Glimmer Of Hope
A POST-APOCALYPTIC TALE
Following a nuclear holocaust, Nathan Taylor and his family face grim choices in order to stay alive. Fleeing deadly radiation, plague and desperate men, Nathan, an army officer, leads his wife and their two teenage sons away from chaos and madness toward his ancestral home in Kentucky.
Horrors lie in their path. From the prison struggling to maintain control of its inmates, to the desperadoes who enslave anyone who comes their way, even survival may cost Nathan his humanity...or that of his sons, Joshua and David. Nathan struggles to keep his family intact, but it requires making brutal choices. He wants to protect his sons, but knows they now must be deadly and cold at times.
Nathan's home has been spared from the worst of the destruction, but a larger conflict over scarce resources erupts. For the survivors to have any chance they will have to fight and the desperate journey has transformed young Joshua and David into men called upon to lead and sacrifice. Torn between harsh realities, and wanting to hold onto fleeting childhoods, they are often conflicted and angry about the roles thrust upon them. Much will depend on how Nathan and his sons respond to a madman and his military regime seeking to conquer the fledgling community they are helping to build.
GLIMMER OF HOPE is an epic tale of one family's endurance and triumph after tomorrow's apocalypse.
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More about Ryan King
I’ve known Ryan King since we were stationed in Belgium together in the last decade. Ryan is married to fellow author Kristin King and they have four young and energetic boys who keep them constantly busy. I’m amazed that Ryan manages to juggle a busy military career and an active family and still finds time to write.
Ryan King is a career US Army officer with multiple combat tours, who continues to serve in the military. He has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Ryan King writes post-apocalyptic, dystopian, thriller, horror, and action short stories, short novels, and novels. The first book in his post-apocalyptic series Glimmer of Hope was released in September 2012 and is currently on Amazon’s Top 100 list for Science Fiction Dystopian novels. The sequel, Children of Wrath, should be released in late 2013. Ryan King also writes under the name of Charles R. King for nonfiction. He has published 22 works of historical nonfiction, primarily covering the Punic Wars and late Roman Republican Era.
Excerpt from an interview with Ryan King
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I’ve always enjoyed books that fire my imagination. When I was younger I devoured fantasy and science fiction, and still read both genres often. I’m also a big fan of history and historical fiction. My favorite authors include Neil Stephenson, Sharon Kay Penman, Stephen King, Frank Herbert, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
I tend to have a fairly active imagination and often think about worst-case scenarios. Many of my story ideas are products of normal events juxtaposed with the unlikely. Additionally, since I was a child, I’ve sometimes had trouble getting to sleep at night. My mind just won’t shut down and relax. One of the ways I’ve learned to allow my brain to relax is to think about and build fictitious worlds in my head. One of these ended up being a setting for my post-apocalyptic series Land of Tomorrow and I’m sure that more of these worlds will make their way into my stories eventually.
What is a typical writing day for you?
A typical writing day is unfortunately much different from an ideal writing day. Ideally, I like to write in the early afternoon or evening for as long as I can with only short breaks. In reality I typically write like a snake eats due to a demanding 12-hour a day job and four young sons. Whenever I have an opportunity to get some serious writing done, I try to go all-out until real life pulls me back.
What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
My favorite part of writing is the feeling of creating something, especially if I believe I’ve done it well. It’s also a rush when someone reads a story and tells me they liked it. My least favorite part is the lack of time I actually have to write. I often get to the point where just about everything else in my life feels like a distraction from writing and it can be very frustrating. I’ve been fairly surprised at how much fun this has all been for my wife and me.
Do you have a favorite character in your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
In Glimmer of Hope I’m particularly fond of the unassuming manipulative spymaster Ethan as well as the brilliant ex-convict and gang leader Brazen. These characters are unpredictable and they often surprise me with what they chose to do or say.
How is your book series different from others in your genre?
I wrote Glimmer of Hope to be as realistic as I could possibly make a post-apocalyptic book. Although there is occasional humor and victories for the main characters, I wanted this world to be grim and unforgiving, much like I envision a sick world would be. Society and human decency and goodness are not foregone conclusions and the good guys don’t always win. Although Glimmer of Hope has been described as dark, the next books in the series will be even darker.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
First of all I hope they enjoy the story and can identify with the characters. I also hope my book causes them to ponder how they would react or survive in a similar situations because that is the second part of any story…the readers putting themselves into the tale.
Where can we go to buy your books?
They are on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo. Below is a link to my author pages which list my books.
Charles R. King books on Amazon
Ryan King books on Apple iBooks
Ryan King books on Barnes&Noble/Nook
GLIMMER OF HOPE Sample
The icy wind whipped dirty grey snow into Nathan’s face. It was always cold and overcast now. He wondered if warmth would ever again come to this dreary world. His extremities were long past numb and his joints felt as if they were frozen in place. He looked at his family lying in the dingy ash-like mush beside him. Bethany shivered and burned with fever and Nathan feared she wouldn’t make it through another night outdoors. His watch told him it was three o’clock in the afternoon, but the overcast sky looked like dusk. Days were shorter now.
Nathan turned back to the little clapboard shack silhouetted in the fading light. At one corner of the structure white smoke billowed from a rusty sheet metal pipe promising warmth.
There is no easy way to do this. I hope I don’t get us all killed, he thought. Even if things go well, there will likely be blood. Nathan lowered his head onto his arm and closed his eyes. Choices were falling away from him like the leaves on the dying trees towering over them. Keeping his family alive. That was the only thing that mattered now.
He looked at his sons and gave them a nod as he stood. Joshua and David rose and followed their father slowly. Nathan put his hand on Bethany as they passed, her fever so bad she was oblivious to everything around her. He thought about conferring with the boys again, but that would only be stalling. They had talked it all over before and besides, there was nothing complicated in what they were about to do. With sudden determination, Nathan ran the last ten feet and kicked in the flimsy door. He was momentarily blinded by the light and warmth.
Nathan moved along the right wall and felt the boys come in behind him. His eyes adjusted and he saw three men and one woman. They were staring back at him in shock. The dirty unkempt man nearest the stove stood slowly with a cunning look on his face. He eased a hatchet from the nearby woodpile. Nathan aimed his assault rifle at the man and tightened his finger on the trigger. The man froze, but glowered at Nathan with tangible malice. Time stopped and Nathan almost reconsidered.
“So what are you going to do?” snarled the angry man in front of him. “You can’t make us leave and you’re sure as hell not staying here with us! This is our place. Find your own!”
Nathan shot the man in the face without thinking. Before he could turn he heard David fire the shotgun to his left. David's shot hit both the man sitting at the table and the scrawny woman in his lap. They both fell to the floor in a bloody heap.
The man closest to the entrance bolted out of his chair towards the door and Joshua hesitated, nearly letting him go. Nathan knew what the boy was thinking…he’s running, isn’t a threat, but he’s headed out the door towards where Mother is waiting sick in the snow. The boy deliberately stepped forward into the wind gusting through the silhouette of the door and shot the man in the center of the back with his .45 automatic pistol.
Joshua stared at the crumpled body outside the door and looked sick. David simply began going through pockets looking for valuables. Nathan wondered again how his two sons could be so different, and not just in appearance. Joshua was blond and light-skinned like Nathan. He was also the oldest by a year and the thinker. David was dark-haired like his mother and not terribly reflective. Nathan suspected David spent little time on regret or second-guessing.
Nathan let out a deep breath and closed the door before the precious heat could escape. He grabbed Joshua’s arm, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I guess. Like you said, if we don’t get Mom out of the cold she is going to die and this is the only warm shelter we’ve seen for days.” Joshua lowered his head, “I just wish there was another way.”
“There is no other way, and you know it,” said David casually from the floor where he was trying on the hat of the still dying man. “They wouldn’t let us stay in their filthy, lousy shack and even if they did, we’d have our throats cut before morning or worse.” David did not even bother to look around at them, now preoccupied with examining a small knife from the woman’s jacket pocket. She kept putting her hand on David’s arm as blood pooled out of her neck and he shook it off absentmindedly each time.
Joshua tensed up and started towards his brother, but Nathan stepped in front putting his hand on his son’s chest. “Go bring your mother in from the cold and lay her down over by the stove, we’ll get these…” Nathan gestured at the three men and woman on the floor, “…out of here.”
“I’ll help you bury them,” said Joshua resolutely. Nathan started to answer him, but David stood and turned around incredulous, “Why? They would have skinned you alive and raped Mom for days, and you want to give them a proper burial?”
“You don’t know that,” insisted Joshua, “they could have been folks just like us.”
“I’m sure they were folks just like us,” answered Nathan slowly, “just trying to survive, but they would have killed us nevertheless, either directly or by not letting us in from the cold.”
David turned away from the conversation, clearly already bored, and moved to a pistol thrown into the corner during the commotion. None of them had even seen it in the short fight.
Nathan slid close to Joshua and said quietly, “Son, that ground is frozen, we don’t have tools, and we frankly don’t have any energy to spare. Maybe tomorrow after we rest and eat, but not today. Especially not with night coming on.”
“But Dad, won’t they attract the dogs?”
This actually gave Nathan pause. His son was right. Despite the deep cold and driving snow, those roving packs of once domesticated, but now murderous, wild dogs would come to them, drawn by the smell of fresh blood.
“Son, we have no choice!” hissed Nathan. “We can’t bury them without tools, and we can’t spare the gas to burn them. Also, before you say it, I’m not going to let your mother spend the night in this small shack with four corpses! We’ll drag them as far away as we can and hope for the best.”
“But Dad, those two look like they’re still alive,” pleaded Joshua pointing to the man and woman David had shot.
“They’re not. They’re only dying slow. We couldn’t save them even if we wanted to, now no more talk. Bring your mother in here and try not to let her see any more of the death than she has to. You know it upsets her.”
Joshua moved off and Nathan scanned the area mentally making an inventory of the room. It had probably been a seasonal hunting cabin at one point. There was a small stove in the corner putting out enough heat to keep the tiny shack blessedly warm. There were also three thin pallets with blankets near the stove, and a table with two wobbly chairs. A small egg crate in the corner appeared to contain some canned goods and a bag of dried beans. The walls were thin and drafty, but coming across this shack was fortunate. Nathan had fought to keep the thought just below the surface that his family might die slowly before his very eyes. Now he knew death was at least another day away.
David walked back across the small room carrying several pairs of boots under one arm and a bag of loot in the other. “Looks like we got an old .38 revolver with fifteen shells, three pairs of boots we might be able to use down the road, a backpack that could still have some life in it, a lighter half full of fluid, that hatchet and the food in the crate there.”
“Good,” said Nathan. “Let’s drag these poor souls out of here before the blood gets all over the place.”
They took the two dying ones out first, dragging them down the hill out of sight, and hopefully downwind from the shack. At the bottom David asked Nathan if he wanted to finish them off with the shotgun. Nathan told him he needed to put them out of their misery, but didn’t want to use a gun. Ammunition was just too scarce. Nathan deliberately drew his large hunting knife and knelt down beside the man.
“I can do it,” said David emotionlessly.
Nathan stopped and slowly looked at his son. “Why on God’s earth would you want to do something like that?”
David stepped back and crossed his arms angry, “Whatever. Just trying to help. I did shoot them after all.”
“Just go get those other two bodies and then clean the blood off the floor,” said Nathan as evenly as he could.
“Fine,” said David as he turned and walked away into the approaching twilight the shotgun slung low over his back.
Nathan paused and watched the boy stride up the hill. If someone had told him three months ago that he would have to suffer teenage attitude from his seventeen year old son because he did not allow the boy to finish killing two people, Nathan would have thought them crazy, but that was exactly what just happened. David gave him the same reaction when told he could not stay at a friend’s house or watch a late movie on a school night. Nathan had known a few men in combat who took to killing, but none as readily and easily as David. It wasn’t that David was homicidal; he just did not seem to feel any empathy for those in his way. Killing was just a chore to him similar to taking out the trash or doing the laundry.
Nathan bent back over to the man who was, thankfully, already dead. No such luck with the poor woman. Her eyes followed him like a wild horse, but there was no hope for her; it was a wonder she was alive at all. The buckshot had taken off part of the side of her head, leaving a portion of the brain exposed.
Nathan wanted to tell her he was sorry. Even so, he knew that was his weak effort at trying to alleviate his own guilt. Even if there was, by some miracle, a way for this woman and her friends to let him off the hook, he knew they were dead because of him. Folks just like us, he'd told Joshua and it was probably true.
Nathan clenched his teeth and reached down to gently turn her head so the pleading eyes faced away. He neatly sliced open her carotid artery, allowing the blood to gush into the snow before standing up and moving away from the horrific sight and nauseating odors of death.
He stretched his squat muscular frame tense with painful exhaustion. He wasn’t exactly short, but his fireplug physique made him appear shorter than he was. Nathan walked stiffly a few feet away to breathe in the cold dead air. He watched the sickly yellow sun set over the snow-covered hills. The quiet and stillness felt more ominous than peaceful. There were suddenly no sounds, even the wind stopped. The whole vastness of the earth is a gigantic open grave, thought Nathan and shuddered.
Nathan sagged down against a tree in sudden grief. Did I save his family for this? Is the world nothing but a rotting corpse? Are we fooling ourselves?
He climbed slowly back to his feet brushing the slimy snow off his body. I might be a fool, he thought, but I know no other way. The choice is simple and will be decided each day and each moment. Death or life? Despair or hope?
A gust of wind brought the sound of his boys talking. He could tell by the tone the open animosity was gone and they were brothers again, just like in days past. Maybe only for a little while, but it was something.
Nathan felt strength and purpose flow into him. I must keep them alive. I must maintain hope, however pathetic it might prove.
Nathan turned and resolutely climbed up the hill to his family and the awaiting light and warmth.