He is fast asleep in his bed on the night that the demon and the once-men
come for his family. They have been watching the compound for days, studying its
walls and the routine of the guards who ward them. They have waited patiently
for their chance, and now it has arrived. An advance party is over the walls and
past the guards. They have opened the gates from the inside to let in the
others, and now all are pouring into the compound. In less than five minutes,
everything has been lost.
He doesnt realize this when his father shakes him awake, but he knows something is wrong.
Logan, get up. Urgency and fear are apparent in his fathers voice.
Logan blinks against the beam of the flashlight his father holds, one of two they still possess. He sees his brother dressing across the way, pulling on his shirt and pants, moving quickly, anxiously. Tyler isnt griping, isnt saying anything, doesnt even look over at him.
His father bends close, his strong features all planes and angles at the edges of the flashlights beam. His big hand grips his sons shoulder and squeezes. Its time for us to leave here, Logan. Put on your clothes and your pack and wait by the trapdoor with Tyler. Your mother and I will be along with Megan.
His sister. He looks around, but doesnt see her. Outside, there is shouting and the sound of gunfire. A battle is being fought. He knows now what has happened, even without seeing it. He has heard it talked about all of his life, the day their enemies would find a way to break through, the day that the walls and gates and guards and defenses would finally give way. It has happened all across the United States. It has happened all over the world. No one is safe anywhere. Maybe no one will ever be safe again.
He rises quickly now and dresses. His brother already has his pack strapped across his back and tosses Logan his. The packs have been sitting in a corner of his bedroom for as far back as he can remember. Each month, they are unpacked, checked, and repacked. His father is a careful man, a planner, a survivor. He has always assumed this day would come, even though he assured his family it would not. Logan was not fooled. His father did not speak of it directly, but in the spaces between the words of reassurance were silent warnings. Logan did not miss them, did not ignore their implications.
Hurry, slug, Tyler hisses at him, going out the door.
He finishes fastening his boots, throws his pack over his shoulder, and hurries after his brother. The shouts are growing louder now, more frantic. There are screams, as well. He feels curiously removed from all of it, as if it were happening to people with whom he had no connection, even though these are his friends and neighbors. He feels light-headed, and there is a buzzing in his ears. Maybe he has gotten up too fast, has rushed himself the way he does sometimes without allowing his body to adjust to a sudden change.
Maybe it is just the first of many adjustments he is going to have to make in his life.
He knows what is going to happen now. His father has told them all, taking care to use the word if rather than the word when. They are going to have to escape through the tunnels and flee into the surrounding countryside. They are going to have to abandon their home and all their possessions because otherwise they will be caught and killed. The demons and the once-men have made it clear from the beginning that those who choose to shut themselves away in the compounds will not be spared once their defenses are breached. It is punishment for defiance, but it is a warning, too.
If you want to survive, you have to place yourself in our hands.
No one believes this is true, of course. No one can survive outside the compounds. Not as a free man or woman. Not with the plagues and poisons in the air, water, and soil. Not with the slave camps to take you in and swallow you up. Not with the Freaks and the monsters running amok in cities and towns and villages everywhere.
Excerpted from Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks Copyright © 2006 by Terry Brooks. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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