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Authors: Leslie Lee Sanders

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Before the Darkness (Refuge Inc.)

BOOK: Before the Darkness (Refuge Inc.)
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Refuge Inc., Book One

Leslie Lee Sanders

Copyright © 2012 Leslie Lee Sanders

All rights reserved.

Cover artist: Mina Carter

ISBN: 1477648593

ISBN-13: 978-1477648599


To those struggling with their very own




1: Companions 1

2: Escaping Reality 13

3: The Journey 35

4: Denial 52

5: Search for Refuge 61

6: Back on Track 78

7: Close Encounters 87

8: Dust to Dust 105

9: Refuge or Rescue 110

10: Now or Never 122

11: Death's Landfill 133

12: Lying for Gain 141

13: Between the Lines 152

Amid the Darkness Excerpt 160



Special thanks to those who've helped in

the beginning stages of this project. Kathryn

Sparrow, thanks for pointing out all the little

inconsistencies. Your enthusiasm over this

project made all the rewritings worth it. Jacque,

your suggestions were quite helpful. In fact, I've

put some of them to use in this very book.

Thank you! Last but not least, my irst and most

trustworthy beta reader, critique partner and

editor, Shaun. Many, many thanks for all the

long nights reading, your suggestions and your

honesty. I appreciate you more than words can


1: Companions

Damn the sun's heat, damn the sour taste

of blood in Elliot's mouth and damn the asteroid

that rudely interrupted his perfect life.

The sun beat down on him hotter than he

knew was possible, like Satan's tongue licking at

his neck. He never expected to live to see the

sun or to feel its blazing heat. However, two

days passed since impact and here he was,

drained from intense dry heat and little food.

Despite the devastation, he had survived—was

possibly the only one.

Walking for the past twelve hours had

helped him keep his mind off of the deep-rooted

feeling of doom. Were there other earthquake

survivors? He had no idea, but his optimism had

been high following the last unexpected quake

that had violently shaken the city. His city. If he

lived by merely hiding in the basement of his

house, then there had to be others out there

alive as well. He just had to find them.

Glass and metal fragments from the

surrounding neighborhood homes and of ices

crunched beneath his feet with every sluggish

step. His pace had slowed over the past twelve

hours considerably, however he pushed himself

to keep moving, searching no matter how

drained he felt. He must continue. No excuses.

There had to be other people, someone

who could give him the relief he so desperately

sought. What he would give for a little

communication, affection, assurance; just some

of the human necessities he needed to gather

his strength. After twelve hours of listening to

nothing but the strong wind, the crunch of

debris beneath his feet and his own pained

voice, it wouldn't be too long before he started

going crazy. Perhaps he feared that the most.

A mound of twisted metal, splintered

wood and shattered concrete blocks beckoned

him to rest. Hell, it could've been a roaring

mountain of ire instead. He'd still stop there

and rest a while. It had to be thirst and

dehydration that were slowing him down. His

body craved liquid refreshment. His tongue

stuck to the top of his mouth and his busted lip

as he tried to lick at the irritated cut to moisten

it. He took an invigorating sip of water from his

twenty ounce bottle, the one he found sealed

during his trek. Only about eight ounces of

water remained which was another problem he

would soon need to address. He chuckled as he

looked across the mangled Arizona desert.

"Where the hell am I going?" He had no

idea where his trek had led him or where he

would end up, but he grinned like a maniac and

peered as far west as his eyes would allow. His

hand went up to shield his eyes from the slowly

setting sun while memories looded his head of

what used to stand tall and proud but now were

toppled over and in ruins thanks to Mother

Nature. For some unknown reason, this tickled

him somewhere deep inside. He laughed

involuntarily maybe out of sheer desperation;

chest heaving as he chuckled like a fool who'd

just heard the funniest joke ever told. Laughing

seemed odd … yet reasonable. What else would

a madman do?

White smoke billowed from piles of

rubble where small ires had once been. Far in

the distance, what appeared to be a lone brown

dog limped away in the opposite direction. Some

of the abandoned vehicles that littered the

deserted street were crushed under the weight

of massive dislocated palm trees that were once

snuggly planted for beautiful landscaped

scenery. Even with all the destruction

surrounding him, he continued to laugh.

"The beginning of insanity, huh?" He

shook his head, still with a smile on his swollen

lips. "No, the beginning was the irst time I

started talking to myself."

He took another sip and sighed, allowing

the warm water to coat his lips and tongue with

a welcomed layer of moisture that seemed to

evaporate seconds after contact.

Suddenly, his breath escaped him in a

huff. The horrible sight before him triggered

panic to grip him in the pit of the stomach. A

small, lifeless body, probably of a child, lay

pinned halfway beneath a wide wooden panel in

a rubble pile. The long, curly blonde hair that

stuck out from beneath the panel led him to

suspect the body was that of a little girl. Gulping

didn't stop his heart from nearly beating out of

his chest, it only added to the weird drumming

in his veins. He had no urge to investigate. She

was dead. He knew that from the amount of

dried, rusty-colored blood soaked in her hair

and the gravel around her. She was…dead.

He moved his palm across his chest and

let it hover over the insane pounding. Seeing the

little girl reminded him how alone he was in a

ruined world. However, he couldn't dwell on it.

Doing so would just cause him to panic. He

continued walking west guided by the setting

sun. He tried to remain strong and determined,

but he could feel that power slowly slipping

away. During his entire twelve-hour hike, he had

not seen one dead body and hoped he wouldn't.

In all truth, the thought of seeing the dead never

crossed his mind. He knew most of his

neighbors evacuated the city a couple days

before the impact.

Also knowing the Texas-sized asteroid

was supposed to impact somewhere near the

west coast had given him hope that his family in

Georgia was safe. He guessed the asteroid

touched down probably overseas. If it would've

hit the west coast as everyone feared, wouldn't

Arizona be completely obliterated? Either way,

hope for his family's wellbeing dissipated when

those six massive earthquakes rolled through

one after the other. The last quake was so

powerful it destroyed his beloved neighborhood

and all that he’d grown familiar with. There was

no doubt, wherever the asteroid hit, Earth was

reacting to the sting.

Because of the asteroid, his perfect life

was now shattered. Perfect may have been a

stretch since it consisted of him losing his job

and breaking up with Jeff all in the same week.

The sudden news that an asteroid was headed

his way to fuck up life even further didn't

discourage him much. Hell, it could've been

God's will to inally inish him off. But ever since

coming to in the basement of his ruined home

damn near unscathed, he igured that wasn't

God's will after all. After crawling out of the

rubble, he'd been ixated on walking nonstop

for twelve exhausting hours in the unrelenting

Arizona heat.

The easy way out wasn't an option

anymore. He wanted to fight, to survive.

Looking over his shoulder back east, he

noticed an eerie dark grey color looming on the

horizon. That strange darkness wasn't there

several hours ago. Could it possibly be smoke

coming from an enormous ire? Speculating on

the darkness made him panicky and he didn't

BOOK: Before the Darkness (Refuge Inc.)
10.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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