Thursday 31 July 2014

The Catastrophe Theory Chapter Nine - Shalini Boland


The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter Nine (Shalini Boland)

Fear turned Jared’s body cold. He peeled his hand away from Cassie’s mouth and they stared at one other, wide-eyed. Disbelieving. Silent. The Institute wouldn’t hurt Eve. They wouldn’t dare, surely? She was one of them. She was too important. Eve was the one who had given them the means in the first place. She was vital to their plan−whatever it was−wasn’t she? But no, they weren’t bluffing; they had just killed Rourke.
“Mommy,” Cassie whispered. “Mommy!” she screamed, this time. “Daddy, don’t let them hurt her!”
Jared crouched down and pulled his trembling daughter close to him, kissing her damp hair, inhaling her sweet scent, wishing he could’ve prevented her from hearing Emerson’s chilling words on the radio. He lowered his face, so his cheek rested next to hers, and he whispered in her ear through gritted teeth. “No one is hurting Mommy. Do you hear me, Cassie? No one.”
“But that man said . . . “
Jared jerked his head back and stared into his daughter’s terrified eyes. “That man’s an idiot,” he said. He’s lying.”
“You promise she’ll be okay?”
Still gripping the radio in his right fist, he squeezed it hard, imagining it was Emerson’s head. Imagining crushing it into a mass of wires and circuits and brains and blood. Emerson’s grin turning to terror as he squeezed . . . Jared shook himself; he was losing the plot.
Cassie’s screams would have alerted anyone close by to their whereabouts. He had to get them out of there. The camp was compromised for now and he didn’t have time to scope it out. There was no time to bury his dead friends. No time to mourn them even. He had to save Eve and he had to protect Cassie. Scooping his daughter up into stiff, aching arms, he jogged out of the camp security gate and back toward the ragged tree line. The fast-gathering darkness now almost absolute. Their breaths uneven and raw. Cassie’s sweat-soaked body, making his arms and hands slick.
“Jared, did you hear me?” Emerson’s voice on the radio, infused with a note of irritation.
As he ran, Jared pressed the radio button. “Yes. Yes, I heard you.” He came to a stop about twenty yards inside the woodland, squatted, and propped his daughter up against a broad-trunked tree. “Wait here, sweetie,” he whispered. Pushing himself upright, he took a few paces back the way he’d come, staring across at the dark shape of the camp. The calm, quiet night mocked the rising panic crashing through his body, just as the enduring landscape mocked the ongoing turmoil of humanity. “What is it you want, Emerson?” Jared exhaled. “Whatever it is, it’s yours. Just let Eve go and then you can carry on with whatever twisted plan you’ve got going on. But leave us out of it.”
“Glad you’re seeing sense, Jared.”
“How do I know you’ve even got her there? You could be . . .”
“Jared?” Eve’s voice came low and defeated over the airwaves.
“Baby, have they hurt you? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine . . . I love you.” Her voice broke, and then she yelled: “Forget me! Take Cassie and get as far away as you . . .” A squeal and a thud cut her off.
“Eve! Evie!” he hissed.
“She’s alive for now.” Emerson’s voice was back on the radio. “But I’m afraid that little stunt earned her a pretty little bruise on her face . . . and possibly a few broken ribs.”
Jared wanted to unleash all hell on the man, but Cassie was close by, her staccato sobs and shivers sending stabs of anguish through him. He had to keep things as calm as possible, for her sake. She was too young to hear any of this, but it was more dangerous to move her completely out of earshot.
“Tell me what you want,” Jared repeated flatly.
“It’s quite simple. We’ll do a straight swap.”
Jared wondered what this powerful man could possibly want from him. His brain trawled the list of possibilities. Too bad he’d lost all his electronic devices. If Emerson wanted any of his working tech kit he was screwed.
“Eve for Cassie,” Emerson said.
For a moment, the impossible words hung in the air.
“You . . . You want Cassie?” Jared thought he must have heard wrong.
“That’s what I said.”
Jared choked out a short laugh. “You’re dreaming. If you think I would ever hand over my little girl to anyone−let alone a murderer. What could you possibly want with my eight-year-old daughter? You’re crazy.”
“So should I shoot Eve? Or slit her throat? You can choose.”
Jared’s mind went numb. His head swam and for a moment he thought he might throw up. This could not be happening. Why had he let Eve go off like that? What kind of a husband was he who would just let his wife go off into the murderous black night on her own, while he cowered in the house like a . . . like a . . . But she hadn’t given him a choice. Cassie was sick and Eve had had to go. There was nothing he could’ve done to stop her. Was there?
“Don’t hurt my wife,” Jared said. “Please. There must be something else you need. Anything. I’ll get you anything else. Whatever you want.” He realized he was crying. His anger had evaporated and desperation had slayed him. He sank to the ground and swiped a hand across his face.
“I’ve told you what I want, Jared. You know I won’t settle for anything else. Bring her to me and you and Eve can go free. Your daughter is sick. You know she won’t survive out there. She has days left. Weeks if she’s lucky. With me she’ll have a chance at life.”
“Shut up,” Jared snarled. “Shut your mouth. You’re not getting my daughter. However long she’s got, she won’t be spending a second of her precious, beautiful life with you! Why? Why is Cassie so important to you?”
“Calm down, Jared. Take a breath and listen to me. I’m going to tell you something. Something that is the God’s honest truth. Something that might make this trade much easier for you.”
Jared ran his hands through his hair and waited for the man to speak. Not holding out any hope that Emerson’s words would hold comfort, or make anything ‘easier’. Knowing that nothing would induce him to turn over his daughter to a lunatic.
“Jared . . . Cassie’s not your daughter.”


Wednesday 30 July 2014

The Catastrophe Theory Chapter 8 - Megan Thomason


The Conspiracy Theory: Chapter Eight (Megan Thomason)

Thoughts of Rourke Mullen filled Jared’s mind as he trudged through a familiar ravine. Rourke, head of research at the Institute of Progress, had first approached Jared at Eve’s company picnic two years prior. Jared delighted in Rourke’s penchant for preparedness, so he told him all about his Adventure Base Camp. As it happened, Rourke sought an outlet for his three teenage sons’ endless energy and thought the ABC Camp fit the bill. The two men agreed to meet for drinks the following evening as Rourke had several ideas for taking the Jared’s camp to “the next level.” Over drinks, a partnership was formed and a charter brewed, yet another thing Jared kept from Eve.
As Jared watched the sun set behind the ridge in the distance, he fiddled with the sole working electronic device in his possession, a very sophisticated two-way radio. It was his connection to Rourke, the Institute…and Eve. Should I make the call? Can Rourke be trusted? Those were the million dollar questions and the ones he spent the last seventy-two hours contemplating, distracting himself from the pain of the journey. Jared had always considered Rourke a visionary, his ramblings prophetic. But now? He was positive that Rourke had either made sure his predictions came to pass or had knowledge of someone else’s plan and wanted to prepare for the inevitable. It has to be the latter. Jared had always been a good judge of character. He couldn’t bear to think he was wrong about Rourke.
Rourke had smuggled out prototypes of every Institute creation but one—the one that Rourke claimed kept him up at night, the one that was a game changer. The one that likely caused all of this—Eve’s creation. Jared didn’t know the details of the device—just that, “Used properly, it would eliminate any threats to national security. However, in the wrong hands, it would be the end of life as we know it.” Jared saw the dark circles under Rourke’s eyes, the worry in his brow as he talked about it. If he faked his concern, he deserved an Academy Award for the performance.
Jared stopped to catch his breath before attempting to climb the steep hill in front of him. In his mind’s eye, he saw the camp just beyond the ridge, over the stream, and beyond the orange groves. Is it in tact? Have the others gathered there? He went through the list of “locals,” counting them off on his fingers. Three at the camp. Thirteen within a twenty mile radius. Upwards of forty within fifty miles.
Cassie snored softly in his ear, asleep in the sling Jared had fashioned for her. Her sickly sweet breath caressed his neck. Sweat dripped down her curls. She needed medical attention and soon. Jared’s right hand man Percy had once been an EMT. He lived at the camp alongside Ed and Wade, two ex-marines. Together, they served as Jared’s staff. Jared needed to get Cassie to Percy, his own rest be damned. Three days of traveling at full throttle with sixty-five pounds of dead weight hanging off his neck—first through small towns full of looters and thugs, and then through dense forest—had sapped all his energy. His only rest was forty-eight hours ago in a dumpster at the edge of a town. The meager water and protein bar rations had done little to bolster Jared’s strength.
Jared rubbed his hand along his jaw, feeling the effects of days without a shave. He chuckled at how livid Eve would be. “Scruff is hot, a scraggly beard is not,” she’d say as she handed him his razor. Had she reached the Institute? Could they fix this? Jared shook his head, disappointed in himself. His job wasn’t to worry about whether the problem was fixed. His job was to assume it couldn’t be fixed and to help the nation’s new generation of leaders survive long enough to rebuild the new order.
The temptation to turn on the radio and make the call was strong but the desire to get Cassie to camp and help was stronger. Jared took a swig of water and pressed forward. He wouldn’t need the light of the sun to reach camp. Every felled branch, tangle of roots, and change of elevation had been seared into his memory long ago.
Jared imagined the crickets to be singing a tune, urging him towards the finish line. When the camp fence came into view, he found a reserve of energy and made swift progress the final quarter mile. He grabbed for his water bottle to wet his lips and whistle a signal to his men, warning them of his approach. Given the circumstances, they’d be armed and ready for an attack. He awaited their response for ten, twenty, thirty, then sixty long seconds. Silence. Jared repeated his sequence of short and long whistles but even the crickets stayed quiet.
“Daddy, are we here?” Cassie whispered in a weak voice. Jared lifted her from the sling and set her down at the base of a large tree. He raised his finger to his lips and motioned for her to stay put. She whimpered in protest, but he repeated his hand gestures, letting her know that he was going to see if the camp was safe to enter.
Maybe they’re all holed up in the bunker. Jared and his crew had excavated a bomb shelter below the camp kitchen a year prior. At most, it could hold a dozen, but those lucky few could live off the supplies for well over a year.
Jared followed the fence line a few hundred feet until he reached a hidden gate, the lock powered by a solar keypad. He entered the six digit code and then propped open the gate in case he needed to get back to Cassie quickly. A pungent odor filled the air, all too reminiscent of his journey here. Death at every turn. He pulled his shirt up over his mouth and picked up his pace.
A gasp escaped his mouth when he saw them. Lined up, side by side in the camp’s outdoor classroom, three bodies, each with a bullet hole in their head. Percy, Ed, and Wade. From the stench and decomposition of the bodies, they had been here for days. Jared crumpled to the ground, dry heaving into the stony soil, mourning for his best friends and colleagues. It wasn’t until he heard snapping branches and telltale footsteps that he gathered his wits about him, yanking his gun from his harness and raising it.
Jared dropped the gun just as fast when he saw his daughter standing before him, tears in her eyes. He ran to her, trying to shield her from the sight of the corpses. Cassie had been close enough with these men to call them each, “Uncle.”
All thoughts of training the next generation of leaders were discarded, replaced with yearning for revenge. Jared needed to know who was responsible—for the deaths of these men, for the carnage of everything he held dear. He would not waste another moment. Gripping Cassie tight with his left hand, he used his right to switch the radio on, push the button, and to enter his authorization code.
“Took you long enough, Alphabet.” Rourke knew better than to call him that. Something had to be wrong. The last time Rourke called Jared, “Alphabet,” for naming his camp, “ABC,” he got a right hook to the jaw and had his mouth wired shut for two weeks. Rourke’s wife fed him kale smoothies through a straw for the duration. Jared told him that the next time he called him that he could expect to eat through a feeding tube.
“Been a little busy, tending to…” Jared was cut off mid-sentence.
“No matter what, keep the assets safe.” Rourke’s voice started out strong but trailed off. Jared heard scuffling at the other end of the line, followed by a gunshot. Cassie screamed out in terror.
A new voice boomed across the transmission, and Jared clamped his hand across Cassie’s mouth so that he could hear. “Welcome to the dark, Jared. I should have known Rourke would turn to you.” Jared knew that voice. It belonged to Eve’s ultimate boss, head of the Institute, Reggie Emerson. Jared had never liked the secretive bastard. Reggie chuckled before his tone turned icy. “Would you like to hear your wife, Eve, be executed next, or are you ready to listen?”

Tuesday 29 July 2014

The Catastrophe Theory Chapter 7 - Jenni Merritt


Chapter Seven - Jenni Merritt

Darkness. Pitch black and so thick Eve could barely breathe. She gasped for air as she reached for her eyes, only to find that her hands were bound tightly behind her back. She shook her head back and forth, trying to shake away the blindfold that kept her vision from her. But there was nothing there. She blinked again, realizing the darkness was around her. Not a dot of light. Just pitch black nothingness.
"Hello?" she whispered. Her voice felt hoarse even though she hadn't been screaming. She licked her lips and wondered how long it had been since she had last drank anything. She couldn't remember. "Is anyone there?" she croaked.
Something crunched to her left and she instantly scooted away from the noise. Another crunch, then another. She pressed her back against the cold wall behind her as the sound of footsteps filled the darkness.
Blinding light filled the room and Eve finally screamed, clenching her eyes shut as pain shot through them. Someone chuckled. Another someone shushed them. Eve slowly opened her eyes. The light came from a single gas lantern. It wasn't super bright. But compared to the pitch darkness that had surrounded her just moments before, it felt as if the noonday sun had been let into the room. She blinked her eyes and dared to look up at the faces of those who surrounded her.
Men and women. Dirty, tired looking, clothes torn and faces grim. People like this used to be the ones who lined city streets, powerless unless you threw a penny into their hat. Eve pulled at her arms, feeling the rope that bound her cut into her wrists. Who was powerless now?
"What do you want?" she asked. "Who are you?"
A delicate hand reached out and gently tapped the shoulder of the man who stood in front with the lantern. He stepped aside and a young lady stepped forward. She was cleaner than the rest and she smiled down at Eve. Her smile wasn't inviting or sympathetic. It was the smile of someone who had won. Eve squinted at her, recognition dawning quickly.
"Hey there, Eve," she said, stepping closer. "Comfy?"
"Ali," Eve said, almost spitting but stopping herself at the last moment. Keep control, she reminded herself. "I was just helping you."
Ali nodded and crouched down so she could look Eve in the eye. "And that was very sweet," she said with a snide smile. "But you see, you can't help someone if they don't need it."
"What do you want?" Eve demanded. She looked around her room, trying to find her bag, but it was nowhere to be seen. Panic started to pulse in her veins. The map. She couldn't lose the map.
Ali stood and nodded to someone behind her. Two men stepped forward and grabbed Eve under the arms. They hefted her up and started to drag her towards the door. Eve thought about fighting, but with the room full of people, she knew she wouldn't stand a chance.
They stepped through the doorway into another dark room. Another door clicked again then creaked open. Out they went, into the chilled night air. It was lit with bonfires. The fires crackled and danced in the dark, casting eerie shadows that bounced off of people and trees. The men carried her past the people who were singing, chatting, slurping drinks and nibbling on food. Finally they reached a fire that was separate from the rest and let her tumble to the ground. With her hands bound behind her, she couldn't catch herself. Her mouth filled with dirt and grass and she sputtered, rolling to her side so she could gasp for air.
"Be nice," Ali said, clucking her tongue at the men light a chastising mother. Someone helped Eve sit up then disappeared into the shadows. A cup was pressed to her lips. She turned away. "It's just water," Ali said. "I bet you are thirsty."
Better judgment told her not to drink it. But Eve's mouth was filled with cotton and her throat refused to swallow any more. She turned to the cup and sipped at the lukewarm water. Nothing tasted funny about it. Hopefully it stayed that way.
"What do you want?" Eve asked again. "Who are you people?"
"We are just people like you. Just trying to find our place in this world." Ali's voice was teasing, lilting and pulling like she was talking to a small child.
"I wasn't hurting you. I was just following the..." She stopped. Who knows how many people actually saw that light. What if she was one of the few?
Ali leaned forward. The fire lit her face. Despite the remaining dirt she hadn't washed away, she was a beautiful girl. But her eyes danced with something ugly. "Following what? The Light?" When Eve didn't answer her, she just laughed and leaned in even closer. "Yeah, we figured. And that's what made you such an easy target." Ali stood and stretched her arms above her head. She smiled down at Eve then started to pace in front of the fire, casual and easy, without a care in the world.
"We are Dark Worshippers, since you asked," she said. "We embrace life as it is now, free from the technology that had kept us bound. We are primal. We are what mankind should have remained, dependant on the earth and what she gives us." Ali stopped and looked down at Eve, her eyes narrowing. "And we really just do not like those who think otherwise."
Eve licked her lips. She darted her eyes to the side and noticed something laying just out of reach. Her bag. The contents were spilled out along the ground, but everything was there. The map's corner stuck out of the bag, ripped more than ever. Relief flooded through her. She looked back at Ali, who was smiling again.
"So this light," Ali continued, "has become the perfect trap. We don't know what it is or where it is, but we do know people keep flocking for it. And here we are."
"What do you think you can do with me?" Eve asked. "I am no one. Just let me go and..."
"Nope, not happening." Ali crouched down again, her nose so close that Eve could smell her stale breath. "Here is what we figure: Whoever has that light must have tech. And they must be flashing it in the hopes of bring mankind back under tech's power. So we have to stop it. We are following the Light too, but not for the same reason you are. We plan to stop it. And you Light followers gives us a nice little package to barter with."
She stood, grabbed Eve under the arm pit, and lifted her to her feet. Despite how small Ali seemed, she was strong. They started to march away from the light, down a hill, Eve stumbling on rocks and twigs as Ali pulled her along. Light appeared once more, just a small jumble of candles perched along a fence. Just past the fence Eve could make out the shapes of bodies, tons of bodies. Some were curled on the ground, some pacing back and forth in the near dark, some pressed against the fence no doubt watching the two as they approached.
They reached the fence and stopped so suddenly that Eve fell against Ali with a grunt. Ali turned and smiled sweetly at Eve. The candle light darkened half of her face and Eve gasped. Ali looked like a demon come from the very dark that surrounded them.
"Tech killed our world. It ravaged our bodies, destroyed our lives until all we had was screens and antisocial children and wars raged on the basis that our tech was better than yours. It cannot come back." Ali reached over to the fence and unlocked a part of it. A little gate swung open. "The people flashing the Light have two options: Turn it off and you all can go free. Or you die." With that, she shoved Eve in through the gate and slammed it shut.

Monday 28 July 2014

The Catastrophe Theory Chapter Six - Sarah Dalton


The first time Friar’s Lantern lit up the sky, Eve held a frightened Cassie in her arms, listening to the screams. She remembered how Cassie’s tense little fingers seized her own; tenacious, strong, yet vulnerable with youth.
The panic started so quickly. But it wasn’t because of the televisions that died, or the lights that went dark, or even the cars that stopped dead in the road, it was from the plane that fell from the sky. So many people watched the sudden plummet of the aircraft. The town stood at their windows like mannequins. She remembered making eye contact with an open mouthed stranger on the street outside. They both knew the world was changing.
No one could have survived the crash and everyone knew it. That’s when they realised they weren’t protected anymore. And no one could talk about it with the world. They were cut off. No more phones. No more internet. There was nothing to tell them how far this had reached, and there was no protective barrier anymore. The days of hiding behind a camera lens were over.
She swallowed, the image of Doug’s dead body popping into her mind. The corpse left in the street. So many innocents killed by the opportunistic looters. Lives claimed by an invention she’d helped to create.
This time the green light meandered across the horizon to an almost silent audience. Eve wondered if Jared and Cassie were sitting by the window watching, their hearts in their mouths. Her chest tightened at the thought. They’re safe, she thought. They have to be.
Eve whipped her head around at the sound of shuffling feet. Closer now. More urgent. Whoever it was had been spooked by the sight of the aurora. Unless… unless they saw her hide in the culvert.
With nervous fingers, Eve unzipped her pack. Had Jared left her unarmed? Had he packed a knife? Or worse, a gun? The thought of using, even holding a gun made her stomach flip. He was the one with training. He was the one who knew how to load and aim. He’d taught her the basics, but the thought of actually using it made her stomach turn to water. She reached into the compartments and searched.
The mystery footsteps hurried along. Shoes scuffed against the dry ground, quicker with each stride. Running. Running from what? From whom? Eve let out a breath and continued her search through the supplies. A breath too loud, she thought. She should be still and quiet. Surely the runner wasn’t close enough to hear her breathe. But sound carried in this dead world. Before the Outage, Eve had complained about the noise. Now she longed for it so she didn’t have to listen to the sound of buzzing flies and growling dogs. A shudder ran down her spine. Only a few days ago Jared remarked at the change in domestic animals—how they were grouping together to form packs. Fewer humans meant fewer pets, and more wild animals.
Her fingers groped into the front compartment of the bag. There they met cold metal and she knew immediately what it was. A gun. Bullets, too. She shook her head and half-smiled, ignoring the churning of her stomach. She pulled the gun from the compartment and examined it with her glow stick. It was small, but it looked scary enough, at least to her, and to most of their small town. Jared had been considered the scary survivalist on the street. He was the one most people greeted with a friendly smile but wary eyes. It seemed laughable now.
Perhaps the presence of the gun is enough to frighten her follower. Eve ran a finger over the barrel. She wouldn’t even have to load it—just let them see it. Those footsteps could belong to a neighbour. They could be friendly, helpful even. Her mind filled with random names and faces from the town she lived in: Rachel from book club, the old guy down the road, Cassie’s teacher—what was her name?—or a colleague from the institution. No, not one of them. Eve shook her head. Jared would disapprove of this train of thought. It’s you against them. There is no decency in chaos. That’s what he would say after reading one of his doom-mongering books.
Eve froze. There was a change in rhythm. She thought she heard the sound of someone tripping, of a longer scuff against the ground followed by a heavy thud. Her heartbeat quickened. That thud sounded close. Too close. A young female voice cried out. Eve lifted the gun and gripped it in both hands, waiting. No more footsteps. No more voices. The only sound outside the culvert came from the rushed breathing of the fallen girl.
There was a sob.
Eve closed her eyes and leaned back against the wall of the ditch. She longed to go out there. She knew Jared would shake his head and grit his teeth. But she wasn’t sure if she could be so cold.
That word. That one, magic word. Oh, Christ, she sounded just like Cassie. Eve pressed the heel of her hand into her eye socket. Could she ignore another human in peril?
Her mind drifted to thoughts of Cassie lying in bed, sick and afraid. She thought about her own daughter out there in the middle of this catastrophe, alone and afraid. Hurt. She got to her feet and slipped the backpack over her shoulders. She wasn’t ready to lose it yet—her humanity.
“Where are you?” she said, not too loud, as she climbed out of the culvert.
“Over here. It’s my ankle. I think I twisted it,” said the girl.
Eve saw a dark shape lying on the ground, not far from the entrance to the culvert. She suspected that the girl had noticed the hiding place during Friar’s Lantern and hurried over. They would have met eventually.
“All right, I’m here. But don’t try anything, I have a gun.”
“I won’t,” said the girl. “Thank God you’re here. I saw the green sky and I ran.”
When Eve approached her, she realised that the girl was a teenager, around fifteen, sixteen years old. She was filthy, her blonde hair clumped with dirt and her clothes torn and ill-fitting. Eve frowned as she bent low to examine the girl’s ankle. This amount of neglect came from more than being in squalor since the Outage. The girl had been living rough for a long time.
“What’s your name?” Eve asked.
“Ali,” she replied. “Short for Alison. I prefer Ali.”
“Okay, Ali. Can I have a look at your ankle?”
She nodded and angled herself so that Eve had better access to her leg. But in order to check the girl, Eve had to put the gun in her pocket.
“It doesn’t seem swollen,” Eve said, gently pressing her fingers against Ali's skin. “Are you sure you…”
She sensed the change immediately. Ali’s head turned ever so slightly and her body tensed. There was the sound of quiet movement around them, and then she heard a cough. Eve reached for her gun, but a click made her stop.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said a man’s voice.
Eve slowly raised her head. Still crouched, she saw three pairs of boots. Beads of sweat formed on her upper lip as she looked higher. Three large men, armed with weapons far more frightening than her small pistol—rifles, automatic weapons—faced her. She lifted herself to her full height and turned around. A man smiled and waved. Even in the dark she could tell that the smile did not meet his eyes. The blood drained from her face and a cold chill lifted the hair on the back of her neck.
“It’s okay, Ali. We’re going to be okay,” Eve said, trying to keep the tremor from her voice.

“Well, I am,” Ali replied. Eve turned in shock. The girl was on her feet and grinning through the dark night. “I don’t know about you though.”

The Catastrophe Theory Chapter 5 - Deirdre Gould


The narrow wheels of her old bike crackled over an empty chip bag before Eve realized how foolish she’d been. She’d been so anxious to get to the flashing light that she’d assumed she was the only one to see it. But without streetlamps or car headlights or the glow of neighbors’ windows, the dark was almost complete. The strobing light Eve was chasing must have been like a beacon for miles and miles. She wondered how many people had left immediately, the very first night, to find it.

So far, Eve had been lucky. She’d taken the bike against her better judgement. She didn’t like the idea of having something that others might want, but anxiety for Jared and Cassidy won out. It was agony to leave them in the first place and it would take her only half as long with the bicycle as on foot. She’d seen no one and during daylight, on the comfortable well-worn roads of her own town, it was hard to remember that she should be cautious.

But the woods were closing in on the road in front of Eve and shadows were clustering around the edge and pressing in as the sun rolled behind the trees. The dull shine of a bullet casing caught her eye as she passed and a chilly cramp hit her stomach. She was still alone on the road, but she scanned the treeline for movement. The trash on the road became heavier, plastic bottles bounced over the tar in a light breeze and soiled diapers tossed to the side were thickly covered with buzzing flies. It was almost dusk when her bike tire hit something small and loose and sent her tumbling to the side. She picked a few pebbles out of her scraped hand and checked the knee that had taken the brunt of the fall and then her tire. She and the bike were alright. She peered at the patch of road for what she’d run over. It glinted and she picked it up. A lone double A battery. Was it just someone trying to find a working device? Or was it someone who actually had one and was discarding the used up battery? Eve put it in her pocket, not even sure why she was doing it. A sort of talisman maybe, a little act of faith that everything would go back to normal.

Her knee ached too much to get back onto the bike, so she walked beside it for a while. The ride had left her drained and she wanted to rest, thinking that she soon wouldn’t be able to see anyhow, at least until the moon rose. But thinking of her family made her keep bargaining with herself. Just over the crest of the next hill, just down to the curve, just a couple of more steps. Her sneakers flashed a dull grey against the tar and that’s all she focused on. So she almost tripped over the body in the road. She froze when she saw it, just a lump, an outline of its back. She couldn’t see much, just a darker dark, but from the way it lay as she circled it and the slight odor that was beginning to climb from it, she knew that the person was dead.

Eve didn’t waste time looking for others. She forced her exhausted body back onto the bike and sped away, her adrenaline giving her a burst of energy. She managed not to hit anything, and after a few minutes, she slowed again, unable to see the road at all. She knew if she took a serious tumble and hit her head, there’d be nobody to help her and she’d be the corpse melting into the tar. She needed to reorient herself anyway. She’d sit until the flash again and then sleep. She decided to risk a small light so she could find a clean patch of grass. She reached into her pack for a glo-stick. It made a satisfying crunch as she bent it and relief washed over her as the chemicals brightened. It wasn’t much, just a little globe of green around her, but any light was better than wondering what was creeping up on her unseen.

She rolled the bike down into the ditch and then slid it into the culvert where it wouldn’t be seen. She climbed up the far bank and sat, leaning on her pack. She faced the woods where she thought the flash would be and pulled out a bottle of water and a protein bar. Her breathing slowed and the pulsing ache in her leg muscles died to a dull pinch. Her eyelids fluttered and she shifted so she’d stay awake.

She didn’t know how long she’d been dozing for when she heard the voices. She sat up and adrenaline crunched her into a tight ball. She closed her hand around the glo-stick. The light leaked out of her fingers. She stuck it back in the pack and zipped it, but panicked when the world was still a misty turquoise around her. The voices got louder and she began to hear the shuffle of feet. Eve slid down the bank into the ditch and crept along it into the culvert. It took another second or two to realize it wasn’t her glo-stick lighting up the dark. She leaned a few inches out of the culvert, pressing her back against the side of the ditch and looked up. An emerald aurora snaked across the edge of the treeline and Eve’s heart sank. Friar’s Lantern they’d codenamed it at the institute. It meant whatever had happened was happening again. It meant that the flash she’d been following, the help she’d been chasing for Cassidy, might be gone.

The Hunt for Tomorrow: The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter Five (Deirdre Goul...:

Sunday 27 July 2014

The Catastrophe Theory Chapter 4 (Katie French)


“Tell it to me again,” Jared said as they sat at the kitchen table, squeezing out the last rays of daylight before the whole city plunged into thick darkness.
Cassie rolled her eyes, something she never would have done with any of the other leaders at the base camp, but Jared didn’t flinch. “This isn’t a game, Cassie.”
She blew out a frustrated breath. “We travel silently. No main roads. If we see anyone, we do not engage. No helping strangers no matter how badly we want to. You are in charge. What you say goes.” At this last part, she rolled her eyes again. She was eight-years-old and acted eighteen Jared thought as he looked, really looked, into his daughter’s face. When had she turned into a small version of Eve with her dark, arched eyebrows and her red, puckered mouth that frowned, disappointed, whenever she thought Jared was being ridiculous? At the thought of Eve, a flare of regret and remorse gripped him, but he pushed it away.
“Good,” he said, handing her the smaller pack. “Let’s go.”
They walked to the back door with little fanfare. He’d taken only one photo and one book. A survivalist knows what’s important after all. Plus, his bag was stuffed with the most precious cargo from the Faraday Cages. It’d been hard to pick from the three barrels of electronics, but he’d made good choices. Then they’d taken pains to hide the rest in a cobwebby corner of the basement under tarps and cardboard boxes. It would be a miracle if everything remained untouched until they’d be able to send a team back to get the rest, but Jared liked to think miracles still happened.
As he took his final step across the threshold of his house, a pain clenched his heart. He never was good with goodbyes.
Three days. It would take three days at best to reach the camp. Three days of night walking, exposed to any number of dangers along the way. They’d heard the gun shots, seen the fires. Chaos reigned in a world gone dark. If he was honest, three days was a generous guess. With Cassie’s illness they were lucky if they could make ten miles a night. It was thirty-seven miles to the camp. He’d inched his fingers along the map, counting and swearing and wishing to God Eve would've let them move closer liked he’d begged three years ago. Thirty-seven miles. And Cassie hadn’t kept down a full meal in four days.
Ten miles a night would be a miracle.
They slipped down the walkway and into the neighbor’s yard, the grass already pushing up past their ankles. How quickly things went to rot, he mused. He flicked a glance at the house, but his eyes didn’t linger there. Instead they swept the dim street, noting the changes his nice suburban cul-de-sac had undergone. Two houses burned to the ground and another singed like an overdone casserole. On the other side of the road, a Volvo stood, doors open, windows smashed into tiny glass shards that winked in the twilight. As they passed another house, a curtain twitched and he caught a glimpse of a face before it ducked back into the shadows. His hand itched as if wanting to draw the Remington 1911 from his shoulder harness. But the last thing he wanted to do was stalk the streets with a handgun pointed at every shadow. It was a great way to get shot by frightened neighbors and, besides, he didn’t want Cassie to think that was what the world had come to. Not yet, anyway.
The swish of the grass and the hum of cicadas accompanied them as they trekked past the yards and through a dense field. He flicked a glance at Cassie to see if she was appreciating his insistence on the long black pants instead of the shorts she’d wanted to wear. She said nothing, just walked, head high, eyes alert like she’d been trained. His gaze fell on the pink sparkly nail polish on hands that gripped a survival pack. The paint was already chipped and fading.
Cassie stopped mid-stride, her body tensing. He jogged up beside her and studied her face. It was twisted in pain.
“What is it?” he whispered, putting a hand on her shoulder. It was hot. Burning hot.
Her hands went to her stomach and she doubled over. Jared watched helplessly as she wretched the MRE meal into the weeds. Only after she’d throw up twice did he remember to hold her hair back. God, how could he be so good at some things and so useless at others? It wasn’t the first time he missed Eve since she’d left.
“Are you okay?” Stupid question, he thought.
She stood, hands on knees, spitting into the grass. “Water.”
He dug around and unsnapped his water bottle from his pack. She took it and drank. He didn’t have the heart to remind her of rationing as he watched her hands tremble.
Long minutes passed as they stood in the grass, batting away mosquitoes, Cassie resting. How far had they gone, a half mile? Thirty-seven miles might as well be three thousand.
He was clipping the water bottle to his pack when he heard it. A crackle in the grass. Twigs breaking.
Someone or something was coming.
He grabbed Cassie’s arm and tugged forward. Her eyes widened and she followed, sprinting through the grass. The sound of pursuit followed.
They ran for a half mile through grass that grabbed at their clothes and the bushes that scraped their flesh. Cassie’s breath became ragged. He glanced at her, willing her to keep going. What he didn’t say was there were at least three human shadows running after them. He thought about the hand gun, but dismissed it. Shots in the dark were just that.
When she fell, she fell hard, tumbling into the grass with a cry that tore his heart to pieces. He reached down to pull her up, but she might has well have been boneless. He should have known. She was her mother’s daughter and didn’t quit until it was impossible not to.
He tried to lift her, but, between the heft of his pack and the weight of his daughter, the strangers would be on them in minutes. He looked at his pack, filled with priceless working electronic devices, the only usable currency in this broken world. Then he looked at his daughter. His baby girl. Wet curls clung to her sweat drenched forehead.
There was only one choice.
He unzipped the pack, pulling out the one item they could not live without, and put the rest on display. The GPS, the cell phones, the lap top with solar power supply. So many untold treasures. Treasures they would need.
But none more than he needed his daughter.
He hefted Cassie into his arms and took off running. 

Friday 25 July 2014

The Catastrophe Theory - Chapter 3 (Deborah Rix)

It's my turn, yikes!
Here is Chapter 3.


Jared knew that this was the moment to tell her. But he didn’t. Eve would never agree, and they were rapidly running out of time to argue about a decision that was already made. No, he kept his mouth shut and glanced around the garage.
“I’ll put a pack together for you,” he said.
Eve watched Jared pull down a small black backpack from the top shelf of the metal shelving that held all of Jared’s “supplies.” She wondered at his quick acceptance of her plan, but was too anxious to get moving that she didn’t question him. Eve left him to put the pack together; she knew he needed to do it, so he could pretend he was still able to protect her.
After she’d gone back into the house, Jared sank onto his work stool with a thud and scrubbed his face with both hands. His shoulders dropped. This was the way it had to be, he reminded himself for the thousandth time. He knew much more about Eve’s work than she realized. And he knew her, too. Eve needed to go and do what she could, but she didn’t need Jared and Cassie along to split her focus and put her in danger. He’d just needed to wait her out, let her work past the guilt at leaving them, that was all.
He couldn’t remember when he’d first started keeping his mouth shut around Eve. She’d been to the camp only once, a few years ago, for Family Day, and that was enough for her. So, he hadn’t told her what they were doing up at Adventure Base Camp. Hell, she didn’t even know that he’d bought it with a small group of like-minded friends. Only Cassie knew, and she knew how to keep her mouth shut, too.
He loved that about Cassie, that there was some of him in her because in so many other ways she was just like her mother. Both were smart, decisive, and ready to jump in and muck around, confident they would figure it out. He liked the slow and steady approach, liked to be prepared.
Jared was the Director at Adventure Base Camp, or Camp ABC as the campers called it. To all appearances it was an adventure camp like any other camp parents sent their kids off to for the summer, so they could have some guilt-free, kid-free time. And mostly it was. In the off-season he held Family Days, corn-roasts, and star-gazing weekends. Sometimes he held survival weekends for all those guys that liked to play pretend-soldier. Cassie’s favorites were the Teenage Zombie weekends, where they staged zombie apocalypse scenarios. Jared couldn’t believe how much money he could make from the stupid zombie craze.
Eve knew about all of that. What she didn’t know about was the L.I.T. Program. Leaders-In-Training, just like other junior counselors at every other kid’s camp in the country. Except, they weren’t training to be camp counselors. Some of them were kids of friends or his partners in the camp. Some, he scouted from the zombie weekends after evaluating the teens that had managed to “survive.” Because that’s what this was all about. Survival.
Jared  zipped the package for Eve in the front pocket of the backpack, where he knew she’d find it. He’d slipped in a new map, too.  He glanced over at the galvanized metal trash cans that stood three in a row, lids firmly in place. Farady cages, that’s what they were, innocuously holding the electronic equipment that Jared had so carefully wrapped and placed inside. Time enough for that once Eve had left. He went back inside.
Eve met Jared’s eyes over the top of Cassie’s head as she hugged her daughter. Hard. There was no real good-bye. She was there, and then she was gone. Eve knew if she lingered Jared would try to convince her to stay. Just one more day, he would say.
Cassie felt a lot better, but not quite as good as she pretended to be. This was it, the big IT, and no way was she going to be side-lined because her dad didn’t think she was up for it. Rotten timing to get sick. She was an L.I.T. after all.
“Think she’ll be okay?” Cassie asked her dad.
He didn’t look at her; he stared at the door that her mom had just gone through.
“Yeah, she’ll be okay,” he said.
He sounded as though he was trying to convince himself, and Cassie thought that nothing was going to be okay anymore, but she didn’t say anything.
“You ready?” Jared asked her.
“In a minute,” she answered as she bounded up the stairs, “I forgot something.”
They both laughed, and it felt good. Whenever one of the campers used that line, they knew they weren’t ready at all.
Back in the garage, Jared and Cassie set to work.
“Are you gonna tell me now?” she asked.
“Tell you what?” Jared replied, but he knew.
“How did Doug die?”
Jared remained silent.  He’d looked at his dead neighbor often enough over the past few days, trying to come up with another explanation. He didn’t want to tell Cassie that Doug had an older pacemaker, that it had stopped working when the power went out. Everything with an electric circuit had stopped working. A solar flare would have wiped out the power grid but not every single piece of electrical equipment-- plugged in or not. If it had a circuit, it was fried. Like Doug.
If it wasn’t a solar flare, then this was a man-made event. And if it was an attack, or something that could be explained away, an accident maybe, then Jared reasoned there would have been some sort of military presence by now, hopefully from his own country. But they’d waited. And nothing.
He could still be wrong, it could be something else. But Jared didn’t think so. This, whatever this was, had been done on purpose.
Jared looked at the three trash cans lined up against the garage wall.

Chapter 1 by Joseph Turkot
Chapter 2 by Cary Caffrey
Chapter 3 by Deborah Rix
Look for Chapter 4 by Katie French tomorrow, new chapter posted each day.

The Hunt for Tomorrow: The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter Two (Cary Caffrey)...

CHAPTER 2 #CatastropheTheory

The Hunt for Tomorrow: The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter Two (Cary Caffrey)...: Smoke rose slowly in the distance, black turning to orange in the early light of morning. Two more houses had burned last night. This last ...

Wednesday 23 July 2014

The Hunt for Tomorrow: The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter One (Joseph A. Tur...

CHAPTER 1 #CatastropheTheory

Note: Not an official logo or anything, just me fooling around.
The Hunt for Tomorrow: The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter One (Joseph A. Tur...: For the second time in the long dead night, the flicker came and went. Wide and bright and so quick that Eve almost didn’t have time to gra...

Monday 21 July 2014

And the winner is...

The Grand Prize winner of The Hunt For Tomorrow is
Gayle Noble!
Thanks to everyone who participated. We hope you enjoyed The Hunt as much as we did.
The fun, however, is not over.
The progressive story begins this Wednesday. Each day, a chapter will be posted on the blog ( All we're starting with is Gayle's title, trope and characters.

The Catastrophe Theory
Technology Catastrophe
Jared, Eve and Cassie

We have no idea where this is going.
20 authors.
1 story.
Begins July 23.

And the winners of my own giveaway are:
First Prize
Katrina Zabarte
Ten Second Prize winners
Kristen Boeglin
Tana Forsythe
Lindsay Galloway
Nikki Harris
Courtney Whisenant
Sara Doyle
Maria D'Angelo
Laura S
Tiffany M Oharriz
Aret Ambert

I'll send you all an email, but anyone who sends me their mailing address will get a temporary tattoo.
Thanks for joining The Hunt, it was a good weekend.

The Hunt For Tomorrow was Yesterday

Hey Folks,
Thanks for following the trail on The Hunt For Tomorrow. This was a Ton 'o Fun to get together and an excellent pack of writers to yell "Release the Book Hounds" with. I hope you enjoyed it.
And if you read the excerpts from Acceleration, Book 2 in The Laws of Motion trilogy, I'd love to know what you think.  They are no longer available, so good on you for taking action, when action was required. I will sort out my winners tomorrow.
The Winner of The Hunt - the person who has dictated the parameters for the progressive story that twenty of us are going to start writing on Wednesday - will be announced shortly. Well, definitely before Wednesday, because we need to know how to start the story, don't we? I'm writer #3. I'm half scared, but three-quarters excited. Each of us has ONE DAY (who the hell suggested that? Oh, yeah, me) to come up with between 500-1000 words that make up a chapter. 
My problem is that I just tried to write a short story of about 1500 words (a kind of practice for this story) and ended up with a very nice story-- of 5000 words. It's called BOB. Brevity is not one of my assets.
We're going to be posting the daily writing as we go along, I'll let you know where that will be, but assume it's on The Hunt For Tomorrow Blog, where you started this crazy scavenger hunt and probably on the facebook page. 
I hope whatever you caught on this Hunt has been properly cleaned and dressed so you don't have to deal with any of the messy bits and that it provides delicious reading.
And all that.

Friday 18 July 2014

Well Hello, 
It's a fine looking day for a hunt, don't you think?

23 authors participating in an on-line Dystopian Scavenger Hunt and progressive story. It's FREE, great prizes. The Hunt opens today, closes on Sunday. Release the hounds!


Wednesday 16 July 2014

The Hunt for Tomorrow: Tony Bertauski

The Hunt For Toomorrow begins on Friday! Ready, Set, Go!

Here is author Tony Bertauski answering questions in the final Voight-Kampff interview. We made him sweat.

The Hunt for Tomorrow: Tony Bertauski: 1.        DO YOU EVER WRITE IN YOUR PJ’S? Yes. And I hate it.   2.        WHERE AND WHEN DO YOU PREFER TO DO YOUR WRITING? Ba...

Monday 14 July 2014

The Hunt for Tomorrow: Deborah Rix

Hey! It's my turn to share My Thoughts on Tomorrow. The Hunt is this weekend!

The Hunt for Tomorrow: Deborah Rix: Welcome to Dystopian High I didn’t set out to write a dystopian story, but once I imagined teenagers in a not-too-distant fu...

Sunday 13 July 2014

Zombie Training 2

Zombie Training 2
I undertake lots of research for the stuff I write. Sometimes it takes me on tangents that last several days but end up as two or three words in the actual story. To reiterate, I don't write about Zombies, but somehow the zombie sites have the best information.  For instance, the BOB. The Bug Out Bag. I read a lot about them, perused many a zombie and survivalist website seeking out the perfect BOB. I still haven't decided. If you, dear reader, have a suggestion for the best BOB I'd be happy to hear it. I have a family of four plus dog. But the kids are in their early teens and likely to ignore any directives to 'leave everything, I've got the BOB.' So I'm thinking a BOB for one, for now. It's not like I'm going to ditch all of them, I simply want to get an idea of what makes a good BOB. Market research as they say. I won't tell them where it's hidden, though.
As part of my research I spent the day with Marine Sergeant Steve in windy California. He showed me his typical MRE package. That's Meals, Ready to Eat, for all you unprepared folk.

And this is what that actually looks like, if you are a marine. Marine Sergeant Steve did not make any disparaging remarks about his MREs. I think if you are some place like Afghanistan, which he was, and your tank gets blown up while you are in it, which he was, and you survive it, which not everyone did, then complaining that your MRE isn't quite up to your culinary standards makes you an asshole, which he certainly is not.
That said, I am curious what the civilian version of this is and want to take a BOB for a test drive. I am going to do some cursory research and then order one of the suckers up. Recommendation are welcome.
Now, as part of my research I also discovered that some people have put a lot of work into survival statistics. And, should there be a Zombie Apocalypse of the traditional sort - slow-moving, dim-witted, but single-minded in purpose - then to survive you need to be able to run six miles. That's the number, by God, six miles and you're likely to survive. The first wave anyway, but that's usually enough, statistically speaking. So I have begun my Zombie Training Program with the aim of being able to run six miles, with a BOB on my back of course. I have begun my training with a brisk walk. Wish me luck .I shall keep you posted on my progress.

Saturday 12 July 2014

The Hunt for Tomorrow: Elle Casey


The Hunt for Tomorrow: Elle Casey: HAVE YOU WRITTEN IN ANY OTHER GENRES BESIDES YA DYSTOPIAN?  Yes, I have written in Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romantic Thriller, and Ro...

Tuesday 8 July 2014

The Hunt for Tomorrow: Shelbi Wescott

The Hunt for Tomorrow: Shelbi Wescott: After years of writing literary fiction and querying and meeting rejection after rejection, I hadn’t thought of delving into ge...

Monday 7 July 2014

The Hunt for Tomorrow: Joseph Turkot

#HuntForTomorrow #TomorrowBoxedSet
The Hunt for Tomorrow: Joseph Turkot: Think of a utopia, and in your next breath you imagine a perfect society. Harmony unending. The living ideal. And something inside of us...

Sunday 6 July 2014

The Hunt for Tomorrow: TW Piperbrook

The Hunt for Tomorrow: TW Piperbrook: DID YOU CHOOSE TO SELF-PUBLISH OR GO THE TRADITIONAL ROUTE?  WHY?  Self-publish.  I think the e-book revolution is an amazing thing—it’...

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Zombie Training I
Although there are NO Zombies in my books, while doing research I discovered that the Zombie Apocalypse aficionados had the most detailed and most realistic survival scenarios for when the SHTF. No wonder various health and disaster organizations are using a ZPoc when devising emergency scenarios. It also helps that by using "zombie" they don't have to name the current or future enemy. Zombie is the generic enemy, and it's fun, too! (It also completely dehumanizes the enemy, an age-old wartime tactic, so we don't feel so bad about killing them.)
I also discovered a number of useful acronyms:
ELE = Extinction Level Event
ABAO = All Bets Are Off
COG = Continuity of Government
PAW = Post Apocalyptic World
FDE = Flat Dark Earth
FHOA = Four Horsemen Of the Apocalypse
WROL = Without Rule Of Law
INCH = I am Never Coming Home

So: If there is an ELE without COG then ABAO because the FHOA are going to deliver a PAW that includes a FDE and if it is WROL, then INCH. Do you have your BOB packed?

#HuntForTomorrow #TomorrowBoxedSet #ExternalForces

Author ZOE CANNON from the Shattered Worlds boxed set faces some tough Voight-Kampff interview questions. And it's only 16 days until The Hunt!

Writer’s block is just a fancy term for getting stuck. I don’t believe in either glamourizing it or attaching shame to it. They say plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, but I’m sure every plumber has had at least one moment when he can’t figure out how to solve a particularly tricky… block. So I do what anyone does when they’re stuck. I re-evaluate, I brainstorm, I try to look at the issue in a different way. If I’m feeling burned out, I walk away for a day (although that sounds a lot easier than it is). If I’m on a strict deadline, I brute-force my way through it and settle for good-enough.
I made the switch to ebooks back in 2009 and haven’t looked back. I love being able to change the formatting to suit my tastes (no more mass-market paperbacks with itty-bitty type!), never needing to worry about running out of reading material, and being able to back up my library in multiple places. And I love being able to buy books instantly, without waiting a week for an Amazon shipment or driving half an hour to the bookstore only to find out the book I want isn’t in stock – although my bank account doesn’t love it so much!
If I’m interested in the story, then I’ll want to read the book because it’s likely to have more to it – movies usually only have room to put in the most essential scenes. And if I’m not interested in the story, why would I want to see the movie? The exception is if it’s a movie recommended by a friend, or if the book is in a genre I know I don’t like. (Or if I don’t know it was based on a book!) But really, the question is all but moot, given how rare it is for me to go see a movie in the first place. I tend to prefer the serial storytelling format of good TV shows.
Full-time belly-rubber to a very large dog. I get paid in kisses. It’s a pretty good deal.
Anti-intellectualism in any form, but especially in stories intended for kids or teens. Is this really what we want to be teaching the next generation – that thinking makes you a nerd and a snob, and that the quest for knowledge is pointless at best and dangerous at worst? I see these attitudes all the time in the books I read, and each time I have to force myself not to throw my Kindle against the wall. If we want a better world, we need to encourage thought, curiosity, and intellectual exploration, not belittle or demonize them.
I sleep late, but I don’t go to bed until 3am or so. That way I get to take advantage of my brain’s best hours – namely, the hours when the rest of the world is fast asleep.
“Let me out, I’m trapped in a book with a sadistic author!”
I wanted to combine the feeling of contemporary American culture with the feeling of life under real-world totalitarian regimes. In a lot of ways, it looks like contemporary YA – until you realize that the characters are casually discussing the torture and execution of dissidents.
I read a lot of memoirs about life under totalitarian regimes past and present. I didn’t realize just how many until I had a conversation with my husband that began something like: “I thought I had read Resistance before, until I realized I was confusing it with Outwitting the Gestapo, which I had been confusing with Inside the Gestapo…”
My book easily passes the Bechdel test. However, it does not have two named male characters who talk to each other about something besides a woman.
We’re still talking about the first book, right? Only three. Now, by the time we get to the third book, the bodies are piling up by the dozens.
I certainly wouldn’t complain! But I don’t think it’s likely, and I’m fine with that. I’m writing for a niche audience; I knew that when I started the book. I don’t think there are that many readers out there looking for philosophical dystopias that feel like contemporary YA and deal more with ordinary life than extraordinary heroics – I know because I’m one of them, and if people were clamoring for these books then surely I would be able to find more of them to read! But who knows, the world may surprise me.

“Living by your principles will always be the harder path. But you have to do it anyway. You have to do what’s right no matter how hard it gets, or one day you’ll find out you’ve become somebody you can’t live with.” – Raleigh Dalcourt (the torturer referenced in the title of The Torturer’s Daughter)