Excerpt: Silence. Her splints flashed white against the gloom. The footsteps started again, outside the window. Kneeling beside her mother’s bed, she shone her light toward the window. A tunic-clad woman stood outside, silhouetted against the moonlit night. The flashlight kicked too much reflection off the windows to see her face, but the intruder was too short and thin to be Laurel.
The footsteps stopped. The glass shivered. Alexis could hear so much now: the quivering window, the house creaking the way her joints did in the early morning, Robin’s soft weeping from the living room.
She gazed into the ominous night and then the window shattered inward, showering the bed and Alexis with glass slivers. A look up-close-and-personal revealed the intruder’s fiery red eyes, needle-sharp teeth, and crooked snarl of hate. No, not hate… hunger.
“Oh, my God!” she hollered, and her cry betrayed her. Her ankle buckled when she tried to stand and run. She dropped her knife. The Kryszka grabbed her arm and flung her onto the bed.
She groped for the screwdriver and cried out at the glass slicing her right hand. Her back and neck hurt worse. The Kryszka withdrew a cylindrical device with her free hand. It looked like a plasma gun, the weapon that Steve had described. Its power would dwarf Alexis’ piece-of-shit weapon.
Hot stabbing ripped through Alexis’ spine. Something – an invisible force perhaps – rubbed her against the broken glass on the bed. This monster was dragging out the torture before killing her. Her right hand closed around her screwdriver. Despite the razor blades of agony slashing through her wrist, she pointed its tapered bit toward the Kryszka’s face. The creature was too busy drooling over her shoulder and neck to notice. Eyes rolled back and teeth gaping, the Kryszka angled for her right shoulder. Alexis sank the screwdriver into the creature’s left eye, slick as goose shit.
“Alexis.” Laurel sounded like she was weeping. “I’m in room 415. Something’s wrong with Bernice Mayes. She’s choking.”
“Shit!” Alexis jogged to the Surgical Trauma unit, grateful for still healthy legs. What’d happened now? During shift report earlier, someone declared Bernice Mayes stable enough for transfer to a routine care floor.
In room 415, Alexis squeezed past a crowd of nurses and peeked over Laurel’s shoulder. Mayes’s eyes rolled like those of a fear-maddened horse. Deltas of wrinkles converged on her gasping lips. Her mouth sought air and found none. The heart monitor tolled long, mournful notes, and each sound shuddered through Alexis’s heart.
A purple cap closed off Mayes’s trach tube and Alexis knew immediately what the problem was. “Laurel, get rid of that cap. She can’t breathe because you didn’t deflate her cuff.”
“What cuff?” Laurel hovered over the hapless patient, blocking Alexis’s access to the bed. “What did I do wrong?”
“The balloon on her trach tube.” Alexis nudged her shoulder. “Get out of the way.”
“Huh?” Laurel gazed at Alexis with vacuous eyes.
“Move, damn you!” Teeth gritted, Alexis elbowed Laurel aside and yanked off the purple cap. Green mucus spewed from the trach, streaking her splints.
Too late. The line on Mayes’s cardiac monitor went flat. Alexis reached for the resuscitator bag for the second time today. This time she used the elbow and palm technique straightaway.
“What happened?” Laurel wailed. “What did I do?”
Two interns rushed in, followed by nurse manager Morris. He glared at Alexis with eyes of deepest frost. “What are you…never mind. Laurel, take over and bag.”
“Huh?” Laurel’s vacant eyes turned toward the ceiling. “What did I do?”
“Morris, something’s up with Laurel,” Alexis said. “If you have a problem, call Dee.”
The senior intern started chest compressions. Even with the resuscitator wedged between her palm and elbow, Alexis paid for her efforts with white agony in both hands.
The cardiac line remained flat.
“What happened?” Laurel wrung her hands. “Oh, goodness, what did I do?”
You know what you did, shithead. Alexis winced with each breath she forced into Mayes. Someone hollered for the defibrillator. Morris wheeled the code cart toward the bed. Steve Leicht came in behind him. Laurel’s smell wafted over Alexis and she gagged at the rank smell.
Steel Rose is not available now, as it’s going through a change in publishers. Both paperback and eBook version will become available for reasonable cost in February. Stay tuned!
“Even though zombies and aliens are really not my type of read, I really did enjoy this book. It was hard getting into at first, but once I actually got interested, the action grabbed my attention and would not let go. Some of the events that happened were mind blowing especially one of the characters daily activities and.. ummmm.. crazy way of thinking, Laurel. This woman freaked me out, but I wanted to read more about her and her past. Occasionally, I would get a little lost in the writing method, but caught up, the more I read. The author has a very creative imagination. I would definitely pick up another one of her books.” Jamie Gibson
(I would give it a 4 because I did struggle in the beginning and throughout the book became lost on what was going on during a few places.)
Platinum Gives Barbara & “Steel Rose”:
4 Platinum Rings!
Rating: 4 stars
“This zombie novel is extremely well-written with a unique twist on the same-old, same-old that’s been coming out left and right lately. Two warnings that should be prominently displayed on the book: First, this novel is not for the faint of heart or those unaccustomed and sensitive to blood and gore, hack and slash, and deep delving into the blackened souls of the most depraved humanity (or lack thereof) has to offer. The scenes including the torture of young girls, in particular, will probably haunt me forever, and I suffered many a nightmare and sleepless night while reading this book. Second, though after I finished reading the book, I checked the author’s website to find out whether this book was part of a series, I still wasn’t entirely sure on that count after my visit. I will say that I don’t believe this novel stands alone—whether or not it’s part of a series. While I read, I was convinced this story was the second or third in a series dealing with aliens and zombies because the book simply never provided satisfactory explanations or details explain certain people (i.e., aliens), places and situations that I left the book feeling lost concerning. That said, fans of the genre will enjoy this above-average, no holds barred installment in the latest crop of zombie fiction.” ~Award-winning Author Karen Wiesner http://www.karenwiesner.com