A Distant Eden


This is a novel, but not the usual type. It is a cross between fiction and survival instruction manual. Instead of the usual instructional style of writing about survival, I chose to employ a story about people in the act of surviving. This has the benefit of showing how a particular technique is used while also showing the necessary mindset or attitude of the person who survives. Mindset is possibly 85% of survival and it is difficult to describe. It is easier to show a person shooting another person without hesitation, than it is to explain why it is a stupid idea to let the bad guy draw first.

This style of writing also has some minuses. These characters don’t have the significant psychological flaws that are supposed to make fictional characters interesting to read about. A character with a survival mindset doesn’t wait until the bad guy has him cornered on a high ledge and is hanging by one finger before he finally reacts the right way. In real life those people die, and quickly. The miraculous escape from a cliff hanger situation is just that, miraculous. It only happens once in a million times.

To be a survivor is to think ahead, avoid the cliff and shoot the bad guy the first time you see him. As Roman says, “Shoot first and don’t bother to ask questions later, the answers are always the same, you have food and they want to take it from you.” In here you won’t find weak sister heroes; you’ll find good guys that are almost indistinguishable from the bad guys—because the people who survive will have many of the same traits. They have to because it will be a harsh world. A hammer used by a bad guy or a good guy is still a hammer. Tools are tools, and mindset is a tool. It is the most important survival tool of all. So you’ll see that these characters don’t go through the usual character development arc found in typical fiction. They start off with the survivor’s mindset or they die, they don’t get many chances to learn.

The other minus is this style uses what critics call information dumping. I use it to explain what the world might look like and how to use what you have at hand. It is a compromise between telling too much and not telling enough, a tough balancing act. There are survival techniques, such as disinfecting water with the sun’s ultra-violet rays, or the solar cooker, that are described just enough that the reader can then go on-line and research and get all of the details. The compromise comes from not giving all those details in this book. This is to try and keep the story moving. But there are some fairly long narrative passages used to describe the after-effects of the grid loss, or to explain somewhat simple techniques such as building fish traps.

So, take this for what it is—a hybrid instruction manual-novel with the inherent weaknesses and strengths of combining the two. I fervently hope you never need this information, but if you do, remember this—there is very little difference between how good guys and bad guys act when in survival mode. Don’t let the bad guys have any chance at all. None. You’ll see what I mean.


Thanksgiving Day

Roman and Sarah were happy because they did not know that in less than a month, Roman would be a cop-killer and they would be living day to day in pure survival mode.

This was a rare Thanksgiving with both of the kids and their spouses, all six of the grandkids and their nephew Adrian home for the feast. It was a typical North Texas winter day; cool, and a bit cloudy. Kids were constantly running in and out of the house, and football was on television with the sound low. The remains of the meal were still on the table; way too much turkey and dressing, and far too many pies. The adults were groaning from having, in spite of their best intentions, over-eaten. Few days could claim to be better.

Roman and Adrian were talking about Adrian’s current assignment at Fort Hood. Adrian said, “I’ll be there for a couple of years I think, assigned to that unit that I can’t talk about. We come and go quite a bit so if you call and can’t reach me, don’t be surprised.”

“Surprised?” Roman responded, “Hardly. I know what you do, and I don’t figure to reach you in a hurry. But