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Surrender the Sun - Book 1 - Bishop's Honor

Surrender the Sun - Book 1 - Bishop's Honor

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🔴 Synopsis - Book 1

A recluse veteran must take charge of a war-weary community or most will die from the effects of a sudden mini ice age. But can he save them from the evil deeds of man himself as they scramble to survive before it's too late?

"I'm not a people person. I prefer the solitude of the mountains to the chaos of the city. But when the world begins to freeze over, I know that I can't just sit back and watch them turn into popsicles. So I'm taking charge of the Coeur d'Alene community, using my military training to keep them alive in the harsh conditions.

We'll scavenge what we can, hunt when we can't find small game, and huddle together for warmth at night.

But I know as the days turn into weeks, I'll notice a shift in the attitudes of some of the people. The desperation of survival will start to turn them against each other. That's when the real fun begins..."

🔵 Read Chapter 1 - Bishop's Honor

October 31, 2030

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Lying on her blanket-strewn queen-sized bed, the one she’d once shared with Roger, Maeve dreamed. He was there again…with her, laughing as she complained about him leaving his coffee cups everywhere in the garage growing islands of fluffy green mold. “It wouldn’t kill you to put them in the dishwasher yourself, you know.”

Levering open the dishwasher door, she made a show of turning the dirty mug upside down and placing it on the top rack. “See, it’s that easy. Even easy enough for you to do.” He grabbed her around the waist and tickled her until she squealed.

“Easy, huh?” But the tone of his voice meant something entirely different than the ease of washing moldy mugs.

But as she glanced down, pasty blood covered his camo trousers, causing them to turn a shade of puce as the red mingled with the brown. She begged him to release her and knew the deceit of the scene then.

As he quickly lifted her up into his embrace, she stole one last look into his eyes before the dream faded and he was snatched from her again. Before he left her, she reached up and pressed her hands against his rough cheeks, engulfing him so that she would remember him this time, the feel of his pressed lips to hers. She held the illusion even as his form began to dissipate no matter how hard she willed to hang on to him. “I love you. Don’t leave me.”

Her hand moved over the soft, rumpled sheets then, in the space he should have been but would never be again. Burying her face into the covers, she sobbed as dawn brought yet another day with the realization she’d lost him forever.


Maeve wiped away the tears before she turned to her six-year-old son standing in the doorway. “Good morning, Ben. I’ll be up in just a second, buddy.”

“You were dreaming again. I heard you.”

Like many mornings before, she needed to divert the conversation, or they’d both end up in turmoil with past memories and ghosts haunting them throughout the day. “Hey,” she said, “you have a Halloween party today, right?”

“Uh huh,” he said as he padded barefoot to her bedside. She pulled him closer. Ben’s little boy smell still made her ache. His features were so like Roger’s, set in miniature. His dark hair and brown eyes were the color of milk chocolate. She adored that Ben resembled his father more than herself. At least she had a permanent part of her dead husband after all.

She brushed her son’s overgrown bangs out of his eyes then hugged him tighter. She knew he sensed her sadness. Fending off her emotions, she needed to pull strength from somewhere else deep inside for the both of them today. This was the wrong way to start the day; she knew that by repetition.

Drawing a smile to her lips, she kissed him. “Go get your cowboy costume on and I’ll get in the shower. Scoot.”

“OK, can I have cereal for breakfast this morning?”

“That would be far too much sugar with class treats later today. How about some oatmeal instead?”

He nodded and then sprinted down the carpeted hallway to his bedroom as she yelled, “Walk please.”

Resigned to the fact that she now had to start the day, Maeve sat up and pulled her legs over the side of the bed. Running her hands through her long red hair, she tried to pull her wild mane behind her. In doing so, she glanced at the picture on her bedside table. The image with her and Roger and the infant Ben. The proud parents that somehow made this miracle stared back out at her with perfectly drawn happiness in their expressions; not a hint of tragedy marred their faces.

The Maeve today barely recognized those people. How the pain of losing Roger hurt as if his death had happened just the day before! She resented the picture now. How could they’ve been so happy? Didn’t they know the life they led couldn’t last for very long? People died in war. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and her husband along with them. Why did they think they were immune to death? The image brought her no more joy. It only brought her jealousy now. She kept the photo there on her nightstand out of tradition, hoping that someday she’d feel something more beyond bitter resentment for having him ripped from her and her son.

Not like this. Not today.

Maeve ran her fingers through her hair again and shook them, causing her hair to wave around wildly. Ugh, get going, she said to herself to shed the malaise trying to possess her today. She whipped the covers to the side and moved herself to the edge of the bed. Without the warmth of the covers, she realized she could see her breath out before her in her own room. No wonder Ben ran to his room. It’s freezing in here. She hurried to the adjoining bathroom. Starting the shower, more to warm the space than herself, Maeve removed her nightshirt and brushed her teeth as they chattered from the invading freezing temperatures.

As the room began to fog with warm steam, she stepped into the water, still clutching the toothbrush between her teeth. She would take any compromise to warm herself, and if that meant brushing in the shower, so be it.

A haze wafted up around her as she turned in the warm cascading spray and then finished the task. Once thoroughly warmed and cleaned, she dressed for the day, reluctant to leave the soothing heat of the small bathroom. Then she descended the stairs of the A-frame house and landed on the cold wood floor on the main level.

Switching on her iPad that she kept in the kitchen, she set the station to the local live news stream out of Spokane while she turned on the Keurig and began Ben’s oatmeal.

“It’s cold in here, Mom. I can even see my breath,” Ben said as he entered the room dressed in his cowboy getup, minus the holster and six-shooters that the school frowned upon. Joining her in the kitchen, he climbed up on the barstool while watching his mom carry on with their morning routine.

“I noticed. Maybe the furnace is out,” she said, and while the Keurig emitted a welcome scent, she stepped over into the hallway near the garage and checked the regulator on the wall. “I don’t know. It says sixty-seven. I can hear the furnace running. I’ll push it up a little anyway. I’ll have to call someone to come out and check it today.”

“Look at the news, Mom,” Ben said. “There’s a snowstorm.”

She followed his small finger pointing to the screen. The weatherman was expressing concern over the new weather disturbance coming their way. “Great, and at the end of October, too,” Maeve said. She finished making her coffee while she watched the news report with her son on the iPad screen.

“KREX News reporting. Bob Madeira here. Folks, bundle up. The lowest recorded temperature in the Spokane region is seven degrees recorded back in 2002. I hate to break it to you, but it’s five degrees out there right now. I’m sure there’s a lot of broken pipes in the region, and area plumbers will be out in full force today. Especially for those who haven’t blown out their sprinklers yet, like me…

“Residents in Coeur d’Alene are enjoying three-degree weather this morning. In fact, let’s check the forecast for this week—woo wee, it’s going to be a shiver-fest. The highs are well below freezing the rest of this week and into the next. Most schools have either closed for the day, or there’s a two-hour late start. Check your local school. It’s a deep freeze, folks, with no end in sight…”

“Fantastic!” Maeve said with a chill.

“Is it going to snow?” Ben asked with excitement. His eyes sprung wide.

“Oh…I hope not. I never thought that stuff would melt off last year. Eat your oatmeal,” Maeve said and plunked his bowl down in front of him. “I’m going to start the truck and get the engine warmed up before we go.”

She set her hot coffee cup down reluctantly. Maeve slid into her boots and pulled her black puffy coat on, then opened the door to the garage and felt the meaning of freezing cold hitting her face. “Three degrees, my arse…Ugh, oh.” She fumbled with her zipper as her fingers became numbed. “Gosh darn it, friggin’ cold out here,” she grumbled on her way to the driver’s side of her cream-and-black SUV, a Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Once behind the wheel, she hit the garage door opener and then put the keys in the ignition. Then the garage door made a sound unlike its usual racket. “What the heck?” she said, looking in the rearview mirror. The door remained in place.

She pressed the door opener again, and this time, it lifted maybe two inches before giving up and closing once again. “Damn thing’s frozen, man…”

Maeve stepped out of the FJ. “What would Roger do?” She’d uttered this phrase countless times since his death, and it had helped her figure out how to handle many tasks in the past, though now she knew it was a reliance she needed to let go of.

She scanned his workbench, remembering him squirting something from a blue spray bottle that he kept inside the door during the coldest months of winter.

“Where is that thing?”

She rifled through a few boxes of random automotive bottles and then found the one she was looking for. Maeve unscrewed the lid and smelled the contents. “Vinegar?” After replacing the top, she shook the contents. Though she knew the concoction was a year old, she hoped the solution would still work.

She began spraying the door’s seal, hoping to melt whatever was frozen. Again she tried the door after waiting a few seconds, and though the door did open, it opened a bit slower, like a cranky old man rising from his bed with enough complaints and resentment to color the rest of his day with a bad attitude.

Maeve stood there looking at the frozen landscape outside her home in amazement. She could swear the month was January instead of October: everything was covered in a determined layer of frost and appeared brittle before its time. The sugar maple in her front yard had yet to lose all of its bronzed leaves—each leaf perfectly caught in a colorful stagnation now encapsulated in white crystals. Mounds of leaves were scattered everywhere over the graveled driveway and covered with a thick layer of icy frost. The long road leading to their private twenty acres within the Coeur d’Alene National Forest was beset with wild critter trails, their footsteps marking their paths from an early emergence of the day regardless of the human interlopers.

She blew out an icy breath. “Wonderful…” Though she didn’t think the conditions were really any kind of wonderful. She meant the statement as sarcasm—the beauty of the frozen scene was undeniably a beautiful winter scene, just far too early in autumn.

She turned on her heel and started the FJ; this time though, it took two tries to get the cold engine to comply with her request. She remembered Roger telling her once that cold weather was as hard on engines as it was on people. She doubted him then, though now it seemed his statement was redeemed.

“Ben, get your big coat on and gloves and your hat,” she said as she entered the now-warmed house once again.

“Do I have to? No one else will be wearing theirs,” Ben complained.

“No, you don’t, but take one step out there without your warmest gear on and you’ll lose your nose to frostbite. You don’t really need those fingers either, do you?” She shook her head in mock agreement.

“Mom!” Ben rolled his eyes.

“Seriously, you heard the weatherman. Bundle up, buddy.”

“OK,” Ben said as he climbed off the stool, taking big steps with slumped shoulders up the stairs. He finished his morning routine with the reluctant addition of winter gear while Maeve finished her now lukewarm coffee, cleaned out Ben’s breakfast bowl, and listened to the news while she packed their lunches and grabbed her gear for the day.

As Maeve pulled out of the long driveway and drove away from the house, she was thankful for the choppy gravel drive. She would have slid on the sloped icy frost halfway down the path without the benefit of the grit. However, once she pulled off of Scenic Bay Drive onto the nicely paved Beauty Bay Drive, she began sliding to the other side of the road. The slick street made it nearly impossible to gain traction even after she put the FJ into four-wheel drive.

“Well, that wasn’t the way I’d planned it.”

“You’re a bad driver,” Ben announced with confidence from the backseat.

She checked her son in the rearview mirror, arched her eyebrow, and asked, “Whoever told you that I was a bad driver?”

“That’s what Grandpa Jack says.”

Maeve let out a frustrated breath. “I am not a bad driver. Grandpa Jack tells that story of when I was learning to drive. I haven’t run into a police officer since I was a teenager.” She began to drive down their sparsely inhabited road as she left. “I’m going to have to have a talk with Grandpa Jack next time we go to Maine. What are you laughing about back there?”

Ben giggled again. “You,” he said, pointing. “Ran into a policeman!”

“Agh! Some things you never live down. I swear even your…”

She swallowed hard. She’d done it again. She’d forgotten…As impossible as it was to forget her husband’s death, it happened from time to time, even now. “Even your dad used to give me a hard time about that one.” She ended her statement with a smile and then glanced in the rearview mirror to see how Ben had taken the mention of his father again.

She found him with a half-smile staring out the window. It wasn’t so bad now. A month ago she couldn’t even mention Roger’s name without Ben and herself resorting to tears still or at least a painful knot in their throats. Now, it was just the painful knot and a clenched stomach. Time heals all wounds? That’s a trick I’d like to see, she thought, still glancing at her boy’s reflection as he appeared to brace for impact.

“Mom!” Ben shouted with his arm outstretched. With a sickening crunch, a blurry rust-brown beast flitted to the side of the road. Careening recklessly, the SUV skidded out of control, finally coming to a stop on the icy, narrow, winding two-lane street.

Her heart pounding like a racing piston, Maeve turned to her son. “Ben! Are you all right?” Her hands shook like leaves. “Ben?”

“Yes, Mom, I’m fine. You hit him, I think?”

“Was it a deer? A moose? I didn’t even see what it was.” She scanned the windows to catch a glimpse with hopes she hadn’t killed the unknown creature.

“You hit a man, Mom! It was a man on a horse. It was the hermit guy, I bet.”

“Oh my goodness!”

“You hit him, Mom!”

“Oh jeez,” she said. There were tracks in the icy frost on the road leading off the side and into the forest, but she didn’t see anyone, man or beast, out there anywhere.

Sitting sideways in the middle of the road, she restarted the SUV and then pulled the truck over to the side of the road with her emergency flashing lights on. “Stay right here, Ben,” she said as she released her seatbelt that now clenched across her lap like a vise. This stretch of Beauty Bay Road traversing through the thick forest was always her favorite part. She could breathe deeply here in its seclusion and felt peace unlike anywhere else in the world. It wasn’t until five more miles up the two-lane road that her breath became more shallow and tense as the small town of Coeur d’Alene came into view.

Roger often told her the thickly forested area was home to several ex-military men who just couldn’t take society anymore after the trauma of war and used the forest as a sanctuary of sorts. They lived off the land there, and now Maeve was afraid she’d just killed or maimed one of them, the one they called the Hermit.

“Hello?” she shouted after she quickly shut the door to keep the warmth inside of the truck for Ben. She cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled, “I didn’t mean to hurt you. Are you all right?” She waited for a response as she followed the tracks in the frost leading from the road into the evergreen forest. They became harder to detect the farther she went, as the canopy of the woods held back the frost and the evidence of footprints. Once, two feet in the dense brush, she looked back at Ben looking through the truck window after her. Her breath puffed out in little clouds in front of her face. Her nose was already numb, and her cheeks felt frozen solid. She crossed her arms and suddenly had the feeling someone was watching her, and though she was cold, there was something more making her shiver.

“I’m sorry I hit you. Please let me help,” she yelled again, breaking the solitude of the forest. That’s when she finally saw him and had the feeling it was only because he’d let her see him. A man hidden in plain sight appeared before her. Wearing military camo much like Roger’s, he blended in well with the evergreen surroundings.

His raspy voice startled her. It was as if he hadn’t used it in quite some time. “Don’t yell. You should watch where you’re going. Especially with a kid in the car,” he said, motioning toward the SUV.

Her mouth agape, she finally said, “I…I’m sorry. Did I hurt you or your horse?”

“You almost did. He’s fine. I think you murdered a few fallen branches on the road though. Go on. Just watch where you’re going,” he said gruffly, but his eyes were soft and unyielding as he held her attention.

“Can I bring you anything?” she said, assuming he was the hermit Ben mentioned.

“I have everything I need.”

She took the hint that he wanted her to leave. “OK. OK then. I’m Maeve Tildon,” she said and held out her hand for him to shake.

He stared at the offering.

Her hand hanging in midair for longer than a comfortable time, she let it drop. “If you find out later that you, or your horse, are hurt…well, I live down Scenic Bay Road. There’s a sign on the mailbox that says Tildon. You can’t miss us. Just let me know. I’ll pay for any medical expenses or vet bills,” she said and turned her head toward her SUV, then suddenly turned back again. “I’m just very sorry.” As if she really wanted him to know she truly was.

He nodded at her and diverted his vision to the side.

She figured that was the end of their short conversation, and she turned to leave again.

“Hey, you’re Maeve? Roger’s Maeve?”

She turned. “Yeah. I mean, I…Roger…he died. Over…there.”

The man stood there a moment, silent, maneuvering the news around in his head as if a puzzle piece he’d tried to fit into place had found home. She knew the feeling.

“I hadn’t heard. I’m sorry. When?”

Caught off guard, she said, “Almost a year now. Did you know him?”

He took a step back. “Yeah. I knew Roger.”

She responded the way she always did. With sad eyes, she smiled slightly because there was no way to respond appropriately to having someone ripped from you. If there was, she hadn’t figured it out yet. She turned, and when she did, she did it into herself. Set back a mile in grief in an instant, again.

She walked back to the opening from the forest to her truck holding her son. Then she turned, and this time when she looked back, the man was gone. Vanished into the woods.

She never did see the horse she’d nearly hit.

Shaking her head as if his image had been a dream, she made her way back to the SUV and climbed inside, noticing it was nearly as cold inside now as it was outside. Ben was shivering in his car seat.

“Did you find the Hermit?”

“I found a man. It’s not nice to call someone a hermit, Ben.”

She started the truck.

“What’s his name then? That’s what they call him at school. He has a horse. Was the horse hurt?”

“Far too many questions all at once, son. He didn’t mention his name, and it looks like they’re both fine, thank goodness.” She lowered the emergency brake handle and restarted the engine.

“Let’s go. You’re going to be late for school this morning.”

In the year 2030, a mini ice age hits Earth like it did in 1645.⛄️

A war-weary community scrambles to survive.

A recluse veteran must take charge, or most will die from the effects of severe weather and the deeds of man himself.

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