AUTHOR BIO: Saewod Tice lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. A self-proclaimed foul mouthed, book nerd who loves reading genres ranging from Young Adult to Horror to Erotica.
To escape the structured, methodical confines of her day job, she delves into her overzealous imagination producing dystopian worlds and romances. When not writing or spending time with her family, she embraces her Computer Geekdom through the internet. Including being a member of Writing.com, TextNovel writing forums, and RWC group.
SYNOPSIS: In the year 2220, only about 15% of Earth's population have survived and thrived after the Nuclear Disaster of 2020.
With the collapse of modern society, the population has regressed into eight clans.
Amongst these clans, an unusual girl grows from child to adult.
Raised on the run and in hiding, Shilo wants to be free of the expectations of women. But in a ruined world where anyone could be an enemy, only the radiation-twisted mutants are clearly identifiable. A fertile female is a precious treasure, and any lapse in caution can mean a loss of the freedom she longs for.
Training as hard as a soldier would, in order to free herself from social constraints, she finds herself faced with an offer from a new clan--an offer that provides her with what she desires. But her recently found independence brings discovery, and discovery brings two very different men from her past—and each of them is determined to claim her.
One is obsessed with owning her, the other desires her as the only person who can make him love again.
Two birthdays came and went since we’d abnormally settled in the abandoned town we called Nohme.
Apparently Hagor relished his authority and leader status too much to give it up. A trail of other groups who joined our settlement only fueled his power-hungry desires.
In the early stages of governing, each member of our small town had a voice in matters. And while the pretense of everyone having a say in the growing town of Nohme was upheld, it grew more obvious who made the choices. Voting became routine, but somehow everything ended up in Hagor’s favor. The taste of power on his lips, people waited for the day they would need to bow or make offering to him, as if he were a god.
During those two years I’d learned more and more about society’s expectations. Much of my knowledge came from the eldest women in the group, who had come from different clan backgrounds. In the middle of a cleared area they would sit around a large oak tree gossiping about intimate topics. The younger children would play on restored swings and slides a few yards away.
Mother often tried to shoo me away. Sometimes she did not.
Last fall, they talked about how Hagor had filled both Abby’s and Inell’s bellies. Laughter spread when the oldest woman joked that he’d need yet another companion now. Abby is only two years older than me. By summer, they speculated as to the identity of his third woman. All the ladies knew he had one, but not who it could be.
Also that summer, a time came when Adley bounced into the house after a three day absence, his arms full from a successful scavenging. He dumped the contents onto the table, and we eagerly joined him.
“What do you have?” Mother asked.
He didn’t answer her immediately. “Shilo, this sack is for you.”
I caught it, excited to see what he’d given me.
“Mazy, this is yours.” Adley tossed another sack, and it landed at her feet.
“Where did you get these things?” Alarm rang in her voice and covered her features.
“There’s a city merely a day from here. We’ve been going east and west, but north is the way we should’ve been headed from the start. They still have large buildings with things in boxes that have never been touched.” He tapped his toes in a little dance. “If I’d known what our search group was walking into up there, I would’ve taken the cart. The moment the watchers demolished the brick wall it. . . I can’t even tell you.”
Mazy pulled a long, yellow dress from her bundle and held it to her shoulders. “Adley, thank you. It’s—”
“You entered a city, and you did it knowing I wouldn’t approve?” Mother gasped like someone had taken all her breath.
Seeing what Mazy had gotten, I quickly opened my bag. There were jeans, shirts, socks, and underclothes. I’d worn the same four outfits for so long! To have something new and only ever mine . . .
“Are you out of your mind? Do you know what could’ve happened? What if They were there?”
“We’ve been watching it for a week. We took precautions. Six of us went, all in pairs. It’s perfectly safe.”
Now older, Adley pressed further his role of patriarch. He frequently acted counter to Mother’s concerns and rebelled against her decisions. But . . . Mother was always right. What if they really were there? What if the Nigredo came for my brother?
“Safe?” Mother snorted.
“As safe as can be,” he said. He offered her the last bag.
“Don’t return to the city, Adley. Promise me you won’t.”
He already began shaking his head. “I can’t do that. There’re still so many places left untouched. I can’t believe the things still stored there.”
“What about the contamination? What about Them? They travel the cities and could show up tomorrow. Or perhaps it’s a trap, with you none the wiser.”
I’d never seen anyone from the clan Nigredo, but I knew what they looked like. Oversized skulls, deformed bodies, scars. Insanity.
Adley made no promises that night, and Mother went to bed soon after the confrontation. For a moment before sleep, I considered going through the things Adley had brought—I hadn’t even gotten to thank him.
It was still dark when screams woke me. For once they weren’t my own. When the silence came, I rolled to my side snuggling back into the blankets. It must have been another nightmare.
Then, the screams multiplied, and shouts from men rang out. My eyes shot open, landing on Mazy’s empty blankets across the room. Where is she? Is that her screaming? Had someone had taken her? Were they still here? Would I be next?
No. The screams exploded outside. Peeking through the boards on my window, I saw houses burning and large, dark shadows running after people in the chaos. Was our house on fire too?
My bedroom door flew open, and I screamed.