About Temperature: Dead and Rising, by Adam Santo

Dark, funny, and filled with suspense, Temperature: Dead and Rising by new author Adam Santo is a wildly creepy fantasy—and a corpse of a good time. When Sally Mertill is driving a carload of her friends back to Green Mountain Falls after visiting Pike’s Peak they’ll careen off the side of the mountain. With no guardrails it’s not surprising there are no survivors. And yet within two days a not altogether bad fellow named Bocnic Drewings will call upon the metal drawer where her body awaits autopsy, open it, and lead her on the adventure of a lifetime—well, that’s if she’d have survived the accident. The powers that be have chosen Sally to become undead and she’s the only other person time eternal who’s been given the power to raise the dead—and control them. When leaders of rival undead clans find out, they either want to control or destroy her, which makes Sally staying undead a bit of a challenge.

Temperature: Dead and Rising, Chapter 1:

The figure moved to a side entrance looking for
the security pad that employees used to open the door,
hidden within darkened spaces where security lights did
not reach. Moonlight reflected off the newly formed frost,
making the grass a star-scape on the ground. The fragile
ice crystals crunched underfoot as a cloaked figure
approached under the building’s deep shadows. A quick
glance gave the intruder satisfaction for solitude while he
swiped the fake ID across a glowing panel access. He
grunted dispassionately after the dull, buzzing red light
from the panel denied him entrance. He should have
updated the card through one of his contacts before he
tried tonight. He pocketed the badge as he leaned down
near the pad to whisper a few words.

His words made the air draw inward to the panel
causing small violet sparks to bounce along its exterior.
To his relief the pad chimed back showing a green light
and a click of the inner lock. He slipped in through the
partially open door after a quick look to check for any
passing staff around the immediate vicinity within the
building. The figure stripped off his trench coat revealing
a pristine white coat underneath, retrieving the pocketed
badge to pin on the coat’s pocket. With the trench coat
over his arm, he made his way to the bay of elevators
pressing the down button. Portraying a doctor should buy
some time for him to reach his mark and make it back out
before suspicion arose.

He entered the elevator with a female quick on his
heels. She impatiently pressed the button for an upper
floor, and he automatically pressed the one above it so he
would not get off too soon. To his relief she only looked
him over once before ignoring him on the ride up. He was
just fine with that.

After she exited the elevator, he immediately
pressed the button for one of the bottom floors. He was
not here to see anyone living at this time. There was not
anyone left in his life that could be alive to care for
anymore. The short distraction of riding up one more
floor before making it to the lower levels might have cost
him precious time he could not waste; the ritual was
going to happen soon.

Just before the elevator doors opened, he
whispered a chant of undecipherable words that caused
the air around him to quake and vibrate violently. As fast
as it had started, the air went still, leaving behind a faint
shimmer of confetti slowly falling to the floor. The
elevator doors opened as he walked through the
suspended curtain of sparkling light.

The figure who left the doors behind was not the
person who had entered it earlier any longer. He no
longer stood 5’11” with brown, shoulder-length hair and a
light tan. He now had short hair with blond highlights,
stood two inches taller, and sported a deeper tan. Quickly
glancing at the mounted wall plaque showed the different
departments on this level; giving him the directions he
needed to reach his destination; the morgue.

Flickering from the overhead fluorescent lights
caused him concern, but it might’ve just been some bulbs
that needed replacing. “Nothing to worry about,” he
muttered. Lost in mapping out the getaway route in his
head, he followed the intermittent signs placed on walls
to show the way, abruptly coming to a hallway leading
for the morgue.

A cursory inspection of this hallway and various
rooms near the morgue he had passed proved empty.
Three remaining hallways branched off from the one he
was in. It was his duty to check for anyone still in the
area and clear them out safely and without raising
suspicion. It was his priority before the ritual started.
Too late.

Lights overhead flickered faster than a
shutterbug’s worst nightmare, giving way to some of the
fluorescent bulbs bursting randomly. He picked up his
pace as he checked the first branching hallway only to be
relieved that it was empty. When he turned to continue
the search for wandering workers, more bulbs burst,
leaving ballast covers to break away and creating a rain
of broken glass shards to scatter across the floor. Bolts of
brightening light preceded each bulb’s explosion as he ran
for the next hallway trying to steer away from falling
debris in the process. Clearing the second of three
hallways was not going to be an issue with light fixtures
exploding the way they were. That should drive off any
loose groups of people in a hurry.

Bursting through the morgue doors would be
futile and deadly at this point, as he saw the flashes of
light solidify into ghostly orbs and float to what could
only be the ritual’s center. The ritual was older than time
itself, requiring no one to be present for it to be
completed. All he could do was sit and wait until it was
over. He could not get any closer than he already was or
he would perish by the powerful magic at work. This
ritual, called the Wakening, drew in every bit of living
essence relating to life in order to complete the final
stages. In this windowless space below the hospital, an
absence of light became profound. Even emergency lights
did not turn on after everything else went dark in the
immediate area. Orbs of brilliant light formed from points
along the hallway where blasts from the light bulbs tore
away flimsy metal fixtures. The exposed wiring produced
sparks from overhead fixtures, providing only flashes of
illumination and subdued lighting in an otherwise pitch
black atmosphere.

There was a tangible pull nagging at him from the
morgue’s interior as distant balls of ghostly light still
trailed down branching hallways to their destination
leaving streamers of fading light in their wake. Those
same orbs stopped in midflight to hover in the air,
indicating a climax of what was about to happen behind
closed doors. Crackling emanated from the closest ball of
light as it grew in intensity and the air around him grew
thick. He knew what was coming next, but the only thing
left to do was protect himself from the final stage of the
ritual. Out of time and nowhere to turn for safety, he
chanted a protective shield into place, finishing the last
word of incantation just as orbs were forced from the
morgue in the opposite direction of the door.
His body did not normally feel subtle changes in
temperature around him, but in this case he felt them
from the inside, like something cooking in a microwave.

The translucent oval shield could hold out against
anything physically thrown at it for a short time,
however, he doubted it would hold up to the Wakening’s
powers. He became hot, the sensation beginning in his
core and working its way out. The paint on the walls
bubbled, small bubbles at first then growing in size. A
blast of heat from beyond the doors raced out, blowing
with such force that one of the hinges broke free from the
doorjamb on its way out. The light sucked in moments
before had turned into pure heat, causing the blast from
the inner sanctum of the morgue to be bigger than it
should have been—one of the reasons this ritual was
usually done outdoors in an open field. His mark had not
been found in time to move him or her outdoors. Trailing
black scorch marks on the walls were left behind from the
unstoppable force blowing free of its confines. Dust from
what could have been the remains of paperwork settled in
the wake of the ritual’s remarkable display, and then all
went quiet.

It was over; the whole thing might have lasted
fifteen minutes, but it felt behind such devastation. Now
all he had to do was find the mark, convince the person to
come with him, and get out unseen. Emergency lights had
kicked on during the aftermath of the ritual.

A little too late, he smirked as the thought rolled
around his head.

They illuminated the hallways in pools of glowing
light, leaving spaces in between the soft pools of light on
the floor darker than they should have been. Distracted by
a show of force that the ritual preformed, he had not
noticed it leeching away his own magical disguise in the
process. His useless shield had dissolved with it. The
tugging urgency he felt within him brought the stranger’s
mind back to task. Not concerned with the apparent loss,
he focused more on his ultimate goal. He only had a few
yards to go before entering the morgue proper.

Pushing past the disheveled and broken doors, he
found rows of stainless steel doors with cold storage
drawers lining the wall. Residue from the ritual still
lingered on one of the doors to his target’s tomb-like
resting place, almost appearing to drip from the door. A
voice began to get louder from behind the stainless steel
door as he pulled a magnetized clipboard off the door in
search of a name for the person within. Her name was
Sally Mertill. He reached for the door’s handle to release
her. A single latch securing the door broke free sending
him flying through the air from the impact. Sally thrust
out with her hands against the back wall of her confines,
a raw cry spewing forth from her throat before closing
her in again.

Her outcry grew in intensity after the door swung
open once more, bouncing back once off its hinges to
resonate like a gong. Sprawled on the floor from the
impact and concerned someone might have heard her, he
bounded to his feet, back to the partially opened cubicle.
Her exertion from the screaming and flailing about had
left her apparently spent with only enough energy to
shiver in place, letting the white sheet, fitted specifically
for the drawer space, fall free unnoticed.

“I’m here to help,” he whispered to her, hoping
she was coherent enough to acknowledge him.
He walked away finding something more suitable
to cover her nakedness as she replied, “C-c-cold.”
He saw her prop up on elbows with an effort to
survey her surroundings, taking it all in with a slow
resolve. Surprise and concern were visibly the emotions
of the moment as she took it all in. Although he could tell
she was beginning to understand what the room signified,
she still asked with a shaky voice, “Where are we and
who are you?”

He felt time slipping away; soon someone would
enter, and answering her questions could prevent them
from moving quickly. He retrieved a larger white sheet,
tossed it to her, and turned around to give some
semblance of privacy while he talked.

“To keep this simple, my name is Bocnic. For the
rest of your query, I’m afraid there isn’t much time to
cover it all just now.” He turned when she cleared her
throat, giving him the cue it was all right to turn back to
face her. “Now, if we can get moving I will have plenty to
share once we are free of this place, but if you want to
stay and find out why these people put you in that drawer,
then by all means stay and find out.”

He waited tensely for her to answer as she took
another look around, surely conflicted about making such
a choice so quickly. When she took a step in his direction,
he took it as a good sign she would come with him. He
glanced approvingly one last time at the way she used her
sheet to cover up before leading the way to the exit.

The emergency lights did not broadcast far
enough to show the damaged doors clearly and Sally
spoke up. “You had to break in to get me?” she asked,
shock filling her words.

The honest answer was yes; keeping it from
being a complete lie. “I had to break in to find you,”
Bocnic said, listening for any footsteps down the hall.
He did not like to lie, much; and he did not intend
to start off their first encounter that way. But Sally might
change her mind about him helping her if see sensed
something wrong with his words. Using the broken doors
she evidently took his answer to mean gave credence to
his little white lie of how he really got in. Whatever kept
her moving forward worked for him.

Passing through the dislodged doorway brought
them into the main hallway. Bocnic guided Sally to the
first hallway branch he had hid in earlier. It took them
passed a set of elevators closer to the main entrance of
the hospital than where he came in. There was no traffic
coming from the distance. They could see the brilliant
shine of light ahead reflecting off polished floors beyond
the cascade of emergency lighting. Showing where the
Wakening’s reach stopped and life carried on. Voices
could be heard in the distance, signaling a need for
stealth, when Sally inexcusably sneezed. Bocnic hoped
the sudden noise did not bring someone their way to
investigate. He shushed her as they made their way down
the shortening hallway to the next branch of the journey
and closer to the noises ahead.

The closer they got, more sounds became clear as
moans, groans, and the expected sounds of pain filtered
through the nurses rambling about the abrupt blackout.
They ducked into one of the doors closest to the corner,
giving Bocnic time to think. There had been more
accidents in the past week than the hospital could handle,
causing them to set up temporary ICU care centers on
multiple floors to compensate for the overflow of
patients. How many people were now hurt or dead
because of Sally’s resurrection? Too many, from what he
saw; the Wakening had never caused this much damage
in the past. A few deaths were common surrounding a
Wakening, but this many could not be mere coincidence.
As the door closed behind them, they could hear
more voices echoing down the darkened hallways
discussing the blown light bulbs and how a power surge
could have done all the damage. Bocnic suggested they
sit tight while people down the hall cleared out before
moving on. Sally, still terrified to do much more, did as
she was told. So much had happened in so short a time
that Bocnic could see she felt more than just a little
confused at the moment.

Once the footsteps began to fade in the direction
of the makeshift ICU counter, Bocnic ushered her out to
the hallway once more before she got the nerve up to ask
any questions. Her face had drawn up in that inquisitive
demeanor that he had seen on past newly risen. Standing
by the corner allowed him a clear view of the elevators
and keeping her from speaking by avoiding her eyes; all
they had to do was wait. Someone would either need to
go upstairs or exit the elevator sooner or later. They did
not have to wait long.

A maintenance man had been called to assess the
damage before any repairs could be done as he had
hoped. While everyone was busy at the reception desk,
Bocnic took advantage of the situation and headed for the
open elevator’s doors, making it safely into the awaiting
cabin as the doors noiselessly closed.

In the quiet of the elevator and looking a bit more
defrosted from the brisk walking they had undertaken,
Sally turned to her savior, Bocnic kidded himself with the
thought, not sure if that was what he was yet to her and
said, “What is going on?”

“It’s still too soon and we are not yet in the clear.
Could you give us time enough to breathe fresh outdoor
air before we get into that?” Bocnic felt his voice
sounded a little rougher than it should have been, but he
could not lose the momentum they had gained.
Sally stood glaring at him for a moment before
she spoke again. “We have less than a minute until the
doors open, so you need to tell me something more or I
won’t keep following you. Besides the fact that you’re
getting me out of a very cold situation, I can’t see
following you blindly the rest of the way. Give me more
or I walk.”

“OK. Staying here will get you killed or worse.”