(Zombie Botnet Book 1)
by Al K. Line
#zombie is the first book in Al K. Line's Zombie Botnet series. Also available: Zombie 2.0 and Alpha Zombie (NEW RELEASE). Coming soon: Zombie Slaver. Plus, visit the website and sign up for the author's newsletter and get a FREE copy of the lost story, Al vs Zombies.
In a normal house in the English suburbs Ven, a mother and world class hacker, presses enter on her keyboard and Armageddon is unleashed. She loses almost everything with that fateful keystroke.
The largest Web hack ever performed has devastating repercussions as it all goes horribly wrong. Designed to compromise the world's connected devices, the zombie botnet delivers subliminal data packets via social media and more - in an afternoon most of the world is either infected or eaten.
Now it is a fight for survival for Ven and her baby. Kyle, her one and only friend, and her faithful tubby Labrador Boscoe, help navigate the apocalyptic nightmare that is now their world.
The problem is Ven has never used a gun in her life, has no idea how to kill a zombie, and finds it hard to leave the house without doing her make-up.
Let's just say it gets interesting, and leave you to find out the rest, in this totally unique zombie novel series that will leave you too scared to ever go on Twitter again.
Excerpt (note: contains coarse language)
Paul drove home from work listening to all kinds of crazy stories on the radio. There was obviously a serious situation occurring, he just couldn't quite make sense of it from the jumbled broadcasts he was hearing. BBC Radio 2, normally a bastion of sensible reporting, was hijacked by news teams giving manic reports so comical, yet at the same time so disturbing, that he seriously wondered if there was some kind of stunt going on he hadn't been let in on.
His day had been just like so many others — a boring as hell meeting in the morning, consisting of people going over the same conversations they'd already had via email, then working on a few projects when he was actually given any time to be productive. It was all so pointless, such a waste of resources. The afternoon had been filled making a few calls to clients then answering emails that he didn't doubt would then be discussed at length, again, the next day in yet another meeting.
Same old crap. Day in, day out.
He felt tired, tired and bored out of his brain. Ven, his wife, had told him on countless occasions that he didn't need to work — she made enough doing her technical consulting from home for the both of them. It just didn't seem right to Paul though, he should go out to work to support his family, shouldn't he? Even if the money wasn't as good as he would have liked.
But boy, was he drained.
How can you get so tired, and feel like the life has been sucked out of you, when you just sit there at a desk all day like a mindless drone?
No matter though, he had nearly arrived. Paul was very much looking forward to a relaxing evening. Definitely a drink or two as well. Maybe three?
The streets looked normal as far as he could tell, although he was almost home by the time the reports of strange happenings on social media were finally becoming coherent.
Hashtag zombie was trending on Twitter apparently.
So fucking what?
Probably just one of the latest corporate stunts designed to sell a car, or some new bloody perfume advertised by a woman he had never heard of — that got paid more than his lifetime's salary just to walk.
Paul got out of the car just as his phone rang.
Just Ven. Bet she forgot to buy anything for dinner again, he thought, not bothering to answer.
He grabbed his bag and coat, shut the car door and shot it with his key. Shaking his head and smiling to himself at the weird reports on the radio he stopped, thinking he heard screams from across the street. Listening again he heard nothing, it was probably Mrs. Roberts from number twenty-seven watching one of those channels that just showed old repeats, with the sound up too high as usual.
It was a hot Thursday afternoon, something to be grateful for in Berwick-upon-Tweed as summer never guaranteed good weather in the UK. So he was contemplating having his evening tipple out in the garden to make the most of it. Maybe throw the ball a few times for Bos Bos, that dog could certainly do with a little extra activity.
Inside the house he put his keys into the cut glass crystal bowl on the hall console table, not risking the wrath of Ven if he didn't keep the hall table 'just so'. Shutting the door behind him and hanging up his coat he heard his wife and her odd friend Kyle upstairs. They sounded freaked out.
What the hell was going on?
Taking the stairs two at a time he shouted up about the hashtag zombie craziness on the radio, simultaneously looking at his iPhone, scrolling through his Twitter timeline. The news was right, there were a shit-load of #zombie messages. Plus a lot of garbled junk.
Nothing new there.
But something wasn't quite right either, this stuff was just plain weird. This seemed beyond any corporate stunt, maybe something serious really was going on? But zombies?
Flicking through his timeline, which seemed to have auto-followed thousands of new people somehow, nearly every tweet had a link attached. Either that or grossly distorted selfies of people who seriously needed to get to a hospital, it was unnerving to say the least.
"Funniest shit ever bit.Ly/34TGIF8"
"#zombie finally arrived twat.Ly/4jg if8g"
"my dad just eated me fucking mom. WTF!!!"
"You will not believe this video youth.be/cutoff79"
"I can haz brainburgerz"
"Armageddon has arrived, I'm ready, are you? #survivalist"
"cheb out myz zelfie, its v coowel annoy.ly/zelfc864"
...and on and on the timeline went.
Tweet after tweet that made little to no sense. Like someone brainless had been given access to a keyboard, or else some kind of linkbait that had gone viral. Celebrities had messaged him — there really must be some kind of massive media campaign going on — tens of selfie pictures were rolling down the shiny screen, lots of them looking like they had been in serious accidents, or staring uncomprehendingly, eyes red-raw with faces puffed up, blemished like over-ripe fruit.
This was getting disconcerting, Twitter seemed to have been overtaken by very ill people and spammers. There was message after message from hot women inviting him to come check them out via links they supplied.
It was genuinely melting down.
He clicked a link in a tweet from his cousin Mike as he carried on walking up the stairs. "Are you guys watching the news?" he shouted up to them, just as Ven and Kyle screamed at him like his life depended on it.
"Don't look at fucking Twitter!" they both shouted, but it was too late.
Paul spoke a few more words, took a couple more steps. Then the zombie botnet took control of his very short-lived future.
His brain just had time to register a new page on his phone, the face of what appeared to be a cancer ridden old man smiling. Staring back at him with the knowledge of what was to come. Then it was all too fast to be consciously aware of. Thousands of images bombarded his brain, synapses reconfiguring. Some kind of severe epileptic fit shut down his senses. He could feel himself beginning to drift far far away. Paul staggered on the stairs, bumping into the wall, dropping his phone as he did so. Simultaneously the iPhone accessed all the social networks he was logged into, as well as his email accounts, blogs he had visited and anything else where it could continue the cycle, further expanding the zombie botnet.
Paul neither knew or cared about any of this.
Coming out of a daze, still only slightly aware of his situation, a gloopy liquid foulness covering the floor he was unaware he was responsible for, there was a sense of intense heat and something seriously wrong. He had a faint awareness of what felt like his peanut allergy taking hold, but compounded to the n'th degree.
Anaphylaxis set in rapidly, shutting down his airways, his heart stopped beating and an internal terror took hold. Neuropeptide Y ran rampant, forcing to the fore a feeling of all encompassing hunger. A total absence of emotion left nothing but an ever so fleeting vision of gold coins, and an obscenely strong desire to own them. Fading fast it was replaced with an all pervasive numbness along with a total lack of conscious thought or will. Just a base instinct to consume, consume anything warm and made from flesh.
To devour, rip and shred. To satiate a need for the gray matter that meant cognition for the higher species and animation for the lesser, which he had now become.
Paul ceased to be Paul.
He was reborn as something new — primal.
Parts of his brain no longer functioned above a base level. Nerve endings no longer fired properly, some would randomly activate with extreme intensity, causing him to jerk and spasm, only to suddenly cease functioning or die completely. In just a few minutes any kind of pain inflicted on his body would hardly register, his consciousness too far away to care. Then nociceptors shut down permanently, pain a permanent absence now. But for the first few minutes of infection it was as if a lifetime's worth of suffering and agony was inflicted upon him as a prelude to the real punishment to come. Afferent nociceptive fibers bombarded the brain, before it ceased to accept their signal.
His heart beat at double time, warming him to fever level. Blood thickened so that injuries would not lead to massive blood loss. Adrenaline rushed through his body making him fast, strong and demonic. Base bodily functions would continue to work on auto, and flesh, flesh, flesh, it was all that he desired. All that he cared about.
Was he dead? In some ways he was. He was a different kind of creature now. One that felt no pain, could sustain massive injury and continue for a length of time pursuing his goal of flesh.
And if he bit you and you managed to survive? Yours would be a slow and ghastly death, one where you became infected with the corruption seeping through his possessed body, infecting every cell, and without antibiotics and medical treatment you would linger and agonizingly succumb to the many infections the human mouth carried. Not to mention the disease ridden foulness that would be carried into your bloodstream from the rotting flesh of other victims stuck in his mouth and smothering his lips, unless you happened to be his first ever meal.
Any kind of awareness he now had was dulled to the point of being nothing more than a part of the race for food. Brains, lovely brains, flesh and bone and the desire to fill his already expanding esophagus and let the tasty treats slide through his upper intestine. There to mix with the foul acids that were already churning in anticipation of food deep within his stomach.
Deep in the depths of his soul he could feel an ache, an ache to complete a task, to share in gold coins and to reach for an itch he couldn't scratch. It faded fast — gone within seconds. Exposed full on and with full line of sight to the zombie botnet's subliminal imagery he was no longer human. The data packet, corrupted beyond all reason, so far deviated from its original intention, had taken over and purged Paul's very soul. The result was nothing more than a machine made of flesh with a sole purpose devoid of any form of logic: to devour, and destroy, and satisfy a never ending craving for the life force of other living beings.
Just a few seconds after following a simple link on Twitter Paul had been infected by the bombardment of images designed originally to control a few actions at his keyboard. It had done so much more. He would never again be referred to as Paul, husband and father, son and brother. A torment humans could not comprehend existed consumed his mind, drove out his sanity and made the tiny glimmer of consciousness left weep and howl at the injustice of it all. Ranting insanely against the thing he had now become.
Paul was not alone, he was now just one of a brand new species.
Countless millions had been infected by what became known as the zombie botnet. Each and every person was now in their own own private purgatory. Levels of hunger became overwhelming, but the fact is that the person was in there somewhere, never able to control their urges or beat them. Depending on the level of first infection, more or less of that which was once a person is dimly aware of the sickness that overtakes them — for all but the most sick and twisted while alive it drives them mad in seconds. That madness compelling them to greater depths of depravity. The infection feeding off the horror and the misery, compounding it and compounding it, a living hell that some are aware of. Seen through a fog of sickness. A demented, twisted nightmare come real.
The most unfortunate being those aware of their foul new life with every action clouded by a haze of absolute terror. Trying feebly to rail against it but never being able to control their cannibalistic actions. Just watching in growing despair as they lose more and more of their mind.
Luckily for the majority of people the initial infection drives their soul screaming into the ether, thankful for the release. Leaving nothing but a rabid flesh eating machine behind, but not always. The terror, or muddled understanding of what your body is doing, and the depravities it will perform, sends the most hardened of minds into total and utter meltdown — escaping to a place within the backwaters of the mind. Where the only sanctuary is a release of consciousness in its totality to whatever lies beyond the realms the living can understand. Being properly dead is what you would rather face than continue in an existence where base urges so vile take over and rule your every movement and depraved action.
Best advice, don't get infected. And if you do then you better hope that you are pretty sick in the head to begin with, otherwise it is going to really suck — a lot — and there is no way back from hell.
I'm always looking for something new, or unique, in the zombie world. When I sampled the sample, I knew I had found a different kind of tale in #zombie. An awesome premise, and rich writing made this an unputdownable winner for me.
And as a former software engineer and sys admin and certified geek, I loved the tech talk, though some might gloss over it.
About the Author
Al K. Line is a British author who lives somewhere in England with his wife, son, and stinky dogs.
Previously a notorious botnet herder, he hung up his hacker moniker and turned to writing zombie novels rather than making your fridge send out mass email spam.
He finds it more fun and less likely to lead to incarceration.
For news of future releases in the Zombie Botnet series visit the website.