If you’re like me, you’ve probably already been counting down the days until October. For many of us horror and sci-fi fans, October is OUR month. A month of fun, costumes, scares, candy, and a cornucopia of movies to indulge our wild sickening mischievous appetites. And for undead bibliophiles, I’ve got just the read for you to sink your teeth into! Fresh from the morticians slab, give a gander at the latest release in the Flesh Eaters series…
For fans who love Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE and Bruno Mattei’s HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD comes the sequel to ISLAND OF THE FLESH EATERS…in CITY OF THE FLESH EATERS!!!
Houston, Texas, 1985. 0735 hrs. Franco Hernandez is pronounced dead. At 0755 hrs. he awakens. By 1100 hrs. the virus has spread throughout St. Mary’s Hospital infecting patients and staff. 1600 hrs. the contagion has spread across Galveston. 1715 hrs. the Galveston Police Department is overrun. By 2100 hrs. Houston is swarming with the undead.
Kris King had always wanted a life of importance. In the midst of a city caught in widespread panic and chaos, and the dead eating the flesh of the living, will he become the leader he always dreamed he could be and shepherd a group of unlikely survivors taking shelter at a local Blockbuster Video store?
Officer Mendez has been with the Galveston Police Department all his career. As the contagion spreads, he senses that this is no ordinary sickness. His suspicions are confirmed when the city suddenly erupts into chaos as healthy everyday citizens are turned into something unthinkable, vicious and feral. As the pandemic threatens to consume Houston, will Mendez keep his wits enough to survive getting out of the city?
eBook copy $0.99!!
Please enjoy this sample from the book!
Copyright © 2019
City of the Flesh Eaters
First Published in 2019
Bruno knew death.
In all his six months working at St. Mary’s Hospital as a morgue assistant, he had seen just about everything, from heart attacks to gang violence, strokes and cancer. However, the middle-aged Hispanic male on the examining table was probably the worst yet. The dead man looked diseased, his jeans soaked and dark with blood or otherwise. A button-up flannel, ripped open, exposing a surprisingly pale, waxy-looking chest. Already he could see the marks from the defibrillator. Bruises from CPR. Signs of the now deceased having gone into cardiac arrest and the physician’s attempt at resuscitation. And, what he could only assume were track marks, where the man’s veins had blackened beneath the skin.
“Whoa,” he said, pulling off his lightweight Sound Lab headphones, silencing Robert Smith moaning through the puffy orange speakers.
“Here,” said Betty, handing Bruno her clipboard. He recognized her as one of the day shift nurses, the one who always chewed bubbled gum, kept her blonde hair in a ponytail and wore skirts that seemed to ride up her long, soft-looking legs. The kind of girl he would never be able to afford to keep happy. “He’s all yours.”
Glancing at the clipboard, Bruno noted the deceased man’s name, “Franco Hernandez, time of death: 11:30AM, diagnosis: infection due to rat bite, attending physician: Doctor Howard Glass.” He stopped reading and glanced at Betty. “A rat bite did all this?” He gestured to the ruined sheets on the table, the puddles of dark red pooling on the floor, and the splatter of blood on the wall. “Really?”
Betty shrugged, “I just got here, hun, but apparently he was a bleeder.”
“From a rat bite, though?”
She popped her chewing gum and shrugged again. “Rats are known to carry all sorts of nasty diseases—ever heard of the bubonic plague?”
“Fucking-A?” Bruno stared at the corpse, tracing the dead man’s torso to his tan arms that lay limp and the gnarled bite mark, puffed and purplish with veins that looked scorched, spreading out from the still open flesh wound. He swallowed. “I don’t know about rats, that wound looks like teeth marks. Something don’t feel right here.”
Sighing, Betty said, “You’re not supposed to feel anything; you’re supposed to take the dead guy down to the morgue, capeesh?”
Forcing his eyes away, Bruno grabbed a fresh bed sheet from a cubby and draped the cadaver. “Yeah, capeesh,” he said, noting the time on the form. Tossing the clipboard on the now concealed body and pulling back on his headphones, he shoved his pen back into the pocket of his green scrubs. Using the toes of his Adidas Superstar sneakers to unlock the wheel clamps, bracing both arms, he pushed and rolled the examining bed out into the hall and away from the sounds of Betty’s popping bubble gum.
Down the hall several nurses rushed past him, responding to code alarm, he assumed. The ER was always hectic with the most bizarre emergencies. Once, he’d seen a man come in with a dinner fork impaled in his eye, his wife had been with him, mumbling what sounded like apologies in Spanish. He had no idea what she was saying, but he got the impression she’d been the one who stabbed the fork in the poor guy’s eyeball.
The Cure continued to blare from his headphones as he kicked the elevator call button and pulled the dead man on the examination bed inside. He was happy to have the space to himself. The elevators were wide enough, but he always felt claustrophobic.
With the ringing chime, the doors opened to the basement level. Grunting from the effort, Bruno pushed the bed out into the downstairs hallway, shivering from the cold concrete walls and the sight of the dead man’s blood soaking into the sheet he’d laid over him. The sooner he got him to the freezer the better.
Several rooms down, passing supply closets and so-called “quiet rooms” that on-call staff used to catch a few winks or the quick screw—rooms crowded with unkept bunk beds, sheets tossed about, and dimmed lighting, he finally made it to the morgue entrance, pushing the bed through the two swinging doors into a wide open room lined with tiled floors and walls. Harsh fluorescent lights illuminated stainless steel sinks and carts loaded with an assortment of autopsy tools.
Bruno wheeled the bed beside one of the long stainless-steel autopsy and embalming tables. Pulling on a pair of latex gloves, he began shifting and pulling the deceased off the bed and onto the table. Grunting against the dead weight, the cadaver was finally situated. After catching his breath, he pushed the now empty bed and stained sheets out into the hallway for one of the orderlies to take up later.
Returning to the morgue, Bruno finished preparing the body for whichever mortician was on call that evening, he assumed it was Doctor Paymer. With a pair of scissors, he cut away the dead man’s clothes, being sure to pat the pockets for any personal items that he’d need to save for the next of kin. In the deceased’s now tattered jeans he found a wallet with a Texas ID, no cash, and only a few photos of some fortyish looking Hispanic woman wearing what appeared to be several layers of makeup and puffy bangs. The dead man’s wife or girlfriend, he assumed, tossing the personal effect into a plastic bag. Using a black sharpie, he wrote Hernandez, Franco.
Pushing the now dead Franco on his side, Bruno cut his dull white briefs—thankful that the deceased hadn’t defecated. As Bruno was more than aware, sometimes when folks passed, they’d shit themselves. Leaving a sticky, stinky mess for him to deal with.
Finished, Bruno tossed the black trash bag with all the dead man’s ruined clothes into the bio waste bin.
“Fucking A,” he sang, turning the volume on his Walkman up as Robert started in about yesterday and In Between Days. Bobbing his head to the keyboard and drum beat, Bruno shuffled over to the desk by the main entrance of the morgue. He looked over the clipboard Betty had handed him and started logging in the latest unfortunate of St. Mary’s Hospital. Through his foam headphones, The Cure continued jamming.
“Deceased,” he mouthed, filling out the toe tag information. “Hernandez, Franco. Admitted for…”
Did he just hear something?
Bruno leaned back in his chair to look behind him. The cadaver lay still on the autopsy table. Naked. And cast in a bright light from the fluorescents above.
Laughing at himself, Bruno returned to his paperwork and tunes. He penned in “rat bite” under Admittance. Staring at the line and shaking his head. Who’d ever heard of a rat bite that caused such a rapid infection? Crazy.
Sighing, he continued with the necessary dates and times.
Around him, the morgue seemed to grow cold—colder than normal.
He shivered. Continuing with the last of the log. Eager to be done. His shift was ending soon. And though he’d never been bothered before by being down in the morgue by himself—in fact he’d grown to love being alone, not being pestered by know-it-all doctors and bitchy nurses, but at the moment, he wanted to be gone.
Silly, he knew. There was no one down here in the basement but him and the dead.
And the only dead was the recently deceased—
Something grabbed his shoulder, spinning Bruno around.
“—Mr. Hernandez?” Bruno uttered, unsure if what he was seeing was real. The dead naked man stood over him, leering with blank open eyes. Lips curled in a growl. Viscous spittle drooling from white lips.
The dead man didn’t seem to register the sound of his name. He simply moaned loudly, reaching, clawing at Bruno’s face.
Screaming, Bruno cupped his wounded cheek with a hand and pushed backward in his desk chair, the back of his head hitting the wall. Ears ringing, he closed his eyes.
As if galvanized by the scent of fresh blood, the dead man quickly stumbled after Bruno, reaching with cold hungry hands. It snatched the young man’s arm and bit down. Blood bubbled and frothed, dripping and plopping on the waxed tile floor.
Bruno screamed and fell from his chair. Vision blurred, he watched in horror as the dead man chomped on his flesh, licking its blood smeared lips like some ravenous thing.
The dead man came on him again, growling and snarling, drooping red drool from its mouth.
Bruno kicked, pushing himself across the waxy floor.
Unbalanced, the walking corpse fell as it lunged. Grappling with him, the dead man groaned, apparently frustrated.
Quickly, Bruno rolled over and got to his feet. And he ran, he ran out of the morgue and down the hall, one hand clutching his wound, panting, tears streaming down his sweat slick face. His cassette player and The Cure forgotten where the dead were supposed to stay dead. He ran past the elevator and ascended the staircase. He stumbled out into the main floor, bumping into a nurse. Ignoring her and shouts of annoyance all the way to the waiting room and out the double glass doors into the humid Galveston evening.
* * *
The balding, fiftyish and slightly overweight Doctor Paymer walked into the morgue reading his latest Mad magazine issue, the one with Beverly Hills Copand Dynasty and the goofy looking Alfred E. Neuman watering a flower in a living room on the front cover. He giggled and turned the page before slipping on the floor.
Yelping, more from the shock of losing his balance, Doctor Paymer hit the floor hard. Dazed slightly, he looked at his Penny loafers. Blinking at the sight of blood on his shoe.
And then a sound caught his attention.
Low groaning sounds.
Paymer looked up at what appeared to be a naked Hispanic male, his skin grey and wrinkled. He tottered as he walked, as if his joints and limbs did not work properly, glaring at him with vacant, cloudy eyes, and what appeared to be blood staining his mouth and chin. For all intents and purposes, the doctor could have sworn the man was dead, but he couldn’t be—he was walking around, for Christ’s sake!
“Excuse me,” Doctor Paymer started to say.
But then the dead looking man lunged at him.
And the doctor’s scream echoed down the cold empty halls.
Hope ya’ll dug the story thus far! If you want to keep reading, please click on the box above. City of the Flesh Eaters will remain at $0.99 throughout August. Paperback and audiobook are currently in production. This was a really fun story to pen down. Always a blast recalling my day’s working at Blockbuster Video and injecting those experiences into the characters. Fun fact, Kris King is an actual childhood friend. There was a group of us and we had planned on creating a graphic novel with Kris as the main protagonist in a zombie apocalypse. If you knew him, you’d know why that image is somewhat humorous. Unfortunately those dreams were never realized. Having Kris as a character and his role in the story is my ode to those unforgotten teenage fantasies.