Read The Book of a Few Online

Authors: Austen Rodgers

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The Book of a Few

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The Book of a Few
The Book of a Few
 
By Austen Rodgers
 
 

Copyright © 2015 by Austen Rodgers

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher at the address below.

 

Austen Rodgers
[email protected]

 

www.austenrodgerswriting.com

 
 

Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication data
The Book of a Few / Austen Rodgers
ISBN:
978-0-9861044-0-4
(paperback)

 

ISBN:
978-0-9861044-1-1 (eBook)

 

1. Science Fiction 2. Apocalyptic / Dystopian

 

First Edition

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 
 
 

Acknowledgements

 

Sharon Roberts – Beta Reader

 

William Byrne – Beta Reader

 

Martin Coffee – Editor

 

Meg Lundberg – Proofreader

 

Thank you for all your help.

 
 
 

Dedicated to my Father.

 

I use your name with joy.

 
Pre-Notes
 

The following passages have been pulled together from various ruins of the Black Era. Known as a time of needless social chaos, the Black Era is one of humanity’s darkest and most amoral times. Personal accounts have been ordered, pieced together, transcribed, and recorded in chronological order in this book.

 

Many scholars, scientists, and archeologists feel as though the Black Era was an avoidable catastrophe. It was through mankind’s own selfish and hostile nature that the Black Era came to be. Many perished as a result of another man’s actions, both directly and indirectly.

 

These logs are the most complete recordings from the Black Era. They have the fewest missing pages and comprise the longest single span of time. Chester Keeton wrote over three hundred pages worth of logs across two notebooks and an audio recorder. While other accounts are also used, the majority of logs are written by Chester on a day-to-day basis.

 
The Silence
A Prologue
 

I never thought of myself as a killer. Steady and solid, never wavering too far from what I viewed as right. My tongue honest, and my heart compassionate for my family and friends. I’m proud of who I am, and have always thought that others looked up to me. Yet sometimes, I find myself questioning my own intentions. I feel equally as caring as I do destructive and selfish.

 

Every once in a while, I remind myself that I am as crooked and hunchbacked as some of the worst people I’ve ever met. I’m subjected to gritty human nature just like everyone else, I guess. I think that my passion for aggressive metal music is a sign that I am angry
and fed up, and I’ve been that way for a while.

 

Life is something I barely had time to understand, or even start. I had a good girl and a job that fed me and left me with cash for toys. But I lost it all, mostly through series of bad decisions. Even with the world set against me, making it nearly impossible to survive, I look back and think to myself if only I hadn’t done
that
. But hey, I’m not the only one surrounded by death in a hell like this, so don’t think I’m special.

 

It was July in the small town of Readlyn, Iowa. While this summer wasn’t nearly quite as hot and humid as the last, we still had some warm days. Everyone was out and about as usual, going through his or her daily routines, and bringing what food they could back to the dining room table. It was an economic slowdown, as usual, and just when we didn’t need it, the Silence struck.

 

On a seemingly national scale, we lost everything—our phones, public radio, the Internet. We couldn’t pull cash from our banks or ATMs, and we couldn’t contact anyone outside of yelling distance. Immediately, some stores locked their doors, and schools canceled classes until further notice. Looking back, no one ever knew the true scale of the Silence. Most assumed it was at least national; others thought it was global.

 

Mankind as a whole had become lost. For those two weeks, people here attempted to keep working, trying to keep to business as usual. But eventually, we couldn’t keep up the front that everything was okay. People who didn’t have any goods worth bartering with resorted to theft. And no matter what position you were in, you seemed to be able to get what you needed, at least for a while. A few stores were foolish enough to accept petty cash; they just kept selling themselves out and thought it was only temporary.

 


Come on, Chester. There’s no way ‘Merica’s gone down the chute. It’ll be all right,” they’d say.

 

During the Silence, work for me was impossible. When you’re in warehousing and shipping, you usually have to know what the stores need in order to ship it. Not to mention that the stores need to be open. So all the lack of communication made me worthless. But luckily for the local area, the power was still running. I’ll be honest—for the first few days, I took advantage of being off work. While it wasn’t easy getting accustomed to the lack of Internet, I was doing a whole lot of nothing. I put the situation at hand on the backburner, hoping that it
would blow over.

 

I didn’t really think about the fact that this might be more along the lines of permanent until the third day. I had considered it a possibility, of course, but some part of me just wanted to deny everything going on outside my apartment walls. Then the fear kicked in. I started paying more attention to my surroundings. My family had already begun to run low on food, my neighbor nearly died in a shooting, and I had been sitting on my couch.

 

Some people speculated the Silence was the result of a terrorist attack, or the attack of another nation, aimed at our infrastructure to divide and conquer the country. It made sense, but there was no way to confirm anything. It wasn’t until the 23rd of July when we finally got our answer. The dark truth swept across the nation from the east and the west: Death had come calling for the masses.

 
Day One
 

After waking up, the first thing I did was step outside and light a cigarette. I had half a pack left, and I’d been trying to make them last as long as possible. The only gas station in town had just closed its doors a few days ago, meaning that what I had was all I might ever have. I was smart enough to get as much gas as I could before the store closed, but $23.47 only gets you so much. Especially when the price rises a little every few hours as the uncertainty grows.

 

Going back inside, I looked at my iPod, checking the time. The illuminated screen read nine a.m
.
and I figured I had better check in with my family. I searched the nearly empty cupboards for some food and stuffed a couple apples into my backpack. I took my 12-gauge Remington 870 with me, slung over my back, and my Sig on my waist. I had already planned on going out to the nearby woods in search of something to take home that day, and taking both firearms would allow me to harvest whatever game I came across. Before I left, I checked myself in the mirror out of habit. A couple spots of mud, heavy lines under my eyes, and precisely two gray hairs in my reddish beard. I looked like crap even to myself.

 

I saw some of the townsfolk out and about. An older couple stood outside the closed-down post office talking with another more middle-aged man with sloppy black hair. He, too, had a gun slung over his back. I sighed to myself and thought of this small town as a prison. One gas station, one bar, Main Street only three blocks long—you get bored here right quick.

 

I made my way over to my girlfriend’s home first. Living with her family, she was about as lost as I was.

 


I’m going to make a trip down to campus, okay?” Miranda said. She was about to start her third year at Hawkeye Community College.

 


I don’t know if the trip will be worth it, sweetie,” I said, staring into her beautiful green eyes.

 


Well, I need to try to find out about next semester’s classes. I can’t just stand around any longer. Besides, maybe someone there will know something about what’s going on.” Her head dropped.

 

I sighed. “We’re all after answers, but I don’t know how making a trip to your school is going to bring anything to fruition.” I paused long enough for her to say something, and when she didn’t, I pulled the handgun from my waist.

 


Keep it in the glove box. I won’t have you being robbed, or worse. Bigger cities are probably horrible right now,” I said.

 

She smiled and took the weapon from me. “Thanks,” she said gleefully and hugged me.

 

Miranda nodded. We make such an odd couple, really. Outlandish, older names, brought together by friendship. Kids at heart, we are always making fun and picking at one another without either of us ever getting truly upset. It’s certainly a relationship I see lasting. Well, I did. That’s kind of up in the air right now. Anyways, I told her my plans for the day and saw her drive away from the house. Letting her go was either stupid, or just bad timing.

 

My next stop, my mother’s home, was just down a few blocks. My siblings looked starved, and my mother depressed. I had been trying to help them out, but there’s only so much I could do. I’m not a hunter and I’m not a thief, but I’m also not heartless. It pained me to see the ones close to me suffering while I was unable to help enough.

 

My mother, Renee, spoke to me of her hardships. But I shrugged them off, paying little mind, as she was not the only one struggling to get by. While I cared about the well-being of my mother and siblings, I knew that there was only so much that I could do. I didn’t even care to look into her plights. Maybe because they were hers, not mine. I can only describe my heart as a wall made of stone; I care and offer protection from the elements and wrongdoings, yet I’m cold and sometimes unforgiving.

 

I was born in 1990 (yes, I’m a ‘90s kid), in the nearby town of Cedar Falls. Dad wasn’t there when I was born, so Mom always tried to step up and fill both pairs of parental shoes. I think this confused me as a child. One moment she would be the loving, caring mother, and the next she would be the strictly disciplinarian father. As I went through my teenage years, I saw what was happening and got sick of it.

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