RTN: VANISHING AVAILABLE OCTOBER 13, 2017!

Get ready for The Road to Nowhere book 3!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Antarctica

Hello to all,

I made it to Antarctica. I'm currently working as a Fire Fighter II. I don't have much time, so I'll have to make this post short... since work is starting in half an hour. 

Below are some pictures I took. I'm missing my wife and daughter very much. I talk to them daily on the phone, sometimes through skype, but I look forward to going back home once my contract ends.



 

I did a quick refresher course through the company that hired me, and was able to go back home for a few days before landing on the ice. My wife picked me up at the airport. Those pictures are in black and white. 
  
Being away from my family really puts things into perspective. I feel blessed to have my wife. She's been very supportive through the whole process and patient. If anything, this has made us closer. I've never met anyone as kind and beautiful inside and out as her. I'm lucky to have married my best friend and the girl of my dreams ヅ Missing you Jennie.
She always sends me cute pictures of her and our daughter. I can't wait to give my daughter a big hug... I feel like I'm missing out on certain things.... but I'll be home soon.


My wife and daughter are the best things to have ever happened to me.❤❤❤
                                                                            ***

The days I'm not working, I go the gym. I'll have to make another post sometime explaining my shift, the food, the equipment at the gym, the weather, living quarters, population at the different stations, and all that stuff. For now, hope each of you enjoy your time with family on Thanksgiving! Much to be grateful for; life, children, and the love received back from those closest to you. 

Take care and drive safely during the holidays. Speeding isn't worth the accident... or casualty...so if you're running a little late, breathe... relax... and shrug it off. Life's too short to stress over the minor things. If you've been drinking, just don't drive. This is all common sense, but people still do it. Just be safe guys.❤

I'm at the far back right hand side lol. There's always a way to keep busy down here


Much Love,
Have a good one!
-Lee

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Antarctica, McMurdo


Hello to all,
I know many of you are waiting for book 3. I can’t wait to get it out, and hear your thoughts about it. However, there will be some slight delays with the release date. I accepted a contract position as a Firefighter II at the MCMurdo Fire Station in Antarctica. I’m leaving California on the 6th of this month. I’ll be out of the country until February.
I was a Firefighter in the military 8 years ago, but I sort of took a break to spend time with my wife and daughter. My wife is really supportive about my decision to get back into Firefighting, and she’s incredibly understanding. There’s a number of certifications I had to get this year, such as my EMT, national registry, and so forth. My wife helped me study all the medical terminology and really helped me focus. Without her, I don’t know where I’d be.
I’ll look forward to returning back home. It looks like I’ll have a Firefighting position lined up when I get back, so going to McMurdo has already helped me get my foot back in that career path.
As for my family, I will miss them more than words can express. My wife is dropping me off at the Ontario Airport on Friday Morning. I’m flying to Salt Lake City with the other firefighters to do a yearly refresh on Airport Rescue Fire Fighting. After a day of training, I’m flying out to New Zealand to be issued my cold weather gear. The next day, if the weather holds out, I’ll be on the ice.
My wife and I will be able to communicate through Skype and over the phone while I’m at the McMurdo station. I’ll try to post a few pictures once a month, updating my blog with what’s going on down there. Internet is limited, but we’ll see how it goes. In short, Firefighters are stationed at MCMurdo in support of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) U.S. Antarctic Program, where we provide fire/rescue services.  We also are on scene when flights come in to Antarctica. From what I understand, this is their busy season, when tourists, scientist, journalists, and so forth will be flying in the most.
Have a good evening.
Take care and be safe!
-Lee

Monday, August 14, 2017

Bringing you up to date

The last time I wrote, it was on Father's Day. Some time has passed, and I just thought I'd drop in and let you guys know that The Road to Nowhere book 3 is still in progress. My wife was very much involved with the writing in book 1 and less involved with book 2. I've mentioned before, or at least I think I did, that she didn't appear as a co-author because she didn't feel comfortable putting herself out there.  So anyway, I thought I'd explain how some of the writing process generally goes. We read the book several times and make changes back and forth; adding details, taking away, and creating new elements... sometimes adding new characters or changing a character's name and overall appearance to improve the book.

 I think we're both perfectionists in the sense that we don't want to rush it and put out something we're not happy with. Sometimes we'll re-read the same chapter for weeks, adding minor details that help bring the main character's surroundings to life for the reader. In the future, I don't think I'll put a deadline on when my book will be released, as we seem to always go over the date and it isn't fair to those who are waiting for it. I'm not sure if we'll meet our October 2017 deadline. For that I apologize in advance. Since it is the last novel in the main character's story line, we want to make sure it's more than worth the wait. Thank you for your patience!

We'll be working hard to get the book out, polished to the best of my ability, soon. Our schedules are about to become hectic. My wife will be continuing her online classes in a week, towards earning her degree, and I'm thinking about taking a Department of Defense job as a firefighter. If I do, it's not like the military where you can bring your wife and kids, so I'll be gone for a few months. We'll see.

On another note, hope you guys enjoy some of the pictures below. We went to Universal Studios in Hollywood, a few times. My daughter wanted to go to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It didn't disappoint. :)






My wife loves taking pictures of the family and uploading them onto the cloud. She probably won't create a blog because she's not into social media. She's more of a private person, but I thought I'd share a picture of her, the love of my life. :)


I also wanted to share The Road to Nowhere's Prologue and explain it further in detail. We wanted book 3 to almost be a stand-alone novel, where if you missed book 1 and 2, it's okay. We did a brief flashback of what happened in book 1, and as we introduce old characters in book 3, we're hoping we provide enough backstory and details so there's a general understanding of who the main character is talking about. All three book s have been written in the first person perspective, but book 3 is present tense. I have an earlier version of the prologue on this blog, but below is more of a recent draft, not the final. We will do one more read-through.

Enjoy.
Take care everyone. Have a good evening!

-Lee
 





“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

 I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”



-Robert Frost


 






Beginnings are strange things. Memories shift and change over time…







Looking back, I can make more sense of what had happened.









A dry coppery taste—  like old pennies—  fills my mouth.

I know that taste. It’s blood. 


What happened?


Trying to remember through what feels like a bad hangover doesn’t help. Nothing comes to me. 


I grunt as I try to open my eyes. All I feel is pain. It begins as a dull ache, spreading from the top of my shoulders down to the soles of my feet. The feeling throbs and flares with each heartbeat. 


Lying there, I will the muscles in my eyelids to open, but they refuse to budge. I can’t seem to open them, or do much more than move my fingertips.


An overwhelming weakness has my body practically paralyzed. Crippled by the pain and weakness, panic settles in, only stopping when one of my eyes manages to open. 


Blocking a large portion of my field of vision, I see white tape hanging loosely over my eyelid. It’s difficult to focus, or see past the thick strip. What little surroundings I can make out in the dark room, look unfamiliar.


Being able to see doesn’t do anything to ease my growing sense of panic.


I try breathing in through my nose, but the air feels difficult to pull in. Looking down, I see a clear plastic tube running into my nostrils. My lungs wheeze and ache as I let out a few dry coughs. Swallowing down the small amount of saliva and dried blood in my mouth doesn’t ease the arid feeling in my throat. It hurt more to swallow than what I’d expected. 


It took some time before I began to feel clearheaded, but I’m now able to make out the general details of the room. Several large banks of medical equipment sit to one side my bed. The bed itself is stiff underneath my body. It feels like I’m lying on a steel girder. To my right, I see a deflated IV bag. My eyes follow a thin line that runs from the bag to the back of my right hand, disappearing under a patch of medical tape.


Confusion aside, everything feels like a surreal dream.

What’s going on?


Silence only adds to the strangeness around me. No machines beep. There’s an absence of footsteps or even muffled voices coming from outside the small room.


Again, I rack my memory for answers— anything, helpful or not.

I’m in a hospital, but why? 


No memories surface to answer my question. My past is as empty as the hollow feeling gnawing at the pit of my stomach. 


I can’t remember any details before waking up, but I still know what things are— beds, blood, the fact that I am in a hospital room.


My thoughts wander before it dawns on me—

My name—

Minutes pass but nothing comes.


I helplessly struggle to remember who I am. Maybe someone else can tell me what’s going on.


The absence of sound means that I’m alone in the room. Why isn’t a doctor or nurse checking in on me? 


It hasn’t been more than ten or fifteen minutes since I woke up, but I should have heard something outside by now. Only the labored sound of my breathing lets me know my hearing is still working. 


Calling for help doesn’t get me anywhere. The noise I make is closer to a croak than what a human voice should sound like. It might carry across the silent room, but I doubt anyone in the hallway can hear me. The effort brings on a fit of more weak coughs. 


Despite the flaring pain in my lungs that the coughing causes, I try forcing myself to sit up. It’s no good. My head lifts a few inches before collapsing back down onto the bed.


Even if I’d been unconscious or in a coma, shouldn’t someone be monitoring my condition? What kind of place is this? 


Frustrated, I weakly lift a hand to pull the strip that had been dangling over my eye. It moves limply and it takes a few tries before I manage to tear it off. I stare at it. It looks like medical tape. 


Dropping it to the floor, I reach over and peel my other eye open. The tape comes free with a slight sting of pain. It’s a minor annoyance compared to how the rest of my body feels. 


Reaching across my body, I try removing the IV. My long nails pick at the tape, slowly peeling it off enough skin to remove the needle. A sharp sting of pain and trickle of blood causes me to flinch. I toss it weakly aside in irritation.


I take a deep breath. If no one was coming to get me, I’d have to get them. 


My hands reach over to the rails on one side of the bed. The cold metal is difficult to grip, but with effort, I manage to turn onto one side. 


Before I move more than a few inches, the tubes in my nose tug at me. Pulling them free, breathing begins to feel easier. From there, I work my way down to the edge of the bed fighting sharp spasms of pain.


The blanket that had been covering me spills over to the floor. Moving a little farther, my bare feet touch the cold tiles.
 

Feeling weak and dizzy, it takes everything I have to move.

How long have I been in this bed?


I look at my arms, thin and pale. Were they always like this?


Trying desperately to stand, my legs collapse under the strain. I hit the floor hard. Gray wires connected to my skin strain before coming free. 


My hands grab weakly at the bed, but can’t hold onto anything. The floor’s impact is hard enough to knock the wind out of me.


Crawling, I inch my way towards the door. It hurt, it’s slow, but it’s the best I can do. This isn’t a hands and knees crawl, instead, I’m pulling myself along the floor.


I’m in too much pain to care about being angry. I just want answers. Moving forward is all I can do for now.



I stop once to catch my breath, before finally reaching the door. At first glance it seemed closed, but from my vantage point it was slightly ajar.


The door swings open as I push against it. 


I’ve made it out, but where is everyone?


My head turns left and right. I can’t see anyone on either end of the corridor, and only one of the overhead lights is still working. Florescent tubes flicker weakly.


Paper and debris is scattered along the ground. I can’t make out anything specific on the closet sheet of paper, but it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t be like this.


If I could run, I’d hurry to get to the ground floor, but I can’t. I’m still on the floor, and I haven’t moved. The thought of me being here makes my pulse raise.  


More disturbing are the dark splotches of what looks like blood trailing over the floor and across some of the walls. 


What the hell happened here? Mass murder? Terrorists?


My mind can’t even grasp at what would’ve caused what I was seeing.


The trembling in my arms worsen, but I don’t fall from a kneeling position. Half-dragging, half-crawling, I make my way along the ground. It’s hard to avoid some of the larger pools that still look wet. Trembling, my hand reaches towards the sticky red stain. I drag my finger lightly across its surface. 


The outer layer parts like the skin that forms over gravy. Bringing it close to my face, it smells foul and rotten. 


Hastily, I rub the finger against my hospital gown to try cleaning it off.  


I work my way to where someone had left an abandoned wheelchair. It’s only a few doors farther down. I can feel a sense of panic rising as I try to get closer.


Once I reach it, it takes me a few attempts before managing to pull myself onto its seat. It will have to do for now.


Settling in, I put my feet onto the metal footrests. A few hard pushes on the wheels are all it takes to start moving.

I pass a few doors. Each is closed. 


Despite the thought that I should stay quiet, I call out again for help. It only carries a few feet before being swallowed up by the surrounding silence.


A dozen yards farther down, I see where the hallway ends. There’s two exits. Ones an elevator and the other is a nearby stairwell. 


The elevator call button doesn’t light up, leaving the stairwell as my only option. The door to the stairwell is unlocked, but any emergency light beyond the door is out. 


The hallway’s flickering light reaches a few feet down the stairs. I can’t see anything else further in.


Pausing, I hear something down the hall. It sounded like something had fallen over. Maybe a window was left open, and the noise came from outside. I wasn’t about to turn back and find out what it was. If it was someone, they would’ve said something. I was too weak, and had come too far to hunt down the sound in a dark hospital.


I shrug it off and make my way forward to the edge of the stairs. There’s a flat landing at the top of the stairs where I pause to look down.


The door swings shut behind me, cutting what little light remains down to a thin sliver. 


Every noise I make echoes in the small space.


After nearly tumbling down an entire flight of stairs, I abandon the wheelchair. I lean against the handrail to help support my weight. Using the handrail, it becomes easier to walk with each step forward. 


I finally make it to the door at the end of the stairs. There’s a small wired-glass window on it. I can’t see anything beyond a plain white wall, six or seven feet in front of the doorway. 


The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. A chill runs down my arm as it reaches for the push-bar. 


The door makes a slight click as it opens.


Taking the exit door leads to a large open    room. Most of chairs had been scattered around, with only four or five still in neat rows. 


Like what I’d seen upstairs—there’s debris and more blood.


I glance over to the reception desk, confirming that no one is there. The place had to have been evacuated. Maybe they just forgot me. Any simple mistake could cause that sort of oversight, especially if they were in a hurry to get patients out.


Next to the waiting room is a set of large glass doors. They’re open a few feet, letting in occasional gusts of cold air. 


I manage a limping hobble towards them, eager to see what’s outside. Past the shadowed building’s interior, indirect light pierces my eyes. 


My eyes force themselves shut against the sudden glare. It takes a half dozen seconds before I can squeeze them open far enough to see.  


There isn’t much to look at, even with my hand shielding against the light.


Above me, an awning keeps rain from soaking my hospital gown. It looks as though the downpour has been going for a while. The gutters are filled with two or three inches of standing water. The sight makes me remember how thirsty I feel. Moving to where runoff is pouring down the awning, I tilt my head back, letting it trickle into my mouth. 


It’s cold, and I can only think about quenching my thirst. The only problem is telling that to my stomach. It feels sour after a few swallows, making me almost throw up.  


Ignoring the nausea, I take a good look around. To my disappointment, there’s no sign of anyone nearby. Was the entire city evacuated? 


Cars were left parked along the sidewalk, but they’re as empty as the street.


It’s a full minute before I notice the two figures sprawled out on the far side of the road. Neither moved, even though they laid in a few inches of standing water.


I shuffle towards them, trying to get a better look. Water splashes over my feet, and rain starts soaking into my gown. 


I halt about five feet away from the nearest figure. Staring hard, I can’t see anything moving, not even the rise and fall of breath. Edging around the closest one, I get a good look at its face. He’s male, I can tell that much, and he’s dead.


His suit and coat is shredded in several places, exposing viciously torn skin. What little remained was a putrid white color. Water bloating made it difficult to make out specific details. It hadn’t done much to wash clean the bloodstained white undershirt. Jagged tears went through the layers of cloth and tore deeply into the skin beneath.


My eyes trail back up to his head. It’s pulled unnaturally far back, almost to the point where it rested against his shoulder blades. His throat was a ragged mess of torn meat. In the gaping hole, I can make out the white bone of what could be his spine. An empty socket is all that remained of one eye, while both ears had been torn off. Only ragged meat and congealed blood remained. 


The smell would have been overpowering if it wasn’t raining. As it was, the sight alone was making me retreat from the corpse.


Gagging, I start to dry heave. I’m down on my knees in the pooling water before the roiling in my stomach finally subsides.


Wiping rain from my face, I see a waterlogged newpapper. It is soaked from the rain, making it nearly illegible. The few pieces not stuck to the ground can be seen clearly.

Las Vegas Bulletin

Violent Outbreaks Sweep Across the Nation

Vegas? I can remember what Vegas is supposed to look like, but there aren’t any casinos or hotels that I see. 


I try picking up the newspaper, but it falls apart in my hands.

I glance one more time at the bodies before going back to the meager protection of the hospital’s awning. 


If this is Las Vegas, where are all the people?














-1-


-Two Years Later-

A drizzle of heavy rain falls across the windshield.

Driving has become even more monotonous than before all of this started. There are no cars driving in the opposite lane. Only the occasional car left abandoned on the road gives me any kind of change. The sound of rain hitting the car’s surface adds to the dull thrum of its engine. Feeling cold, I kick on the car’s heater.


The road ahead of me begins darkening under the increasingly steady downpour of water. The farther I drive down the interstate, the more it becomes difficult it to see ahead. I ease my foot off the gas, eying the speedometer’s needle as it drops farther and farther down.


The car’s worn windshield wipers stutter fitfully against the window before each swipe. The motion smears almost as much water as it wipes away.  I should have changed out the blades, but it wasn’t something that I’d thought about.

When I’d first left Barstow, the sky was clear. Weather conditions had sporadically grown worse in the two days since. A few scattered clouds turned the clear horizon steadily darker until the distance became covered by thick storm fronts.

Storms like these are unpredictable. It might quickly pass through, or it could hang in the sky above me for days.

I hoped to make it to Vegas and back without the complication of bad weather. If it didn’t clear up, I’d have very little, if any, time during the day to search. 


My attempt at planning the route beforehand was based on a map I’d found. What it couldn’t have taken into account were the sections of freeway blocked by abandoned cars.


Neither of my previous traveling companions had been familiar with the route I planned on taking. Tara had come from the opposite direction, and Simon had driven East, from somewhere near Los Angeles. 


With nothing else to go on, my only choice was to go blindly, hoping for the best.


After I’d first woken up at the hospital in Las Vegas, I drove from there to California. My route was hundreds of miles farther north. Backtracking the same way would have added days, if not weeks on the road.


The way I took was littered with abandoned cars, but there was enough room, so far, for me to weave the compact Toyota Yaris through the lanes. 


The closer I came to reaching Las Vegas, the more difficult it was to squeeze around the congestion.  

Another few miles, the curtain of rain recedes, leaving only gray skies and wet roads. 


After I pass Calico Road, which detoured to parallel the interstate, the windows start fogging over. Cranking up the heater all the way and setting it to defrost doesn’t do much. 


Leaning forward, I rub my jacket sleeve against the glass. With the windows fogged over, and distracted, I nearly crash into a black sedan blocking the freeway ahead of me. 


As slow as I was driving, my wheels continued to slide five or ten feet along the wet pavement, before bringing me to a halt. A little farther and I would have broadsided the car ahead of me.


My hands shake slightly as they let go of the wheel. It wasn’t like me to make mistakes like this. I wouldn’t have survived so long being this reckless.


I sit back in the car’s seat before rolling the window down and looking outside.


Past the sedan, more vehicles block the road, their doors left ajar. I notice that a few trunks are left partly open as well, with their contents lying scattered on the surface of the ground. I can make out the remains of suitcases and soiled clothing, but not much else. 


Weather had taken a heavy toll on the unprotected items. Any dust that had still clung to the vehicles, was now a thin layer of mud.


It’s obvious that there’s no way through, but a sense of almost morbid curiosity draws me nearer.