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     Children of the AFTER: AWAKENING, p.1

       Jeremy Laszlo / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Children of the AFTER: AWAKENING
Children of the After:
By Jeremy Laszlo

© 2013 by Jeremy Laszlo.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author.

All characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Books by Jeremy Laszlo
Clad in Shadow (Poetry for a Burdened Soul)

The Blood and Brotherhood Saga
(Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy, Ages 15+)
The Choosing (Book One of the Blood and Brotherhood Saga)*FREE*
The Chosen (Book Two of the Blood and Brotherhood Saga)
The Changing (Book Three of the Blood and Brotherhood Saga)
Crimson (Book 3.5 of the Blood and Brotherhood Saga)
The Contention (Book Four of the Blood and Brotherhood Saga)
The Champions (Book Five of the Blood and Brotherhood Saga)
The Crowned (Book Six of the Blood and Brotherhood Saga)
Orc Destiny Trilogy (A Blood and Brotherhood series)
(Dark Fantasy, Ages 13+ for gore and violence)
Twisted Fate (Orc Destiny, Volume I)
Fallen Crown (Orc Destiny, Volume II)
Three Kings (Orc Destiny, Volume III)

The Beyond Series
(Adults only due to extreme mature content)
Beyond The Mask (The Beyond Book One)
Beyond The Flesh (The Beyond Book Two)
Beyond The Soul (The Beyond Book Three)

Chapter One
The grey steel of the wall was cold against his skin, causing goose pimples to crawl down his arm as the hair upon it stood up. A chill shot up his spine, his shoulders jerking slightly as he rummaged through the open canisters upon the shelf before him. Wrappers, wrappers, and more wrappers. Nothing but empty plastic and paper. Throwing his hands up in both frustration and defeat, Jack looked across the length of the room at the long row of shelves. It was gone. All of it, except perhaps enough for one more meal. Two, if they ate even more sparingly.
Wiping his hands down his once white, sleeveless shirt, freeing them from the stale crumbs and dust, he raised them once more to brush back the thick brown hair from his eyes. He needed a haircut. He’d needed one months ago when they entered the shelter, but now he was sure he was beginning to look like a boy band wannabe. If such a thing still existed.
Passing the small digital screen on the wall, he winced. It had been installed to monitor news stations and broadcasts, though it never had more than static on the screen. Even the first day. They had listened to the static for weeks on end, until they weren’t able to sleep without it. It was odd how such a nothing could become something, here in the steel confines of their home. Shaking his head, he reached down and picked up a sweatshirt before pulling it over his head. He had no idea what to expect when they went outside. He no longer knew if there was an outside. But there was only one way to find out.
His eyes scanning the empty shelves once more, he looked past them to the only people he was certain were alive. There, on a small, twin-sized pair of bunks, were the sleeping forms of both Samantha and Will. He knew they had to leave the survival shelter. He had prolonged their stay as long as he was able, but it couldn’t sustain them any longer. The food was all but gone. The waste recycler and water purifier were on the fritz when there was power, but most of the time even that wasn’t working.
Crossing the smooth steel floor as quietly as he was able, he grinned down upon his sleeping siblings. They had fought and argued as much as any other brothers and sisters before the event, but as time passed, isolated with none but each other, they began to rely upon one another. They were the only comfort each of them had, and he was responsible for them. Shaking his head, Jack recalled how much each of them was sure their father would open the door just minutes or hours after the magnetic lock that secured it had closed. Hours turned into days, and then weeks. Their dad never returned, but then they hoped that their mom would come. Surely she was spared from whatever had happened outside? She had been in Europe on business when Dad locked them in the vault, but she never came. They had cried a lot those first months. Scared and alone, they found strength in one another, and eventually the tears stopped.
It was their dad’s final words that last day that were etched in Jack’s memory more than any other thing he could recall from all of his sixteen years. The day it happened, their dad made Jack promise he would look out for Sam and Will. He remembered his dad’s eyes, they had been red and swollen, and he was obviously scared. They were all scared. Everyone had been scared, though Jack still didn’t know exactly what had happened in the hours prior to entering the vault that had everyone panicking. It didn’t matter now. He was responsible for taking care of both Samantha and Will, and they couldn’t stay in the security vault any longer. It wasn’t a decision he was making lightly, and if there were any other choice he would have made it. No, today he would take them out of the vault, if for no other reason than to gather supplies from their home, outside, and return.
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