Here’s one of the revised chapters of Masochists. You’ll recognize a part of it from Undead Winter – but will give readers a glimpse in some of the ways the novel is expanding/changing to be full length. <UNEDITED>
Down by the Riverside. Moselle, Germany
The river bent around the swaying, singing blades of grass. I made my own little snow angel into the folds of green as I watched the clouds make perfect puffs of pictures against the deep-blended blues and grays of sky. I loved this part of the river, where the water bent around me in a perfect bend. I felt encapsulated by water, sky, and land. It was perfect.
That was my last beautiful memory. The darkness cut into it like an ugly dagger’s slash against a baby bottoms flesh. It was grotesque. I thought moving to Germany would be poetic. What a fucking joke.
It was the sound at first. I will never forget that sound. It echoes in my mind now, even in the darkness I’ve been swallowed by. It echoes in my mind like it’s the only sounds I’ve ever heard. Two snorts and a snarl that sounded like it was coming from a pig but you just knew it wasn’t. You could hear the human in it. Or the human that was. I didn’t know at the time that the thing was only in the early stages of infection. I didn’t know that I would instantly have been taken if it had been any more advance. The longer you’ve been infected, the more rabid you become.
That sound. That sound that turned my poetic land into a dark crazed festering wound. It sat at the edge of the river, crouched down on its legs watching me. It was only a few feet away, but it was close enough. I could tell by the way it glared at me that it took in my scent, smelling me.
News of the infection hadn’t gone public yet and I had no idea what was going on. I guess that was a good thing. If it had then I probably… I don’t know what I would’ve done. All I can think of is how it glared at me, snorting. Its eyes were half the size they used to be, making its face look extremely distorted. Beady little black eyes in deep sockets and its tongue rolled around in its mouth, like it had no control over it. I didn’t move, I couldn’t. What could I do? I was facing something worse than death and my mind ran off.
Its graying skin looked so out of place on the beautiful green grass that I thought the land would reflexively spit it out. I don’t know why it left me alone that day, I really don’t. I wish it hadn’t. Because the two weeks that followed turned out to be worse than any hell could ever dream up. If I knew then what I knew now I would’ve asked it to take me, or better yet, just drowned myself in the beautiful Moselle River. Losing myself in that last dream.
When it turned and walked into the river, traversing the shoal before riding the current like a damn raft I knew we were done for. It floated on it’s back watching me and it felt like the thing were on the verge of changing it’s mind and coming back. Or, maybe it was just fucking with me the entire time – playing with it’s food. I don’t know how I knew, call it a human instinct that was buried from centuries before. An instinct that would surface for the rest of us unobliging.
But, I knew then that we were no longer the top of the food chain.
The Gage. The name an insignificant group of scientists came up with to describe the macabre and cadaverous shift humanity was taking. It wasn’t until I was on the phone with Col. Richard Tempest that I really understood the extent of the pandemic, the creeping annihilation of humanity.
“Who?” I thought he had lost his mind at first when he began rambling off a strange story of a man from the 19th century.
“Phineas Gage, he had a strange injury. Some sphere or rod went through his head or something while working. Went right through his skull and not only survived the ordeal, but lived for quite some time after.”
“I don’t understand what this has to do with anything,” I said.
The Colonel sighed tiredly on the other end. “It destroyed his frontal lobe and his friends said it changed him so much, his personality, that his new name was ‘No Longer Gage’.”
“His frontal lobe? I thought that theory was debunked years ago.”
“Apparently we were wrong.”
“So this – Gage Syndrome – that people are experiencing, they think it has something to do with the frontal lobe? Like an infection?”
I could almost hear the stress in the Colonel’s voice as he strained to speak. “It’s wiping out all morality, all ethics. People are being driven to their most primal instincts.”
“Shit.” The conversation gave me the creeps. I even felt like someone were watching me through the window. I inched into the shadows of the room, hiding myself more as I whispered into the phone. “How bad is it?”
It took so long for him to answer that I thought we had lost our connection. “It’s an apocalypse.”
The crash in the front room caused me to drop the phone. I didn’t wait around to see what it was and jumped through the open window …