I’m Donna Burgess and I want to welcome Melanie from my new novel Solstice. We’re going to learn a little bit about survival in a post-apocalyptic world.
DB: Hi, Melanie. Tell me a little about yourself.
M: Before the world ended, I was a university student, majoring in Psychology. My parents died in an accident when I was seventeen years-old and I ended up living with my father’s best friend and his family.
DB: How did that work out?
M: It was rocky to say the least. Tomas, my father’s friend was (and is) wonderful. I’ve always loved Tomas. His wife, on the other hand, was a queen bitch.
DB: Discuss your situation in Solstice for the readers. What is the post-apocalyptic world of the novel like?
M: Dark! Imagine living in a world without sunlight. It’s terrible to never feel the sun on your face. Even worse are Ragers, who make life incredibly difficult.
M: If you’ve seen zombies, you have a pretty good idea of what a Rager is. Except Ragers have retained some degree of consciousness. They can talk. They remember where home is. They’re fairly cunning. And they’re quick!
DB: How has trying to survive the end of the world changed you?
M: Obviously, a girl as to change her priorities. Things like electricity and warmth are luxuries. Staying alive is all that matters. I’ve learned to use a gun—something I would have never imagined. I’ve seen some terrible, terrible things, but I’ve gotten through them. I’m a much stronger person than I realized.
DB: Is there any more to your story?
M: Maybe. I guess it depends on the readers and if they want to see more or Melanie and Tomas and the Ragers.
By Donna Burgess
On the eve of winter Solstice, a massive flash envelopes the Earth and then there is nothing. The sun no longer shines and civilization is plunged into unending darkness. Those exposed to the mysterious flash have changed—they have become bloodthirsty, cunning, and determined to devour anyone who is not infected. They are Ragers.
In Sweden, a group of uneasy travelers hears a broken broadcast. There is hope. Something called Sanctuary waits, but it is thousands of miles away, somewhere on the shores of the British Isles.
Meanwhile, in a London supermarket, a high school English teacher from the States finds himself stranded along with a handful of students on a senior trip. Outside, hoards of hungry Ragers await, ready to tear them limb from limb. Their only hope is to find Sanctuary.
Solstice is a tale of hope, terror, survival, and finding love at the end of the World.
Book Trailer http://youtu.be/5u1ooJlJRVM
Melanie, Oskar, and Sara sat in the dark, huddled together like children. The compartment had become uncomfortably warm and humid. The dank odor of anxious perspiration filled the air, and Melanie wondered if she would ever have the opportunity to be clean again.
There she was, within moments of being ripped apart by some enraged lunatics, and worried about a damned shower. The sounds of running feet had ceased. Outside the train, there were intermittent cries for help, but those were soon cut off. The silence was as unnerving as the screaming.
Melanie wondered what time it really was. The phone had to have been wrong. When she dared look out the slit at the edge of the window screen, there was no sign that daylight was near. It could’ve been midnight.
Oskar muttered a prayer, first in Swedish and then in English. When Sara asked why, he told her he wanted to make sure God understood. Melanie hadn’t believed in God since her parents’ deaths, but she kept that to herself. She drummed her bent knees with her knuckles—four left, four right. She had to make it the same on both legs, breathing in time, in through the nose and out through the mouth, as Tomas had shown her.
The silence stretched for longer than it had all night, and nearly dozing, she imagined it like a rubber band, pulled to the limit. The thunder of gunshots caused the rubber band to snap, and she jumped, suddenly very awake. The residue of last night’s drunk had vanished.
Sara cried out, and Melanie felt her scramble to her feet. Clumsily, she pitched forward, soft hands brushing Melanie’s shoulders before regaining her balance.
“Someone’s shooting,” Oskar whispered. “They’re all going insane.”
“They’ll kill us,” Sara whined.
Melanie opened her phone. Finding no bars, she wanted to weep. He’d promised to meet the train, but she had no idea how far away from the station they still were. Would he look for her? Thoughts of her parents and then of Tomas’s sweet face filled her mind. She would never see him again. And poor Christopher, stuck with the burden of Leila as his mother. Stern, unsmiling Leila.
More gunshots made her flinch. Someone’s foul breath warmed her face, and she turned her head.
“Shit! I wish they would kill us already and be done with it,” Oskar said.
“Shut the hell up, would you?” Sara snapped.
Funny, how tight situations changed people. Soon, those two would be at each other’s throat. Melanie only wanted to break down in silence. Her chin trembled, and she fought the sob by biting her tongue. She tapped her fingers faster against her knees and squeezed her eyes closed against the blanket of black.
“Step from the train immediately! This is the authorities,” a voice blared, robotic and tinny. It sounded as if the person spoke through a bullhorn just outside their compartment. “This is the authorities. You must come out immediately. If you run, you will be shot on sight.”
Oskar rose to his knees and pulled the window screen back a fraction. “Shit! It’s the bloody rail police.”
Footsteps in the corridor and then someone pounded on the door. “Step out of the compartment now!”
Melanie opened her phone again and used the light to help them to the door.
“Don’t shoot. We’re unarmed,” Oskar shouted. “And we’re not lunatics.”
“You’re safe. Open up,” the voice responded.
Oskar unlatched the door and pulled it open. Immediately, a light shone directly into his face, and he shielded his eyes. A fully armed and armored guard stepped into the compartment, the bright light in one hand and a service pistol in the other. Another guard stood behind him, his gun up and ready.
The harsh light was aimed into Melanie’s eyes, and then Sara’s. Evidently satisfied, the officer commanded them to grab their bags. Security then ushered them along the narrow corridor where they fell in line behind a half-dozen other passengers making their way off the train.
Once off the train, Melanie took a long deep breath, allowing the crisp air to clean her lungs. She pulled her bag onto her shoulder and realized she’d left her coat on the train. Cursing silently, she shivered and rubbed her arms. Rail security flanked the few remaining passengers. The train tracks followed a stretch of narrow country road. Melanie spied only a single pair of headlights approaching.
“What’s happening?” Oskar asked.
The younger of the two guards responded with a shrug. “No clue. Power just died. And next thing we knew, everyone was going nuts.”
The other guard, an older, more serious fellow trained his light from side to side, obviously frightened. “I’ve radioed the terminal, but everything seems to be out. We’ll move back inside once I confirm everything is secure in there.”
“How secure is it out here?” Sara asked, her voice trembling.
As her eyes adjusted, she noticed she’d stepped in a pool of red. Blood stained her new leather boots. Gasping, she dragged her feet along the ice, attempting to clean them of the mess. It wasn’t working, but the blood was quickly forgotten as she turned and saw that bodies littered the snow. Some had obviously been shot, but others appeared to have been ripped apart.
Blood covered the slush like buckets of spilled crimson paint. Worse, though, were the parts and pieces—arms, a foot, internal organs she couldn’t identify. The head of the fat woman they’d watched from the window of the train lay several yards ahead, her lips peeled back in a permanent scream.
Melanie pressed her palm to her lips. Black spots danced before her eyes, and her stomach flip-flopped. Oh, hell, she was going to pass out. Her world spun drunkenly, and her knees turned to jelly.
Suddenly she was crushed against a broad, warm body. “Melanie? It’s Tomas.”
She opened her eyes and stared up into Tomas’s worried face. Everything would be all right now. She melted against him, and he held her as she broke down into exhausted tears.
Donna Burgess lives with her husband, daughter, son, many cats and one goofy Golden Retriever in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. When she is not writing, she can be found on her longboard, behind a good book or on the soccer field. She is the president of E-Volve Books. She holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Journalism and is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing.