THIRTEEN‘s characters try to celebrate Christmas in an occupation zone.

Part 1 – The Crawlspace

Part 2 – The Boxes:

A tickle started deep in Jack’s throat. His mouth was drying up as it did whenever he thought about the detention centre and the images the soldiers showed them daily on their TVs. He moved to the kitchen to get a drink.

“Don’t go too far.”

“I’m just gonna grab a glass of water. Or am I not allowed to?”

She didn’t respond and picked up a box to take into the living room.

Jack grabbed a glass and opened the plastic box that held the daily drinking water supply. Every day the soldiers turned the power on for one hour so everyone could cook their daily meal and watch the General’s message on the TV. It was during that time they filled plastic storage boxes with tap water and charged all their electronic devices, which they weren’t supposed to have.

If the soldiers came to search their home all their electronics, except the TV, would be confiscated. Communication with the outside world was not permitted and although they’d turned off all the Internet connections, they didn’t like devices in the hands of the populous.

The room was cold and the water in the glass was warm. They needed to collect more wood to build a fire in the fireplace. Thankfully their house was older and still had a real brick fireplace many others weren’t so lucky and with no power, no gas, there was no heat in most homes.

Jack rubbed at his eyes. He was tired. Every day was a struggle. The only good thing that had happened since the invasion was there was no school. Though at this point, he’d take school if it meant forced air heating, running water and the Internet.

“Jack, bring in the Christmas tree box.”

Yep, he’d happily go back to school if it meant he didn’t have to spend so much time with his mom. She was getting on his nerves. He wasn’t her slave, damn it.

He picked up the biggest and heaviest box, which contained all the pieces of the fake tree they put up every year. The thing was awkward. He dropped it and kicked it into the room.

“Can you please not do that.”

“You try carrying it.”

“Bring the rest. Properly. I want to get the tree up before Nick get’s home.”

Nick. Jack was conflicted when it came to Nick. He’d moved into their home recently and taken over as the man of the house. That was Jack’s job after his dad left. It wasn’t fair that some cop, who happened to be sleeping with his mom, just pushed his way in and took over. The same cop who busted him for fireworks the night before the invasion.

This man. This cop. Had invaded their lives and no matter how much Jack tried to hate the guy, he couldn’t. Nick made his mom happy. He made things a bit easier. And, Jack had to admit, he liked doing things with him. It pissed him off that he did ‘cause it was betraying his dad.

His dad did have Bonnie though, and he’d left a couple years before Nick showed up. Still, as long as Nick was there his dad wasn’t. A rage started to build in Jack. It wasn’t fair. He threw a small box at his mom, it was her fault that his dad was gone.



“What is wrong with you?”


“Why’d you throw the box at my head then?”

“Cause I felt like it.”

“Go to your room.”

That was always her answer for everything. Send Jack to his room and throw away the key.

“Yes Warden Maman.”

He saluted her, turned on his heel and stomped up to his room.

Part Three – Dad’s Gone

Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PM Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN, a novel about a boy, his mom, a cop and an invading army. THIRTEEN is the first book in a series about North American kids trying to adjust to life under a totalitarian regime after a surprise attack utilizing terrorist and conventional tactics. 


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