Welcome to Life After War Wednesday!
This is the first chapter of Book 10. There are too many pages to put them all on here, so I've posted a small sample. You'll have to download the PDF to discover our Dearly Departed.
Waving at you,
“We will have the witch!”
Many of Mikel’s men cheered. The rest were dead or screaming for help.
Inside the mountain, screams began to fade into groans and tears…and then silence.
“Why is it so quiet now?” Tracy asked tearfully as she and Charlie stayed beneath the cushion of the clothes.
“The smoke,” he muttered, feet digging them downward. He was still trying to reach the bottom. This ledge had broken off and slid, but he didn’t know how far or if they had landed flat. For all he knew, they were now dangling sideways.
“We have to help them!” Tracy cried, but she didn’t resist when he pulled her lower.
Around them, the laundry moved.
Natoli stayed on Tracy’s right as the clever teenager took them through the maze of laundry and stone. His men surrounded the couple, as he’d instructed them to do before they’d rejoined Safe Haven under the ground. Marc had told Natoli of his fears for the future, of the deaths and lives that had been promised. Natoli had vowed to protect Marc’s heart so that the warrior could fight for all people. Now, Natoli was fulfilling his vow.
Charlie was glad they weren’t alone. He was in the lead for the first time and it was terrifying.
Charlie stopped as his foot hit something hard, hands fumbling in the darkness for the light on his belt. He tried not to think about everything that might be on top of them or how hard it was to breathe down here. They had survived the quake. That had been his only goal when he’d brought them to the laundry area. Now, he had to keep them alive in the aftermath.
Around them, other people were coming to the same realizations. Through the broken stone and shifting darkness, battered survivors began to emerge.
Adrian groaned as weight finally shifted off his shoulder. The pain in that arm was bad enough to convince him that he was alive.
“I heard someone! Keep working!”
Adrian kept his eyes closed as more debris was cleared from his body. He hurt everywhere.
“It’s Adrian! Grab that end. Lift on three. Ready?”
Adrian screamed as the weight increased and then it was gone. He screamed again as he was dragged free by his arms.
“Someone’s under him! Keep digging!”
Adrian was left alone as the men went back to the debris pile. He stayed still, listening to coughs and shouts, to tears and groans.
There’s a fire! Angela thundered in his mind. Get up!
Adrian struggled to a sitting position, arm useless except in the flaring, ugly pain that came each time he tried to move it.
Dislocated, Angela told him. You can’t climb like that. Damn!
Adrian forced his hurting body onto legs that shook, scanning their new, dangerous environment. There!
He stumbled over rocks and wood, lurching toward the entrance to the tunnel where he’d first been camped.
This is gonna hurt, he warned, teeth clenching. Go away.
He felt Angela withdraw as he propelled himself forward to knock the shoulder back into its socket with another harsh scream.
“What is he doing?” Theo demanded.
“Fixing himself,” Greg answered grimly. He tossed another large chunk of stone aside. “Keep digging. I see dark hair. I think this is Marc!”
The digging resumed with more energy as Adrian fumbled for the light on his belt. He shined it upward with his good arm, blinking at the waves of falling dust. The sight was so awful that Adrian needed the throbbing shoulder and every cut and bruise to prove that this was really happening. Safe Haven had been destroyed.
They’ll all be dead if you don’t get that fire out! Angela shouted in his mind.
Startled, Adrian staggered backward and fell over, groaning.
Give me a minute!
We don’t have it, she answered gravely. The smoke has already reached the top floor. Everyone up there is dying.
Adrian managed to get back on his feet, but his flashlight had rolled too close to a crevice for him reach without his balance. He staggered toward the ladder instead, blinking in dull comprehension. The ladder was there. Bodies were hanging from it, piled below it from their falls. He turned his head and puked.
Breathe. Breathe. Angela shoved deep into his mind, to where their connection was glowing brightly. You can do this. I believe in you. I always have.
Adrian wiped his mouth on his gritty sleeve and queasily began to climb the ladder. His painful movements quickly became a way to stay alert as he fought bodies for space on the ladder while trying not to inhale the smoke wafting downward.
As he reached the level above, Adrian yanked up his shirt, wishing he had time to stop and wet his bandana. Then he remembered that he had been getting ready for bed and didn’t have either of those things. All he had was his jeans, boots, jacket, and belts-tool and gun. Those last two he even slept with and good thing, he praised himself, taking out his spare flashlight. After this, he was down to the headlamp. He didn’t want to try using it yet. The buttons were small and his hands were still shaking. He might drop it and that would be worse than the dim illumination from his small flashlight.
Far above, Adrian saw a shadow illuminated by an orange glow. The man hefted himself onto the level with the fire and vanished. Good, Adrian thought, realizing Angela was likely telling others of the fire and directing them too.
“Right behind you!” Greg called as if to prove the thought, coming up the ladder.
Theo and Debra were taking care of Marc, but so far, there were no other survivors from the bottom level. Angela was telling him about live people trapped by a mess fire and Greg was determined to save everyone that he could.
“Adrian!” Kyle shouted from his right. “Can you tie off this rope?”
Adrian missed the rope that Kyle threw, but it caught on wooden debris, allowing him to fumble for the end of it. As he tied it to the sturdiest thing he could find—a heavy-duty hitch that had been used to tie up their larger animals for milking and slaughter—fresh screams sounded from above them.
“Going up!” Adrian shouted, wincing violently at the pain in his head. His hand came away bloody, but there wasn’t time to worry over it. He went back to the climb as Kyle anchored the rope to the other end of the lab and began inching Jennifer across the gap. There was a very narrow ledge, but no room to even look down. They would have to feel their way across. The rope would keep them from falling.
“I found two!” Greg called to Adrian, holding up two dusty fire extinguishers after he pulled himself onto the level.
Adrian took one and put it inside the back of his tucked in shirt so he had both hands to use for climbing.
Greg did the same and followed. Both men were aware of heavy coughing, but the lack of words worried them more.
“Someone got a light on,” Greg commented, sweating so much his back was soaked.
“It’s not a light,” Adrian answered grimly. The climb was clearing the fog from his head and sending terror into his heart. There were bodies on every floor he’d reached so far. How many had they lost?
Never Seen Deleted Scene - Book 9
“You shouldn’t be down here.” Adrian sat up on his bedroll as Cynthia came around the bend in the drafty tunnel. “And you’re alone? Oh, wonderful.”
Cynthia ignored his sarcasm and nervousness. Despite being their grand poohbah, he didn’t even know what she wanted. Asshole, she sniped mentally while flashing a bright smile. “I’d like to interview you for the Quest Chronicles. Got a minute?”
“Got permission?” he shot back as she took a seat on the boulder across from his bedroll.
“Would I be here if I didn’t?”
Adrian sighed unhappily. “No. I guess not.” He yawned and stretched, aware of Cynthia’s cold gaze scanning him like a shark eying chum. There was no heat in her heart for him now, other than hatred.
“I am sorry,” he stated quietly.
“Did you even consider claiming me and your baby?” she inquired tonelessly. She already knew the answer.
Cynthia took out her notebook and pen. “Neither did I, just so you know,” she told him, slightly smirking. “I wanted Marc.”
Adrian sighed again, bitterly this time. “Who doesn’t? He’s fucking perfect, right?”
Cynthia bobbed her head, eyes glittering like a snake. “Yes. He’s kind and trustworthy. Two things you can’t be.”
“Not in my job description,” Adrian answered harshly. “He got the good guy role long before I ever came into the picture.”
“Aww. Suffering from comparison, are we?” Cynthia taunted happily.
Adrian reached for his smokes, but didn’t bother pulling on a shirt or jacket despite being out of the warmth of his blankets. He wasn’t cold right now. He was angry. How dare Angela put him through this. How dare she put Cynthia through it after the reporter had saved her life!
“I felt the same way at first,” Cynthia admitted.
Adrian understood the baby’s power was allowing Cynthia to read his thoughts. He frowned as he realized this wasn’t the first time. He lifted a brow. “Is that why Kip is gone?”
Cynthia blanched, letting go of the magic. “No! He died in the explosion at the den.”
Adrian shook his head. “I don’t think so. I can hear the guilt in your voice and I can see it in your body language. I don’t even need to read your mind. What did you do to Kip?”
“He died at the den!” Cynthia shouted. Her face was red, eyes haunted. “After I told Angela he was bothering me.”
“Ah.” Adrian drew in a thick lungful of smoke and shot it across the fire toward her. “Confess your sins, Cynthia and be allowed to return to her herd.”
“I thought that’s why she sent me to you,” Cynthia whispered, red cheeks starting to pale. “My hatred of Matt and my desire for her mate were bad, but when I told her about Kip, I wanted him gone too. She knew that’s why I came to her even after I’d already handled it.”
Adrian waited for more, resisting the urge to look in her memories and see how she’d handled it.
“I’ve become corrupt.” Cynthia looked at him with confused anger. “How?”
“Your secret plans to take Marc from her?” Adrian guessed.
Cynthia flinched from the perfect shot. “She can’t know that!”
Cynthia began to shake. “I’m not coming out of this mountain alive.”
Adrian tried hard to find compassion or even a bond to the powerful child he could feel sweeping him intently, but all he found was pity. “I’m sorry, Cyn. You crossed a line with her. She’s the only one who can forgive you for that error in judgement.”
“Because you aren’t sorry?” Adrian asked.
Cynthia slowly stood up, interview forgotten. She starred down at him with a layer of insanity showing. “Why can’t you be like him?”
Adrian glared back, full of resentment again. “Because this world requires more than a boy scout and you know it!” He jerked a hand toward the tunnel. “Maybe Marc can save you since I’m the piece of shit.”
Cynthia wanted to deny that was what she had come for, but she couldn’t. Deep down, she had hoped Adrian would claim her.
Adrian forced himself to stay put, not letting her misery or fear through. “Confess your sins to her and beg forgiveness. Then stay away from her mate.”
“What if I’m not sorry and I’m not going to stop?” Cynthia asked. Her voice was barely above a whisper.
Adrian grunted. “Then get your affairs in order.”
“No faith at all that he’d be happier with me?”
Adrian laughed again.
This time, it was harsh enough to echo through the tunnels and send Cynthia fleeing from his painful mockery. Everyone else thought she had a touch of mountain sickness. Angela, and now Adrian, had figured out that it was actually madness. They were both assuming she had cracked while being closed up in here. It had happened to a couple of other people who were being drugged daily to help them control their reactions, but the reporter had started to feel this way shortly after shooting Cesar. Marc’s gratitude had flipped her over the edge. Much like Kenn and Conner, she had an obsession.
“I’ve been fighting it,” she muttered, climbing the ladder to the next level. “Maybe I shouldn’t worry about that anymore.”
Cynthia shoved that thought out. She could do it easily enough, but she wouldn’t mean it and Angela would see right through her.
“Marc will help me. You’ll see.” She ignored the curious, worried glances of those she passed. “One boy scout can be enough to save the world if the rest of you evil creatures are gone.”
Life After War Book 9
These are some of the images and items that fans have sent in since this series went live.
Aren't these great? I especially like the one below. Do you recognize the location?
Next week I'll be posting a free chapter of book 10 on here that will answer some of the questions about who lived and who died.
Have a wonderful week!
Me me me
Good morning! I hope your week has been going well.
For this edition of LAW Wednesday, I thought we would discuss some survival aspects of this series. Many people recognize the ‘teaching’ moments in my work, like cooking food in a thermos and great fire starting ideas, but the books also give a basic idea of how to:
I need to put a disclaimer here: I am not responsible for crap that happens if you try these things without researching them or before the world actually collapses. If you think you can treat a gunshot wound instead of going to the hospital, I can’t fix that and I’m not responsible it. Now, if you’re in an awful survival situation and can’t get to a hospital or if aliens land, yes, use it. I still think you should research ANY of the methods in my work BEFORE you ever try them and before you buy any related gear or supplies. All of this stuff really does require more than a quick paragraph in a fiction book to understand.
Here are a few other lessons I’ve layered into this 6482 page (currently) series. Did you catch them all?
I hope you never need to use the information in my stories, but if you do, I hope it helps you survive and create your own Safe Haven, no matter what the issue. Just remember, people are the #1 problem during and after a crisis. Watch your six.
That’s all for this week, world. May your powder stay dry, but never be needed.
Waving at you,