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Sample Chapters

Below you can read the first chapter of each book.

Chapter One


(January 5th)

(Northern Ontario)

It seemed strange how that patch of colour glowed beneath the streetlamp. Kate stared at it as ice pellets clattered against the frozen glass. A small spot of red where the snow hadn’t stuck to her car held her attention.

She watched the turmoil whirling in the cold gusts. Masses of white tumbling from a black sky, coating the earth in thick layers like a giant eiderdown, silencing everything beneath it.

Then came the familiar clang from the furnace, and the electrical snap as the lights went out. She’d expected a blackout.

As she felt her way in the darkness back to the kitchen — fumbling at the countertop and finally striking a match — her tiny house shook with the escalating winds.

Shadows stretched out from the halo of her candle along the hallway to Jon’s office. She nudged the door, finding the room washed in a blue tint from the glow of his computer.


Blonde wisps hung over the back of a leather chair.

“Are you sleeping?”

As she raised her candle his distorted shadow wavered dimly across the desk and crept up behind it.

“You look like you’re going to fall.”

An important deadline approached. Jon had pushed himself more than usual the past several weeks, determined not to disappoint his clients. Besides, they had plans for that income. It was money they couldn’t lose.

The sheets on his side of the bed were still smooth in the morning. Maybe he’d rested a few hours, but having worked overtime herself, sleep deprived, she’d been too out of it last night to notice.

She remembered his complaints earlier. No wonder he’d made such a big deal. Holding her stomach, her glands painfully swollen like his, her neck thick with some kind of infection — whatever they had was obviously not going to be pleasant.

She stepped around a heap of printouts. “I made soup. Thought it would be soothing, but now… I couldn’t eat a thing.”

They hadn’t been out of the house for days, and she wondered where on earth they could have picked up such a nasty virus.

He didn’t budge. “Look at you. Both of us need to go to bed Jon.”

The windows banged so hard in the wind she thought the glass would break. But even that didn’t wake him.

“Jon? This isn’t funny. The storm is getting really bad out there, and it’s no time for joking around… if that’s what this is.”

Most of the time he could hear a pin drop. She’d known him to make out whispers in a crowd, and he’d awaken to the slightest noise.

“You know what? This stupid project isn’t worth your health. Do us both a favor and give it a rest. Please,” she sighed. Then she shook her head. “I’m too sick to argue with you.”

As she stepped toward him, the pile of papers in front of her cascaded across the rug. Her feet slid. She went down hard, dropping the candle, and given her current state, it was excruciating.

But a crumpled piece of paper was igniting already, smoke rising as the flames curled along the edges, ready to leap over to the pile beside it. She sat up, grabbed a nearby book from an ocean of others also scattered on the floor, and smothered the fire just in time.

Now closer to him, she was able to see Jon’s face, with his sagging jaw and drained complexion. He looked almost… dead.

With a pounding heart she clutched his dangling hand, crawled closer and held his thick wrist feeling for a pulse. “Jon!”

Pulling herself up against him, his breath was warm on her cheek, fast but faint.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

She needed to find his phone which had to be beneath the jumble spread around his three monitors and other equipment. Her fingers sifted, until holding it in her hands, she tapped 911.

“Come on.”

Something must have happened, an emergency due to the storm, perhaps. Or something a lot worse — another major crisis.

So much bad news. Her productivity depended on keeping away from the negativity, staying in good spirits. She’d shunned the media all day.

“Jon?” His head had fallen forward, and she lifted it, holding him by his cheeks. “Jon!”

To her relief he was coming to, beginning to moan.

“Jon, look at me. Say something.”

He gazed at her for a second and then his forehead creased. “I’m in such pain.”

“I’ll go for help sweetie. I’m going to have to go next door. First, let’s get you to the other room so you can lie down.”

She hooked his arm over her shoulder and heaved, but supporting a man as large as Jon when he was barely conscious was no easy feat.

It was so dark, she couldn’t make out the faintest shadow. They stumbled out, nearly tumbling over the coffee table, and finally collapsing on the couch.

She lifted his legs and slipped a pillow beneath his head. Then, perched beside him, wheezing, she felt his cheeks again.

“God, you’re totally burning up.”

She leaned against him, overcome with dizziness and an escalating pain which radiated from every part of her. A throbbing she’d never experienced in her life.

“This is creepy. No one would answer the phone. What the hell’s happening out there?” she said, blinking into the darkness, trying to see out the window.

But the sound of his groan frightened her more.


“I need water!”

“Don’t worry. Hold on, I’ll be back in a sec.”

She staggered to the kitchen, found another candle stashed away in a drawer, and after lighting it, gulped down a glass of water, feeling more nauseous by the moment. And as she sat beside him again, in the flickering light, the room began to spin.

“Wish you’d called me before you got so bad,” she said, helping him into a better position to take the glass.

Jon drank desperately. Then gasping, he stared at her with frantic eyes. “This is bad, Kate.”

She had to stay calm and get him to a hospital fast. Somehow, with all that snow. “Okay, I know sweetie. I’m going for help.”

It was not a normal flu, having hit both of them so fast and hard. She couldn’t imagine having the strength now to shovel that long driveway. The snow was too high. But the next-door neighbours would help.

Suddenly Jon’s body began to twist, as if all of his muscles had seized, and an agonized sound came from deep inside him — like a large, dying animal. He leaned over, retched, and fell back, quivering, a stream of blood trickling from his lips.

Click here to download From the Apocalypse.

Susan Lowry

Ping Two - Across the Valley

Chapter One

Hannah’s Fate

(July 3rd, Year Two, PA)

The lush branches swayed in the wind as twilight fell outside the boy’s bedroom window and to Travis the forest appeared to be dancing in celebration of Lucy’s arrival. She and the astronaut had finally made it to them, safe and sound. But that was not all that kept him awake. He was waiting for something and would not sleep until it arrived.

He leaned over to peer through the rustling foliage. At the back of the hotel parking lot, barely visible, was the astronaut’s huge rig, filled with things that would make life at Moonstone Resort more like it used to be, before the horrible plague. So much had changed recently and everything seemed to be happening all at once.

This was his first night living with Rose, who was still shuffling around in the kitchen. It made sense for him to stay with her now that Jack was moving in with Kate and their baby so they could finally be a family. He didn’t mind.

Beneath the clatter of dishes and the noisy whistling through the birches and pines, he heard the trunk of Jack’s car open and close in Kate’s driveway as the doctor unpacked his things. Kate was going to be just fine with a little rest — Jack had promised. But the crumpled motorhome at the bottom of the ravine by the highway would be a harsh reminder to everyone of what could happen.

Travis lay on his back, gazing out at the darkening sky as the storm approached, yet his mind was far off and full of expectation as he waited. Then, for a fleeting moment, it arrived in his mind — a ping so strange, that he buried his face in his pillow.


(Seventy-Five Miles from Moonstone)

It was almost dark. The faint growl of distant thunder was furthest from her mind as Hannah watched Kevin striding through the blowing debris at the front of the house towards their car. She brushed her long hair away from her eyes while bits of paper, empty cans, and plastic bags drifted down the road of the ghostly suburb.

The sky lit up in three consecutive flashes and a slight sprinkle of rain began to fall. Kevin had already started the windshield wipers swishing over a layer of dampened grime. Leaning against the door, the young woman was about to shout for him not to leave; but she let him go anyway, glancing at his peculiar wave and the concerned look on his face — as if he knew.

After going back inside, she examined the red patch near her palm. It was spreading toward the border of her tattoo and the center of it had begun to ooze. Clutching her arm to try to numb the pain, she eased herself onto her bed. There was a cobweb on the light fixture above her, barely clinging, wavering limply in a whistling draft that entered through the narrow opening of the window.

She watched the tattered thread and started to moan. Then she curled her body into a ball and began to rock rhythmically. The pain was becoming too much to bear and soon she pulled herself up again, swaying back and forth at the edge of the mattress. A sense of dread was creeping through her. She stood, and then she began to pace.

The skin on the underside of her arm was clearly disintegrating before her eyes and she gaped at her glistening flesh as she wandered from room to room groaning. But the agony only got worse and spreading alarmingly fast to the rest of her body was that distinguishable rash, the image of which had been seared into her memory.

The can of meat had not made her ill after all, and sending Kevin out for drugs had been a terrible mistake. Now there was no way to contact him.

It did not take long for her to come to her senses. But, grabbing a pad of paper from a drawer in the kitchen, her heart skipped a beat as she recognized the Moonstone Lake Resort logo at the top of the page. She hunted for a pen with her body beginning to shake.

Kevin’s flashlight beamed into the corners of the strip-mall pharmacy. He smashed in the glass door and stepped over the crunching shards, proceeding gun-ready to the back of the store.

Gradually over the last year and a half they’d relaxed slightly. Their growing belief that — aside from illness — there wasn’t much left that could threaten them anymore, had made them less attentive. But their recent discovery had them rethinking the sequence of events before and after the plague and they were more vigilant now.

Hannah would be anxious for his return. He knew that whatever was wrong with her, had to be bad. It certainly wasn’t like her to beg him to leave her alone for anything. They’d made a deal — never to separate under any circumstance. He stuffed two bags with every kind of painkiller and antibiotic he could find, and rushed out into the rain.

Tossing the medication onto the passenger seat, he sat down with a deep sigh and keyed the ignition. Of course the car engine couldn’t have picked a better time to die on him, just when Hannah was sick. Now he was going to have to jog home in the storm.


Travis stared up at the ceiling and twirled his thumbs. If only he’d taught Jack and Kate to control their telepathy. He would be nine in a few months — old enough to have explained what could happen if their pings were not managed properly. But the consequences of too much information had never occurred to him and now that he thought about it, the disaster with the motorhome and poor Kate’s suffering was partially his fault.

He concentrated on what he could have done to teach them to handle their pings, all of them — except for Lucy, who already knew — when a rumble of thunder barely audible in the distance made him gaze out into the darkness.

He wondered if Lucy was comfortable living with Sarah and eventually sent her a gentle ping, but realizing the girl was in a deep sleep, decided it was better to let her rest. There would be lots of time in the morning.

Light from Rose’s lantern flowed under his door and he could see the shadow of her feet moving back toward the kitchen, where she began a one-sided conversation with Snowy. The cockatiel’s new abode was a small room by the back door. Travis was glad that Rose loved him as much as he did.

But still wide awake he pulled out his dresser drawer, quietly hunted beneath a pair of jeans, and brought a folded map back to bed with him. With his penlight he studied the details for a while, finally slipping the chart beneath his pillow, yawning, and tucking his blanket under his chin.

There was a hypnotic drizzle beginning on his roof; he heard the pattering of small droplets bouncing from the foliage and dripping to the ground. With the damp, cooling gusts entering through the slit in his window a soothing bubble wrapped around his thoughts lifting him into a cozy slumber.


The drizzle had left their backup vehicle — a dusty red pickup that was sitting in their driveway just in case of an emergency — streaked with dirt. Trembling, Hannah climbed in, fumbled with the ignition, and finally reversed out onto the street. She drove to the main road and headed west where, sinking beneath a distant fringe of mountains, the last rays of sun seeped like watery-orange paint into the blackening sky.

By now she was too dizzy to keep in her lane and swerved from one side of the road to the other, shocked back into alertness by the flashes of electricity bursting over the hills and the deep rumbles of thunder rolling past her in the cloudy haze.

By the time she reached the ramp to the highway her wipers were flowing over gushing sheets of water. The route ahead was dangerously obscure and yet her mind was acute with an inner clarity she’d never felt before. Having lived a while longer than most of the world to witness the wake of the plague, it was as if whatever evil force that had caused such terrible suffering had needed someone to see it and gloat but now it was done with her.

Only a faint, far-fetched hope kept Hannah going. But as she strained to see the rising mountain ahead, a sudden loud pop made the van bounce violently, jarring her up and down. Her arms flapped while she desperately gripped the wheel.

The sun was like a beacon shining through the darkness of the storm and Hannah felt like a humanoid-moth, fluttering to the flame. She wondered what Kevin was going to do now.

It had taken close to an hour but he finally splashed across the lawn and paused at the porch steps to catch his breath. The front door was swinging on its hinges in the wind and the pickup was no longer in the driveway.

“Hannah!?” he shouted, running inside and dropping the bags on the floor.

She was not on her bed or anywhere on the main floor.

“Are you okay? Hannah?!”

He ran upstairs and then came slowly down again, finally noticing the message on the table that he’d missed on the way in. Holding it in front of him he sunk onto the step and finally let his head fall into his hands.

Rivers of water coursed across the highway as Hannah steered the bumping truck up the mountain. At the crest, the rain streamed steadily from the slopes above her and poured into the darkness beyond. She followed the yellow-painted lines descending the steep slope into the void, feeling like she was plunging into the bowels of the earth.

After the road leveled, her headlights reflected off the slick surface of a bashed-in motorhome down in the trees at the bottom of a ravine by the side of the highway. Hannah hadn’t seen that before. But she recognized the crash further along — the pieces of metal strewn along the shoulder shone eerily through the spray of her tires.

Even in her waning condition Hannah knew she was almost there. The country road was unforgettable; she and Kevin had kept well-hidden in the trees twice as they’d slipped down it, observing the unlikely colony.

At the Moonstone Lake Resort sign, she turned and guided the unruly vehicle beneath a dripping canopy of vegetation. Her lights tunneled through the growth as she bumped up a short incline and then down through a run of deep puddles. Branches scraped against the doors where a snaking curve became too much for her to manoeuvre.

Arriving at a straighter stretch with the rain pounding on her roof she picked up speed swaying treacherously from one side to the other. Her headlight reflected from the foliage brightening the inside of the vehicle. She caught a glimpse of what was left of her hands and in her mirror the screaming face of something not human as the pickup slid through the mud into the trees.


Travis was now soaring like an eagle across the lushest of valleys. He swooped down, barely having to move his wings as he floated on the air currents above a crashing river, exploring along it, following the natural bends and twists between the mountains. Then with a slight change in position he climbed high above the mist again gazing into the valley below.

There was a flash of yellow in a clearing which quickly slipped back into the shadows of the forest as an explosion by his ear sent him spinning out of control, plunging toward the rocks in an endless spiral down.

With another loud crack Travis opened his eyes just as the forest ignited. Throbbing electricity revealed something so horrible the boy’s heart felt like it would burst from his chest. The never-ending brightness filled in every detail of it within the trees — the gaping mouth in a stark manifestation of agonized horror, eyes rolled up, clenched fingers and arms outstretched to the sky, raw bloody dripping flesh. In the same instant there was a boom like the shot of a cannon that vibrated in his gut.

A shrill scream emerged from the depths of his soul and then for a second there was only pitch-blackness and pounding rain.

Rose’s footsteps shuffled across the floor, his door opened, and from beneath his blanket he could see the light of her lantern. He felt her weight on the side of his bed.

“It’s just a storm dear, no need to get upset; Travis?”

He couldn’t move.

“I have to admit, that was a loud one. Poor Lucy and Christopher, if they were asleep I’ll be that woke them,” she chuckled.

He was crying, but he couldn’t help himself.

“Are you going to come out of there?” She pried his blanket down past his eyes. “Come on now, you don’t usually get so upset with thunderstorms. It must have been another one of your bad dreams my dear, that’s all.”

Tears rolled down his cheeks.

“Hush dear. I’m here now.”

He couldn’t speak. He could barely even look at her. All he could see was that horrible vision and he knew it was still out there in the darkness.

“Tell me Travis. What is it?”

“I — I saw a monster!” he blurted, pointing to the spot outside.

Rose stared at the darkened window. She got up and pressed her face against the glass. Then she came back and wrapped her arms around him.

“It was just a dream Travis. The storm scared you. That’s all it was.”

“No…” Travis shook his head firmly, gazing into her eyes.

“Will you ping me about it then?”

He buried his face in his knees and sobbed. He couldn’t possibly show her that.

“The storm has passed us already, see? The rain has gone.”

But he couldn’t stop weeping.

“Travis dear… it’s late, but, why don’t we read our book some more, eh honey? It’s been a hard few days. Travis?”

With her soft hands on his cheeks, she had gently turned his head towards her; he gazed into her concerned eyes. She gave him a pat, her dark hand squeezing his thin, white knee. “Come on now,” she smiled, taking his book from the night table and leading him to her room.

Click to download Across the Valley.

Susan Lowry

Ping Three – Between Two Shores

Chapter One

A Magical Moment

(December 15th, Year Three, PA)

Nothing beat the companionship of a telepathic wolf. Angel’s fur ruffled in the chilled air as she stood at the water’s edge beside him.

Crouched on the flat rock, Travis flipped a coin in his palm, pondering the evolution of creatures, and running his finger over the engraving.

Suddenly, an inexplicably strange sense of urgency spread through him.

Since Angel’s recent arrival, he’d spent every spare second practicing their skills together. Learning things a human could never understand without her. Things that puzzled him still. It would take some time.

Rose would be pinging him soon. He gazed at Angel regretfully, hating to have to leave. It upset her. She craved learning, constantly pleading for more. In just under two months, her talents had grown beyond his wildest dreams.

He’d been absent far too long. But as he tossed the coin as far out into the water as he could, listening for the plunk —something caught his eye.

Above the forest on the distant shore, a haze of leaves swept up, high as the clouds — in a formation reminiscent of migrating geese. There weren’t enough birds to form flocks these days. Only the few turkeys nesting in the bay. The owl he’d never seen. And the trio of crows ruling the orchard.

A tiny newcomer had joined them, chirping in the woods recently. But for the most part, the sky was void of life. Only his imagination could transform those airborne leaves into winged creatures of flight.

He watched the wind swiftly crossing the lake towards him, roughing the surface in a wide band. Ripples lapped close to his feet. Tall branches swayed, and the remaining leaves cascaded over him in a shimmering deluge, their brittle edges scraping the rock.

Something had changed, suddenly — like a switch turned on in his brain.

Rays of energy pulsated through him, causing goosebumps to rise up all over him. He stretched out his arms, circling the perimeter of the clearing — sensing more than a dozen beams.

Weak messages reached him from so far away, he could barely believe it. Treasure troves of data. He let them funnel into him, struggling to understand their meaning.

Angel began to howl.

The desperation was familiar. The depleted courage and lost hope. He drew the darkness inside him. Held on to it with everything he had, feeling his energy draining away with the effort.

Finally, he collapsed.

Click to download Between Two Shores.

Susan Lowry

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