In 1963, CDC research scientist, Dr. Liam Frank, travels to Uganda to reunite with his girlfriend Penny and treat patients at a Peace Corps camp where she’s teaching grade school. The minute he arrives, however, he’s hijacked by Mwana, a master strategist from the war-torn Belgian Congo, who has far different plans for the talented disease control physician. Despite Liam’s desire to prove himself to Penny, he’s coerced into the lab to try to isolate and control a horrific new disease called Scream—which drags its victims through a bloody, screaming hell and leaves no survivors. In a tightly played game of pawns, knights and would-be kings, Liam is cast in the role of pawn. To survive and rescue Penny, he’ll need to become a hero.
Liam got out of the Jeep, but Bokhari stayed in. “Just walk through the gate. The car on the other side will take you from here.”
Bokhari pointed at the gate. “We will wait for you here.”
Liam’s socks were soaked. Sweat squished between his toes as he passed on foot through the manned gate and was ushered into an old Packard with a broken muffler.
His newest driver was dressed in full firefighter garb, complete with helmet. If the disease required Liam to be triple-wrapped, could the firefighter garb provide enough protection? Liam wanted to ask, but the car radio was on at full volume. Broken music and static assaulted his ears, making thought difficult and conversation impossible. Why didn’t the man turn it off?
The car was a sauna. There wasn’t a dry stitch anywhere inside Liam’s personal sweat bag. His goggles steamed over, but there was no way he was going to take them off and risk contamination. The sweat would clear them again. They roared to another checkpoint, manned by a group of heavily armed men also in firefighter uniforms. The guards waved them through.
A half dozen small grass huts appeared in the distance as the car approached. The double row of gold and brown huts accentuated the pale blue sky. Quintessential Africa. Beautiful enough for a magazine. The man stopped the car just outside the village and flicked his hand, shooing Liam from the car. This had to be the site of the illness. There wasn’t any obvious sign of life—no children ran around, no chickens pecked the dirt, no dogs lounged in shaded doorways.
Liam opened the car door. Even as a resident, he’d never felt this ill-prepared before seeing a patient. He didn’t even have a stethoscope. He hoped Dr. Okimba had supplies. Liam’s feet barely hit the baked earth before the driver pulled the door closed and the Packard’s tires shot pebbles into the air.
As the broken muffler’s roar diminished, another sound took its place.
Every hair on Liam’s body rose. The cries made the fake shrieks of horror movie heroines pale by comparison. His body froze in momentary paralysis. This was the sound of people in pain too excruciating to bear.
Battling the fear, Liam ran toward the first and loudest hut as fast as his rubbery legs could manage.