I can’t wait to sit down and read this book! I read UnHappenings by Aubry last year and my mind was completely blown. I haven’t had a book do that to me since, so I’m looking forward to a new experience from this author.
Prelude to Mayhem
by Edward Aubry
Series: Mayhem Wave #1
Publication: November 28th 2016
by Curiosity Quills
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
On May 30, 2004, the world transformed. Nearly all signs of civilization vanished, leaving in their wake a bizarre landscape of wilderness, advanced technology and magic, and leaving Harrison Cody very much alone. After weeks of surviving in solitude, he hears a voice on the radio, beckoning him to cross a thousand miles of terrifyingly random terrain to meet her, and any other survivors, in Chicago. Eager to find any remnants of humanity, he sets forth, joined by an unexpected—and inhuman—companion.
For Dorothy O’Neill, the end of the world means she will never finish ninth grade. On her own, she builds a home in the ruins of a strip mall, relying on her ingenuity and hard work to maintain some semblance of creature comforts. When another survivor arrives, he brings futuristic technology and stories of monsters he has encountered. Armed with this information, she takes a new interest in exploring her world, but she is not prepared for what awaits her, and the new arrival has brought his own set of problems.
On their separate journeys, Harrison and Dorothy begin to piece together what has happened to their world. Their questions have answers to be found in what remains of Chicago, and from the mysterious voice on the radio offering the hope that civilization can be rebuilt.
Chapter 1: Harrison
Around the time his car reached ninety miles an hour, Harrison closed his eyes. The road curved in front of him, and he steered from memory. Late on a weekday afternoon, I-91 might once have been crowded with traffic, but other cars no longer posed a hazard. He pushed in the clutch and waited for the car to coast to a stop. The sense of motion diminished. By the time the speedometer dropped to zero, he had opened his eyes to survey the scraps of twisted iron and concrete rubble composing the ruins of the Holyoke Mall parking garage.
The car had come to rest on the shoulder of an exit ramp overgrown with sunflowers, a half-mile shy of the mall. Behind the parking garage, the mall remained intact, at least on the outside. Inside, though, previous expeditions revealed things had fallen into chaos. No shops, no merchandise, no restaurants―all now empty lot after empty lot. Up near the skylights, local flora ran rampant.
Trekking over the embankment and around the bend in the mall parking lot driveway, Harrison headed for his destination in one of the satellite buildings, the Barnes & Noble. On his last visit, he had picked up a copy of The Great Gatsby, for which he had left a ten-dollar bill on the counter to maintain the illusion of normality. He planned to leave more money today, in exchange for a copy of Tom Sawyer.
As he made his way to the empty parking lot, he glanced over at the vast field of sunflowers a hundred yards away. Some of the enormous blossoms had risen from their natural droopy state, and tracked his movement. The first time, the entire field, an easy fifty thousand, silently scrutinized his behavior. Now fewer than fifty tracked him, evidence of his predictability.
“Nothing to see here!” he shouted in their direction.
Several flopped back down. The rest continued to watch.
Harrison stood six feet tall, and in the time since he had lost all concern about his personal appearance, his dark brown hair had grown long and unkempt. The luxury of a good shave cycled back once every two weeks, and he was due. Clad in a short-sleeve plaid shirt unbuttoned over a Pink Floyd T-shirt and a pair of cut-off jeans, he took an odd satisfaction in the scruffy look, a badge of his having walked away from his day job forever.
At the edge of the parking lot, he stopped, his breath catching in his throat. A borad, dark lump lay in the dirt before him. “Damn. Another one,” he whispered. Closer to it, he could make out the pebbly skin and the beginnings of that god-awful smell. Including this one, he had found six dead dinosaurs in ten weeks. While he had yet to see a live one, he felt neither surprise nor disappointment on that count. It made sense these displaced creatures would not live long in such a random environment. If the dinosaurs had all come into the world at the same time, when everything else changed, they must have been dying off.
He reached into his breast pocket and removed a small plastic clamshell case containing a pair of sleek, dark glasses. When he out them on, the lenses darkened in response to the sun, although no more than an hour remained until dusk. Harrison tapped the edge of the glasses. A three-dimensional display appeared in front of his face. It provided him with the date, time, temperature, relative humidity, mean barometric pressure, and wind speed. It also included a readout for wind direction, but for reasons unknown, it had only ever given him error messages. He tapped them twice more and cycled through two categories of data, until the word “infrared” appeared.
The fallen beast showed no deviation from the ambient temperature. That might mean a corpse, or it might mark it a cold-blooded animal. He tapped twice more to bring up a passive sonar display overlaid against the natural background. Birds, small rodents, and insects showed faint blips as they pinged away in their native tongues. The dinosaur showed nothing. Dead for certain, then. A live animal, and a large one at that, would give a visible heartbeat.
He removed the glasses and moved closer. From his angle, he could see only the dinosaur’s back, notable for its lack of adornment. Of the ones he had seen so far, all were equipped with armor or horns, except for the gigantic sauropod, which smelled too horrible for close inspection. None had been species he recognized from his boyhood dinosaur phase. As he closed in on this one, its distinguishing features became clearer. Blood drained from his face as he took them in. The powerful hind legs and short forelegs, the huge head, even the claws he observed with some degree of detachment. But, oh, God, the teeth. Like bone knives.
Five minutes later, he sped down the road at ninety miles an hour, his eyes wide open.
About the Author
Edward Aubry is a graduate of Wesleyan University, with a degree in music composition. Improbably, this preceded a career as a teacher of high school mathematics and creative writing. He now lives in rural Pennsylvania with his wife and three spectacular daughters, where he fills his non-teaching hours spinning tales of time-travel, wise-cracking pixies, and an assortment of other impossible things.
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