Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I'm going on an adventure!

It's time... I'm going to New Zealand!

I'm going to be away from my computer from the 2nd-20th February, and won't have any internet access at all the majority of the time (maybe the whole trip, because I'll be on the road a lot). I might post on social media from the airport if there's Wi-Fi, but my inbox will remain untouched until I get back.

This is a head's up to anyone who wants to contact me for anything -- I have an autoresponder set up until the 20th. I'll do my absolute best to respond to emails as soon as I can, but it might be the beginning of March before I'm entirely caught up. I haven't left my computer for longer than a few days since 2012, and I get 30-50 emails per day (and let's not talk about Facebook/Twitter notifications. o.O). Client emails will get priority!

I'll be back in a few weeks, hopefully with some great pictures! :)

Monday, 1 February 2016

Release Day: Gyre by Jessica Gunn

It's release day for GYRE by Jessica Gunn, the first book in the Atlas Link Series! Jessica Gunn's debut novel is a new adult fantasy from Curiosity Quills Press.
vortex in a column of water

Purchase GYRE: Amazon

Synopsis: Chelsea didn’t try to teleport. All she wanted was to play the Battle of the Bands show. But after accidentally teleporting onto classified Navy vessel SeaSatellite5, all she’s rocking is the boat. Once it’s sorted out that Chelsea’s not a threat, SeaSat5’s top scientist offers Chelsea a position on the crew as an archaeology intern. Dr. Saint studies people with powers, believing them to be descendants of Atlantean refugees, except Chelsea’s powers are beyond anything on previous record. While great for everyone else onboard, the miracle of Chelsea is Trevor’s worst nightmare. The same girl who’d given him a brief lifeline to sanity three months ago literally fell from the sky, under a mile of ocean, and onto the very station where he’s employed. Making matters worse, Trevor’s family are Lemurians, Atlantis’s enemy, and Chelsea’s presence is unpredicted—a wrench in an already unstable situation. But Trevor wants no part of his family’s war. The only thing he wants is Chelsea, Atlantean or not. Days into Chelsea’s sudden appearance, SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and a massive artifact cache, placing its entire, hundred-man crew in the crosshairs of an ancient war. There are those who want the Atlantean relics inside the ruins destroyed, and only Trevor knows the treasures for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by the ancient civilizations for their time-travel war. With lies and shifting alliances abound, Chelsea and Trevor will have to think fast in order to save the station. If they don’t, the Lemurians will seize the artifacts and Atlantis will be destroyed forever.

About the Author:
Jessica Gunn Jessica Gunn is a New Adult author and avid science-fiction and fantasy fan. Her favorite stories are those that transport the reader to other, more exciting worlds. When not working or writing, she can be found binge-watching Firefly and Stargate, or feeding her fascination of the ancient world’s many mysteries. Jessica also holds a degree in Anthropology. To catch up with Jessica, follow her on Twitter (@JessGunnAuthor) or on her website, www.jessicagunn.com. Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads |Website | Blog | Pinterest

My review

I was lucky enough to read an earlier version of this book, and I can honestly say I've never read anything quite like it - and I mean that in the best way possible! GYRE has a really unique premise I haven't read before, featuring Atlantis folklore, superpowers, time travel, action and romance.

The POV alternates between Chelsea, an archaeology student with no idea she's descended from ancient Atlanteans until she teleports herself onto a top-secret vessel where scientists study people with powers like hers, and Trevor, who works aboard the submarine while secretly trying to stop his family destroying Atlantis.

The romance between the lead characters is sweet and develops naturally without taking over the plot, which is refreshing in New Adult. The plot is an exciting page-turner with high stakes and some great twists. If, like me, you're on the lookout for SFF in the New Adult category, GYRE is a must read!

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Saturday, 30 January 2016

#WIPMarathon January Update

It's time for another #WIPMarathon update, hosted by Ifeoma Dennis!

Last report wordcount: Last month, I was plotting shiny new side projects. (Urban fantasy!)

Current report wordcount: I edited Divided (Alliance, #4) , and did the final proofread of Souls Forsaken (Darkworld 4) and the second-round edit of Darkness Falling (Darkworld 5).

I published Indestructible and proofread Ablaze (Book 2).  

I also outlined a new urban fantasy series because the idea wouldn't leave me alone. I rewrote the first chapter around 20 times before starting the draft. I got about 17,000 words written in total, including an absolutely insane 8K-word writing day yesterday. (Why do these things only happen when I'm about to leave the country? Why?!)

WIP issues this month: Having too many projects on at the same time, and publishing-related mental blocks. Once I switched to a project I was excited about, the words started flowing!

Four things I learned this month in writing:

  • The #1 reason I can write a draft fast (and one I always forget) -- I spend FOREVER writing the first chapter. It takes me longer to figure out how to start a draft than it does to actually write it. Seriously. In the middle of every project, I get sidelined by at least one shiny new idea and have to explore it in a hundred different ways before I settle on a clear focus. At any one time, I'm fiddling with the first chapter of at least two future projects, sometimes for months or even years, and I always seem to forget this when I actually start a draft! (I have three in progress right now. Oops.)
  • Related: I think it's because I need to know what the story's about before I start. I do get to know the characters better on the page, but I need to know the main story's goal and arc before I start writing. But once I've fixed it in place, I rarely have to make changes. (This is why I don't mind doing heavy revisions, because I'm only changing surface things. The actual story never changes.)
  • I always need to be working on a draft. I've probably mentioned this before, but it's not just because my ability to jump into a writing flow state totally stops if I take days off. I have a moth-to-flame-like tendency to get emotionally attached to ideas, and I'm still working on reconciling my sensitive artist tendencies with the reality that the ideas I like the most aren't the ones readers want to read the most. Quickly moving from one project to another is a defence mechanism I wish I didn't need, but this is one of the reasons I let myself play around with new first chapters, so I always have potential projects to dive into after finishing a WIP.
  • Sometimes it really does take a long time to realise which book I should be writing.
What distracted me this month when writing:  Everything, as usual. :P Book releases, another book signing in March (yay!), emails, freelancing, preparing for New Zealand (next week. AHHH!)...

Goal for next month: I'm not setting firm goals next month because I'm travelling. I'm taking a notebook with a story outline written down, but it depends on whether I have any free time while I'm over there. On my first long trip (Australia), I didn't have any free time at all, whereas when I spent five weeks in Costa Rica in 2012, I ended up finishing the draft of Darkness Watching by hand while volunteering in the rainforest. So anything can happen. :)

I'd like to get part of a rough draft down, if just because I have two 31-hour flights and a lot of time on the road... but I'm not committing to anything.

Last 200 words: ...are a secret, because edits. ;)

Friday, 22 January 2016

Announcement: Alliance Series Rebranding!

*deep breath*

I've decided to revamp the covers for the Alliance series.

I know everyone loves the covers. I do, too. But the fact is, the covers might be pretty, but they aren't connecting with readers. I had to make a decision about the future of the series and ultimately, this was my last option. I've had to delay the release of the fourth book, but the rest of the series will be published, even if there are longer gaps between releases than I anticipated.

Anyway, I like the new designs. :)

What's coming next

  • I'll be signing books at the Leeds Author Event on March 5 2016!
  • My next release will be Darkworld Book 4, Souls Forsaken, on March 7 2016.
  • Afterwards, Ablaze (Indestructible Book 2) will be out on April 4. (Pre-order here.)
  • I'm going to be travelling around New Zealand for the next two weeks (2nd-20th February. :) I'll update the blog with photos when I come back!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Author Interview with Deek Rhew!

Today I'm interviewing Deek Rhew, author of Birth of an American Gigolo 

Thanks for hosting me today, Emma! I'm really excited to be here today. :-)

Let the interview begin!

Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!

  * My wife, Erin Rhew, and I met on Twitter! She is a grammar nerd, and my stories are nothing more than long rambling emails in desperate need of her mad ninja abilities. We were part of the same critique group, so I sent her "Birth." She worked it over with her wha-cha-cha comma-placing, passive voice crushing skillz. We started talking in the comments section of that manuscript and have never stopped. Even if my writing career never goes anywhere, I'm a smashing success because it led me to her.

  * I'm colorblind. In ordinary day-to-day life, it doesn't make much difference, but it did have a profound effect on my career choice. In high school, I'd begun the process to enroll in ROTC and become a pilot for the Air Force, following in the footsteps of my father, who is a veteran. But, it turns out, the military does not accept the colorblind to fly their $15,000,000 fighter jets, so I changed course and went to school instead.

  * I had a rock band in high school and college! After choosing to not join the military, I planned to tour the world sharing music with the masses! But, well, things like that don't usually work out. So, I became a geek to, ya know, eat. #RockNRoll

Summarize your book in one line.

A party girl turned domestic diva drops her wrath upon her prissy, cheating husband and begins a unique business venture that will elevate her to queen of Alabaster Cove.

Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!

Angel, a drifting twenty-something with plans to have plans, works at a grocery store after she drops out of college. She's feisty and smart, but completely directionless, and is dating Dios, the gigolo. One morning, after Dios dropped a life-changing bomb on Angel, she gets a call from her friend Monica, who needs help. So Angel beats feet, off to save her friend.

We see the other side of this conversation in my novel, 122 Rules, from Monica's perspective. Angel and Monica are a bit like Thelma and Louise in 122 and truck all over the country being chased by a mad man, the FBI, and other unsavories. I love story-overlap. Angel appears in 122's sequel too, so be on the lookout for more and more Angel!

Why did you decide to write this particular book?

I didn't actually decide to write it per se; I more or less stumbled upon it. This books is actually a section I pulled out of 122 Rules that didn't fit the overall storyline. I remember writing this part thinking this doesn't help the story, but I understood that Lindsey, Dios, Angel, Cindie, and Stewart had their story that needed to be told. I plowed on and, after I finished it, pulled it out and tucked it away for future release. That was about six years ago, and now they're getting their moment in the spotlight!

Best part of the writing process?

I LOVE being surprised by the story. I don't plan or plot, and usually I feel like I'm just a transcriptionist. Like I'm reporting the story as it unfolds with absolutely no idea what will happen.

Share one thing you learned writing this book.

That I still have a ton of bad writing habits! After going through the editing wringer of 122, I thought I knew my weaknesses and what I needed to work on, so I looked through "Birth" for those things. Yeah, still missed a lot of 'em. Sigh. Maybe the next book?

Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!

When I was three or four, my family and I lived in a mobile home in Great Falls, Montana. In the winter, the winds can really kick up the dickens. I was pestering my mom to go outside and play. I vaguely recall her telling me that the weather was too bad, but being omnipotent--like most kids--I opened the front door and then the screen and was flung across the yard. To this day, I remember sailing over the lawn thinking, Well that was stupid.

Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.

Alabaster Cove! This is the SoCal surfing town where I base my books!

Name one real place you’d love to visit.

Italy! I've always dreamed of living there. Erin and I are planning to become professional vagabonds in a few years, and this is one of the places we're going to stay.

Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!

Breaking about every road law created since 1945, Lindsey flew back to town. She didn’t slow as she crossed the bridge and directed the beast to Stewart’s office. Cindie’s little Vespa scooter sat parked on the sidewalk in front of the building. When Lindsey’s large vehicle bumped up onto the curb with
nary a complaint, she floored the accelerator and aimed down the walkway. With a satisfying crunch, the SUV hit the Vespa, smashing it under large, all-terrain tires.

Lindsey slammed on the brakes, dropped the hulking beast into reverse, and drove over the efficient little mode of transportation again. She smiled as one little scooter wheel rolled pathetically out into the street, pirouetted a couple of times, and then came to rest on its side.

She put the SUV into drive and drove the beast home.

Birth of an American Gigolo, the deets from Deek!

Okay, so what the heck is "Birth of an American Gigolo" about?

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

An old party girl shoehorned into domestic divaship, infuriated by her husband's cheating and his holier-than-thou, tree-hugging, no-tits and no-hips girlfriend, inflicts her wrath by training a local boy in the fine art of seduction. She and her new boy toy turned love god start a gigolo business as a distraction for the neglected and mistreated housewives of Alabaster Cove.

Lindsey, the queen of Alabaster Cove
In a nutshell, it's about screwing up. Lindsey compromised her principles and force herself into being something she's not. In college, she had a scare and crammed herself into a life of domestication. Years later, she's stuck in a smelly armpit of a marriage and a life that's foreign and dismal. But when she finds out her husband is a cheater and liar, she and her inner, long-dormant party animal load the cannons and battens down the hatches. Together, they concoct a plan to revenge themselves out of the cesspool of their existence and create a new throne from which to plant her royal tush and rule the town.

George is nowhere in sight!

What isn't it about? Sex! There is a little of course, because, well, it's about an angry and betrayed party girl and her boy toy. But if you're looking for long descriptions of people's kibbles and bits and how they sizzle and sauté them into a goulash of passion and uninhibited fornication, then you'd better look for a different blend of Chex Mix, cause, brother, this ain't it.

Okay, domestic diva...check. No George Michael in sight...check. Humorous situations where an angry party girls runs over a scooter with a Hummer...check.

Alright, my friends, first, check out the amazeballs cover by Anita from Race-Point.com:

Birth of an American Gigolo by Deek Rhew
Bask in the glory that is awesome, spellbinding art. <cue Hallelujah Chorus>

Visit the "Birth of an American Gigolo" home page.
Birth of an American Gigolo

Take a gander at Goodreads! 

Cruise on over to Amazon. "Birth" is available January 19, 2016!

About the Author
Deek Rhew
Deek lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with the stunning YA author bride, Erin Rhew, and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords.

He and Erin love to share books by reading aloud to one another. In addition, they enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, and exploring the little town--with antique shops and bakeries--they call home.

Connect with Deek!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Pre-order: Ablaze (Indestructible, #2)!

The second book in the Indestructible trilogy will be out on the 4th April 2016, and it's already available to pre-order!

Two years ago, the fiends invaded Earth. Two months ago, I joined the Pyros, a group of warriors with astonishing powers, to fight the monsters that destroyed our world.

But then I found out they were keeping secrets from me. Jared, the sadistic scientist who betrayed them, has captured my ally, who’s linked to me through a blood-connection that’s slowly killing us both. To get him back, I have to leave my new friends and face the wilderness alone. But Jared’s not the only threat out there. The fiends are moving, forces stir on the other side of the divide, and if Jared’s plan succeeds, it’ll spell disaster for our world.

And that’s if the dark transformation in my blood doesn’t kill me first.

Pre-order on Amazon

There's only a few days left to grab Indestructible at a bargain price of $0.99! 

Two years ago, the fiends invaded, with a devastating explosion that split the world in two. Even now, energy blasts strike without warning, destroying everything in their paths. The fiends hunt anyone unlucky enough to escape.

My name is Leah. An energy blast killed my group. It should have killed me, too. Instead, I woke up alone in the wilderness, stalked by the fiends.

My only hope is the red-cloaked strangers who call themselves the Pyros. They can do the impossible and make flames shoot from their hands. Right now, my one chance for safety -- and revenge -- is with them.

But they’re keeping secrets from me. Like those skeletons hidden under their base. And the reasons I developed a psychic link with someone who can’t stand the sight of me -- after he saved my life.

If I don’t uncover the truth about why the world ended the first time, my new safe haven might go up in smoke…

Indestructible is the first in a YA post-apocalyptic superhero-fantasy trilogy.

Amazon   Add on Goodreads

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

New Release: Indestructible by Emma L. Adams

Two years ago, the fiends invaded, with a devastating explosion that split the world in two. Even now, energy blasts strike without warning, destroying everything in their paths. The fiends hunt anyone unlucky enough to escape.

My name is Leah. An energy blast killed my group. It should have killed me, too. Instead, I woke up alone in the wilderness, stalked by the fiends.

My only hope is the red-cloaked strangers who call themselves the Pyros. They can do the impossible and make flames shoot from their hands. Right now, my one chance for safety -- and revenge -- is with them.

But they’re keeping secrets from me. Like those skeletons hidden under their base. And the reasons I developed a psychic link with someone who can’t stand the sight of me -- after he saved my life.

If I don’t uncover the truth about why the world ended the first time, my new safe haven might go up in smoke…

Indestructible is the first in a YA post-apocalyptic superhero-fantasy trilogy.

Amazon   Add on Goodreads

Chapter One

It begins with a flare, and a tremor that rocks the earth.
Screams ring in my ears, drowned out by the explosion. I throw myself flat, eyes squeezed shut against the glaring light. I always thought I’d stand and stare my own death in the face, but right now, I don’t have time to do anything but curl in on myself and wait for it to end.
Time passes. Maybe a minute. Maybe longer. The ground remains firm beneath me, as I lie in a foetal position, hands pressed to my face, but I’m not dead.
I’m not dead.
My eyes flicker open. Ashes drift past my face, fluttering against my skin. For a moment, ashes are all I see. Ashes… and a mile-wide stretch of burned ground.
The camp’s gone.
I’m not dead.
The two thoughts mingle in confusion, then collide. My eyes open properly as I shift onto my side. Hard ground scrapes against bare skin—my clothes must have burned right off me.
My hands are slightly reddened, grazed where they scraped against rock as I flung myself to the ground. But I’m unhurt. Somehow. I felt that blast vibrate through my bones, shatter everything around me. I smelled the burning and heard the screams.
The screams.
Oh God. Oh my God.
They’re gone.
I sit up, properly, stirring a dervish of ashes. The ground is bare. No bodies, not even a trace.
Oh, God. I press the heels of my hands to my eyes, like if I shut out the sight, it’ll bring them back. Opal. Randy. Zeph. Shuddering breaths rack my body. My hands are damp when I move them back. I’m actually crying, for the first time since my sister died.
The same sight awaits as before, wavering before my eyes—dead ground. No life. I stir through ashes with both hands, fighting back a scream. How could I have survived? I should have been vaporised along with the others. My teeth chatter against each other, and some part of my brain tells me I’m going into shock.
I brush away the tears with the back of my hand, trying to steady my breathing. The smell of burning lingers, but the ringing in my ears has already faded to a dull buzzing sound.
Get up, Leah. You need to get up. Get to shelter.
The voice of common sense, the one that’s kept me alive this long—it’s right. Impossible, or not, I’m alive. And I need to get as far away from the Burned Spot as possible.
Yet I can’t bring myself to walk away. My throat tightens as I stare around the campsite. There’s no way to tell if anyone escaped, but they can’t have. It happened too quickly. Only the rocks we sat on are mostly intact. Red-grey, barren ground stretches endlessly in every direction. Maybe this is the afterlife. For all I know, it looks the same as our world does now. But I’m breathing, my ankle’s throbbing where I twisted it when I fell, and the panic rising in my chest feels all too real.
Now there’s nothing to hide behind, I’m an easy target. I need to move. There’s no sign of any settlements around, but we were heading west. There were rumours of a town over that way, and right now, rumours are all I have left to go by. They’d tell you to run. Randy would tell you to run.
A heat haze blurs the road ahead, a path cleared where thick pines once clustered. I liked the forest, liked the shelter, but even that didn’t survive the explosion. My feet kick up dust dervishes, stinging already as rocks dig into my heels. I wrap my arms around myself as heat seeps from the air, goose bumps rising on my arms. My scalp prickles. The blast burned most of my hair away. My back feels bare without my backpack, and my parched throat reminds me that even my water-flask is gone. The one Opal gave me.
Opal’s dead now.
No tears come to my eyes this time, but my throat feels like I’ve swallowed glass fragments. I won’t survive long without water. Even if I’m made of different stuff to normal people.
The word rings through my head, like the echo of an energy blast. I’ve heard it before, but not for a while.
One time, we spent a few days in a town that had escaped the worst of the attacks, because it lay in the shadow of a mountain. The leader—presumably chosen by the people—didn’t trust us, and we stayed only long enough to stock up on supplies. But the night before we left, another group of strangers came to the town. They were all dressed in red coats, like they were part of some kind of weird cult. Their hoods were pulled low, and everyone avoided them even though they were polite and left as soon as they had what they’d come for. Whispers followed them, and somehow made it to our group.
Pyros. They could summon fire from the depths of the earth, and walk away from an energy blast like it was nothing. That was all I managed to get out of Zeph before Randy yelled at him to be quiet. No one ever spoke about it again. We had better things to worry about, like surviving, avoiding the fiends. Running, always moving.
But I listened to their late-night conversations when they thought I was asleep, even when I first joined the camp after Mum and Dad died. I saw Randy polishing his gun, always sitting guard, pretending to watch out for the fiends. Like a gun would do any good against one of those monstrosities.
Randy’s dead, too.
I still can’t seem to accept it. My feet drag, like I’m hoping if I walk slowly enough, they’ll catch up to me. Like I’ll find Opal running alongside me, talking even though we weren’t supposed to.
In just a few seconds, the blast took everyone, obliterated them without a trace. I’m alone.
The ground scrapes against my bare feet; the air is chilly and biting. I’m going to catch a cold if I don’t find shelter. But I’ve reached the edge of the Burned Spot. Weeds and grass start to appear amongst the parched soil, shrubs poking out the ground. I’m heading the right way. I make out the shapes of mountains, white tips stark against the burnished sky. Even at night, it’s blood-red, the moon shining like a pale eye. The red sky is so beautiful, it’s easy to forget it’s another sign the world as we knew it has ended.
My pace kicks up as I see the house. Abandoned, of course. Solar panels on the roof and neat little windows. The door is slightly open, but not like it’s been kicked in.
The river nearby is my first stop. I scoop water in my hands, slake my thirst, gasping as the cool water pours down my throat. Then I wash the grit and sand from my face. I try to avoid looking at my reflection in the sluggishly-moving water, but get the blurred impression of a stranger. Without the dark, curly hair that used to bounce past my shoulders, my sunburnt face is thrown into focus. I run my hands over my scalp, shuddering. The skin on my hands stays a burnished red colour even after washing them. But I’m still alive, still breathing, unharmed by the explosion.
And alone, with no one to tell me why.
It’s been two years since Lissa died. Two years since I told myself I’d never cry for another person again. But I can’t wrap my head around the idea that Randy and the others are gone. Even Opal. It’s like if I run far enough, I’ll find them again, out of range of the explosion, with answers. But that’s stupid. Of course it is. You’d have to run faster than a human can to outrace an energy blast.
The door creaks slowly inwards as I enter the hallway. I’m lucky. This house was vacated fairly recently. The smells of decay and neglect haven’t descended yet. I spot a throw over a chair in the living room and snatch it up, wrapping it around myself as I search for anything to salvage. My skin prickles. Something’s not right. The dust has barely settled on the mantelpiece and the tall oak bookshelves. Did the people who lived here run when they saw the explosion in the distance? That seems a likely explanation, but something about the silence bothers me all the same.
First, clothes. I step out into the hallway again and jog up the stairs. I’m beyond feeling guilty for stealing, but the sight of the outfits in the wardrobe in the master bedroom—I’m guessing this house must have belonged to a couple—makes my chest tighten. They’re so… pristine. Just normal clothes. Well, what used to count as normal. How can so little have changed in here when two years have altered the outside world beyond recognition?
Lissa would have loved this. My sister cried when we couldn’t get nice clothes anymore, when the big shopping centres shut down—the ones that survived, that is. She didn’t really understand what was happening. Well, how do you explain to a seven-year-old when you have no clue what’s going on yourself?
I pick out the most worn-looking jeans and plainest T-shirt, which are a touch too big, but good enough. I even find a pair of lace-up running shoes, and a cap to cover my bald head. Maybe my hair will have grown back by the time I find somewhere to settle. If I find somewhere that accepts strangers.
But if this couple lasted so long out here on their own, logic suggests there’s a larger settlement nearby. Unless they were just really, really prepared. I’ve been with the camp so long I almost forgot some people took their chances and stayed put. A lot of people stocked up when the energy blasts began and all the news reports started coming in about whole cities losing power overnight, and raided the supermarkets and bought solar panels just in case the blackouts came. Which they did, of course. Not that a sustainable power supply did any good against the fiends.
How did this place escape?
“This isn’t right,” I mutter, pulling the hat low over my face. At least it’ll protect me from sunburn. I take a jacket for the cold. It’s black and made of a velvety material I haven’t seen in years. It’s the only coat in the room that doesn’t absolutely swamp me. I make a quick trip to the bathroom, averting my eyes from my reflection in the mirror over the sink as I splash more water over my face. My skin still stings, like a mild burn. I almost laugh at that. A mild burn, when everyone else was obliterated.
A sob heaves my chest, and I brace my arms against the sink. Get hold of yourself!
I snap upright as a tremendous roar shatters the silence. My heart starts pounding. God, I’m an idiot.
I should have known. The house was only abandoned recently, and there could have been only one of two reasons for that. One, the energy blast scared them away. But this house and the people who lived here have survived two years of explosions and horrors. Which leads to the second possibility.
My throat closes. The noise came from right over the roof. They’ve found me already. They’ll have followed my trail. Like sharks can smell a drop of blood in water, the fiends can sniff out if a human’s so much as tip-toed through a place. The blasts draw them like flies, and I haven’t walked far enough away.
Another roar joins the first. Great, there’s more than one of them.
I tread softly back into the landing, like it’ll make a difference. I’m going to die, there’s no doubt of it—I’m unarmed, not that any ordinary weapon can harm the fiends anyway. I brace myself against the wall as the first tremor shakes the house. My bones jar against each other, my teeth rattling in my skull.
The splintering sound of glass breaking. One of them has thrown itself against a window. The bedroom window. Gripping the wall so hard my fingers leave dents in the plaster, I start to make my way downstairs. Slowly. I feel every time one of the fiends slams into the side of the house, rattling the floorboards beneath my feet. I want to be on the ground, not that it’ll do any good once they get in the house.
My heart pounds in my chest, as if it knows each beat might be the last. My palms are slippery, my throat dry. By the way the walls move, I can tell there are at least two fiends close to the house. My legs tremble and I nearly fall, two steps from the bottom of the stairs.
Wood splinters fly everywhere as the fiend bursts through the front door. Taller than the doorway, wider and more muscular than a human man on steroids, it squeezes into the hallway, directly across from me. Its scarred russet-brown skin is like hardened lava. Teeth as long as my arms protrude from its jaw. Its eyes are sunken in its head, but its senses are already trained on me.
I panic and run past, into the living room, even though it’s too late to hide. The fiend lumbers after me, kicking furniture aside. Its feet are the size of small boulders, long nails ripping up the carpet. Heart in my mouth, I back away, searching desperately for something to grab. A last-ditch effort to defend myself.
The window shatters. Glass rains over my head, and a second fiend wrenches its way into the room. A screech tears through its throat, and it closes in on me. Its partner moves closer, head scraping plaster from the ceiling.
Nowhere to run.
My heart pounds. I grab wildly for the nearest object—a telephone sitting on the table, which surely couldn’t have been in use—and hold it out in front of me. My muscles lock, arms trembling as I raise my pathetic weapon.
Tears sting my eyes. No one will find me here. No one will even know I’m gone. But I’ll fight to the last second.
With a final screech, the fiends leap at me.