Killshot by Aria Michaels
Genre: YA Apocalypse Fiction and Dystopia
When seventeen year old Liv Larson and her brother are sent to separate foster homes, she gives up on her old life, her old friends, and her faith in God. The only bright spot in Liv’s new life is her energetic and obnoxious foster-sister, Riley. When Riley convinces her to come to the rooftop party to view Icarus, the up-coming solar flare, Liv meets Zander. For the first time in months her troubles take a back seat…that is until what should have been a small flare, erupts into a full blown solar storm.
Now, Liv and her rag-tag group of not-quite friends must find a way to survive the sweltering heat, lingering radiation, and the mysterious virus that appears to have found an ideal host among their ranks. Alliances will be formed, and battle lines will be drawn as Liv and her new friends set out on a perilous journey to save their loved ones, find answers, and reach salvation.
But, something sinister awaits them in the dark—and it’s undeniably connected to Liv.
Will Liv be able to keep her promise and reunite with her brother? Will her brave determination be enough to save them all from a rogue government, a terrifying virus, and the things that go bump in the night?
…Or was Icarus, indeed, the KILLSHOT.
About the Author:
Aria Michaels lives in a small town in Illinois with her loving, patient husband and her six (yes, SIX) energetic boys. Always the creative type, Aria fed off the encouragement of her mother, and started writing and illustrating her own stories at a very young age. Aria’s passion for creation and love of the human spirit followed her to the university level where she graduated with an Associates Degree in Fine Arts, and a Bachelors Degree in Communications, with a minor in psychology. After years of juggling parenthood with her a career in higher education, the universe finally called Aria back to her original passion…writing. When she isn’t glued to her computer, or painting her next masterpiece, Aria can be found playing in the dirt with her kids, snuggling up to a good zombie flick with her husband, or sipping a glass of wine by the fire with friends.
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Read below for a teaser from the authors prequel Novella, to be released at the end of January!
I rushed across the tile floor, keeping my head as low as possible. Stepping over a burning stool, I ducked beneath the singed remains of the swinging doors, and out into the main entryway of the house. Fire trickled up the walls, like an orange waterfall flowing backwards, sending bits of flaming paint and wall paper, fluttering to the floor around me. Like me, the flames were seeking higher ground, and I needed to hurry if I was going to beat them. I tightened the towel around my face again, and took a deep breath. My lungs screamed in protest, but I fought the urge reject the toxic air as I dove forward into the unknown. Flashbacks of grade school fire-prevention assemblies flashed through my mind as I staggered towards the stairs. The fire fighters always said the same thing— stay low to the ground, cover your mouth and nose, and never, ever go into a burning building. Two out of three ain’t bad. Mrs. Tate’s prized oak railing was still miraculously intact, and I ran one hand along its smooth surface as I army crawled to the top of the staircase.
When I crested the top step, I slithered along the floor, keeping my hand against floor molding that ran the length of the hallway. I followed it past the bathroom, toward where Riley and I slept. Unable to see through the wall of darkness, I found my way to Riley’s room by touch alone. The heat was all-consuming. My eyes watered uncontrollably, though I had no idea where my body had found the moisture, and it did little to soothe the burning beneath my lids. My throat felt raw and tight, each breath like swallowing sand. I hacked and gagged as the smoke tried to force its way into my lungs. It tasted of burnt plastic and chemicals, and my tongue began to swell in protest. The paint above the trim was peeling away at my touch, curling in itself as if it, too, was trying to escape the flames. I held the towel closer to my mouth, and crawled on knees and elbows down the hallway. I pulled myself up onto the balls of my feet, lunging head first through Riley’s open door. I caught myself on the foot board of her bed, my left eye narrowly missing the sharp prong on a studded belt that hung there. I coughed and sputtered against the poisonous black cloud, as I followed the edge of the mattress to the old base drum Riley used as a night stand. I sifted frantically through the tumbling stack of books, hair ties, and make-up until I found what I was looking for. I shoved it deep into my pocket, and ducked back out into the smoke-filled hallway. The cloud of poison had grown thicker now, forcing me back down to onto the floor. My backpack flopped from side to side, banging into my ribs as I skittered across the rough wood floors. From my vantage point I could easily see beneath the door to my room, to the orange glow that awaited me on the other side. I shifted around so I was laying against my pack on the hard floor, the soles of my boots resting against my door. I held my breath, cranked my feet back, and thrust them as hard as I could into the door. On the third kick, it swung open, and I rolled to the side as the knob slammed hard against the wall inside my room. “Gah!” A wave of heat and flames burst through the door and into the hallway. As soon as the back-draft subsided, I scrambled across the floor into my room, which was almost completely engulfed in flames. It was so hot, I could barely think as the smoke strangled and pressed me into the floor. The walls and ceiling bubbled under the bright orange tendrils. Pieces of plaster crashed down around me, as the texture disintegrated above me. The end of my bed was walled fire, and the flames crept their way across my room. I inched forward on my hands and knees, to my bedside table, and swiped blindly at the items on its surface. The lamp clattered across the table, one of the table’s legs gave out, and the entire thing crashed to the floor. The lamp shattered, sending shards of pink porcelain and broken glass hurtling towards my face. The rest of my bedside items scattered across the floor in all directions. I slapped aimlessly at the floor around me, unable to see through the blackness closing in. I barely flinched when the rosy lamp shrapnel embedded itself in my hand, but nearly I lost it when my hand finally landed on that stupid stuffed lion. I grabbed my courage by the tail, stuffed him into the front of my shirt, and made my way out of the scorched remains of the princess bedroom, gagging as my lungs burned in my chest. I crawled along the old wood floor, board by board and by the time I reached the top of the stairs, they were fully consumed by flames. I nearly lost my balance and fell over. “Shit,” I choked out, grabbing onto the railing for support. The flames licked at my heels, and without thinking, I threw my leg over the solid oak railing and pushed off. I held on for dear life as I sailed down the thick banister and landed with a thud at the bottom of the stair case. Nothing was recognizable anymore through the trenches of smoke, but I instinctively headed back the way I had come. The swinging door crashed to the ground behind me, sending shards of flaming wood my direction. I rolled to the side to avoid them and slammed my already sore shoulder into the corner of the breakfast bar.
“Ahh,” I groaned as I inched my way along the tile floor. I orienting myself towards the only light I could see; a shred of night sky that peeked through glass doors ahead. The moonlight seemed pale in comparison to the smothering darkness of the black smoke around me. My head was buzzing, and my vision was blurry. My hands and feet felt numb, but somehow I dragged myself over to the sliding door. I tried to get up, but found I could not reach the handle. I shoved at the frame, but the door would not open. Desperate and disoriented, I rolled onto my back, and kicked at the glass. It laughed at me, and held firm. I felt myself sinking into the floor, my limbs no longer responding to commands. My eyes would not open but I could feel the heat closing in on me. I always heard your life flashed before your eyes when you died, but in my case, it was more of a random, fleeting thought…I died trying to save a stuffed animal. Tiny diamonds rained down on me and a breeze tickled across my face. “Liv, hold on!” My body floated weightlessly through the flames. “Oh my god, is she—” Small hands touched my face. “Damn it, Sarge,” croaked another voice. “Open your eyes.” The ceaseless spasm in my throat, refused to let me speak. My head tilted back, but I didn’t issue the command. My lungs ached as though someone were standing on my chest. “I don’t think she’s breathing,” a voice cracked. “Do something!” “Liv, please.” Stubble brushed lightly against my ear. “Do something!” I was floating, and it felt nice. “Come back to me, Liv.” Lips on lips My chest felt warm, and light. Though it rebelled at the intrusion, relief flooded my body, pulling me back towards the ground. I felt my chest rise and fall, defying my paralysis. Those warm lips left mine for just a moment, and my entire body ached at their loss. Soon enough, coolness spread through my chest again, bringing with it tiny crackles that tingled through my fingers and toes. The fuse lit and inched closer and closer to my heart, bringing with it the weight of earthly pain. Every cell in my body was electrified, welling with energy. Then, like a dam, everything seemed to burst at once, sending a wave of agony rippling through my body. My body shot upright of its own volition and tears flooded my eyes. I gulped greedily at the midnight air, starved for what I had been denied. Despite the burning in my chest, my heart sang at the sensation as it filled. My stomach, however, had had enough of the abuse and retaliated. With my last ounce of energy, I rolled onto my side and threw up. Right in Zander’s face.