Excerpt of the Week: The Becoming

Welcome back to another edition of Excerpt of the Week! This week’s excerpt is from The Becoming, the first book in my post-apocalyptic series. The entire series is available now from Permuted Press, and you can get the first book, in a newly revised, expanded format on Amazon (and other retailers) for only $5.99! Click over to Amazon to purchase the book, and click the cut below to check out a short excerpt from the novel, in which paramedic Theo Carter and his partner assess a patient from a car accident that has some…oddities with his vitals.

Jonathan pulled the ambulance over at the accident site, parked in front of a police car, and let out a low whistle. “Jesus, that looks bad,” he said, taking in the sight of the wrecked car. Theo snagged a pair of gloves from the box between the seats, stuffed a few extra pairs into his pant pocket, and opened his door.

“Looks like a rollover,” he said. “Let’s see what we can do.” Dropping to the pavement, he called, “Grab the stretcher, backboard, and collar. We’re probably going to need them.” He retrieved the trauma bag and made his way to the wrecked car below.

Every side of the car was banged up, scratched, dented, and caved in, like a giant fist had reached down and squeezed the car. All the windows were shattered, and the airbags had deployed. An officer headed toward him, sporting a mark on his jaw where he appeared to have been punched. Theo winced in sympathy.

“You okay, man?” he asked the officer, whose name badge said “Greenlee.”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Greenlee said. “Be careful with this one. He’s out of his mind. We restrained him, but you’ll need Poseys for this one.”

“Thanks for the tip,” Theo said. After calling to Jonathan to add restraints to the supplies, he hurried past the first responders to get to his patient. What he saw made his stomach lurch.

There’s no way this man should be alive, was his first thought.

Of the dozens of accidents he’d worked in the three years since he’d become a paramedic, the only patients Theo had seen in such a condition were dead ones. Both of the man’s legs were broken, compound fractures with open wounds through which he could see bone. His left arm was deformed, and congealed blood adorned the side of his head. Gaping wounds on the man’s biceps and shoulders exposed the underlying muscle and tendons. Despite his injuries, he was oddly alert, his eyes following Theo’s every move.

What caught Theo’s attention the most was the look on the man’s face. It was…animalistic, feral. He’d never seen a look like it, not even on the faces of the most violent drug addicts he’d picked up. He swallowed hard, steeled himself for the upcoming confrontation, and pasted a reassuring smile on his face.

“Hey, my name’s Theo,” he said to the patient. The man didn’t respond; he merely snapped his teeth like a cornered dog. Someone had cuffed the man’s hands to the crumpled steering wheel, and all those present were keeping their distance.

The nearest first responder approached then, a man Theo recognized as Chuck Howitz from the fire and rescue service. “Watch this guy,” he warned. He tried to bite Stevens and Brigham.”

“Bite?” Theo repeated.

“We’re thinking head injury,” Chuck said. “Star pattern on the windshield. Possible chest injuries too, judging by the bent steering wheel. No idea how he got the ones on his arms, though. It’s not like anything I’ve seen outside of a wild-animal attack.”

Theo looked around. “Was there another car?”

“Near ‘bout as I can tell, guy drove himself off the road,” Chuck replied. He clapped Theo on the shoulder as Jonathan approached with the supplies. “Good luck, man. Let me know if you guys need help.”

Theo snorted. “I don’t know where you think you’re going,” he said, yanking the car’s back door open and crawling inside. “You know we need help.” He nodded to Jonathan and started giving orders. “I want full spinal packaging. We’ll splint the arm and legs once we’ve got him free of the car and loaded into the truck.”

It took Theo, Chuck, and Jonathan nearly twenty minutes of work and copious amounts of swearing before they got the man, who’d begun thrashing and flailing the moment the cuffs were unlocked, out of the car and onto the backboard. By then, Theo felt like he’d been dunked into a swimming pool, his uniform sticking grossly to his back with sweat. He panted for air as he and Jonathan strapped the man down and restrained him with Poseys before hauling the stretcher to the embankment.

“I’ve never in my life seen anything like this,” Jonathan said as they loaded the stretcher into the ambulance.

“Me either,” Theo admitted. They climbed into the back of the ambulance, and he added, “Grab that pulse ox and get a reading on his O2 and heart rates while I get the EKG going. Then get me set up to start an IV.” He snagged the leads from the bag on the side of the monitor and attached them to the man’s chest. Jonathan slipped the pulse ox sensor onto the man’s finger and turned it on.

“I don’t get how this man is still alive,” Jonathan said. The patient wriggled and thrashed as much as his strapped-down position would allow. “I’ve never seen someone with these kinds of injuries so…active.” He looked at the pulse ox’s display and frowned, switching it off and on and checking the cable running from the sensor to the device. “I’m not getting a reading on O2 or heart rate,” he said, switching the sensor to a different finger.

“One of the basic truck’s been having problems with theirs,” Theo said, wrapping the blood pressure cuff around the man’s forearm, avoiding the wounds on his biceps. “Maybe they swapped their crappy one for ours when nobody was looking.”

“Maybe.” Jonathan tried the pulse ox one more time while Theo leaned across the patient and flipped the EKG monitor on. There was a pause as it powered on, then the display lit up, and a straight line began to trail across the screen. He leaned closer to it, unsure if he was seeing correctly, then sat back, utterly confused.

“Huh,” Theo said. He climbed to the other side of the truck and checked the machine over, then double-checked his placement of the leads. “Nothing here, either. This isn’t right.”

“You’re telling me.” Jonathan pulled a bright orange bag from a cabinet while Theo dug his stethoscope from his bag and plugged it into his ears, pressing the cup to the man’s chest. He swallowed hard when he realized he was, in fact, hearing what he thought he was hearing. Or nothearing, in this particular case.

Jonathan was across from him; he’d pulled the monitor’s blood pressure cuff from the man’s forearm and replaced it with one from the orange bag, his own stethoscope in his ears as he inflated the cuff and then let the air out. His face took on a startled expression, and he looked at Theo, his eyes wide. Theo was sure his own face mirrored Jonathan’s.

“I know,” Theo said, his voice hoarse and scratchy. A sense of ominous doom settled over him. “He’s got the vitals of a dead man, but he’s kicking like he’s still alive.”

 

Did you like what you read? Do you want to read more and find out what happens next? Well, then, you know what to do! Head over to Amazon and grab your copy!

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