Edge of Anarchy: A Post-apocalyptic Emp Survival Thriller
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"Just when you think the action can't get any more intense... you turn the page. This series gets better with every book!"-Amazon reviewer
Three weeks after the nation's power grid goes down, chaos reigns. Food supplies have dried up. Fuel is running low. And the bleak, brutal winter is relentless.
Fall Creek has forged a shaky peace, but the cost for safety is proving higher than some are willing to pay. The town is a powder keg waiting to explode.
For Hannah, home is finally within reach. But it won't be anything like she expected...
When the country goes dark, ordinary people find themselves facing the end of the world as they know it. With society collapsing before their eyes, they'll have to risk everything to protect their home and the people they love.
Don't miss the newest release in the riveting Edge of Collapse survival series from USA Today Bestselling Author, Kyla Stone!
Featuring complex characters and explosive action, this EMP apocalyptic series is perfect for fans of Ryan Schow, Grace Hamilton, Harley Tate, Jack Hunt, and Boyd Craven.
*Rated PG-13 for mild language and moderate violence. Be aware of possible spoilers in the reviews*
Release date: June 10, 2020
Publisher: Paper Moon Press
Print pages: 352
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Edge of Anarchy: A Post-apocalyptic Emp Survival Thriller
Sixteen-year-old Quinn Riley had often pictured the end of the world. She’d never imagined it quite like this. Way fewer zombies and a lot more misery.
Essentially, it sucked.
Quinn and Milo tramped through the deep snow, their boots crunching and squeaking in the stillness. A few birds chirped. The chilly air crept beneath the collar of her coat and stung her cheeks.
At least it wasn’t snowing anymore.
The endless blizzards and snowstorms had finally relented. The sky was dreary and gray, with more clouds coming. It would snow again soon.
Gross. She hated winter. Loathed it with every fiber of her being.
If she ever escaped this place, she was heading straight to Florida and never coming back. They were probably spending the apocalypse on the beach hanging out in hammocks, sipping Mai Tais, and basking in the warm sun.
Quinn was pretty sure she’d forgotten what the sun was even supposed to look like.
“Next one!” Milo said. “This song is boring.” “Tom Petty’s ‘Free Falling’ is a classic!”
He shook his head. “Too romance-y.”
“Whatever. You obviously have no appreciation for great music.”
“Love songs are boring and stupid.”
It was totally lame, but she was a sucker for a haunting, forlorn love ballad as much as the next girl. “Well then, maybe you’re stupid.”
“That’s not nice!”
She shrugged. “If the shoe fits.”
Milo stuck his tongue out at her. She stuck hers out right back. She jerked her gloves off with her teeth and clicked the next song on the playlist of the ancient iPod that Gramps had set up for her before he’d died. They’d already listened to Queen, Led Zeppelin, some Fleetwood Mac. Gramps’ tastes tended toward the classics. So did Quinn’s.
She slipped the iPod back into her pocket and tugged her glove back on. Over the last twenty seconds, her hand felt like it had frozen solid.
Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” blasted into the earbuds currently attached to Milo’s ears. She couldn’t hear it, but she could imagine the fun, energetic beat. It was too difficult to stretch the short cord between them while walking. They took turns. She got one song, then he did.
The battery was low. Without the stupid sun, she hadn’t been able to use the solar charger that Gramps had stored in his homemade Faraday cage down in their basement’s secret stash.
Milo rolled his eyes at her, but he was grinning. He bobbed his head to the beat. “I know this one,” he said too loudly over the music in his ears. “And Dad says I have great taste. He says I’m just like Mom.”
Quinn’s chest twinged. How could she argue with that? She wasn’t completely heartless. “Fine, you win. But I’m playing ‘A Little Less Conversation’ next. You haven’t lived until you’ve danced in the snow to Elvis.”
Milo scrunched his nose. “How about some U2? ‘I still haven’t Found What I’m Looking For?’”
“Now that’s a song I can get behind—”
A muffled shout echoed through the crisp air.
Quinn jerked her head up. She froze, her heart kicking against her ribs. A vision of the church flashed through her mind—bodies dropping, bullets flying, the screams and terror.
She seized Milo’s hand.
He squeezed back. “What was that?”
Fear gripped her. She looked around, craning her neck, straining her ears, searching for the threat.
Everywhere she looked, there were wide expanses of white snow. Snowdrifts piled as high as her waist, as high as her head.
Big fancy houses with their circle driveways and three-car garages. Most of them were extravagant log cabins and elaborate chalets, but a few were lake cottages.
Behind the houses to her right, she glimpsed the river winking between the trunks of naked trees.
The self-sustainable community of Winter Haven was located along the widest part of Fall Creek. The community was shaped in a big oval, with smaller cul-de-sacs sticking out on either side of the main drive like the veins of a leaf.
The shout came again. Louder—and angry. Tiny hairs lifted on the back of her neck. “Someone’s pissed off,” Milo said.
“Don’t say pissed. Your dad will think you got it from me.”
“I did get it from you.”
“Shhh. You’re talking too loud.” She twisted around to look behind them.
A man four houses down had a ladder on his deck and was balancing at the top, attempting to brush snow off the solar panels on his roof with a broom. The idiot looked like he was about to topple over backward.
He wasn’t shouting, though. It wasn’t him.
“It’s probably nothing,” she said to convince herself as much as Milo. “Probably some moron accidentally hit himself with his own snow shovel or something.”
A few snowmobiles—militia on patrol—had driven past over the last hour. Quinn and Milo hadn’t seen anyone else out and about other than a few people shoveling great mounds of snow from their driveways like they were tunneling to freedom.
For most of the last seven days, everyone in Fall Creek had been trapped in their houses. Noah Sheridan and a bunch of police officers and other volunteers had been busy digging everyone out, offering first aid and food to those who needed it.
The militia had helped, too. Acting like they were the big heroes when they were anything but.
Milo pointed. “It’s coming from around the bend. Let’s go check it out.”
She fought down the irrational surge of panic, kept her voice light and easy. “Sure thing, Small Fry.”
She told herself to calm the hell down. She told herself it was nothing. She hated how jumpy she’d become. Even a twig falling made her heart pound.
It was stupid. It made her feel dumb. Made her feel like a victim, not a survivor.
Milo tugged her forward. She trudged after him, her stupid heart still hammering, her mouth dry.
The shouting grew louder. Other voices joined in. Something was definitely going on.
Without a word, Milo took off his earbuds and handed them to her. She stuffed them in her pocket and clicked off the iPod to conserve the battery.
Milo darted ahead. “Stay close, Small Fry.”
She hurried up to him, and they slogged through the snow together, puffing white clouds with every breath as they rounded the bend.
A three-story white house with massive windows and a big wraparound porch rose in front of them. Quinn and Milo stopped about twenty yards away.
The door to the house stood wide open. The bottom steps of the porch were buried in the snow. At the top of the stairs stood Darryl Wiggins, the priggish, sour-faced manager of Community Trust bank and all-important member of the town council.
Only, he wasn’t standing.
Two men were on either side of him, gripping his arms. They’d dragged him from the house and were hauling him across the porch. Wiggins writhed, kicking and swearing, but he couldn’t break free.
The men reached the top step and unceremoniously tossed Wiggins down the stairs. He landed in the snow in a collapsed heap.
A man and two women waited in the yard. They both wore backpacks and dragged sleds behind them loaded down with duffle bags, suitcases, and crates.
One of the men still on the porch wiped his hands on his expensive wool coat. He was tall, pale, and beanpole thin. His long, narrow face contorted in a scowl.
Quinn recognized him. It was Mr. Blair—the jerk who’d tried to steal water from the mom and two kids in Friendly’s Grocery a whole lifetime ago. What a surprise.
Wiggins fumbled around in the snow, arms flailing. “You can’t do this! This is against the law! You’re stealing!”
“Like you stole this house from the Marcels, the rightful owners?” Mr. Blair asked, his voice dripping with condescension.
“You have no right!”
Mr. Blair shook his finger at Wiggins. “We have every right. Everyone else is taking whatever they want—including you. No one deserves this place any more than we do. We’re sick of being ignored and left behind to freeze to death. This is it. Society is collapsing, the world is ending, and I’m not going to sit here and take it. I’m not going to let my family starve while you sit here in decadence you didn’t earn and don’t deserve. We’re taking things into our own hands.”
“As of this minute, you’re homeless,” the second man said with a smirk. He was a short, chubby Hispanic man in overalls with greasy hair and pockmarked skin. He worked at the gas station in town, but Quinn didn’t know his name.
A woman strode out of the opened front door carrying a large laundry basket of clothes, personal toiletries, and other sundry items Quinn couldn’t identify.
Mrs. Blair’s lank brown hair was snarled and unkempt, her cheeks gaunt. She was barely recognizable as the prim, sharply- dressed lawyer that Quinn remembered.
She flung the basket’s contents into the snow. Shirts, pants, and boxers fluttered around Darryl Wiggins. A sock landed on his head.
“What are they doing?” Milo whispered loudly.
“They’re taking over that man’s house.” “That’s wrong.”
“The problem is that man only has the house because the superintendent gave it to him. It’s not his, either.”
“I don’t understand,” Milo said.
“It’s complicated.” Quinn frowned. “And stupid. Everyone is stupid.”
“That’s your answer for everything.”
“Yeah, well, it seems to fit everything these days, doesn’t it?”
With a roar of outrage, Wiggins clambered to his feet. He wasn’t wearing any boots. Or a coat, hat, or gloves. He had to be freezing.
He lunged forward, still cursing and shouting. He sank past his knees in the snow as he slogged toward the house.
Forced to lift his legs almost comically high, he staggered up the porch steps.
Mr. Blair just stood there, laughing at him. Maybe he didn’t expect a fifty-something banker to throw a solid punch.
He underestimated his opponent. Wiggins was furious.
Furious and desperate—a bad combination.
With a savage growl, he launched himself at Blair. He lowered his head and head-butted the man in the gut.
Blair let out a grunt and stumbled back. He tripped over the leg of a snow-covered rocking chair and tumbled to his butt.
“Hey!” Overalls swung at Wiggins and landed a punch to his face. His head jerked back. Blood spurted from his nose. Wiggins turned and slugged him back.
The woman dropped her basket and hurled herself at Wiggins, too. “Leave my husband alone!”
Blair struggled to his feet and rejoined the fray. Four adults kicked, punched, and cursed at each other. Three of them pummeled Wiggins to the porch floor. They kept kicking him, screaming and shouting in pent-up anger.
Quinn couldn’t even see him anymore through the porch spindles and the legs and fists pelting his body.
“We should go, Small Fry,” she said in a low voice. “Let these stupidheads work it out on their own—”
The roar of an engine splintered the air.
From the opposite direction, a snowmobile roared toward them. A second one joined the first.
The man and woman with the sleds loaded with goods jumped back. They jerked their sleds out of the way just as the snowmobiles slammed to a stop in front of the white house.
Two men yanked off their helmets and dismounted. They were dressed in gray camo fatigues and black boots with AK-47s slung over their shoulders. They looked formidable and intimidating.
Quinn’s gut tightened with dread. The militia had arrived.
Anger thrummed through Quinn. She gritted her teeth and tightened her grip on Milo’s arm. She recognized both militia members: Sebastian Desoto and James Luther.
Those two jerkwads had stolen from Gran. Quinn had been forced to stand by and watch as they took half of everything she had—everything they thought she had, anyway.
Luckily, Gran and Gramps had a secret stash hidden in their basement.
Gran still had enough food and supplies to last them a few years. That did nothing to reduce Quinn’s seething hatred for the militia and everything they stood for.
The sooner they were gone, the better.
Quinn wanted them out. She wanted to fight them, if that’s what it took. Gran had told her to be careful, to keep her eyes open and stay watchful. And above all, not to do something stupid.
Quinn had done her best. She was impatient and impulsive by nature. She wanted to act, to do something.
She’d listened to Gran for once, but she was fast losing whatever threads of patience she possessed.
Desoto strode up the porch steps. He was Sutter’s second-in- command. A Hispanic man in his forties, he was built like a tank and sported a military buzz cut and a hard, flat face.
Luther gripped his AK-47 and followed close behind. He was Caucasian, slim but muscular. All Quinn remembered about him was that he was a polite thief, as if manners made their armed robbery palatable. It made her hate him even more.
The two fake soldiers took stock of the situation quickly. They unclipped their semi-automatic rifles, flicked off the safeties, and aimed at the tussling civilians.
Desoto didn’t hesitate. He didn’t give a speech or ask for any last words or even give them a chance to defend themselves.
He jerked Overalls to his feet and flung him against the porch railing. He took a step back, raised the AK-47, and pointed the muzzle at the man’s chest.
Memories flooded through Quinn’s head—Octavia Riley on her knees in front of the courthouse steps, about to be executed. Mattias Sutter standing before her mother, gun aimed at her forehead.
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