Epitaph Road

Written by David Patneaude

Kellen Dent feels all alone. In 2097, he has good reasons. Five billion of them. Five billion fathers, grandfathers, brothers, sons, grandsons, uncles, nephews, cousins, lovers, friends. Still remembered in thoughts and prayers and dreams and epitaphs, but reduced to fading shadows now. Vapors. Specters. Might-have-beens.
Thirty years earlier, a widespread and hyper-deadly virus caused the near-extinction of the world’s male population. Now women rule everywhere, and poverty, hunger, crime, and war are for the most part dim memories, or the stuff of cautionary lessons in history books.
But with a fractured family history, an absent father, and tight restrictions on males’ behavior, fourteen-year-old Kellen feels as if he has little anchoring him to his past, few role models for his present, and no say in his future. The fact that girls find him fascinating tells him something about the demographics of this altered society, but nothing about himself. Two new housemates—girls—seem to care about him as a person, but he has scarce time to enjoy their friendship before alarming revelations interrupt his day-to-day existence.
When rumors of a fresh outbreak of the virus reach Kellen, and he learns the recurrence is predicted to hit the outcast community where his father lives, he knows that he must warn him of the danger no matter what the consequences. But during his desperate race into the back country to find his dad, Kellen uncovers a dark secret, a frightening plot. If successfully carried out, the scheme would forever alter his life, and the future of the world. What can he do to stop it?

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