White Flare: Post apocalyptic survival thriller (Sky Fall Book 2), page 1
The Sky Fall Series, Book 2
The Sky Fall Series book two
© 2019 Le Chat Publishing.
***No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, without the permission in writing from the author.***
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Special Announcement to Readers
1. Near Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2. Not far from Fort Benning, Georgia
3. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
4. Two Years Earlier
5. Between Arizona and California
7. Outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
8. Just outside of Fort Benning, Georgia
9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
10. Two Years Earlier
11. Redlands, California
12. Outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Special Announcement to Readers
SOLAR STORM WILL BE available soon!
Please sign up for my post-apocalyptic list HERE
Now Available: Sky Fall’s Book Three SOLAR STORM is not yet available for preorder make sure to follow me on Amazon and join my mailer above too, so you do not miss it!
Special shout out to all of my beta/arc readers and supporters thank you.
Special Announcement to Readers
I apologize for the preorder having been pushed back a month. My son was very ill and that included a trip to the emergency room via ambulance. He is doing very well now! I appreciate your patience and continued support. Also, we are now PCS’ing to Oklahoma next month as well, so with orders, we are moving much earlier than I previously thought. This new date is abrupt and the timing poor for this series, but I will of course continue to write as I’m able!
Having said that, Sky Fall the series will be on hiatus for a brief few months (perhaps shorter if things are not too crazy) and I ask that you follow me on Amazon as well as join my Post-Apocalyptic list to keep updated on the release of Solar Storm, episode three.
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Again, thank you for supporting me through this time, and I hope that you really enjoy and love this next installment!
What was life like without the sun? For one, it was very cold. Secondly, the Earth would only retain a reasonable level of heat for, at most, a year before it finally capitulated into the totally unlivable.
Clive thought about Mars as he rummaged through moldy, broken, cupboards in the empty apartment and stomped his feet when his toes stung. Frostbite had turned his fingers black and his nose was pitted with scars. He thought about planets distant and far, wondering, if somehow-maybe, they’d all been habitable at one point only to have this same type of disaster occur. Did they have a star that had given them life before Earth? If so, that ended so long ago that by the time humans explored them, the places had been wiped clean and appeared desolate always.
He knew Sara would chide him if she could, because, in truth, they believed in a greater purpose and this idea sounded more like an existential crisis. Or cruelty. Like living beings were ant farms spread across the galaxy to be torched or frozen once they ceased to interest their creator.
And he did believe there was someone watching, at least, maybe caring for the remnants of their creation, but still, it was an interesting notion and Clive held himself as a man of both science and faith.
One of those beliefs was barely hanging on and the other did little to help him as the world that was already dark, further darkened.
One he clung to as perhaps an ignorant hope. The other merely predicted his doom down to the day.
It was the tenth month since the beginning of the end.
At twelve, they’d all be finished.
That’s what the magazine he’d found had said. Predictions of this type of catastrophe must have been a foggy, distant thing for those who wore tinfoil hats before “the fall.” But he’d read the article eagerly and learned all he could about: What Life Would be Like Without the Sun.
Alive at ten months, just barely, so that only the strongest of plants and animals were surviving, and that, by merely a thread.
Twelve months and finished.
But wasn’t he already sort of finished?
He had no one and nothing.
A wetness trickled down his chin, and Clive wiped away the blood that fell from his nose, a warning to return to somewhere less saturated with air pollution.
He’d found nothing in this or any of the other apartments he’d searched. Nothing viable. And he grew tired. Weariness and dread hugged him tightly in their grip, as they always did, until the numbness sparked into fear.
Every time he wondered if this would be the last day he’d find something to eat or drink.
He cursed and pulled out a dirty rag, coughing into it before stepping out to the edge of an abyss, or rather the window in a very tall building he was surprised still stood. He gazed over a city that was nothing but the fossils of human existence now. Bones of what might be some day an ancient and extinct race. Covered in the ash that choked anything still alive and then frosted by the snow and ice, it was forbidding and ugly.
But also, eerily beautiful.
If he hadn’t had to mentally bury the ones he loved, he might think about how gorgeous the landscape became, quiet and serene without the disturbances of people. Yes, even painted in the same dust that probably had killed the dinosaurs, the city was like a stunning work of art.
As it was, he’d let go of the ability to see anything other than death.
Even his reflection in the window—a bent sort of man-creature, haggard and frail, barely hanging on, hair turned the same color as the ash, face cut deeply with new lines—he hardly recognized himself.
It was as if he was slowly becoming part of his surroundings, bit-by-bit, petrifying into the emptiness of the painting until you could not see a person, but merely the result: Death.
Even now he was moving towards the certainty of it. A dead man walking through a dead day, in a dead city, in a dead world.
Near Baton Rouge, Louisiana
“Breathe,” Ida said quietly to Kentucky, and he sucked air into his lungs.
“Thanks,” he whispered, and she nodded.
Everyone slept. Ida had been the one on watch, and Kentucky had woken with a jolt, the smell of burning bodies in his nostrils. He’d gripped the raft and flailed for a second, crying out in a squelched shout, forgetting where he was.
The rot…the bodies in the water had reminded him of overseas and the war. But in reality, it wasn’t anything alike.
Here, it was cold, as if the sun was dying, and perhaps those flares had been its last gasping breath of life. The chill made thinking difficult.
They had gotten into the raft, prepared to make it out of the drowned city of New Orleans, but they were adrift by the tides that pushed them north at a speed that snails could surpass.
They hadn’t made it very far out of the city, and each of them tried to guess just how close Baton Rouge was. In the watery landscape where landmarks were deep beneath the waves or destroyed, anyone’s guess was as good as the next.
Ida’s soothing reminder to Kentucky to breathe had just saved him from
“What was her name again?” Ida asked, nodding at the sleeping teen.
Kentucky smiled wryly and wiped his hand over his face. “Sophie. Timid, shy, and definitely a liability.”
Ida gazed at the young girl with gentle eyes laced with concern. “Agreed.”
The older woman was distracting him in his moment of need. The seconds between sleep and awake, that hazy rising doused in the darkness of his eyelids was a nomad’s land of bad memories and flashes of imagined light that tore him open again and again like shrapnel.
He relived the shadows of his past in that time so that it became a gamble he feared to make, and Kentucky slept less and less post deployment. Though, sleeping wasn’t the worst, the waking was.
He shuddered, knowing his eyes were flat and dead when he looked at Ida. Aware that this cold expression encased him like a piece of armor, and the sarcastic biting tongue he fought to suppress, was the reaction to the moment of weakness and it sure didn’t ease the guilt.
He could face a firefight three days long, but vulnerability in the face of marooned strangers needed to be avoided at all cost.
He had an allergy to opening up.
“We should have told them no kids,” he bit out.
Yes, that’s it, he thought. Take it out on the weak ones, Kent.
Ida tsked. “If you had a daughter, you’d have sent her from that hell.”
He swept a hand out harshly. “And this is better?”
Ida’s gray eyebrow arched, and she sat straighter. “Anger is a good emotion to use when you feel off balance, but we’re in this together now, Kentucky, whether you like it or not. You won’t be saying stuff like that around her when she’s up, will you?”
His ire chipped away. “No.” He felt like a sullen child put in his place, and his chest was tight while a band of fear gripped it. In truth, he worried for her. For all of them. “You can call me Kent,” he said huskily, and her lips twitched.
“All right, Kent.”
The group was awake now. There would be no sleeping in the howl. Hot wind swept across the water, bringing an acrid stench. Abnormally warm and not of the sun. The temperature dropped so that the hot pockets felt nice, the sun’s leavings, perhaps.
Was it radioactive?
Could they get radiation poisoning from the flares?
Kent shuddered. He wouldn’t be the one to ask it out loud.
Hannah and Gerald, the couple who both miraculously had drawn long straws, rarely spoke. They seemed in shock, so Ida prodded them. “You two have family?”
They shared a glance and the woman, Hannah, broke down.
The man’s jaw tightened. “We have twin baby girls. We drove down here for the weekend. Her mother, their grandmother, has them, but…”
Tears filled his eyes.
“Where?” Sophie asked, blinking and yawning in a way that said she was not fully awake yet or half as afraid as she should be.
Gerald wiped his eyes. “Leesville. It’s just outside of Fort Polk. A few hours north of Baton Rouge.”
Kentucky nodded because what could he say? That they were fine? Maybe they were but he wasn’t going to give promises he couldn’t cash in on.
Ida took their hands across the raft. “Listen to me. We don’t even know how far this thing’s struck, and your precious babies are just fine. You have to believe that.”
The couple nodded. “Thank you.”
Sophie paled, waking all the way, and then she glanced at Kentucky and went even paler. She was afraid of him.
Did he look so rough?
He supposed he might.
Kentucky thought about smiling to soften their exchange, but his stomach dipped, and his eyes dove away. His meds. He’d been off them for twenty-four hours and that’s just long enough for things to start getting weird.
He tightened his fists.
Hands shaking…? Check.
Sweaty forehead? Check.
Ida eyed him and lifted her chin as if to say, “You got this.”
He faced away from her, too. No one could know if he “had this” or not. He hadn’t been off his meds since he’d been in a padded room back on base. He wasn’t a threat to himself or others, at least he hadn’t thought so, but when you went into the Army hospital and said that your emotions were ranging from happy to outbursts of anger before plummeting into a deep, manic depression, that’s just where they put you until they could evaluate you.
As if you didn’t feel like an animal enough.
As if you weren’t already scared by how out of control your own thoughts were, they put you in a room where the chairs were bolted to the floor, and had a soft-spoken doctor come in who didn’t make any sudden movements.
But at least he had a prescription pad. That probably saved Kent’s life or kept him out of jail, at least.
The meds helped. They really had. He was weaning down his dosage until now, but going cold turkey…
“Hey,” Tristan said, snapping Kentucky out of it. The male nurse was concerned enough to move from one side of the raft to the other, tipping precariously to the side before sitting next to Kentucky. “You gonna be okay, man?”
Kentucky wondered what he looked like. Everyone on the raft was staring. They must’ve thought he was a lunatic and now they’re stuck with him on their only ride out of disaster.
“I’m good,” he forced out between clenched teeth, trying to smile, but by the widening of Sophie’s eyes, he must have failed even that small gesture.
“I have to use the restroom,” she said.
Ida nodded. “Here, hold my hand and just lean over the side like we’ve---”
“No!” Sophie shook her head, glancing around with pink cheeks. “No way. There are men here. I couldn’t… I can’t even go with people watching anyway.”
“Sweetie,” Ida crooned, but it was with bite. “We don’t have a choice.”
Kentucky jumped into the conversation surprising them all. “There’s a building right over there we can stop at. I see the balcony from here.”
He wasn’t sure if he did it because of the way she was afraid of him and that got under his skin, or because he just wanted to get his mind off his climbing anxiety. Either way, he could use a moment to stretch his legs, too.
“Please,” Hannah moaned. “I’m sick of this raft anyway. We could take turns.”
Ida shook her head. “We have to keep going. We don’t know how the weather’s gonna be.”
Tristan glanced at the sky with a frown, but still said, “We can do it fast. Let’s take a small break.”
Kentucky leaned over the side with a paddle they’d found in their searches. Tristan grabbed the other and, together, they worked their way to a house that was four stories tall. Half of it was under the water, but two stories were untouched. One of them was just a few feet above the waves.
When they pulled alongside, Kentucky helped Sophie climb up and then he followed her over the railing.
“Let me just make sure everything is safe, all right?”
She crossed her arms but didn’t act as skittish as before. “Yeah.”
Kentucky took his time checking the rooms. Someone had left in a hurry it seemed. It was a bedroom with photos of a happy couple. A very wealthy, happy couple.
“I wonder if they made it,” Sophie said, and Kentucky shrugged. “I mean, they look like the type of people who would have another house, right? Maybe they’re there.”
Kentucky sighed. “Sure. Why not?”
Sophie disappeared into the bathroom. He’d cleared it twice, because the dense shadows could be deceiving, so when she let out a blood curdling scream, and he’d found the door tightly locked, the alarm bells sounding in his head blocked out the sound of him crashing through the door like it was made of paper.
Sophie was there, standing on the toilet, screeching even louder now that he was inside the bathroom and her shorts we
He hadn’t gotten that good a look, but he’d seen a mess of rats and snakes and spiders that had obviously come up from the floors below, maybe some up the drain, who’d been in the shadows before.
Once they were in the bedroom again, Kentucky slammed what was left of the door on the critters and tried to calm down Sophie. When she kept screaming, he barely noticed that the rest of the group had joined them.
Most were standing around in various stages of outrage, and he stared at them in confusion until it dawned on him. Kentucky was hovering over Sophie, and the teen girl was half-dressed.
He held up his hands as Tristan got between them, shoving Kentucky away from the bed. “What the hell, man!”
“How dare you!” Hannah added. Her husband even looked ready for a fight.
Sophie didn’t offer to help his situation as she was merely saying, “No no no!” over and over again, making matters worse.
“Just wait a second!” Ida shouted. Then she marched over the bathroom and flung open the door.
“Don’t!” Kentucky barked, but it was too late.
Every manner of creepy crawly came flooding out of the bathroom and the group was racing for the balcony as one, except for Kentucky.