The editor asked me recently what section of This World We Live In did I want to have as the tease at the end of the paperback version of the dead and the gone (there's a tease for d&g in the paperback of Life As We Knew It). If I had no particular preference, they'd go with the first five pages of TW.
I did have a preference, although it's not five pages long, So I don't know if it's going to end up as the tease or not. I hope so, because there's nothing about the d&g characters in the first five pages of TW, and I would prefer a section that involves at least one of them.
So the following is what I requested to be the tease. I offered as a second choice the scene the editor made me write, with Alex talking about his family to Miranda (it's in this blog, so there's no point reposting it):
I can't say the last house we went to was going to be the last one of the day. Alex hadn't said we should stop looking, and every half roll of toilet paper will make our lives a little bit better. Maybe we would have kept on for another hour or two.
And neither one of us noticed anything particularly different about the final house we went to. I could tell right away it wasn't a summer house, but that didn't mean anything.
We used Alex's trick of throwing a few pebbles against a door and then running for cover in case anybody started shooting. No one did, so we got closer and looked through the windows for signs of life. When we thought it was safe, we tried the doors, which were locked, and threw a stone through the living room window.
The sound of shattering glass has replaced doorbells in my life.
It was Alex's turn to stick his hand through the window and unlock it. I love breaking in, but that's my least favorite part, since there's a part of me that's sure whoever owns the house is waiting to chop off my hand. I've had lots of nightmares about that.
But no one came at us with an ax, so we climbed in.
We both smelled death right away. It was like the mound of bodies only worse, because the house was all closed up and the smell had intensified.
"Please," I said. "Let's go."
"Wait outside if you want," Alex said.
But I knew what I didn't see would frighten me more than what I did. "I'll be okay," I said. I've told bigger lies.
Alex took my hand. I could see his was bleeding. "You cut yourself," I said to hide the fact that I was shaking from fear and excitement at the touch of a boy's hand.
"Just a scratch," he said, but he pulled his hand from mine. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get blood on you."
I nodded. Alex began walking toward the smell and I followed him.
The body was in the kitchen. Once it had been human, sitting in the chair next to where we found it. Or what remained of it, some torn clothing, a belt, some flesh and muscle, hair, bones, an eyeball. By its side was a shotgun, and lying a few feet away was a dead pit bull.
"Don't look," Alex said, but I couldn't avert my eyes. He walked around the corpse, took a red plaid vinyl tablecloth and flung it on top. Then he held me until I stopped shaking.
"I think we're in luck," he said. "The dog died recently, maybe even today. It's been eating its owner for a while now, but it finally starved to death. There's probably dog food if we look."
"I don't know if Horton will eat dog food," I said.
"Not for Horton," Alex said. "For us."