Every so often I try to introduce readers of this blog to my more serious fiction. It’s not exactly plentiful. Four books in total – and I haven’t written a new one in years. But oldies can be goldies – right? Right! And just to prove it, here is a sample from this book/e-book…
Although it was now over a year since disaster had struck across the entire globe, and reduced humanity to scattered remnants, we were still careful to walk at the side of the road, and be prepared to leap to safety on the verge or through a hedge. Few cars remained running – their owners eking out what remained of their precious fuel – but we weren’t surprised to hear the approach of an aging diesel engine.
Stepping onto the grassy verge we checked each other’s haversacks for signs of protruding semi-automatics. Of course, had there been a need for rapid deployment of self-defence weapons, we both carried Colonel Cosgrove-supplied Berreta 84Fs strapped to our ankles.
Unsurprisingly a well-worn four-wheel-drive vehicle rounded the nearest corner. It was towing a small trailer upon which several straw bales were lashed expertly. I couldn’t help but notice that the vehicle was a Land Rover, and appeared to my eyes to be identical to the one in which Candice had sacrificed her life so that the rest of us could escape the clutches of Nigel Hawley and his private army. It even had the same fawn canvas cover on the rear bed. Even now I could still see that cover bursting off as the two hand grenades exploded inside the vehicle.
I must have made some sound at the recollection, because Tasman’s head snapped around to look at me.
“What is it?” He said nervously as his hand began to reach downwards towards his hidden Beretta.
I shook my head. “Nothing.” I said, “Don’t worry about me. Just concentrate on the driver; see if you can deduce his intentions.”
It was necessary for Tasman to relax in order to best use his telepathic powers. He shook his joints loose; closed his eyes; and breathed out slowly through his nose.
“I don’t get a name.” He said as the Land Rover laboured up the rise to where we stood, “But he comes across as non-belligerent. Ah, he’s a farmer’s son. Hmm – he seems to be having trouble keeping the farm going. Lack of staff, maybe. He could be eyeing us up as potential work-mates.”
“No thanks; done that; bought several T-shirts.” I replied. “Is he alone?”
Tasman nodded. Moments later the vehicle covered the final few metres.
“Here he comes.” I said out of the side of my mouth. “Big cheesy smiles.”
As the Land Rover pulled alongside us, we could barely hear the driver’s cheerful hail above the din of its clattering diesel engine.
“Hello, you two.” He shouted from the side window of the two-seat cabin, “You’re from yon farm along the way, aint ya?”
I raised an eyebrow at this; I was somewhat surprised that the young man of (I estimated) eighteen or nineteen was aware of us. We’d chosen a well-hidden spot in a shallow valley that was all but invisible from the road.
He must have read my mind because he tapped the side of his nose, winked, and said, “Spent all me life ‘round these parts: pays to know who the competition are – ‘specially during times of plague and pestilence.”
“Yes, I imagine so.” I said as I extended a hand towards him. “Felicity Goldsmith.”
“Graham Perkins.” He replied – cutting the engine, and taking my fingers in his huge, calloused hands. “It’s nice to meet someone’s what’s civilised for a change.”
I was surprised at the coarseness of his hands. They felt like those of a man three times his age that had spent a lifetime tilling the land.
‘A farmer’s son. I think I can trust this man.’
Tasman then introduced himself as Brian Wilkins. I was glad that Tasman had slipped in a pair of his contact lenses; explaining his oblong pupils would have been problematical.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Graham spoke to both of us, “but I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on your farm. I figured everybody’d be here when I found Soverton empty a few months back.”
I nodded; it was from the village of Soverton that we’d recruited the members of our co-operative.
“If you don’t mind me saying,” Graham was continuing, “you could use a bit of expertise down there.”
Although I bristled inside, I said nothing to the older boy. I merely looked at him with what I hoped was an inquiring expression.
“Them winter crops in the lower field.” He went on, “You need to sow ‘em further up the slope.”
Tasman threw me a glance. I could read nothing into it, and so wished that he could have used his telepathy upon me.
“Would you be interested in joining our co-operative?” He asked the young farmer.
Graham pretended to pause for thought. “Well I wasn’t exactly planning on something quite so bold.” He replied eventually.
Tasman continued as though the other boy hadn’t spoken, “It’s just that Felicity and I have business elsewhere, and it’s…you know…”
It let his words trail off into nothingness.
Graham grinned. “And you’d like someone what knows what he’s doing to take over?” He said hopefully.
“Pretty much.” Tasman replied.
I was surprised at the sudden turn of events.
‘Hey, this isn’t part of the master plan!’
I was concerned that we were in the process of giving away the fruits of many week’s labour to a complete stranger.
‘But wait a moment, Fel: Tasman might be too polite to read your mind, but you can bet your last…whatever…that he’s read Graham’s. Now would be the perfect time for two-way silent communication between us.’
I tried ‘sending’ Tasman a thought, but I expected him to be too busy concentrating his attention upon Graham to even begin to ‘hear’ me.
“Is this boy the real deal?”
Tasman’s eyes flicked in my direction: I detected the minutest of nods.
Graham appeared to be prevaricating, though I was certain it was just an act.
“It’s not every day that a lad your age gets offered the manager’s job on a working farm, complete with live-in staff.” I pointed out to him.
Graham’s head tipped to one side slightly in agreement. He then added, “No, and it isn’t every day that world ends either.”
I wasn’t absolutely certain what he meant by that remark. Perhaps he had more work on his hands than he could deal with. Maybe running our farm as well as his own would be too much for him.
“Could you give me a tour?” He inquired.
Had he asked the question twenty-four hours earlier, Tasman would undoubtedly have agreed to his request: But today wasn’t yesterday. Although no one at the farm knew it yet, Tasman and I were Absent Without Leave. Or in Lee’s parlance, we’d ‘done a runner’. We couldn’t go back; it would require that we explain the reason for our departure, and then face all the arguments that would no doubt be intended to keep us there.
“Tell you what.” Tasman said, “You know where the turning to the farm is: If I write a quick note of introduction, you can find your own way there. Ask for Carl, and show it to him. He’ll gladly show you around. He knows the farm isn’t nearly as efficient as it should be, and could use some pointers. And if truth be known – we’re a little over-manned: Perhaps you could take a few kids back to your place?”
This must have been exactly what Graham had wanted to hear. “I accept your kind offer.” He said whilst shaking Tasman’s hand.
He then produced a dog-eared note pad and an almost blunt pencil from a cubbyhole in the dashboard of his Land Rover.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
Needless to say, this charming (and at times violent) e-book is available all over the place – see beneath the header, or on the sidebar, for some of the better-known outlets – and as a paperback at Lulu.com.