Cities are bombed out ruins and wilderness is humanity’s new home. The undead roam the earth, and the new world order is about the struggle to survive. Sonny Daniels begins an emotional and physical journey of personal survival and protecting those he loves.
While survival is a constant struggle, Sonny’s most desperate fight is the struggle preserve some semblance of a compassionate soul. Sonny and his parents are caught in the zombie outbreak in upstate New York. After the passage of the first year, their base is attacked by bandits and their safety has again been compromised. Fearing for their loved ones, Sonny’s parents send him and his orphaned childhood friends, Ashley and Carrie, to Fort Denver Colorado on a military plane.
When Fort Denver is overrun with zombies, the three are alone in a zombie-infested wasteland without the army’s protection, forced to rely upon one another and a handful of equally desperate survivors they encounter along the journey. Sonny is determined to do whatever it takes to protect Ashley and Carrie while finding a safe place to call home, but survival can force you to make dark decisions.
Targeted Age Group:: Adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Neal Shutterman's books Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound were one of the best books I've ever read. They inspired me to write after I started getting ideas in my head. I was pulled into the books and I started daydreaming stories of my own.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
It was a mixture of characters I liked in stories and characters I wanted to appear in stories as well. Most of my childhood I didn't like reading books, because most of the books I read had uninteresting characters and I found myself rooting more for the side characters than the main characters. I try to write characters in my book that people can care about or want to care about.
“Everyone, get in the truck now!” Dad ordered firmly.
The truck was up by the far-left lane that had no rails to keep it in. We all got in as fast as could while Dad started the truck to drive out of the highway. The explosions were well in sight, as military helicopters were now firing at the people on the highway.
“Jack! Hurry!” Brad said looking through the back windows.
Dad drove the truck off the highway and onto a road heading for an intersection. When we got there, it was absolute chaos. People, apparently both infected and not infected, were running around everywhere screaming, cars and buildings were on fire, and the military was shooting anything that moved. Dad zigzagged around cars, debris and people as fast he could. Even as we drove past, I saw up close what the injection had turned people into, monsters. Men, women, and children all had blood coming out of their mouths, noses, and bloodshot eyes. I watched in horror as they tackled people while ripping at their throats with their teeth. Eventually one of the tires popped and we crashed into another car. The impact made us all jolt forward and we felt a little delirious – the airbags deployed saving my parents. Thankfully, none of us were seriously injured.
“Is everyone alright?” Dad asked.
We all either said yes or gave some sort of sign that we were okay. Mentally, however, I was pretty sure that I was going to remember this experience for the rest of my life. It was strange, at the edge of the woods I was frozen with fear and that same fear was still in me, but I could move. It’s almost like it was never going to leave and I didn’t like it.
Mom got out and asked me desperately, “Are you okay?!”
“Yeah,” I answered, still feeling dizzy as I got out of the truck.
After Brad got his daughters he shouted, “Which way?!”
“There, that superstore!” Dad yelled.
Dad carried me, Mom carried Ashley, and Brad carried Carrie to the Target. The Target had to be forty or fifty feet away, but trying to get there through this madness made it feel like it was miles away. As we were getting closer to the store, an infected man about the size of my dad started coming toward us growling. Even in the night with poor streetlights providing dim, flickering light I could see the blood coming out of his eyes and his snarling mouth. Dad saw him coming and kicked him in the chest hard enough for him to fall. Before he could react, Dad pulled out his gun and shot him in the head. The shot was loud and the sight of the man on the ground with blood coming out two holes in his head was awful. My father had killed that man, or whatever he used to be, directly in front of me. My eyes were wide open in fear.
“Jesus!” Brad exclaimed.
“Oh, God!” Mom exclaimed.
I started, “Dad—“
“Don’t look, Sonny, just keep your eyes on me!” Dad ordered.
“You too, girls! Don’t look!” Brad ordered.
It was hard to keep my eyes on Dad, because everything that was happening all around us was truly horrifying. The death, the fires, the chaos. We rushed in through the open doors, as the explosions and gunfire were getting more rapid. The military was killing anything that was even alive, infected or not, it didn’t matter to them. The store had little electricity as the lights flickered and shined very dimly. The place was half ransacked with products and clothing lying everywhere. Dad led us all the way to the back of the store toward the clothing area and we all hid in the changing rooms. When we got to the rooms, there were two people already in a room, a man and woman. They were in their mid-twenties, black hair, brown eyes, athletic fit, casual clothing like us, and both were curled up in a corner holding each other, petrified. They both looked at my dad with fear, because he still had his gun out.
“It’s okay, we’re not gonna hurt you,” Dad assured them.
“What’s happening?” the woman asked sobbingly.
“Shh, it’s okay, I got you,” the man said her while holding her close.
“Everyone, get into a room and close the doors,” Dad ordered quickly.
We all got into a changing room and locked ourselves in to hide from the chaos that was happening outside. As we hid in the changing rooms I held my parents as tight as they held me. Even though we were in the back of the store we could still hear everything outside, all the gunfire, all the explosions, and all the screaming. Ashley and Carrie buried their sobbing faces in Brad’s chest and I tried to block out all those horrible sounds. However, no matter hard I tried to cover my ears I could still hear it all in my head. Please stop it!
“Oh Jack, what do we do?” Mom asked in a trembling voice.
“We wait it out until it calms down, and figure out where to go from there, but no matter what happens . . . we all stick together,” Dad said.
Mom looked at him with desperation while holding me tight.
Dad leaned in to kiss her and said, “We stay together no matter what.”
After two long hours, it slowly grew quiet outside. Now, only a few gunshots were fired and one or two screams every so often. The military had taken control of the whole area and was now finishing off what was left.
“Oh my God Cole, why is this happening?” the woman asked sobbingly.
“Susan, listen to me, we’re going to get through this, but we’ve got to keep quiet,” Cole answered.
“He’s right, they can’t find us if they can’t hear us,” Brad joined.
“We have to keep it together, it’s the only way out of here,” Dad said.
“Hold on wait, listen,” Mom said.
The gunfire was getting louder and sounded as if it were coming from inside the building. It turns out that we were not the only ones hiding inside the superstore, because there were screams of people before getting shot. We were also very lucky because there were infected people inside as well. The soldiers were getting closer to the back of the store; close enough for us to hear them.
“Check the whole store!” one soldier hollered.
“Roger,” another said.
My heart was racing, as the soldier’s footsteps grew louder. If he continued in this direction, he would surely find us. Brad drew a knife out and Dad had his gun out, ready to protect us, but that would get us all killed. There were probably dozens of soldiers already inside the store and as soon he shoots the soldier, the others will hear and kill us. Mom held me tight and had a hand over my mouth to keep my breathing quiet. Ashley held a hand over Carrie’s mouth and her own – Cole did the same for Susan.
However, when the soldier was literally inches from the changing rooms, there was a loud shriek, from an infected person. It came from the other side of the store, and it sounded like it was attacking a soldier because there was another scream afterward. The soldier quickly joined the others to shoot the infected host.
“Man down!” a soldier shouted.
“He’s dead,” another soldier said.
“Alright, move out, they’re all dead,” their leader said.
“Come on Corporal, move it!” a soldier shouted.
As soon as it got quiet after they left, everyone let out the breath they were holding. I honestly could not believe that this was happening. I felt like I was thrown in some dark and terrible nightmare. I wanted to wake up so badly, but I kept remembering that this wasn’t a dream at all.
“We’ll rest here for the night,” Dad said.
Dad and Brad gathered whatever clothes nearby to use as blankets and pillows for us to sleep on. The pillows and blankets were on the other side of the store and I doubt that Dad and Brad wanted to risk running into any soldiers or infected. My heart was still racing from the terrifying experience. I had no idea how I was going to sleep tonight or any other night for that matter. Mom held me close while rubbing my head and whispering comforting words in my ear. I could feel her heart beating inside her chest. She must have been just as scared as the rest of us were.
“I’m scared,” I said.
“Me too, baby,” Mom said.
“Join the club little man,” Cole added.
Dad came with lots of coats, “I don’t think we’ve introduced ourselves.”
“I’m Cole and this is Susan.”
“I’m Jack, my wife Heather, and my son Sonny.”
Brad came with more clothes and jackets, “I’m Brad and these are my daughters, Ashley and Carrie.”
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