"An ordinary man caught in an extraordinary world of flesh
eating monsters and murderous humans."
Then, on a beautiful early-fall evening a vagrant stumbles into Times Square and attacks a tourist, setting off a deadly chain that will signal the end of Chris' life as he knows it, and might just spell the end of civilization.
Follow Chris Collins through the streets and back alleys of New York as he battles flesh eating zombies, murderous hobos, a demented street thug and an incompetent military.
Then there's a mysterious hitman who may or may not be his friend, and Ruby, just one day old but already equipped with teeth and nails, and a taste for pureed beef.
Click the "Read More" link below to read an excerpt from
Monday morning started like any other. I left my apartment at 5.30 for my usual run. I had a fight coming up in Atlantic City that my manager assured me was going to get me noticed. Low down on the bill, but with a middleweight title fight as the main event, TV coverage, the whole shebang, as he liked to say.
And it paid well, which was what really mattered to me. Rosie was due any day now and even before the birth I was finding out just how much kids cost.
A lot of fighters I knew back then hated roadwork, but I used to love it. I enjoyed being out when the air was crisp and the city was quiet. Stamina was an important part of my game plan because I was never a big hitter. I was a mover, a counterpuncher, and although I could take a beating as well as the next guy, I just preferred not to.
When I got back from my run, Rosie was still in bed, propped up with four pillows, her belly prominent beneath the covers. The TV was on.
“Hey Sugar,” I said leaning over and planting a sweaty kiss on her cheek. “Sleeping in on a weekday?”
“Can you believe this shit?” she answered.
“What shit?” I said, stripping off my t-shirt and heading for the shower.
“This guy, this Japanese guy, gets attacked in Times Square.”
“Uh huh,” I mumbled, thinking it must be a slow news day when a tourist getting mugged in New York City makes the morning bulletin.
“No, wait honey, there’s more, you gotta see this.”
“I gotta take a shower, is what I gotta do.”
“No, seriously, you’ve…” Rosie started, before being interrupted by a knock at the door.
“What the hell?” I said, “At this time of the morning? You want me to get it?”
“Nah” she said, “Probably Mrs. Kranski, we can’t have her seeing you half naked now, can we? Her old man has a bad back.”
She slid awkwardly out of bed, pushed her hand to the small of her back and gave an undignified grunt. Her belly looked enormous under her nightdress. “Do I look fat in this?” she giggled.
The knocking at the door was louder, more insistent. “Yeah, yeah, keep your corset on Mrs. K,” Rosie said and waddled out of the room.
I turned towards the bathroom and momentarily caught a picture on the TV of a hospital parking lot crowded with police cruisers and emergency vehicles. The news reporter was saying something about an unprovoked attack on hospital staff by a seemingly deranged patient.
I pressed mute on the remote, stepped out of my sweat pants and headed for the shower.
As I did, my cell phone started ringing, so I went back, picked it up and checked the display. It was Blaze, my manager. Well, he could wait until after my shower. I set the phone down on top of the john, just like Rosie always told me not to.
I walked into the cubicle and turned on the water, fast and hot, the way I like it. The water felt good against my tensed muscles and I let it run that way for a minute before switching it to cold and sounding off with my usual “Yee ha!” rebel yell, at the sensation. That little morning routine often had our neighbor Brad, who worked night shift, thumping on the wall. I’d apologized to him any number of times before, but I just couldn’t help myself – it felt that good.
A few seconds of the cold water and I shut the jet off, toweled myself dry and dressed.
Rosie was being awful quiet, which I remember thinking was unusual. Normally at this time of the morning she’d be rustling up breakfast and I was used to hearing the clatter of pans and plates and cutlery over her tuneless singing. Her favorite was “The Greatest Love of All,” and she used to enjoy belting it out holding a spoon as a make-believe microphone. But this morning it was quiet and I reckoned she was probably watching the news story she’d been following. We had a small counter top set in the kitchen. I figured she was watching in there.
“Hey Hon, you about ready, we’ve got to hustle,” I shouted. No reply, she was definitely engrossed in the story. “Hey Rosie, our appointment’s at nine remember, better get shaking.” I said this walking from the bedroom down the short passage towards the living room.
The front door was open, and I recall wondering if Rosie had stepped out into the hall to speak with Mrs. Kranski. The old woman had some crazy ideas and it would be just like her to want to talk outside rather than come into the apartment.
That was when I saw Rosie lying on the floor and my life, as I knew it, ended.
“Jesus, Rosie,” I said running to her. “You okay? Did you fall?“ But immediately I knew that this was no fall, not with that much blood. Her nightdress was soaked in it. It was on the floor, the walls, the doorjamb. And yet somehow Rosie was still breathing, a harsh jagged breath, but a breath, a hope, nonetheless.
“Hang in babe, hang in, I’m going to get you through this,” I said, then shouted out, “Someone call an ambulance, Mrs. Kranski, call 911, we need help! Mrs. Kranski!”
I suddenly remembered that our neighbor, Brad, worked at Lenox Hill and might know what to do. “Brad!” I screamed, “Brad, get in here, we need your help.”
Rosie’s fingers tightened on my wrist and I looked at her and just knew she wasn’t going to make it, not even if the ambulance arrived this very minute, not even if the world’s best surgeon was cradling her head instead of me.
I started to speak, but she widened her eyes as if to tell me not to, and she said, in a whisper, “My baby.”
“Yes honey, I know. I’m going to pull you through this. You and the baby, you’re going to be okay.”
Inexplicably, Rosie smiled. A knowing smile that said she knew I was bullshitting. Then she lifted her hand and put a finger to my lips and her eyes glazed. She let out a breath that seemed to go on forever, that seemed to sound in my ears even after it was gone.
I knelt there on the floor with my wife’s blood on my hands and held her like a broken toy. I must have cried, although all I can remember was a deep, dark emptiness in my heart and a maelstrom in my head as I tried to deal with both my loss and bewilderment at how this had happened. Then I saw that Rosie’s nightdress had hitched up and out of some absent-minded sense of modesty, I guess, I straightened it. It was then that I noticed the flatness of her belly.
My baby, she’d said. Had she miscarried? Is that what she’d meant? Where? How? What had happened here? I slowly lifted the nightdress. There was a lot of blood, but even so I could clearly see the terrible injuries.
Rosie’s stomach had been ripped open leaving a jagged wound. There were deep gashes on her thighs where it appeared chunks of flesh had been ripped from her. Jesus Christ, were those bite marks? Holy mother of God, how was this possible? Someone knocks on the door of my apartment at seven o’ clock in the morning and rips my unborn child from my wife’s womb? How could such a thing happen? How?
Outside I could hear sirens and suddenly realized I had to call the cops. The phone in the front room was dead. I tried to remember where I’d left my cell, but for a moment I blanked. Then it came to me, on top of the john. I sprinted for the bathroom, getting there just as the phone started to ring. The ring tone was set to vibrate, and as I reached for the handset it slid across the porcelain and dropped into the bowl.
“Fuuuckkk!” I screamed at the top of my voice. I reached into the water, my hand closing on the phone just as the screen blanked out. Then I was tossing it aside, running back down the passage, skirting Rosie, crossing the hall to the Kranskis.
I banged on the door. “Mrs. Kranski, it’s Chris Collins, I need help. I need to use your phone. There’s been an accident. Mrs. Kranski! Please, call 911, there’s been an accident!”
If Kranski was there, she wasn’t answering. “Fucking old witch,” I spat. I was going to have to try and find Rosie’s cell, or go down to the pay phone on the corner. Or I could try Brad.
I reached his apartment door in four long strides. The door was ajar, and I noticed something that looked like a smudge of blood on the doorframe and handle.
I realize now that it should have struck me as strange, but at the time I was frantic and the reality of the situation was starting to cut through the haze of shock and adrenalin. For a brief moment I totally convinced myself that this was all a dream and a sensation of calmness swept over me, like the way you feel when you wake from a nightmare and realize it isn’t real. But if this was a nightmare, it wasn’t letting go just yet.
I entered Brad’s apartment, without bothering to knock. “Hey Brad!” I shouted. “I need help. I need your help, man. My wife. There’s been an accident!“
There was no answer.
“Brad, I need to use your phone, I need to call the cops, so I’m just going to do that, okay!”
I picked up the phone. Dead.
“Hey, Brad, you in there? I need your cell. This is an emergency. This is a fucking emergency, you understand?”
There was a sound from the kitchen, a faint bubbling sound. “You in there Brad,” I shouted, “I need your cell.”
Again I heard the distinctive bubbling sound from the kitchen. I headed in that direction.
Brad was standing with his back pressed up against the counter. He wore his Hospital Security Guard uniform. The front of his shirt was blood stained and there was blood on his hands, one of which dangled a large kitchen knife, also dripping blood. A cigarette hung between bloodstained teeth, which seemed impossibly large. His mouth was curled into an insane grin.
On the stove, a pot of water bubbled merrily away. Next to it, on a cutting board, lay the tiny corpse of my unborn daughter.
Now you need to understand what goes on in a person’s mind at a time like this. There’s a moment when you feel like a puppet, suspended on strings. The puppet master has just yanked you in a direction you don’t want to go. But you go anyway, because you have no choice. I should have been heading across town with my wife for her obstetrician appointment right now. Instead, my wife was dead, my daughter was dead and I was standing just feet away from the man who had killed them both, butchered them both for some insane reason that I didn’t understand.
I’m not sure how long I faced off against Brad across his kitchen. It could have been a second. It felt like an hour. It was he who broke the standoff. He allowed the cigarette to drop from his lips, stubbed it out with his toe, then looked up at me and grinned. Then the grin seemed to charge, to morph into anger, into rage, into something more primal. He made a gagging sound as though trying to clear something unpleasant from his throat and then he charged me.
He crossed the eight feet that separated us in an instant, and it was only my fighter’s instincts that saved me. I’ve fought lots of guys like Brad in my career. Big, bull-necked guys who think their power makes up for a lack of skill. I used his momentum to my advantage, shuffling out of the way at the last moment and catching him with a solid, fight-ending right behind the ear.
Brad plowed on past, his impetus carrying him into the living room, where he crashed face first into a glass topped table. He lay there in a crumpled heap, his arm bent back at an improbable angle. The kitchen knife lay a few feet from him, and for a moment I had an almost uncontrollable urge to pick it up and plunge in into his back again and again, until there wasn’t an inch of skin on him left intact. The only reason I didn’t, is because I had more important business to take care of.
I sprinted down the passage to fetch a towel for wrapping the baby’s body. I heard a sound behind me and turned to see Brad stumble from the living room into the passage, dangling his shattered arm. There were shards of glass in his face, the largest of which protruded from an eye socket. It seemed impossible that he should be walking, let alone be alive, but I’ve heard of guys on drugs like PPC who take an incredible beating and still kept going.
Is that what had happened? Had Brad killed my wife and daughter in a drug induced frenzy?
He was only a few feet away when I closed the bathroom door on him. This guy was going to take some stopping and I needed a minute to think, to find a weapon. He crashed into the door, stepped back and attacked it again. By the fourth charge the door started to splinter.