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Authors: MJ Fredrick

Eden's Promise

BOOK: Eden's Promise
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Eden’s Promise

by

MJ Fredrick

 

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2013 by M.J. Fredrick

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

For Fred and Trish J, who made this book darker than I could have alone!

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

Eden’s father started stockpiling the day the towers fell. She was too young to remember that day, but her earliest memories were of her father sitting in front of the television, horrific images of violence flickering on his face.
 

And the arguments between her parents.

“Eddie, we live on an island,” her mother would say. “No one is going to bother us here.”

“An island in the Pacific Ocean,” he’d reply. “Russians, North Koreans, hell, our most dangerous enemies are on this side of the planet. If I thought I could protect us better somewhere else...”

Then, on her tenth birthday, he took her and her older sister Kelly to the shooting range he’d built in the woods behind their house. She was fairly certain that he waited until she was ten out of concession to her mother’s concerns that she was too young. Kelly refused to even touch a gun, but Eden wanted to make her father proud. Every day he’d make her join him for half an hour, at least, learning how to shoot, how to load, how to strip down guns. She got accustomed to the smell of gun oil on her hands, and disapproving looks from her mother.

By the time she was in high school, she could field strip an M4 Carbine faster than her father, and she knew the names of all the countries that hated the United States, and why. When she went to Seattle for college, instead of going in as an architect major, she got her degree in engineering at his insistence that those skills would survive anything. She’d tried to convince him she could be a veterinarian, like him, pointing out those skills were useful, as well, but he didn’t want her away from the island so long.

Her mother called him paranoid, Kelly thought he was insane, but Eden adored him. He was smart, and strong, and beloved by the town where he was first a veterinarian, then the mayor. They knew about his fears, but thought them a quirk, and because he was so calm and reasonable, they loved him, if they called him a kook behind his back.

If only he’d been wrong.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

The lights went out when Eden was reading the Seattle paper online. Automatically, she checked the plug on her laptop before she realized the house was silent. The television, so rarely not tuned into one twenty-four hour news channel or another, was silent. Crazy, since today was Election Day and her father had been following the embittered campaign religiously, wondering which candidate would keep them afloat when it all went to hell. Every night the pundits on the twenty-four hour news stations got more intense, as if they were trying to reach through the television to make the viewers understand. Every night, her father grew quieter and quieter, and after the eleven o'clock news, he'd head to the basement to his HAM radio.

She closed her laptop and headed downstairs. Her father stood on the front porch, the door open, looking down the hill at the dark town. But he wasn’t looking at that. He was looking across the water toward the mainland, where they could usually see the glow of lights from Seattle and Tacoma.

Tonight the sky was completely dark.

“It’s just a power outage. A storm.” Eden’s mother joined them at the door, cellphone in hand, but her tone anxious.

Her husband nodded at the phone. “Are you getting anything on that?”

Sarah McKay’s mouth tightened and she shook her head.
 

Eddie McKay turned his gaze out over the water again. “It’s happened.”

 

***

 

Eden woke the next morning shivering under two quilts. Her father hadn’t wanted to turn on the generator yet, wanting to conserve fuel. So the power hadn’t come on.

God, she didn’t want to believe that her father was right. As much time as he’d spent training her on what to do in this situation, she’d never believed she would have to put those skills to use. She’d feared it, but never believed it.

Stomach tight, she entered the kitchen to see her parents at the table eating cereal. From the drawn look on her mother’s face and the bags under her father’s eyes, she could tell they’d not slept, or not slept well.

“I’ve called a town hall meeting for eleven,” he told her when she sat with them. “I want the two of you with me. It might get ugly and I want you close.”

Eden pulled the carton of milk toward her. It held some residual chill, but not much. She may as well use as much as she wanted. No telling when she’d get more. So she drowned her cereal in it. “Ugly? Why?”
 

“They’re not going to like what I have to say.”

 

***

 

The meeting was called to order in the tiny town hall, whose capacity, as stated on the plaque by the door, was only 100. Since the population of Pontbriand Island was over three hundred, and people were anxious, the mood in the town hall was already edgy.

“It’s finally happened,” Eddie McKay said once the meeting was called to order. “I’m not sure exactly what, if it’s war or a terror attack or just exactly what. I was on my radio last night for hours. Power is out all over the United States, but no one seems to know why. There’s plenty of speculation, of course, that I won’t go into here. Make no bones about it, the United States is under attack, and the safest place for everyone to be is here on Pontbriand Island. What I’m saying to you is, we aren’t able to contact the outside world, not at this time, anyway, aside from my HAM radio, and we won’t be leaving the island.”

That drew gasps of alarm.
 

“What about supplies?” someone asked.

“We’re in good shape there. I’ve been stockpiling supplies for years, ordering them online, having them delivered, buying non-perishable food in bulk every time I go to the mainland. It’s stored under city hall. We have a plan, of course, for distribution. Also, we have good crops, cattle, deer. We’ll have to be judicious there, of course, but again, I have a plan for distribution. And we’re fortunate to have the ocean. We can do our fishing on the ocean side, away from the mainland.”

“Wait a minute,” said John Rayburn, a local farmer. “I’m planning to sell my crops and cattle.”

Her father looked at him a long moment. “John, right now we’re not sure you have anyone to sell them to.”

“We can send some people to the mainland to see what’s going on,” John Rayburn said.

Her father held up a hand for calm, impossible as terror rolled through the crowd. “We cannot risk sending anyone over there. Even more, we cannot risk people thinking about this island and wanting to find refuge here. We have supplies for ourselves only. Three hundred seven and a half people live in this town.” He gave a small smile to Teresa Rose, six months pregnant. “We need to protect ourselves. I propose we put guards along the coast to watch for boats coming from the mainland.”

“And if they come? What are you proposing?” Phil Mancietti spoke up, his voice shaky.

Her father’s face grew stony. “I propose we send them on their way.”
 

A chill ran through Eden at his words. She couldn’t envision doing that, not to desperate people.

“I also propose that we turn off the lighthouses. They’ll only serve to remind people we are here, friend and enemy. We do not want to be remembered.”

“Some of us have family on the mainland,” said Mary Jenkins in a shaky voice. “My son is in the Navy.”

“And my daughter Kelly is in Tacoma, and Candace’s grandchildren are in Seattle and Phil’s son at Stanford, and Dr. Hoyt and his family are on a cruise in England. If they can find their way back to us, we will find a way to welcome them. But under no circumstances are we to leave this island. Is that clear?”

Eden’s heart clutched as she met her mother’s gaze. They hadn’t seen Kelly in years, weren’t even sure she was still in Washington. And now, God knew what kind of danger she was in.
 

The grumbles around them grew louder, vociferous, angry. “You can’t make that call for us.”

“I can, because I’m the one with the supplies. And the guns. And the plan to keep us safe against whatever this is.” He nodded toward Damien Morgan, one of the local fishermen, who signaled to a few other men and left the room. Then her father exited through the back door.

The meeting disintegrated from there, people talking among themselves, a few voices raised in anger, others in panic. The prevailing attitude was shock, not at the situation, but at her father’s handling of it. Even she, who knew her father better than anyone, who had listened to his fears, was stunned by the line he’d drawn, not allowing people from the mainland to escape to the island. She’d known he didn’t want people to leave the island, not only because he believed he could keep them safe, but because he wanted the island to keep a low profile. As shocked as she was, she couldn’t imagine how the people who knew him as their calm and reasonable mayor were seeing him now. She could see the discomfort, the disagreement in the body language of the people around her. Would there be action against him? Or would they believe he could keep them safe?

What did she believe?

She made her way through the crowd after her father. Jennifer Dodson caught her arm.
 

“He doesn’t mean it, does he? About not letting anyone come?”

“I don’t know. I think he’s just being cautious. I’ll talk to him.” Not that it would do any good, just yet while everything was so new. She broke herself free and pressed through the crowd.
 

“Come on, dude,” one of the Rayburn’s sons said to a friend, one of the Wayne boys, she thought. “Let’s take my boat, we’ll go see what’s going on.”

The Wayne boy hesitated. “Man, no, what if Mr. McKay is right? We don’t know what’s going on over there. What if it’s war or something?”

“Then we’ll be the ones to go find out and let everyone know. Come on!”

Eden gripped the Wayne boy—Chris? Carter?—by the wrist. “You can’t do that. Give it some time. We’ll find out what’s going on. You need to listen to my father.”

The Rayburn boy intervened, breaking her hold on Chris/Carter’s arm. He towered over her, though he was ten years younger. “Just because you do everything your father says doesn’t mean all of us have to.”
 

Shouting outside drew her attention, but she sent one last pleading glance to the boys before hurrying out to see her father squaring off with Vince Lopez, the harbor master. Eden pressed through the crowd to get to her father’s side. He was using the reasonable voice that got him elected as he defended his decision to have Damien and the others disable the lighthouses on the island.

“You’ll kill people!” Lopez said. “Ships will run aground on their way to the mainland, boats will sink.”

“And if we don’t, we’ll become a target. We don’t know who the enemy is yet. We need to be safe, just like our families did in World War II. You know it’s true, Vince.”

“What if our families try to come?” Mary Jenkins said again. “How will they find us? They could be lost at sea.”

“I’m sorry, Mary,” her father said, not unkindly. “But we need to think of ourselves first. Once everything is sorted out, we can start thinking about others.”

“Easy for you to say,” Mary’s husband Robert bit out. “Our boy has done three tours. He’s a hero and deserves to come home.”

Eden read the sadness in her father’s eyes and hurried forward before he could say something he’d regret—or at least that the Jenkinses would.

BOOK: Eden's Promise
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