Author: Dan Decker (page 2 of 21)

2 – Monster Country: Genizyz





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Blood Games – Episode 19



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

AS I WALKED THROUGH the door, I was coiled like a snake ready to strike, doing my best to leave all thoughts of the men I’d killed outside.

I was zeroing in on my prey.

Reed was here and had known I was coming. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have sent his men out to deal with me so quickly. The timing of their response confirmed my suspicions that he’d been aware of Kris and had taken advantage of that knowledge to lead me here.

He couldn’t have known I would be so willing to slaughter his men. Based on everything he’d seen me do–except shooting Sam–he’d still believed I was the same person who had escaped from Black Brick.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The few seconds I’d had before I’d decided to shoot Sam had changed my life forever. A deadened killer like Reed wouldn’t have understood. He was so far past feeling empathy he hadn’t recognized the ramifications of Sam’s death.

It might have been avoidable for another person but not for me. He had needed to die. I’d fought Peck and Reed using moral methods, and it had got me nowhere. I’d given Sam many opportunities to rethink his decisions, but he’d still come at me, putting me in a position where I’d been forced to kill him.

It was only in the days afterward that I fully came to understand what I’d instinctively known when I’d pulled the trigger.

To stop Peck and Reed, I had to sink to their level.

1 – Monster Country: Genizyz



Two Years Earlier

Sweat ringed my neck and went down to my belly button. I could not remember a time when I had ever been so covered with my own perspiration. As I pushed away the leaf of a tree I had twice learned the name of but had now also twice forgotten, I trudged down the jungle path.

 I will never do this again, I vowed. I should be in a lab. Let others collect specimens, I’ll do the analysis.

I sighed when a fat raindrop hit my face.

I knew what came next, as regular as a chime on a grandfather clock, or so it seemed. The first drop was followed by another and another as I shrugged into my camouflage poncho and pulled it over my pack. It would keep my gear dry and most of the rain would be kept from my already wet torso, but my pants were going to get drenched.

I pulled up the plastic hood and adjusted my ballcap while putting my sunglasses into a shirt pocket. The temperature dropped ten degrees but I sweated as I had before thanks to the waterproof covering that locked in my own body heat.

“Your rain slick is not all the way down,” Sharon said from behind, not quite but almost elbowing me to the side as she squeezed past on the narrow trail. “Adjust it or your pack will get wet.”

“Sure,” I said, stepping back onto the path after allowing her to pass. I had long since learned it was better to give in than fight petty battles with Sharon, things went smoother when she got her way. “Thanks for letting me know.” My voice was more polite than I felt as I grabbed the back of my poncho and pulled it down. “We haven’t stopped for a couple miles and this storm is brutal.” I slapped a mosquito that was protected from the rain by my poncho sleeve. I had not intended for it to emphasize my point, but it worked out nicely. “Perhaps we should find cover and take a break.”

“This little storm?” Sharon gave me that condescending smile I had come to loath. “It’ll be worth it. It will be worth it.” Sharon pushed on, elbowing Jen out of the way as she did while I struggled to not make an obscene gesture at her back. It was not long before she had pushed past Bill and was once again at the front of our traveling party.

I could not fathom why I had ever agreed to come on this expedition in the first place. Originally, it had sounded like a fun opportunity when I had overheard a girl—Sandy—mention she was going.

Earn college credit while traveling in the Amazon jungle, hoping to spark a relationship with Sandy, what was there to not like?

Sandy and I had become acquainted but nothing had happened. I had not made a move. It was difficult to be suave when I was always covered in sweat, something I had not anticipated. The novelty of the exotic had worn off quick and I soon regretted my choice.

There are much better ways to meet girls, I thought as I stepped over a puddle.

A gust of wind made me shiver despite the fact I felt like I could not have been warmer. The poncho was sticky against my chest and arms.

A man screamed, driving away all other thoughts.

Get it here!

 

 

Prologue – Monster Country: Genizyz



Get it here!

I stopped with my fingers on the door handle, hesitant to go inside the hold once again. I hated this place. I hated the smell. I hate everything it represented. I hated what it had done to people I worked with. 

But I hated most how it reminded me of failure.

The metal was cold against my fingers as I brought up my keycard with the other hand. I had long thought we did not have adequate security but had done nothing because I wanted to preserve a final option.

This final option.

They will kill me. I shook my head. But if I don’t do this, who will? 

A lot had happened in just a few days. Much I did not want to think about but had been unable to get out of my mind.

I warned her. She didn’t listen. Now look what’s happened.

 I firmed my resolve.

This is the only way.

A zampy cried out, a noise like a sharp bark. The monsters could not know what I was planning but we had made assumptions about them before that proved wrong so even though I knew it irrational to think they could read my mind I was not so sure. We didn’t know how they communicated with their zombie minions so I couldn’t rule out telepathy.

The zampys could sense my presence, even though the dungeon was windowless, of that I was sure.

These lizard monsters that resembled dinosaurs were far more intelligent than any of my co-workers supposed.

My bag was heavy with ammunition and my knockoff Colt .45 was carefully concealed inside my jacket. Nobody had ever thought to install a metal detector, as the remaining team leader I was above suspicion and had passed the guard without question.

The thought I would destroy my own discovery was unthinkable.

Thank you, Sharon.

I had planned every move and needed less than a minute to dispatch the monsters on the other side. They were behind bars so it would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Easier really. I have no refraction issues.

It could all be over in a minute.

Yet I hesitated.

I had decided to stop this madness long ago. Each time I had tried, Sharon had foiled me or convinced me to do otherwise.

She cannot stop me now.

And that was part of why I was finally here. Sharon was now sequestered in a windowless padded room. She could only speak with grunts and groans, assuming she still knew what it meant to be human.

She could no longer use her brain. While I had already designated her a zombie, the higher-ups of Genizyz were not yet ready to accept the truth that was right in front of them.

Lurching like a dead woman walking.

“We have invested tens of millions in this program,” Jon Sohn, Head of Research and Development had told me. “We are not going to let an unexpected tropical disease stop us now.”

I had remained silent. He had taken my lack of response as assent.

What he had not known—could not have known—was the planning I had been doing for the better part of six months. His words had been irrelevant by that point. My internal debate ended when Sharon had converted to a zombie.

I should have handled this in the jungle.

Another of the zampys barked and I recognized his call all too well.

Wicked Rex.

He was soon joined by the others.

Their bark was like a dog, but louder and far more menacing than any thing I’d ever heard, save a zombie roar.

The zampys cried in unison, making me think of prisoners chanting for freedom. Their cries sent shivers down my back.

And who’s to say they’re not?

Nobody had tried to understand how they communicated because we had been too busy researching their other unique properties so Genizyz could commercialize their discovery, the pillage of the natural world some might call it.

I understood the zampys better than anybody. Sharon had started to ask her own questions right before the end.

My hand rested on the handle for a long time with my keycard hovering above the reader. Dread rolled through me when I finally disengaged the lock and opened the door.

The barking stopped. The zampys did not move.

I knew I was not the dominant animal as all eyes focused on me.

The hold was kept dark to mimic night.

The only light came from the open door. As I slid my hand into my jacket and wrapped my fingers around the butt of my pistol, I could not help but think of the first time I had encountered these infernal lizards.  

Get it here!

Monster Country: Genizyz is out!

SOMETHING WORSE THAN DEATH IS HAPPENING IN THE JUNGLE…

It was supposed to be Vince Carter’s last summer internship before graduation. It was supposed to be two months in the Amazon jungle before he began full-time work for the company Genizyz. Vince is counting down the days he has left when one of his teammates is injured by a strange creature that closely resembles a dinosaur. 

While the rest of his team is excited about his discovery and speculating about what it could mean, both for Genizyz and society as a whole, Vince worries about his injured teammate Sandy. 

Everything changes when Sandy kills another member of their team, it is not long before camp is overrun with zombies. 

Vince must face his fears as he fights these terrible monsters while grappling with other teammates about how to handle the discovery. They insist on returning with what he believes to be the zombie causing contagion while he wants to leave it all behind in the deep jungle. If you like suspenseful zombie stories that end with a bang, this story is for you. Fans of Jurassic Park, the Walking Dead, and World War Z will enjoy this novel. 

Get it here!

Sneak Peek

I warned her. She didn’t listen. Now look what’s happened.

I firmed my resolve.

This is the only way.

A zampy cried out, a noise like a sharp bark. The monsters could not know what I was planning but we had made assumptions about them before that proved wrong so even though I knew it irrational to think they could read my mind I was not so sure. We didn’t know how they communicated with their zombie minions so I couldn’t rule out telepathy.

The zampys could sense my presence, even though the dungeon was windowless, of that I was sure.

These lizard monsters that resembled dinosaurs were far more intelligent than any of my co-workers supposed.

My bag was heavy with ammunition and my knockoff Colt .45 was carefully concealed inside my jacket. Nobody had ever thought to install a metal detector, as the remaining team leader I was above suspicion and had passed the guard without question.

The thought I would destroy my own discovery was unthinkable.

Thank you, Sharon.

I had planned every move and needed less than a minute to dispatch the monsters on the other side. They were behind bars so it would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Easier really. I have no refraction issues.

It could all be over in a minute.

Yet I hesitated.

I had decided to stop this madness long ago. Each time I had tried, Sharon had foiled me or convinced me to do otherwise.

She cannot stop me now.

And that was part of why I was finally here. Sharon was now sequestered in a windowless padded room. She could only speak with grunts and groans, assuming she still knew what it meant to be human.

She could no longer use her brain. While I had already designated her a zombie, the higher-ups of Genizyz were not yet ready to accept the truth that was right in front of them.
Lurching like a dead woman walking.

Get it here!

Blood Games – Episode 18

This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

THINGS WERE QUIET ON the other side, but I came down expecting to shoot almost as soon as I landed, thinking for sure there would be guards.

As I spun with my pistol in hand, looking for trouble, I spotted what I thought was a camera and was halfway to it before I realized it was a burned-out light. After closer examination, I was left wondering why I’d thought it was a security camera because it looked nothing like one.

Shaking my head while taking a deep breath to calm my nerves, I ducked behind a tree while I waited for Kris to leave. I hadn’t given her an opportunity to argue and had made sure to not look back. She was left either doing as I suggested or getting out herself, something she was unlikely to do.

Despite her boldness, it was apparent she wasn’t trained for this sort of thing. Clandestine meetups with a set agenda in a controlled situation, she could handle. But walking into an unknown situation was not something she should do.

I’d thought her more experienced when I’d requested she accompany me. I should have taken Maxine up on her offer to send me with her more seasoned person. I’d made some assumptions about Kris and had learned the truth the hard way.

That’s why I’d put her in a position where she was forced to leave. I didn’t want to risk her life if I could avoid it. If I continued to accept Maxine’s help, I would try to keep Kris back at base where she belonged.

She wouldn’t see it that way, but she also hadn’t realized the risk she’d taken by parking so close to the DataRader headquarters. What other mistakes would she make?

Blood Games – Episode 17



This week’s episode features a chapter from Blood Games, Jake Ramsey Book #3, the first book Black Brick is available as a free ebook from most ebook vendors. Here is an excerpt from the show:  

KRIS PULLED INTO THE spot I had indicated. I pushed my seat back as far as it went, tilting it so I had a lower profile and taking advantage of the rear tinted windows. The casual passerby shouldn’t notice anything.  

When Kris saw me staring at her, she muttered something under her breath while she rolled her eyes.

“My paranoia has served me well,” I said as she adjusted her seat.

“No wonder none of your friends came with you from Black Brick.”

The comment might have stung at another time, but it didn’t faze me. I was doing what I needed to increase our chances of not getting noticed. She could complain all she wanted if she followed suit.

I wasn’t looking for friends. I wanted to find a way to stop evil men from kidnapping children. I could worry about having a personal life once I’d taken care of that.

We sat in silence for a long time. I stopped checking my watch as time seemed to slow. After what I was convinced had been an hour and a half I checked my watch and found less than fifteen minutes had gone by. We still had over three hours before dawn.

I shook my head, trying to keep awake. The position of my seat put my neck at a weird angle while I watched the main exit.

“You should get some sleep,” I said, suggesting it because I wanted my monocular back. When Kris didn’t respond, I noticed she’d already nodded off. I took it from where it had fallen on her lap. It was good somebody could get some sleep. Perhaps it would put her in a better mood.

The monocular revealed what I’d already known with my naked eye. Nothing was happening at the exit.

Knowing that it was a risk, but also knowing I needed to stay awake, I pulled out my phone and turned the brightness down so low it was hard to read. It at least gave me something break up the monotony.

I positioned my phone so that if any car left the garage, I would notice the movement. Doing so increased the risk that somebody might see the screen of my phone but I didn’t care. The chance of that happening was small.

Just as Kris had claimed my video was published on every news site I checked. Most of the videos were posted along with the recent fake video. I plugged in my earbuds and watched my video. I’d done a fair job of it. My breathing had been regular and I’d been careful to keep my face lit by the overhead streetlight.

I watched the fake video again and shuddered at the details they’d got right. It was uncanny, almost as if they had recorded me right beforehand. Not only was my hair the exact right length and color, it even looked as though I wore the same clothes in both videos.

Monkey House: Chapter 4



4

We’d rescued Becker from an animal shelter without knowing much about his history, but the caretakers had assured us he was a mild-mannered dog. After we’d had him for several months, I’d begun to think they’d undersold him. He was far less excitable than the labs my parents had when I was a kid. And while he looked a bit like a lab, it was clear there was some German shepherd in our mutt as well.

I stared at Becker, watching him bark. I tried to remember the last time I’d seen him do it, and I could not.

Had I ever seen him bark?

I found Becker far more convincing than Fuzzball. I shook my head, afraid I was being taken in, but also not wanting to risk I was wrong. I pointed towards the house.

“Come along. Are you—” I’d been about to ask if he were housebroken but it seemed rude, so I didn’t bring it up. “Becker,” I clapped a hand against my side, pretending like I’d lost my train of thought. “Come!”

We were almost to the door when Fuzzball jumped at a breaking branch. A cat sauntered by in the flower bed right next to our home. It stopped atop one of the railroad ties we used to contain the soil and looked at us, its tail flicking back and forth. Becker growled but he wasn’t looking at the cat, he had his head twisted around to look at the field. He was oblivious to the feline.

When the cat hissed, Becker jumped and went into a barking frenzy. Becker gave chase as the cat disappeared behind the house. I attributed the break in his demeanor to whatever was spooking him in the cornfield.

“Stop! Come on.” The dog halted, but only reluctantly, whining after the cat until he looked back at the cornfield and renewed his barking. “Get inside.” I twisted the knob and pushed open the door.

I felt better once it was deadbolted behind us, even though I was sure there was nothing to worry about. As I looked out the peephole, I noticed how close Fuzzball stood beside me. He seemed to want protection, but I was painfully aware of what I’d just done, and more importantly, what my wife would think when she found out.

I ground my teeth, wishing Marjorie were here to meet this creature. Chances were good she wouldn’t have dealt with the odd situation as well as I—she would have chased Fuzzball away with whatever she had on hand—but after she had gotten past her initial shock, there were things she would have noticed that I had not.

“Come on.” I clomped up the stairs with Becker on my heels, he seemed to have accepted Fuzzball but was still growling quietly, as if in protest. “You coming?”

Fuzzball looked at me, the intelligence in his eyes unmistakable, before scampering up the stairs on all fours. I was surprised he hadn’t walked up on two feet but didn’t see anything significant in it, one way or another.

I was on my own for dinner but wasn’t hungry because my stomach was tied up in knots. When I’d heard the howl, I had worried about what a wolf might do to Fuzzball. But having him inside my home was a completely different side of the equation, one I wasn’t so sure I was happy about. Sure, Fuzzball looked harmless enough, but why had I accepted the premise of a talking animal so readily?

That sort of thing just didn’t happen. And I’d invited it through the front door.

Yes, I was going to be in serious trouble when the wife came home.

I’d always told my associates that things are never as they seem, that they must doubt everything, no matter how believable. Yet, I’d accepted Fuzzball as what he was the moment he’d opened his mouth and said hello.

I pointed to the living room. “Wait here.” Becker went over to his usual spot on the rug and faced the window, looking in the same direction as the cornfield. I wanted to tell Becker to keep an eye on things, but my dog had already accepted Fuzzball at my urging, so there was little he would do unless Fuzzball did something to warrant his attention in my absence.

Fuzzball looked around with a shrug. “Sure thing.”

I went upstairs to the second floor, stopping at a window on the stairs that looked out over our neighbor’s cornfield. What had caught Becker’s attention? Perhaps it had just been a squirrel, or, worst-case scenario, a wolf.

Becker’s reaction alone was hardly instructive, but I couldn’t ignore how he hadn’t noticed a cat until it had been close enough to scratch him.

I didn’t see anything that concerned me, but I hesitated, wondering if I should really do what I was going to do. Perhaps I was overreacting.

The wind rustled the old willow tree just outside the window, and the branches rubbed up against the house. Marjorie had been getting after me to prune the tree all summer, but I hadn’t yet found the time.

I slowly let out a breath before going up the rest of the way and into our room. I knelt beside the bed.

Despite living in the country as a boy, and having grown up shooting all sorts of rifles with my father, I’d never taken to it in quite the same way as my brother.

Even now, it had been a year since I’d last pulled out my Ruger Mini-14. I furrowed my brow when I only saw cobwebs and dust bunnies under the bed, not the case in which I stored my rifle.

I was confident I’d returned it after the last time I’d shot it. Had Marjorie moved it without telling me? She hadn’t been happy when I’d brought it home, but I’d been firm that we needed it if we were going to live in the country. She’d eventually relented.

Or so I thought.

“Or my brain is starting to go,” I muttered, giving my wife the benefit of the doubt. “Wonder if that’s why I have a talking bear cub in my living room.”

I rubbed my back as I stood, wishing I’d thought to put something between my knees and the hardwood floor. It wasn’t so long ago that kneeling wasn’t painful, but now I’d feel the consequences of my actions for several hours.

As I descended the stairs, I once again looked out the window, the final light of day a moment or two away from completely disappearing.

Probably better I didn’t find it anyway, I thought, wondering if the animal I’d let into the house was even real. Perhaps there was a logical reason why Becker hadn’t been as bothered about Fuzzball as he should have been.

Maybe the talking bear didn’t exist.

Something from the cornfield caught my eye.

Shapes were moving through the shoulder high crop. They were headed directly towards my home.

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Monkey House: Chapter 3


3

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” I gave Fuzzball a suspicious look, wondering if he could tell I was having a difficult time believing him. He was too busy looking around to notice my reaction, the franticness of his actions also made me look about uneasily. It was best if Becker and I parted with Fuzzball here and now, but the level of concern on his face was disconcerting.  

“We have to get inside. I can answer your questions then.”

Becker growled. As I raised my hand to signal that he should settle down, I noticed he wasn’t looking at Fuzzball. He was focused on my neighbor’s corn field.

What had gotten into him?

Fuzzball bounced up and down, his child-like face torn in fear. I inhaled, my insides turning to ice. I couldn’t leave Fuzzball out here, not like this. Every instinct in my body prevented me from doing it. Yet, I knew full well that unless I was in a courtroom, having previously spent hours reviewing depositions and evidence, that I was susceptible to deception.

Marjorie always said I couldn’t tell the difference between a thief and a priest. Unfortunately, she was right, so I’d learned to be careful of situations that required I make immediate decisions. I had just learned the hard way too many times.

That was part of why I’d become a litigator. My job had rarely required fast decisions. There was almost always time to think and reflect on a particular issue.

Fuzzball quaked, still looking around like a scared rabbit as if he were about to dash off in any direction at the slightest provocation.

Whether it was based on something real or not, his fear looked genuine. 

“Answer them now,” I said, trying to keep my agitation from showing in my voice.

“They’re after me, and they’ll get you too. We are running out of time. I’ll only answer your questions once we’re inside.”

I shook my head and was about to tell him to leave when Becker started barking.

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Monkey House: Chapter 2




2

I looked around, thinking somebody else had come onto our property, but even as I did, I knew I was in denial. I’d seen the bear move its mouth.   

“Hello!” The creature waved the paw in a decidedly human fashion. “I’m right here, pal, talking to you.”

With great reluctance, and wondering if somebody had slipped something into my lunch, I looked at the bear, fumbling for what I might say. I cautiously took another step backward.

Was this a sign of dementia?

My father had died at ninety-eight with full use of his mental faculties. My grandfather on the other side had reached his mid-eighties and had been sharp until the day he died.  

“I’m sorry,” I said carefully, fearing I’d misread the situation. Perhaps this was a badly malformed human. If so, he might understand my surprise, he probably received it all the time. My kinder instincts came into play. “You just caught me off guard, hiding behind the lilac bush and all.”

I smiled wanly.

The creature came entirely into the open, revealing that the rest of him did, in fact, look like a bear. The only thing even close to human was its face and the fact it walked on two legs, apparently with ease.

“I need to hide,” it said. “Do you have someplace I can go?” It looked at my house.

Even though it looked helpless, I hesitated. Marjorie was off in town for most the night and I was alone. If this creature had malintent, I wanted to make sure my wife wasn’t left wondering what had happened to me.

“What are you hiding from?” As I asked the question, I looked at my watch and noticed there were only a few minutes of daylight left. The sky still had plenty of light so it was difficult to conceive that twenty minutes from now it would be dark. I rarely had, if ever, noticed the setting sun in the city.

“You don’t want to know,” he said. At least, I was starting to think of it as a he. I avoided looking between his legs to determine gender. It seemed the polite thing to do even though it appeared to be mostly animal. “Trust me, it really is better you don’t know.”

I shook my head. “I’m not one who is opposed to giving a little help, but this is sudden and I’d rather like to know what I’m getting into if you wouldn’t mind.”  

It strained my mind to be polite to the creature, but it seemed the civil thing to do.

He nodded in a distinctly human fashion, making my other desires for empathy want to kick in even more. Perhaps I had been too quick to judge. He could think and speak. If I were ever put under oath, I would have to testify he seemed self-aware.

A howl cut through the warm evening air and it was like the little ball of fur had been hit with a jolt of lightning. He bounded up and turned, sniffing the air while looking every which way.

“She let them out already?” He shook his head. “Oh man, this is not good. This is not good. She never lets them out before sunset. Never. I thought I had more time.”

“That’s nothing to worry about,” I said, assuming he was afraid of the wolves. “I haven’t had any problems since they were reintroduced.”

The fuzzball shook his head, reminding me of an earnest little boy.

Dang it all, I could imagine Marjorie saying, her voice brooking no discussion. Some half-beast thing shows up on our property, and you start assigning human emotions to it.

“Listen, listen,” Fuzzball said, his voice turning into a high-pitched squeak. “Those aren’t wolves and we need to get inside!”

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