Laila Blake and L.C. Spoering
Genre: post apocalyptic
Publisher: Lilt Literary
Date of Publication: April 28, 2015
Number of pages: 350
Cover Artist: Laila Blake
Years after the end of the world, the scattered survivors have begun to reconcile with their fate and are starting to build communities from the rubble. Life has been kind to Aaron and Emily, and maybe it is that infusion of hope that leads them on a winter trip to search for Aaron’s family. But the world outside their little haven has grown harsher, the conditions rough and dangerous.
Not everybody they meet on their journey allowed the grim realities to harden their hearts, however. Malachi and Kenzie - an easy-going drifter with a bum leg and amnesia, and a teenage girl who has lost everyone and everything - are on an ill-conceived mission to Mexico, while Iago and his band of nomads work to forge trading connections between the small settlements of the south.
All of them will discover new nightmares on the road, far surpassing the threat of the last rotting zombies still roaming the countryside. And now they must come together to fight for peace and justice in the world they trying to rebuild.
Warning: This novel contains language some might find offensive, some gore and situations of a sexual nature. Reader's discretion is advised.
About the Authors
Laila Blake is an author, linguist and translator. She writes character-driven love stories and blogs about writing, feminism and society. Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies. Keeping a balance between her different interests, Laila Blake’s body of work encompasses literary erotica, romance, and various fields in speculative fiction (dystopian/post-apocalypse, fantasy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy) and she adores finding ways to mix and match.
A self-proclaimed nerd, she lives in Cologne/Germany with her cat Liene, harbors a deep fondness for obscure folk singers and plays the guitar badly. She loves photography, science documentaries and classic literature as well as a number of popular TV-Shows.
The tree groaned a little under his weight and he paused, hands wrapped around a thin branch each. After a moment, he settled back against the trunk, and released his hold. The Y of intersecting branches made for a snug seat, and he wedged himself in well.
From that vantage point, he could see through the cover of the trees to the ground below. It was a good hunting ground that they’d found weeks before, and now, late in the season, they had begun to sight bucks, brash and beautiful and thickly-set, enough meat to feed many, antlers for tools, and warm hides for the winter. Even just one would be a good kill.
Iago was the best with the bow. He also had the most patience, and that cat-like ability to pull himself up in a tree and sit, motionless, for hours, waiting for the perfect shot.
The day was clear and cool, and the threat of snow was still a far-off fear. They’d traveled up from further south for game, for something this size, and Iago was grateful for the mild weather. He was a tropics boy, born and reared below the equator, and cold winters never sat well with him. Even so, he longed for a cup of tea by the fire, the camaraderie of his friends. They were still at camp, just crawling out of their tents, he imagined. They’d planned a group hunt for later in the morning, but the usually gregarious Iago preferred to hunt alone. He liked the quiet of the early morning, the concentration and the calm.
He was a student of Zen philosophy; he meditated and did yoga. He was not for thrashing around the underbrush, running after game. He waited, and let the game come to him.
From his perch, he had a good view of the small creek that seemed to serve as a watering hole. He’d found tracks there the day before, clear and fresh in the mud. It was a matter of time, of patience and focus, and the ability to stay completely still. He saw birds hop up on a stone and dip their beaks into the merry flow; saw a fox just before daybreak.
The small group of deer came when he’d almost given up on the spot, the lot of them loping shy and graceful out of the thicker part of the forest. Iago held his breath. Moving in slow motion, he aimed his bow, watching the beautiful creatures. The jumpy young buck held his ears erect, moving them this way and that while the older female drank. She offered her flank and Iago took this as the best sign he was likely to get. He was good with the bow, but he couldn’t reliably hit an eye at that distance. He aimed for the neck instead, readying himself for pursuit. She would run, but if he aimed well, he could shorten her suffering, and the time he’d spent tracking her through the forest.
He let that thought go, concentrated on the present only, on the pulsing spot at her neck. In that moment, the forest seemed silent; Iago and the doe the only creatures in the world. Then he loosened the arrow, and the bow was back over his shoulder before he checked if his aim had been true. He heard the roar of pain, the dashing of feet and let himself drop.
He’d done it a hundred times. A hundred quick descents down a tree, and he’d always landed on his feet, ready to spring after his prey.
This time, something went wrong. It was in the landing. Instead of soft forest ground, he landed on something hard, stone or root, and his knees couldn’t compensate for the blow. He felt the crack, heard the sound, before the pain rushed in. And then the panic.