Jim Workman returns from a three-week wilderness retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains to find that the world is a vastly different place. In the few short weeks since he dropped out of civilization a bizarre plague has swept the planet. The recently dead are rising as feeding machines that feast on the warm flesh of the living. A bite from one of the creatures is ultimately fatal as one ghoul becomes two, becomes eight, becomes sixteen, until the human species is nearly extinct. Jim joins a group of about a hundred survivors who are temporarily barricaded in a local rescue center as they search for a way to make it through this waking nightmare.
In an isolated country house just miles from the rescue center the sanctimonious Reverend R.T. Peterson is leading a group of troubled teenagers. Guided by his visions and voices, the Reverend forges a twisted plan to carry out God's will now that the apocalypse is upon them.
In a nearby government installation, tucked deep beneath the mountain, scientists search for answers as the scientific, military and political forces involved battle for dominance and survival.
The story follows the lives of six main characters as they attempt to navigate through a nightmarish world of death and destruction. It is a tale of good and evil, of love and of the indomitable human spirit, leading to the climactic encounter as the three factions finally come together.