“Everything changed when the fog rolled in…”
When a top secret government weapons project goes terribly wrong, a mysterious fog spreads over the globe, wiping out 90% of Earth’s population.
In the aftermath, Lara Gilliam, a nurse and single mother from Galveston, Texas, must face the pain of her loss and somehow build a new life in the post-fog world. Along with an eclectic group of fellow survivors, which includes Russell Bennett, a potential love interest from before the fog, Lara relocates to Houston and begins to find a new normal. But after all that she’s lost, will she ever find the courage to open her heart again?
Over a thousand miles away, at a research facility on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, dark and sinister forces are secretly at work developing a new weapon. This weapon, if unleashed, has the power to finish what the fog started and destroy everything the survivors have struggled to rebuild.
After moving to Las Vegas in hopes of reuniting with her loved ones, Lara’s world is turned upside down once again when she unwittingly learns the truth about the fog and the deadly virus it contained, a terrifying secret that those responsible will kill to keep hidden. In a desperate race to stop another global apocalypse, Lara finds herself in a high-stakes game of government intrigue that threatens the lives of the people she loves…and the rest of the world’s survivors as well.
Project Lachesis (excerpt)
Tuesday, May 29 – 11:27 pm
Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico
The night watch on the USS Halyburton was usually uneventful. More often than not, Lieutenant Commander Bill Pitman had to find ways to stay alert throughout the shift, so normally any break in the monotony was welcome. Tonight that was not the case.
As he hurried down the corridor behind the young ensign who was leading the way, he felt a familiar twinge in his gut. It had been years since Pitman had seen combat, but he still had a warrior’s instinct. Tonight his gut was telling him something was seriously wrong.
“Can you give me any more details, Brandt?” he asked, matching the younger man’s brisk stride.
“I wish I could, sir.” Ensign Brandt glanced over his shoulder but didn’t slow down. “I just don’t have any idea what to tell you.”
When Brandt had appeared on the bridge a few minutes before with a report of “something strange” in the cargo hold, Pitman’s first instinct had been to check the young man’s pupils. However, the alarm and concern on the normally level-headed officer’s face quickly convinced him to take the threat seriously.
As they approached the door to the cargo hold, Pitman took in the scene. Two young seamen were fidgeting with their weapons as they manned their guard duty posts on either side of the door. A young petty officer, who Pitman recognized but whose name he couldn’t remember, stood a few feet away, looking just as nervous. All three men snapped to attention and saluted when they saw him.
Returning the salute, Pitman asked, “Why aren’t you in the cargo hold…at your post?”
The seamen looked at each other, but neither readily offered a reply. Eventually they both looked at the petty officer, who looked at his shoes.
“Well?” Pitman demanded.
“Carson! Davis!” Brandt barked. “The lieutenant commander asked you a question!”
“Honestly, sir,” the seaman named Davis finally answered, “we were just too creeped out to stay in there. When Ensign Brandt went to get you, we decided to wait out here.”
Pitman scowled and shook his head. “Oh, for God’s sake.” As he looked at the frightened expressions on his subordinates’ faces, he reminded himself that none of these young men had seen any actual combat in their short time in the navy. It wouldn’t take a lot to get them frazzled. Gutless children, he thought to himself. Out loud he commanded, “Open the door.”
“Yes, sir,” Carson and Davis said in unison, fumbling over each other briefly as they reached for the door handle. Davis pulled the door open, then stepped aside and looked at Pitman. The lieutenant commander sighed and stepped across the threshold.
The cargo hold was dimly lit, with only a single florescent light overhead to illuminate the small space. Boxes of various sizes were strategically stacked around the edges of the room, leaving a clear path to move between them. Pitman surveyed the space but saw nothing that should cause any alarm.
“So, where’s the problem?” he asked in a clipped tone.
The petty officer pointed to a large container a few feet away. “It was brought on board when we last made port. The captain ordered a twenty-four-hour watch on it.”
Pitman approached the container. He still didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, so he turned to look back at the sailors, waiting for more details.
“We’ve had a few guard rotations already with no reports of anything strange,” Brandt said, picking up where the petty officer had left off. “Until a few hours ago…”
Pitman looked at each of the four men in turn. He was finding it difficult to hide his growing impatience. “What?”
“Just give it a minute, sir,” Carson said. “It comes and goes.”
Pitman turned back to face the container so the men couldn’t see him roll his eyes. He waited what he thought was a reasonable amount of time before turning back around, prepared to issue a strong reprimand to all four of his subordinates.
Then he heard it.
The sound started as a faint hum but steadily grew into a loud buzz, as if a swarm of bees had somehow gotten trapped inside the large storage container. After several minutes, the sound ebbed once again and eventually faded out all together.
“We can’t tell for sure,” the petty officer said, his voice barely above a whisper, “but it seems like it gets louder each time.”
Pitman had no idea what to make of it.
“What…?” he began. He realized he was also whispering and cleared his throat. “What’s in there?”
“We haven’t been briefed, sir,” Brandt told him.
Again they waited. Pitman couldn’t take his eyes off the container. When the hum resumed a few minutes later, he leaned in and placed his ear against the outside of the box.
A slight vibration pulsated through the metal, tickling his ear and causing his nose to itch. As the humming sound increased in volume, the intensity of the vibration increased as well. Pitman felt the container press against his ear, as if the box were expanding along with the sound. As the buzzing reached a crescendo, the pressure against his ear was so great it forced him to take a small step back so he wouldn’t lose his balance.
When the cargo hold was silent again, he turned to face the other men. They were all staring at him with wide eyes.
“Do you think we should wake the captain?” Brandt asked.
Pitman hesitated. If the captain had ordered a twenty-four-hour guard on the container, it was certain he was aware of the cargo it contained. He would never knowingly put his men or his vessel in danger. Pitman assumed that, like so many other things in his long career in the navy, this was simply above his pay grade. As strange as the situation seemed, he didn’t see any cause for real alarm.
“I don’t think that will be necessary,” he assured his subordinates. The four men stared back at him, surprise clearly written on their faces. “I’ll agree with you that this does seem unusual, but I don’t see any real threat here.”
“But, sir, if that thing continues to expand like that, the container will bust,” Brandt argued respectfully.
Pitman considered this. “Yes, if it continues to increase like it has been. I see no reason to assume that this thing, whatever it is, will expand significantly more than it already has. I don’t want to wake the captain and tell him that we were all spooked because of a strange sound, do you?”
The young men mumbled and shrugged and eventually all nodded their agreement.
Pitman continued. “We’ll monitor the container for the next few hours and then take necessary action if there appears to be an actual threat.”
He motioned for the other men to lead the way out of the cargo hold. It was obvious this plan of action did nothing to calm their fears, and he couldn’t blame them. He tried to convince himself there really wasn’t any cause for concern, but he still had the same nagging feeling in his gut.
As he began to pull the cargo door closed behind him, the humming sound started again. He hesitated for a few seconds and listened. The sound did appear to be getting louder, but maybe it was simply the power of suggestion.
You’re just being paranoid, he thought with a shake of his head. With one final look around the cargo hold, he let the door latch closed behind him. Though he continued to assure himself the container and its contents posed no threat, he felt certain he wouldn’t have any trouble staying awake for the rest of his shift.