First, the electricity goes—plunging the east coast in darkness after a devastating nuclear attack. Millions panic. Millions die. They are the lucky ones.
Next, the chemical weapons take effect—killing or contaminating everything alive. Except a handful of survivors in a bomb shelter. They are the damned.
HELL IS FOR HUMANS
Then, the real nightmare begins. Hordes of rats force two terrified families out of their shelter—and into the savage streets of an apocalytic wasteland. They are not alone. Vicious, chemical-crazed animals hunt in packs. Dogs tear flesh, cats draw blood, horses crush bone. Roaming gangs of the sick and dying are barely recognizable as human. These are the times that try men’s souls. These are the tortures that tear families apart. This is hell on earth. The rules are simple: Kill or die.
|Product dimensions:||4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.25(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk Monster, Sinister Entity, Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, and Evil Eternal. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com.
Read an Excerpt
Tortures of the Damned
By HUNTER SHEA
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Hunter Shea
All rights reserved.
The trio of explosions ripped the biting January night air in two. Daniel Padilla was dozing between commercials when the sky exploded. He bolted from his recliner, as did his wife, meeting in the middle of the living room.
"I think the furnace exploded," Elizabeth shouted, balling her fists tight at her sides.
"We wouldn't be standing here if it did," Daniel shot back. A framed picture of the family at last summer's picnic at Orchard Beach crashed to the floor, making them jump. That last explosion shook everything in the house.
Footsteps thumped above them. The kids ran down the stairs.
"Mom, Dad, did something just blow up?" Rey asked. His youngest brother, Miguel, clung to his leg.
Daniel motioned with his hands for them all to calm down. "I'm going to check outside. It sounded like a plane. Everyone just sit tight."
Max, Gabriela, and Miguel crowded around Elizabeth on the couch. Gabby's cheeks were smeared with tears, her stuffed koala, Cody, tucked under her arm.
He ran to the closet and threw on the first coat he found. It was a track jacket that belonged to his middle son, Max. It was a size too big for Daniel, but it would do.
"I'm coming with you," Rey said, slipping into the sneakers that he kept by the front door. He must have been lying in bed listening to his iPod because his short, jet-black hair was flattened on one side. His earbuds dangled around his neck.
There was no sense arguing. Rey was a senior in high school now. Some days he was more man than boy. "Okay," Daniel said.
The frigid air stung his face and shocked his lungs when he opened the door. Lights were on in every house in the neighborhood. A good number of porches were filled with people searching the sky.
No one spoke.
There wasn't a sound to be heard. Even the wind had stopped. Daniel didn't feel the powdery snow around his bare feet.
He looked up and down the street and over the houses opposite them. With his high front porch, he had a clear sight line to the Bronx border. All he saw were stars blinking in a clear, black sky.
When Rey spoke, Daniel's heart did a triple beat. "How come there aren't any sirens?"
He was right. Whatever had happened sounded as if something massive had been blown to bits. The screech of police, fire engine, and ambulance sirens should be echoing around them.
"I don't know. Go inside and see if there's anything on the news."
It was still a half hour until the eleven o'clock news, but Daniel was sure this would be breaking news on the local channels.
Buck, his next-door neighbor, was on his tiny porch dressed in full winter gear and wearing his cowboy hat. He was a solid guy in his early sixties with, as he himself claimed, a body made by good beer and medium-rare steaks. "Holy shit, Dan. What the hell do you think that was?"
The silence was becoming more disturbing than the initial blasts. Daniel wiped a sweaty palm over his face. "I have no clue, Buck. I thought for sure it was another plane going down."
They'd both worked in lower Manhattan on 9-11. Neither would ever forget the sounds those planes made when they hit the Towers.
"I'm gonna call a friend of mine on the force," Buck said. "I'll come over and let you know what he says. In the meantime, you might want to put something on your feet."
Daniel looked down at his snow-covered feet. The sight finally made him feel the cold. He shook each foot, flicking snowflakes, and went back into the house.CHAPTER 2
"There's nothing on TV," Elizabeth said to Daniel the moment he stepped back inside. She was worrying at her auburn curls, twisting the strands tightly around her fingers.
"What about the radio? Sometimes they're quicker."
Max held up the small transistor radio Daniel kept around to listen to Mets games when he worked in the garage. Puttering around, fixing things, and getting covered by grease and grime was always made better by baseball, even when the Mets lost—which was more times than most. "I've been listening to every station, but all they have is commercials or guys talking about politics."
Daniel took the radio and ruffled his hair. "Buck is calling one of his cop friends. I wonder if it was an earthquake."
Elizabeth stroked Gabby's hair, keeping her calm. "Remember the one in the eighties?" she said. "I was staying at my grandparents' house in the Bronx with my brother when it happened. My grandfather came rushing out of the bedroom in a panic. He thought the old boiler had exploded, too. When the house had started rumbling, my brother woke up and immediately shouted, 'Earthquake!' He pulled me to the doorway between the living room and dining room. I thought he was crazy at the time, but he was the only one who knew exactly what was happening."
"But it sounded like it came from above us," Rey said. He flipped through every channel, looking for any kind of news report.
"It was hard to tell," Daniel said. "It happened so fast. And it was so loud."
"Are we going to be all right?" Miguel asked in his high, quiet voice. He sat with his knees pulled close to his chest, his big, brown eyes watching, waiting for cues to panic or calm down.
Daniel sat next to him and pulled him onto his lap. "Of course we are. You're all right now, aren't you?"
He reluctantly nodded his head.
"And that's just the way you're going to stay," Daniel said, kissing his forehead.
"Do you promise, Dad?" Gabby asked, reaching out for him. He held her hand atop his wife's belly.
"I promise, pumpkin. It was just a loud noise. Now I'm just curious what caused it. There's nothing to be afraid of. In fact, we might as well make a little party out of it. Why don't you, Miguel, and Max go in the kitchen and make us all ice cream sundaes?"
Gabby's eyes lit up. "Really?"
Elizabeth gave him a warning look. "Dan, it's late."
He kissed her cheek. "They don't have school tomorrow. I think ice cream is exactly what we all need."
She saw the hidden message in his gaze. Anything to take their minds off it. She sighed and nudged Gabby off the couch. "Make mine with extra cherries," she said.
The kids tramped to the kitchen, Max hanging back, visibly upset that he, their fourteen-year-old, had been lumped in with Gabby and Miguel. Someone had to keep relative order in the kitchen. Not to mention, Max's stomach was a bottomless pit. He practically lived with his head in the refrigerator. The clanking of bowls and spoons rang out, along with cabinet doors opening and closing.
The local news started, and Rey turned the sound up.
They began with a days-old story about a train derailment in lower Connecticut. Daniel put his arm around Elizabeth. She could feel the tension in his taut muscles. Four stories later, there was no mention of the explosions. They teased a story about one of the Kardashians and went to commercial.
"That doesn't make sense," Rey said. He changed to the other two local stations. No one was talking about it.
"Maybe they need time to get the reporters on the scene," Elizabeth said.
Daniel shook his head. "Maybe. But you'd think in this day and age ..."
Rey put the remote on the coffee table and dove into his phone. "I'll see if anyone's talking about it on Twitter or Facebook."
That was a damn good idea. Daniel was always amazed by how resilient his kids could be. He'd never think of doing something like that. Then again, he only used social media sparingly to promote his business. He wasn't one for sharing pictures or broadcasting to the world when he was going to the gym.
The doorbell rang.
"That must be Buck," Daniel said, rising from the couch.CHAPTER 3
Buck Clarke strode into the house, larger than life. His sizable beer gut hung well over his belt. He had to duck as he walked through the foyer to avoid tipping his hat off his head.
"Fucking fireworks," he announced. "Can you believe it?"
Daniel watched Elizabeth bite her lip. He'd learned long ago there was no sense asking Buck to tone it down because kids were around. Buck was what Buck was.
"That didn't sound anything like fireworks," Daniel said.
"My buddy said someone got ahold of professional-grade fireworks, loaded them in several steel drums over in an abandoned lot in Mount Vernon, and set them off, one after the other. He said the concussion blew out windows for a ten-block radius."
"Is your friend with the Mount Vernon Police?" Rey asked.
"Nah. He's a state trooper. They all talk to each other."
"But we didn't hear any sirens," Daniel said.
Buck's eyebrows went as high as they could go. "That's because it happened way the hell on the other side of Mount Vernon. Guess we're out of range."
Gabby and the boys came in carrying bowls of ice cream smothered in whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and cherries.
"Do you want a sundae, Buck?" she asked.
He gave a short laugh and scratched his stomach. "I'd love to, but Alexiana might kill me if I came home with ice cream on my collar. That sure does look good, though."
Elizabeth got off the couch and stood close to Buck and Daniel. "How come it isn't on the news? I mean, it shook the whole house."
Buck shook his head. He spoke lower. "I'm just as suspicious as you are. Fireworks don't make much sense to me, either. The little news blackout doesn't make it easier to swallow. I believe what my buddy tells me, but for all I know, he's being fed a line of horseshit."
"I don't think we'll be sleeping for a while," Elizabeth said. "Hopefully someone says something soon."
Buck turned to leave.
"I'll keep my ear to the ground. Just remember, don't believe everything you see and hear."CHAPTER 4
All was revealed the next day on the morning edition of the news. As Buck had said, the cause of the massive explosions was fireworks. Channel 4 News panned around the empty lot, rotted lumber sticking out from mounds of black and yellow snow. The camera settled on the twisted remains of a green ash can. Brightly colored police tape kept the news crews from trampling the scene.
"Elizabeth, look," Daniel said through a mouthful of bagel. He pointed at the small TV screen tucked away in a corner of the kitchen counter.
"Shouldn't there be more than one?" Elizabeth asked.
He shrugged his shoulders.
"Maybe the others are totally destroyed or the police took them for evidence. They said it could be heard all the way up to Connecticut and as far east as Long Island."
The exceedingly cold reporter with red, cracked lips talked about the local damage to windows—both car and home—and how the 911 lines were jammed with calls. For residents in the area, it sounded and felt like a main gas line explosion or an earthquake.
Elizabeth poured a cup of coffee in her BEST MOM EVER mug. Miguel and Gabby had made it for her last Mother's Day from a kit Daniel bought them in the supermarket. "I hope they catch the cabrón who did it. That scared the hell out of the kids. Miguel talked my ear off until three. I heard you snoring down the hall the entire time."
She gave him a playful slap on the back of his head.
"I think that ice cream made me crash."
Elizabeth wagged a finger at him. "That's what happens to middle-aged men. Your kids, however, got a nice sugar high."
When the kids came down for breakfast, Daniel explained what had happened and let them watch one of the reports. By the time they got to the mall later that morning, all was forgotten.
For Miguel and Gabby, it would simply be remembered as the night they had ice cream sundaes before bed.CHAPTER 5
Rey's favorite season was the spring, and not for the usual reasons such as the renewal of life, warmer weather, or it being a prelude to summer, which meant two months without school.
Spring was when he tagged along with his friend Nick after school to the paddocks at Yonkers Raceway. Nick's father was a horse trainer. He'd worked at Yonkers, Monticello, and Freehold since he was around Rey's age. When spring came, he allowed the boys to help him out every now and then. Stalls needed to be shoveled, new hay thrown down, horses had to be fed and groomed.
With senior year coming to a merciful end—Rey was not one thinking high school was the best years of his life—he and Nick were on an early dismissal schedule. That gave them more time to spend at the track. In just a couple of weeks, school would be over and he could come here every day. There was even the promise of being paid this summer. That money would come in handy to buy books when he started at Fordham University in the fall.
Today, Nick's father was working with three horses: Bam-Bam Hanover, Shining Shamrock, and Run Scotty Run. The names sounded absurd, but they came out like music when the announcer called the races.
The paddocks were bustling. Almost every stall was full. Men and horses were in constant motion. The smell of sweet hay did little to mask the heavy, clinging odors of sweat and road apples. Rey's mother hated when he went to the track. She said he made the whole house smell like a barn. His father, on the other hand, was glad to see he'd taken such an interest. "Boys can get into far worse things at his age," he'd tell his mother.
He was right. Most seventeen-year-olds in Rey's class spent their time smoking weed, Snapchatting ridiculous stunts or naked-ass shots, or having "Skype sex" when they weren't actually messing around with any girl who would give them the time of day. Three girls in his class had gotten pregnant this year. Two dropped out. One said she didn't give a shit what people thought and was proud to have her baby, even though the father, a sophomore, refused to even acknowledge it was his.
Here he was, feeding Bam-Bam some carrots, feeling the sun warm the back of his neck. A little stink was a fair trade-off.
"Slow down, Bam-Bam. You'll give yourself a stomachache."
The black-maned, chestnut stallion snorted, blowing Rey's hair from his forehead.
"Gee, thanks. Your breath could melt wallpaper."
Nick's father walked by, leading Run Scotty Run by his bridle. "Got another one for you and Nick in a few minutes."
Rey waved a hand to swat away a cyclone of flies. "Got it."
He patted Bam-Bam's nose and double-checked to make sure he had enough fresh water.
Now he just had to find Nick. Odds were, he'd be hovering around the race office, hoping to catch a glimpse of Dakota, the hot secretary who had all the guys in heat. Rey laughed. As if Nick even had a shot.
The piercing screech of tires spinning on asphalt brought Bam-Bam and most of the other horses into hysterics. Trotters were notoriously high-strung. An unexpected loud noise like that easily set them on edge.
Someone yelled, "Hey, who the hell did that?"
In seconds, it was pandemonium.
Bam-Bam reared on his hind legs with a high-pitched whinny.
"It's okay. It's okay," Rey said to the horse, keeping his voice as calm as possible.
All he could see was the white of Bam-Bam's eyes.
Rey tripped backward as he desperately attempted to move out from under the massive, frightened animal.CHAPTER 6
The bus ride home from School 7 always felt like it took hours to Gabby. Going to school was the opposite. She'd barely have time to tell her friend Cynthia about last night's episode of American Idol before the dreaded, big brick building loomed outside the bus doors.
Today was worse than ever. Her mother had promised to take her out to look for a dress for this Friday's daddy-daughter dance. She couldn't wait to try on dresses and shoes, and if she was lucky, she could convince her mom she needed the new Selena Gomez perfume. Cynthia got a bottle for Christmas, and Gabby had been green with envy ever since.
The bus was its usual riotous self. Ed, the bus driver, was deaf in one ear and didn't mind the noise. He was one of the few cool grown-ups.
"Do you know what color you want?" Cynthia asked.
A stray ball of paper bounced off the top of Gabby's hair, landing on Timmy Doyle behind her. He whizzed it over her head, just missing Jerry Adams.
"Definitely purple," Gabby replied, ignoring the paper war. "I saw this awesome dress in a Forever 21 catalog."
Cynthia raised an eyebrow. "They only sell clothes for teens and adults, Gabby. They won't have dresses in your size at Forever 21."
That's exactly what her mother had said to her. Gabby remained confident. She might be ten, but she was tall for her age.
"You'll see," she said to her friend.
The bus crashed into a pothole and the girls bounced in their seats. All of the kids gave a cheer. Some shouted for Ed to do it again. The old bus groaned in reply.
Gabby checked her watch. Still at least twenty minutes until her stop.
Come on, come on. Why couldn't this be a day when a lot of kids were sick and there were less stops?
Her little brother, Miguel, came up the aisle, swaying from side to side in rhythm with the bus's overworked suspension.
Excerpted from Tortures of the Damned by HUNTER SHEA. Copyright © 2015 Hunter Shea. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Awesome read, hard to put down. The ending came too quick. BUT I'm still left wanting to know what happened and it what happens to the remaining characters at the end.
Good fun and a frightening Inning look at what may be ahead.
I should have known. I've read several of Hunter's novels and he doesn't hesitate to kill off his characters. Many die in this dystopian horror story. That's my warning to try not to get too attached to any of them. Someone or something attacks the U.S., first taking out our electronics with EMPs, effectively cutting us off from each other. Then, a chemical weapon is released killing most of the population immediately, while others that are exposed die a slow, painful death. That is, if the animals don't get to you first. Whatever was in the gas turned all animals into homicidal killers bent on eating us humans. There's a scene with a bunch of horses that was particularly gruesome. I love the majestic animals, but even I was cheering on the characters as they fought back. It's a fight to survive for a group of family and friends as they try to find safety, fighting off predators, both human and animal. Looking for a thrilling, fast horror read. Grab this one. Hunter drops you into his story and it's up to you to hang on til the end. Oh yeah, beware of that ending.
Hunter Shea’s Tortures of the Damned is at its most unsettling in the early going of this post-apocalyptic novel during its pre-apocalyptic period, when catastrophe of an unexplained (but clearly terrorist nature) befalls New York City on an ordinary day. Explosions. Mysterious poisonous gas. Normally docile animals turned rampaging beasts. And this is before the terrorist attack. I’m kidding. Hunter’s second venture for Pinnacle focuses on the Padilla family (mom, dad, four children of varying ages), and their next-door neighbors (Buck and Alexiana). Buck, you see, apparently is a Tea Party voter and therefore adequately prepared for the end of the world because he built a fallout shelter in his city suburb home’s basement. The Padillas (and the hot teenage girl from the eldest Padilla child’s workplace) and Buck and Alexiana hunker down and outlast the explosions and resulting poisonous gas (that fatally sickens humans and turns vicious otherwise friendly creatures [rats, cats, dogs]). Hunter’s great at creating a sense of uneasiness that follows the initial explosions, and I attribute this to his living in and working near New York City during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Any of us living in the area vividly remembers not knowing what was happening but knowing it wasn’t an ordinary day in New York City. Some of the Padillas are already home, but others must get there. The Padillas who are home experience the terrifying “what if they’re already dead?” thoughts. Soon they’re reunited and safely entombed in a bunker. But safety, like a New York Jets’ football season, is a fleeting, dying thing. The characters are reasonably well-developed. My one gripe is I felt there were too many Padilla kids and found myself confused at times (wait, which one is this again?), but that’s a minor complaint. Weeks later they emerge into a new, hideous New York City that is littered with dead bodies (more so than usual) being ravaged by carnivorous horses (you read that correctly) and other beasties. What follows, thank goodness, is not a zombie story, but one of doomed survival. And I say doomed because it’s post-apocalyptic. The trains no longer run. Your favorite deli is permanently closed. Keith Richards is actually dead (we don’t know this for certain in Hunter’s novel, but I’m a pessimist at heart). Our intrepid heroes wander the city, not certain where to go or what to do other than live through the night. And along the way they encounter not just animals, but a few surviving human beings, some good, some not. What I look for in any post-apocalyptic thriller is simple: could it happen? Hunter’s destruction and elapsed devolvement of humanity generates genuine worry in the reader because the scenario could happen, and in a sense, has. We witnessed it on television and in person on 9/11, and subsequent attacks of a smaller nature worldwide. Whether some fiendish mad scientists are concocting a gas that can drive animals berserk enough to attack humans? I wouldn’t put it past our newfound friends in Iran to work on something like that while they’re self-inspecting their own nuclear-warhead-for-peaceful-purposes program. So, how does it end? Appropriately. And I’m not giving anything away by saying that. I found myself thinking as I neared the final pages, “How’s he gonna wrap this up?” And Hunter does in a way that’s not entirely inconceivable. I mean, after all: It’s the apocalypse.
4.5 Star Read! I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I reviewed this book in conjunction with a blog tour through Hook of a Book Media & Publicity. Yet another awesome book from one of my favorite authors! This is a post-apocalyptic, zombie-free story of survival. We follow the Padilla family and their next door neighbors, Buck and Alexiana, through this ordeal of survival. There are a series of attacks on Yonkers (and possibly further out, but the story only focuses on this family in the Yonkers area and no one has any idea what is going on with the rest of the world since all communication has been cut off) and thankfully Buck seems to be a bit paranoid after the attacks of 9/11 and set up a bomb shelter under his house that is stocked to the gills with everything they could need to survive for several months. The attacks are varied; some possibly being some sort of biochemical agent that once breathed in causes a slow, painful death (or it might cause fast, painful death depending on how much you take in… but since you can’t ask the dead… well….) and other are EMP type attacks that knock out all electronics. The effect of the biochemical weapons seems to take an immediate effect on animals, turning normally docile horses into killing machines. Dogs, cats, birds, raccoons… all wildlife seems to have gone crazy. They don’t seem to have turned on each other, but they will hunt down humans to devour them. By the time our group emerges from the bunker, most of the human population has died off and they find themselves running for their lives from the animals. There are other small groups that have survived, and not all of them are good people. The plot is fast paced and at times will have you on the edge of your seat, other times it slows down just enough to give you a moment to reflect on what is going on in the world around our characters. The POV changes throughout the chapters so that we can see the world through everyone’s eyes. The characters evolve throughout the story and end up so much stronger in the end. The ending was a little abrupt and I’m not sure if more is planned for this group, because I was really left hanging over a cliff saying, “Oh my God, what fresh hell is this?”. But even with my inability to love the ending, I loved the story.
This is the kind of book that is nice to read now and then. It's over the top action from the beginning to the end with some gore in it. I find it kind of relaxing to read like this. Which actually feels a bit weird, but it's the same with action movies. Sometimes you just want a lot of action and a story that movies forward fast. And, you got it in this book. The problem I had while reading this one was that I felt quite detached from the story and the characters. I just didn't care that much when they started to die because I had never really gotten to like them that much, not that I disliked them, they were just characters in a book and they died. That's it. I just couldn't connect with them or the story. And, usually I have a problem with animals getting hurt, but there was so many of them, horses, dogs, cats hawks, etc. all the time attacking the humans. They have gone completely batshit crazy and when a horse first kicks a man and then rips of his face, well it's hard to really feel sorry for the horses. And, getting mauled to death by a pack of dogs is probably not that nice. But the crazy animals are one thing, they have an excuse for acting this way, something had been done to them to act this way. But some humans, let's say that survival of the fittest isn't always the one that you hope would survive. And, the group of poor survivors trying to get to safety not only have to look out for animals, but also for gangbangers. Then we have the ending, let's just say that it's a very open ending, if it was a series would I say that it was a great cliffhanger, but I'm not sure if this is a series or not. And, if it not, well then the ending sucks a bit! I received this copy from the publisher through NetGalley return for an honest review! Thank you!
Hunter Shea has delivered yet another gripping masterpiece of horror! This is an action packed tale that will keep you riveted to the edge of your seat as you follow the family through the hell that life has become. Shea perfectly illustrates the human condition, showcasing how love, loyalty and friendship are sometimes the only things that can keep us hanging on by a thread, even in the most hellish conditions. The emotional struggles and fraying of the survivors’ nerves are incredibly realistic and bring an added sense of connection for the reader. One thing that Shea always does exceptionally well is to bring the reader gory, gooey, horrific moments of terror and Tortures of the Damned is no exception! There are some truly beautiful moments of gore for horror fans to relish. This is definitely a book that I will be happy to read again and again!
I love Hunter Shea’s books. His characters leap off the page. You suffer with them, fight in their corner, feel their fear – the whole package. The premise of this story centres on a post-apocalyptic, world where some cataclysmic episode has wiped out most of humanity and turned other living creatures into raving, rampaging killing machines. In this world, the lucky ones were those who were killed instantly. Those who survived, but were contaminated by the chemical cloud, become fatally sick – but death comes hard. Most of the main characters in the story were unscathed, because they took refuge in a fallout shelter. For them, the torture of fighting for survival with the odds stacked skyscraper-high against them, certainly earns them the title of this book, for they truly are the damned. Suspense, terror and a plot that screams out to be filmed. Tortures of the Damned had me hooked from the first page and never let go until the end. And the ending was, for my money, well worthy of the story. Excellent.