Radioactive Evolution: A Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Adventure by Richard Hummel
Richard Hummel’s debut novel Radioactive Evolution was released in November 2018. Since its release, Radioactive Evolution has become an Amazon #1 Best Seller in Apocalyptic and Cyberpunk with readers calling it ‘a masterful mix of fantasy, LitRPG, apocalyptic future and advanced tech.”
The story follows a young man in a post-apocalyptic America who bonds with a dragon.
The series is recommended for readers who enjoy general SFF, Dark Fantasy, Dark YA, Cyberpunk, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Survival Story and anyone that is a gamer and likes RPGs since he has a system in place that allows the main character and his dragon companion to “level” themselves up through abilities and enhancing their bodies and minds.
Hunger Games, Ready Player One, and Game of Thrones collide to bring you a Science-Fiction & Fantasy cross-genre spectacular!
How far would you go to change humanity’s fate?
Jared Cartwright has spent the last two years delving into the twisted, scarred wastelands of an earth ravaged by nuclear war. The rich and powerful have taken to the oceans and skies on floating utopias, escaping destruction and leaving the rest of humanity to fend off the mutated creatures that roam the earth.
To face his new reality, Jared must become an apex predator if he hopes to survive. He must unlock his true potential to confront those that left mankind to die. With deadly adversaries above and below, Jared must evolve beyond mere human limitations to defeat the powerful rulers of the cities and the rabid beasts lurking in the shadows.
Jared’s quest takes a new turn when he discovers dragons are real.
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
Jared stood at the
precipice of almost certain danger, the yawning black chasm simultaneously
beckoning and repelling him. The last six months of exploration led him to this
moment, and now he hesitated to follow through. For months he’d searched for
evidence of others.
In a city this
size he expected to find something. Remnants of a battle, bones picked clean by
the many carnivorous creatures that roamed the area, or anything worth
scavenging. However, the only evidence he’d found was a series of tags painted
on the walls around the perimeter of New York City. Only one set of markings, distinct
in their pattern, delved further into the streets of the once great city. It
was these patterns he found himself following, stupidly assuming he’d find
treasure at the end of the veritable rainbow. Except there was no leprechaun or
pot of gold, only a staircase descending into utter darkness. A faded sign
announced it as “Metro Tr…”
Jared shrugged. He
didn’t know for certain, but he’d read about old means of transportation before
the nuclear wars obliterated most of the planet.
Taut as a
bowstring, his eyes and ears strained, Jared looked for any sign of predators.
In a city this large, he was at the bottom of the food chain, and his only
protection was his father’s Colt Peacemaker, a .45 caliber revolver. In the two
years since he’d left his home colony, it’d saved his life on more occasions
than he could count. Absentmindedly, he reached down to finger the weapon in its
holster, contemplating if he dared risk the underbelly of the city.
Agonizing over the
decision, Jared flicked his gaze to the corner of his vision. A holographic
outline of his body floated, where a countdown timer showing a little more than
two months remaining. It represented how many nanites he had left before he needed
to use an injector and replenish his stores. These microscopic machines were
the only thing preventing humans from dying excruciating, radioactive deaths.
He hoped the trail leading down would end at the body of whomever left all the
tags, and that they had some of the life-giving injectors on them. On the other
hand, it was a gamble and he had no way to know for sure without making the
What should I do…
Jared sighed and
ran his hand through his hair. It was a two-month journey back home, and he
wasn’t sure he’d survive the trip before his body deteriorated from radiation
poisoning, or some creature overpowered him when his body began to weaken.
His mind screamed
at him to run the other way, but Jared ignored it and walked back to the
staircase leading down. He couldn’t discern the bottom even with his ability to
see in the dark. Slowly, he crept down the stairs, gun at the ready. It felt
like an eternity until he reached the bottom. Time became irrelevant as every
minute stretched into what felt like hours. He jumped at every creak and
sifting of pebbles. At the bottom, the markings pointed off into the darkness.
An absolute darkness that pressed in on him. The shadows writhed at the corners
of his vision. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end as cold shivers
raced down his spine. The natural sunlight failed to penetrate the inky black
and Jared’s eyes transitioned to night vision, a by-product of nanite enhancements.
It seemed that when pushed into extreme circumstances, or survival depended on
something, the nanites adapted and allowed him to obtain special abilities,
like night vision and the ability to survive extreme temperatures.
Just as he started
relaxing, Jared heard a soft scrape and a nearly imperceptible pressure as
something brushed past his head.
He threw himself to the floor, eyes widening at the creature. A grotesque, mutated lizard clung to the ceiling, its legs coiled to spring at him. Thick, discolored saliva dripped from fangs as long as his arm, dozens of golden spider-like eyes following his movements. With no hesitation, Jared squeezed the trigger. The creature’s head exploded in a shower of black ichor and bits of gray brain matter. It plummeted towards him. He shoved away from it, barely avoiding being crushed by its shiny silver body as it slammed into the concrete floor. The quick evasion did nothing to prevent the shower of blood and gore. Spluttering and spitting, he tried to eliminate the metallic tasting remnants that made it into his mouth.
Jared shook his
head, the gunshot ringing in his ears. He needed to move, and fast. The gunshot
might’ve been a homing beacon for more of these things. Desperate to put distance
between himself and the disgusting creature, Jared sprinted up the tunnel following
the other explorer’s path. While he ran, he kept his eyes peeled, careful to
watch the ceiling for more of the lizards.
Jared no longer
cared about stealth or caution. He needed to find the body, recover the
supplies, and get out of the city. He rounded the next corner following the
markings and almost fell headlong into a large crater. He caught himself on the
edge and wind-milled his arms to regain balance. His tiptoes teetered on the edge
of the crater and he felt his balance shift back and forth. Finally, after a
several moments of sheer terror, his balance returned, and he managed to step
back from the ledge.
He’d almost fallen
into a pit that looked like the site of a bomb detonation. A closer examination
revealed piles of bones, refuse, and a collection of random equipment.
Tilting his head
to the side and moving further from the corner, Jared tried to determine what
It looks like— His mouth dropped open in astonishment. It’s a nest.
The blood drained from his face, and he shrank against the wall, cursing himself for making this journey. Paralyzed in fear, it took him several minutes before he was calm enough to peek around the corner. The last marking he’d followed ended a couple pillars back, and he didn’t see a new one. Fear coursed through him as he realized this might be the farthest his guide had made it. As if fate were playing a cruel joke on him, it was then he spotted a pair of black boots at the bottom of the nest. Jared slid to the ground and buried his face in his hands.
The explorer. I’ve come too far to abandon this farce
With shaky legs, he rose and skirted the massive nest.
up, Jared repeated a mantra in his mind. It’s
just a crater, it’s just a crater…
If he dwelled on
the nest and what might live in it, he’d succumb to cowardice and flee.
picked his way through the pile of refuse, periodically stopping to extricate
large bones that blocked his path. It was eerily quiet, the only sound his
ragged breathing as he tried to push past the overpowering scent of rot. With
each passing moment, his anxiety grew.
This is taking too long, and I don’t want to be here
when this thing returns!
the pair of worn leather boots, he started extracting bone after bone, looking
for any other equipment. Several minutes later, he uncovered a tattered
backpack hooked over a human ribcage. An audible gulp escaped his throat as he
looked into the empty eye sockets of the skull that used to sit atop the skeleton.
Holding his breath, Jared bent closer and breathed through his mouth. The smell
of death and decay intensified and raised bile to the back of his throat.
Careful not to
disturb the rest of the pile, Jared unhooked the straps from a cracked shoulder
blade and what was left of the rib cage. He’d successfully extracted the pack
and turned to leave when a strange object partially hidden by yellowing
skeleton limbs caught his attention. Already in over his head, Jared looked
closer, eager to find anything of value. He reached out and felt heat emanating
from what looked like a large rock.
Strange, he thought.
As his fingers brushed
the strange object, a jolt of electricity shot through his hand.
grunted and snatched his hand away. “What is this thing?”
Curiosity piqued, he reached out again. When his fingers neared the object, the hair on the back of his hand stood on end. Jared snatched his hand back again and decided that he needed to bring whatever this was with him. This was by far the most unique object he’d ever come across. If it generated some kind of electricity, it could be invaluable to him during his travels. As quickly and quietly as possible, Jared slid his pack off his back, stuffed the other explorer’s gear inside, and grabbed a spare shirt to wrap up the strange object. The electrified rock secured, Jared began the painful process of picking his way back across the crater to climb back up to the platform.
His trip up proved
much easier, and he breathed a sigh of relief after he’d made it to the
platform. No sooner had he reached it than he felt a reverberation through the
ground. Thinking it was his nerves and imagination, he ignored it until he
distinctly felt the vibration and with it a distant thump.
What the— Panic flooded through him. What could make the earthshake?
No way was he waiting to find out. Jared sprinted back the way he’d come. Just as he passed the decapitated corpse of the lizard, an ear-splitting roar shook his body to the core. A violent thrashing and growling erupted behind him as the unknown creature unleashed mayhem in the tunnel he’d just vacated. A moment later, a wave of intense agony assaulted his mind, causing him to stumble into the wall.
Jared glanced over his shoulder at his bag and contemplated dropping whatever it was he stole, but instead he bolted up the stairs, taking them four at a time as he sprinted up the shaft of daylight in the distance. Before he reached the halfway point, he caught sight of something lunging at him from his periphery. Ducking, another lizard-like creature soared over his head, crashing into the wall. He didn’t pause, but raced up the stairs, the creature fast on his heels. Jared dove through the opening, the sun’s golden rays bathing him in warmth. The split-second of euphoria didn’t last as the lizard launched through the opening, landing right on top of him.
Dangit! Stupid. Idiotic.
reprimanded himself for thinking these creatures confined to the underground
tunnel. The lizard pinned his arm before he managed to free his Colt. The
overgrown reptile snapped at his face, its shiny metallic head filled with
razor-sharp teeth and fangs. Gooey, hot saliva bathed his head and obscured his
muscles, Jared tried to force the creature off, but failed. It was strong, and
if he didn’t find some way to turn the tables, it would rip into his face.
In a desperate
move, Jared slammed his feet down and thrust his pelvis upward, throwing the
lizard back just enough to extricate his Colt. He angled the revolver into the
body of the creature and squeezed the trigger three times before the lizard
Soaked to the bone
in gore from both scuffles, Jared recovered quickly, picked up his pack from
where it’d fallen, and sprinted for the city’s edge.
The gigantic creature raged beneath the city, judging from the echoing of rock crumbling behind him. He thanked his good fortune no other creatures barred his path, and whatever he’d angered hadn’t surfaced to track him yet.
flight led to his safe haven, a small room in the remnants of the Statue of
Liberty. Breathing heavily, Jared dove into his hideaway beneath the melted
hunk of rusting statue. When he’d first come to New York, he’d cleared out the
entry and made his own barrier he could bar from the within.
Safe in his bunker, he sat back against the wall in exhaustion. He didn’t know how much time passed, but from the slant of the sun’s orange rays peeking in through the cracks, it neared dusk. He didn’t need the light to see, but trepidations about what the night would bring made him wish for the day to last longer.
“I almost died in
there,” Jared muttered to himself. “This backpack better be worth the risk.
There’s no freaking way I’m going back into that city.”
Even hours after the harrowing experience, he shook with adrenaline and fear. He could do nothing but sit there in abject terror waiting for his body to give him a moment’s reprieve. Eventually, it gave way to exhaustion and pushed him into a fitful slumber.
When he woke
several hours later, he could still hear distant shrieking and buildings
collapsing. Thankfully, it didn’t sound like it was any closer.
Rested and ready
to see what treasures he’d found, Jared pulled out the explorer’s pack from his
own. The mysterious electrical object discarded to one side, he opened the flap
on the other pack.
“Whoa,” breathed Jared.
“A worthy series kickoff with riveting characters and a world that readers will want to explore.” – Kirkus
“Radioactive Evolution features an exciting world, a plot that keeps moving, and a fun twist on the typical GameLit phenomenon. Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable romp in a Post-apocalyptic future. I’m already looking forward to seeing where Hummel goes from here!” – 5 Stars, LitRPG Reviews
About the Author:
It all started when he read the works of two Russian authors, D. Rus and Vasiliy Mahenenka. After devouring every one of their books, Richard Hummel became obsessed with the LitRPG / Gamelit genre, which basically combines MMORPG with Science Fiction & Fantasy. He started joining a ton of groups, mailing lists, and Discord servers talking to readers, authors, and professionals in the industry. He’d continually bounce ideas around until one day he realized that he had more than enough ideas to create his own world and characters. Then he buckled down, picked up a copy of Scrivener and went to work and Radioactive Evolution was born.
Radioactive Evolution: A Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Adventure is the first book in his new Sci-Fi Fantasy series. It was released in November 2018 and since then, has become an Amazon Bestseller.
Radioactive Evolution tells the story of a young man in a post-apocalyptic America who bonds with a dragon.
The series is recommended for readers who enjoy general SFF, Dark Fantasy, Dark YA, Cyberpunk, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Survival Story and anyone that is a gamer that likes RPGs since he has a system in place that allows the main character and his dragon companion to “level” themselves up through abilities and enhancing their bodies and minds.
By day, Richard Hummel is a cyber security analyst and father of two beautiful girls and a little boy on the way! He is currently hard at work on the second book in his series, which is set to be released Spring 2019. Stay tuned for more in this epic dystopian adventure!