The world has come to an end. Or has it? What starts out as a long overdue father-and-son vacation immediately becomes more complicated, when they uncover an unusual coin in the dirt.
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Derek Hart Books
The world has come to an end. Or has it? What starts out as a long overdue father-and-son vacation immediately becomes more complicated, when they uncover an unusual coin in the dirt. Frighteningly, it's as if the planet is thrown into upheaval over this innocent discovery. All of a sudden, the FBI shows up at their door asking lots of questions, planting the seeds of paranoia, doubt and worry. The neighbors start acting strangely, almost on the verge of panic. The nearby military base is abandoned overnight and the weather has never been so unpredictable. As everything falls apart around them, no one is certain what is happening. There is no cell phone service, no radio or TV, no form of communication whatsoever. What should the people prepare for - the ever-popular zombie apocalypse, or global economic collapse, another American civil war, nuclear or biological terrorist attack, super volcano or titanic earthquake, planet-wide meteorological disaster, impending asteroid collision, or perhaps an alien invasion from outer space? While the masses flee in every direction, a small organized group finds refuge in a corporate data bunker, which was once a military facility. Here, thirty people are thrown together, perhaps by fate or coincidence, they come to wait out the final days, the dreaded apocalypse. Without warning or explanation, their lives are spared by the power of the mysterious coin - Minerva's Shield. When they emerge from inside the mountain, however, they find a world relatively undamaged. Yet there is no trace that people ever existed. There are no bodies, no skeletons, not a single trace. It is a world without humans. This diverse community of survivors quickly bands together to gather supplies and hammer out a new existence, where they appear to be the only living souls. Still, they are curious about what really happened that fateful day. And someone, or something, is watching them as well.
Bob jumped behind the wheel and snapped the seatbelt into place. When he was sure that Ian, Rachel, Rumen and Kathryn and their latest addition Kyle were all buckled in, he turned the key. The ignition turned over immediately and the Chevrolet Suburban’s engine rumbled to life. Bob shifted into reverse. He backed up slowly, to clear the Suburban next to him and turned to wheel, making a U-turn. Shifting back into drive, Bob punched the accelerator. The tires spun for a moment, burning rubber, smoke rising in a small cloud behind. The tread found traction and they were off.
Kathryn made Kyle as comfortable as possible, but sometime shortly after she wiped away the blood around the bullet hole, he passed out.
Bob didn’t slow down, only checking to make certain the other two vehicles were close behind. He ran through red lights, veering off the pavement to avoid crashing into abandoned cars, up on sidewalks, barely missing running over fleeing people. His passengers held on tightly, trying to lean with each swerve or violent turn.
Ian switched on the radio and played with the digital search functions. Suddenly the voice of a news announcer was clearly heard. He sounded highly stressed and almost panicky.
“A state of national emergency has been declared. People should seek shelter wherever possible and as soon as possible. Your local civil defense center recommends extreme caution should be exercised until the all clear……….”
The announcement ceased abruptly.
Then there was only static.
Nothing but static.
Bob pointed to one of the backpacks and said to Ian. “Fish out one of the handheld Ham radio transmitters and try to reach your Uncle Matt. Tell him we’re on our way.”
Rachel sat with Ian, her arms wrapped around his waist, but she was still in shock. Her face was streaked with the outline of her tears, eyes red from so much crying. She rested her head on Ian’s arm.
“Uncle Matt, this is Ian, do you read me?” Ian spoke into the mouthpiece, holding down the transmit button.
Bob looked in the rearview mirror. Rumen and Kathryn sat near the window on either side, scanning the sky.
“Keep a sharp lookout, you guys,” Bob said to them over his shoulder. “Tell me what you see and let me know if I should stop or turn right or left. I need to know what’s going on above and behind me, okay?”
Rumen and Kathryn both nodded.
“Lightning bolts to your right,” Rumen called out. “They seem to be heading right across our path.”
Bob slammed on the brakes, expecting to be hit in the rear.
Fortunately, Cheryl was focused and reacted in plenty of time.
The pattern of sizzling lightning bolts ripped across the road about 100 feet in front of them, cars exploding and buildings disintegrating before their eyes.
Bob turned and smiled at Rumen. “Well done. We would have been cooked.”
Rumen seemed pleased as well. “No problem.”
Bob punched the accelerator once again, veering first to his right, to avoid several charred wrecks, before cutting back left, to go around piles of debris. The road was becoming something of a nightmare maze.
“Kathryn, are they following us?” Bob asked.
“Yes, Mr. Norton, they’re right on our bumper,” she replied.
“It’s okay to call me Bob, or Hey You,” Bob said with a chuckle. “I think we’re way past such formality.”
Kathryn laughed a little too. “Okay, Mr. Norton.”
With the 400-480 MHz Dual-Band Ham Two-Way Radio in hand, Ian kept trying to raise his uncle. “Uncle Matt, do you read me? Come in, Uncle Matt, this is Ian.”
There was no response.
Bob frowned. “There may be too much interference. Wait awhile and try again later.”
When they reached Piedmont Road, Bob swerved around several wrecked cars. The traffic lights were out of order. The emergency lights on top of the Suburbans were still flashing, but Bob honked the horn repeatedly.
He turned right, skidding into the opposite lane.
“Get out of my way!” Bob shouted.
There was a pile-up blocking all lanes, so Bob cut into the Post Office parking lot, went over the curb, through a stand of bushes and then across a church parking lot. Once clear, Bob cut back onto the road, but swerved hard left and took a back route.
“I’ll never be able to get on 575 going the normal route,” Bob said for everyone to hear. “I’m going to keep heading north and west, in hopes we can find a way onto Highway 515 instead.”
Several times Bob just went up on the front lawn to bypass a slower-moving car, or to avoid an abandoned vehicle. Every so many blocks, they would discover a group of houses in flames.
“Are you heading for Chastain?” Ian asked.
“Yup,” Bob replied.
“Turn left at the stop sign,” Ian suggested.
His father did so.
“Thanks, Ian, I really do need your help,” his Dad said.
“My Google Maps isn’t working, so I’m doing this by memory,” Ian added.
“I trust your memory, son,” Bob said. “Just help me find a way away from all this!”
“Turn right up at the next street,” Ian said.
His father did so.
“We’re running parallel to 575, which is over there somewhere,” Ian informed his father. “Stay on this, if you can, for a few miles. It will bring us out near Kennesaw University.”
“Got it,” Bob said.
He was driving fast, which required concentration. The Suburban swerved to avoid one collision, then swerved again to miss another. It was nerve wracking and more than once, all the passengers would shout with dismay, as the driver narrowly missed slamming into a car or truck.
The sky lit up again.
Lightning flashed from every direction.
A deep rumbling followed, which seemed to go on forever.
“That doesn’t sound like thunder,” Rumen shouted.
Kathryn had finished bandaging Kyle’s gunshot wound. She held her hand to his forehead. “He’s got a fever.”
“Hope he lives long enough to tell us what happened back there,” Rumen said.
“This should be Chastain Road coming up,” Ian warned. “Take a left and it will take you to 575.”
The traffic signals were blinking red, but Bob barely slowed down, just enough to make the turn without flipping over the Suburban. The tires skidded and the SUV slid for about twenty feet, before Bob regained control.
Chastain Road was nothing less than a hellish nightmare.
It seemed almost medieval.
Fires burned all around them.
There were cars in flames.
There were houses in flames.
People were running for their lives.
Explosions, sirens and cries for help, created a blood-chilling symphony of terror. Bob tried not to think about it, tried not to see what was happening just outside the windows. He could only concentrate on saving his passengers.
“Try Uncle Matt again,” Bob shouted above the din.
His raised voice startled everyone inside.
“I’m sorry,” Bob said, while weaving around yet another jumble of torn metal and smoldering tires.
“Uncle Matt, this is Ian,” his son spoke into the two-way radio. “Uncle Matt, this is Ian, do you read me?”