Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter Five (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.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter Four (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 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, July 25, 2014

The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter Three (Deborah Rix)

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.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

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 one even closer to theirs, less than a block away. The Anders house? She couldnt be sure.
Eve took a bottle of water from the crate, taking the smallest of sips before replacing the top and placing it carefully back in its place. Staring at the stacks of bottled water piled high in the corner of the garage she regretted having teased Jared so much. Shed called him paranoid, a conspiracy theorist, each and every time hed come back from the shops, adding to the modest stockpiles of water, dried food and tinned goods.
Now, as she heard the rumblings in her stomach, as she reached for the tin of tunafish, she was grateful for his preparedness.
They had food and water for two weeks. Perhaps three. Though Eve knew it was only a matter of time before people came. Looters. They were everywhere. Still, for the moment, they were home, they had food. They were safe. Even Cassies fever had broken, just as Jared said it would.
But how long could they hold out? Jared kept up his assurances. It couldnt be much longer, thats what he kept saying. The power would come back. It had to. He seemed so sureand hed been right about Cassies fever, hadnt he? Couldnt she trust him in this?
No, she couldnt.
Jared was an optimist. It was why she loved him. But she, Eve, was the practical one. Jared might believe the power would come back, that help was on its way, that the government was working diligently to restore services.
But Eve knew better.
At least, she feared she did. Dreaded it. And the longer the power stayed off, the more days that past with no official word, no explanation of why any of this had happened, the more Eve feared she knew exactly the reason why.
But, noit couldnt be.
Could it? They wouldnt. It was unthinkable.
Eve felt the familiar pang of guilt. After all these years together Jared knew so little about her. She was glad that he wasnt the kind to press and pry, though she hated keeping secrets from him. It was only natural he would ask questions, and when he did she would remind him she wasnt permitted to speak of the details regarding her work at the institute. Classified, darling, she would say with a wink. Jared would give a disappointed sigh, but then he would nod and smile, his hands raised in submission. And on those nights when his curiosity got the better of him, when he might ask one question too many, Evewell, she had her ways of distracting him and changing the subject.
Eve cursed as she reached once again for the garage light switch. Nothing. Nothing worked at all. Not the lights, not the water, not even the batteries from the solar generator worked. Even the face of her wrist watch, powered from the heat of her own body, stared blankly back at her, though she kept tapping it, half expecting it to come back online, reconnecting her once more to the world. If only she could get a connection, get some word, some confirmation of what was happening.
But someone knew. That signal came again last night.
Stepping carefully in the dark, Eve moved toward the workbench and the spot where she last remembered seeing the thing she sought. Kneeling, groping with an outstretched hand, Eve rummaged amongst the piles of tools, old computer parts and discarded telephones, all doubly-useless now, and cursed herself for not having the foresight to bring a candle.
What are you looking for?
Startled, Eve promptly banged her head on the underside of the workbench. Rubbing at the bruise, she turned slowly and faced Jared. She didnt have to answer. He saw what she held in her hand.
Yellowed, crinkled, torn in places, the ink faded, Eve tried to hold the old paper roadmap behind her back, hiding it from Jared, but it was already too late. He reached around and snatched it from her. Eve let it go, rather than letting the thing be torn. It was a miracle they even still had such a thing, that it hadnt been recycled long agoa paper map, a relic from another era, printed decades ago. But it was something she desperately needed. The GPS in her contact lenses hadnt functioned since the outage. If she was going to find her way toward the signal light, she needed that map. And if she was right, if what she feared was true, she knew exactly where that signal was coming from and who was sending it.
She reached for it, but Jared shook his head.
Cassies still not ready. She needs rest. Perhaps in a week…”
Slowly, Eve looked up and her eyes met Jareds.
Cassies not going, Eve said. And neither are you. Im going to find that signal. Im going to find some answers. Get some help.

For more about Cary Caffrey, click here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter One (Joseph A. Turkot)

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 grab Jared so that he would see it. So that he would believe her this time. Because she was convinced he was ignoring it on purpose—that he’d seen it each time through the window and was pretending he hadn’t. Buying time for something. Stalling for hope. Hope that everything would just fix itself.
            When he saw the light, just the last bit of it—and he knew she’d seen him see it—he drew up tightly against her. Everything looked so far away. Even the sidewalk and the street and the dead cars right below them, and the black windows in every house surrounding theirs. With a nervous jerk, he nodded and pulled her down from the slope of the roof. Down to where the incline wasn’t so steep, where no eyes could watch them anymore—or whatever was looking out from dark windows, or the hill that rose to the east, a ridge of pine so high it touched the first strand of space dust.
    “We’ve got to go…” she said as he tugged her back to the window. “It’s a signal. Somebody that can help us.” But Jared just kept pulling her to get inside, all the way down to the edge of the roof until they reached the window. He kneeled down and grunted and it opened. Together they slipped into a dark room. They stood there by the only light they had—a candle dancing on the bureau and the mass of stars burning billions of miles away.
“How do you think we’re going to get her there? She can’t walk,” Jared said, his voice cinching up with anxiety again. There’d been too many gunshots over the past two days. But the nights...they had been worse. He had to stall for time.
He pushed the thought of leaving out of his head. Rejected his wife’s idea again before she could even speak it. Decided it was his decision. They’d stay. Cassie would get better like she always did, even without a doctor this time. And Eve would listen because he was the man of the house. And they would have to trust him. Listen to him on this one. It wasn’t safe to go out there. Not until the power came back on. Until the phones started working again. But he didn’t say a single word, and Eve looked at him so hard that he had to look away. Her eyes had bled their last patience and he knew it. The only thing hanging in them now was cold desperation, the last force she would use to move her husband to act before going out alone without him. She knew she had to get him to forget about their safety now. Because Cassie would die. If they didn’t move her, toward someone—anyone for help—she would die. And they both knew it.  
“I don’t know how, but we will,” she finally answered him, watching carefully his reaction. Each line of his cheek stretched with quick darts of his eyes—out to the window and then back, searching for the sign of the flash again. As if it would prove to him they really should go. An echo of the proof he already had—that he’d just seen. That there really was power out there somewhere. Someone had power. Someone was alive and could help them. Finally, when he wouldn’t respond, and her stare did nothing more to move him, Eve grabbed his neck and twisted it so that he had to see her eyes. She glared at him as she spoke. It scared him the way she did it—as if he was a stranger to her.  
“She’s not going to get better. Not if we stay here.” Eve tried to conceal the quaver in her voice as she waited for him to look away, dared him to. Anything to anger her further, so that she could take control without guilt. Her instincts had grown too sharp now. Too bold. But she didn’t have to wait for him to make a decision. The noise from downstairs was enough to do it for him.
Both of their faces twisted toward the door and into the hall, the direction of their shivering and sweat-drenched child. Her moaning came again, and the noise of her tossing  in the bed and burning up. Some kind of sickness that shouldn’t be happening at the same time as the power outage. An impossible nightmare.
“Okay,” Jared said. But his voice was so weak that Eve knew she’d have to do it on her own. And it wasn’t until she started out, grabbing the candle and moving into the hall, that Jared began with another excuse. The same line he’d used last night.
“Maybe the car will start,” he said. He followed quickly after her, arranging his plan in his head so that she would agree to stay put another night, but the ideas fell out of his gut when they stepped into the room. Battling against the bed, Cassie suddenly froze and looked up at them. She had heard them fighting again. It had gotten so much worse since yesterday. And all she wanted to do was get better so they’d stop. She knew it was her they were arguing about. Her mother wore the same look of calm she always had. Her hand came and went gently over her head and her arm and her forehead. And then, through the painful knock in her head, she noticed something new in her father’s face. An expression more anxious than she’d ever seen. Her gaze fixed on him, so long that she knew what it was. He was finally caving in to her—to her mother’s idea of leaving the house. To stop waiting things out—whatever they were—to see if everything fixed itself. It had only been a few days, but it had been enough for her. And now, for both of them.
“It’s okay, Daddy. I’m not scared to go. I can walk by myself.”
And with that, Eve knew there was enough now. Jared didn’t have a choice. It didn’t matter that the neighbors were dead. That there had only been the sounds of gunshots and screams and yelling and desperation out on the streets, and that they’d been lucky enough to hole up inside the house without anyone knocking or cracking a window. With each passing hour, and his insistence that the news would come back on, that the phones would start working again, that the car would start up, hope had waned down to nothing. First in her, but now in all of them. There was no information coming. No power. No help. They’d have to do it themselves.
“How did they die?” Cassie asked, trying to sit up. Eve bent down and pushed her back against the bed. From the nightstand she took a wet towel and put it on her forehead. She didn’t even bother to take her temperature again. It had been too high for too long. And she knew it—even if Jared wouldn’t admit it. Cassie had been sick before the power. But they’d neglected to take her to the doctor. To the hospital. To anywhere. They’d both decided to wait it out. Let’s see how she’s doing tomorrow, they’d said. She usually got better on her own. And now they were left with nothing. No way to get medicine. Antibiotics. Anything to help her. But there was power—someone out there had power. A generator or something. The long flash breaking through the black night, a lighthouse of hope, for two days in a row. Somewhere near the edge of town. Somewhere near where the pines rise up from the last roads of town.
Cassie gave up her questioning and let her mother try to cool her forehead. She couldn’t talk any more. Not enough to get her father to tell her. She would go and look through the neighbors’ windows for herself if she could, if it were any other day of the year. Because she never got sick, and it wasn’t fair. None of what was happening was fair. The moan came again, long and hard from her gut, the sound of the slow and rolling stomach pain. And the splinters cut through her head, slicing up all of her nerves, so that she had to fight to look at her father. His eyes twisted around the room, searching for whatever they could take with them onto the streets. How to arm himself to protect his family. “The neighbor, how did he die?” Cassie managed to get out one more time. She’d overheard enough to know that it was true. And even as she waited, trying to retain consciousness long enough for his reply, she knew right away he wasn’t going to tell her anything. And instead of answering her, he told her to close her eyes and relax because they were going for help now. But in his mind the images came anyway. The same ones he’d seen for the past two days. The reality check he’d forced himself to view over and over again through the window during the daytime, like torture. Sprawled on the kitchen floor, Doug’s dead body. The neighborly smile gone forever, and in its place a mashed nose and a single open eye. The cheek pale and fat and bulging underneath. Deciding that he couldn’t tell his daughter anything because it would only scare her more, he bent down and lifted her up without a word from the soaking bed. Her head fell back against his arm, soggy clumps of hair clinging against his arm. And then, numbing himself, as is wife had already done, to the idea of self-preservation, he nodded. It was all for her now.



Monday, July 21, 2014

And the Winner is...

Gayle Noble!

Thanks to everyone that 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 this blog. All we're starting with is Gayle's title, trope and characters.

The Catastrophe Theory
Technology Catastrophe
Jared, Eve and Cas



We have no idea where this is going.


20 authors.
1 story.
Begins July 23.




Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Hunt


Three boxed sets come together in the ultimate scavenger hunt.

The Hunt
  • Tons of free ebooks and swag just for participating!
  • Begins midnight July 18th EST and ends 11:59 PM, July 20th EST
  • Twenty-three stops can be completed anytime during the contest
  • Each stop will have a brief a paragraph and question
  • Record your answers on this cheat sheet
  • At the final stop, enter you answers to maximize your entries

The Grand Prize
  • An autographed paperback from 22 authors
  • An ebook of A Taste of Tomorrow, What Tomorrow Will Bring and Shattered Worlds
  • A progressive story featuring the winner's characters and title

The Progressive Story
  • 20 authors will come together to write a dystopian tale
  • The grand prize winner will name the characters, the book's title, and story trope
  • Each author will write a chapter to be published on social media
  • The final chapters to be hidden until publication
  • The grand prize winner will receive an advanced copy
  • The book will be made free to the public

The Dystoptimists
Twenty-three authors offer ebooks and swag just for participating
  1. Joseph Turkot, The Rain
  2. Cary Caffrey, The Girls of Alcyone
  3. Jason Gurley, The Man Who Ended the World
  4. Deborah Rix, External Forces
  5. Katie French, The Breeders
  6. Deirdre Gould, After the Cure
  7. Sarah Dalton, The Blemished
  8. Jenni Merritt, Prison  Nation
  9. Megan Thomason, daynight
  10. Shalini Boland, Outside
  11. Chris Ward, The Tube Riders
  12. Susan Kaye Quinn, Open Minds
  13. David Wright, Yesterday's Gone (Season One)
  14. Scott Cramer, Night of the Purple Moon
  15. TW Piperbrook, Contamination Zero
  16. Zoe Cannon, The Torturer's Daughter
  17. Samantha Durante, Stitch
  18. Saul Tanpepper, Gameland: Book 1 - Deep Into the Game
  19. David Estes, The Moon Dwellers
  20. Shelbi Wescott, Virulent: The Release
  21. Tony Bertauski, The Annihilation of Foreverland
  22. David Normoyle, The Narrowing Path
  23. Elle Casey, Apocalypsis Book 1: Kahayatle