As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

New Release: Together in a Broken World – Paul Michael Winters

Together in a Broken World - Paul Michael Winters

Paul Michael Winters has a new MM YA dystopian sci-fi book out: Together in a Broken World.

Two boys fall in love in a deadly world, but it’s the secrets they keep that might kill them.

Seventeen-year-old Zach was visiting his uncle in a small Montana town when a mysterious illness ripped through the world. Most died, but those who survived the Infection became mindless killers, spreading the disease with a single scratch. Now, a year later, civilization lies in ruins, and Zach is the town’s sole survivor. Desperately lonely, he longs to return to his family in Seattle, but his fears hold him captive.

Eighteen-year-old Aiden is on a critical mission for the covert Scientific Collective, delivering vials whose contents could cure the Infection. Tortured by his boyfriend’s death, he welcomes the risks of the perilous journey. When a militia attacks Aiden, he flees to Zach’s town.

The boys escape together and soon form a bond as they comfort each other in this desolate and broken world. The farther they travel, the more their affection grows, as do the forces pulling them apart. But their greatest threats are the secrets they keep. Zach hides details of his uncle’s death, and Aiden conceals the vials’ sinister origins. In order to survive, they’ll have to confront the truths that could tear their love apart.

Warning: depictions of graphic violence, guns, abduction, death of family, mourning; discussion of attempted rape/non-con (past, off page), social anxiety, past and present trauma

Get It At Amazon | Publisher



It’s hard to get over how desolate the world is now. I haven’t seen another soul for over a week. And if I want to stay alive, I hope to keep it that way.

The road cuts a winding path through a dense forest, the cone of my headlights revealing just enough to see ahead. Everything else is stark blackness. Daft Punk and GRiZ blast through the car’s speakers—an EDM mix I made last year as a DJ for my high school. Back when DJs and high schools existed, that is. The bass rumbling through the seat makes me feel connected to the car.

With one eye on the road, I paw at the backpack resting on the passenger seat. It’s the third time this hour I’ve checked on the vials. The familiar shape of the protective aluminum case through the nylon fabric helps ease my anxiety. For the moment, anyway. It may be a little obsessive, but the vials are my critical cargo. They’re what I’m risking my life for. And I’m doing this for Marcus.

The slightest thought of him sends waves of grief flooding over me. I fight those feelings and bury them away. Letting emotions control me is the surest way of getting killed.

When I pull up to a rest area, the car cuts a path through an inch of pine needles spread over the parking lot. Weeds spring up through every possible crack, and vines are well on their way to swallowing the restrooms whole. The sheer relentlessness of Mother Nature is startling.

Since man-made light is a thing of the past, it’s impossible to see your hand six inches in front of your face, especially on a cloudy, moonless night in rural Montana. The headlights are my only guide through the darkness, so I leave them turned on.

As I open the door, I’m hit with a cold blast of air and the smell of sap. It must be low forties out. My breaths puff out in misty clouds.

Looters often overlook vending machines at rest stops, so I always check them out. I’m pleasantly surprised to find the machines undamaged and nearly full. With a few pries of a crowbar, the lock springs open. I load what I can into my backpack and stuff the rest in a black plastic bag.

After doing my business in the restroom, I return to my faded red ’97 Integra, crunching through the thick layer of decaying pine needles. I stop suddenly, staring at another pair of footprints that cross over mine, head up to my car door, and then into the woods. They were not here before. I’m sure of it.

Did I remember to lock the door?

In a flash, I run to the car and reach for the handle. Locked. Thank god. The second I’m in, I fire up the engine. Debris kicks up from the tires as I hit the gas and speed away.

For the next several minutes, I’m hypervigilant, keeping my eye on the mirrors and looking ahead for a potential ambush. Those footprints could have been from a member of a local militia. Their scouts are notorious for spotting lone cars and radioing for backup.

Or the footprints could have been from one of the people sick with that damn disease. The Infected. It’s unlikely since they went right up to the car door. Once the fever has done its damage, the Infected don’t really have that level of cognitive ability. The path would have been more random.

Either way, I’m glad to put the rest area behind me. As time passes, my nerves start to settle. Guess I got lucky. Maybe it was nothing, like a local survivor passing through.

As the minutes drift by, my eyes get heavy. It’s no use fighting sleep, so I scan the highway for a side road with enough cover to pull over and rest for the night.

That’s when headlights shine in my rearview mirror.

Goddamn it.


Their standard MO is to drive up beside you and point guns at the car until you pull over. But I’m not planning on letting them get that close. The trick is to go slowly at first and make them overconfident. Let them think they’ve got easy prey. Then floor it. Take curves so fast, they’ll piss their pants. With any luck, their car will spin out, trying to follow. It’s half skill, half psychology.

And here comes a curve now. I find just the right speed to keep traction. The tires squeal but hold. Right at the apex of the turn, I punch the accelerator. It pushes me back into the seat as the tires grab the tarmac, and the car blasts down the road.

Those guys should be long gone, but somehow, the headlights shine in the rearview mirror again.


These guys are good.

I floor the accelerator, but the engine groans in protest. A distinct smell of burning oil drifts into the cabin. That can’t be good.

Whizzing sounds fly past the car. Are those bullets? Are they shooting at me?

A bullet hits the rear window, shattering it into a million pieces, making my heart rate spike. These aren’t carjackers. They’re trying to kill me.

I turn off the music. Drawing in a deep breath, my training kicks in. One wrong move, and I’m dead. I sharpen my focus and clear my mind, each action deliberate and calculated.

I weave the car back and forth to evade the next round of bullets and take the next turn faster than the last. The subtle sliding out of the back end translates through the wheel. With the slightest shift of steering and a barely perceptible change of speed, the car holds to the curve.

Another round of bullets sprays the car, and the left rear tire explodes. The steering wheel lurches violently. Trying to steady it takes every ounce of strength, fingers clenched, my life on the line. The car veers off the road, and I slam on the brakes. Dirt kicks up everywhere but decelerates the vehicle gradually enough that the crash doesn’t kill me. The front bumper comes to rest against a tree.

Ninety to zero in five seconds. And somehow, I’m still alive.

Author Bio

Paul Michael Winters is a lifelong creative writer whose life is filled with queer joy. His passion is to spread that joy through storytelling and writing books where you might not typically see queer characters. His books feature queer people living their best lives where their queerness is an aspect of their personality but doesn’t dominate the story. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his husband and two tuxedo kitties and might have a slight addiction to reading gay romance. But it’s not a problem. He could stop any time he wanted. Honestly.

Join Our Newsletter List, Get 4 Free Books

File Type Preferred *
Privacy *
Queer Sci Fi Newsletter Consent *
Please consider also subscribing to the newsletters of the authors who are providing these free eBooks to you.
Author Newsletter Consent *
Check your inbox to confirm your addition to the list(s)

Leave a Comment