Danielle Devon delivers the first installment of a near-future adventure as John and the others struggle to survive in a post-pandemic world. The secrets they keep could be humanity’s salvation…or it’s ultimate demise.

Death Follows: Exile

Ten years after the sickness turned dead men into living corpses, John Marshall found himself exiled from Haven. Beyond the walls of the sanctuary, John and the others struggle to survive in a world gone mad with hunger. But it’s not just the dead who hunt them, now Haven wants the girl. Can John and the others hold on to their humanity long enough to protect her, or will death continue to follow?

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READ AN EXCERPT

Prologue

This was the place where people gave their lives. She knew this the moment they strapped her to the table.

Above her a florescent light hummed. The battered paneling of steel surrounded her. Machines buzzing, saline dripping, this was her youth, what was left of it.

She no longer waited and hoped for freedom. It was clear now that no one was coming. But then, who would come? He had already betrayed her.

They tried to sedate her but the drugs wouldn’t claim her. She endured the torture, every prick of the needle, every slice of her flesh, with excruciating pain. Her body lay battered and bruised, sliced open and stitched back together, all the while her sharp mind plotted.

“How is our patient today?”

The dark haired nurse handed him the clipboard. “Still holding strong, it’s quite amazing.”

The Doctor glanced at the chart. “Quite.” He ran his hands up the length of her arm, his fingertips cold and calloused as they trailed along her skin.

She wanted to shirk away from his touch, from the fingers that poked and prodded, but she knew better. If she fought they would only tighten her restraints. Then the days she had spent working to loosen them, inch by maddening inch, would be for nothing.

The girl stared blankly at the ceiling, yet from the corner of her eye, she watched every movement. She had memorized the ritual in the weeks she had been strapped to the table. Like a choreographed dance, the Doctor would move religiously through his tasks.

She knew her moment was approaching, soon they would be alone, the way he preferred it. Just the two of them, the girl helpless beneath the slice of the blade. She stared into the light, fighting the urge to close her eyes. He wouldn’t have let her. He wanted her awake, wanted to see her pain. But this time…this time, she would make him feel her pain.

“We’ll run another sequence. We’re getting closer, I can feel it.”

Yes, you’ll feel it.

“Very well.” The nurse went to work setting out his tools on the metal tray.

“Any response in the test subject?”

“No Doctor, not today.” From the corner of her eye, she saw him nod. His constant failure never etched frustration across his face. If anything, it pleased him, more time with her to inflict his experiments. To revel in her pain. “Leave us.”

The girl heard the click of the door, the shush as it opened. Heard it fall back into place, leaving them alone. Just her and the Doctor now, just as he wanted.

He slipped on his glove, the snap of latex echoing through the sterile room. Soundlessly, the girl worked her hand against the restraint, inch by inch, slipping it through the cuff that bound her.

“I have hope,” he said as he readied his tools, arranging them by size and shape as always. “That today is our day, little one.”

Beside her, her free hand lay, still and hidden, waiting.

He turned, opening a cabinet to retrieve the bottle of alcohol he would use to prepare the injection site. The girl sat up slowly, silently lifting a surgical knife from the tray.

The Doctor turned, bottle in hand, and met her feral gaze. “Well now, what have we here?”

A rattling noise rumbled from deep inside her. She lunged for him, the movement quick, the sweep of the blade precise as she jabbed it into his throat. He coughed and sputtered, tried to scream but the blade lay lodged in his throat, blood spewing down his neck. He dropped the open bottle, alcohol splashing across the floor, the stringent scent stinging her nose. He clawed for his throat, his fingers grasping for the knife.

She swept her legs around, her feet landing solidly against his throat. Buried the knife deeper, breaking his hand.

He stumbled backward and the girl reached for another scalpel. Sliced the leather band that held her left hand. She lurched from the bed, threw her weight against him, sent him tumbling to the floor.

She climbed atop of him, legs straddling his midsection as she drew the blade up, the sharp tip hovering dangerously above him. She stared down into his wide eyes, enjoyed the terror, the confusion, the pain swimming in them.

Yes, today he would feel her pain.

She slipped the knife under his shirt, carefully sliced the fabric in two, exposing the grey hairs that fanned across his chest. He kicked helplessly, his pulse dipping, his fingers clawing weakly at her. But he was a rag doll beneath her and she could have her way.

But she couldn’t do it. As much as wanted to make him suffer, she couldn’t give in. She hated the weakness in herself, hated him because he hadn’t broke her. Sliced, poked, prodded…yes, but no matter what he did, her resolve never wavered. It would have been easier, if she’d just broken, but it hadn’t happened that way.

She drove the knife into his chest, breaking bone with the force of her fury. “Yes,” she whispered, “Today is going to be our day.”

Chapter One

“Marshall.” The sound of his name drew John from his fuzzy-headed slumber. The door to his cell swung open, casting a wash of light to slash across his room. “You got a visitor.”

He could scarcely make out the dark figure against the light. Long hair falling over slim shoulders, an hourglass cut at the waist. Was he dreaming? He heard her speak his name, a heavenly sound that haunted his dreams. “John?”

“Five minutes.” The door slammed shut behind her ghostly figure.

“Susan…” He reached out for her, but she took a step away. Was he dreaming? All this time, all these years he had seen her night after night in his dreams. She looked so different now, thin and haunted, a shell of the woman he had left behind.

Her arms were crossed over her chest. Her thin coat pulled tight. She was cold and distant, as if more than a chill and a few years separated them. “You’re leaving, John.”

Was this real? “Where am I going?”

“Beyond the wall.”

“How are you? How’s JJ?” He wanted to touch her. To take her into his arms and hold her close and smell her hair. He missed that smell. Honeysuckle. She always smelled of honeysuckle.

Honeysuckle and oranges. They haunted his dreams.

“JJ is fine. He’s working the power grids now.”

John took a step toward her; he needed to touch her. Needed to feel her. To know that she was real. “And you, what about you?” Another careless step and still she held.

She swallowed then coughed, the heavy air struggling through her lungs. “They don’t filter the air down here?”

Slowly, he closed the distance between them. Susan hugged her arms tighter to her chest but she didn’t move away. Mere inches between them…but so much distance. Distance like a cavern. A bottomless pit. An empty void. A heartbreak. A hurt. Distance unending.

“Did you hear me, John?”

He reached out, touched her cheek. She flinched. He trailed his fingers down the line of her jaw, her skin soft and warm beneath his calloused fingertips. Soft and warm and very real. “Susan.”

“They’re sending you away.”

He watched her lips move. They parted, breath slipping in, breath slipping out.

His lungs burned, not from the tainted air but with the heavy need that suffocated him. His fingers trailed along her lips. Soft. Wet. Real. He needed her. He loved her. He wrapped his hand around the back of her neck and pulled her to him.

He kissed her, lips meeting lips. For a moment, one glorious moment, the dark and damp world faded away.

She jerked away. Touched a trembling hand to her lips. “Don’t.”

“You’re my wife.” The aching in his voice, the desperate need for the life that he was slowly forgetting, made his throat raw. He needed to remember. Needed her to remind him.

“Not anymore.”

“Susan.”

“You let them take her.”

“I tried to stop it.”

Susan headed for the door, knocked lightly on it. She turned back to him. “I needed you to know…” She swallowed back the tears. “What we had is dead. Everything is dead.”

The door swung open. His wife stepped through. It closed, sealing him inside.

John ran to the door. He beat his fists against it, kicked the metal, rammed his shoulder again and again against the rusted steel. “Susan!” His fist burned with each thump, the skin breaking open under the onslaught. “Susan!” Blood ran down his arms, dripped to the floor. “Susan!” He wailed, screamed, slammed himself again and again against the door until he finally collapsed to the floor.

He lay there, blood running down his arms, breath pumping furiously through his chest. “Susan.”

He closed his eyes and found them waiting for him there in his memories.

Honeysuckle and oranges…

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REVIEWS

4 stars for Exile by Danielle Devon

Fresh and Original “This book is a shorter read, and it sets up a post apocalyptic world and introduces you to the main characters. The zombies are present, and atypical of the zombie normal, sluggish, just wanting to eat you – think The Walking Dead.

You start out at a sanctuary, named Haven. One of the few safe places left in the ravaged world after the virus hits. But in the sanctuary, there are rules. Disobey and your sentenced to a prison cell underneath Haven. And there is a lottery, to keep the population in check.

As a group is sent out to the cruel world as selections in the lottery, one small girl escapes with them. For a reason unknown to the group of castaways, she may or may not hold the key to the world’s survival, and the Counsil at Haven want her back. And they will kill anyone standing in their way.

I can’t give anything more away for this, but I like the world that was started here. The characters begin to take shape nicely, and the storyline is fresh and original. I’m recommending this book to anyone who likes the post-apocalyptic world – zombies included. And it’s a good jump off book for anyone interested in starting in this genre.”Uncaged Book Reviews

4 stars for Exile by Danielle Devon“Anyone who knows me, knows I love zombie/dystopian stories. This one though, shorter, is done extremely well done. I normally highly dislike back in forth with different characters. At times it can be confusing but I wasn’t at all confused.

You have these cast of characters in this place called Haven. One of the only sanctuary type places around. But there’s control. It’s do whatever so and so says or you die basically. There are 20 of them taken out for population control. A lottery for the unlucky.

There is a girl, that everyone is after. There’s something about her they want to keep. But she has a chance to get out. I don’t want to give the story away. It is worth the read and I did enjoy it. So if you love the undead. This is one you would enjoy….Lissa “Boundless Book Reviews

Exile by Danielle Devon (a zombie story)

The secrets they keep could be humanity’s salvation…or it’s ultimate demise.

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