I'm so glad you're here to help me revive a series that I adore writing. Seriously, the Sanctuary series gives me life. I love writing in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world where I get to make up the rules and zombies run wild.
As many of you know by now, I've struggled to get this series off the ground. Buuuut…. I love this series so much, I don't want to drop it. I also don't want to disappoint my Sanctuary fans. You are a small but fierce group of readers and I adore you for your love of these books. So, I decided to work on it when I have time. Which is why I've decided to release one chapter at a time in a newsletter format. I'm hoping this will satisfy my Sanctuary readers as well as possibly pick up a few more!
Unlike my regular Nikita newsletter, which goes out every second Friday, I don't have a set schedule for the Sanctuary newsletters yet. At the moment, my plan is to release the chapters as I write them and hopefully I'll fall into a natural pattern with them. After the newsletters go out, I will provide a link on my website so if you miss one, you'll be able to catch up with the story. When I complete the story, I will release it into the world as a whole novel.
Thank you so much to everyone for your patience in waiting for me to get my butt moving on this project. You guys rock! If you need a series refresher, I've included the link to the first five books below. The first book is free!
Sanctuary Book 6 will follow the romance of Dr. Sheela Summers and the second-in-command of the New York Sanctuary, Malachi. Near the end of Sanctuary Book 5, Skye's Sanctuary, Dr. Sheela was kidnapped by Malachi and taken back to the New York Sanctuary. While there, we learn that she's actually married to Malachi.
The events of Book 6 will begin approximately two years before the events of Books 4 & 5 and before the nuclear meltdowns that caused hordes of zombies to overrun the eastern sanctuaries.
I'm expecting Sheela and Malachi's story to span two books and run to approximately 180,000 words. Please note that the chapters will be unedited, which means you may find errors and inconsistencies. These will be smoothed out once the book has been completed. Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy!
Book 6 - Chapter 1
2074 - New York Sanctuary (before the events of Road to Wolfe & Skye’s Sanctuary)
I look at the gory mess in front of me, trying to make sense of what I’m seeing. “What happened?” I ask, aghast at the carnage. Five of our best people have been rushed into my infirmary in various stages of injured. I zero in on a man whose hand appears to have been cut off.
“You.” I point at him. “On the gurney.”
Two of the other injured people help him lie down while I rush to the sink and start scrubbing my hands and arms. Over my shoulder, I say to his friends, “Lay him down flat and use a blanket to raise his feet up about twelve inches.”
They do as I say while my nurse, Amanda, helps me with my gloves and mask. Supplies are running dangerously low in our underground medical centre and our people get attacked by either city forces or Primitives when they go aboveground to search for more medical supplies. The situation gets bleaker by the day and I’m not sure how long we can hang on.
“Did you save the hand?” I ask, rushing toward the injured man.
“No,” one of the others says. “A Primitive bit him. He cut his own hand off to stop the infection.”
I nod. I’ve heard of soldiers doing that. It’s a brutal but effective method of stopping the Turn. Usually someone else does the amputation, though. I look down at my patient and my heart goes out to him. He was forced to sacrifice his own hand while trying to find supplies for the underground.
“I’ll take good care of him,” I promise, then lean over for a closer look at his face. I smile through my mask, hoping he can see it in my eyes. His gaze locks onto mine. “I need you to take some slow, deep breaths. Can you do that for me?” He nods and tries to calm his breathing. “What’s your name?”
“S-Sid.” His voice is weak and his eyes are glazed. I need to work fast or I’m going to lose him to shock.
The hour is a blur of action as I operate on Sid, cleaning and stitching his arm while the nurse monitors his sedative, a precious commodity in our clinic, but I decided not to operate on the man while he’s awake. A decision I’m sure the other underground doctor, Dr. Burns, will groan at me about. He has a heart, but he’s more pragmatic to suffering than I am. He says we should save the sedatives for rebels whose guts are hanging out.
I stand by my decision, though. Sid doesn’t need to suffer any more than necessary. I’ll break into the city force controlled hospital myself and search for the medicines we need. In fact, with all the attacks lately, that scenario is feeling more and more likely.
We’re just finishing up when Tabitha, the agriculturist for the underground and a good friend, rushes in, a few of our guys on her heels. “You have to get out, Doc! City forces are raiding the tunnels again.”
Damn it! This is the third raid this month. City forces have decided the underground has gotten too large and too organized. They’re trying to break us up before we can turn on the Warlord, which is utter bullshit. We can barely keep ourselves alive as it is. Constant shortages of food, water and medicine weaken us. How are we supposed to attack a well-guarded palace to get to New York’s Warlord?
“The infirmary is well hidden. They’ve never made it in here before. Clear out the common areas and go.”
She shakes her head. “They’re looking for a doctor this time.”
I glance at her, shocked. “Why? They’ve never bothered with our medical staff before… unless we raid their medical supplies, which we haven’t done in a while.” I realize I could be wrong. There are a lot of moving parts to the Underground. It’s possible there was a raid and I just haven’t found out about it yet. “Have we?”
“No, but I don’t think that’s why they’re down here. They seem to be on a mission specifically to find a doctor.”
“Well, they can’t have me or Dr. Burns,” I tell her.
“That’s why I need to get you out of here.”
“I’m not finished."
“I understand, but we can’t lose you. You’re too important to the cause.” She wraps her hand over my shoulder and tries to tug me back from my patient. “It’s time to go, Sheela.”
I shake my head. “You know me better than that.”
She drops her hand and makes a frustrated sound. “It was just his hand. He’s going to live. Even he would agree that your life is too important to play with. We can’t let the city forces get their hands on you.”
Tabitha is not an unfeeling person, but she’s seen a lot in her years inside the New York Sanctuary. It’s hardened her. Hardened all of us. Time and again, we’ve been forced to sacrifice the lives of our Underground refugees to moments like this.
Not this time.
“I’m not leaving him,” I say stubbornly. “I need to finish bandaging his wound and then bring him out of sedation.”
“I can do that,” Amanda says, looking nervously at the door. “I’ll stay with him, but you have to go. Tabby’s right. We can’t risk losing our best doctor. One life isn’t worth the many others you’ll save if we can keep you away from the city forces.”
I know they’re right. I know Dr. Burns would be out of here in a heartbeat if our positions were reversed.
“I’m staying,” I say, hardening my voice. “I won’t leave my patient. Take Amanda and the others and go. Seal off the infirmary.”
“Goddamnit, Sheela,” Tabitha seethes, but reaches for one of my other patients, dozing on a cot a few feet away. She yanks him to his feet, startling him, then snaps at the two others who’d been watching the exchange. “Let’s go,” she orders grimly.
Amanda stares at me with large worried eyes. “Doctor…”
“Go with them,” I say to her. “We need as many medical personnel down here as we can get. If the city forces find this place, you’ll have to set up shop further down the tunnels.”
She nods and steps away from the table, peeling her gloves off and tossing them in the wastebin. She gives me a miserable look before rushing after Tabitha. I ignore them as they heave the reinforced door closed and seal us in. We chose to situate the infirmary in an old control room that had been abandoned before the Great Fall. It’s well hidden and difficult to find.
Alone with my patient, I turn back to my work, bandaging Sid’s stump and setting his arm carefully at his side. I administer a shot of antibiotics, another precious commodity we’re running out of.
I give Sid a shot of morphine, then pull the gas mask off his face. As I wait for him to wake, I set about cleaning up and organizing the infirmary. The work takes my mind off what might be going on in the tunnels.
Malachi, the Warlord’s right hand, will be leading a team of city forces through the tunnels, apparently searching for me. Or Dr. Burns. I guess whichever one of us they reach first.
If they need a doctor, then something has happened to Dr. Fairhaven, the aboveground doctor. I’ve met the man a handful of times. He does what he can to help us, but there’s not a lot he can do without putting himself at risk. I hope he wasn’t blamed for our last supply raid. He’d tipped us off on guard rotation, allowing a few of our people to slip in unnoticed.
When things settle down, I’ll try to reach out to him.
A banging at the door makes me jump and I turn around to look at it, a trickle of fear going down my spine. The only people who have access to the infirmary also know how to get inside. They wouldn’t be banging on the door. Which means someone who shouldn’t be here is on the other side.
I can hear shouting, but I can’t make it out. I move closer, pressing my ear against the metal. I hear a chilling voice bellow, “If you’re in there, move away from the door.”
A sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach has me running to Sid’s side. I push his bed as far away from the door as I can and stand protectively in front of him, facing the door. Seconds later, an explosion reverberates through the room. The concussive force sends me flying backwards into the bed, which rolls into a wall.
I land on the floor, falling hard on my hands and knees. My head is spinning and my ears are ringing. Smoke fills my lungs when I inhale and I have a coughing fit. My eyes sting from the dust in the air.
I crawl as far away from the smoke and dirt as I can, leaning my back against the far wall and covering my face with my hands while I try to draw in deep steady breaths. I can hear my patient coughing too and wonder if he’s awake.
When I’m finally able to draw in breath, I look up, squinting through the smoke, my eyes streaming with involuntary tears. Through the haze, someone emerges. He’s tall, broad, and wearing a black city force uniform with heavy combat boots, a rifle gripped in his fist. My heart sinks as I recognize the black hair, long enough to curl around his collar. The cruel twist to his lips and the ice cold obsidian eyes.
He sees me right away and strides toward me. There’s nothing I can do but watch helplessly as he hunkers down in front of me. “Dr. Summers.” His voice is deep, but softer than I expected. The few times I’ve seen him aboveground, terrorizing the citizens of the New York Sanctuary, he’s usually bellowing orders at his city forces.
I’m about to open my mouth to tell him I’m not Dr. Summers, but before I can, another voice filters through the smoke. “That’s her.”
I gasp. Dr. Burns! The other underground doctor.
He approaches and stands next to Malachi who’s still crouching next to me, his dark gaze pinning me as though he can see clear through to my soul. It’s a spooky feeling being cornered by the most frightening man in Sanctuary and then stared at like I’m some kind of morsel he intends to eat for dinner.
I blush at my thoughts. Of course he doesn’t want me for dinner, he’s looking for a doctor.
He reaches for me, wrapping long fingers around my bicep, and I flinch back. But there’s nowhere to go except with him. He drags me up as he straightens, his grip still tight on my arm.
I glare at Dr. Burns. “You’re working with the city forces now?”
A flash of guilt crosses his expression, but he only shrugs. “They found me aboveground, taking medicine to one of your patients, and I had no choice but to tell them where to find you.”
“One of my patients…” I’m confused. I don’t have patients aboveground. Any who live in the city choose the hospital for their medical needs. The underground infirmary and staff exist strictly for rebels and refugees.
“The patients that you didn't have time to get to,” he explains, staring at me hard.
Then I realize what’s happening. Dr. Burns didn’t tell them who he was. He told them who I am. He’s sacrificing me and he expects me to go along with it. A part of me wants to speak up, to tell Malachi that he already had a doctor when he came looking for me. But there’s no point. He’ll either take both of us, or kill one or both of us.
I press my lips into a thin line to keep from outing Dr. Burns.
“I’ve done what you told me to do. I’ve led you to the underground doctor.” Dr. Burns says, turning to look pleadingly at Malachi. “Am I free to go?”
Malachi stares hard at him, and a chill goes down my spine. His look promises death, but Dr. Burns doesn’t see it. “Leave,” Malachi says in a deep drawl.
The cowardly doctor nods his relief and turns to run.
Malachi cocks his rifle, lifting it to take aim.
“No!” I shout, but it’s too late.
The boom of the rifle shot reverberates around the small space and I cover my face so I don’t have to see the gore of Dr. Burns’ violent death.
Fucker! Now the underground is going to be out two doctors.
Malachi jerks me forward, pulling me from the tunnel. I turn to look back, my gaze sliding away from Dr. Burns’ body toward my patient. Thankfully, Sid doesn’t appear to be conscious and neither Malachi nor his men are bothering with him.
I take in a gulp of air as I’m pulled from the smoky infirmary. Still retaining his hold on my arm, Malachi marches me through the tunnels, heading in the direction of the nearest subway station exit. Our underground tent city is intact and visible to the officers, but no one bothers will the dilapidated structures. They're empty anyway, the people having fled.
“You didn’t have to kill him,” I say quietly for Malachi's ears alone.
It’s a risk contradicting the Warlord’s right hand. I don’t know him other than by sight, but I do know he’s bad tempered and quick to kill if things don’t go his way. I suppose he’s an effective soldier, since he keeps an iron control over the city, but he achieves his objective through fear and violence. Not a man I can respect.
He stops and turns me to face him, his icy gaze blank.
“He lied about being a doctor, and he betrayed you,” Malachi says, as if that explains everything.
“I don’t understand,” I whisper. “I thought you wanted a doctor. If you knew he lied, why didn’t you just take him?”
“I don’t want a doctor,” he says, a gleam of pleasure entering his eyes. “I want you.”