Hello and good evening, ladies and peeps! If you would like to learn more about my new post-apocalyptic horror novel, The Swarm and the Flyer, I have another excerpt for you from my current WIP.
But hold on a sec. This isn’t just a one-man show. Do I want more publicity and support for my latest monster story? Of course. This blog of mine isn’t just a means to an end, however. What’s also important to me is getting to know who you are.
Do you enjoy post-apocalyptic stories? What personal demons keep you up at night? Are you interested in writing — or have you already written — your own scary story or horror novel? If so, I want to chat with you! Please feel free to comment on this post, even if it’s not directly related to this chapter from The Swarm and the Flyer. Who knows! We could find some common writing interests and spark even more creative ideas.
After losing his father and being cheated on by his boyfriend, Rayland Mark Calderón must try to escape the Swarm, a flock of cloud-like creatures that have wiped out much of the human race with their deadly sonic wave attacks. Separated from the rest of his family, Rayland avers to journey 176 miles across Texas to find them. The only problem is, Rayland is outrunning the Swarm alongside Josiah Knect, his last living teammate and an acro yogi who can’t return Rayland’s romantic feelings, even if Rayland can help Josiah reunite with his deeply religious family.
It’s there, in my own burning hands: the warmth of Adam’s fingers, a sensation that almost knocks me over before I can shut it down. I’m running, heaving, trying to make my way through the complete darkness of night. The moon disappears behind another cluster of clouds, and I wince, praying that it’s not one of the Swarm getting ready to swoop down on me.
Then Adam’s presence is gone.
I drop my bike before I vault over a bush and into the driveway of the Tri House. My breath is hammering at my ears. Josiah is a few feet ahead of me and spins around the front end of his SUV, having rolled his bike into the nearby flower bed without a second thought. I skirt Josiah’s car and nearly get caught up in Thunder’s leash when he darts ahead of me. Still I sprint, never looking over my shoulder.
I throw myself into the open door of the Tri House, the distant mechanical screech of several Swarm finally fading away completely before Josiah slams the door shut behind me. He presses his fingertips against the lopsided plywood sheet, panting harder than I’ve ever seen him do. In the sudden dull silence of our two-story refuge, I realize that I’m close to hyperventilating.
“There are people,” I gasp, sliding down the back of the couch. Thunder slips away from us and crawls under the dining room table. “Other survivors. Holy shit.”
“Thank God.” That’s all Josiah can muster. He takes a couple more steps before slumping against the wall, his curly hair springing out from his man bun in all directions.
Through the pounding of my head and the ache in my ears, I remember the radio and slip my drawstring bag off. Josiah crawls over and checks out our bounty, his lips thinning out into a smile that’s beyond relieved. Then it falls off once I pull the CB radio out completely. The front face is all smashed up. Bits of plastic and loose wire come out with my hand, then fall to the floor.
Shit in a basket.
“Just our luck,” Josiah murmurs before leaning back. I must’ve smashed the radio against the sidewalk when we fell out of the semi.
Doesn’t matter, though. We got through to two living people! And we know where Officers Owens and Richards will be waiting for us: The Argyle Fire Station.
With my head slumped down, I speak first. “You saved my ass back there. Thanks, man.”
Josiah just shrugs and raises his arm, revealing a splotch of raw red skin that glints in the pale beam of my flashlight. “You would’ve done the same for me,” he says, then winces. “This is gonna need some rubbing alcohol…”
I let my chest rise and fall with my hurried breath, cradling the remains of the radio in my lap like a puppy while Josiah goes and gets the alcohol.
Closing my eyes, I review our checklist for the night: breaking into someone else’s semi truck, using their working CB radio to get in contact with two cops, stirring up the sleeping Swarm, and still making it back in time for another dinner of canned fruit and crackers. Bra-vo.
I wave Thunder over, and he comes trotting along after a while, though he keeps his head hanging low and his eyes all sad. I scratch him behind the ears and tell him, “You did good tonight, buddy.” Then I set our broken CB radio aside.
Cassandra Owens and MarQui Richards. Two cops. At least, that’s what Owens had said they were. Whether or not it’s true, I’ll have to see.
I let my eyelids flutter shut, wondering how much longer Josiah, Thunder, and I could survive with a couple of police officers on our side.
“It’s just over 8 miles to the fire station, and another mile from there to my house,” Josiah says in the morning, coming out of his room with a sleeping bag rolled up and slung over his shoulder. “But I don’t know how clear the roads are going to be.”
I stretch and scratch my patchy beard. Sunlight blares in through the blinds and floods the upstairs loft. I shrug at Josiah before leaning on the banister railing. “Probably not any more than I-35,” I say, holding up the triple-layered plastic bags full of the canned goods that we have left. I tilt my head toward his red Specialized bike and my black Velano road bike, which are downstairs next to the front door. “At least we’ll have our bikes if we have to leave your car.”
Josiah’s smile is grim, even as he raises his eyebrows to try and look grateful. “Guess it’s time to see if we’re still in shape.”
After Josiah takes some of my baggies full of food to his SUV, I scan the upstairs common area one more time. The newer couches and family photos that are not mine.
It doesn’t take but a couple of seconds for Rich’s loud voice to come back to me. His red face. It was a dark December night, and there were boxes lining the walls and railing of the upstairs loft. Rich pushed up against my chest, forcing me back into my bedroom. Brandon and Tim hurried up the stairs, Brandon the first one to get a hold of Rich’s arm. He stared me down, the ice blue of his irises going glacial. His bong was resting in the trash can next to the garage. That’s where I had told myself it belonged. Especially after days of our newest roommate packing up his stuff and not telling any of us when exactly he planned on moving out. That was Rich for ya.
I was fucking tired: of drugs in the Tri House, of not knowing if I was exactly ready enough to move into a new place with Adam and take that next step in our relationship. When Tim asked me and Rich in his usual reasonable voice what was going on, I reminded myself that I wasn’t the only one sick of the smell of weed and the random friends who kept coming over at odd hours of the night.
Then Rich pushed off me and Brandon, jabbed his finger in my face, and shouted it: “You lost us the fucking Tri House, man!”
All I have to do is blink hard, and the darkness from that night snaps back into present daylight. I’m back in the upstairs loft. No more bikes. No more weed smell.
“I got it back,” I whisper to the empty loft, tiny specs of dust drifting in the stillness. “Not that it matters to you anymore.” The dead don’t speak of such grudges.
It’s foggy outside, the wall of grey cutting our line of sight down to maybe half a mile. Josiah and I load up the last of our things before we get into his SUV. I slip my seat belt on and study the peeling yellow walls of the garage, the abandoned boxes, not even trying to stop myself from lurching forward when Josiah throws his car into drive. This place was our home, our sanctuary, in both the before and after of our world. But the goodbyes all feel the same.
“Gonna miss you, Tri House,” Josiah murmurs. Then he sighs deeply before he noses the car out and pulls away.
I don’t say anything, just raise my hand and wave — like I did with my mom and dad when they pulled out of that same driveway. Like I had to do when my teammates left for Nationals in South Carolina last year, Josiah’s SUV piled high with bikes and transition bags.
The memories are falling away. I can’t pick them up, can’t keep fumbling with them in this fog. So I ground myself by looking at my watch.
It’s September 26, 2016.