Chapter reveal: Q Island, by Russell James

Title:  Q ISLAND

Genre: HORROR

Author: RUSSELL JAMES

Websitewww.russellrjames.com

Publisher: SAMHAIN PUBLISHING

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book

Epidemic! An ancient virus surfaces on Long Island, New York turning its victims into black-veined, infectious, psychopathic killers. Chaos and madness rule.  In desperation, the military quarantines the island, trapping Melanie Bailey and her autistic son, Aiden. Somehow, Aiden survives the infection. He could be the key to a cure—if Melanie can somehow get him to the mainland.

A taut, tense, terrifying thriller that teems with intensity, Q Island is an eerily realistic tale. With a chilling plot, compelling characters, and a pulse-quickening storyline, Q Island will leave readers breathless.  Earning nods as one of this year’s best horror novels, Q Island is an extraordinary story exceptionally well-told.

About the Author

 

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, Russell James now spins twisted tales best read during daylight. In addition to two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness, James is the author of seven paranormal thrillers:  Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker and Q Island. His next novel, The Portal, is slated for release in 2016. Visit him at www.russellrjames.com.

CHAPTER ONE   

A convoy of six yellow school buses rumbled downhill and into deserted downtown Port Jefferson. They drove past the piers of moored pleasure boats and into the parking lot of the Port Jefferson Ferry Company.

The big, white ship bobbed against the dock, perhaps the largest victim of the quarantine. The boat’s car deck ran along the waterline, and an enclosed passenger cabin made up the second deck. A booth-sized bridge created a third deck from which to con the vessel. A wide, sloppy, red cross painted on the ship’s side dripped rivulets of dried paint, as if the cross had been bleeding. The ferry’s engines fired up. Gray smoke rolled from its stacks.

The buses stopped side by side. The doors swept open. Men armed with rifles or shotguns stepped off of each bus. They formed a rough skirmish line between the buses and the abandoned town, ready to defend against the infected, or anyone else who tried to stop them.

One man waved an arm signal. The buses emptied. A trail of women and children hustled out the open doors. They bustled and fussed as they popped open strollers, belted in kids and strapped on backpacks. Then they surged up the wide metal ramp and onto the ferry. The half circle of men pulled back to the dock’s edge.

The metal ramp began a slow, clunking climb as two chains cranked it skyward. Inside the gearing, something slipped. The chains unspooled and the corrugated ramp slammed down on the concrete dock. The crash of steel on stone rolled out from the harbor and echoed through the desolate streets. The men whirled to face the town at this potential infected call to arms. Safety catches snapped off.

The ramp began a second sweep upward. At two feet off the dock, the drive motor wailed with a grinding, shearing noise. Something snapped like a rifle shot. The ramp stopped moving.

The ship’s great engines revved. The water at the stern churned in a soup of green and white. Mooring lines slid from the ship’s side, and it inched forward against the incoming current. From openings around the waterline, white bedsheets spray-painted with black letters appeared. Each unfurled and displayed one word, like an old Burma-Shave ad—

Only. Women. And. Children. Aboard.

One of the men on the dock turned to face the ship. His shaved head glistened in the sun. A long moustache drooped down to bracket his chin. The red logo on his black leather jacket read Road Demons. He gripped his rifle with hands sheathed in studded half gloves. He squinted at the ship and scowled.

A woman ran to the stern. She wore a bright-red sweater. A blue streak ran the length of her long, dark hair. She gripped the rear railing with one hand and held a bundled baby to her chest with the other. She released the railing just long enough to wave.

Road Demon smiled and raised a gloved fist in response.

Gunfire erupted from the town. A wave of the infected surged across the parking lot. Several fired wild shots from pistols as they ran. The rest carried weapons that ranged from bats to metal bars.

The men on the dock didn’t dash for the bus, unconcerned about their own safe escape. They dropped to one knee and returned fire. Gaps formed in the front rank of the infected. Replacements filled it. The mob drove forward.

The men got off one more volley. Then the infected surged through and over them. The first rank mauled the defenders, tearing at them with bars and blades and teeth. The rest rushed past to the ferry.

The crowd on the ship let out a collective scream. The ferry’s nose dipped as the passengers ran from the endangered stern.

At the dock, three infected in a flat-out run launched themselves at the retreating ferry. The first fell straight into the water. The second landed with the ramp’s edge across its chest. It scrambled for a handhold on the slick metal surface and then slipped off into the wake from the ship’s spinning propellers. A red patch surfaced in the water and dissolved.

The third one cleared the growing gap with ease. It landed on both feet, arms spread for balance, knees flexed against the impact. It looked up with triumphant blood-red eyes.

Two women rushed the boarder. Before it could rise, one grabbed each arm and swept it back off its feet. It clawed and snapped at the women as they dragged it back, and threw it off the edge of the ramp. It hit the water with a splash and bobbed to the surface.

The women high-fived in victory. Blood seeped from a fresh, curved wound on one woman’s arm, the size and shape of a set of human teeth. She noticed then looked in panic at the other woman. The wounded one shook her head in a slow plea for mercy.

The other woman showed none. She lowered a shoulder and without hesitation body checked the wounded woman into the water. The ferry chugged forward. She surfaced, spit a mouthful of seawater and dog-paddled toward shore. The infected who was bobbing a hundred yards behind her swam to intercept.

The ferry sailed out of the harbor, bound for Connecticut, in search of compassion.

Thirty-two minutes later, a black smudge rose from the horizon when the USS Sailfish torpedoed the ferry. An armed volunteer civilian flotilla ensured there were no survivors.

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