Flatline Virus: When Zombies Evolved by William D. Gibson
An endogenous retrovirus, long dormant in the human DNA, was triggered into an active status. Steve Spalding, a Border Patrol Agent, experienced one of the early cases along the Mexican border. Two illegal border-crossers died unexpectedly in a holding cell in the Lordsburg, New Mexico Border Patrol station. Their corpses moved. Within a couple weeks, the virus responsible for the reanimation of the recent dead developed into a worldwide pandemic. It evolved rapidly. The dead displayed improved cognitive and motor skills. Steve and his new bride, on their honeymoon in Italy, witnessed a breakout of the pandemic and worked their way to return back to the States. The panic in Italy was palpable; international borders were closing. Like most travelers, the Spaldings attempted to change their return flight. After some difficulty, they did manage to get back to the USA and, eventually, New Mexico. The flights back were not without a number of horrific encounters with the dead, some on planes. In a parallel timeline, the CDC was working diligently to find a timely cure for the disease. We learn about the pathogen from scenes at the CDC, including its potential origin, type, power, cure and evolution. We also find there is a link between a main character at the CDC and a man and his family from Silver City, New Mexico, where Steve and Ellen Spalding have taken refuge, having saved his daughter and a number of her high school friends. The man’s past makes him a good choice to be ready to withstand the onslaught of the horde of walking dead which makes daily assaults on the armed compound. The situation grows more serious when the infected display characteristics of the dead. One member in the small group who was fortunate enough to take refuge may be the answer to stopping the disease. Assaults on the compound by ever-increasing numbers of zombies, and even a roving band of heavily armed thugs, bring the groups’ long term existence into question. Then, a final siege by the dead. Who lives and dies will provide the answers. Or will it?