Please enjoy an excerpt taken from chapter 15 of the novel:
Our meal is a delight—delicious deer meat, dandelion greens, berries, and rum. We laugh like children while playfully bumping each other as we take in the warmth of the fire. Brilliant stars soon fill the night sky, but the fire keeps the chill of night at bay. It’s so very beautiful here, almost beyond belief. By the time we make love inside our rock enclosure, I’m absolutely certain I couldn’t be happier anywhere in the world.
My joyful elation is short-lived. Even with David snuggling next to me, fears and concerns rush into my mind. The sheer slope of the adjacent crater wall nags at my mind—are we really going to scale that? I am also relatively certain killer radiation lurks at bottom of that damn hole. Wouldn’t that be the most logical reason Doctor Noble never returned from his second trip? And sure, David killed a deer today, but what about next week? There is a reason game is scarce here, and I’ll bet it has something to do with the radiation. It’ll probably kill us, too. After fretting a couple of hours, I jab David in the ribs. “I’m worried we could die tomorrow.”
He rolls over and yawns. “Go to sleep, Beth. We won’t be taking any more risks than we take every day. You survived the Marco Polo. You’ll survive tomorrow, too.”
“The Marco Polo wasn’t radioactive.”
He sighs. “And that crater won’t sink in the ocean. What’s your point?”
I drag myself to a sitting position against the rocks warmed by the fire. “We don’t even know if your dad went into that crater. We could be taking an unnecessary risk.”
“We don’t know that he didn’t go in that crater, either.” He rolls onto his side so he can look directly at me. “You look cute in the flickering light of the fire.”
I scowl. “I’m serious, David. It’s one thing to talk about the craters in the abstract but quite another to be face-to-face with their reality. Everything about them represents death—from the initial blast to radiation left behind. Nothing good can come from them. I have a bad feeling about going into any of them.”
“Oh, please. Don’t tell me you’re becoming superstitious. The walls are steep, but they are just another climbing surface—like every other obstacle we’ve faced over the past couple of weeks. We’ll take precautions. We’ll use our ropes if we need to. We’ll be fine.”
I cross my arms beneath my breasts. “I’m not happy about this.”
He pulls himself up to a sitting position next to me and takes my hand. “Honey, I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to you. If you stop to think about it, you’ll realize our research is as important to you as it is to me. The only difference is that I’ve had a few more years to think about it. We’ve come a long way in an attempt to find the source of the shard. This could be it. How can we not check it out?”
A tear slips from my eye. “I’m frightened. Not so much for me, but for you. What happens if you get hurt down there?”
He pats my hand. “That’s a fair question I can only answer with another question. What happens if either one of us gets hurt anyplace in this part of the world? There is no good answer. We just need to be aware of that and make every effort to proceed with caution.”
I sigh. I know he’s right. We can’t back out now. We’ve come too far. I slide back down onto my moss and grass bed and pat David’s spot beside me. “I’ll be really mad at you if you kill yourself tomorrow.”
He slips down beside me. “I know. I’ll be careful. You, too.”
I turn my back to him. “Hold me.”
He snuggles up and falls to sleep in an instant. I fret about the coming danger for hours.
Aftermath Horizon is a young adult novel, a romantic adventure that follows the Beth’s coming of age in a world of destruction beyond imagination. She must be stronger that she thought possible to survive in the most desolate, dangerous, and remote part of a recovering world. Unknown to her, the reward for her daily dance with death could lead to the most remarkable discovery of all time.
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Thank you for stopping by,
James L. Hatch