If you’ve ever had the opportunity to dine with a writer, you might understand what an interesting, strange and sometimes gruesome experience it can be.
For a normal person (aka; a non-writer) a conversation regarding children, medical ailments or even a smidge of gossip is taken for just that; conversation. But to a writer those words start twisting and turning, and sometimes weave their way to become a story.
For example a very rational discussion regarding a woman’s difficulty in getting pregnant, turned into the possibility of an ancient curse of fertility against the family when I was done with it. My dining companion had no choice but to be pulled into the craziness as I perpetuated the theory into a full-fledged outline.
Once the trickle of thought turns into a raging river of story-telling there is no way to stop it. You just have to eat your salad and wait it out.
I tend to wake up with new stories in my head, which was the case for my newest book, Outer Banks. It happened on a weekend which meant my husband was there to listen to the facts of the alien attack, and how some humans were transformed. I spared no detail on how I thought this might be accomplished until he held up a hand in surrender, pointed to his half-eaten breakfast and said, “I’m trying to eat here.”
Undeterred, I went off to the office to start writing.
A word of warning, this condition is exacerbated when you get multiple authors together for lunch.
So if you’re ever sitting in a restaurant and you overhear the people in the booth next to you start discussing the downsides of sending someone off with agents to Israel versus New Hampshire, or if the phrase, “There are only so many ways you can kill someone,” is uttered, this isn’t necessarily cause for alarm.
You could be sitting next to a table of authors. And if you listen closely, you just might have the honor of hearing a story being born.
It is Dillon McAllister’s grim duty to track down alien-infected humans—aka “Haunts”—and quarantine them on the Outer Banks for their protection. Though his job disgusts him, he manages to continue knowing if he can get to them before the other hunters, at least they’ll be treated with respect.
But now he has a new client with a different mission: to retrieve a pharmaceutical executive’s daughter from confinement at the Outer Banks, because she may hold the key to a cure.
Dr. Emery Mitchell hates what she’s become, but she knows she may be the only hope for three hundred thousand detainees isolated on the North Carolina barrier islands—including herself.
Dillon is the only man who seems to be able to see the woman behind the black eyes and cool skin, and as she slowly begins to trust him, she’s forced to see herself as he sees her. A human woman with a human heart.
As society slowly unravels, the pressure is on to find a cure—before the hate groups calling for eradication can no longer be drowned out.
The phone woke me. I closed my eyes tighter, trying to block it out. It was no use.
Ring. Ring. The shrillness was obnoxious. I had to make it stop. I shifted in the stiff, uncomfortable bed and reached out to answer it.
“Hello?” I said, my voice rough with interrupted sleep.
“This is your wakeup call, Mr. McAllister. It’s five—” The pleasant voice paused. “—p.m.,” she clarified.
“Yes. Thank you.” I hung up, not needing the details. I knew how crazy it was to get a wakeup call in the evening.
I sat on the edge of the lumpy mattress and blinked while I tried to remember where I was. I made my way to the room’s wobbly table and picked up the file.
I was in Louisiana. Amite, Louisiana to be more exact. I was investigating reports of a young boy sneaking around a butcher shop at night.
I opened the thick curtain and looked out into the parking lot. Trucks were passing by on the interstate. The Bob Evans across the street was filling up with the early dinner crowd.
The pavement was wet. It had rained at some point. The last of the day’s sun glimmered in the puddles as I closed the curtains.
I dragged myself to the bathroom and turned on the shower as I scanned my face in the mirror. I needed a shave, but I just didn’t feel like it. Instead, I slapped my cheeks lightly and took off my shorts before stepping under the intense stream of water.
It felt like a pressure washer. I adjusted the nozzle so the water wouldn’t shred my skin, and began washing myself.
As I looked up at the ceiling tiles, darkened from past water damage, I thought of how routine this moment was, when only a year ago it seemed life would never be this way again.
Last March, They came.
It bordered on cliché the way they arrived. Just like every space alien movie ever written.
Their immense, matte black ships appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the afternoon. They hovered like large mechanical jellyfish above the most populated centers on earth. Their long tentacles lit randomly, pulsing. Silent.
They sat there for hours. No movement. No activity in the sky, while down here on Earth everyone went into a panic.
It was all the things you would expect to see when the end of the world seemed inevitable—looting, suicide, mass religious gatherings. Then the military got involved. Hoards of tanks, missiles and soldiers were deployed to protect us from the unknown invaders.
Just seeing their ships on TV told me we were goners. They had the ability to suspend a city-sized craft in the air for hours with no sound and no emissions. That in itself confirmed they were far more advanced than us.
Technologically speaking, of course.
I knew a thing or two about technology. On a rudimentary level anyway. I was a mechanic. Vehicle restoration and repair. Or at least I had been until that day.
When night fell, the ships finally moved.
Closer to Earth, they opened the tentacles and unleashed wave after wave of what we now refer to as “Bugs”, regardless of what Latin-based foot long word the scientists gave them. But these weren’t like any insects we had on Earth.
They stood on four long legs, taller than a human. Their other two legs—more like arms—were used to grip onto their human prey and pull them into their waiting fangs.
These things were everything your darkest imagination could conjure up. Shiny black scales covered their exterior, healing over immediately when shot. Even if the soldiers had a chance to shoot past a human victim—which they always seemed to have in their grasp—the insect was left unharmed.
Their fangs penetrated the jugular veins and drank the human, while two pincers in their abdomen held them in place.
They disposed of the drained carcasses into shallow holes they punched into the ground, or cement or pavement—whatever they happened to be standing on. Their back feet could cut through almost any surface effortlessly.
Their red eyes were constantly in motion, searching out their next victim.
It didn’t take long to realize we didn’t stand a chance.
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Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/outer-banks-anson-barber/1120724212?ean=9781619228092
Samhain Publishing: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5322/outer-banks