With Rotter World, Scott M. Baker pulls out all the stops in a zombie thriller that is brutal, violent and terrifying. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. -- New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry, author of Patient Zero and Dead of Night
Think there are no new or original zombie authors? Think again. Scott M. Baker provides an exciting voice and fresh outlook on the undead. Fun, compulsive reading. -- Brian Keene, author of The Rising and City of the Dead
Scott M. Baker writes in the tradition of J.L. Bourne and Joe McKinney. Fans of thriller writers like Brad Thor will also find powerful, welcome similarities in Rotter World. -- Scott Kenemore, author of Zen of Zombie
Right from the start, this book starts off at a frenetic pace and never slows down. Scott ratchets up the intensity page by page until the epic ending at the underground facility. Scott has managed to bring together the best of what I love about end of the world, vampire and zombie tales in one glorious story that I hope he will continue in another book. If you think zombie and vampire stories are overdone and there is not anything new you can do with them, Rotter World proves that theory wrong. If you love vampire and zombie stories, and love great characters you will undoubtedly love Rotter World and I highly recommend it. -- Pete Schwotzer of Famous Monsters of Filmland
THE ROTTER WORLD TRILOGY BOOK I
The moan of the living dead shattered the stillness of the night. More than fifty zombies congregated around the warehouse’s front façade, stumbling along with slow, awkward movements. A handful lumbered around the abandoned military-green shuttle bus parked to the left of the building. Those in front of the warehouse clawed and banged at the sliding metal door built into the wall, each swipe leaving a smear of rotten flesh and blood. Undeterred by the futility of their attempts, the zombies kept up their assault, desperate to get at the food inside. A quiet but steady droning underscored the scene, coming from the thousands of flies feeding off of the living dead.
From their position on a hillock a quarter of a mile distant, the small rescue party carefully studied the zombie horde.
Tibor snarled between clenched fangs. “There are many.”
“Too many,” said Mike Robson. In the green glow of the night vision goggles, the living dead resembled bees swarming over their hive. Robson removed his goggles and placed them on the ground. As the group leader, he was responsible for the lives of his team, and right now they were definitely about to go into harm’s way. He looked across the narrow sound toward the naval shipyard. He did not need night vision goggles to know it had been overrun. “This whole fucking place is swarming with rotters.”
“I don’t like this.” Dravko stared at the warehouse, the irises of his eyes fully dilated so as to see in the dim light. “We haven’t come this far into rotter territory in months. And for what? To save half a dozen survivors? It’s not worth the risk.”
“The boss thinks otherwise,” Robson protested half-heartedly.
“Then let the fucking boss get his ass out here and save them.” Lee O’Bannon spat out the words from underneath his night vision goggles.
“Knock it off,” Robson ordered. Though he would never admit it to the others, he did not like this mission one damn bit. It violated every rule of engagement they operated by, rules that had kept them alive until now. It was dumb ass shit like this that would get them killed one day.
But orders were orders.
“Come on.” Robson crawled backwards down the reverse side of the hillock, followed by the others. Even with the rotters out of their line of sight, the ungodly moaning still echoed through the dark.
The remainder of the rescue party stood a quarter of a mile away, milling around their vehicles and scanning the area for approaching zombies. Robson had brought the usual contingent for a rescue party: nine humans and three vampires; the two Mack trucks equipped with snow plow blades and twin gun mounts in the dump bed; the school bus reinforced with mesh steel gratings attached to the window frames and a cow catcher from an old steam engine welded to the front; and his command car, a Subaru Outback. It should have been more than enough to handle the situation. At least he thought so until he found a swarm of the living dead between him and the survivors. He suddenly felt obscenely outnumbered.
Daytona, seated in the driver’s seat of one of the dump trucks, saw them approach. He reached out between the foot-long steel spikes welded around the bottoms and sides of the windows and quietly slapped his hand against the door to get the others’ attention. Everyone turned to Robson.
Daytona nodded toward the hillock. “What’s it look like?”
Robson waved over the others so he would not have to shout. “We got about fifty rotters hanging around the warehouse, mostly by the front doors. A few are wandering around the parking lot.”
“What about the survivors?” asked Jordan, who crouched in the open doorway at the rear of the school bus, nervously rolling the tip of a toothpick between his lips. “Did you see them?”
Robson shook his head.
“Maybe we’re too late,” Jordan said hopefully.
“Those things wouldn’t be trying to claw their way into that place if it were empty.
Someone’s still alive in there.”
“So what do we do now?” asked Clark, the driver of the second truck.
“We get them out.” Eleven sets of eyes focused on Robson, waiting for orders. “Daytona, Clark, you go in first and plow the area, then set up a barricade on either side of the doors. Dravko, Tibor, and Sultanic are with me in the bus. Lee, you and Rashid take the Outback and hang back. Keep an eye out for swarmers.”
Jordan sighed. “I wish Mad Dog was with us. He could take out a dozen of those things without breaking a sweat.”
“Screw that,” said O’Bannon. “With that open cut on his arm, the smell of blood would only incite ‘em into a frenzy.”
“Knock it off.” Robson said it louder than he wanted, and then lowered his voice. “We don’t have Mad Dog with us. If we do this right, we should be in and out in a few minutes. Any questions?”
“Alright. Let’s rock.”
Daytona pulled the brim of the black baseball cap emblazoned with the NASCAR logo down over his brow and started the truck’s engine. Clark did the same. In the bed of each truck, the gunners took up position in one of the mounts welded onto the front corners of each dump bed, strapped themselves in, and switched off the safety locks on their AK-47 assault rifles. Caylee, the petite brunette who manned the forward gun position on Daytona’s truck, looked down at Jordan and blew him a kiss. He removed the toothpick, responded with a flirtatious smile, and then placed it back between his lips.
The hiss of airbrakes and the grinding of gears accompanied the sound of revved up MP8 diesel engines as the two Macks set off, pulling away from the rest of the party and slowly gaining speed as they disappeared around the hillock.
As Whitehouse turned over the ignition on the school bus, Jordan, Dravko, Tibor, and Sultanic stepped inside and took up seats near the rear. Robson climbed in last, closing and securing the rear door behind him. The bus lurched forward and set off after the trucks. O’Bannon followed close behind with the Outback.
The noise of the approaching vehicles attracted the zombies’ attention. The horde turned to watch the twin Macks cross in front of the hillock and race around the outer rim of the parking lot. The trucks swung left in front of the warehouse and increased speed, Daytona hugging the front wall with Clark directly behind and to his left. Oblivious to everything but the approaching food, the zombies lumbered en masse toward the vehicles.
Daytona slammed into the mass of living dead, the truck shuddering with the impact. Clark hit the outer edge of the horde a second later. Bones shattered and bodies ruptured. Some of the older, more decayed rotters exploded, venting noxious fumes from pent-up bodily gases and decay that filtered into the cabs. A gore-laden mist of human blood and dislodged flies formed around the plows, splattering the windshield of each vehicle. Others not smashed outright were either dragged along the building’s façade and torn apart, or knocked down and crushed under the wheels. Within seconds, the two trucks had cleared the doorway, leaving behind a small lake of blood and body parts, as well as a few zombies that struggled to get back on their feet.
The trucks circled around and made another sweep in front of the warehouse door, taking out the few zombies that had escaped the first pass. This time the vehicles veered left into the parking lot and stopped a few yards from the warehouse. Several of the living dead lumbered toward the Macks, instinctively knowing food was inside. High-pitched beeping echoed across the lot as Daytona and Clark shifted into reverse. Clark’s truck slammed into one zombie as it climbed to its feet, knocking it over backwards onto the pavement. The rear wheels backed over it, bursting its torso and spraying its organs across the asphalt, leaving only its head and arms thrashing about. The trucks pulled up on either side of the doorway, leaving just enough room between them for the bus to back into. A pair of rotters roamed between them, staring aimlessly at the vehicles.
No one noticed the single zombie in a naval officer’s uniform, its legs crushed to pulp, crawling on the ground along the wall as it disappeared under the rear of Daytona’s truck.
Whitehouse drove the school bus into the parking lot and swung it perpendicular to the warehouse, shifted into reverse, and backed the bus between the trucks, placing the rear quarter between the two vehicles. He looked over his shoulder at the men in back.
Robson opened the rear door. He paused, fighting back the urge to retch as the stench of rotting bodies wafted through the door, along with hundreds of flies. The sound of automatic rifle fire snapped him back to his senses. They needed to haul ass before the remaining rotters closed in on them.
Sensing food, the two rotters caught between the trucks shambled toward the school bus. “We’ve got this,” growled Dravko.
Dravko morphed into his vampiric form. The facial features transformed, his ears elongating, his forehead furrowing, his nose flaring, his teeth becoming a mouthful of fangs, until he looked more bat-like than human. His fingers lengthened, and the fingernails extended into three-inch long talons. He jumped to the ground in front of the closest zombie, which stood only a few feet away. It jerked toward Dravko and moaned, its arms outstretched to grab its prey. Dravko slapped the rotter’s arms away and grabbed its head by the jaw and skull, careful not to get his hand close to its teeth. It bit frantically at thin air. Turning his hands in a circular motion, Dravko spun its head completely around. The rotter went limp. Dravko let it go, and the body dropped to the pavement.
Tibor lunged off the back of the bus, morphing into his vampiric form in mid-flight. He landed on the second rotter’s chest, clutching its head and knocking it backwards. As they toppled to the ground, Tibor used his strength and speed to slam the rotter’s head against the pavement with such force that the back of its skull collapsed beneath his hands, covering them in gore. Tibor wiped his hands on the thing’s soiled clothes and kicked the corpse under Clark’s truck.
Dravko morphed back into his human form and turned toward the school bus. “It’s clear!”
Robson jumped out and ran the twenty feet to the warehouse. Jordan followed, taking up a guard position by the left of the sliding door. Dravko and Tibor fell back and joined Sultanic by the open door to the bus.
Robson banged on the door with a closed fist. The clanging metal reverberated over the moaning of the zombies. “Open up!”
The rate of gunfire from the Macks’ dump beds increased, accompanied by an increase in moaning. A dozen rotters converged on the vehicles, those from the parking lot as well as some that stumbled around from the sides of the warehouse, each desperate to feed. Most crowded around the cabs, clawing at the metal and frantic to get at the drivers, but unable to reach through the rows of foot-long spikes that surrounded each window. A few attempted to push between the school bus and the trucks, only to be taken down by the gunners. Out in the parking lot, O’Bannon and Rashid stood by the open doors of the Outback, shooting through the head the few zombies that approached.
Robson banged much harder. “Damn it! Open up!”
He heard the door being unlatched from the inside and watched as it lifted off the ground and above his head. Two men faced him. One was about fifty, with a graying beard and disheveled hair. The other wore Air Force camouflage field dress with the nametag Thompson embroidered on his left chest. Thompson pointed a shotgun at Robson.
“Relax, man.” Robson tried not to focus on the steel gray barrel aimed at his face. “We’re your rescue party.”
Thompson lowered the shotgun. “Can’t be too careful.” “How many of you are there?”
“Six,” responded the man with the gray hair, “including myself.” “Well, haul ass if you want to get out of here.”
The gray-haired man turned back into the warehouse. “It’s safe. Come on.”
Four people emerged, one man in Air Force cammies, two in blue overalls, and a woman in her mid-twenties in a blood-stained lab coat. Robson ushered them toward Dravko and Tibor, who helped them into the school bus. He turned to the gray-haired man.
“Is that everyone?”
“Then let’s go.”
Robson led the two men toward the bus when Jordan suddenly screamed with an intensity that made his blood run cold. He turned around to see a rotter in a naval uniform that had emerged from under the rear of the truck and snuck up on Jordan without being seen. It had wrapped its arms around Jordan’s ankle and buried its teeth into his calf. Jordan pummeled his fist into its face, trying to push its head away, but the rotter had broken skin. Blood gushed from around its mouth. Yanking its head back, the rotter tore off a chunk of Jordan’s flesh and chewed it. Jordan withdrew his .44 Magnum, placed the barrel against the zombie’s skull, and pulled the trigger. Its head disintegrated, showering him and the wall with gore. Jordan fell back against the wall and slumped down, his face contorted in pain.
Robson ran up to his friend and examined the leg, already knowing the prognosis. The wound measured four inches in diameter and sunk through the skin deep into the muscle. Blood flowed from around the jagged edges and formed a puddle on the asphalt.
From above him in the dump bed of the truck, Caylee cried out. She unhooked herself from the gun mount and started to climb down. Robson yelled up to her. “Stay there!”
“I’ve got this! Just keep the rotters off my back!” When he saw Caylee crawl back into her mount, Robson turned to his friend. “Are you okay?”
“Damn.” Jordan averted his gaze from the wound and winced. “I’m infected.” “Come on. Doc can fix you up.”
“It’s no use and you know it,” Jordan grunted through clenched teeth. “At least he can give you some morphine for the pain.”
“I’ll turn before you get me back.” Jordan spit out the toothpick and placed the barrel of the Magnum against the base of his jaw. “I just hope it was worth it.”
Before Robson could stop him, Jordan pulled the trigger. His youthful features distorted grotesquely as the bullet ripped through his skull, fracturing the bones in a dozen places and splattering his brains across the wall.
From above him, Robson heard Caylee scream. She abandoned her gun mount and started crawling up the rear of the dump bed, tears streaming down her face. Robson knew if she made it to Jordan, he would never get her back onto the truck. He refused to lose two people on this rescue. Picking up the Magnum, he aimed it at Caylee. “Get back to your position.”
“I want to be with Jordan.”
“He’s dead. Get back to your position.”
In a single move, Sultanic jumped onto the side of the Mack and vaulted over the rim of the rear dump. He scooped up Caylee in his right arm and dragged her to the front of the truck, holding her in place. She pounded her fists against his face, screaming to be released until her yelling became a pitiful sobbing. Sultanic hugged Caylee tight, as much to comfort her as to restrain her.
“Hurry up!” yelled Dravko.
Robson sprang up and raced back to the bus. Dravko offered his hand, but Robson shoved it aside as he climbed in. Dravko closed and secured the door, and then yelled up to Whitehouse. “Let’s get out of here!”
Whitehouse shifted into gear and pulled away from the building, pushing aside the rotters gathered around his cow catcher. Daytona and Clark fell in behind him. O’Bannon and Rashid climbed back into the Outback and brought up the rear.
Once the vehicles were clear of the immediate threat, Dravko sat down in the seat across from Robson. “There was nothing you could do for him.”
“Easy for you to say. It wasn’t one of yours that we lost.”
Dravko glared furiously at Robson for a moment before storming up toward the front of the bus. Robson knew Dravko was only trying to be consoling, but at this moment he did not really care.
As the rescue party pulled away, Robson took one last look at Jordan. Several rotters had already descended on the corpse in anticipation of a warm meal.
Rotter World is available from Amazon, the Kindle, or as an audiobook. Be sure to check out the sequels, Rotter Nation and Rotter Apocalypse, due out later in 2015.