Contagious Page 134

Contagious -

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His big right hand locked on Chelsea Jewell’s throat.

He lifted her. She weighed nothing.

Stop it!


No, Perry, NO! Bad Perry!

She didn’t look scared. She didn’t look evil, either. She looked like a spoiled child, a child who did whatever she wanted, took whatever she wanted.

He squeezed a little harder.

Fear crept into those angelic blue eyes, the realization that maybe she didn’t control him.

You have to do what I say! I told you to kill that man, and you did!

“You didn’t make me do it,” Perry said. “I couldn’t let him wind up like me. I had to help him.”

Footsteps rushed up the stairs behind him. Perry turned to face the open door, Chelsea still held out in front of him. The last gunman sprinted down the hall, M4 raised. He skidded to a halt when he saw Chelsea held in the air like a s.h.i.+eld.

Perry aimed and fired.

The bullet hit the last man dead center in the forehead. He took one step back, dropped his gun, then lifted his right hand, weakly, as if he wanted to touch Chelsea’s hair one last time.

The man fell backward.

He didn’t move.

Perry looked at Chelsea. So beautiful. He understood that man’s dying gesture of love, of affection.

Why would you kill me, Perry?

Hate tinged her ice-cold eyes.

Cold, like the eyes of a hatchling.

You’re not like anyone else. I can see into your memories, Perry. No one accepted you for who you are, but with me you can be what you were born to be—a killer.

“Maybe that’s what I was born to be,” Perry said. “But it’s not who I am anymore.”

It is, and you know it is. Why help them? What have these people ever done for you?

“One of them was going to take me fis.h.i.+ng,” Perry said.

Then he shot Chelsea Jewell in the face.


A soldier handed Margaret a satphone. She just looked at it. Clarence took it and answered.

“Agent Otto here.”

The voice on the satphone was crackling but clearly audible. “It’s Murray. I’ve got Perry. He wants to talk with Margaret.”

Margaret’s body sagged in her seat. Perry was still alive? Not for long, not long at all.

“Okay,” she said, and took the phone.

More crackling, then the deep voice of Perry Dawsey. “Hey Margo.”

She fought back the tears. If she cried too hard she couldn’t speak. “Hey,” she said. “Are you . . . are you on Dew’s phone?”

“Yeah,” Perry said. “I got Chelsea. The voices have finally stopped, but . . . I don’t think I’m doing so good. I’ve got those things inside me. It hurts. Bad. I think they’re moving to my brain. Margaret, I don’t want to lose control again.

“You won’t,” she said. “They won’t have time.”

A pause. “Holy s.h.i.+t,” he said. “Are you nuking me?”


Laughter, cut short by a wet cough, then a groan of pain. “Dew said I’m like a c.o.c.kroach, that nothing can kill me. I don’t think physics is on my side this time, though.”

Margaret let out a sound that was half cry, half laugh. Her soul hurt.

“Clarence with you?”

“I can hear you,” Clarence said, his voice also choked with sobs. “You are really something else. n.o.body ever been as tough as you.”

“Sorry about those Toby jokes,” Perry said. “Truth be told, I was just jealous of you and Margo. I wanted to beat the s.h.i.+t out of something, and you were there.”

“I know,” Clarence said. “It’s nothing.”

“Don’t f.u.c.k it up with her,” Perry said. “I hope you know what you’ve got.”

“I do,” Clarence said. “Trust me, I do.”

“Cool,” Perry said. “Uh . . . how long do I have?”

Murray’s voice. “About fifteen seconds.”

“No s.h.i.+t?” Perry said. “That’s kind of f.u.c.ked up.”

A pause. More coughing.



“Thank you for saving my life.”


The order came through.

Captain Paul Ward asked them to repeat it.

They did.

Paul said nothing.

His weapons officer, Lieutenant Colonel Maegan “Mae” Breakall, sat right behind him. She was one the few female crew members of an F-15E, and she’d achieved that position by being a team player and never questioning an order.

While Paul sat speechless, Mae also asked them to repeat it.

They did so, this time with a bit more force.

Captain Paul Ward then did something he hadn’t done in his entire military career—he refused to obey.

No sir.

No sir, I will not drop a ten-kiloton B61 nuclear warhead on the Motor City.

Fifteen seconds later, air force general Luis Monroe came on the line. As if that weren’t enough, President John Gutierrez joined in as well. One h.e.l.l of a conference call.

Monroe explained, quite calmly, considering the situation, that if Paul and Mae disobeyed a direct order, it was an act of treason. Gutierrez added some motivation of his own—if Captain Paul Ward did not drop the bomb, like right f.u.c.king now, he would be directly responsible for a disease spreading across the United States of America, a disease that could potentially destroy the country, its people, and if they were really unlucky, the entire human race.

Paul and Mae had no idea how much of this was true, but then again, it wasn’t their job to question orders. Their job was to follow orders, from any commanding officer—and when those orders came first-person from the air force’s top man and the commander in chief, it was impossible to disobey.

Paul pulled back on the yoke, bringing the F-15E to fifteen thousand feet. As he did, the rest of his squadron kicked in the afterburners and headed out. The radio filled with chatter: the Ospreys, Black Hawks, A-10s, F-15s and every other aircraft turned away from downtown Detroit and flew at maximum speed.

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About Contagious Page 134 novel

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