Excerpt from Into the End by Bonnie R. Paulson

Into the End – Book #1 – Excerpt

Deeper into the trees skirting subdivisions and strip malls of Coeur d’Alene and Hayden, Andy motioned Rachel to stop. “Let’s take a quick break. If we see more cars, we’ll need to go the back way which will take longer.”

They cut their engines and slid off the quads. Andy stretched his arms over his head and bent down. The sudden quiet relieved the constant pull on his hearing. Without having to strain, he easily picked up the sound of car engines, horns honking, and shouts filtering through the thin protection of trees between Rathdrum and Coeur d’Alene.

The population wasn’t large in the Idaho towns. Spokane was the largest metropolitan area on the east side of Washington but nothing worth attacking if American domination was the goal. What was the goal? The result had never been hinted at, merely the attacks. Even the “who” had always been undefined in Andy’s findings.

Andy rolled his head on his shoulders and sat down on the edge of his trailer to think. Rachel joined him and placed her hand in the crook of his elbow. “What do you think is happening? Do you think Brenda is okay?” She murmured the last.

She hadn’t said that name in months. Andy wished he had answers for her. Something or anything to make her feel better, give her some staying power. “I don’t know. If it’s the Chinese, they have the numbers to attack by foot, but I’m confused why they would attack Spokane. I would have used my fire power on New York or Dallas, heck D.C. but Spokane? Kind of farfetched.”

“Do you think something will be on the radio? Are you sure we shouldn’t go to the shelters? She might be there…” Her voice trailed off with the shake of Andy’s head.

Through the lightening dark, the sight of Rachel lowering her face tugged at Andy’s reserve. “I’m sorry. I’m worried about your sister, too, Rach, but we can’t risk the kids. Maybe once we get up to the property and settle them in, I can leave for more information, maybe even retrieve her.” He forced lightness into his voice. “Who knows, we may be wrong and it’s just a freak accident and we’ll be home by Friday.” His wife nodded, clutching the false hope in his statement, though unable to let go.

“It’s a great idea to check the radio. Let’s see if Tom Mason is back on.” Andy stood and unstrapped the radio from the front rack. He pressed power and the lights lit up.

Whispered urgency crackled from the speakers. “…worry. There are a lot of people rushing toward town. I think the Arena is where they’re setting up shelters. I can’t tell you more because I’m not going into town.” A shuffling and heavy breathing and then, “After the first few bombs at Fairchild, I think we had a break, but a few planes have been circling and I’m not sure, but something else is going to happen, I just can’t figure out what. Get away from Spokane. Don’t go west. I repeat do not go west.”

As if in a cave or somewhere underground, his voice would rub in and out, clear and then not-so-much. His gasps suggested he might not be stationary, but the lack of background noise created a vacuum as they searched for signs of where he might be.

Rubber screeched on asphalt and the tear of metal on metal colliding ripped through the clearing. Andy pushed Rachel toward her quad. “Get on. Hurry!” Would they make it? His wife, he watched her. He couldn’t take his eyes from her.

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