Saturday, January 26, 2013

H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius



A deadly influenza virus rages out of control. There is no easy-fix vaccine. No eleventh-hour containment. Only death.

With no workforce, power plants are unmanned so there’s no means of communication; police and fire departments have collapsed so no one is safe; looters are scavenging everything from big-screen TVs to canned peas.

When Dr. Taeya Sanchez finds herself unceremoniously dismissed from an emergency medical facility in New York, she decides to steal the hospital’s armored van for a midnight escape.
Unfortunately, Rick DeAngelo, a driver for the hospital, has already stocked the van for his own getaway.

Thrown into an unfriendly alliance, these two must pick their way across the dangerous wasteland of America in search of a safe haven. And as the miles roll by, they discover that the living should be feared much more than the festering corpses out there.


From her second story office window, Taeya Sanchez watched the burning apartment building across the street. At first, all she’d seen was smoke wafting up out of the roof, but she knew what was happening inside—flames were gobbling up curtains and chairs, favorite jeans and photo albums. Once the fire gathered up enough strength, a fist of flames would punch through a window, sucking in air and growing.

Who had started this particular blaze? A survivor cooking on a barbecue grill or a camp stove? Without power, the few remaining residents still holed up in their apartments were getting creative. One man who came into the Medical Center had burns on his legs and feet from one of those ten-gallon turkey fryers filled with boiling oil. She shuddered to think what he might have been cooking. It wasn’t a Butterball. He’d barely escaped before the spilled oil ignited the propane tank, blowing out a wall, and setting yet another building on fire.

The recently homeless who’d been burned out of their own flats, moved into abandoned buildings and started the process again. And it wasn’t just cooking accidents. A kerosene lantern got kicked over. A candle was left burning all night. She was sure pyros and looters intentionally set some of the blazes.

At least it was summer. Taeya couldn’t imagine what people might do in order to stay warm this winter.

Down on the streets, no fire trucks screamed for the right-of-way. No cars swerved or honked. There were no curious pedestrians clogging the sidewalks to hamper firemen. Manhattan was dead. Wiped out by a virus that Taeya still did not fully comprehend.

As an epidemiologist, she had spent the last ten years chasing outbreaks. Who carried the disease, was it bacterial or viral, where were the outbreaks occurring? She tracked host, agent, and environment like a board game. Mrs. Peacock, with a candlestick, in the observatory.
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After working for fifteen years as a cafeteria manager in an elementary school, Marsha Cornelius turned in her non-skid shoes for a bathrobe and slippers. She now works at home, writing novels, acting out scenes with her cats, and occasionally running a Swiffer across dusty surfaces.

Like thousands of others, she thought she could write romance, but soon discovered she was a dismal failure. She did increase her repertoire of adjectives such as throbbing, pulsing, thrumming, vibrating, hammering, pumping . . .

Her first novel, H10N1, is a thriller about a flu pandemic gone awry, and her latest endeavor, The Ups and Downs of Being Dead, tells the story of a man who chooses to have his body cryonically-frozen rather than face death. 

She resides in the countryside north of Atlanta with her husband. Her two grown sons occasionally visit for clean laundry and a hot cooked meal.

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