Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic fiction

This Plague of Days: My top ten favorite moments

Warning: This post has spoilers. If you haven’t read Seasons One and Two of This Plague of Days, DON’T READ THIS!

Okay? Are they out of the room so we can talk? Okay. I hope they aren’t just pretending to be asleep or listening at the top of the stairs, because here are my top ten:

1. When Jaimie hands Theo the knife.

2. The sweetness of Jack and the cookie tin full of love letters.

3. “Kryptonite.”

4. The scene in Iceland where Cameron fights his way through the Sutr-Z infected to try for the rescue boat.

5. The zombie attack on Buckingham Palace while Shiva dances to “We Want Your Soul” (plus the corgi joke.)

6. Douglas Oliver’s battle in the basement.

7. Jaimie meeting with Sinjin-Smythe in the Nexus, among the Shakespearean trees.

8. The Battle of the Brickyard and the hospital attack (a tie for bloody and epic).

9. Dayo shaming Dr. Sinjin-Smythe on the rescue helicopter out of Dungarvan, Ireland.

10. Anna’s shift from being a bratty princess to a mature young woman who sacrifices her love of her boyfriend for her family.

There are many other moments I love, of course. I’m biased, for some reason. Probably because I wrote it. Yeah, that’s probably it. However, these are the first ten scenes that come to mind when I look back on the first two seasons.

What about you?

Care to share your favorite moments? (FYI: Season 3 is still being written and revised, so what you loved from the past might get a callback in the story ahead.)

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This Plague of Days: An intro to serials and the big idea

Reports of autism cases per 1,000 children gre...

Reports of autism cases per 1,000 children grew dramatically in the US from 1996 to 2007. It is unknown how much, if any, growth came from changes in autism’s prevalence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve never read a book as a serial, think of it like a television season broken into episodes. Just like TV, I throw hooks and leave characters hanging off cliffs until next week.

There are five episodes in Season One. You can purchase the weekly episodes at 99 cents each, or look under the couch cushions and find out what happens next immediately by buying TPOD Season One for just $3.99.

Gosh. Um. Getting the discount is the recommended course. Not in the couch? Try your winter coat pockets or the change in the car’s ashtray. Thanks!

Strap in, buckle up and say, “Pickle!” (You’ll find out.)

And watch out for the zombies. They’re coming for you after a long voyage and they are starving.

~ Robert Chazz Chute

June 2013

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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.


Another snippet from This Plague of Days


This Plague of Days III

From tonight’s revisions:

Farther north, they saw their first lynchings. Women and men alike hung naked from overpasses. Their crimes were carved into their torsos. The knife writing was opaque crytography to Jaimie as they passed under the bodies.

However, if the birds didn’t get in the way and if the flesh was not rotted through or torn too badly to decipher, Anna read aloud: “Looter…thief…Adulterer…looter…looter…killer…carrier…looter…thief…fool.”

And this…

“I’ll turn around. We’ll find another road as soon as I see a spot for a U-turn.” But there was no such spot and no time.

Ahead, a man in camouflage stood on an armoured personnel carrier. He wore a gas mask. The large glass circles for eyes made him look like a bulky praying mantis. He pointed his machine gun at the line of cars. 

Jack felt a long icicle of fear pierce her diaphragm. “Anna, switch places with Jaimie! Quickly!”

Me B&W~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of This Plague of Days. His friends call him Mr. Sunshine.


This Plague of Days: Today’s taste

This Plague of Days 0328From today’s revisions:

She had been wrong to trust Chester, but the man with the long knife and the stolen Mercedes had taught her a few things:

First, there was fuel everywhere. Second, she was lucky to have a length of old garden hose in her hand to siphon gas. Third, she’d overestimated her ability to judge people. Fourth, life and death situations make English majors with unfinished masters theses in Elizabethan poetry feel awfully stupid.


Wash Your Hands!: The most reliable preventative against spreading disease

Person washing his hands

Person washing his hands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a guest post coming next week about go-bags. I’m hoping the buddy who is a SWAT expert who consults for my crime novels will favor us with post about getting zombie-ready, too. Before we get too much deeper into this blog, though, I have to write this post. It is at once a hopeful idea and a deflating one. Here’s the key thing you need to know to prevent the spread of disease:

WASH YOUR HANDS!

Every day we touch our faces, our mouths and eyes hundreds of times. We do it after touching doorknobs and shaking hands and borrowing a pen. The vectors of disease are everywhere, waiting for us to make this mistake. It’s such an easy fix, yet lots of people fail to do it. Sometimes I think the human race is too dumb to live and we’ve just been lucky so far. Here’s why…

How to

Use hot water and soap (and not anti-bacterial lotions if you can help it.) After you wash your hands, the best preference is to shut off the tap with your elbow or, after you dry your hands with a paper towel, turn off the tap with the same paper towel. Don’t grab the bathroom door handle with the hand you just washed and then go share popcorn with your date. Use the paper towel again, a sleeve, a glove or wait for somebody else to open the door.

Why to

I don’t have OCD. I just know how much fecal matter is on handles, ATM keys and your money. The germs on money is akin to used toilet paper. If a food handler tries to serve your food with the same dirty hands they used to take your money, do not eat it and tell the manager to retrain his or her staff.

Why does this information bring me up and down at the same time?

Because it’s the same advice given to revolutionary war soldiers to help prevent the spread of disease. Washing your hands was initially a radical idea and the doctor who first proposed the practice to decrease the incidence of infant mortality in his hospital was persecuted for it (and eventually ended up in a madhouse.)

SARS

During the SARS crisis in Toronto a few years ago (in which 44 people died), hand washing was the prime directive. That’s depressing because that was the best advice they had at the time and still is. After the invention of the microscope and vaccines and amazing medical technology, the best we can do is still ordinary hygiene you should be doing anyway. And many people don’t. We’d call them selfish pigs, though that’s an insult to pigs.

What’s worse?

I waited a long time for a surgeon to show up to give me some stitches. He’d just driven in to the office from home. Before he touched me, I asked that he wash his hands. Yes, he was going to use an anti-bacterial and wear gloves etc.,…, but first I had to ask him to do the basics. He looked mildly irritated, but he complied, so fine. No infection for me.

I knew another health care practitioner who went to the bathroom but felt he was too busy and important to wash his hands before going off to see patients. I witnessed this once personally. Even after getting berated for his negligence and disrespect, I’m sure he probably gets away with it when no one else is around to call him on it. 

Mount your defences

To protect you and your family, get in the habit if you aren’t already. Wipe down germy surfaces (kitchen counters, doorknobs, cutting boards)  with hot, soapy water, vinegar and water or organic cleaning products so food-bourne bacteria doesn’t make you sick. Wash your hands for your benefit and for the health of others.

Until better medicine comes along, basic hygiene is still the first defence against the coming plague.


To prepare for the end, start with a new beginning

English: Schematic of a deadfall or cage trap....

English: Schematic of a deadfall or cage trap. The schematic was based on a schematic found in the book “SAS Survival Handbook” by John Wiseman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last episode of this season of The Walking Dead captured the problem perfectly: If you’re going to survive, you have to depend on other people and bring them together. The notion of the lone survivor is a dangerous and common fantasy. Preparedness has greater value than toughness. Community will save you and being a loner will kill you.

Sure there are mountain men out there who do survive alone…sort of. The problem with the lone survivor model is first you have to eliminate the psychotics and schizophrenics who are running around in the woods, but not really out of a rational choice they made. Next cut out the people who don’t slip in and out of civilization for supplies and rely on technology (bullets, radios, canned food, MREs, etc.,…). Those animal traps last forever, but unless you’re fashioning a wooden trap, somebody smelted the steel somewhere and at some point you might want to use a little WD40 instead of beaver skin grease.

Who does that leave? That family in Russia who spent generations out in the cold eating bark and didn’t know about World War II. Not optimum for most people. Still think you’re a tough guy? Who’s going to do the hunting and gathering when you twist an ankle or come down with a fever?

I think I’ve established how we need people, but what does emergency preparedness really mean?

Start with yourself: How’s your cardio? Can you change a tire without getting winded? Do you know how to do something useful other people don’t know how to do? One of my favorite post-apocalyptic novels is World Made By Hand. The hero is a musician (so he can provide entertainment) and but he’s most valued as a carpenter. The novel chronicles the conflicts that rise when a community is forced to go it alone, pool resources, trade and adapt to changing times in a world without an oil supply. (Check it out. Lots of interesting ideas in there, including the benefits of an outdoor kitchen when summer heat waves come.)

One of the lessons my family of survivors in This Plague of Days learns too late is that they’re better off working together, not just among themselves but with whoever else is left. Instead of defending just your home, you’ll do better and live longer working collaboratively to defend a neighborhood. The SAS Security Handbook has it right: the young and the very old are good for watching for strangers and dangers. Everyone else is on patrol duty. Instead of spending thousands of dollars fortifying your home to make it safe for a short time, get to know your neighbours, establish a sense of community, get some exercise and develop skills. Become a person of value to your community. When your wood stove burns your house down, you’ll have somewhere to go.

In building a network of friends and allies, you’ll be healthier. One of the predictors of a long and happy life is to be embedded in a caring, compassionate community. When one of those lone survivors shows up looking for supplies and trouble, he’ll be met with a group. And instead of shooting him, maybe he can show why he should be taken in. You don’t build a future out of endless violence. That’s civilization falling, not getting back up.

~ I’ve written eight books. My post-apocalyptic/plague/coming-of-age/Aspergers thriller, This Plague of Days, will be published soon.


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