When her escape pod falls to earth, crashing in Ypsilanti Bloc, privileged seventeen-year-old Alice Walshe is dashed from the wonderland of wealth and prosperity into a ruined, walled city overrun with militias, gangs, and even cannibals. On top of this horror, her younger brother’s escape pod is missing.
Alice isn’t naïve – she’s always known blocs like Ypsilanti exist, left behind after a foodborne illness ravished the country decades earlier and left pockets of severe urban decay in its wake. Men like her father - a major player at Cerulean Holdings - renew the devastated blocs and bring stability back into the areas. But, Ypsilanti is even worse than the tales she’s heard, and rumor has it the bloc is faced with the threat of extermination by Cerulean, not renewal.
Trapped within Ypsilanti’s borders and left for dead, Alice teams up with a pair of teen scavengers who tracked the wreck of her pod. Despite their rough exterior and vulgar speech, they’re her only option for navigating the hostile and violent environment of Ypsilanti, finding her brother, and getting out of No-Man’s-Land alive.
Barks overlapped one another, popping up over the sound of claws on blacktop as the dogs closed in behind me.
Three of them raced ahead and then turned back to block my path, barking and growling as the others moved in from behind. I veered toward a box truck that rested on two of its rims in front of the bus but in seconds they’d surrounded me and had begun to move in. When I turned back I saw there were now easily ten or fifteen dogs in the pack, of all different sizes and breeds.
The white one lunged at me and I recoiled, tripping over my own feet and almost tumbling to the ground. I grabbed the door handle to the truck and pulled but it was locked.
Up. You have to get off the street.
I scrambled up the side of the cab, using the runner, then the side view mirror to climb toward the roof. One of the dogs grabbed the bedroll on my back in its jaws and shook its head with such violence that it pulled me off balance and I went face down on the hot metal but before it could drag me down the fabric ripped, and it fell away. I managed my way up onto the roof, and then hoisted myself up on top of the tilted surface of the truck's box car.
The dogs swarmed around the truck, growling and barking. They paced back and forth, lips pulled back from their teeth as their hungry eyes glared up at me.
They can't get up here, I told myself. They can't climb. They can't come up here.
One of them jumped up on the hood and put its paws on the windshield. Another one joined it, claws tapping on the metal as they paced, judging the distance to reach me. I looked around. There was a fire escape with a ladder on a track in the alley just to the right of the bus’s back end. If I could make the jump...
The first dog scampered up the windshield, strands of drool trailing from its jaws as it stared up at me with rheumy eyes.
“Good boy,” I told it, as it advanced. Another dog, a patchy black one, leapt up to join it. Both of them growled.
I turned and ran the length of the box truck and jumped across, landing on top of the bus with a hollow metal thud. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the man reach the other side of the street and head for the alley there as I thundered down the length of the roof.
My foot found the edge and I launched myself toward the ladder, arms flailing in the air. Below the dogs followed, yipping in anticipation as I lost momentum much sooner than I thought I would.
As I began to fall, I made a desperate grab for the ladder. One hand banged off the side, pain jabbing up the length of my arm as my other just managed to grab the bottom rung. I held on as rust flaked loose, and the ladder began squealing down on its track toward the street below.
Buy the Book
James has decided to do a live Google Hangout's talk where he will discuss ALICE IN NO-MAN'S-LAND and answer questions from the audience.
When: Tuesday, Nov. 24th 7:00p.m. - 7:30p.m.
What: Celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice In Wonderland with James Knapp, author of science fiction reimagining, Alice In No Mans Land. Leave your teacups at home, No Mans Land is a near future, post-apocalyptic world where the white rabbit is a tablet app, the Mad Hatter is a smart-mouthed rebel teen, and the Queen of Hearts--well, he's a militia leader with a fondness for chopping off heads. This Alice is more Katniss than sugar and spice, and you won't find her in a white pinafore. Come chat with James about his book and enter to win a signed paperback of Alice In No Mans Land! More about the book here: http://amzn.to/1OQPGFz
About James Knapp
James Knapp was born in New Hampshire in 1970, and has lived in the New England area since that time. He developed a love of reading and writing early on, participating in young author competitions as early as grade school, but the later discovery of works by Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov turned that love to an obsession.
He wrote continuously through high school, college and beyond, eventually breaking into the field with the publication of the Revivors trilogy (State of Decay, The Silent Army, and Element Zero). State of Decay was a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and won the 2010 Compton Crook Award. Ember, The Burn Zone, and Fallout were all written under the name James K. Decker.
He now lives in MA with his wife Kim.