The novel I wrote for Nanowrimo in November is almost ready to be released. The opening pages are here. Let me know if you would keep reading.
“What are we going to do?” Julia asked between sobs. “We can’t just sit here and wait until she dies!”
“You know we can’t do anything Julia.” Ethan answered. “The best scientists in the world couldn’t find a cure. We just have to keep her from having any contact with any other people until it’s safe.”
They both already knew there was no hope; their little baby girl was going to die and there was nothing more they could do about it but hide in the mountains and hope no one came near them. Julia and Ethan had been living the very comfortable life of the Noblesse who were protected from the great war of 2020.
They had both been born shortly after the cleansing so they never saw the old world. The world they knew had only about seventy million people living on the entire planet and all of them lived long and very comfortable lives. Both of them had years of education and had traveled to the far corners of the earth.
While they looked like a thirty something couple, they were actually in their sixties. After the Great War the new development in technology were focused on making life easy and comfortable. Medical research focused on helping people to live longer without the aches and pains or even the visible signs of aging.
Then, deep in a wilderness, in the same year they got their daughter, the cleansing virus mutated. Suddenly the Noblesse got sick and only the oldest among them had ever seen sickness before. After just two days the sick people began dying and few of the Noblesse had ever seen anyone die. As the rate of sickness and death increased, people panicked. Some tried to escape into the wilderness but they knew that was dangerous. Others locked themselves in their houses but the sickness still found them.
As everyone died around them Ethan and Julia decided to hide in the wilderness. They had heard stories of the wild Sauvage who lived there and how they would kill any Noblesse they found but they hoped this was just a story left over from the old world. No one they knew had ever actually seen a Sauvage.
They set out for the mountains they had always seen on the horizon, distant and mysterious but beautiful. Now they saw no beauty, just an escape from terror. They drove to the end of the nicely maintained roads in the area called La Mesa. There they found dozens of other vehicles abandoned by the Noblesse who had already left the safety of the city.
They got out of the car, took everything they could carry and began walking to the mountains that seemed so near now. There were ruins of houses and other buildings everywhere. This area had been the city of El Cajon in the old world but it was just rubble now.
Soon they saw a body propped against a tree alongside the road, one of the people who had left a bit earlier but was too sick to continue. The horribly disfigured body showed that the person was either dead or so close to death that nothing could be done.
Ethan and Julia edged to the far side of the road and hurried past the grisly sight trying to protect their baby girl from any infection. As they continued toward the mountains this sight was repeated many times but they never met another living person.
They walked for four hours after the road ended but the dark and now foreboding mountains still seemed to be far in the distance. Neither of them had ever been out of the cities before so they had no idea how they would eat or sleep, they just knew they couldn’t stay in the city.
“Ethan,” Julia asked, “what is this wide flat surface that we have been walking on here? It doesn’t look like natural stone but it doesn’t look like our roads either. Is this one of the roads from the old world?”
“I guess so.” He answered. “I’ve never been out of the cities either so I can only guess at what things are.”
Both Ethan and Julia looked like the picture of health and fitness but neither of them had ever done anything demanding and strenuous before. The walking, even at the slow pace they were maintaining was exhausting. When they came to a wide area that had no rusted hulks of eighty year old cars, building ruins or other litter, they sat down for a rest.
“What are we going to do tonight Ethan?” Julia asked. “Will we have to sleep on the ground? How will we keep Samantha warm? And how will we feed her after our supplies are gone?”
“Julia, I don’t have any answers. We go until we find something or we die. I don’t want to talk about it.”
After a brief rest, they got up and started walking again. Now the ground seemed to be rising and rocky outcrops were bordering the path. The distant mountains were getting closer now. The strain of walking for hours was wearing them down and even the slight grade they were on seemed too steep for a road.
Tears were welling up in Julia’s eyes when Ethan said “Look! That looks like a house that’s not collapsing on that hill ahead.”
“Where? Where?” Julia asked as she tried to dry her eyes.
There on the top of a hill ahead of them was a house in the middle of a cleared area.
“Yes! I see it! Can we stay there for a while and get rested?” she asked.
“I don’t know. There could be people there already. We saw that a lot of people tried to escape the city this way. Let’s go up there and see.”
Energized by the sight of a possible respite from the fearful struggle they walked quickly up the road toward the house. The house was on the top of the hill and the sides of the hill were quite steep so they weren’t sure how to get up to it. Then a small path branched off from the road leading up toward the house.
They followed the path up the hill until it opened into the cleared area around the house. The clearing was large, probably two hundred feet across and gave the house a clear view of the surrounding land in all directions.
Ethan stopped them at the edge of the clearing. “Wait; let’s see if anyone is here. We need to be a little cautious; they may not be friendly.”
“Oh my God!” Julia whispered, “I never thought of that. What if they are the Sauvage?”
“If the Sauvage are real, I don’t think they build houses. According to all the stories I’ve heard they’re more like animals than people.”
“Stay here out of sight here with Samantha. I’m going to sneak up there and see if I can see anything inside.”
Ethan clumsily tried to sneak through an open clearing toward a house that was built to provide a view of the area around it. Fortunately, no one was there and after peering into several windows he waved to Julia to join him. She excitedly hurried across the clearing to join him.
“Can we go inside?” she asked.
“Yeah, but let’s do it carefully. We don’t know anything about this place. It’s clearly nothing like our houses. I’ve never seen anything built like this before. It might be from the old world but I can’t believe it would be in such good condition if it was that old. The door is over here. Let’s go inside and see what it’s like.”
They carefully stepped onto the porch, worried that it might collapse. Ethan stepped up to the door and waited but nothing happened.
“Oh yeah, these doors won’t open for us.” He said as he pushed on the door. Finally he twisted the knob and the door swung open for him.
They both stood outside and peered into the house. The sun was getting low and the shadows made it hard to see well inside.
“I suppose there are no lights.” Julia commented.
“Probably not since the door didn’t open for us. I guess we will have to figure out how to make everything work here.”
“We better figure it out quickly; it’s almost sunset already.”
Gingerly Ethan stepped in and put his weight on the floor. Nothing happened so he stepped completely inside and Julia followed him.
“Smells kind of funny in here. Kind of a dirty smell.” She noted once inside. “I hope it’s just from being empty so long.”
Gaining a little confidence, they started to look around the house. Julia touched the table and was startled to see a layer of dirt on her finger.
“Ugh, look at this Ethan” she said, showing him her finger. “This place is filthy.”
“Yeah, the doors don’t open and there are no lights so I’m not surprised that there are no cleaners. We’ll have to do everything for ourselves”
“But we’ve never cleaned a thing in our lives. Do you have any idea how to go about this? I can wipe it off with my hand but then my hand is filthy.”
“Let’s look inside some of these cabinets. There may be some kind of cleaners there; even in the old world things were cleaned. They had to have something to clean the place.”
After searching through the house they found nothing that looked even a little bit like their idea of a cleaner. As night was quickly closing in, they found a couple of blankets and took them outside and shook the dust off as well as possible. They put them down on the floor and lay down with little Samantha between them. Accustomed to the most comfortable beds, only the exhaustion of the long day allowed them to sleep.
The early morning sunlight and the hard cold floor combined to wake them early. Ethan stretched and groaned from the aches he felt after sleeping on the floor.
“Good morning sleepy.” Julia greeted him. “I don’t know how you could sleep like that on this hard floor. I was awake every hour and Samantha has been up for a while. She already ate her breakfast.”
Slowly opening one eye he saw Julia sitting next to him on the floor feeding Samantha.
“I might have slept all night but I don’t feel one bit rested.” He complained as he slowly stood up. “I have aches where I didn’t know I had places. I’d really like a cup of strong coffee. We have to find some water and food. We’ll be out of everything we took by the end of the day. Man, I’d give anything for a cup of coffee right now.”
“I hope we find something or someone.” Julia said as a tear started to form. “Ethan, what if we’re the last people on earth?”
“Don’t give up yet. We found a house. Maybe in the light today we can find some supplies or some kind of communication. We have to keep trying.”
“I know, but we never had to rely on ourselves before; everything has always been done for us. Do you think we could go back to the city and bring a couple of bots out here?”
“That wouldn’t help even if we did it. How would they get power out here? We really have to take care of ourselves now. Come on, let’s go look around outside. There may be something to eat out there like berries or fruit and there’s probably a stream around here somewhere.”
Ethan picked up Samantha and all three of them went out on the porch to greet their first day in the wild.
“It’s beautiful, even if it is scary.” Julia said as they watched the sun begin to peek out from behind the ridge to the east. “We never had views like this in the city.”