Re-emergence: Book one of the Surviving the Blaze series

When the world is on fire…

A hero must emerge.

Trained army sniper Michael Nash tries to assemble a collection of ex-cons and gang members to save his wife. But can a rag-tag group of renegades bring down an army of killer robots?

Here’s an excerpt:

The patrollers were coming. No doubt about it.

She could hear those metallic clanks gaining in volume, speed and anger. She’d heard patrollers didn’t like it when they had to chase you.

Eyes widened by alarm, Carmen leaned through the recycling bins and gave the landscape a scan. On her left, a charred bicycle fluttered in the wind, its pedals spinning, its frame twisted into a knot of bright pink.

Next to the bike, steam rose from the sewers, thick and dark-hued like the smoke of burning tires. A small, tube-like object oozed from its opening, too far away for Carmen to discern, but it frightened her just the same. Whatever it was glistened slick in the moonlight and slithered like a snake. Was it a dislocated water moccasin? A mutated giant worm? The arm of somebody trapped beneath?

In the middle of the street, sat a severed hand, fingers splayed, the nails blackened and curled at the tip. The hand’s flesh — what was left of it — dangled from its bones like an unfinished meal.

Yanking her head back behind the bins, Carmen slammed her eyes shut and swallowed a gasp. She then tried to slow her breathing — or at least keep it quiet. The patrollers were just beyond her now, creeping closer at a snail’s pace, as if teasing her.

In the distance, she could see The Blaze still burning. Skyscrapers lit up the horizon like angry fireflies. A half a block to her left was the playground, now a tangle of multicolored metal half-buried in sand. If she could get there, the ranch was only a sprint away. All she needed was a place to hide.

What was once a twelve foot slide was now a slab of dented steel poking through the sand. Beside that lay two candy striped poles, brittle and bent. A see-saw leaned against a rusted carousel, both items rising no higher than three or four feet. She’d need something else, something to offer more shelter.

Across the street from the playground an overturned dumpster snagged her attention, its lid clanging shut from wind gusts every few seconds. This was a place she could tuck her body behind, a place to hide and stay hidden until she could make a final race to the ranch. But she’d have to hurry because the patrollers were now closing in.

A voice startled her. “Walk and scan!” The voice demanded through tinny speakers.

Footsteps scattered into every direction. It was only a matter of time before one of them stepped past her. Or toward her.

Seconds later, she saw one, his silhouette imposingly outlined by the moonlight. It was the first time she’d seen a patroller with her own eyes and the sight brought her body to a tremble.

She’d heard about them of course. Who hadn’t? They patrolled the area, armed and shielded, every inch of their bodies steel-plated save for their faces — the only things human about them.

This one was as scary as the ones who’d roamed her imagination. His legs motored ahead with robotic precision, his spine, rigid as if strapped to a pole. Steel pads flared from his shoulders and caged his jaw while a thin layer of metal hugged his bald head.

He turned from side to side, then stopped when he saw something ahead. He stepped toward Carmen, crouched and narrow-eyed like a hunter creeping up on its prey.

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