Waving at the Moon [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Maggi Andersen
eBook Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
eBook Description: In a post-apocalyptic world, Evie French has just turned seventeen. She and her cousin, Marcus Peters, sixteen, struggle to survive after being left alone in their parent's bed and breakfast hotel in outback Australia. An endless drought has killed Evie's father's avocado trees and all the surrounding habitation. Nothing grows in the fetid soil. Hope comes in the form of a nineteen year old boy, Joel Pitt. He arrives on his motorbike with his dog, Rasputin, bringing supplies. He climbs the tallest tree on the crest of the hill, and locates an area of green down along the coast, hundreds of miles away. The three pile onto the bike, with Marcus and Rasputin in the sidecar, and embark on a trip that will take them over mountainous terrain with a limited supply of food and water. What might they find if they reach the coast? Will other people have survived the devastation? And who bombed their country? No one seems to know.
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press, Published: 2010, 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2010
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2 Reader Ratings:
Dedicated to James
Acknowledgements: To Andrea Coleman, my grateful thanks for reading my work and offering great criticism.
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From her vantage point high in the roof, Evie studied the barren landscape. As usual, nothing moved.
She never got used to the silence.
In the beginning, people had come, confused but still confident. As time passed, they dwindled to a few--exhausted, bewildered, and hungry.
After a meal, the wanderers, as she and Markey had come to call them, moved aimlessly on, convinced they'd find something better over the hill. Evie's heart squeezed in her chest when she said goodbye to those people. Especially the children with eyes like crushed velvet. She'd send them off with a small parcel of food.
Some people were not so friendly and Markey had been forced to keep their small hoard of provisions hidden behind a panel in the library. They'd been luckier than many. Her parents' country bed and breakfast hotel was well stocked with food. They'd eaten the refrigerated stuff until the generator gave out, and denuded her father's avocado plantation, living on the fruit until Evie half expected her skin to turn green. The trees were now like everything else around, bare and lifeless. In the early days, there'd been a good supply of canned and packaged food in the pantry, but that dwindled fast.
Evie knew the day would soon come when she would have to go too. What would she find over the hill, where the purple-grey cloud sat unmoving on the horizon? No one had ever come back to tell them.
As the months went by, her cousin, Markey--a chubby, good-natured sixteen-year-old--had become thin and secretive. He kept things in a pretty box, inlaid with an intricate pattern of mother-of-pearl, which had belonged to his mother. Just looking at it took Evie back to those happy, lazy days spent by the sea collecting shells--long ago now. She yearned to lift the curved wooden lid, knowing it would feel smooth and heavy in her hands, but she had never been able to hold it, let alone look inside.
She couldn't bear to watch him holding it in his twitching fingers, twisting it roughly, this way and that.
"C'mon, show it to me," she asked him again. It had become part of their daily ritual.
"Get lost, Evie." He shoved her away and retreated into silence.
Aware that begging never got her anywhere, she picked herself up and went to look out the attic window again.
Markey became increasingly difficult. He even called through the bathroom door to check she was still alive when she took a bath. Evie would put a chair under the knob and lie in the brownish, cold water, which barely covered her. She didn't think her body beautiful. Her skin was moon white. A vision of her mother laughing, her face covered in brown freckles, came from somewhere back in her memory. At night she turned to those vibrant recollections of her childhood. They helped her to sleep. Evie didn't have a freckle to her name. It was so long since they'd seen the sun. It was always covered by cloud now. The bones of her hips and ribs pushed up against her skin, and her hair swished around in the bath like red seaweed. It grew down past her waist, but she hadn't been able to cut it. All the knives and scissors were too blunt and neither she nor Markey had the energy to try to sharpen them.
Recalling that day made Evie shiver and she rubbed her arms. She was no longer sure how long it was since the bombs had been dropped on the city during her parents' business trip. The wait for news of them had been agonizing. When they both arrived home, they thought they were the lucky ones, but then her mum got sick, her hair falling out and her eyes turning a strange pink color. And then her dad. While she was nursing them, Evie wrote in her diary, marking off the days, but when she got sick herself for a while she forgot. She'd taken up writing in it again. She felt it was important to leave a record for the people that came after them, but a lot of the early writing had smudged with her tears.
Not a drop of rain had fallen since the day the bombs fell. It was like a long winter. Every day, Evie hoped the spring would come, and she'd go out into what had once been a lovely garden, looking for new green shoots. One day her father's rows of avocado trees would be laden with fruit. She was sure.
Evie wiped the dirty window glass with her shirt and peered down over the garden, but nothing had changed. Everything remained as if in a state of suspended animation. She liked to think nature was holding her breath and, some day soon, would let it out with a whoosh of new green.
The water at the bottom of the well had dropped alarmingly. As Evie went through her routine check of the garden, a drop of rain splashed onto her face. She gazed up into the dark sky, wondering if she'd imagined it. A patter of fat drops hit her, steadily increasing.
She ran joyfully to the house. "Markey, come out--come out!" she sang. She wanted to dance about in the yard and feel the water on her skin, but she knew she wouldn't. Energy was something you had to conserve. Still, she couldn't contain her excitement. She was sure the rain would bring new life.
Markey didn't emerge. Evie went to find him and discovered him where he often was, lying on his bed, the box perched on his stomach, rising and falling slowly with each breath.
"It's raining," she said. "Can't you hear it? Can't you smell it?"
"What does it matter?"
She checked him again for signs of the sickness, but found none. He lay very still, his eyes on the ceiling, as if he could see something of great interest there. She looked up. A damp spot spread across the plaster just above her bed. She dragged her mattress out of the way and flew down the stairs to the laundry in search of a bucket.
The big old house was decaying. Without care, it would simply rot slowly away. The timbers of the upstairs balcony were too dangerous to walk on.
She was halfway up the main staircase when she heard it. A sound like an angry beetle. Just a faint buzz, but it still brought her up short. A shiver passed through her.
It grew louder. Evie threw down the bucket and bolted out the front door onto the driveway. The rain attacked her face, blinding her. Peering through her fingers, she could see a small black shape moving down the hill road, traveling fast. Fascinated, she stood and waited as it came closer.
It was almost upon them when Evie began to feel afraid. She thought she'd buried fear with her parents. She ran back into the house calling, "Markey, come quickly--something's coming."
The rain grew torrential, filling the blocked gutters and creating waterfalls all around the house. She shivered and stood anxiously at the door, her T-shirt and shorts soaked through. She pulled the material away from her skin. Her hair hung in heavy, wet ringlets around her face, threatening to blind her, and she pushed it back behind her ears with jerky fingers. She could feel the pulse in her throat, and knew she had been waiting for this moment.
Markey came running. She turned to see him hovering at the top of the stairs just as the noisy black shape came to a stop in front of the house, a couple of meters from where she stood.