Authors: Michael Grant
Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction
A P O C A L Y P S E
A P O C A L Y P S E
First published in the United Kingdom by Egmont UK Limited, 2014
First published in the United States of America by Egmont USA, 2014
443 Park Avenue South, Suite 806
New York, NY 10016
Copyright © The Shadow Gang, 2014
All rights reserved
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data TK
Printed in the United States of America
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
publisher and copyright owner.
For Katherine, Jake, and Julia
A P O C A L Y P S E
Sandra Piper was having dinner with friends when it started.
She was eating chilled lobster on the teak deck of a producer
friend’s Malibu home, along with a former costar named Wade Talon
(a ridiculous screen name in Sandra’s opinion), her current director
(Quentin—no last name necessary), a very rich and rather magnifi-
cently tattooed woman named Lystra Reid who had an odd vocal tic
that added “Yeah” to random sentences, and an extraordinarily fit,
tall, and broad-shouldered man whose name she kept forgetting but
who might have been named Noble, or something very close to that.
The Noble creature was listening, rapt, while the more famous
folk discussed work and mutual friends and more work. In fact, in
one way or another it was all work.
Sandra had been nominated: Best Actress. Very tough competi-
tion. The oddsmakers called her a long shot at six to one. Long but not
impossible. And despite the fact that Sandra Piper was a mother of
two, a down-to-earth thirtyish woman with a masters in economics
who had smoked pot exactly twice in her life and never drank more
than two glasses of wine, she was thinking of seducing young Mr.
Shoulders. Mr. Shy Grin. Mr. Large-But-Sensitive Hands.
Because he was definitely interested, and she had been divorced
for two years and had dated no one in that time. And she was
exhausted from long days on the current shoot, plus her son, Quarle
(three years old), had just gotten over a two-week-long bout of flu.
And really, what the hell was the point of being America’s Sweet-
heart if you couldn’t even get laid? Would a male actor in the same
situation even hesitate? Well, some, sure. But lots wouldn’t. So why
should she? Wasn’t that why Quentin had invited Noble . . . ? No,
wait, now she remembered. His name was Nolan. Whatever. Wasn’t
he there for her, um . . . amusement?
Oh, had he come with the Lystra person? Was he here
? She would be closer to his age, not a beauty but attractive
enough, given that she was not Hollywood at all but some sort of
No. No, young Mr. Body of Steel was not eyeing Lystra. He was
eyeing the next winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress.
But the idea sighed inside her and deflated like a balloon with
a slow leak. She shook her head, a tiny movement not intended for
anyone else, and took a deep breath. She had to help Quinn (seven
years old) with her stupid California Mission project, due tomorrow.
God, she was boring. Boring and responsible and definitely
America’s Sweetheart, except that when it came right down to it, she
Suddenly her hand jerked and she tipped her wineglass over. The
last ounce of white wine drained onto the wood surface, alarming no
“Sorry. I just——”
Sandra frowned. Shook her head.
“What’s the matter, Sandy?” Wade asked.
“I’m just . . .” She shook her head again. Frowned, despite the
fact that frowning would crease her ageless forehead. “Oh my God, is
there something in the wine? I’m . . . I’m seeing something.”
Nolan looked at her from beneath lashes that would probably
have tickled her cheeks (and other places, too, if she’d just said the
word) and asked, “Are you feeling ill?”
“It’s . . .” She laughed. “This is going to sound crazy. It’s like I can
see something that isn’t there. I’m . . .” She looked away from them,
stared out toward the black Pacific Ocean, wondering if somehow
what she was seeing was a reflection off the wineglasses.
But no. It was still there. It was as if she had a second set of eyes,
and they opened onto a small TV screen in a corner of her
“I’m seeing, like, like . . . just flat, but weird.” Then, a sudden,
sharp gasp. “Oh my God, a second one. Like another window in my
“Maybe you should lie down,” Nolan suggested.
“Or have another glass of wine,” Quentin said, and laughed. But
now he, too, was staring at her sideways, with concern on his face.
“There’s two . . . Oh! Oh! Oh! There’s a giant insect. I’m going
nuts. Maybe I’m having a stroke.”
“I’m calling nine one one,” Nolan said, and pulled out his phone.
“Jesus Christ! It’s a huge bug. I can see it! It’s turning, it’s coming
toward me. . . . Oh, oh God, I think I’m moving it! I think I’m making
She pushed back hard from the table. Glassware clattered and
toppled. Wade leapt to his feet and caught her arm as she lurched
away from the table.
“It has eyes! It has eyes! Oh, God. Oh, God. My face! My eyes!
She pushed Wade aside violently, then, abashed, shocked by her
own behavior, she tried on a fleeting smile, reached out a reassuring
hand and said, “I think I need help. I think I’d better see a doctor.”
“That would be best,” Lystra Reid said coolly, then added, as if
an afterthought, “Yeah.” She had moved to place her back against the
railing and was watching with detached interest. At least she wasn’t
taking a picture to tweet later.
“Ambulance is on the way,” Nolan reported.
And Sandra thought,
Well, he certainly won’t sleep with me now
But that thought came and left in a heartbeat, because something else
was happening on that eerie picture-in-picture view in her head. She
was seeing a falling drop of liquid that must have been a million gal-
lons. It was far bigger than the terrifying bugs with her face smeared
across them, her eyes; those nightmare insects with
her own damned
The drop landed. It swept around the two bugs, engulfing them.
And instantly it began to eat away those insect legs. It chewed burn-
ing holes into those insect carapaces. It burned away those distorted
reflections of her own face like an old-time filmstrip jammed in a
projector that bubbles and caramelizes and is gone.
The picture frames in her head blinked out.
They were gone as fast as they had come.
Sandra stood now, seeing only through her own eyes, seeing only
what was real.
She laughed. “Hah-hah-hah-hah. Hahahahahahahah!”
And then she screamed. “Ahhhh! Aaaaaahhhh! You’re devils!
Nolan moved to grab her because she was climbing awkwardly
onto the table. She slipped, skinned her knee against the edge, stared
down at the blood, and shrieked, shrieked like a mad thing.
She snatched up a knife. Not a very big knife, just a dinner knife