We keep on partying, welcome to the Release Day Celebration for Dark Tomorrow – Rise of the Crow by Jeremiah Franklin! I just couldn’t resist participating after I helped with the cover reveal in August.
For today’s post I got all the usual information, but also a very long and action-packed excerpt, and lastly a giveaway!
Happiest of Book Birthdays to the author, I hope you have a fantastic day, may it be filled with cake and other delicious foods.
Excerpt time! From chapter 11.
The boy had only to walk for another few minutes before he saw it, and once he arrived he could not help but stop and stare. Rising above him, the old Spanish Mission sat alone among the charred remnants of other, more modern buildings, and the tall adobe structure reminded the boy of a monolithic headstone in a long-abandoned graveyard. In every direction, he was reminded that nature had reclaimed her throne; tangled bougainvillea vines swarmed over the crumbling outer walls of the church, late- blooming wild poppies burst like tiny suns at his feet, and coastal sage and jimson weed grew in scattered patches through cracks in the pavement.
He advanced toward the Mission slowly, his eyes drawn to the belfry standing some three stories above. Like the surrounding walls, the belfry was filled with crows, and Sawyer curled his mouth into a frown. The boy had grown up hearing stories of how the swallows would return to nest at this very Mission each spring, but he could see with his own eyes that this was no longer true.
The swallows’ once celebrated perches were now claimed by hundreds of rapacious crows, and the pleasing call of the swallow had been replaced by a cacophony of shrill-toned cries and caws.
To Sawyer, the presence of the crows was like a dark stain on the otherwise beautiful landscape, and he gritted his teeth as the image of his mother’s body flashed through his mind, her eyes missing, her face pecked clean, bloodstained beaks screeching above her. He could feel his pulse rising, and he took a calming breath. He knew that he needed to remain focused, and he held no illusions about what he might discover on the other side of the wall. Even if he did find the source of the smoke inside, the odds were that whoever was responsible would likely prove to be a threat, but at this point, even a new enemy would be better than no contact at all.
Sawyer approached the main gate with the hope of gaining easy entry, but he saw immediately that it had been barricaded with heavy timbers. There were gaps in the boards, but they were narrow and awkward, and it seemed impossible that the boy’s wide shoulders would fit through. He was rubbing his chin and thinking about walking around to the other side when out of nowhere the wall in front of him suddenly exploded in a cloud of brick and plaster, the sound of the single gunshot reaching his ears at nearly the same moment.
Acting on instinct alone, Sawyer immediately threw himself to the ground and buried his face in the dirt just as another shot came smashing into the wall only inches above his head. Plaster rained down on him as he hugged the ground and tried to think. The main entrance was close, but he doubted that he would be able to squeeze through fast enough. The corner of the wall was farther, at least fifty feet away, but he saw no other option, and he kept his head below the grass and started to crawl forward. Almost immediately, another shot buried itself in the earth only a foot short of his position, and the boy froze.
The shooter was obviously no expert, but as a fourth shot whizzed above his head, the boy knew that he had to move, and he had to do it fast. He released the straps on his pack and let it roll off him. It contained nearly everything that he needed to stay alive, but he told himself he would come back for it, and the boy took a deep breath and let the adrenaline hit him full force.
Almost instantaneously, every muscle in his body felt like it had just been doused in rocket fuel, and the boy opened his eyes and counted down from three.
“Three, two, one. Go.”
At the word “go,” the boy sprang from the ground and sprinted for the corner, his head down, his legs pumping at full speed. He did not think about being shot. He did not think about the shooter. His only focus was on making it to cover. He bobbed just once and stayed low as he made the turn and kept running, vaguely aware that a final shot had hit the corner of the wall only a split second behind him. Within seconds, he came to a section along the top of the east wall that was missing several rows of bricks. Seeing the opportunity, he quickly pulled himself up and over the wall.
Sawyer dropped into the compound and scanned the courtyard ahead of him, the Mossberg back in his hands almost before he hit the ground. He was not surprised to see the remains of a large fire smoldering in one corner of the compound, and with no obvious threats in front of him, he dashed across the courtyard toward the west wall. He had not seen exactly where the shots had come from, but he had a good idea, and he moved quickly as he scaled the wall and dropped back out onto the sidewalk. He sprinted across the street and past the main entrance, sliding to a stop behind the charred frame of a burned-out sedan.
There were only a few spots where the shooter could have possibly been hiding, and Sawyer focused his eyes on a cluster of dead palms and heavy brush no more than sixty yards away. There was ample cover to his right in the form of some dense, low-lying bushes, and he slipped away from the vehicle quietly, the thought of swift and lethal retribution not far from his mind. He took a wide arc as he came in from the west, his looping run leading to the edge of a small, overgrown park. He waited for only a second before he quickly moved through the park, and where there was no trail to follow, he made his own, pushing forward through the brush with clear purpose of mind.
He emerged from the park and stopped for a few seconds in the rear parking area of what was once a burger joint. Unlike many of the adjacent structures, the building had only been half destroyed in the fires, and the familiar red-and-yellow sign was still standing, the logo left twisted and warped by the flames. The crows scattered as Sawyer entered through a scorched doorframe on the west side of the restaurant and weaved through the melted tables and chairs, tiny particles of dust kicking up around his boots. From the front window, he had a clear line of sight to the cluster of dead palm trees and brush, and he crouched down and began to watch. His body was still buzzing with adrenaline, and he whispered in anticipation.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
A moment ticked by, and almost as if they had heard his words, the boy was stunned when two figures suddenly emerged from the brush and came running directly toward his position. He could see right away that one of the runners was clearly carrying a rifle, the other a pistol, and Sawyer pulled the shotgun up to his chest and let a dark smile cross his face. He flipped the safety off and did the math. He had six double-zero shells in the shotgun, two targets coming right at him, and no plans to ask any questions.
He stepped away from the window, and he was about to move into position to engage the targets when something in their movements suddenly made him hesitate. Although their faces were obscured by hoods, the two runners coming at him did not move like men, and Sawyer squinted his eyes and shook his head.
“What the hell? Are those—kids?”
There was no time for him to think about it. The runners came to the edge of the street directly in front of him, and Sawyer pushed through the front door of the restaurant, the shotgun leveled straight at them. The two runners came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the road, and he walked toward them, his voice unnecessarily loud.
“Put your weapons down slowly and back away! Do it slowly. Do it now!”
They hesitated for a moment, but Sawyer took a step closer and growled.
“I said now!”
Without argument, they set the weapons on the ground and stepped back, their hands raised. Sawyer could feel the adrenaline pumping through him, and he tried to stay calm.
“Don’t move. Just stay right where you are.”
Sawyer looked around expectantly.
“Who else is here with you? Where are they?”
There was no answer. Sawyer swung his head left and right, quickly scanning for signs of the ambush that must be coming.
“Look, I know you two can’t be alone. Who else is here with you?”
There was silence for only a moment before a soft face emerged from beneath the hood, the voice feminine but confident.
“You don’t have to shout at us. We’re not deaf. And it’s just the two of us. There is nobody else.”
Sawyer stepped back and almost dropped the shotgun. His heart was pounding in his chest. He stammered.
“Uh, you’re—um, you’re a girl?”
She looked up at him with dark, almond-shaped eyes, her smallmouth curled into a frown as she replied sarcastically.
“Good guess, smart guy. Nothing gets by you, does it?”