“You don’t want to be alone, do you?”
The tears sprang back unbidden. Although I tried to blink them away, the lump in my throat made it impossible. The pressure of spending all those years alone was just too much for me to bear. My head ached and I felt like I might burst at any second. I looked away and tried to think of an appropriately sassy response, but all I could think of was little Tigger, the kitten who had been my only companion in many years.
Did I really want to be that alone again? It hurt just to think about it. These people were so nice that it brought me back to another place and time. A time when I was young, before I needed to be afraid of everyone. Back to being with my family, safe and loved.
Did I really want to go back to the endless silence, where the only kind of conversation I could have was with myself?
No, I really, really didn’t.
I shook my head and closed my eyes against the onslaught of pain. Michael seemed to understand my turmoil. He put his arms around me and drew me up against his broad chest, holding me so tenderly it was like he was afraid he might break me if he squeezed too hard. I tensed right up, before I realised that he was just hugging me in an attempt to comfort me. I hadn’t been hugged since Grandma died. I barely even recognised what it was.
It felt… nice.
Lacking the experience to know what to do, I just stood there pathetically, my face pressed up against his chest. The tears flowed freely, and he held me as I cried. The longer he held me, the weaker my defences grew and the more the wordless emotion poured out of me. But even when my shoulders shook and I struggled to muffle the convulsive sobs that fought their way out, he was there for me, like a pillar of strength to hold me up while I was weak.
Something in me had burst. Over the years, I’d built up an emotional dam to survive. That dam had been full to bursting for a very long time, and every day it was a battle to keep it under control. Something about the warmth of human contact made it impossible to keep forgetting and keep suppressing, and so I wept.
I wept for all the things I’d lost, for all the things I’d never have, and for all the lives that had been snuffed out in futility all around me. For the unbearable pain I’d suffered in silence all these years, with no kind of vent or release to keep me sane.
I had no idea how long it was before I regained control of my emotions, but when I did I felt exhausted, drained and sore all over again. I leaned against him for almost a minute longer while I caught my breath, before I finally broke the embrace. He let me go, but kept his hands resting on my shoulders, his face full of kindly concern. Not a word of judgement, no questions, he just waited, giving me as much time as I needed until I was ready to talk to him.
The virus came from deep in Africa.
By the time they had a name for the disease it had wiped out half the continent. Within a year, it had decimated our world. Our species is on the verge of extinction. Only a few of us have survived; those of us lucky enough to be born with a natural immunity to the plague. We scavenge amongst the ruins of our old civilizations, picking out a living from the devastation.
Ten years ago, I watched my family die one by one. Now, I am alone. The year is 2024; it has been a decade since the virus reduced humanity to a scattering of survivors strewn out across the world.
The rules that governed our society are gone.
Without laws to protect the innocent, I have seen the worst of humanity throughout the years. Now, I have found a new family who are determined to show me the best. But a fresh mutation of the virus has started turning the harmless, pathetic infected into monstrous predatory creatures bent on our destruction; even the wildlife is turning against us.
We are forced to leave our home and flee for our lives. It is only through unity that we stand any chance of survival. Enemies wait around every turn. For the sake of our children and our children’s children, we must find some way to survive and flourish again. If we fail, then the human species will cease to exist.
My name is Sandy McDermott, and I am a survivor. This is my story.
Although this book does feature the undead, it is not intended to be horror. The Survivors is a little bit apocalyptic, a bit dystopian, a bit science-fiction, a bit zombie horror, and there’s even a dash of romance in there for spice. To quote the very first blogger that got her hands on it: “(The Survivors is) a layered, touching, powerful story of humanity and survival.”
The story takes place in the Waikato region of New Zealand, ten years on after a killer plague erased the majority of our species from the face of the earth. 99.5% of humanity is either dead, or has been reduced to the (mostly) harmless, lumbering undead. The few people lucky enough to be immune to the disease have spent the last ten years struggling to live amongst the ruins of a dead society.
For some people, the time hasn’t been so bad. For other people – like our heroine and narrator, Sandrine McDermott – the last ten years have been a living hell. Without rules to keep people civilized, there’s nothing to keep a lone female safe except her own wits. Sometimes, that’s just not enough.
Life has not been kind to her. In fact, it’s safe to say that fate’s been kind of a bastard. However, it’s also a whimsical bastard. When Sandy injures herself and is forced to go looking for the medication she needs to survive, she finds herself on the receiving end of kindness in the last place she expects. She’s forced her to reassess her place in the world, and her own humanity.
The Survivors is a four-part tale that follows Sandy’s evolution from the psychologically-damaged wreck that she at the beginning of the story, to the true heroine that we need to preserve our species from extinction.
Somehow, some way, she must go from being one of the hopeless wanderers, to being our hope for a new tomorrow.
Want to know what happens next, and can’t wait for the release of Book II? The first three chapters of the next book are currently available on my website at no charge:
Genre - Post-Apocalyptic Survival
Rating - PG-13