Open Book Society is happy to collaborate, once more, with Virtual Author Book Tours and author Denise R. Stephenson to bring you her new thrilling, dystopian novel ‘Isolation.’ Be sure to keep reading to know more about the book, the author, our review and the opportunity to win a print copy (U.S ONLY) and an eBook copy of Isolation. All you have to do is enter both giveaways for more possibilities to win!
Isolation depicts a bleak but recognizable future in which the fear of contagion reaches a fever pitch as a bacterial epidemic catapults the US into an apocalyptic crisis.
Touch is outlawed. Mothers like Maggie bind their infants’ hands, terrified they might slip fingers into mouths. Gary, a Sterilizer, uses robots to scour the infected, avoiding all contact with human flesh. Trevor, the Chief Enforcer, watches, eager to report any and all infractions.
One inadvertent touch will change all of their lives.
Expert from Isolation:
Isolation: Unsuspected Sources
No one expected her to die. It was a simple kitchen accident. No big deal. Rebecca’s small dinner party had gone off without a hitch. She had the red wine open and breathing and the white on ice when the guests arrived. Everyone enjoyed the wine, munchies and conversation while they awaited dinner. It was a simple meal of curried veggies with lime marinated tri-tip and fresh bakery bread. As Rebecca served, one of the guests inquired about her band-aid.
“Oh, just nicked my finger while chopping the onion.”
“Should we look for blood?” asked one.
“Is that why you chose a curry?” laughed another.
“Oh, just eat. And the person who finds the bloody digit wins a prize.” Everyone chuckled, though one guest was careful as he chewed through the heavily sauced vegetables.
The next evening, Rebecca noticed a thin red line leading toward her wrist from beneath the band-aid. She worried she’d wrapped the finger too tight or left the band-aid on too long. She removed it and found the wound surrounded by a white ring with grey pus oozing out. Oh dear. She looked in her medicine chest but couldn’t find any antibacterial ointment. She realized the local pharmacy had already closed so she poured a bit of alcohol on the wound. Yowsa, that stung. Then she put on a clean band-aid intending to dress the wound better the next day. In the middle of the night she awoke to a burning sensation in her left hand. She turned on the light. The red line had lengthened. Pus oozed out of the bandage. The clock read 1 a.m. Not the best time to need medical attention, but what could she do? She wrapped a couple of paper towels gently around her hand in the hope of not getting pus on anything. Then she dressed and knocked on her neighbor’s door.
Reg saw her through the peep hole. He cracked the door open. “What’s up, Beck?” Then he saw her hand. “Whoa, girl, did you hurt yourself?”
“Remember, I cut myself prepping dinner?”
“It’s infected. I need to go to emergency.”
“For a finger? Can’t it wait till morning?”
“It’s hot and nasty. I’m scared.”
Reg opened the door. “Hot and nasty? I like nasty,” he growled and h eaded to grab his car keys before Rebecca could wonder if Reg was coming on to her. “You’re lucky I’m sober,” he called from the bedroom.
Rebecca walked with Reg into Emergency. She told them she’d cut her finger. The staff moved slowly until they discovered the red line emanating from the wound and learned that she’d cut herself in a kitchen accident. She insisted it was onions and not the steak that she was chopping when the knife had sliced across her left index finger. The nurse looked skeptical, but she didn’t argue.
Alone in the curtained space, Rebecca suddenly got nervous. She started tapping her foot. She found that she was cold, even though she was wearing a winter parka. Her finger still felt hot, like the burning when you’d stayed outside too long playing in the snow. She put her hood up and wrapped her arms tightly around herself. The nurse’s questions got her wondering. She replayed her party preparations in her head. She could have been cutting the tomato when she did it, but it was definitely tomato or onion, not steak. She didn’t realize it was the same knife and she had already trimmed the tri-tip. She didn’t think about germs in her mouth even though she’d immediately sucked on the cut. She didn’t consider that she hadn’t washed the vegetables before cutting them. She didn’t think about the fact that after prepping everything, she left the same band-aid on when she cooked the steak, served the meal, showered, slept. Since it hadn’t been deep and didn’t need stitches, she had truly ignored the cut after covering it.
By the time the doctor arrived, Rebecca was shivering. She asked for a blanket, but instead, the doctor ordered the nurse to bring ice to lower Rebecca’s temperature which had spiked to 104 degrees. The doctor feared sepsis. She sent for a white blood count.
“What’s wrong with me?”
“I can’t be sure yet, but it appears you may have blood poisoning?”
“From a simple cut?”
“From bacteria most likely. Were you working with meat?”
“That’s what the nurse asked. I used a fork on some steak, but I was slicing an onion or maybe a tomato when I cut myself.”
“Kitchen hygiene is more important than most people realize. Keeping meats and vegetables separate when preparing them, cleaning counters, washing hands.”
“I’ve been cooking since I was 8. Nothing like this has ever happened.”
“Could be your immune system has been compromised by a cold or flu. Could be a virulent form of bacteria on the produce. We’ll get you taken care of.”
Reg couldn’t believe it when the doctor came and told him Rebecca was dead. Now he felt like such a heal. He’d been tired of watching all the crazy, injured people come and go from the ER and had just been thinking how he should go home and let Beck call him when she was ready. But he hadn’t figured out how to get that message to her. What a schmuck! Here he was worried about a little sleep and she had been dying.
“How could she be dead? She just had an infected cut, an eensie little nick on her finger?”
“It wasn’t just infected. She had blood poisoning.”
“Blood poisoning? How did that happen?”
“At this point, we can’t be sure. Are you family?”
“No, I’m a neighbor with a car.”
“Do you know her next of kin?”
“I know her friends, I don’t know her family. I’m holding her purse. Do I check in it? Give it to you?”
“If you’d like, we can take her personal belongings and look for an emergency contact.”
Reg wasn’t sure if he should take her purse home or give it to the attendant who was with the doctor. Beck’s keys were in the purse, so if he kept it, he could get into her apartment. And do what? He’d always liked Rebecca and she’d helped him out a couple of times, but they weren’t that close, not in-case-of-emergency close. He handed the purse to the short woman in the blue scrubs with frolicking dolphins. Shouldn’t she be wearing something less cheerful?
Reg picked up his iPad that he’d been playing games on. He walked to the door and stopped. He looked back into the bustling room. It seemed wrong to just walk out, but what else was he gonna do? A sharp morning light made him squint before he ducked into the dark parking structure and took the elevator up to the 8th floor. As he wound his way round and round the cement structure he wondered what he would do with his day. Probably go back to bed and maybe pull the covers up over his head.
About author Denise R. Stephenson:
DENISE R. STEPHENSON resides in Oceanside, CA, but she has lived in all the isolated locales of this novel at one time or another. Her publishing history is primarily academic, though as a member of Attention Deficit Drama, she has written and produced monologues and short plays. This is her first novel.
For more information about the author and her books visit her at her Social Media: