That’s right, you heard right, the next book in The After War series is available for pre-order now. It’s official release date is August 30th … but I have an itchy trigger finger. You might see it out sooner. Below, I’ve included the first chapter for you to read—right now!
But first, check out the book on Amazon: Butcher Rising
And here is a quick synopsis:
When civilization collapsed, evil rose to power: In the deep recesses of solitary confinement, a wickedness emerges to defile what is left of humanity. With society coming to its knees, the opportunity is right for a terrible army to claim the world as their own, and inflict upon it the same pain they received in life. The After War series continues. This is the story of a monster … this is the story of Karl Metzger.
Although Butcher Rising is the second novel in The After War series, they can be read independently of each other if desired. Both books work as standalone novels. However, I recommend reading them in order if possible. If you want to check out The After War first, here’s a link to the ebook, paperback, and audiobook: The After War
And now, without further ado, here is the prologue chapter of Butcher Rising:
In the low of the valley lay a pond, whose brackish water veined into the soil to make the bowl of land fertile against the harsh desert terrain. Upon society’s collapse, people gravitated to this land to possess the water for whatever length of time their fate would allow, before hostilities put them at odds against their fellow man.
A soldier named Gerald White led a disorganized flock of survivors, who thrived for peace amid the carnage of the world, to construct walls out of scraps of wood, road signs, and fallen trees around the pond. They claimed the water as their own, and cultivated plots of the fertile soil to support the agriculture needed to feed their feeble numbers.
Dour men stood guard at the walls with rifles and blades, many adorned in biological protective coveralls and face masks. Towers were in the midst of construction, when on one early morning, an armed horde appeared on the horizon like an army of ghosts. They were covered in the white dust of the desert wind, and dressed in a nightmarish array of spoils: army fatigues, construction helmets, and hazmat suits torn under the masks so that they fluttered over their backs like surreal capes. The adversary marched to the defenses and broke down the walls in a clatter of gunfire and explosions. Gerald White died on the battlefield, lanced through by a bayonetted rifle. He would perish before seeing the face of his enemy’s leader, Nathan Clemens, once a soldier in the Canadian Royal Forces, who had armed and trained these people to fight.
The barriers were reconstructed tall and strong, with cement bunkers and hardwood walls, and lookout towers were erected in haste. The flimsy huts made by Gerald White’s people were torn down and built anew, designed by an engineer who went by Georgia. This man was second in command under Nathan Clemens, and a skilled architect.
The settlement was christened as New Faith, and in time it would grow to an avenue of homes, a clinic, and a plank-board saloon that served whatever was plundered or fermented by the townspeople. The strumming of guitars could be heard at night, mixed with the crackling of the bonfire in the center of town, and for a long duration, peace endured. Even the occasional drifter who would chance encounter their walls, begging for food and water, was allowed entry and made a part of their citizenry.
In a dusty pit of desert, two towns over, was the Haddonfield Maximum Security Prison. The guards had disappeared or perished long ago, as had much of the prison’s population of rapists, serial murderers, gang leaders, perverts, and the insane.
The cell doors were unlocked after society’s collapse, and a stew of starved human filth stumbled into the dismal halls. A thick smell of rot permeated the building from the many doors that opened on the long dead and decomposed.
Old affairs were settled with fists, pipes, and knives, and the guard’s armory was sacked. The small yet formidable population that remained in Haddonfield Prison fell into isolated groups that waged conflict with each other over the more valuable real estate—the kitchen, bathrooms, and offices—and eliminated any of the more peaceful and terrified survivors.
On a cool fall day, a man came galloping to the prison on horseback, with two dozen armed men following his lead. The prison population knew this man, for he had been one of their own: a death row candidate who’d been transferred many months ago. His deep, dusty words echoed in the halls with the promise of reward. He brought the divided groups out of the shadowy corners to stand united, as he belonged to no single ideology, but created his own, and gave the starved and crazed assemblage new purpose. This man called himself the General.
Far in the deep, dark recesses of the solitary confinement wing, the General searched for and found his old cell neighbor: a man whose crimes were more appalling than the worst among them. This man had been hiding alone and feral in a cell, with only a candle for light against the crushing darkness. Neatly organized in the surrounding units were the dissected remains of the prisoners the man was able to trap like a spider and drag back to the depths to feed on.
This miscreant was taken out of the darkness and made the lead physician to serve among the other officers, who each in turn had a storied past of comparable villainy.
Under the General’s control, the various gangs and ethnic groups took up arms together. Neighboring army barracks were looted, the soldiers who had guarded the posts no more than weathered hide and bones. With some training, the General’s men became a formidable fighting force.
On a crisp morning, the gates of the prison were thrown open, and the army spilled forth to desecrate all they trampled upon. The General had adorned himself in full riot gear, and led the procession into the desert, riding his muscular steed. A few who could ride were at his side, but the majority of the men stayed on foot in the rear of the cavalcade. They marched across the desert and to the edge of New Faith, spying the tall lookout towers looming over the surrounding trees. It was the water they desired. It was water they would kill for.
Shrill whistles blew behind the walls, alerting New Faith’s occupants. The General’s prison army came snarling out of dawn’s early shadows to flood like a burst dam against New Faith’s defenses. Many fell before the boundary, but soon the gates were reduced to splinters by a shoulder-mounted rocket. The murderous horde swarmed the townspeople, shooting, hacking, and leaving trails of gore in their wake. The General rode into the melee with his officers, his stout lieutenant beside him, striking down the fleeing townspeople in experienced fashion.
New Faith fell. The engineer named Georgia was struck dead early on in the fighting by a barrage of bullets. Nathan Clemens lost a finger and sustained injuries before his capture. He was bound and blindfolded, and later brought to the inner depths of Haddonfield Maximum Security Prison.
Those who remained of New Faith’s population when the fighting ceased were consumed in an orgy of brutality. The more desirable among them were shackled and showcased as trophies of war. One such woman was Nathan Clemens’s young wife, Marianna, who wailed at the carnage displayed all around her and flinched under the filthy hands of her captors. Many men lusted for her, but the officers kept them away, as she now belonged to only one.
In the midst of this revelry, a dozen of New Faith’s detained officers were brought before the General and his lieutenants and made to kneel. The General sat on a wooden chair at the bank of the pond, a cigar clasped between bloodstained fingers, and watched as the enemy officers were executed by knife or bludgeoning device. One of the executioners dipped his palm in the blood of his slain and held his red hand high, swearing an impromptu oath to the brotherhood. The man slapped his wet handprint over his chest and smeared some of the gore over his face, howling mad in the debauchery of victorious warfare, his brain sparkling with narcotics.
After the man’s oath, others followed suit, raising their soiled palms and reciting ritualistic pledges. Alcohol and various substances fueled the celebration, either brought along or plundered from the homes they conquered.
The General produced great white clouds of smoke from his cigar and drank from a bottle of something brown. The more attractive prisoners, whom the soldiers had not yet hidden away for themselves, were led out single file, their hands bound, and chains around their necks. They were presented to the General as his trophies and made to sit at his side. The slim girl named Marianna, with fire-red hair, was displayed at the water’s edge. A soldier stepped forward to cut away her torn summer dress for the entire frothing congregation to witness. Tears rolled down her cheeks, yet she did not speak or cry out, but stood solemnly, glaring at the General and each of his vile officers in turn.
In a dash of movement, the young girl struck her elbow deep into the stomach of the soldier beside her, and twisted the blade out of his hand. She ran half-naked, palms clasped, into the frigid water of the pond. A few soldiers lunged to grab her, but stopped waist deep in the lapping water to laugh along with the others as the young girl cut at her wrists and stumbled beyond the murky shore, using the weight of the chains around her neck to hold her head below the water’s surface.
The General watched, sipping at the bottle and inhaling the rich smoke.
The next day he christened the land inside the walls as the town of Marianna.