Chapter 6 of Recovery Efforts

Cat’s Got Your Tongue Alder’s low whistle echoed off the walls of the expansive hotel room as he and Cat dropped their belongings next to the chest of drawers that occupied the wall closest to the door. An enormous window before them opened onto a balcony that overlooked a small stretch of coastline north of Sydney. Inside the room, a broad bed with a rich, dark brown comforter occupied about a third of the floor space, tucked back against one wall. The table, chairs, armoire, and chest of drawers all had simple, elegant lines. Mounted on the wall over the dresser was a wide television. The bathroom door stood open near the door to the corridor. Inside, they saw spotless white tiles leading to a walk-in shower and a tub that could have comfortably fit four people. Both of them shed their boots near the door and left them against …

Chapter 5 of Recovery Efforts

Alder woke to the head-splitting sound of the camp’s morning alarm. The crisp, clear chime pierced the tent fabric and his eardrums, lodging somewhere behind his sinuses. It stopped after thirty seconds, but the damage was done. He licked his lips. Morning whiskey breath and dehydration, bud? Aside from the headache and dry mouth, he was in head-to-toe pain. Nothing a few anti-inflammatories wouldn’t fail miserably to fix…

Chapter 4 of Recovery Efforts

Cat was standing outside her tent, faffing around with her phone, when Alder arrived. She smiled at him and tucked the device away in her hip pocket. An oil hurricane lamp burned in her tent—the electric lights were cut every night, an hour after curfew, to reduce the load on the generators and conserve fuel. It cast a quivering, yellow-orange glow through the door…

Chapter 2 of Recovery Efforts

A clear chime sounded three times over the quiet city as the last faint glow of daylight gave up to darkness. Cat and Alder stood before the guard at the entrance to the search and rescue—or have they already changed the sign to say ‘recovery’? the puma wondered—camp, nothing more than fenced tent village that housed all of the relief workers and the military reservists who kept order during the cleanup. The guard, a stocky mutt with shaggy red fur and a grey muzzle that matched the accents in her poorly-fitted urban-ops fatigues, scowled at them and jerked her head in the direction of the gate…

Chapter 1 of Recovery Efforts

The sound of boots crunching over broken concrete and distorted steel reinforcements was largely lost in the ambient cacophony. On all sides there was the clatter of rubble as shattered bits of buildings playfully chased one another down cracks and crevices in pursuit of gravity. Somewhere underneath the new landscape, the horns of a handful of automobiles played a tuneless fanfare to usher the sun behind the horizon once more. A betting pool had opened up among the rescue teams regarding how long it would take for the batteries to run out…