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Darkness Rising Complete 6-Book Series Set (Paperback)

Darkness Rising Complete 6-Book Series Set (Paperback)

12 bestselling books for 1 low price!

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"It's like Crichton and King had a love child" ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Mike is THE post apoc author to read!" ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Chapter 1 Look Inside

Chapter 1

“…you act like it’s the end of the world.”
Phillip looked up from the screen of the smart phone clamped between his fingers. “Huh? What did you say?”
“Oh, come on, Phillip. This is supposed to be a vacation. Just because you go a half an hour without checking your email doesn’t mean it’s the apocalypse.”
His eyes darted back to the phone. “There’s no cell service out here, anyway.”
“Brisbee, Colorado. The land that time forgot,” Winnie said from the back seat, rolling her eyes in typical teenage girl fashion. Like her father, she also held a device in her hand, though without the cellular signal, it might as well have been a ten-ounce stone.
“Oh no,” said Max in a whining, sarcastic tone. “No cell signal, whatever will you do?” Sarcasm was second nature for the thirteen-year-old little brother, and it was just sharp enough to dig at his older sister in just the right way.
“Shut up, asswipe,” Winnie snapped back, though she grinned lightly as she punched his arm.
“Hey, watch your mouth! Do you two need to step outside?” Rhonda said from the front seat. She turned her head briefly to shoot an unimpressed look back at her fifteen-year-old daughter, who seemed summarily unaffected.
Phil turned back from his side and gave Winnie a sideways glance.
“Sorry, daddy,” she said in an innocent teenager voice that bordered sincerity and sarcasm.
Rhonda turned back to face the road, easing the car back in her lane to compensate for the left drift towards the shoulder while she wasn’t paying attention. Beside her, her husband continued to stare entranced at the non-functional device.
“Can’t you put that away? We’re coming up here to enjoy a long weekend, hopefully without interruptions at work.”
“I know, honey, I’m sorry. I’ve just got a J Co inspection next week,” Phillip replied, referring to the Joint Commission, a federal agency that regulated the performance and safety of nationwide health systems.
“Yes, and I’m sure one of those seven emails you can’t read right now will solve all of your problems.”
Phillip tossed the phone up onto the dash. “You’re right, of course. Like always. Family first this weekend.”
“Just this weekend?” Rhonda asked. She said it like a joke but with just enough truth to sting.
“Jeez, mom and dad,” Winnie said. “Can you guys go one three-hour drive without grumping at each other?”
“If you and your brother can, we will,” Rhonda replied.
Winnie shook her head. “If you guys gave Max as much crap about stealing stuff as you do to me about how I talk, maybe he wouldn’t be a klepto.” She immediately regretted her choice of words the moment after she said them.
“Shut up!” Max shouted, punching his older sister in the arm.
“Hey, ow!” she shouted back, recoiling. She flashed an angry look at her younger brother, then her eyes drifted to Bradley who was sitting in the third-row seat behind them. One of Max’s only friends at their private school, Brad had grown up in urban Denver, Colorado and other than attending their school, had never ventured far outside the city.  His parents had eagerly accepted the Fraser’s invitation to join them on this long weekend trip to the cabin in the mountains. He was a year younger than Max, but very bright and mature for his relatively young age, and the two had bonded quickly.
Winnie was at the age where she didn’t like her brother much, but she was smart enough to know that he had his issues, and embarrassing him in front of his only friend at school would not help those issues. That could make this an even longer long weekend.
She bit off the words that had formed on her lips and remained silent, turning back to look forward out the windshield.
“Did you tell your parents we’re coming?” Phil asked, straightening himself and glancing out his window. As he watched they passed by a small gas station with two pumps outside a small building with shoddy red siding and a slowly turning Gulf sign reaching up towards the early morning sky. Just like you might expect from small town Colorado, there were more trees lining these narrow, cracked pavement streets than buildings.
“No. It’s their summer cabin, they don’t usually come out here until June.” Rhonda eyed the small vehicle ahead of her, a Ford pickup that seemed to age before her very eyes, rust littering the bent metal tailgate. A thin cloud of blue exhaust puffed from the rear right corner, then burst out and spread into the sky as the truck accelerated. She glanced back at the empty road, eased her Honda minivan past the old beater, and ignored the flash of anger she received from the driver. His eyes narrowed beneath a mop of graying hair and his arm twitched underneath the red flannel shirt acting as if he might have prepared to throw the middle finger at her.
She eased the van back over to the right hand lane, eyeing the rear view mirror, but the truck just drifted further back into the horizon.
“Are you sure it’s usable?” Phil asked.
“Define usable.”
“I don’t know, running water? Electricity?”
Rhonda sighed. “It’s a cabin, not a cave, Phillip. Yes, it’s got full plumbing and electricity. Mom and dad told us we could use it anytime, and I’m taking advantage of it.”
As if on cue, Winnie leaned forward on her elbows. “Please tell me this place at least has Wi-Fi.”
Rhonda smirked and looked at her daughter in the mirror. Winnie brushed aside a thick clump of curly, brown hair, her eyes alert, waiting in breathless anticipation for the answer that would most assuredly make or break her entire weekend.
“I haven’t been here in probably fifteen years, sweetie,” Ronda replied. “There was no Wi-Fi back then, I can tell you that.”
“Seriously?” she asked leaning back into her seat, aghast.
“Grandma and Grandpa can’t live without Wi-Fi, can they?” Max cut in.
Rhonda’s face shifted, clenching into carved stone, her eyes drifting as if reliving some moment in her past. After a half second, she shook it off.
“I’m sure they get along just fine, Maxie.”
It had been over five minutes since passing the gas station and Phil let his eyes shift to a squat, one floor market with a quarter-full parking lot scattered with older vehicles. One older woman trudged slowly from the lot towards the market, pushing a rusted old shopping cart ahead of her.
There was no other traffic on the main drag of Brisbee aside from the old truck now long in their dust and Phil just glared out the window. All he could picture in his head was their comfortable home with an uncomfortable mortgage, their three cars—even though they only had two drivers—and the elaborate play structure built out of the best materials nestled in the rear corner of their expansive backyard. He still remembered the day they bought it. The kids had been absolutely ecstatic, and it had made him feel like a super hero helping build it. The pure, unfiltered joy of children at play. Those days came back to him from time to time, the days when the kids could still be kids, and when his job wasn’t quite so demanding. When had it all changed?
As the minivan groaned around a sharp corner, the road transitioned abruptly from pavement to gravel, and he glanced out the window and caught sight of a dark, metal grill behind one of the run down houses along main street. That made him think of his wide brick patio and that gorgeous, brushed metal Weber grill they had bought a few years back. He thought how great it would be to have family dinners outside all summer long. Thinking quietly to himself, Phil swore that this summer they’d definitely use it. He wondered if they’d need to refill the propane tank; it had been a few years. The kids hadn’t asked for burgers on the grill in a long time, and he felt like he never had time any more, but this summer, he was going to make the time, J Co inspections or no.
Maybe he’d even invite the Gingrich’s and the Bosemans. He was sure their grills weren’t nearly as nice. He’d buy some of those expensive, organic grass-fed steaks at Trader Joe’s just to show off a bit. And it would be great. Just like old times.
The van shuddered as it rolled over a loose collection of rocks in the road and snapped Phillip back awake.
“Where are we even going?” he asked. “Is this even civilization?”
“How long have you lived in Colorado? First time you've seen the Rocky Mountains up close?”
“You know you love me,” he replied, his tone noticeably softer.
“Sometimes I wonder,” Rhonda replied, but he could see the slight upturn of her mouth.
There were times in her marriage that she legitimately did wonder how much she loved him. Times that life for him seemed to move in a different direction than the rest of them. This didn’t seem like the right time to tear open those old wounds. Especially not right now, just after he agreed to this long weekend. Rhonda had long since learned to live with her husband's obsession to his job, and it paid the bills well enough for her to stick to the non-profit life that was so important to her.
It paid for their house, barely, and had paid for the sitter growing up, allowing her some precious time to focus on the things that she enjoyed as well.
It was the twenty-first century’s version of the American Dream, somehow supposedly living comfortably while being slowly consumed by the intestinal parasite of crushing financial debt. But they made it work and had made it work for twenty years. They had to be doing something right.
“Mrs. Fraser, I need to use the bathroom.”
Rhonda's eyes flashed to the rear view mirror. Brad had been so quiet she'd nearly forgotten he was even there.
“Bradley, honey, we'll be there in about ten minutes. Can you hold it until then?”
Brad looked at her from wide brown eyes and she felt a warmth inside for the young boy. He was such a great kid, hitting honor roll at the local private school and living away from his helicopter parents, while Max commuted every day because they couldn't trust him alone in the student dorms.
Why he had latched onto Max, she'd never know, but she was glad for it and only hoped their friendship would lift her son rather than have the opposite effect on Brad. As one of very few African-American students in the school, he had enough obstacles in his way without her son's influence making things even worse.
“I’ll be okay, Mrs. Fraser,” Brad replied. The van lurched over another heave in the poorly kept road, and she saw Brad pinch his lips between his teeth. Poor kid was so polite, he’d probably been holding it for an hour already before he even said anything.
Rhonda pressed a bit harder on the accelerator, easing the speedometer to a touch over forty, which was about as much as she wanted to push it on these back roads. It had been two decades since she’d traveled this stretch of roads. In fact, it had taken her that long to bring herself to return here. Her parents had generally offered her and her family the use of the family cabin many times since she’d last driven these dirt paths, but until this year she hadn’t been able to bring herself to accept.
She wasn’t sure what had changed, but clearly something had. Was she finally comfortable in this little family unit?
Phillip’s phone thrummed on the dashboard, shaking and threatening to rattle right off. He reacted as if an invaluable Ming vase was about to fall off the coffee table and charged forward as much as he could while constrained by his seat belt, clamping his fingers around the phone and bringing it to his sight line.
“Do you have signal, dad?” Winnie asked from the backseat, showing the first signs of excitement that Rhonda had heard in the past three hours.
Phillip shook his head as he dropped the phone back on the dash. “Just a low battery alert.”
As they continued the trek up the steep crawl of the mountain road, Rhonda let her gaze drift from time to time, looking at the houses spread far apart and bracketed by thick trees, trying not to feel nostalgic for this old place. Much of her childhood had been spent here, both during the summer and throughout other parts of the year as well, but since she’d left home twenty years ago, she hadn’t returned. She’d needed her space.
Passing the old Cavendish place on the left side, she looked at the two cars in the driveway and noted with bemusement that their old 1960s Chevy pickup still sat stranded in their backyard. It was no longer on blocks and looked to be in much better shape than it had been twenty years ago, but it was still right there where she remembered.
It took a handful of minutes to complete the climb and at the diamond-shaped sign which read “No Outlet,” she eased the van right, crunched over a low divot in the gravel road, and trekked forward.
The cabin appeared just ahead of them as the low, thick fog of mid-morning meandered through the trees and lifted up towards the lightening sky. Just through the thinning morning moisture, Rhonda could see the pink sky melting to blue, setting a burnt, dark crust on the outer edge of the puffy fog-fueled clouds.
“Is that it?” Max asked as he leaned forward in his seat.
“That place is tiny,” Winnie remarked.
“It’s got three bedrooms, a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and a basement,” Rhonda said, angling the van to a small cleared spot next to the cabin. She cut the engine and sat in her seat, just looking at it.
From the outside it looked almost exactly the same as it had two decades earlier, a single-story square structure with a low, angled metal roof. Though they called it their “cabin,” it wasn’t a literal cabin, just a smaller house set deep in the mountain wilderness. The siding was real wood, stained a dark brown and a flat, wide porch ran along the near side, then hooked around the corner to the rear, offering a beautiful view of cascading fir trees running down the backside of the hill. Rhonda remembered seeing deer from time to time in those early mornings and had also even seen a bear once. She’d almost spit out her coffee when that had happened.
Had that been her last summer here? Her final trip up the mountain before she went to college? It seemed like a lifetime ago, even though some of those memories still seeped inside her brain like fresh wounds.
Why had she come back? Just to prove that she could?
The morning was quiet and peaceful as it always seemed to be up here, at least whenever she first arrived. The peace never lasted long in the past, but she hoped it would be different now. Lord knew she was plenty different.
Slamming car doors shook her free from her trip down memory lane and she jerked forward, unhooking her seat belt. Bradley was already at the front door, patiently waiting for someone to let him in so he could go pee, and Max was roaming aimlessly around the front yard. As Rhonda stepped out of the car, he bent over and scooped up a rock from the driveway, then cocked his arm back and threw it.
Go figure, she thought, his first ten seconds here and he’s breaking the place up.
To her right, Phillip and Winnie crossed the neatly trimmed grass, approaching the thick woods to the northeast, looking around the corner of the house towards the backyard.
“Home sweet home?” Phil barked from his spot in the yard. Rhonda shrugged.
She strode towards the door and ruffled Brad’s hair as she withdrew her spare key and unlocked the front door.
“Down the hall straight ahead, first door on the right,” she whispered, and he nodded frantically, scurrying away into the house.
The front door led to an opened kitchen area, with a round dining room to the left, and the range and sink entrenched in counters along the right wall. A full-sized refrigerator was on the far wall, with a hallway just to its left which led down to the bedrooms and the bathrooms.
A waist-high bar separated the kitchen from a decent-sized, square-shaped living room where a couch and two chairs sat facing a squat entertainment center. On top of the entertainment center was an old tube television set.
“What on earth is that?” Max asked as he pushed his way into the house, nearly shoving Rhonda out of the way.
“It’s a television,” Phil replied.
“That big thing?”
“That’s how they used to look.”
“They have cable here?” Winnie asked, squeezing her way in behind Max. “Or at least satellite or something?”
“There was an aerial antenna on the roof,” Phil interjected, bringing up the rear as the rest of the family progressed deeper into the house.
“I bet it’s not even high def,” Max scoffed.
Rhonda pointed over towards the kitchen wall where there was a phone handset. “Phil can you call Lydia? She wanted to know when we arrived.”
“Seriously, mom?” Winnie said. “It's like eight in the morning there. Saturday morning at UCLA. You think she's going to want to hear dad's voice?”
Rhonda laughed. “Good point. Give me the phone, Phil. I'll call Lydia. She at least appreciates her mother.”
Winnie rolled her eyes as her mom walked past her back into the kitchen. In the next room the toilet flushed.
“Does this stupid thing even have a remote?” Winnie asked as she fumbled with the cumbersome television set.
Rhonda scooped the phone from Phil's outstretched hand and punched in her daughter's dorm room phone number.
There was a click on the other end followed by a brief hum and squawk of static.
“All circuits are busy now,” a monotone female voice said. Rhonda drew back, clicked the hang up button, then tried again.
“All circuits are busy now.”
“Phil?” Rhonda let the phone drop in her hand and turned towards her husband.
His face was pale, his mouth hanging slack, as he glared at the television.
“Oh my God,” Winnie whispered, putting a hand to her mouth.
Rhonda dropped the phone, sending it clattering against the wall, still tethered to its coiled cable. She stood there stock still, watching the grainy face of the news reporter, only barely hearing the words coming from her moving mouth. 
She didn’t know what had happened or what would happen, but somehow, instinctively, she knew life would never be the same again.

* * *

“Call again, Phil. Please, call again!” Rhonda paced back and forth in the living room, her hands clenching and unclenching.
“Honey, I just did. Circuits are still busy, I don't think that'll change in five minutes—”
“Just try it again, Philip!” Tears streamed down her face as she glared at her hands, unsure of what to do with them or with life in general.
She snapped her head back around as the picture on the television shifted back to the news reporter.
“Details are still scarce at the moment,” the woman reported, “but we can confirm that a series of attacks have struck the West Coast of the United States. Significant explosions have rocked the early morning commutes in Seattle, Portland, and several locations throughout California.”
“Several locations?” Rhonda shrieked to no one in particular.
Winnie sat on the couch, her eyes wide. Both of her hands were clasped to her chest, the sheer gravity of the situation still settling over her.
“Mom, what's going on?” Max asked. He had remained standing, his young body not fully equipped to handle what his brain was seeing.
“This is a joke, right?” Bradley asked, turning towards Max, his eyes pleading. “This has got to be a joke.”
“Channel Four can also confirm,” the newscaster continued, “that the detonated devices appear to be nuclear in origin.”
“What?” Rhonda hissed, a fresh stream of tears breaking free and running over the contours of her smooth face.
“Circuits are still busy, Rhonda,” Phil reported from the kitchen.
“What about my mom?” Bradley said quietly, moving over towards the couch. He sat down onto the cushion, his face still glued to the screen ahead, his legs moving by pure habit.
This seemed to snap Rhonda out of her trance and she turned towards him, walked to his side, and sat on the couch next to him. “I know, sweetie,” she said softly. “We’ll get you home, okay? Nothing to worry about.”
On the television, the reporter looked off screen for a moment, as if receiving instructions from someone.
“Hold on,” she said. “Just in, there was a reported attempt this morning at the Port of Boston, however the attack was thwarted by Customs and Border Patrol agents. We can confirm that there was also an attack in Boston, on the East Coast, but that attack was unsuccessful.”
“What the…” Phil muttered, walking into the living room.
“What do we do?” asked Winnie, glancing around as if someone in the room might have some kind of idea.
“There’s not much we can do,” Rhonda replied, her voice cracking under not only her own emotion, but the emotion of the young boy who buried himself in her arms. She looked over towards Max, but he seemed to be showing no interest in being comforted by her. He continued watching the television with some strange mixture of horror and awe.
“Wait, nuclear!” Winnie shouted as if the news had just sunk in. “That means radiation, right?” Her rapid breath cut through her voice in mid-sentence.
“My Lydia,” Rhonda closed her eyes. “What are we going to do about Lydia?”
Phil walked to the television and twisted the volume dial. They never had found the remote, though they hadn’t looked all that hard since the news broke through whatever innocuous show had been broadcasting.
“Where in California did these go off? Did they say?” he asked.
“No!” Rhonda shouted. “They haven’t said anything. They keep saying ‘several,’ I don’t even know what they mean by that!”
A color coordinated map blinked into view over the newscaster’s right shoulder, helpfully labeled by large, throbbing yellow dots which seemed to be indicating the locations of the detonations.
“California has been the hardest hit from what we know so far,” the news woman continued, “and we have reports that San Diego and San Francisco have both been hit, though as of now, Los Angeles appears to be a relative safe zone.”
“Safe zone?” Rhonda barked. “It’s only 120 miles from San Diego! That’s not a safe zone!”
“Early reports are saying that domestic air travel has been immediately shut down pending further investigation of these attacks, which is adding some challenging obstacles to any rescue or recovery efforts at this point.”
Rhonda pressed her hand to her mouth.
“Video is coming in now, though we must warn our sensitive viewers that what you are about to see could be disturbing to young audiences.”
Phil made no movement and neither did his wife, both glaring at the set, seemingly unconcerned about the children in the room. On the television a shaky cell phone film blinked to life shot vertically. The Golden Gate Bridge was front and center in the picture and they appeared to be on the water nearby.
“Oh no, I can’t watch,” whispered Rhonda, but her eyes didn’t leave the screen.
A faint red glow began to rise, as if the sun itself was lifting from the water of the bay, and then the shock wave rolled over the water, waves rippling violently outward. The person with the camera was knocked back as if they were punched. Muffled voices could be heard as the phone camera drifted away, catching only the vague edge of the cloud and blinding flash which swallowed the Golden Gate Bridge whole.
The camera snapped to black.
“This can’t be real,” Max said again.
“It is real,” Phil replied. Seeming to realize that he was actually talking to his son and not some stranger, he turned towards the boy and took a step his direction, swallowing him in an aggressive bear hug.
Rhonda looked down at Bradley, who still looked to be in a trance, then peeled herself away and walked out into the kitchen, over to where the phone rested. Without even speaking she picked up the receiver and punched Lydia’s number, though she knew what she would hear.
“All circuits are busy now.”
She set the phone down without even looking at it, mesmerized by the scene on the television.
“We do not have final numbers of expected casualties,” the newscaster reported, “nor do we yet know the impact of surrounding areas, but we strongly advise anyone within five hundred miles of coastal California to please seek immediate shelter. If you have anywhere safe to go, go there, but go there calmly and do not panic.”
“How far can radiation go?” Max asked, pulling his face from Phil’s shirt, which was now damp with his tears. “Can it get us here?”
Phil glanced over at Rhonda as if this thought had simply not occurred to him until now. His face was slack, his eyes narrowed, and if it were possible for more color to drain from his cheeks, it would have.
“It would take days if not weeks for it to get this far, honey,” Rhonda replied, hoping her lie sounded convincing, because the truth was, she had absolutely no clue and the possibility was almost too frightening to bear.
She gestured towards him and Phil nodded, pulling away from Max.
“I'll be right back, kiddo,” he said, tapping his only son on the shoulder and navigating his way out into the kitchen. Rhonda pushed out the front door and out into the yard, Phillip close behind her. Before she even got five steps, she turned back towards him.
“We need to do something, Phil. We can’t just sit here.”
“Do what?” he asked, shrugging his shoulders. He explained himself further as he realized he was sounding insensitive towards their older daughter. He embraced his wife in a hug as he spoke. “I’m worried about Lydia, too. Petrified for her. But we can’t exactly drive west into a fallout zone, can we?”
Rhonda wiped a tear from her cheek. “Air travel is shut down. What about trains? Cars? Trucks? Is everyone just stranded there?”
“They could be anywhere. If they shut down air travel, I’m not sure where she might end up, or even if she can get out of the city.”
“Oh my dear God. What are we supposed to do?”
Phil placed his hands on his hips, lowering his gaze towards the cut grass. He could see the faint droplets of dew still clinging to the blades, and everything seemed as if it was crystal clear and frozen in time. This is how he got during these times. Sure, his strategic planning meetings covered completely different subject matter than he was dealing with now, but even as he stood there, his mind started putting some pieces together, forming a picture and a process. A way to move on.
“First priority I think should be going into town. Buy some supplies for the long haul, just in case,” he shot her a look as she began to argue, but she rethought her rebuttal and clamped her lips closed. “I’m sure there’s some local law enforcement in town, too. Maybe they know something?”
Rhonda drew a shaky breath. “Do you think that’s wise?” she asked. “We have no idea what’s going on out there or how these people might be reacting. Being near other people could be…dangerous.”
Phil looked at his wife and for a brief moment, he thought he saw her eyes shift right, as if looking towards the trees, expecting people to be milling about in there.
“Everyone is in the same spot we are, honey,” he replied. “They’re just all looking out for themselves. Plus, it’s early, maybe people haven’t checked the news yet?” He hesitated before speaking again. “I hate saying this, but Max, Winnie, and Brad are our priorities right now. I know it sounds cold, but…”
Rhonda nodded slowly. “No, I get it. They’re here with us and we can’t take them somewhere unsafe. But we have to try to figure out if she’s okay.”
“We shouldn’t stop trying the phone. I don’t know of any other way we can get in touch from all the way out here, unless someone in town’s got Internet access. Maybe we can check that and see if we can get a message to her that way? Or get to somewhere with a phone signal so we can send a text?”
Rhonda nodded again, then suddenly blew out a long, throaty breath. “Do you think she’s okay, Phil? Is our baby okay?”
It was Lydia’s first year at UCLA and her mother had been struggling a little bit. It didn’t help that Lydia had been the only one of her three children who she felt especially close with, a relationship that existed as close friends, not just mother and daughter. Winnie had always been closer to Phil, and Max was an island unto himself. An island in especially choppy, unpredictable seas.
“She’ll be okay,” Phil replied. “If these are suitcase nukes or whatever they’re called, they’d be much smaller than full blown missiles.”
Rhonda rolled her eyes and chuckled. “As if you know what you’re talking about, Phil. This isn’t some stupid Tom Clancy book.” She turned away from him, though inside she was thankful for him at least attempting to ease her fears. He did try, though generally he stumbled around, groping desperately for some kind of comforting words. That sort of thing wasn’t in his wheelhouse.
Phil stood out in the yard and looked out into the trees, trying to focus on the spot he had seen Rhonda looking. He saw nothing and heard less, but felt a little unsettled just the same. Standing out in the yard, looking at the wilderness, life as he knew it seemed the same as it was an hour earlier, but he knew it was a front. And he knew that even though he was trying to calm his wife’s nerves, the fact that there had been so many successful attacks all in a single morning meant that the only country he’d ever known was under active attack.
And more attacks would be coming.
Stepping up to the front door, he went into the kitchen in time to see Rhonda hang up the handset again and swipe at her tear streaked face.
“Bradley,” Rhonda asked, moving towards the living room. “Were your mom and dad staying home this weekend?”
Brad sniffled and looked over towards her, nodding slowly. “I think so, yeah.”
Rhonda knew that home for Brad was downtown Denver, and her stomach lurched at the thought of one of those devices detonating there. Was any city truly safe?
“New reports from boots on the ground,” interrupted the newscaster, who seemed to know she was interrupting something. “We are hearing reports that there has been another device detonation. This time in Las Vegas, Nevada.”
Rhonda gasped. How many would be dead by the time it was all said and done? The numbers were nearly unthinkable.
“We don’t have casualty counts as of yet, but everyone is fearing the worst—”
“Can you turn that off?” Max asked, looking over at Winnie, who still looked enthralled by the constant stream of horror.
“Shut up, Max,” she spat back.
“Kids,” Phil said, his forceful tone surprising Max and Winnie and making them both close their mouths. “Knock it off. Now.”
“We interrupt this program for a statement from the White House,” the words snapped everyone to attention, all eyes jolting to the television set, the face obscured by streaks of garbled static.
“My fellow Americans,” the face said on the screen, “this is a troubled time for our country.”
Phil crossed his arms and glued his eyes to the screen. Even through the static he could tell the President was not actually in the White House and was likely thousands of feet in the air aboard Air Force One.
“This morning, our fine nation has suffered several terrible blows by brutal and unprovoked attacks on our sovereignty. Thousands have died already, and as we begin the process of rebuilding, I suspect we will continue to count and mourn our dead in the weeks to come. But we will not let these deaths define us. We will not let these murderers change our course, and we will make them regret the events of these days more than we do.”
Rhonda remained standing at the bar between the kitchen and living room, her eyes narrow and her cheeks finally dry for the first time in almost an hour. It felt like she had no more tears to cry.
“To those of you listening, do not despair. Do not fear. Seek out shelter and stay safe. Be calm and take care. But most of all, be observant and be resilient. We have been struck, but we have not been beaten, and we will not be beaten. We will rise up stronger than ever, and the strength of all of you will get us there.”
Max rolled his eyes, turned, and walked away, disappearing down the hallway.
“We are doing everything we can to assist those in the affected areas and evacuations will continue. You have my word that the entire force of the United States is being deployed, not just to fight back, but to help and support the survivors, and to ensure that our strong nation remains strong and that our people are safe.”
The television shifted back to the newscaster who looked artificially solemn and serious as she regarded the camera. “Strong words from the President of the United States,” she said quietly.
“Just words,” Rhonda said quietly, rounding the edge of the bar and crossing the living room floor. She reached the television and twisted the dial, snapping the screen to a dull gray blankness.
Winnie looked over towards her as if waiting for some magical words of wisdom. Words that mothers are just expected to instinctively know. But Rhonda had never really been one of those mothers, and that wasn’t about to change right now.
“Okay, kids,” she said. “Your father and I need to talk some things through, okay? Things might be a little scary at the moment, but we’re going to figure this out. Together.”
Phil came up and stood shoulder to shoulder with his wife. “Your mom’s right. We can get through this as a family. Just try not to worry and we’ll all figure out the next steps.”
Winnie leaned back on the couch and pulled her phone out of her pocket, glancing at the screen.
“No Wi-Fi,” she muttered. “I freaking knew it.”

When the end arrives, how far will you go to save the ones you love?

When a terrorist plot results in the detonation of several nuclear devices across the West Coast, the Frasers are thrown into disarray and their strained familial relationships are tested as they watch society collapse around them.
Tens of millions of people are killed, injured and driven away from their homes as the result of a sinister plot that the government and its citizens are struggling to understand. With their older daughter lost in the chaos, the Frasers must somehow pull together to support each other and fight to reunite their family. 

Darkness Rising is a thrilling post-apocalyptic series that follows the survivors of a massive terrorist attack that isn't quite what it seems. As you learn more about the Fraser family and a few brave government agents who are attempting to unravel the horror and mystery behind the attacks, you'll soon discover that not everything in the apocalypse is as it appears to be.

Written as a collaboration between Justin Bell and #1 bestselling post-apocalyptic author Mike Kraus, Darkness Rising is a gripping, unique and timely take on the post-apocalyptic genre, and is one that will leave you breathless with every turn of the page.

This complete edition of Darkness Rising features all six books in the series, each one full of action, suspense and drama as the Fraser family struggles to survive the end of days.

You will love reading Darkness Rising if you like:

  • Realistic characters
  • Harrowing storylines
  • An all-too-realistic depiction of survival after the fall of civilization
This paperback omnibus edition of Darkness Rising contains all 6 books in one convenient paperback approximately 6" wide, 9" tall and 2" thick!
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