Saturday, 30 June 2007

Chapter 76: Discoveries

Doctor Owen quickly finished testing the blood of the four remaining soldiers. My mind had told me they weren’t vampires and I was right. Our focus then turned to the unconscious vampire tied to the bed. The doctor filled a syringe with anaesthetic and injected it into the vampire’s arm.

‘I’ll need your help,’ the doctor said to me under his breath, ‘this isn’t going to be easy.’

‘Why?’ I asked, ‘Haven’t you done experiments like this a hundred times before?’

‘I’ve performed autopsies and dissected plenty of infected animals but this is going to be very delicate. I need to examine the inner workings of his body in as much detail as possible without killing him but remember I’m a scientist, not a surgeon. If he dies, his body will probably turn to ash and I’ve no idea what Captain Stein will do next. We also need to make sure the soldier doesn’t wake up.’

For the second time today, the doctor appeared to not know what he was doing but like before, he was doing a good job of hiding this fact from everyone apart from me. He was quick to come up with a plan of action whenever necessary but I now realised that nothing we were doing had ever been attempted before.

Every time he performed an experiment, he was setting a precedent, like watching Walton and Cockcroft split the atom or being there under the tree to see the apple bounce off Newton’s head.

‘You’ve already pumped him full of anaesthetic. What’s the problem?’ I asked.

‘I’ve no idea what effect the anaesthetic will have, if any. For all I know, he’s still unconscious from Stein’s punch in the face. I’ve given him enough to keep a human out for four or five hours but we need to keep watching him for movement, in case he wakes up.’

The doctor had a point. After seeing Officer Myers leap from one vehicle to another and punch through the windscreen of my car, it occurred to me that the straps holding the soldier down might not keep him down for long.

I held the metal tray for the doctor again as he filled it with medical instruments. ‘Why me? Why don’t you get one of these guys to help out? Some of them must be trained medics.’

‘You’re the only one I trust,’ said Doctor Owen, ‘Agent Simpson, I need your help as well.’

She walked over to the doctor, who handed her a video camera. ‘I need you to film everything. It’s going to be fairly gruesome so if you’re squeamish and have to look away, just make sure you keep the camera pointing at what I’m doing. Blood doesn’t make you faint, does it?’

‘Not at all, I’ve seen far worse things in my time,’ she said, looking a little worried.

‘Good. Let’s get started,’ Captain Stein shouted, and clapped his hands together very loudly.

I stood next to the soldier’s perfectly still body, flanked by Doctor Owen and Agent Simpson. I felt like they were the only allies I had in a base that was supposedly the home of the good guys.

I agreed with the doctor: I didn’t trust anyone here that was part of The Brotherhood and I was surprised Agent Simpson counted herself as one of them. She didn’t seem as brainwashed as the others, maybe because she had been out there in the real world seeing how the vampire virus affects society instead of sitting in the headquarters waiting on the call to jump on a helicopter and shoot some bad guys.

She had come to tell us that Captain Stein was on his way and she had saved my life, running the risk of being thrown out of The Brotherhood or worse. I wondered if she was starting to question the legitimacy of the methods used to further their cause.

‘Are we filming?’ asked the doctor. Agent Simpson lifted the camera up and focused on the soldier’s bare torso. She pressed the record button and gave the doctor a thumbs-up with her free hand.

‘Where are you going to start?’ asked Captain Stein.

‘I’m going to check all the vital organs to see if there is any deterioration,’ said the doctor. He was back to sounding like he knew what he was talking about. ‘I suspect that vampires have some form of deficiency that necessitates the consumption of human blood. I want to see how the deficiency affects the internal organs.’

‘Okay, don’t let me hold you up,’ said the Captain as he looked on. He was a little too eager to see the soldier’s insides for my liking.

Doctor Owen started his commentary for the video camera as he pulled on his surgical gloves and waved at me to hand him a scalpel. ‘I will begin by making an incision in the chest cavity to examine the stomach and intestines.’

He took the scalpel out of my hands and looked at me. The look on his face told me he had no idea what to expect. As far as anyone in the room knew, we were about to witness the very first live vampire autopsy.

Very carefully, Doctor Owen leaned over the body and pushed the scalpel into the soldier’s skin just below the middle of his rib cage and started to cut him open, stopping just above his navel. Blood started to pour from the wound, which the doctor seemed be very surprised about.

‘There is an incredible amount of blood in the chest cavity: possible haemorrhage in one or more of the organs.’

The blood poured out of the soldier’s chest, onto the bed and started to drip onto the floor. The doctor continued, ‘Subject is losing massive amounts of blood.’

‘This is going to make a right mess,’ Captain Stein interrupted. Doctor Owen shot a dirty look in his direction.

‘If you want to help, get a bucket,’ he snapped. Captain Stein did nothing. ‘I’m serious. Get a bucket now! I have a theory.’

One of the armed soldiers put down his rifle, picked up a plastic basin and placed it under the bed, catching the dripping blood. At the rate the blood was gushing out of the soldier’s body, it wouldn’t be long until the basin filled up.

‘What’s the theory?’ asked the Captain.

Doctor Owen was fishing around inside the dark wet chest cavity. ‘All the organs feel larger than normal. I suspect they are filled with blood.’

‘Why isn’t that normal?’

‘This man’s stomach should feel like a small football, hollow and leathery on the outside. It feels more like a wet sponge, much bigger and heavier than it should be.’ The doctor squeezed the soldier’s stomach and commented on its quick return to a larger-than-normal size. His hands emerged, completely covered in blood.

Captain Stein was looking at the doctor in disbelief, the colour draining from his face.

‘Have a go if you don’t believe me,’ said the doctor.

‘I’ll pass,’ said Captain Stein, conceding that Doctor Owen knew more than he did, ‘So what does that mean?’

‘I suspect the virus breaks down the organ tissue. This man’s body is no longer the well-organised system that we are all blessed with. In our bodies, each organ has a purpose: one organ feeds the next in a specific order. Food reaches your stomach, which is broken down and processed through the intestines to transport energy to your muscles via the blood.

‘The walls of this man’s organs appear to be more permeable, meaning that blood can pass directly from one area of the body to the other, straight through the organs, bypassing the circulatory system. That will explain their incredible strength: blood can pass directly to the necessary muscles whereas our blood needs to travel through the complicated system of veins and arteries.’

‘But how is the blood directed?’ I asked, ‘The blood is pumped around our bodies by the heart. How can a vampire’s heart decide where to assign the blood?’

‘One step at a time, Detective.’

‘Doctor Owen,’ said Agent Simpson, sounding very concerned, ‘what’s happening to the blood?’

The drip of blood into the basin stopped. The stream of blood from the body to the basin hung in the air, defying the laws of gravity.

Then something even more unbelievable happened.

The blood started to pour upwards, out of the basin and back into the vampire’s chest cavity.

Frozen with shock, everyone in the lab watched as every drop of blood made its way from the basin under the bed back into the vampire’s body. Then the level of blood in the chest cavity dropped and the open wound in the vampire’s chest quickly sealed itself shut.

The doctor looked very concerned. ‘The blood must be moving to an area of the body where it is needed.’

‘Where?’ I asked.

I looked at the soldier’s face and saw his eyes open.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Chapter 75: Blood Tests

I heard the footsteps of the squad marching down the corridor outside the lab. Captain Stein led the way, almost knocking the door off its hinges as he barged into the makeshift lab. A line of eight unarmed soldiers followed him and lined up next to each other. More soldiers walked through the doors, their rifles trained on the procession that had just appeared.

My instincts told me this would end badly. I’d only known Captain Stein for a matter of hours and I’d already worked out that subtlety and tact were not his forte. This was a situation that could almost certainly have been handled more appropriately.

‘What is the meaning of this?’ demanded Doctor Owen.

Stein’s face had his determination written all over it. ‘In the attack on Hartley House, the first helicopter was destroyed by an infiltrator. A vampire got past our security checks so we’re taking steps to increase the security of the base.

‘I’ve decided that we can’t take any more risks. Everyone who leaves the base must be checked on re-entry. These men were on the recovery team that brought the bodies of the dead soldiers back from Hartley House this morning so they must be tested.’

‘How are you going to do that?’ the doctor asked.

‘You tell me,’ said Captain Stein, ‘you’re the expert.’

Doctor Owen knew that answer was coming. He thought to himself for a moment and came up with a plan.

‘Okay, I know what we can do. We all know that vampires have an adverse reaction to silver,’ he started, ‘We take a blood sample from everyone and test its reaction with silver. If the blood burns then we know it belongs to a vampire. Simple as that.’

‘Very good, Doctor. What are you waiting for? Start the tests,’ ordered Captain Stein.

The doctor handed a small metal tray to me and asked me to help him. I held the tray for him as he lined up eight syringes and eight petri dishes. I followed him as he approached one of the armed soldiers.

‘Hand me your gun,’ he ordered.

The soldier looked at Captain Stein, who nodded to him. ‘Do it, soldier. You heard the man.’

He handed the rifle over to the doctor, who removed the clip and ejected eight silver bullets, placing one in each of the Petri dishes. He then made his way over to the line of eight unarmed soldiers.

‘Roll up your sleeves. All of you.’ They all complied with his order.

I could see the doctor was relishing this brief period of authority. He picked up a syringe and grabbed the first soldier’s arm, tapping the top of his forearm to bring the veins to the surface of the skin.

‘Just relax,’ he said, ‘If you’re not a bloodsucker, you’ve got nothing to worry about.’

Before he finished his sentence, the needle was in the soldier’s arm, drawing blood from his vein. The doctor removed the syringe and turned towards me. He looked me in the eye with the syringe poised over the petri dish.

Even if this soldier is a vampire, what will happen to him? Will the armed soldiers immediately blow him away or will he be locked away and prodded like me? Will he suddenly turn and start sucking our blood?

Very slowly, he pressed the plunger and the blood poured over the silver bullet into the petri dish.

Nothing happened.

‘Looks like you’re all clear, son,’ announced the doctor. The soldier breathed a sigh of relief and wiped the sweat from his brow. It was at this point that I realised the soldier was asking himself the same question I had been asking myself all day.

How do you know if you are a vampire?

I felt no different than I usually did but here I was, the bookie’s favourite to be feeding on human flesh by the end of the week. Or maybe even the end of the day.

As the doctor was taking a blood sample from the second nervous, sweaty soldier, I cast my eyes across the other six. They all had similar looks on their faces and moved around nervously on the spot, not knowing where to put their hands.

Apart from one.

The fourth soldier in line stood perfectly still. It probably meant nothing but he was conspicuous by his lack of reaction. Something was nagging in the back of my mind, telling me this soldier wasn’t to be trusted. It was more than a cop’s hunch, something I had absolute certainty of but I couldn’t explain the reason why.


The second soldier left the line-up of suspects and joined his other colleague behind the armed soldiers. As I suspected, the third soldier was clear as well and the doctor moved to the odd-looking one. He flinched just like the others when the doctor stuck the syringe in his arm to take his blood.

The doctor moved over to me and pressed the plunger on the syringe. The soldier’s blood poured onto the silver bullet lying in the petri dish. As soon as the blood touched the bullet, a small plume of smoke began to rise and flecks of ash settled in the dish. Everyone backed away from the soldier very quickly, apart from the armed men who moved a step closer to him.

Captain Stein moved forward. ‘So it was you, son. How did you make it through the trials? How many more vampires are there in the base?’

‘Fuck you, Captain,’ the vampire soldier said, ‘my job here is done.’

Stein looked at the men who had passed the blood test. ‘Hold him.’

They quickly approached the soldier, one grabbing each arm and the other holding his legs together so he couldn’t move. Stein punched him hard in the face, right on the end of his nose. As the soldier’s body slumped into unconsciousness, Stein grabbed him by his shirt collar and threw him onto the bed. He ordered the soldiers that had been given the all clear to tie the body down.

‘You asked me for a live specimen. There it is. Now finish testing these guys and show me some real results.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Chapter 74: Too Close

Captain Nash slammed the phone down and shook his head. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t believe what Detective Ryder had just told him, the fact of the matter was that he had known exactly what was going on since the attack on Mantek. He just felt sorry for Ryder.

Don’t let an outsider take this investigation
, they had said. Put one of your men on the case, someone who won’t be missed if he gets too close.

Ryder had got far too close and now he was in the middle of something that Nash had managed to keep hidden from outsiders within the police department for a long time but when this case came along, Ryder was all he had.

The poor, pathetic drunk. He gets results but no one round here likes him and no one will ask any questions if something happens to him.

Emily Owen was being held in a cell on her own and now that he had an update from Ryder to keep his superiors quiet for another few hours, Nash’s job was to baby-sit the doctor’s wife. She was a pleasant enough woman but she wasn’t in the mood for talking. Nash had tried all he could to break her down but he didn’t have much to threaten her with. He wasn’t planning to tell her The Brotherhood were keeping her husband safe. He’d let her sit in her cell and worry for another few hours then try talking to her again.

The vampires would surely know that the doctor had been safely returned to The Brotherhood and they were certain to attempt to recover his wife to use as leverage. Captain Nash knew he had to inform his brothers and sisters of the current status.

He took his keys out of his pocket and unlocked the bottom drawer under his desk. He fished around under a stack of papers for a mobile phone that he hadn’t used for a long time. He turned the phone on and dialled a number that was etched into his mind. A familiar voice answered.

‘Hi Roxy,’ said Captain Nash.

‘Nash, what is it?’ snapped Roxy. Always straight to the point.

‘The Brotherhood have Doctor Owen in their custody.’

‘I know. Anything else?’

‘I have his wife. She’s being held at the station. She’ll be released tomorrow unless we can find a reason to keep her here. I’m trying my best but in case she gets out…’

‘That’s good news, but don’t concern yourself with the details of her release. I will send one of my men down to get her.’

‘I won’t be able to release her to a stranger.’

‘You misunderstand me. I will send someone down to get her. You do not have to do anything.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Chapter 73: Call From The Boss

The next few hours passed without incident. Doctor Owen continued to take blood from my veins and we talked a lot about anything and everything. He told me all about his wife and the life they shared. I felt sorry for him. As soon as he realised his work was so crucial, they made the decision to devote their lives to the cause. I thought his wife must be an incredibly strong woman to stand by him and sacrifice the things she always wanted.

The soldier had returned from his break and in silence, we continued to attempt to formulate a plan to get out of this base but the look on Doctor Owen’s face told me he was struggling to come up with options.

I had nothing. The base was heavily guarded and we were the VIPs. We couldn’t even step outside the lab without attracting attention.

Agent Simpson was busy in another part of the base debriefing her contacts within the World Health Organisation but she came into the lab from time to time to check up on me. I knew she felt guilty about what had happened to me but I couldn’t see how the things could have turned out any differently.

I flinched as I felt a rattling in my pocket. It was my mobile phone. I had completely forgotten about making contact with the outside world. I knew exactly who the caller would be.

‘Where the hell are you?’ shouted Captain Nash as soon as I answered, ‘you haven’t turned up for work and no one’s heard from you since your little car chase through downtown last night.’

I paused, not knowing where to start. How could I even begin to explain what I had been through in the past twenty-four hours?

‘Well?’ the Captain continued angrily, ‘Get your ass down here now or you’re fired! I’ve got the doctor’s wife here but no one to question her.’

‘I can’t,’ I protested.

‘Give me one good reason why.’

‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,’ I said wearily, knowing that I’d have to tell him anyway. Typical Nash, always sticking his nose in. If we didn’t call in with an update every day, he thought we were bunking off.

Doctor Owen looked at me. He shrugged his shoulders and mouthed the words ‘Tell him.’

‘Try me,’ Captain Nash snapped.

‘Okay,’ I said and took a deep breath, ‘the murder you sent me to investigate was committed by a vampire. Mantek pharmaceuticals are working with an ancient group of vampire hunters called The Brotherhood to produce a vaccine that will rid the world of vampires. The vampires have taken exception to that plan and are fighting back.’

‘What the hell are you talking about, Detective?’ he shouted, ‘Do you think I was born yesterday?’

‘Wait, I haven’t finished,’ I continued, ‘Both myself and Doctor Owen, who was missing until he was rescued in the helicopter attack on the Expressway yesterday, are now at The Brotherhood’s regional headquarters. I am being experimented on because I was bitten by a vampire last night and they think I’m now the chosen one that will allow them to produce the vaccination they need to rid the world of vampires forever. I’ll call you back with an update in twenty four hours unless I’ve turned into a vampire, then I won’t be contactable for the rest of my undead life.’

Doctor Owen smiled at me as Captain Nash muttered something and hung up on me. ‘What did he say to that?’ asked the doctor.

‘He told me that I’m a disgusting drunk and I should take the rest of the week off to sober up,’ I said.

‘Are you an alcoholic?’ asked the Doctor. He looked concerned but I didn’t know if that was because he had my welfare in mind or if it was because it might screw up his experiments.

‘Not any more,’ I said.

‘How long have you been dry?’

‘Nine days.’

‘How is being sober treating you?’

‘To be honest, I haven’t thought about it until now. I’ve got more important things to worry about now.’

‘Indeed you have, Detective. I must say that’s a very good attitude.’

‘He mentioned your wife as well. Sounds like they’re holding her indefinitely until I go back there to talk to her.’

‘Don’t worry about her,’ he said, ‘I’ll let the Captain know and he’ll send someone along to pick her up.’

The door burst open and Agent Simpson ran through, looking very worried.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked.

‘It’s Captain Stein. He’s on his way down here and he’s not alone.’

‘What does he want?’ asked the doctor.

‘I don’t know but he looks very pissed off.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Friday, 22 June 2007

Chapter 72: Doctor Forrest

Doctor Owen’s mobile phone rang and he looked at the screen before answering.

‘Oh my God,’ he exclaimed, ‘it’s Doctor Forrest.’

Agent Simpson’s eyes widened and she had an expression on her face that was familiar to me. It was the look of someone who has just been informed that a missing loved one has been found. As a detective, it was very rare to recover a missing person, especially in this city, but the loved ones of a missing person always have the same expression of surprise and happiness that is unforgettable.

We stood in anxious silence as the doctors exchanged words.

‘Hello?’ said Doctor Owen, ‘Yes, it’s good to hear from you. How are you? Good. Where are you? Why not? I’ve got another subject here. He’s responding well to the secondary treatment. Yes, you’re absolutely right. I’ll inform The Brotherhood, then we’ll recover the items and come and find you. What? Why? I don’t understand. Well, if you say so but it’s going to be very difficult. Okay, keep in touch. Bye.’

He had barely hung up when Agent Simpson spoke up. ‘What did he say?’

Doctor Owen looked very confused. ‘He said he’s safe and well but he wouldn’t say where he was. He suspected someone might have been listening and he doesn’t want to be found.

‘He said we have to recover our notes and samples from the labs around the city, all the stuff that wasn’t destroyed in the attack on Mantek. He has a plan for distribution. He didn’t say what it was but there’s something I don’t understand. He wants us to recover everything without the help of The Brotherhood. We can’t let them know he has contacted us.’

‘That’s very strange,’ said Agent Simpson, ‘he’s been a member of The Brotherhood all of his life. So have you, Doctor.’

‘Yes, he said he didn’t trust them any more. He said the plan is simple and we can achieve everything without their help if we can get out of here.’

I was caught in the middle of a situation I was struggling to understand but I felt I had to say something. ‘Well Doc, wherever you go, I go. How the hell are we going to get out of here?’

My question was met with blank looks.

‘Do you think we can trust the doctor?’ Agent Simpson asked. ‘What reason do we have to betray The Brotherhood?’

Looks like we’re going to be here for a while
, I thought.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Chapter 71: Alone In The Morgue

Private Skinner had a lot of work to do. He stood alone in the morgue, looking down on a large pile of body bags. The leftovers from the battle of Hartley House.

This delivery was the largest Private Skinner had ever seen. The attack had been unprecedented in recent history and from the comments of the staff at the base and the recovery crew as they made the drop-off, everyone was still reeling from it. The vampires had now set the standard. Their numbers were significantly greater than The Brotherhood had anticipated. The humans would have to wake up to the threat the vampires imposed or they would leave themselves wide open to greater defeats.

Private Skinner’s usual job was to arrange the bodies of the fallen soldiers into two sections: bitten and just plain dead. For the bodies that had been bitten by vampires, he had to remove their dog tags and make a note of who they were before the silver bullets they had been treated with caused their bodies to burn when they turned.

Only this time it would be different: they had been shot with regular bullets. No one ever checked what type of bullets the recovery crew used. Once a soldier had gone through the acceptance process, it was assumed they were human. There were never any follow-up tests.

Private Skinner’s orders were to let the new-born vampires loose into the headquarters and allow them to run amok, killing as many members of The Brotherhood as possible.

This would cause a distraction that would allow him to capture the doctor and make their escape. He had a helicopter fuelled and waiting on the tarmac many floors above.

There had never been a successful attack on such a heavily guarded compound as this, but everything so far had been surprisingly easy. It made Private Skinner wonder why they hadn’t tried it before.

Then he realised all the work that had gone into getting him to join The Brotherhood and the necessity of the situation he found himself in. He had never known a mission to be carried out with so much urgency.

He had to return the doctor to his brothers and sisters. If he didn’t, Doctor Owen would continue his work and eventually discover a way of ridding his brothers and sisters from the world. Private Skinner knew Roxy wouldn’t allow that to happen and he wanted to be the one to make a difference.

But for now, Private Skinner was hungry. He had never fed on the blood of live humans. He hadn’t been able to bring himself to do it, which is why he was happy to take care of the bodies in the morgue.

His canine teeth shifted in their sockets as he approached the pile of dead human bodies.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Monday, 18 June 2007

Chapter 70: Enter The Angel

Like an angel sent from heaven to bring light into my life deep within this stone fortress, Agent Simpson glided into the lab holding three cups of coffee.

‘I thought you could both do with a break,’ she said.

We both extended our eternal gratitude but the soldier standing guard in the corner was put out. ‘Hey, what about me?’ he protested.

‘Get your own,’ we all said in unison. A brief silent pause was quickly filled with laughter at the guard’s expense, who started to look less menacing and headed for the door.

‘Screw you guys, I’m going for a break,’ he announced and shouted to a colleague down the corridor as he opened the door, ‘Hey Steve, keep an eye on this lot in here for a minute.’

With that, the three of us were left without a chaperone.

‘So how are you two doing?’ Agent Simpson asked.

‘Pretty good,’ I said, ‘the doc was just filling me in on a few more details. There’s one thing I don’t really understand though.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Why is all of this happening now? If vampires and humans have been at each other’s throats, no pun intended, for the whole of eternity, why have things started to get out of hand now?’

Doctor Owen piped up. ‘We reached a critical stage in the development of the treatment.’

‘Primary or secondary?’ I asked.


‘I thought you weren’t working on it.’

‘Of course we are. The primary treatment is what we’re paid to work on but we kept working on the secondary treatment in the background.’

‘How do you keep working on both at the same time?’

‘The Brotherhood believe whatever we tell them. We are the scientific experts. About a year ago, we told Captain Stein that the next phase would take twelve months to complete, but we were only a couple of months away from completion. That bought us the time we needed to develop the secondary treatment on the side. If we hadn’t, you’d be in a lot of trouble.’

‘Well I thank you for that,’ I said, contemplating the choices that could have made the difference between my death and the state of delayed death that I found myself in. ‘So where are you up to with the primary treatment?’

‘The primary treatment is nearing completion. We have successfully developed a compound that breaks down infected blood much quicker than silver. The problem that faces us in the next phase is to find an application for the compound that is easily distributed so The Brotherhood don’t have to kill every vampire one by one.’

‘The same problem you have with the secondary treatment.’

‘Exactly. Our plan was to bring development of the secondary treatment to the same level as the primary then switch the compounds before distribution so the vampires will be cured rather than killed, but we’ve run into more problems with the secondary treatment.’

‘It only works for a limited time.’

‘Correct. At the moment, it’s only a treatment, not a cure. It’s going to become more and more difficult to work towards a cure with The Brotherhood breathing down our necks here.’

We all looked at each other with the same thoughts in mind but chose not to voice them. For now.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Chapter 69: Bodies

The sun was high in the sky as the recovery crew’s gunship landed at the regional headquarters, loaded with the dead bodies from Hartley House. A large white flatbed buggy whizzed up the ramp and stopped at the back of the helicopter. The recovery crew disembarked and started to transfer the body bags onto the buggy, some of which were tagged with red labels, some with blue labels.

The red-labelled bags contained soldiers that had been bitten by vampires. There were twelve of them. The process usually followed by the recovery crew is to shoot the infected bodies with silver bullets, bag them up, take them back to base and either let the bodies burn when they turn into vampires or slice them up to provide Doctor Owen with more samples to use in his experiments.

This time it was different. The bodies had been shot with regular bullets. The bodies in the red-labelled bags were starting to turn.

A member of the recovery crew was a vampire, but not a vampire in the way The Brotherhood knew. This vampire could withstand direct sunlight without incurring instant sunburn. Ash didn’t drip from his open sores. He was by no means a typical vampire and he wasn’t the only one.

It was Mother Nature’s love of diversity that helped the vampires infiltrate many levels of human society and it was the stereotypical view of vampires held by humans and the ignorance of The Brotherhood that allowed them to go unnoticed.

Once the buggy was full, the driver took it back down the ramp towards the morgue, deep in the heart of the base.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Chapter 68: Questions

Under the circumstances, I seemed to be getting on pretty well with Doctor Owen. He had me hooked up to various machines that beeped every few seconds and kept prodding and poking me but even so, with the exception of Agent Simpson, he was the only one treating me as if I was human.

I hoped I had enough blood left because he was taking a hell of a lot out of me and squirting it into test tubes. Everywhere I looked I could see my blood, labelled with the date and time.

He was explaining a lot to me but it surprised me how many gaps he was so far unable to fill. For example, no one knew where vampires got their powers.

How can they fly?

How do they absorb and process human blood?

Why do they have superhuman strength?

All these questions and more needed to be answered before the doctor could expect to find a cure for the virus.

‘It has been very difficult to conduct these kinds of experiments. The problem is that these guys are so twitchy, they never bring back a live specimen,’ he sighed.

Captain Stein walked into the room. ‘What would you have my men do, Doctor? Ask them to come quietly?’

‘There must be a way of capturing a vampire without killing it. Without a live specimen, my work remains in the realm of theory and speculation. That is the only reason that we know very little about vampires.’

‘What about our friend here?’ the Captain asked, pointing at me.

‘I am getting an incredible amount of data from Detective Ryder but there’s no guarantee that he’ll change. For all I know, I’m just filling this lab up with clean human blood.’ He was covering up the miraculous healing of my hand, which cemented my suspicion that he trusted Captain Stein as little as I did. I lifted the bandage to my neck again before Captain Stein could notice that the wound had healed.

‘This situation is tough for all of us, Doctor. We have to make do with what we’ve got so keep at it. I want you to present your findings to the Commander first thing tomorrow morning. Remember, he is expecting the primary treatment to be your main focus, same as me.’

‘What do you mean?’ he protested, ‘I’m still in the data gathering stage.’

‘You heard me, Doc. Give me results!’ said the Captain and left the room, slamming the door behind him.

I decided to ignore the soldier standing in the corner of the room and ask the Doctor the question that had been burning in my head since we arrived.

‘What are the primary and secondary treatments?’

The doctor glanced at the soldier as well and hesitated but decided to tell me anyway. He had been given one day to come up with results that were not physically possible. I suspected he was beginning to feel as much of a prisoner as I did.

‘The secondary treatment is what I gave you,’ he started, ‘The whole idea behind the secondary treatment is to remove the effects of the virus and to stop it taking over all bodily functions. This may then lead to a treatment that could reverse the rebirth process: to return vampires to their natural human state.’

‘So the secondary treatment is a cure?’

‘Eventually it will be, yes.’

‘And the primary treatment?’ I asked.

‘To develop a treatment that will cause a violent chemical reaction with the virus. The primary treatment will kill any vampire it is given to. The Brotherhood would rather have a poison than a remedy. They seem to think it will be easier to develop and deploy a formula that will kill all vampires without affecting humans.’

‘Are they right?’

‘Probably, but there’s no way Captain Stein or Commander North know anything about this research on a scientific level. They have no time for development and experiments. All they want to see are results but anyone who has worked in my field knows that once you start, tangible results may be years away, even for the primary treatment. Shouting louder won’t lead to results any sooner.

‘The secondary treatment would be the only true way of ridding vampires from this world. By immunising everyone at birth, within a generation there would be no vampires.’

To me, it sounded like an ideal solution. A vaccination for all would mean no more vampire rebirths and all the undead brothers and sisters could be returned to their natural state and start to live their human lives again.

I could see why this plan didn’t appeal to certain members of The Brotherhood. They weren’t exactly the most sophisticated bunch of people I had ever met. They had brand new expensive military hardware up to their ears and you can be damn sure they were itching to use it.

‘Hang on a minute, there’s a problem here,’ I said as something occurred to me, ‘Even if you could develop a vaccine, how would you distribute it? As soon as word got out, the vampires would just launch another massive attack and destroy the stock of any vaccine you had.’

‘I’m aware of this,’ said the doctor, ‘and if you can think of a way to do it, make sure you let me know.’

It was at this moment that I realised my job was to sit in this lab with a scientist who was learning everything from scratch. I felt like the zombie guinea pig from a horror movie I watched late one night while struggling to sleep. I guess I had to be happy that I hadn’t been chained to the walls. Not yet, anyway.

‘What about Doctor Forrest?’ I asked.

‘What about him?’

‘How is he involved in all of this?’

‘You mean does he know more about it than I do?’ the doctor asked with a wry smile on his face. He was right though, that was exactly what I meant. I was sure Doctor Owen would forgive me for wanting to have as many experts around me as possible.

‘You may be right,’ I said, ‘but can he help us?’

‘He’s a very old man,’ said Doctor Owen, ‘he’s been working on this pretty much his whole life without getting very far. Then we managed to make the breakthrough recently and came up with the experimental vaccine that I gave to you. After that he disappeared and I haven’t seen him for over a week. He goes AWOL from time to time so I just assumed he took a break.’

‘So now you think they’ve got him?’ I asked.

‘Well he’s been a member of The Brotherhood for all of his life. He’s not here and no one’s heard from him. All we can do is assume that he’s either gone into hiding or the vampires have him.’

‘Either way, you’re not going to see him again, are you?’

‘We should continue our work as if he’s not going to be found.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Chapter 67: Prisoner

After the meeting, the doctor and I were escorted to a medical room by two soldiers sticking the barrels of their guns in our backs. My protestation was met with the comment: ‘The faster you move, the less it’ll hurt, asshole.’

More soldiers arrived carrying the equipment that we had managed to save from Hartley House. I wanted to ask the doctor about the primary and secondary treatments but the presence of the soldiers made me feel uneasy. Unless we were left alone or I got over my paranoia, it would be very difficult to speak candidly with someone watching me, ready to fill my body with silver bullets as soon as I started talking like a vampire.

‘We’ve only missed one interval,’ the doctor said as he looked at his watch, ‘we should still have manageable data.’

It was then that I realised how much I had been through. In just over two hours I had woken up from a vampire bite induced coma, discussed my future as a human pin cushion for experimental blood treatments and narrowly escaped another battle, this time on the side of The Brotherhood against a flock of hungry vampires.

Sitting in my unmarked car drinking coffee and feeling sorry for myself felt like a lifetime ago, but it was only twenty-four hours. I’d give anything to be back there right now, I thought to myself.

It was at this moment I realised what a horrible person I’d been without good reason. Okay, my wife had been killed but that was five years ago and I’d caught the killer. Her killer was in jail because I’d put him there. Everything bad that had happened in those five years had been blamed on Sarah’s death. The fact of the matter was that there was no one to blame anything on apart from myself.

I should have come to terms with the fact that I was on my own and I had to look after myself but I’d taken the easy route. I’d hit the bottle and the last five years were a blur. I felt like I had nothing to lose.

I had to get a grip and this was a better time than any other. Now I had everything to lose. If what the doctor was saying about me was true, then I owed it to him to stay alive. He had saved my life and now my life was in his hands.

Doctor Owen inserted a needle into a vein in my arm and took his sample. I winced and wondered how long it would take for me to get used to the injections. ‘How long will we be here for?’ I asked him.

‘They’ll probably keep us here for a while. The medical facilities are adequate and the outpost seems to be secure.’ Doctor Owen seemed to have more faith in The Brotherhood than I did.

‘You haven’t been here before then?’ I asked, ‘I assumed you followed these guys around and did all of their research for them.’

‘No, not at all,’ he said, ‘until now I’ve done all my work at Mantek. The turning point was when I made a breakthrough with the secondary treatment. I wasn’t expecting to reach that stage for another two or three weeks. Now that the research is out in the open, so to speak, only now is it necessary to continue the research behind closed doors.’

Looking around at all of the equipment, I realised I hadn’t seen any living quarters since we’d arrived. I turned to the one of the soldiers watching over us. ‘Where are we supposed to sleep?’

‘You’ve both got rooms,’ he said. ‘They’re across the hall. We’ll make sure you get all your meals, everything you need. There’s no need for you to leave this level.’

‘What about…’ I started.

‘You don’t understand,’ the doctor said to me, ‘they won’t let us leave here.’


‘Because you’ve been bitten. They have to isolate you. Why do you think we were marched down here so quickly?’

The horrible reality of my future began to dawn on me. I hadn’t known what to expect but for some reason I didn’t think I would be locked away in a concrete bunker until the day I die.

‘So I’m a prisoner here? For the rest of my life?’ I asked, with desperation causing my voice to crack.

‘There’s only one way out of here, Detective,’ said the solider.

‘That’s if I find a permanent cure,’ the doctor said but I suspected the soldier would have finished the sentence in a different way if he’d been given the chance.

‘Well we’d better get cracking then,’ I said. I tried to do my best to sound upbeat. There was no point in throwing a fit. I was down here and we may as well do our best to make the most of it.

‘Okay,’ said the doctor, ‘tell me how you feel now.’

‘A little tired but other than that, I feel fine. If I start to turn, what should I expect? Do my teeth get longer? When do I start flying?’

‘I’ve been thinking about this,’ he said, ‘All vampires have their differences but they all have to feed after being reborn. One of the first symptoms you can expect is an insatiable hunger, like nothing you’ve ever felt before.’

‘For human flesh?’ I asked.

‘For blood, more specifically. Vampires crave human blood because theirs is deficient in a number of ways.’

‘Like what?’ I was no scientist but I had to find out all of the details. If something unnatural was going on in my body, I wanted to know everything.

‘The energy needed to sustain the undead life of a vampire is considerably more than the energy a human needs. If a vampire sustains an injury, it will heal itself very quickly, which requires an incredible amount of energy. The only way is to absorb more red blood cells into the body.’

I realised my hand had stopped hurting where it had been cut during the escape from Hartley House. I opened it and looked at my palm, expecting to see the bloody wound.

There was nothing. There was no trace of the wound at all. I held up my hand. ‘I cut this hand just before we got on the helicopter, now it’s completely healed.’

Doctor Owen took my hand in his for a closer look. ‘Very interesting,’ he said, ‘one attribute has shown itself but there are no other obvious signs that you have been infected.’

He removed the bandage from my neck and held a small mirror up for me to look into. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘your bite mark has gone as well.’

This made me feel very uneasy. My body thought I was a vampire and was starting to act like one. My thoughts turned to my impending desire to drink human blood.

‘How do vampires choose their victims?’

‘Vampires must feed on humans with the same blood type as them. Experienced vampires seem to be able to tell what blood type humans have. A new vampire will kill as many humans as it can before finding the correct blood type.

‘Needless to say, vampires with rare blood types don’t tend to last very long. For what it’s worth, I tested your blood type earlier and you’ve got a very common blood type, O positive. If you start to feel hungry, you won’t have to kill very many people to find a match.’

‘Thanks, Doc. That’s comforting.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Friday, 8 June 2007

Vampire sightings in Finland...

Vampire moths, that is...

"No thanks to climate change, Finland is attracting species better-acquainted with warmer climes, including a moth that binges on human blood, according to a Finnish nature periodical."

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Chapter 66: Silver Bullets

The grounds of Hartley House were filled with the smoking remnants of the battle that had raged just two hours earlier. The repercussions were being felt on both sides and would continue to be felt for a very long time after the dust had settled on these once well-manicured lawns.

The wooden towers lay in splintered bundles, the remaining ultraviolet lamps still flickering over the blood-soaked bodies of the soldiers of The Brotherhood. The grass was glazed with a heavy sprinkling of ash and silver bullets. Swords, pistols and cloaks lay where the vampires had fallen.

In the remains of the carnage, a body was stirring. One soldier had survived. Keeping pressure on the gaping wound in his neck with one hand, he used his other arm to lift a reinforced wooden support off his legs and drag himself free onto an open patch of grass.

He thought back to the battle. He had killed at least five vampires before they climbed the tower and pounced on him and his squad mate. Fortune had smiled on him though. Just as a vampire had pinned him down and sunk its teeth into his neck, the vampires at the bottom of the tower had managed to loosen the tower from its foundations. The vampire let go and they all fell to the ground.

Then a thought occurred to the soldier. What happened to the vampire?

The soldier felt a powerful blast of air in his face. Dust particles pelted his eyeballs and shot up his nostrils when he drew breath. With his free hand he rubbed his eyes then looked through the criss-crossing remnants of his wooden tower to see a familiar gunship approaching.

It touched down on the drive and a small squad of soldiers jumped out. He knew what their job was: to recover the bodies and take them back to the regional headquarters for safe disposal. It was safe for The Brotherhood to assume that every dead soldier at Hartley House had been bitten and was about to turn into a vampire.

This soldier was still alive and he knew the doctor had been working on a cure. He breathed a sigh of relief.

Thank God his treatment is to cure vampires rather than kill them. If it worked on that cop, it must work on me.

He looked around him and saw one soldier leading the others, shooting silver bullets into the dead bodies and the others were zipping them into body bags.

Then he heard the clunk of wood on metal. The ruins of the tower were moving. An unholy scream tore through the air and in the shade of the ruins of the tower, the vampire that had attacked the soldiers at the top of the tower wobbled to its feet. It turned and looked at the soldier, who shouted for help.

The soldier that had been shooting the dead bodies ran over and pumped the vampire’s body full of bullets from his machine gun. The vampire didn’t fall to the ground and die though, and the soldiers looked at each other. The soldier lying on the ground knew something was amiss.

That vampire’s body is full of silver bullets but nothing happened. What’s going on?

‘Damn it,’ said the other soldier and drew his pistol. He pulled the trigger and the target reeled backwards. The vampire hit the ground and its body slowly dissolved. The soldier holstered his pistol and moved over to the surviving soldier.

‘You weren’t using silver bullets,’ the surviving soldier said, ‘all the soldiers here are going to turn, aren’t they? You’re one of them!’

‘That’s right, soldier,’ the soldier replied, then squeezed the trigger of his rifle and murdered the only human who suspected he was a vampire.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Rebirth gets another great review - that's four in a row!

Rebirth has received another positive review, this time from Horror World...

"With smooth writing that flows at break-neck speed from the first page, REBIRTH is a highly enjoyable horror adventure of epic proportions that demands to be read in one sitting. I highly recommend REBIRTH by Scott McKenzie for anyone looking for a great summer read that spotlights a rising newcomer to the horror genre."

To read the whole review, visit the following link and scroll down to the bottom of the page:

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Chapter 65: Arrival

An impressive formation of clouds hung above us in the blood red sky as the helicopter touched down. It was just after seven AM and we found ourselves on a landing pad on the top of a hill.

I looked around and saw a massive arsenal of military hardware. There was another gunship like the one that had picked us up from Hartley House and a wide range of other vehicles. Whoever The Brotherhood were, they were obviously well-funded but from what I’d seen in the last few hours, they could do with more experience in the field. They were well-trained to act like a military outfit but they had failed to effectively deal with the attack.

I saw a squad of soldiers running towards the other gunship. They piled in and it lifted off, heading in the direction that we had just come from.

‘What’s going on there?’ I asked Captain Stein.

‘That’s the recovery team,’ he replied, ‘Now the sun’s up, they’re going back to Hartley House to clean up the mess before anyone finds out. They’ve got a lot of work to do today.’

A squad of soldiers marched up a long ramp leading down into the mountain. A burly man in uniform, Commander North, led the squad, shouting ‘Left! Left! Left, right, left!’ and the soldiers all marched in time, their thundering footsteps breaking the silence that was left behind once the helicopter had been shut down.

They reached the landing pad and surrounded the helicopter, their hands resting on their guns but not aiming at us. I could see they were ready to blow away anything that looked like a vampire: it was written in the concentration on their faces. I wondered how many of these soldiers had seen as much action as we had seen in the last twenty four hours.

Not many, I bet.

Captain Stein got out of the helicopter and saluted Commander North. ‘Welcome home,’ said the commander.

‘Thank you, sir. It’s unfortunate there aren’t more of us.’

‘You’ve got the doctor, that’s what matters. Good job, Captain.’

I had been hoping the regional headquarters would have been run by someone with a bit more sympathy but it appeared to me that Captain Stein and Commander North were crafted from the same mould.

Agent Simpson and I got out of the helicopter behind Doctor Owen. Commander North took one look at me and turned to Captain Stein. ‘Who the hell is this sorry looking son of a bitch? He looks like he’s on his last legs,’ he said as though I wasn’t there.

‘This is Detective Tom Ryder,’ he said.

‘A cop?’ he said, continuing to ignore me.

‘Yes. His work helped us to track down Doctor Owen.’

Commander North moved over to me. We shook hands and the bandage on my neck must have caught his eye. ‘Jesus Christ, he’s been bitten. I hope you know what you’re doing, Captain.’

‘Yes sir,’ said Captain Stein, ‘the Doctor is going to work with Detective Ryder. We hope this opportunity will present us with the data he needs to finish his work.’

‘I hope you mean the primary treatment, Captain.’

‘Of course, sir.’

‘He’s your responsibility, Captain,’ said Commander North, then looked me in the eye, ‘Son, if you start trying to eat my men, I’ll put you down in the blink of an eye. Got it?’

‘I’ll try my best not to.’ I said dourly.

The squad led us down the ramp towards the heart of the regional headquarters. As we descended, I saw more heavy military equipment including a huge array of firepower: cannons, racks of rifles and crates marked ‘explosive’. Most of the vehicles looked clean and new.

Has any of this equipment ever been used? Would any of these soldiers know what to do with it if there was an attack on the base?

‘How are The Brotherhood funded?’ I asked Agent Simpson.

‘How do you think?’

‘The government?’ I speculated

‘It’s bigger than that. The influence of the vampire community stretches all over the world.’

‘So there is a link with the World Health Organisation? Once this all kicked off, I assumed it was a lie to get us to work together.’ I said.

‘No, not at all. You’d be surprised at the other problems we have to deal with.’

‘One surprise is quite enough for now.’ As far as I was concerned, the other problems of the World Health Organisation could wait a little longer. I didn’t want to think about all the other monsters out there in the world that until now I thought existed only in the realms of fiction.

We were marched down long corridors, past many doors into the heart of the base. The place wasn’t decorated at all. The walls were bare grey concrete and there were no furnishings or signs anywhere. I wondered how long The Brotherhood had been based at this location: it felt like they could leave at any time and leave no trace at all. After seeing the attack on Hartley House, I could appreciate the need for immediate evacuation.

We were led through one of the blank doors into a cold, empty room. Commander North moved to the front of the crowd and everyone else in the room faced him, awaiting his address.

‘I would like to start off by welcoming the newcomers to our outpost. Some of you already know Agent Simpson and I’m sure you are all aware of Doctor Owen’s work.’

He turned to me. ‘Detective Ryder here was instrumental in rescuing the doctor from the hands of our enemies. I would like to thank him on behalf of The Brotherhood for all his hard work. Unfortunately for him, he was bitten in the course of his investigation.’

No sooner had the words left his lips than all the soldiers in the room turned to each other, murmuring in hushed voices and firing cautionary glances in my direction.

‘Quiet please,’ said Doctor Owen, ‘He’s okay now. I have given him a dose of the treatment I’ve been working on. As soon as we can have access to your medical facilities, we will continue the testing.’

Commander North looked troubled. ‘I take it you gave him the secondary treatment?’

‘Of course,’ he said.

Secondary treatment?
I thought. What’s the primary treatment?

‘A soldier will be standing by wherever he goes,’ said Captain Stein, ‘The chances are that he will still turn into a bloodsucker. No offence, Detective.’

‘None taken.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Monday, 4 June 2007

Chapter 64: Regeneration

Roxy hung up and Marcus took the phone out of her hand. She was lying on a metal operating table, with a team of her brothers and sisters clad in medical robes leaning over her mutilated body, preparing it for regeneration.

Two of her brothers lifted her body off the treatment table and carried her over to a small bath. They sat her down on a moulded seat on the edge of the bath and let her stumps hang down. One of her sisters picked up a hose that was hanging in a long loop on the wall, placed the end in the bath and turned a tap on the wall.

Within a few seconds, cool, dark blood started to pour from the hose into the bath, covering what remained of Roxy’s legs. The sticky blood worked its way up to Roxy’s hips and stopped. The medical staff cleaned themselves up and threw their blood-soaked robes in a basket that was taken away by a servant. As they left, one of them turned to Roxy. ‘You’ll be okay but try to rest. Conserve your energy. We’ll be back to check on you in an hour.’

‘Thank you very much,’ she said, her voice conveying a mixture of relief, disappointment and exhaustion.

Only Marcus remained in the room. ‘How do you feel, Roxy?’

‘I’ve felt worse,’ she said, ‘I’ve been in worse scrapes than this.’

‘Yes you have, haven’t you? What was the news?’

‘It was another one of our insiders. He’s going to make sure all of the bodies make it through the recovery process without being treated.’

‘So plan B is a go?’

‘Yes sir. One hundred percent.’

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25

Friday, 1 June 2007

Chapter 63: Skinner

Another soldier finishing the night shift, another mobile phone taped to the back of his desk drawer.

Another vampire infiltrator at the regional headquarters of The Brotherhood.

Private Skinner had been working in the communications room and heard all the details of the attack on Hartley House. Private Lambert had done a good job but unfortunately the mission had not been completed. He had taken out one of the gunships and allowed a large squad of his brothers and sisters to almost completely wipe out an outpost.

But the primary target had escaped. The attack was all for nothing. His brothers and sisters had died for nothing. Private Skinner knew that now would be his time to join the fight.

Private Skinner called Roxy and she barked at him before he had the chance to say anything.

‘Where is the target?’ she asked, her voice laced with anger and pain.

‘On his way here. The helicopter is about twenty minutes away,’ he replied.

‘You know what you need to do. Our cause depends on you now.’

‘I understand. Is everything okay?’ he asked, but didn’t receive an answer. The line clicked and she was gone. Private Skinner turned his phone off and returned it to its hiding place.

Our cause depends on you.

Skinner was nervous and excited. He had trained for this moment for a long time. He was going to come face to face with the doctor. The primary target. He must not fail.

He already had his orders from The Brotherhood. He was part of the disposal team who took care of bodies that had been bitten or infected. The recovered bodies provided Private Skinner with all the human blood he needed to keep him going. He had never killed a human or fed on the blood of the living.

After a twelve hour shift, he felt the familiar pain in his stomach. He grabbed his stomach with both hands and sat down. His face contorted with agony and he fought against the hunger. The almost uncontrollable desire to feed on human flesh and blood.

The door opened and his room-mate, Private O’Brien, ran into the room, wiping shaving foam off his face with a towel. ‘Damn it, I’m late again!’ he cursed.

Skinner had got to know Private O’Brien well over the last two years. They worked opposite shifts and rarely saw each other, but when they did they got on like a house on fire.

O’Brien looked at his room-mate, who was still doubled over on the side of his bed. ‘Hey bud, are you okay?’

‘Just a bit of indigestion.’

‘Too right. It was that dinner last night. I’ve had dodgy guts all day.’

‘Yes, that must be it,’ said Private Skinner as he struggled to his feet.

Rebirth is available from the following online retailers:

Amazon UK - £7.99
Amazon US - $16.95
Barnes and Noble - $15.25