Shaun Jeffrey: Dead World

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Shaun Jeffrey Dead World
  • Название:
    Dead World
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Deshca Press
  • Жанр:
    Ужасы и Мистика / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2012
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • Рейтинг книги:
    3 / 5
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Dead World: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Long after a pandemic swept the world, society has crumbled. A remnant of human civilization ekes out an existence in a closed community called Sanctuary. To control their population, the ruling brethren use a lottery, the winners of which join the new gods that reside beyond the walls. But when her daughter is chosen, Anna Charles discovers the lottery is fixed by despotic church leader, Roman Quail. Now in a frantic bid to save her family, she flees into the hostile environment outside Sanctuary where only the strongest survive, and where all their gods are dead. Literally. (Novella approximately 23,000 words long)

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Shaun Jeffrey

DEAD WORLD

I’d like to give my thanks to the following people for their help and continued support: Debra Platt, Callum Jeffrey, Brenda Jeffrey, Darren Jeffrey, J.G. Faherty, Rhonda Wilson, Jim Mcleod, Neil Illing, Lorraine Arndell, Patti Elliott and the rest of the crew at the UK Amazon Kindle Forum. My friends at the Renegade Writers’ Group. And finally last but not least, my fans, whoever and wherever you may be.

PROLOGUE

The Past

A scream shattered the silence of the Institute.

Tony Collins looked up from the complex algorithms on his computer screen and frowned. The sound had broken his concentration and he had been so close to working out the formula that had evaded him all morning. He pushed his leather chair back and stood up. The Post-it notes decorating his office walls fluttered slightly in the draft emitted from the air-conditioning unit. Mathematical equations covered the bits of paper, written in Tony’s almost illegible scrawl, markings most people would need the services of a code breaker to decipher.

As he headed towards the door a siren blared out, the deafening sound making him jump. Tony cringed. What the hell is going on?

At the door, he grabbed the handle but then hesitated. Despite the ear piercing wail of the alarm, he discerned more screaming. Multiple voices combined in a chilling cacophony.

Knowing he had to find out what was happening, he opened the door and stepped out into the corridor. The sound was louder outside the confines of his office and the red lights in the ceiling flashed, turning the pristine white walls into a hellish canvas.

The emergency protocols had been activated, something had obviously gone wrong. Something disastrous. Tony tried to swallow but his throat constricted. Sweat beaded on his forehead.

The flashing lights made him feel a little dizzy and his pulse raced.

Before he moved, a figure ran into the corridor ahead, dressed from head to toe in a white coverall with a full face mask, the insect-like eye pieces creating a sinister ensemble.

“What’s happened?” Tony shouted, trying to make himself heard above the alarm. Then he noticed the figure’s sleeve was ripped and there was blood around the tear.

The figure ran towards him. “There’s been an accident. It’s all gone wrong.”

An accident. The words froze Tony’s blood. “What sort of accident?”

The figure reached him and tore the mask off to reveal a face whiter than snow. It took Tony a couple of seconds to recognise Barry Jones, one of the scientists assigned to the hub.

“They’ve escaped,” Barry said.

“How? I thought… I thought they were secured.”

“Don’t know.” Barry stood panting.

“Where are the security men?”

Barry shook his head. “It’s too late. They caught them off guard.”

Although the situation didn’t warrant it, Tony thought Barry’s choice of words somewhat comical. “But we haven’t perfected the process yet. We need more time.”

Barry didn’t reply. Tony stared at him and noticed that his eyes had started to glaze over, giving him a vacant expression. He backed away towards his office, saw a man stagger around the corner into the corridor. The man was naked, his skin ashen grey, mottled blue patches visible where blood had pooled beneath the surface. Electrodes protruded from the man’s skull, wires trailing from them like strange multicoloured strands of hair. Blood dribbled from his mouth, blood that couldn’t be his own because his had congealed long ago.

Another figure appeared behind the man. A naked woman, her skin like parchment, torn in places to reveal the desiccated organs beneath. Fresh blood coated her fingers. Half of her face was missing, leaving her jawbone evident and giving her a sinister grin. The skin on one of her feet had rotted away and the bones clicked against the stone floor as she hobbled forwards, arms outstretched.

Tony’s eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped. Blood pumped at his temples as he turned and scrambled to grab the door handle, seeking safety within the confines of his office.

The deafening alarm continued to wail, drowning out Tony’s screams as one of the figures grabbed him from behind with cold, dead hands.

“Needed more time,” Tony wailed before teeth sank into his flesh.

CHAPTER 1

The present.

Anna Charles weaved through the crowds in the market, apologising as she bumped people with the wicker baskets she carried in each hand. The baskets showed signs of age, the original handles replaced by rope and even that was beginning to wear away. The baskets had been in her family as long as she could remember but they still served their purpose well and were a precious commodity.

The people bustling around the market wore clothes that had seen better days. Anna’s own dress had traces of blue around some of the frayed stitching, but the material had mainly faded to a dull grey after thousands of washes.

Bright sunlight cast long shadows from the guard towers that surrounded the high stone walls of Sanctuary. Some of the guards sat while others leaned against the tower walls, crossbows and ancient guns propped beside them. In the far corner of Sanctuary sat an ancient metal box someone once told her was called a car and used as a form of transportation. Now rusted, kids used it as a play thing. Other play equipment stood around the car, including a swing and a slide. With space at a premium the area was tiny, but the kids liked it. She recalled her own siblings, Zeke, Lucy, and Ben, spending many an hour playing on the equipment.

Anna joined a queue of women in front of one of the stalls and slowly shuffled forwards. Once she reached the front, Anna handed the man some food tokens made from lead and stamped with a seal. She also passed him some tokens made from iron.

The stall sold fruit and vegetables but after a recent drought the meagre stock was small and withered. The man proceeded to place some produce in one of the baskets. Once he had finished, he reached beneath the counter and withdrew some better quality food that he placed in the other basket.

“Something to be said for being on the Council.” He eyed the produce appreciatively then said, “Next.”

Anna picked up the baskets and stepped aside to allow the next person through.

Other stalls on the market offered various items, such as handmade clothing and crockery. One stall even sold chicken eggs, but they took too many tokens so Anna would only buy them if it was a special occasion.

She walked back towards the main building, its grey walls crumbling in places and patched up with wattle and daub. She passed through the entrance and walked past the barred gates that lined the hallway. Anna couldn’t remember them ever having been closed. Inside, a central metal staircase allowed access to the first and second floor. Large metal beams supported the stairs. Metal beams also lined the ceiling, the central glass dome of which was cleaned regularly, allowing light to flood the floor below. Balconies ran around the interior which was about three hundred feet long by a couple of hundred feet wide. Sixty doors were situated on each level, each allowing access to the cells where the various families lived. Further annexes housing more people lead off from the central core in a star shaped pattern. People wandered around the interior and leaned over the balconies, conversing with their neighbours opposite. The cacophony of noise would continue throughout the day. Anna lived in a ground floor cell. As she approached her residence, her neighbour, Frank Vine, stepped out from next door. He was an elderly gentleman of about seventy, his grey hair like frost around his crown.

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