From the Author
As warned by scientists, the Department of defense--and even the 2017 United States presidential candidates--Ted Koppel and countless others, the world as we know it is going dark. It's not a matter of if, but when. It could be terrorists and/or foreign enemies inflicting a cyber-attack by hacking into our systems, or an EMP/nuclear weapon, or even a natural, but unexpected, solar flare.
The lights are going out.
It is a'coming, one way or the other.
When it does, the real fear will be that of the predatory darkness found within our fellow human beings. There will be no power. No water. No fuel. No readily available food source. Limited medical services. Possibly no transportation. Communications will go down. Systems will catastrophically fail.
Society will collapse.
Until America recovers, police officers, military personnel, fire fighters, and other emergency service personnel will have to make a choice between doing their appointed duties--of which they may not be paid--or protecting their own families. Which would you choose?
We all know the answer to that. And without proper ongoing services, there will be predators. These animals--humans, in fact--will prey on the weak, the unprotected, and the unprepared. Previous friends, neighbors, and business acquaintances too will turn on you when they're desperate. The bad people will come. They will come in force, and they will dominate the masses. This apocalyptic event won't discriminate. It doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor; black or white; male or female. You and yours will be affected.
I hope you're prepared.
From the Inside Flap
PROLOGUE: Three Months after the Event
Grayson dropped into a squat and glared at the mound of freshly turned dirt. He tossed one lone magnolia flower onto the grave; she had loved that sweet scent. He stood to pace back and forth between the two rows of hand-made wooden crosses--already leaning and showing wear and tear from the weather--but still standing guard like tired soldiers over those he had tried to protect.
He looked over his shoulder. No one else was coming?
He kicked a rock, sending it flying into the air, where it pinged against the small cross on the one shortened grave at the end of the row. His lips tightened as his throat knotted up. His eyes were wet. He swiped at them with the back of his hand.
Grayson hadn't asked for this; to be a leader...to be in charge. He'd married Olivia for a wife and got a family; that part he didn't regret. But the pressure of taking care of Olivia and her sisters, Gabby and Emma, and everyone else was too much. This wasn't some fictional story, where the reluctant hero finally steps up to accept his place. He didn't want to be in charge anymore. He wasn't a hero; far from it. He wasn't a soldier, either. None of them were.
He was just a guy. A middle-aged man with a wife and kid who only wanted them all to be able to live in peace with full bellies and a good night's sleep every night, safe in their beds without fear.
They shouldn't have to fight for every morsel or sip; every breath of air. Every minute of rest. How had it all gone so bad, so quick? Where was the real help from the government? Couldn't any of those ABC agencies do something for the American people?
America just had to go sticking their nose in where it didn't belong. Or did it? At this point, he didn't even know who their adversary was. Who had attacked the United States with a blow so quiet and deadly that they didn't even need to put boots on the ground?
North Korea was the most likely suspect, but they couldn't have done this. Not alone. Who was the Judas? Russia? China? Which had the most to gain by crippling America? Who had turned on them?
And whoever was responsible was the master of surprise.
They'd never seen it coming. While America was scrambling to point military reinforcements to foreign lands, they'd left their own back yard wide open for a blow that had hobbled the country.
It was over before it began.
Over without the enemy shedding a single drop of blood.
This wasn't even a war; it was a massacre, fought in a flash with no flesh and blood foe invading their lands. No fair fight. Their enemy had struck fast and furious at America using no guns or nukes at all. So much for fire and fury, as the president had promised.
As far as he knew, there was no fight. This battle hadn't been fought with bullets and bombs.
The only guns being used were against each other in a fight for survival.
So where were the real soldiers?
He needed help. They all needed help.
In the meantime, how to take care of his family? They shouldn't have to suffer. They weren't like the horde of sheeple who'd spent their lives never preparing, thinking something like this could never happen here. Those people had thought the United States was a super power that couldn't ever be taken down.
But he had thought it--or something like it--could happen. And he had prepared. As had his family. They'd ignored the jabs and rolling eyes of their friends when they'd tried to bring up 'prepping' to warn others. They'd been laughed at and ridiculed. Made to look crazy. But they'd done it anyway.
They'd worn the silly 'prepper' moniker despite the ridicule.
They'd stocked up with bullets, beans, and Band-Aids; and a thousand other things.
But it hadn't been enough.
It was a hard lesson, but he'd learned you cannot prepare for everything.
A sadness washed over him as he stared at the small grave. How many more would there be?
Now that clean water was limited, people were thirsty, dehydrated, and desperate, which made them stupid and lazy. They wouldn't always take the time to do what was necessary to make the water safe, and now those same people were paying their dues in sickness, diarrhea and sometimes a never-ending nap. But that wasn't the only thing killing them.
Food was also in high demand.
His stomach growled thinking of the meager supper of rice and beans he'd been lucky to eat today. Who knew what tomorrow would--or wouldn't--bring.
To add to the death toll, bloodthirsty men--fellow Americans--with no conscious or morals had stepped out of the dark to take over, forcibly stealing anything and everything they wanted: food, gas, water, medication, and even women.
The real war was now being raged amongst themselves.
If these men took from you, the only way to get it back was to pay, and the price was exorbitant. The only currencies good in this day and time were ammo, liquor, drugs, cigarettes, gas and flesh.
Grayson stood and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He shook off his sorrow and grit his teeth against the pain, pulling up the anger he'd tried so hard to keep tapped back. He'd had his pity party. Today marked the loss of one too many.
To hell with it.
He was done paying.