China unleashes a weaponized version of bird flu, resulting in the China Pandemic, which spares only a fraction of Earth’s population, known as carriers. Graham, a college math professor, is the only survivor in his family, having buried his parents and pregnant wife. He intends to head for his family’s isolated cabin in the Cascades by himself, as the once-secure suburbs have become hunting grounds for now-feral pets and emboldened wildlife, but finds himself the guardian of three children and a police dog along the way, as well as two survivors, Tala and Ennis, who broke into the cabin in desperation.
As the group settles in, it becomes clear they’re not alone. They first encounter hazmat-suited men who abandon a captive in clear sight of Graham and one of the children, leaving a note identifying themselves as the Cascade Prepper Association and promising no trouble as long as the carriers stay away from their compound. The second group is sighted on a nearby lake, and retired cop Ennis accurately intuits that the men are are dangerous, but when they attack, the group is rescued by a surprising ally.
In this new, deserted world, the rules are harsh and consequences lethal, but while the flame of hope is small, it hasn’t been extinguished. In this first of five books, A. R. Shaw creates a realistic post-apocalyptic Washington state and the choices and decisions faced by those spared viral death.