The Last Mile by Tim Waggoner
The Last Mile by Tim Waggoner (Dark Fuse, 2014), 2014) is a novella-length story about the World After. Yes, aliens have invaded Earth and, despite Hollywood’s pious hopes for gung-ho marines to save the day, they have subdued the survivors. Those selected as Thralls do the will of the invaders or face punishment. This time, Dan is on his way to deliver a “package” to his Master. This involves him driving his ancient Oldsmobile along what’s left of Interstate 75, watching as the thorn-stalks part to allow him along the Way, helping to keep him safe from the predators living in the wilderness alongside the road. As always, his task is simple. He has found an unmarked survivor and has her trussed up on the back seat. Once he has delivered her to his Master, all will be well (until the next time the summons comes).
So in the space of a few sentences, I’ve described a science fiction/horror crossover novella in which the rump of humanity survives under the jackboots of the few Thralls (the story is less than forthcoming about exactly how many of the population have survived nor how they are being farmed for sacrifice — I suppose an explanation of this forward planning is not really required for the purposes of this story). The plot is a simple device. We have the set-up to describe the invasion (if that’s the right way to describe it — perhaps arrival might be more appropriate) and then the backstories of Dan the Thrall and Alice, the sacrificial victim on the back seat. As is always required in stories like this, our protagonist is making good progress until he gets close to his destination. Then, as authors will it, the wheel falls off and we’re down to the last mile before death and destruction befall them both.
There’s some interesting imagery on display and some of the ideas will be considered moderately extreme by some readers. This is not a story for people who faint at the sight of blood. The plot moves along quickly and, despite the lack of any clear explanation of how the aliens arrived, how they manipulated the flora and fauna so quickly to produce these rather weird new forms, and how they are managing the food in their larder so it will not run out any time soon, this is a take-no-prisoners race to the finish line. So long as you’re not looking for any deep thinking, The Last Mile is very good of its type.
For a review of a novel by Tim Waggoner, see Night Terrors.
A copy of this book was sent to me for review.