Authors: T.W. Piperbrook
Tom backpedaled and attempted to change course. He had no desire to hurt the boy. Not after what had happened to Rosemary and Jason. Regardless of what the boy was, Tom couldn't kill him like he'd killed the rest of his family.
Tom strode through the snow, the bullet wound in his side screaming, trying to distance himself from the angry boy. He felt like he was about to collapse. His head swam with pain. Too late, he realized he couldn't escape.
Jeffrey knocked into him, forcing him to the ground. Jeffrey's claws were like daggers, slicing into Tom's skin. Tom fought back with the remaining strength he had, focusing on holding the boy's arms at bay. If he could ward him off until morning, maybe he could make it right.
But he doubted that would happen. The moon still had light left.
Each angry jab from Jeffrey was payback for the deserved guilt Tom felt. He'd failed Rosemary. Jason. Abraham. Sally.
. He deserved this.
His desire to fight back was waning, urging Tom to let go. He had no direction. No purpose. Days of seeking refuge were over. Maybe it was time to submit to the feral claws that were digging into him. The town that had been his home for eighteen years would become his resting place.
I'll see you soon, Lorena.
Thinking of Lorena and of Jeremy, listening to the slice of Jeffrey's claws in his body, Tom sank further into the snow.
Kelsey scoured the dead bodies that littered the snow in the pale morning light. The creatures that had viciously reigned the night before were no more than stiff, pale humans. Their exposed skin was covered in bullet holes and frozen wounds. She covered her mouth with her hand. Despite what they'd been, the sight of so many dead was disturbing.
How will the rest of the world believe what happened here without having witnessed it?
Sgt. Greenwood and two other soldiers walked next to her. It'd taken some convincing for them to return. Her hope had been for some impossible miracle. But she knew it'd been foolish to think that. Walking faster, she stared from body to body in hopes of finding the one she was looking for.
She needed to know.
Looking over her shoulder, she saw Emily's face pressed to the window of the Humvee. She'd insisted the others stay in the vehicle. She didn't want to subject them to any more carnage.
Kelsey kept walking while the soldiers swung their rifles from body to body. None moved. By the looks of it, the battle the night before had rid the town of the creatures. But the victory was hollow. She couldn't find who she was looking for.
She retraced their steps, envisioning the grisly encounter the night before. The neighborhood looked different in the daytime. The sun splashed light over the snow, creating soft edges, melting it in some of the warmest places. Much of the snow had been stamped down from the night's chase. She thought she located the path they'd taken from the field to the road, and confirmed that when she saw the vehicle they'd hidden in. The broken windshield and ripped driver's side mirror told a story she'd rather not relive.
"He's not here," she said finally, a lump of grief building in her throat.
Seeing her reaction, the soldiers lowered their heads. They muttered condolences.
"I'm sorry," Sgt. Greenwood said. After a moment, he said, "We should get back to the car."
She was too choked up to answer.
Swallowing her grief, Kelsey turned to face the others. Maria and Emily's faces were pressed against the window. Instead of seeing them, she envisioned Tom the last time she'd seen him, graciously accepting the blanket, assuring her he'd be all right. He'd saved them.
He'd saved them all.
As they trudged across the snow and back to the row of Humvees, Sgt. Greenwood reached over and squeezed her arm.
"It's over," he told her.
"I hope so," she whispered.
"Where have you been, Mr. Sotheby? It's been almost a month since I've last seen you."
"I've been busy."
"Hanging on the beach?" Tara Fielding smiled good-naturedly. "Or working?" She tucked her long dark hair behind her ears, staring at the client who had been visiting her office for months.
"Working mostly," the man said, his smile deepening. Tara smiled at his coy response.
"I thought you were retired?" she asked.
"That didn't last." He shrugged. "I needed to keep busy."
"Ah, that's right. You're doing maintenance at the condo complex, right?"
"How are you enjoying Clearwater Beach?"
"I'm loving it."
Tara stepped past the dream catcher, ushering her client toward the table. She instructed him to lie down while she cued the music on her stereo. He removed his light jacket and hung it on a hook.
"Is it really that cold out?"
"Old habits, I guess," the man admitted with a smile. "I'll take sixty degree weather any day. It sure beats the New England winters."
"You're from Connecticut, right?"
"You won't have to worry about any snow down here. As you've probably learned, we don't even sell shovels." Tara laughed.
"That's exactly why I moved."
"I'm going to get started now."
Tara waved her hands over his body while soft, ambient music played in the background. She instructed him to relax. Despite her attempts to channel her client's positive energy, she could tell he was distracted.
"You seem a little tense. Is something wrong?" she asked.
"Too many broken faucets," the man joked. Tara sensed something deeper, but she didn't ask. Tara prided herself on staying out of her client's business.
"I'll do my best to help you out," she said. "Just try to relax."
She continued waving her hands over him, hoping he'd settle down. Many of her clients took some time to get used to the process.
"I'm going to balance your chakras and your auras," she told him, holding a crystal above him.
Focusing on his midsection, she said, "I feel some heat radiating from this area."
"I had an injury last winter that never quite healed."
"I'll try to rid some of the negative energy from it," she said.
"Thanks." The man smiled. "I appreciate your assistance."
Tara performed the rest of her session. When she was finished, she turned off the music. She could tell the man was feeling better.
"How do you feel?" she asked.
"Great," the man said, swinging his legs off the table. He smiled appreciatively as Tara took an appointment card and a pen from the counter.
"When would you like to book your next appointment?"
"I wanted to book an appointment for someone else, too."
"Oh, really? Sure, who's it for?"
"My grandson. He's been staying with me."
"That's really nice. What's his name?"
"I'll book him for the session right after yours."
"That'd be great."
"I look forward to seeing you both next month."
The man thanked her and gave her a handsome tip. Then he turned his attention to the window, where the warm, inviting rays of the sun filtered through the glass.
"Any plans today, Mr. Sotheby?" Tara asked him.
"You know what? I've been working too much. Maybe I'll spend a day at the beach."
A smile stuck to his face as he threw on his light jacket and walked out into the daylight.
As I wrap up
OUTAGE 5: THE CHANGE
, we're in the midst of an unseasonably warm December in Connecticut. The temperature for the last few weeks has been in the 50's; unheard of for this time of year. It's hard to envision the bitter cold and the regular snowstorms that plagued us last winter, or the storm that inspired this story.
But, like everything else, I know the snow will be back. I have my snowblower and my shovel ready. I also have my silver bullets.
You never know when the beasts will return.
I hope you enjoyed OUTAGE 5: THE CHANGE. If you enjoyed the story and the series, let other readers know by
leaving a review.
If you're looking for something else to read, turn the page for a suggestion of other stories I've written.
Thanks as always for your support! You are the reason I do this.
Until next time, stay warm and stay safe,
Other Things To Read
If you liked
, you might like the
series, which is a fast-paced, post-apocalyptic zombie series with a twist.
You can start with the Boxed Set (Books 0-3) FREE here.
If you're looking for a post-apocalyptic series with a spin on what our future might look like, try my collaborative series with Bobby Adair called
THE LAST SURVIVORS
You can get the first book FREE here.
*New Release Alerts*
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About The Author
T.W. Piperbrook was born and raised in Connecticut, where he can still be found today. He is the best-selling author of the
series, and the co-author of
THE LAST SURVIVORS
. In addition to writing, the author has spent time as a full-time touring musician, touring across the US, Canada, and Europe.
He now lives with his wife, a son, and the spirit of his Boston Terrier.
Have a question or comment? Connect with me below!
OTHER WORKS BY T.W. PIPERBROOK:
CONTAMINATION ZOMBIE SERIES:
STANDALONE IN THE CONTAMINATION UNIVERSE:
POST- APOCALYPTIC / DYSTOPIAN:
OUTAGE 5: THE CHANGE
Copyright © 2016 by T. W. Piperbrook. All rights reserved.
Edited by Cathy Moeschet.
Cover by Keri Knutson.
Special thanks to Maree Backhouse and Casey Skelton.
For those who weather the cold months.
All rights reserved. This eBook is licensed for the personal enjoyment of the original purchaser only. This eBook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this eBook and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are a work of fiction or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.