Ethan Jones lives in Newhome, a town built upon the decaying ruins of
post-apocalyptic Melbourne, ruins haunted by the ferocious Skel, a
nomadic tribe of degenerate savages.
The Skel are
ramping up their attacks on Newhome's foraging teams and infesting
Melbourne's ruins in ever greater numbers. Is this part of a larger plan
that could spell the town's doom?
the last thing Ethan expects when he and his companions rescue a two-car
convoy from the Skel is a Japanese teenage girl with an outlandish
dress-sense, who after they take her back to Newhome, goes to great
lengths to ingratiate herself into his life. But is it in gratitude for
saving her life or is she seeking something more?
And what a
quandry she places him in, for he knows the rules, that no man is
permitted to be alone with an unmarried woman. But how can he drive such
a gentle soul away when she touchs his heart so deeply, even though she
clearly carries the pain of a broken heart.
At the same
time, Newhome's police force, the Custodians, are suspicious of Ethan's
foraging team's successes and are pulling out the stops to find out
which member of his team has the illegal mutant ability that gives them
an edge over the other teams. Should these peacekeepers discover Ethan
is the mutant they seek, they will haul him away and dissect him like a
Michal, our driver and my best
friend, clambered into the truck first, having to duck his head down
just to get through the door since he easily topped six-foot-four; and
at seventeen I suspected he hadn't even finished growing. I clambered in
beside him while Leigh, David and Shorty climbed into the back seat.
Michal looked down at me, clearly displeased about something. "You gotta be more careful, Ethan."
"Me?" I asked, not having the slightest inkling of what he was referring to.
"Yes, Ethan, you," he confirmed as
he turned the key in the ignition and pumped the accelerator gently to
get the engine started. The truck was pretty old and I doubted it had a
single part that hadn't been replaced or refurbished at some stage. "I'd
wager my bottom dollar they're here 'cause they want to find out why
our team brings in more metals than the others."
Our team was one of many that
foraged in the ruins outside for non-corrosive metals, such as gold,
platinum, copper, bronze and lead, that had survived the decades since
the Apocalypse. We would take them back to the Recycling-Works where
they would be sorted, melted down, and handed over to the factories.
"What do you mean?" I replied, feigning ignorance.
"Them other three goons," he
whispered as he jerked his head back to indicate our workmates in the
back seat, "they ain't too bright. They think you just know the best
spots to look, but not me. I've seen you."
That sent icy tendrils of dread creeping back into my gut. "Seen me what?"
"You can drop your act with me,
okay?" he said softly as he shifted the truck into gear and drove it out
of the Recycling-Works yard and towards the town gates. "I've heard
about people like you, and you're secret's safe with me. Just don't keep
hitting pay dirt every day from now on, 'cause those Custodians,
they're not here to protect us from the Skel like they claim, otherwise
they'd have brought a Bushmaster instead of that G-Wagon."
Peter R. Stone
Stone, an avid student of history, was reading books on Ancient Greece
from the age of four. Periods of interest include the ancient world,
medieval era, Napoleonic times, and the Second World War. He still
mourns the untimely passing of King Leonidas of Sparta and Field Marshal
Michel Ney of France.
product of the Cold War Generation, Peter Stone studied the
ramifications of a nuclear missile strike when he was in his senior year
of high school, learning the effects of nuclear fallout and how to
(hopefully) survive it. He has ever been drawn to post-apocalyptic and
dystopian novels and films, and eagerly devoured The Day of the Triffids
and John Christopher's Tripod Trilogy when he was a child. He is also
an avid fan of science fiction, and his favorite books include the
Lensmen Series by E.E.Doc.Smith, anything by Alastair Reynolds, and the
Evergence trilogy by Sean Williams.
Stone graduated from Melbourne School of Ministries Bible College in
1988. He has been teaching Sunday School and playing the keyboard in
church for over twenty-five years. His wife is from Japan and they have
two wonderful children. He has worked in the same games company for over
twenty years, but still does not comprehend why they expect him to work
all day instead of playing games.