By that I mean that since it is Barnes & Noble Nook users that buy my ‘Silent’ books, I figure they (the books – both E and paperbacks) can’t be bad. But I need other e-reader users to give them a try – if only to break the monotony of reading the book sales specs at Lulu.com. So here is a sample of this book…
…for Kindle, Kobo, and other e-reader readers to try.
Disregarding the larger flints that would require someone with the strength and skills of an Olympic shot-putter to hurl we shouldered out MP7s and began collecting a pile of fist sized stones at the edge of (what experience had taught us was) the danger zone.
By now the others upon the hill could see what we planned, and as a consequence Jason wasted no more ammunition.
“How do you think we should throw them?” I inquired after hefting an asymmetric flint from one hand to the other. “Under arm, over arm, or like a discus thrower?”
Tasman held a flint of his own awkwardly.
“Under arm is less likely to get our hands cut on these sharp edges, but it won’t travel far: We don’t want the mines getting quite that close. Discus thrower fashion is going to lose us a lot of skin. So I suppose it’ll have to be over arm. Are you any good at it?”
“I bowled for the school cricket team.” I informed him proudly. “Girls first eleven.”
He gave me a look.
“I don’t know what that means.” He said. “Somehow I doubt it means much to anybody.”
“Cricket.” I said with disbelief. “Only the finest sport ever invented. It means that I can probably throw a flint further than you can.”
“Good,” he said as he passed me his flint, “because I’m rubbish at it.”
Ideally I should have worn a pair of gloves to protect the palms of my hands, but since I didn’t have access to any it was pretty much a moot point. So selecting the least jagged examples of the sharp hardened remains of millions-of-years-dead sea sponges I tried a short run up and bowled with my best spin bowler technique. This may have been reasonably effective against a nervous batsman standing at the crease upon the playing field of my old school, but neither Tasman nor I thought that the flint flew far enough for comfort.
“Is there a faster technique?” He asked. “One that will carry the flint far away from us – towards the fence?”
If the situation weren’t so desperate I would have laughed at us.
“Yes.” I replied. “It’s called fast bowling.”
“Have you ever done it?”
“Are you any good at it?”
“I’m a spin bowler.”
“Well try it anyway.”
I gave him a friendly punch in the arm; walked backwards for twenty metres or so; broke into a run, and with what was probably the best fast ball of my short cricketing career hurled the rock against the fence. It bounced back a couple of metres before hitting the ground hard and rolling briefly.
“That should get its attention.” I said triumphantly.
After another three attempts I was beginning to think that I was good on theory, but weak on practise. So far I’d elicited exactly zero response from the cybernetic guardians of the lemonade factory.
“They must be on a tea break.” Kylie said breathlessly as she strolled up behind us. Spotting my annoyed expression she added, “I could see what you were attempting, and ran down here to help. If you’re hoping to convince the mines that those flints are someone’s feet, you’re going to have to be…well a whole lot more convincing.”
“More convincing?” Tasman and I said unison.
“Footfalls.” Kylie explained. “We’re going to have to make the stones fall closer together – in a rhythmic fashion. It needs to emulate the sound of someone walking. We’ll need to throw them quite close to us, but have them move forwards toward the fence at walking pace. It’ll take some care to make it convincing. Up for it?”
To everyone’s surprise Tasman grasped Kylie by the shoulders and slapped a huge kiss upon her lips.
“Kylie,” he said as he stepped away, “you are a genius.”
I was shocked and surprisingly hurt by his action.
‘Hey, what about me? I’ve been pretty brilliant of late too!’
Although I hadn’t said the words, Tasman may have heard them, or at least surmised their existence because he turned about; took hold of my shoulders in a considerably less desperate embrace; gently placed his lips against mine, and…lingered…for uncounted seconds.
“I guess that means that you’re some kind of genius too.” Kylie said through the pounding in both my chest and my head.
As Tasman slowly disengaged from me I could see his eyes sparkle – despite the contact lenses that hid his origins.
“I never knew.” I said with my mind.
“I’m not one to pry.” I heard his silent reply. “I only found out a few moments ago. I’m as surprised as anyone.”
Then emotion flooded my brain, and all conversation was lost. I threw myself into his arms, and held on to him for what I hoped was eternity. He didn’t resist.
“Excuse me!” I heard Kylie said in mock disapproval. “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to get started now? We don’t have all day!”
Her words overrode my natural instincts and returned me to the task at hand. I had to pull myself together mentally in order to think clearly.
“Yes-yes, of course.” I said, and hoped that it didn’t come out sounding like I was flustered.
‘Inwardly embarrassing – if nothing else.’
I’m not sure that Tasman fared much better. Worse perhaps: he said nothing.
“Right,” Kylie said, “I’ll throw the first; you throw the second. I’ll throw the third; you throw the fourth, and so on ad nauseam. We’ll start a couple of yards in, then move forwards just under a metre each time. Okay? Tasman – it’s your job to keep us supplied. Okay children, this is precision work here: let’s go!”
It felt good to have someone else give the commands for a change: not to have to think of everything: to merely act. Initially I found the task more difficult than I’d expected. I think Kylie did too. Odd-shaped flints and accuracy are not a marriage made in heaven.
‘Mutually exclusive, I think they call it.’
Some of the metaphorical ‘steps’ that we were taking were more akin to a camel than a human being, and on one or two occasions more akin to the footfalls of an elephant; others a pygmy shrew. But we made progress, and slowly the stones fell further and further from us, until they began to approach the fence.
It was Tasman’s sharp eyes that caught the first sign of movement in the soil to our left, and approximately half way to the fence.
“Be prepared to run like hell for the hill.” He said as he handed us both a flint. “One of them has taken the bait.
After handing us both another flint he made a quick gesture to those waiting upon the hill. After the next two he was able to point in a specific direction.
I didn’t want to break my concentration, so I dared not take a peek myself. Instead Kylie and I continued to mimic the best human gait that we could with nothing more than flints; good estimation; and a steady hand.
© Paul Trevor Nolan