Excerpt for House of the Rising Sun by Richard Cox

Richard Cox
Category: Techno Thriller / Science Fiction / Adventure
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Date of Publication: July 27, 2020
Number of Pages: 408 pages
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Both a frightening apocalyptic story set in the southern United States and a character-focused, deeply moving literary thriller.

What would happen if technology all over the world suddenly stopped working?

When a strange new star appears in the sky, human life instantly grinds to a halt. Across the world, anything and everything electronic stops working completely.

At first, the event seems like a bizarre miracle to Seth Black–it interrupts his suicide attempt and erases gambling debt that threatened to destroy his family. But when Seth and his wife, Natalie, realize the electricity isn’t coming back on, that their food supplies won’t last, they begin to wonder how they and their two sons will survive.

Meanwhile, screenwriter Thomas Phillips–an old friend of Natalie’s–has just picked up Skylar Stover, star of his new movie, at the airport when his phone goes dead and planes begin to fall from the sky.

Thomas has just completed a script about a similar electromagnetic event that ended the world. Now, he’s one of the few who recognizes what’s happening and where it will lead.

When Thomas and Skylar decide to rescue Natalie and Seth, the unwilling group must attempt to survive together as the world falls apart. They try to hide in Thomas’s home and avoid desperate neighbors, but fear they’ll soon be roaming the streets with starving refugees and angry vigilantes intent on forming new governments. It’s all they can do to hold on to each other and their humanity.

Yet all the while, unbeknownst to them, Aiden Christopher–a bitter and malignant man leveraging a crumbling society to live out his darkest, most amoral fantasies–is fighting to survive as well. And he’s on a collision course with Thomas, Skylar, and the Black family…

Richard Cox was born in Odessa, Texas and now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His newest novel is House of the Rising Sun. Richard has also published The Boys of Summer, Thomas World, The God Particle, and Rift. He’s written for This Land Press, Oklahoma Magazine, and TheNervousBreakdown.com.
When he’s not writing or reading, Richard loves spending time with his wife and two girls. And hitting bombs.
He also wrote this bio in third person as if writing about someone else. George likes his chicken spicy!
1st: Signed copies of House of the Rising Sun & The Boys of Summer;
2nd: Signed copy of House of the Rising Sun;
3rd: eBook copy of House of the Rising Sun.
Giveaway ends Midnight, CST, January 15, 2021
(US only)

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Part Two, from Chapter 2 of HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN by Richard Cox

Click to read part one of this excerpt on StoreyBook Reviews

In this scene, screenwriter Thomas Phillips has just picked up actress Skylar Stover at DFW International Airport. They’re on the phone, speaking with a man threatening to commit suicide, when the call mysteriously drops.

In his new screenplay, the one Skylar was here to discuss, he’d written about an apocalyptic event known as an electromagnetic pulse. The eponymous pulse in his story was the byproduct of a massive solar flare and had rendered useless every electronic device on Earth. The way this happened was technical in nature, but easy enough to summarize: Transistors and microchips and power transformers were fried by intense electromagnetic radiation, and anything that relied on them was rendered useless. Like for instance the entire power grid and just about every vehicle built since the 1970s.

His acquisition of the vintage Mustang, therefore, was no accident. He loved to drive it, but the reason Thomas had even considered a classic vehicle was because research for The Pulse had frightened him. In a world without power, without daily deliveries of food into large cities, chaos would erupt almost immediately, and a working car could mean the difference between life and death.

He’d never expected such an event to occur, at least not of the magnitude he’d written about in The Pulse, and maybe this was not that. Maybe the new object in the sky had generated a temporary disruption that would soon be over. But if the event was not temporary and the effect was anything like what he feared, it was imperative to push them as far away from the airport as possible.

But it was already too late. Thomas had driven maybe a hundred more yards when he heard it, the whining roar of a plane in uncontrolled descent. He looked in the direction of the sound just in time to see a sprawling, bubbling cloud of orange and black. The impact was maybe a half mile away. The shock wave arrived a moment later, louder than anything Thomas had ever heard, the sound so deep it hummed in his bones. Heat swirled around the car, a searing wind choked with the heavy smell of fuel.

Sky was crying. Screaming. People were climbing back into their cars. They were running away from the blast. Thomas drove as fast as he safely could, watching the fireball recede into the distance, but he knew they weren’t safe yet. How many planes circled the airport at any one time, waiting to land? Five? Ten? Fifty?

“Oh my God, Thomas. Oh my God. Is this because your car is old? Is that why it’s still running?”

“Should we stop?” he asked her. “Pick up someone? I could fit a couple of people in the back seat.”

“I don’t know! Maybe? I don’t know!”

Thomas reached into her lap and used his free hand to grab hers.

“Skylar, I’ll get us out of here. It’ll be okay. Trust me. I’ll get us to a safe—”

Before he could finish, another plane hit, just as close, somewhere behind them. The reflection of the fireball covered the entire surface of his rearview mirror. The heat was a hand that pushed them roughly forward. The air itself seemed to be on fire, shimmering and bubbling in front of him. Thomas kept driving. He tried to keep his eyes on the road, ignore the fireball, but it was impossible not to look at it.

The plane had landed on the highway in roughly the same spot where he’d spoken to the woman with the SUV. The woman who was dead now.

Skylar was still screaming.

“Don’t stop! I’m sorry but if we stop we might die!”

Thomas drove faster. People were fleeing on foot. They veered into the grassy median and were running north, away from the airport. They were children, mothers, teenagers in football jerseys. Thomas saw a man in an expensive-looking suit slip and fall headfirst, spilling the contents of his briefcase into the grass. Incredibly, the man stopped to gather scattering sheets of paper as people streamed around him. Thomas felt an instinctive need to pull over and help someone, like maybe the elderly couple that was struggling to make progress in the crowded median. But he couldn’t stop now. The car would be swarmed by helpless people trying to flee the airport. If he stopped here, they’d never get going again.

A few seconds later, another plane hit, farther away. Then another one, closer again, a massive explosion that dwarfed all previous impacts.

“Oh my God, Thomas! Oh my God!”

“I think that one hit the terminal. Imagine all the planes parked there, the fuel trucks…”

“Can we get to your house? Is that where you’re headed?”

“Yes. I think we can make it there. As long as the roads aren’t blocked.”

“Thomas,” Sky finally said. “This…this is just like your screenplay, isn’t it? Your car is still running because there aren’t any computers in it.”

He nodded. “The pulse must have come from that thing in the sky. I’m not sure but I think it might be a supernova. I read about them during my research, but they don’t happen very often. Everyone assumed if an EMP got us it would be a solar flare or a nuclear strike.”

“So that means everything is off? Power. Cars. Phones. The Internet.”

“Hopefully not. Maybe it’s not as bad as we think.”

Another plane hit then, this one to their southeast, a couple of miles away. Within seconds, a giant plume of smoke rose above the tree line, and now the entire southern sky behind them was apocalyptic. The horizon itself seemed consumed by fire.

“It looks pretty bad, Thomas.”

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