The end of the world? That’s the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters and deep philosophical exercises in school. No need to sweat it. So when sixteen-year-old Tess’s doomsday-dad builds a bomb shelter in their suburban backyard, everyone thinks he’s gone crazy….
…Until fire rains down from the sky, sinking whole cities into colossal craters and setting much of the world ablaze.
Tess’s dad gives her a few short minutes to gather her emergency bag and her freaked-out kitten, then leads her outside and into the underground shelter. Terrified, the last thing she expects is for him to leave her there all alone, but he has no choice—he must find her missing brother.
Before leaving, he makes Tess promise to keep the hatch door shut, not to open it for anyone but him, and to stay put until he returns.
But he forgot to tell her one thing: What is she supposed to do if he never comes back?
Targeted Age Group:: All Audiences
Heat/Violence Level: PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The idea of an apocalypse has always intrigued me. What would we do if we found ourselves in a situation like that? I know myself and I know I would make a horrible survivor. I'm too whiny, but I wondered what it would be like to write about a girl who finds herself thrown into an almost impossible situation only to find out that she's stronger than she thought she was.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Tess, the main character, is based on most young teenage girls. I wanted her experience to be relatable and typical. Cole, on the other hand, I wanted him to be a mystery. I wanted him to be anything but typical. I pictured a young Woody Harrelson or a young Dax Shephard who finds the whole apocalypse to be an awesome turn of events. And then there is Callie, the kitten. Most apocalypse books and movies have an apocalypse surviving dog, but not this one–there's a cat. I did this on purpose, because I thought it would be an interesting idea.
I ran my hands over the cool interior of the bomb shelter, searching for the elusive switches that would bring the whole thing to life. The metal reminded me of a green bean can with all its rolling bumps—life in a giant vegetable can.
My fingers ran over the switches and I flipped them both upright. The florescent lights flickered, and it took a moment for my eyes to adapt to the harsh light.
“I got it!”
The air system started to whirl, bringing fresh air from the outside into the underground bunker.
Callie finally released her mad grip on me and ran down my side to disappear under the couch. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
Dad knelt near the opening and looked down at me. “Don’t open this door for anyone, do you understand? Not anyone.”
“Wait! What? You’re leaving me?” Panic gripped my chest and crushed my lungs. I reached for the ladder, determined to climb back out. I’d rather fight against whatever was happening outside than be left alone down here.
“I’ve got to go for Toby, and once I find him, we’ll be back.”
How could I have forgotten my brother? Maybe because he was a giant asshole to me and an even bigger one to Dad, but whatever, he was still my brother—even if the idea of spending any amount of time with him in an underground bunker sounded torturous.
I let go of the ladder. Of course, Dad needed to find him, wherever he was. At his girlfriend Kenzie’s? Behind the MoviePlex smoking with his stoner friends? Or maybe hustling pool at Parker and James’s bar? It shouldn’t be that hard to find the loser.
“We’ll be back, I promise. It won’t take long. Don’t open the door unless you hear this.” He gave the metal door a rap with his knuckles—my name in Morse Code. “Don’t you come out, Tess. You stay put and we’ll be back. Promise me you won’t open this door.”
He paused, his hand on the square hatch. “Lock it from the inside. Every latch.”
Panic began to rise in my chest again. “I will.”
“I love you, Tess.”
“I love you too.” Tears welled in my eyes. “Please hurry.”
With that, he lowered the door into place.
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