In Running Wild Anthology of Novellas, Volume 2, Part 1 includes eleven stories that are trigger worthy. We’re not kidding. You’ll find cannibalism, racism, sexism, death, dismemberment, beatings, zombies, ghosts, emotional abuse, physical abuse. For fun we threw in self exploration and self discovery. Because it seemed to cut through the spice and make the broth richer.
About The Kings of Babylon
This loose sequel to “Sodom and Gomorrah on a Saturday Night” is told from the POV of Annika Pedersen, who’s trying to rekindle a field of journalism that’s been decimated by fake news bots and manipulated coverage. On the road with “Sodom and Gomorrah”‘s Ray Trueman, Annika comes to terms with unresolved trauma that led her to where she is now.
Read an Excerpt
She awoke to the sound of voices, muffled coming from outside the cab, which had been turned off. Ray’s timbre she recognized; the cab windows had been left partly open. The second voice belonged to a woman. How long had she slept? Outside gave her no clues; the velvety dark new moon still hung in the sky.
She sat up, rubbed the sleep from her eyes, stretched and yawned. Then yelped and backed into the sleeper cab wall.
Another woman sat at the opposite end of the cot.
Ray drove this truck for the rescue, but Annika hadn’t expected him to be actively rescuing with her in the cab. Wasn’t it risky? She regarded the other woman, who sat silently in the curtain’s shadow, so that Annika couldn’t make out what she looked like, not even her race. Legs crossed, the woman faced the front of the cab, her hands in her lap. She offered no sign that she’d noticed Annika. Like a ghost.
Annika shuddered, pulled back the blanket she’d covered herself with, went to make her way to the passenger seat. Then she stopped, glanced back at the other woman, who wore only a thin shift. In this weather it seemed logical, but the chill from Ray’s air conditioning swirled in the cab. “You can use the blanket,” she told the woman, half expecting a response, getting none anyway. Annika pulled the curtain back across the partition and went to meet Ray.
From the passenger seat she peered out the windows into pitch black. Wherever they were, Ray had parked way off the beaten path. A different kind of chill went through Annika; she’d just drifted off to sleep, and he’d driven her someplace she couldn’t possibly identify to Julie or anyone else, picked up some strange woman without her ever knowing about it. Yet she’d awoken safe, her clothes intact, while he stood in the beam of the truck’s headlights, talking to a small white woman with frizzy blonde-to-purple curls.
Annika pulled at the door handle, made her way down from the cab. The temperature had dropped some, and she could see the night sky fading into blue in the east. So she’d slept a few hours, anyway.
Ray and the other woman turned as Annika’s footsteps crunched towards them over a gravelly surface. “Have a good sleep?” Ray asked. “This is Tanya. She’s going to take you to your next interview. Good perspective if not solid information.”
“There’s another woman in your cab,” Annika said. Okay, so sleep still half fogged her brain.
“Yup. She’s going with Tanya, too.”
Great. An entire car ride with a spooky ghost-woman. “Who is she? Where did she come from?”
Ray and Tanya glanced at each other. “We hardly ever find out their backgrounds,” Tanya said. “They’re pretty shell-shocked when they come to us. Their inhibitors might have worn off, but whatever they’ve experienced … they’re used to being told to sit down, shut up, don’t even look at anyone. So they don’t.”
That silence had unnerved Annika, and yet, hadn’t she likewise remained silent in the first days and weeks away from Gibb? She’d simply had the convenient excuse that she needed to learn how to report. “How do you find them? How do they get out of the system?”
Another glance between them. “I’ll tell you about it another time.” Ray backed up as if preparing to leave. “Don’t ask Nevaeh. She won’t know.”
“Who?” Annika asked.
“Her name’s Nevaeh.”
“Heaven spelled backwards,” Tanya broke in, with a wide smile.
Ray continued, “Nevaeh is one of our intake mentors, for our new rescues. She’s one of the handful we managed to get out of Hampton Beach.”
“Then I won’t be able to use her name.”
“That’s the least of it. You can make one up. The important part is writing about the hope.” He left Annika with Tanya then, climbed up to the passenger side of his cab. Before long he had hold of the other woman’s hands so he could help her down.
The other woman’s laborer’s shift appeared several sizes too big, giving her an aspect frailer than Annika had first thought. The headlights illuminated her light brown skin. She seemed to walk with a limp as Ray assisted her to Tanya’s side.
Ray let Tanya take hold of her. He turned to Annika. “Tanya will tell me when you need picking up,” he said. “Don’t text me directly.”
Annika could only nod.
Then just like that, his cab pulled away. With it came an odd sense of abandonment, as if he’d withdrawn a lifeline. For a moment the sense of aloneness both terrified and thrilled Annika. As if alone in the dim light of breaking dawn, she could go anywhere, be anything.
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