David Wellington

Monster Planet

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Chapter One

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Ayaan shoved the helicopter’s cargo loading door open with one booted foot and dry desert air rushed into the body of the helicopter.  The aircraft wobbled and soldiers grabbed for stanchions and nylon loops to steady themselves, but Ayaan just shifted her footing.  The warrior stuck her head out into the blue sky, the graying ringlets of her hair bouncing in the wind.  Her face wrinkled as she squinted at the burning sands.  There were people down there—alive or dead, she couldn’t tell—and they were advancing in the direction of her encampment.  For once this was no false alarm.  “Get me a close approach,” she shouted.

From his position at the controls Osman didn’t turn to answer but the crew all heard him over their radio headsets.  “Of course, girl.  How close would you like?  Do you want to smell them?”

Ayaan ignored him, instead turning to Sarah.  She gave the younger woman a warm smile and beckoned her to come over.  “Don’t worry,” she said, “I won’t let you fall out.”

Sarah moved to the open door of the Mi-8 and leaned out over the fuel pods.  She needed to get a better look at the army below them, without the interference of the copter’s fuselage between her and the mob.  Fifty feet below grey arms strained toward the helicopter as if they could grab it and pull it down from the sky.  The dead had lousy depth perception.

“I need an estimate of their strength,” Ayaan demanded.  “Are they fresh?”

Sarah studied the crowd as Osman slewed the copter around in a wide turn over them.  This army had come out of nowhere.  The dead rarely announced their movements but a group this size required some kind of coordination.  Mindless ghouls didn’t work together unless some strong will was directing them.  What they had come for was a mystery.  What Sarah did know was that Ayaan wouldn’t allow it.  This little stretch of the coastline of Egypt was her nation, maybe the last nation of the living left on Earth.  She wasn’t about to let the dead take it for themselves.  Ayaan had always prophesied that something like this would happen.  For years they had drilled for exactly this kind of attack and finally, inevitably, it had come.  They had scrambled the copter the moment the first reports of movement on the perimeter had come in.

Now Ayaan wanted Sarah’s opinion about how to proceed.  Sarah was younger, just out of her teens, so she had better eyes.  She also had other senses that Ayaan lacked.

Trying to ignore the howling of the wind outside of the helicopter, the glare of the sun on the sand, Sarah pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up to cover her hair.  She focused her attention on the parts of her that could sense death, just as she’d been taught.  The hair on the back of her neck and on her forearms.  The sensitive skin behind her ears.

She closed her eyes, but she kept looking.

What she saw startled her.  The ground below teemed with purplish energy, dark splotches where the dead smoldered cold and hungry.  But between those shadows burned beacons of golden light, stronger, more vital—alive.  Impossible.  The dead and the living couldn’t work in close proximity.  The dead existed only to devour life.  Still.  She saw what she saw.  Even as she attempted to process what that meant she saw one of the golden shapes moving, lifting something to its eye.  Something held with both hands.  She opened her eyes and saw a living man with pale white skin aiming a rifle right at her.

“Look out!” she shouted into her microphone, loud enough to make herself wince.  Before anyone could respond a bullet tore upward through the fuselage of the Mi-8, barely missing the foot of one of Ayaan’s soldiers.  The woman shrieked and jumped backwards as automatic rounds tore through the thin skin of the copter’s belly.  Light shot upwards into the cabin wherever a bullet came through, streaking the dark cool space inside.  Noise drummed along the deck plates, pattered on the helicopter’s roof.  Ayaan started shouting orders but Osman was ahead of her.  The helicopter banked around so hard Sarah could hear the airframe wanting to come apart.  The pilot yanked back on his control yoke and they popped up into the air like a cork out of a bottle, gaining altitude fast enough to make Sarah’s stomach curl up on itself like an injured animal.  She swallowed back the vomit that rushed up her throat and lifted one hand to try to brush the sweat from her forehand.  She stopped in mid-gesture, though, when she saw her hand was sticky with blood.

Terrified of looking, too scared not to, she turned slowly around.  The interior of the helicopter had been painted bright red.  Blood had pooled between the crew seats and was draining slowly through maybe a hundred narrow bullet holes.  What remained of a dead woman lay sprawled across the deck, one shattered, thumbless hand so close to Sarah she could have reached down and held it.  She felt a perverse desire to do just that.

It was Mariam.  The expert sniper of the platoon.  It had been Mariam.  It wouldn’t be for long.

The hand twitched.  Closed into a loose fist.  The dead soldier convulsed upward, her shoulders rolling as she sat up to look at Sarah with blank eyes.  Her mouth opened wide, blood spilling out from between her teeth.  Most of her rib cage on the left side had been blown away.  She definitely wasn’t breathing.

It could happen that quickly.  Sarah had witnessed the rise of the dead before.  Ayaan had taught her what to do about it.  She took her pistol out of her pocket and lined up a shot with the dead woman’s forehead.  Even as the new ghoul lunged at her she fired.  A little splutter of blood burst from the woman’s right temple.  It wasn’t a solid kill.  She could feel the ghoul looming over her, getting closer.  They were slow but deadly—a single scratch or bite would be enough.  Her fingers shook as she lifted her weapon and tried to aim.

Ayaan rushed Mariam and grabbed her by one shoulder and her remaining hip.  “Cover,” she shouted at Sarah.  Sarah protected her face and head from clawing fingernails as Ayaan rushed Mariam out of the open cargo door.  Her undead body pinwheeled down to smack the sand in the midst of the army below.

Ayaan and Mariam had been together since they were schoolgirls, since before they had gotten their first periods.  Since before they learned how to shoot.  Nobody said a word in protest or outrage.  The thing Ayaan had dumped into the sky hadn’t been Mariam anymore and they all knew it.  It was just that kind of a world, and it had been for twelve hard years.

Osman kept climbing until they were well out of range of the guns below.  The dead kept reaching for the helicopter but the living stopped firing and they were safe again.  “Firearms,” Ayaan said, wagging her jaw around to pop her ears.  “The dead don’t shoot.”

Sarah steeled herself.  She needed to be part of this conversation.  “There were living people down there, too.  Maybe a third as many as the dead.  They were all carrying rifles.  I don’t claim to know how that works.”

Ayaan nodded.  “We knew there had to be one of them providing close support.”  One of them.  A khasiis.  The Somali word meant “monster”.  English speakers used the word “lich”.  The not-so-mindless dead.  When a ghoul managed one way or another to preserve its intellect post mortem they also tended to develop certain new faculties.  They learned to see the energy of death, just like Sarah did.  Some of them learned to control other undead, to communicate with them telepathically and bend them to their monstrous wills.  Ayaan had some experience with liches.  She had shot one in the head years prior, one named Gary.  Gary had not only survived that shot—he’d gone on to enslave an entire city.  It took a raging inferno to finally bring Gary down and Ayaan had lost plenty of friends in the process.  One of those friends had been Sarah’s father.  “There must be a top-level asset nearby,” Ayaan said.

“Top-level is right, if he can override their natural instinct to devour the living.”  Fathia, Ayaan’s second in command, leaned her chin on the stock of her assault rifle and looked scared.  “Gary could do that, for a little while.  But even he had limits.  If this army has been moving together for a long time, marching together—it would take a stronger khasiis than Gary.  And there’s only one of those that we know about.”

“The Russian,” Ayaan said.  Her eyes narrowed to thin, angry slits.  “The Tsarevich.”

Sarah knew it had to be true.  But what would the world’s most pre-eminent monster be doing in Egypt?  Everyone knew the boy lich’s story.  He’d been injured in a car accident, a hit and run, back when there had still been cars.  He had languished in a semi-comatose state for years in a hospital bed, half dead even before the Epidemic began.  When the dead rose the boy had been abandoned where he lay, only to die and rise again with his intellect intact—and with new senses and abilities, new supernatural powers no one had ever seen before.

They said he had an army of the dead, and a cult of the living, and that in some parts of Siberia he was considered to be the second coming of Jesus Christ.  The stories about him always revolved around his cruelty and his power.  They made him sound like a devil.  For himself he claimed only to be a Tsarevich, a Prince of the Dead.  Everyone knew the stories, but no one had thought he would ever come so far.

“He came here himself,” Ayaan said.  “He’s here, now.”  Her cold eyes lit up, but grew no warmer.  “He has made a mistake.”

33 Responses to “Chapter One”

  1. Scarecrow

    May 23rd, 2005 at 2:37 pm

    First comment!
    I’ve been waiting for this for ages. AGES. It figures that it would show up one week before my exams, yet another distraction. Again, I want to say this trilogy is the best online story I’ve ever read and even one of the best stories in general I’ve ever read.
    Looking forward to the next few months.

  2. dave

    May 23rd, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    It’s great to have you back writing again, Dave! Hopefully Sarah will run into Deklab and Gary again, or maybe even Nilla. Loved Monster Island and Monster Nation and I can’t wait for Monster Planet to get really rolling.

  3. Don

    May 23rd, 2005 at 3:03 pm

    Dave….great start and interesting too. Wow !! You don’t waste any time getting down and dirty. The first chapter was worth the wait.
    Welcome back and hope all is well with you and yours.

  4. Donny D

    May 23rd, 2005 at 3:07 pm

    Great entry Dave! Damn it feels good to be back reading your stuff. Hope some other regulars show up soon. I’m kinda lonely. I can’t wait to see where this ride takes us. Dave, one quick question; how is this story going to flow? For example Island was 3 sections, 20 chapters each. Nation was 4 sections, 15 chapters each. Any idea how Planet is going to play out?

  5. Bagelgod

    May 23rd, 2005 at 3:19 pm

    Ah, that was great. Well, I can’t say that I didn’t see the second coming of Jesus being in zombie form. Looks like the Mormons had it right, everyone rises from the dead on judgement day.

  6. Alex

    May 23rd, 2005 at 4:10 pm

    Hi everyone – Alex here. I’d like to take a second to encourage you to help spread the word about Monster Planet. People decide what to read based on word of mouth, so all of you, in a very real way, are the publishers of this book.
    We made the decision to give these books away because we think that finding readers is more important than finding a publisher. If you agree, and you want to see more books presented this way in the future, go out there and tell someone about Monster Planet today.
    1) Forward

  7. Joni

    May 23rd, 2005 at 4:35 pm

    A great start to one of the best online stories that I have ever read. I have been looking forward to this day since Monster Nation finished.
    What an adventure.

  8. digbeta

    May 23rd, 2005 at 5:05 pm

    Finally! If the rest of the story goes like this first chapter I’ll be knocking on Dave’s door demanding the rest of the chapters early.

  9. arkowi

    May 23rd, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    Happy you are back! Keep up the good work!

  10. JemmyLegs

    May 23rd, 2005 at 5:40 pm

    Fantastic start, Dave. I’m looking forward to reading the latest chapters over my morning coffee once again. Thanks for making my work week bearable.

  11. Captain Spankoff! AKA Adrian of Scotland

    May 23rd, 2005 at 5:40 pm

    OMG! its better than i expected, better than the first time you discover how to do that special thing that keeps you in your bedroom all weekend by yourself, better than night dawn and day, on a par…not it is better than the other two starting chapters!!! I like the whole evil russian badguy thing since that hasnt been done before ;P Dave its excellent to read your words again, shame about miriam, but ayaans old? there goes my hot schoolgirl, wheres nila and gary and delkalb?
    Dave i am in your debt, my life has some light at last, its been boring lately.
    ill probably post again soon but for now, im hungry and i need the golden energy
    i like the Cult status, like the necs! arr matey
    hey donny im back man, laura alnjo marbotty everyone!

  12. Laura M

    May 23rd, 2005 at 5:49 pm

    Ahh…i feel like a smoker taking that first sweet puff in the morning….so satisfying yet i still cant help wanting more, MORE!!!
    Great to be back, excellent chapter, your back with a bang dave! Hope all are well!
    Laura M : )

  13. Dave (the Author)

    May 23rd, 2005 at 6:01 pm

    Hello, everyone. Good to see you again. Thanks for the kind words. This one’s going to be a little faster-paced than Nation, a little more hectic than Island.
    As for the form, there will be three sections of twenty chapters. There will also be surprises. And cake. That is to say, I will have cake. You will have the surprises. If they surprised me, it wouldn’t be a very good book.
    I promise nothing but lots of twists and turns, a bunch of unforseen violence and mayhem, and the return of some characters you may know and might even love.
    Adrian: welcome back, guvnor. Ayaan is twenty-eight now. It’s been a hard twelve years and the average human life expectancy in 2017 is about twenty-five. On the plus side her lifestyle keeps her quite fit. She no longer wears plaid skirts, it’s true. Sarah is hovering between nineteen and twenty years old. She doesn’t know her actual birthday since she’s an orphan so no one’s around to tell her.
    Don: Thank you, my family and I are all well.
    Scarecrow: Good luck with those exams. The chapters we post here stay up permanently, so don’t worry if you miss a day or two. As a fellow student I’d hate to cut into your studies.
    Everyone else: I’ll just say thanks, and see you on Wednesday.
    Oh, and please do as Alex says. He has me chained to a radiator (and a laptop) and my food supply is determined by how many hits we get. I can do without a few toes if things get especially lean, but really, that’s as far as I want it to go.
    What?
    Oh. Yes, Alex. I understand.
    He says I’m supposed to tell you that part about the radiator isn’t true, and that anyway there’s a can of Alpo just within reach. He’ll let me have a can opener if we get decent hits for this post.

  14. G1ZM0

    May 23rd, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    I always knew this day would come.
    What a great start. I have a reason to look forward to monday’s again. I hope you tell us how Sarah picked up her “skill.”
    Now, what’s the best way to get this made as a movie?

  15. Emily S

    May 23rd, 2005 at 6:41 pm

    The bittersweetness of reading the first chapter in the last book of the series is terrific. I’ve been dying for the series to pick up again and now it’s here and the final end of the story is inevitable.
    I have no doubt that this ride will be fantastic.
    Unfortunately, most of the people I have gotten to read Monster Planet are now on the Monster Planet wagon. They found it too addicting. I’ll do my best to be the devil on their shoulder, tempting them.

  16. CuorDiLeone

    May 23rd, 2005 at 6:41 pm

    Thank Godness, the dead are back!
    Good to read from you again, I really loved the first two parts.

  17. mendoza

    May 23rd, 2005 at 8:51 pm

    Awesome beginning Dave. Boy did I miss this story. Pretty crazy first chapter, dead and living fighting as one, Sarah can see peoples energy, and Mariam is dead. You hooked us all over again.

  18. Carrie

    May 23rd, 2005 at 9:57 pm

    So glad to see monster planet is up~!!!! More sleepless nights!!! LOL
    These would make awesome movies!!!

  19. marbotty

    May 23rd, 2005 at 10:55 pm

    Hooray!
    That’s all I can say.

  20. Mojo

    May 23rd, 2005 at 11:27 pm

    Well, this is MY first post. I managed to read all the others durring your break between books. have to say: amazing. Really looking forward to being with everyone here throughout the ride.
    -Mojo

  21. Scarecrow

    May 24th, 2005 at 12:05 am

    “As a fellow student I’d hate to cut into your studies.”
    What! You mean you’re NOT a full-time writer?

  22. saketini99

    May 24th, 2005 at 3:58 am

    Hot Damn!!! Gald to see you’re back in action, and we’re off to a good start. I’ll be hanging on for the rest of the ride. And I’m gonna heed the advice of Alex, your publisher… I’ll pimp your stuff on my blog: http://mckibihon.blogspot.com, as well as making a little paypal donation to the House of Wellington.
    Wheeee!!!

  23. iGame3D

    May 24th, 2005 at 4:07 am

    Monster Future….Where all things will be revealed.
    The question of this episode is: does Sarah wear plaid skirts? :-)
    Great start….I think I’ll go read it again.

  24. TimmyL.A.

    May 24th, 2005 at 5:45 am

    This book starts on the same day I go back to work. I’m very excitied that the posting has started once again. See you every M-W-F.

  25. Laura M

    May 24th, 2005 at 1:31 pm

    Oh and i meant to ask, who designed the title picture at the top Dave? I love it! Im a big ancient civilisations fan so the egyptian thing really caught my eye!
    Laura M

  26. Chris

    May 24th, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    Well now, we all return, I see some familiar names up there. Welcome back all. And David, I must say this is a story that caught me by the jugular already, and you only just started. Amazing begining, and I cant wait to learn more, especially about the russian boy, Tsarevich. Wonderfully done, although a shame that Mariam had to go, you really put into force, that its survival and nothing more, making this story so far, very realisitic. Great Job!

  27. Max

    May 24th, 2005 at 3:43 pm

    I finally have something to read in the mornings again! I’ve definitely missed my zombie action; welcome back David.

  28. Gabriel

    May 24th, 2005 at 6:40 pm

    Wow, long time reader first time comment.
    I’ve had it as a task to stop by and check and I’m so glad I did. Thanks for your hard work bringing me the terror of zombies. I’m going home to fortify my home and wait for the apocalypse.

  29. alnjo

    May 24th, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    the waiting is over. well worth the wait.
    welcome back mr. wellington.
    hello to all faithful from the begining.
    bring it dave.
    chills and tears.
    you are still………
    THE MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    peace out all.

  30. Ed Adkins

    May 25th, 2005 at 1:43 am

    Woohoo!!! My addiction can be fed once again!
    Great job Mr. Wellington!

  31. todd kelley

    May 25th, 2005 at 3:16 am

    FINALLY. I’ve been reading a host of novels, just waiting for the 3rd installment of your series.
    That’s enough praise. Got to go and read…

  32. fred

    May 25th, 2005 at 4:41 am

    Good god man! It’s about frickin time Mr. Wellington. I’m hooked all over again and productivity at work is now at an all time low between 8 and 9am. I know I never really posted during MP but the firewall kept me from saying anything. But now I’m back…let the games begin. Oh and to all the people who commented about Miriam – are you not entertained!?! Is this not what you came to see??? Hehehe sorry just got done watchin Gladiator. Nice flick…no zombies.
    Fred out

  33. Feral Fish

    May 25th, 2005 at 5:59 pm

    It’s back! Wooo! As everyone has said above, there goes all my productivity. I’ll be pimping the Planet as much as humanly possible. The first chapter already has me insanely excited about what’s to come and it’s good to see everybody back in the comments once again.

New books

Pass Fail cover

Three new David Wellington eBooks are available now. These are full-length novels, and you can get all three for the price of a paperback:

Rivals: Sibling teen superheroes. Fight!

Pass/Fail: High school can be murder.

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Table of Contents

Monster Planet is a novel posted in blog format, set twelve years after the events of Monster Island and Monster Nation. The novel is complete and commenting is closed (to prevent spam) but you may still contact us via email.

If this is your first visit, you may wish to start with Monster Island, the first book in the trilogy, and then read Monster Nation, the second volume, before returning here.

Monster Planet Part 1
Monster Planet Part 2
Monster Planet Part 3
Monster Planet Site News

Latest News

Dave Will be at Phoenix ComicCon 2014!

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May 23rd 2013

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October 1st 2012

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April 6th 2012