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Born in Mexico but raised in the United States, Sergio Gomez lives in Philadelphia with his family. He enjoys reading, martial arts, cooking, but most of all writing. His favorite superhero is either Batman or Hellboy depending on the day.

The Chaos by Sergio Gomez

Alejandro Ramos and his son Charlie are two of the last remaining survivors of The Chaos, an apocalyptic event which brought about the end of civilization. Wandering through the ruins of Northern Pennsylvania, they hope to find refuge in the company of other survivors. Their effort seems futile until Alejandro's radio finds the voice of a man offering food and shelter to anyone alive. Everything depends on them making it to the given location...and staying out of sight of the creatures that rule when the sun goes down.

CURATOR'S NOTE

The creativity in Sergio's story telling brings a fresh Latinx take on tried and tested horror tropes. If you have read Camp Slaughter, then you know exactly what I am talking about. He is a fellow Mexican American creating his own space in horror through his experience born in Mexico and raised on the east coast of the US. I love that. Let Sergio take you to a world after the world has ended. – V.Castro

 

REVIEWS

  • "This novel is fast-paced, nearly a thriller in its construction despite the deep sense of foreboding and horror that is accomplished in its arc. Without getting into spoilers, because you should definitely pick this one up and get to reading rather than ruin it for yourself, the characters and plot are deep, intersecting, and well-thought out."

    – Amazon Review
  • "What a great Post-Apocalypse (or Post-Chaos) novel this was.

    While I was expecting something similar to the raft of post-apocalyptic novels that have appeared recently, this was much more cerebral than I thought it would be. And rather than just descend into a typical "survivors vs. Zombie... I mean Los Noches... it actually put much more thought into the actions & motivations of the characters…With shades of Stephen King, "The Road", and "I Am Legend", this is definitely an author to watch out for."

    – Amazon Review
  • "Sergio Gomez has written a compelling narrative in a voice often missing from Dystopian fiction. His distinctly Latin-American perspective is refreshing and new, as is his take on the end of civilization. I found it an enjoyable read, very hard to put down. Dark and foreboding, he paints an existence with danger at every turn, and especially in every darkness. The Chaos is an excellent story, but one that is hard to read when the lights are out and the darkness is creeping in."

    – Amazon Review
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

Prologue

This wasn't supposed to happen to him. His life had been perfect, or damn near it if his wife hadn't packed up everything and left with their two kids. Not that he minded being alone—no, that wasn't it, it was that she had gotten a free home in California out of the failed marriage and he had to continue to pay for her.

Besides that, life had been perfect. He had lived just outside of Bangor, Maine, in a mansion that made all of the Maine-iacs envious that an out-of-stater was showing them up. But he had worked for that damn mansion…and the beach house in California (the one where his lazy, no good wife had stayed with the kids); he had started up his own software company, and they had developed a word processing program that rivaled that of Microsoft and shit all over whatever Macs ran these days. He had been rolling in money like a pig rolling in its own feces on a hot day.

He had a private jet so he could go from Maine to New York for investor meetings on the fly—no booking flights or being harassed by the TSA for this guy! He had a Mini Cooper in his garage to go to the post office or grocery store when he felt like doing it himself, a Range Rover for camping trips with his Labrador named Henry, and plenty of sports cars stored throughout the country for when he met a young, sexy, single girl that he wanted to treat to a night out.

It was perfect, almost too perfect for the 38-year-old, balding, slightly overweight man who never got laid or picked first on the team throughout grade school. Then everything went to shit. Not just for him, no, for the entire country.

It was like a bomb had been dropped on the entire world, and everything was leveled back to an even playing field, only five years after Gary Connors made it big in the world of computers. The damn Chaos (as they called it in the news back then) had messed everything up.

Just five years, that was all the time he had borrowed for this dream lifestyle—and dream lifestyle was a way that Gary would have agreed was the best way to put it, because standing here now, with his hands outstretched over a dumpster fire, ratty gloves on his fingers, rags covering his body, and a hat that smelled like dog piss clamped over his ears to keep warm, the life he had just a year ago seemed like a dream.

He felt as if he had woken up in the middle of the night to find himself the same loser he had always been as a kid. The software he had developed, the years he was married to Lucy (who had been the only girl in high school to have ever talked to him and only started dating him after their parents set them up to go to prom together), the post-divorce life of taking out young blond girls (Lucy had been a brunette, but he wasn't exactly in a position to be choosy back in high school) in cool sports cars, meeting with investors that essentially told him they would line his pockets with even MORE money, it all seemed like a figment of his imagination, like a long, vivid daydream that after snapping out of it you wish you could somehow return to.

But of course, it ultimately had been real, just like this nightmare life was somehow real. Gathered around this fire, underneath a bridge, shoulder to shoulder with another smelly bastard who hadn't brushed his teeth or taken a shower in weeks…or months.

Gary gritted his teeth. It had been almost a year since The Chaos ruined the country (and the rest of the world, though it was not like Gary cared about any other place), but still he found it difficult to accept reality.

The thought that his wife likely was dead comforted him. He imagined the beach house a pile of rubble on top of her mushed remains, her blood seeping through the cracks in streaks of bright red, and he smiled. He thought maybe a soldier shot her in the face by accident, and her head had burst like a watermelon and he smiled even wider. He thought maybe one of the creatures that came out in the nights had caught up to her, and ripped her fat stomach off her body and ate her insides. And at this, he laughed.

*

This was supposed to happen to him. He had been a junkie of the utmost order. Whatever comes to mind when one thinks of a junkie, Kyle Jennings fit the bill: his hair was never combed, he bought his cigarettes, alcohol, and on occasions pot, with his paychecks from Rite-Aid where he worked 10 hours a week stocking shelves. The rest of his addiction was covered by bumming money off "friends"; his sister, a veterinarian with her own private practice; and his dad. There was a bad apple in every bunch, and Kyle was that one.

His mom paid the rent for his studio apartment, because after he had stolen money from her she said she wanted him out of the house even if it meant she had to pay for it. So he got a shitty little apartment at the edge of town where he did drugs and watched anime until it was time to go work another three-hour shift at Rite-Aid.

Even that was a better place than where he was now, sleeping underneath a bridge with a newspaper wrapped around him like a comforter. He had no shoes, and thought his toes were beginning to get frostbitten from the bitter winds that howled in the night like coyotes. He tried to wiggle them, but they refused to respond.

He got up, the world spinning, and his head feeling as light as a balloon. He hadn't eaten in four days; his body was basically running off whiskey and water. Which was par for the course nowadays, but tonight it was particularly bad for some reason.

Behind him he could hear two of the other hobos arguing. Without having to look over his shoulder, he knew it was that arrogant asshole Gary and the man they called Nails (because he ate his finger and toenails when he was really hungry, and would even eat other peoples' clippings on certain days) going at it about some stupid shit. Ted, the third man, just listened to them arguing with his hands in the pockets of his chinos.

Kyle put his hands flat on the ground and was about to get up, but stopped when he saw shadows cast by the dumpster fire moving on the wall in front of him. Shadows that weren't from the bridge or from the other three jerkoffs. No, these were coming from something else.

He thought it was the whiskey making him see shit, but then the shadows appeared again. They went in between the shadows of the bridge and then disappeared.

"Hey guys," Kyle said, but his voice came out smaller than a mouse's squeak.

"Guys!" Loud enough to be heard this time.

The group by the fire turned to look at him.

"What is it, are you drunk again?" It was that asshole Gary.

"Guys, did you just see that?" Kyle asked, ignoring Gary's insult.

"Ain't you always seeing shit," Nails said, and they erupted in laughter.

Oh, how Kyle wished he had teeth he could punch out of his mouth. "I'm not joking guys, I just saw something moving."

Ted walked around the dumpster and went to Kyle's side. He was holding a mug that used to be white, but the filth it was covered in turned it a color with no name.

"You feeling okay, Kyle?" he asked. Steam rose from the top of the mug.

Kyle looked at him. Ted was smiling, and he saw he did have teeth he could punch out. "Yeah, I'm fine man. What? You think I'm nuts, too?"

Kyle rose to his feet, his face burning hot despite the negative degree weather. Ted saw his fists were clenched and dropped the mug. The impact of it shattering on the ground was like a gunshot in the night. Hot water went flying everywhere.

"Hey, hey, no man," Ted said, putting his hands in front of him to keep distance between them.

Nails jumped in between them before it could escalate any further. Gary stepped closer, but still kept his distance.

"Cool the hell off," Nails said.

"Fuck you," Kyle spat.

"I don't want any trouble!" Ted was saying over them arguing, and stepping back further.

"Guys, guys, guys, cut the macho bullshit!" Gary hollered.

And soon they were arguing like a room full of drunks. Cursing, pointing fingers at one another, fists were clenched, multiple arguments went on at the same time about issues that had happened weeks ago. It got so heated and so loud that they all forgot about what Kyle had seen, including Kyle himself.

So they didn't see the beady red eyes that peered at them from the darkness. No, they didn't see them until it was too late.

The creatures jumped out from the cover of the shadows, about five of them, all the size of gorillas and equipped with claws the size of daggers.

Ted turned to run, but smacked right into one. It was like hitting a wall of flesh and muscle and hair. He looked up to see the creature staring down at him, and it snarled. It swiped its claw across his throat and killed him instantly.

Nails saw the creature behind Kyle and he tried to hightail, but in doing so, he too bumped into one of the creatures when he turned to run. His instincts kicked in and he thought about throwing a punch, but that was as far as he got in defending himself: a thought, because the next moment the creature's claw pierced through his guts.

Gary, being on the outside of all of this, thought he had the best chance to escape so as soon as he saw the other two get taken, he ran toward the exit of the tunnel. He made it about five steps, then one of the creatures was chasing after him, and like a cat that spots a mouse, pounced on him and tackled him to the ground.

In their distraction with the other three, Kyle managed to get away. Being so scrawny came in handy, after all.

As he neared the exit of the tunnel he could hear Gary screaming behind him as the creatures turned him into ground meat (good, that prick deserved it).

Once out from underneath the bridge Kyle ran as fast as he could, tearing down the street. He didn't hear anything coming after him, but he looked over his shoulder just to make sure.

He didn't see anything, either.

They were probably satisfied with killing the three jerkoffs, which was fine by him. He never really liked them, anyway. Gary was an asshole, Ted was a chickenshit and probably a homo, and Nails was scum, so good riddance. He had just been using them for his own benefit, not that they had anything, but he liked the idea of strength in numbers.

They were no use to him dead, now, spilling their blood and guts all over the tunnel.

He smiled at the thought.

Up ahead the street was turning dark. For some inexplicable reason, only certain blocks had street lamps that were still on, probably something to do with the generator backing them up or something. Kyle Jennings was a high-school dropout with barely an understanding of how a light bulb worked, so he wasn't concerned with figuring out the answer.

What did concern him was the pitch-black block he was about to enter. He couldn't see how far the darkness stretched out, which meant he'd just have to keep running and get as far away from those fucking things as he could.

He entered the blacked-out block and the darkness seemed to grab him and pull him in, like a lustful lover. A chill ran down his spine, another thing he couldn't explain. He had never been a big fan of the dark, but he had never gotten chills from it either.

He'd get his answer soon.

Halfway through the darkened block he looked over his shoulder. Like a distant planet, he could still see the last street lamp behind him.

In front of him was a different story, all black, except for the purple shapes he could make out that were the façades of the buildings that ran down the stretch of the block.

Total darkness, until one by one, like candles being lit by an unseen hand, red eyes emerged. All around him, the glowing red eyes stared at him. His legs stopped moving on their own, and he found himself standing in the middle of the street, his breath trapped in his chest. He felt his ribcage seem to expand until it felt ready to burst.

Then he screamed.

But only for a few seconds before the creatures were on him, ripping him to pieces, eating his flesh, and reducing him to nothing.