Cass Dollar has survived the end of the world – twice. First she lost everything that mattered to her when her baby daughter was taken away from her, due to her alcoholism. That was the end of the only world she cared about. Then the country fell to famine and war, only to be overrun by zombie-like cannibals named Beaters. Cass gets her daughter back in AFTERTIME, the first book in the series, only to battle new evils in REBIRTH.
Sophie decided to immerse Cass in a fable called The Bear and the Travelers, it’s a great fable but I hadn’t heard of it before so here’s the description from Wikipedia:
“The Bear and the Travelers”:
Two friends walking through rough country are suddenly confronted by a bear. One of the travellers saves himself by scrambling up a tree while the other throws himself on the ground and pretends to be dead. The animal comes close and sniffs him over but then leaves, for bears are reputed not to touch dead meat. Then the man in the tree came down to his comrade and jokingly asked what the bear had been saying to him. "It was some good advice," said his friend; "he told me never to trust someone who deserts you in need."
Now Sophie’s take on it!
“I’d hoped we’d be done by now,” Cass said, irritably. Raiding was best done in the dark. The thin beam of her headlamp was not enough to rouse sleeping Beaters, but the dawn – evident in the pink at the horizon – would wake them from their nests, triggering their skin-lust wanderings, sharpening their senses.
“Relax, Cass. Henderson said it was a yellow house and this is the only yellow house around, far as I can see.”
They’d spend the night looking for the usual stuff – medicine, nonperishable food, warm clothes. It had been a while since she’d gone raiding, and she wouldn’t ordinarily have teamed up with Zed, who took too many risks and used drugs recreationally that could have been better used to stockpile for the needs of the rest of the people on the island. But her daughter Ruthie had outgrown her boots, and Cass was desperate to find her a new pair: there was still plenty of winter ahead, and the cold and damp would seep through Ruthie’s old sneakers.
Cass had hit the jackpot, finding a pair of boy’s snow boots that were just a little too large. With extra socks they’d be perfect. Cass and Zed had retraced the path already taken by the other raiders – the boots had been left behind by those who had no use for them. Now Zed wanted to follow up a tip about a tool shed behind the yellow house – he had no interested in the tools themselves, but they could be traded for the things he did want.
They circled the yellow house, which was in fair shape for Aftertime, the roof intact, the porch still standing. They’d rounded the corner and were standing in the dead-grass yard between the house and shed – really, it was a small detached garage – when there was a sound, a scraping that sounded like wood on wood.
“Shit,” Zed muttered, as Cass’s hand went to her blade and she crouched down, listening for the source of the sound.
A second sound, the tread of feet, sounding like it came from the porch in front. They hadn’t checked the house for nests – ordinarily the Beaters preferred a shelter with an opening, but maybe the door had been propped open, it had been too dim in the early morning light to see.
Cass and Zed both looked around frantically for shelter, but there was none to be had. The house was several hundred feet from the nearest neighbor, and after that it was just fields and farm roads. There were no trees to climb, no junked cars to scramble into.
Zed ran for the garage and threw himself inside. Before Cass could follow she heard the sound of a bolt being slammed home.
Zed had left her to fight alone.
Half an hour later he emerged, looking more pissed off than sheepish. He found them on the porch, where the squatter had brought out a jar of tea. There was no Beater nest inside the house, only the humble home of a woman who’d rather take her chances alone than join the ragtag community on the island.
Zed didn’t bother greeting the squatter, whose name was Cheryl. She was probably close to forty, though her weathered face looked ten years older, and her wiry, muscular frame at least a decade younger.
“She got anything worth taking?” Zed asked Cass, not even bothering to address the woman. His pack was already loaded with tools he’d stolen from her shed.
“Only good advice,” the woman said softly. Before Zed could react, she’d drawn the gun from her waist and had it pointed at him. “Now you return what’s mine, or I’ll drop you where you stand.”
“She told me that a friend who deserts me when I need him isn’t a friend at all,” Cass added.
Sophie would like to offer one of you a signed copy of Rebirth the second book in the Aftertime series!
The end of the world was just the beginning
Civilization has fallen, leaving California an unforgiving, decimated place. But Cass Dollar beat terrible odds to get her missing daughter back—she and Ruthie will be happy.
Yet with the first winter, Cass is reminded that happiness is fleeting in Aftertime. Ruthie retreats into silence.
Flesh—eating Beaters still dominate the landscape. And Smoke, Cass’s lover and strength, departs on a quest for vengeance, one that may end him even if he returns.
The survivalist community Cass has planted roots in is breaking apart, too. Its leader, Dor, implores Cass to help him recover his own lost daughter, taken by the totalitarian Rebuilders. And soon Cass finds herself thrust into the dark heart of an organization promising humanity’s rebirth—at all costs.
Bound to two men blazing divergent paths across a savage land, Cass must overcome the darkness in her wounded heart, or lose those she loves forever.
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Ends September 7th, 2011.
Sophie grew up in central Missouri, daughter of a history professor father and an artist mother. She earned a degree in computer science and made very little use of it. After living in Chicago for ten years, she and her husband packed up the kids and moved to Northern California in 1998.
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