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Chaos Soars

EMP Collapse Book Three

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With a traitor in their midst and an outside group continuing to attack them, Alex, Melissa, Luke, and Stan struggle to keep their neighborhood safe.

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Chapter 1

Alex

“Any news?” Alex asked Luke as he stood on Luke’s front porch. It was the morning after the attack on the food bank, and last Alex had heard, the one survivor from the attacking group had been unconscious at Nurse Rebecca’s house. Luke had gone with the man and had said he would stay until guards arrived to watch over him. After their last prisoner, Pete, as well as the man who had been guarding him, had been knifed to death, they’d used two guards to watch over their newest prisoner. He was the key to discovering who was betraying their community and finding out where this attacking group was located. If they could learn those things, they would have enough information to go on the offense.

Luke, who looked exhausted, stood in the doorway of his house and shook his head. “I stayed most of the night, but when two fresh guards arrived, I came home to sleep. What time is it, anyway?”

Alex glanced at the watch on his wrist. “Almost six thirty.” The sun had yet to rise and it couldn’t have been much above freezing. “How much sleep did you get?”

“Three hours? Maybe?”

Alex laughed. “That’s plenty. Let’s go see if our prisoner’s awake.”

Wearing a smile, Luke shook his head. “Let me grab my coat.”

Less than ten minutes later, they were knocking on Nurse Rebecca’s door. A man Alex hadn’t met before opened it.

“Hey, Tom,” Luke said, then he motioned to Alex. “This is Alex Clark.” Luke turned to Alex. “Tom’s one of the guards who relieved me earlier this morning.”

Since Alex had been half-expecting the prisoner and the guards to be dead, he couldn’t stop the broad smile from lighting his face as he shook Tom’s hand. “Is he awake yet?”

Tom frowned. “He came around an hour ago, but before we could question him, it was lights out again.”

Luke tossed Alex a smirk. “Let’s see if we can rouse him.”

Eager for answers, Alex nodded.

Tom stepped back and held the door open for them. The interior was dim, lit only by a few candles. “He’s in the first bedroom,” Tom said, leading the way to the room Nurse Rebecca was using as a makeshift hospital room.

From what Alex understood, Rebecca was a single mom with three daughters. The oldest was married and lived out of state, the middle child was away at college, but the youngest daughter, a teenager, lived at home and had moved into her mom’s room for the duration so that the rest of the bedrooms could be used for the sick and injured.

Tom gave three brisk raps on the door. The other guard opened it and greeted them.

“Still out?” Tom asked.

The other guard nodded.

Tom motioned to Alex and Luke. “They’re gonna see if they can wake him up.”

“Good luck,” the other guard said with a frown.

“This is Eddie,” Tom said with a grin. “He’s grumpy since he missed his beauty sleep.”

Alex chuckled and held out his hand. “Alex.”

Eddie shook it, then he shook Luke’s before stepping back to allow them to enter.

“I’ll keep watch in the front room,” Tom said, then he turned and strode away.

The room with the prisoner was lit with a lantern, so it was brighter than the front room had been, and a faint glow from the east was beginning to light the sky through the spaces between the slats in the blinds, which helped as well. Alex stared at the man in the bed. A neat row of stitches ran vertically above his left eyebrow, nearly into his hairline. Other than that, he appeared unhurt. His ankles were bound and his wrists were cuffed in front of him.

Alex stepped to the bed and gave the man’s shoulder a brusque shake. The man drew in a sharp breath and his eyelids fluttered, but his eyes remained closed. Alex tossed Luke a smile, then faced the man again. “Wake up.” He shook him again, this time a little harder. The man’s eyes opened a crack.

Luke stepped to the bed and snapped his fingers in the man’s face several times.

The man lifted his arms as if to protect himself.

“Nap time’s over,” Luke said, his voice loud and commanding.

“What’s going on in here?” Nurse Rebecca said as she burst into the room.

“Just about to question our prisoner,” Alex said.

Rebecca glared at him. No doubt remembering his refusal to leave her house the night his house had been attacked and they’d brought Pete to her. Alex didn’t care. He was determined to get answers, whether or not she liked it. Then again, she was treating his son, Jason, who’d been shot a week earlier on the walk home, so he didn’t want to get completely on her bad side.

“He seems fine,” Luke said, drawing Rebecca’s attention to him. “And we have several questions that can’t wait.”

She huffed a sigh, then nodded. Surely, she wanted answers, too. Two nights earlier, someone had come into her home and knifed Pete and his guard, Bill, to death. While she and her daughter had been sleeping in another room. That couldn’t sit well with her.

“Thank you,” Alex said.

She frowned at him, then turned and left.

Eddie stood guard in the corner. Grateful for a community that was working together, Alex glanced Eddie’s way, then turned back to the prisoner. Luke pinched the man’s nose closed and covered his mouth. The man tried—and failed—to jerk his head out of Luke’s grasp as he swung his arms up and his eyes snapped open. Luke removed his hands from the man’s face. “That’s better.”

The man focused on Luke, his nostrils flaring. “Are you trying to kill me?” His voice was scratchy. He cleared his throat, then he glowered at Luke. 

“If it wasn’t for us,” Alex said, his eyes steady on the man, “you’d be dead,

The man shifted his attention to Alex, then sneered. “You want me to thank you?”

“No,” Luke said, “we want you to give us information.”

The man snorted a laugh and turned away. “Yeah, right.”

Alex frowned at Luke and shook his head. It was reminiscent of Pete and his refusal to tell them anything. What would it take to get this guy to talk?

Luke grabbed the guy’s chin and yanked his head so that he was facing them. “What’s your name?”

The man’s eyes snapped with fury and he swung his arms up as if to hit Luke. Alex grabbed the man’s arms and held them down. The man swung his legs up as if to kick Alex, but Eddie leapt into action and tackled the man’s legs, holding them down.

“Tom!” Eddie shouted. Seconds later, Tom rushed into the room. “Get the rope out of my pack.”

Tom nodded, and when he came back with a length of rope, he uncoiled it and threw one end under the bed, then grabbed that end and wrapped it around the man before sending the end back under the bed until the man was securely tied to the bed.

Alex stepped away from the man and scanned the rope. It seemed secure, and even as the man struggled against it, it held. Tom left to go back to the front room, and Eddie went back to his post.

Luke got right in the man’s face. “Name!”

The man spit at Luke, but Luke jerked back, avoiding the man’s spittle.

“I’ve brought breakfast for my patient,” Rebecca said as she came in carrying a tray laden with what looked like oatmeal and a glass of milk—most likely made from powdered milk.

The man’s eyes went to the tray, and he visibly swallowed.

“Thank you, Nurse Rebecca,” Luke said with a smile as he took the tray and set it on a side table where the man could see it. “We’ll take it from here.”

Her eyes went to the ropes holding the man down, then her forehead furrowed as she met Luke’s smiling face. Her lips pursed, but she turned and left without a word.

Suppressing an amused smile, Alex turned his focus back to their prisoner, the only person they knew who had the answers they were after.

* * *

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