It's Outpost by Adam Baker.
'They took the job to escape the world.
They didn't expect the world to end.
Kasker Rampart: A derelict refinery platform moored in the Arctic Ocean. A skeleton crew of fifteen fight boredom and despair as they wait for a relief ship to take them home.
But the world beyond their frozen wasteland has gone to hell. Cities lie ravaged by a global pandemic. One by one TV channels die, replaced by silent wavebands.
The Rampart crew are marooned. They must survive the long Arctic winter, then make their way home alone. They battle starvation and hypothermia, unaware that the deadly contagion that has devastated the world is heading their way...' Outpost - Adam Baker 
Outpost is a horror story set on the Kasker Rampart refinery in what is effectively the middle of nowhere. There is just a skeleton crew that can't wait to be sent home until they find that there is no home to go to anymore. They are isolated, alone and the very last to know what is happening to the world they knew. Worse, the trouble comes their way, ensuring that even in the middle of nowhere there is no escape.
The story follows the trials of the Rampart's crew as these misfits struggle to survive off the coast of Franz Josef Land, a mere fifteen people occupying a structure designed for thousands, maintaining the refinery until such time as the company decides to restart the pumps.
Click below for the full synopsis (click to open/close):
The story starts, following Jane, an overweight pastor who had decided to come to the Kasker Rampart. She is so overweight that at times it hurt to walk. She uses her time aboard the refinery to run, once a day, her reasoning for going to the refinery was that it was a simple opportunity for her to lose weight over the six month period (by ensuring that she had no access to supermarkets and junk food. She heads back to her chapel and delivers her sermon to an empty room. Her sermon finished, she takes a chocolate bar from her stash behind a bible and eats it. On the way back from the refinery's chapel she passes a door to the exterior and stops. She had decided earlier that morning to kill herself that night, but she realises that she had no real reason to even wait that long. She goes outside of the refinery onto a walkway but finds she is unable to throw herself off the edge, too afraid of pain, too afraid of falling. She heads back inside with plan B as backup, an overdose of painkillers. She stops on the way back to take a tub of icecream from the canteen kitchen. As she swallows the painkillers with the aid of the tub of icecream she is suddenly interrupted by Punch, one of the crew, who tries to enter the room. She spits out the painkillers in her mouth but a sudden onset of purging prompts Punch to take a closer look and he is shocked to find out she had been trying to kill herself, though he tells her as he helps her up that Rawlins had sent him to get her.
The crew are assembled and watch a broadcast from Britain, watching chaos. Checkpoints, armed soldiers at hospitals, riots and looting. Britain is experiencing some form of plague that has turned the country upside down. It had been building up slowly but with little access to the news this is the first that some of the crew have heard of it. At the end, Jane asks Punch what he had thought and Punch admits his family live in Cardiff, one of the city's they had seen on the news. A city where the centre had been seen on fire. As the group breaks up, Jane decides to move room in the refinery, not keen on remaining in her old room. However later, she is called to meet Rawlins over the refinery's tannoy. Rawlins shows her a tape of the news that he had not shown the rest of the crew, a video that shows a woman being shot and still attacking her victim before being gunned down. Rawlins takes her outside to tell her that the Oslo Star would no longer be coming to pick them up as Norway had declared a nationwide quarantine shutting all borders (air, land, sea). Rawlins had also been given executive authority to evacuate by ConAmalgam (the owner of the derelict refinery). Rawlins tells Jane that that is just a nice way to tell them that they were on their own. Fortunately, there are other support vessels at sea and Hamburg had told them it was arranging a substitute vessel. From Marco, an agent in Hamburg, Rawlins has found out that the panic and threat seems to be global with rumours of people actually leaving the cities for fear that they would be firebombed to contain the plague.
Jane goes out to talk with Nail who was in the gym. Nail is the head of the refinery's gym rats, a big man. Jane tells him that despite their mutual dislike, she would be holding a service in the chapel for the crew, a fresh start. She holds the service, with Nail and his friends at the back followed by an announcement from Rawlins who tells them that the Oslo Star would not come for them but the following morning an oil support vessel, Spirit of Endeavour, would arrive to pick them up as a substitute vessel. However, the next morning, they are dismayed by the vessel they see arriving, barely larger than a fishing trawler. The crew crowding around the view ports are able to see that it is clear some people would need to be left behind. Rawlins takes Jane and Sian (the rig's administrator) into his office and tells them to create a shortlist of people who would need to go off the refinery. Meanwhile, Nail is thinking about seizing the vessel for himself, and he directs his fellow gym buddies to grab knives from the kitchen. The Captain of Spirit of Endeavour meets with Rawlins and tells him that his first mate had seen the plague first hand, a woman who had attacked individuals, biting them with her teeth. When the police arrived they shot both the woman and every person she'd bitten, piled up the bodies and burned them. After Punch gives the Captain some much needed food and water Nail and his buddies attack only to find themselves facing the business end of the Captain's shotgun. They are forced to disarm and assist the loading, watched by the Captain and his first mate, both armed.
When the chosen four are taken off with the fishing trawler, the rest remain behind. CNN no longer broadcasts, Sky only has a test card and the BBC is presented by a haggard man who Jane recognises as the weatherman. With all the chaos erupting in the world, they can't help but wonder if they had given the four a ticket home or death. Rawlins orders Jane and Sian to man the radio station on the refinery and broadcast regular maydays. It has an effective range of two to three hundred miles though as they start off, they receive no response. They have only three weeks until the sun disappears 'for good' (being on the arctic circle) but after some time they receive a response from Apex One, a botanical research project. Rawlins is not keen to dispatch a rescue ship for them because they would drain the refinery's limited resources further and wouldn't provide much benefit. They decide to send Rajesh Ghost, a Sikh who was also the refinery's resident fixer. Ghost tells Rawlins the distance is too far, but hard though it was, he would need the people at Apex One to meet him halfway at a whaler's cabin at Angakut. In order to save the refinery's fuel, Rawlins directs the crew to pull their belongings into a single section. Jane joins Ghost in the refinery and asks Ghost what sort of boat the refinery has (as it clearly had one if Ghost was to go onto the land and rescue the group). Ghost tells her that they couldn't manage an escape with the little outboard they had, nor could they realistically use the lifeboats as they had no form of propulsion. Ghost's plan that he shares with Jane is to ferry the crew and supplies across onto a passing iceberg and ride the iceberg further south before taking to the lifeboats they could tow behind it. However, he has not suggested the plan to Rawlins, pointing out that at the moment the crew were quite happy to stay aboard, but as food supplies ran out, then they might be prepared to roll the dice. Later, Ghost radios Apex Base and tells them to get going, even though one of their group has frostbite, he tells them that they have little choice, their best opportunity would be now before the weather got worse. Elsewhere, Punch is ordered by Rawlins to take an inventory of food supplies and to provide him and Punch with keys and a lock for the food locker because Rawlins is worried about how the crew might act when food supplies got short.
Sian is watching the seas when she spots a ship. She alerts the crew and Ghost fires a flare into the air. Through the binoculars, Rawlins tells them that the ship is Japanese, they could see the flag, though the ship neither slows nor changes course for them. When they try to raise the ship on the radio there is no response. They are being deliberately ignored by the ship. Jane continues to man the radio and becomes a voice of encouragement for the people walking from Apex One to the cabin. They are weak and have no more food. Nail and his gang had taken up the top floor of the section still with power while Jane took up a position on the ground floor, choosing to convert one of the rooms into a form of chapel. Rawlins calls Sian and Jane to the radio room where he tells them that the group from Apex One had decided to continue into the night, choosing not to camp. Alan, the person with the frostbite, had fallen through the ice. Ghost is sent to rescue them with Punch and Rye immediately due to Alan's accident. They head to an abandoned dump for Soviet-era nuclear reactors, and pick up weapons from a cache hidden inside. Rye explains that they kept the weapons aware from the refinery under Rawlins' orders but they might need the weapons to defend themselves against polar bears. Contacting the Rampart, they are told by Jane that a larger storm front is heading towards them and that the people from Apex One appear to have become delirious meaning that she was unable to ascertain their exact position. Ghost votes to go, as does Punch, though Rye tells them they ought not to. They leave with half of Rye's provisions and her medical kit, leaving her behind. Jane, on the refinery, discovers that they had been given rules for rationing of the food and spent a moment tugging hopelessly on the padlocked doors. The crew eat in sullen silence as they watch dead channels. When Jane is cleaning up she steals two packets of M&Ms wondering how long it would be before fights broke out over the food. She finds a note from Punch hidden away under her pillow later reading 'if I don't come back.' She opens it, her curiosity getting the better of her and finds that Punch had performed the inventory and found out that there was only enough food for half the winter. He has left her and Sian a map that leads to a hidden storage room where Punch had been stowing away food and other supplies, the implication being that it is clear that the entire crew couldn't survive the whole winter, but perhaps three people who hide away might.
Ghost and the rescue team take high ground at Darwin Sound and are surprised by the arrival of a bright light in the sky that impacts hard on the ground in the distance. Simon and his group from Apex One are in a bad shape but are finally rescued by Ghost and Punch. Simon's right hand is completely blue and Ghost comments that he would definitely lose the fingers on that hand. They strap Alan to a sledge, unsure if he was alive or dead before they slap Simon and Nikki awake and tell them they would be riding pinion. With a storm closing on them, they have no choice but to cut Alan free of their skidoos. Ghost tells Nikki and Simon that he had made the decision, responsibility would be his for Alan's fate as they are unsure if he was alive or dead. They hole up in the Soviet-era waste bunker and contact the Kasker Rampart, letting them know what had happened. Neither Nikki nor Simon knew what had happened to the world at all. Once they had picked up Rye, they return to the Rampart with Ghost issuing instructions to prepare the refinery for Simon's medical attention. They manage to rescue Simon, though Nikki remains shaken by the guilt of surviving. Sian talks with Simon, sharing the events that they had seen on the news while Jane coaxes Nikki into helping out with the radio broadcast shifts. They only have enough medicine to provide Simon with two days of pain-free injury. Jane decides to take a waterproof bag and attach it to a weather balloon, telling the crew that it was unlikely to work, but that they might wish to record the things they wish they could have said before she released it. Jane is called over with Rawlins to the medical centre where they find Simon with his wrists cut. They hold a funeral that day, going out onto the ice around one of the refinery's legs and disposing of the body in the sea. Disappointed with all the misery they are dealing with on the rig, Jane decides to go with Punch to investigate the meteorite they had seen earlier.
Leaving the rig, Jane is struck by how large the facility is, but also by how much larger and emptier the arctic sea appears. She is not convinced they have what it would take to survive outside the refinery, to make a safe journey back to warmer lands. Back on the rig, Nikki and Sian make contact with Kasker Raven, though they are in urgent need of help. Jane and Punch report that they were hearing strange sounds over the radio, like a Geiger counter, meanwhile, Rawlins tells the seven desperate men of Kasker Raven that he could not justify risking their sole sea-going pontoon to rescue them. He tells Nikki and Sian to find Ghost, hoping he might have a plan that could help after telling them that with all the stress of command recently he'd been considering throwing himself down the stairs. Not to kill himself, but merely so that someone else might have to take charge. Nikki finds Ghost in a pump room at the bottom of the rig, rolling an empty oil drum. She tells him that Rawlins wanted him to develop a plan of rescue for the marooned crew of Kasker Raven. She also tells him that she knows he is making a boat and promises not to tell anyone provided he is honest with her about his purpose down there, though Ghost refuses to admit that he was building a boat and after telling him she could help, she goes instead and talks with Nail and his friends in their gym.
Four miles inland, Punch and Jane find an abandoned seismologist camp and more interestingly a crate of explosives (for punching through the ice). They load the crates onto the zodiac (their pontoon). After that, they continue on towards the crash site. Aboard Rampart, Rawlins tells the Kasker Raven crew that they could get into their lifeboats and ride the natural currents towards Kasker Rampart, but with the ocean being what it is, that was no guarantee that they would even come within visible range of the refinery. The crew reply, telling him it was a hard sell and though they really had no other options and daylight was fading, they might delay on a decision. Jane and Punch return with a digital camera and show what they had found to Rawlins. They had found a Russian Soyuz capsule that had crashed. Rawlins tells them that he would go with Ghost to investigate the capsule and see if they could open it (in order to switch off its beacon, the source of the interference with the Rampart's radio). Jane talks with Ghost as he decides to cut off his hair (a big decision for a Sikh) and then they discuss the boat. Ghost explains that the boat needs to be extremely large even for just two people in order to be able to stock the provisions they would need. Jane questions Ghost's use of 'two-man' and is told by the Sikh that he quite liked her company.
Nikki goes looking for Nail and finds him in the dive room, practising knife throwing. She tells him about Ghost's boat, adding that Ghost didn't have it in him to actually leave them. She figures he would finish the boat but not be able to bring himself to escape, leaving the others. She tells Nail that she could see him and her doing that quite easily. Punch and Jane show Rawlins the explosives they had found while Nikki is with Nail. Rawlins decides to keep the explosives hidden in the Soviet-era waste bunker and tells them not to breath a word of it to the others. Ghost and Rawlins head over to the crash site and examine the ship. Close to it, they are unable to raise Kasker Rampart on the radio due to interference. They open the capsule, taking note of the warning that the door had explosive bolts and look inside, finding a cosmonaut strapped in and facing the instrumentation panel. To their surprise the cosmonaut is soviet-era and Rawlins tells Ghost that he had clearly been in space for decades. When Rawlins opens the man's helmet and sees a face with chrome-like skin, metal teeth he is attacked by what should have been a dead-cosmonaut.
Punch and Jane are going through the kitchen inventory and decide to ask if anyone knew how to fish before they are interrupted by Sian who tells them that Ghost had just called in. Rawlins was hurt. They head over to the refinery's leg and watched Ghost's pontoon arrive. Rawlins' arm is wrapped in foil insulation and Ghost tells them not to touch any part of his skin at all. They haul him to Rye and Ghost tells her no skin contact. After they take Rawlins into Rye's office, Rye begins cutting open his jacket causing droplets of blood to fall from the table. Ghost again tells them to treat the blood as if it were AIDS. At first Rye thinks it is a mere bruise or frostbite but looking closer she sees needle-fine splinters of metal bristling on his hand. Ghost tells them that Frank had been attacked and bitten by the cosmonaut who should have been dead. He took Frank Rawlins out and used a thermite grenade on the capsule. Rye discovers the metal filaments appear to be bonded to his skeleton and spread slowly. They decide to amputate Rawlins' arm. They throw the waste, blood and clothes over the side while Rye places the severed arm into a plastic box and seals the lid. She tells Jane to get rid of it who goes down with Punch and burns the box with kerosene.
Rye suddenly calls Jane and Punch over to the medical bay. The operating table is empty. Rawlins is missing and had somehow managed to walk out despite having just had an amputation. Elsewhere on the refinery, Sian sees Rawlins and flees from him. Jane, Ghost and Punch who are attempting to find Rawlins stumble across the airway tube that had been in his throat. Jane tells them that perhaps this was what the news around the world had been reporting, that perhaps it would pay to be prepared just in case. She tells Punch that he should tell the others, ensure they are barricade themselves into their rooms while Ghost and Jane head onto the island to grab the shotguns. Rawlins finds himself naked in the dive room. He finds that self-awareness comes and goes. He sees himself in a mirror, one eye black as onyx. Using a knife, he cuts out his own eye, feeling nothing and severs the optic nerve. He smashes the mirror with a scuba tank. Punch tells Sian to keep herself barricaded in Rawlins' office and use the status board to tell him if any of the doors opened. He arms himself with a pool cue and Rawlins' taser. As Punch patrols the accommodation block, he hear Rawlins knocking on one of the sealed doors, though Rawlins doesn't seem to hear or understand him. Rawlins moves off and goes to the gym, alone. He dresses himself and lies on a sunbed. He can see metal spines extruding from the gauze that wrapped his amputated arm. Jane and Ghost return, armed with shotguns. Rawlins watches them for a while, fighting a tide of bloodlust, but doesn't reveal himself. The two of them find him later in the fuel store, soaked in kerosene with an unlit cigarette in his mouth. Rawlins tells them that the disease has an agenda and that he intended to go while he was still himself. They try to talk him out of it, but Rawlins ignites his Zippo lighter. Jane and Ghost attempt to extinguish his body but the flames spread to the propane tank in the room and they are forced to flee. They are unable to raise Sian over the radio. The refinery itself is damaged by the explosion and leaking water. Punch is unable to activate the fire suppression system and instead decides to try to rescue Jane and Ghost. He is swung across by a crane into the burning part of the refinery and manages to rescue them. As they flee, Jane and Ghost stop to grab as much of the medical provisions as they can, sending Punch on ahead to the cargo pallet attached to the crane.
Nail enters Rawlins' office and tells the crew over the intercom to abandon the rig. Ivan, the crane operator leaves, leaving Sian in charge of the crane as she waits for Ghost and Jane. Punch finds Nail unconscious on a staircase and helps him, guiding the crew to the pontoon. He takes them ashore as the fire continues to rage. Though the crew manage to survive, including Jane and Ghost, the refinery is damaged badly. The fuel section had collapsed away, exploding and the generators are knocked out by the fire. Ghost, badly weakened by the fire, pushes himself afterwards to do what he can with the generators. He tells them that they might be able to repair one of Kasker Rampart's three generators. He tells them to give him adrenalin injections to keep him going as the alternative is to die in the cold anyway, even though working in his current state might kill him too. Nail and Nikki inspect Ghost's hidden boat and decide that if Ghost survives he could finish his boat for them, if he didn't then the plans Ghost left would be sufficient to finish it themselves. Nail takes Nikki over to D block, the section that had collapsed into the sea and finds his old room. With no desire to go back to the others, he takes out a stash of hidden drugs and gets high with Nikki. Ghost manages to repair the generator but is unable to find a way to transfer its output. They are left with a single domestic lead to power a single stove. The survivors take turns sitting in front of the fire. With the added power, Jane is able to get back into contact with Kasker Raven. They have been waiting, ready to go the entire time. She tells them about their problem with the generator and asks them to bring medical and electrical supplies with them. Ghost continues to get worse though and Rye is forced to operate on him by flashlight. While Ghost is being operated on, Nail has begun to work on the boat with Nikki. Nikki is revolted by Nail, but desperate for her own survival has forged her link with him, trading sex for a place on the boat. Jane spots Nail and follows him before returning to a post-surgery Ghost and tells him about Nail. Ghost tells her that he had planned to sail off into the sunset with her, but now no longer wants to do that. They shake hands, agreeing to be the last men off the refinery. That night, they spot a large storm front moving in... something that would make it even harder to find the crew of Kasker Raven.
Using a GPS, Jane and Ghost search for the Kasker Raven crew, following a beacon. They find a smashed portion of a lifeboat with the beacon attached and a drowned crewman. As they head back, Ghost suddenly swerves to avoid an iceberg coming out of the mist, only to realise that it is in fact a massive passenger liner called Hyperion. They get back and wake the others. Jane arms herself with a shotgun as they eye their potential rescue. They might use the ship to get away from Kasker Rampart but Jane would not allow anyone to deny her that. Given how fast the ship is drifting, they do not have time to ferry the guys on the island over. Aboard the ship, the manage to access the bridge but find many of the access ways to be barricaded and marked with red crosses. However, the lure of fresh water, electricity, warmth and potential food supplies draws them to search the ship for the master ignition. Jane and Ghost find the purser's office and the keys. Punch stands on the skylight to the ship's ballroom and listens to the music over the PA as the engines and generators are restarted, but he's more concerned with the fact that the bodies in the ballroom have begun to stir. After discovering how to drop the anchors manually, they head back to Kasker Rampart to sell the crew on the idea. Most of the crew are delighted by the promise Jane offers, though Nikki finds she'd rather trust Nail and his boat (she had also been learning from a book how to sail the boat on her own, telling herself she might not even need him). Rye, the doctor also has little faith in Jane.
Aboard the Hyperion they decide to organise raiding parties to find food and supplies and Jane finds the captain's diary. Reading through it she learns of the ship's loss, how the infection aboard had started with a single waiter taken on at port. How the ship's engines had been shut down. The Captain and his crew were slowly whittled down to a mere seventy-four by the infected until they chose to leave the ship and try to use the lifeboats to land ashore. Ghost and Punch are let out of the barricaded section and make their way to the engine room. They encounter an infected engineer and swiftly dispatch him before turning on the engines. As the ship's engines wake up, some of the barricades begin to shake as the infected passengers begin to try to gain entry. Ghost examines the engineer's body, surprised to find that even his brain had been converted into metal, spotting metal filaments coming out of his nose. As they leave, heading towards the bridge again, Jane begins experimenting with steering the ship before setting a course for Kasker Rampart. However, the infected passengers show signs of being able to break into the bridge through a partially ajar door. Jane assists Ivan in slamming it shut, but both are horrified when an arm severed by the door continues to move. Punch and Ghost are trapped in the ship by a group of passengers. The bridge is attacked by the infected and Ivan is brought down by them as Jane finds herself trapped on the roof of the bridge. The Rampart crew watch and find their excitement turning to dismay as the passenger liner scrapes the refinery and plows onwards towards the island without slowing. Dr. Rye rescues Ghost, Punch and Jane each after the crash after Ghost and Punch switch off the engines.
The passenger liner has torn her plates and is beached. They learn from Rye that Nail's arm had been broken when the liner had scraped alongside the refinery. Jane withdraws into her cabin aboard the refinery, gripped by her failure. When Ghost and Punch decide to see what they can find on the beached ship she refuses to go. Armed with Molotov cocktails they manage to secure some power lines for the refinery. With the power restored, Nikki heads down to inspect the boat and opens the bay that it was held in. Jane visits Nail who is heavily drugged though he is concerned with Nikki but too weak to go after her, for he realises that with the power restored Nikki might escape without him. Nikki does indeed decide to escape and is caught by Jane who throws her a radio, telling her that after Kasker Rampart saved her life, the least she owed was a few minutes of her time. Jane tells Nail when he recovers what a mistake he had made by not taking steps to ensure the bay couldn't be opened without him before going on to meet Sian. She points out that having power didn't mean they were out of the woods yet. As Jane recovers from her funk she goes to check on Rye. She finds her cutting her own name into her thighs with a knife. She's clearly got problems though she refuses to discuss them with Jane. It all comes to a head when Jane discovers Rye had been kidnapping and restraining infected passengers from Hyperion and taking them aboard Kasker Rampart. Rye shares with Jane that the infected appeared to be afflicted by some sort of 'super-parasite.' Their organic bodies are merely a shell for the metallic growths that spread from the central nervous system. Jane is horrified by the experiments that Rye had been carrying out on the infected, worried about the possibility they might get free. She shoots all four of Rye's subjects and tells her if she did it again she'd shoot her too. '
The story switches to the perspective of Dr. Rye's private diary where she reveals she had in fact been infected. Cutting off the infected finger did not bring any reprieve as she found a metal filament growing from the wound. She tries cutting off her finger to the knuckle and is disappointed yet again. She hides her problem from the crew by keeping her hand in a glove at all times. She helps Ghost and Jane cut away ladders and staircases to prevent the infected gaining access to the refinery for as the winter stretched on, a natural bridge of ice would form between the island and the refinery. The crew of the Rampart ensure that the only access to their shelter would be through the lift system. Rye discovers that she barely feels the cold now, despite the fact that the exterior of the refinery reached as below forty degrees. She observes how the crew have slowly taken their own small steps away from sanity. One of the crew, Gus, insists on being referred to as the Duke of Amberly and directly called 'Your Lordship.' The rest of the crew don't mind, understanding each other's need to avoid sanity. Due to the growing presence of the infected near the refinery, they decide to shift from the rampart to the Soviet-era bunker as part of a plan to destroy the infected. At the bunker, Jane and Ghost reveal the C4 and thermite they had kept. They manage to kill a mere thirty or forty with their explosives a move more for their morale than achievable results. Dr. Rye has also discovered that she feels a strange bloodlust within her, something that appears to be linked to her infection. When the crew head back to the Rampart, from the bunker, Rye remains behind.
Ghost leads the men later to the Hyperion's officer's quarters. They use kerosene to set passages alight and go through the ship, slaughtering the infected where they can. After securing the officer's quarters and re-establishing the barricades, they relax, enjoying a level of luxury they had never experienced before. They booby trap the doors with thermite grenades and settle down as the crew discuss what they might do if they made it back to their homes. Jane however, remains on the Rampart, manning the radio alone as the rest of the crew move over to the Hyperion. They discover one of the crew members, Mal, dead in a storehouse with his throat cut. They tell Jane via the radio but Ghost is worried about the possibility of murder. Ghost convinces Nail and Gus to examine the underside of the Hyperion, to determine the extent of the damage. They find a large tear in the ship's hull which they relay back to the refinery which lets them realise the ship might still be sailable.
Nikki is at sea, on her boat as she talks with Jane via the radio. The weather appears good and her supplies and ship have held out. She sails on, unable to raise anyone else on the radio but the refinery. She spots a storm heading her way and readies herself, determined to survive at any cost. Meanwhile, aboard the Hyperion though Rye's infection has spread through her body she still retains her self-awareness, something that's almost a disappointment to her. As she enters the ship's casino, moving past several infected passengers without comment she is surprised to meet an infected passenger acting as a dealer for a card table and the passenger teaches her how to play blackjack. On her exploration through the ship she finds a doctor who is sane though infected and talks to him. Dr. Walczak tells them that they had thought they had contained it at first, taking passengers and forcibly quarantining them. Naturally, families started hiding their infected relatives and the infection continued to spread. Gangs were formed to kill and take charge of the infected by force. He points at the ballroom and tells her that it was there that the ship was truly lost. Infected passengers broke out of the infirmary and swept into a full ballroom. She kills him on his request. She returns to play cards with the other passenger, before he shares with her what happens to all of them eventually. He refers to it as migrating and 'blood music' which is the term for the blood-lust Dr. Rye feels as she draws closer to the area where the Rampart's crew live.
Jane examines Mal's room with Ghost and discovers some evidence of drugs in his room. She talks with Ghost, wondering if Nail might have killed him over a drug deal, something that might explain Nail's recent drinking issues. They discuss how they might dispense justice even if they did prove Nail had killed Mal. Ghost suggests finding a pretence to take Nail out onto the island and ensuring he didn't come back. Jane tells him that wouldn't work, but Ghost presses her that there was one additional problem. Ghost found Nail's discharge papers and tells Jane that the distinguishing marks listed on the discharge paper were different to the ones Nail actually had, which could only mean for whatever reason, Nail was not the real Nail. There are many people who take the job on the rigs to escape some part of their prior lives but Ghost tells Jane that the sooner they cut him loose, the better. While Nail is busy with one of the raiding groups aboard Hyperion, Jane searches his room but fails to find anything incriminating. At the end of a couple of attempts to question him subtly, Jane is convinced that Nail is guilty. After Mal's funeral, they dispose of his body in the sea.
Nikki remains at sea, battered by the elements. Her boat is damaged by the storm and her supplies within scattered about. She is bruised and struggling and says as much over the radio to Kasker Rampart. Nikki tells them that the welds were split by a huge wave, warning them to build a stronger boat if they decide to do so. That is her last transmission with them as she passes out of range of the Rampart's radio. Some time later she finds herself close to an island belonging to Norway but she does not see any boats or aircraft patrolling. When she passes a fishing village she is greeted by the sight of infected people and lets the current carry her further south. Evidently, Norway's self-imposed quarantine had not worked. The next morning she finds a floating Air France 747 and boards it. She takes what she can for herself and is surprised to find a survivor locked in the airplane's toilet who refuses to come out at all. When she leaves, she tries again to talk to the survivor, only to be told she had best leave him. After all, that's what she had done before. Confused, Nikki breaks down the door to find an empty cubicle. Her dead boyfriend's voice taunts her as she questions her sanity. She asks the voice if he could take her back to Kasker Rampart. She sits later, eating crackers and watches red lights in the distance. The wrong time of day, wrong point of the compass for sunset. Europe is burning.
Rye is still self-aware but now suffers blackouts. During each blackout she finds herself in a new part of the ship. After one blackout she finds herself clawing at a door with other passengers. She starts to beat them away using a fire extinguisher only to blackout and come to, once again clawing at the door. On one other occasion she finds herself before a door leading to where the Rampart's crew were living. She finds a thermite grenade wired to the door and takes it. She can't bring herself to use it to kill herself though. She wakes up on the card table and is greeted by the card dealer. He is alone now and still himself, though he is fused to the floor by the parasite. When Rye tells him she couldn't use the thermite grenade, he asks for it and thanks her when she gives it to him. She finds herself later leading a group of the infected through a passageway that had been overlooked, going through a submerged section to appear near the officer's quarters. She tries to stop the other passengers that had been following her but a moment later could no longer remember who she was or what she had been doing, driven only by the blood music.
Nail and Gus manage to make it to the Soviet bunker, entering it for shelter. They had managed to escape the attack though were wearing mere shirts and shorts. They were fortunate to make it to the bunker as they would not have lasted any longer than that. They were halfway across the ice when the grenades that had gone off at the booby trapped doors managed to spread the fire to the fuel stores and detonate the ship. They create a fire and manage to warm themselves, using wood from the quarters within the bunker to fuel it. As they are talking, Gus suddenly tells Nail that he didn't want to scare him but he thought he could see someone standing behind him, by the wall. Nail turns to see a figure dressed in heavy snow gear and approaches. It's Nikki.
On the ice outside, Jane, Ghost, Sian and Punch make it out of the ship. They had had the presence of mind to get dressed in survival gear before escaping. As they make their way across the ice they are suddenly attacked by an infected crewman, but unlike the others, this one was driving a forklift. Ghost dispatches him but it isn't until they are back in the dubious shelter of Kasker Rampart that they realise Sian has been stabbed. Sian hadn't been stabbed by the forklift but by some debris from the explosions aboard Hyperion. They fail to meet up with anyone else and decide that they would refuse Nail entry to the Rampart if he should try to return. Jane disables the blast doors that lead to their accommodation, choosing to seal themselves in. Together they decide that their best bet is to use explosives from the Soviet-era bunker to blow away the refinery's couplings allowing the rig to float free. As they prepare to go back to the island one final time, Ghost gives Jane a flamethrower he had created using a SCUBA tank and a spraygun. In the bunker, Nail, Gus and Nikki appear to be in a bad way. Gus is still badly wounded from the burns he'd received aboard Hyperion, Nail is sweating cold turkey as a result of withdrawal from his own drugs and Nikki remains mumbling to herself. They discuss the possibility of cooking the virus from an infected body and being able to eat the remains. With Gus afraid of being left alone with Nikki, Nail invites Nikki to come with him and look for firewood to keep them warm. As they explore the bunker he asks her why she had come back. She can only tell him she had seen cities on fire, that the governments of the world had nuked cities in their bid to stop the virus. She can't tell Nail how she arrived at the bunker, not being all that sure how she had come to get back here.
At the installation manager's office Nail finds a trail bar which he shares with Nikki, giving no answer when Nikki asks about Gus' share. They cut up a leather jacket they find and chew it to relieve them of their hunger pains. They return and Nail asks Gus why he had wanted to be called the Duke of Amberley. Amberley was a place he had wanted to live in and Duke simply because there was nobody left to tell them otherwise. They could label themselves whatever they wished. Nail leaves Gus alone with Nikki as he heads out to 'explore', well aware of what that would mean. Step by step Nail is aware that he is damning himself. He had killed Mal and begged the dying man's forgiveness as he tried to stop the blood flow and now he had let Nikki kill Gus. Together, they sate their hunger with Nail weeping as he eats from Gus' corpse.
On the rig, Jane and Punch decide to go to the bunker, leaving Ghost and Sian aboard as they recover the explosives within. Jane arms herself with the flamethrower and Punch takes a shotgun. The infected that hadn't burnt with the ship were succumbing to the cold but could still present a danger. Upon reaching the bunker they find signs of habitation and surmise that it must be Nail. Continuing, unafraid, towards the location of the explosives they find the words 'Hellbound' scrawled in blood on the walls. They also find the remains of Gus. They suddenly spot a figure trying to trap them in. Punch shoots and misses before wrestling with the unseen adversary and Jane uses her flamethrower to send the figure running, partially burnt. They have no sympathy for Nail and she shouts threats at the figure's back. On the way back, with the explosives, they are attacked by an infected passenger. Punch dispatches him and Jane is knocked down and set alight by the flames of the burning passenger she had ignited. She puts out the fire on her arm and finds that Punch had disappeared. With a blizzard in full swing she has no choice but to continue on to Kasker Rampart. She returns safely, though Sian is distraught by the loss of Punch. She is unable to offer Sian much in the way of comfort or help, her only suggestion being to open a bottle of wine. They have a memorial wall on the rig dedicated to the crew that had died. Nail's picture lay on a chair. Jane feels Nail didn't deserve to be remembered. Ghost tells Sian to take out the lift's fuses as they had no more ammunition. Instead, she descends in the lift, so morose at Punch's disappearance that she sought to have her life ended by them. Her descent is suddenly stopped and the lift's motion reversed. Ghost stands at the controls and tells her that they would just pretend she hadn't tried to do that. Ghost and Jane go out to set the charges to free the refinery but Ghost keeps a small charge and decides to fix it to a table in the canteen. If they couldn't free the rig he thinks he might invite them for a meal and just end their struggle quickly and clean.
Nikki, still haunted by the voice of her dead boyfriend, is told by that very same voice that the other survivors could not be allowed to leave. She is standing, watching the rig as they detonate the charges, commenting to her inner voice that they were remarkably tenacious. The rig still isn't moving though due to the ice that locks it in place. Ghost is struck by an idea and they go to raid Rawlins' office for his security codes and keys. They initiate a full system purge and await the countdown. Punch wakes and is kicked by Nikki who intends to use her bound captive for trade. Punch is forced to give Nikki proof of life, something only Sian would know. The rig has reversed the flow of oil stored within the refinery and as it pools out onto the ocean, Ghost sets it afire with a flare. The sea burns, the ice melts, the rig begins to move. As the rig begins to move, Jane searches for Sian and instead happens across the radio room where she could hear a faint voice. She contacts Nikki and enters a flurry of activity as she arms herself with an axe. She needs Sian to drop her onto the ice so that she could rescue Punch. She does not intend to trade fuel or food with her. Sian tells Jane that at most she only has two hours before the rig would go past the ice-field, effectively giving her only an hour before she had to turn back. Ghost, who didn't have his radio with him, finds out that Jane had left to rescue Punch and hurriedly dresses and arms himself to follow her. He tells Sian to remain on the rig to rescue them before using the crane to drop to the bottom. He forgets to attach crampons for the ice and has a brief struggle to clear the rig's path. He falls into the sea and hauls himself out with the axe he brought. Left with the choice to return to Kasker Rampart or push on after Jane, he decides to go after Jane, leaving behind the axe that had become stuck.
Punch is left tied to a wall girder near Nail who is also tied up. In the darkness he can see the shape of the Soviet capsule that had crash landed, somehow dragged into the bunker. Nail appears to have become just as mad as Nikki and he attempts (and fails) to cut his wrists with a sharpened coin he'd been working on. Punch asks for the coin and attempts to saw himself free while Nail answers that his real name was David. He tells Punch that Nikki had an entire army in these bunkers, the passenger and crew of Hyperion, who for some reason obeyed Nikki. Ghost arrives at the bunker before Jane (because she had tried the Hyperion first). He settles down and re-ignites Nail's former campsite to warm himself. Jane arrives and makes her way within, burning an infected passenger that screams and to her concern, something replies to that scream. Further in the tunnel she encounters another infected, this one a chef. He is equipped with jars on his body like a suicide vest, jars filled with kerosene. He sets himself alight and the explosion sends Jane to the ground before she is attacked by another infected driving a digger. She manages to burn him and proceeds onward, finding a section of wall with the writing: 'Welcome home Jane' in blood. She uses a claw hammer to kill another kerosene jar-jacketed crewman and takes a jar from his body before descending further.
Nikki drags Nail and Punch away from where they'd been held captive, taking them to the capsule where Hyperion crewmen stand sentry, like strange worker bees. From the cosmonaut's helmet, tendrils of metal extend and fuse with the wall. Punch meets up with Ghost who had been captured and tied to a chair. Ghost tells Punch that the best thing they could do was wait and be ready for Jane. Jane's watch alerts her that there is no time left, her only chance to save herself would be to turn around but she takes off the watch and continues. The generator room she finds is cold and silent, yet the facility is still powered. The next crewman she encounters doesn't move but just watches her. Something deeper within knew she was present but was content to let her through.
Nikki talks to her captive audience as she tells them she was there to help them. She sees the virus as the dominant species on the planet, especially after she had witnessed the nuclear fires that had ravaged the world. She forces a piece of metal from the cosmonaut's helmet into Nail's mouth and swallows a sliver herself, telling Punch and Ghost that she was anxious to talk to Jane. She wanted them to volunteer to be infected. The infected clear a path for Jane as she finally arrives, announced by the body of Rye which was fused to a static-filled screen. She enters, seeing Ghost and Punch unharmed, Nikki standing in the centre and Nail, weeping and sobbing. She moves closer and throws her knife to Ghost who cuts himself and the other captives free. They begin to edge away towards the exit, though Nail makes a run for it after freeing himself. As they talk, Nikki entreats Jane to join them and instead is knocked down when Jane throws the claw hammer at her head. The infected begin to close on them and Jane buys time for the others buy throwing her kerosene jar and igniting it with a flare before escaping. Nail attacks Punch and Ghost as they make their way out, biting Ghost on the cheek before they fend him off. They continue to run out of the bunker, though Ghost tells Punch he'd be better off leaving him after receiving a bite from an infected person. They take a Skidoo and head towards the refinery. Sian spots them and uses the crane to collect them though she can't help but feel guilt at the hope that one of the two is Punch, even if it meant one of the others had died to rescue him. However, at the last minute, Ghost turns away and leaves Punch to ascend to the refinery alone, taking a walk out onto the frozen sea. Jane has meanwhile made her way across the ice, running to Kasker Rampart. She lets loose purple flares that are spotted by Sian and Punch but as she steps forward to grab the hook she's hit by a snowmobile and spots Nail at the controls. She uses her parka coat to jam the snowmobile and struggles with Nail. She throws him off and looks around for the hook, spotting it dangling 50 metres above before Sian drops it on Nail, crushing him entirely with the half-tonne hook and breaking the ice beneath him. Jane grabs the hook on the way up. As Kasker Rampart floats away, Jane contacts Ghost through the radio, and they say their farewells as they pass out of radio range, a single red-distress flare fired off in the distance as Ghost's final salute. As they float south, Jane mans the radio, broadcasting a distress signal.
On the ice, Ghost's body sits, kneeling on the ice with his hands in his lap. He is dressed in his t-shirt and shorts, having stripped himself of his coat and gloves. He will never move again for his body has hardened and frozen. A white statue smiling at the stars.
Food for thought:
On the face of it, Outpost is your typical zombie horror story. There's a disease of unknown proportions that causes its virulent victims to attack the non-infected and the disease is so dangerous that it results in the destruction of mankind's way of life. That right there is practically most zombie horror stories in a nutshell. However, a great many of these type of stories start off with a happy paradise that turns into hell. This is more a story of a rough and tough place to live being made worse. It's also unusual because most stories of this calibre tend to run on the assumption that 'escape' is the good ending, that there is no doubt some safe haven where the survivors are safe and where society (with all its trappings) continues. Outpost delivers a harder tale, becoming a story of not triumph over adversity but rather a story about stubbornness over adversity. Even without the threat of the infected, Kasker Rampart is not a place where mankind can thrive or even survive without specialist equipment.
It does raise a question as to what sort of people we are underneath. We all have hidden reserves and are capable of feats we might not normally imagine ourselves doing (both of courage and cowardice, of selfishness and selflessness). This story is about people coming out of their shells, adapting to the change in their circumstances as they are rudely separated from the life that they had been quite content with. Jane is a key example of this, starting off as a priest who had wanted to matter, who wanted to be important and have her place recognised. By the end of the story she is someone who has cast away her role as a priest and become a colder person for it. She may still love Ghost but it takes the arrival of the infection to really bring about a metamorphosis. From a suicidally-inclined fat woman to one so vibrant and covetous of life that she would quite happily take 'cold-blooded' decisions. When the trappings and social net that dictates our behaviour is gone, the person that remains may be a very different creature indeed. By social net I simply refer to the established concept of 'society' and 'community' that control 'accepted' behaviour. As an example for this, there are numerous 'survivor' stories where the survivors that are rescued have had to make some very tough calls in order to live. It's a form of behaviour that cannot be reconciled with the life they return to. They made their decisions in order to live. The survival instinct is extremely strong and in dark times it clashes with our understanding of civilised behaviour. Just so in Outpost. When the chips are down and times turn from bad to worse, it is then that we discover what we as individuals are capable of doing. And we are capable of such acts of necessity.
I did like the unusual take on zombies. It isn't necessary nor required (the technological infection does not really alter the flow of the tale from that of the same story with zombies), but it adds a new element to an otherwise standard affair. Like many horror stories though, the focus is on the horror itself, on the struggle to survive at the detriment to the plot's devices. There are no grand revelations, no great understanding that makes itself felt. Even Nikki fails to provide much insight to the infection. However, one can't help but wonder if the Geth from Mass Effect were chosen as inspiration for the zombies here. There are too many questions left unanswered by the book, but this is to be expected. We see things from their perspectives and they have no reason to really care or look deeply into the reasons of the calamity that has befallen them and mankind.
There's one final note to make here. It's rather cliche but a common theme to zombie stories. There is this assumption that we (mankind) exist rather than live. Society requires conformity and jams square pegs into round holes because they must fit. In its own way, the arrival of the infection brings with it a terrible freedom. There is no one else out there to judge them, to tell them what they are or where they belong. At the cost of the world, the crew of Kasker Rampart are liberated from a mundane existence and thrust headlong into a horrifying, bloody but ultimately very vital life. They aren't just wiling away days in boredom waiting for rescue, they are living with every fibre of their being, fighting to ensure that they have that much more life.