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Once Bitten: The Taken 1

53 pages45 minutes


From the Publisher that brought you popular short story series Song of Teeth, Children of Time, Chains of Darkness, The Splicers, The Night Sculptor, Blood Waters, Requiem for a Dream, and now The Taken...


In the near future, the human race has fallen into the throes of a horrific disease that transforms the infected into mindless shells of their former selves. We call them zombies, because in all honesty that's what they've become—the living dead. They call them something else.

"There's a cure for Everything..."

Known as the Taken, these diseased people become violent and driven to spread the infection by attacking and biting any living thing. A new branch of the Center for Disease Control is formed, called the Citizens’ Safety Agency, to control the outbreak. Agents, like the newly promoted Chloe Sooner, round up the Taken into isolated areas known as Sanctuaries.

Meanwhile, scientists at America’s top research center, Icarus Labs, have been working towards a cure. Miranda Miller and her parents are three such researchers. Miranda is determined to find a way to restore the memories of the Taken, especially her fiancé, Luke Oldfield. Despite a previous failed study, Miranda is certain that the key to a cure lies in reconnecting the Taken with mementos and loved ones from their pasts.

However, the Agency has forbidden personal contact between Taken and the uninfected. Will Miranda have the courage to follow her convictions, and do whatever it takes to find a cure for the man she loves?

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The domineering hunger and sickening repulsion battled back and forth in his mind, so he stumbled away from the feasting crowd. Looking forward, he noticed much of the overwhelming smell was coming from enormous crates. The awakening part of his brain forced him to look past the crates, to focus on anything but his maddening appetite.

Beyond the crates, beyond the trees, was a shockingly clear sky, so bright that it made his eyes ache. Standing still and stark as trees themselves were dark figures—more humans. Not warped and insane like himself and the others around him, but calm and straight-limbed and quiet humans.

Seeing them strengthened his memory of himself. He had been like them once, he was sure. An image, vague as a fleeting dream, hovered in the back of his mind—it was himself, standing tall, running his fingers through his soft, dark hair.

He brought his now blood-clotted hand up to his head. His fingers felt distant and numb, but he could sense the muddy clots and sharp bits of twigs in his hair now.

As he stood in this moment of sheer confusion, a twinge of mysterious emotion tweaked his heart as one of the gray-clad figures suddenly lifted her helmet. For a brief second, the man glimpsed her face before she turned and started vomiting to the side. Her creamy skin and hazel bolts of eyes recalled another pair of beautiful eyes he had seen recently.

The word Miranda jolted into the forefront of his brain and this time it brought back not a slow trickle of memories, but a vivid flash that lit his entire being like a burning bolt of electricity...

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