Blog Tour (Book Spotlight): Survivors – Amy Marsden

Hello!

A little belated, but today I am joining the Escapist Tours blog tour for Survivors by Amy Marsden, with an extract to whet your appetite and also a chance to win a copy for yourself! Please do check out the rest of the tour.

Book Summary:

Jennifer planned to spend her 24th birthday having fun with her friends. Instead, she ends up running for her life through the dark streets of London.

Her world is torn apart by a new disease, the likes of which have never been seen before. The government’s decision to conceal its deadly nature exacerbates the panic, and in all the confusion Jennifer is bitten.

That’s it, right? Her life is over.

Wrong.

Immune to the viruses ravaging effects, Jennifer finds herself with a small group of survivors. Together they must fight to stay alive long enough for a cure to be found. Humanity won’t be beaten to easily.

But madness looms large, and safety seems forever out of reach.

Chapter One

January 11th

            Going to protests had become second nature to Jen. The gatherings were numerous, loud, and full of energy, but so far none of them had achieved anything. The world remained in the dark. Uncertainty pervaded the air like it had a physical weight, heavy and viscous, and Jen had long since grown used to it. She would be more uncomfortable if things were normal.

            Fire threw orange light across the street, the shifting shadows dancing over riot gear as the crowd surged forward. Shouts and screams merged into a meaningless cacophony. Smoke hung over everything, obscuring people on the ground nursing broken noses, broken arms, broken legs. The camera spun in a disorientating way. Had the police attacked the news crew? Nothing would surprise her anymore. The roar reached a crescendo—

Jen switched the television off. Insecurity seemed constant, but she wasn’t going to let it ruin her twenty-fourth birthday. She’d seen it all before, anyway. The riots were becoming more and more frequent. She turned her attention back to the object in her hands and put all the confusion and dismay out of her mind.

The camera wasn’t the best on the market, but Jen loved it regardless, and she hadn’t been able to stop thanking her parents after they dropped it off yesterday. Jen liked the weight of it in her hands, ready to freeze everything away from the ravages of time. Her old camera had been damaged from years of use and abuse, and she vowed to take much better care of this one.

A sharp bang broke her concentration, and she jumped up as the door to the apartment burst open. What the

“Jen? Damien?” Rhys’s strained voice sounded from the kitchen. What’s going on? He’d said he couldn’t make it tonight.

She entered the kitchen on light feet. If this was a prank for her birthday, she wasn’t going to be happy. She hated surprises.

“There you are,” Evelyn said. “C’mon, we have to go.” They were all there—Rhys, Evelyn, Amanda, and Rachel. Her friends. Instead of greeting her with smiles, hugs, and excitement, they looked scared, their bodies rigid as they stood in the kitchen. Rhys looked winded as he leaned on the kitchen counter, sweat running from his shaved head to his square jaw.

“What are you talking about?” Jen cut her laugh short as Evelyn threw a pleading look her way. This didn’t seem like a prank.

“Hey, guys,” Damien said as he entered the room, not a hair out of place. Jen had been ready for a good half an hour, but Damien had procrastinated and rushed to get dressed.

“Listen, we don’t have much time.” Rhys struggled to slow his breathing. Worry trickled down Jen’s back. This wasn’t like him at all. “I’m not even supposed to be here.” He still wore his army uniform. What are those stains?

“What’s wrong?” Damien asked slowly. Rhys wasn’t the type of person to play jokes on people.

Amanda shrugged. “I have no idea either. These two—” she gestured at Rhys and Evelyn as she shrugged out of her jacket and put her phone and purse on the counter “—found us walking up the stairs. Running like the devil was chasing them.”

“You all know about the new virus, right?” Rhys looked at them for confirmation, his dark eyes intense.

“Yeah, of course we do,” Jen said. People talked of little else. That and the less exciting news about a food recall and less on the shelves. “It’ll be okay. They’ll find a cure soon.” Conspiracies had sprouted up saying everyone who got the disease died, or the government had created it to stop overpopulation or some such nonsense. Fearmongering.

What worried Jen was how long they were taking to find a cure. With millions of people infected society had ground to a halt. Jen’s university had closed its doors last November, and she didn’t know when it would reopen. Restaurants and cafés had followed suit. It was a nightmare. Criminals became bolder too, with crime on the rise.

Quite a lot of the protests were about demanding to know what was going on. The majority of them devolved into riots these days, but the government kept assuring everyone they were doing all they could. Some people didn’t even believe the virus was dangerous.

“It’s much worse than the media is portraying—”

Rachel cut him off. “What do you mean ‘worse?’”

“The world’s governments have been censoring the media. They’ve covered up the extent of the damage because they didn’t want to frighten everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised to find they’ve been silencing whistle-blowers and destroying evidence. It’s spread all over the world—they couldn’t keep that quiet—but they have lied about how dangerous and out of control it is.”

He looked at them with wide eyes. “You get the disease through bodily fluids like blood or saliva getting into your system, like if someone with the virus bites you. It’s yet another thing the media didn’t mention. The urge to bite drives those who have been infected. It’s always fatal. Once you get it, that’s it.

“Our government has tried to manage it, but it’s not working. I know because the government brought the army in to try to keep it contained. We’ve failed.” He took a deep breath. “Little over an hour ago, two of the quarantine zones close to London were breached. It was chaos. Infected people have escaped.”

“But it will be okay, right?” Damien asked, his brow furrowed. “It can’t be that bad. You’ll round them back up, and everything will be all right.” He didn’t sound convinced by his own words.

“That was the plan, but—I don’t think you understand the severity of this,” Rhys said. “You’re my friends. You’re the only family I’ve got. I left my post to warn you, it’s that serious. You need to pack some things and get to the barracks as soon as possible. Knightsbridge is our best bet. The streets were fine coming here, but they won’t be for much longer. We need to leave before it gets out of control and people start panicking. This virus isn’t like anything we’ve seen before.” Horror haunted his eyes. The trickle of worry down Jen’s back threatened to become a flood.

Rachel let out a high-pitched laugh. “This isn’t funny, Rhys.”

“This isn’t a joke.” He stared at them all. “Please. Pack some things and come with me to Knightsbridge.”

The words were barely out of his mouth when a loud explosion shook the building. Jen grabbed her camera to keep it from falling off the table. She slung the strap over her head, adjusting the camera to hang at her side.

Amanda cursed. “What was that?”

Rhys ran to the cracked window, the night outside appearing fractured. Jen heard screaming as she followed him. A car had exploded down on the street and—oh God, is that someone on fire? Jen tasted bile in her throat. People ran through the street, shouting, panicking. A woman dived on somebody. Are they biting them? Jen leaned closer to the glass, trying to get a glimpse of the mayhem outside. The woman pinned someone down, her teeth deep in their arm. The poor person screamed in pain. Jen took several deep breaths and swallowed nausea down.

            “No, no, no,” Rhys muttered to himself. He turned away from the window, hunched like an agitated animal. “Okay, listen. This is moving much faster than I anticipated. There’s no time to pack anything. We have to go. Now.” He ran back to the front door, easing it open and peering out. Everyone stood still as statues. This couldn’t be happening. Everything was fine a minute ago. What was going on?

            “Okay, c’mon. There’s no one around.” Rhys waved everyone forward.

Jen grabbed some shoes—she didn’t want to go out into the cold January night without anything on her feet. Rhys edged out into the corridor, and everyone crowded after him. Damien closed the door and locked it as he pulled his trainers on.

            They travelled from the second floor to the ground floor without seeing anyone else. The screams were louder here, the smell of burning stronger.

            Rhys motioned for everyone to crouch down before they reached the main entrance. “My car is across the street. On my mark, we all run to it. No hesitating, okay? Jump in and we’ll be at Knightsbridge in no time.”

            Jen turned her camera on and took a photograph of everyone’s silhouettes against the flames. Black against orange, shadows against light. She made a quick decision to document everything. People deserved to know the truth of things. She switched the camera off to save the battery.

            “Rhys, there are dead bodies out there,” Rachel said in a small voice, her arms wrapped around herself as the fire flickered over her ashen face.

            Jen risked a glance around Rachel. She’d never seen a dead body before, and a morbid fascination took hold of her. One lay face down in the middle of the road, and the other was the burned body of the person she’d seen earlier. She saw no sign of the person who had been bitten, nor of their attacker. Jen forced herself to take a big, calming breath.

            Rhys turned and looked at each of them. He tried to put on a brave face, but Jen saw the fear break through the cracks in his mask. “Yes, people are dead. Yes, more people will die. But I promise you, I will get you all to the barracks. You’ll be safe there.”

            Jen glanced at her friends. They were all frightened, but they seemed to believe him. Damien nodded as he listened. I hope you can keep that promise, Rhys, she thought. I really, really do. She couldn’t see much from their vantage point, but what she had seen so far had been awful. Had she seen a person on fire? The car still burned, throwing shadows in every direction. Could she feel the heat, or was it her imagination?

            “Okay, move.” Rhys turned and bolted for the door, leaving everyone scrambling in his wake.

Jen burst out onto the street, the heat of the fire hitting her like a slap to the face. She narrowed her eyes against it and kept running, glad she’d picked up her flat ankle boots. Sudden panic squeezed her lungs. What if she tripped and fell? What if the crazy woman lurked somewhere in the darkness and grabbed her?

A scream broke through the air. Jen twisted around, searching for the source of the violent sound. The crazy woman was there, a little way up the street. She lurched to her feet—she’d been kneeling over someone—and started sprinting toward them. Terror chased adrenaline into Jen, spurring her faster. She would make it, she would make it, she—

Slipped. One minute she ran straight for the car, the next she lost her footing as if in slow motion. Her left arm took the brunt of the impact, scraping against the concrete. Should have been looking where you were going! Groaning, she pushed herself up. She’d landed in thick, warm liquid. Oh no, oh God. Her whole left leg and most of her back were covered in blood. She could smell it. The burning car had masked the vile metallic odour, but it clung to her like a second skin. The stench wound down her throat and stabbed its way into her lungs. She couldn’t shove the nausea away this time. Jen retched as Evelyn and Damien appeared at her side, hauling her up and pulling her along between them.

She fell into the car. Rachel dragged her further in as Evelyn followed, Damien squeezing after her and slamming the door shut. The crazy woman smashed into the side of the car, splintering the glass. Someone screamed. Rhys pressed the accelerator to the floor and the tyres screeched as they drove away. The woman tumbled to the ground behind them, fading from sight as the night swallowed her.

Jen couldn’t stop shaking. Her heart pounded against her chest as the blood cooled against her skin and soaked through her clothing. Her night had turned into an horrendous nightmare she couldn’t wake up from.

“Shit, Jen, I nearly had a heart attack when I saw you fall,” Evelyn breathed heavily, her long dark hair sticking to her neck as her skin took on a waxy pallor.

“Yeah, me too,” Jen responded. Was that her voice? So weak? She breathed in deeply, trying to regain some semblance of equilibrium.

“Are you okay? You fell hard,” Damien asked.

“Yeah. I don’t feel any pain right now.” Adrenaline was a wonderful thing.

“Were any of you bitten?” Rhys asked, his voice taking on a sharp edge.

“N-no,” Rachel answered. Her brown eyes were open too wide, her breathing too shallow.

“No, I wasn’t bitten.” Evelyn sat up a little straighter.

Damien and Amanda both answered no.

“Jen?” Rhys looked at her in the rear-view mirror. “What about you? Did the infected woman bite you?”

Jen shook her head. “No, she was too far back. We made it to the car before she got close to any of us.”

Rhys held her eyes a moment longer before nodding. “We should make it to Knightsbridge soon.”

Silence fell. Jen pushed her thoughts out of her mind and focused on her breathing. In and out. Rhys turned off Monmouth Street. In and out. They picked up speed. In and out. Were her parents okay? Her breath hitched. No. She would remain calm. In and out. She would find out soon. In and out. She should have grabbed her phone when they left. Idiot. The coppery stench of blood filled the car. She clenched her fists. She would not give in to panic. She would not.

Rhys cursed, bringing the car to a halt. A van had overturned in the middle of the road with no way past. People milled about, confused and scared. Jen’s heart jumped into her throat as a group broke away from the crowd and started running toward them. Rhys cursed again and reversed a little way up the road before he turned down another one. Their pursuers grew small in the rear-view window. What had they been hoping to achieve?

People were desperate, and anxiety did not mix well with fear.

As a child Amy loved reading and writing, so naturally she graduated with a degree in biomedical science and has worked in a microbiology laboratory ever since. Her passion is writing however, and she turned back to it during her years at university. When she is not writing about surviving apocalypses, exploring space, and conquering magic–all celebrating queer love– she can be found reading or playing games about those very things.

She lives by the sea with her wife and their fifteen-year-old cat, who still runs around like a kitten.

Amy is the author of the SURVIVORS duology, SURVIVORS and THE SAFE ZONE, and has more works in progress.

SURVIVORS is out now!

Social Media:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Ninestar Press

Prize: An eBook or Paperback Copy of Survivors!
Starts: July 21, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: July 27, 2022 at 11:59pm EST

You can enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Or HERE

**

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