“After” – a sci-fi novel by Ivy Willow. Prologue

*UPDATE 1/19/2016

“Go, go, go, go, go.” Salem said, waving us to move forward quickly, guns at the ready.

“Price, get your head down before they dust you.” he said, as we frantically ran toward cover, crouched to the ground.

I saw a bright flash. There was never a scream to hear, he was gone too quickly. What was left of his body dropped and rolled with the momentum of his run…


“Price!” I clutched the sheets as my eyes flung open. Still laying down, I tried to catch my breath. Sweat was pouring all down me and yet the blankets couldn’t quite cover me from a chill I couldn’t erase. I would never see him again. That stupid mother fucker. What was he thinking?

“Fuck you, Price,” I muttered. “Why’d you leave me here alone? I miss you…” It wasn’t until a tear trickled into my ear that I realized I was crying. As I took an unsteady and shuddering breath, I sat up, swung my legs over the bed, itched my ear and looked around.

Look at this shit hole. I thought to myself. The walls were all made of iron, like everything else. The solar light flickered a little. Too bright, I thought. I must have over-slept. I pulled myself out of bed, still wrapped in blankets, and went to the clothes rack. Did I want my dirty combat clothes, or my torn combat clothes? Choices, right? It was drab and cold in my quarters. Always drab and cold. It was also all I’d ever known.

Before my parents died, they told me many stories of before. Stories of great cities, tall buildings, houses made out of wood. Wood! Can you believe it? They even had parts of the house you could look through, they called them windows. I’ve seen the pictures, of these beautiful structures, but it’s still hard to imagine. Now we’ve got nothing but a bunch of scattered sectors with a few hundred people a piece.

The strange thing is… It wasn’t even all that long ago. 25 years. That’s it. I was… lucky enough… to be born 5 years after the fact.

According to the stories, it started in the White Zone. As you know, it’s not a nice place. My parents said it used to be a part of two different states called Colorado and New Mexico. The survivors of the outlying areas of the White Zone said there was this huge noise that covered the skies. A deep metallic drone that lasted for hours They were explaining what we know as The Bellow. Apparently it was longer, and louder, than any we’ve heard. It shattered windows for hundreds of miles around the White Zone. Then, without warning, it stopped. They say there was panic and confusion everywhere. Of course, I don’t blame them, nobody had ever heard that sound before… I wish I could imagine a time without it.

Less than an hour after the sound stopped, a huge flash of light shone in the sky. It permanently blinded hundreds of thousands of people around Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska and the other halves of Colorado and New Mexico. My parents showed me an old map*, so those names would mean something to me. I’ve fought the Evarian, I’ve seen their power, but I can’t imagine the sheer size of the flash… To blind that many people, that far away from each other…

After The Flash, as far as we know, nothing else happened for a while. People were on edge and there was no news for weeks. Everyone was afraid to travel to the White Zone. Nobody knows where it started, but news did start trickling in. First travelling through the survivors in the area, then onto the outlying states. From Albuquerque to Denver, gone. No buildings, no plants, no animals, no people, no remains of any kind, or, well, almost none. There were scraps of iron all over the place, from little bits and pieces, to giant bars of it. The weirdest thing was that everything was white, picked clean bone white. Hence the White Zone’s name.

My name is Alice Kristi Nichole Blackwell. Alice to my friends, Blackwell to my commander and 47 to Cruz. This is my story of a beginning and an end.


12 thoughts on ““After” – a sci-fi novel by Ivy Willow. Prologue

  1. Hey Ivy. I’m loving the premise, even if it does have most of my favorite places getting wiped off the map right at the start. I have to wonder, though, if the Los Alamos National Laboratory is involved in this catastrophe, somehow. It’s not quite the right area for Roswell or Area 51 to be involved (and no, I don’t want any spoilers, I’m just speculating). I’m really curious to see more of what this post-apocalyptic world is like and how it came about.

    Now, on to being a grammar nazi, er, I mean, offering constructive criticism.

    “Get your head down Price” –> “Get your head down, Price”
    “Fuck you Price” –> “Fuck you, Price”
    “God dammit Price!” –> “God dammit, Price!”

    From http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/commas.asp:
    Rule 8. Use commas to set off the name, nickname, term of endearment, or title of a person directly addressed.

    Will you, Aisha, do that assignment for me?
    Yes, old friend, I will.
    Good day, Captain.

    “With a shuddered breath, I sat up, swung my legs over the bed, itched my ear and looked around.” –> “With a shuddering breath, I sat up, swung my legs over the bed, scratched my ear and looked around.”

    “Then without warning, it stopped.” –> “Then, without warning, it stopped.”

    “It blinded hundreds of thousands of people around Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska and the northern half of Colorado and southern half of New Mexico.”
    What about Mexico? Also, I think it would sound better to say something like “what was left of Colorado and New Mexico”, to make the list a bit less cumbersome. And I’m a bit confused over whether this blindness was temporary or permanent.

    I like the flow of the prologue. Bits of showing interspersed with the bits of telling, and a good imagining of the viewpoint of someone born post-apocalypse. It’s a bit short, but length of installments is an artistic choice.

    Anyway, I’d welcome constructive criticism on my constructive criticism. There’s a difference between accidentally getting grammar/spelling wrong, and doing it on purpose for stylistic reasons, and I’m not psychic enough to always be able to tell the difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! Grammar is not my strong point, so this is wonderful to know. Most of what you have pointed out is entirely unintentional, and just lacking in grammatical education.
      I won’t give any spoilers, but it has nothing to do with prior earthly involvement of any kind.
      I wanted to keep the prologue pretty short, it’s a very basic introduction to the world, and I felt like it was better to just lay out the basics to keep the reader not understanding the world too much, as then, it would bypass the understanding of the people within that world. The only thing I will say is that Alice has only lived where she currently lives. There is no more traveling across the world, so I thought it would be odd to have her know more than what she would reasonably get hold of in that manner.
      The only one that I probably wouldn’t take is scratched instead of itched. Alice would definitely say itched, so I figure it’s the right way to go, rather than go for the formal side.
      One question I would have is: if you are trying to portray extreme urgency, would you still follow separating the name by a comma? It seems odd to me, seeing as a comma most often signifies a pause, correct?
      Thank you so, so, so, so much for the feedback, this is so exciting ^.^
      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it sunshine, and I would love to receive more feedback as each chapter comes out.
      Have a beautiful day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Makes sense about the short prologue. I do think it’s probably got the requisite introductory knowledge, so it’s certainly not too short in that sense. And it’s way more interesting to be shown more of the world, little by little, than to just get a complete infodump at the start.

        If there was one grammar thing I would have pointed out as most likely to be stylistic, it would be the “itched” thing. You gotta stay true to the voice of the viewpoint character, after all.

        “if you are trying to portray extreme urgency, would you still follow separating the name by a comma?”
        I probably would. Commas do often signify a pause, yes (hell, I sometimes find myself inserting commas where I know they don’t grammatically belong, just to indicate a pause), but in this case, I think the comma is more of a signifier of addressing someone directly. In a person to person interaction, this might be indicated by looking at the person in question or some other non-verbal cue, as opposed to pausing, but that’s not really something you can do in text.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Okay, so perhaps something to the effect of: Salem glanced over at Price. “Get your head down,” he said as they rushed toward cover.
          Would that possibly be a better overall description of the current situation?


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