What is it about stories featuring world-flattening disasters that fascinates us?
Is it that ‘I’m all alone and anything could happen’ thing?
I stretch and yawn, rolling over on my side to squint through the light lace curtains. Sunlight blinds me, blurring my vision and I wonder at the grittiness under my arm. Specks of some fine grey material coarsen my sheets and quilt. There’s a pile of screwed up tissues under my elbow. I cough and sit up, spitting more of the grey specks into my hand.
What the hell? With my head thumping like a drum from the Howling Hyenas – a rock band I last saw at the local pub being pelted with beer cans – I vaguely recall a dreadful bout of the flu. Did I crash on the bed?
My pristine white curtains are tattered and stained. The room smells of smoke and there’s a distant crackling and snapping. Somewhere out there is a fire.
Panic seizes me, tightening my chest. I rip back the curtain and peer out. The world is gone. My neighborhood is gone, flattened. Houses are on fire or collapsed and the street is littered with crushed and burning cars, and one dead dog. The cute Labrador from next door.
“Oh, fer chrissakes.” I’m whispering as if someone might hear me and run in screaming with an axe held high, or an AK47 or something – like in the movies. Only where is Schwarzenegger or a Man in Black when you need them?
The smoke thickens. Little grey wisps puff around the edges of my bedroom door, tickling the air, politely asking to come in.
Leaving seems a good option. I kneel on the bed and shove open the window. And that is when I see it. The…
Yes, one may well ask, what do you see?
Aliens? Zombies? A military convoy ferrying survivors of a nuclear war?
Whatever it is, it’s bad. Real bad, and your mother isn’t coming to wake you up and rock you back to sleep.
I recall my first post-apocalyptic book and marveling at the feeling of empowerment from being the one person who might stumble through this mess and come out alive. But also there was this feeling of freedom.
The hero could rummage through all the abandoned houses and shops in the world, and take whatever they wanted. I loved that.
Plus the underdog had that ultimate chance of being raised up and of rescuing themselves. We do love underdogs and how more ‘under’ can you get than having the world in ruins, with you left to scramble from the wreckage? I always identified with that main character.
The other element was often some freakily hard to defeat enemy, like a zombie horde, or those pesky aliens, or a super-infectious plague. Sometimes it was just the weather – an ice age or a spate of lava-spurting volcanoes. Whatever it was, these stories riveted me to the page.
This is what the authors of this blog aim to do to you – grab you and fasten your eyes to that page. Beware of rivets when you read our stories.
Here’s a wee snippet from my book Lust Plague. This is a book with a post-apocalyptic feel, zombies and steampunk. Though my coming PNR post-apocalyptic, Cataclysm Blues, will be all action, alpha male and kick-ass women, if you aren’t into kink and BDSM, this already published book won’t be for you.
Behind Sten towered the snowman. An automaton of greater complexity than any he’d seen or heard of. A collar of spikes stuck out from the stubby legs like misplaced spines on an upright porcupine.
“Now,” he muttered, “where’s the bloody door to this Hell Machine?” When he found it in the left leg beside the half-buried tread, the door wheel had to be kicked to get it to budge. He swung it open and stepped in, leaving the door ajar. Even so, without internal lighting, the stairs spiraled up into darkness. “Going up. And up and up.” He hauled out the revolver.
Somewhere at the top was the control cabin. He just needed to be brave and forget whatever unimaginable horrors might be lurking, though it was more the imaginable horrors that bothered him—he recalled exactly what a zombie looked like.
The steps rang under his boot like some off-key xylophone. Revolver in hand, he took the last step, glimpsed a seat with a man still in it, his head swaying, and past that a half snowed-in glass screen. Found the cockpit or whatever they call this.
A thin blue hose ran to the back of the driver’s seat. A heating system? The cabin was cold enough to have ice on the inside of the glass and on the timber floor. It cracked under his weight. He shifted, made sure the trigger was under his gloved finger.
“You okay?” Another step closer. “Hoy. Are you the pilot?” Another step.
The jiggling of the pilot’s head stopped. The chair swiveled slowly, creaking.
The goggles on his face were dislodged and lopsided, the inside of the lenses coated with blood and strips of thin flesh. No eyes. The zombie moaned, stretching his arms toward Sten. He struggled against the cross chest harness that fastened him to the leather seat.
Sten looked down.
The pilot’s fingers curled and uncurled. The nails were chipped and torn. Bone showed in the raw flesh. Some of the fingers had been chewed off.
“Fuck. Hope I never get hungry enough to eat my own fingers and eyes.” He drew a deep breath, held the pistol steady, and put a shot through the thing’s skull. It convulsed once and went still.
Welcome to my worlds. Have fun and make sure you close the door on the way in. We wouldn’t want you to have an exit, would we?
If you'd like to read the first chapter to Lust Plague, here's the link