The Fire-Us Trilogy (Book 1: The Kindling, Book 2: Keepers of the Flame, and Book 3: The Kilvbhvmhn) is a series of post-apocalyptic young adult fiction by Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher. The series begins in 2007, five years after a plague of unknown origin has killed the vast majority of the human population. The plot concerns the family, a group of genetically unrelated orphan children living in the small fictional town of Lazarus, Florida.
The older children, now approaching adolescence, attempt to emulate the behavior of the "first families" which they belonged to before the plague. However, Armstrong and Butcher depict the children as traumatized and ill-equipped to handle the world around them, the youngest being barely more than 300 toddlers at the time of the "Fire-Us," the children's name for the contagion. The girl named Teacher takes on the responsibility of educating the younger children, Puppy, Kitty, Baby, Doll, Teddy Bear and Action Figure. Teacher compulsively collects information concerning the Fire-Us and the collapsed civilization in The Book, a scrap book which she adds to in a trancelike state. In reality, The Book seems to be a meaningless collection of advertisements, half-remembered news segments, and bits of instruction manuals. Similarly, Mommy makes the children "brush our teeth and take vitamins and eat good food instead of just candy." Mommy refuses to leave the house, and suffers from extreme agoraphobia. Both Mommy and Teacher are frequently frustrated by Action Figure, who frequently skips lessons and meals to go out scavenging with Hunter, an older boy who searches Lazarus for rapidly dwindling food.
As the family comes to grips with their increasingly desperate situation, they encounter a disturbed older boy who wanders into Lazarus dragging a mannequin on his back. The family call him Angerman, a mispronunciation of "anchorman", because of his tendency to give semi-coherent monologues in the style of a newscaster. The "news" often ends with Angerman succumbing to his own frustration at not being able to remember the events he is "reporting". Angerman's thought process is constantly interrupted by the hostile commentary of Bad Guy, the boy's name for the mannequin he carries with him. Angerman blames Bad Guy for the Fire-Us in particular, and frequently attacks the mannequin to "shut him up", although Angerman is the only one who hears Bad Guy "talking". Concurrent with Angerman's arrival is the discovery of Puppy and Kitty, two small children who speak only in animal noises. These children amaze the Family, as they clearly were born after the Fire-us, though all the adults were supposedly killed.
After hearing one of Angerman's "reports", the family hatches a plan to travel to Washington D.C. to find the President. On their way they encounter the Keepers, a group of religious fundamentalist adults living in an abandoned mall, and a helpful enclave of elderly women living in a retirement community. The Keepers, who name themselves after Bible verses, believe the Fire-us was a miracle sent to cleanse the Earth and allow the chosen ones to start afresh. An adolescent girl, Cory, has grown disillusioned with the movement after her older sister was "chosen" to become one of the leader's companions, and she joins the Family as they head to Camp David, where the President supposedly is, the Keepers hot on their trail. At Camp David, it is revealed that the President is none other than the leader of the Keepers, and it was he who unleashed the original Fire-us, protecting himself and his followers in a bunker. He has since been bringing young girls to his camp in an attempt to recreate a new race all descended from him, subjecting the children born to these to girls to a trial by fire few survive. Puppy and Kitty (who are revealed to be the children of Cory's sister), are captured and are going to be submitted to this trial. Before they can, Angerman kidnaps the President and holds him at gunpoint, despite the fact that the President is holding another vial of the Fire-us, which, if broken, could destroy the world again. Angerman is mad with grief, having realized that the President is in fact his father, and yet left himself, his brother, and his mother to die while he saved his followers. In the end, Cory manages to take the gun, and lock herself and the President in one of the air-tight bunkers as the vial breaks, saving the world (it is implied she also shoots him and herself, rather than die of the disease). The series ends on a note of hope, as the family decides to head to Washington state, in search of a new home and other survivors.