**Visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Deadly Destination tour of Michigan from Sidney Ayers & a chance to win DEMONS PREFER BLONDES**
Our latest Deadly Destinations stop really brings a whole new meaning to the world “deadly”. The world is gone, and the apocalypse has arrived. Cannibalistic Beaters, people turned hungry for human flesh, roam freely while the remaining humans frantically grip at survival. Our tour guide today is Sophie Littlefield’s Vincent, and he’s going to give us an idea of what life is like in the Box. Sophie also has a free e-story that occurs between AFTERTIME and REBIRTH, called SURVIVORS. Just click on the link to get your copy. Thanks to Harlequin/Luna, three of you who comment on this post will win a copy of the first two books! See details below.
Setup: In REBIRTH, the second in the AFTERTIME series, Cass Dollar and her lover and daughter have made a home in the Box, a few fenced-off city blocks that serve as a community and trading center after the world falls to bioterror, war, starvation and eventually, zombie-like Beaters.
The following is from the point of view of a very minor character, Vincent, who makes a living as a barber in the Box.
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The day Beaters took the old guy that lived downstairs and his wife went nuts and left all the doors open and we knew we were going to have to bail, Mertz and I filled up our backpacks and hit the road. Looking back on it I’ll admit Mertz was thinking a lot more clearly than me, because I didn’t bring any water or food at all and he ended up saving my ass, especially after he walked away from our shelter the third or fourth day on the road and never came back and if he hadn’t left his backpack I don’t think I would made it the rest of the way to the Box.
I never did find out what happened to Mertz, by the way. I looked around for a body but I didn’t want to go too far off the road. Could have been marauders, but it probably wasn’t. I don’t like to think about that.
Anyway, all I had in my backpack was two framed pictures of Sherry – one of us down in Santa Cruz and one in that sweet little green bikini she got in Mexico – and two cans of Axe and all the magazines off the nightstand and my ink and tools. By the time I got to the Box I still had the photos – took them out of the frames – and the ink and my combs and scissors. Everything else was gone, all the water and food too.
They let me sleep on a cot the first night and some dude gave me half his dinner, but the next day I had to figure out how to trade.
So I’m walking around the Box thinking I’ll set up to cut hair, which was what I had been planning on and what I ended up doing – I’ve had this booth for three months now – but then this chick comes up to me and starts talking to me about the dragon in my right arm. That dragon was Sherry’s idea. I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to her about it but this girl tells me she’ll trade me four tabs of x if I’ll do her one.
It’s pretty clear to me that that’s like cash around the Box. We go back to my cot and she takes off her shirt and lies down on her stomach and I’m like, holy shit, who did this and what did they use?
That’s the first time I ever saw a tattoo done from cigarette ash. Mix it up with water and it’s like this gray that gets darker under the skin. Whoever did her, they had a pretty steady hand, the heart was symmetrical and they did a good job with the lettering. “Dustin,” it said. But her skin was all crusty and I had to tell her she was going to end up with mostly scar, that ash wasn’t going to stay. So she had me ink around the heart too, fix it up as best I could.
Didn’t take long for people to hear about me. I saw all kinds of amateur work: people use pen ink, acrylic paint, eyeliner, anything they can get their hands on. A lot of them wanted me to fix up what they had, make it look more professional. And I did a lot of new work too. One week in, I had a card table and a chair. I didn’t get a tent for another month but I didn’t mind, some nights I still sleep out. I like looking up at the moon. People trade me all kinds of things, whatever they have. I’m set right now, I got all I need, so I’ll take what they got or sometimes I do them for free. I’ve still got about three quarters of the ink I came in with. Some days, I look around this place, two hundred people living in tents surrounded by chain link fence and half of them are wearing my ink.
I spend most of my time doing hair. Raiders know to bring me whatever they find, dye and razors and product. It won’t last forever but then again nothing does. You ever doubt it, you should spend a few days here. Outside the fence, it’s like the end of the world. Trash blowing around and nobody on the streets except the Beaters coming around whining ever few days, getting their heads blown off by the guards. Inside, there’s a garden and people hanging up their wash, it’s like maybe India or Mexico or one of those places where people lived on top of each other without two nickels to rub together.
Well, I guess that’s what we are, now that I think about it. Jammed in here like sardines and no one’s had any use for nickels in a long time. Except maybe poker, they still use coins for that, only when it’s time to ante up you got to have something better to back it up. I’ve put up a tattoo a time or two. I don’t mind losing; the ink keeps me busy.
Sophie grew up in central Missouri, daughter of a history professor father and an artist mother. She earned a degree in computer science at a large Midwestern university 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. She’s been keeping house and writing ever since. She published a number of short stories and articles before landing an agent and selling her first novel in the spring of 2008.
Want to read more from Sophie Littlefield?
This giveaway is provided by Harlequin/Luna
Available on July 19, 2011 from Harlequin/Luna
About the Book:
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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4. Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada/No P.O. Boxes.
5. Please include your email address in your comment.
6. All Deadly Destinations winners will be announced on August 7th.
7. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.
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