by Travis Heermann
Can a 16-year-old girl stem the tide of a lycanthro-pocalypse?
When three younger boys show up on the doorstep of Mia's everyday suburban existence, naked and on the run, she is drawn into a shadow world where a series of strange disappearances heralds a slowly spreading plague of bioengineered lycanthropy. Mia must save the three orphaned boys from their brutal Alpha, a man-beast who believes normal humans are food.
A war is brewing for the top of the food chain. Mia doesn’t know it yet, but she holds the key to the future of the human race.
What people are saying:
"A fast-paced novel about love, loss, and the unforgettable scent of once being human, The Wild Boys is impossible to put down." - Shelly Li, Scholastic Award-winning author of The Royal Hunter: Throne Under Siege
"I recommend The Wild Boys for people who like thrillers, people who like horror, and people who want to read wild chase scenes with plucky heroines (and a dog)." - Kater Cheek, author of the Kit Melbourne series
Mia walked into the kitchen and stacked up her useless homework on the kitchen table. Her mom leaned against the corner of the hallway, eyes dull and bloodshot.
“Geez, Mom, you look tired. You should go to bed.”
“I’ve been trying.”
“You want some tea or something?”
“No. Do you know what Tuesday was?”
How could Mia forget? She nodded but the old ball of dread reformed in her stomach, along with an impulse to flee like a rabbit. She didn’t know which way to go.
“He would have been such a good boy. Everyone loved him.”
Mia tensed. “Yes, he would have. He was.”
Her mother’s eyes flicked toward Mia’s homework and hardened. “He was such a good student.”
Mia’s throat clenched, and tears formed. She didn’t have enough strength left tonight for this argument. “Yes, he was,” was all she could say. She went outside. She didn’t need to see her mother shuffle back upstairs and head toward the bathroom. She plopped down onto a tree stump in the backyard and let the tears come. The bathroom light switched on and she heard the shower begin to flow. Suddenly every hair on her head, her arms, her legs stood on end. She stood and scanned the darkness within the wooden perimeter. The only light came from streetlights filtering through branches surrounding the fence and from the feeble glow of the kitchen light. A deep, heavy snuffling puffed underneath the backyard gate. An animal, something, and a big one. Something hard like nails scratched faintly over the paving stones on the path to the gate. More snuffling, sniffing.
Then the latch on the gate began to rattle.
Her blood froze.
The latch clicked and the door began to swing slowly inward. In less than a heartbeat, she threw herself behind the backyard shed, which lay closer than the back patio door.
The gate squeaked faintly.
Her trembling hands sought the latch on the shed door, tried to slide it ever so gently, silently. A click that sounded like thunder as the latch released and the door swung open. She ducked inside and ever so gently, silently, eased the latch closed. There were spiders in here. She never went in the shed for just that reason, but she did not dare think about that now, did not dare think about the webs that might inches from her flesh, or all the little creepy-crawlies that waited in the dark to suck the fluids of insects unlucky enough to be ensnared. The sharp tangy smells of gasoline and oil and lawn fertilizer overlay the scent of earth and dust.
Moments after the door closed, the puff of breath came under the door, sniffing, the kind of sniffing that comes from deep, cavernous lungs, lungs that were not human. The sound came from the rear corner of the shed, moved along the base of the wall toward the front. Only a thin sheet of wood separated her from whatever that was, and it had to be enormous.
Mia’s trembling hands shifted gears to earthquake mode. Don’t rattle the latch!
The heavy breathing moved to the corner of the shed, then back to the door, and a shadow obscured the bottom half of the light square around perimeter of the door. Nostrils moved to the bottom corner of the door, sniffing at the crack. Mia imagined the breaths as they found their way inside driving up little clouds of dust from the floor of the shed.
Something hard, unyielding clamped over the latch on the outside, like the grip of a pliers.
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Author Bio:Freelance writer, novelist, award-winning screenwriter, poker player, poet, biker, roustabout, Travis Heermann is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and the author of the Heart of the Ronin and Rogues of the Black Fury, plus short fiction pieces in anthologies and magazines such as Weird Tales, Historical Lovecraft, and Shivers VII. As a freelance writer, he has produced a metric ton of role-playing game work both in print and online, including Legend of Five Rings, d20 System, and the MMORPG, EVE Online.
For more information follow Travis on Twitter & visit his website. You can also find 'The Wild Boys' on the publisher's site.