See the exclusive book trailer for Koepp's disturbing new thriller

By Sam Gillette
April 22, 2019 11:01 AM
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David Koepp is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand screenwriters thanks to blockbuster films like Jurassic Park and Spider-Man that have collectively grossed over $6 billion worldwide. But writing for the big screen is only just the beginning for Koepp.

With Cold Storage, he makes his author debut — and like his most popular screenplays, his first book is filled with suspense and morbid witticisms.

The book, out Sept. 3, follows the story of Pentagon bio-terror operative Roberto Diaz, who buried a mutative organism deep under a military repository to save the world from annihilation. Decades later, Diaz travels with two others across the country as they try to quarantine the specimen again before the dead are all that remain.

“One of the scariest things to me is not necessarily getting eaten by a monster, or getting chased down and killed by a monster,” Koepp said in a statement. “The scarier thing is the monster turning me into it. That’s what’s really terrifying.”

Cold Storage — excerpted below in a PEOPLE exclusivemay have ended up as a novel, but Koepp started the story as a screenplay.

Koepp explained: “[The novel] began as a screenplay idea, but — much like its own monster (known as a ‘hyper-aggressive extremophile’) — the outline began to grow rapidly and spread beyond the confines of a movie.”

But his first instinct was also on the mark. Last summer, Paramount bought the film rights to Cold Storage, according to Variety.

The legs were spindly metal and they went through the drywall easy enough, and the biggest chunk of gypsum came off when he pulled it back out. The real challenge was not to pull too much, so they wouldn’t have to replace more than one panel. They didn’t need the chair after that first blow; they used their hands, carefully tearing away a few larger pieces until there was a hole big enough for Teacake to get his head and shoulders through.

There was a space back here all right, about sixteen inches of gap between this wall and the far one, and it was dark except for a red flashing light at eye height, three feet to his left.

BEEP.

It was much louder now, and a tiny light strobed white in sync with the sound. Teacake and Naomi looked across the concealed interior wall, checking it out. It was covered with dials and gauges, long out of use and cut off from power. They were set in an industrial-looking corrugated metal framework of some kind, painted in the sickly institutional green used back in the ’70s because some study said it was supposed to be soothing. Or maybe the paint was just cheap.

BEEP.

Both their gazes turned back to the flashing light. There was writing etched into a panel underneath it, but they couldn’t quite read it from here.

“You got a flashlight on your phone?” he asked Naomi.

Jurassic Park Screenwriter David Koepp’s Disturbing Debut Novel, Cold Storage: See the Book Trailer

She dug her phone out of her pocket, turned on the flashlight feature, and shined the beam through the hole, but they still couldn’t read the words underneath the panel.

“Hang on to the thing,” Teacake said. He put one foot on the stool, grabbed the edges of the hole, and hoisted himself up and through without waiting for a response. The stool pitched and started to fall. Naomi caught it, but not before it had knocked Teacake off balance and dumped him, upside down, into the space between the walls.

“I said hang on to the thing!”

“Yeah, I didn’t say ‘okay.’ Traditionally, you want to wait for that.”

Teacake sneezed six times. When he recovered, he looked up from his semi-inverted position and saw Naomi’s hand holding out a Kleenex through the hole in the wall. He looked at it, impressed. Who has a Kleenex in this situation?

“Thank you.” He took it and blew his nose. He offered the soiled Kleenex back to her.

“You can go ahead and keep that one,” she said. “Can you get up?”

He shimmied himself into an upright position and scooted sideways down the wall through the tight space, moving toward the flashing panel.

“Shine the light over there,” he said.

She did, moving the beam onto the panel beneath the blinking light.

He read it. “‘NTC Thermistor Breach. Sub-basement Level Four.’”

From the hole, she turned her light on him.

He winced. “Could you get that out of my eyes?”

“Sorry. Thermistor what?”

“‘NTC Thermistor Breach.’ There’s a whole bunch of stuff back here.”

She moved the light back onto the board and he looked up and down it, where a number of other monitors and displays were stacked.

“‘Airtight Integrity,’ ‘Resolution’ with a plus sign that’s, like, underlined—”

“Plus or minus.”

“Okay, ‘plus or minus 0.1 degree Celsius.’” Naomi kept the light moving and he read the stamped letters under each of the deactivated gauges and displays. “‘Cold Chain Synchronicity,’ ‘Data Logger Validation,’ ‘Measurement Drift Ratio,’ ‘LG Internal,’ ‘LG Probe,’ ‘LE1 Probe,’ ‘LE2 Probe,’ ‘LD Internal,’ Jesus, there’s, like, twenty of ’em.” He turned back to the gauge right in front of him as it beeped and flashed again. “But this is the only one that’s flashing.”

“NTC Thermistor Breach.”

“Yeah. You know what that means?”

She thought a moment. “A thermistor is part of an electrical circuit. There’s two kinds, the positive kind, their resistance rises with temperature, and the negative kind, their resistance falls if the temperature goes up.”

“So it’s a thermometer?”

“No. It’s a circuit that’s reactive to temperature.”

“Like a thermometer.”

“It is not a thermometer.”

He turned and looked at her. “What are you, all science-y and shit?”

“I wouldn’t say ‘and shit,’ but I take a lot of science. Prerequisites for vet school.”

The alarm beeped again, and Teacake turned back to it. “This is thirty or forty years old. How come it’s still on?”

She shrugged. “Guess they wanted to keep an eye on temperature.”

BEEP.

“Why?” he asked.

“Good question. And what the hell is sub-basement four?” She shined her light in his eyes again. “I thought there was only one.”

From Cold Storage by David Koepp. Copyright 2019 by David Koepp. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.