The economy crashed, the country is floundering, and Carrie Ashworth struggles to keep her siblings alive. She has two jobs in her newly-formed, newly-outlawed clan: grow crops to feed thirty-six people, and maintain contact with Oliver Simmons, their local patrolman. Carrie’s life is almost content when Greg Pierce shows up. A man with the ambition to help them survive. A man determined to hate her.
Greg sets to work devising systems to protect the clan from the new regime, but it doesn’t take long to realize the true reason behind their safety. Patrolman Simmons has fallen for Carrie. When a government raid nearly wipes out their clan, Greg takes it upon himself to give the socially-awkward patrolman what he wants. Only Carrie doesn’t like Greg throwing her in Simmons’ path, especially when Greg’s brusque exterior melts, and she catches a glimpse of the real man underneath.
But in town, Simmons’ coworkers have grown suspicious. A clan the size of Logan Pond can’t have ‘slipped’ past his patrols all this time. When their hidden loot goes missing, they want revenge, and the one thread holding Logan Pond together is about to break. Carrie is forced to choose: follow her heart or save her clan.
Life won’t let her choose both.
Targeted Age Group:: 12+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I got stuck on a question a few years back. What if the end of civilization as we know it isn’t from something hugely catastrophic like a war or major pestilence. What if it comes for the absence of one small thing: the dollar?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I wanted the main character, Carrie, to be an average, quiet-ish girl who was opposite of the world around her. I wanted someone selfless and sacrificing to counter-balance all the greed and looting.
For Greg, I wanted someone who had been burned one too many times, who’d let this new world get to him and turn him bitter. And yet, deep down, I wanted him to have this underlying need to solve things, fix problems, and basically refuse to let him give up on life.
Greg Pierce yanked off his New York Yankees cap and wiped his brow. He sweated profusely in contrast to the freezing weather. It wasn’t snowing, but it might as well have been. The soft drizzle chilled him to the bone. Yet his body continued to deplete itself of excess moisture he didn’t have.
Replacing his baseball hat, he glanced sideways. His mom didn’t look as nervous as he felt. She never did. The two stayed low behind a row of thorn-covered bushes as they waited for the patrol car to pass. The second Greg heard the engine he knew they were in trouble. The only cars on roads anymore were patrol cars, but usually patrolmen avoided deserted dirt roads like the one they were on. Not today, apparently.
The closer the car came, the more Greg despised everything: the never-ending northern winter, the lack of shelter from another storm, having to move to Illinois in the first place, and the poverty that prevented him from changing any of it. But mostly he despised life itself. Even five years after the financial collapse, he still couldn’t accept how things had turned out for him. For them.
As the patrol car neared the last bend, Greg’s stomach growled loudly, shattering the profound silence. He shoved a fist in his gut. After all the miles they’d walked, after all the weeks and months of hiding and starving, it would be just his luck to have an empty stomach blow their cover now.
His mom heard his stomach and smiled. She actually smiled. He glared at her. You think this is funny? he wanted to say. You think this is some kinda joke? They were two minutes away from spending the rest of their lives in some government prison camp, and she had the gall to smile?
She rolled her eyes and spoke full voice. “Those patrolmen can’t hear us or your poor stomach. They’re about gone and we’re about there, so relax, would you?”
He would have, but the patrol car stopped. It was ahead of them by a hundred yards, but it pulled to a complete stop.
Greg shoved his mom into the snowy bush. She yelped as thorns scratched her cheek, but he didn’t have time to care. The car door opened and three police dogs shot out, snarling and growling in the freezing rain.
Greg didn’t move. He didn’t wipe the slushy rain from his eyes. He didn’t even breathe. He watched those patrol dogs, calculating.
Go the other way. Go the other way.
It only took a second to know he and his mom weren’t the target. The dogs were on a dead run for an old barn down the snowy hill. The wet pile of rubble was such that not even Greg considered it a safe place to escape the storm. The rest of the area looked like uninhabited farmland, the reason he’d chosen this route in the first place. Yet he had the sinking suspicion he was about to be proven wrong.
Two patrolmen dressed in green emerged behind the dogs at a more leisurely, arrogant pace. Their guns stayed low, content to let the howling beasts do the work for them.
At first it seemed like a lost cause. The dogs circled the collapsed barn in search of a way in. Then the lead dog gained courage and charged.
A loud shout erupted.
In an instant, it was pure pandemonium. What seconds ago had been a lifeless pile of rotting wood suddenly became a swarm of people.
The patrolmen ran forward, guns pointed, as two dozen squatters flew out of the wooden heap. Grown men. Women. Children. The people scattered like frightened chickens. But they didn’t have a chance. The dogs were trained to kill. So were the patrolmen.
“I can’t watch this,” Greg’s mom whispered.
She tugged on Greg’s coat to make a run for it, but he yanked her down and pressed a finger to his lips. He pointed down the hill. Her face turned white as another patrol car came around the bend, and she backed further into the thorn bush.
The second patrol car stopped, and more patrolmen emerged. The dogs kept busy rounding up the squatters like scattered sheep. An older man, two girls, even a young mother with a wailing baby were herded into a small, frightened circle. Greg watched their dirty faces sink as they saw their already pitiful lives slip through their fingers.
One of the patrolmen whistled, bringing the barking dogs to a halt. Even from a distance, he looked smug as he addressed the group.
“Cards!” he demanded loud enough to carry up the hill.
From their bone-thin bodies, weathered clothes, and shattered expressions, Greg figured the squatters’ pockets were as empty as his.
An older man stepped forward, hands up, pleading with the officer. But it was a younger man—a boy really—which caught Greg’s eye. He looked restless and fidgety against the old barn. He was ready for a fight. Greg couldn’t help but wonder what he’d do in that teen’s shoes. For all he knew, he and his mom were two minutes away from such a scenario. Arrest. Life in prison. Work camps. Death. Their only crime: homelessness.
The officer closest to the boy noticed the same movement. “Wait!” he shouted. “We don’t want to harm you. For your own sakes, we advise you to not resist arrest.”
The teen took two defiant steps forward. The rage in him caused Greg to shiver.
A man, possibly a father, put a hand on the boy’s shoulders. After a few words, the boy’s chin dropped, and he stepped back in obedient surrender. Greg was relieved and disappointed at the same time. The boy would live, but what kind of life?
For a moment it looked like it would be a peaceful arrest. The patrolmen kept shouting orders, and the small clan lined up. Greg perched on the balls of his feet and gave his mom the signal. In a second, they’d make a run for the woods behind them. She looked white as a sheet but nodded.
Then it happened.
One of the patrolmen, haughty and unfeeling, reached for the screaming baby.
“No,” Greg’s mom breathed, echoing the cry of the baby’s mother. Yet the mother had no choice. She was trespassing on government property, squatting on land designated for true American citizens. She had no legal papers to protect her, no government-issued card. She was on a fast track to some work farm in Illinois, which meant her baby was a ward of the state—as was her little girl being shepherded into the furthest patrol car. The mother was a mother no longer.
That’s all it took.
The teen charged forward, head down, fists balled, swinging for the nearest patrolman. Caught off guard, the officer stumbled backward and landed on the slushy ground. The boy didn’t stop. He plowed on and headed for the next patrolman, the one with the baby.
A third patrolman raised his gun, and, in one deafening shot, ended the dispute.
The boy dropped. Greg’s mom screamed.
Greg whirled around, too stunned to do anything but stare at his mom. The only thing that saved them from her outburst was the simultaneous yelling and barking that erupted below. The patrolmen were too preoccupied with the frantic squatters to notice two more illegals up the hill.
Greg didn’t take the chance.
He grabbed his mom and their bags and jumped up. They hunched low as they ran over the deserted field. One hundred feet. Two. They flew as fast as their awkwardly hunched bodies could.
Muscles burning, Greg risked a glance over his shoulder. The patrol dogs weren’t pursuing them, but he didn’t stop. Not for a long time. Even when his mom wheezed and gasped for air, he forced her on until they could reach a place where there would be no more running.
About the Author:
Rebecca Lund Belliston is the author of the romantic suspense novel, Sadie, its sequel, Augustina, and a new trilogy entitled Citizens of Logan Pond. Rebecca also composes piano and vocal music. When she’s not writing fiction, music, or chasing her five kids, she can be found cuddled up with a good book. She and her family live in Michigan.
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