Survive the Dark, page 1part #1 of At Any Cost Series
Survive the Dark
At Any Cost Book 1
K. M. Fawkes
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Also by K. M. Fawkes
Copyright 2019 by K. M. Fawkes
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part by any means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the explicit written permission of the author.
All characters depicted in this fictional work are consenting adults, of at least eighteen years of age. Any resemblance to persons living or deceased, particular businesses, events, or exact locations are entirely coincidental.
June 10, 2026
Garrett slanted his eyes up to the sky and narrowed them, suddenly on high alert, and then reached down and slid the gun out of his belt. Two quick moves and the gun was up in front of him, a round chambered, and his eyes on the road that led up to the silo.
He was positive he’d heard an engine coming from that direction. And people weren’t just driving around like they used to be, these days. Not unless they meant trouble. He also wasn’t expecting company—which meant anyone who showed up would be unwelcome.
He stood frozen for several moments, the Glock 9mm up in front of his face, the nose pointed at the driveway, and when he didn’t hear the sound again, he slowly started to relax. Slowly being the key word there. This wasn’t the time to get sloppy. Not the time to get too relaxed.
Because the world was quite literally falling apart around him.
Garrett gave the driveway one last long, narrow-eyed stare, and when it didn’t give him anything back—no sounds, no vehicles suddenly appearing—he turned back to his own truck and slipped the Glock back into his belt. Getting jumpy, that was what it was. He was getting downright paranoid. It had never been his way before, but he didn’t think anyone could blame him.
Hell, he didn’t even blame himself.
Reaching into the back of his truck, he began sliding boxes toward the tailgate while he cataloged the world as he knew it, at this moment in time.
For too many years to count, people had been expecting something bad. Nuclear winter. Climate change to the point of danger. A damned zombie apocalypse. And he’d banked on it, made it his job. Made lots of money off it, truth be told.
Garrett was what they called a bunker specialist. Or at least they had, back when people were actually doing things like building bunkers. Starting in the twentieth century, it had become a big thing. Anticipate a disaster the likes of which society couldn’t withstand, and figure out a way to get through it. Figure out where you could go, what you could do, and how you were going to be one of the last men—or women—standing. The most important aspect was the building, of course. It had to withstand pretty much anything—earthquakes, bombs, fires, nuclear blasts, zombies…
He turned and gazed up at the silo he’d been working on for his latest client, smiling softly to himself. If it was a question of standing up to anything, this place certainly fit the bill.
An abandoned military building, this place had once been a nuclear missile silo. In other words, they’d stored the nukes here, at one point, and had built the structure to get through almost anything the world could throw at it.
It had made this building the ideal bunker location for his newest—and richest, to date—client. The place had been decommissioned in 1996, and then used for simple storage until about ten years later, when it went up for auction.
Garrett wasn’t sure why his client had held onto it for so long without doing anything, but when the man called and told him what he had, Garrett had signed on immediately. He’d been redesigning the space for the last two months, making it into a home rather than a military base meant for bombs, and making sure it would house the man and his wife comfortably through whatever might happen up here on the surface.
Of course, Garrett had never expected to be using it himself. Still, he’d always prided himself on at least some flexibility. It hadn’t always been a part of his personality, but he was getting better at forcing himself. And now was definitely the time to start looking out for himself regardless of how uncomfortable it would have made him ten years ago.
He grabbed two of the boxes from the back of his truck—full of water bottles and food that he planned to use for stocking the fridge downstairs—and turned toward the elevator. This had been quite the complex, once, and had come equipped with a full basement section, 500 yards under the ground, and an elevator that ran on both electric and an old-fashioned pulley-based system.
He’d always figured that last part was because the government had wanted to make sure they could get to the bombs regardless of what was happening. These days—and when it came to humans—it seemed like overkill. He’d never seen a power outage that lasted more than an hour, and with the current tech employed by the energy companies—
The sound of an engine rolled across the driveway again, and Garrett dropped both of the boxes and whirled around, smoothly drawing the gun from his belt again and jerking it up to face level. He came to a rest in a partially kneeling position, the gun steady in front of his eyes, and blew his breath through stiff lips.
But all there was in front of him was the same stretch of asphalt that he’d been driving up for months now. The same group of barrel cacti there at the curve, their roots buried in a sand dune the landscapers had insisted on. A couple of scrub pines across from them, throwing what could pass as shade over the driveway. The occasional squirrel, and even a jackrabbit.
No people. No cars. Where the hell were those sounds coming from?
He was nowhere near a main road, and even if he had been, he would have bet against much traffic. People were too scared to be out driving around at this point. Hell, they were too scared to go outside at all, if they could help it. Anyone with any brains was staying in their house, doing their best not to touch anything anyone else might have touched.
He straightened up, his thought sticking on that last point. Doing their best to stay inside. And if he was smart, he’d be doing the same thing.
In fact, he was starting to wonder if that was what his client was doing, because Garrett hadn’t seen the man in several weeks. It made sense if the guy had decided that staying at home with his wife was safer, smarter than coming out into the New Mexico desert to check on the bunker he’d decided he needed.
Either that, or he’s dead already, an unwelcome voice suddenly added.
Garrett shook his head sharply, unwilling to even consider the words. He shoved the gun back into his waistband and turned back toward the boxes, but this time strode to his truck again before retrieving the things he’d been carrying. Leaning over the side and up into the bed, he grabbed at the third box and yanked it toward him. This one was heavier, and bulkier. It wouldn’t be smart to carry it while trying to carry the other two.
Because these were weapons, and some of them were alread
These were guns he’d been collecting for years. For a long time, he’d used them for hunting. Nothing big—nothing like those big-game hunters who were all about the trophies. No, he’d hunted for the practicality of it. Deer and other small game, which he’d taken home to his kitchen, and then his barbecue.
These days, he didn’t even think about shooting any of the wild animals out there. In fact, he only carried one gun. And he didn’t drive around with boxes of them in the back of his truck. Well, except for today. It was stupid—something people only did if they were asking for trouble. Or if they were expecting trouble. And with the world in the state it was, he’d started to think that expecting trouble just made you smart.
He didn’t shoot or eat the animals because they might be carrying the virus. The same one that was currently decimating the American population, one person at a time. The same one he was using the silo to hide from.
Stacking the three boxes on top of each other, he hefted them up, his muscles bulging, and made his way quickly toward the elevator. He was positive he’d been hearing an engine, but he was already tired of jumping around, worrying about it. Once he was underground, it wouldn’t be his problem anymore.
Once he was underground, there were a lot of things he hoped wouldn’t be his problem anymore.
Garrett dropped the boxes on the floor of the elevator, remembering only belatedly that one of them was full of weapons, and cringed at the noise and the danger. He tensed, but none of the guns went off, and a split second later he darted into the elevator himself, turned, and jammed his finger down on the button that would take him to the bottom of the silo.
As the doors closed, he turned to stare at his reflection in what was left of the mirrored walls. There were only shards of mirror left these days, and though it gave him an unsettled, splintered feeling, it also gave him a chance to check up on himself.
It was the first time in weeks he’d looked himself in the eye. But there was something about what was going on above him that made it seem…important, somehow.
He took in his appearance, half-grinning at the picture it painted. With his Ken-doll handsome face decorated with deep dimples and crystal blue eyes, topped by a mop of semi-curly blond hair, he’d always looked more like a surfer than anything else. Like one of those guys who spent his entire day on the beach with a beer in hand, and just as comfortable on a surfboard as he was on the ground.
The truth was, he hated the water. He’d always been a land man himself—and he’d hated the fact that his face made other people question him. No one had ever taken him seriously, assuming he was more a dumb jock than anything else. They’d never taken the time to look behind the big blue eyes to see the keen, sharp-as-a-knife brain that ruled the roost. Never given him a chance to be anything more than a pretty face.
It was why he’d chosen to go to military school instead of a traditional high school. It was why he’d worked so hard to excel at everything he did when he was there, particularly hand-to-hand combat and weapons. He’d gone out of his way to prove himself, time and again, and when that didn’t work, he’d fallen back on the hidden value of his face.
Because the fact that no one took him seriously had always meant that they also never saw him coming.
And he’d bet good money that the boys who had picked on him when he was in seventh grade would never have expected him to be, from what he could tell, one of the few people still up and kicking despite the nanovirus sweeping the nation.
Nanovirus. His client.
The earlier thought came sweeping back into his brain, and his eyes went from his hair back to his own gaze. He hadn’t heard from his client in weeks, and though the chaos in the cities could have been a good explanation for that, he didn’t believe it, not in his gut. The guy had been too excited about this silo. Too interested in the details of the rebuild. Too involved in all the details.
There was no way he would have just ducked out. Stopped coming around, maybe. But stopped calling entirely?
Garrett pulled his phone out, glanced at the glossy screen, and thumbed up the recent calls list.
“Jordan, 12:34, 33 minutes,” he read, when he found the last entry from his client.
Looking up, he met his own eyes again. The problem was, that call had been weeks ago, and he hadn’t heard a peep since.
The guy was ridiculously wealthy. He’d been able to buy this silo, to start with, and that wasn’t all. Garrett had done his research before he signed the contract, and he knew where that wealth came from.
Jordan Robins had been born with a silver—make that platinum—spoon in his mouth, a solid one-percenter right from the start. And he’d run with it. Taken advantage of the access to better education, better opportunity, and made himself a success in his own right. He’d created some new sort of software for one thing or another, and then created something else, and then something else, and before long he’d been the CEO and majority stakeholder in one of the biggest tech companies in the country. He’d been a billionaire at the age of thirty, and his wealth had only grown.
“He’s exactly the sort of person who would have had the nanotech,” Garrett breathed into the silence, his gaze delving deeply into the cold, hard realization he could see in his eyes in the reflection.
If that was true, it meant the guy was likely dead already. And if that was true, Garrett suspected he was lucky Jordan hadn’t made a trip to the silo lately.
Because the people who’d had the injections weren’t the only ones dying anymore. Anyone they came into contact with was in danger. More than that; anyone they came into contact with was virtually guaranteed a drawn-out, horrible death of drowning in their own blood.
The elevator came to a jolting stop at the bottom of its shaft, and Garrett shook himself. He gave his own reflection one more narrow-eyed glance, and then cleared his expression. Jordan wasn’t his problem. Not really. If the man was dead, it just made him one more person gone.
And it meant Garrett really did have this place to himself, at least for the time being. Until he could figure out where the hell he was going to go, and what the hell he was going to do.
He reached down, grabbed the boxes, and then turned and strolled through the open elevator doors, dropping his shoulder to hit the light switch as he walked past it, his mind already flying through his scant options for guaranteeing his own future.
He didn’t sleep that night. He’d done everything he should do: had a hearty dinner—or at least a somewhat filling dinner, since he didn’t think old military rations could ever be called “hearty,” no matter how indestructible they claimed to be. He’d found them here in the silo, taken one look at the stamp—“No expiration date”—and promptly decided that they would be the ideal foundation for the pantry down here. After all, the lack of expiration date would come in handy if it came to being stuck in this bunker for months on end.
And now that it seemed he might be facing that exact eventuality, he’d decided to give them a try. Yeah, he had plenty of fresh food, and a smart guy might have started with that since it would spoil more quickly, but he’d always been more curious than strategic when it came to trying new things.
The military rations hadn’t sat well with him. He’d felt sucked up and dehydrated himself, like he needed to drink three times as much water just to take care of rehydrating the rations. He’d done exactly that…and then he’d felt waterlogged—and guilty for having wasted so much of the water.
Not like he couldn’t go up and get more. There were still markets out there, and they were still selling water. Still a lot of people up there trying to act like life was going to go on. Like the government was going to get this all figured out and they’d all go back to their happy lives. Minus a few million of their neighbors.
No, it wasn’t the use of the water that had kept him up into the midnight hour. It was the fear. Because the more he thought about it, the surer he became
“Goddamned chicken,” he breathed, turning onto his other side to see if he could get more comfortable that way.
The military-grade sleeping bag was the best of the best, and if he’d wanted to, he could have slept on the full-size bed he’d brought down here for Jordan and his wife. Also the best of the best, courtesy of Jordan’s money. There were plenty of potential sleeping arrangements. And they were a lot better than anything he’d ever had in his life.
They just hadn’t come with an option for turning off his brain. A shortcoming that he was starting to really hate the manufacturers for.
He reached out in the dark and felt around for his phone, which he knew he’d left right next to his pillow. When he found it, he slid his finger along the bottom to wake it up and glanced anxiously at the time. Past midnight: 12:31. Terrific.
There were several problems with living underground—and by yourself—and one of the biggest so far was the fact that there was nothing to do. Once your brain got started spinning, there was very little to stop it. And no one to talk to about your fears.
He glanced at the corner of the screen, where his updates generally sat, then sighed and glanced at the opposite corner. The other problem: no cell phone coverage. If anyone was trying to get a hold of him, he wouldn’t know it until he got back up to the surface.
Garrett flopped over on this back and tried talking to himself, to see if it would be any better. “At least you’re safe down here, man,” he said quietly. “Too many people up there can’t say that. They don’t have beds to sleep in, and they don’t have any safety. Hell, they might not even have their families anymore.”
He slammed his eyes shut at that and cursed himself for a fool. How exactly did he think this was going to help him feel better? Now all he could think of was his sister—who was one of those people up there in the chaotic world, and most certainly at risk of death.
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- The Longest NightEnter Darkness Box SetSurvive the Dark
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