Chased by flesh-eating mutants and aided by an overbearing warrior princess, brainy Joshua must save the future—from himself.
When a skateboarding accident hurls 17-year-old Joshua Tyler into a dismal future overrun by flesh-eating mutants, he taps into the strength and courage hidden within him and manages to stay alive, only to discover his horrifying relationship to the scientific genius who brought all life on Earth to the brink of annihilation.
Aided by Nadia, a beautiful warrior student who believes he may be the prophesized savior sent to rescue her people, Josh learns to fight for survival. Terrified by the constant threat of a violent death, Josh wants nothing more than to get back to his own life. But the longer he survives in this strange place, the more he learns about its creation. Charged with the job of assassinating the enemy’s leader, Josh begins to uncover his connection to the army of cannibalistic monsters—a nightmarish truth that could prevent him from ever finding his way home.
Some seventeenth birthday. Josh jerked his head toward a crunching sound on his left. Things might be about to get much worse. His eyes found nothing but inky darkness. He prayed his ears were just playing tricks on him. How on earth had he gone from bombing Cliff Drive on a skateboard to being naked and coated in slime in this strange forest?
The creepy feeling he was being watched made him too nervous to think of a remotely plausible answer. His skin crawled, and the back of his neck tingled. Try as he might to blame his imagination, Josh couldn’t shake the horrible feeling that something was stalking him. Sweat beaded on his forehead, even as he shivered from the cold. He didn’t have his cellphone or any clothes, and not a clue where he was. This must be all just a crazy nightmare, except it seemed way too real, like no dream he’d ever had.
The skyscraper-tall trees surrounding him looked like they were from another world. The trunks were four times bigger than a mature giant sequoia—big enough for a lot of hungry predators to hide behind. Josh’s only company, and outdated mode of transportation, was a spotted horse he’d found nosing around in the leaves when he came to. The mare acted like she sensed danger, snorting and scanning the dark with her hyperactive ears. When he was little, he was forced to ride horses many times on his uncle’s farm. Ever since seeing his cousin break her arm after getting thrown, he’d never been able to overcome his fear of the large and unpredictable animals. With the skittish way the horse pranced and jumped at every noise, he began to regret climbing on her back in the first place. And if he was dreaming, why would his mind conjure up a horse of all things? Couldn’t it be a motorbike or an ATV or something a bit more modern? Not that he was any better at riding any of those.
A stick broke with a loud snap, and the mare reared. Adrenaline flooding his veins, Josh clawed desperately at her mane and squeezed his legs as hard as he could. In spite of his best efforts, he couldn’t stop himself from sliding off her back. He landed hard on his butt. The force of the impact jarred him from his tailbone to the top of his skull. His teeth slammed together with such violence it felt like they might shatter. Josh’s vision blurring from the pain, he sat stunned, his mouth gaping as he tried to suck air into his paralyzed lungs. Coming back down on her front feet, the mare threw her rear hooves out behind her. Josh got his hands up just in time to protect his skull, catching the full force of the kick with his forearms. After knocking him onto his back, the horse neighed and galloped away, vanishing into the night.
Fear drowning out his pain, Josh lay silent, struggling to breathe. When he could finally pull a shallow breath through his nose, a rotten smell assailed him, like road kill baking in the sun. It was pitch black, so he couldn’t find the source. He only hoped that whatever lurked in the darkness couldn’t see him either.
The clouds moved off the moon, and silvery beams of light filtered through the forest canopy. The sudden illumination exposed an eight-foot-tall creature with the muscular arms and legs of a steroid-addicted bodybuilder. It stood thirty feet away, face shrouded in the swirling fog created by its breath. Josh’s throat tightened and he was overcome with a sinking sensation.
It was dressed like a giant evil Spartan warrior, with a glossy black metal breastplate covering its wide chest and a matching skirt made from strips of oily leather around its waist. A five-foot-long sword hung from its belt, along with a gruesome collection of skulls appearing to be human. The tear-inducing smell of decaying flesh thickened when the creature stepped closer. Moonlight revealed the massive lumpy face, which looked similar to a gorilla’s but with a longer snout. Dreadlocks tipped with black metal spikes hung to its broad round shoulders.
With the sound of a bull snorting, nostrils big enough to put a fist in sniffed the cold night air. Beady red eyes scanned the forest. Joshua was sure the creature was searching for him. The small eyes had a demonic glow in the faint light, like windows into an inferno of burning souls. It didn’t seem to have spotted Josh. He blinked to clear his vision and flattened himself on the ground, willing the monster to move on with every fiber of his being.
It gave a final snort, and then held its breath, cocking its head as if to listen. That dormant part of Josh’s brain, the part humans share with lizards, came to life and took over. His instincts deciding for him the best thing to do was to freeze and hope he wouldn’t be discovered. A ghoulish smile formed on the monster’s face, revealing jagged teeth and canines the length of Josh’s fingers. It growled, and a string of drool stretched from the corner of its mouth. The beast lumbered toward him.
Hide didn’t work, Josh’s lizard-brain prompted him. Now run!
He pushed up off the ground and stumbled backward. Before he could get out of its reach, the monster raised its thick left arm and punched Josh square in the face with a hairy fist the size and consistency of a bowling ball.
The force of the blow sent Josh to the ground, the rusty taste of blood erupting in his nose and mouth. The beast tilted back its ugly head and made a guttural sound that could only be laughter. Josh clambered to all fours and made it to his feet, exploding into a run. After five strides, he collided with a wall of cold metal. Bouncing off a second monster’s chest, he fell to the ground and squirmed the other way.
The first beast reached down and grabbed Josh by the neck, lifting him into the air. He swung at the monster’s thick hairy arm with his fists and kicked as hard as he could but couldn’t break loose. The monster revealed its fangs with another horrible smile and then delivered a blow to the top of Josh’s head with its free hand. Red eyes gleaming with pleasure, it set Josh on his feet, let go of his neck and stood back to watch. Josh’s vision blurred with pain, his body refused to obey his commands, and he collapsed.