Book Blitz Sign Up: Imbalance of Power (Illyria #3) by Armin Shimerman (Nov 15th) Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Fantasy @ShimermanArmin @DeborahBrosseau @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Hey Guys!

I’m organizing a book blitz for a novel called Imbalance of Power, a loose Twelfth Night retelling by Armin Shimerman. The blitz will be held on November 15th and I am looking for hosts!

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3D Book 8-2-22_editedIllyria: Imbalance of Power

Expected Publication Date: Winter 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Fantasy

With the threat of further imprisonment held over him, Doctor John Dee must use all his talents to solve the mystery of who on Illyria is shepherding religious insurrectionists bent on overthrowing the Queen. Helped by his acolyte, Will Shakespar, they investigate the court of Count Orsino, their chief suspect. 

Together, in this exciting final chapter, Steeped in Elizabethan history, Dee and Shakespar must maneuver through a labyrinth of religious intolerance as they seek to protect Crown and Country. 

Their mission brings them in contact with the witty characters of Toby Belch, Malvolio, Feste, and others in a fancifully imagined prequel to “Twelfth Night.” 

Coming Soon!

About the Author

ArminIllyria (2)

Armin Shimerman was born on November 5, 1949 in Lakewood, New Jersey, USA. He is an actor and writer, known for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993), The Hitcher (1986),  Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997), and BioShock (2007). He has been married to Kitty Swink since May 16, 1981.

Armin Shimerman

 

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Book Blitz: Skadegemutc: Ghost Witch by Ian Conner -Genre: Supernatural Horror/ Native American Mythology/ Ghost Story @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #HorrorCommunity

We have the perfect story to curl up with on Halloween! Check out Ian Conner’s Ghost Witch and make sure to leave a light on!

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Ghost Witch

 Publication Date: June 2nd, 2022

Genre: Supernatural Horror/ Ghost Story, Native American Folklore/ Mythology

The Two Spears and Four Claws clans for generations. Now the evil has returned, once again threatening the lives of a young mother and her twin babies. It is an evil that temporarily killed and banished with fire and magic, but it can never be destroyed. It is a source of great shame for the clans. So much so, that it is never spoken about outside of the tribe.

Carlyle Allen, the wealthy new owner of Haunted Gap, is building his dream home for he and his young bride, Rebecca. Carlyle discovers a hidden room in the basement and comes across the corpse of “The Maiden”, a form the evil entity takes to seduce and trick people into doing its bidding.

A very pregnant Rebecca Allen visits Haunted Gap for the first time. Rebecca becomes exposed to poison from “The Maiden,” leading to a trip to the clinic where she meets Maggie Four Claws and Dr. Sally Manning. Realizing that Rebecca has been marked by the Ghost witch, she contacts her grandmother Opal for help and to alert the clans.

Maggie manages to convince both Rebecca Allen and Dr. Manning that she and the babies are danger, not only from the Ghost Witch, but from her husband Carlyle as well. As Dr. Manning races to get Rebecca to safety, the Ghost Witch causes an accident, allowing Carlyle to kidnap Rebecca in order to sacrifice her and the children to “The Maiden.”

Meanwhile, Maggie Four Claws, Grandma Opal, and the rest of the clans move into action to hunt down and banish the Ghost Witch. But, will they find the evil in time enough to destroy it and save Rebecca and her babies?

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About the Author

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Ian Conner is retired and spent most of his adult life as a Marine and Army Infantry Sergeant. Now living near San Diego California with his wife Bonnie, a cellist, and their two dogs, Cookie and Isabella. Conner spends his days fostering kittens, gardening, crafting beautiful stained glass and creating worlds on the page.

Conner has authored several other novels:

Cooper’s Ridge  –  Science Fiction

The Long Game – Political Thriller

The Price of Partisanship – Political Thriller

Solaris  – Political Thriller

Griffins Perch – Epic Fantasy

Ghost Witch  –  Horror

After a lifetime of destruction the thought of creating something tangible and lasting holds great appeal.  He finds writing a cathartic way to redefine himself both in his eyes and the eyes of others.

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Book Release Blitz: Of Deceit and Snow (The Crowned Chronicles #2) by Ashley Slaughter (Nov 8th) Genre: YA Fantasy @AWSwriting @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Fantasy

I bet you weren’t expecting the second book so soon?!

I’m organizing a book release blitz for the highly anticipated follow up to Of Legends and Roses by Ashley Slaughter. The book launch for Of Deceit and Snow will be held on pub day, November 8th and I am looking for hosts!

Sign up below!

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Of Deceit and Snow (The Crowned Chronicles #2)

Expected Publication Date: November 8th, 2022

Genre: YA Fantasy

A queen trapped in a game of lies.

Queen Rosemary Avelia has never felt so out of control of her own life. In the kingdom of Tarasyn, she is fighting for her survival, playing to her captor’s wants and desires for a bride—and for her kingdom of Lecevonia. She must keep her wits about her if she is to survive the extravagant, Talent-infused court life of Snowmont. But how long can she balance between her game and her need to return to her kingdom? To her people?

A king fighting for power.

King Gryffin Danicio is also struggling to stay in control. The more he covers up the secrets of his family, the more fragile his hold on the minds of the people of his kingdom becomes. Beneath the luxurious rooms and gilded furnishings of Snowmont is a dark, hidden past–and a future full of hope and power not only for Tarasyn, but for the entire Magian Peninsula. Gryffin has plans for the Talented of the Magian Peninsula, but without Rosemary’s support, his idea of a land strengthened by magic may never be fulfilled.

A magic on the brink of liberty.

An awakening of the Peninsula’s ancient magic is on the horizon. Rosemary must choose to stop it—or aid Gryffin in bringing it to fruition.

But first, she must get home.

And she cannot do it alone.

Of Deceit and Snow is the second installment of the Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces love, reign, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

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Of Legends and Roses (The Crowned Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

A realm touched and forgotten by magic.
A young queen orphaned by disease.
A prince after her heart.

Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.

Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.

About the Author

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Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.

Ashley SlaughterInstagram | Facebook | Twitter | TikTok 

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Path of Most Resistance & Other Stories by Yoav Ilan – Genre: Sci-Fi/ Anthology @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

We are so thrilled to share this gorgeous anthology with you today! The Path of Most Resistance and Other Stories comes out on October 10th and if you enjoy Black Mirror, you are going to love this!

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The Path of Most Resistance

Expected Publication Date: October 10th, 2022

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Speculative Fiction/ Anthology

The stories of The Path of Most Resistance feature curious nonconformists who find themselves pushing back against strange and oppressive social norms, mavericks who transgress the boundaries of convention in their strive for freedom and authenticity. No matter if they’re in a Silicon Valley office, the far reaches of space, or dystopian futures where relationships are subjected to totalitarian control, the characters show unshakable conviction in a world plagued with uncertainty. Each story ushers you into a unique reality that unfolds step by step, leaving you with a disturbing new perception of the world.

In “Blind Date,” two lovers chosen for each other by a hidden control system attempt to peel away the layers of their oppressive reality and peer into what they were not meant to see. In “Expressing,” a pick-up at an ordinary bar turns into a paranormal encounter. In “The Path of Most Resistance,” a hiring manager and a job candidate go all-in during an interview that will reshape their lives. In “Red Flagged,” a random passenger is accidentally exposed as a covert rebel fighting for freedom in a society that dictates what one is allowed to know. In “Miscalibrated,” an interstellar expedition runs into armed conflict with an alien civilization, in which their best chance of avoiding a nuclear war is discovering the underlying truth about the communication differences between humans and these aliens.

In story after story, author Yoav Ilan displays remarkable creativity and intelligence, showing that sci-fi can be as artistic as literary fiction, and that things are never as they seem.

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Blind Date

They both arrived at the appointed time. He entered the hall from the south side, she from the north. Above them the ceiling soared upwards till it vanished in the darkness.

The silence in their ears was the background for the steady tap of her heels and the thud of his footsteps. The two circles as seen from above glided steadily forward along the vast floor, weaving toward the same square pillar where they stopped.

He flaunts a red flower in his buttonhole. She wears a black pin on her lapel.

All around is silence and emptiness. The two circles that were drawn around them on the floor met, forming a number 8. They remained within its bounds.

“You are of course …” “Yes, and you …”

And again silence, unease. While yet trapped in the emptiness of the hall and of their conversation, the big clock struck six times. The sound and the vibrations carried through the pillar and the floor, jarring them out of their stillness.

They both wear dark glasses. If only she could look into his eyes for a brief moment. If only he could.

“A movie?” he asked. She smiled, and the 8 on the floor became a circle. “This way please.”

The elderly usher opened the door into the theater. His flashlight illuminated row upon row of seats. All but four of them were empty. A pair of seats at the far end beside the stage glowed red.

“Your seats.”

They looked alternately at each other, the voluminous theater, and at the other two couples who sat in the far corners of the sea of dusky seats. They shook their heads almost in unison, making them both burst into short, nervous laughter.

“Sorry,” they murmured to the usher as they fled outside, hand in hand.

Outside to the street, wide with long sidewalks and the odd streetlight casting its cone- shaped island of pale light. Deserted except for an old man walking his dog, crossing at a corner. On his face, dark glasses, and encircling both him and his dog, a red band that vanished with them around the corner. They noticed they were still holding hands. Shyly, they released them.

“I’d prefer to be somewhere a little less noisy, if that’s okay with you?” she says. “Something like the amusement park?”

“Sounds great.”

As if in contrast to the emptiness around them, he offered her his arm and she slipped her arm through it. As they neared the entrance to the subway, they passed a policeman leaning against a streetlight. And again the same irritating thing.

Around him there is no red circle. His eyes are not hidden behind dark glasses. For his part, the policeman did not pay attention to the resentment that spontaneously appeared on their faces. The policeman indifferently checked the air around them, his eyes alighting for a moment on them and then returning to stare into empty space, as if they . . .

The pressure of her hand increased and they were dragged from there by their circles.

The amusement park was slightly more bustling than the clock tower, the movie theater, the streets. Slightly. There were about a dozen couples strolling arm in arm, bounded by circles that moved with them, dictating the direction and the pace. On everyone’s face the same dark glasses. Almost everyone. A policeman stood at the entrance to the Ferris wheel.

The couple moved toward it in a straight line, more or less. More or less because their circle swerved randomly here and there, as if dodging hidden obstacles. He bought a ticket from the automatic machine. Now, all that was left was to wait for the wheel to stop. Finally it ground to a halt, and then began to rotate again slowly, pausing momentarily as each seat reached the bottom.

“It’s absurd,” the man thought, wanting to go and sit with his partner on the vacant seat hovering at ground level, as if waiting for someone to climb aboard. But the circle around them refused to change its position.

Attempt to cross over it … the thought alone began to hurt. The outer perimeter of the circle began to glow slightly. Or perhaps it only appeared so through the tears that filled his eyes.

The thought made his head feel heavy, but this did not stop a feeling rising inside him, a feeling that had lain dormant for a long time. Perhaps the key was to act swiftly, suddenly.

All at once he broke away from the woman at his side and tried to put a foot over the boundary encircling him. Quickly, without thinking about it. If he thought about it, the Mechanism would activate the pain.

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About the Author

Yoav Ilan sqaure profile

Following his career as a naval engineer Yoav moved on to Computer Science, and has spent the last two-decades in the high tech industry, ranging from small startups to big tech. He is a husband, father and a science nerd. He lives in New York.

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The Road Not Taken by Susan Rubin is On Sale for a Limited Time! Grab a Copy TODAY! @SusanRubin1 @DeborahBrosseau @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

The Road Not Taken is available for a special price at participating retailers this summer! Take advantage and grab a copy today!

The Road Not Taken

Publication Date: September 4, 2020

Genre: Humor/ Fantasy

A woman suddenly widowed at 50,  left with money but no direction to her life, deep in transition from suburban housewife status, moves back to the West Village where she grew up. When she meets a woman who appears to be an identical twin, she discovers the Lost: a group of 100 fully-formed people dropped off on Earth as it cooled down they have lived on the planet as it developed the many species and geography of today.

The Lost show her the myriad dimensions of Spacetime, taking her to ancient Egypt, Weimar Germany, and planets without inhabitants, and reuniting her with loved ones she has lost to death. Through a casual affair with Osiris, god of Egypt, and her friendship with Vincent Van Gogh, she lives many truths that are new to her and learns who she needs to become to walk the road not taken.

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About the Author

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Susan Rubin has written for Funny or Die, and in contrast, she’s written more than two dozen documentaries that highlight international women’s issues like domestic violence, forced child marriage, and untested rape kits accumulating in police evidence rooms. Rubin has used her skill, empathy, and compassion to render these darkest of topics into accessible films distributed to tens of thousands of college classrooms.

As a playwright, Rubin has, for 20 years, been the recipient of Los Angeles County Arts Commission Grants and Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department Grants. She also was honored with a six-year residency at the prestigious Los Angeles Theatre Center. Her plays have been seen at New York Theatre Workshop, Baltimore Center Stage, and at every major 99 seat theatre in Los Angeles including co-productions with Bootleg Theatre, Circle X, Skylight Theatre to name a few. She is the recipient of Garland, Ovation and LA Weekly Awards.

Susan Rubin | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

 

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Check Out Year Zero by David Dean Lugo – Genre: YA Dystopian @daviddeanlugo @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #YearZero #BookBlitz

Check out this thrilling new YA Dystopian novel, Year Zero!

This is the first book in a new trilogy called Revolution’s Children and you’re going to want to read this!

yearzero_ebook

Year Zero (Revolution’s Children Book 1)

Publication Date: May 24th, 2022

Genre: YA Dystopian

A thrilling new YA dystopian novel has dark parallels to a conceivable future America.

It’s been two years since the establishment of the brutal dictatorship The Incorporated Precincts of America and its governing Board and CEO, as well as the death of the old America. Sixteen-year-old Joey Cryer has two missions: to keep their six-year-old sister, Julia, safe, and to not die.

America first. America last. America always. This is the vow that the CEO leader of the IPA—The Incorporated Precincts of America—pledges to his suffering citizens. With violent protests breaking out in every city, attacks against immigrants, and the national crisis of the Capitol Event, young Joey must keep their vigilance in staying clear of the IPA’s ever-watching Sons of Liberty—its ruthless police force—to avoid becoming “disappeared” with his little sister. This means not maligning the governing body, The Corporation, with any thought, word, or action, or else suffer the consequence. One such sanction for disobeying citizens is being forced on to the required viewing television show “Manhunt,” where they fight for their lives against the Sons, upholding The Corporation’s domination over society.

Two years earlier, before the Second Revolution ended and before the election, Joey’s biggest concern was sitting at the right cafeteria table at his high school or if the girl they liked liked them back. Avoiding the school bully, Harlan Grundy, was always a plus, and so was not getting pummeled. So, it was no big surprise that Harlan became a Son, loyal to The Corporation and carrying out their dirty deeds to keep citizens in check and in fear. The only correct response to a Son? Everything is goodly.

Having lost everything in the revolution’s aftermath, Joey takes an unfathomable risk by helping the near-dead leader of the rebellion, John Doe. Having anything to do with Doe will skip you right past penalties and sanctions all the way to the death penalty, not only for you, but for anyone you love. And yet Joey’s sole mission is keep Julia safe until they can secretly escape to freedom. To do so, they finds they have an unlikely partner in a recently betrayed Harlan. Trusting their former enemy may be the only way to ensure their future—but is it worth the risk for Joey, Julia, and his community?

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Chapter One

No law respecting the established religion, prohibiting its free and compulsory practice, may be passed. All citizens free or otherwise are responsible for their speech, as is the press. The Board may sanction the people or the press should they choose to malign The Corporation or its representatives in print, thought, word, or action.

—First Amendment, Constitution Incorporated Precincts of America

A hand grabs my shoulder, and I know I’m screwed. The flickering light from the Jumbotron across the street dispels the concealing darkness. What was I thinking trying to sneak my way across town square after dark? I pull my hat lower, hoping that he won’t recognize me.

Especially if curfew has started.

Dan and Katie are starting the Manhunt preshow on the Jumbotron, which isn’t a good sign. Manhunt rarely starts before seven.

My mouth is dry, and my heart’s hammering fills my ears. It’s the fight-or-flight response kicking in big time. Except in my case, it’s the flight-and-still-get-pommeled response.

Even knowing how it will end, I still think about running.

Just for a second.

Old habits die hard.

I move my eyes to the hand, hoping it’s not covered by a white glove. Crap. It is. So, the he attached to the hand isn’t a regular cop. A cop will just shake me down and let me go. But not this guy.

He’s a Son of Liberty.

I’m surprised he hasn’t shot me yet. They usually do. I mean, it’s kinda their go-to move. I glance from his glove to his face.

I silence a scream. This guy isn’t any old Son. He’s Harlan Grundy. That name alone makes most kids cry. Always has.

Harlan’s been bullying kids since the old days, back when we still lived in a place called the USA. By the time The Corporation ran things and changed the name to The Incorporated Precincts of America, or IPA, Harlan had transformed bullying into an art form. I mean, watching him terrorize a kid is like watching Michelangelo turn a hunk of stone into a statue. Pure artistry.

Unless you’re the rock.

All the Sons are big, but Harlan’s bigger. Not like Schwarzenegger big. It’s more natural. Like a gorilla. Most let his stocky form, with its squashed nose, thick fingers, and stubby legs, fool them. But he possessed a speed unheard of, even among Olympic athletes.

And I, underneath this big ass coat, am just a scrawny sixteen-year-old. Exercise and me are not the best of friends. I mean, we wave when we pass by in the halls. Unless running from Harlan counts. Because if it does, I’m a gold medalist.

Okay, maybe a bronze because he always catches me.

“Hold it, citizen,” he says loud enough for me to hear over the Jumbotron’s droning voices. That is quite a feat since they always have it turned up to like a million.

Wait. Citizen?

He doesn’t recognize me.

He says something, but Dan speaks over him from the Jumbotron. “We’ll be back after this message.”

A second later, tolling bells replace his smug voice, sounding out the half hour. I glance at the screen, hoping it says six thirty. Instead, a robotic voice says, “The time is now seven thirty. Curfew is in effect.”

I’m doubly screwed.

After curfew, you get arrested or worse, unless you’re on official IPA business. It won’t take anyone more than one look to know I’m not. And Harlan’s fists and I have known each other since I was eight, and he was eleven. It’s only a matter of time until his dim brain dusts off the cobwebs and the first faint itch of recognition dawns on him.

If he doesn’t shoot me, which I doubt, I have two simple choices left. But I won’t get to choose. Instead, an Inquisitor will decide between sending me to a Liberty Camp or inducting me into the army.

The second is most likely. They’re drafting more people every day. Younger and younger too. I mean, except for like Ward Commanders, Inquisitors, and Auditors, the whole Corporation is getting younger. I guess they figure the young don’t have as much attachment to the way things were.

The CEO says we’re winning the war, and the extra troops are for the last push into Ottawa. But I’ve heard the rumors. Who hasn’t?

Some say Mexico, Canada’s ally, has won ground in the Southwest. Others say the early winter weather has paralyzed our troops in Ontario and Alaska. What’s happening in Europe is anyone’s guess.

So, whatever the Inquisitor decides, it’s better if Harlan shoots me.

Usually, I’m home before curfew, but I had forgotten it’s earlier now. That’s thanks to the Does—John and Jane Doe—and their rebels blowing up stuff. Last Tuesday, the day most Sons get their rations, they blew up the rationing center. Now, the rest of us are still living off our last pitiful portion.

Movies make rebellion seem exciting and heroic. I guess it is, fighting oppression or whatever. But from where I sit, trying to get by and staying off The Corporation’s radar, it’s terrifying. It doesn’t help people like me. Maybe it will someday, but I’m not holding my breath.

I burrow deeper into my father’s coat, trying to avoid eye contact. The coat must be the only reason Harlan hasn’t recognized me. There’s no point in trying to hide the bag of contraband I’m holding.

I mean, it’s right there.

Besides, it’s just dumb cans of stupid beef stew I bought at the black market. E-rations don’t hardly give anyone enough food. So, most people, leastways those who can afford it, turn to the black market. Even Block Watch Commanders like Harlan.

It’s not totally the Does fault, though. Food, at least the unpowdered kind, was scarce even before they blew up the rationing center. The troops passing through on their way north to the wall, took most of what we had. They didn’t bother leaving much for us citizens.

I’m not sweating the stew, though. I expect he’ll “impound” it. I’m more worried that what’s stuffed into my belt will spill out. If it does, he’ll definitely shoot me.

He’s eyeing the bag though. His mouth might even be watering. We both stand there, playing our weird freeze tag while waiting for the stupid bell to stop tolling.

As soon as it does, Harlan says, “You’re behind curfew, citizen. Slice me the stew, and I won’t donate a one.”

Ugh. Slanguage.

It takes me a moment to translate his words to regular English. If I give him the stew, he won’t give me a class one penalty. I can’t speak because he’ll recognize my voice, so I nod. Kneeling, I set the bag down and take off.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

If you do, they might see your face, connect it to a list of subversives, rebels, or whatever list you didn’t know you were on.

I’m two blocks away before a grin spreads across my face. Dumbass Harlan was so preoccupied by the bag that he didn’t notice the cans crammed in my pockets.

I decide to go home through the woods. It’s longer and a thousand percent spookier, but it has more cover. Plus, The Corporation hasn’t put cameras in the forest. At least not yet anyway. That might change if they suspect the squirrels of treason.

Plus, Harlan lives two houses away from me. If he’s heading home, it’s worth the extra twenty-minute walk to avoid him.

I trudge along. I can’t see a thing in the inky blackness. Everything is a muddied silhouette, and I don’t want to trip on something and break my neck. I used to find the sounds of leaves crunching under my feet satisfying. But I don’t anymore.

They just tell the Sons or the rebel squirrels where you are.

My breath comes quick now. Heart racing. It’s my anxiety getting the better of me. I don’t bother fighting it because I’m too busy cursing myself. If Harlan is out on patrol, he’s nowhere near his house. Then again, it might be dumb luck that we ran into each other.

Either way, I don’t really care right now because I’m sure Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers has spotted my dumbass alone in the woods. I stop for a second, but the sound of crunching leaves doesn’t.

A twig snaps.

I turn.

A half-naked figure lunges from the darkness, falling to the ground.

I almost scream.

A man lies motionless. I get a little closer and notice he’s covered in blood. Against my better judgment, I turn him over. A few holes leak his blood.

Someone shot him.

The only people with guns these days are Sons or rebels. Which means they’re probably out searching for him. That thought alone makes me nope my sorry ass out of the woods as fast as I can.

I emerge, unharassed by either rebel squirrels or a fictional slasher, near the non-Harlan end of my block. My breath comes in short, panicked gasps. I’m more than a little embarrassed by how fast I’m moving down the block.

I turn the corner. My house blazes bright in the frigid night. It’s almost enough to chase away the harsh twilight glow from the screens on the telephone poles.

Julia, my little sister hates being alone, but she isn’t right now. Unless Winnie’s wandered off again. She has turned on every light, which means he probably did. The Sons don’t pay him much mind, so he’ll be okay. Hopefully, she hasn’t used up our electricity ration for the month.

I linger in the driveway, eyes darting. I need to make sure I wasn’t followed.

An angry orange flower of fire blooms over the nearby hills. Must be the rebels blowing something up or being blown up themselves. Either way, a bunch of people are dead. A tenth of a second later, a dull roar reaches my ears, and everything shakes.

Every porch light in the neighborhood blinks on, and people spill out from their houses, scurrying around like angry ants. A few have wide eyes, their O-shaped mouths gulping the chilly night air. Which reminds me of the fish that Dad and I used to catch. Others just sigh, wringing their hands. A few look furious.

I’ve lived here for like forever and recognize everyone.

That is everyone except the young man with the neat dark hair walking along the walkway in front of the house next door. His hands are in his pockets, posture crisp but relaxed.

I do a double take because I didn’t expect to see anyone coming from there. It and the house across the street have stood vacant since the Perrys and the Youngs disappeared a year ago. He might be a zig though.

Zig is short for zigzag. They’re the people who refuse to go along with The Corporation but won’t join the resistance either. So, they zigzag between the two opposing forces that shape the IPA. They usually come in small groups, no more than four. There’s not a lot of them. At least as far as anyone can tell. Anyway, neither side likes them much, and both will see them wiped out just as soon. Which is why, if he is a zig, he certainly wouldn’t be so careless and let everyone know where he lives.

He might be a rebel. They sometimes hunker down in vacant buildings. That thought both excites and frightens me.

As he draws closer, there’s no mistaking this man for a zig or a rebel. He wears a suit, but the distant flames give everything a crimson tone, so I can’t tell what color it is. Something on his jacket flickers. He reaches the end of the walkway, and I notice that the light glints off a bunch of Corporation commendation pins on his lapel.

At first, he acknowledges no one as he crosses his arms and stares straight ahead. He appears calm, but his breath comes in peculiar fits like he’s out of breath but doesn’t want anyone to know. Maybe he’s asthmatic? I don’t know. His eyes don’t watch the distant flames like everyone else; they’re watching the streetlights.

Something glistens on his forehead like sweat, but the night is cold, so that’s impossible. He appears to sense me gawking and gives me a nod.

By reflex, I wave.

Another fireball blossoms, this one almost bright enough to read by. The windows rattle from the blast. The neighborhood lights blink a few times before going out. Someone screams as we’re plunged into a weird twilight of flickering screens since those never stop.

I swear Pinman smirks.

A second later, old Doc Salazar asks, “Do you think it’s the Canadians?”

That isn’t as silly as it sounds, since if you’re lucky enough to own a car, it’s like three hours to the border.

“Nah. I bet it’s the Does and the rebels,” Mr. Taylor replies.

Everyone stares at him for a moment. Calling the Does rebels is against the law.

“You mean terrorists,” a throaty unfamiliar voice—my new neighbor—says.

“Yes, y-yes,” Mr. Taylor stammers. He probably noticed every commendation on Pinman’s jacket. He chuckles nervously, running a hand across the back of his neck.

I don’t want to call attention to myself, but Taylor was my dad’s fishing buddy. I can’t count the number of times that the Taylors shared a meal with us after a good day on the lake.

A familiar voice breaks the uncomfortable silence. “Mr. Taylor is scaredly is all. He’s not trying to be outside the box.”

I look around, trying to find who spoke. For some reason, everyone’s staring at me like I punched a nun or something.

Well, everyone except Taylor. He’s got a grateful smile pasted on his stupid round face. The looks confirm my growing suspicion. The voice was familiar because it’s mine.

Pinman doesn’t reply, just cocks his head.

“Well, um, good night, sir,” Mr. Taylor croaks as he scurries back inside his house.

A second later, the loudspeakers atop every telephone pole on the block crackle to life. On the screens, a severe looking yet appealing middle-aged woman appears with her hair wrapped tight around her head. Everything can go dark but not PR Polly, the voice of The Corporation.

There’s a whine of feedback, and Polly stares with a Mona Lisa smile on her lips, waiting for it to pass. It fades to a crackling static and clears.

Her familiar, faintly British voice sounds out. “Return to your homes. All is goodly. We have the situation under control.” As always, she adds the Corporate slogan. “America first. America last. America always.”

Another squeal of feedback sounds out. Dan and Katie return to the screens, laughing about the ratings bonanza it’ll be when the real Does are caught and put on Manhunt. But since Manhunt is required viewing, ratings are a bonanza every day anyway. I’m also not sure how we’d know if they’re the real Does. I mean, every time they think they’ve got them, it turns out they’re regular rebels.

No one even knows what the Does look like.

A weird sensation tingles my leg. It’s my phone vibrating in my pocket. I put aside my stray thoughts for now as I fish it out.

“What did you think of this Realnews brief” flashes on the screen. Underneath, like always, are two emoji:

a smiley one,

and a frowning one.

I tap the smiley face to show that I loved it. No one clicks the other one anymore. Well, no one without a death wish.

Soft clicking echoes around me as my neighbors do the same. By the time I’m done, they’re scurrying back into their homes. I guess they’ve all realized it’s after curfew, so we are all technically criminals right now.

Pinman still stands there with his arms crossed, staring at me. I try not to meet his gaze and mumble something about how my little sister is waiting for dinner inside.

In the distance, sirens blare. A lot of them. All isn’t goodly. I sense the stranger watching me as I walk into my house.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Author David Dean Lugo often gets ideas for his stories by wondering what if? In his new young adult dystopian novel, Year Zero, he probed this when writing about a future fascist America run by a governing body called The Corporation and its CEO. Lugo believes that today’s trend of people judging one another too harshly—whether based on their political party, gender identity, or something else—is causing people to drift too far away from one another. His story explores potential extreme ramifications of this.

Lugo believes a great book is one that has believable characters that readers can identify with and relate to. He hopes his stories evoke emotion and thinking from his readers long after the book is closed.

When he isn’t writing thought-provoking YA novels, Lugo enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, playing video/board games, and hanging out with his amazing family. He lives in southwest New Hampshire with his wife Meredith, son Jacob, and their rascally Labrador/Collie mix named Astrid. Year Zero is the first volume in his The Revolution’s Children trilogy.

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