In quarantined Colorado, where hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an unstoppable disease called the red death, insomniac Kate Cummings struggles to find the courage to live and to love. This is a story of survival in the face of brutality, government cover-up, and public hysteria. It is also a story of love: lost, found and fulfilled.
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Second Wind Publishing, LLC
All KATE CUMMINGS wants is a good night’s sleep.
Her husband, a semi-invalid, committed suicide thirteen months ago. Many times during the years of his illness she could have treated him a little better than she did, and she is haunted by her own mean spirit.
Then the red death descends on Colorado, the entire state is quarantined, and martial law is declared. As a patient’s advocate and an insomniac, forty-two-year-old Kate sees more than her share of the horror. People with bright red eyes spewing blood, then falling down--dead. Tanks and trigger-happy troops patrolling the streets. Men in biohazard suits throwing bodies into the back of delivery vans.
Now she wants not to be afraid.
All JEREMY KING wants is to leave Colorado.
He has everything. Two Oscars. A vast Montana ranch. Wife, son, daughter. He also looks better now, at fifty-eight, than he did when he was young.
Having grown up poor in Grand Junction, he hates Colorado, and only came to Denver to finish a film. As soon as the director yells cut, he’s in his rented Lexus on his way to the private airfield where his jet is supposed to be ready for take-off. It isn’t. Instead, armed National Guardsmen inform him that airspace is restricted. Furious that he’s being treated like one of the peasants, he decides to drive home, but the mountain highway is clogged with a thousand cars going nowhere. He returns to Denver, determined to leave Colorado if it’s the last thing he ever does.
All GREG PULLMAN wants is to know the truth.
Since childhood he’s been consumed with the need to know why creatures act the way they do. It is no different with the red death.
After discovering that the disease is a bio-engineered organism, he tries to find out who would develop such a thing, and why. He learns that despite the ban on bio-warfare experimentation, all over the world deadly organisms are being produced and stockpiled. Bubonic plague. West Nile fever. Green monkey virus. Combinations such as smallpox with Ebola and encephalitis.
Burdened by the awful truth, he turns to his friend Kate for comfort, and finds himself wanting her, though he is engaged to Pippi O’Brien.
All PIPPI O’BRIEN wants is . . . well, she doesn’t know what she wants.
After college, she wanted a job at a New York television station, but accepted a position as weathergirl in Denver. Now, at thirty, she wants to marry handsome Greg Pullman, but when he takes the hint and proposes, she says she’ll think about it. A few days later, deciding she does love him after all, she says yes. While waiting in a bar for him that very evening, she meets Jeremy King. Feeling the full force of his personality, she leaves with him, forgetting about Greg. Now she has a new dream: lovely consort to the charismatic King.
She is signing autographs with Jeremy on a downtown street when UN soldiers arrive, level their weapons at the assembled fans, and order everyone to drop to the ground. Fighting back the urge to scream, she obeys. Those who don’t obey are immediately gunned down.
Now all she wants is to accompany Jeremy on his quest to escape from Colorado.
"The death rate is continuing to climb," Peter said finally. “There have beenisolated outbreaks all over the country—all over the world, actually—but it seems to be centered in Colorado. They’re estimating fifteen thousand in Denver alone.”
“Where are they putting all those bodies?” Greg asked, keeping his tone
“In an old meat locker on Wazee Street. They’re not releasing any of them until they know for sure what they’re dealing with.”
“So they still don’t know what the red death is?”
“No. Because of the conjunctival hemorrhages that turn the eyes red and
the fever that gives the face a ruddy glow, they thought it might be a viral
hemorrhagic fever like Ebola, but now they’re leaning toward a virus/bacteria combination.”
“Is that possible?” Greg asked, otting down the information.
“It’s rare, but it does happen. They do know one thing about the red death.
It sends hormone levels soaring, particularly endorphins and adrenaline, so people are still able to function and feel good while they’re bleeding to death internally.”
“That’s probably what caused all the road rage yesterday,” Greg said.
“Right. Then the perpetrators died. Instant retribution.”
Greg eyed the other man curiously. “You don’t act at all bothered by any of this.”
Peter shrugged. “It’s not my world. It has nothing to do with me.”
“You could still catch the red death.”
“You don’t get it, do you?” Peter said with an uncharacteristic harshness. “All my life I have done nothing but suffer. Now my body is wasting away for no reason the doctors can discover, I’m going blind, and I can’t find a decent job. You think the red death scares me? I would welcome it. But I doubt I’ll catch it. Life isn’t finished tormenting me yet.”
Greg opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again when he realized he
had no idea what to say.
He finished writing his notes, then looked up. “Did you find anything on
the guy I asked you about? The one who died in Cheesman Park yesterday
“Just his blood work.”
“That’s what I need.”
“No AIDS, no hepatitis, nothing to worry about. He was perfectly healthy.”
“Except for the red death.”
“There is that.”