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In the family spies program, Angel Krutchek never expected that his own father would turn him over to the Anslo government, but that's just what happened.Except that he's on the run, and they have to catch him before he'll turn his girlfriend's father in as a rebel sympathizer. The only problem is, all spies are chipped with a life-ending time bomb in the palm of their hands. Tick-tock...
Sample - Look Good
Sample - Look Good
The captain had jam on his chin—cheat strawberry made with red flavoring that tasted too much of saccharine to be the real thing—the buttons of his shirt fastened lopsidedly. No one was about to question him.
“Position?” he barked.
“Five hundred meters, sir.”
The helmsman barely glanced away from the control panel, the buttons flashing like the lights on the tree they used to decorate in Times Square years ago, when celebrating Christmas was still a thing. He’d seen pictures of it as a kid. Even they were probably gone now. The black screen in front of him showed the submarine’s position to the water’s surface with a pulsing green light. They were climbing, but not fast enough. Whoever was chasing them had slipped undetected beneath the radar; either that or he had put enough distance between them that they’d given up. He suspected the former. He’d been through the Forces training, completed the defense modules with the highest commendations, but nothing had prepared him for submarine life.
He felt bile rise in his throat and swallowed. Seasickness. Even below the swell. He flicked a switch and leaned closer to the microphone. “Mayday. Mayday. Confirm enemy position. Over.”
The line crackled with static, but there was no response from the army base in the capital city of Anslo.
The helmsman felt sweat trickle down his spine. His co-pilot had raised the alert, spotting the vessel rapidly approaching them from the west, and by the time he had reacted and sent one of the crew to rouse the captain, it had already vanished. “Sir, should I activate the emergency blow?” he asked now.
It would be the fastest way to get the sub to the surface. They were close enough to the base to deter an attack in full view of the news drones that constantly monitored the area from above; the enemy preferred to act in secret. Attack and run. Keep their casualties to a minimum.
The captain nodded. He was probably mentally preparing his email to the president, absolving himself of any blame for the incident and losing a decent vessel.
The helmsman left his station and pulled the colossal silver lever to the control panel's left while the co-pilot slipped quickly into his seat. The emergency blow jettisoned sufficient weight into the water to allow them to climb at otherwise abnormal speeds.
“Four-fifty,” the co-pilot said. “Four hundred. Three-fifty.”
The helmsman’s ears popped.
“Three hundred. Two-fifty.”
His shoulders tensed, sweat beading on his forehead. He was still waiting for the blast that would send them reeling, the sound of metal on metal like nothing a civilian could ever imagine, loud enough to rattle your skull. Water would reach the control room in less than a minute. They’d submerge in less than ten.
The microphone fizzled, and a tinny voice sounded through the speaker. “Base to one-oh-one. Come in. What is your mayday? Over.”
The helmsman pounced on the device and raised it to his lips. “Under enemy attack. Position unknown. Over.”
“Base to one-oh-one. No vessels in the immediate vicinity. Over.”
He glanced at the monitor. Of course, there were no vessels there; what did he think, that they’d camouflaged a military submarine behind a bank of dying coral? He sensed the captain’s confusion, his fists clenching and unclenching. He had to regain control before it was too late. “Are—are you sure? Over.”
“Affirmative. Resume position, one-oh-one. Over and out.”
He nodded at the co-pilot, who was watching him with a half-smile. “We dive,” he said. “Attack averted.” It was enough to get the captain off his back, for now.
He resumed his seat and turned the submarine back around.
“How deep do you think it is?”
“Deep enough.” Eddie stared out across the water, the dull, foamy surface reflected in the cool gray of her eyes.
Angel followed her gaze. They were sitting beneath the bridge, where the ugly metal construction formed a shelter of sorts on the banks of Anslo. Kids came here to drink liquor or sniff drugs or listen to the kind of music that was banned in their country for inciting the youth to rebellion. They probably had sex too, but Angel refused to think about that right now. Not while he was with Eddie. Not while he was still trying to figure out his emotions.
The bridge spanned the river that separated Anslo—where Eddie and Angel lived—from Intington, the neighboring country. He’d heard the stories about how ‘they’, the governing bodies, drew a line on a map and decided that was where the border should be, regardless of what lay beneath the smudged ink. They flooded whole towns when they built the dam. The inhabitants were told to pack up their homes and move to higher ground; even then there was no mention of the word safety. They gave them a choice: drown or live.
Now, Angel sat beside Eddie and imagined the ghost towns on the riverbed. Were there still houses down below? If they were to swim to the bottom right now, would they be able to float along the sidewalks, cross the roads, peer through moldy windows, and find tables still set as if the families who lived there were about to sit down for dinner? Worse, were there bodies down there? Had anyone even checked?
As if reading his mind, Eddie shivered.
Angel wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer so that he could transfer his warmth to her. He breathed in the apple scent of her shampoo. He had never known the smell of something so simple could arouse such a rush of warmth in his chest, that he couldn’t think straight. He kissed the top of her head. It was a gentle gesture, almost paternal, although he had never seen his parents kiss him or his brothers this way.
Eddie turned her face to him, peering into his eyes, and then she reached up and kissed him back.
Until that moment, he hadn’t been certain if she felt the same way about him as he felt about her, but that sealed it. Now his thoughts were even more muddled.
“We should leave,” Eddie said, pulling away from him.
“Go home, you mean?” Something icy settled in the pit of his stomach.
“No. Leave Anslo. We should run away … now.” She blinked furiously, a half-smile on her lips, as she seemed to explore the barely formed plan in her head, allowing it to gain speed.
“What …? I mean, how?” What he really meant to say was why, but he knew the answer to that, even if Eddie didn’t. She was acting on impulse. It was going to take him a little while to catch up.
“The river.” Eddie rose abruptly, following the water with her eyes to where it reached the sea. “We could swim.”
Angel laughed, only the sound was short and snappy. “How far do you think we’d get?”
“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “Or we could simply cross the bridge. Go back to Intington, hide away in the forest.”
He rose slowly, stalling. As much as he was detesting his life in Anslo, the thought of running away had never occurred to him. Not as a course of action he might take anyway. It went against everything that he knew, everything they’d ever taught him, everything that his family stood for. If there was an easier way, he would grab it with both hands, but he also knew, deep down, that would never happen.
“We could … I don’t know … steal a car, one they can’t trace.” Eddie was still running through their options out loud. “We can both drive. We have some money.” She patted her jacket pocket, proving her point. “It’ll be easier to cross Intington. We could go anywhere, Angel. The world will be our oyster, as they used to say.”
Angel saw the glimmer of hope in her eyes despite the darkening sky and the shadows surrounding them under the bridge. Could they do it? His heart rate sped up, warming him from the inside out. It was crazy. The craziest thing he’d ever considered in his life, and there were no guarantees they’d make it, but together, they at least had a fighting chance.
He nodded. “Okay, let’s—”
The sound of screeching tires on the road approaching the bridge, headlamps casting sickly yellow beams across the tarmac, interrupted him. Vehicle doors opened and slammed shut. Heavy footsteps clamored across the bridge and down the bank toward them. Angel instinctively shifted Eddie behind him.
“What’s going on?” she murmured.
“I don’t know.” One thing he was certain of, these people were not out for a leisurely stroll.
Without warning, floodlights lit up the bank outside the bridge’s steel foundations and Angel nudged Eddie further inside the shelter, their backs pressed against damp metal. They directed the beams at them from above. They’d known exactly where to find them, and it didn’t take Angel long to work out how.
“We should go,” Eddie said, clinging to his arm. “The water. We can stay beneath the surface as long as possible. Please, Angel. Let’s do this.” She was already pulling him toward the water’s edge.
“I …” He shook his head. “I can’t.”
“Step outside,” a voice boomed overhead through a loudspeaker. “Where we can see you.”
“Now, Angel.” The heels of Eddie’s shoes were already submerged. “Before it’s too late.”
Angel chewed his bottom lip. “You should go.” Saying the words out loud only strengthened his resolve, and he released her hands. “Go now.”
“Not without you.” Her eyes were pleading, glowing silver in the glare from the floodlights.
“I’ll find you. I promise.” He took a deep breath. “I can’t swim.”
Eddie stared at him, openmouthed. He’d never told her this before—he’d had no reason to—but he’d had an inherent, irrational fear of water since he was a child, and had never learned to swim, because he could never imagine himself floating. He would drown, of that he was certain, as if he’d somehow read the story of his life and that was how it ended.
What happened next was a blur.
Police surrounded them, weapons directed at their hearts as if they were escaped criminals. Two men grabbed Angel from behind, dragging him away from Eddie, who was screaming for them to let him go. He’d waited too long. They should’ve left when Eddie first suggested it; better than that, they should never have crossed the bridge from Intington back into Anslo. They’d have been long gone by now, deep in the woods, sheltering in a hollow somewhere with a curtain of moss-covered branches.
“Let me go!” Eddie screamed, arms and legs flailing as she tried to escape the police holding her arms. “We’ve done nothing wrong. Let us go!”
Angel watched helplessly as she raised her feet from the ground, becoming dead-weight, and tipped herself toward, causing the men to stumble. One lost his grip, and she used the free hand to punch the other cop in the jaw. “Don’t touch her!” He finally found his voice as they dragged him backwards across the muddy bank before the world went black.
Angel heard voices. His head was spinning even with his eyes closed, like someone had stirred his thoughts with a wooden spoon.
“Orders are, he’s being deactivated.” He didn’t recognize the voice. It was cold, clipped, the voice of a man who was used to being obeyed. “I’ll wait until it’s done.”
He needed to get away. He tried to raise a hand, but something was restricting his movement. It hurt to open his eyes. He forced his eyelids apart a fraction, saw glaring white walls, bright lights that made him wince. Eddie! He needed to find Eddie, figure out where they’d taken her. He had to stop them. They were going to run away together, hide in a ghost town under the water …
He felt the tiny, cold prick of metal in his arm and a rush of blackness …
What are Cozy Apocalypse Books?
- No gratuitous violence or sex scenes
- No foul language
- No weaponry lists or zombie gore
- Survival After the Fall
- Forming New Family Bonds
- Thriving After the End