Author: Mary

Alternate Ending for Invasion

Just for fun, I wrote this alternate ending to the Sympatico Syndrome series. It came about when my daughter scolded me for procrastinating on my writing and I said something like I’m just going to end it with they all lived happily ever after, or something to that effect.

* * *

Cole blinked awake, disturbing images from his dream fading so quickly, he wasn’t sure what he’d dreamed about, just that it left him feeling uneasy. He shook off the feeling and glanced over at Brenda, still sleeping beside him. He bent and kissed her warm cheek. “You go ahead and sleep in. I’ll get Hunter ready for school.”


She mumbled a thank you and turned the other way, pulling the covers up over her shoulders.


As he spread peanut butter on a slice of bread, he heard snippets of news from the television on in the living room. Hunter hadn’t yet turned on SpongeBob as he still sat at the kitchen table, playing with his oatmeal. “Hurry up and eat, Hunter. You don’t want to starve later in school.”


Cole chuckled…as if the kid would even know what starvation was. The longest he’d ever gone between meals, not counting sleep, was a few hours. He’d survive on a few bites of oatmeal between now and snack time at school. As Cole tucked a mini juice box in Hunter’s lunch.


“The flu virus is expected to be widespread this year and the vaccine isn’t going to be as effective as normal.”


“Thank you, Dr. Jackson. How bad do you think it’ll be?”


Cole glanced at the screen as he grabbed a pack of Twinkies from the pantry, the short hallway between the kitchen and living room affording him a view of the screen. The doctor was pretty and petite, but for some reason, he expected her to be a redhead, not a blonde. He paused, golden cakes in hand.


Dr. Jackson smiled. “Well, it’ll be the usual flu, nothing too severe. Not pandemic level, certainly. We’re not talking the Spanish flu or Ebola. Just your typical fever, aches, pains. But I always encourage vaccines to protect the old, the young and those with compromised immune systems.”


Cole froze. Spanish flu? Ebola? He had glimpses of an island and … something about pandemics.


Brenda came into the kitchen, yawning as she tightened the belt on her robe. “Cole, you really need to turn off the television before you to bed.”


“I’m sorry. I forgot. Did it wake you?” He had a bad habit of dozing off, then getting up to get a midnight snack before heading to bed. She then recited flu statistics. Cole’s paused as he returned to the counter. “How’d you do that?”


He stuffed the Twinkies in Hunter’s lunchbox and added an apple. The same one he’d taken out yesterday after school. He looked at it critically. It wasn’t too bruised yet. It’d be good for another day or two. At least it made him look like a good father providing healthy food even if his kid didn’t eat it.


Brenda laughed as she started a pot of coffee. “I only heard it repeated about five times through the night. I was too lazy to get up and turn the damn thing off, but you left it on and I bet the volume is all the way up.”


Now that she mentioned it, he had turned it up last night so he could hear the sports scores while making himself a bowl of cereal. Oops.


“Now that you mention it, I had the weirdest dream last night about pandemics and people dying…”


She took a couple of mugs out of the cabinet and set them beside the coffee maker. “Sounds more like a nightmare.”


“Yeah…it kind of was.” More images from his dream came to him. Dead people and his brother, Sean. “And my brother and his family were in it too. Everybody was dying, but get this, they partied themselves to death, sort of.”


“Sounds like one of your frat parties when we met.” She grinned at him as she handed him his steaming cup of coffee.

* * *


So, that’s the alternate ending. If you want to be sure to get the REAL one, just put in your pre-order now. Invasion: Book Three



Invasion: Book Three


Cyber Monday Super Sale!


First, a huge thank-you to Bookbub for featuring my book, No Good Deed in the 11/27 newsletter.

 Love the Bub!  

To help kick-off the holiday season, I am offering a special price on March Into Hell and Deeds of Mercy. They are each normally $5, but from 11/27-11/29, they will each be just $2.99! And of course, both are also in KindleUnlimited, so if you have that, you can read them for free.


Mark’s life takes a dark turn when his heroism becomes the subject of a newspaper article. The media attention and a harrowing encounter while saving a young woman, puts him in the sights of the ruthless cult leader who covets the secret to Mark’s power.

Uncomfortable in the public spotlight, Mark suspects he’s being tested by the force behind the camera’s prophetic magic. Battling his own self-doubt, he must maintain the secret or risk certain death.


In Deeds of Mercy: Book Three, an unexpected visitor from Mark’s past brings him unwanted attention from the authorities. Unable to decide who is friend and who is foe, Mark becomes a fugitive from the law, but with thousands of lives at stake, he is forced to put aside his fear of capture, and instead, seek help from his pursuers.

The Haunting of Dr. Bowen: A Mystery in Lizzie Borden’s Fall River (Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter)


We’ve all heard the jump-roping rhyme,

Lizzie Borden took an axe
She gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
Lizzie Borden got away
For her crime she did not pay.

But, what if there was a supernatural reason for her actions?
Just in time for Halloween, we have another Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter mystery.  It’s only $2.99 and is also available in Kindle Unlimited. 

The Haunting of Dr. Bowen: A Mystery in Lizzie Borden’s Fall River (Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter)

Gruesome deaths haunt the industrial city of Fall River, Massachusetts.


Dr. Seabury Bowen—physician to the infamous Lizzie Borden—swears he’s being stalked by spirits, though his beloved wife thinks it’s merely his imagination. But the retired doctor insists that neither greed nor anger provoked the recent sensational axe murders in Fall River. Rather, he believes the city is poisoned by bad blood and a thirst for revenge dating back to the Indian and Colonial wars.


Now, two years after the Borden murders, Dr. Bowen is determined to uncover the mysteries stirring up the city’s ancient, bloodthirsty specters. Can he discover who, or what, is shattering the peace before Fall River runs red? Or will he be the next victim?


Part mystery, part love story, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen reveals the eerie side of Fall River as witnessed by the first doctor on the scene of the legendary Borden murders.


A supernatural tie-in to the book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, but without the zombies. Based on real-life events and historic documents, though some parts have been fictionalized to fit the story. * Contains some light horror details.

Fight Like a Man (Book One), by L.L. Akers

Here’s a good post-apocalyptic book that just came out, but I’ve had the privilege of reading early.

Fight Like a Man (Book One), by L.L. Akers


As a prepper, Grayson Rowan was prepared for almost anything; anything other than being totally alone when the sh*t hits the fan.

While he sat back and watched the United States rattle swords with Korea, play chicken with Russia, and strong-arm China, he felt sure if the lights went out, that he and his family would be ready and safe–whether it was due to a natural disaster or a man-made event. They had everything they needed at their homestead.

What he wasn’t prepared for, was his family not being home if it ever happened.

Olivia Rowan is with her sisters, Gabby and Emma, on a girls-only trip to Myrtle Beach. When chaos erupts and there’s no gas, their journey home is a nightmare, filled with predators and danger–and apparently, Olivia hadn’t learned a thing her husband tried to teach her.

When your neighbors run out of food and water, and turn on each other, what will you do?

Jake, a country boy mechanic, never believed in TEOTWAWKI, but he’d heard his brother-in-law preach about it many times. He knew what to do; but he didn’t prepare. He lazily left it all up to Grayson–he was the prepper after all. When catastrophe strikes, will he continue to keep his head stuck in the sand while his clueless neighbors destroy each other, and his wife is stuck out on the road; or will he stand up and fight like a man?

And if you’re alone? Bug in or Bug out?

Graysie Rowan, a freshman at University, just wants to go home. When no word comes from the government, and the state capital is overrun with looters, chaos and mayhem, the college administration puts the students on lock-down. But her dad, Grayson, had prepared her for this. Now, if she can only remember what it was he said to do…

If they want to survive this post-apocalyptic event, they’ll all have to learn to fight like a man.

The end came not with boots on the ground, nuclear weapons or an EMP. It snuck in with a quiet clatter at the back door and flipped the switch, covering the states in darkness and sending this family on three divergent paths that ultimately lead home. When they collide in this surreal and gripping family drama, it won’t be without bullets and bloodshed.

Book Review: The Never Dawn, by R.E. Palmer

I review books on Amazon, but don’t often post reviews on my blog, but I just finished a book last night that I keep thinking about. It’s called The Never Dawn, by R.E. Palmer.


Description: All his young life, Noah has longed to see the sky he’s only heard about in stories. For over one hundred years, Noah’s people have toiled deep beneath the Earth preparing for The New Dawn – the historic day when they will emerge to reclaim the land stolen by a ruthless enemy.


All his young life, Noah has longed to see the sky he’s only heard about in stories. For over one hundred years, Noah’s people have toiled deep beneath the Earth preparing for The New Dawn – the historic day when they will emerge to reclaim the land stolen by a ruthless enemy.


But when Rebekah, the girl of his forbidden desire, discovers a secret their leader has been so desperate to keep, Noah suspects something is wrong. Together, they escape and begin the long climb to the surface. But nothing could prepare them for what awaits outside.


Review: I read and review a lot of books, but don’t often post the reviews here on my blog. I’m almost afraid to do it now because I get review requests weekly from authors looking for reviews. I get it–getting reviews is hard to do–but I only review books I find and browse on my own. It’s the only way I feel I can give an honest review because I have certain expectations when I’m searching for a book to read and when the cover and blurb seem to meet those expectations, then I buy or borrow the book. This particular book I found for free via Bookbot Bob. (I don’t know if it is still free, but I believe it is in KU)


Anyway, on to the review! At first, the dialogue seemed kind of stilted and odd, but then as I continued reading, I realized that was to convey how very different Noah’s life is from what we all know.


This dystopian novel is unusual in that the characters, due to their very different upbringing, are not the snarky know it all young adult characters who seem to populate most dystopian novels. They live such a sheltered life where everything comes from the revered Mother, that they seem to almost have a hive-like mentality. Consider them drones. The hierarchy is set at levels and each child, at about age 14, is directed to a level where they will stay…forever? I think. What happens after young adulthood isn’t clear and may be revealed in future books.


The premise is that a hundred years prior, something terrible happened and it drove the people down underground. There, they have waited generations for the air to be clean enough for them to return to the surface. They are told that there are enemies, though, and preparations needed before this glorious day can arrive. To that end, everyone works tirelessly–building the weapons and preparing for life above ground.


The levels reminded me of the old caste system in India. There are the lowest of the low who work in the trenches shoveling waste day in and day out. Then the mine workers, then the food servers, workers (of the farm, lab, or factory) and finally, the prefects–a benign term would be like hall monitors, but at times, they are more like the SS from Nazi Germany.


This whole set-up is well done and very interesting because knowledge is extremely segmented. There is very little interaction between people who are not directly on the characters small work team, which consists of about six workers who live in the same quarters after work. Everyone’s goal is to work to prepare for re-surfacing.


Everything is regulated by Mother. Food, clothing, jobs, schedule, and even their very dreams are all controlled by Mother–because Mother knows best. It’s a very creepy tagline that works well to set the mood. The perfect visual to convey this story is the old Apple MacIntosh computer commercial. That’s how I picture the characters and the plot of the book is how one person, Noah, starts to awaken from what amounts to brain-washing and realizing things aren’t what they seem. So, the dialogue is purposefully bland and stilted because the characters never reveal themselves to other characters. They can’t because they have only known a world where nothing less than blind adoration of Mother is tolerated. Those who speak out are quickly taken away. Those left are told that the offender was re-educated and put into another line of work, but they are never seen again.


I found the book to be well-written and the dangling carrot of what lies at the surface drove me to keep reading long after I should have gone to sleep. I just had to know! Of course, I can’t tell you what happened but I found it was an interesting twist and the ending spurred me onto borrowing the second book in KU.

Rating: 5 Stars

Full Disclosure–while I am an author and active on various author forums I do not know R.E. Palmer, have never heard of him/her and have never had any interactions with him/her. This review was not solicited and is my unbiased review.


John Jakes

I grew up reading John Jakes’ books, beginning with The Kent Family Chronicles, and always enjoy them for the way he takes a time and place in history and brings it to life. I thought I had at least heard of all of his books, even if I hadn’t actually read every one, but today I saw that Amazon has one I’d never heard of on sale for just $1.99. Looks like I have another book to add to my To Be Read pile. 🙂


The Gods of Newport


In the late nineteenth century, Newport, Rhode Island-with its giant marble mansions, lavish dinner parties, and vicious social climbing- is a summer playground of the very rich. Into this rarefied world comes infamous railroad mogul and robber baron Sam Driver. He wants his beautiful daughter to have the best Newport has to offer-even if that means breaking all the rules…

Now Available! Isolation: Book Two (Sympatico Series)

Isolation: Book Two is now available. Here is the description:

Cole Evans thought he’d found a safe haven for his family and a growing band of survivors of the most lethal virus the world has ever known. But he finds continued survival is far from guaranteed as they battle hostile encounters with other survivors, nature, and devastating accidents. Are they prepared to survive their first brutal Wisconsin winter after the rest of the world has perished?


When I began writing Isolation, the first image I had was of the group surviving a Wisconsin winter without the comforts they were used to. I also felt that Cole and the others may be dealing with survivor guilt to some extent, especially considering how Infection ended.


In Infection, their focus was very narrow. Get to the island and establish basic necessities. The challenge was in getting to the island without catching the virus. 


With Isolation, while still a nagging threat, the virus isn’t the main worry. Instead, they must figure out how to survive a brutal Wisconsin winter. Accustomed to central heat, electricity, and food readily available and snow is only a problem during major storms, they now must cope with finding food, fuel, and staying healthy. They also discover that there are other survivors…


The Mark Taylor Series: Books 1 & 2 Free 1/18-1/19!

Many years ago I bundled No Good Deed and March Into Hell into a set as a way to save readers a little money. The bundle normally saves readers 40% off the individual prices of the books, but today and tomorrow, the price is going to 100% less! Woot! Yep, that’s right. It’s free! Two books-one bundle–FREE!


Seeing the future comes at a price. What price would you be willing to pay to save thousands of lives?


No Good Deed: Book One

Mark Taylor knows his actions scream guilty—but he was only trying to stop the horrible terrorist attack. Instead of a thank you, the government labels him an enemy combatant and throws him in the brig with no rights, no trial, and no way to prove his innocence. He learns first hand that the CIA can do anything they want to him—anything at all.

Mark’s just a regular guy—a photographer—who finds himself in an extraordinary situation when an antique camera he buys at a dusty Afghanistan bazaar produces photographs of future tragedies. Tragedies he’s driven to prevent.

His frantic warnings about September 11th are ignored but put him in the government cross-hairs where he learns what being labeled an ‘enemy combatant’ really means…


March Into Hell: Book Two

Mark’s life takes a dark turn when his heroism becomes the subject of a newspaper article. The media attention and a harrowing encounter while saving a young woman, puts him in the sights of the ruthless cult leader who covets the secret to Mark’s power.

Uncomfortable in the public spotlight, Mark suspects he’s being tested by the force behind the camera’s prophetic magic. Battling his own self-doubt, he must maintain the secret or risk certain death.

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C. A. Verstraete

lbzh-front-cover-4-sm2I can’t think of a better way to get in the Halloween mood than reading something eerie and spooky!I


Today, I’m welcoming C.A. (Christine) Verstraete, author of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. Also be sure to stop by her Girl Zombie Authors blog, to see what my character from Infection, A Pandemic Survival Novel has to say! Double the scariness!


About Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter


Every family has its secrets…


One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become… zombies?


Who is Lizzie Borden?lizzie-blood3


If you don’t know, you surely have heard the rope skipping rhyme:


Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
According to the autopsy reports, the number is actually 10 and 18 hits … but did Lizzie do it?


Let her tell you:

I cringed every time I heard that awful rhyme. It was so cruel… and untrue.
I had to do it, you see. When Mrs. Borden came after me that August 4th morning, what else could I do? As incredulous as it seemed, she was as cold as death. And yet, she kept coming at me.
How did you get involved in your recent situation?
I never expected my life to change so drastically and dramatically. I never expected to find my mother acting so strangely, either. And then, when Father came home, that was only the beginning. It was horrible, simply horrible. He tried to bite me! How is this so? How can this happen?


The Author’s Turn: What inspired this book/story?


The author, C.A. Verstraete says one look at the autopsy records and photos hints as to why the victims were so viciously attacked and hit in the head. Why else would that be necessary but that they had become zombies?


Do you think this kind of scenario – the dead coming back to life – could happen in real life? Why or why not?


There are certainly all kinds of odd things occurring that could make such a thing somewhat feasible—synthetic drugs, viruses, even scientists saying that bodies can possibly be brought back to life in certain circumstances, under certain conditions, of course.


But drugs and psychotic episodes aside, that leaves the question of what about the soul? I lean more towards it being too “out there” to ever really happen. Dead is dead, or at least dead won’t be undead… For now.


About the Author:


Christine (C.A.) Verstraete enjoys putting a bit of a “scare” in her writing. He stories have appeared in various anthologies and publications including Mystery Weekly, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Siren’s Call and more. She is the author of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie and her latest, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. Learn more at her website,  and her blog, GirlZombieAuthors and see my book, Infection, over there for a special Halloween blog post.


Amazon, Print & Kindle – also on Kindle Unlimited
B&N Print
Add it on Goodreads




Chapter One


Q. You saw his face covered with blood?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you see his eyeball hanging out?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you see the gashes where his face was laid open?
A. No sir.
—Lizzie Borden at inquest, August 9-11, 1892, Fall River Courtroom


August 4, 1892
Lizzie Borden drained the rest of her tea, set down her cup, and listened to the sound of furniture moving upstairs. My, my, for only ten o’clock in the morning my stepmother is certainly energetic. Housecleaning, already?
For a moment, Lizzie forgot her plans to go shopping downtown. THUMP. There it went again. It sounded like her stepmother was rearranging the whole room. She paused at the bottom stair, her concern growing, when she heard another thump and then, the oddest of sounds—a moan. Uh-oh. What was that? Did she hurt herself?


“Mrs. Borden?” Lizzie called. “Are you all right?”


No answer.


She wondered if her stepmother had taken ill, yet the shuffling, moving, and other unusual noises continued. Lizzie hurried up the stairs and paused outside the partially opened door. The strange moans coming from the room sent a shiver up her back.
Lizzie pushed the door open wider and stared. Mrs. Abby Durfee Borden stood in front of the bureau mirror, clawing at her reflected image. And what a horrid image it was. The sixty-seven-year-old woman’s hair looked like it had never been combed and stuck out like porcupine quills. Her usually spotless housedress appeared wrinkled and torn. Yet, that wasn’t the worst. Dark red spots—Blood, Lizzie’s mind whispered—dotted the floor and streaked the sides of the older woman’s dress and sleeves.


Lizzie gazed about the room in alarm. The tips of Father’s slippers peeking out from beneath the bed also glistened with the same viscous red liquid. All that blood! What happened here? What happened?


She gasped, which got the attention of Mrs. Borden, who jerked her head and growled. Lizzie choked back a cry of alarm. Abby’s square, plain face now appeared twisted and ashen gray. Her eyes, once bright with interest, stared from under a milky covering as if she had cataracts. She resembled a female version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Another growl and a moan, and the older woman lunged, arms rigid, her stubby hands held out like claws.


“Mrs. Borden, Abby!” Lizzie yelled and stumbled backward as fast as she could. “Abby, do you hear me?”


Her stepmother shuffled forward, her steps slow but steady. She showed no emotion or sense of recognition. The only utterances she made were those strange low moans.


Lizzie moved back even further, trying to keep some distance between her and Mrs. Borden’s grasping fingers. Then her foot hit something. Lizzie quickly glanced down at the silver hairbrush that had fallen to the floor. Too late, she realized her error.


“No!” Lizzie cried out at the strange feeling of her stepmother’s clammy, cold hand around her wrist. “Abby, what happened? What’s wrong with you?”
Mrs. Borden said nothing and moved in closer. Her mouth opened and closed, revealing bloodstained teeth.


“No! Stay away!” Lizzie yelled. “Stop!”


She didn’t. Instead, Mrs. Borden scratched and clawed at her. Lizzie leaned back, barely escaping the snap of the madwoman’s teeth at her neck.


Infection is FREE!


 Get  Infection: Book One FREE 10/25  


What started as a “flu” outbreak on a military base proves deadlier than Ebola and more contagious than the Spanish Flu. Sympatico Syndrome is unlike anything the world has ever seen. Victims’ behavior is changing to accommodate the rapid spread of the virus.

Former Navy epidemiologist Cole Evans is well aware of the rare, infectious diseases the military studies. He also knows, first-hand, the government’s stance on sharing information with the public, so if the media has already learned about the disease, then it’s far too late to contain the outbreak.

Faced with an extinction event, Cole’s only chance to save his family is to establish a safe haven. Isolated, hard to reach, and with enough space for his brother’s family as well, he has the perfect location–if only they can all reach it before they’re infected…

Introduce yourself. What are you best known for?

I’m Cole Evans and I knows about viruses and understand how the military works. As an epidemiologist with the Navy for almost twenty years, I’ve seen what Ebola can do and studied the Spanish Flu. This new virus is deadly and more contagious than either and it scares the daylights out of me—and I don’t scare easily. I volunteered to go to West Africa during the Ebola outbreak and didn’t bat an eye.

I warned the Navy about the virus just before I retired from the Navy to spend more time with my son.  Apparently, they didn’t listen to me. I almost wish I hadn’t retired, but as a widower, I’ve been raising Hunter alone since he was six. He’s a good kid, but he was in high school at the time and needed me around more. Now, he’s in college and I have to figure out how to get him home safely because if this virus is out in the wild, then it’s far too late to contain it.  I have a safe place for everyone, including my brother, Sean’s family, but can we all get to it before we catch the virus?

In the Navy, my job was to save the world from a pandemic. Now, I can only save my family—if I’m lucky.

What inspired this story?

 A love of apocalyptic stories and a chance read in a science news story led to an idea about a virus that at first makes the victim feel social and euphoric instead of ill. It does that so victims will gather in groups—which allows the virus to spread much more quickly than most illnesses. The name of the virus is Sympatico Syndrome.

Do you think this kind of scenario could happen in real life? Why or why not?

This particular virus, no, but I wouldn’t doubt that someday there will be an engineered virus that could be spread rapidly. As far as seeking a refuge, yes. There are many people who have prepared a ‘bug-out’ shelter for scenarios similar to the one in Infection.


Cole turned onto his street and slammed on the brakes.

Yellow barricades like police used when trying to hold back mobs of demonstrators blocked off the street. Three men with guns manned the roadblock. Cole tensed as one of the men approached his vehicle.
Sean was right behind him with the truck and Jenna and the kids following Sean. He hoped his brother wouldn’t jump out and start waving his handgun around. He was grateful for Sean’s forethought to bring the weapon, but it was three against one, and now Jenna and the kids were around.

Cole rolled his window down a crack, squinting at the man who was backlit by the sun and wearing a baseball cap pulled low. “What’s going on? I live on this street and need to get home.”

“Do you have proof of residence?”

Cole glared. “Since when do I need proof that I live in my house? My key is proof, now get those barricades out of the street and let me through.” He had his license, of course, but that wasn’t the point. He jabbed his thumb over his shoulder. “The two vehicles behind me are family. Let them in, too.”

“Cole, is that you?”

He blinked up at the face. “Who wants to know?”

The man pulled off his cap. “It’s me. Jerry Keeling.”

“Doctor Keeling? The dentist?” He’d taken Hunter to the guy a few times after their regular dentist had retired. He’d also spoken to him at the annual block party, but he’d never had the impression the man would become militant in a situation like this.

“Yeah. We’ve had outsiders trying to seek shelter in the neighborhood. They think because we’re upscale here, that we’re safe.”

Cole bit back a retort. Their neighborhood, while nice enough, was hardly upscale. “Look, Jerry, I just need to get home. It’s only going to be for a few hours, then we’re leaving.” Crap. He probably shouldn’t have said that.

Jerry scratched his cheek, his gaze wandering to the other two men as if seeking permission. “Okay, I guess I can let you pass, but the truck and the other car will have to stay out. Only residents allowed.” He smiled as if he was doing Cole a favor.

Cole fixed Jerry with a hard stare. “Listen, Jerry, that’s my brother in the truck and his family in the red Ford. Now, unless you’re going to shoot me, they’re coming, too.”

“Who the hell are you to tell us what to do?” One of the men circled the barricade. He was taller and heavier than the short, slim dentist, and he shouldered Jerry out of the way. “We say who comes and who goes.”

Cole narrowed his eyes and straightened his shoulders. “As it happens, I know a thing or two about diseases since I’m an epidemiologist. I worked with the CDC for many years and even went to Africa to help manage the Ebola outbreak. Do you have better credentials?”

Get Infection: Book One, FREE 10/25