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The Primary Branch

by Chase Hildenbrand

The Primary Branch - Chase Hildebrand
Editions:Kindle: $ 2.99
Pages: 466
Paperback: $ 16.99
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 466
Hardcover: $ 19.99
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 466

The key to saving the future, lies in the past.

On the eve of societal collapse under the weight of a declining worldwide birth rate, Michael Boyer has a dream that is not a dream. While asleep he sees through the eyes of an ancestor, experiencing their memories as if they were his own. But this ability belongs not only to him. People around the world begin having these strange dreams. They are known as Dreamers.

As the population declines, follow the Boyer family line through the decades as civilization falls around them until far in the future, with extinction on the horizon, Michael's descendant must use his ability, which he calls the Gift, to search the past for a way to save what's left of humanity.

The descendent, Cameron, must find allies, including his own ancestors, while confronting those who would use the crisis as a means to gain power.

Tropes: Abandoned Place, Dying World, Evil Megacorporation, Farmer to Hero, Humanity is Dangerous, Humanity is Good, Post-Apocalyptic
Word Count: 134000
Setting: United States
Tropes: Abandoned Place, Dying World, Evil Megacorporation, Farmer to Hero, Humanity is Dangerous, Humanity is Good, Post-Apocalyptic
Word Count: 134000
Setting: United States

Ruins of the once great New York City surrounded me. Half of the city’s structures still stood, although most of what hadn’t fallen over were now leaning. A forest of trees grew between the remaining structures as nature was well on its way to reclaiming the land.

Through my Gift, I’d seen this city in its glory days. Millions of people once called it home, building their lives here. It was difficult for me to fathom that humans used to build cities like this.


I found myself faced with a choice. I knew of an area of land in the center of the city that was once a large park. If I had to guess, that would be where people lived, if they lived in the city at all. I weighed the risk of venturing across the decaying bridge and through the city’s remains versus going south to another bridge where I could bypass Manhattan all together. The odds of people living in the old park were low, but I couldn’t bring myself to say they were zero. There remained a chance. However, getting back off the island presented challenges. According to my map, drawn from memories of what I’d seen in the Gift, tunnels connected the city to the mainland on the western side, but after so many years of disservice, I had to assume they were flooded. Assuming so, I’d have to turn around and come back the way I came.

Concern of my own food and water situation if I ventured into the city made me pause. I didn’t have a lot on me, especially not for the animals. I’d seen in the Gift that there was once water in the old park, but I had no way of knowing if it was still there or in what condition. The risk stalled me for some time. But I knew I had to decide.

With a kick, Grace began to cross the bridge. To the west, through a collapsed gap in the neighboring Brooklyn Bridge, I saw a large statue of a woman on an island. I half-remembered learning of this landmark in my lessons as a child but couldn’t for the life of me remember its name. The Statue of . . . something. It wasn’t coming to me.

I could feel the heat rising from the asphalt beneath me and it seemed the bridge swayed, threatening to drop me and my animals into the water with each small gust of wind. Before I knew it, I’d made it across and into the rotting corpse of Manhattan.

We traversed the dead city with caution. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. For all I knew hundreds of people might be still alive, watching me from hidden depths as I rode on Grace past their windows. It seemed impossible, and yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t alone.

I’d known fear in my life, but paranoia was a new experience. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. I knew New York City survived a century after the Split before people gave it up. My old village lasted as long as it did because good people fled the city to make our village their new home. If they hadn’t, Montauk would have died out long before me. New York was empty. I knew it was. What I felt was merely fear.

What was I afraid of?

Was it that I would find someone alive in this skyscraper graveyard? Why should the thought of another human being suddenly fill me with fear?

Because what if they weren’t like me? Not like my parents? I’d seen the Collapse. What if like the people back then, they thrived on destruction and chaos? But what was left? Everything is gone, there is nothing remaining to destroy.

Except other people.

People like me, strolling into their territory, naïve and open to attack.

Maybe I needed weapons. Was I a fool for not packing more than a hunting knife? Could I find a working gun somewhere on these streets, fallen on the ground and hiding in the overgrown weeds?

I opened my eyes, half-expecting to see someone standing in front of us, blocking the road. But there was no one. I shook my head at myself, taking another deep breath.

Enough with the paranoia.

I had a destination in mind and a purpose in my soul. However, I was three blocks down the road when I noticed my knuckles had turned white from gripping the reins too hard.

Barely recognizable vehicles, now nothing more than piles of rusted metal frames, lined the roads, some hardly visible from the vines and plant life that had made them home. The farther I ventured into the city, the more I had to detour from my map. Crumbling building facades covered roadways, blocking my path.

Suddenly, Bella growled. I looked down at her and saw her fur standing up, her body poised for attack. I followed her gaze and saw something moving in the overgrowth a hundred feet up the road.

I pulled Grace to a stop, and we waited. Was my worst fear realized? Was there a person waiting to attack me like they did to my ancestors in the Collapse?

No. It was worse.

Bella barked with fierce aggression at the giant brown bear that stepped out of the bushes. It looked at her quizzically for a moment before standing up on its hind legs and roaring. Even from a distance, I swore I saw spit flying out of its wide-open jaws. Its roar amplified off the shells of the buildings around us.

I didn’t know what to do. Wait? Flee?

I reminded myself to breathe, waiting on the bear to either charge or walk away. An eternity passed in seconds. Then it charged.


I yanked on the reins, but Grace needed no direction. My horse shot to the right down another road, Bella at our heels. Behind me I heard the bear unleash another blood-curdling roar. I couldn’t bring myself to look backward to see if it was giving chase.

“Go! Go!”

Trees and debris in the road caused us to slow in order to weave around them. I dreaded coming to a complete blockage. I didn’t know how fast bears could run, but I suspected the answer was very.

Another roar accompanied pounding footsteps as the bear ran behind us. Grace veered left onto another road. I heard a bark, so I knew Bella was keeping up.

What remained of vehicles on the road created a maze for Grace to run through. My only hope was that they were slowing the bear as much as us. Then I saw two rusted vehicles ahead blocking our path. Before I could even try to come up with a solution, I was nearly thrown off when Grace leaped over them.

I looked back and saw Bella run atop the vehicles to get on our side. The bear was right on her, but then came to a sudden stop at the vehicles. It stood on its legs, pushing its front paws down on the steel and roared, watching as we galloped away.

Grace kept running and I didn’t even try to stop her. I wanted as much distance between us and that bear as possible. Unidentifiable structures raced by as we kept weaving between the overgrowth and impediments. When I was finally able to look behind us and see nothing, I gently pulled Grace’s reins until she came to a stop. We waited for a minute, listening for any sound of the bear continuing to chase after us. But all was silent except for a flock of birds that flew above us through the ruins and the sound of my heart beating out of my chest.


About the Author

I live outside of Charlotte, NC and work full time in the broadcasting industry. I love writing and enjoy it as a fun hobby.