The End of All Things series is going to be released in a one-volume set soon, and I'm really excited about that, but I'm also excited about what I've been working on.
This new story is set in the same world about twenty-five years after the Infection laid waste to the United States. A new generation has grown up in the Wasteland. I thought today, I'd share a small snippet.
“… And she still had the diamond necklace in her pocket when she got back to land,” Taylor finished.
Dylan frowned. “It’s a sad story.”
“It’s supposed to be a story about falling in love. That the few days the girl got to spend with her true love was worth all the pain and suffering afterward.”
“Do you believe that?”
Taylor was quiet for a moment. “I’d like to. It’s like heaven, you know? I’d really like to believe in that, too. That there’s a place where you’re never hungry and never alone, and never sad again, and if you’re a good person, you’ll end up there. I’d like to believe that love really is as amazing and life-changing as they say it is, and it makes all the pain and suffering in your life worth it, even if you only get to have it for a short time.”
“Did you ever know anyone who found it?”
“I think so. Grace used to tell me…” Her voice trailed off and for a long time, Dylan wasn’t sure she was going to continue. Perhaps she’d drifted off to sleep. He turned his head and saw her staring upward, her expression intent, chewing on her lip.
“I don’t know how old Grace was, but she was old enough that she was an adult when the Infection happened. But she was still in some kind of school.”
Taylor gave a small shrug. “That’s where she met him. She never said his name. But every time she talked about him, she had this expression on her face like she could see him in her mind as clear as though he were standing in front of us. I could tell it still hurt, all these years later, but that she had been given this … gift. She had a memory of something special. Something I can’t even describe, but she’d once had it.
“She said they had a little apartment and a dog, and they were talking about having a baby when she was done with school. Then, it happened, and he got sick like everyone else. She tried to take care of him, and then when she saw he was bad off, she tried to take him to a doctor. She put him in a chair with wheels…”
“No, not the kind they use when someone’s got a broken leg. A regular chair, but with wheels on it. And she pushed him to the doctor’s in that thing. What she saw there was what she described the most, like her mind still couldn’t believe it, you know? Just this huge sea of people around the doctor’s. Thousands of them. People laying in the street in front of the place. She couldn’t even get close because there were just too many people laying on the ground. You couldn’t even walk through without stepping on them. Thousands of people dying on the street in the hot sun. She said at first, there were assistants who tried to carry off the ones who died there waiting to see the doctor. They piled them over at the side and those who were still alive and able could move a little closer. But then even that stopped. Grace’s man died right there, never having seen a doctor. She said for a long while, she couldn’t leave him. She just couldn’t. Couldn’t accept he was gone and not ever coming back. She said it was like she died that day, too. The life she’d wanted— the life she’d planned out— was just gone. I don’t think she ever got over it. She spent the rest of her life missing him. And that seems really awful, it does. But then I think about the look in her eyes when she described their life together and I could barely breathe. It was like she’d been to heaven. Been to that place I hope is real.”