Edge of Valor: A Post-Apocalyptic EMP Survival Thriller

Edge of Valor: A Post-Apocalyptic EMP Survival Thriller

Kyla Stone

To George Hall, the real-life Liam who sacrificed much to stand in the gap and defend the defenseless.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

Courage, dear heart.

C.S. Lewis


Much of this story takes place in Southwest Michigan. For the sake of the story, I have altered certain aspects and taken a few liberties with a real town or two. Thank you in advance for understanding an author’s creative license.


Day One Hundred and Two

The pungent scent of antiseptic burned Liam Coleman’s nostrils.

The pain was worse. Much worse.

He groaned as he sank onto the cot and eased out of his chest rig. Everything hurt. His bruises had bruises.

He placed his Glock 19 and the M4 beside him. His fingers left smears of blood on the white cotton sheets. He needed to clean and reload his weapons.

“You again!” Evelyn Brooks snapped on her latex gloves and rushed to Liam’s side. Her voice was stern, a frown lining her smooth brown skin, but she couldn’t hide the concern in her eyes. “I thought we talked about this.”

He grunted. “Did we? I don’t recall.”

Evelyn checked his distal and pedal pulses. “No fighting. No saving the world until your injuries have healed. Remember that conversation? I believe we’ve had it multiple times.”

“I claim plausible deniability.” He didn’t remind her that she was at Molly’s home when he’d left to rescue Quinn. She had known where he was going.

Judging by her flinty expression, this wasn’t the best time to mention it.

Instead, he grimaced and shied away as she reached for his bloodied shirt to check his gunshot wound. He already knew it had reopened. He already knew it was a problem.

“Liam Coleman, hold still and stop acting like a big baby. I need to examine you.”

Despite the blood-clotting granules and dressings he’d applied in the field, blood leaked down his ribs. His spine felt like he’d been kicked by a horse.

Liam angled his chin at the doorway. “Check her first.”

Sixteen-year-old Quinn Riley limped into the makeshift medical bay formed out of several classrooms at Fall Creek High School. Desks were stacked in one corner, cabinets lining the wall, kerosene lanterns on the counters next to piles of bandages.

Hannah Sheridan held her around the shoulders as she led the girl to the empty cot across from Liam. Ghost trotted beside her, his shoulder pressed against her outer thigh like he was holding her up, too.

As soon as Hannah had settled Quinn onto the cot, Ghost padded across the dingy carpet and pressed his muzzle against Liam’s knee. His long, plumed tail swept the floor.

The Great Pyrenees mountain dog was huge, the size of a small pony, one hundred and forty pounds of solid muscle beneath a coat of thick white fur. He let out an unhappy whimper, as if both chagrined that he’d missed the battle and worried for the welfare of his charges.

It took every ounce of energy Liam had left to raise his hand and pat the Pyr’s massive head. “It’s okay, boy. We made it out okay.”

By the skin of their teeth. But he didn’t say that part aloud.

Ghost pricked his ears and tilted his head, intelligent brown eyes gazing at Liam in a way that implied he didn’t believe Liam for a second.

Evelyn strode across the room to Quinn’s side and bent over her, checking her vital signs with a brisk, detached efficiency. Her training as an ER nurse took over, her face revealing nothing as she assessed the girl’s injuries.

She tsked. “Taking after Liam, I see.”

Quinn didn’t answer. Her head lowered in pain—or shame.

Shen Lee darted into the room, a neat stack of white towels in his arms. Startled, the pediatric nurse shifted his gaze between Quinn and Liam.

They looked like they’d just returned from a battlefield. Which they had.

“What happened—”

“We need more antiseptic,” Evelyn said.

“We’re running out—”

“Then get me salt. And clean water. We need to irrigate and disinfect these wounds.”

She rattled off a list of needed supplies. Lee nodded once and slipped from the doorway.

“And get Bishop,” Liam called after him.

With a wince, he returned his attention to Quinn. Worry slicked his insides. Not for himself, but for the fierce teenage girl he’d pulled from Vortex Headquarters.

Quinn slumped on the cot, her head down, clumps of blue-black hair hanging in her face. Blood caked her torn, dirtied clothes. Her lip was split, the lip ring torn out, blood still dribbling down her chin. And she’d sliced her palm with the knife she’d used to kill Sutter.

She’d gotten the snot beaten out of her, and then some.

“I wouldn’t want to see the other guy,” Hannah said.

Quinn’s narrow shoulders stiffened. “The other guy is dead.”

Hannah and Liam exchanged a grim glance. Her chocolate brown hair was tugged into a practical ponytail. She wore jeans, her big cowboy buckle, and her oversized brown jacket, her pistol’s telltale bulge in the righthand pocket.

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