After Life Lessons: The Interlude
by Laila Blake & L.C. Spoering
Length: 98 pages / 32.000 words
Genre: Short Stories/ General Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic Love Story
Tags: Survival, Love Story, Family Drama, Character Study, Grief, Hope
E-Book Version $ 2.99
At long last, Emily, Aaron and Song have found a home on the small farm in Kentucky where Annika took them in. Knowing nothing of the trials and journeys that lie ahead of them, they can allow themselves to heal – in mind and body – as they become farmers and gatherers, as they become a family.
After Life Lessons – The Interlude offers nine snapshots of their lives from the perspectives of the different characters. It paints their present and digs up their past, and leads the reader through two years of rest, until Aaron, Emily and Song are ready for their next adventure.
After Life Lessons – The Interlude contains scenes of graphic adult content.
Excerpt – Story One: Once Enchanted
The sun hangs low in the sky by the time we’re ready to give up. We’ve been creeping through fields for what feels like hours, and the original sense of enthusiasm and adventure has disappeared, along with any evidence of the horses. I’m not even sure we still smell like them, no matter how revolting we look – and all we’ve found to show for it are dwindling dung heaps here and there. At first, it felt like a good sign, but now it’s just a teasing reminder that they have to be around here somewhere, elusive and out of reach.
“My feet hurt,” Song sighs. I keep myself from agreeing with him, but the thought of the long walk back to the farm has been weighing heavily on my mind for a while now.
“We should probably head back.” Aaron sounds weary. I have started forgetting he’s still not well; he hides it so well anymore, all the way to the end of the day.
“I’m sorry,” I say, looking down at the remaining horse turds in the basket, annoyed and disappointed. I feel stupid for getting my hopes up.
“Maybe they’re asleep,” Song offers, biting at his lip. “So we can’t find ‘em.” He has an endless list of reasons for why this keeps happening, which is both kind and disheartening.
“We can try again…” I would have ruffled his hair if it wasn’t for the poop on my hands. What a stupid idea. I could have waited, at least until they were in sight, spare us all an afternoon of running around covered in dung.
“The important thing,” Aaron says, with the bright smile he puts on when he wants to make things seem more optimistic than they are, “is that we know they’re still around, and alive. They can’t hide forever, right?”
“No,” I mutter. I don’t want to be as annoyed as I am, but it’s on my face, because he tips up my chin so I have to look at him. “And they seem to be taking care of themselves.”
“We’ll find ‘em,” he says, eyebrows raised. “And then I’m naming one of them Horseface.”
That’s my Aaron. I have to chuckle and lean against him, dung on his shirt or no. I think I’ve been underestimating just how much I’ve been looking forward to finally finding them, to showing off, maybe. To touching their soft, warm noses, and to making animal friends.
“We’re gonna find them.” I agree, voice a little steadier. “And… we should head back by way of the river…”
We chuckle, looking down at our clothes. It’s not really warm enough to swim yet, but I can’t wait to wash my hands, no matter how brave a face I put on for Song.
The river is closer than I feared, but dusk starts to settle around us by the time we squat by the water’s edge. I scrub my fingers hard, remind myself that it’s the heat of friction that kills of germs not water or even soap. Then I reach for the basket to clean that, too. I frown at the remaining globe of poo. But just as I turn it over, I hear Song next to me, sucking in his breath.
My hand automatically goes for the axe I have strung up on my belt.
I follow his finger down river. Three horses are standing at a natural curve in the riverbed, where the sloping shore has a gentle incline. Two of them are drinking, the third is on the look-out, ears erect and moving, coats all shiny with the waning sun. One of them looks smaller, still leaning against the taller one, even when it’s drinking water.
“Earlier this year, I reviewed ‘After Life Lessons’, a post-apocalyptic tale of survival and love. The series continues with ‘The Interlude’, which is actually a collection of short stories told from different characters’ points-of-view. It’s a really interesting way to explore the characters more and also to move the story forward in time, in preparation for a follow up novel.
I honestly couldn’t tell which author wrote which story, or whether they were all worked on together, but I will guess together? The pieces were varied in theme but well balanced and told a full story, I felt. The final story, Sparrow, set up for the future novel and rounded off the short story collection in a satisfying way.”
– Kelly at Friday Night Romance
Much like book one, the writing is stellar and each small snap-shot flows seamlessly into another. I was completely enthralled and loved reading the little snippets into the lives of these characters that I have become completely invested in.
Also like book one, this novella is a character driven one and this is very different than other zombie and dystopian books I have read in the past. I continue to find this refreshing. I love the fact that the main focus is often on the day to day experiences and we truly get to understand the characters. I won’t give anything away but one of the moments that truly captured my heart was near the end of this novella. Emily and Aaron experience something powerful and life-changing and it brought me to tears. Such great writing!
– Lisa Pollard at Sinfully Sexy