Author: ML Banner
Genre: Science Fiction
A #1 Hot New Release in Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
A world devastated: a sky filled with magical auroras at night and deadly radiation during the day; technology all but gone; hundreds of millions dead by fire, starvation, disease and violence. The survivors will have to face their own desolation.
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Three groups struggle to endure and hold onto what little they have, while others will do anything to take it all. On a beach in Mexico, a small town in Wyoming, and a rural ranch in Illinois, epic battles between good and evil will be fought. Winners will have to face forces of nature never seen before. But there is a dim light on the horizon. A 150 year old secret may lead the lucky few to a place that holds the promise of a new future, unless the sun sets on humanity first.
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The stunning follow up to the #1 Amazon Best Seller STONE AGE.
Movie Rating: PG-17 for descriptions of violence and language.
Hello lovers of apocalyptic fiction! I devour the same books I enjoy writing: science fiction, but especially anything apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic or dystopian. I love stories about regular people being put into extra ordinary circumstances, and having to rely on their own cunning and that of others to survive.
Stone Age & DESOLATION are that kind of story. They're fast moving, have some regular and amazing characters who must make life changing decisions, all while the world is experiencing an apocalypse unlike anything imagined. When not writing fiction, my wife and I split time between Tucson, Arizona and the sunny beaches of Mexico. I also write for a few blogs, and I still write articles to assist small business owners for one of the companies I founded, SmallBiZ.com.
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/DESOLATION-ML-Banner-ebook/dp/B00OQJEGTC GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23508928-desolation
From Chapter 1:
Rocky Point, Mexico
A loud screeching cut through the raw morning air, rousing Bill and Lisa King from a fitful sleep of restless nightmares.
The uproar was one more in the endless list of sounds they had never heard before, which made up their life after the apocalypse. It wasn’t the frightening death-throe-screams that followed distant gunshots across the town’s estuaries, or the constant electrical buzz that filled the atmosphere all around them. This sound was a monstrous and powerful outcry immediately outside their beach home.
Bill sprang out of bed, a .45 in his hand, ready to bring death to some poor S.O.B. who was probably just hungry and looking for food.
“What is that?” he bellowed.
“Don’t know, but it’s close,” Lisa shouted barely loud enough to be heard, flying to the window, scarcely touching the carpet.
Impossibly, the roar grew louder. Its deep, penetrating tones were undaunted by their walls and attempts to muffle the assault to their eardrums. It sounded like some angry mechanical leviathan, tearing at the sand and coral with its metal claws.
Standing at the window, Bill pried open the blinds, his jaw dropping farther with each inch revealed. The source of that racket was worse than the prehistoric monster he imagined.
“It’s a cruise ship?” He blinked, transfixed in disbelief. His wife’s eyes mirrored his distrust.
The dark behemoth was a passenger ship but no less terrifying than a T-rex might have been, made malicious by the green auroras illuminating its hull, as though it had been belched out of the depths to destroy them. It crept up onto their beach, slowly pushed by some invisible force, intent on burrowing a bloody trail to town.
The screeching persisted for what seemed an endless amount of time, until the beast ran out of inertia. The high incoming tide deposited it less than one hundred meters from their property.
When the dreadful noise ceased, the relative quiet made the constant thrumming sound of the wind-driven sand drubbing the home’s windows and outside walls sound louder. The hulk lay unmoving, as if asleep, and they stood motionless for fear of waking it.
The light from tonight’s auroras was bright and pulsating, outlining the massive vessel’s form. Out of the water, it looked much taller, not listing as expected but sitting upright almost as if it were properly parked in the port five miles up the coast. Each spectral blast of green revealed more of the ship’s evil presence. A fire on the port side, evidenced by blackened scarring, made it appear that the devil’s own giant hand had reached out from the ship’s bowels, leaving molten prints burned into its hide from the first row of balconies up to the silent chimney stacks. When the pulsating light ebbed, shadowing the ship in a momentary darkness, it almost looked like a normal cruise liner awaiting tourists that would never come. For a ship normally carrying a couple thousand crew and passengers in its belly, there were no signs of life.
From Chapter 16:
Blood and Water!
Melanie’s thirst was insatiable as she pushed down again on the old pump handle, summoning another refreshing torrent of water. She drank, filled her water bottle, and then doused her head and neck, cooling her body down, slurping the last drops as the gushing flow trailed off into rivulets. She had had her fill. Not so insatiable after all, she mused.
The well pump was located in back, conveniently visible from the driveway of the farmhouse she had been approaching for the last hour. When she spied the pump, she had paid no mind to the state of the house, or to whether it was occupied or not. She regarded it now.
Before their escape module had crashed, she could see that all of North and South America were dark. This was no doubt the result of the giant solar storm that took out the ISS’s systems. She was pretty sure that anarchy reigned in the cities, but unsure if its ugliness had yet taken root in the more rural western states, where she was. Being one to not take chances, she approached the house with care, hoping that her caution was overdone, and she would find Ma and Pa Kettle having their Sunday dinner. Speaking of which, she was hungry.
She painstakingly peeked in each of the back windows, following the wrap-around porch, finding no one moving about. However, there were several signs of occupancy, and one in particular that caused her concern. Her vision and focus, previously lost in a haze of dehydration, were now sharp and hyper aware as she approached the back door. Its small window, about chest height to her, was broken. She peeked through the jagged opening, looking into the home’s kitchen. A light breeze blew through the opening, brushing the single curtain aside, and then letting it fall back into place. Each breeze revealed more of what she was looking at: lots of dishes and discarded food strewn around the kitchen; a wood-burning stove--it was on, its heat visible--and resting on top, an old camp-fire coffeepot with steam gushing from its spout; and a man.
Melanie hurriedly looked to her left and then right and then back through the breach again, attempting to will the curtain aside once more so that she could see. A man with crazy hair dressed in overalls walked out of a large pantry into the kitchen. He wrapped a folded towel around the coffeepot’s handle to temper the heat.
One of the porch’s old wood floor boards creaked, sounding an alarm behind her. She spun, shocked, as she was staring at the ugliest mug of a man she could ever remember seeing. Rotten breath and the words, “What do we have here?” spilled from a mouth missing several teeth. The gun he pointed at her and everything about him announced this was one bad dude.
From Chapter 20:
Rocky Point, Mexico
Bill King found himself alone on their pool deck, a wide-brimmed straw hat shading his face, staring blankly into his own abyss. The bright sunlight didn’t bother him as much as this morning’s dark realization. It was almost certain Lisa and he would never see their youngest children, Danny and Darla, ever again. He leaned over the front of one of their two Adirondack chairs, his only support after a bout of tears. The sea winds, thick with humidity and ruination, anxiously grabbed at his muddled-gray hair, yanked at his Hawaiian shirt and partially clean shorts, and threatened to topple him with little effort. Struggling to even lift his head and see the new realities of this world around him, he realized this was no longer a place of solace.
The blazing sun had already scorched all hue from the morning’s normally blue sky, making it look almost overcast. Recently, the auroras seemed to provide the sole source of color, and then only at night. He pondered how quickly his beach paradise had changed. Only a few days ago, this place had filled him with such pleasure; now it was the realm of peril and death. Reminders were everywhere. The hulking carcass of the beached cruise ship remained unchanged, although it seemed bigger and appeared to have listed some. It was destined to remain for all eternity, a monument to all those who once played on her decks and in her galleys. The bodies of their four neighbors were gone the morning after it beached, most likely carried out by the high tide. Yet, he could see them in his mind’s eye as if they were there now.
Each day, more and more dead birds fell from the sky and fish washed up on the sand. It was now a giant caldron of rotting seafood, a silent dinner bell to dozens of locals, a smattering of small birds, and the hordes of feral dogs. Each day, they would come, all hurriedly carrying away what they could from the beach, intuitively aware that death visited this place often. What remained baked in the summer heat, made more intense by the radiation carried by each day’s solar storm. The acrid odor affronted his senses and made his eyes water. The fish were almost certainly being electrocuted, but the birds were another matter.
Before the Event, the sand, sea, and sky were alive: massive carpets and curtains of undulating birds in constant motion. Each fished, fought to secure its food, or screeched its displeasure to anyone or anything that encroached upon it space. Now, all the larger birds were gone, from sea gulls and pelicans to the less common crested boobies and herons. Nearly all were voided from the beach, except those few who found permanent respite there.