This year's Blogger Book Fair theme is travel to far-away places. travel is also a major theme of my novel, The End of All Things.
After a horrible plague decimates the nation. Carly and Justin must travel from her home in Juneau, Alaska to a place with a warmer climate, where they will have a better chance of survival. It's a journey across a nation laid to waste by the disaster, but also a journey into love.
Check out the trailer, here.
“I’ve never been out of Alaska,” Carly said. She wasn’t sure she could explain to him how awful a prospect it was to leave everything behind, to give up on the idea the world might return to normal if she just waited there instead of abandoning her hope and home.
“I’ve never been to Florida.” Justin took a large bite of his cold pork and beans and chewed with relish. “Here’s the thing.” He pulled a paper towel off the roll beside the sink and used it as a napkin. “We need to leave soon. It’s going to be a very long journey, and I don’t think we’ll manage to make it all the way to Florida, or even south of the Mason-Dixon for that matter, before the winter sets in. So we have to hurry and get as far as possible in the time we have left.”
Carly hesitated before asking, since she knew it was another dumb question, but she had to know. “If we can’t take a car or a motorcycle, what are we going to do?” “Ride bicycles. Walk.”
“Justin, you’re talking four thousand miles here.” The idea of moving into a house across town had been daunting enough, let alone the idea of traveling across most of North America.
Carly shook her head. “You’re talking about more than half a year, maybe more.”
“Do you understand, then, why I want to leave as soon as possible? We need to go somewhere we can grow enough food to sustain ourselves. Florida has an excellent climate for farming. I’m not saying we have to get all the way to Florida. There are other states in the South that would have a good climate for us, but I’m thinking of Florida as my goal. We may be able to use different vehicles during sections of our trip, but that’s not a guarantee. The ones we find may have dead batteries, or the fuel could have gone bad. If we encountered a roadblock or traffic jam, we’d have to unload the vehicle and try to find another. Bikes are more reliable.”
“Do you actually have this planned out, or is it just an idea you have?”
Justin chuckled. “Once you get to know me, Carly, you’ll find I have everything planned out.” He went out into the hallway and grabbed one of the bags that contained his gear. He opened up the front pocket and withdrew a map. A route had been highlighted, cutting across Canada and through the US, a bumpy line, but almost perfectly diagonal.
She traced her finger over the long line. “What if I refuse to go?”
“I can’t leave you here to die, Carly.”
Die? She gave him a startled look, but he didn’t back off and admit to exaggeration or soften the comment with a shrug or smile. Instead, he looked straight into her eyes, and his steady gaze told her he wasn’t trying to scare her or embellish. He saw it as an inevitable consequence if she were left there on her own, not as a possibility.
She looked away, unable to meet his eyes any longer. “Because you knew my dad?”
“No, not just because of the promise I made when I joined The Unit, but because I fancy myself to be a decent human being. One way or another, I’m going to have to convince you, but I hope to hell it doesn’t take very long. I know you don’t know me very well yet, but you’ll find I’m a person who keeps my promises. And I promise you I will do my best to keep you safe, warm, and fed. I’m your best shot at survival.”
He tugged up the sleeve of his T-shirt and showed her the symbol tattooed there, the same symbol that was on her father’s ring. “This once meant something. It meant enough that I had it permanently etched into my skin because it’s a part of me. It wasn’t just a military unit. It was a code of honor. I may be the last man standing, but I swear I’m not going to let that code die, too.”
And gazing into his eyes, Carly believed him. She might have very little experience of the world, but she knew sincerity when she saw it. He truly cared about what happened to her, for whatever reason. Her doubts and fears warred with her instincts, which told her Justin was what he presented himself to be. He was a nice guy with a mischievous sense of humor and a strong sense of honor and duty. Her father had told her to trust no one, but he had also told her about the symbol and what it meant to the men who wore it.
“I’m scared,” Carly said. She felt her cheeks warm in embarrassment at the admission, but she felt like he deserved her honesty.
“I am, too. None of this is going to be easy, but I’d put our chances at reaching Florida higher than most.”
“That doesn’t sound too encouraging.”
Justin was quiet for a long moment. “Do you want me to be honest or comforting?”
Carly blinked when tears stung her eyes again. He already thought she was stupid. She didn’t want to add whiny to the list. “Just for a little while, can you be optimistic?”
He took her hand in his own. “Sure, honey. I understand.”
You can read the entire first chapter here.
The End of All Things is available through TWCS, Amazon, and iTunes.
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