The Zone: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller (Infection Chronicles Book 1)

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Book: The Zone: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller (Infection Chronicles Book 1) by Tripp Ellis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tripp Ellis
Tags: thriller, Military, Sci-Fi, Zombie, Virus, post apocalyptic, Dystopian, cyborg
His heart was pounding, and his chest was heaving for breath. Steele grunted and groaned, and his muscles filled with lactic acid. 
    By the time he reached the fourth floor, he was sucking wind. Hard. He dropped one of the duffel bags, clamoring on the metal landing. He threw the other over his shoulder and climbed up the rungs. Once he was through the hatch, he slung the duffel bag off his shoulder onto the roof. Sweat was beading on his forehead. He could feel his fatigues beginning to stick to his back.
    Steele dropped back down, grabbed the other bag and repeated the process. Only four more bags to go. Piece of cake. He was beginning to think that splitting the loot three ways wasn’t exactly fair anymore. But a deal’s a deal.  I should at least charge a transport fee , he laughed to himself.
    The second trip up the stairs was worse. By the last trip. Steele felt like his heart was going to burst. He was drenched in sweat. His legs were rubber, and his knees felt like they had gravel in the joints. His muscles were on fire. His arms felt like they were going to rip out of their sockets. When he reached the fourth floor landing he felt like he was an inch shorter from the spinal compression. He dropped the bags and hunched over his knees, trying to catch his breath. Steele was strong and tough, but still human—for the most part.
    Parker helped Chloe up the ladder, then followed behind. Steele lugged the last two bags up to the roof. Then he pulled himself through the hatch, closing it behind him. 
    Delroy was keeping watch.
    “See anything?” Steele asked.
    “I saw the truck that was following us. And another vehicle. They passed by, then turned off.”
    “They see you?”
    “Don’t think so.”
    “Any sign of Mitchell?” Steele asked. He tried to hide the concern in his voice. It was five minutes past the extraction time. 
    Delroy shook his head.
    “He’ll show.”
    “How can you be so sure?” Delroy asked.
    Steele shrugged. “I can’t.” Mitchell hadn’t ever been one to be late. But delays happen when on patrol. Sometimes, you go out on patrol and you never come home. Or you come home in pieces. 
    Steele’s eyes squinted into the distant sky. He could barely hear the faint rumble of the Hughes and Kessler engines. He exhaled as a huge wave of relief washed over him.
    Delroy tossed a smoke canister to mark the LZ. A plume of green smoke wafted into the air.
    The CAV grew larger as it drew near. The rumbling engines grew louder. Soon, it was looming overhead, descending upon the rooftop. The air warbled with distortion below the massive HK engines. Touchdown in three, two, one. 
    The landing gear pressed into the rooftop. The structure creaked and groaned. Steele could hear the locking mechanism release, then the back ramp dropped down. The hydraulics hissed and whirred.
    Steele lifted Chloe and held her in his arm. He jogged up the ramp and secured her in the seat, fastening the safety harness around her. “Stay here.”
    Chloe nodded.
    Mitchell craned his neck back and glared at Steele from the cockpit. He threw his hands in the air. “What the hell are you doing? You can’t bring her on board,” he yelled.
    The roar of the HK engines was deafening. Wind and dust whipped around the cargo hold.
    Steele ignored Mitchell and ran back down the ramp.  Delroy and Parker passed him, lugging in a duffel bag.  Steele grabbed two more bags from the rooftop and trudged back up the ramp. Mitchell had climbed out of the pilot’s seat and was waiting for him.
    “This wasn’t part of the deal. What if she’s infected?”
    “She’s not infected,” Steele said.
    “You don’t know that. And what the hell are you going to do with her when you get back? How are you going to explain where she came from.”
    “Double. I’ll pay you double what we initially agreed upon.”
    Mitchell’s eyes widened. He pondered this a moment. “Triple.”
    “Done,” Steele said without hesitation.
    “We’ve

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