Halfway Out of the Dark

Shawn Templeton stumbles into Mark Jennings’ life. Can their budding romance survive in the wilds of Post WWIII Montana?
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Author: Brent Archer

Halfway Out of the Dark

by Brent Archer

Genre M/M Erotic Romance

Tags ADULT CONTENT, post apocalypse, future, country, romance, gay, post-WWIII, winter, farming, M/M

Imprint Wild Darkness Calls

Release  October 3, 2014

Content Editor Susan Davis

Line Editor Greta Gunselman

Cover Designer Shirley Burnett

Words 9523

Pages 42

ISBN 978-1-77127-603-0

Price $2.50

Back Cover

Humanity decimated itself in a global war with over six billion dead. The survivors mostly gather into gleaming megacities. Mark Jennings chooses to stay away from the jungle of metal and glass, and instead lives a life of farming in a rustic cabin outside the ruins of Billings.

One dark, snowy, December night, Shawn Templeton, lost and freezing, stumbles into Mark’s life. The two men have a passionate few days, but Shawn decides to continue on his journey. He pleads with Mark to look him up in New Bismarck when he comes to trade his crops.

At the end of the following summer, Mark takes his produce to the megacity. He decides to look Shawn up, but when he goes to visit, Shawn’s young roommate, wrapped only in a towel, answers the door.

Heartbroken, Mark returns to his cabin, but winter has a surprise for him as he trudges home through the snow with his Christmas tree.


“I saw a few sheep bouncing through the snow.”

Mark turned to him, his eyes wide. “Oh yeah? What color were they?”

“Kind of yellowy-white. Why?”

“They’re the normal ones. The brown ones are the dangerous breed.”

Mark wrinkled his forehead. “Dangerous sheep?”

“Yeah. The radiation from the bombings caused some sort of mutation. If too many of them rush you, they can bite and trample you to death. It almost happened to me twice, but I managed to shoot them.”

“Yikes. I’m glad I didn’t run into any of those. I thought the wolves were bad.”

Mark smiled. “Mutant sheep. Who’d have thought, eh?”

Shawn nodded. “Strange days.”

“Still, mutton for Christmas might be quite nice.” Mark shed the robe and pulled on his jeans. He selected a flannel shirt from the chest of drawers and slid into his coat. The shotgun stood by the front door.

Shawn turned toward the fire and rubbed his hands. He bent forward and picked up his gloves. “They were playing in the drifts behind the outhouse.”

Mark grabbed the shotgun and opened the back door. Shawn followed him out and closed it behind him. Three sheep jumped through the snow, heading toward the front of the cabin. Mark raised his gun and fired. One of the sheep fell, the snow around it stained pink. The other two turned toward him and then ran. The snow slowed them down, and Mark easily dispatched them.

The two men pushed their way through the drifts and brought the three dead sheep back to the path Mark dug earlier that morning. Mark turned to Shawn. “Ever skin a sheep before?”

“Yup. Got a knife?”

Mark placed the gun inside the cabin by the door and grabbed two butcher knives from the block on the counter. He returned to Shawn and handed him one of the blades. They worked side by side, spending a good three hours on their chore. Mark took the skins and hung them on hooks in a large shed close to the cabin.

When he returned, Shawn had finished gutting the animals. He looked up at Mark. “This is going to be a good few meals with these guys.”

They chopped up the carcasses and gathered up the cuts of meat, packing most of them in the cold storage behind the house. Mark took some of the ribs and two of the legs and set to work preparing them for cooking.

Shawn pulled off his boots after entering the house. “How can I help?”

Mark rubbed spices into the meat. “How about you peel some potatoes and chop them up with some carrots? You’ll find both in the root cellar.”

“Gotcha.” Shawn slid his boots back on and went outside.

Mark pulled out an old cast iron Dutch oven from under his countertop and placed the sheep shanks and ribs into it. It’s nice to have someone to share Christmas with, even if he doesn’t stay.

The wind started up again outside as Shawn came in the door. “Wow, there are some dark clouds coming in. Looks like another storm.”

“That’s okay. We have plenty of wood, and once you get those spuds peeled, I’ll put the meat on.”

Shawn went to work on the vegetables as Mark stoked the fire in the stove. Once Shawn finished peeling and chopping, Mark placed the potatoes and carrots around the meat and covered it with the cast-iron lid. He set it on the stove to cook.

“Well, that’s done. It’ll take several hours.”

“Anything else need doing?”

Mark winked. “Yeah, me.”

Shawn smirked as he peeled off his shirt.

* * * *

Shawn stayed until New Year’s Day. That morning, Mark awoke to find Shawn sitting on one of the kitchen chairs lacing up his boots. Mark got up and slipped on a robe.

“What’s up?”

“The snow’s cleared enough that I am going to try to make it to New Bismarck.”

“Do you have to go?” Mark gripped Shawn’s coat.

Shawn nodded.

Mark handed him his coat. “I wish you’d stay.”

“I’m sorry, Mark, but I can’t continue to mooch off you. I have to be able to pull my weight, and the only way I can think to do that is to work in New Bismarck.”

Mark turned away and sat down in the rocking chair staring at the fire. Just like Jared.

Shawn strode over and knelt in front of him. “Listen, I want you to find me when you come to the city.” He took Mark’s hand. “Please, promise me.”

Mark furrowed his brow, tension setting in. “And how would I do that? The megacity is a big place.”

“I’ll leave my address at one of the shops you frequent. Where do you usually sell your stuff?”

“Murphy’s.” He sighed. Why did I tell him that? It won’t matter one way or the other. He’ll make his fortune and get addicted to all the creature comforts the city can give him.

Shawn squeezed his hand. “You’ll find me?”

Mark looked into his emerald eyes. “Yes.”

“Good.” Shawn smiled as he stood and tied his scarf. “Okay, here I go.” He slipped on his coat and stood at the door. “Goodbye, Mark.”

Mark turned away and stared at the fire. He heard the door open and close. A tear slid down his cheek. “Goodbye.”



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