Land A Stranded Novel, p.1Theresa Shaver / Fantasy
A Stranded Novel
By Theresa Shaver
Land – A Stranded Novel
Copyright 2012 Theresa Shaver
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Cover art by D.C. Charles at Book Graphics.
Also By Theresa Shaver
When I was fourteen years old, an eagle-eyed librarian saw me sitting at a table bored out of my mind during a spare. She marched over and thrust a book at me and told me abruptly to read it, that it would change my life. I was bored enough that I did and all I can say is WOW. Who knew that there were all these amazing lives and stories happening in books. Ever since then I have been devouring books as fast as I can get my hands on them. So thank you, gruff librarian, for getting me started. If I didn’t have a book to read, I would make up elaborate stories in my head (me starring in them all!). So after waiting for my favorite authors to hurry up and write the next book, I started writing down the one in my head. My husband, who loves me uncontrollably but isn’t much of a talker, read some of it and said, “I like it.” He has been given the title of VP of Silent Encouragement. Thank you, Derek. Thank you for believing in me. A good friend, Jennifer Cotie Ford, cleaned the whole raw mess up and we shall call her Editor Extraordinaire. Thank you, Jen, I will never forget sharing the creation of my first book with you. Okay, okay to the little people that keep poking at me and whining are you done yet? I’m done but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you guys reminding me every day how much fun make believe can be. I love you, Monkey One, and Monkey Two, now go and play. I have to start book two.
To the reader, OMG thank you for buying my book! I could fill the rest of the page with that sentence. I really, really, REALLY want to know what you think. Please take a couple of minutes and leave a review. It will help me write better and did I mention I really want to know what you think. So even if you hated it…..review it!
Alex looked around at the bright, overly decorated buildings on Main St. Disneyland and gave a sigh as she pushed a golden red curl out of her green eyes.
“This would have been a lot more fun if we could have been here when we were ten,” she said, turning to her best friend Emily.
Emily was busy scrolling through her iPhone and didn’t even hear her. Alex was glad that they were going to have a chance to spend some time together. It seemed to her that they had hardly spoken in the last three months since Emily had started dating Mason. Growing up together on neighbouring farms in Alberta, they had been inseparable since they got on the same school bus for their first day of kindergarten. They had grown up with all the same interests and hobbies until age thirteen when Alex started to get serious about gymnastics and Emily decided swimming was her favourite. Even different sporting schedules had not deterred them from BFF status. But now at sixteen, it seemed there was finally a huge obstacle in the way of their friendship.
Alex looked over at Mason and his group of friends standing apart from the rest of the class. As always, Mason was holding court and Lisa, the “prom queen” wannabe along with Mark, the “bully sidekick” were hanging on to the football quarterback’s every word. Alex could understand Emily’s attraction to the guy. He was tall and broad with sun-streaked brown hair that fell over his forehead in a dreamy kind of way. His eyes matched his hair, a golden brown hazel surrounded by eyelashes any girl would kill for. So yeah, standing here looking at Mason, any girl would get a flutter as long as you just looked. Within minutes of talking to the guy, though, that flutter should turn to stone. Mason was one of those jocks that was all about himself and needed constant adoration. Once again, it baffled Alex as to why her best friend was dating the jerk. Both girls were on the honour roll and volunteered for extra credit. Emily having way more patience had started tutoring and that’s how the Mason thing started. After a week of tutoring Mason, Emily had started walking the halls, holding hands with him and sitting with his group at lunch. When Alex had tried talking to her about it, she had brushed Alex off, saying that she was too judgmental and if she really knew Mason she would like him too.
After that Emily drifted further away and rarely did anything with Alex. “I really miss her but she has changed so much.” thought Alex.
Looking around at the rest of her class she saw some of her other friends in a group and realized that the class was divided mainly into two groups – farm and town. With another sigh, Alex thought about how Emily wasn’t really in the farm group anymore.
Mr. Carter was trying to get the class to move closer together so he could give out the schedule for the day and wasn’t having much luck. The kids were excited and distracted by being in Disneyland. It still amazed Alex that somehow her class won this trip by having the highest test scores in the whole province. Bringing more than twenty teenagers to California seemed a little crazy to Alex even with three teachers and two parent chaperones. When she first found out about the trip, Alex didn’t really want to go. She figured it would be a bit of a gong show with some of the town kids getting out of control and she felt Disneyland was made for a much younger crowd. Surprisingly it was Emily who convinced her to come, saying it would give them a chance to reconnect and spend time together.
Emily had said that she would really like to room together in the hotel. Alex was really happy to hear this because she had heard Lisa telling another girl that she and Em were going to room together and Alex had been jealous not to be rooming with her friend.
Last night in the hotel, Alex and Emily stayed up late and talked about a lot of things that had happened in the last few months. They felt reconnected after not spending time together. Alex talked about her gymnastics and other things in her life and Emily confessed her confusion over Mason.
“I don’t think I’m ready for what he wants. He suggested that this trip would be a good time for us to “take the next step” but we’ve only been dating for a few months and I’m not sure I want to go there yet.” Emily said with a frown.
Alex was used to her friend being more assertive and sure of herself so she tried to help.
“Just tell him how you feel and make it clear so there’s no confusion.” she advised.
Emily grimaced, “You don’t know Mason. He doesn’t like to be told no. I’m just so glad you decided to room with me. I overheard him telling Lisa that he’d let her know what night he wanted her out of the room. I didn’t want to let that happen so thanks again for staying with me.” she smiled gratefully at Alex.
Alex was shocked. That’s why Emily wanted her here, to run interference? After the disappointment and loneliness of the past few months without her friend, Alex was mad and blasted her friend.
“Really Em?! That’s why you convinced me to come, so I could protect you from your bully of a boyfriend? Really? How stupid am I that I thought you missed me and wanted to spend time with me? Unbelievable! Well if that’s all you need me for, then forget it! You’re my best friend but three months ago you dumped me for a guy. A guy who you can’t even say no to, you can’t treat me like that and then expect me to just snap to it when you need help!” she turned away with frustrated tears in her eyes.
Alex stared at the hotel’s bland wallpaper waiting for a response from Emily. When none came she whirled around ready to yell and saw her friend staring down into her lap with tears flowing down her face. All the anger left Alex and she slumped down beside her and put her arm around her shoulder. They sat like that for a while until Emily composed herself and started to quietly talk.
“You’re right Alex. I owe you an apology. I have put Mason ahead of you and I’m so sorry. He really isn’t a bully. He’s just strong willed. I really like him. He’s so different when it’s just the two of us together. I know if you got to know him you’d see a different side of him. Please, Alex, forgive me? I didn’t just ask you to room with me to put him off. I really miss you and wanted time with you too. Please understand.”
Alex sighed in frustration, “I can’t get to know him if we never hang out Em. I miss you, we all miss you. I promise to make the effort to get to know him better if we start spending time together again. I love you and just want my BFF back, Ok?”
Emily brushed her tears away and threw her arms around her best friend. They spent the rest of the night gossiping and giggling.
Alex smiled at the memory and looked around at her classmates. She found herself meeting the dark blue eyes that belonged to Cooper Morris. The amused mocking smirk on his face made Alex quickly look away. She didn’t know why Cooper always made her feel nervous but found herself often looking in his direction at school and it seemed that most times he was looking right back. Cooper had the bad boy rep at school, dressing the part with a beat up leather jacket, his black hair, dark blue eyes and a devilish grin. It seemed to Alex that it was mainly rumours, but it wasn’t like they hung out with the same people so she didn’t have a lot of firsthand knowledge about him. After Emily’s comment about Alex being judgmental, she was going to try harder to have an open mind about people.
She kept looking around to see if they were going to be allowed to head deeper into Disney when she noticed Quinn and Josh heading in their direction. The boys were good childhood friends of Alex and Emily and had spent a lot of time while growing up together camping and hanging out at the lake, working on 4H projects. The third boy that usually completed their group was David but Alex didn’t see him nearby. She wasn’t really surprised, as David had been in love with a clueless Emily for forever and he tended to avoid her since she started dating Mason. The boys had also felt Emily’s absence in the past few months and were happy to see her and Alex had made up.
“Hey, guys! Any idea where you want to go first?” asked Quinn
“I’m hitting Space Mountain until I feel like puking and then I plan on finding Goofy and hurling all over him!” Josh exclaimed.
Alex groaned but had to laugh as it was so typical of Josh and his rough and crazy personality to make such a statement. Quinn punched his friend in the arm and joked, “If you change that to Mickey Mouse, then I could get on board with that plan.”
Josh was of medium height and stocky, with a barrel chest and thick muscular arms that he had developed from the hard work he put in on his family’s farm. He had curly brown hair and brown eyes that always seemed happy. Quinn had the height and build of a football quarterback, tall and broad with his own muscles. His hair was wavy blond and he had calm blue eyes.
Alex was watching her teacher impatiently, “Looks like Mr. Carter isn’t having much luck moving the class together and he’s going to each group and giving the schedule out.” Alex pointed out.
“Finally! I’m ready to rock this playland.” Josh said.
For the first time, Emily looked up from her iPhone and joined the conversation, brushing her long blond hair back impatiently.
“Hey guys, I’ve been reading the headlines online and something weird seems to be going on.” With a worried expression, she explained, “The US government has gone to DEFCON 2 and the news is saying that that means nuclear war is the next step. CNN is saying the last time they went to that level was during the cold war.”
“No way man! That would be just our luck. We’re like 1500 miles from home and in one of the guaranteed cities that would take a hit!” Josh joked.
“I don’t think this is a joke,” Emily said seriously. “I think we should tell Mr. Carter about this. I’m really worried.”
All the kids in Alex’s group turned to look for their teacher and saw him coming towards them. A few steps away and the man seemed to stagger and freeze with wide eyes. Then he swayed and finally toppled to the ground.
To Alex, it seemed as though all sound was sucked out of the world in an instant. Then kids were screaming and yelling and racing towards their teacher. Quinn got to him first and Josh was yelling at Emily to call 911. Alex felt like her feet were glued to the ground. She was looking around Main Street Disney to see if she could spot any security or employees when the realization came to her that this situation was way bigger than her fallen teacher. She could hear plenty of excited voices but nothing else. The music was gone. The sounds of rides, cars, phones ringing, all mechanical sounds were gone, even the huge water fountain in the middle of the square had stopped gushing, the water slowly draining away. At that moment, movement in the air caught her attention and she looked up unbelievingly. A huge airplane was slowly falling out of the sky. It looked like it would hit the ground a few miles away. Alex clutched Emily’s arm and pointed up at the plane, still unable to speak. Emily looked up from her dark phone and her mouth dropped open with a whimper.
At this point, Quinn was doing CPR on Mr. Carter and looked over at Emily to see if she was calling 911. As he was about to yell at her, his gaze went up to see what the girls were looking at in terror. When the plane registered in his mind he fell back on his butt and cried out, “NO!”
It seemed that everyone around them was now watching the falling plane. It took what felt like forever for it to finally pass below the horizon but seconds later the explosion was easy to see and hear. Emily turned away and buried her tear-streaked face against Alex’s shoulder. Alex was numb with disbelief. “We’re at Disneyland. This doesn’t happen at Disneyland!” she thought. She gently pushed Emily back and took her phone out of her hand. It was off so she tried to turn it on but nothing was working. She looked around to see if anyone else had a phone and could see lots of other students staring at cell phones that didn’t seem to be working.
Someone close by was screaming and it felt like a drill in Alex’s ears so she tried to find the source and wasn’t that surprised to see the youngest teacher, Ms. Scott belting it out while pulling her hair on both sides of her head. Just as Alex thought she should go get her calmed down, Mrs. Moore, who was the oldest of the teachers and quite the battle axe, grabbed the younger teacher by the shoulders and gave her a quick shake with a stern “Settle down!” When that didn’t work she just gave the young teacher a slap across the face. Instant silence from the screaming was the result and Mrs. Moore shoved the shocked teacher at one of the parent chaperones and told her to get her settled down.
With her hands raised in the air, she loudly ordered, “All Prairie Springs students form up on the grass and sit down...NOW!” the last word said with a louder snap. As Mrs. Moore saw students moving onto the grassy area by the street she turned and looked to Alex’s group. Quinn was still sitting on the ground beside Mr. Carter and Emily had knelt down on the other side of him and was holding his limp hand. Alex and Josh were standing staring down at him not sure what to do.
Mrs. Moore moved over to them and took a deep breath. “Quinn?”
He looked up at her with a stunned expression on his face and tears shining in his eyes and said, “I think he’s dead.”
Mrs. Moore leaned over and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and said in a calm voice “Yes. There was nothing you could have done for him, Quinn. He had a pacemaker and it would have stopped as well. But thank you for trying. You are a good boy.”
“I don’t understand. What do you mean it would have stopped?” Quinn asked confusion on his face.
“Yes, well. Please join your classmates on the grass and I will try to explain what I think is happening.” Mrs. Moore offered.
As Quinn got up off the ground and Alex helped Emily up, Josh was shrugging out of his sweatshirt and went to cover Mr. Carter with it. “Josh, don’t do that!” Mrs. Moore barked. At Josh’s expression, Mrs. Moore softened and said in a kinder tone, “That is very respectful of you but we must be practical. You will need your sweater later.” With a confused look on his face, Josh stepped back and put his sweater back on. Mrs. Moore leaned down and pulled Mr. Carter’s jacket up over his face. She then took his money belt off and retrieved his wallet from his pant pocket. She dropped both items into her purse and ushered the group over to the subdued students sitting on the grass. Once they were seated, she took in the whole group and lowered herself to one knee.
“A terrible event has happened and there is no way for me to know the exact details but from what we have seen I can guess what has happened. It appears all electronics are not working and as we saw with the plane falling and crashing many mechanics have also failed. That could only be caused by an EMP. That means an electromagnetic pulse. This happens when a nuclear device is detonated or a massive solar flare from the sun hits earth.”
The uproar that followed was full of confused shouts, yelled denials, loud sobbing and wailing. Mrs. Moore raised her hands and waited for the crowd to calm down and was about to speak when Emily stood and turned to the group and loudly stated “I was watching the news on my phone before it went out!” as everyone was now focused on Emily she lowered her voice and told what she had seen on CNN then quickly turned around and sat back down.
“Well, that certainly makes things somewhat clearer. Thank you, Emily, for that information. So we have some important decisions to make and we must make them fairly quickly.” Mrs. Moore scanned the group to see if they were following her words and then continued.
“Everything will be different now. We cannot count on the government to take care of us. We will have to take care of ourselves and that means working together. We won’t be able to fly home now so we have to decide if or how we will get back to Canada.”
Suddenly Mrs. Davis, a parent chaperone, jumped to her feet and said “What are you talking about? Of course we will go home! The authorities will get this straightened out and get us home. We must be patient and wait for help. All this talk of not counting on the government is irresponsible of you. It will only panic the children. I suggest we return to the hotel and wait for the management to sort this out!” she finished while looking around the group for support. Everyone stared at her and then swung their eyes back to Mrs. Moore to see what she would say.
Calmly Mrs. Moore tried to explain the situation. “Mrs. Davis, I understand your reasoning but this is not a normal situation. We can walk back to the hotel but please understand. There will be no power to the elevators so that means climbing 10 flights of stairs as that is the floor we are on. Also, the room doors all have electronic locks that won’t be working so we will have to break the doors open. It will also be very dark in the hallways with the lights out. Next, the management and staff are just people like us that will most likely all leave to check on their own families. With almost all transportation not working, the government will not be able to move around to help most people. Therefore as I said, we must take care of ourselves. This will be a huge challenge. Food and water and safety must be our first priority. With no electricity, the water will not flow. With no transportation, food will not be delivered. And finally with over ten million people in this area and no real law enforcement, within days this city will explode with violence. We know of one plane crash but there were probably more which means fires. With the roads blocked by broken down cars and fire trucks not working anyways, the fires will burn out of control. Does everyone understand what I’m saying? The best thing we could do is try to leave this city as soon as possible.” and with that final statement Mrs. Moore sat down.