Authors: E.E. Isherwood
Per Mile, Book 1
© 2016 E.E. Isherwood. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
incidents either are the products of the author's imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,
businesses, companies, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
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Isherwood [April 2016]
Introduction to the
Revolutions Per Mile
Being a writer gives me all the advantages of being a picky reader. If I can't find a book that is exactly what I want to read, I can write it. My first series of books dealt with zombies and the survival of a 15-year-old boy and his 104-year-old great-grandmother. That allowed me to explore the world of the young man as he was faced with the challenges of an unfolding emergency. They aren't traditional heroes nor are my zombies traditional zombies. But they are the types of stories I love to read. As of April, 2016, I'll have four volumes in
Sirens of the Zombie Apocalypse
Revolutions Per Mile
series takes place after America's collapse. Instead of zombies, the culprit of the world's demise is thought to be nuclear war. My heroine, Perth Hopkins, is a young girl who grew up wrenching with her father as he worked on his sports cars. That knowledge gave her the leg up she needed to escape the mushroom clouds and find refuge on the high plains of Kansas.
But as a reader I wanted to focus less on the cause and more on the result. I imagined Hays, Kansas as a focal point for people fleeing the big cities at opposite ends of Interstate 70 (Denver and Kansas City). Those with the fastest cars would arrive there first, be in the best position to make the rules, and so on. Speedy modern muscle cars would find a place in the ecosystem of the post apocalyptic high plains. The cars are well-maintained, drawing spare parts from the multitude of vehicles abandoned on the highways, and fuel is plentiful because of the relationship with the oil fields of North Dakota. Drivers like Perth would do well in such an environment, though the challenges would only grow as survivors became more desperate and the cars themselves began to break down.
America's lifeblood is its highways. I believe Kansas is where that blood will flow the longest. See if you agree. I hope you'll find this introductory story exciting as we take a look at this New World through Perth's eyes.
Post Apocalyptic Ponies
Revolutions Per Mile Series
Post Apocalyptic Ponies
Post Apocalyptic Mustangs [May, 2016]
Post Apocalyptic Chargers [June, 2016]
The long ribbon of pavement brought me to this place when I was
fifteen. It chewed on my leg like a feral dog for two years until I
was old enough and talented enough to get behind the wheel and tame
it. Once I tasted the road, I bled gasoline.
I now live in high plains Kansas. It's an island of safety between
the glowing nuclear pyres. Girls my age must work to survive, same as
everyone else. My unfortunate sisters have to toil in the fields or
wrench in garages. They go
I'm one of the lucky few: I spend my life going
courier. I feel the wind through my hair. I get to see what's over
the horizon. I do everything in the top gear. Without us drivers,
this place would be nothing more than tumbleweeds and hawks.
I never look back, except for my dad. He perished with the rest of
the world. Truth be told, I wanted to die with him. But some days,
when I drive
, he returns to me. Tells me I'm pushing
He always forgets. Out here, there's no slowing down.
My foot beat down the clutch as my hand rattled the shifter in
between gears. There weren't a lot of choices when you're moving
close to a hundred miles per hour, but I always sought out my car's
“Take it easy K-bear.”
That's my dad. Koala Bear: my nickname since birth. It went with
my given name, Perth, though I'd grown to hate both as childish
nonsense. Everything was “Australia” with my parents.
Blech! He knew I
hated being told what to do, though I never understood why he waited
until I was going dangerously fast to start up with me.
In response, I downshifted and crushed the gas pedal to the floor
as I rounded the sweeping turn on the desolate two-lane blacktop
road. I leaned against my bucket seat and hung on to the steering
wheel as the powerful car shot me around the bend and up the gentle
hill beyond. If I'd kept on the gas I could have probably caught some
air going over the next rise, but I finally listened to
let the speedometer return to safe pastures.
Wilmore was a hundred miles south of Hays, my home. The windswept
plains between the two was the area of safety where the youngest
girls drove as couriers. They kept us there because it was safe.
Thus, we were called ponies. Get it? I know: totally lame.
The town was one of the most distant settlements in the south. More
of a village, if you ask me. They needed me to run some parts up to Hays
and have the machine crews fix them. I arrived with the repaired
parts in my trunk, and all I had to do was dump them off so I could
get back out on the road.
It's what the other girls called a milk run.
I saw Captain Ross in front of the feed store when I pulled up.
“Ahoy, madam Perth!” Ross wasn't the captain of a
vessel; by some agreement early on, town leaders were called captains. Some took the title more seriously than others.
Even though he came in the with refugees, locals tolerated him as
captain because he managed the town's supplies like a “big city
accountant.” Those were his words, anyway.
When I looked at him I saw a tired old man with a left eye that
always seemed half-shut.
“Ahoy captain.” No reason not to humor the man with
the nautical nonsense.
“Did you bring them to me?”
I handed him the box of parts, but he grimaced. I read the
disappointment as he set the box on a nearby table. So much about
dealing with people revolved around things left unsaid. I'd just
delivered the parts he needed to run his farm equipment, or
machinery, or whatever, but he was worried about something much less
important—at least on the grand scale.
“No, silly girl. I'm talking about the
I looked around to make sure no one else was watching us. There
were people out and about in the one-block row of storefronts, but
everyone appeared consumed by their own problems. I kneeled over to
fiddle with the laces of my driving boots and I threw the badly
creased brown paper bag near his feet. He pretended not to see it.
“You're a lifesaver, Perth.”
“You just like me because I'm fast.” I laughed,
thinking I had made an innocent joke, but my own words soon left me
feeling cold despite the July heat. Though my shrug's long sleeves
were already tight, I cinched up each arm in turn, as if to make it
clear the skin underneath was not for sale. If the Captain read
anything into what I'd said, he made no show of it. He was all
Note to self: never tell a strange man, no matter how amiable, you
Before the awkwardness engulfed me, he grabbed the bag, bid me
goodbye, and went inside his shop.
As I walked back to my open door I wondered if it was all in my
imagination. I tried to believe the best in people, and the Captain
was one of the few men on my routes that seemed normal by apocalyptic
standards, but everyone had needs—thus the bag. Maybe he was
already planning what he'd say on our next meeting. Of course, I
realized I was already planning what
say at that meeting.
That's why I liked driving. I always knew what to do. I could
always get away from trouble.
I hopped in my Old World IROC-Z and made my way out of town.
My dad, always patiently waiting to point out the obvious, said,
“You need to watch what you say out here.”
I looked over, shocked that he'd lecture me in anything less than
fifth gear. I was also angry because the man was right. Just because
I was a pony didn't mean I had to act like one.
I didn't get far out of town before I saw two young men walking
along the roadway's shoulder. They were holding hands, but something
was wrong in the way the taller one walked. I recognized the shorter
one as I closed the distance, so I slowed to talk to them with my
From across the front seat I yelled to them. “Hey Penn,
I knew Penn from our time in the relocation center. Kids were
grouped and called to meals by first names, so we were buddies.
The nearer boy bent down to look into the cabin. He had stormy
gray eyes and well-cropped hair, which was the style of the men and
boys up north. Part of me registered him as not unattractive. “Oh
hey, Perth. Things are...” He looked tired. I expected the
happy Penn I knew from our prior meetings.
“You guys want a ride?” It was the friendly thing to
do, though it wouldn't be comfortable for someone to ride in my
backseat—I had it ripped out.
Penn considered, eying the back and perhaps picturing himself in
the cargo area. He would have to squeeze back there, given the size
of his brother.
“No, I do appreciate it, but Garth here needs his exercise.”
His words conveyed the sadness of his eyes, though he was ever-trying
to smile through it.
I got a good look at Garth, who naturally turned toward the car
with the conversation. It was clear why he was holding the hand of
his brother—he'd been grievously wounded on his head. A large
swath of his brown hair had been shaved. The still-red wound scar was
impossible to miss.
“Hang on a sec.” I goosed the car ahead so I could
pull over, then I jumped out and walked back. Out of habit I grabbed
my leather jacket and pulled it on.
Next to us, a small stream cut through the pastures and provided
enough water to support some large cottonwood trees. They dropped
shade just off the roadway. We all made our way out of the sun.
“What happened, Penn?” I looked at his brother, and
got the sense he wasn't there. It wasn't that unusual given the state
of the world and mental health, but anyone who could survive such a
wound had to be a survivor. I remembered seeing Garth—he played
protective older brother—at the relocation center, but hadn't
seen him with Penn in the two years since.
Penn sat his brother in the shade and faced him so he could look
at the waterway. He then came over to me. I felt myself take a step
back as he neared. He spoke in a quiet voice.
“Garth was driving with the oil convoys up north this
spring. After the deep snow of the winter, the town captains all
wanted to get up there as soon as it melted. It was clear down here,
but too much snow remained in the Dakota's—the convoys had to
go slower than normal. Lots of losses, but we got our damned oil and
they got their food, right?”
He pointed back toward the creek. “And Garth got a hole in
the head as a souvenir. Now I have to take care of him, or he...”
Penn was only slightly taller than me—I've always been the tall
girl in school—and he was an epitome of strong and confident,
but when he looked at me I saw nothing but heartbreak in his soul.
Loss was expected out here, and us outsiders all lost pretty much our
entire families during the early months after the war, but I could
tell Garth was suffering something worse than death. Someone who
couldn't contribute would not have a long life. Penn knew where
things were heading, and what he might have to do to his brother.