In the middle of the night, I awoke to a low growl. Confused, I groggily fought my way up through thick layers of sleep to realize it was Misha. Fully awake now, I shushed him and listened. Faint footfalls crunched outside. Whoever it was, they weren’t on top of us yet, but they weren’t far away. I shook Pip awake and held a finger to my lips as she blinked up at me. Misha growled again, making Pip sit straight up in her sleeping bag.
“Get the gun,” I whispered. “And hold onto him,” I gestured at Misha, who stared intently at the tent flap. I dug my large hunting knife out of my bag and unsheathed it. “And don’t shoot me,” I added.
“Don’t go out there!” Pip hissed.
“It’ll be ok,” I said. “You remember how to use that, right?”
“Yes, but I still don’t think you should go.”
“It’ll be ok,” I repeated, as much for myself as for her. I unzipped the flap as quietly as I could.
Misha twitched behind me, but Pip held him tightly in the crook of her left arm. In her right hand, she clutched the gun, her finger loosely on the trigger. “Be right back,” I whispered. “If you see anyone who isn’t me, shoot them.” I slipped out before she could answer, leaving the flap open in my wake.
Holding my knife in front of me, I crept away from the tent, every muscle in my body tense with anticipation. The clouds had dissipated, leaving a clear, moonlit night. I didn’t see anyone in the immediate area. Our fire had gone out. I crouched low and made my way around the smoldering pit to the check on the horses.
Dancer huffed and regarded me with huge, calm brown eyes, his scruffy coat in desperate need of brushing. I gave him a good scratch. Blitzen shook her head and whinnied, shoving her nose at me to be stroked too. They didn’t seem upset. Perhaps what we’d heard were simply sounds of the winter forest settling for the night.
Just as I had the thought, a huge arm covered in stinking fur grabbed me around my neck and a grimy hand clamped roughly over my mouth. I sputtered and backed up into what felt like a brick wall. Without thinking, I stomped down hard with my right boot and shoved my butt out as far as I could, surprising him and breaking his hold on me. I whirled around and got low, grunting like an animal and diving for his knees. I didn’t manage to knock him over, but I drove my knife deep into his inner thigh just above his knee. When I heard the solid wet ‘thock’ of its hilt hitting his flesh, I jerked it up all the way up to his groin, severing his femoral artery.He didn’t so much fall as crumble to a sitting position on the snow. He grabbed at his leg and looked at me. I scuttled backward on my butt like a crab, putting a couple more feet between us even though I was pretty sure he was bleeding out. “Demon,” he hissed. “I know you.” I crept forward again, my bloody knife held before me like an offering. “Get away from me,” he said.“You’re dying,” I said back. “How many of you are there?”
“All of us. We’re coming for you.”
“Yes, but how far away?” I asked, exasperated. We didn’t have time for this. I was absolutely sure he was part of a group.
“We’re everywhere,” he said, fading. The blood beneath him was turning black, growing like a cartoon shadow. “You and your little girlfriend are going to die.”
“Not before you,” I said, rising. I looked around in the gloom. The horses huffed and stomped their feet. Was it possible he’d been alone? Maybe just a scout?
As I turned to go back to the tent a single gunshot shattered the stillness of the night. I broke into a run, skidding through muddy snow, sliding to a stop just beyond the fire pit. A body lay in a heap outside the tent. It was too large to be Pip. Cautiously I approached and leaned over. I could tell it was a man, or formerly a man, but that was all. His face had been completely obliterated from the point-blank shot. I peered into the tent, saw a smoking barrel, and Pip’s pale face beyond. “Are you ok?” I asked her.
“Misha’s gone!” she cried, pushing her way out of the tent. “He ran away when I fired the gun!”
“We’ve got to go, Pip. Others are coming.” I began throwing things into my pack and stuffing them down. Gently I took the gun from Pip. Her hands were shaking.
“We can’t leave Misha!” she yelled at me.
“Pip, we have to go. They’ll kill us, or worse. Get your stuff now!”She rolled up her sleeping bag quickly and secured it to her pack, zipping up her parka. Mine was already done and strapped to my pack. “I’ll get the horses. You stay here,” I ordered.
Monday, March 13, 2023
Dani Ripley's Top Ten Female Apocalyptic Heroes #FemaleHeroes #Horror #EcoApocalypse #Dystopian
Top Ten Female Heroes of the Apocalypse
I’m Dani Ripley, author of the eco-apocalypse horror novel, North Woods. Thank you for having me as a guest blogger today! My novel features a female protagonist, and because of that I’m here to talk about my top ten female heroes of the apocalypse. I’ll discuss several of my favorite apocalypse movies/shows below along with their female leads to see what kind of woman it takes to survive the end of the world.
#1: Alice (Milla Jovovich), Resident Evil. Alice is the person you want next to you when fighting your way through hordes of zombies, or anything else for that matter. This goes for all of the Resident Evil movies; though they may vary in quality, Alice is always front and center, kicking ass while saving the world and her friends (well, most of them anyway).
#2: Alexa “Lex” Woods (Sanaa Lathan), Alien vs. Predator. Sanaa Lathan is outstanding in this. You could argue this isn’t technically an “apocalypse” film - it’s more of a pre-apocalypse– but I think it’s a perfect example because Lexprevents the apocalypse, thereby making her a hero of the apocalypse. Particularly because when considering all of the various end-of-world scenarios, face huggers and chest bursters are a horrible way to go!
#3: Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), The 100. Clarke makes some seriously ugly decisions when other people can’t andbecomes a strong -albeit complicated – leader. She saves everyone again in the end when she makes another critical decision, even though it costs her everything and leaves her completely alone.If you haven’t seen The 100, you’re definitely missing out.
#4: Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Edge of Tomorrow. Also known as the “Angel of Verdun”. Sergeant Vrataski sacrifices herself over and over to save the world, providing a vital assist to the “star” of the movie Major William “Bill” Cage. I’d argue here that Rita is the star because, without her training and guidance, Major Cage wouldn’t be able to save much of anything. Honestly, both are amazing in this, but this is about the women, so Cage takes a back seat. One of my all-time favorites.
#5: Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), The Walking Dead. Note I’m speaking about the television show, not the comic! In the show, Carol has an incredibly complex arc, going from an abused wife to one of the series’ most effective leaders. In the world they portray, most women wouldn’t be able to survive with just brute strength – they’d need to be clever and adaptable, and Carol is a perfect example. She’s a woman who not only survives the apocalypse but becomes the strongest version of herself because of it.
#6: Michonne Grimes (Danai Gurira), The Walking Dead. Again, speaking only to the television show and not the comic, but I can’t mention Carol without mentioning Michonne. Michonne’s debut on the show is unforgettable (which I won’t spoil here for those who’ve yet to see), and her spectacular survival and fighting skills – not to mention her incredibly deft use of her constant companion, the katana – guarantees her spot as one of the ten best female heroes of the apocalypse.
#7: Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Mad Max Fury Road. A one-armed fighter who starts on the wrong side but ends up on the right, Imperator Furiosa is an avenging warrior to the women known as the Five Wives, and a super inspiring feminist icon for anyone who enjoys a great action movie but doesn’t always want to see dudes having all the fun!
#8: Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love this show for its unabashed girl-power vibe. It’s entertaining and fun, but it also has a moral center and a ton of heart. Its lead Buffy is just your average friend, sister, and daughter who’s just trying to get through the hellscape known as high school when she finds out she’s the Chosen One – and now she’s tasked with being the only thing standing between literally EVERYTHING evil and the world as we know it.
#9: Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), Prometheus. She’s an archeologist who discovers a star map, so she’s smart, and she’s tough. In order to survive her experience aboard the Prometheus she ends up performing abdominal surgery on herself, and then in order to save our world she sets off alone for a distant unknown planet with only a severed robot head for company, just to try to convince our hostile ancient ancestors not to annihilate the entire human race.
#10: Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Terminator: Dark Fate. I love the Terminator franchise so much. The original movie scared the crap out of me as a kid in the 80’s. It still does. But Sarah Connor kicks the Terminator’s ass every time and that makes me feel better. She even comes and kicks its ass again in Dark Fate. A special nod here also to Emilia Clarke, who plays Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genysis. Recently I saw a headline asking if it was “time to stop making the Terminator movies”? My answer is a resounding NO. Do. Not. Ever. Stop. Making. These. Movies. That is all.
Everyone has their own idea of what makes a hero and I certainly have many, both male and female. I’m giving the women a shout-out here because I’d love to see lots more of them in these kinds of roles in the future.
I’d love to know your thoughts below. Did I miss anyone? Who are your favorite female heroes of the apocalypse? And why?
Genre: Horror, Eco-Apocalypse
Publisher: Dani Ripley
Date of Publication: Jan. 26, 2023
Number of pages: 337
Word Count: 64,537
Cover Artist: Dani Ripley
Tagline: Outrun the horde. Survive the ice.
Post-apocalyptic female buddy-western set against a backdrop of a sudden, cataclysmic ice age.
Hax can barely remember her real name, it's been so long since she's used it. “Hax” is a shortened version of the word Haxa – the Swedish word for witch - a nickname given to her by people afraid of her seemingly supernatural abilities: appearing out of nowhere then disappearing again just as quickly; uncannily accurate weather pattern readings; and extraordinary skill at tracking prey, human or otherwise. Or perhaps it was simply her propensity for sudden and extreme violence.
A natural loner, Hax isn’t bothered so much by the apocalypse as she is by other people. As such, she’s surprised to find herself traveling with a small group after a long solitary stint in the woods, but when a larger, more savage gang threatens her new people, she’s unable to convince the smaller group of the danger. Realizing it’s too late, she abandons them to their fate, but not before one of the younger members, Pip, sees her escape and decides to follow.
After witnessing the brutal slaughter of their fellow travelers, the two strangers set off through an icy northern wilderness to find Pip’s father, whose last known residence is a camp near the oil sands of Alberta, Canada. In order to survive, Hax and Pip will have to find a way to escape the ruthless horde of marauders still stalking them at every turn, as well as withstand extreme cold, starvation, and exhaustion. And above all, they’ll have to learn to trust each other.
Dani Ripley lives in Michigan and loves writing.