BOOK DETAILS

The China Pandemic

The China Pandemic

by A. R. Shaw

ASIN: B00H06NGFS

Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Mystery & Thrillers/Mystery, Science Fiction & Fantasy/Paranormal, Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Literature & Fiction/Genre Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

$3.99

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What the world dreads most has happened. A page-turning debut in the tradition of William R. Forstchen, Once Second After, One year After and The Final Day, is a science fiction, post-apocalyptic, dystopian thriller.

Sample Chapter

The Dark before Dawn

Graham dug the dead woman’s grave next to his beloved Nelly’s. Somehow he knew the two would have gotten along in the living world. They both loved children and he didn’t think he wanted this brave little lady to be alone. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

He trudged back inside, stomping his dirty boots off at the door, already exhausted. The boy laid at his mother’s side. Graham knew this wasn’t a good sign. “What if I can’t get him away from his mother’s dead body? This is just great!” Graham thought shaking his head.

Graham walked over to the boy and shook him awake. Little almond eyes, just like his mother’s, rimmed in red looked up at him.

“Come on kid, I need your help.” Graham said.

The boy closed his eyes and hid his face at his mother’s side.

“Hey, come on. We have work to do,” Graham said, and pulled him away from his mother and off the couch. The boy began to kick and scream landing a lucky strike against his shin.

“God dammit, kid!” Graham raised his voice out of frustration but held the boy firmly by one arm. He pulled the distraught boy into his father’s room kicking and screaming.

“Look!” Graham said pointing to his dead father, yelling over the boy’s crying. The boy quieted and looked up at Graham terrified. His eyes and nose were running all over as he tried to stop his sniffling.

“We have to bury him. Then we’ll bury your mother,” Graham said in a stern voice. “But right now, you have to help.”

The boy took a hold of the dead man’s sheet and Graham let go of his arm. Graham took a deep breath. He put his hands on his hips, turning his attention to his father.

“Alright Dad, here we go,” he said. He worked his arms under his father’s lifeless body, already beginning to stiffen just as his mother’s had. The body was easier to lift than he expected, and he cradled him against his chest.

“You follow me,” he told the boy. He didn’t expect the boy to be happy, or even quiet. He only wanted to give him a part in the task to keep him busy. He followed Graham through the house and out the door.

Graham struggled with his father’s weight and by the time he got him outside he had to readjust his hold on the man. He stopped for a minute and buried his head into his father shoulder. “I’m so sorry Dad,” Graham said wishing he knew of a more dignified way of transporting him.

The gray late afternoon sky meant more rain was on the way. Graham laid his father on the edge of the grave. Graham jumped down into the hole and looked up at the boy. Somehow the boy had quieted, maybe because he had something to do, or maybe he was stunned there with so many dead people around. Whatever the reason, Graham was grateful.

“Okay, you help me get him in here,” Graham said, struggling to hold back his own emotions. “Try to give him a little push.”

Graham dragged his deceased father over toward him. The boy helped to push as much as he could, but barely little. The body started to sink to the bottom too quickly and ended up being more of a controlled fall. Graham couldn’t help but cry. He arranged the man neatly and started to climb up out of the hole by bracing one leg against the edge. As he climbed out, the first thing he noticed was the kid had disappeared.

He looked all around the yard.

~ ~ ~

“Shit,” Graham said, followed by, “Hey kid!”

Graham ran to the backdoor of the house, thinking perhaps he went back to his dead mother’s side. But looking through the glass door, the boy was nowhere to be seen. Then he heard a yell and a dog barking from the front of the property.

Graham grabbed his rifle from where he left it. He ran around and found the boy running down the street with a pit bull on his heels. He yelled and ran toward the dog startling it enough to turn his direction. Graham aimed and fired, killing the attack dog instantly.

Knowing they’d caused a commotion enough to attract other predators, Graham didn’t delay in retrieving the boy. He ran and picked him up under one arm and returned home, closing the gate behind them. The boy cried and kicked him the whole way.

Graham sat him down on the grass and knelt down with him.

“Okay, okay, be quiet! It’s done now. The dog is dead,” Graham said.

He felt guilty for forcing the kid to behave, but he needed the boy to quiet down. He went to the front windows and looked out toward the gate for more dogs. So far, there weren’t any. He went back to the boy and rubbed his head.

“You need to be quiet or the other mean dogs will find us,” he said. The boy tried to stifle his crying. “Are you okay? Did he bite you?”

The boy shook his head with tears streaming down his face. Graham took a rag out of his pants pocket and wiped the boy’s face off. The boy’s chest was heaving as he tried to hold back the tears.

“I know this is tough, but you can’t run away from me. Your Mom wanted you to stay with me so I could take care of you. I promised her,” he said. “Don’t do that again.”

“Come on, let’s get our job over with,” Graham said. He got up and headed back to the graves, taking his rifle with him. He watched the street carefully for more dogs. If he was lucky, the dead dog would attract predators, and not him or the boy. The boy followed slowly behind him keeping his distance. “We need to be quiet out here, okay?”

~ ~ ~

Graham kneeled down on the edge of his father’s grave, still trying to come to terms with his death. He stood up and grabbed the shovel. The boy walked over to the pile of dirt behind Graham. Graham handed him a smaller shovel.

“Here, you can use this one,” he said but the boy wouldn’t take the shovel and started to shake his head and cried again.

“Fine,” Graham muttered in frustration. “Just sit down there then.”

Graham reluctantly picked up a shovelful of dirt and slowly swung it over the hole. He started at his father’s feet and carefully dropped in the soil. He grabbed another and another but was reluctant to cover his father’s face. He didn’t cry but shook with grief.

He could see the boy watching him work. The next thing he knew the boy shouted out as a dog snarled close behind. Graham looked up and saw two more. He reached for the boy just as the dog bit into the kid’s jacket as Graham pulled him away. He flung the boy behind him towards the edge of the grave. The boy scrambled away from the edge bawling. Graham swung the shovel at the attack dog and smacked it in the head.

He had a moment and grabbed his rifle, putting a bullet into the skull of the stunned dog.

“Get out of here!” he yelled at the other two.

With his teeth baring and his head down, another dog came at him. The third tried to edge around him toward the boy. Graham shot the closest dog square in the forehead, so close that he felt the misty splatter of blood on his face.

The last dog tried to take advantage by lunging at Graham. But it was too little too late. Using the gun barrel as a club, he knocked the dog to the side. He had just enough time to squeeze off a shot, wounding the dog in the hip. He cocked the rifle one last time and fired.

Nothing happened. He was out of ammunition, and right when an enraged and wounded beast was coming after him. He tossed the rifle down and grabbed the shovel again, slipping in the mud and falling to his side. Just then, the injured dog was getting a hold of his pants leg.

Graham swung the shovel with all his might. There was a clang and a yelp, but he still felt the dog pulling on his pants. He swung again and heard silence finally. He scrambled to his feet.

The boy just stared at the dead animal. The growling had stopped but the bawling boy did not. The kid was nearly hysteric by then. Graham dropped the shovel and grabbed the boy by the shoulders. “Shhh, Be quiet! Or more will come,” he told him in a harsh tone.

Again the kid tried to quiet down. Graham could only see anguish on his small face. He left him there and quickly filled in his father’s grave, mounding the dirt deeply and looking all around him as he did.

He tossed the dog bodies in a wheel barrow. Then went back and knelt down by his father’s grave. Though Graham had never been a terribly religious man, he hoped now all of his loved ones were in a better place. His heart ached with suppressed grief. He smoothed the mounded dirt with his rough hands to level it out.

“It’s so hard to say goodbye, Dad. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you,” he choked out to the grave. Then he remembered what his father would expect of him. He stood, grabbed his rifle, and led the sobbing boy inside the house.

~ ~ ~

With the boy’s mother to bury still, dusk was quickly falling. The boy immediately ran to his dead mother. Graham could tell her burial was going to be a battle.

He used a rag to quickly wipe mud from the rifle and reloaded it.

“We have to bury her now,” Graham said when he was done.

“No!” the boy said.

“We can’t leave her there. It’s getting dark and we have to do it now,” Graham said gruffly and walked over to the couch. The boy put his arms over her, guarding her from Graham. He pulled him back by the shoulders and said, “Look kid. We have to do this right now. You can either help or stand back. Don’t make me lock you in a room. But the least you can do for your mother right now is be strong and come help me.”

Graham pulled the red floral quilt down from behind the couch and began wrapping her up, just like he’d done with the others. At first, the boy just stood there sobbing and then began patting her wrapped legs. As Graham started to cover the rest of her he noticed a medallion necklace. He took it off her body as the boy watched and then reached for him. He pulled back, not trusting the man until he realized what Graham was trying to do. He let Graham put it over his head where it landed with a thump against his small chest.

“She has a book in her pocket there,” the boy said pointing to her gray jacket. They were the first words he’d spoken.

Graham felt her coat and found a small leather bound journal.

“Is this for you?” Graham asked the boy who just raised his shoulders, not knowing the answer.

“Well, you hold on to it for now,” Graham insisted.

He continued to wrap her up until he got to her face.

“Go ahead and say goodbye,” he told the kid.

The boy sniffled, then kissed her on the cheek. He hugged her one last time and stroked her long silky hair.

Graham looked outside and realized the night was coming quickly. He pulled the boy back gently from his mother.

“Okay, it’s time. We need to get her buried now,” he said to the boy.

The boy watched as Graham covered her face with the quilt then he cried, “No.” He tried to pull the covers back and Graham had to pull him away restraining him.

He knew this was heartbreaking for the boy but he didn’t have a choice. “Look, we have to bury her now or we’ll have more trouble with the dogs. Do you want that?” he said looking at the boy’s face with tears streaming down. “Your mother wants you to be safe and stay alive. We can’t do that if there are dogs attacking us.”

The boy looked miserable and confused and just shook his head again.

“Alright then, let’s get this done before dark,” Graham said. He slung the rifle over his shoulder.

He picked up her light frame and led the small procession out to her last resting place. The boy followed crying.

“Stop that, you’ll attract more of the dogs,” Graham warned.

But the boy just couldn’t suppress his grief. The closer Graham got to the grave, the more boy started to pull the quilt away. With his arms full, Graham insisted, “Knock it off.”

He lowered her down to the edge of the hole and the boy pulled more of the quilt off exposing her feet. Graham pushed him away, landing him on his rear. He sat there crying and wiping his eyes.

Graham took a look around for any more predators and jumped into the hole. “Give me a hand, kid,” Graham whispered, but the boy ignored him.

He pulled the body over the edge and lowered her to the bottom. The boy scrambled over to the edge and yelled again, “No, No!”

Graham quit worrying about the kid. Instead, he shoveled the dirt into the grave as quickly as he could because nightfall meant predators. He continued to shovel with the boy cried out. He felt awful having to do it this way but the boy was leaving him with no choice.

~ ~ ~

It was nearly dark by the time he finished and the boy was still whimpering. Graham was exhausted both emotionally and physically. He started to smooth the mounded dirt over the grave when the boy shoved his hands away and began smoothing it himself. Graham let him do it.

Another howl pierced the backyard silence sending a chill up Graham’s spine. Not knowing the kids religious belief, he said, “Okay kid, hurry up and say goodbye.”

Continues...

Excerpted from "The China Pandemic" by A. R. Shaw. Copyright © 2013 by A. R. Shaw. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

A. R. Shaw

A. R. Shaw

A. R. Shaw, born in south Texas, served in the United States Air Force Reserves from 1987 through 1991 as a Communications Radio Operator, where she served at the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS Station) at Kelly AFB, Texas.

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