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    WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

    CURE by Belinda Frisch
    November 3, 2010  Short stories   

    200 Miles and Miranda Penton couldn’t bring herself to look back at what she left. A little over a year ago she had the perfect husband and a baby on the way. She’d given up on being a soldier for the “quiet life” and in exchange, ended up with a stillbirth and a divorce so fresh the ink was still wet. The doctor said it wasn’t her fault. “Nothing you could have done,” he said. But no matter how she tried to convince herself, she couldn’t believe it. Something was wrong with her. Something killed their baby and their marriage just after that. The call from Entity 6, a biomedical research compound in upstate New York, gave her a place and a reason to run. It gave her an $80,000 a year paycheck and an escape from the suburban housewife persona she never wanted in the first place. No one would feel sorry for her where she was going and there was no reason for any of them to know. She was tired of pity.

    She rolled down the Explorer’s window and the cool northern fall air whipped through her long, brown hair. The gas light came on in her instrument panel and she saw the Strandville town line just up ahead.

    “Hang in there,” she said and patted the dashboard.

    She pulled into Porter’s, a mom-and-pop convenience store, and gassed up. There was nothing but trees around her and her stomach was growling. She went inside to pay for the gas and to buy something sweet to tide her over.

    An old cow bell rang as she opened the rickety wood door and a heavy-set woman and what appeared to be her husband followed her in.

    Miranda grabbed the freshest of a pile of stale doughnuts and a jug of chocolate milk from the cooler and tried not to gawk at the escalating drama. She tapped her fingers nervously against the butcher block counter waiting to be cashed out. The clerk, a pimple-faced boy whose eyes were barely visible through the curtain of greasy bangs, counted and recounted the crumpled wad of cash she handed him. He was distracted by the disheveled woman crying and screaming at what appeared to be the store’s owner.

    “How could you take it down?” the woman shouted, shaking a missing person’s poster at the overweight man cowering behind the small meat counter.

    “I just…ran out of room…” His thick finger pointed at the cork board brimming with posters of missing women askew on the wall behind him.

    A thin man in baggy overalls set his hand on the woman’s trembling shoulder. “Patty, we have to go.”

    “I’m sorry,” said the owner. “I’ll put it here, right here, front and center.” He ripped off two lengths of butcher’s tape and fastened the new poster to the meat counter’s glass, calming the woman just enough for her to notice Miranda.

    “Have you seen my daughter?” she asked.

    Even at a distance, Miranda could smell whiskey leeching from the woman’s pores. “Um…” She looked at the poster of 18-year-old Penny Hammond.Her chubby, pleasant face resembled her mother’s and she had a heartbreakingly radiant smile. “No, I haven’t. I’m new…”

    “Patty, come on. Stop bothering the customers.” The thin man all but dragged her out the door.

    The store owner grunted a sigh of relief and nudged the clerk aside. “It’s not supposed to take this long to count out a customer’s change, Billy.” He finished Miranda’s order. “I’m sorry about that. New in town, did you say?” He held out his bulky hand. “Name’s Jack.”

    “Miranda. Miranda Penton.”

    “Welcome to Strandville.”

    “Why would anyone move here?” Billy asked. He was mopping the aisle behind her.

    “Don’t be rude!” Jack shook his head. “I’m sorry about him. We don’t get too many people moving in, is all. I think what he meant to say is what brings you here?”

    “A security job at Entity 6,” she said and watched the shock wash over both of their faces.

    * * * *

    Entity 6 was a fortress nestled in the mountains a good 40 miles from anywhere. Miranda pulled down the gravel road to the razor wired gate and handed her badge to the unflinchingly rigid, muscular patrolman who, in the black-on-black uniform, looked like an action figure.

    “Welcome Ms., Mrs., Miss Penton.” He stared down the “V” of her black tee-shirt at breasts she felt were too large for her otherwise slight size.

    “Ms. is fine,” she said, “or just Miranda.” Part of her regretted keeping her ex-husband’s name as a constant reminder.

    “Security station is down this road and to the right.” He demonstrated the route with his bulging arms, intentionally flexing.

    “You have muscles, I get it,” she thought, but said a quick “thanks” and drove in.

    Most of the buildings looked more like airplane hangars than labs and were posted RESTRICTED. Their metal roll-up doors were guarded by heavily-armed security and occasionally, a white-suited scientist would pass between them.

    “There’s nothing to worry about,” she said. “It’s going to be fine.” But the “Outbreak” feeling to the place made her wonder where they kept the “infected”.

    She laughed nervously and parked outside the security office, meeting up with a guard named Zack who could have easily been “gate boy’s” clone.

    “Nice to meet you, Ms. Penton.” He barely looked up from her inch-thick employee file.

    She knew they’d looked into her and she wondered just how far.

    “Says here you worked at an Air Force base—low security, ID-checking, huh?”

    She ignored the “so how the hell did you get a job here?” in his tone.

    “I was also personal security,” she said, “for several political figure-heads and am special-ops trained.” She pointed to the place on the page highlighting her military experience. “I think I can handle some lab rats.”

    “If only.” Zack laughed. “Follow me.”

    They took an armored, black jeep to a building on the other side of the complex and parked. “Restricted 1,” he said by way of introduction and swiped his badge to enter.

    The smell of feces and urine, like a zoo, hung thick in the lab room. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of rats were piled in cages from the floor to a foot from the ceiling.

    “Dr. Nixon,” Zack said approaching the aged scientist, “this is Miranda Penton. She’s the new Zone 1 and 2 security Roberts told you about.”

    Dr. Nixon adjusted his boxy, white lab coat until it hung square on his lean, muscular frame. “Ms. Penton, did you say? “ He looked up from his clipboard. “I apologize for my reaction. It’s just that it’s kind of boy’s club around here. They didn’t tell me we had a female guard. Name’s Howard Nixon, Dr. Nixon. Welcome,” he said and shook her hand, eyeing Zack intently.

    “What kind of work you do here, Dr. Nixon?” She knew better than to ask, but needed the comfort of small talk.

    Nixon opened a trap-like cage; a rectangular box with a series of folding ramps and clasps. Inside, was a clearly deceased rat. “Recently deceased,” he said as if telepathic. He took a syringe loaded with a radiant blue liquid, neon, like antifreeze from his pocket and slid it beneath the animal’s fur. “DE569.”

    Miranda looked at Zach and he turned her attention back to the rat. “Watch or you’ll miss it,” he said. Within a minute, the rat twitched, blinked, and stood up—wobbling and groggy.

    Nixon smoothed his hand over his bald head. The rat staggered a few steps and then fell dead. “It’s not perfect, but…”

    “Did you just bring that back to life?”

    “Briefly. DE569 is basically a chemical defibrillator. A single injection that replaces the need for automatic electrical defibrillation and goes one step further. If it is injected soon enough, it allows for post-arrest patient retrieval.”

    “In English,” Zach said, “reversal of immediate death.”

    “Revolutionizing emergency medicine,” Nixon added, “if we can make the damn thing work.”

    A young man, twenties or so, wearing a blue, intern’s lab coat rushed through the door. “Excuse me, sir,” he said to Nixon, shielding himself from view with his clipboard. He pulled Nixon aside and muttered something unintelligible, accidentally letting his hand fall aside and exposing the heavy, crimson spatter on his jacket.

    Zack diverted Miranda’s attention by handing her a folded sheet of paper. “Here,” he said, “Take a map. You’re Zone 1 and 2 only.”

    “Zach, let’s go,” Nixon said.

    Zach checked his sidearm and followed them quickly out of the lab. He was alert—on guard—ready for some kind of action.

    * * * * *

    Zones 1 and 2 were two large, windowless squares at the end of Restricted 1. The cold, white space was a medical void, flooded with the reflection of fluorescent light on gloss tile floor and peppered with high-security metal doors, none of which Miranda’s low-security badge granted access to.

    She patrolled for an eventless two hours keeping her tired and bored mind busy concocting stories about Zach, Nixon, and the intern:

    Somewhere in the lab is an infantry of giant rats, killed and revived with DE569. One went crazy and charged the intern who quickly put it down with an emergency side arm he pulled from his drawer.

    Nah, the kid didn’t look like he had it in him.

    She turned the corner into Zone 2 and for the first time, heard the pounding of footsteps—heavy boots on tile—jogging.

    Armed with only pepper spray and a nightstick, she stood at attention and set her finger on the can’s trigger.

    Woman doesn’t get a gun, does she?

    “Hello?” she called out.

    A door slammed and she ran in the noise’s direction, careful not to pull. She’d inhaled pepper spray before and wouldn’t make that mistake twice.

    “Hello?” She knocked on the only door with light showing under it. “Security. Please answer.”

    The door flew open and a blue-coated intern ran out, but not before she saw inside. Vials of DE569 were stocked in refrigerated glass boxes under a dim white light. The industrial, metal shelves were covered in boxes of syringes and gloves and there was a rack hanging on the wall: Model 193 Pneu-Dart rifles. Tranquilizers. She’d seen them in jungle survival training.

    “Hey, wait!” She chased after the intern, shouting. “I need to see your…”

    His I.D. badge fell to the floor. Full access. She gave up the chase and pocketed it.

    * * * * *

    The compound ran three-day shifts—three days on, three days off—and Miranda waited almost 18 hours for the part of the tour that included sleeping quarters. She was exhausted and her feet were blistered and throbbing—rubbed raw by the standard issue stiff leather boots. She heard Zach’s voice on the radio and let out a sigh of relief.

    Finally.

    “I’m sorry it took me so long,” Zach said, holstering his handset. He smelled freshly showered like soap and deodorant, and his hair was wet.

    “Decontamination,” he said. “There was a chemical spill over in 5—one of the DE components. That’s what kept me. Lucky you’re in 1 and 2.”

    Yeah, real lucky.

    They got in the jeep and drove to the dorm across the quad.

    “Here we are,” he said and opened the door to a tiny, stale smelling room—5 or so bunks and a single TV—that was Ladies’ Dorm A. Her duffel bag was on one of the lower bunks and the rest of the beds looked uninhabited.

    “I brought your things over,” Zach said. There are supplies in the bathroom if you forgot anything. Toothpaste, deodorant…”

    “Where’s everyone else?” she asked, cutting him off.

    “Nixon told you it was a boy’s club and he wasn’t kidding. You have the place all to yourself. B-Dorm is just the next building if you need anything.”

    “I need some companionship,” she mumbled, but if he heard her, he ignored her.

    “I’ll see you in Zone 2 at 06:00 tomorrow. Goodnight.”

    “Goodnight,” she said and as he walked out of A, she heard an echoing click.

    “What the…” She ran to the main door and found it locked. She wiggled the handle and banged until her fists ached. “Zach! Let me out of here! Zach!”

    She ran back inside and took the cell phone from her bag.

    No service. Of course there’s no fucking service!

    Her heartbeat raced and she took several deep breaths to stave off the panic. There was no way she could bust down the door so she rummaged the drawers looking for anything she could use to pry it.

    Empty! They’re all empty!

    She pulled hard on the stuck last drawer, yanking and wiggling it until it finally gave. It had a false bottom that was tipped up and under it was a scrap of yellow paper.She pried the edge with her fingers and opened the note that said, “If you’re reading this, RUN!”

    * * * * *

    The night ticked by and Miranda hardly slept, playing over and again what she planned to say to Zach and unleashing her exhaustion-fueled anger when she met up with him in Zone 2.

    “What the fuck was with locking me in last night?” She dropped her “new-employee” demeanor for the” I’m-not-taking-your-shit-Jack” attitude that was more her style.

    “Protocol. We’re all on lockdown at night,” he said. “It’s for your own safety.”

    Safety. There was that word again.

    “What’s so damn tough in here that the employees are kept like prisoners?”

    “People want what’s in here,” he said, “and there have been security issues because of it.”

    “Chemicals, corporate spies—this is one bad ass place isn’t it?”

    “You have no idea.”

    She let it drop rather than answer him. She had a keycard to any door in the facility and if they were going to hold her nighttime hostage, she was going to figure out why.

    “Need me to show you to your zone?” he asked, offering his hand in peace.

    “I got a map, remember?” she said, ignoring it.

    “Look, I’m sorry. I should have said something. I didn’t want to spook you.”

    “Lucky for you,” she said, “I don’t spook easy.”

    * * * * *

    Miranda studied the map, all the while listening for footsteps and closing doors. She made her way to the end of Zone 2 where the map was highlighted red and where all exterior doors, even emergency ones, stopped.

    She was willing to take the risk.

    Patrol was its usual tomb-quiet and she slipped inside the rest of the building that was Restricted 1 easily unnoticed. She clicked off her walkie-talkie and swiped in to the first room she saw, instantly overcome by an indescribable, putrid stench.

    Her throat and chest spasmed, but she held in the cough, covering her mouth and nose with her hands and taking shallow breaths. A roaring medical waste incinerator heated the room and in front of it were three covered carts like small dumpsters on wheels.

    She peeled back the elasticized corner of the fitted plastic sheet and the smell magnified ten-fold. She held her breath, put the tip of her small mag light in the opening, and twisted its barrel.

    “Holy shit!”

    She wanted to scream, to run, and to pretend she’d never seen it, but it was burned so deep into her already damaged psyche that she believed she’d never forget it. Inside, were dozens or more tiny half-skeletons. Not quite babies, but something necrotic and small that could have been, were they fully formed. Their faces were human-like but distorted and tiny milk teeth jutted from their peeled back lips like piranha.

    She pulled the plastic back into place and after listening at the door, stepped out into the hall where she leaned over, hands on her knees, until the worst of the spinning and nausea passed.

    The echoing chatter in the labs down the hall was getting louder and she needed to blend in.

    She put on a white lab coat and surgical coverings from a nearby supply closet and adjusted them using the reflection from one of the high-polished windows so that her hazel eyes were the only defining feature visible, just above a blue paper mask. She turned the first corner and was rushed by an eager intern.

    “Thank god! Dr. Manning, I’ve been looking everywhere…” He grabbed her arm and tugged her down a hall of examination rooms. “Nixon wants these samples taken, now!” The young man was out of breath.

    She adjusted her mask and played along. “Which subject?” she asked, expecting a rat.

    “Lab 3, 5104. He’s already been given the DE and sperm production is verified.”

    Sperm?

    She headed down the corridor and into the wrong room.

    “Dr. Manning, 5104 is this way.”

    Bad guess.

    “Oh, right. I need to grab something first.”

    “Everything’s there, but the tranquilizer’s not going to hold much longer and shit…” He threw his hand over his mouth.  “I’m sorry,” he said.

    “Don’t worry about it. This way?”

    “Yeah, that way,” he said and she could see him getting suspicious.

    She stepped into 5104 where a team of interns as oblivious as the boy stood waiting. They all thought she was Manning. The room stunk of medicine and flesh and there was a body beneath a system of surgical draping.

    A human body!

    One of the interns pulled aside the lap drape and she caught sight of a shaved, pallid and seemingly decaying male genitalia.

    “I’ll be out here,” the first intern said already one foot out the door. “I’m squeamish.”

    He closed the door and two techs paused at the observation window. Her heart raced.

    “We’d better hurry, doctor.” A middle-aged man in the requisite blue lab coat handed her a sterilized surgical tray sealed in a see-through pouch. He was the oldest of the group and asserted himself as the leader.

    She looked at the tray and then at the group. “Anyone want to take the lead on this one?”

    “Nixon doesn’t let us extract,” the leader said.

    “You’re Nixon’s team?”

    “Usually.”

    It explained why they didn’t know her from Manning and she kicked up her act. “Well, I’m not Nixon,” she said. “Who’s up?”

    “Why not.” The leader took his position at the bedside. “Maybe you’ll put in a good word and I can finally get a white coat.”

    “I’ll see what I can do.” She watched him withdraw a small amount of sperm from the damaged testicle and put it in the cryogenic storage tank at the bedside.

    “Nice work.”

    “Thank you,” he said, but as he turned around he lost his footing and rammed into the metal examination table.

    She’d never seen someone move so fast away from something. “You all right?”

    The patient grunted and growled, pulling against what she now saw were four-point restraints.

    The man—thing—pulled his right hand free and the interns raced in an alarmed herd out of the lab. The leader grabbed the tank and Miranda’s sleeve and pulled her out after them. “You can’t take him yourself, doctor. That’s what security’s for.” He hit the red button outside the door. “Fucking zombies.” The siren alarmed—white strobe lights throbbing—and security rushed the door with Zach leading the charge.

    Zombies?!?

    The group watched the man-thing thrash and gnash his teeth like a possessed, starved fish out of water. He pulled his left hand free and then his legs and the draping sailed to the floor exposing him as something naked, uncontrollable, and undead. Miranda stifled a gasp. His skin looked boiled—infected and shiny—and fell away at the bone. His teeth were ground down and his jerking gait made him look injured, but the brutal strength with which he disassembled the surgical suite marked him as anything but. She kept her head down and moved to the outskirts of the crowd, slipping away unseen.

    “Dr. Manning?” She could hear the leader’s voice, but was already down the hall listening to Zach calling out termination orders. There were screams and two audible shots.

    “Shit!”

    The alarm sounded long after Miranda thought it should have gone off and the buzzing and lights kept the tension on, making it impossible to think. There were no exterior doors in this area of Restricted 1 which left the heating and cooling ducts as her only viable passage back to the inevitable “her word against theirs” line of questioning.

    Damn being the only woman in this crazy place.

    Panic set in and she took several open-mouthed breaths—breaths so deep that the paper mask stuck to her tongue and then blew out like a bubble—to fight it.

    I have to get back to Zone 1.

    “Think, Miranda. Think.”

    She swiped into an Emergency Room-like suite with curtained bays and gurneys to compose her thoughts.

    “What is this place?”

    Down the hall past the empty bed was another door and she put her ear to the cold metal to listen to the tiny sounds coming through it.

    “Help me.” It was a small, female voice and was slow and drugged-sounding.

    “Hello?” Miranda said. “Who’s in there?”

    “H-e-l-p.”

    “Hello? Can you please tell me your name?”

    “Penny,” she mumbled. “Penny Hammond.”

    The missing girl from the poster at Porter’s!

    “Are you alone?” Miranda asked. “Can you come to the door?”

    “They took me,” she said, over and over, her blathering punctuated by sobs.

    “Penny, listen to me. I need you to open the door.” There was no place to swipe a key card on her side. An intentional maze, no doubt.

    “I can’t move,” she said. “None of us can move.”

    Miranda moved a chair alongside a tall metal filing cabinet and climbed through the ceiling grate into the ventilation system. The ducts were full of dust and there was a distinct medical smell blowing through them. She maneuvered in a low crawl down the length of tunnel toward the sound of voices and the next ceiling grate and peered into the operating suite below where a group of people in like protective gear hovered.

    “I see the head.” The man’s voice was muffled by the mask of his coverall hazmat suit. “Get me a bulb syringe.”

    One of the staff moved away giving Miranda full view of the pregnant woman flayed open on the operating room table below.

    A cesarean.

    The man reached his gloved hands between the abdominal muscle retractors and scooped out a corpse baby—half human, half zombie. One of the tiny decaying newborns she’d seen in the incinerator room. He set the infant in a bassinette and began suction.

    Miranda covered her mouth to keep from screaming and watched as they worked on the tiny being.

    “Come on, come on,” the man said impatiently.

    “Four minutes,” said another and the room fell silent.

    “Shit! We lost another one!” The man kicked the wheeled surgical tray sending the remaining supplies flying. “Close her up and take her to recovery!”

    As he stormed out of the suite, he pulled off his hood and she saw Dr. Howard Nixon’s face.

    Miranda waited until the room cleared and she was sure no one was coming back before dropping in through the operating room ceiling. She hit the floor with a thud and the jarring of boots on tile radiated pain through both of her ankles and shins. She sucked in a breath and limped through the door in the direction of Penny Hammond.

    Outside the surgical suite, the air was thick with the familiar stench emanating from the covered bin. She tried not to imagine non-viable fetuses or placentas and focused instead on the sound of crying coming from the room ahead.

    “Hang in there, Penny,” she said, determined to deliver the girl safely to her mother. She opened the door and gasped.

    The room was lined with wall-to-wall gurneys and with women at various stages of pregnancy; some of whom she recognized from the missing posters at Porter’s.

    “Help me,” Penny mumbled.

    Miranda moved through the aisles of unconscious, restrained women and bent down at Penny’s bedside. “I’m going to get you out of here.” She released the silver spike from the leather tongue of the restraint strap.

    “It’s too late,” Penny said, focusing on something in the distance. “I’m having one of them.”

    “It’s not too late,” Miranda insisted and as she released Penny’s other arm, the door opened.

    “We’ve been looking for you, Miranda.” Dr. Nixon blocked the doorway with Zach close behind him.

    She raised her nightstick in a clenched fist and Zach thumbed the safety off on his gun.

    “You don’t think you can win, here, do you?” Nixon smiled. “We brought you here for a reason and I intend to follow through.”

    “What do you mean ‘you brought me here’? Penny, get up.” Penny was motionless on the gurney, her feet still restrained.

    “She’s not going to move one muscle if she knows what’s good for her. What’s inside her and the others is Entity 6 property and we’re not about to let you steal it. Think, Miranda, about how you got this job. It was Dr. Michael Waters that told you about the position, correct? Your OB/GYN? Your friend, maybe? Just after you lost your baby.  It was a shame about the stillbirth.”

    “How did you know about that? How do you know Michael?” She remembered Zach reading her unusually thick personnel file—her medical file, apparently.

    “He wouldn’t do this, not to me.”

    “Michael is a former colleague who left out of frustration, but not without a deal for his release. We don’t just let people go around knowing what they know. Michael was allowed back in private practice to find us a woman whose body is compatible with our “living challenged” patients. We’ve tried other females with the same result every time. The body turns on the fetus. But you, the thing inside you that killed your baby, is just what we need for a hybrid.”

    She crumpled to the floor crying.

    Nixon moved forward, his black polished shoes clacking on the cold tile until he was standing over her. “The security job and the rest, well, you had just the background we needed to formulate a believable story. All we had to do was to throw an irresistible salary at you and wait for you to show up.”

    “Why are you doing this to me?”

    Nixon turned to Zach and smiled. “Think I should I tell her?”

    Miranda could see the remorse in Zach’s face. Nixon was enjoying this cat and mouse a little too much.

    “I guess there’s no harm.” Nixon said answering his own question. He squatted down close enough that she smelled the mint gum on his breath.  “Your hybrid child will be both living and dead and from it, we can extrapolate and manipulate its anomalous genes to essentially cure death.  These “living challenged” we have here were all dosed violently. They were bitten by other infected and transformed so quickly that their brains are like Jell-o. Introduced in small doses however, and with the mutation tempered by hybrid living cells, we can make a sentient undead; an immortal, impervious to illness and everything except violent death with only a few injections.”

    “DE569,” she mumbled.

    “Oh, no. No. DE’s too weak for humans or zombies for that matter, though I dislike that term. Sure, it revitalized the dead tissue for us to extract viable sperm from our male subjects and we temporarily brought back a rat or two, but it didn’t last. DE is a means to an end,” Nixon seized Miranda’s arm and handed her off to Zach, “much like yourself.”

    Zach held her still while Nixon refastened Penny’s restraints.

    “Then let the others go,” she said. “If I’m the only one that can do this, let them go home.”

    “It’s not that easy,” Nixon said. “Besides, what if we’re wrong?”

    Nixon plunged a syringe deep in Miranda’s arms and she felt herself go limp. He grabbed her ankles and she tried to kick, but her muscles were lead-like and immovable. She was lifted onto a gurney and felt cold metal scissors running along her legs, her stomach, her arms—cutting her clothes away.  The room spun as she lapsed in and out of consciousness, listening to the gurney wheels spinning on the tile floor and to Nixon saying just before everything went dark: “Call Manning. Tell her the patient is ready.”

    THE END

    Belinda Frisch’s previous short story, “The Fence” appeared in Shroud Magazine, Issue 8.In addition to several non-fiction credits, her work has appeared in the Dabblestone Horror e-zine and in New Voices in Horror “Femme Fatales in Fright Fiction” compilation. She is an honorable mention winner in the Writer’s Digest 76th Genre Short Story Competition and just finished her debut novel, Dead Spell.

    14 Comments

    1. First!

      Seriously this was a cool story. But I was wondering, did this occur after or before the outbreak?

      Comment by Jim on November 3, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

    2. Interesting story. Would love to see it develop in to a series.

      Comment by Bernie on November 4, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    3. I was half expecting the ending for this first chapter of what i hope would be a longer story.
      Its very good, lots of suspense, and a good build up towards the almost hopeless end that the heroine is facing.
      I hope though that this isn’t truly the end and is just the beginning of Miranda’s long fight against the tyranny of the so called establishment, with zombies added as seasoning for what could be a delectable dish of brain food 🙂

      Comment by bong on November 4, 2010 @ 11:38 am

    4. Thanks, all, for the interest. I did have in mind to do either serial shorts or a novella with this character and I hope that when I do, you’ll all still be interested in reading it.

      Comment by Belinda on November 4, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

    5. These stories always unnerve me. Using someone’s biology for nefarious means makes you feel so helpless, and that’s a feeling I can’t stand to endure. Especially when you take something like a woman’s ability to create life and twist it into something horrible.
      Good read.
      I hope Miranda escapes.

      Comment by Barrett on November 4, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

    6. Belinda: Great story! I hope you do a follow-up for this. I can’t wait to find out what happens to our heroine!

      Comment by Zendavey on November 4, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

    7. Ahhh. This is one of those unusual stories that leaves me breathless. Fantastic.

      Comment by Ashley on November 4, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

    8. Excellent story. Good believable characters, well written and paced. My wife read it as well and it gave her the wiggins so kudos for that 🙂

      Comment by Pete Bevan on November 5, 2010 @ 4:41 am

    9. Belinda with such a well written story how can i help
      not reading it?
      I also liked melinda as a character, she’s tough without being unrealistically rambo like , has problems that we all can relate to in real life (ex ‘s), a character where we can be very sympathetic to, in zombie fiction is very hard to find.
      usually i just wait for the horror to happen, in zombie fiction its rare that i want to see more of the character and not the horror only and melinda has all the makings of a fan hit.
      Waiting with bated breath too.

      Comment by bong on November 6, 2010 @ 8:16 am

    10. This was a very good beginning but, I have to admit, the end left me a little hollow.

      Not the basic plot — you set that up well.

      I simply can’t help thinking that she gave up too easily. Some one with experience in personal security for political figures and special-ops training would certainly have experience disarming people with handguns. I know the parole officers in my county do. You’d think that them military would train their people at least as well.

      Plus, she took the initiative in picking up the full access ID, investigating the more restricted areas of the facility and attempting to rescue Miss Hammond. I think somebody like that would have put up some kind of a fight — especially given the chance that they would be reluctant to put a bullet into a body that was so “valuable” to the program.

      It just seemed a bit “off” from the character that you had established Miranda to be earlier in the story.

      Comment by zombob on November 11, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

    11. And, by the way, the basic plot is creepy as hell…

      Comment by zombob on November 11, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

    12. I hear ya Zombob, but here is what I’ll say to your very valid comment: Miranda had to get caught for the story to end and her fighting would have potentially risked the lives of every woman in that room. Sure, I could have her trying to go all commando, but I think she’s still too hurt about what happened to her baby and getting that brought up to her by strangers/captors, opened a sore. It softened her and in that moment she gave up. Besides, I was already maxing my short story word count. I’ll certainly consider this when I start working on the full length manuscript. Thanks!

      Comment by Belinda on November 11, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    13. can i just say that conversations seems to sum up the difference between men and women perfectly 🙂

      Comment by Pete Bevan on November 12, 2010 @ 7:31 am

    14. Belinda:
      Thanks for responding to my comment. I perfectly understand how pressures from planned events in a story can influence the circumstances of early episodes. I’m glad to hear that we will be seeing Miranda again — please don’t stop. But, while I don’t know from word counts, the points you made in that brief response would have perfectly explained her actions.
      I know lots of people like more and more action in zombie stories but I have always been interested in what goes through the heads of the characters involved. That’s what lets written media compete effectively with Movie/Video images that can be so much more viscerally compelling.

      Comment by zombob on November 12, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

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