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#1: Rebirth - About - Go to Chapter 1

#2: The Rising - About - Go to Chapter 1

Monday 29 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 39: 'Blackchapel Welcomes Careful Drivers'

Blackchapel? Where the hell is that?

Dave thought he knew the city and the surrounding areas like the back of his hand but he’d never heard of the town on the sign that had just passed him by. He had been tailing the car in front ever since the driver had left Doctor Forrest’s house with the box of syringes that was hidden under the bed.

As far as he could tell, the man in front hadn’t noticed Dave behind him. After all, Dave was a cop with too many years’ experience not to know how to keep his distance.

He had followed his target all the way down Castle Crescent, onto the Expressway, up the ramp onto the Freeway then out of the city for miles and miles. After the Freeway turned into a country road, they had turned down a road that was obscured by trees and driven up a road into the mountains. The road seemed to go on forever without any signs lining the road until he was informed of a town called Blackchapel that lay five miles ahead.

With no junctions for miles, Dave allowed the car in front to get ahead, even out of sight as they wound their way round the twisting dips and inclines. As he dropped a gear to slow down for a sharp blind corner, Dave almost lost control as the car he thought he was following skidded round the corner towards him and whizzed past in the opposite direction.

What the hell? Where is he going now in such a rush?

Dave knew he had to make a decision. Whoever this guy was, he didn’t drive all this way into the mountains just to shake Dave off his tail.

He’ll be back.

He took his phone out of his pocket, carrying on straight ahead into the mountains. He found Doctor Owen’s number and called him. Jane answered.

Hi Jane, it’s Dave.’

Hi Dave, have you got any news?

Yes. The man who attacked the police station was driving a car registered to Doctor Forrest. I found the car and I was following it but I just lost him. He turned round and he’s heading back towards the city.’

Where are you?’

I’m up in the mountains. Heading towards a town called Blackchapel.’

Never heard of it.’

Neither have I. I’m going to push on and check it out though. I think whoever I was following was called back to the city but they’ll come back here. No one would come all the way up here to turn round again. It’s the middle of nowhere.’

You can’t get back on his tail?’

No. He’d know I was following him. I’m sure he’ll be back. Until then, I’ll see what I can do in Blackchapel. Where are you?’

We’ve just picked up the first samples. We’re going to the second point now.’

Did you run into any trouble with The Brotherhood?’

No, but it was a close call. They’re not far behind us.’

Okay. Be careful. I’ll call you when I have an update.’

Thanks Dave.’

They said their goodbyes and Dave hung up. Street lights illuminated the road ahead. A grimy sign approached that read ‘Blackchapel Welcomes Careful Drivers’.

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Friday 26 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 38: Almost Home

Jackson Korvath was happy. After a long couple of days, he was heading home and like any other person, human or vampire, he was looking forward to getting his head down and enjoying some well-deserved rest.

He’d achieved more in the past two days than he had in a long time. He was always the first person Marcus and Roxy turned to for their dirty work and it was a job that he loved, even after nearly two hundred years of loyal service.

The first job Roxy had given him was to track down Doctor Owen and bring him back to the lair. Finding him wasn’t hard. Predictably, he’d driven far out of the city and checked into a dingy motel, but Jackson had been on his tail the whole time. The doctor could have kept driving all night but he still would have been found, drugged and taken back towards the lair.

Unfortunately the timing of his capture had coincided with the destruction of the Mantek lab by The Brotherhood. Jackson made the decision to keep the doctor at the nearest secure location until he thought it was safe to move him.

He had made a mistake in choosing Doctor Forrest’s house as that secure location. By driving around in Doctor Forrest’s car when he was scoping out the ensuing investigation, it didn’t exactly make it difficult for the police to find them. Roxy had reprimanded him for that, which was why he wouldn’t be able to say no to her for a long time. But he was sure even she knew that he had earned a breather for one night.

Capturing Doctor Owen’s wife Emily had been fun. Jackson enjoyed the chance to draw his pistol and cut down those in his way, especially police officers who think they can stop him with their little pop guns.

It had been a long journey back to the lair. It always was. But thankfully Emily hadn’t spoken much. She had been the most well-behaved prisoner he had ever taken back to the lair. There hadn’t been any screaming or shouting once they left the police station.

A road sign whizzed past him that told him the town of Blackchapel was five miles ahead.

Almost home.

Jackson felt that familiar sinking feeling in his stomach as soon as his phone started to ring. He almost considered not answering the call until he picked up the phone and saw who the caller was.


Hello Roxy.’

Jackson, where are you?’

Just approaching Blackchapel.’

So you managed to pick up what the doctor needs?’


Good. I need you to turn round and go back to the city, I’ve got another job for you.’

Jackson paused before answering. There was no sense in protesting. There was nothing he could say to convince her he shouldn’t follow her orders. ‘Sure. What is it?’

Two of our brothers are being held at the outpost on the Southmoor industrial estate. I need you to pick them up and bring them back here.’

But the sun’s just come up.’

I know, but we can’t afford to leave them there all day. I need them back here. Also, they have a box with them. Make sure they don’t leave it there. I want to see it.’

Who are they?’

One of them was stationed at the base that was attacked last night. I need him to debrief me on the attack. They’ve only just been picked up and the other one is a rebirth.’

Okay, Roxy. I’ll pick them up. I just hope the outpost is still there. I’ve seen some jumpy rebirths in my time.’

There was no answer. No reply to the attempt at making small talk. Roxy had already hung up. Jackson sighed and hit the brakes. Just a few yards from a sign that read ‘Blackchapel Welcomes Careful Drivers’, he did a U-turn in the middle of the road and headed back the way he had come.

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Wednesday 24 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 37: 'Fight It'

Carl opened the door and we were faced with what he had called ‘our room’.

All four solid brick walls were coloured with grime and brown streaks indicated where blood had splattered and long since dried. Two single metal bed frames that held yellow and brown-stained mattresses sat in the middle of the room. A toilet sat in the corner, which used to be white but was now an unhealthy shade of brown. With no windows, the only light in the room came from a bare bulb hanging from a wire in the ceiling.

Believe it or not, this is the best one,’ Carl said.

I looked at him and my face must have told him I didn’t believe him.

It’s not exactly the Hilton, I know, but with the crazy shit that happens to rebirths in here, I’m fucked if I’m going to clean it.’

What kind of crazy shit happens to rebirths?’ I asked, almost wishing I hadn’t.

Carl looked me up and down. ‘You seem to be dealing with it pretty well so there’s no point telling you any of the horror stories. Don’t worry, you’re not going to be here for long, just until Roxy’s guy picks you up.’

We reluctantly stepped inside. The door slammed shut behind us and we heard a metal bolt slide shut.

Hey, what are you doing?’ I shouted.

It’s okay, it’s standard procedure. Just taking precautions.’

Precautions against what?’ Skinner asked.

Breakfast will be here soon,’ was Carl’s cryptic reply, ‘You’ll see.’

Left alone in the unholy cesspit, neither of us dared to sit on the dirty beds. I couldn’t bring myself to go over to the corner of the room where the toilet stood and I hoped that Mother Nature wouldn’t call on me any time soon.

Have you been here before?’ I asked Skinner.

Not here but somewhere like it. There are places like this all over the city. Some of the buildings you see that look derelict or abandoned are actually used by the vampires to hold their recently-turned brothers and sisters or to provide shelter for those who are in trouble.’

The size and scale of the vampires’ operation shocked me. ‘This is unbelievable. How do they manage to keep such a low profile?’

I’m not exactly an expert but in my opinion it doesn’t seem very difficult at all. The humans, especially The Brotherhood, always thought the vampire community was small but from what I hear, the treaty never stated exact population levels that had to be maintained.’

Have you read the treaty?’

No. Very few have. You just hear second and third-hand bits of information.’

I guess it made sense in a twisted kind of way. Who would ever think that there were outposts all over the city? Who would ever think to examine the contents of all the abandoned buildings? There were so many, how would they ever know where to start?

I was taken to a place like this and spent a few weeks being acclimatised to the way of life.’

A few weeks?’

That guy was right. This room is the Hilton compared to where I stayed. Trust me. At least they bother to clear the bodies out of here.’

What bodies?’

The vampires that drive around like the one who picked us up also search for food. They pick up people who don’t look like they’ll be missed. Thankfully, they were all dead by the time I got to feed on them. I don’t know if I could bring myself to kill someone for food, no matter how bad the hunger was.’

So you’ve never killed anyone?’

No. I worked in the morgue at The Brotherhood. Until yesterday I only had to deal with bodies very occasionally but I managed to train myself to go days, sometimes weeks without feeding.’

As soon as Skinner finished his sentence, my hands went to my stomach. The fire in my belly had returned and I dropped to my knees. I reached a hand out and grabbed the bed frame, trying to steady myself as I fought against the excruciating pain.

Fight it, Tom,’ Skinner said, ‘Remember what I told you yesterday. It hurts like hell. You’d suck anyone’s blood right now to make the pain go away but remember, it does go away.’

I remembered alright. I remembered that the pain had gone away but my animal desire to feed on human blood had only been kept at bay while we made our escape from the clutches of The Brotherhood. Now that we were in the clear, the hunger had returned. My thoughts turned to Captain Stein.

What happened to him? Did they kill him? Did he turn? What would he do to me if he found me?

Another sharp stab to the guts brought me back to reality. My hand left the bed frame and my body hit the floor. I grabbed my stomach and writhed in agony.

My canine teeth shifted in their sockets. My jaw clicked, as if my whole mouth was re-aligning itself.

Skinner’s hand gripped my shoulder and he started to say something that was undoubtedly reasonable and comforting but I beat his arm away with my fist and screamed at him.

Get off me! Don’t fucking touch me!’

Skinner took a step back. ‘You’re turning.’

I moved my tongue round my mouth. My canine teeth had grown. My mouth was filling with saliva. I tried to swallow it but the hunger had arrived and it wasn’t going to go away any time soon.

I’m ready to feed.

There was a commotion outside our room. In addition to Carl’s voice, I heard another man and what sounded like two other people.

Two young people. A boy and a girl.

What are you doing?’

Why are we here?’

Who are you?’

You’re here because you’re special. We need you.’

There were two muffled screams and then the voices stopped.

I heard the bolt sliding across and the door creaked as it slowly opened a fraction. It opened just far enough for Carl to throw something inside and say ‘Enjoy your breakfast’ before slamming the door shut and locking it again. Skinner edged over to the door to see what Carl had dropped in our room.

From my position on the floor by the bed, I could already see what he had delivered. My mind became ravaged by an awful tangle of hunger and repulsion, pulling my conscience in opposite directions.

Our breakfast was a little girl, no more than ten years old.

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Monday 22 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 36: Visitors

The rumble of trucks outside made the security guard look up from his newspaper. He rubbed his eyes and had to do a double-take. He couldn’t believe what he saw.

A line of military vehicles had stopped outside the reception. He watched in awe as countless men in urban combat gear jumped out of the vehicles and made their way up the steps. One man led the way and ran up to the front door. He barged his way through the door before the security guard could hit the button to lock the doors. The security guard’s hand reached for the panic button that would alert the police to an emergency.

Stop!’ the man in the lead shouted and aimed his machine gun at the security guard. ‘Don’t touch the panic button!’

What do you want?’ the security guard asked, complying with the soldier’s wishes as he looked down at the red spot of light that marked his heart as a target.

My name is Captain Luke Sayers. I represent the World Health Organisation.’

Still aiming his weapon, Captain Sayers reached into his pocket, pulled out his WHO pass and showed it to the security guard.

We’re investigating the potential threat of the release of an infectious disease,’ he continued, ‘Have you had any visitors in the last few hours?’

The security guard examined the captain’s pass. ‘That’s funny,’ he said, ‘One of your colleagues was just here. You only just missed her.’

Was she alone?’

No, there was someone else with her. An old man with glasses.’

He pulled the clipboard out from under the desk and handed it to Captain Sayers. ‘Look, they just left five minutes ago. Jane Simpson: she was the one with a pass like yours.’

Captain Sayers turned on his heels and barked orders at the men behind him. ‘They were here. You and you, take a truck each and find them.’

He turned to the security guard again. ‘Do you know which way they went?’

No, I didn’t see them leave, but we might have it on the security cameras.’

We can’t waste any time, they’re on the move,’ he said, pointing at his men, ‘At the exit, you do a left and you do a right. Keep in touch.’

Yes sir,’ the men said and made their hasty exits from the building.

Captain Sayers took his radio off his belt. ‘Come in, General Graham. This is Captain Sayers.’

Almost immediately, he received a reply. ‘This is General Graham. Go ahead.’

The intelligence supplied by the World Health Organisation was correct. They were here. It must have been Doctor Owen that deleted the data from the storage system.’

They must be going for the tapes as well.’

I agree. I’ll tell the men at the storage location to be on guard.’

Okay. Don’t begin restoring the data yet. We can’t risk transporting the tapes. Once you’ve neutralised them, we can start bringing the systems back.’

I’ve sent some men out to search for them but I need to check the security tapes here.’


They could easily have logged on and deleted the data remotely. There must be something else here that they were looking for.’

Out of the car park and a few miles down the road, someone on a motorbike overheard that conversation and decided to keep an eye on the rear view mirror for approaching trucks.

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Friday 19 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 35: Signing Out

Where do we need to go next?’ Jane asked as they sat staring at the screen, waiting on the computer to finish deleting all of the data.

The First National bank,’ Doctor Owen said, ‘We’ve got a safety deposit box that contains papers and notes on our work. Only Doctor Forrest and I can access the box. We then need to go to the Mantek offsite storage facility and collect the storage tapes to ensure all the data has been removed. After that, there are two more sets of samples we need to collect from different labs around the city. It should take us most of the day but with a bit of luck on our side we won’t run into any trouble.’

The progress bar indicating how much longer it would take to delete the data from the Mantek file system reached one hundred percent. Doctor Owen took his pen drive out of the computer and logged off.

Let’s go,’ said Doctor Owen.

They left the room, walked back along the corridor and down the stairs to the reception area. They didn’t give the security guard on reception a thought until they reached the front door and heard a voice behind them.

Hey, you two!’

Jane and Doctor Owen froze to the spot and slowly turned round. They were faced with the security guard, holding the clipboard they had signed in with.

Just need you to sign out,’ he said.

They tried not to make their sighs of relief obvious but they both knew that in the current situation, they could have done without that short rush of adrenaline.

The security guard returned to his desk as they left the building and reached the car. Doctor Owen put the frozen bottle of primary treatment into the trunk and Jane started the engine. They both breathed an even bigger sigh of relief once they had got past the security booth and were out on the open road.

Jane and Doctor Owen both cast knowing looks at each other.

We have to be careful,’ she said, but before she could finish her sentence, she had to swerve the car out of the way of the approaching traffic, which was taking up most of the carriageway. They kept their heads down when they realised what the traffic was.

A line of military vehicles thundered past them. Jane counted four transports and they were in such a rush that she was certain they would have driven over their car without thinking twice had they been in the way. They both kept their heads down and tried not to look too conspicuous.

Oh my God,’ Jane said, ‘That must have been The Brotherhood.’

Looking for us?’

Why else would they be here? Like you said, someone must have been alerted to the fact that we were deleting data from the system.’

Damn it. As soon as they check the sign-in log, they’ll know we’ve only just left. We’ve got to stay ahead of them and gather everything together before they call in reinforcements.’

Do you think we can do it?’

We have to. It’s the only way we’re going to get Emily back and complete work on the treatment.’

Shouldn’t we pick up the storage tapes now? Won’t they try and restore all the data when they realise it’s all been deleted?’

In an ideal world we probably should, but the storage facility was built on another power grid so it’s on the other side of the city. The bank isn’t far and it’s on the way. It won’t take us long in there so we may as well stop off on the way.’

Jane jammed her foot on the accelerator and headed for the First National bank, unaware of the motorbike in the distance in her rear view mirror.

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Wednesday 17 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 34: 'What's In The Box?'

So are you gonna show me what’s in the box?’ Carl asked me once he had finished deleting me from existence.

Are you sure you want to see it?’

Of course. Who does it belong to, you?’

No, it’s his,’ I said, pointing at Skinner and remembering my cover story.

I picked up the metal box and set it down on the desk. I unclipped the lid and lifted it up, leaving Carl to peer inside himself. He nearly fell back in his seat.

Oh my God, that can’t be real!’

Skinner stepped forward. ‘You know who this is, don’t you?’

Of course I do. It’s my job to know who all the big players are. This is Commander North. He’s a senior figure in The Brotherhood. This is incredible. How did it happen?’

Realising that we had already told Carl I had only just turned into a vampire, Skinner spun him a half-true story about being a soldier of The Brotherhood, killing Commander North and escaping, then finding me and turning me. He almost had me convinced and as long as Carl wasn’t trying to read his mind, I knew it would stand up to scrutiny.

Why did you do it?’ Carl asked, ‘This is going to bring a major shit-storm down on us, you know.’

I know. Roxy had me placed in the regional headquarters. I was ordered to extract someone from the base but I failed. I needed to reset the balance as much as I could to seek forgiveness for my failure so I’ve brought her the head of Commander North.’

Carl laughed to himself. ‘Holy shit, man. That’s a badass way of saying sorry! I’ll need to call her’, he said, ‘I need to call her now. She’ll want to know about this immediately.’

Skinner nodded in agreement and I did my best to look like I didn’t know what was going on. Carl took his phone out of his pocket and hit a speed dial number. The person on the other end answered very quickly.

Hello Roxy,’ he said, ‘Two men have just arrived at my outpost. One is a rebirth but I think you’ll be very interested in the other. He says he knows you and he has a package for you. His name’s Skinner.’

Carl held the phone out to Skinner. ‘She wants to talk to you.’

I sensed Skinner’s apprehension as he took the phone from Carl.

Hello Roxy. Yes, I did exactly what you told me to do. The bodies turned and attacked the base. Yes, almost everyone was killed. Only the doctor and a female agent escaped. I don’t know where they were going. The package? To apologise for my failure, I have brought you the head of Commander North of The Brotherhood.’

Skinner handed the phone back to Carl. ‘She wants to talk to you again.’

Carl took the phone. ‘He’s right, Roxy. It’s the commander’s head alright. Okay, thanks.’

He hung up and put the phone back in his pocket. ‘She said she wants to see you and it can’t wait until nightfall. She needs both of you for some kind of operation and she wants to speak to you about what you did. Looks like this was just a flying visit, guys. She’s sending someone over now to pick you up and take you to her.’

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Monday 15 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 33: Moved Downstairs

The World Health Organisation contact centre looked just like any helpdesk or call centre. The sprawling open plan office housed a team of one hundred and fifty staff, whose job it was to answer the phones to agents in the field, coordinate resources between the World Health Organisation and their suppliers and monitor essential systems for faults and abnormalities.

For two years systems monitoring had been the sole assignment for just one man. He used to work in the Operations team on the floor above, coordinating members of the Black Ops team who were infiltrating hostile territories. Two years ago, he was found to be aiding an operative who was working outside of her jurisdiction and was moved downstairs quicker than he could say ‘disciplinary action’.

His name was Will Harris.

Will had been coerced by the senior agent Becky Clarkson, and the transcripts of their conversations proved it. For this reason, he hadn’t been fired. No matter how much he didn’t want to continue working there, he knew he couldn’t leave. He had known a few members of staff who got fired but after they were escorted from the building, no one had never heard from them again.

Not a day went by that he didn’t think about Becky. Once he had been removed from his desk, she had apparently only maintained radio contact for a matter of minutes before going dark. No one had heard from her since. Her name was still on the top of the white board at the end of the office, along with a printed photograph of her and a message written in board marker that had faded in the last two years.

Wanted: Becky Clarkson. If you see her, call this number immediately…

That was such a long time ago. He doubted she would ever be found.

Now he was happy to sit at his desk and watch his systems monitoring screens. All day long, he was faced with screens of scrolling green messages, confirming that servers were up and running and file system sizes were within expected thresholds. If a check failed, the green message would change to red and he would log onto that system to sort the problem out, but that hardly ever happened and he knew exactly what to do in every situation whenever there was a fault to fix.

Everyone kept out of Will’s way and while he felt lonely in his job from time to time, that was pretty much how he liked it. The usual career path was to serve your time at the contact centre then move upstairs if you showed your superiors you were trustworthy. No one ever moved back downstairs.

Except Will, and they were all too worried about being associated with him to get too close.

Will walked over from the kitchen at the end of the office with a mug of coffee and threw his bag under his desk. He had long since stopped asking his so-called team mates if they wanted to join him. For some reason they all needed a break from the almost permanent flow of caffeine as soon as he announced he was thirsty so he went directly to the kitchen as soon as his shift started and ignored his colleagues the same way they ignored him.

Will sat down and logged onto his computer to see a red alert scrolling through the monitoring system. He turned round and asked no one in particular ‘Hey, is anyone dealing with this alert?’

No one in particular answered.

I take it that’s a no,’ he said and clicked his mouse on the alert message to get the details. The file system sizes on the storage manager were analysed at midnight every night and alert thresholds were set for the next day. The idea was that nothing should be deleted without prior approval and if the size of the file system dropped below the threshold, Will found out about it.

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 43.2% full

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 42.9% full

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 42.6% full

Will stood up and shouted down the office. ‘Hey, listen up! Someone’s deleting a shit load of data from the storage manager! Anyone know anything about it?’

His question was followed by the silent shaking of heads.

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 40.8% full

Server whostorage01, File system /mantek 40.5% full

Without sitting down, Will picked up the phone and hit speed dial number one.


Hi, it’s Will.’

Will, what do you want?’ It was Jodi, the manager of the team upstairs and Will’s old boss.

I’ve got a problem I need you to look at.’

Look Will, this better not be another…’

Look, trust me, this is a real problem. Someone’s deleting a load of data from the Mantek file system on the storage manager. It’s just gone under forty percent.’

It’s not someone down there compressing the file system is it?’

No, of course not.’

Okay, leave it with me.’

Okay, but this alert will be going off all day so let me know what happens.’

There was no reply to his last comment and Jodi hung up, leaving Will thinking that would be the last he would hear about it.

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Friday 12 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 32: Purge

A cloud of bitterly cold vapour hit Jane and Doctor Owen in the face as he opened the door to his cold storage chamber at Mantek pharmaceuticals. They both squinted and took a step back as the temperature of the room started to drop. Doctor Owen disappeared into the cold darkness and emerged with an ice-covered plastic bottle filled with frozen blue liquid.

Can you bring that box over here?’ he asked. Jane slid a metal box along the workbench and opened the lid. Doctor Owen placed the bottle in the box and sealed it.

How long are we going to keep it in there?’ Jane asked, ‘Isn’t it going to thaw out?’

Yes it will, but that’s not important. This is the primary treatment so we’re going to be disposing of it, not developing it. Once we gather together all the samples and destroy them, we’ll be safe to finish the development of the secondary treatment without any distractions.’

Are we done here?’

No, not yet. There’s still something I need to do.’

Doctor Owen closed the door to the storage chamber and they left the store room. They walked across the corridor and into an office, where the doctor sat down at a computer and logged in.

What are you doing?’ Jane asked.

I’m going to remove all data about the primary treatment from the central servers,’ he said as he reached into his pocket, took out a pen drive and connected it to the computer.

But don’t they keep backups of the data on their systems?’

Yes they do,’ the doctor replied, ‘The data from the shared drive is backed up every night to a storage server. Once a week, this data is then archived to tape and sent to another facility a few miles away. That means we can restore the data and continue work from a recent backup should anything happen to this building.’

So what’s the point in deleting data off the server if they’re only going to restore it?’

I always keep my pen drive with me. It contains a batch file that will copy the data and remove all data from the storage server. Then all we have to do is recover the backup tapes and destroy them, and all of Mantek’s data about the primary treatment will disappear.’

He made it sound so easy. Jane thought it must be more complicated than that. If all they had to do was waltz into Mantek, pick up a bottle, destroy a few tapes and pick up a few more things, why hadn’t anyone else tried to sabotage this operation before? Why hadn’t the vampires done exactly what he was doing right now?

Doctor Owen opened up the contents of his pen drive, found the location of the batch file he was looking for and launched it.

Right,’ he said, ‘this will take a few minutes.’

Won’t anyone be able to tell that it was you that deleted all the data?’

It’s possible, but it’s a chance we have to take.’

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Wednesday 10 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 31: 'Welcome To Our World'

The man who had greeted us at the front door entered a code into the keypad on the wall and I heard a clunk as the door was secured. The building we found ourselves in was as plain on the inside as it was on the outside.

Fluorescent tubes hung from the ceiling but none of them were turned on, leaving us in a dark corridor, only lit by the light coming from the adjoining rooms to our left and right. Paint was peeling off the walls and the carpet was so dirty that I couldn’t tell what colour it used to be. The dusty, sweaty smell in the air told me people had been cooped up in the building for a long time and no one ever opened the windows.

Just like The Brotherhood had to be able to evacuate their locations at a moment’s notice, I suspected the same was true for the vampires, yet another way in which their operations were similar.

My name’s Carl,’ he said, ‘I run the outpost here with Craig, but he’s out getting something to eat. We weren’t expecting anyone else to join us at this late hour so I hope there’s enough to go round.’

What are we doing here?’ I asked.

We have to hold you here during daylight hours. It’s too dangerous to move around during the day unless there’s an emergency. Since you’re a rebirth, I’ll get your details on the system. I’ll need to check you against the database as well.’

Of course,’ said Skinner, who seemed to know what he was talking about.

Come through,’ he said and led us up a set of stairs, along a short corridor and into a small office. The room was bare except for two chairs and a laptop computer that sat on a standard-issue office desk.

Carl sat down at the laptop and asked Skinner to sit next to him. He tapped away at the keyboard, then asked Skinner to swipe his finger over the fingerprint reader that was built into the computer. His action was followed by a reassuring beep.

Cool, you check out… Private Skinner,’ Carl said as he examined the details that had popped up on his screen. He then turned to me. ‘Now you.’

As I sat down, he opened the desk drawer and took out a pre-packaged syringe and a petri dish with a small piece of what looked like silver sitting in it.

Roll up your sleeve.’


I need to take a blood sample, just to prove that you’re one of us.’

I reluctantly rolled up my sleeve. Carl took my arm in his hand and tapped it to raise a vein. I thought he must have done this countless times because I barely felt it as he stuck the needle in my arm and drew blood.

Moment of truth,’ he said as he held the syringe over the petri dish and pushed the plunger. Just as Doctor Owen had tested for vampire infiltrators within The Brotherhood, the blood that came out of the syringe hit the silver in the bottom of the petri dish and turned to ash, sending a small wisp of smoke into the air.

Well, you’re definitely a vampire. That’s step one complete. Half way there.’

I’m definitely a vampire. His words rang in my ears, reminding me of what I was telling myself not to believe.

He tapped away at the computer again for a minute, then without looking up, asked ‘What’s your name?’

Thomas Ryder.’

Middle name?’


Okay, I’ve got three Thomas Ryders: a plumber, a student and a cop. Which one are you?’

I thought about pretending to be a plumber for a moment but realised that as soon as they asked me to fix a leaking tap, my cover would be blown.

Honesty is the best policy.

I’m the cop.’ That made him look up.


Well, not any more. Right?’

He chuckled and read something on the screen before answering. ‘That’s right… Detective.’

He tapped at the keyboard again then asked me to swipe my index finger over the fingerprint reader. He then hit the Enter key with a little more flair than was necessary and announced, ‘Detective Thomas Ryder, you are now dead. Welcome to our world.’

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Monday 8 September 2008

The Rising - Chapter 30: Back To Mantek

Jane fished around in her pockets and pulled out her World Health Organisation security pass. She stopped their car at the security booth at the front of the Mantek pharmaceuticals complex and hoped that she still had clearance. She showed her pass to the security guard and he snatched it out of her hand. His attention turned to a sheet of paper on his desk.

Jane looked in her mirror to check there were no vehicles behind her, in case she had to shift into reverse and make a quick exit. She rested her hand on the gear stick as her foot hovered over the accelerator.

Your details check out okay,’ the security guard said, ‘Follow the road up to the main building and check in with security there.’

Jane thanked him as he raised the barrier and they made their way into the compound. Ahead of them she saw almost the exact same sight she had seen two days earlier. The corner of the research building had been destroyed, blown up by a bomb planted by The Brotherhood to stop Doctor Owen’s work on the cure for the vampire virus.

Their only priority was to produce a treatment that would kill all vampires but only Doctor Owen knew how and he didn’t believe in their cause. Both he and Jane believed in producing the treatment that would cure all vampires. The treatment would be the first step towards co-existence, but they would need Doctor Forrest’s help and the clock was ticking.

Jane stopped the car in front of the building. They got out and walked up the steps into the reception area. Without getting out of his chair, the security guard gestured for them to come over to his desk. He asked Jane and Doctor Owen for their security passes. Doctor Owen showed his Mantek pass and Jane flashed her WHO badge. The security guard was sluggish in his actions after a long night and cast his dark eyes across their credentials.

I’ll need you to sign in,’ the security guard said.

Why?’ Jane asked, trying not to get aggressive but knowing that she didn’t want to leave any evidence of them being here.

Orders from you lot,’ he said, pointing at Jane’s WHO badge, ‘Until they’ve sorted out the mess upstairs I have to make sure everyone signs in and out.’ He passed Jane a clipboard and pen.

Damn it. He’s already seen my name on my badge.

Reluctantly, Jane signed and printed her name. She fought the urge to sign a false name, knowing that it would probably cause more problems at this moment in time. She passed the clipboard and pen to Doctor Owen, whose face told her that they’d just made life more difficult for themselves.

When the security guard was satisfied that he’d done his job, he went back to reading his day-old newspaper and Jane and Doctor Owen disappeared round the corner.

We’ve got to be as fast as we can,’ Doctor Owen said as they walked up the stairs, ‘Anyone who turns up will know what time we were here.’

How long will this take?’ Jane asked.

We’ve got plenty of blood samples in the car so we won’t need to pick any up from here. All I’ve got to do is load samples of the primary treatment into a case and download our research data onto a memory stick from the central server.’

And you know exactly where everything is?’

Yes. A long time ago, Doctor Forrest and I agreed that if we were ever in any danger or our work was compromised, we would have a plan to cover our tracks and carry on with our work.’

On their way to the storage room they had to go past what was left of Doctor Owen’s lab, the sight of which stopped him in his tracks.

Oh my God,’ he exclaimed and edged his way through the splintered door frame into the dry, dusty shell of the lab where he used to work. Dumbstruck, he stood open-mouthed for a moment, overcome by the wreckage.

The cold night wind blew in through the massive hole in the corner of the room that had been ripped open by the bomb. Two days on, the smell of charred wood still hung in the air. Doctor Owen saw a spot on the floor that hadn’t been burned by the explosion, behind the heavy metal refrigerator that had been twisted into an unnatural shape. A patch of blood had dried into the floor.

Is that where Danny was killed?’ he asked, thinking of his assistant, who he had left on his own in the lab that night.

Jane didn’t answer his question. She touched him on the shoulder. ‘Come on, Andrew. We’ve got to get this done. We’ve got four more sites to visit after this.’

Doctor Owen snapped out of it and turned to look her in the eye with a renewed focus in his mind. He wasn’t going to let anything like this happen to them.

Get what you came here for and get out. Don’t stop to smell the roses.

You’re right. Let’s go.’

Buy Rebirth and The Rising in print

Amazon: $16.95

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