Wednesday, October 28, 2015

NoQS Minion 17: THE DEATH OF US, Adult Speculative Fiction

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Word Count: 107,000

My Main Character’s Most Fearsome Obsession Is:

Condoms. Bea Crenshaw is obsessed with condoms. She fears complicated deliveries and fussy babies and spit-up and poopy diapers in the midst of a severe water shortage and a probable shortage of food. Why, oh why, with everything she’s stockpiled, hadn’t she bought condoms by the case – by the freaking truckload? Try as she might, she can’t stop these kids from having sex, but there are no doctors, no medical care, no abortions to be found. With condoms, she could have protected her granddaughter Natasha. With condoms, Bea could have kept some control, her biggest obsession of all.


Dear Agent,

Granny’s got a gun, and her whole world’s come undone in this suburban apocalypse, THE DEATH OF US, told in the voice of a take-charge grandma as she loses control.

Bea Crenshaw sees disaster looming. She’s amassed secret stockpiles of food and gear, and dug a hidden cistern that holds enough water to see her big family through a long Texas summer. She thinks she’s ready for the worst, and it comes with a poison-spewing train wreck smack up beside her Austin subdivision. The air’s still murky with ash when the city is slammed by an electromagnetic pulse, all while her adult kids and the husband she calls Hank the Crank are up in Dallas for a football game.

Bea is left alone with four grandkids. To keep them alive in the months that follow, she must endure toxic environs, roving marauders, and starving neighbors without power, cars, phones, or running water. Worse still, she has no idea if the rest of her family will return. A radio ham tells her the entire U.S. grid has been fried by a solar ejection. Government has crumbled, and no cavalry is coming.

Bea shares her stockpiles with her neighbors but insists they learn to farm and collect rain in exchange for rations. And their bickering has got to stop. Her efforts bring her close to an old flame, Jack Jeffers, and back into his bed, the one place she feels safe.

But parentless teens and their desperate hookups lead to a disastrous pregnancy, an exploding house, an armed showdown, and a flutter in Bea’s heart that can’t foretell anything good. If she can’t get her crops and her failing memory to behave, what’s left of Bea’s big family will end in the Texas dust.

First 250 words:


The day came when Nature lashed out against us, her ungrateful children. Because no matter how desperately a mother loves you, she can only put up with so much.

I’d known it would happen eventually. I was a mother and grandmother with limits myself. But I couldn’t convince my family to believe me, even with my cleverest arguments. So I did my best to prepare without them, creating a fortress of secrecy where I hid my innermost fears.

I turned out to be right. My husband and grown children should know it by now, if they’re alive. It kills me that I couldn’t persuade them, but more than that, I wish to God I’d been wrong.

I’m writing this story now because I don’t know how much longer I can keep breathing. My medications are running low, there’s no hope of getting more, and every day I feel worse. I want the rest of my family to know what happened here. I want to show how proud I am of my grandchildren for what they’ve endured.

I also need to apologize for my failings, for the things that went so terribly wrong on my watch. I’d thrown my soul into being ready, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t nearly enough.

Hank – For the love of all that’s holy, why didn’t you help me save these babies?

Jeri, Erin, Wayne – Why did you mock me for trying to protect YOU? Come home. Please come home. Your children need you, and so do I.

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