Now you didn’t think I was going to post an excerpt from Silent Apocalypse without following it up with the same from Silent Resistance? Surely not? And you’d be right…
By the way, do you think that little girl who appears beneath the letter N in the word Resistance looks a tad dangerous? It was that look that made me choose this image as the cover. I even wrote a passage to include the scene. Any way – on with the excerpt…
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 cubby-hole in the dashboard of his Land Rover.
I watched as Tasman used the wing of the vehicle as a writing desk.
This is Graham Perkins. He is a professional farmer. We have invited him to tour the farm with view to taking a managerial role there. If favourable he would like volunteers to help him at his farm too. It would definitely benefit both farms, and widen our co-operative. I can vouch for his authenticity.
Regarding Felicity and myself; please do not be alarmed by our absence. We both have very important tasks to perform elsewhere that are not connected with the co-operative. I think you can guess what they might be, but please keep the truth from the younger ones. Rest assured we both intend to return one day.
I then added my signature to it, and handed it to Graham, who ran a cursory eye over it.
“Tasman?” He enquired. “I thought you said your name…”
“A nick-name.” I blurted. “Everyone knows him as Tasman.”
Quickly changing the subject, I added, “You know the way: Down the lane a while; then down the dirt track on the left.”
Graham nodded as he folded the note into a tight wad, and placed it in the breast pocket of his waxed cotton body warmer.
“So where are you two off to know, then?” He asked.
“We’d…um…We’d rather not say.” I replied.
Graham tapped the side of his nose for a second time. Winking, he said, “Don’t want me letting the cat out of the bag to Carl and the kids’ eh? Well that’s fine by me: We all got agendas what need seeing to. Now I aint exactly overflowing with the stuff, but I’m willing to spare a little diesel if you’re a needing a lift somewhere.”
It had been a kind offer, but we politely declined, and made our farewells. We watched as the Land Rover trundled away along the lane towards our former sanctuary. I felt buoyed by the encounter. It gave me hope for the future success of the farm. I also took it as an omen for what we were about to do.
“He’s not even considering turning down our offer, you know.” Tasman said as at last the vehicle disappeared from view, “He may not have mentioned the fact, but he and Carl went to school together. There was two years difference between them, but they knew each other well.”
I smiled at Graham’s ineffectual subterfuge. I stopped when Tasman added, “What’s an omen?”
“Hey!” I complained, “I thought you said that you wouldn’t read my thoughts?”
Tasman laughed. “I didn’t: You were leaking all over the place. I had to fight to keep your thoughts out. And yes, despite the terrible hair-do, you really are quite pretty.”
With that he ran off along the lane. With mock indignation I went in pursuit.
©Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
The problem with this story is that, very often, the random extract gives too much away. A spoiler, if you will. Fortunatley this is not one of those. I think it’s rather nice, and makes no hint of the blood-letting that is to follow. Oh, was that a spoiler in itself?
Anyway, this excellent tale of plucky youths fighting insurmountable odds is available at most e-book outlets. Check out the sidebar book covers or Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header