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Look Good, Book 3 - Look Alive

Look Good, Book 3 - Look Alive

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"As we wait for Malefich's recovery, Eddie and I hide out with the rebels. The tension is palpable, and Leon's aggression towards our own people only adds to the uneasy atmosphere. But then, we're introduced to a new group of rebels called Force One, led by Anton's older brother, Theo. He's a natural leader, and it's clear that his group will be a valuable ally in the fight against Commander Ilych.But as we planned our attack, I know I need to earn back Eddie's trust. She's hurt by my actions, and I couldn't blame her. But I had a plan..."

Sample - Look Alive

Three days Leon had waited at the harbor. Three days spent sitting on the edge of the dock that should’ve been lined up with trawlers, gangplanks wheeled up to the sides of the boats so fishermen could unload their catch. Three days of relentless rain that whipped the village until the boy could no longer remember how it felt to be dry.

He wasn’t alone. His elder brother stayed with him the first night, when they heard the storm was heading their way. They felt the after-effects in the village, caught the tail end of it like a serpent lashing out in fury. But that was nothing compared to what the men out at sea must’ve felt. Leon and his brother bound themselves to the ancient anchor in the harbor square with lengths of rope snatched from the harbor master’s hut before the wind claimed them. They clung to the rope, and each other, while the rain battered their skinny bodies and created pools on the ground even the seagulls couldn’t settle on long enough to swim. 

Others came and went. Men waiting for their sons to return. Wives waiting for husbands. Their mom came and begged them to go home with her, to get clean clothes and hot food inside them before they caught their death of cold, but they yelled at her to leave them be, the wind turning their shouts to howls that drifted out to sea.

Young Leon couldn’t bear to think about his grandfather battling the storm. He felt the icy, stinging rain on his skin and imagined the old man trying to keep the trawler upright while the wind tugged it over. He’d once jumped from the harbor—a dare—into the high tide. It was winter. Nighttime. The water was so cold, deeper than he could’ve ever imagined, and black as the starless sky, and as much as he’d flailed his arms and legs, he had no idea which way was up until his head finally broke the surface. It had taken days for him to get warm again. His mom had spoon-fed him steaming hot broths and casseroles filled with chicken and vegetables to warm him from the inside out, but still he’d sat wrapped in his duvet, his teeth chattering, his head still swimming with images of black water dragging him down.

How could he go home and sleep in a warm bed knowing his grandfather was being sucked under the stormy sea’s surface? 

Three days before the wreckage began to wash ashore and the villagers realized that their worst fears had come to pass. They never recovered the bodies. Services were held in the local churches in honor of those lost at sea, the pews filled with people dressed head-to-toe in black, pale-faced, and wide-eyed. Leon stood at the back of the church in his black school pants and a black sweater that had once belonged to his brother, holding his grandfather’s pocket watch and remembering him in his own way. 

It was after the storm, when the harbor town was picking up the pieces of the loss of their men, that Leon started listening to the hushed conversations amongst the adults about the government. 

“They’re denying it, of course…”

“… controlling the media…”

“What will they lie about next…?”

If the townsfolk were right, and the Anslo government could control the weather, what else were they manipulating? What began as a niggling worry in the back of his skull, soon manifested into an obsession with stopping their leaders from taking control of his own life. He had plans. He had a future to look forward to, not one that he’d been told he was going to live because it suited the government. It was only a matter of time before he joined a rebellion.

Rain always brought these memories flooding back. 

Leon sat on a broken chunk of concrete which they’d strategically placed in the mouth of a mains sewer pipe and watched the steady rainfall. He’d no idea how long he’d been on lookout, but his legs were numb, and he could no longer feel his fingers from the cold and damp. Winter was dragging her heels longer than he’d ever known it before. Trees were hardly sprouting new foliage before another snowfall happened and the animals disappeared underground again.

He’d bet every cent he’d ever earned that the wild animals were warmer than the rebels hiding out in the underground sewers. How had they even gotten here? It was all starting to blur, the hideouts, the barns, the warehouse. They’d had to lie low after they saved Malefich from execution, but none of them had been prepared for this when Laurence suggested it was their best option. They were living like rats. No. Even rats had more freedom than the rebels because they could come and go as they pleased, scurrying into villages for food and keeping warm amongst the haystacks. 

Defenders of Freedom!

He inhaled deeply thinking what a joke they’d become. If it wasn’t for Anton Lovett and the trust he’d put in his friends, Leon would be long gone; he’d chance his luck crossing the border into Intington and he wouldn’t even look back. 

The trouble was, he was starting to feel like an outsider instead of one of the founder members of the rebel group. Laurence kept reassuring him that no one treated him any differently, that they were all equals, that they would stick together until the end but—and he didn’t know how to put this into words their leader would understand—he felt like this was the end for him. 

All their problems began when the kids joined them. First the girl, Eddie, and then the spy, Angel. It wasn’t even that he didn’t like them. He did. But he was the only one looking at the situation objectively, and everything had changed when Anton welcomed Angel aboard. First, they lost Anton and Malefich. Then they lost the barn when the Anslo authorities tracked them down. Sol was gone. Sure, they’d managed to free Malefich, but he wasn’t making the speedy recovery they’d hoped, which meant that they were trapped here in the leaky, stinking drainpipes, waiting for Commander Ilych and his army to find them, because Angel’s father was on their side.

They should’ve let the kid go when he wanted to turn himself in. Leon never trusted him. He trusted him even less now that it had come to this. He saw the way the kid watched them, the way he listened to their conversations imprinting their plans onto his head, the way he always wanted to get involved with the techy stuff. It was obvious that each time the Anslo government had traced them, it was because he’d been secretly communicating with them. What he didn’t understand was why the others couldn’t see it.

He heard the splash of footsteps behind him and turned in time to see Laurence appear in the sewer mouth, rubbing his hands together for warmth. He was getting slow. There was a time when he’d have heard the footsteps and figured out who they belonged to long before the person appeared, but he’d been so lost in thought, he’d barely registered the subtle change in the splashes. 

“I’ll take over,” Laurence said. “Get back inside and get warmed up.”

Leon stared out at the endless flat landscape in front of them made gray and hazy with the rain, so that Laurence wouldn’t notice him rolling his eyes. It was impossible to get warm down there. They huddled together in whatever dry patches they could find, moving along each time they spotted another leak, but the rain showed no signs of abating, and the landscape was becoming saturated. 

Leon rose, stretching his back and waiting for the feeling to come back to his legs. “Impossible to hear anything with the rain,” he said.

“If it’s impossible for us, it’s impossible for the military too.” Laurence followed Leon’s gaze. “I find it therapeutic sometimes.”

“Yeah, when you’re cozied up in a warm bed with the heating on.” Leon failed to hide the bitterness in his voice.

Laurence faced his friend. His eyes were bloodshot. Leon knew that he felt the weight of their losses too, that the mantle of leadership of the group sat heavily on his shoulders, and he didn’t blame the big guy standing beside him. But he didn’t say it out loud.

“It won’t always be like this,” Laurence said. “I promise you we’ll get out of here as soon as Malefich is well enough to travel.”

There it was again, the same niggle in the back of Leon’s head. “When will that be, huh? Is he better this morning than he was yesterday? Was he better yesterday than he was last week? I don’t see how you can promise something you have no control over. He needs fresh air. He needs medical aid. Heat. Food. We all do.”

Laurence nodded. “I know, but I’m not prepared to risk more lives for material comforts and, now that we have him, I’m not letting Malefich go either.”

They locked eyes. “I only hope you don’t leave it too late,” Leon said before heading back down into the sewer.

Alone in the damp, dingy tunnel, far enough away from the opening that no daylight reached him, Leon stopped and rested his forehead against cold metal. Maybe he shouldn’t have been so hard on Laurence. The guy was doing his best with the resources they had and rescuing Malefich was a massive coup for them. But they were hiding from that serpent Ilych, and that was all down to the kid. He was the weak link. Without him, the Commander’s plan to use the kid’s father to hunt them down was worthless. He’d have lost the connection that his entire mission was dependent on, and would be running blind again, chasing an illusion of a rebel group a thousand times bigger than it was. 

Gritting his teeth, he raised his fist and punched the wall of the sewer tunnel, feeling the impact in his spine and right down to his toes.

If Laurence wasn’t prepared to do anything about it, he might have to take matters into his own hands.

What are Cozy Apocalypse Books?

  • No gratuitous violence or sex scenes
  • No foul language
  • No weaponry lists or zombie gore

Main Tropes

  • Survival After the Fall
  • Forming New Family Bonds
  • Thriving After the End
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