by John A. Karr
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Cover art by Anne Cain
Surgeon Victor Galloway kept death at bay in the operating room–now death has claimed him. Resurrected against his will, he must fight for his family and his soul.
Victor Galloway is a prominent surgeon and family man. When he suffers a heart attack, he claws his way to the phone and dials 911. The paramedics arrive, smile down at him and quickly administer a lethal injection.
Victor’s life is ending, but his nightmare has just begun.
Close to death and strapped to a gurney, he’s offered an unholy deal by Tobias, H.E.L.L.’s CEO: Use his surgical skills to harvest the living to feed the undead in exchange for immortality.
Refused but not to be denied, Tobias presses his unwilling recruit into the ranks of the undead. Whether by chance or divine intervention, Victor is different from the others. He is a monster with a conscience, a force for good ensnared by evil, and the only one willing to stand against Tobias and his burgeoning nest of zombies. He must destroy them, but doing so risks the lives of his family and the last hospital employee with a pulse.
This book has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.
Warning, this title contains the following: dark themes, graphic violence, language, gore, and a smattering of explicit sex.
Excerpt: (from Samhain site)
Victor whipped around, his back to the elevator doors. Jack stood thirty feet away, in the center of the hallway. His suit was unruffled and clean, without a drop of water on it, though he’d landed on the wet floor. And though Victor knew he’d tagged the guy pretty good with the punches, there were no marks on Jack’s face. Victor glanced left and right, desperately seeking a way out.
No stairs. No emergency exits.
Only walls. Walls of stone. The tunnel ran into infinity before him, sloping ever downward.
The lone avenue of escape was at his back. If he could pry open the doors, he could climb the elevator cables to the ground floors. But first he had to get rid of this “Jack O’Feliz” before it changed into that beast again.
Jack strolled toward Victor. His hands in his front pockets caused a fold in his suit jacket around the middle. His tie hung arrow-straight. Take away the glowing scarlet of his eyes and he could have graced the cover of Businessman’s Weekly.
Victor tensed, ready to spring.
Jack smiled, and now long fangs showed. “Really, Victor. I do admire your tenacity. Usually the rejects Tobias sends down here follow me around like puppies, begging and whining to be released. Not you. Oh, no, not you. You have the testicular fortitude to challenge me.”
He threw his head back and laughed, his glowing eyes squinting into flat crimson lines. His laughter was the same high-pitched sound Victor had heard when he was first rolled into this hell-tunnel. Maniacal laughter. Laughter that sprang from an insane mind.
He rushed the smaller man, hoping to take him by surprise. He didn’t want to wait to find out what treatments Jack might have in store for him. From ten feet away, Victor launched into the air the same way he’d done as a linebacker in high school. But just as his shoes left the wet floor, Jack’s form shimmered before his astounded eyes. Clothes disappeared. Black fur sprang over a bestial body. The thing that had been a short, slender man was suddenly huge—a mass of muscle and sinew and slavering jaws.
It leaped at Victor.
The huge head and shoulders and claws filled Victor’s vision. In mid-air, he collided with the beast. The impact threw Victor backward as if he were straw.
The beast enveloped him. It snarled and growled, sliced him open with its claws and sank its fangs in him again and again in a whirling blur of motion.
He had no chance to fight back. Victor heard his bones crush, his tendons snap, his flesh rip apart. In rapid succession, the beast tore Victor’s arms and legs from his body. No pain, but instant power loss.
From a far away point of sentience, Victor wondered if this beast would kill him after all and disregard Tobias’ wish to merely “straighten him out”.
Victor prayed so.
But the beast backed off and squatted on its haunches. Slaver oozed as it held Victor’s detached left leg between its jaws. It watched Victor with eyes narrowed to burning slits of rage. The tendons of Victor’s leg hung like wet spaghetti to the femur bone. The beast shook the leg violently, like a wolf shaking a rabbit to snap its neck, then gobbled it down in three massive bites. Victor could see the bulging outline of his leg as it traveled down the beast’s throat. He wanted to turn away, but he could only watch in sickened awe.
Jack answered to no one. That much was clear.
Somehow Victor remained aware of his surroundings. He could see the tunnel and the way the beast filled it.
Jack laughed at him through the throat of the beast. “You have no arms or legs, Victor…and yet you’re not dead. Isn’t that a wonder to you?”
“Speak!” The beastly voice rumbled from the depths of its massive chest. “You can still talk. You still have the life-sustaining stomach within your chest cavity. Properly nourished, it will create the black energy that will power your undead body. Speak to me, Victor!”
The beast’s blackened lips drew back even farther, exposing row after row of long teeth in a vicious smile.
“Kill me and be done with it,” Victor cried.
“Ahhh…still he fights back. Good, good. You have a strong will, Victor. The strongest I’ve encountered in a long, long time.”
The beast blinked. “How did you know?”
A long moment passed.
“I could keep you like this, you realize. Give you just enough nourishment to keep you going in this pathetic state. I could keep you like this for eons.”
Victor knew the beast spoke the truth.
“But it is not my wish to do this,” the beast continued. “I do not serve Randolph Tobias—far from it—but we do have an arrangement. I break in his rejects, and he provides me with supply.”
“Supply?” Victor whispered.
The beast grinned. “Bodies and souls.”
Suddenly the beast shrank, changed, and in its place stood the human-looking form of Jack O’Feliz in that natty suit and tie, black-gloved hands clasped before him. “Get up, Victor.”
“I can’t. You tore my…”
“So I did. But that was a moment ago. Things can change quickly down here, you realize.”
Jack regurgitated Victor’s leg.
Victor looked down at what was left of his body, expecting to see only a torso and torn ligaments and tendons. Instead, his body was whole once more. His limbs had reattached in an instant…without his feeling anything. Mentally he commanded each arm and leg to move, and they did. Victor raised himself then stood just as easily as he had when he’d first come out of the grave. Even his clothes were restored.
This is insane. It goes against all the rules…medicine, nature, logic.
But the rules had changed, and drastically. New parameters had been added, old ones had been modified, and many quite simply no longer existed.
Jack brushed nonchalantly at a piece of dust on the shoulder of his suit. “I rebuilt you in the same instant I changed back into this human form. Power is everything, don’t you think?” He held up a gloved finger. “Never forget what happens to you down here. When you go back up, you will take part in Tobias’ plan. If you fail in that task, you will be returned to me, and then you will be mine for all eternity.”
Had he been alive, Victor would have been paralyzed by fear.
He existed at the mercy of this unholy being.
“Follow me,” Jack ordered. He turned and strode down the tunnel, away from the elevator and the passage to the world above. Victor followed. He glanced back at the elevator from time to time, and each time it got smaller and smaller, until it completely disappeared from view. They continued down the scarlet hallway, their shoes echoing wetly before and after them. At some point they passed doors, large metal doors, all painted black. Victor heard moans emanate from behind some of them, silence behind others and screams from still others.
Victor didn’t want to know what horror they were experiencing.
He and Jack walked on, seemingly for hours.
At some point, Jack halted before a similar black metal door and turned to face him.
“Yours,” Jack said.
Victor eyed the black metal door. It had a latch handle with a keyhole and a large bolt thick as his wrist above that. The purpose of the bolt and metal door was immediately apparent—they were meant to keep people in. There was a small opening in the door, around head-level. Three small vertical bars ran over the opening.
A jolt of power crackled through the air. The lock clicked open and metal screeched. The bolt turned itself upward then shrieked through the metal containment holders. The door swung slowly open.
As with Victor’s manacles, Jack hadn’t physically lifted a finger to get the door open.
A small cell. Not much larger than the walk-in closet of the master bedroom of his house. No cobwebs, no signs of rats. No furniture. Barren. Four walls, a ceiling and a floor hewn from rock. Victor considered another try for the distant elevator.
He wouldn’t make fifty feet before the beast would be upon him.
Jack gestured with a gloved hand for Victor to proceed inside the cell.
An invisible push helped him stumble in.
The door swung shut, the lock and bolt clicking and sliding into place. Jack’s glowing eyes peered through the barred opening in the door, so bright they lit the cell.
“Not quite like home, is it? Oh, I almost forgot,” Jack said, raising his index finger. “Just a moment…don’t go anywhere.” His insane laughter bounded off the stone walls and drilled into Victor’s ears. Outside, a rising tide of moans rose in response.