When Covid 19 made its less-than-merry way into our global consciousness, I thought it best that I stop promoting this pair of rather entertaining books…
The reason: both tales are set in the wake of a global pandemic. It didn’t feel right to keep promoting them. So I didn’t. But a fellow scribe has told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should make no apologies for the books, and continue to promote them. It is advice that I’ve chosen to take. So, if you don’t mind, here is a brief extract from the original and its sequel…
Only Donald wanted to know about the ‘nuts ‘n’ bolts’ of the operation; but that would also have to come later. It was quite possible that in time Cosgrove may have laid all the facts out for him to peruse; but he had information to impart to all of us, that although it wasn’t vital we know, would make it much easier to accept what would later happen to us. He explained that the ‘Intake Centres’ were the first point of contact between the organization that employed him – and the survivors of the virus. He apologized for the apparent elitism within their system of selection, but, because of the physical restraints upon them – time, space, logistics, etceteras – that it was incumbent upon them to select only those who proved themselves most capable. In short – only those who could discover, and then decipher, ‘The Whispers’, and act accordingly.
The organization that he worked for turned out to be a special branch of the United Nations. This information took me back to pre-virus days, and my father bitterly complaining about the inability of the U.N to deal with trouble spots anywhere in the world, whilst trying to solve all of its ills everywhere. At best he accused them of dithering. At other times he called them toothless dogs, or spineless jellyfish – which always amused me. Jellyfish really are spineless.
Cosgrove must have had a similar disposition toward that vast organization, because he added, “But we are a special branch of the U.N: We actually do what we say we’ll do. I think that makes us pretty unique.”
Katherine had replied, “Oh joy unconstrained: Civilization has fallen, and mankind is all but extinct: But we’re still being pushed around by governmental organizations. You truly are unique: There are no others like you. For that, at least, we should thank the plague. You know, I’m not sure that I didn’t prefer a roving existence.”
I was quite shocked. How could Katherine be so rude to a man who was so clearly our benefactor? I think Cosgrove was surprised too. He went to reply, but Katherine forestalled him; or thought she had.
“And don’t show me the door. Don’t say ‘well if that’s what you want…’ We all know that now we’ve seen your little operation, none of us will ever see the sunlight again. We might talk to someone: Let something slip over tea and biscuits: You might be discovered.”
Cosgrove gave her outburst several seconds of thought. He first stroked his lightly-stubbled jaw and then rubbed the back of his neck. Turning his attention back to her he said, “You know – you’re right – about everything. I hadn’t looked at that way before: I’ve been so wrapped up with this place since its inception that perhaps I’ve failed to really notice some of the more draconian measures we’ve been forced to adopt. You are so right. But if you perceive us in the negative…if your perception of us is of a top-heavy bureaucracy full of control freaks, then you are absolutely wrong. We’re not here to control the remnants of mankind: We’re here to, firstly save it; then reorganize it; then set it to the task of retaking our planet.”
Clearly Katherine wasn’t convinced by his words; though I was ready to don the blue beret that very moment:
“You make it sound like a war.”
Cosgrove’s passion cooled. “I was coming to that; but you’ve pre-empted me.”
“Oh – no,” Lee’s voice had taken on the tone of the totally dispirited.
We all looked at him. “What’s that?” Donald asked.
Lee shifted in his seat, “Don’t you see? We are at war: The virus wasn’t no accident, or a terrorist strike gone wonky: It was…what do you call it when someone means to do something in advance?”
“Premeditated?” I suggested.
“It was a premeditated attack.” He continued, “Someone tried to wipe us out. Everything on the whole flamin’ planet!”
Katherine looked at him as if he’d lost his mind, “You’re joking, right? Who would do that? That’s ridiculous. I mean – who would have anything to gain from it?”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
I hadn’t been counting the seconds, but I assumed that Tasman would have reached the shattered fire escape door by now. I could only guess how torn he must be now: If he fired upon the dogs our presence would be proven. At best the Espeeg would come out shooting – with weapons that would reload an infinite number of times if necessary: At worst they would call for help or fly away to fetch it.
‘Don’t you just love a worst case scenario!’
My fraught nerves were then pushed beyond their design parameters when our captive began squirming violently – apparently able to slip out of his bonds with ridiculous ease. Worst still he opened his visor and started shouting.
I turned my gun upon him. “Shut up!” I screamed.
But of course he didn’t. I suppose, in his way, he was really rather heroic. In a moment of unforgivable anger I put a single sliver through his open face plate. He stopped shouting, and crashed forward onto what remained of his face.
“Next time do as I say!” I yelled at his still form, “You stupid – stupid – boy!”
Then as good sense reasserted itself I turned my attention to the flying machine and the dogs. The machine remained quiescent, but two of the dogs had begun an investigation of the noise, and were approaching the door. Despite my rising panic I maintained enough self-control to remember that I had a very finite number of slivers in the butt of my hand gun. It took me two seconds to have the MP7 off of my shoulder; into my hands; and ready for action. It took another to step into view. But I never pulled the trigger because from high upon the hillside five eight point nine five millimetre bullets were streaking downwards at supersonic speed. The first two careened wildly off the imperfect concrete surface; the second two entered the body of the leading animal at neck and abdomen; the last crashed into the following dog’s brain through the eye socket. Both stumbled – momentarily unaware that they were already dead – then flopped to the ground.
The courage of the remaining four dogs was undeniable because as one they ran at the door – their intentions perfectly clear. Again Jason opened up from the hillside, but this time the animals were more widely spaced and moving faster. Only one bullet struck home, and that did no more than slow down the powerful beast. It was up to me and Tasman now. The game was up: the battle lost: we’d go down fighting.
The Heckler and Koch MP7 hadn’t been designed as an assault rifle; it was intended for use as a personal defence weapon. And in that I role I doubt it has ever been surpassed. When finally I used it as its designers had intended it didn’t let me down. Its accuracy and rate of fire – not to mention its large calibre munitions – astonished me. The slightest hint of a tug upon the trigger – and a dog went down. Shift, aim, tug, fire: shift, aim, tug, fire. Three dogs were taken out of the fight in as many seconds. But three seconds is a long time in a fight – especially when your targets are fast-moving and headed in your direction. The fourth was almost upon me; I had no time to aim, and nowhere to run. So in desperation I slipped the gun down to my hip and pulled hard upon the trigger. For a brief moment I was blinded by the air in front of me as it seemed to erupt with flame, lead, and white-hot tracer rounds. Taking an involuntary step backwards I realised that less than a second had elapsed and my magazine was empty; but the last dog standing wasn’t anymore. It thrashed about upon the concrete at my feet – blood spurting from wounds to both shoulders – its jaws snapping at me as if hell bent upon revenge.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
If you’re thinking: “He wrote both books in one year? Jeez, they must be crap!” please don’t. I wrote the first one in 2004. I then re-wrote it in 2014 after completing the sequel earlier in the same year, which, hopefully, brought it up to that book’s standard. Anyway, they’re both very readable – if violent at times. I’ve discontinued the paperbacks, but the e-books remain on sale at most e-book retailers. Take your pick. The most popular ones are accessed via the ‘Tooty’s Books Available Here’ page beneath the header of this blog.