Which is another way of saying that the recent tidy-up of these two (old) books…
…has been completed and both are back on sale. Now I can get on with creating the third book. I mean, everyone wants to write trilogy, don’t they? These two can be accessed via the sidebar or the Tooty’s Ebooks Available to Buy Here page.
It’s very difficult to find extracts that don’t contain spoilers; but here’s a couple of attempts. Unfortunately they don’t contain any ‘action’ because those segments are guaranteed, not only to include spoilers, but they are (at times) so violent that I was (when I re-read them) slightly shocked at my earler self’s blood-thirstiness. So, no nasty stuff here…
A stray shaft of sunlight shining in my eye woke me from my troubled slumbers. Straw may look comfortable but it pokes you in places you didn’t know you had, and it can really make a body itch. Fortunately the others had neglected to mention rats the previous night, so, when upon numerous occasions, I awoke to scratching sounds, or the weight of some furry animal running across my back I was greatly alarmed. If I’d known what to expect in advance I’m pretty certain I’d have taken a tent with me – or just slept beneath the stars, and hoped that it didn’t rain.
Now, as brightness attempted to blind my bleary eyes, I knew that I hated living rough.
‘Nature? You can keep it!’
Katherine, on the other hand, was full with the joys of spring. She already had a fire burning outside, and the smell of coffee perked me into a sitting position. I noticed the absence of Lee and Kevin immediately. As I wandered outside I enquired after them.
“My, who’s a sleepy head, then?” Katherine chided. She then answered my question, “They’ve gone hunting.”
“Lee went hunting with our only assault rifle?” I was surprised that Lee would willingly waste such irreplaceable ammunition.
“No, silly.” Katherine replied – offering me a cup of black, watery coffee.
“With Kevin.” She added, “The lad’s very good with snares.”
I admired Kevin: he was worth two of any other boy of his age. “He’s a little diamond.” I said as I sat myself beside Katherine.
The coffee was awful, but it was wet and warm, and at that moment it was enough. I gazed out upon the silent countryside, and let my brain slip into neutral.
Some unmeasured time later the boys returned with four dead rabbits. They were young. Perhaps born only a week or two after the virus had struck. It seemed such a crime for us to take life when it was so rare and precious. I must have said as much…
“Wanna eat, don’t you?” Lee was slightly miffed. He and Kevin had worked hard to make their catch. I apologized for my foolishness.
“Next time,” Kevin spoke eagerly to Lee, “I can show ya fish tickling.”
“Are there any?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Came Kevin’s positive response, “loads of ‘em. I seen ‘em in the river this morning.”
“Make mine trout.” Katherine put on her cut-glass accent, “Just like my men – I prefer them slightly soused.”
An hour later, with a rabbit each tied to our haversacks, we made our way along a dusty dirt track. It was a fine day, and in our childish ways we had shrugged off our troubles for the duration. This came to an abrupt end when a bullet kicked up the ground beside us. We all dived into a track side ditch. Struggling within the confined space we managed to struggle onto our fronts so that our haversacks might offer some protection. I saw Lee’s rabbit torn apart by an impact. With fear clearly evident in his eyes he looked back to me.
‘Have we walked straight into another war zone?’
Katherine’s voice calmed us: “You know I almost get the feeling we’re not wanted around here!”
She then shouted at the top of her lungs, “I say, you out there: stop that shooting nonsense this instant: we’re just passing through, for Heaven’s sake!”
A young male voice called from somewhere unseen: “Where ya headed?”
I cringed as Katherine cheekily replied, “What’s it to you? That’s none of your business.”
I detected uncertainty in the boys tone when next he spoke: “Ya not heading for the island are ya?”
We all exchanged looks.
“Island?” Lee enquired. “What island? There’s naff-all islands ‘round here.”
“The boy’s mad, obviously.” Katherine observed.
“P’raps it’s a secret island.” Kevin offered.
“It’d have to be top secret:” Lee spoke with a sarcastic tone in his voice, “We’re in the middle of the country! Remember Britain? Big island with water all ‘round it?”
Katherine decided it was time to reply, “No thanks: we don’t like islands. We like villages and farms and things like that.”
Kevin added, “We think islands are poop!”
We had to wait a few seconds while the mystery shooter digested this. After what seemed like a very uncomfortable century he spoke again, “If I promise not to shoot, will you stand up?”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014
As I consulted the AA roadmap in the rear seat of the bus I was very grateful for its all-inclusiveness. It showed minor roads that only locals would know about, which I hoped would take us to our destination without the need to travel upon trunk roads.
We’d pulled into a muddy lay-by upon a country ‘B’ road to find our route, but since it was raining outside I’d decided to spread the map over the largest flat surface available.
Karen could see that I was having difficulty reading the map, so she clambered to the rear of the bus, and parked herself opposite me. Following a cursory glance at the map she said. “Wrong page.”
I’d been running a fingertip over the surface of the map – following the coastline. I paused. “How do you know?” I asked.
“You told us that Winston Crag was rocky.” She explained. “The coastline you’re looking at there is low-lying, graduating to limestone, and finally sandstone. You’ll find no rocky prominences there: It’s all been worn down by the sea.” She then flipped the map over and pointed to a completely different part of the coastline.
As she’d been speaking her eyes had been studying the map. “There.” She said as she laid a finger upon the map. “Winston Crag. You’re right, it isn’t too far away.”
I thanked Karen, who promptly forgot me and called Kylie to join her. Together they selected the best route.
‘Suits me; I never wanted to be known as ‘Pathfinder Goldsmith’ anyway.’
After drawing in their route with a pencil Kylie chose to include me in their conversation. “So what will we find when we get there?” She inquired.
With no guarantee that we would reach our destination unmolested I thought it best that only I should know the answer to that question. If my friends knew nothing they couldn’t be expected to tell anyone whether it be under interrogation; hypnotism; or any technique for extracting information.
“The less they know,” I’d said earlier to Tasman, “the less can be forced out of them if we’re captured.”
“Fine,” he’d replied, “but suppose something horrible happens to you en route: they won’t know what to look for when they arrive.”
“In which case it won’t matter.” I countered. “The gig will be up. Our silent resistance ends with our death, capture, or incapacitation.”
So now I found myself unwilling to share my secrets with my friends and allies. “Sorry.” I said weakly.
Both girls shrugged their shoulders. “I’m sure it’ll make the surprise all the more exciting.” Karen said as she passed the map to Kylie, before adding, “Okay, Driver – drive on.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014