Read The Phoenix Trilogy (Book 1): World On Fire Online

Authors: Charles Scottie

Tags: #Zombies

The Phoenix Trilogy (Book 1): World On Fire

BOOK: The Phoenix Trilogy (Book 1): World On Fire
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World on

Fire

 

 

Charles Scottie

Copyright © 2016 Charles
Scottie

All rights reserved.

ISBN:
1533559643
 

ISBN-13:
978-1533559647

 

DEDICATION

 

This book is dedicated to my parents, Glen and Rosemarie
Garms. Without their patience, and their love, I would not have come this far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

i

1

 

The Hero

Pg. 3

2

 

The Journal

Pg. 14

3

 

The Gang

Pg. 35

4

 

The Gas Station

Pg. 42

5

 

The Commander

Pg. 77

6

 

The Distraction

Pg. 82

7

 

The Hunter

Pg. 112

8

 

The Map

Pg. 117

9

 

The Performer

Pg. 162

10

 

The Tools

Pg. 171

11

 

The New Normal

Pg. 200

12

 

The Fingers

Pg. 206

13

 

The Determined

Pg. 244

14

 

The Sewers

Pg. 250

15

 

The Illuminati (?)

Pg. 262

16

 

The Pit

Pg. 268

17

 

The Monster

Pg. 282

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

I would like to thank all of my friends and
family who have banded together with me to help make this book a reality:

 

Adam Garms, my brother and the only man I’d
trust to illustrate my dream. Adam Martel, who was always the first to read my
story and who supported me from the beginning.

Alec George, who was kind enough to educate me
on many things, in spite of my constant teasing in high school.

Burl Pettibon, who read way too much as a child,
and inadvertently became my most valuable critic.

Nicole Krizek, a fellow writer, and an invaluable
resource in trying to figure out what in God’s name I’m getting into with this
writing business.

Sarah Dory, my dear friend, who helped me to
become the person that I am today, and who gave me the idea that started it
all.

 

Without your presence in my life, none of this
would have been possible. Saying “thanks” and calling it a day seems too simple
for something that honestly means so much, but for now, it’s the best that I
can do. I owe you guys.

 

 

 

Somebody
told me once that if you're really scared, you just have to focus on something
else. Anything else at all, just focus as hard as you can, and you can calm
yourself down.

 

I don't like doing that,
it sounds like avoiding the problem, but right now I don't know what else to
do. I
need my hands to stop
shaking
.
Christ, it's taking everything I have to
keep my mind off of them clawing their way in
. They're going to do it eventually, they always do,
and then it's going to be me against
them.

 

But that's okay. That's
okay because I'm not scared. I'm writing a story. In fact, I'm writing my
story. I'm going to write down everything, and when I'm done I won't be nervous
anymore. All I have to do is start. Just start writing about something,
anything, and I'll be fine.

 

Have you ever read about
one of those face recognition experiments? It's like, you take a picture of
somebody famous and then you walk around asking people if they recognize the
person in the picture. They've done it with presidents and company mascots and
all kinds of people, just to see how popular they are. It's kind of a weird
idea
, but it shows a lot about the way the world works today.

 

Sometimes, when I've got
some time to think, that's where my brain wanders to. Do you think they've ever
done it with a
concept
, not just a person?
S
how people a cross and see if they recognize a religion. Show
people a myth or a monster, like a zombie, and see if they've heard about them
before.

 

Zombies would have been
a good choice
. Everybody around the world would have
known, and they would have laughed. I think about these people making faces and
pretending to shamble around, and then I get angry. I get really angry, and I
know I shouldn't be.
I
t isn't rational, but I can't help
myself.

 

Everybody knows
about the idea of the “walking dead
.” They're a pop culture phenomenon
that've been around for decades. How many stories have you seen about the
zombie apocalypse? How many of your friends have talked about it, have made
mock plans to prepare for it, all while trying to hide their smiles? It's like
it's this great big joke for everybody, and I get it. I know there was never a
good reason to take it seriously, but that
isn't exactly a great consolation prize now
.

 

I mean, sure.
Z
ombies take over in the movies, but the movies never really
explain what happen
ed
, or why, or how, or anything. They
start the story after everything's gone to Hell, and we all go along with it.
There's a lot of running, people die, something explodes, and then just before
the credits roll there's a scene that shows the threat isn't over and then you
don't even know how the story is supposed to end.

 

It's stupid.

 

The reality was a lot
worse. I don't know that we had a
ny actual
answers, but there was never any question as to what was killing so many
people. We knew what we were dealing with pretty much right away, it just
didn't matter. It wasn't even like it happened all at once. We had plenty of
time to prepare, to gather supplies, make plans, meet with loved ones... in
hindsight, I'm not sure that made it any better.

 

I hate thinking about
this. If it doesn't make me feel like screaming, it makes me want to give up.
But, I need to
get it out of my system. Talking about
it might help me process everything, I don't know. At this point, anything
would be an improvement,
and
it isn't like I have something to lose.

 

About eight months ago, it
actually happened. Zombies. Real zombies, not some hoax or strain of rabies or
something.
W
e're talking human beings who die
started coming back hungry and angry. All the right rules apply, for the most
part,
t
hough they don't
shamble. T
hey
sprint
, and they're strong.
Stronger than they should be, definitely than they were when they were alive.
You don't always have to hit the head to stop them, but they won't
"die" again until you do. If you get killed, doesn't matter how,
there's a pretty good chance you'll come back as one of them. You get bit,
you're dead, and we're right back to the part where you're zombified.

 

It was figured out pretty
quickly that we're all infected, or at least the vast majority of us are. The
news said it was some kind of terrorist plot, that they'd been infecting water
supplies and getting into foods, but a lot of
us
weren't convinced. Some people said it was God, other
s
said it was the military, aliens, private corporations, big
pharma... you name it and somebody probably thought it was the real culprit.
Everybody was getting blamed and everybody was sick with it, so you can imagine
how well people were getting along with each other.

 

I suppose if you had your
own water supply and grew your own food, you wouldn't be afflicted, but I'm not
convinced that'd really matter now. The virus (or disease? I don't know what
to
call it) didn't really
change
you. I
heard somebody explain it like, it sits inside you, and it just stays in check,
never going away but never taking over, either. Provided you had a healthy
immune system, anyway. People who were sick didn't last very long. Neither did
the elderly, or the kids.

 

I really want to say that
was the worst part, seeing all the little kids get sick, get "dealt
with," but I'd be lying. Honestly, sometimes I think they're better off,
but tha
t's...
that's a dark place I try to stay out
of. Can't dwell on it, need to keep talking it through and moving on. Moving
on.
Just state the facts.

 

An injury won't always do
you in, but a bite definitely w
ill
. When your system shuts down, and
the... the virus or whatever, when it brings you back it grows pretty rapidly.
With nothing to keep it in check, it gets stronger.
G
etting bit transfers that new strain. I don't think there's
anybody who's been able to survive
a bite
, but I
guess it should be possible.

 

From what I've seen,
nobody's willing to wait. We learned pretty quickly that you'd get yourself
killed if you did. Like I
said
, we all know what
zombies are, and what getting
infected
means. Most people
agreed, it was better not to risk it. Fear will do that, make you do some harsh
things. Better safe than sorry, but I doubt anybody felt okay with it.

 

I should probably say that
any kind of fluid will spread the infection. Bites do it because of the saliva
and that weird, mucus crap that comes off of them, but blood would do it, too.
And their bodily waste, that'd do it, but I don't... that's just sick to think
about getting inside somebody somehow, you know? Everything is sick about this,
but that seems worse.

 

Though now that I've said
it, there is one difference between the zombies we know and the ones we're
dealing with now. You know
how in the stories there's always that scene where somebody goes to check on
their infected friend, and everybody watching is all tense because there's that
moment like “what if they're already gone?” T
hat doesn't happen here. You'll know. You always know.

 

They get this weird scummy
layer on them before they come back all the way. It's like organic
preservatives or something, it just oozes out of their skin like sweat. They
don't fall apart in the elements or over time. You can't slow them down in the
snow or turn them to dust in the desert, and
far as I know,
you can't just wait them out. They won't die unless you kill them.

 

They won't die, and they
won't stop. Want a fun example? Right here, right now, I can hear them outside,
trying to get through a blockade in the building across the street, just
hammering away. The guy who was inside, he's been dead for two days. I heard
the gunshot when he blew his brains out.

 

They heard it too, that's
why they're there, but they haven't stopped since. They stay out there,
slamming on the door until their arms are just bone and wet meat, hunting for
the source of one sound that happened days ago. If they're after something,
they'll never stop.
More
often than not, all you can do is pray they get distracted by something else
before they find you.

 

I need to change subjects.
I
can't keep talking about them, I'm getting paranoid. Gotta focus
on something else, gotta calm down. Just stick to the information you know.
Who/What/Where/When/Why/How, right?

 

Facts. Facts are safe.

 

I covered “what,” so let's
do “how” next.
I mean,
we're not the people you see in the movies. This is America, the good ol'
fashioned ‘Merica we all know. Guns are everywhere, our military is gigantic,
and everybody knows how to handle a zombie.
You'd think we'd have been fine... so how did everything fall
apart?

 

I don't actually have an
answer for that. It's still something I ask myself,
“how the fuck did this happen
.”
Best to
start
with the beginning. Or at least, what we think was the beginning.

 

I already said
it was
eight months ago, but I didn't tell you how things changed. The
zombies now, they're fast, but that's
actually
new.
When they first showed up, they were the rambling walkers that we'd all come to
know and love. They did a little bit of damage, killed a few people, and then
they were put down about as easily as you'd expect. Neighbors grabbed rifles,
banded together, and wiped them out. The military had a bigger problem dealing
with civilians who held the government responsible rather than the
undead
themselves.

 

The thing is, the
creeps
had popped up all over the place across every country. Never in
huge numbers, but
who cared?
T
he dead were walking
again.
T
he fact that it had happened at all set
the whole world on fire. Everybody was pointing fingers, and then they were
buying up supplies and making plans and preparing for the end of the world.

 

Scientists and doctors
were trying to figure out what was responsible, politicians were blaming it all
on the opposing party, and in the middle of
everything
the police and military were trying to maintain a decent sense of order.

 

They failed, they failed
bad, but considering how poorly they were treated... it was more than most
people expected them to do.

 

And that was it, for six
months. Six months of people preparing, of tests and drills and a thousand
different attempts to keep things calm, and all that time nobody was getting
any answers. Everybody started getting more and more paranoid about who was
behind it all.

 

Nobody was laughing
anymore. All the joke survival courses suddenly had full rooms, all the talk
about gun control got drowned out in a show of supply and demand for more
weapons. Everybody was getting ready for the absolute worst.

 

I want to say that people
let their guard down eventually, and that that's how we ultimately lost
control, but I don't know. Time went on and people just got worse. It makes me
sick, but I think that might have been what did it. It wasn't the
zombies
that beat us. By the time they were a real threat, we'd
already done it for them.

 

I remember hoping for the
best, that maybe we'd pull through together, but any chance that things would
improve went out the window when it was announced that all of us were infected.
All of a sudden we had to be cautious of everyone. You could protect your
family, but were your neighbors secure? What about strangers on the street?
Just like that, everybody was a liability, a threat to your home and life.

 

It got dirty.

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