Infected Page 112

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A voice came over a loudspeaker.

“Mr. Dawsey, can you hear me?”

Perry nodded, slowly and dreamily.

“My name is Margaret Montoya,” the voice said. “I’m in charge of

your recovery.”

Perry smiled. Like anyone could “recover” from what he’d been through. “It’s over, Mr. Dawsey,” Margaret said. “You can rest now, it’s all over.” Perry laughed out loud. The drugs weren’t all that, apparently, as the

laugh brought a stab of pain from deep within his right shoulder. “Over?” he said. “No. Not over.”

It wasn’t over, babycakes, not by a long shot. Not a fucking Howdy Doody chance of that. The Wahjamega nest was gone, but they weren’t all gone.

Somehow he could still sense them. He could hear their calls, their signal to gather, to build. Far away and faint, but he could still sense it.

It was only beginning.

No bout-a-doubt it.

Blackened tree trunks burned in the aftermath, their branches ripped free by the force of the blast. The two proud oaks were devastated: one was completely aflame, its remaining branches a crown of fire reaching into the night sky; the other was split in two, white wood exposed to the winter cold.

Chunks of the green strands littered the ground, most burning fast with a sparking, bluish flame. A few soldiers appeared, walking slowly through the lifting smoke, their M4 rifles sweeping in continuous, cautious arcs. The moans of wounded men filtered through the air, mingling with the sound of crackling fires.

Fighting back the fear, Dew walked to the area where the archway had stood. There was no sign of the creatures, no sign of the green glow that had stretched outward into infinity.

Ogden approached him, moving through the smoke, his demeanor as calm as if he were strolling through his own backyard. He held the handset to his ear, the radioman following him like a lonely puppy.

“We count fifty-six hatchlings,” Ogden said. “All dead. Some may have gotten through when we were overrun, but the rear guards didn’t see any, so it looks like we got them all.”

“Fifty-six,” Dew mumbled.

“We lost eight men,” Ogden said. “Six from the hatchling attack, two from shrapnel caused by the rocket strike. Another twelve wounded, maybe more.”

“Fifty-six,” Dew said again, his voice distant and strange.

“I’m going to check on the wounded. I’m ordering the Apaches back a half mile and calling in evac for the more seriously wounded.”

“Fine,” Dew said. “That’s fine.”

Ogden strode off, calling out orders in his calm, commanding voice, leaving Dew alone in the center of the obliterated archway.

Dew stared at the carnage, at the dwindling flames, and shook his head. If there were that many here, how many more are out there? How many more hatchlings on the way, waiting to build another one of these doorways? Dew didn’t know the answer. For the first time, Malcolm’s death seemed insignificant, a small loss in comparison to the massive threat looming on the horizon. He was exhausted. Too much action for an old fart.

And there would be no rest, not for a long time.

Not for him.

Not for anyone.

Infected Page 112

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Infected Page 112 summary

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