Dog Blood

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I’d like to thank a number of people for their help and support.

First, and perhaps most obviously, to John Schoenfelder at Thomas Dunne Books in New York and Jo Fletcher at Gollancz in London; thank you both for your tireless enthusiasm, observations, recommendations, guidance, and suggestions.

To my family and friends, thank you for your patience, tolerance, and unwavering belief and support over the last few years as I’ve negotiated this particularly crazy section of my haphazard and largely improvised “career path.” Particular thanks to my long-suffering wife, Lisa, who never questions why she regularly catches me researching subjects as diverse and unsavory as genocide, germ warfare, secret underground bunkers, torture techniques, and countless other topics!

Finally, and most important, to those of you who’ve read and enjoyed my previous books, thank you for coming back for more! Particular thanks to those readers who’ve been with me since the very early days of giving away thousands of free downloads of Autumn and all my subsequent adventures with “Infected Books.” Some of you read Hater when it was self-published in the summer of 2006, and you’ve been waiting since then for this sequel to arrive. It’s finally here and I hope you enjoy it. I promise, you won’t have to wait anywhere nearly as long for the conclusion to the trilogy!

To everyone I’ve listed above and to anyone else I should have mentioned but didn’t, thank you.

i

THE CAUSE OF THE Hate (as it had come to be known on both sides of the uneven divide) was irrelevant. At the very beginning, when the doubters had been forced to accept that something was really happening and that the troubles weren’t just the result of media-fueled, copycat mob violence, the usual raft of baseless explanations were proposed; scientists had screwed up in a lab somewhere, it was an evolutionary quirk, it was a virus, a terrorist attack, aliens, or worse … Thing was, people were quickly forced to realize, it didn’t matter. You could bullshit and postulate and hypothesize all you wanted—it wouldn’t do you any harm, but it wouldn’t do you any good either. Within days of the belligerent population finally beginning to accept that the shit had indeed hit the fan with almighty force, no one talked about the cause of the Hate anymore. Hardly anyone wasted time even thinking about it. The only thing of any importance to the non-Hater section of the populace now was survival. And the so-called Haters? The one-third of society who had changed? Those previously “normal” people who, without warning, had each become savage, brutal, and remorseless killers? The only thing that mattered to any of them was destroying every last one of the Unchanged (as they labeled their enemy) until none remained alive.

Before it had actually happened, the popular assumption in most apocalyptic films and books was that the population as a whole would immediately bind together against their common enemy and either stand united and fight back or take cover and hunker down when it became clear that something of Armageddon-like proportions was looming on the horizon. They didn’t. Whether it was because many of them simply chose to bury their heads in the sand through fear or denial until it was too late, or whether it was instead just their stubborn refusal to abandon their homes, material possessions, and daily routines, no one knew. No one cared. A cynic might suppose that the effects of the Hate had been camouflaged by an inherently bad-tempered, mistrusting, selfish, and greed-driven society, but the exact reasons for society’s lack of reaction were neither clear nor important. The bottom