Blog Tour & Guest Post: ‘Euphoria-Z’ by Luke Ahearn

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Euphoria-Z
Book 1
Luke Ahearn
Genre: Thriller/Zombie Apocalypse
Publisher: Luke Ahearn
Date of Publication: May 19, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1497497382
ISBN-10: 1497497388
Number of pages: 409
Word Count: 118,099
Cover Artist: Steven J Catizone

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Purchase Links: Amazon | Amazon UK

Book Description:

Civilization shuts down as throngs of speechless hedonists fill the streets in deadly revelry. They feel only pleasure and never pain, even as they are injured, maimed, and mutilated. Few people remain in the world unaffected, left to witness the madness unaware that things are about to get unbelievably worse.

Cooper is among the few survivors of a conspiracy to depopulate the world. One week ago, college was his biggest concern. Now he is on a dangerous journey to find his sister as an ever-present threat of nightmarish proportions engulfs the world, throwing him in the path of some of the most malicious people that ever walked the earth.

 

 

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Excerpt:
The present, Monterey, California

“Fuck!” The wiry, gray-haired old man felt his eyes go wide with surprise, but he quickly got his shit together. Jasper scowled; now he was very pissed off. He might stoop and shuffle when he walked, but he didn’t take any shit.

Some big fat bastard was bear-hugging him from behind. He could see white mountains of wet flab before his eyes, and he smelled vomit. He felt a massive wet belly and man tits pressing against his back. Large folds of cold wet flesh engulfed him, and he shuddered at the sensation.
He hated hugs, especially from men, and hugs from big fat sweaty bastards were absolutely unacceptable. He carried his best spiked hammer, an old-school Craftsman from back in the day, before the gooks were making them. He was just itching to use it. The fat bastard was yelling something in his ear.

“I love you! I love you, man!”

“Ahhh, geez!” Jasper twisted out of the flabby cocoon and took a few steps back. What he saw disgusted him. It was a giant fat kid, a head taller than himself, who looked like a giant baby, all hairless and soft. The kid was smiling like an idiot, and that made Jasper even more pissed off. Food smeared the kid’s face and ran down his chins in greasy streams between his man tits and over his belly. All Jasper could think was that all that shit was all over his back. Now he would have to burn his shirt and take a long, hot shower.

The kid wore nothing but baggy white underwear soaked in sweat. Jasper shuddered at the clammy coldness on his back. His flannel shirt clung to him and felt like a cold, wet bathing suit.

“I love you, man!” The big fat kid smiled as he came at him for another hug.

“Ahhhh! Fuck you!” Despite his advanced age, Jasper moved with an efficiency and force that spoke of his many years as a carpenter. He brought the spiked hammer down on the kid’s skull, and it collapsed inward with little resistance. He liked the sensation of cracking a head but hated wasting the time to do it.

The kid dropped to the concrete like a wet sack. He was still smiling, which made cracking his skull less enjoyable. Jasper wished he could bash every asshole around with his trusty hammer. He looked around to make sure another shithead wasn’t looking for a hug.

A woman came at him, hooting so loud he could hear it over the crowd, waving her tits at him. He took her out too, with an easy smack between the eyes. He had enough of this shit. He cracked a few more skulls for fun, but he got bored. It was always the same: an easy tap to the skull and the moron dropped, still smiling.

The streets were crammed with people, and they were all acting crazy. Jasper just wanted to get home. It seemed everyone was congregating downtown, streaming in from the surrounding neighborhoods. People were walking in large groups, arm in arm, naked and clothed, dancing, running, and hugging. It all made Jasper sick, just god-awful sick.

He tried to go all the way downtown and almost got caught up in the crowd. People were pushing and jamming each other into doors until they cracked open. He heard the crash of large plate-glass windows, but no one reacted. In fact, he saw people just getting pushed through the windows in a wave. He could tell that people were getting seriously injured and killed, and he just wanted to get the hell out of there.
He left at the right time. The press of the massive crowd smashed and suffocated, ground and trampled, and killed many—and the party continued to grow. No one screamed in panic or pain. No one yelled for help or dialed 911. And no one stopped to offer assistance, an apology, or true human interaction of any kind. Everyone was bent on doing exactly what they wanted to do, and what anyone else wanted didn’t matter to them in the slightest.

In any place where people gathered for a good time, the crowds were thick. The mall was packed, but the hospital was empty. The wharf was so full that hundreds fell into the icy waters of the bay. The office parks and businesses were dark and silent. Some groups formed parties on random streets for one reason or another.

A large majority of the city was empty, devoid of people. Most left their homes and walked away, leaving doors unlocked and often wide open. They would join a group and wander away.

There were still a few souls hiding indoors who were anything but euphoric. They watched with fear and horror the goings-on outside their windows. Jasper had been one of these, but he needed his goddamned pills and had to drive through all this crazy shit to get them. Of course, when he got to the damn pharmacy it was closed. He had tried to call ahead, but no one answered the phone. He was pissed. He wanted nothing to do with this crazy shit. He didn’t want to see any of it and certainly didn’t want to walk through it. He saw quite a few people doing things he had only seen in his buddies’ dirty magazines. But there was one thing every single person was doing: smiling like a retard with a lollipop—every single one.

At first, he thought all the outlandish behavior was confined to idiots, kids, and queers. It had to be some new drug to get them this nuts, he thought. But too many people were acting bonkers, too many people who just didn’t fit the behavior.

He walked as quickly as he was able away from the crowd and back to his car. He’d seen some shit in his day, but in the last few the world had descended into pandemonium. There were reports that almost everyone around the world was walking away from their jobs, no matter how critical. Everything was grinding to a halt. Transportation, communication—private or military, trivial or critical—everything was just going belly up. Jasper had known this day was coming ever since the blacks were allowed to vote.

And the crooks in Washington didn’t know anything. They said it was an unknown virus and creatively named it Euphoria-Z. Z because they didn’t know what it was, only what it did. And their advice? Stay indoors and away from crowds, bunch of geniuses.
Jasper had never expected he would need to kill people, not since the war, but in the last few days he had been forced to. The streets were crazy, and he wouldn’t even be outside if he hadn’t needed his pills. He felt as if he were the only sane person for miles. He looked at his feet and wondered, only briefly, if something were wrong with him? No, couldn’t be, he thought. None of this was right. The world had gone crazy.

 

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Tour giveaway:
4 life-sized, handmade, zombie heads.

Each one of a kind and made by the author.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LukeAhearn_1

About the Author:

Luke Ahearn has over 20 years of professional game development experience and has authored numerous nonfiction books on the topic. He ran his own computer game company for ten years and currently owns MasterWerxStudios, an animatronic prop shop in Monterey, CA.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Luke’s Guest post:

Deleted Section of Euphoria Z, “The Group”

 

In the first draft of the novel, I had more detail on the plot to reduce the world’s population by 99%. I was told, and agreed, that it was too much information, so I removed it. Since the release of the novel, I’ve had readers comment on the lack of development surrounding the plot, so I’m now happy to be able to share this deleted section with you.

*

The Group

 

There are numerous theories pertaining to global depopulation. These theories range from a reasonable effort by cooperating governments to stabilize the world’s population (eventually reducing it through various programs and policies), to a massive conspiracy to surreptitiously sterilize a large portion of the global population. Some go as far as claiming that there is a massive genocide planned that will wipe out the majority of mankind. But whether one or all of these plots, plans, or conspiracies existed at all became a moot point when one plan was implemented by a group no one even knew existed.

This group remained secret for many reasons, but the main one being that their goal was purely selfish. There was no spiritual component to this group, no higher cause, no desire to bond, no desire to sign up any new members, and no desire to control or influence the world stage. In short, there was nothing that would raise an eyebrow, provoke questions, or draw attention to these men; except, of course, for their enormous wealth. They simply wanted the world to themselves, to create their own paradise.

And it was simply “the group” to its members, having no mystical or provocative name. The group either meant everything or nothing to you. The members were very few; only nine, and they had only one aim: to make sure that “the plan” went off without a hitch. They had every confidence that it would, every reason to be confident. Every aspect had been planned and tested right under the noses of every human being on the planet. Even the men critical of its successful implementation were none the wiser. The plan was a series of separate actions that, when performed simultaneously, would wipe out almost all human life on Earth.

The group started with one man in the late 1940’s. He’d seen the writing on the wall and knew what the planet would be like in the coming decades. It was simple logic applied to population growth and consumption, mixed with human nature. He’d just witnessed WWII; the Nazis, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and decided he had to do something to secure the future of his planet. Yes, his planet. It was a natural progression in his mind. His sort of people that had explored, conquered, and developed this world and its inhabitants into what they were now. It was well within his rights; his obligation, really, to restart the whole thing. Start with a much smaller core population that would proceed at a different pace, in a different direction, and he and his wouldn’t make the same mistakes they did the first time around. And he and his meant the ultra-wealthy and powerful regardless of race or gender. He was open-minded, loving, and knew that any human that achieved the heights he had was well beyond labels; they were their own singular creations.

So, he started planning and slowly recruiting. Among his ideas was the blending of the races, unification of language and currency, and the re-launching of other aspects of present-day civilization that had caused 99% of the troubles in the world. It was obvious to him that having hundreds of countries run by thousands of individuals who came by their positions through either tremendous violence or the vote of the collective moronic would fuck things up royally. The world needed him and his kind; people who earned and wielded godlike power naturally. Erasing the lines on the maps, mixing the races, and encouraging the breeding of the most intelligent and reasonable would be a strong start. “Only the strong survive” must change to “Only the worthy survive” for the good of mankind.

Now, the originator of the plan is dead, but there are nine men who carried the plan forward, waiting for the day when all the elements were right for the green light. The original founder set up the plan for longevity. He was the original director, the one man who knew of all the pieces on the board—a chess master of sorts—and used misinformation and various methods of testing the others to ensure secrecy. If anyone spoke or leaked, there would be no doubt as to who it was. There were hidden markers and identifiers in all of the information disseminated, which was very little, in actuality. The worst punishment was not only the death of the leaker but also the exclusion of his chosen from the plan. But secrecy, even on pain of death, didn’t assure that a secret would remain a secret. Odds were that someone, somewhere, would hear about it, but not in this case. This secret remained a true secret right up to the very end.

The director was always hand-selected by the previous director, and they were just now on the third director. The other members were not only billionaires as well; they were selected because of who they were personally. Hundreds of men had been interviewed, unaware that they were being vetted and studied without their knowledge over a span of years. Maybe one man every ten years was invited into the group—another lengthy process. Introductions to the other members weren’t done until after some strong show of faith had been performed. It could easily take five or more years for a member to be fully accepted.

It took thousands of individuals to enact the plan, millions would benefit from it, and billions would perish, but they were all completely ignorant of its existence. The groups who engineered and enacted the plan were spread across military contractors, universities, private firms, and more. One large group may think they were developing a global, aerial distribution system for the repair of the ozone or to reverse global warming. Another group, totally unaware of the other, may be developing an engineered virus meant for the battlefield as a fast-acting, humane way to kill an army. Still, others were tasked with various plans designed to develop an antidote that could be easily distributed. The hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars, invested into the various parts of the plan ensured its success.

Early on, the group knew there were only going to be three categories of survivor: the chosen, the useful, and the lucky. Each member had the power to specifically inoculate a person, without his or her knowledge. He could do this directly and personally, only needing brief physical contact with the individual, or request to have it done by a member or unwitting deliverer. In one case, a member had another shake hands with his favorite author, thus sparing his life. Many thousands of people, tens of thousands probably, had been unwittingly inoculated over the years as a result. Then there were the useful people. These individuals were inoculated as a whole for their usefulness and this was a very hit-and-miss process, focused on groups and professions, not individuals. Then there were the lucky ones. These were the rare few who would somehow avoid the initial infection and the ensuing spread. This would be a small and inconsequential number.

The engineered virus didn’t behave as planned. The inoculated became infected when exposed to the virus and/or were killed in the chaos that transpired. The infected were supposed to die after the initial euphoria drove them all together into large groups, not rise up and walk the earth looking for fresh meat. The virus wasn’t engineered to create euphoria for humane reasons; it was simply so the destruction of corpses in any given area would be more efficient.

*

Additional details of the plan.

*

With a few phone calls, hundreds of airplanes around the world took off from a variety of airports. On board each plane were thousands of gallons of the virus and a system designed to spray the contents of the tanks across a large swath of the globe. Nebulizing this mixture high in the atmosphere ensured complete global coverage within hours. The airborne particulates could easily float on the wind and up and under any structure. The virus would die within 24 hours, but by then, its job would be done.

The scientists who created the virus thought it was being carted away to be stored for future battles. The men picking it up and delivering it to the planes thought it was a solution to help the environment in some way, as did the pilots and engineers who readied the airliners for flight. Everyone knew better than to ask questions, make comments, or even so much as look in the wrong direction. Everyone just did their jobs.

*

This is the text taken directly from Euphoria Z as it is now. It is the scene where the billionaires green-light the plan. As you see, there was a lot more explanation leading up to this point.

*

Nine men relaxed in a palatial hotel suite. The suite occupied the top three floors of the most opulent hotel in Vegas, yet the men were seemingly unaware of each other. They were waiting for the apocalypse, and they were the only ones on Earth who knew it was coming…because they had planned it.

Billionaires. Nine billionaires all in one room. With their combined resources they could accomplish anything, yet they had chosen to end the world. They’d been planning it for decades, and the time was finally right to execute it. The media’s credibility was nonexistent after the way they had handled the asteroid story.

With a casual query and the nodding of a few heads, they made the decision to exterminate 99 percent of the world’s population. For the next hour they made a few calls and sent a few e-mails. Then it was done—all elements were in motion, and almost all of the world’s population would die in just under two days.

They were confident the plan would succeed, partly due to the media’s lack of credibility, but mostly because the coming events were going to seem wonderful. A significant portion of the population would ignore physical symptoms that would otherwise be alarming and incapacitating. The billions they would infect over the next few hours would feel better, happier, and healthier than ever before—they would be euphoric.

This group of nine men had decided who would live and who would die on a global scale, and they all smiled as they toasted each other. Paradise would soon be theirs.

But their scheme to depopulate the planet didn’t happen as planned. The groups and individuals they had inoculated became infected when exposed to the virus, and many were killed in the ensuing chaos. And the virus didn’t behave as planned either. The infected didn’t actually die after the initial euphoria drove them all together, by design for easier cleanup—they went into a coma. Their brains underwent some sort of change that brought them back. When they returned, they were altered. The human had died, but a monster had been born. And all that monster wanted to do was eat.

But these nine powerful men, who played God by murdering billions with just a few phone calls, were still just men. They too were infected and suffered the same fate as their victims.

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