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Book Release: The Hemingway Bible

Question everything you believe.

Author Shawn Casselberry has released a new Sci-fi novel called The Hemingway Bible (Story Sanctum, 2024).

Scientist and atheist Dr. Lydia Cheyenne Wagner thinks she's the only survivor of an asteroid strike she predicted until she discovers Father Jules, a devout priest who has "miraculously" survived.

Their beliefs and personalities clash as they try to find a way to peacefully coexist in a post-apocalyptic world.

Everything changes when they encounter a fanatical teenage cult that has made a Hemingway novel their Bible.

The erratic cult leader, known as the Captain, wages war against any unbelievers, causing Dr. Lydia and Father Jules to choose sides in a life and death battle over what is faith, what is fact, and what is fiction.

The Hemingway Bible is a provocative, engaging post-apocalyptic story about the dangers of religious extremism and the urgent need to come together across the ideologies that divide us.

Available now on Amazon and other online retailers.

Read an excerpt from the opening two chapters:

“One generation passeth away, and another generation

cometh: but the earth abideth forever." Ecclesiastes 11:4


The Scientist


[These are the original writings of Dr. Lydia Cheyenne

Wagner detailing the events following the annihilation.]

The Beginning

This is the beginning of something new, I repeat like a

mantra, even though it feels like the end.

Gripping the steel latch of the pressure sealed door, I

pause, not sure I’m ready to see the devastation on the other

side. The geiger counter registers safe levels of ionized

radiation, but I wear a constrictive, silver hazmat suit as an

extra precaution.

Here goes... everything.

I whip the door open, and push back the decomposed

remains of two bodies in a final lover’s embrace.

Death is everywhere. The old growth forest

overhead is stripped bare, orange dust covers the ground

like century-old rust. The sun is brighter than I remember,

shining above like an ambivalent god, unphased by all the

trauma and tragedy our planet has endured. There are no

sounds of birds in the air or movement of any kind, animal

or human. There is nothing but soul-crushing silence.

I’m the only survivor.

I let the heaviness of that sink in. I don’t have time

to entertain hopes. I’m a scientist, trained to think rationally.

I don’t take leaps of faith unless I am damn sure there is a

safety net below.

That’s why I had built a fully functional underground

station and took shelter for over a year. It’s why I warned the

world the asteroid was coming, despite the government’s

denials and lies. I tried to save them, I tried to save them all.

Why didn’t they listen? Why didn’t anyone listen?

Normally I’m calculated, controlled. Seeing the

devastation untethers me. I fall to my knees on the forest

floor, despair rising from my chest and tightening like a

vice grip around my throat. I rip off the face guard of my

suit to let in some fresh air, feeling like a baby gasping for

their first breath. I throw up my breakfast, then pound my

fists into the forest floor next to the corpses.

For a moment, I envy the dead. I envy all humanity

for being spared from this hell on earth: the end of all life.

Then I see something move in my peripheral vision.

A lone cockroach crawls out from underneath a rotted log.

By fate, luck, and natural selection, we have both survived.

I smile weakly, pick myself up, and return to the bunker

with renewed purpose. This isn’t the end.

This is the beginning of something new.


My SHTF plan

There are no other signs of human life anywhere. I’ve gone

from Tacoma to the coast of Oregon, nothing but charred

bodies. Schools, hospitals, synagogues, and churches, all

reduced to rubble. Even Costco is flattened like a football


All telecommunication systems are nonfunctional.

All computer servers are down permanently. Everything

saved in the cloud is lost forever, as is the cloud itself. The

AI revolution everyone feared is now a footnote in history,

as is every major corporation, including Amazon, Meta,

and Starbucks. Everything that we thought we couldn’t live

without... gone.

My only means of transportation is a solar powered

UTV 4-wheeler that allows me to navigate this new post-

annihilation world. The car manufacturers had refused to

make solar vehicles, preferring electric cars that were as

dependent on fossil fuels as the cars before them were

dependent on gas. So I did it myself.

But I don’t have time to gloat, and no one’s around to

hear me say, “I told you so!” My deepest fears are realized.

I am completely and utterly alone. I know it’s unlikely there

are any other survivors. What the asteroid and subsequent

nuclear fallout didn’t destroy, the contaminated waterways

and decimated food supply chain would have. Within

months, radiation and starvation would have wiped out any

other humans who may have happened to survive the initial


Things could have been different, if they only would

have believed me. By they I mean everybody. The president

convinced the government, the media, and average citizens,

including my own family and friends, there was no threat.

Even the religious fanatics didn’t heed my warning. I mean,

I thought end of the world prophecies were their sweet spot.

But what can I say? If the roles were reversed, would I have

listened to them? Not unless the science checked out. As

my math teachers were so fond of saying, “You have to

show your work.”

And I did. I presented it in every conceivable format.

I wrote articles, I did interviews, I spoke at conferences.

I even did a podcast, for Christ’s sake. I guess that’s one

benefit of the end of the world. No more podcasts.

I would have been another casualty had it not been

for my scientific foresight and a state of the art underground

station I had built to my unique specifications to get me

to the other side of the Paw (Post-apocalyptic world).

My preparations led me deep into the world of preppers,

survivalists, and end times believers, but our reasons

couldn’t have been more different. I wasn’t trying to get off

the grid to avoid the government, and I sure as hell wasn’t

bracing myself for a biblical armageddon. I was doing what

I was trained to do: follow the science. Who knew that

doing that would lead me down a rabbit hole of nuclear

fallout bunkers and disaster preppers.

I had come a long way since my first encounter,

before I figured out whether I was a survivalist or a prepper.

I didn’t know there was a difference until a guy named

Lenford asked me which one I was. Lenford ran a small

doomsday supply shop out of his house in Oregon called

“Boom!” When he mentioned Nikita Khrushchev within

the first five minutes, I knew he’d be a good source of

information (I would later learn that Khrushchev was a

household name among preppers due to his involvement in

the nuclear standoff between the United States and Russia

in the 1950s which spurred the nuclear bunker movement).

On the wall behind Lenford were signs that read, “Shoot

first, ask questions later,” and “Beware: I shoot bears,

Communists, and Communist bears.”

“See, survivalists live off the land, they don’t carry

much on ‘em, and they’re usually not armed,” he instructed

as he cleaned out an assault rifle. “Preppers, we live in

shelters with the comforts of home, living off our supplies...

and we’re heavily armed.” He looked down at the rifle in

case I didn’t believe him.

“I see,” I said, even though I wasn’t sure I did.

“The real question is,” Lenford asked me. “What’s

your SHTF plan?” He cocked the rifle and looked through

the scope at an invisible enemy behind me. Once I confirmed

that a real life bear or communist hadn’t snuck up behind

me, I asked, “My what plan?”

He lowered the rifle onto the counter, satisfied with

his work. “Your SHTF plan?”

When I didn’t answer, he spelled it out impatiently:

“What’s your plan when shit hits the fan?”

“Oh, right. I’m not sure. I’m looking into an

underground bunker.”

He gave an approving smile. “You’re a prepper


“Yeah, I guess. But I wouldn’t mind learning to live

off the land, too.”

His smile disappeared.

“But yeah, mainly a prepper.”

I would interview thirty or forty more guys like

Lenford, and a few women too, just for good measure. I

learned that even among preppers there were big differences.

Most of them had specific emergencies they were concerned

about. For some it was a nuclear attack, for others it was

epidemics, economic downturns, or EMP blasts. One guy

just said, “China,” when I asked why he built his bomb

shelter. It was like rush week in college—everyone had

their favorite doomsday scenario, and the disaster they

feared most determined the kind of preparations they made.

That’s why I spent most of my time with the

Khrushchev types. They had their eyes on the prize, the

nuclear radioactivity prize. I picked their brains and took

their advice for the most part. I even bought a pistol just in

case I needed to defend myself from a lawless mob, which

was Lenford’s suggestion based on his post-apocalyptic

fears of another civil war. Technically, Lenford suggested

an assault rifle like the one he was cleaning, but I settled for

the pistol. He seemed disappointed in me for that, too.

From someone named Beverly Devoe, I learned

everything I needed to know about food supplies. I spent

over four grand on freeze dried food, MREs (meals ready to

eat), and a year’s supply of canned goods from a Mormon

Food Canning Center. Beverly, who was a member of the

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informed me

that all the families in their church were encouraged to

have a year’s supply of food just in case of emergency. I

learned a lot from folks like Lenford and Beverly, mostly

how preparation was half the battle.

But I also knew things they didn’t know from my

research of closed systems and nuclear, biological, and

chemical filtration units. Like the lessons of the Arizona

State University Biosphere 2 project, the most ambitious

experiment in communal isolation ever conducted. Back

in the 1990s, a crew of four men and four women locked

themselves inside a three-acre glass complex to see if they

could survive in a closed system for two years. It didn’t end

well. Not because they lacked technology or education, but

due to infighting among the scientists and malnutrition. I’m

alone here so I don’t have to worry about infighting, and

I’m carefully monitoring my nutrition. Check. Check.

Additionally, the average Joe who builds a fallout

shelter in their backyard typically doesn’t account for the

little things like bug infiltrations or rain damage. I learned

it takes real money to build the kind of shelter you need to

avoid a global disaster like the one we were facing. And

banks don’t give out mortgages for doomsteads. You have

to pay cash.

Mine cost a little over $2.3 million—my entire

retirement savings—which sounds like a lot, but once you

factor in a thousand pound blast door that can be locked

down at a moment’s notice and the filtration system with

three military-grade filters each providing 2,000-cubic feet

per minute of filtration at $30,000 a pop, it adds up quickly.

Then there was the drilling of four deep subterranean

geothermal wells for the water filtration system that uses

UV sterilization and carbon paper filters. The system can

filter 2,000 gallons of water a day into three electronically-

monitored 10,000 gallon tanks which was more than

enough to sustain me until the radiation cleared and it was

safe again to go out. Power to the station was supplied by

four different redundant generators so if one went out, I

would still have three backups. This wasn’t something to

pinch pennies on because if there was no power, then I’d be

as dead as the bodies outside the station.

Thanks to the miracle of science and the art of

prepping, I’m still here. I know I really should be grateful

just to be alive, to have been spared from this nuclear

holocaust, but seeing the aftermath feels like a trauma from

which I’ll never recover.

Available now on Amazon and other online retailers.


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