Read Alone Online

Authors: Kate L. Mary

Alone

BOOK: Alone
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Alone

A Zombie Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate L. Mary

www.KateLMary.com

 

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Foreword

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Epilogue

Note from the Author

Alternate Ending

Alternate Epilogue

Playlist

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Other Books

 

 

 

Ebooks are not transferrable. They cannot be sold, shared, or given away. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is a crime punishable by law. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded to or downloaded from file sharing sites, or distributed in any other way via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print without the author’s permission.

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real in any way. Any resemblance to person, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Kate L. Mary

Edited by Emily Teng

Cover art by Kate L. Mary

 

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

 

For my husband, who shared a dream he had with me, which inspired this story.

 

Foreword

I don’t want to mislead anyone, especially not fans of the
Broken World
series, so I’ll be as upfront as possible.
Alone
is a
dark
young adult novel that, while set in the same zombie world, has a plot centered around romance. While I know this genre isn’t going to appeal to every fan of the
Broken World
series, I hope most of you will power through the romance so you can get to the world I’ve built. I’ve worked hard to create something that should raise a few red flags for readers, as well as make you question what the future has in store for our characters. In
Alone
, only two years have passed since the virus was first released, and the country is still in shock, but they’re trying to overcome. Some people are working to start over, while others are grabbing for power, and there’s a lot in this novel that will lead into the next few zombie books I plan to put out.

With that said, let me give you a little background about the writing of this book.
Alone
was the fifth or sixth book I wrote, I can’t remember exactly what order I wrote them in, and the first one I’ve taken the time to revise. (The others are still floating in the cloud, waiting for me to get to them.) I wrote this one sometime in 2013, during my early days of writing. It was after
Broken World
, but did not follow the same zombie outbreak. At the time, I was still living in California and still trying to find an agent—or get a book deal—and the idea of self-publishing was just a glimmer in my mind. I actually got the idea for this book from my husband. He had a dream that resembled the end of this novel—I won’t spoil it for anyone who decides to actually take the time to read this foreword—and he shared the idea with me.

With the success of the
Broken World
series, I decided this story needed some changes. First, the zombie outbreak had to match the one I’d created in
Broken World
. I originally wrote this story to have zombies who were still alive—kind of like
28 Days Later
—but I was afraid that having two zombie novels with two different types of outbreaks would be confusing for readers. (Plus, I loved the idea of exploring how the world had evolved two years down the road.) The second thing that needed to change was the title. I’d never been a fan of the original, but at the time it was all I could think of. Since I’m notoriously bad with titles, it took me a while to figure out what to call this story, but as I thought about the characters and where they were in their lives, the word
alone
stuck out. Now, after having read the story through with that title in mind, I know I made the right choice.

I love this story. Even if it doesn’t do as well as
Broken World
has, and even if fans are disappointed, I’m glad I took the time to revise it. It has an innocence to it that the other series doesn’t have, but it will also give readers a peak at just how dark the world is becoming. I hope people read it. I want them to. But, if you choose to walk away because I haven’t continued the tales of Axl and Vivian, I’m okay with that too. After all, I decided a long time ago that I was going to write the stories I wanted to write, and not worry about who read them.

I will say, however, that if you do choose to read this book, you may be pleasantly surprised by who pops up in the story.

Kate L. Mary

Chapter One

New Beginning

 

 

Before the world ended, I was a normal girl who lived a normal life, just like most people in this country. I went to school, trying as hard as I could to blend in while simultaneously dreaming about the day I would stand out. I had hopes and dreams that seemed reachable, and a future that hadn’t been written yet. The world was my oyster.

At least that’s what I thought.

Now when I look back on it all, the memories from before are hazy. Like a dream I can only remember bits and pieces of after waking up to reality. The faces of the people I knew have slowly started to fade away, and the blurrier they get, the grayer my future becomes. Lately, it’s felt like I’m living under a storm cloud, just waiting for it to open up and rain down on me. My only hope is that this move doesn’t cause the cloud that’s been hanging over me to finally open up, because I’m not sure I would survive the storm.

The car that has been my prison for the last nine hours slows, jolting me from my thoughts, and I look up just as the father I barely knew two years ago stops in front of a gated community. Our new home.

“Here. We. Are!” He punctuates each syllable like it’s the announcement of the century, and I have to fight to keep my eyes from rolling.

This move may not have been up to him, but that doesn’t mean I have to be excited about it. The way I see it, moving to the middle of nowhere when we’ve been safe in D.C. for the last two years is
not
a reason to celebrate.

When I don’t answer, my father’s eyes flit my way. He shoots me a half-smile that makes him look like he’s in pain, but I work hard to keep my face as expressionless as possible. His smile tightens, causing the skin at the corners of his eyes to crinkle. I’m not sure if he doesn’t buy my indifference or he’s annoyed by it. Either way, I’m not playing along. Even though I’m slightly curious to see our new home, I’m not happy about the change.

My father lets out a sigh.

I start to twist in my seat, but before I’ve a chance to venture a glance his way, something slams against the car at my side. A shriek rips its way out of me, and my entire body jerks. A second bang quickly follows, and my heart mimics the rhythm, pounding against the inside of my chest like it’s trying to break out of me and make its getaway.

I face the window just as a zombie throws itself against my door for the third time, and this time I don’t try to hold in my scream.

“Stay calm.” It’s amazing how level my father’s voice is.

He reaches for the glove compartment just as the gate in front of us swings open, and two heavily armed men run out. Next to me, the zombie presses its decaying face against the window, smearing black goo all over the glass. It’s a woman—or it was, anyway—and her blue irises are barely visible in her milky eyes. She has her palms pressed firmly against the glass as she chomps her decaying teeth at me. When her eyes narrow, a shiver runs down my spine.

Is she studying me?

Her whole body jerks, and her eyes double in size. A split second later, the light goes out of them and she slides to the ground, leaving a streak of black blood on my window.

“Looks like they’re on top of things,” Dad says as one of the guards waves us through the gate.

My heads bobs when I find myself too shaken to respond. Even when my dad pulls inside and the gate is closed behind us, I can’t seem to calm my pounding heart.

It’s been a long time since I was
this
close to one of the dead.

Dad puts the car in park and rolls his window down as a guard approaches. The guy is decked out in riot gear, making it tough to tell exactly how old he is, but he can’t be much older than me. Eighteen, maybe nineteen. He’s big, though. Intimidating. The zombies in this area need to watch out.

The guy is smiling when he lifts his face shield, but it’s so tense it looks more like a grimace. His blue eyes are as cold as ice. “Welcome to Coastal Manor. What can we do for you?”

My father clears his throat and sits up straighter, squaring his shoulders as his lips pull together in a tight line. His typical authoritative look. It takes everything in me to stop my eyes from rolling. That look and I have become intimate friends over the last two years.

“I’m Jonathon Carmichael. The new Judicial Officer.” His voice is even stiffer than his body.

When the guard relaxes, the smile on his face finally reaches his eyes. “We weren’t expecting you until tomorrow! Sorry for being a little rude. We’ve had some trouble lately with undocumented people. We’re pretty much at full capacity, and they’re having a hard time getting the point.”

They’ve turned people away from the town.

The thought makes my stomach lurch uncomfortably. It seems harsh, but maybe that’s just the way the world is now. Harsh and unforgiving.

At least in my experience.

“You can head on over to city hall,” the guard says to my father. “Turn right at the first road and you can’t miss it.” He jerks his thumb over his shoulder as he talks, and I try to look past him. The only things visible are trees. Lots of them.

My father nods once but doesn’t thank the guy or really even acknowledge him before rolling his window up. He probably thinks talking to a lowly guard is beneath him. He just works the gate, after all. He isn’t an important government official like Jonathon Carmichael.

I try to force the bitterness away—there’s enough sadness in the world without having to live with all this negativity inside me—but bitterness is as much my companion as my father is these days.


That
is one of the many reasons they sent me here,” he says as he accelerates, sounding like he’s talking mostly to himself. “They need to get with the times. Despite being told numerous times that he needs to expand, the Regulator has resisted the idea. He’s turning people away instead of trying to figure out how to add houses. He doesn’t want to grow, and with our current situation that is totally unacceptable. If he doesn’t get it together, Atlanta may decide to replace him.”

When my father talks at me like this, it makes me feel like I’m back in school.

“You alright?” he asks when I don’t respond. He doesn’t look at me.

He never
looks
at me.

“I’m fine.” My voice shakes, though, giving me away. It’s been a long time since I’ve been fine and my father knows it. I’m not sure it’s something I
can
be anymore. How can anyone?

“It’s going to be different here, Jules. Not like it was in D.C.”

Different good, or different bad? I haven’t decided yet. It’s not like I’m leaving anything behind in D.C. other than memories, but here we’re so far from everything. The seclusion is terrifying.

“It will be fine.” My voice comes out sounding like someone is shaking me. Not exactly convincing.

Dad turns the corner and the town hall comes into view. The man at the gate was right, we couldn’t have missed it if we’d tried. The house they’re using for the city headquarters is the first one on the street. It’s big and white. Two stories. The kind of house that would have had kids running around in the backyard and bikes lying on their sides in the driveway before all this. Now there’s a huge hand-painted sign mounted in the front yard that says
Town Hall.

My dad pulls to a stop in front of the building, and my stomach does a series of acrobatics that probably would have won a gold medal at the last Olympics. I force myself to get out, trying my best to ignore how jittery my legs are. It’s been years since I felt this unsure. My life hasn’t been relaxed since this whole zombie thing started, but at least it had become routine. Here, though, I’m not sure what to expect.

Things in D.C. were different. More…uniform. Regimented. From everything my dad has heard about Coastal Manor, there isn’t a lot of order to the place. The Regulator is playing too loose with the rules.

My father heads toward the house, and I trudge after him, keeping a couple paces behind so we don’t have to talk. Not that talking is a normal thing for us. He was never exactly there for me as a child, and his newfound role of single parent hasn’t been an easy one for him to adjust to. He was a workaholic before the infection, and there are some things that even a zombie apocalypse can’t change.

We cross the lawn and I take the opportunity to get a good look at the rest of the street. Every house has been converted into a business of some kind. There are signs that say
clinic
,
school
and
library
, as well as a few others I can’t make out from this far away. It looks like the street has been transformed into a town square. People walk up and down the sidewalk, moving between booths that are piled high with random goods, as well as in and out of houses. Occasionally, someone will stop to talk to a neighbor, making this place feel more like an actual community than anything I’ve seen in D.C. It’s a lot more normal than I expected, and it helps ease the twisting in my gut.

It’s nice. Almost peaceful.

“You coming, Jules?”

My father’s voice breaks through my thoughts, making me jump. I turn to find him holding the door open. He actually smiles—a rare sight—but it doesn’t help me thaw toward him.

I duck under his arm so I can step inside. Not returning his peace offering.

He sighs as he follows me inside.

We step into a large foyer. A staircase to our left leads to the second floor, and to our right sits a reception desk. On either side the doors are open, revealing what used to be the living and dining rooms but have now been set up as offices. Every personal item that used to adorn the walls has been stripped away, leaving the house feeling almost empty. They’ve done a good job of converting the space, but it still seems…wrong. Disrespectful to the people who used to live here.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get used to a world that has been stripped so bare.

The girl sitting at the reception desk looks up as we approach, peering at us over a pair of dark-framed glasses. Her hair is dyed jet black and cut short, and has streaks of purple in it. Bracelets made of leather and brightly colored string cover her wrists, and she has more piercings than I can count. Both ears glint with little silver balls that go all the way up, and she has two small bars in her left eyebrow and a silver ball in her right nostril. In normal times, she would have looked out of place working in a government building. But normal times are long gone.

Despite the excessive piercings, she’s cute, in a funky kind of way. Her features are delicate and feminine, and her skin is as smooth as a porcelain doll. She reminds me of someone who, in days gone by, would have spent her free time protesting animal cruelty or hanging out in hip coffee shops on the weekends. Maybe she even performed spoken word on open mike night in some dark, little-known café somewhere.

“Can I help you?” Her tone comes out flat and bored, and she doesn’t even attempt a smile.

My father flashes her his most charming smile—his politician’s grin—and extends his hand. “Jon Carmichael. I’m the new Judicial Officer from Washington, here to see the Regulator.”

“Roz.” She takes his hand, pumping it twice before letting go. Her arm flops against her leg like she has no control over the limb, and her expression is just as lifeless.

Roz scoots her chair away from the desk and stands. She’s wearing a shabby plaid shirt, dark jeans riddled with holes, and a pair of bright, red Converse. Clothes covered with holes are a common sight these days, but I have a sneaking suspicion hers are more the result of a fashion statement than a lack of clothing options.

“I’ll tell Mr. Smith you’re here.” Roz’s mouth stretches into a wide yawn as she stalks off. She must be the life of the party.

My father doesn’t even glance my way once we’re alone. Not that I expected him to. I’m pretty sure he forgets about me sometimes, and these days the silence between us is the only constant in my life.

My eyes focus on my own shoes while we wait for Roz to return. I wiggle my toes in my pink Converse, savoring the familiarity of something as simple as shoes. They’re a lot nicer than most people get these days. A benefit of having a father in an important position.

Roz reappears a few minutes later, saving my father and me from being swallowed by the stillness. A man wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants trails behind her. His clothes are clean, but they’ve seen better days. Haven’t we all, though? Sometimes I feel exactly like the shirt he’s wearing: worn and faded and ready for a break. Pathetic at the age of seventeen.

BOOK: Alone
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