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"A must read for any "Broken World" fan!" ★★★★★Amazon Reviewer
"I loved reading about all of my favorite characters again." ★★★★★Amazon Reviewer
Outside the walls of the CDC, Angus's family worked to move on. But between the dark rumors surrounding the man in charge and a twisted new religion that threatened to turn their lives upside down, starting over has began to seem impossible. With more and more of the freedoms being stripped away, and more devastating losses piling up around them, the group found themselves wishing they'd never set foot in New Atlanta in the first place.
And wondering if leaving was even an option
Travel back with Twisted Memories and experience the emotional journey Angus James was forced to take during his twenty years as a prisoner. Discover how he came to be a father, what he did to stay sane during his long confinement, and how he managed to earn his freedom.
Release date: June 7, 2017
Publisher: Twisted Press, LLC
Print pages: 275
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Behind the book
The Twisted series is a continuation of the Broken World series, picking up twenty years later and following the survivors as they face a new set of troubles in a post-apocalyptic world.
Twisted Memories: A Broken World Novel
Kate L. Mary
Twenty years ago…
He came to slowly, moving in and out of consciousness over several days, although at the time it felt more like several years. When he was out there was nothing but darkness piled on top of darkness, a never-ending sea of black that seemed to be trying to suffocate him, but when he was awake the world around him was blurry and unreal and felt more like a dream. Nothing made sense, and at first Angus had a hard time even remembering where he’d been the last time he was with it or why he’d been there to begin with. He couldn’t remember much of anything other than the fact that he was supposed to be saving the world, only he now felt certain that nothing was going to play out the way he’d expected it to.
Day five came and he felt more like his old self, although still a little groggy. The lights above him were dim but still too bright for his tired eyes, and he had to blink several times to get his gaze to focus on his surroundings. But even when they came into view he couldn’t stop blinking, because nothing he saw looked familiar or answered any of his questions about what he was doing or where he was.
The room he found himself in felt like a different world. It was dimly lit and stark white, and the beep of the machines around him was unrelenting. He was so weak that it took almost all his energy to lift even one arm, and every inch of his body hurt like he’d been dragged behind a truck for hundreds of miles. He was strapped down too, making it impossible to stand even if he’d felt like he had the strength, and there were tubes coming out of both of his arms that led up to IV bags, as well as other sensors taped to his body.
Nothing made sense, but even before he’d come out of it completely, Angus knew that something had gone horribly wrong.
Time was lost to him. He had muddled memories of running toward the wall of Atlanta, and then the pain of being bitten, but the images and feelings weren’t sharp and he wasn’t even sure if they were real or how long ago it had all happened. It seemed like only hours had passed since he’d sacrificed himself for his friends and brother, but Angus instinctively knew that a lot more time had gone by. Just how much he didn’t know, and no one would tell him a thing.
They wouldn’t even talk to him. Men and women came into his room, most of them wearing white coats, and he hurled questions at them in a scratchy voice that sounded like a weaker and much older man than Angus James. But the people barely met his gaze, let alone answered his questions, and after a couple days he stopped asking altogether. Instead, he watched silently from his bed as the world moved forward around him, as people checked the machines and wrote things down, as they drew vial after vial of blood, injected things into his IV bag, and then once again left him alone.
A female doctor watched all of this happen through a window. She had blonde hair that she wore slicked back, not a single strand out of place, and sharp, unblinking brown eyes that seemed to take in every detail at the same time. She was in her mid-thirties, making her a year or two younger than Angus, and she probably would have been pretty if there had been anything soft about her at all. But there wasn’t. She was as hard as a statue that had been carved out of stone.
Days went by and she never came in, but everyone who left the room reported to her, and it didn’t take long for Angus to realize that she was the one who held the answers to all his questions. He watched her from his place on the bed, staring at her for days on end while he waited for her to come into his room, the hours seeming to stretch on and on in an endless cycle. The fuzziness of those first few weeks after he had regained consciousness made it difficult to remember a lot of details, but her presence outside his cell was something he would never forget. She seemed to be always there, always watching, like a sentry who would die if she left her post.
Years later when he thought back on it, Angus realized that he had to have been remembering it wrong. She couldn’t have been there every time he looked up. She was human after all, she needed sleep and food, and standing there twenty-four hours a day for weeks on end was impossible. But no matter how hard he tried to remember it another way, the image never changed. And then he didn’t want it to, because he didn’t want her to go away.
By the time the woman finally came into the room, Angus was more with it and rapidly losing patience. It had been a week since they’d unstrapped him from the table and allowed him to start moving around, and although he’d barely been able to stand at first, he was getting better. His legs were still as unsteady as a fawn taking its first steps, but he’d been working on it and his body was finally starting to feel more like its old self. He’d been exercising every day to regain his strength, knowing that he’d need it if he ever wanted to escape. Pushups weren’t something Angus James would have done in his old life, but this was a new world, and he knew he needed to be strong to get through this. Both mentally and physically.
He was in the middle of doing his daily pushups when the door clicked open. He paused halfway to the ground and turned his head, expecting to see more men in white coats with more needles. But it was her.
“You.” He allowed his body to drop to the ground, and then pushed himself up so he was standing. He was stronger than he’d been, but it still took effort, which he hated. He didn’t want to show weakness in front of anyone, but especially not this woman. “It’s ‘bout time you got your ass in here and answered some of my questions.”
Two men with guns walked in behind her, stopping just inside the door. It had only taken one bloody nose for the people running this place to learn that doctors couldn’t go into Angus’s cell alone. Weak or not, he refused to go down without a fight.
The woman stopped four feet away from him and nodded to the chair on the other side of the room. “Sit and we’ll talk.”
He didn’t want to sit. He wanted to charge her and knock her on her ass, then take out the men at her back and beat the shit out of them. From there he would run down the hall and out of this building, pummeling anyone who got in his way. Then he’d find his brother and friends, and together they’d get the hell out of wherever they were and never look back.
But Angus did sit, because he knew he wasn’t strong enough to do any of those things, even if he had known where to run or what to expect once he got out of this damn building, and he also knew that cooperating was the only way to get the answers he needed.
“Talk,” he barked, glaring up at the woman who was so stoic that she once again reminded him of a statue. “I wanna know everything.”
“No, you don’t.”
She lowered herself into a chair on the other side of the room, never once taking her eyes off him. She balanced on the edge, her back straight and her ass barely on the seat as if she was ready to run at the first sign that Angus might become violent. Behind her the guards didn’t move from their spot by the door, but Angus was too busy trying to decide if what the woman had said was true to really register their presence. It probably was. He was a prisoner, after all, and while he had done many horrible things in his life, he couldn’t remember anything recent that was bad enough to land him here. The opposite, actually, because he had been on the way to save the world, something that no one ever could have predicted that Angus James would do. And yet here he was, locked away like a criminal.
“But I will tell you,” the doctor said after a heavy silence. “This is your new home. This room.”
She paused, allowing Angus to drag his gaze away from hers and study his surroundings, and when he did, his gut clenched like she had reached into his stomach and grabbed him by the intestines.
There was nothing for him here. His room was little more than a cell, tiny and sterile. The bathroom was even smaller and cramped with it’s sink, toilet, and shower. A bed that was really just a cot had replaced the hospital bed once they’d removed his restraints. They’d also brought in a small round table and a chair so he had a place to eat the meager meals he was served, and a small couch that was stiff and uncomfortable, reminding him of something you’d find in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. Other than that there was no furniture or books or anything else he might be able to pass the time with. And it seemed that time was all he had now.
“Why.” Angus was surprised by how ragged the word came out, surprised by the emotion that now clogged his throat, threatening to choke him.
“Because you’re immune and we need you,” she said, her voice as detached as her expression.
“I came. You asked me to come and I did. Ain’t that enough?”
The doctor shifted in her chair, scooting back just a little so she could cross her legs, and the lack of emotion struck Angus like a punch. She didn’t care at all that he was going to be a prisoner in this building for the rest of his life. That he would stay here, in this room, week after week, year after year, alone and cut off from everyone he loved.
That’s when it hit him that he wasn’t even sure where the people he loved were. If they were alive or dead, if they were being held like he was. For all Angus knew, Axl was in a cell next to him, and Vivian in another. Even worse, they could all be dead. Angus’s memory of their rescue was fuzzy at best. He recalled running, being so close to the wall that they could touch it, but unable to find an entrance. The group had been small by then: Axl, Vivian, Parvarti, Joshua, himself, and the baby. Megan. That’s what Hadley had named the child before she’d died, and that tiny creature was part of the reason Angus had thrown himself at the zombies when the horde closed in on them. He’d taken the bites and the scratches because he knew he could survive, unlike everyone else, and it had hurt like hell. Like he was being ripped apart piece by piece, which he now knew by looking down at his healing skin was almost true. But it hadn’t hurt as much as this moment did.
But they’d been saved. At what had felt like the last possible moment, when Angus was so bloody and damaged that he wasn’t sure if he could go on, a truck had come out of nowhere and saved the day. Men with weapons had plowed the zombies down and dragged him into the truck. He remembered it, remembered how it had felt to not have to support himself on his wobbly legs, what a relief it had been to be spread out on the floor. He could practically feel his body sway back and forth as the truck barreled down the road. But that was it. That was the last memory other than a few shouts from people he didn’t know as hands he didn’t recognize worked on him. Then blackness followed by waking up here.
Of course, Angus now realized that all of that could have been a dream. Maybe they hadn’t been saved, maybe they’d been overtaken and he had somehow survived out there and been found, bloody and damaged and barely clinging to life. It was entirely possible that the zombies could have killed his brother and friends before they’d ever reached the gate. Or by whoever held him captive here after they were inside and thought they’d found safety.
“Where’s my brother?” Angus asked even though he didn’t want to talk to this woman. He wanted to strangle her. “He alive?”
She nodded once and it was so robotic that it looked like she had been programmed to do it. “He is. He and Vivian and the baby have an apartment, as do all your other friends. Al and Lila made it here shortly before your arrival. They’re all settled in. They have jobs. They’re happy. And, as long as you cooperate and don’t cause trouble, they will stay that way.” She held his gaze as she said the next words, like she wanted to make sure the impact really hit home. “If you do not cooperate, however, we will bring one of them here and put them in the cell right across from you, and then we will inject them with the virus so you can watch as they turn.”
He’d never felt the impact of words the way he did just then. Never understood how people could let words get under their skin the way they did. But at that moment, with the evil blonde doctor sitting in front of him and the image of Vivian or Axl or Rambo in the cell across from him, suffering as the virus slowly killed them, Angus felt like the doctor’s statement had crawled inside him and curled around his lungs, forcing all the air out of him in one violent burst.
“Do you understand what I’m saying to you?” the doctor asked.
“Yeah,” Angus said, finding it difficult to get the word out. “I got it.”
“Good.” The doctor cleared her throat. “You are in the CDC, in case you hadn’t already figured that out, and have been here for a little over two months. Your brother and friends have been told that you died from your injuries, so no one is going to come looking for you. As I said, you will live out the remainder of your life here because we need your blood so we can study its immunities. You’re special and we want to know why. You will give us full access to your body whenever and however we want it. You will allow us to take blood when we need it, you will allow us to take your temperature or blood pressure when we deem it necessary. If we want to inject you with something it will happen without violence or bloodshed. Those are the terms you must abide by if you want your family and friends to remain safe. Do you understand?”
Angus couldn’t speak. His whole life he’d never had trouble telling people to go to hell when he wanted to, but at that moment he couldn’t muster a single word. They had him by the balls and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it. They knew he wouldn’t risk his family, especially not when he had nowhere to go. He didn’t know a lot about the CDC, but he knew that it had to have better security measures than any bank had ever had, and he knew there were armed guards everywhere. Even if he did somehow manage to break his way out of this room, he wouldn’t make it to freedom.
This was his future. This room. This woman. This hell.
“I expect a response,” the doctor said when he remained quiet.
“Yeah,” Angus muttered, staring at the floor. “I got it.”
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