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In the near future after a global crisis causes crops to fail and species to disappear . . . something even more deadly happens. Groups of humans around the world suddenly become predators, feeding off their own kind. These "Can Heads" grow to such a threat that fences, gated compounds, and SWAT-style police protection become absolutely necessary in order to live.
After one Can Head attack leaves NYPD cop Jack Murphy wounded, Jack takes his wife and kids on a much-needed vacation. Far up north, to a camp where families can still swim and take boats out on a lake, and pretend that the world isn't going to hell.
But the Can Heads are never far away, and nothing is quite what it seems in Paterville. . . .
Doesn’t everything these days? Jack thought. Real food, real fruit, vegetables, or even more rare, meat—when available—were incredibly expensive. The fact that the Paterville Camp offered regular meals, with food fresh from their own protected farm area, seemed nothing short of miraculous. The kids couldn’t wait. For that, and the swimming, the boats, the fireworks, the mountains. Like going to a different planet. And despite his fears, Jack started to feel as if this was something he should look forward to.
Unlikely anything would even come close. The outer fence electric, the inner fence taller, with two feet of razor ribbon at its top. This camp is a fucking fortress. Nobody gets in, he thought. He heard a blast, the fireworks about to begin. * * * Tom Blair gave Jack a nudge. Everyone’s eyes turned upward, waiting. “Want a swig? ” “My head’s still ringing from last night. ” “I hear you—stuff can be painful. ” Tom took a gulp, then nodded at the beach full of people. “It’s like the world is still the same, hm?
Otherwise they’d only have toys and bathing suits. ” Jack turned back to the freezer chest and closed the lid. Two snaps on either side locked the top down tight. “I’ll put this in the Explorer. ” He picked up the chest and walked out the kitchen door to the car outside. * * * Jack backed up the SUV slowly. Not that there was any real danger of a kid racing by on his bike. Kids playing in streets … just not something that happened anymore. Everyone sat quietly, as if they all knew that this trip, this vacation was a big thing.
He held back on his second strike until that wild arc had been completed. And when that had happened, the man’s midsection lay wide open to an attack. Another jab, this one straight at the man’s guts, then a violent pull up. The whirr of the gas-powered saw right behind Jack. He left the blade buried. Saving a precious second or two. He spun around, the move agony now. Dunphy marched toward him like a human tank, stepping on and over his partner. Dunphy kept jabbing with the saw. A stupid grin still filled his face.
She had seen Jack in there a minute ago, but now he wasn’t there. Maybe checking out the restrooms? “He’ll be right back. Just…” Just what? Come on. What are you doing in there? Christie waited. 13 The Decision Jack felt the body on him, then smelled the breath, the mouth close to his head. Classic Can Head strategy. Go for the neck. Like any feral creature, any trained predator. Immobilize your prey. Bite down. The attack in Red Hook all over again. Jack’s head turned to the side, meshed in the wire newspaper rack.