Friday, January 31, 2014

Pandemic by Scott Sigler: Excerpt + Giveaway

Alright everyone! The brand spanking new Scott Sigler title is now out on shelves and available for the masses and I want everyone to run out and buy a copy! Well, everyone who can handle an extremely icky and horrific series about an alien infection.

But first, you have to read books 1 and 2, Infection and Contagious. It's a trilogy, folks!

Now, if you have read the other two - or even if you haven't - I've got a little taste of what you can expect in Pandemic here for you. Be warned, though, this is not a PG excerpt or trailer! And if you'd like to enter to win your own copy of Pandemic be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom.


Murray Longworth had a dream. 

That dream consisted of a giant bonfire, a bonfire made from the long, heavy, wooden table that sat in the White House’s Situation Room. Throw in the wood paneling as well; that would burn up real nice. Not the video monitors that lined those walls, though — he would set those up around the bonfire and play some shit on them that had nothing to do with saving the world: a Zeppelin concert, maybe some playoffs for whatever sport was in season, a few cartoons, perhaps, and — for sure — at least three screens playing constitutionally protected good old-fashioned American porn. He’d have a keg. He’d hire some strippers a third his age to sit around in bikinis and laugh at his jokes. He’d warm his old bones in the heat of that bonfire, get crocked, and celebrate the death of the room he hated so much. 

"Murray? ” 

He blinked, came back to the moment. He was in that very Situation Room of his brief daydream, but there was no bonfire, no keg, and no porn. Images of Lake Michigan played across the screens. Instead of strippers, he was looking at some of the only people who knew the entire history of the situation, from Perry Dawsey’s naked run for freedom right up to the sinking of the Los Angeles


The president of the United States of America had called his name. Twice. Sandra Blackmon stared at him. She wore a red business suit. She always wore red. She did not look happy with him. In his defense, the only time she did look happy was when the news cameras were on her. There were no news cameras in the Situation Room. 

Murray sat up straighter. “Yes, ma’am,” he said, waiting for his mental playback loop to retrieve the question his conscious mind had missed. Forty years of marriage had developed that skill, the ability to make part of his brain record words even when he wasn’t paying attention at all. His wife would ask, Are you listening to me?, and Murray could regurgitate the last ten or fifteen seconds of what she’d said. The same skill came in handy during these meetings. 

His playback loop brought up her question: Did you get Montoya

“Yes, Madam President,” he said. “Doctor Montoya is on her way to the task force. She’ll report to the Carl Brashear, where we have the remains of Lieutenant Walker and Petty Officer Petrovsky.” 

President Blackmon nodded, just once. Murray thought the motion made her look like a parrot. 

"Excellent,” she said. “Lord willing, maybe Montoya can find something that other person you have running the show could not. What’s that man’s name again?” 

“Cheng,” Murray said. “Doctor Frank Cheng.” 

Blackmon nodded once. “Yes, Doctor Cheng. Why isn’t he on the Brashear already? ” 

Murray’s teeth clenched. “Doctor Cheng is at Black Manitou Island, overseeing preparation for the delivery of any samples that Montoya sends out for more detailed analysis.” 

Blackmon’s mouth twisted to the left, a tell that she wasn’t buying it. Most people bought into Cheng’s grandstanding bullshit. Murray did not. Neither, apparently, did President Blackmon. 

“Fine,” she said. “He can stay there and prep. I wanted Montoya on the case, and she is, so we’ll put our full trust in her.” 

If Murray could have lived out his bonfire fantasy, he knew some of the people in this room would eagerly join him. Others, no. These were among the most powerful people in the country: the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the national security advisor, the secretary of defense, the director of homeland security, the secretary of state . . . the nation’s decision makers, gathered together to help President Blackmon chart a path in this dangerous time. 

She turned to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Samuel Porter. 

“Admiral, you’re absolutely certain the Los Angeles didn’t succumb to enemy actions? Our regular enemies, I mean. I want the world to know that we are ready to strike back against anyone who thinks we are weak.” 

Sam Porter took in a deep breath. He looked down. No matter what the situation, he took his time answering a serious question. His pale skin made Murray think the man had been a submariner himself, an extended absence from sunlight causing his body to jettison any color as unnecessary baggage. Maybe Porter had even spent time on the Los Angeles as he moved up the ranks. 

“Madam President,” the admiral said, “we have no indication of any terrestrial forces in the Great Lakes area, or anywhere on the American theater. We have firsthand accounts from the Pinckney. There is no question here — American forces attacked American forces. This is, officially, the worst friendly-fire incident in U.S. history.” 

Blackmon pursed her lips, held them there as she thought. Fifteen years ago that same expression might have looked alluring. Now it showed the lines around her mouth, at the corners of her eyes. 

Like Porter, Blackmon took her time to think things through. She didn’t rush. That made the two of them get along quite well. For the bystanders, however, watching them converse was like watching paint dry. 

Blackmon had swept to power amid anti-Democratic fervor aimed at President Gutierrez, who had made the fatal mistake of trusting in the intelligence of the American people. An alien pathogen had turned regular Joes and Janes into psychopaths, had spawned a nightmarish version of little green men, and Gutierrez told the people the truth. 

What an idiot. 

Half the country hadn’t believed him then. Even less believed him now. Blackmon had been merciless in her campaign, citing Gutierrez’s inability to keep the country safe, hammering on the fact that, as president, he’d “allowed” the worst disaster in American history. Those things alone should have been enough, but she’d gone one step further. Without coming out and actually saying it, her allusions and insinuations made her stance clear: since God created everything, and the Bible was the immutable word of God, and the Bible didn’t talk about aliens, well, then there couldn’t be aliens — therefore Gutierrez was lying. 

Murray had watched, stunned, as a man who told the truth was washed out of office by a nation that didn’t want to believe humanity was not alone in the universe. Blackmon hadn’t rallied just the Bible thumpers. No, you couldn’t win in America anymore if you only paid attention to the religious Right. You also needed the Koran thumpers, the Talmud thumpers, and the thumpers of all moldy old books suitable for thumping. She found a way to gather all of those people into her fold without alienating her Christian base. Countering her strategy, practically every scientist in the country stood firmly behind Gutierrez. They trotted out papers and studies and formulas that proved he was telling the truth, yet that didn’t matter. 

When it comes to politics and tragedy, in the end people need someone to blame. 

A nation aching with loss and reeling with disbelief had chosen Blackmon. Piousness and ultraconservative views felt like the perfect counter to the science-minded liberal who ran the show when a mushroom cloud blossomed over Detroit. 

When the landslide election results came in, Murray had hoped Blackmon’s religious rhetoric was just a way to get her into power. It was politics, after all — say whatever you have to say to get elected. But Murray had come to realize that her brilliant election strategy wasn’t a show. 

Sandra Blackmon believed

In closed-door meetings like this, President Blackmon accepted that America had nearly been invaded by some kind of strange force. She also acknowledged that Gutierrez had played the only card available to stop a disaster that could have taken out the entire Midwest, possibly the nation, maybe the entire world. The problem was, she didn’t believe that force came from somewhere other than Earth. Most of the time, she acted like the attack had to have come from another country: Russia, China, maybe even India (for which she had an inexplicable hatred). 

Sometimes, however, the president of the United States of America said things that made it sound like she thought the attack was Satanic in nature. The fact that she might believe that, and she had her finger on the button? The thought made Murray’s balls — what were left of them, anyway — shrivel up into little fear-peanuts that tried to crawl up into his belly and hide. 

Blackmon turned to AndrĂ© Vogel, a man who — in Murray’s humble opinion — should have walked around with a coating of slime all over him and his fancy clothes. 

“Director Vogel,” she said. “What about spies? Any more information on Lieutenant Walker’s background? Could she have been turned?” 

“It’s possible,” Vogel said. “So far, however, we have nothing.” 

Murray knew that people sometimes said his department, the Department of Special Threats, was the second-most-important government organization you’d probably never heard of. The first? The Special Collections Service. Part NSA, part CIA and all black-budget, Special Collections existed well outside the framework of official government business. AndrĂ© Vogel was exactly the kind of shifty motherfucker needed to run it. 

“Walker seems to be as red, white and blue as they come,” Vogel said. “Naval Intelligence and the FBI are looking into the entire crew of the Los Angeles, Madam President. That’s a big job. But if a foreign power is at the root of this, we will find out.” 

Typical Vogel-speak: casually mention the difficulty of the task, but also promise results. 

Blackmon leaned back in her chair. “What about the Chinese? The NSA reported there was chatter shortly after the attack. Can we be sure the Chinese weren’t involved?” 

Vogel shook his head. “No, Madam President, we can’t be sure. We’re listening. They know something crashed into Lake Michigan five years ago. President Gutierrez informed the whole world that we had visitors, so it’s easy for the Chinese to put two and two together. Regardless, though, they can’t do anything with that knowledge. Even if they had a sub within a hundred miles of our coast, they couldn’t get it through the Saint Lawrence Seaway and into the Great Lakes.” 

“They’ve got money,” Murray said. Heads turned to look at him, eyebrows raised because he’d spoken out of turn. He ignored them all, just stared at Vogel. 

“The Chinese have more money than they know what to do with,” Murray said. “Do we really know for sure they couldn’t just quietly hire locals to go down and get the thing?” 

Vogel smiled, looking smug. “The probable crash site is seven hundred to nine hundred feet deep. You need specialized gear for that. The intelligence community has been consistently monitoring all domestic companies that have the right kind of equipment, with a special eye on Lake Michigan outfits, of course. Canadian and Mexican companies as well. The navy task force made short work of discouraging filmmakers, reporters, documentarians, even conspiracy theorists from venturing into a maritime exclusion zone.” 

He sat back, gave his bald head a quick, damp rub. “The only way anyone could steal our alien technology, which we haven’t even secured yet, would be to invade the United States of America and occupy Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.”

The man knew his business, no doubt, but after all this time he still didn’t get the big picture. 

“I’m not talking about stealing it,” Murray said. “I’m talking about touching it. We just lost a nuclear sub, a destroyer, a cutter and over four hundred brave men and women. That didn’t happen by accident. If the wreckage was somehow contaminated with any of the contagious shit that forced us to nuke Detroit, then the Chinese don’t have to get the thing out of the country, they just have to be dumb enough to go down and try. That alone could be enough to goat-fuck us right in the ass.” 

“That’s enough,” President Blackmon said. 

Murray didn’t know if she’d had that voice of unquestionable authority before she took over as commander in chief, but she sure as shit had it now. 

“This briefing is over,” she said. “I think Director Vogel has clearly illustrated that the site is protected against espionage. He’s doing his job. Murray, you do yours. Find out what turned the crew of the Los Angeles into traitors, and find out fast.”

I know what you're thinking, "What, what what?!" Oh, yeah. It's freaking awesome!

And now for the giveaway. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, February 10. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


traveler said...

thanks for this fascinating and intriguing giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

arzvi said...

would love to read this