Alyssa and Jake are away with their class on a highly anticipated year-end trip to Broadway with their senior acting class when all hell breaks loose at home. Traveling back, and trying to find their families, they encounter deadly results. Riots are breaking out. People are being evacuated. And they have no idea what's happening to their families.
Horrific ordeals, heart-pounding tragedy, and chance encounters harden them for what lies ahead. Faced with tormenting decisions, they're forced to follow their instinct for survival at any cost - even when the cost is a heart-wrenching decision of life or death.
A harrowing adventure of frightening discoveries, horrifying confrontations and narrow escapes in Epidemic, the first installment of the Mad World series.
Find out what's got everyone so terrified.”
READ AN EXCERPT:
From Chapter Ten
“Oh my God,” Caitlyn whispered. She and Risa were at the rear of the group, and faced whatever was coming first. A chill went down my spine. The growl was joined by a second growl and then a crash. It sounded like it had come from just beyond the last turn of the corridor. We all looked behind us and Jacob silently grabbed Risa’s left hand, while DeAndre grabbed her right.
Suddenly, we heard running and stumbling. A man came around the corner, quickly followed by a woman. They were both in the advanced stages of the plague, and their faces were nearly black. They staggered ahead slowly, their faces lowered as they growled. Then they seemed to smell us, and looked up.
The instant I saw them, I opened the stairwell door and began pushing the others through without a sound. I got three of them through before the two zombies noticed us. Then I shouted, “Come on!”
In a split second there was utter chaos. Everyone piled into the stairwell as I held the door open, then Jacob took the door while I screamed and made as much sound as I could, trying to scare, or at least confuse the zombies. I flailed my arms and waved my katana, screaming like a wild girl. It did the trick. The two creatures seemed shocked, and just stood there for a few seconds, hesitating. That gave me enough time to get everyone through the door. Just as Jacob grabbed my arm to pull me through, the two zombies began to charge. The distance between us was about 40 yards, and they were fast. I barely had time to get myself through the door with my sword, and Jacob slammed it fast. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a lock – only a push-bar lever on the other side. As the door slammed shut, Jacob leaned his body against it hard. A second later, one of the zombies slammed into the lever on the other side, and the door bounced open a half-inch before Jacob braced himself against the concrete. The others had run down to the level below. I pushed myself against the door next to Jacob, and a second later DeAndre threw his weight against the door as well. The zombies growled and pounded on the door, but with the three of us holding it, the door didn’t budge. Still, we were stuck.
The others slowly crept halfway back up to us and waited on the stairs, looking scared. The growls continued, and the zombies were pounding on the door insistently. Jacob, DeAndre and I grimly pushed back. The noise of them pounding on the door was very loud, and I was worried it might attract the attention of other zombies.
“Caitlyn,” I said quietly. “Go down one floor and listen at the door. See if the coast is clear on that floor, okay?” I said. She nodded and left to go check, taking Holly with her. Emily held Risa’s hand. Risa looked scared and clutched Emily’s hand like a lifeline. Mike and Paula stood a few feet away with Ellie, looking scared, waiting to see what would happen. The three of us stayed where we were, our full weight bracing the door, for about 10 minutes. Caitlyn came back and said the corridor seemed clear but smoky. The fire was probably on the second floor. Not a good place for us to be. But this stairwell was a death trap if we were caught in here.
This thought had no sooner filled my brain than I heard a new noise. It was a scrambling and growling, coming from the other side of the door. The two zombies seemed to be fighting each other. They had left the door alone for a minute and were loudly growling and screaming at each other. I looked at Jacob and nodded. With luck, they had forgotten us behind the door in their fight with each other. I looked up the stairwell.
“Where does that go?” I asked Mike.
“To the roof,” he said.
I wanted to know all my options. I made a decision, nodded at Jacob and DeAndre, and then we quietly, but quickly ran down the stairwell. We made it down one landing, and as I passed the door, I pressed my hand against it. It was hot.
“There’s fire behind that door,” I whispered.
We made it to the bottom floor, and I listened against the door. I heard some quiet scratching noises. I didn’t know what they were, but I wanted out of that stairwell. I cracked the door open.
As I put my eye to the one-inch crack and peered out. The sight that met my eyes was one of the most shocking I’d ever had. I let out and involuntary scream.
In the hallway outside the door were five zombies, all feeding on a small child, and the child was still alive. She thrashed weakly on the floor as the zombies chewed on her arms and legs. They didn’t appear to have hit a major artery, so it looked like she was going to bleed to death slowly while they ate her. At the sound of my scream, they all looked up. Four of the zombies jumped for the door. They were about 5 feet away, and I instinctively jumped back as their black hands reached for the crack in the door.
“Oh my God!” I cried and fell backward. Jacob grabbed for the door to pull it shut. But it was too late. The four zombies threw all their weight on the door at once and forced it open, stumbling into the stairwell. Caitlyn screamed. Jacob raised his shotgun and leveled it at the zombies, but they pushed it aside in the close quarters and reached their arms for Emily, who was between Jacob and me. Before any of us could react much, the first zombie had lowered its face to Emily’s head and bit down.
Emily screamed in terror and, in the same moment, I raised my sword and brought it down on the zombie’s shoulders. The sharp katana sliced through half the creature’s neck and arm and made it stop and look up. DeAndre grabbed Emily and pulled her up the stairwell, following everyone else who was rushing upward in a blind panic.
Jacob brought his shotgun up again and blasted it into the second zombie’s chest. He hit point blank, sending it back on its heels and halfway out the door where it fell on its back, blocking the door open. The zombie that had bitten Emily rose up again and came at me. I brought the sword down again, this time cleaving his head clean off. The head bounced down the stairs, and the body fell to the ground.
The other two zombies then came through the door together, and Jacob fired the shotgun. The blast was deafening. The zombies were so close together in the confined space of the stairwell that the shot hit them both in the head, taking parts of their skulls with it. They dropped to the ground. The zombie Jacob had shot first was somehow getting to its feet, and the fifth zombie had left the now-motionless girl and was coming through behind it.
“I need to reload!” cried Jacob.
“Get behind me!” I said, and swung my katana sword again.
I had almost swung too quickly, but the end of the sword cleaved through top two inches of the zombie’s head and held fast. The zombie slowly fell to its knees, taking my sword with it.
The last zombie growled behind it and tried to climb over him to get at me. All of a sudden, DeAndre came up next to me and kicked the last zombie full in the chest. It fell backward into the hallway. I worked at my sword, trying to get it free. As the last zombie began to crawl back toward me, I finally put my foot on the body of the zombie my sword was stuck in and gave a great heave and my sword came loose. Just in time, I swung it up and back down, cleaving the head from the body on the last zombie. The head rolled back into the hallway and the body fell forward on top of his comrade.
Breathing hard, I grasped my sword and look past them into the hallway. It seemed clear. I called over my shoulder, “Come on!