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Britney King LLC

The Sickness: A Psychological Thriller (Ebook)

The Sickness: A Psychological Thriller (Ebook)

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Best-selling author Britney King returns with an adrenaline-fueled thriller about an unlikely array of characters and their heart-pounding plunge into the dizzying depths of madness.

About The Book

March 2020: Stranded on a remote cruise ship as the pandemic ravages the world, 753 desperate passengers find themselves in a perilous situation. With no hope of docking in sight and dwindling supplies, each must fight their inner demons to survive. Among them are an eclectic mix of people—a father desperately searching for a way to save his daughter’s future, an artist running from a broken past, and a hacker looking to make one last score. But what they didn’t count on is the mysterious cult convention taking place on board.

With enough resources at stake to change or end lives, suspicion and fear quickly build. When bodies begin to drop, they question—is it the virus? Or is it one of them? 

Don’t miss this spine-tingling psychological thriller that takes readers on a white-knuckle ride to uncover the truth and find out who—if any—will make it off the ship alive.

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Prologue

The world is spinning too fast for me to make any sense of it. Fear and desperation choke the air as a steady buzz of panicked whispers fill the background like static. The wind whips my hair across my face as I stand on the deck, the ocean crashing beneath me. A thousand eyes seem to be upon me.

My fellow passengers are in chaos, their faces wild and terror-stricken as they grab supplies and flee from the horror. The ship isn't as full as it once was, but it's still crowded, and people race in all directions, panic spreading like wildfire. Everywhere I look, people are in a state of desperation. Some run, some cower, and some simply stand frozen, as if waiting for the inevitable.

I search for Dad, and I feel my own panic rise within me. I see hundreds of faces, but none are his.

Then I hear him calling out my name.

"Abby!"

"Dad?"

"Abby!"

Finally, I spot him across the deck, arms full of water bottles, and I exhale the breath I’d been holding. He motions for me to move forward as planned, and I dash toward the bread line, thirst scratching at my throat after a full day without water. Over my shoulder, I watch my dad weave through the crowd. He has that same look on his face he had when he told me about this trip—determination mixed with dread—and I know what's going through his head: We should have never gotten on this ship.

Roger Atkins has never been a cruise ship kind of guy, but considering the circumstance, what could he say?

"It'll be an adventure, I guess," he'd finally said, and he was right.

"Next!" a woman shouts, and I move forward in line.

I hand over my ration card to a lady with dead eyes. Children aren't supposed to be on deck when rations are dispersed, but I'm not most children. I'm sixteen, though I might as well be eighty. People frequently utter words like “last resort” and “little hope” when they think I'm not listening. One look at me and it goes without saying.

I grab two loaves of bread and can't help the satisfied grin that washes over my face. We have water and we have bread. Everything is right in the world again. I glance toward my dad in triumph, but something else captures my eye.

An eerie stillness has draped the deck like a blanket, and an icy chill runs down my spine.

A man is wielding a gun. He’s pointing it straight at the crowd. My heart stops, and my breath catches in my throat.

I scan the deck, but Dad is not where I last saw him. I don’t see him anywhere. Fear courses through me like icy nails, freezing me in place. I know I should run, but where? A single gunshot slices through the air—I scream in sheer terror.

I am not the only one.

Everything happens so fast. I don’t have time to run. I don’t even have time to think. One shot evolves into many. Bullets whip through the air in all directions. The man turns and aims at me and instinctively, I hit the deck. My vision blurs, but not before I see drops of my blood splatter around me. Liquid heat blankets my skin and searing pain rips through my stomach. Then everything goes dark.

When I stir back to consciousness, the air is ringing with sirens and frantic screams. Burning pain radiates through my chest with every breath, and my pulse races, a reminder I'm still alive.

One thought thunders in my head: find Dad.

I push onto my elbows and survey the carnage around me. Bodies are strewn across the deck like broken dolls, some silent and still, others writhing in pain as fellow passengers scavenge their rations. The wood beneath them is drenched in blood, a river of red that covers the world in crimson.

I close my eyes for a moment and will the darkness to take me. I don’t want to die like this, but I don’t want to live this way either.

Someone tugs at the loaves of bread that I have gripped firmly, and my eyes snap open. A wild-eyed woman pries at my fingers, but I refuse to let go. “I have children.”

“I am a child,” I bellow, clutching the bread to my chest. The woman turns and walks away without a word. Just once she looks back, for what I don’t know—I assume to see if I’m dead yet.

I give her the finger. That’s when I see him wading through the sea of people, shouting my name. He doesn't stop until he's reached me. Relief is evident in his eyes, but they widen when he sees the scarlet stains on my shirt.

Dad pulls me into his arms and whispers words of comfort. For a moment, all I feel is relief—relief that we are both alive.

He looks into my eyes and smiles softly, “Abby, it'll be all right.”

“My stomach—”

He reaches down and peels the blood-soaked shirt away from my skin. “It’s not that bad,” he says, after exhaling a heavy breath. “You're gonna be fine.”

I nod. And stupidly, I believe him.

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