Deathwatch – Preview From A. M. Esmonde

Deathwatch – Preview From A. M. Esmonde

The Dead have returned to life…

The worlds focus in on the city of Ravenswood and once idyllic town of Farmore, as soldiers and scattered survivors fight the hordes of the dead, unbeknown, one of them holds the key to end the undead’s reign of mayhem.

Meanwhile, at a body disposal plant a small group take shifts on the ‘deathwatch’. Their hope’s hinge on the soldiers of Farmore to rescue them. But with no contact for months, no food and surrounded by the dead, have they got what it takes to survive? With death at their door, only time can tell…

Zombie Command has managed to snag a look at the intro and first chapter from Welsh writer A. M. Esmonde’s forthcoming book and screenplay, Deathwatch. Esmonde’s previous work has included other genre pieces such as The Breathing Dead, Terminus and Blood Hunger (more about which can be found at his official site) and while this extract is still just a draft it’s shaping up to be a great zombie story in the style of Romero’s ‘of the Dead’ series.

INTRODUCTION
Zombies or re-animated corpses appear in many cultures worldwide and in different manifestations. Whether it is voodoo, folklore or in today’s pop culture, they are ultimately humans who lack full consciousness. Death has fascinated humans as long as life itself.

Ishtar the Babylonian goddess of fertility in an ancient decree supports this. As Ishtar approaches the gates of the underworld, she demands of the gatekeeper:

If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the doorposts, and I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
Moreover, the dead will outnumber the living.

How true Ishtar’s words were to become as this tale tells…

PART ONE: EPIDEMIOLOGY
At thirty knots and half-laden the USS Saturn cut through the Atlantic Ocean leaving behind a wash as far as the horizon causing a wonderful refraction of light upon the waves.

Accompanied by two Navy Seals, an African American, House and a thin compact framed Special Forces soldier named Finn sat in expectation on Marine three. The Direct Action Penetrator (DAP) helicopter gunship landed hard and the four men jumped onto the of the Saturn;s empty runway strips.

“It’s a ghost ship.” House whispered into his headset, as the team of four men armed with M-240 machine guns jogged along the length of the carrier. They separated speedily as they reached the end of the deck; House spun hard the circular lock on the watertight galvanised steel door and as it swung open he stepped into the darkness. Finn followed, descending the anodized aluminium and stainless steel stairwell on a 68 degree angled ladder.

The heavyset Air Craft handling officer seemed to smell House and the soldiers’ presence before hearing or seeing them. In death his senses were heightened. In a flash was upon one of the Navy Seals before he could get to his gun. In a frantic quick struggle the Navy Seal snapped the corpse’s neck, dropping the yellow clothed corpse to the grey painted corrugated floor. Taking a moment to get his breath back, he checked his weapon. From the shadows a man with what appeared to be a severe head injury, dressed in a blue plane handler uniform rushed at him, pushing him off balance. The second Seal took aim letting his machine gun erupt. The bullets however had no impact other than to send both men overboard, within seconds the two hit the water, the force knocked out any life either of them had left.

From the Mess Hall, a landing signal handler with most of his nose missing, the skin torn open and the cartilage in view dragged himself forward, his once white uniform now blood stained. He paused at the door, and then moved forward with a heavy limp. Cursing and focusing on the spot where his comrade once stood the Seal turned hearing the heavy dragging footsteps moving towards him. He began to walk backwards his footsteps clanking on the metal floor, never taking his eyes off the approaching enemy; he raised his gun squeezing the trigger, sending rounds into the sailor that was in pursuit. The dead eyed man continued forwards even with the force of the bullets tearing into his white uniform; bloody tissue, flesh and bone shards flicked up into the air. Suddenly, a door left of the Seal swung open and a skinny air wing captain caught his hand biting into his fingers.

House motioned to Finn to silence their radio communication.

“It’s a death ship,” Finn whispered.

House held up his hand silencing his colleague and spoke quietly into his radio, “Sierra November one, Sierra November two.” The radio crackled, followed by a gurgle and then a nasty lapping sound. House looked to Finn with a worried expression. Finn got on his radio.

“This is Foxtrot four. Code Delta, that’s D delta,” said Finn as he peered overboard and down the length of the ship. His eyes widened, as he saw land.

“We’re not going to stop this.” Inhaling deeply, House shook his head and glanced at his boots as the sea air filled his lungs.

“The ship?” queried Finn.

House exhaled, “No, the pandemic. This is it. Welcome to hell.” The carrier stirred to life, its dead crew and its harboured dead civilians came from everywhere like termites out of the woodwork, as if hiding in wait for a captive audience.

“We’re running out of time!” shouted House pointing to the shadows moving towards them from within the doorways.

“Air strike, code four abort!” Finn shouted into his radio.

“We gotta get outta here!” he said to House.

House and Finn didn’t hear the crisp reply as it came back to them over the radio, “We are unable to abort the strike, over.”

Assessing their surroundings for the approaching danger, they made a dash across the gangway towards the upper deck. “Chopper man, don’t you leave, don’t you damn leave.” House muttered under his breath.

The two remaining soldiers appeared to be miniscule to their colleagues in the helicopter that circled above them, as they ran parallel to the white and yellow painted lines across the vast deck. Their heavy boots stomped across the carrier followed closely by their dead assailants as they headed back towards the DAP.

Periodically they stopped and turned, kneeling they let off short bursts of fire. Finn turned to House, “Hell House if we don’t make it to the Black Hawk we’re toast!”

“It’s a DAP Huck.” House corrected smiling.

Finn laughed, “I’m under pressure here!”

“Trust me; we’ll be home in time for cornflakes Huckle Berry.” House quipped.

All too soon the advancing crowd seemingly multiplied in front of their eyes and their shots were futile in their effort to slow their advance. Making a final dash they jumped into the awaiting gunship that immediately lifted into the air.

The rotary blades of the DAP whirred in the dizzy heights of the fading clear sky, it banked sharply to the left as House looked down to witness an almighty crash below.

The huge mass of the carrier run aground against an out crop of rocks crushing hundreds of tonnes of metal, denting and splitting the ship’s hull sending its contents and dead occupants, smashing, soaring and plummeting in all directions. The USS Saturn began to take in gallons of water.

Inland the dead walked aimlessly up a sandy, pebbled stretch of beach, some waded into the sea towards the wreckage as if to greet their fellow dead as they walking off the high deck, tumbling overboard crashing into the choppy water. On the deck of the carrier many of the dead rose to their feet.

The sight of the huge carrier now grounded against the shore was surreal but as they moved away from the scene all House could reflect on was the aimless falling dead. Lemmings he thought.

Just then, two Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter jets soared past the DAP. Relieved, the helicopters passengers looked on in
expectation as the two jets launched their arsenal of missiles raining down into the carrier.

Finn shook his head. “That was close.”

“Do you think we ever could have stopped it?” House brooded over the uncertainty.

“Who knows, but a couple of billion green-back just bit the dust,” replied Finn.

The two men lent back into the cabin of the DAP catching a final glimpse of the white seawater littered with bodies, pushing against the burning Saturn, as its decks, starboard and port continued to rupture and explode into the sea.

If ever there was a perfect, small, idyllic town, it was Farmore.

Its future shaped by a natural landslide in 1875, which kept the closest city of Ravenswood ten miles away. The only thing that marred Farmore, despite protests from residents, was a large prison situated five miles away that was built just before the boarder of the next county.

If you like what you read you can follow this and other Esmonde’s projects on Twitter, check out the official site or become a fan on Facebook.

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Comments (3)

 

  1. Lyle says:

    I got to read an advanced copy of Deathwatch a few months ago and I thought It was fantasic! A definite add to any zombie fans book collection.

  2. Jessica Face says:

    Found the book in the end! The name of the book has changed to DEAD PULSE. Agree with the above great read.

  3. Win Quibids says:

    This is often a very good read for me, Need to admit that you are a single with the greatest bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

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