uniform, a four-star general, leaned closer to his camera, filling Sutr’s screen. “This is no time to give up the fight, doctor. We’ve got a world to save from your…what did you call it? Zombie virus?”

“Pardon me, general. It was a clumsy metaphor. My point was that viruses are dead and I can’t kill dead things. I’m afraid we lost containment. I suspect we must have lost control sometime in the last two to three weeks. Perhaps less. Maybe more. There are too many variables. This virus is a tricky one. Something new.”

The general paled. “Are you saying this disease was engineered?”

For the first time, Sutr showed irritation toward his inquisitors. “I don’t know! I told you, there are too many variables. The loss of containment could have been sabotage or someone on my team made a mistake. Maybe they were too afraid to admit their mistake. It’s possible I made a mistake and I did not recognize it as such! I’ve identified the virus signature, but the work will have to be taken up by someone else. In my opinion, we need a miracle. As a virologist who has worked with Ebola, my faith in miracles is absent. Nature doesn’t know mercy or luck. That hope was beaten out of me in Africa.”

The admiral cut in. “Look, you’re already headed for the Nobel by identifying the virus. There’s time. We have to hope — ” but the woman in the suit held up a hand and he fell silent.

“We do appreciate the complexity of the challenge before us, Dr. Sutr. That’s why we need you. You’re the best and you’re farther along in the research than any of the other labs.” The woman looked conciliatory now and her voice took on a new, soothing note. “We’re very anxious to have you continue.”

Dr. Sutr stiffened. “I’ve already composed and sent an email for the lab network. You’ll have the entire data dump and I’ve made extra notes so your teams won’t waste time with what hasn’t worked. Dan, at CDC will coordinate my latest data to the other nodes. Good luck with it.”

The woman’s eyes narrowed. “You were vague about the virus gaining traction in ‘parts of the Middle East’. Have you line of sight confirmation, doctor?”

“Yes. I’ve seen the virus’s work in person. Here in Dubai, in my own house. Tarun, my baby boy died last night. My wife, Manisha, followed him to see where he went early this morning.”

“We’re so sorry for your loss, Julian,” the woman said. “Are you infected?”

“I have no doubt I will die.”

“How long have you got, son?” the Admiral said. “You’ve said the infection gradient and lethality is so variable…you could keep working. We could still defeat this thing.”

Julian Sutr’s voice came firm and steady. “General, Admiral…Madam Secretary. It’s entirely possible that I brought it home to them. My wife and child are dead by the virus that bears my name. I should have been an obstetrician like my mother. She brought life into the world…” A tear slipped down the doctor’s cheek. “You people ask me what you should tell him. Go to your briefing. Tell him that, in all likelihood, he is the last President of the United States.”

Dr. Julian Sutr picked up the Sig Sauer P220 from his desk, placed the muzzle under his chin and pulled the trigger.


NSFW: Quotes from today’s revisions of This Plague of Days

Jaimie and his family try to cross a bridge to Canada as they flee the cities and disease runs rampant. However, they find evidence of a massacre on the Mackinac

English: Mackinac Bridge between Mackinaw City...

English: Mackinac Bridge between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan, photographed on August 1, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bridge. Here’s an excerpt:

Mrs. Bendam gasped and cried at the sight unfolding before them. She reached out to touch Anna’s shoulder and grasped hard until the girl relented and offered her hand. The old woman gripped too tight all the way across the bridge. She closed her eyes to the carnage, but Anna stared out the window. 

Jack ordered her daughter to close her eyes, too.

“No, Mom.”

“Anna! I don’t want you to wake up screaming with nightmares forever.”

“No,” Anna said. “I’ll look. Years from now, I’ll tell my son or daughter what I saw here.” She gazed at tangled horrors as the van bumped along over a sprawl of bodies. The uncaring Sutr Virus had not done this. People had done this to people.

Many of those murdered had no eyes now, but their gaping jaws suggested anger, fear, pain and surprise. She saw torn flesh. White bones rose. Skeletons emerged from their hiding places. 

“If I don’t look…” Anna said, “it’s not right. Someone has to bear witness. If I don’t look, it’s like saying this doesn’t matter or it means I won’t be around later to pass it on. Someday soon, the animals will be finished eating and what will be left but me and my memory? Not looking is like…”

“Giving up,” Theo said. “Yes. Look, Anna. It’s a heavy load, but someone who can tell the story should carry the memory.” 

Jaimie reached out and surprised his sister by grasping and squeezing her free hand.

Jaimie and his father held hands, too. “There really are no dictionary words for such atrocities, are there, son?” Theo whispered. “It would be obscene if there was such a word. There shouldn’t be just one word for this.”

The only bridge denizens left were rats and gulls and blackbirds. Their teeth and beaks tore and ripped and their heads shook as they winnowed the dead.


The Art of This Plague of Days

TPOD 0420 3 

As I work away on the revisions for my coming serial, This Plague of Days, I have a key supporter in my corner. Kit Foster is the multiple award-winning graphic artist behind KitFosterDesign.com and he does the covers for all my books.

To encourage me to work faster (and because he loves creating art so much) he sends along ideas he’s noodling with for the serial art and advertising. Isn’t this cool? I particularly love the distressed type and the treatment he did with the foreboding sky. The tiny daisy is a nice accent, too. Or do you like the darker version below better? (I grabbed the type to slip into the header for this page, too.) As we go forward with this book, I don’t just see book covers. I see movie posters. 

TPOD 0420 2

And now, with this goose to my bum, I’ll get back to work. Won’t be long at all before the release is here. Click the pics to check out more of Kit Foster’s excellent art portfolio.


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