QSFer Lolly Walter has a new LGBT Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic book out in the Dry Run series: “Flanked.” And there’s a giveaway.
Run. Hide. Survive.
When he finally — violently — escapes his sadistic boss at sex tourism den Flights of Fantasy, Joe has a plan: he and his lover, Devin, will hike over a thousand miles from bleak and barren Austin, deep in the Texas Territory, to the crown jewel of New America’s domed cities, Minneapolis. Joe’s been planning the escape for years, hoping to locate the father who left him behind, but he has no idea what he’ll find. All Joe wants is to keep Devin safe. All Devin wants is Joe.
Life on the road is unforgiving and even more desperate than life in Austin, and it isn’t long before Joe’s careful plan falls apart. When he and Devin rescue a band of teenagers also on the run from Flights of Fantasy, things go from bad to worse.
Battling hunger, thirst, pain, and prejudice, with every stranger more dangerous than the last, Joe will do anything to keep Devin and the teenagers alive. He can’t afford mistakes, and he doesn’t have time for anyone, even Devin, to question his decisions.
But mistakes happen. And Joe finds the hardest questions are the ones he asks himself.
Lolly is giving away wwo ebook copies of Dry Run, the first book in the Dry Run Trilogy with this post. Comment below for a chance to win.
“Lake” was an overstatement. Joe had left Devin with Flix and Peter back on the road and fought his way through a hundred yards of waist-high brush to stand on the cracked, barren, dry remnant of a large pond. Not a drop of water in sight. They were all dead.
“This is bad, isn’t it?” Marcus asked. He touched Joe’s elbow, skimmed the notched, sharp cut there.
Joe swallowed and tried to make his voice work. Already, he was parched. How long had it been since he’d had a drink? Five, six hours? More? The sun had set already. The temperature wasn’t even high. How would they manage if tomorrow’s sunshine brought heat?
“We’ll need to go to the houses. Cross our fingers.”
Joe headed back toward the old shoreline, and Marcus fell in step beside him. The cracked lake bed gaped beneath their feet. No evidence existed that the place had ever borne animal life. No fish bones, no clams. Had they been picked clean, or had the lake been dry so long that evidence of their lives had melted into the dirt, been lost to the earth?
Dead vegetation greeted them at the bank. The path they’d followed on their way down had disappeared, and Joe cringed at the idea of walking through the brush again. The area near the old Lady Bird Lake back in Austin had been home to snakes and rats, some of the few animals left. Even though this lake was dry, Joe couldn’t shake the feeling that its brush concealed the same pests. He slipped his fingers over the VICE-shot he’d borrowed from Devin and kept moving.
Since Joe had left the other set of vision shields with Flix so at least one person from each group could see in the dark, he needed to guide Marcus up the slope. He took Marcus’s hand and was pleased at how normal it felt. Wandering around holding hands wasn’t something he’d ever done, not before Devin had come into his life. Then a few days ago — when Devin found out that Joe had withheld the truth about Boggs and their friend Ebony’s baby, Nina — they’d stopped touching, at least until the dazzler had messed with Devin’s sight. Joe had missed holding hands, had wondered if he’d ever have it again. Holding Marcus’s hand wasn’t anything like holding Devin’s, didn’t give Joe a thrill of heat. It was just a friend’s hand.
“It’ll be fine, right?” Marcus asked. “We’ll figure it out?” Away from his brother, the difference in their voices was even more pronounced. Flix was brash and confident, and he often tried to sound seductive, older. A boy trying to be a man. Marcus sounded like a kid, one who’d lived his life in his brother’s shadow.
Joe tapped his thumb on the back of Marcus’s hand. “We will find water.”
“It was my fault, the water spilling. Peter made it sound like Flix was perverted or something, liking boys the way I like girls. I should have expected some white northerner to be a spigot.”
Joe snorted. “Bigot. The word’s bigot.”
“Whatever.” Marcus swung his and Joe’s hands like a rope between them. “I mean, I see how they act, the men who come down here. They’re sneaking away from their wives and girlfriends to get a bit of dick. Tells me all I need to know about the north.”
Joe hated to think of Marcus seeing himself as a “bit of dick.” What they’d done at Flights of Fantasy was different than simple prostitution. At least, that’s what he’d always told himself. Not that he’d minded being a whore, not really. What he minded was feeling like he’d had no choice, no say in who’d touched him or how.
And the jobs had been different for different runners. Their friends Trig and Roxy had a filthy bondage routine that kept Trig covered in bruises and left Roxy almost untouched. James and Ebony had been popular using a few stereotyped shticks that made Joe gag. But Marcus and Flix… Joe had started at Flights of Fantasy when he was fourteen. He’d been the baby-faced little pretty boy. He knew what happened, even with a female partner, as he’d always been paired with before Devin came along. He didn’t want to think of those things happening to the twins.
“Peter’s been through a shock,” Joe said, hating the way they’d refused his pleas to come along when they ran away from Flights of Fantasy. “He’ll come around.”
“I thought he was.” Marcus almost sounded like he was whining. “We wouldn’t have let him come with us if —”
Joe wheeled so he could see Marcus’s face. “No matter what Peter believes right now, you were right to take him with you. Devin and I really do regret leaving him at the Flats.”
“No one deserves our life,” Marcus whispered, staring at his feet. “Even before Mr. Boggs did what he did to Flix.”
“No one,” Joe agreed. He turned and headed back up the bank, only to be stopped two steps later when Marcus didn’t follow.
Marcus’s hand began to shake in Joe’s grip. “Joe.”
Joe heard it then. The rustle over his shoulder, the rattle. He slipped the VICE-shot from his pocket and shifted his feet, not daring to pick them up. When he looked in the direction of the noise, his breath caught.
A large, thick snake sat coiled two feet to Marcus’s left, its head lifted, ready to strike. Even with Nightsight activated on his vision shields, Joe couldn’t see the snake’s head well enough to get a fix on the type, but he wasn’t about to take any chances with that rattling sound it was making.
“Slowly, Marcus. Don’t look at it. Walk slowly toward me.”
Marcus lifted a foot, and the snake began to hiss. He whimpered and placed his foot on the ground.
“Good. Other foot now.”
Marcus lifted the other foot, and Joe jerked him forward.
The snake struck.
Lolly Walter daydreamed her way through college, graduating with Honors and a degree in English. She was always captivated by a good story, including the ones she told herself. After careers as a journalist and an educator, she decided to bring her stories to a wider audience.