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Graham's Resolution, Book 1, The China Pandemic

Graham's Resolution, Book 1, The China Pandemic

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I feel my heart clench as I watch the life drain out of this woman’s eyes. I’ve been through so much suffering because of the disease, and now here is this stranger asking me to accept her four-year-old son into my care. 

The child wails inconsolably in his mother's arms while I struggle to keep myself composed. We have to move quickly if we will reach the cabin in the woods before nightfall, but a wild-eyed man is blocking our path. How can I make it through without drawing attention to us?

Sample: Graham's Resolution - Chapter 1


Some said that China’s intent to develop the H5N1 virus merely came about as an attempt to culture a vaccine, knowing the nation’s dense population would be at catastrophic risk if attacked by such a virus. Others said that China’s motives had always been sinister, and that they had developed a weaponized form of the virus. In the end it didn’t matter what the intentions had been; having tinkered with Pandora’s box, and without safeguards in place, they had unleashed it. And not only on their own people; it spread like wildfire across the globe, exterminating more than six billion souls. The million or so who were still alive were somehow immune, but they were carriers. As for the virus itself, it became known simply as the China Pandemic.

Chapter 1

A Fate Worse than Death

Shivering in the pounding Pacific Northwest rain, Hyun-Ok needed to see for herself what threat the grim man in the distance posed. She’d heard him yelling before, followed by a gunshot blast and then a terrible scream. Having already counted him an unsuitable candidate to offer her the aid she needed, she had to be certain he wasn’t an immediate threat to her and her son. 

With a death grip on the bed of the parked black pickup truck behind which she had taken refuge, Hyun-Ok gasped in horror as the crazed man powered up a small, worn backhoe. He scooped his victim up with the bucket, then spilled him, still alive and screaming, into a massive fire he had kept burning all day in a Dumpster. 

She slinked away, her broken sobs bringing on a coughing fit from her own infected lungs. The agonized screams finally stopped, and Hyun-Ok grieved in silence for the unlucky man’s soul as sparks flew skyward. She must escape this part of town! The grim man, Campos, had posted no trespassing signs, and his actions told her he meant it. 

She was her son’s only hope, and there was little time left to ensure his future. The disease weakened Hyun-Ok more each day, and she knew she would soon die. She could not leave her five-year-old to fend for himself with the likes of Campos around. Her days of scouting had told her there was only one person left to consider; the search had already taken up too much valuable time and energy, and Bang had to be in caring hands soon. 

The one she was thinking of had one more to bury anyway. She might as well spend what little time she had left with her son. 

Hyun-Ok recovered from her coughing fit as best she could and continued her journey home. She would need to make the trip in silence through the forested night, hidden from the few remaining people. Since coming to the realization that Bang showed no signs of the virus she had been venturing out like this, into the dark, every night. 

One by one those around her had died off as she cared for them, Bang always at her side. Her elderly mother had been the first to go, followed closely by her father. Shortly after that, her husband, though he desperately clung to life, not willing to abandon his wife and son.

Covered in the sweat of fever, and her words rasping, Hyun-Ok had assured him his son would be fine and urged him into a peaceful beyond. “I will be with you soon, my love,” she’d told him with tears streaming down her face. As weak as she was at the time, the tears had surprised her.

The endearment, and the true meaning of her words, had sparked something in her dying husband. His eyes darted from Hyun-Ok to Bang, who was standing at the bedside. In brutal agony, he drew himself up to gaze at his son’s face. “He must not be left alone and defenseless in this world gone mad!”

Hyun-Ok tried to comfort her husband with words, pushing him gently back toward the mattress, and she revealed her plan to safeguard their son. Her husband held them both close, praying aloud to an unhearing god that he could draw them with him as he slipped away.

That was just a week ago, and that night, after Bang drifted off to sleep, Hyun-Ok had gone out canvassing for the few remaining survivors in the neighborhood. Cloaked in black and defying the many dangers, she spied on the others and assessed them based on instinct alone. She estimated six hundred had originally occupied this immediate area in the Seattle suburb of Issaquah, and with only a 2 percent survival rate there should be twelve survivors—now known to be carriers. Of those she had only found seven.

Tonight she immediately discounted the first person she came across, two streets over, as being too elderly to be the guardian of a child of five. This lady only had a year left in her, if that. Hyun-Ok’s boy needed someone younger to carry him through life, at least into his teens. 

The man she found next made her uncomfortable. She observed him decidedly grieving for his lost family, sitting out in a lawn chair in the night, yelling obscenities. He taunted and waited for the starving dogs, now gone wild, to smell him out. He shot at them, but it seemed to her that he was only trying to provoke an attack. She could sense his massive sorrow and knew his intentions were suicide by mauling if he could manage it. If not, he would likely soon take his own life. Sadly, she suspected that happened a lot with survivors.

Hyun-Ok crossed the highway unseen and found a scantily clad woman picking apples from a tree in a vacant lot. She knew the woman would attract the wrong kind of attention and wouldn’t be a good choice for her son’s welfare.

The man she had finally chosen seemed the only one capable of being her son’s guardian. Not only that, but something about him—either the way he carried his tall frame or the thoughtful dignity with which he buried his loved ones—assured Hyun-Ok that the neighbor named Graham would prove himself the best guardian. She knew that she could trust him with her boy. Knowing that as soon as Graham’s father passed away he’d have no more to bury, she could take her boy to him going on her own journey into death. One more day, she thought. But before then, I need to write to him about Bang.

With a sad smile, she stepped through the maze of parked vehicles, listening attentively to all sounds and alert for any dangers. She glanced back at the glow in the distance one last time. The last remaining obstacle would be to make Graham understand that he needed the boy as much as the boy needed him. She knew that would be the greatest challenge. She had to convince him of that or her son would be doomed.

- 6 years before current events, this is a story of hope when humanity is at its worst.

"Eerily Plausible," they said. "Too close to reality..."

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