Excerpt: American Rebirth PREQUEL!

Excerpt: American Rebirth PREQUEL!

I need your input, peoples.

  1. I want to know what you think of this excerpt. It’s a prequel of the American Rebirth Series.  Email me, tweet me, DM me, whatever, let me know what you think!
  2. I need to know if you are interested in a prequel. It would cover the SHTF scenario, and go into the Clearwater era. Hood and Whiskey and Taylor in the early Clearwater days.

 

Your feedback is important! I have a desire to write this story, but I want to know from my readers if this is something they’d be interested in.

So here you have it. Enjoy!


Abandoned Home, South of Washington D.C., Rural Maryland.

Sunlight poured into the dusty living room. The hinges of the front door groaned as it slowed to a stop. The old wood floors flexed and creaked under each step. Rob Huntington could picture what life in this house once looked like. An old retired couple, maybe. A young family that moved out into the country. No, it was left behind too clean. No mess. No kids.
The pistol was warm in his grip. Slide locked back. Fired empty. He placed it on an antique sideboard, the weight of it clunking against the lacquered wood.
I am not a killer. Rob pulled the ornate white cloth off of the sideboard, his hands still shaking. He scrubbed at his skin. The blood smudged and smeared, it wouldn’t entirely come off.
He breathed in deep, the musty smell somehow having a calming effect on him. It was not familiar. He’d never been here before. Never even been in this part of the state. But it smelled like a home. There’s no going back to the way things were.
He closed his eyes, standing in the center of the hallway. The past was dead. That was always true. You can never go back. But it meant something different now. You came in here for a reason. You need to find something else to fight with. His feet carried him through the house without thought. There had to be something he could use. The very need for this search told him a truth he did not want to face. This won’t be the last time. You will have to kill again.
Mounted on a wall in the den sat an old bolt-action rifle. There. Below it, almost shrine-like, on a mantelpiece was a trifold American flag in a wooden case, a name engraved on it. Pierce Ploman. Rob moved towards it reverently. The only sound was the creak of his footsteps and the distant carefree cries of faraway birds from the open door. Gently he reached out to touch the rifle and lifted it off its mount, the old leather strap swaying free in the air.
The rifle was old. But it was oiled and well taken care of. His eyes went from the trigger to the firing mechanism, seeing faded words stamped into the metal. Model and make, surely. He didn’t know what they meant. He ran his thumb over them, feeling the imprint in the steel. How does this thing work? Rob pulled back on the bolt sticking out of the rifle, but it didn’t move. He pushed up, and it came free to move. He pulled it back and the action slid open. Do I put each round in one at a time? The metal plate underneath the open chamber seemed separate from the rest. He pushed down on it, and it gave way, a spring below pushing it up. The rounds must go in there. Feed into the chamber. He pushed the bolt forward and locked it down. He pulled it up again and back, repeating the cocking motion until it felt smooth. He hefted it to his shoulder, looking down the ironsights. You’re going to have to use this, he repeated to himself.
He clenched his teeth, his mouth a hard line. One hand found its way to his face, covering his eyes. He rubbed his eyebrows back and forth, rhythmically.
“Rob?” Taylor called inside.
“Yeah,” He called back, standing upright and taking a deep breath.
“Are you okay?”
He nodded to himself. “Yeah. I’m fine.”
“Did you find anything?”
“We need to look around for some ammo. See if there’s any food, too.”
Taylor appeared from around the corner into the den. The pistol he left in the living room was in her hand. She followed his eyes to it, holding it up in the air sheepishly.
“We’ll probably need this, if we can find more bullets for it,” she said calmly. She looked at the rifle in his hands. “Does that work?”
Rob nodded. “Yeah, I think so.”
“Hey, are you okay?” She repeated in an even, relaxed tone that calmed him. “You can talk to me.”
“I’m good, Sis…” He hesitated, before shaking his head in disbelief. “How the hell did this happen?”
She smiled at him, a warm, familial smile. “Hey. We’re still alive.”
He flashed a smile back at her in return.
“Thank you,” she said genuinely. “For doing what you had to.”
He met her gaze. “We’ll be alright.”
She nodded toward the door. “Come on. Let’s see what else we can find.”
Rob looked down at the rifle in his hand. I have to protect her. I can’t hesitate next time. It’s either that or we’ll be the ones lying there.
His feet carried him out of the room. What about all those people that are just like us, though? Trying to survive in this fucked up version of the world?
Rob pushed a toy truck lying on the floor out of his way with his feet.
God, how did we let things come to this?

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11,315 Days.

11,315 Days.

Thirty-one.

It’s hard to believe sometimes. Happy birthday to me, 11,315 days of life. And there’s no guarantee i’ll get any more than that.

I’m grateful for all of them. For all the things that have gone wrong, my life has been pretty incredible. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

I think I’ll list them here.

  • The people I love. Family, friends, the great loves of my life.
  • My books. My love of storytelling, of imagination, of history.
  • My health. I feel young, stronger than I ever have before, and largely unhindered.
  • My curiosity. I’ve been gifted with a love of learning, of enjoying new things, of reveling in growth. It’s made my life a lot of fun and painless in many ways.
  • My pride. I feel proud of who I am, of the light in bring into other people’s lives just by being who I am (I know that sounds arrogant as fuck) and the pride I take in the choices I’ve made and the things I have done. Even the mistakes. Even the big ones.
  • The world. Because it’s gorgeous, endlessly interesting, tragic and beautiful all at the same time. Getting a chance to live life is so incredible.

I was thinking today about just having the chance to live, and how improbable that is. How many people, how many bloodlines died out just to the path of history? How many near misses were there where your ancestors might have died before they could conceive the next generation have their been?

Just our very existence here is a marvel of probability, an incredible gift, a confluence of chance and love.

I don’t plan on wasting it.

Have a good one, everyone. I know I will. Happy birthday to me.

-Evan P.

 

 

SHORT STORY: Unchosen

SHORT STORY: Unchosen

Sometimes you just need to try something different.

So thanks to my close friend and writing partner Eastin (@EastinDeverna), I have a short story I’d like to share with you. I was talking to him about what I want to do after having finished American Rebirth and he recommended just kinda splashing around for a bit to get my mind going before I jump into my next project.

He gave me a very random writing prompt, and I ran with it. I won’t tell you what it was until after, but here are the fruits of that labor…

As always, let me know what you think and direct any inquiries to EvanPickering@EvanPickeringAuthor.com

I hope you enjoy it!


Unchosen

The Address is 282 Whitworth Apt 12A. Look forward to seeing you!

I’m here

She wiped the screen of her phone with her thumb. The chat bubbles slid to one side before being tugged back to their original position. Brittany took a deep breath of winter air through her nose that bit at her lungs in an oddly refreshing way before exhaling slowly. For a brief moment, she felt relaxed. She wanted to repeat the process to fight off the nerves, but it would draw lingering gazes from anyone who was watching.

She looked up at the crumbling steps leading up to the pale-colored door, with a faded golden-bronze two-eight-two embossed above it. The great apartment building had seen better days, looking sooty and weatherbeaten past the point of being charming. She checked the address again on her phone and the building, looking at the street sign at the nearby intersection. This place couldn’t be right.

She had reception. But the text was unanswered. She looked around, back up the street to where she had parked, then back to the door. No one glanced her way, brushing past her wordlessly, concerned with their own concerns. Her feet moved one step at a time up the stairs, her hand pushing the door open without thought.

A blossom of air buffeted her as she stepped inside, warm and welcoming, smelling of fresh lavender. Her eyebrow twitched and she stopped, as if she had missed something. Regardless of the austere color scheme that conflicted with her naturally Victorian color palette, the lobby was beautiful in an unflinchingly modern way. The kind of fresh-looking Manhattan apartment building that screamed of vast social success. A perfect place for a single woman who had blossomed in her career, who felt uncompelled to settle down with whichever person seemed amicable. Brittany’s thumb rubbed the base of her ring finger, trying to spin something only to find a pale groove. She looked backwards out the door to make sure she walked into the right place.

The place felt even more impressive and exclusive, like the wealth of those inside was meant to be hidden rather than flaunted to any who looked upon the place from the outside. She held her hands together, drawing her shoulders in. Twenty years. Twenty years and she had so little to show for it. And Fiona lived in a place like this?

The doorman at the desk in the lobby was smiling at her. He hadn’t stopped smiling at her since she came in, and his face looked like it was tiring. She hustled forward, her heels clicking on the smoothly polished stone floor.

He said nothing, but kept smiling at her as she approached, his bushy mustache rough-looking and his black skin smooth and unblemished.

“Brittany Heath. Here to see Fiona Valenti?” the words squeaked out, and she grinned too hard to look comfortable or casual.

He nodded, his smile replaced with a calm expression. “You’re expected. Elevators are to the left.”

She clicked at the satisfying rose-gold colored elevator call a few too many times. This place made It hard not to consider the life choices that led her to be where she was—alone, middle-aged, searching for a new start while scared that the opportunity had long passed. Years of working tirelessly at both job and partner only to come up empty. Time was not friendly. Thoughts were not kind to the future, and bitterly disappointed in the past. Devoted to oneself in all the wrong ways.

As she stepped out of the elevator to the top floor, the hallway was curiously dark aside from the glow of sunlight far at the end of the hall. Her feet carried her away from her thoughts, but the beautiful doorway that approached brought another deadly wave. Fear of the unknown. So much time had passed.

Her phone buzzed before she could knock. She looked down at it.

Come in, the door is unlocked! Sorry about the paint.

Brittany looked at the door in the muted light of the hallway. There was nowhere to go now. Face the pain of seeing the glamorous life unchosen. Nothing left to go back to. The curiosity drove her forward. What was Fiona like now? What kind of life did she lead?

She pulled the doorhandle, the door swinging open. Her hand was wet as she pulled it away. Sorry about the paint, she said. Guess it was far from dry.

“Hi!?” Brittany said nervously, stepping inside the grandiose apartment. It looked much like the way she imagined. Spotless, meticulously designed, modern-chic but elegant. Even the doormat looked expensive.

“Fiona? I’m here!” She moved ahead through the living room, slower and slower the further she got. Maybe she was in the bathroom. Bad timing. This was already awkward.

Her feet froze as she entered the dining room. Her heart lurched, her throat trying to swallow something that wasn’t there.  No matter what impulse she asked of her body, she only stood and stared. Four men sitting in chairs around the table all lay dead. Handsome, fit, dressed in expensive suits. All dead. One stabbed. One shot in the head. One throat cut. One suffocated.

She closed her hands, only to feel the wetness again. Her eyes wide, she stared down at her hands. It wasn’t paint. She knew before she saw. Sirens started to echo outside the tall wall of windows that faced the outside world. Her phone buzzed. It shook uncontrollably in her hand as she stared down to read it, smudged with blood.

J train. Uptown, 6:13 end of the line. Take the stairs, exit through the staff kitchen. You wanted a new life. Now you don’t have any other choice.

 


 

That’s it! I hope you all enjoyed. And if it seems raw, it’s because I wrote it in about 2 hours, so it’s a little rough around the edges. The prompt Eastin gave me was this:

A woman enters a room at the top of a building at the behest of an old and trusted friend she hasn’t seen in years. The building is shiny and new on the inside, but old and decrepit on the outside. When she enters the room she was supposed to meet her at, she finds her friend isn’t there, but there are four men sitting in four chairs, all dead, with different wounds. She looks down and notices blood on her hands from the doorknob…

All in all, it was super fun. It’s nice to have some freedom to derp around now that American Rebirth is done. But I can’t wait to get started on my next project.

-Evan

 

A Promise is A Promise…Book 3 is Done

A Promise is A Promise…Book 3 is Done

A promise is a promise. I said I’d get the book done by the end of this week. And even if I came screeching up to the deadline…

American Rebirth, Book 3 of the American Rebirth series is finally finished.

americanrebirth_1

It’s hard to believe this day has come…

I’m submitting it to Amazon tonight. It might take a few days, but soon it will be live for sale. I’ll push it out to all the other distributors in the next few days.

I feel kind of numb, floaty, like nothing really make sense yet. It hasn’t hit me, and it probably won’t for awhile.

Like all writers, I am currently in that manic state of excitement to get it out, and fear that it somehow isn’t ready or isn’t good enough. But I must kick that feeling in the face, and trust the work I and others have done to help make this book what it is.

And it is time.

For all you readers who waited patiently, thank you. I really can’t wait for you all to read it.

And if you really want to make me happy, leave a review when you’re done. Whatever you think of it. Even if it’s just a bunch of stabby emojis.

Now I [try and] rest.

-Evan Pickering

It’s Done…

It’s Done…

As of last night, around midnight…

…The draft of American Rebirth is done.

It’s about 90,200 words. That’s sure to change after editing.

I don’t know if all the feels have hit me yet. I don’t think the full high will come until this shit is done and launched. But still, for me… I just gotta take a minute and say something.

I’m truly proud of this series.

It hasn’t always been easy. It’s been mostly NOT easy, to be honest. But seeing the ending of this book, and well this arc of the series (I have a feeling i’ll be writing more stories in the American Rebirth universe.) it’s a hard feeling to put into words.

All three of these books are strongly connected, all a part of one complete narrative about who we are as individuals, as a race, and what the fuck it is to make of this thing we call existence. I’ve always loved post-apoc because it lays that bare. There’s nothing but survival and the things that really matter.

All the garbage priorities we lay on top of our lives living in a functioning civilization gets stripped away. The people at the end of the world, or at least, the people who face the collapse of great civilizations, like those in the dark ages, have to face the reality of what actually matters:

Who are we to ourselves? who are we to each other? Both as strangers, as loved ones, and as enemies?

I wanted to do a lot of things with this series, but ultimately, that’s the biggest picture. I can say having finished book 3, I feel I’ve answered that. In my way.

I really can’t wait for you all to read it.

What’s next: I have to edit it. I’ll give it to a few close beta readers I trust. Then I do one more pass, and then it’s live.

We’re almost there.

-Evan Pickering

Excitement

Excitement

Sometimes, there’s just no substitute for getting excited about something.

Those of you who follow me know that Book 3 has taken longer than I planned to get done. I’ve been working at it diligently, but at times the writing is slow, and I refuse to force it. I want this book to be face-meltingly awesome for readers of the first two books in the series. There’s something necessary for that.

Excitement.

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Someone somewhere once said if you’re not excited about what you’re writing, there’s no chance your readers are going to be. I firmly believe that.

Sometimes you have to embrace there are natural highs and lows to writing. When I feel I’m in sort of a lull, the writing slows down a lot. Because if I’m not excited, then what the hell is the point?

Well, I’m pretty fucking excited about what I’ve got going now. I had a few lightbulbs go off that I think will amp up the intensity of the plot recently, and I think looking back on the book as a whole, it’s moving in a pretty fucking cool direction.

I’m channeling that excitement into more writing. I want to get my ass in front of the keyboard more lately so I can bring this thing to life. After all, it’s about damn time.

I can’t wait to share it with all of you when its done.

Hard at work in the wastelands,

Evan P.

SHORT STORY: A Lover and A Fighter

SHORT STORY: A Lover and A Fighter

A lover and a fighter. That’s all a man is.

Our world gets destroyed all the time.

Shattered by our choices, the choices of others, or things completely out of our control.

As I drove my car down the broken, empty road, I realized the truth. As a man, I am fueled and driven by only two impulses. The need to love, to build a family, and the need to fight for something.

That one day a year ago, the love I had for so many years was gone. Shattered by so many choices and things outside our control. I thought I would be with her for the rest of my life. I knew what kind of ring she wanted. But as hard as we fought for each other it wasn’t enough. Our love had died. Like our world is now, I was broken and fighting to mend into something that resembled myself.

All I could do then was fight. Not wanton, hateful conflict, or violence for its own sake. I needed to fight for something, some cause, something meaningful. But I had nothing to fight for. I had no hobbies, no passions, I felt no fire inside me though I knew I wanted one. I had been one half of a whole, but she was gone. Now I was just alive.

Memories are your enemy.

As it would happen, the world was really destroyed not long after. It didn’t take long. I’m not exactly sure how it happened. Supposedly The oceans died and crops everywhere failed and food suddenly became a precious resource. In a few months the whole world tore itself apart in hunger. Civilization in all its majesty undone by the most primal of impulses: feed.

I had my cause to fight. It wasn’t a complicated one, but it made me feel alive. I woke up every day with purpose. I was empty no more. I fought to survive, to protect the people around me. They were good people. I only knew one of them before the end of civilization–My neighbor, Keith. He always wore the same hat both before the world ended and after. Black baseball cap with the Red Sox logo. At least he’s consistent. Pretty funny too. He’s a glue guy. Keeps smiles on the faces of everyone when we’re venturing forth under the hot sun, into unknown territory hoping to find friendly faces instead of hateful ones.

These are the kind of thoughts that make me reach for my AR-15 propped up against the driver’s side door just to feel the smooth metal body, just to know it’s there. I don’t like firing it. I don’t like that it is a part of my life. But knowing its there to keep me alive, so that I can use it to keep the others alive when necessary, that’s a feeling I can’t be without.

I had fired it too many times two days ago. We lost Angela in the fighting. Only ten feet from the truck. God, it’s the kind of thing that will drive you crazy.

I don’t know why they opened fire on us, even. Not like we have any food. Not like we wanted to fight them. Unless they wanted us for food. If so, then Angela… No, I can’t think about that. That way lies madness. Only thing we have is what’s in front of us.

But of all the things I’ve seen, there’s one thing I can’t shake. One memory that will not escape me. If it is even a memory, or some ghost of my mind. At this point, I don’t even know anymore. We were passing through this refugee town. We didn’t even stop. We’ve seen them before. Groups of starving people, no will left to fight and nowhere to go. They roam in packs and scavenge for food like old world hunter-gatherers. We drove through the crowd of people who rose to clamor at our truck, but were smart enough not to step in front. Most survivors didn’t think twice of running over someone in their way.

I looked out the driver’s side window and in the crowd I swear I saw her face. I think it was her. It looked like her. Tired, but steely eyed and surviving. At the time I thought it was just someone that looked like her. I didn’t even stop the truck. How could I? But I think… I think it was her. I think I saw the recognition in her eyes when she saw me. But she made no move. She just stared.

We drove on. We still drive on. Every day I feel the urge to turn around and go back. I want to find her. But there is no going back.

Memories are my enemy.

Lover and a fighter. That’s all I am.