came, but not in peace. They came to destroy us. Our cities crumbled. Our
people died by the billions. Their weapons were sophisticated beyond our worst
didn't count on our stubborn tenacity or our will to live. We fight back, and
we fight dirty.
Sanderlin survived the first attack ... but could he survive the war? How will
he keep his sister safe in a world where terror swoops from the sky and looters
claim the streets? Law and order are as forgotten as the bodies that rot in the
his sister alive, Mike changes. He becomes Iron Mike, a man unafraid of making
the hard decisions, a man unafraid of war, of killing or being killed. Iron
Mike isn't afraid, period.
Mike is a survivor.
She’d driven about ten miles from Malik’s house, wending her way between
wrecked vehicles and making it all the way through both of the Shepherdsville
traffic lights before the car had started sputtering. Kari had been paying
attention to Shepherdsville, not the fuel gauge. She’d been shocked at the
state of the small town. None of the businesses had opened, and a lot of the
store front windows and door frames had been shattered, contents from the
stores strewn about the parking lots. People had already started looting? What
the fuck was up with that?
She kept the Sig Sauer in her unzipped pocket, within easy
reach. She had gone through Malik’s gun safe and now had three extra magazines
in the back pocket of her jeans. She figured if she needed them, she was dead.
If eleven rounds of 9mm weren’t enough to protect her, the extra magazines
would be no better than paperweights.
Nothing to be done for it. Kari stepped out of the jeep and
pulled out her heavy backpack, adjusting it over her shoulders and snapping the
straps in front to balance the load. It wasn’t bad, she told herself. She’d
seen plenty of soldiers jogging around post in full rucksacks, and a lot of
them were women, too. If they could do it, so could she.
Kari squinted at the town of Shepherdsville behind her, then
back up State Road 44, which she knew was at least half the mileage she needed
to travel to Knox. Once she hit Dixie Highway, it was about another twelve to
fifteen miles to the front gates on Brandenburg Station Road. She didn’t even
consider cutting through the woods. Kari was a city girl, and she intended to
arrive on the post alive, not wander in circles through unfamiliar terrain
until she froze to death or got eaten by coyotes. If she stuck to the roads,
she would get there eventually.
She walked for more than an hour, almost totally uphill, before
hearing the first vehicle. Kari cautiously stepped off the side of the road,
her legs backed against the guard rail. S.R. 44 was a two-lane cut-through to
Dixie Highway, and it was twisty; with the light layer of snow, it would also
The red pickup’s engine roared as the driver downshifted, and
passed right by her. Kari pushed off from the guard rail to start walking again
– stopping abruptly as she saw the brake lights and backup lights. She leaned
back against the guard rail and waited.
She made her decision instantly when the passenger window rolled
down, and the man leered at her with what he probably assumed was a pleasant smile.
His eyes moved up her body from her heavy boots, jeans, to the shapeless heavy
coat she wore and the long braid of brown hair covered with a thick stocking
“Need a ride, sweet thing?” the driver asked, leaning forward so
he could see around the passenger.
Kari smiled politely, but it was stiff. The man was smiling, but
there was a meanness to his smile that made Kari’s radar go off. His red hair
was greasy and unkempt and he looked like he hadn’t showered in a week. “No,
thanks,” she replied. “I appreciate the offer, but I don’t have far to go now.”
The passenger spoke, his voice making Kari’s skin crawl. “Aw, you really should
come with us, miss. A pretty lady like you all alone in this crazy world,
halfway up Martin Hill – it ain’t safe.”
“I’ll be fine,” Kari said politely. “Thank you again for the
She watched the crazy as it happened. The passenger’s pleasant
leer fell from his face, and his eyes clouded with fury. “Bitch, you don’t know
a good thing when you hear it,” he said, and opened his door, putting one foot
on the snow.
Kari drew the Sig and aimed it right between the man’s eyes,
thumbing the safety off in one smooth motion. He froze for a moment, his eyes
narrowing as he assessed her. “You’re a cute little thing,” he said, a
malicious eagerness in his voice. “Mine’s bigger.”
He moved his eyes to the gun rack on the back wall of the pickup
where three large shotguns rested. Kari knew he wanted her to look at them, for
her eyes to leave his so he could jump her. She didn’t oblige, keeping her eyes
dead level on his.
“First shot takes out your rearview.” Her voice was oddly calm
and quiet. Maybe all of Dad’s lectures and target practice hadn’t been wasted
on her after all. “Second shot goes between your eyes and takes out you. Third
shot the driver, if he’s still here.”
For a long moment, it was stalemate.
“Come on, Hank, let’s just go,” the driver whined. It was the
wrong thing to say, because Hank was full of crazy, even if the driver didn’t
know it, and his friend’s cowardice fueled his bravado. He shifted his weight
so he stepped out of the truck.
Kari shot, the sound thundering down the ravine, echoing back to
her. She was almost certain the man named Hank felt the bullet pass next to his
head. It was a lucky shot. Not only did the rearview mirror break, but it broke
cleanly in half, the wiring inside leaving both ends of the mirror dangling
impressively and a neat round bullet hole in the windshield. Hank looked back,
looking into Kari’s eyes again, his own narrowed meanly.
Kari didn’t react at all. She didn’t let victory or fear show on her face.
“That’s one, Hank. Either get back in your truck, or come at me for number
The driver, fortunately, kept his mouth shut this time. With a snarl, Hank
shifted his weight back inside the vehicle and pulled his door closed with an
angry slam. “I’ll find you again, cunt,” he sneered. “And when I do –“
Kari didn’t get to hear the rest of his threat because the driver peeled away
before Hank could finish it.
Kari stood, adjusted her backpack and headed out with quick,
She was her father’s daughter. She was
nobody’s goddamned prey.
Rose was born a bookworm, and has never outgrown it. Her love of stories
started with The Bobbsey Twins when
she was five and continues today with the best offerings of science fiction,
urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. An avid animal lover, she shares her
home with her husband, her spiritual wife, two dogs, four cats, a snake, and a
tarantula. Her husband, Kevin, has strongly advised her to put down her hammer,
chisels, and stone tablets and come into the digital age!