Naomi sees her first corpse in a Colorado Springs grocery store, but it won’t be her last. With devastating speed, a plague sweeps first the city, then the state, then the world, leaving less than 1% of the population to go on. Naomi, a gentle and sheltered housewife, finds herself fighting for survival in a world populated by desperate people, where might-makes-right, and mercy and compassion are in short supply. Fellow survivors Jack, a youth minister from Woodland Park; Grace, a 17-year-old high school student from Limon; and Naomi’s daughter Piper, a student at the University of Northern Colorado, all find themselves searching for a safe path forward…because it’s not just the world that has changed.
The plague that decimates the human race also pushes mankind into evolutionary change. Those who survive are different, profoundly so, in ways they are just beginning to comprehend. As Naomi struggles to protect and reunite what’s left of her family, she must also learn to understand and accept the changes in herself. In this strange new world, her survival, and the survival of those she loves, depends on it.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’m fascinated by the strength and resilience of the human spirit, and have loved stories of survival and courage since I was a little girl reading about pioneers on the Oregon trail. I’m also interested in the evolution of humanity – I think we’re standing on the brink of it, and it might just look something like what I’ve imagined.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
As cliched as it sounds, I dreamed of my first character – Naomi – so vividly, I had trouble orienting as to who and where I was when I woke up. She appeared in my dream as she will be in the third book of my series, but I could also see where she started. I wanted to know what could happen to a person, that could so transform her, and telling that story became this series. Other characters arrived more conventionally by just popping into my mind. If I wanted to illuminate an idea or provide a contrast or foil I manipulated them initially, but very swiftly, they became independent of my tricks.
Naomi saw her first corpse in the Safeway on Nevada Avenue. She had stopped in to pick up some salad greens and a gallon of milk for dinner, as well as ingredients for her famous (if she did say so herself) ginger snap cookies. The weathermen were forecasting snow, not unusual for mid-March, and the way the clouds were piling up over Cheyenne Mountain, Naomi figured they’d gotten it right this time. Cookies would be cozy, along with the pot roast she’d had slow-cooking all day.
Unfortunately, predictions of snow always made for long lines at the grocery store. The line at the self-check stretched halfway to the back of the store; it seemed half of Colorado Springs had chosen this store at this time to stock up on storm supplies. Naomi shifted gently from foot to foot, easing the ache in her knees brought on by the change in the weather and the 40 pounds she really should try to lose one of these days. She let her gaze go unfocused and let her mind drift for the moment, resting the relentless hurry of her brain – a trick she’d learned at a self-help seminar or some such.
She had shuffled nearly to the front of the line in this delicious, peaceful state when a flurry of movement and startled exclamations yanked her back to awareness. Up by the registers, someone had collapsed. A cluster of people blocked Naomi’s sight until a man wearing a red Safeway employee vest shot to his feet so quickly, he staggered. His eyes were comically wide – Naomi heard a few people around her laugh reflexively – then he threw his arm across his mouth and nose and walked away swiftly, straight out the front doors of the store.
Naomi blinked. How odd, she thought, and the first tingle of warning slid gently down her spine like cool fingers. She looked back at the fallen figure – a woman, she could see now – and that warning repeated, a cold burning.
She didn’t hesitate. Calmly, she stepped out of line, and set the basket she was carrying on the nearest shelf. Her walk was swift but unhurried as she followed the Safeway employee out the front of the store. Not until she was locked in her vehicle with engine running and heat blasting did she process what she had seen.
That woman had been dead. Naomi squeezed her eyes shut, but the image was still there – a young woman, her hair dark with moisture or sweat, stringing across her forehead and stuck to her cheeks. Her skin grayish and strangely mottled, like Naomi had never seen before. Her lips blue, cracked and swollen, parted over straight white teeth.
And her eyes. Naomi crossed her arms, clutched her elbows with her hands and squeezed, trying to steady the shaking that had started in her legs and moved up through her torso. Her staring eyes, bloodshot, light-less, empty. Naomi had never seen empty eyes before.
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