Guest post: The Hobbes Family by Dan O’Brien

Posted: August 27, 2013 in Guest blogs
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to the second day of the Hobbes Family blog tour. It will run until September 2nd and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:
The world had ended abruptly and without warning. How will a family navigate a world that seems bent on destroying them? Follow them in this exciting new serial adventure.
A few questions for the author:
If you’d die now, do you have any regrets?
I have a lot of goals that would be unfinished, but I try to live each day as if it were my last.
Which one would you prefer, having a luxurious trip alone or having a picnic with people you love?
There are exceptions to the rule, but I prefer to vacation alone, or with my wife. I find that I am a high-maintenance traveler. Though luxurious is very rarely the flavor of the day. My preference would be for the right mood to write.

Who do you admire and why?
I admire anyone who pursues their dreams and throws fear aside. In terms of one polarizing figure, it would depend on the domain; though, it is still dependent on overcoming personal fear and persevering.

Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
Michael had been an insurance salesman before the world took a turn for the dark and weird. His wife, Susanna, taught 3rd grade; their daughter had just turned six.
The first day had been horrendous. As a family they had sworn off guns; they had even joined in on the sobering mantra of gun regulation. It was for this reason that the home invasion in their quiet suburban neighborhood came as a shock.
The television droned on about airborne toxins, blood-borne pathogens, and other maligned medical reasons for what was simply being called an outbreak. Sirens cried in the early morning as the sun peeked above the horizon like a shy trickster. Clara, his young daughter, ran through the house with wild abandon. School had been cancelled for fear of spreading the infection.
Hollywood had prepared the masses for a sudden outbreak with scampering, roaming bands of undead. The reality had been far more frightening. Loved ones degenerated slowly, like a full-body Alzheimer’s.
Movement slowed as well as brain function.
Alertness was replaced with a complacency that went well beyond fatigue. Mouths rotted and skin congealed, before sloughing off like warmed ice on a windshield. It was on this first day, as Michael watched his daughter run about the house yelling and laughing like it was a snow day, he learned that he was not as prepared as he thought.
They did not live in a large home.
The sound of broken glass was muted by a passing siren and raised voices farther in the distance. Clara did not react and Michael approached the front window that overlooked the manicured lawn in the secluded cul-de-sac. Wide in the shoulders, he was not a muscular man. His large hands were bony and calloused––strange for a salesman. He had lost his appetite, and his love for violence, during two tours in Afghanistan.
His brown eyes watched the street carefully, not paying nearly enough attention to the sounds of his house. As he watched the neighbor across the way pull bungee cords over boxes that were haphazardly thrown together, the realization that his daughter’s voice was no longer white noise to the wordless symphony outside dawned on him.
A narrow hallway led back into the house.
His voice was strained. “Susanna? Clara?”
There was a whimper, and then murmurs.
The sound of his heart thundered in his ears as the worst possible scenarios worked their way through his head: the disgust he felt for all the pornography he watched over the years; cheating on his taxes; not doing the dishes or telling his wife he loved her enough. These were the silly things that raced through the mind in a nanosecond when the world tilted ever so slightly.
The morning sun cast shadows.
Walking past the kitchen, he looked for a weapon.
A mallet, the kind Susanna used to tenderize meat for filets, was on the counter atop a cutting board. With no knives or pointy implements of any kind––clearly the desired weapon of any child of horror and gore movies from the late 20th century––he settled on the mallet. He was holding his breath as he took the two steps into the back bedroom.
A wisp of a man held his wife by the neck.
He hid behind her small body, which provided proof that the intruder was a featherweight at best. His wife’s auburn hair was wet in places from sweat and her green eyes screamed, though her lips remained tight.
Clara was nowhere in sight.
“Where’s Clara?” Michael rasped. The intruder looked at him strangely, clearly not recognizing the name. “Where’s my daughter? What’ve you done to her?”
A frightened squeak emanated from deeper in the room, among the shadows and piled sheets that had been a cascading fort hours before. Poking his head out from around Susanna’s head, the bird-like quality of the man’s face––sharp nose, thin eyebrows, and angular jaw––were quite apparent.
The invader’s eyes were a soupy gray. Gesturing with his free hand, in which he held a box-cutter, he started to speak. “Money….”
Michael took a step forward and the man squeezed harder on his wife’s neck and shook the box cutter angrily. “Let my wife go. You can have whatever you want, just don’t hurt her.”
A surreal moment passed, in which, were it a heroic action film, Michael would have leapt across and disarmed the man with a series of well-coordinated movements. Unfortunately, his life was not directed by Michael Bay. The intruder relieved his grip, convinced that the strong hold of societal norms would enforce the unspoken agreement made under duress.
Up until the moment that Susanna ducked to the side and fell against the side table, dislodging and breaking an antique lamp, he was still convinced that he might indeed get what he wanted. As Michael moved across the room with a lumbering tackle, the lie dissolved and the state of nature was restored.
Bringing the mallet down as hard as he could, Michael felt bone give way. The intruder screeched and swung the box-cutter as they rolled to the ground. Michael could feel the skin split far too easily, but the pain faded behind a kind of primordial rage that was unquenched. Grabbing the hand that held the box cutter with his free hand, Michael struggled with the man.
Clara screamed as her father and the freak came down in one convoluted ball near her. Clara was up, a small wound along her forehead bleeding and turning strands of her hair into gnarled clumps. Susanna grabbed her daughter in her arms and ran to the edge of the room, stopping to look back. Clara pressed her face against her mother’s shoulder and sobbed as the grunts intensified.
The intruder, though smaller and frail, was possessed of a surprising strength. It was then that the thin veneer between civilization and chaos gave way. Swinging his head wildly––though if pressed he would say he was attempting to strike the man with his head in a controlled movement––Michael crashed the hard bone of his forehead against the softer tissue of the man’s face.
The resistance faded into a groan.
The box-cutter rolled to the ground as the intruder’s arm went limp. Michael realized he was screaming as he stumbled back onto the bed. His vision was blurry and he could make out part of the man’s face; rather, only a portion of the man’s face resembled something human.
Civilization had died, but the concert played on.
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here:
All of his books are only 99 cents on Kindle right now!
Download Hobbes Family for free on Kindle from 8/28 until 9/1!
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