A devastating earthquake took place in the United States, and now there's a struggle to rebuild from it. Alexis and her mother are survivors and they are trying everything in their power to continue living. One night, Alexis meets Zander, another survivor her age. As love starts to blossom between them, there is only more bad news for rebuilding America. Will the U.S. ever recover? Will Alexis and Zander pull through everything-tragedy, catastrophe, and more-to be together?


1. Chapter 1

"Normally in the eastern side of the U.S., there wouldn’t be any major natural disasters. There would be the occasional hurricane or tornado warnings, but nothing serious. Now that all changed. There was recently an earthquake in Virginia that went way over the recorded measures of any around the world. You could still feel the earth shaking powerfully if you were in California. The president reports that the country is in a state of emergency. Buildings were toppling because their structures weren't built to withstand a natural disaster to this extreme. On the east and west coasts, tsunamis came and caused even more destruction. Hundreds of people are missing, and even more are dead.

"The startling fact is that an earthquake never occurred in that area of North America, much less one to this extant. Scientists struggle to find an answer to why it was so powerful and why it took place in such an uncommon area. Meanwhile, the president reaches out to other countries around the world to help rebuild America."

I shut off my battery powered radio, too depressed to continue listening. It's been a week since the Great Quake and the U.S. in pieces-literally. The earthquake was so powerful it tore apart the ground at the seams. My mother Kate and I are one of the few of the survivors in New Jersey. Our home was completely destroyed during the catastrophe and we were forced to leave. During one of the many aftershocks, pieces of debris from a 5-story building nearby fell and killed my father Jonathan and younger brother Wyatt.

Now, we are living in small shelter built from debris that wasn’t too damaged. My mom and I got our radio, food, water, and other necessities from other generous survivors and in abandoned stores that somehow managed to avoid being destroyed.

"Alexis, I'm home," my mom said, staggering in and flopping on the dirty mattress that we shared. Sometimes I wish she wouldn’t call this sad place our "home."

"Hey Mom," I replied, sitting down next to her. She looked tired, but then again, she always did. "Found anything decent?" I asked, referring to the bags she brought in with her.

"Well," my mom started, "I found some more batteries and food. I even managed to find some more clothes. Oh! I also something you might like." She pulled out a small camera. It was black with white accents and had a neck strap.

"Oh my gosh!" I exclaimed, grabbing the camera carefully. "It looks brand new! Thanks, Mom." I hugged her before returning my gaze back to my gift. It was rare to find anything like this since the Great Quake, much less new or undestroyed.

"No problem, sweetie," my mom said with a smile on her face. "Now why do we have something to eat?"

After dinner, we laid down on our mattress to go to sleep, huddling next to each other for warmth. But I couldn’t got fall asleep...there was too many things on my mind. I looked around the all too familiar shelter. It wasn’t much, just three large wooden planks fitted together with a broken door serving as the roof. A plain white sheet covered the entrance to complete our temporary home. Inside, plastic bags lined the walls, all filled with either food, water, supplies, or toiletries. Our radio and my camera was placed on a small, crumpled box in the corner and our mattress was spread long ways in the center.

Snap. I went rigid, fearing what could have made that noise. Snap. There it was again, this time closer and louder. Taking action, I slowly slid of the bed, reaching for the small pocket knife we kept for self defense. I saw a person's shadow now, a boy in fact. He started nearing us and I knew that if I don’t something quick, we could end up in danger. Some people will do anything to find the things you need to survive. He was about to pull away the sheet when I sprung out, tackling him to the ground. I heard my mom stir, but she didn’t wake up.

"Hey!," the boy hissed angrily. "Can you get off?" Now that I was outside, I could see him clearly. He had short, dirty blonde hair and slightly tan skin. His eyes were an ocean blue, shining like diamonds.

I raised the pocket knife up to his throat, adding a little pressure. He gulped loudly, startled by my weapon. "Who are you? What were you intending on doing once you got inside our shelter?" I retorted, impatience clear in my voice. My mind was reeling with questions, but I had to restrain myself from rambling endlessly.

"I'm-I," he stuttered, pausing for a few moments. "My name is Zander Coles." he finally said, sighing slightly as I released some pressure from his neck. "I've been wandering for a week now and-"

"I asked what you were going to do when you got into my house, not your life story," I responded. Zander's face goes slightly pink from embarrassment. I chuckle softly to myself.

"What are you laughing about?" he huffed, but soon laughed with me. Maybe Zander isn't as dangerous as I thought he was.

I got up, releasing him from my weight. Offering my hand, Zander took it and I hoisted him from the ground. Now that we were standing, I could see he stood a whole head taller than me, and I had to crane my neck up just to see his face.

"So," I started," I assume you need a place to stay?"

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