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Neena Gathering

Written By:Valerie Nieman Colander - 1988

  • Neena Gathering - Valerie Nieman Colander cover


She inhabited a savage future world of grim and brutal choices...

The cities were all gone, the people were gone, too. And the children. All dead.

A nation divided, turns on itself with brutal, primitive cruelty, unleashing the ghastly mutations of blistering chemical warfare that leave a desolate wasteland where the United States once flourished...

Menaced by roaming bands of scavengers, along and lonely on a remote West Virginia farm, Neena and her aunt battle to carve a marginal existence from the ashes on an annihilated civilization. Suddenly Neena's missing uncle arrives out of the north, shattering their uneasy peace with his haunting memories, his worldly ways, and violent passions. Against her will, the woman-child, Neena is forced to choose her destiny in the shape of two men. One, handsome and vital, teaches her hatred and fear; the other, horribly transformed by the chemical Change, lays bare the intricacies of the human heart. Will Neena bow to the demands of kin and blood, or brave the gentle path, sowing fresh seeds of hope in a savage future no one can second guess?


The Aftermath

From a long distance away the bodies beside the road looked like piles of stones. They were the new dead. One face showed at the edge of the heap. All the hair was gone, even the eyebrows. The face was heavy, a broad nose and a heavy chin, and ears that seemed to be too big. The eyes were closed behind red, puffy lids, and I wondered what color they had been.

Then I saw the soft, pink collar where it rested against the throat, and the flower-shaped cluster of pearls. It was a woman, changed even more than the others, not a woman anymore. Not a man. Something else...