Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it’s in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it’s a balm for the broken soul. After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That’s the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating… monsters.
Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life–a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.
The bus ride to the quarantine facility took more than ten hours. I was shoved against the window by my seatmate who slept almost the entire trip. He was a big guy, taking up most of the seat, and when he slept his body lolled to the side, wedging me against the metal side of the bus.
As we traveled, the air turned hot and dry, different than the humid, sticky climate of my coastal Texas hometown. The old school bus didn’t have air conditioning and the small windows didn’t let much air in. My seatmate’s body heat didn’t help. I
was hot, thirsty, and had to pee in the worst way.
Wondering how much longer I’d be drooled on by the guy next to me, I strained my face against the window, looking for anything on the flat landscape.
That’s when I saw them.
I don’t know why I was surprised. I should’ve expected it after what had happened at the high school, but I hadn’t. It was worse than at the school—rioters everywhere. They waved anti-raffle signs and signs cursing the “Chosen.”
The land around the quarantine area was flat, dry, and dusty. The people lining the road sat under makeshift tents to keep out of the sun. Some stood on top of their RVs waving their handmade signs; one burned an American flag.
I watched women holding their small children toward the bus, begging with tear-stained faces for us to take them. I wanted to reach out and snatch them out of their mothers’ hands as we drove past. Several of the other people on the bus reached up and pushed their windows shut.
The National Guard at the quarantine site didn’t allow people to get close enough to touch the bus. They were shot with rubber bullets or Tasered if they tried to cross the police line. Every time I heard the shot of the riot guns I jumped.
My muscles ached from tensing them—waiting for the inevitable sound.
“Why are you crying?” A boy sitting in front of me looked at me like I’d grown another head. “They’d probably kill you and steal your place in the PODs if given the chance.”
I shook my head, remembering what my dad had told me. “They’re just scared,” I said. After all, they were, essentially, the walking dead.
The rioters screamed and cursed us. They threw rocks and eggs as we drove by. An egg hit the window next to me, the slimy insides plopping against my head, matting my hair.
“Gross,” the boy sitting next to me said.
I just looked at him and rolled my eyes.
Yeah, the egg is gross. And the drool coming out of your mouth and dripping on my leg while you slept, leaning on me, was glorious.
The bus stopped in a fenced area like the one at the high school. The crowd screamed and banged the fence posts with their crude, homemade picket signs. Some climbed on the fence, pulling at it like chimpanzees at the zoo.
“Stay seated until your name is called,” a soldier yelled. “When you are called, grab your belongings and wait to be escorted into the building.”
Oh please, call this guy’s name. He needs to move before I shove him off the seat. I’m tired of being pinned against the side of the bus. I need some room.
Thankfully, my name was called soon after we stopped. I stood, stretched the kinks out of my muscles, and plowed through the massive body blocking me. Clambering over the other luggage that filled the aisle, I grabbed my two suitcases and stood in front of the bus.
The one-story brick building was large but had no windows, only a single green door. I couldn’t see the other sides, but I had a feeling there’d be no windows there, either—no glass for rioters to break through.
The soldier walked up from behind me, tapping my suitcase with his clipboard. “Follow me.”
I shuffled into the brick building, guided by the same guardsman who’d ripped me away from my parents hours earlier…
“I love you,” my mom said through her tears, her voice thick and trembling.
“I want to stay with you,” I pleaded.
“Come here, kiddo.” My dad, his face distorted with grief, folded me in a tight hug. He kissed the top of my head and told me he loved me and how proud he was of me. “I know, when this is over, you are going to do great things, Eva. you’re a
fighter. I love you so much.”
A rough hand grabbed my arm, pulling me away from my dad. “Get on the bus,” the male voice ordered, yelling to be heard over the crying of parents and children saying their final goodbyes.
“I’m not done saying goodbye…” He didn’t let go, pulling me with him. My heels digging into the dirt, I tried to pull away. I needed one more hug, to hear them tell me they loved me and to tell them I loved them, too.
“MOM!” I screamed. “DAD!” Tears stained my face. The man thrust me toward the steps of the old, yellow school bus. I screamed one more time for my parents, telling them I loved them, reaching my arms out to them.
I could see my mom’s body rock with the force of her cries. Tears ran down my father’s face. “We love you, Evangelina,” I heard them call just before the bus door closed.
It was the last thing I’d hear my parents say. It was the last image I’d have of them. I pressed my hand to the window of the bus, my head bowed as I sobbed. I didn’t try to hide my tears. Everyone on the bus was crying for their families. We
knew what awaited them.
I shook my head, trying to erase the horrible memory. I wanted to remember the good things about them, not saying goodbye.
Goodbyes are hard, but this one had been different. This wasn’t a goodbye, I’ll see you in a month. It was a permanent goodbye. I’d never see my parents again. The overwhelming sadness took over, like a black hole sucking me in. Fat, salty tears ran down my face, and I could feel my nose running. I wiped my arm across it. My eyes were swollen, my throat sore, and my chest tight.
I was alone. My parents were gone. No brothers or sisters. Just me—an orphan of the virus.
“…an energetic, tumultuous roller coaster ride that me on the edge of my seat and biting my nails…You know when Goodreads says “Meet You Next Favourite Book?” Well this is it! This is my favourite book of 2013…In my honest opinion Michelle Pickett is best-selling author material…overflowing with talent…It doesn’t feel like a debut book; her writing speaks of someone who has been writing and publishing books for years.” ~ Keren of Gothic Angel Book Reviews
“It is very rare these days for a YA book to suck me in so thoroughly that I lose all concept of time and place, I’m just too busy for that. But PODs did exactly that. I was pulled right into Eva’s world and stayed there until the end… All in all, I give it my rare 5 out of 5 stars with a warning: Do not pick this book up unless you’ve cleared your schedule
for several hours!” ~ DJ of The Curvy Writer Blog
“5 glowing, sparkling stars for this one!…I absolutely adored every character Michelle introduces us to. This book isn’t just about a romance, or two people fighting some battle. This book allows us to get to know several, amazing, diverse characters who all grab your heart (even a few who have attitude issues). They all held such an important place in the story… Now for the plot. Holy crap!… Michelle did a flippin’ fantastic job giving us each piece of this puzzle… I won’t go into details about what happens after they are removed from the POD but O-M-G! The action never stops…This book seriously
needs to be a movie. I could picture every detail and already see it playing out on screen. PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE THIS HAPPEN!” ~ Jessica of Total Bookaholic
(1) POD’s Swag Bundle including: A signed first edition of PODs, PODs bookmarks and some of my next release Milayna, a tote bag, stickers, and a gift card ($10) to Amazon.
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About the Author:
I’m a wife, mother, author, reader, although not always in that order. I write young adult urban fantasies, science/fiction and paranormal romances and have recently started dabbling in young adult contemporary romance. Reading was one of my earliest passions, writing soon followed. I began writing seriously during college where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting. Why I chose a career that frowns on creativity remains a mystery.
I’m addicted to Reese’s peanut butter cups and eat way too many while I write, have an abnormal obsession with hoodies and can’t write without one, and I hate to cook, but love to watch cooking shows on television. An unabashed romantic, I love a swoon-worthy ending that will give me butterflies for days.
I wrote my debut young adult novel, PODs, in 2011. PODs, a science/fiction, post-apocalyptic romance, will be released June 4, 2013 through the amazing Spencer Hill Press.
My second young adult title, Milayna, a paranormal romance, will release through Spencer Hill Press beginning in March 2014. Milayna
is a standalone, with series potential. It’s meant to be a trilogy. The
Infected, a PODs novel, will release November 2014. It is the second,
and last, book in the PODs series.
I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. I now reside in a small community outside Houston, Texas with my incredibly supportive, not to mention gorgeous, husband, three amazing school-aged children, a 125-pound lap dog, and a snooty cat.
Keep up-to-date with my current, future projects, appearances, and fun giveaways at www.michelle-pickett.com.