Dead End

Dead End

Howard Odentz

October 2018 $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-889-9

The Dead (A Lot) Trilogy, Book 3

 
Our PriceUS$15.95
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Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt


Back Cover Copy


Zombie apocalypse? Game over.

Sixteen-year-old twins, Tripp and Trina Light, are rare in the zombie apocalypse. Neither the airborne virus Necropoxy nor the bite from one of the dead will turn them.

No wonder crazy scientists, soldiers in helicopters, and scary doctors want to capture them to see what makes them so special.

But are they special anymore? After freeing their parents and others from experimentation, some of their liberated traveling companions are displaying super immunity, as well. Their former captors just don’t know it.

With the key to super immunity in the twin’s hands, they face a difficult choice. Should they keep running or confront their pursuers with the cure and hope for the best?

Either choice could get them killed. One wrong move in a world filled with Necropoxy, and they’ll hit a DEAD END.


Author and playwright Howard Odentz is a lifelong resident of the gray area between Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut. His love of the region is evident in his writing as he often incorporates the foothills of the Berkshires and the small towns of the Bay and Nutmeg states into his work. In addition to The Dead (A Lot) Series, he has written the horror/suspense novels Bloody Bloody Apple and What We Kill, as well as the horror short story collection Little Killers A to Z, and a couple of horror-themed, musical comedies produced for the stage.


Reviews

"A dynamic narrative voice.”—Kirkus Reviews onWhat We Kill

"Fast-paced and action packed . . . infused with some great humor.”— Book and Coffee Addict onDead (A Lot)

"Little Killers A-Zis a must read for fans of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, and more”—Pop Culture Beast


Excerpt


1

NECROPOXY.

Necropoxy. Necropoxy. Necropoxy.

Here I was huddled in a sleeping bag during the middle of the night in the breakroom of a Walmart in Apple, Massachusetts, and I was seriously not having fun.

The whole messed up notion of Necropoxy kept rolling around in my head making it virtually impossible to sleep.

Necropoxy creates poxers. Poxers are the living dead.

They bite. They bite. They bite.

Of course they bite. Everything bit these days.

In another world where Necropoxy never happened, I wouldn’t be losing precious teen sleep worrying about monsters.

I would be dreaming about happy things, like, I don’t know...

Tacos?

If Necropoxy never happened, I would be waking up in another few hours and hitting the snooze button three or four times.

I would be showering and throwing on a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt while my twin sister, Trina, caked makeup all over her face to make herself pretty for her meathead of a boyfriend, Chuck Peterson.

After stopping at her bedroom door to say something snarky like, "Why bother? Chuck’s just going to lick it all off,” I would be flying down the stairs to grab a glass of orange juice and maybe a couple slices of toast.

Then, before heading off to another fun-filled day of eleventh grade, I would be reminding my parents for the hundredth time that they wouldn’t have to drive us to school if they would just suck it up and buy the two of us a car.

Sure, we’d share.

Not.

Necropoxy. Necropoxy. Necropoxy.

Necropoxy creates poxers. Poxers are the living dead.

They bite. They bite. They bite.

Who was I kidding? This wasn’t another world. We were in this world where Necropoxy didexist.

Chuck Peterson was dead, so he couldn’t lick Trina’s makeup off, and there was no more orange juice because all the orange juice makers were gone. The same goes for toast. There was no more toast because there were no more bakers. Cars, on the other hand, were a dime a dozen.

Hell, they were a penny a dozen or even less than that.

I sighed as my mind drifted to the sporty mid-life-crisis-mobile that Dorcas Duke and I had left by the covered bridge outside of Guilford. The convertible was a really sweet ride. Too bad my favorite octo­genarian with the perpetual cigarette in hand was never going to drive something like that again.

Soldiers killed her back in Hollowton while she was trying to buy time to save the rest of us by blocking the road with a bus in front of Swifty’s.

She wasn’t the first we lost.

Uncle Don turned into a poxer before we got to his farm up in Cummington, and then I had to go and torch him.

Tattoo Guy got chomped by a bus driver.

Eddie with the fake hair was taken out by a Walmart shopper.

I rolled over and looked at the clock radio we had taken from the electronics aisle. It said 3:15.

Seeing that gave me a wicked spooky feeling because anyone who watched as many horror films as I did knew that 3:15 was the exact time when all the bad things liked to come out to play.

It’s true.

If you ever run across a bookstore that’s not filled with poxers, go in search of a book about a place called Amityville. After reading it you’ll get a chill every time you see your clock radio light up with that time.

Creepy creepy, right?

I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but it didn’t work.

To top it all off, the skies opened up, and it started to pour. The rain drummed against the roof of Walmart. I lay quietly in my sleeping bag, totally awake, and thinking about how my friends, my parents, and the other survivors of Site 37 had inadvertently stumbled on Diana’s super immunity cure for Necropoxy.

She didn’t even know we had it or if it worked.

Just for the record, we did have it and it did work.

That’s why my friends and I decided we were going to go in search of the old bat and let her know that she didn’t need to keep coming after us.

We could give her what she wanted.

Then she could leave us alone.

Our plan made sense. Still, something about going on a manhunt for Diana Radcliffe didn’t seem quite right.

No wonder I was wide awake.

About ten minutes later, a figure slipped up to me in the gloom and gently shook my sleeping bag.

"Tripp?” whispered Trina. "Are you up?”

"No,” I grumbled.

"Uh huh,” she said. "I think we’re ready.”

I begrudgingly crawled out of my sleeping bag and followed my sister. A short while later, I was standing with Trina’s new boyfriend, Jimmy James, and my... um... whatever you want to call her... um... kissing partner, Prianka Patel.

Okay, Jimmy wasn’t standing. He was sitting, because he’s in a wheelchair.

Prianka had just finished a big poster she was working on. This is what it said:

‘Dear Everybody. It’s obvious to us that Diana has perfected super immunity to Necropoxy but is unaware because we stopped her from completing her experiment. We are leaving to find her and tell her she doesn’t need Tripp and Trina anymore. Only then will she stop hunting all of us. We WILL be back.’

I grimaced.

I knew leaving the rest behind—my parents and my aunt, Trudy Aiken, Nedra Stein, Felice ‘Freaky Big Bird’ LeFleur, Randy Stephens and four-year-old Krystal—was the right thing to do. They had been through enough.

Still, it felt wrong.

"They’ll be safe, right?” I said to nobody in particular.

"Yes,” nodded Trina, even though she probably didn’t know if she was telling the truth or not.

"What about the front doors?” I asked.

Jimmy raised a finger. "They’ll be locked down tight with bike chains.” Then he held up a piece of paper. "I have the combinations to the locks right here,” he said. "We’ll leave them with the poster.”

I didn’t want to burst his bubble by telling him that any soldier with a bolt cutter could get through bike chains in no time. The simple truth was there was nothing we could use to barricade the door from people.

At least the adults would be safe from poxers. The last I checked the dead didn’t know how to use a combination lock.

I shook my head a little. Yup, we were really going to do this. After everything we had been through, we were really going to leave everyone chained inside a Walmart and go in search of the very monster we’d been running from.

I didn’t know if we were making the right chess move or not. After all, Diana was the poxer queen. We were only pawns. I hope we weren’t playing the wrong game.

After a moment I slowly turned and mumbled something about grab­bing a Ring Ding. A minute later I was in the front of the store, staring through the huge plate-glass windows at the blackness outside.

The rain came down in sheets.

God, I missed Littleham High School. Life there was easy. Adults told us what to do, what to think, what to learn, and we just did it.

Then we got to go home and eat junk food and play video games.

How did my life devolve into this? In what universe were my friends and I even equipped to make the big decisions?

Trina came up behind me. "Hey,” she said. "Are you okay?

I took a deep breath. "I’m fine.” I really wasn’t, but I didn’t want to revisit whatever scary choices we were about to make.

She shrugged then made a beeline for one of the candy racks in front of the registers. She reached down, grabbed a candy bar and peeled it open. I tried not to make a big show of noticing her stuffing chocolate in her mouth, but then again, what else are brothers for?

"You think Jimmy’s going to be into you when you weigh six hundred pounds?”

Trina finished chewing, swallowed, and ran her hand across her mouth. "You think Prianka’s going to be into you after I break your face?”

"Oh, that’s mature.”

"Were you looking for mature?” she said as she shoved more chocolate into her mouth. "I can do mature. Do you want me to be mature?”

"Trina...” I began.

"What?”

"Do you think we’re doing the right thing? I mean trying to find Diana?”

"If that’s what it takes for her to stop coming after us,” she said. "Do you have a better idea?”

"Hiding. We could keep hiding.”

"Hiding won’t work,” she said. "It’s only been like a couple of days, and her soldier boys already found us at Swifty’s. One wrong move and they’ll find us again.”

I knew she was right, but seeking out Diana seemed, I don’t know, like going after the big boss in a video game when you’ve only just passed level one.

"I suppose,” I murmured. I’m not so sure I was all that convincing.

After a moment, Trina stopped eating and stared at the portion of the candy bar that was left in her hand. "I shouldn’t be eating this,” she said. "I just keep thinking that if I don’t eat all the candy bars now, they’ll go bad.”

I chuckled a little. "That’s the crappiest excuse for stress eating that I’ve ever heard.”

She looked right at me as a little burp crept out of her insides and punctuated the air. "Sorry,” she said.

"Don’t apologize to me. I’ve heard worse noises come out of your body.”

I looked out of the windows again. Every once in a while lightning flashed followed by the rumbling of thunder.

The storm didn’t look like it was going to let up any time soon.

Trina came and stood beside me. She stared out into the darkness, too. Then she rubbed her bandaged hands. She almost burned them off in yesterday’s forest fire near Black Point Fort in front of the Quabbin Reservoir. Thankfully, the skin just turned red. Being handless in the zombie apocalypse would be a bad, bad thing. "Do you think the rain will put the fire out?” she asked.

"Maybe.”

Trina didn’t say anything else. We both stood quietly watching water spill out of the sky, lost in our thoughts. Trina was probably thinking about Jimmy and what kind of house they were going to live in when this whole poxer-disaster was finally over. I’m assuming it would be one that was accessible for Jimmy’s chair, not that he needed it. He was a beast on wheels. I didn’t think there was anything that could slow him down. As for me, I was thinking that I was missing something crucial.

Suddenly we heard sneakers slapping against the floor. We both turned around to see Ryan ‘Bullseye’ McCormick streak out of the gloom.

"Jeez,” I said. "Doesn’t anybody sleep around here?”

Tears streamed down his face.

"Bullseye?” whispered Trina. "Are you okay?”

Bullseye ran right up to us. He was punching himself in the side of the head. "I’m so stupid,” he cried. "Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.”

"Hey,” I said and grabbed him by the shoulder.

"I’m so stupid,” he wailed again. "I can’t believe it.”

"What is it, Bullseye?”

His eyes were puffy. "All the guns that we took from those soldier dudes, Luke and Cal, back in Purgatory Chasm.”

"What about them?” Trina asked with a shrug. Taking all of the soldiers’ bounty and leaving them stranded at Aunt Ella’s llama farm seemed like decades ago.

"Don’t you get it?” Bullseye cried. "We left the guns in the bus back at Swifty’s. We left them with... with dead Dorcas.”

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