Authors: Jason Kristopher
THE DYING OF THE LIGHT
By Jason Kristopher
Text ©2012 by Jason Kristopher
Illustrations ©2012 by Grey Gecko Press
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. This book is a work of fiction; any resemblance to real persons (living or dead), events, or entities is coincidental unless otherwise noted.
Published by Grey Gecko Press, Katy, Texas, USA.
Grey Gecko Press thanks Mr. John Aydelotte and Mr. Dominick D’Aunno for their generous contributions to independent publishing and creating a brighter future for authors and readers everywhere.
Design by Grey Gecko Press
Illustration / cover art by Oliver Wetter / Fantasio Fine Arts —
Additional illustrations by Dennis Fanning / Fanning Creative — fanningcreative.carbonmade.com
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The dying of the light: interval / Jason Kristopher
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012950919
Characters of Note
Maj Bill Shaw, Command Pilot, USAF
Lt Timothy Fraser, First Pilot, USAF
Lt Mark Evans, Co-pilot, USAF
Staff Sgt Charles Keith, Loadmaster, USAF
2nd Lt Rodrigo Lopez, Flight Engineer, USAF
Col Kimberly Blake, Special Forces, CO
Cpt Marcus Potter, US Army
David Blake, XO
Gunnery Sgt Dalton Gaines, USMC MSOR
Cpt Tom Reynolds, USAF 1st Spec Ops Wing
Lt Jonathan Barnes, USMC MSOR
Lt Jake Powell, SEAL
Lt Elizabeth Montero, USMC MSOR
Cpt Nathan Armstrong, Special Forces
Cpt Angelo Martinez, Ranger
Petty Off 2nd Class Edward Ames, SEAL
Cpt Janet Turner, USAF 1st Spec Ops Wing
Sgt Arkady Ivanovich, Special Forces
Lt Adrian Masters, SEAL
Sgt Joshua Barrents, Special Forces
Sgt Samuel Techman, USAF 1st Spec Ops Wing
Maj Malcolm Dagger, USMC MSOR, CO
Brig Gen George Maxwell, Ranger, AEGIS CO
Com Frank Anderson, SEAL, AEGIS XO
Sgt Douglas Mahoney, US Army
Dr. Jim Atkins, Geneticist
Jennifer Michaelson, US Marshal
Dr. Jack Warner, Area Director
Dr. Sabrina Tanner, Communications
Angela Gates, Governor
Daniel Taylor, Governor’s Assistant
Arthur Beoshane, Rebel Leader, Seattle Ruins
Driebach, Rebel Officer, Seattle Ruins
Dr. Mary Maxwell, Research, Bunker Seven
Arturo Onevás, Administrator, Marambío Base
Advanced Experimental Genetics Intelligence Service
Army Combat Uniform, standard Army uniform
Commanding officer of a unit or group
Real-time Enemy Assessors & Physiology Readers
United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases
Executive officer, second in command of a unit or group
The day the world at large was informed of the existence of walkers, through a speech by the US president.
Z-Day - 6 weeks
Becoming a zombie was much more painful than he had expected.
He’d assumed it would be a momentary pain, and then… nothing. He would be gone, a mindless monster.
Instead, he felt every stretched sinew, pulled taut from endless cramps. Every torn and bruised muscle, worked beyond endurance. Every cough and rattle, as his tongue rasped against a throat gone dry from screaming.
Pain was a constant companion to him, a seemingly old and dear friend reminding him that he was still, against all odds and hope, miserably alive. He longed for death with each passing nanosecond, the sweet release of oblivion calling to him as if she were the most earnest of lovers, and he wanted nothing more than to fall into her arms, to rest at long last.
But the hunger… dear God, the hunger.
It gnawed at him, the core of his being turned and twisted into a craven and craving beast, possessed by a singular, overpowering urge to rip and tear into the sweet, sweet flesh of anything and everything that came within grasp of the claws that had replaced his fingers.
The hunger did not come without its own benefits, however. It began to supersede the pain, not to extinguish the horrific agony but rather to embrace it, to enfold it and make it a part of itself. The hunger made the agony a part of who he was now, who he would forever be.
There in the dark, his mind ran screaming.
Whether it was months, days, or only seconds later when he came back to himself, he couldn’t tell. He knew only that the hunger had gone from crippling to merely frustrating. He knew, on some level, that it would never leave him completely now, but at least, he was able to function, able to think.
He sat up on the narrow bunk built into the wall. Raising one hand against the glare of the overhead fluorescent lights, he saw clearly for the first time in who knew how long, and noticed the gloves that encased his hands and the dark robe-like clothes he’d been given. A flickering at the edge of his vision gave away the presence of a hood, and his feet were in heavy black boots.
He stood, wavering a little as his equilibrium adjusted. Shaking his head to clear it, he took another look around. The bars of what was obviously a cell gave him a view of a corridor and nothing else. He noticed the lack of any reflective surfaces immediately, and his mind shied away from the thought of what he might look like now.
He took a few cautious steps, and as the world ceased spinning around him, he realized that he felt stronger than he ever had before. Not just stronger, but better, faster, more powerful. The leather of his gloves creaked as he clenched a fist in wonder, the pain presented by the action merely background white noise, thanks to his mind’s defensive filtering.
He was just ready to start yelling for the guard he assumed was nearby when a man in a US Army uniform strode into view on the opposite side of the bars, a nondescript aide following close behind.
“I see you’ve survived,” said the man in uniform, smiling coldly. “That’s good, even if it did cost us the others in the process.”
He tried to speak, to ask the uniformed man where he was, who he was, and what had been done to him, but he couldn’t form the words. His damaged throat would not comply with his wishes, so he was left standing mute before the shorter man, who now held up a hand.
“No, no. Don’t bother. You’re not ready yet. You’ve got some healing to do.” He frowned, crossing his arms. “I suppose I can’t very well call you ‘thing,’ so let’s find out your name, shall we?” He snapped his fingers, and the aide handed him a slim folder, which he opened and scanned. “Ah, here it is.” He snapped the folder closed and handed it back to the aide, moving forward to look at the man in black a bit closer, yet still well out of range of the bars.
“You and I have a lot to discuss, Mr. Driebach.”
Over the Southern Ocean
Z-Day - 6 days
“So, what’d they promise you, Fraser?”
Fraser didn’t turn from the controls of the C-5M Super Galaxy as he answered the co-pilot, Evans. “Promise me?”
“Yeah, what’d they promise you to get you to fly to the ass end of the world trading supplies for a load of half-frozen civilian scientists? I heard we’ve been losing guys like us left and right, what with those superflu crazies.”
Fraser finally looked over. “I was ordered to fly, so I flew.”
“Yeah, but what about your family, man?”
Fraser shook his head and did his instrument check. “Don’t have any.”
“None? What about a girlfriend?”
“She left me—said I loved planes more than her.” Fraser glanced over at Evans. “She was right.”
“All right, Fraser, Evans, cut the chatter,” said Major Bill Shaw, the C-5’s command pilot, as he walked onto the flight deck. He’d been in his rack for the last two hours, but you’d never have known it to look at him—his uniform was neat and tidy and he was well groomed. He took a long sip from a mug of hot coffee, the aroma of it perking up everyone on the flight deck. “Where are we?”