When someone tells you that the world is finally safe, that there is a place to go where the monsters are no more, don’t believe them.
I made that mistake, and it cost me my brother.
Running a hand through my hair, I looked behind us to the tarmac where our Boeing 747 sat waiting for fuel that I didn’t think existed. After flying across the country, we were stuck.
“Hey,” a voice called to me.
Turning I faced Marks— ex military, in his thirties, maybe ten years older than me, and our kind-of leader. He’d spread us out in groups of two to see what we could find.
“What?” I called back, shifting my hold on the handgun I gripped, complete with silencer. Yup, that was me, bad ass extraordinaire, purple streaks in my blond hair, multiple piercings and a gun.
“This way,” He said, already starting away from me.
Following, I tried to care, really I did. Yet after losing Dustin, I had a hard time thinking about anything but his death. A soft shuffle up ahead had us crouched into doorways on either side of the alley before even seeing what it was. Chances were, it wasn’t good.
Three sets of yellowed, goat-like eyes scanned the alley, their jaundice-coloured skin standing out in the shadows. You know when people call it a zombie apocalypse, they didn’t think to consider that Nevermores weren’t really zombies. They were feral humans who’d lost touch with anything but the drive to eat because of a medical “miracle”. Personally, I’d prefer zombies over Nevermores. Nevermores could think, plan, and seemingly evolve. Not so good for those humans left.
My heart was pounding against my ribcage, and I was sure that the three Nevermores could hear it.
More shuffling, the sound of teeth being snapped together. Marks caught my eye, and made a motion with his hand. I was to step out as bait, and he would shoot them. Right. Crossing myself for a faith I barely remembered, I stepped out and waved at the Nevermores.
They grunted as a team, their bodies standing up to their full four feet. Crap. They were kids who’d been given the Nevermore shot, about Dustin’s age, my heart ached for them even as they ran towards me. I held my ground, body shaking. I’d seen packs of Nevermores rip apart a woman, seen them circle and separate people from their groups like wolves. Even though these three were small, they were deadly, they would kill me without even blinking, and eat me as I screamed for mercy.
Mouth dry, I jumped as the leader’s body bucked, a bloom of red appearing on his chest. The second one didn’t notice and was taken out by Marks’ next shot, slumping to the ground without ever knowing what hit him. The third, a young female, stumbled to a stop, her yellow eyes flashing with fury and hunger. She bolted the way they’d come from, snarling the whole way.
Marks stepped around the bodies, and lifted his gun taking aim on her retreating back.
“Let her go,” I said, touching his shoulder. “Just . . . I can’t . . .” I wasn’t sure I could explain what I was feeling. Grief, sorrow, fear. They were all mixed up inside of me.
He gave me a nod, understanding.
“You think they’ll find enough fuel?” I asked.
“They have to.” Was his only answer. We walked in silence, half crouched, inspecting store fronts, finding nothing of use, or at least, nothing to eat.
Across the way in a small park, I caught a flash of tawny hide, and I yanked Marks behind a dumpster; pointing , “Is that a . . . a lion?”
We stared for a full minute, the tan colour shifting between the trees, but never giving us a full look at it. “Nah,” he said, “that’s crazy.”
To be on the safe side, we slipped down the next alley we came to, but it didn’t feel right. I don’t know what it was, but my skin started prickling, hair on the back of my neck rose, and I wasn’t about to ignore the warning.
“Not this way.” I said.
The young female that we’d let go popped out in front of us screeching. From behind her came the guttural roar of a Nevermore alpha male. Marks grabbed my arm and we spun back the way we’d come only to face the other half of the Nevermore pack the young female obviously belonged to.
They had us trapped.
Marks pulled me towards a fire escape that hugged the building on our left. Yanking it down, he helped me start to climb as he picked off the forerunners. Screams of rage echoed around us. The cold metal of the ladder stung my hands as I scrambled upwards. I had to reach the first platform if I was going to help Marks.
Out of breath, adrenaline spiking, I reached the landing, and yanked the gun out of my waistband. Taking a single breath I aimed and squeezed off two rounds, the soft “pop” barely registering with my ears over the howling of the Nevermores. Marks leaped towards the ladder and hauled himself up while I picked off the pack members closest to us.
It took both of us to pull the ladder up, one of the Nevermores latched on, his arms hooking through the steps, and even after Marks shot him, his body wouldn’t release until we shoved it off with our feet.
Staring down at the pack below us, I did a quick count of my ammo. Only had six rounds left.
“We don’t have enough.” Marks said.
“Nope.” I looked up, pulled the next ladder down. “We’ve only got one choice.”
Marks gave me a half smile, his eyes tired, but I knew he would never give up. “Ladies first.”
Smiling, I gave him a thumbs up and started to climb into the unknown.
Reading and writing from a very young age I learned early on that stories built in a fantasy world were where the fun was at. Reading books by Robert Jordan spurred me on and it was the first real epic fantasy that I fell in love with. After that came Piers Anthony, Melanie Rawn and into my older teen years, Anne Rice. It was in Rice’s novels that the idea of urban fantasy really bloomed for me and it was about that time that my grandmother was letting me read her Harlequin Historical novels. (Okay, actually she was slipping them to me when my mother wasn’t looking, but let’s not get picky.)
The combination of love stories and darker fantasy stuck with me and it’s now not only what I gravitate towards to read on my off time (Kelly Armstrong, Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison), but has become the style I love to write in. Besides writing, I love to spend time with my family and animals, horseback ride, garden and hike with my husband. (Photo © BR Photography)
Summary for Sundered (Nevermore Trilogy #1) – A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, no matter how unhealthy it is and yet still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking the drug.
As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world, a species bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike. But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other. The secret forces Mara to make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive?
SHANNON MAYER ONLINE
Shannon is kindly giving away THREE SETS of the entire Nevermore series: Sundered, Bound and Dauntless – ONE SET will be Ebooks / TWO SETS will be paperback
For entry please answer the following question then fill out the form below: What is the title of one of Shannon Mayer’s other books?
This giveaway is International and ends 12:00am GMT 30th November 2012