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My name is not really Erica Stevens, it is a pen name that I chose in memory of two amazing friends lost too soon.I was born in New York and moved to Mass as a child. I spent my time growing up between NY and Mass so I have some interesting times when sports games roll around. I was fortunate enough to marry my best friend over two years ago and I don't know what I'd do without him. I have a large, crazy, fun loving family that just loves to laugh. My parents are the strongest people I know. I have an older brother and sister, and a younger sister, who have blessed me with many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. I am nowhere near as old as the great nieces and nephews make me sound. I love to read and have wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. I also write more adult romance novels under the pen name of Brenda K. Davies.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Survivor Chronicles: Book 4 is now available for pre-order!

*****This book is the final compilation and the conclusion to an ongoing serial story. This series must be read in order.*****

With new challenges and threats arising every day, the survivors struggle to reach their destination in the hopes of finding somewhere safe to stay. Along the way allies will become enemies and startling answers will be uncovered that will rock the very foundations of... who they are. As the world continues to change around them, they begin to realize that it is not who they were, but what they will become that matters the most in their frightening new world. Find out who will survive in the exciting conclusion to The Survivor Chronicles.

***Due to language and graphic content this book is recommended for readers 17 and older.***

Edited by Leslie Mitchell at G2 Freelance Editing.
Cover art by EbookLaunch

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S5MIET4

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-survivor-chronicles-erica-stevens/1121061625?ean=2940046505634

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/survivor-chronicles-risen/id957388157?mt=11&uo=4

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-survivor-chronicles-the-risen

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/508680

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Giveaway!

There's a new giveaway going on on the Erica Stevens page! Stop by, check it out, and enter for your chance to win!
https://www.facebook.com/ericastevens679

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Survivor Chronicles: Book 4, The Risen (Epilogue)


   We didn’t know what to do for the first anniversary of the apocalypse, but the one thing everyone agreed on was that no one wanted to sit around and weep. In the end, the decision was taken away from us by Carl, John, Xander, and Riley appearing with an armload of whiskey and rum they had raided from a farm home in the nearby countryside. Maybe throwing a party wasn’t the best way to celebrate the end of the world as we had always known it, but it was exactly what we did.

   It was very tempting to give in and have a couple of drinks with everyone but in the end I decided to forgo it. I’d come too far to go back again now. The celebration went into the morning but it was the stories that were told that fascinated me the most. The memories that were shared, and not the bad ones this time. No, these stories were all happy ones about families and friends no longer with us.

   We reminisced about how we met each other, about the year that had passed and the stupid things we have done or experienced. John was at the center of most of the mishaps. He spent most of the night scowling, blushing and chuckling into his bottle of Jack while someone teased him about the time he’d fallen off of Rochelle’s horse in his one attempt at riding him, or when he’d gotten his hook caught up on a rock but insisted it was a fish and reeled himself right out of the raft. 

   The heartache of our losses is still there, it always will be. We’ll never be able to completely get over what it was that we experienced, but we are all beginning to live again. The nightmares will haunt us for the rest of our days, but we get to live those days and that is far more than most people have now. None of us ever properly grieved; there still isn’t time to do so, but from what I saw last night I realize now that we are all moving on. This past year hasn’t been easy, I haven’t even written until now, but we’re getting there. We’re making progress. Things are definitely better.

   The Nutters and Lost Souls that hadn’t perished from the disease ravishing their systems before winter set in seemed to have been effectively killed by the snow, sleet, low temperatures and ice that descended upon us. Al and Rusty both agreed it was the worst winter they’d ever seen up here and it was by far the worst I’ve ever had to endure. Perhaps the unrelenting cold had been a way to offset the high temps of the summer as the earth tried to stabilize itself again, but there were more than a few times that I didn’t think any of us would survive those brutal months.

   There were endless weeks when we all sat close together in the cabin, listening to the wind howl through the cracks, and shivering in our blankets. The snow blanketed the windows throughout most of December, January, and February. Keeping the exit cleared was an hourly production and a tiring chore. It had been a battle to keep a trail open to the shed where we had stored all of the meat, and to the lake where we had to break through the ice every day in order to fish. The small barn we’d built for Silver, John came up with that name, had collapsed once but the horse had come out of the winter alive and well. So had Spooky, who had been miserable in the cabin with us, but even more miserable when she’d attempted to go into the snow. 

   Huddled together with wood to burn, John’s heater, food, and a lot of melted snow water we had still barely survived the winter. There were definitely days when I was sure that we wouldn’t. But then the sky had cleared, the sun had come out, and animals I was certain had been buried beneath the eight plus feet of snow began to reemerge.

   Crocuses, as always, were the first sign that spring was truly on its way as they poked their colorful heads from beneath the frozen ground. Then the birds began to chirp more loudly, and though I’m sure they took a large dive in population numbers, the deer began to reappear again too. The skunks, squirrels, raccoons, and other forest creatures also started to reemerge from their burrows and we’ve spotted a couple of black beer too.

   With the snow melting and the earth defrosting we began to explore again. There had been talk of separating and moving into the cabin that was closest to Al’s until Riley, Xander, Mary Ellen, and I discovered this large farmhouse in early May. The large red home is out in the countryside and set off from the road. It has three bedrooms on one side and on the other side of the house is a small apartment. There is also another house on a lot about a hundred feet away; it’s close enough that Rusty’s family is able to stay in it and we can still see them and look out for each other. There is plenty of land to grow crops on, a large barn for Silver, and paddocks for him to run around in. A pond up in the woods offers up numerous perches, sunfish, and pickerels too.

   Acres of farmland are less than a five minute walk from the houses. Though the farmland remains intact, the house and barn that had stood on the property burned down, along with whatever farm equipment the barn had held. From scavenging other homes and farms, we’ve uncovered enough tools that we should be able to farm a good plot of land next year. For now though the corn, peas, lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables we planted on this land are coming up well.

   If Nancy had still been with us, I would have probably moved her into the small apartment that I’m occupying with Xander and Riley. However, even with my watch over her and the beginnings of what I had hoped to become a romance between us, Mary Ellen’s determination to draw her out and become her friend, and everyone else’s unwavering support, we found her hanging from one of the deer stands in early November.

   It was the first time since all of this had started that I found myself truly enraged and heartbroken. So many things had happened since that first quake but this was the one act I couldn’t comprehend. In some ways, I still can’t, but the anger isn’t there anymore. No matter how hard we tried, or what we did, I have come to realize that some people are simply too tender to handle this world and Nancy was one of them. It’s sad but it is life.

   Even though the animals began to reappear, we’ve yet to see a Nutter or Lost Soul that survived the brutal winter. That doesn’t mean they’re all dead. None of us is willing to let down our guards about them but our stress level has definitely eased. The bodies of the sick are everywhere and the smell of them permeates the air whenever we leave the farm to raid the nearby homes. A lot of their bodies are being foraged by animals and though it’s disturbing, it’s a relief to see their body parts dwindling down.

   There’s never been another sighting of a horseman either. They may still be out there, wandering the earth, but we’ve yet to encounter them or any new mounds. Maybe they’ve moved onto Europe or even Australia. I have a feeling their means of travel is far beyond anything we would ever be able to do and that they can go anywhere at any time.

   I wonder what the rest of the world looks like but I imagine it is much the same. We’ve never seen or heard anything from anywhere else. After a year I’m certain it would have happened if things were any better somewhere else. Maybe one day communication will be reestablished with the rest of the world, or even another town, but for now I think we are all content to simply just be. There was enough chaos even before the apocalypse, now all we want is peace and a chance to plant some roots again.  

   And we are planting our roots here. We now have four horses on the farm and two cows. The cows were animals that none of us was overly familiar with but we’ve kept them alive and we’ve figured out how to milk them. We also have four chickens, we did have ten, but a fox took care of six of them before we were able to catch the others and lock them in the barn. Two are giving us eggs; the other two are beginning to look like dinner.

   We’ve also encountered some other survivors. One group of ten is living only two miles away in another farmhouse on one of the back roads. They’re a friendly enough group but for the most part we avoid each other. Al and Rusty have spoken with them about going into a joint farming venture next year, as the weather appears to have stabilized enough that we could plant far more crops than we did this year. Or at least the spring and summer were normal, hopefully that means the winter will return to normal too. My bones ache just thinking about those miserable months.

   The idea of going south was discussed and then abandoned. We know what we have here, and though it was miserable we know we can survive the winter. There is a lot of farmland around us, with a lot of abandoned homes. We’re continuously exploring more and more and we’ve established a firm, solid base here. We have no idea what we would encounter if we left. The Nutters could have survived the winter down there. They could be running free, and none of us ever want to take the chance of encountering one of them again.

   We’re happy here. Relationships are growing and changing. I’ve noticed Leah and John walking with their heads bent close together more often and even now Carl has his arm draped around Mary Ellen’s shoulders as they stand by the fire and laugh with the others. I’ve been talking with Phoebe a lot more, she’s a nice woman but my heart is still wounded from Nancy. It is good to have someone to talk to though.

   Sitting here now, watching the six of them gathered around the fire, the ones whose stories I have taken and retold and now have sitting in my lap, I wonder if they know what it is that they have done. Wonder if they know that the only reason any of us are here is because three groups of strangers came together, aided each other, and formed a family when their worlds were falling apart. I don’t think they know what it is they have done, or at least what they have done for me. I never would have made it this far without them. Never would have found this family and I am thankful for it every day.

   I watch them now and can’t help but smile as Carl shoves John’s shoulder and John curses at him, but he’s also laughing as he pushes him back. Their laughter echoes in the night and though we still don’t know what is to come for us, if the world will fall apart on us again, we’ve all found security here.

   We’ve all come to one silent conclusion too, we don’t talk about the future or what caused everything to happen. We focus on the day to day and we enjoy every day that we have together because we know how quickly it can all be torn away from us, how swiftly we can lose the ones we love. We’ve all processed the revelations in our own ways. I now say a silent prayer every night before going to bed but I prefer to focus on the life I’m fortunate enough to still have. I think most, if not all of the others, do the same.

   We have a large and growing supply of weapons, food, clothing, tools, animals, gas, vehicles, and water in the basement and the barn but we don’t talk about why we are putting these things there. If we did, we would only go back to living every day in fear. This way, by not acknowledging the fact that it could all go away again, we are able to enjoy the days of relative peace that we have been given since the first crocus opened to the sun. We are not foolish enough not to be prepared though.

   Claire, Freddie, Victor, Rochelle, and Phoebe are emerging from the barn with some more alcohol, drinks, and food cradled in their arms. The celebration from last night is going to continue tonight. Rochelle pauses to close and lock the door before hurrying over to join the others. Rusty, R.J. and Leah just stepped out of the house with some blankets to sit on. They walk across the drive, past the crab apple tree and raspberry briars that line the side of the yard to join the others.

   I should go too, but sometimes I just like to sit here on this rock wall and watch. It’s so rare I get the chance. Even as I think it though, Phoebe turns to search the night for me. A smile splits her face and she begins to wave me over. I should go, perhaps I’ll write again soon. Though I’m not sure life will give me the chance and I no longer require the escape that writing these stories gave to me during our journey. Nor do I think anyone is overly interested in farmer John’s story, he’s not that good at working the land anyway.

   I’ll take these journals and store them safely with our other supplies. I found a fire safe in one of the closets and plan to lock them inside. That way if everything goes to crap again and we have to leave here, or if we are all killed this time, at least these notebooks will be there for someone to hopefully learn our story one day. I believe it deserves to be told, believe it is one worth sharing with future generations. Generations that will one day shape and mold this world into something else, just as the many generations before us did.

   We have no idea what the future holds for us, but then we never did. For now though, I am going to join my family in the celebration and cherish in these moments, and these loved ones, that I have been given.

 

 

 

Author’s note

 

   I just want to thank everyone for taking this weekly journey with me. These characters, and this story, became extremely important to me. They’ve been a large part of my life over the past two and a half years. Ending this series was extremely difficult for me but I felt that it was time to let it go, unfortunately. I am going to miss them so very much though!

   I’m also going to miss being able to give people a weekly story every Monday. I plan to continue trying to do something fun on Mondays on my Facebook page, even if it can’t be a story anymore. First up is actually going to be character interviews from The Survivor Chronicles, with the first interview being John. So if you have any questions for him and would like to know what they all still have to say I will be putting a post up for questions so please stop by.  https://www.facebook.com/ericastevens679

   Again thank you everyone for making these past two and half years so enjoyable and for following along with these characters. They are some of my most loved ones and I will always miss them.

 

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Survivor Chronicles: Book 4 (Chapter 30, Xander)


Xander,

 

   “What happened out there?” Al asked from beside him.

   Xander glanced down at him but his attention was drawn back to Riley as she began to crush up the pills Mary Ellen had given her. Riley wiped the crushed pills into her hand and dropped them into a glass that wasn’t even a quarter of the way full of water. Mary Ellen opened another bottle up, shook some pills out and handed them to Riley.

   He nodded toward the kitchen and nudged Al in that direction. He wasn’t going to talk in front of everyone. “Who are these people?” he asked when they were pressed close to the fridge. His gaze drifted over the people in the cabin that he didn’t recognize. His hand remained securely wrapped around his gun as he watched them with a distrustful eye.

   “That’s Rusty,” he said and nodded to the older man that had tried to stop Carl.

   Rusty had been certain that John was going to turn on them but he’d still followed them into the cabin. He was staring at John with a look in his eyes that said he thought John was as good as dead. Xander refused to believe that though. They’d lost too much since the beginning of all of this. They weren’t righteous men and women, they’d done some regrettable things over the course of their lives, but they were fighters and they were all still alive because of that, including John.

   He wasn’t going to give up on anything, or anyone, not now.

   “And Rusty is?” he prodded.

   “A neighbor, we used to hunt together. I’ve known him for years. That’s his son R.J., and his daughter’s Phoebe and Leah.”

   “Are you sure you trust them?”
   Al hesitated before nodding. “Enough. We were attacked here yesterday; we might have suffered losses if they hadn’t arrived to help us. Rusty was a good man when I knew him, with a good family, and they seem to be that way still. I don’t know everything they’ve been through but they’ve also suffered losses and they need more help than what they have.”

   Xander nodded but his hand remained clenched on his gun as his gaze ran continuously over them. It would take a long time before he trusted someone new, and a lot of mutual support, but there were too many threats out there now to deny every human they came across again. Even if he didn’t like it, there was strength in numbers and they needed more numbers if they were going to continue to survive.

   Carl was staring at Rusty’s family as if he were convinced they might try to jump them. He remained standing protectively by John’s head. Riley was still focused on the medicine but her gun was close at hand and he knew she could grab it in a second. “What happened out there?” Al inquired again.

   “Nothing good.” Xander filled him in on everything that had happened. “It was Death Al.”

   Instead of appearing horrified or disbelieving Al simply nodded. “They saw him too,” he said with a nod to Rusty and his family. “Not Death, but the horseman War instead.”

   Xander shuddered. He still didn’t know how to process everything that had happened yesterday and last night, he didn’t think he ever would. “That means the other two are out there.”

   “Most likely,” Al agreed. “And from everything we’ve seen I would say that Pestilence is riding the white horse.”

   “And the other is Famine.”

   It hadn’t been a question but Al answered it anyway, “Yes. Did you see where it went when it left the track?”

   Xander shook his head. “It just disappeared into a glowing light.”

   “Well that’s different,” Al said and rubbed at his nose. “Rusty said War disappeared over a hillside and continued on into the night.”

   Xander thought this over as he stared at Rusty and his family. “Maybe Death went back to where it came from when we saw it; maybe they’re all going back to wherever they came from.”

   “One can hope,” Al said. “I’d prefer not to share my planet with them.”

   “So would I,” Xander said.

   His attention was turned from Al when Riley rose to her feet. With tender care, Mary Ellen tilted John’s head back and Riley placed the glass against his lips. John choked on the liquid, his hands twitched, but he didn’t have the strength to try and fight them off.

   It had been a couple of months but Xander could vividly recall the awful weakness that had encompassed his body. Vividly recall the horrible feeling of being completely out of control of his body, of not knowing what was going on or what he was going to become. The awful certainty that there was something alien creeping through his system, trying to take him over as it held him hostage.

   “I made it through this, and so will he,” he murmured. He had to believe it; he wasn’t willing to lose any more friends, not today.   

   “When was he bitten?”

   “Yesterday afternoon. He and Josh were bitten at the same time when we were in Walmart.”

   “How long ago?”

   “About fourteen hours.”

   “You have twenty-four hours after an initial bite to stop rabies,” Riley said again as she succeeded in pouring the rest of the liquid down John’s throat. Mary Ellen closed his mouth and forced him to swallow it.

   “Is that what you think this is, rabies?” Phoebe inquired.

   “No. I think this is something we’ve never seen before. Something that was freed from the earth when the quakes tore it apart and the lava melted ice that has been frozen for thousands of years. This is something that even though it’s ancient, it shares a common genetic marker as some of our more modern day diseases and it can be cured. We’re just not sure what its incubation period is.”

   “It moves faster than rabies,” Rusty said.

   Riley leveled him with her unrelenting stare. “Victor was sick for weeks before we found him.”

   “Those were different medicines Riley, different sicknesses,” Mary Ellen said kindly.

   “I know that,” Riley said but Xander knew she also wasn’t going to give up. “And that’s why we’ll give John another dose soon.”

   She grabbed her gun from where it lay beside John on the table and stepped away from him. “You should probably tell everyone what you saw last night,” Al said from beside him. “Some weren’t all that believing of Rusty’s version of War. They’ll believe you though.”

   Xander nodded but he kept his eyes on Riley as she moved over to stand beside Carl in a position meant to defend John from any possible threat. The only problem was they both had their backs turned to what may become the biggest threat in the room. It could be hours before John woke again, they would know then what it was that they were protecting.

   Moving from the kitchen, he stood in the doorway as he surveyed the people gathered within the room. One of them he’d known most of his life, five others he’d only known for a couple of months and yet they were as close to him as family. The others, that he’d just recently encountered, were already becoming an important part of his life. They may not have gotten off to the best start with Rusty, but if h-e and his family proved themselves then Xander suspected they would be adding more members to their growing family.

   “Al told me about what you saw,” he said to Rusty.

   Rusty lifted his gaze from John’s body. “War?”

   “Yes,” Xander confirmed. Riley and Carl shifted; they glanced questioningly at him before focusing on Rusty again. “We saw Death.”

   “It is true,” Claire breathed.

   “It’s true,” Xander confirmed and proceeded to tell them what it was that they had witnessed last night and what happened yesterday with Josh.

   “Do you think it left earth after?” Leah asked anxiously.

   “I don’t know. Hopefully it was called back to wherever it came from. Or maybe it’s riding through some new area of the world today.”

   “The horsemen were never our battle though,” Al said. “We could have gone the rest of our lives and never known they were here. There are other things out there…”

   “The sick are dying,” Carl said. “Or at least they appear to be.”

   “We saw the same thing,” Mary Ellen said. “The human body can’t withstand what it is that is ravaging through them. It was only a matter of time before it gave up.”

   All of their eyes turned to John’s immobile body on the table. Riley and Carl stepped closer together in an attempt to shield John but it was impossible to do so completely. Nancy edged her way in front of Riley and Carl and toward the front of the table. Carl moved with her, the look on his face saying more than words that he wouldn’t hesitate to take her down if she so much as made a threatening move toward John.

   She reached the front of the table and crossed herself before falling to her knees. Her hands clasped before her as she bowed her head and began to pray, or at least that was what he assumed she was doing as she didn’t say a word. Her praying shouldn’t make him feel uneasy, but for some reason that he couldn’t begin to understand given everything that had been revealed last night, it did.

   He felt Riley’s gaze burning into him and turned to look at her. Deep shadows lined her eyes, he knew she hadn’t slept in at least twenty-four hours but though her eyes were bloodshot, they were still alert. Beside him, Al shifted back and forth and across the way, Claire hitched an eyebrow up at Nancy.

   There may be a God but it didn’t seem as if everyone was willing to forgive him, or her, if Carl was right. Even as he thought it, Rusty turned on his heel and walked out of the cabin. Xander stared at Rusty’s back as he hurried down the steps and toward the lake. His gaze fell on Rochelle, sitting on the couch with Freddie’s arm around her and Victor pressed against her other side. She had started to cry the minute she had seen John, her tears had only intensified when she’d learned of Josh’s early demise. Her eyes were dry now, bloodshot and swollen, but they were unwavering when they met his.

   “John brought something back for you,” he told her. “Come on, I’ll show it to you.”

   She glanced at John before rising to her feet. Mary Ellen followed them onto the porch. Rochelle let out a delighted cry when she spotted the trailer; she leapt off of the porch and raced toward the trailer.

   Mary Ellen glanced at him and then shook her head. “What are we going to do with a horse?”

   “I don’t know.”

   “Where are we even going to keep it?”

   Xander hadn’t thought about that. “In the trailer?” As if on cue the animal kicked the side of the trailer again, drawing the attention of Rusty from where he stood by the lake. “Or not.”

   “Feed it?”

   “That we did think of.” He was happy to have at least one answer for her right now, but he had no idea how long the food they had brought with them would last. “The horse was something John wanted for her and we didn’t have the heart to deny him.”

   Mary Ellen glanced into the cabin behind her, then at the trailer. Her shoulders slumped as she sighed. “Yeah, I understand. Well let’s go see this beast.”

   “He’s actually kind of cute.”

   “Oh well that makes it all perfectly acceptable then.”

   Xander laughed as he followed her down the stairs and toward the trailer. He could already hear Rochelle talking excitedly to the horse even though he couldn’t see her. “Do you think it will bring one of them here?” Mary Ellen asked.

   “They don’t want anything to do with us,” Rusty said as he joined them on the walk toward the trailer. “Even if they come for the horse, they won’t bother us.”

   “I really don’t need her new pet turning to ash or whatever else they become,” Mary Ellen replied.

   Rusty gave a low chuckle and ran his hand through his hair. “I can understand that.”

   They found Rochelle standing in the doorway of the trailer, petting the head of the horse that had calmed down a lot since she’d entered the trailer with him. It took the three of them to get the horse off the trailer. They tied together a bunch of rope, wrapped it around a tree and secured the horse to it. He had enough room to roam but was safely away from the ditches surrounding the cabin. Eventually they would have to figure out a more permanent solution but it would do for now. Rochelle immediately started brushing the horse with the brushes she’d discovered in the trailer while she talked excitedly with it. Freddie and Victor emerged from the cabin and carefully approached Rochelle and the animal.

   Rusty didn’t speak as he helped him and Mary Ellen unload the supplies from the truck but he worked steadily beside the two of them. Xander kept his eye on him though and made sure he would be able to get to his gun quickly if he had to. “Do you intend to stay with us now?” Xander asked him as they dropped some clothing on the porch.

   Rusty frowned and wiped his forearm across his forehead. “I’d like to see if he pulls through.”

   “Are you hoping he does or he doesn’t?”

   Rusty did a double take that Xander knew couldn’t be faked. “I don’t want him to die. I don’t want anyone to die. I’ve seen someone turn though and I’ve seen what those things are capable of.”

   “We all have.”

   “You were the one that was bit, before,” Rusty stated.

   Mary Ellen dropped some more clothes on the porch as Rusty asked the question. She glanced nervously at Xander; he stared at Rusty for a minute before bending down and beginning to roll up the pant leg of his jeans. He didn’t sense anything hostile from Rusty, just curiosity and some disbelief. The scar from the bite mark was still red and puckered but it had healed well considering what it could have been. Sadness flickered over Rusty’s face as he stepped back.

   “It was pure luck,” Xander told him. “That we combined the medications we did. We could have tried a million other combinations but Bobby had had poison ivy and knew about the steroids, and I was allergic to penicillin.”

   “And Bobby is?” Rusty inquired.

   “He was a friend of ours that didn’t make it,” Mary Ellen answered.

   “Al told me one of you had become sick. Was he the one that the girl with the gun said she had to put down?”
   Xander rolled his pants back down. “Believe it or not there was a time when she’d never even touched a gun. Riley’s an amazing person, with a big heart, but she’s a bear when it comes to her friends and we’ve lost too many of them trying to get here. And no, Bobby was overtaken by some of those things. Lee was another friend of ours that became sick and she was forced to kill him.”

   “I think we’ve all had a bad time of it,” Rusty said and turned away from him.

   “You lost your wife?” Xander guessed as they all walked back toward the truck.

   “Yes, and others.”

   He didn’t elaborate and Xander didn’t press him. There was no reason to exchange horror stories, to pick at old scabs and rehash things that could never be changed. It wouldn’t bond them closer, wouldn’t make them trust each other any more. That would take time and shared experiences, if they were to have those.

   With the truck unpacked, they gathered in the cabin to eat lunch. Uneasiness grew in Xander as he watched Nancy rise and walk over to the window before returning to kneel by John. She did it two more times in the short period he was inside. She’d never been completely stable but the revelation of the horsemen seemed to have rattled her even more.

   Xander stayed with Riley and the others for a little bit but eventually he wandered outside again. He couldn’t take the alternate praying and anxious pacing anymore. He had to get away from John’s unmoving, sweat covered body. Perhaps they should all be praying but he was convinced it would only fall upon deaf ears. There had probably been more praying over the past couple of months than over the past ten years combined. He doubted many of those prayers had been answered.

   He wasn’t about to curse God though, it would be useless. He assumed that the force that had struck down most of its creations was as completely apathetic to them as it had been all along. No prayer was going to change that now.

   Riley reluctantly gave up her position as guard to Al after a couple of hours, but even she couldn’t deny that she was barely standing anymore. Xander was glad to get her out of that stuffy cabin and away from the others. They went down to their spot by the lake and though she tried to fight it, she fell asleep in his arms within five minutes of settling down.

   Xander held her against him as he watched the sunset over the water. He didn’t look up as Rochelle, Victor, and Freddie settled in around them and sat silently. The warmth of Rochelle’s shoulder pressing against his was comforting as she drew her knees up and hugged them to her chest. A twig broke as Donald, Claire and Mary Ellen appeared and gathered around him on the rocks. Riley’s breath was warm against his neck, she didn’t stir but he knew she was awake when her lashes fluttered open against her neck.

   It didn’t matter if some large mystical being had decided to destroy the world. Sitting here, watching the colors of the sun spreading across the water, with a person he had always loved and others that he had come to love and care for deeply, he knew that he had found a little piece of heaven. It wouldn’t last, not with everything they still had to face, not with John’s life still hanging precariously in the balance, but to have this moment was something precious. Something that he cherished as he held Riley closer against him.

   Rochelle’s head dropped to his shoulder as sleep claimed her but though he could sense the exhaustion in those around him, none of them moved as night descended. Tomorrow they could deal with things, tonight was for them and the crickets chirruping loudly around them. An owl hooted in the distance as the moon’s rays began to sparkle across the water.

   The crunch of a footstep brought their heads around as Rusty appeared around the corner of the rocks. “Carl sent me to get you. John’s waking up.”

   Riley pulled from his arms and leapt to her feet. He turned to Rochelle and gently shook her awake as the others began to rise. “How is he?” Riley demanded.

   “I don’t know, he just started moving,” Rusty answered.

   He thought Riley was going to take off but she held her hand out to him and waited. Her hand shook within his as they hurried toward the cabin with the others. He was trying not to get his expectations up, trying to remain reasonable about everything, but he was nearly running by the time they were halfway to the cabin.

   Their feet slapped against the porch, he pulled Riley back before they could enter the cabin. He didn’t want her to see it if something had gone horribly wrong. She’d seen and experienced many horrible things but he’d still like to try and keep her sheltered from some of it, if he could. He should have known better though. There was no keeping her back from something when it was what she wanted.

   Xander braced himself to discover a monster inside, braced himself for John already having been killed, even if he hadn’t heard a gunshot. He was ready for every horrible thing, what he wasn’t ready for was John sitting at the edge of the table with his hands wrapped around it, his shoulders hunched up, and his head bowed down.

   John lifted his head sluggishly, as if the gesture still hurt him, and blinked at them. Shadows were under his eyes, his cheeks were sunken, and his eyes were bloodshot but when he saw them a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

   “You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” John muttered.

   Xander glanced at all of the gaping mouths, and stunned expressions surrounding him and couldn’t help but smile. It wasn’t the incredulous looks of those surrounding him that had him grinning like an idiot though, but the sight of John looking as if he’d been hit by truck.

   “How do you feel?” Riley asked anxiously.

   “As good as I look, or so I’m told,” he said with a pointed look at Carl.

   Carl shrugged, but he was smiling as he rested his hand on John’s shoulder. “Well you do look like sh… crap,” Carl hastily amended when his eyes landed on the children.

   John gave him a halfhearted finger but the gesture almost caused him to topple off the table. Carl and Al held him back before he could fall though. Rochelle broke away from the others and hurried over to him, she hesitated for a second before carefully wrapping her arms around John’s neck. “I’m glad you’re ok,” she whispered and took a step away.

   “I’m not going to break kid,” he assured her though he looked as if he might.

   “I love my present.”

   Even though he appeared more like a scarecrow than a man right now, his smile lit his face as he squeezed Rochelle’s hand. “I promised you a horse.”

   Rochelle began to cry; she threw her arms around him again and hugged him close. The others crept closer when Rochelle stepped away. Hugs were exchanged; even Rusty’s family shared in the laughter as John was helped from the table and over to the couch. Mary Ellen shook out another high dosage of medicine for John but he waved the water away.

   “I know I carried some beer out of Walmart,” John told her.

   Mary Ellen gave him a disapproving look but John held her steely gaze. She finally relented with a nod. Carl carried over a thirty rack of Coors Light and placed it in the middle of the floor. Beer probably wasn’t the best thing for John to wash his medicine down with, but no one was going to argue his choice as warm beers were passed around the room to those that could and would drink. There was an air of normalcy surrounding them as the pop of can tops filled the room.

   “To Josh,” John said and lifted his can toward the middle of the room.

   “To Josh,” a chorus of voices sounded before all those that could drink took a swig of the beer.

   The beer, though warm, was one of the most delicious things he’d ever tasted, Xander decided as it slid down his throat. “And to everyone else we’ve loved and lost,” Xander said and raised his half-empty can into the air again.

    Another chorus of voices sounded as the cans crashed against each other. Xander wrapped his arm around Riley’s shoulders and kissed her temple as he drank down the rest of his beer. There would be a watch to take later, endless things to do tomorrow, but right now was just for them. It was for the people that had risen up to fight against a world that was trying to tear them apart. Risen up against enemies and threats they never dreamt could have existed only months ago.

   They had done some things they had regretted over the past few months, but they hadn’t given up and they hadn’t given into the worst parts of themselves like Yosemite and others like him had.

   In the absolute worst of times they had bonded together with strangers and found a family that though it could never replace the loved ones they’d lost, they loved and cared for each other just as deeply as any other family would. 

   Yes, this night was for them and them alone. Tonight was for the survivors.

 

 

Though this is normally the last chapter in the books, there will be an epilogue next week before the series is complete.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Facebook Updates!

*****IMPORTANT UPDATES*****
As we all know there are new changes coming to Facebook that will be limiting the amount of information that is seen by pages. I've discovered a way to help keep that from happening by creating an ongoing event that I will post important information into once or twice a week. You will be notified through FB whenever something is posted into the event and this way you will be able to keep up with the more important information like pre-orders, new releases, giveaways, and more! Stop by and join if you'd like to be kept more in the loop! https://www.facebook.com/events/1526302380987890/?context=create&previousaction=create&source=49&sid_create=1490819417

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Month long giveaway!

The newest month long giveaway has been posted on Erica Stevens FB page. Stop by and enter for your chance to win!
 https://www.facebook.com/ericastevens679

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Broken is now on Amazon!

Broken (The Captive Series Prequel) is now available on Amazon! Find out how it all began in the story behind The Captive Series. The special pre-order price won't last long after release!

Sometimes what rises from the ashes of a Broken man, is a monster...

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RM8F0YE

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/broken-prequel-to-captive/id942566549?mt=11&uo=4

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/broken-erica-stevens/1120799206?ean=2940046410839

KOBO: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/broken-prequel-to-the-captive-series

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/493446