Harisson Cody is driving home from his job as a clerk at a Waldenbooks on May 25 when the world as he knows it suddenly ceases to exist. In a blink, everyone disappears and the landscape is reduced to a smattering of random buildings and fragments of highway.
Harisson appears to be the sole survivor and he spends his days cruising I-91 in New Hampshire, finding dead dinosaurs, advanced technological gadgets, and lights that function without any apparent source of electricity - but no other people. This all changes one day when he hears a woman's voice on the radio, urging all survivors to head towards Chicago. What follows is an epic journey through a bizarre landscape populated with advanced technology, dragons, magic, and destruction.
Through the journey, Harrison learns that scrambling the world was just the first part of a horrific plan. The second part of the plan will destroy every remaining survivor. He is the key to stopping it but doing so will come at an unbelievable sacrifice. One he might not be willing to make.
Static Mayhem is a #1 Novel on TheNextBigWriter.com, a semi-finalist in Amazon.com's Breakthrough Novel Award contest in 2008, and the 2008 Winner of the Strongest Start Novel Competition.
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Just around the time his car reached ninety miles an hour, Harrison closed his eyes. He knew the road curved in front of him, and he steered from memory. Late on a weekday afternoon, I-91 might once have been crowded with traffic, but other cars were no longer a hazard. He pushed in the clutch, and waited for the car to coast to a stop. The sense of motion diminished. By the time the speedometer dropped to zero, his eyes were open again and surveying the scraps of twisted iron and concrete rubble that were the ruins of the Holyoke Mall parking garage.
The car had come to rest on the shoulder of an exit ramp now overgrown with sunflowers, about a half-mile shy of the mall. Other than the parking garage, the mall was intact, at least on the outside. Inside, though, he knew from previous expeditions that things fell to chaos. No shops, no merchandise, no restaurants—just empty lot after empty lot. Up near the skylights, local flora ran rampant.
Trekking over the embankment and around the bend in the mall parking lot driveway, Harrison made for his destination in one of the satellite buildings, the Barnes & Noble. On his last visit, he had picked up a copy of The Great Gatsby, for which he had left a ten dollar bill on the counter. The gesture was pointless, other than to maintain the illusion of normalcy. He planned to leave more money today, in exchange for a copy of Tom Sawyer.
As he made his way to the empty parking lot, he glanced over at the vast field of sunflowers a hundred yards away. Some of the enormous blossoms had risen from their natural droopy state, and tracked his movement. The first time, it had been the entire field, an easy fifty thousand, in silent scrutiny of his behavior. Now it was fewer than fifty, evidence of his predictability.
“Nothing to see here!” he shouted in their direction. Several flopped back down. The rest continued to watch.
Harrison stood just over six feet tall, and in the time since he had lost all concern about his personal appearance, his dark brown hair had grown long and unkempt. A good shave was a rarity that cycled back once every two weeks, and he was due. Clad in a short sleeve plaid shirt (unbuttoned over a Pink Floyd T-shirt) and a pair of cut-off jeans shorts, he took an odd satisfaction in the scruffy look, a badge of his having walked away from his day job forever.
At the edge of the parking lot, he stopped, his breath catching in his throat. A large, dark lump lay in the dirt before him. “Damn. Another one,” he whispered. Closer to it, he could make out the pebbly skin and the beginnings of that God-awful smell. This was the sixth dead dinosaur he had found in ten weeks. They always fascinated him. While he had yet to see a live one, he felt neither surprise nor disappointment on that count. It made perfect sense that these displaced creatures would not live long in such a random environment. If these dinosaurs had all come into the world at the same time, when everything else changed, they must have been dying off.
He reached into his breast pocket and removed a small plastic clamshell case. Inside lay a pair of sleek, dark glasses, which he unfolded and put on. The lenses darkened in automatic response to the sun, although there was no more than an hour until dusk. Harrison tapped the edge of the glasses with his finger. A three-dimensional display appeared in the air about three feet in front of his face. It provided him with the date, time, temperature, relative humidity, mean barometric pressure, and wind speed. There was also a readout for wind direction, but for reasons unknown it had only ever given him error messages. The display was an illusion, a tiny hologram projected onto his retina. He knew from experimenting—he had mounted them on a mannequin head once—that an outside observer would see nothing but a man tapping his glasses. He tapped them twice more and cycled through two categories of data, until the word “infrared” appeared. He looked at the form of the fallen beast. It showed no deviation from the ambient temperature. That might mean it was dead, or it might just mark it a cold-blooded animal. He tapped twice more, and saw a passive sonar display overlaid against the natural background. Birds, small rodents, and insects showed faint blips as they pinged away in their native tongues. The dinosaur showed nothing. It was dead for certain, then. A live animal, and a large one at that, would give a visible heartbeat.
He removed the glasses and moved closer. From that angle, only the dinosaur’s back was evident, and it was marked by its lack of adornment. Of the ones he had seen so far, all were equipped with some sort of armor or horns, except for the gigantic one, which smelled far too horrible for any sort of close inspection. Maybe this one was a younger specimen of the huge variety. But, then, it lacked the long neck. Above the tail, its distinguishing features became clearer. Harrison felt blood drain from his face as he took them in. The powerful hind legs and short forelegs, the huge head, even the claws he was able to observe with some degree of detachment. But, oh, God, the teeth. Like big bone knives.
His first instinct was to flee back to the road, back to the car, back to the ninety miles an hour. He had been sure, somehow, that none of the dinosaurs would be carnivores. Now all bets were off. After the initial surge of adrenaline, he reasoned that the presence of one did not necessitate the presence of more. He had never seen more than one example of any species. He had even speculated that might be why they didn’t live long, since popular opinion had last been that these were herd animals. Maybe they couldn’t survive alone. And if there were herds, he surely would have seen one by now. But, then, he had been certain that there were no predators, and here was one that had stayed alive for ten weeks. Eating … something.
Five minutes later he was on the road, at ninety miles an hour, his eyes wide open.