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Perfectly Imperfect

I figured that if I exhibited a sample of one of my Causality Merchant books, I would be remiss if I didn’t do the same for the sequel…

So please accept this extract from Present Imperfect.

Janice looked about her in wide-eyed wonderment. The interior of the Courtney’s home was like a living museum. Snatching a look into the kitchen from the sitting room in which she now stood, she caught sight of an open cupboard – complete with boxed food stuffs that included Bisto Gravy and Kellogg’s Cornflakes, and unbelievably a plunger-capped bottle of Corona Lemonade. Mavis removed a tea caddy from the cupboard, and closed the door.

Looking away Janice noticed a quiescent television set in the corner of the room. She hadn’t recognized it at first because of its apparent disguise – that being its construction of lacquered wood, and its subsequent vague resemblance to a piece of furniture. She was reminded of her earliest memories – of visiting her grandmother in her house of brown-on-brown décor and yellowing picture rails and dull whitewashed ceilings. Of wall paper that dated from before the Second World War.

“Oh, I see you have a television.” Janice tried to sound impressed at the presence of a piece of ancient technology.

“What’s that, dear?” Mavis popped her head around the doorframe as the kettle began to whistle.

Janice nodded towards the TV. “I don’t suppose everyone in the village has one of those?” She said.

“Oh, the telly.” Mavis all but dismissed the device. “That’s George’s pride and joy, that is – though I don’t know why: there’s hardly anything on it, and when there is you can’t see much of what’s going on. Me – I like the cinema. Those Technicolor pictures are wonderful. I can’t see telly ever catching on.”

Any further discussion on the merits of cinema verses television was interrupted by the sound of child coughing upon the floor above. Janice automatically looked heavenward.

“Oh that’ll be Wallace.” Mavis answered Janice’s unspoken question. “Poor little mite – he’s had that cough all day and all last night. If he’s not showing signs of getting better by morning I’ll take him to see that lovely new doctor at the surgery. He’s quite a dish. Have you met him? I think his name’s Doctor Traynor.”

For a moment Janice forgot herself, and lowered her guard.

“Doctor Traynor?” She blurted. “He’ll still be here in forty years time!”

Janice couldn’t quite describe the look she received from Mavis. But after a moment she said, “Oh-no, I shouldn’t think so: he intends going places. He wants to be one of them Harley Street specialists.”

Janice felt that she should try to explain her outburst.

“What I meant was – I expect he’ll fall in love with the village, and decide to spend the rest of his life here. I’m sure I would: it’s a lovely place. So tranquil.”

“Some would call it a bit boring.” Mavis returned to the kitchen to pour the tea. “I know George wouldn’t mind leaving if the right job came along. Take sugar, do you?”

Mavis wasn’t aware that Janice had risen and followed her into the kitchen, so she was startled when Janice spoke from directly behind her.

“Two please. Is that a new gas cooker?”

Quickly recovering, Mavis replied proudly, “Isn’t it smart? It arrived this morning. George had it fitted before he went out. Bob Langtry did it in a bit of a rush: George’s the treasurer of the Ancient Order of something-or-other, and had to be off a bit sharpish. I’m not really supposed to use it until he’s a had a proper check – but with the old electric stove unplugged, and sitting in the garden, I couldn’t boil the water for Wallace’s hot water bottle and our cup of tea any other way. I’m sure it’ll be alright.”

Janice thought back to her childhood. She tried to recall the distinct aroma of the gas used during that era. She couldn’t, but she was certain that she’d recognise it when she smelt it. As surreptitiously as possible she scented the air.

“Would I be right in thinking that they use piped town gas here?” She inquired. “It doesn’t come in a steel bottle or anything like that?”

“We’ve just been connected to the mains.” Mavis informed her knowledgably, “They spent a fortune extending the pipe up from Crampton. Funny, isn’t it – us country-folk using town gas? Don’t seem right somehow.”

“Perhaps they should re-name it. They could call it Coal Gas.” Janice pretended to agree with the young mother. “But aren’t you worried that it might be dangerous?”

“What – compared to electricity? No of course not.” Mavis exclaimed. “And it’s a sight better to cook with too, I can tell you. My sister swears by it. Instant heat – instantly off. No more milk boiling over. Now that has to be a safety feature.”

Janice nodded, but she looked about as convinced as she felt.

“Well doesn’t the thought of suffocation worry you?”

This was obviously a subject upon which Mavis had conversed before.

“George says that as long as the equipment’s working fine and there’s no blocked flue, there’s no chance of that happening. Next you’ll be suggesting that it might explode in the middle of the night!”

This thought was foremost upon Janice’s mind. She bit her lip with indecision.

Mavis noticed this.

“You do think it’s going to explode, don’t you?” She spoke in a puzzled tone. “Now why on earth would you think that?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

One of these days I’ll write the sequel to the sequel. It’s not like I don’t have time or anything. But for now both Causality Merchant e-books are still available. You can access the better-known suppliers by clicking on the images on the side bar.

 

Captive Audience

I can’t recall the last time that I posted an extract from this e-book…

…but suffice to say it’s been a bloody long time. Too long: people will forget that I ever wrote serious sc-ifi mysteries. So, in an effort to re-set the creative balance of nature, here’s a smidgin of Captive Echo…

Wozniak’s bank account was still far from overflowing, but the future appeared rosier for him than it had in a very long time. His new secretary may have had a great deal to do with the resurrection of his self-confidence, and many of his friends had taken to Janice Gale in a big way – none less than his agent, Wallace Courtney, who was speaking with Janice over the telephone.

Janice was perched upon the end of a sofa in Wozniak’s small flat overlooking London’s Docklands. From her vantage point she could look out over Old Father Thames, and much of the city beyond. She was a country girl born and bred, and at first she’d found it difficult to adapt to the hustle and bustle of the capital of England. But with Wozniak’s help, and more surprisingly – her mothers’ blessing, Janice had done so, and was enjoying life more than at any time that she could remember since leaving behind the innocence of childhood.

Her laughter was light and gentle as she conversed with Wallace.

“Are you kidding?” She was saying. “I couldn’t hold him back. He wants to get started on another script as soon as he can. But first he wants to complete the tie-in novel that will accompany the show.”

She listened to Wallace’s cheerful questioning for a few seconds before replying, “No, he doesn’t have any firm ideas on future stories at the moment: but he knows that they’re bound to come. It’s all about location, location, location – or so he says.”

Once more she paused to listen.

“No – he’s gone on ahead. I have a few details to go over with Tommy down at Clarridge Productions – you know about the interview with Peter for the special edition DVD re-release of Clash of Symbols. Then I’m going home too. You realize that it’s almost a year to the day that Peter and I got together. Yes, we’re going to have a quiet celebration: Then with luck he’ll have my drawers down quicker than you can say ‘alternate reality’, and we can commemorate the occasion in the time-honoured manner that any two horny bastards should.”

Laughing loudly at Janice’s lewdness, Wallace signed off, and Janice replaced the receiver. She considered calling Wozniak, then looked at the time. She chose to wait until later: she had business to conclude.

Wozniak strolled into the grocery store in Brambledown’s main street as though he was the prodigal son returning home. He rubbed his newly grown beard absentmindedly before picking up a shopping basket. It looked so strange in his huge hands, and he wondered what he’d been doing the last time he’d carry one. Certainly life hadn’t been half as good as it was now.

Miss Witherspoon appeared from out the back. Wozniak’s beard was no suitable disguise against one of his greatest fans…

“Why if it isn’t Mister Wozniak! Oh I’m so glad to see you again.” She cried out gleefully

“Hello, Miss Witherspoon.” Wozniak responded – giving the older woman a smile that was guaranteed to melt her heart. “How’re things in the great rural metropolis?”

Things’ seldom changed much in the sleepy village of Brambledown –usually for decades. One year was much like another. People grew older, and new children were born into the village. It was all perfectly reciprocal – that is until the year previous…

“They never did find out what happened up at that scientific place, you know.” Miss Witherspoon informed Wozniak as he approached the cash register.

“Thank goodness for that.” He replied. “I’ve just written a make-believe story about what happened there: I’d be ruined if they found out the truth.”

“Oh, so you’re writing again? That is good.” Miss Witherspoon tried to reach across her cash register to hug Wozniak. “I s’pect that lovely Janice Gale has a lot to do with that. I always wondered if some lucky man was going to find her out one day. I’m so pleased it was you.”

Wozniak winked at her.

“You and me both.” He said. “I’m in The Peaks for a few days: I just need the basics. You know – caviar, champagne…”

“Ooh, I don’t know about them.” Miss Witherspoon responded. “How about milk, tea, butter: that sort of thing?”

“Sounds like heaven to me.” Wozniak replied – his smile widening as he felt his heart go out to the women standing before him.

At that Miss Witherspoon began scurrying around, filling Wozniak’s basket with the necessities of life.

“Janice with you, is she?” She asked.

“Still up in London. She should be along tomorrow.” He told her.

“That’s good.” Miss Witherspoon grinned cheerfully. “Send her round when she arrives, won’t you: I want to know all about life in The Smoke. Do you want this on your tab?

Wozniak opened his wallet. He was about to say “No Need,” but, as usual, it was lighter than he’d hoped. “Ah, yes,” He replied – his smile falling. “Perhaps that might be a good idea. Jan will put you right tomorrow.”

With that he made his farewell, and climbed into his large estate car.

Wozniak felt an intense blast of wellbeing as he drove through the village. Several people recognized his car. He felt quite like royalty as he returned their waves.

Turning into Pikes Lane he was half-afraid he might spot a small sports car sliding toward him. Although a year had passed, but now that he’d returned to the scene of the crime, events suddenly seemed all too fresh. Perhaps writing about it time after time – honing his work – had kept it very much alive in his mind, even if most of the people involved in the incident were now dead. With a spine-chilling sense of déjà vu, he caught sight of Tom, the now ex-postman, pushing his bicycle. He had no choice but to pull over.

Tom responded to his hail with, “Blow me down – if it aint Mister Wozniak. You aint got one of them manuscript thingies for the missus to send off by any chance, have you?”

Wozniak recalled the last time the older man had asked that question.

“Well you never know, Tom.” He said cheerily. “There’s always a chance.”

“Hope it’s better than that one they showed on telly the other day.” Tom said – climbing aboard his bicycle.

“One of my old shows was on television?” Wozniak was thinking of the royalty cheque he could expect in the post. “Terrestrial was it?”

“Nah – on me satellite dish.” Tom seemed almost dismissive. “Detective show, it was.”

Wozniak’s shoulders slumped. His one foray into police drama had not gone well for him. The results hadn’t been quite what he – or the production company – had hoped for. The story had been weak, and the director inept.

“That was an old one.” He said. Unable to avoid a critique – even when he knew it would be bad, he added, “What did you think of it?”

“Honestly, Mister Wozniak?” Tom responded sadly, “I thought it was one of the biggest load of bollocks that I’d seen in years. I hope yer next one’s gonna be better.”

Wozniak gave him a sickly grin. “I think we can safely assume that. See you later, Tom.”

With that he drove on.

The action of steering his vehicle into the grounds of The Peaks brought back his sense of well-being. It was only when he parked, and the gravel of the driveway crunched beneath his feet, that the memory of Katherine Marcus’ strange little sports car came back to haunt him once again – dismissing his lightening mood in an instant.

‘Is it really a year since that unbelievable night?’ he asked himself silently.

He began to wonder if somehow he’d managed to blur the line between fact and fiction in his final script: Could it all have been true? Really? Wasn’t there a chance that he’d allowed his imagination to run away with him? That his script lay somewhere between fact and fiction? An amalgam of both perhaps? He shook his head: he knew the truth.

The Peaks was just as he remembered it. Mrs. Wilkins had changed nothing – not that she needed to: the house came as close to perfection as it is possible for any edifice to come. His step was jaunty as he entered it.

After stocking the fridge, he went for shower. The water heater was still giving trouble.

Even paradise isn’t perfect’, he thought.

By the time he’d dried himself off and dressed, he was surprised to find that the time was well past six o’clock.

Too late to call Jan now,’ he considered, ‘she’ll be over at Connies’.

“I’ll catch her later.” He spoke aloud to the room.

The sun was far from setting, so Wozniak treated himself to a walk about the garden. This killed perhaps a half-hour. A year in London had altered him. He could no longer lounge about doing nothing: he needed to entertain, or be entertained. Normally his word processor would prove sufficient for his needs – but that required unpacking – and he remained as inept with wires and sockets as he’d always been. He sought solace elsewhere.

Entering the Muck and Bullets public house, Wozniak was disappointed to find it devoid of clientele. Claude, the landlord, stood alone behind the bar watching the television news. He jumped when Wozniak asked for a pineapple juice.

“Well if you aint a sight for sore eyes, Mr. Wozniak.” Claude grinned “Wait ‘til I tell the wife: she’ll be over the moon. You sure a pineapple juice is strong enough? I seem to remember you’re a brandy man.”

Wozniak couldn’t remember which one of his many middle-aged-to-elderly female admirers was married to Claude; so he said, “I’m here for a short break, Claude: she’ll probably catch me in the street sometime. And yes – the fruit juice is fine. Whichever one you have to hand: I kind of went off brandy.”

Claude rattled some ice cubes into a glass, and handed it to him. He opened a bottle of pineapple juice, and emptied half of it into the glass – placing the half-empty bottle beside it.

“Well you won’t go making my fortune with that.” He half-stated – half-complained.

Wozniak looked about the empty bar.

“Quiet tonight.” He observed.

“Like the blinking grave.” Claude nodded toward the television, “Footie’s on tonight: England against somebody. These days blokes like to stay at home with a few cans from the supermarket. Times have changed: it aint so much fun runnin’ pubs no more.” He lamented. “If you aint got satellite TV and a full-time restaurant, you’re well and truly buggered.”

“I suppose you are.” Wozniak responded – casting his gaze about the dark half-lit room.

‘Cutting down on electricity consumption?’

He had no wish to sit alone; but neither did he want to spend his free time lamenting the end of civilization with a morose bartender.

“Still,” he continued, “being the only surviving pub in the village, I suppose you have something of a captive audience.”

Then he noticed a pair of well-worn steel toe-capped boots protruded from within a snug. He indicated the direction to Claude.

“So I’m not entirely alone, then?”

“That’ll be Len. Len Peters.” Claude replied, “Funny bugger he can be sometimes. Believe anything – he will. Reckon he’s a bit keen on them flying’ saucers and stuff like that. Don’t talk to him much, m’self.”

“Sounds like my sort of man.” Wozniak grinned – taking his purchase, and making for the snug.

It took little more than a handful of paces for his long legs to carry Wozniak to his destination – a semi-enclosed area featuring a central rectangular table, with high-backed benches to either side.

From Claude’s description he had expected a man of few years – slightly spotty, wearing spectacles and an anorak; so he was surprised when a bearded septuagenarian looked up from his beer.

“Hello.” Len said gruffly. “Thought you’d turn up again. Figured you couldn’t stay away.”

“And a good day to you.” Wozniak remained unruffled. He responded with, “Have we met?”

“Not so much that you’d notice.” Len’s cryptic reply came.

Wozniak didn’t like being manoeuvred into asking questions. Nevertheless he was instantly intrigued.

“You’re right there.” He said, turning away – hoping that Len Peters wouldn’t let him leave without finishing what he’d started.

“But you will.” Len stressed the last word.

Wozniak couldn’t help himself:

“Will?  As in a future tense? I thought we just did.”

“Depends,” Len took a sip from his glass, “on what came first: the chicken or the egg.”

Wozniak allowed his eyes to narrow. Len looked straight into them. The big man chose to sit.

“Okay,” he said – lowering his large frame onto the bench that faced the mysterious elderly man, “you’ve got me snared. I don’t know a damned thing about you; but you obviously know something about me.”

“Do you believe in dreams?” Len asked obliquely.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

I really should get back to ‘proper’ writing. Naturally this book remains active in the market place. Should you be interested, some of the better known retailers are mentioned behind the book covers on the side bar. Just click on the image.

Casual Causality 1

Since I posted excerpts from my pair of ‘Silent’ books recently, I thought, “Bugger it: I’ll give ’em a taste of my ‘Causality Merchant‘ books too!” So here I am, hoping you’ll spare a few seconds to peruse a snippet from this book…

Oh yes, if you didn’t know: I also write under the pen name of Clive Thunderbolt. Well I did: I might again too. It all depends on whether I can bother to get my arse into gear and write the third book that I started in 2016 or whenever it was. Unlike the ‘Silent’ books, this pair of e-books have third person narratives, which (in hindsight) might have been a mistake. I think it’s so much better if the character is telling the tale in his or her own words. But it’s too bloody late now: I wrote this (and it’s sequel) years ago. Here’s the excerpt…

Later that evening, in the drawing room, Wozniak and Marcus reclined together upon a large, sumptuous sofa. Soft music played; and because the evening had become a little chill, Wozniak had a small fire crackling in the hearth.

Marcus was sipping at her whiskey and soda. She stared into the dancing flames. Upon the nearby coffee table an almost empty whisky bottle perched. Wozniak, one arm around Marcus, lay against the arm of the sofa, with her head reclining upon his shoulder. In his hand he also held a glass of whiskey. But his was full, and had remained so for most of the evening. Though he appeared to Marcus to be at complete ease and at peace with the world, this was an entirely false impression – just as Wozniak had planned it. Where Marcus had drunk freely, Wozniak had been more circumspect. Where Marcus’ cognitive abilities were being impaired by ingestion of alcohol; Wozniak’s remained fully intact. He had quickly realized that if he was to discover anything about the activities at Carstairs Research & Development, it would require every advantage he could think of, and then some. She was smart and as sharp as a razor, and he wondered if alcohol could truly blunt it.

He broke the silence:

“Work must be really agreeing with you lately: that’s two days on the trot that you’ve come here full of the joys of spring. What gives?”

If he’d expected her to open up to such a gambit, he was to be sorely disappointed.

Marcus waved an admonishing finger at him, “Ah-ah-ah; remember the old war-time maxim: Walls have ears.”

Wozniak remained good-natured about the setback. It was still reasonably early: the situation wasn’t irredeemable.

“Hey,” he seemingly complained affably, “I’m not talking shop here: I’m just…well maybe I was just a little.”

“Of course you were.” Marcus slapped his free hand playfully.

Under normal circumstances Wozniak would have backed off at this point: but today he needed to press on. He had nothing to lose after all.

He took up the mantle again. “Hell, Kate, can you blame me? Look at me. I sit here all day dreaming up stories that just don’t come – whilst you go gallivanting about doing who-knows-what, and having a hell of a time doing it. I’m going stir-crazy, Kate: tell me something I don’t already know. Tell me something of your life. If I can’t experience it first-hand, at least let me enjoy you recounting it to me. Let me get involved in some way. Tell you what – I’m a pretty smart fellow: bounce some ideas off me.”

Marcus pulled herself upright. She placed her drink upon the coffee table.

“Peter Wozniak,” she began sternly, “anyone who knows anything about you – knows that you are a fantasy and S.F writer. Since I’m someone who knows something about something, I know exactly what you’re up to – and that’s looking for inspiration: and you don’t care where you find it.”

Wozniak couldn’t find argument with this summation. So he said, “Is that such a bad thing? It is my stock in trade, you know.”

“Yes it is.” Marcus responded adamantly. “Exactly. And what happens when the powers that run Carstairs Research and Development see one of your shows on TV? They’ll say, ‘Hello, hello, hello – now where did he get that idea from? I wonder who might have told him about that little project. Might it possibly have been that lovely Doctor Marcus?  We know he’s been slipping her a length or two. And he did ‘phone the office that time…’ Am I right?”

Wozniak adopted his most indignant pose. “No, you’re not: It’s not like that at all!”

Marcus laughed out loud at his hurt expression.

“Come on, Peter, please – let’s have a little honesty here: you’re like a Nineteen Seventies reporter from the Washington Post: what wouldn’t you give for a good story? I’m sure shagging the arse off me wouldn’t be deemed above and beyond the call of duty…”

Wozniak’s face showed amazement. But it wasn’t Marcus’ words that caused it: it was the inference.

“You mean there’s actually a story to be had?” He grinned and narrowed his eyes.

He then joined in with Marcus as her laughter increased. He wasn’t even put off when he received a playful slap around the face – with the line, “Peter Wozniak – you are incorrigible!”

She then punched him on the shoulder – spilling his whisky down the front of his trousers.

“Oh deary me!” She exclaimed through a fit of giggles, “I’ve gone and made your nice clothes all wet.” Her hands delved into his moistened groin, and started tugging at his zipper. “We’ll have to find a place in the washing machine for them. Now let’s see – how do we get them off?”

But her inebriation made her fingers fumble, and Wozniak was able to fend her off with ease. He took her hands in his:

“Oh no you don’t, Doctor Marcus.” He scolded. “Not until you tell me what’s made you so damned cheerful. Come on, you: spill the beans, or you’ll go home tonight a spinster.”

“You do realize that your ghastly threat constitutes emotional blackmail, I hope?” Marcus replied as she regarded the tall man through narrowed eyes. “I could have you shot, or something equally unpleasant.”

“Oh yes.” He grinned, “But when needs must, even the perfect gentleman must lower his standards.”

Marcus regained her whisky – all the better to ruminate over Wozniak’s words. After a few moments she winked.

“Well as long as it’s not only the aforementioned gentleman’s standards he’s lowering.” She whispered.

And with that Wozniak was certain he had won the day.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

As with many of my books, this one was originally published several years previous to the copyright date, but was updated that year and re-published to coincide with the sequel. I can’t say that it’s nice: a lot of people get killed. But that Peter Wozniak is a good guy: you’ll like him. Naturally the e-book remains available (though I’ve discontinued the paperback) at Lulu.com and other outlets both major and minor.

More Time For Silence

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?”

‘Brilliant!’

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.

Dear Carl,

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.

With love,

Tasman.

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

 

 

Time For Some Silence

Since I do a bit of writing – and I once wrote a couple of books, the titles of which both began with the word ‘Silent’, I expect you’ve figured out what comes next. Yes, it’s a snippet from the venerable (and vaguely YA) Silent Apocalypse…

  …which was my best book, until I wrote the sequel, Silent Resistance. Of course that doesn’t include The Psychic  Historian: but how could it? Nothing compares with The Psychic Historian! Anyway, that’s by-the-by: on with the excerpt. Naturally random chance did the selection…

That evening we’d resumed our places at the table. From our vantage point we watched the sun dip below the horizon. It was an elegant but desolate place now. Nothing much appeared different, especially in the failing light.

What was it that told the eye that things had been altered forever?’

Lee was watching me, although I wasn’t aware of it. He must have been thinking along the same lines.

“Vapour trails.” He said, and I knew he was right. “The day we see a vapour trail again is the day we wake up from this nightmare.”

Katherine had been paying attention too:

“Until then the sky is the province of the clouds alone.”

We said no more and watched darkness march across the land.

Kevin broke the silence:

“I don’t want to hear The Whispers, Flissery: Can I go to bed now?”

I told him that he could, but he insisted that I take him upstairs.

Donald warned me, “Be quick: They’re coming on soon.”

Having tucked Kevin in I was barely back in time to catch the first ethereal sounds. There were indeed voices, buried by other voices, submerged beneath static or something else we couldn’t identify.

Lee put words to my thoughts; “Ya know – it’s like we’re supposed to understand it, but someone won’t let us.”

“It’s almost musical.” I opined. “Though I agree with Donald – it is spooky.”

“Lousy rhythm section.” Katherine added.

“It’s always the same, far as I can tell.” Donald informed us.

“Like its set on an automatic loop, you mean?” Lee asked.

Donald remained noncommittal.

“We need to record this.” Lee said, looking about the room, “I don’t suppose..?”

Donald answered Lee’s incomplete question, “What would I want with a tape recorder: Keep a Captains’ Log?”

“Then we’d better find one.”  Lee urged. “Where’s the nearest town?”

“Not now, Lee.” I scolded him for his impetuosity. “It can wait until morning.”

“If it’s really that important.” Katherine added doubtfully. “I thought we were avoiding towns. Remember – gangs, violence, and disease?”

I tried to curb Lee’s enthusiasm. “Let’s not rush into anything: it’s not like we’re desperately short of time: we’ll probably find a village store somewhere…”

Lee recognized the good sense in this. He changed tack:

“Here, Don, mate – so what’s so special about this lake that we’re not looking for?”

Don gave him a long appraising look. “You’re really not looking for our island?”

“Cross my heart, and hope to fall in a bucket of pig muck.”

Donald wasn’t particularly forthcoming. He simply said, “It’s protected.”

“What – by razor wire? Dobermans? Machine guns?” Lee demanded.

“A snake pit?” Katherine chirped. Then she added, “Crocodiles?”

“Dunno.” was Donald’s even briefer reply. Then, “I haven’t actually seen it. I know where it is – roughly: But I haven’t been there. I don’t know what protects it. Maybe it’s God. Maybe it’s a psychic bubble. Gaia. I dunno. I just know that all my family’s people have gone there, and they reckon they’re gonna be safe.”

I could see that Donald was becoming upset; but I thought the subject might be too important to drop. I eased the conversation in a slightly different direction:

“You said that you’ve lost contact with them…”

“Yeah, that’s right. It’s been a while.”

“And that concerns you…”

“Yes it does.” He took a deep breath and dared to utter the words to us that he might never have said to himself, “I don’t reckon they made it.”

‘Reality check’.

I took his hand. “Donald, I’m sorry, but I think you’re right. You would’ve heard…”

He nodded without speaking.

“Would you like to know – I mean for absolute certain?” I asked.

He shook his head.

Katherine stood and placed a hand upon each of his shoulders.

“I think you need to. You can’t go on in vain hope. It’ll drive you quite potty eventually, you know.”

Donald brushed Katherine’s hands aside, and blurted angrily:

 “You want me to take you to the island: I knew it all along!”

“No.” I assured him. “Not at all. We want to take you.”

Lee shrugged his shoulders at Donald’s enquiring look.

“There’s no such thing as grown-ups, these days, Don.” He said quietly. “Not anymore. Not even the Chosen Ones. Sorry.”

Donald nodded minutely. We left it at that. He’d come around.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

This book was actually written in 2004, when I was much younger and considerably more handsome and virile, with a good head of hair and firm buttocks. In fact it was whilst writing this book that they went all flabby. Clearly sitting around on your arse in front of a computer screen isn’t good for one’s backside. But it’s too late now. This is the tidied up version that I produced to accompany the release of Silent Resistance.

Naturally both books are available at most e-book stockists. See Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header – or click on the cover photos on the sidebar.

No Need to Apologize

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…

Silent Apocalypse:

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

Silent Resistance:

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.

 

Book of the Month?

I was surprised, when I checked out one of my books at Barnes & Noble, to discover that these books…

…bore a temporary label that read Book of the Month. Naturally I was pleased, and duly read the sample pages of the latter book. Here is a snippet from those pages…

When next I awoke I knew for certain that the world around me was real and tangible. There was a smell of straw and ancient timbers permeating the air. Once again I lay upon my back, but now the azure sky had been replaced by the sight of the cobweb-strewn rafters of an old wooden barn.

Sitting upright I discovered that I was alone – save only for the company of a wood mouse that searched amongst the detritus upon the floor close to the large double doors. It skittered away as I gained my feet. As it did so I discovered that I wore the combat fatigues from the vision of the past presented to me by Tasman. The strange, unrecognisable hand gun hung from an iron hook that had been driven into one of the oak uprights.

I felt a pain in my head. My hand discovered that someone had inexpertly wrapped my head in a bandage. I was relieved when it came away unbloodied, and the pain subsided.

Feeling better I decided to take stock of the situation in which I found myself. Firstly I knew that my name was Felicity Goldsmith.

‘A good place to start.’

I appeared to be some form of soldier. Or was I a paint-baller? The thought appalled me. No, I was certain that I’d never been a paint-baller.

‘What else?’

I knew a boy who has eyes like a goat. It was odd that I didn’t think of his eyes as particularly unusual.

‘Again what else?’

I came up empty. Try as I may, I could find nothing more leaking out from my closed-off memory. I knew that I should have felt fear – or at least an appropriate portion of apprehension – with the situation. It was quite possible that I was brain damaged, or I’d simply lost my mind. But Tasman’s calm demeanour, and his gentle delivery had staved off the panic for another time.

‘Or preferably never.’

With nothing better to do I climbed to my feet. I felt stiff, and wondered if that was what octogenarians felt like all the time. I then placed the weapons belt around my waist; and made for the large rickety double doors.

Upon emerging from the ancient barn, I wasn’t surprised to find myself standing in an old flint and brick walled farm yard. Beside the barn there stood several lichen-coated brick buildings originating in several eras. They all showed the evidence of a great passing of time, and it occurred to me that the farm might not be a working farm, but was instead a farm museum. The area was littered by the detritus of years. Old farm equipment lay about that looked not only decades out of date, but possibly centuries. Masonry crumbled here and there, and the roof of one particularly old outbuilding had been stoved in. Patches of briar were encroaching, and weeds abounded everywhere except the areas that were either paved with concrete, or cobbled. I could see young animals corralled at several points within the farmstead. From my position I could make out small numbers of sheep, cattle, pigs, and goats. Through a gap in some mature trees I discerned a pond upon which ducks sailed less than majestically. From a rickety edifice beside the charming flint farmhouse emerged the sounds of chickens clucking contentedly.

I was still studying the inexpertly erected chicken coop when a boy of roughly ten years emerged from the farmhouse. He held an empty wicker basket in each hand. Without noticing me standing there in my incongruous ‘uniform’ he let himself into the coop through a shaky wire door.

“Hello…” I called in what I hoped was a friendly inquiring tone.

The boy looked up. His recognition of me was instantaneous, and he smiled broadly, before dropping his baskets; letting himself back out of the coop; and dashing back inside the farmhouse.

“Tasman,” I heard him calling as his booted feet thundered up the stair to the upper floor, “Felicity’s up and about!”

I smiled as those same two feet then raced back down the stair; carried their owner across the yard at break neck speed; and then stopped dead in front of me. I then received a hug that almost crushed the wind out of me.

“Oh Fel,” he breathed, “I never thought you’d ever open your eyes again.”

I had no idea who the urchin was, or why he was so glad to see me, but it was nice to be wanted.

“Thank you.” I replied. “It’s nice to be back: Where have I been?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

These books are also available at Amazon, Lulu, Apple iBooks, and various others. And very nice they are too – if rather violent at times. Well they do feature genocide, so a little violence is to be expected.

 

 

Silence, Please!

I couldn’t help but notice that, incredibly (and against the grain of recent times), sales of this book…

…have perked up. Thank you to all those e-book purchasers. Of course, what I’d really like is for those readers (and others) to come back for the (better) sequel – written a full decade after the original. It looks like this…

And a portion of the text closely resembles this. All the characters in this extract are teenagers, by the way.

For whatever reason, everyone had expected that we’d take the bus upon our sojourn. Everyone with the exception of Jason. If the rest had thought they’d properly explored Crag Base, they were all very mistaken. Jason, though, had thoroughly explored the huge subterranean refuge. He’d been over it with a fine tooth comb. With the exception of Tasman and I he was the only person who knew about the lower garage in which various United Nations vehicles had been mothballed for the duration. There were several types hidden beneath heavy canvas covers – ranging from single seated ‘despatch rider’ motorcycles to large six-wheeled amphibious off-roaders. In between these extremes were several small four-wheelers ranging from quad bikes through Land Rovers, Humvees, and three lightly armoured vehicles, the design of which none of us recognised.

The general consensus (once I’d presented everyone with the sight of the cavernous garage) was that the amphibious vehicles were beyond our ability to drive safely; the Humvees would stand out like a sore thumb; but that the Land Rovers would do fine once we’d stripped them of their very obvious military appearance.

‘Exactly what I was thinking.’

 Stripping away the U.N insignia from (and re-pressurising the tyres of) the two Land Rovers that Jason selected took perhaps a half-hour. Charging the batteries naturally took considerably longer; but by nightfall we had ourselves two pristine, low-mileage, ex-Ministry of Defence Land Rovers ready to roll.

Jason, I’d decided, would drive one: Kylie the other. Two vehicles, I considered, was prudent. Three might have gained someone’s attention, and looked too much like a tempting convoy just begging to be ambushed. If we took one and it became disabled it might be a long walk home. Two seemed to me to be the perfect number.

Jason was unable to disguise his eagerness. “When do we shove off?” He asked. “It’ll be dark outside by now. It’s the perfect time to leave.”

“Yes it is.” I replied as I checked my watch. “Why don’t you bring down the elevator.”

Had there been any exterior lights on Crag Base they would have been far astern of us when I finally stole a backward glance. The world around us was cloaked in impenetrable blackness. Even the Moon and stars had failed to make an appearance in the overcast late autumn sky. I’d hoped that the drivers could use night vision goggles to see where they were going without the need of headlights, but we hadn’t driven more than a hundred metres from the derelict service station before Jason ran off the road, and slithered to a halt upon the tussock-strewn verge. I’d suggested that perhaps we could run on minimal lighting in the shape of side lights, but Jason had discovered an unmarked switch upon the dashboard that when depressed lit up his goggles almost as brightly as day.

“Infra-red headlights.” He cheered. “We can see, but to anyone else we’re invisible.”

“That’s comforting.” Kylie had replied as she ran back to her vehicle to find a similar switch upon her dashboard. “Just as long as they don’t have night vision goggles too.”

Before long we’d passed the roadside café and were amongst the hills. With the loosest of plans to guide us we began the long descent to the level ground beyond the ridge of hills that hid the sea. We were once more amongst the overgrown back roads when I finally began to question the wisdom of the trip. How exactly did I intend to find the Espeeg? Let them find me perhaps? Should we turn on the lights and draw some attention to ourselves? But what if we drew the attention of the wrong people? What if we encountered terrestrial humans? Did we surrender to them – or fight our way through? Neither was acceptable: ergo we could not make our presence obvious. Then an idea formed inside my head…    

“Pull over.” I instructed Kylie.

She gave me a questioning look, but complied without speaking. As the Land Rover bounced to a halt upon the muddy verge Jason followed with the second vehicle. As he drew alongside he shouted through his side window.

“Forgot to pack your mascara or something?”

“I have a stunning plan.” I said as I opened my door and dismounted. “I don’t think you’re going to like it. Let’s have a pow-wow.”

I’d been quite accurate when I’d told Jason that I had a stunning plan; I just didn’t realise how stunning and in what manner it would affect the others. I watched as a look of incredulity appeared upon all their faces.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

The aforementioned tomes are available on-line at many e-book suppliers. Check out the page beneath the header or on the side bar → to access Lulu / iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Also appears in paperback form at Lulu. Just thought you should know.

Sample the Silence Once More

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?”

‘Brilliant!’

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.

A Silence Concerning the ‘Silent’ Books

I can’t remember when I last posted an extract of my best work – that being these books…

So today I’m correcting that omission. Ladies and Gentlemen may I present an excerpt from Silent Resistance – a book I’m rather proud of…

It was only as we approached the last door in line along the corridor that I realized that I’d made a mistake. In my reality this final door opened into an office: here it led to a stairway. I could see the stairs as I dared take a quick peek through a small wired glass window set into the door. In that nervous glance I’d also noticed something else: a shotgun booby trap much like the one upon the floor below. I informed the others about the situation.

“Great.” Shane said in her most sarcastic manner, “So how are we supposed to get at him now?

“We don’t.” Dainam answered her question. “We make him come to us.”

Leaving Shane and Killer to keep watch upon the door to the upper floor, Dainam and I returned to the lower level where he’d noticed various cupboards, filing cabinets, and drawers. After a couple of minutes searching through them Dainam came up trumps. He brandished a plastic box containing a set of screwdrivers.

‘Seek and ye shall find.’

Returning to the next floor we propped a table from one of the offices against the door to the stair so that it couldn’t move outward. Then using the screwdrivers Dainam and I set about the screws that held the door hinges in place.

The screws had been wound into the timber frame many decades past – probably by burly builders, and for several minutes neither of us could make much headway with the task; but we stuck at it – often cursing as we whacked our knuckles each time the screwdrivers slipped. But fifteen sweat-inducing minutes later we had unfastened all of them, and now only the office table held the door in situ. Shane then tied a length of electrical cable to one of the table legs, and holding the other end of the cable in her free hand she retreated to where Dainam, Killer, and I waited in the relative safety of the adjacent room.

As she backed into our temporary sanctuary she said, “Ready?”

I nodded, and she yanked firmly upon the cable. This in turn twisted the table away from the door, which allowed it to fall outwards into the corridor – pulling with it a length of string that was attached to the shotgun trigger as it did so.The double blast of both barrels in such a confined space almost deafened us, and sent us reeling further into the office to escape the cloud of dust and smoke that suddenly filled every available space. Fortunately the blast destroyed the exterior window – sending an avalanche of splintered glass out into the bus park, where it fell to the tarmac surface below. This had the effect of venting some of the smoke and dust, for which we were most grateful; but it was still very difficult to see in the murk and gloom of the grey autumn day. As we emerged into the blasted corridor we all heard the clatter of feet descending the stair. The next second I realized that we were not alone as a dark shape passed between me and the feeble light that the ruined window allowed in. Whether he saw me I don’t know, but I was taking no chances. I lashed out at his head with the butt of my MP7. It wasn’t a telling blow, but it made the booby-trapper stumble. Dainam released Killer, and in bound from a standing start she brought the person crashing down, and pinned him face-down among the debris. The dust continued to dissipate, and as Shane disarmed him, it was obvious that he was an adult. He was also unconscious – or at least pretending to be. A quick check of his eyes, and I kicked him in the stomach for good measure. He wasn’t acting.

“He’s out cold.” I said as Dainam pulled Killer away.

“If he’s not, I’ll set Killer on him again.” Dainam replied.

“Say that again – in Espeeg.” Shane suggested.

Dainam did so, but the Espeeg failed to respond.

“You’re right, Fel.” She said. “He’s out cold.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

These books are available in e-book and paperback. Click here to see the better-known outlets.

Why Clive Thunderbolt isn’t Like Tooty Nolan

As, no doubt, you are well aware – being discerning (and hopefully regular) readers of this blog – Tooty Nolan is the writer of some very silly tales, be they Hamster-Fiction or Earplug Adventures. His alter-ego, Paul Trevor Nolan, writes family friendly science-fiction. But what about the third member of this story-telling triumvirate – Clive Thunderbolt? How does he differ to the other two? Well the name is vaguely silly, so perhaps he writes comedy. Nope: not intentionally anyway. Well what then? The answer lies beneath these two book covers. Take a look at an excerpt from both of them…

 

Captive Echo.

Wozniak kicked out several more boards that covered the bedroom window. Despite his certainty that he was no longer upon the world of his birth, he still needed some more visual proof. The absence of his estate car was sufficient. There was simply no way anyone could have taken it without his knowing: the alarm system he had fitted to it only two weeks previous was state of the art. The noise it emitted would have raised the dead.

Wozniak understood that the laws of inter-dimensional transference meant that everything Wozniak had brought with him to The Peaks had remained in his reality. All he had to wear outside were the pyjama bottoms he was currently wearing – and they would be of little use because they were of the simple cord fastening design, which left a huge gap in the fabric through which his penis had an habitual tendency to protrude when he walked around – which had amused Janice on more than one occasion. If he tried leaving the house in them, he felt certain that pretty soon he’d be arrested: and he didn’t want his first inter-dimensional trip to result in a charge of indecent exposure!

A quick search – and the bedroom gave up its secrets all too quickly. Every trace of clothing had been removed – along with personal effects. But oddly a radio had been left behind. He switched it on. Silence followed, and remained in situ until Wozniak recognized the problem as a lack of power. Rather belatedly he tried the light switch. As expected there was no response. Taking a deep breath with which he hoped to steel himself, he opened the door beside the light switch and peered out into a dusty corridor. The house, it appeared, was an exact duplicate of his rented accommodation. Even in the dimness caused by the boarded windows, Wozniak had no difficulties negotiation the interior. A few careful steps down the stairway into the hall, and his hands found the small door that opened on to the power breaker. Feeling about in the darkness he pushed all of the levers upward. Immediately he could hear music playing in ‘his’ room, from which a light shone into the landing above.

When he re-entered the bedroom, the music was coming to an end. It was followed by a man who introduced himself as Bob Collet.

“Well fellow Brambledownians,’ Bob said, “Old Bob figured you might be wanting to know what’s going on over at Wycksford today.”

Wozniak’s ears pricked up at the mention of the scientific community. He thought back to the words of Len Peters the night before: surely it was no coincidence that he’d arrived here when it appeared that not all within Wycksford’s garden was rosy.

Collet continued, “Droxfield leader – Kev Winterbottom – has reiterated his demands. That means he’s said ‘em again. Apparently Wycksford Scientific Community must hand over all their hardware – and data pertinent to it – to the Droxfield Militia. Well the stuff that’s less than three years old anyway. If they don’t, he says, he’s gonna let the militia loose on ‘em, and that they’d be sorry that they’d pissed him off. I spoke to the Droxfield Militia boss – that tosspot Nigel Horn – on the ‘phone last night. Here’s a recording of what he had to say.”

Another man, his voice far less rural, spoke. But where Collet’s tone had been warm and possibly rather innocent-sounding; in Horn’s voice there was an edge of threat that was clearly calculated to frighten those listening. His words backed up this impression…

“We aint changed our stance.” He began belligerently. “They got ‘til noon tomorrow, then we go in and take it ourselves. Then, whether they like it not – they’re out. Out on their fucking ears. We’re pullin’ the whole place down. It’s as simple as that. We aint gonna have none of them Scientific Communities anywhere near where we live!”

He then tried to appear more reasonable – hoping to appeal to the listeners as logical, sensible people. Easing back on the belligerence he added:

“I mean – think about it: who’s gonna want dangerous experiments going on in their back yard? No one with more than half a brain, that’s what I reckon. Anyone remember what happened a year ago? Experiments getting out of control, and going haywire, that’s what. For a while everyone thought that the world was coming to an end. I shit my pants, I did – and I don’t mind admitting it. And I bet that I wasn’t alone.”

Wozniak was grimly amused at both men’s verbal style. If only his local radio station spoke so freely…

Collet’s voice interrupted:

“Well that may be true, Nige; but why have you waited until now to make your demands? What was wrong with a year ago?”

“We had to study the situation.” Horn replied – if a little uncertainly. “We didn’t want to go off half-cocked. You can’t go accusing communities of bad stuff without proper proof.”

Collet taxed him further:

“So it had nothing to do with Peter Wozniak defecting to Droxfield, then?”

At the mention of his name, Wozniak turned the volume higher – before dropping on to the bed to listen in comparative comfort.

Horn’s tone hardened once more:

“I don’t like suggestions like that, Collet.” Horn almost growled. “We were studying the situation – like I said. Wozniak didn’t defect: he was always working for us. He knew things were dodgy over there. Well then he put us right; and now we’re gonna do what we have to do.”

“Central Liaison aint gonna be too happy about one community having a go at its neighbour.” Collet – it seemed to Wozniak at least – appeared to be arguing for the majority of sensible people who might be listening. “Have you spoken to ‘em about it? Made a formal complaint?”

“You know we fucking haven’t.”  Horn snapped back. “Central Liaison do just that: they liaise between all the communities of the Federated Shires of England. They don’t tell no one what to do. They aint got no teeth neither. And I’ll tell you something else, Bob Collet: I don’t like your line of questioning, or the tone of your voice. To my way of thinking, you Brambledownians have been pretty chummy with Wycksford for too long. Now wouldn’t it be a crying shame if some clever sod over there started thinking he could poke his nose into our affairs. You’d better tell your listeners this, Collet: if we go in – they’ll be no such thing as a non-com. Any Brambledownians we find there won’t get treated no different from Wycksford types. You’d better believe it. So stick that in your pipe, and smoke it!”

Not really Tooty kind of stuff at all. Check out this…

Present Imperfect

Tom and Peter Wozniak had an uncomfortable walk back from the orchard to the house. Both spent the entire traverse warily looking over their shoulders. Now as they approached the kitchen door they finally began to relax. Something about the sturdily built house made them both feel that it offered some form of sanctuary from the dangers of the world outside.

Wozniak hadn’t spotted his fiancée through the kitchen window so he called her name as he entered the room. His words were met by silence.

Tom followed Wozniak in.

“Probably gone for a pee.” He suggested.

Wozniak wasn’t concerned: his brother’s suggestion was a good one. In fact there were any number of rooms throughout the large edifice in which she would fail to hear his call. Then he stopped short at the sight of Janice’s torn blouse as it lay across the breakfast table. For a moment his heart seemed to stop. Fear welled up inside him like it had never done before. He knew with utter certainty that something terrible had happened to Janice. He searched the large room with his eyes. But it was Tom who bent down to pick up the unclipped bra from beneath one of the chairs.

Not yet aware of the blouse, Tom said:

“Jan taken to letting her baps loose during daylight hours has she?”

Wozniak grabbed up the blouse. He showed it to Tom – who in turn offered up the bra. A look of dread crossed both men’s handsome features.

“Jan!” Wozniak roared.

Tom grabbed him by the shoulders.

“Let’s not jump to conclusions, Pete.” He spoke firmly as his brother tried to shrug off his powerful grip. “Rational head on. Calm down and think: if she’s hurt – where is she likely to go?”

Wozniak’s flicked his eyes this way and that as he fought down the panic that threatened to overwhelm him.

“Oh my God, Tom.” He managed. “I had no idea how much I loved her until this moment. The bathroom: she’d go to the bathroom. Yes, I think that’s what she’d do. She keeps all sorts of stuff in there.”

“En suite or family?” Tom pressed.

“Ah, both.” Wozniak spoke as he turned for the door that led to the stairs. “You take the en suite: I’ll take the family.”

It was Tom who found Janice. As Wozniak had blundered into an empty family bathroom, Tom had entered the bedroom in something of an apologetic manner. He wasn’t entirely convinced that Janice was in any real trouble, and he wanted to avoid the resulting embarrassment to both of them if he caught her changing. He’d knocked politely, waited a couple of seconds, and pushed the door open slowly. His first view as the gap between the door and the doorframe widened was Janice’s bare legs upon the bed. He’d paused, and whispered her name. When she hadn’t replied he pushed it a little farther, and was duly shocked – not by her total nakedness – but by the wheals and bruises that covered her still body.

“Peter.” He yelled in a voice an octave higher than was usual for him. “In here!”

Tom was loath to enter the bedroom that his brother shared with Janice. He was content to stand in the doorway, and watch from there as Wozniak maintained

Janice’s modesty by easing her legs together. He could see by the rise and fall of her chest that she was still alive. But the bite marks upon her breasts, and the presence of an almost colourless liquid spread across her thighs made it clear that she had been subjected to some sort of violent sexual assault.

Wozniak himself listened to her breathing for a moment. Satisfied that she was in no immediate danger he then proceeded to examine the marks upon her body.

“She’s going to be alright, isn’t she?” Tom asked from the door.

“As much as any rape victim can be.” Wozniak replied with an angry undertone.

Wozniak’s anger seemed to tear at his insides, but without a corporeal antagonist upon which to vent it he felt helpless and impotent.

“Shall I call a doctor?” Tom offered.

Wozniak was about to nod, when he paused.

Would Janice wish to see a doctor? Would she want this awful event to become common knowledge? And what would they tell the police in the subsequent investigation?

He needed time to think.

“Hang fire on that, Tom.” He said in the most kindly tone he could summon.

Any further conversation was thwarted as Janice’s eyes flicked open. It took a moment for her to recognise Wozniak, but when she did, a sleepy smile spread across her face.

Wozniak couldn’t recall a time when she had looked more beautiful.

“Howdy, pardner.” He smiled.

Janice remained slightly woozy, but she was able to raise a hand to beckon him closer. Wozniak, thinking that Janice wanted to say something, bent closer. Janice placed her hand upon the back of his neck, and drew him closer still. She then kissed him gently upon the lips. He smiled and returned her kiss.

“What was that for?” He asked quietly.

“Oh I don’t know.” She spoke dreamily. “Just for being you I suppose. You know I’ve just had the strangest dream…”

She stopped when she noticed several scratch marks upon her arm. She climbed further into wakefulness.

“How did I do that?” She inquired in a puzzled tone.

Then she looked down at her body, and total wakefulness returned like the rush of a tidal bore.

“Peter!” She cried out.

“It’s okay.” Wozniak tried to remain calm. “We’re both here with you. You’re safe now.”

“Both?” Janice looked around the room. She spotted Tom in the doorway, and quickly scrabbled together some bed linen to cover her nakedness. Then the pain of her wounds struck her, and she groaned. Beneath the cover she placed her free hand into her groin.

“Peter – what’s happened to me?” She said as her hand came away sticky.

Wozniak found it hard to find the words. In the end all he could do was tell her the truth.

“Jan, I’m sorry, my love, but you’ve been raped.”

A look of horror appeared upon Janice’s face. Heedless of the watching Tom she cast off the covers, and hugged Wozniak with all her strength.

From his vantage point Tom could now see bleeding nail marks upon Janice’s buttocks as she raised herself up in her desperation to hold on to Wozniak. He took two steps into the room, and pointed a wavering finger in the direction of her wounds.

“No.” She sobbed into Wozniak’s neck.

Wozniak could find no words now: the love of his life was attempting to escape into

denial; and he wasn’t about to refuse her that temporary release.

“No.” She repeated herself, but in a more assured voice.

Wozniak released his grip upon her bruised body as she reduced the urgency of her grasp upon him.

“No.” She said for a third time as she released Wozniak entirely; pulled herself away; and re-covered her body with the bed linen. “It wasn’t rape: I was a willing participant.”

Both men were rendered momentarily speechless. Wozniak drew himself upright, and looked down upon the woman who had surprised him so many times him in the past, but never like this.

“It’s like a dream.” Janice explained as she searched her errant memory. “No.” She corrected herself. “More like a fantasy: a wild sex-fantasy. I couldn’t help myself. All I wanted was you. I wanted pure, undiluted, no-holds-barred, sex – and nothing else.”

It took a few seconds for Wozniak’s mind to assimilate this. Then he knew exactly what Janice meant.

“Of course.” He breathed out loudly. “You were subjected to a super-pheromone! But unlike me you received a neat dose – undiluted by the passage of time and the soiled fabric of an old hiking coat.”

Janice began to cry.

“You forgive me, don’t you? Please say you do.”

“Forgive?” Wozniak sat beside her upon the bed, and wrapped her up in the bed linen once more. “There’s nothing to forgive. It wasn’t really you having sex with that …” He couldn’t find a descriptive term.

“Monster?” Tom offered.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

That’s why I choose a different name for different subjects. I wouldn’t want a child reading this sort of stuff. Remember: Tooty Nolan = Funny. Paul Trevor Nolan = Family friendly/YA. Clive Thunderbolt = Darker, more explicit and sometimes violent. A style for a wider range of tastes, I’d like to think.

Silence X Two

As a break from all my silliness, please try some samples of my sensible stuff – namely these…

Although I never intended to write these books for YA, I did write them with my teen-aged self in mind. I wanted to write stories that I would have enjoyed as a youth. So p’raps I did, after all – only sub-cobsciously. Anyway here they are – suitable for all ages…

Silent Apocalypse.

I stood atop the slightly wind-swept railway embankment. Looking back I could see three winding tracks cut by our quad bikes through the long grass of the adjacent field. They halted at the embankment. Below my friends awaited good news.

Using binoculars, I scanned through three hundred and sixty degrees. Not a movement could I see. Not a sign that man or beast existed. No smoke; no sounds; Nothing, but a constant silence. The land was empty. Upon a whim I placed an ear to the railway track. All I could hear was my own breathing.

‘And where there’s breath, there’s life. And where there’s life, there’s hope.’

I stood up, and waved.

“It’s all right:” I called to the others, “You can come up.”

With their pillions now dismounted, Kevin, Donald, and Lee were able to blast their mounts up the steep incline. Within seconds the quad bikes were positioned within the railway tracks – upon the sleepers that separated them unfortunately. It was hoped that their wheels would be run over whatever detritus had filled the hollows between the sleepers. We also hoped that it would be both firm and deep.

Katherine put it into words, “Railway sleepers do not a highway make. Ouch, ouch, ouch, and ouch.”

Once underway it was a case of ‘close your eyes and hang on for dear life’. Although our speed must have been modest at best– all four wheels were seldom on the ground at one time. It felt like we were attempting the land speed record down the side of Everest. Our teeth veritably rattled in our heads, and our eyes could barely focus. It was so ridiculous that I had to laugh.

I heard Katherine’s voice over the thudding of four-stroke engines, and the considerably louder rattles emanating from every other component of the sturdy vehicles as they threatened to disassemble themselves whilst on the move.

She shouted to Donald, “How fast are we going?”

He shouted back, “Don’t know: My eyes are blurred.”

And I knew from current experience that he wasn’t joking.

“Have we gone very far?” She called again.

“Oh, about a million miles.” Donald bellowed between bouts of handlebar wrestling.

“I’m sorry, Don,” Katherine yelled, “But I don’t think this is such a good idea after all: I have a terrible headache, and my posterior is quite numb.”

“That’s nothing:” Donald may have been joking, but I’m not certain, “I have a posterior-ache and my head’s gone numb!”

My chauffeur, Lee, chanced a look back at me. He shouted, “You know, one of these days we’ll look back at this, and laugh like bleedin’ drains!”

“No we won’t.” I was pretty certain of the veracity of my reply, “This will haunt us for all eternity.”

“It’s not quite that bad.” He shouted again.

“Yes it is.” I informed him forcefully – punching his shoulder with every word.

As lead vehicle it was our decision when the caravan stopped or deviated from its course. Lee spotted an unmanned road crossing just ahead.

“You’re right. Hang on.” He shouted – before swerving off of the track, and onto the narrow tarmacadam road, where he braked to a halt.

 The others followed. As they pulled alongside, their expressions showed undiluted gratitude.

Kevin summed it up when he said, “That was yukky!”

Katherine dismounted and stretched her legs.

 “Not that I’m ungrateful, or anything: but why have we stopped?”

“I thought I’d give the fluid in my brain-box a chance to settle.” Lee replied. Then to everybody, “Right – who votes we follow the railway now?

Not a solitary hand was raised.

Lee pointed toward a hill before it. The railway could be seen entering a tunnel through it.

“Unless somebody’s got a better idea, we’ll follow the track cross-country. Sounds’ good?”

All hands were raised simultaneously.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

It’s almost impossible to select excerpts from a sequel that doesn’t give away the plot of the original story. This is made all the more difficult when the excerpts are chosen at random. So, by necessity, the following snippet is all too brief. Sorry.

Silent Resistance

Karen had joined our triumvirate by the time, two hours later, when Shane entered carrying a tray of scalding hot coffee.

“Colin thought you egg-heads might need some brain-juice.” She said. “So where do we hit first?” She asked whilst scrutinising the vast scattering of notepad pages upon Cosgrove’s desk.

“Funny you should ask that, Shane,” I answered, “because I need an ally right now, and I think you’re just the girl to back me up.”

I swear her ears actually pricked up.

“Yeah?” She said with undisguised eagerness, “What’s all this about then?”

So I explained that I still wanted an answer to a question that had been niggling me since the day that Wayne had died so unnecessarily.

“Oh yeah, that one.” Shane said carelessly. “Why was an Espeeg hiding out in a bus station, and why’d he gone stark-raving bonkers?”

“Yes, that’s the one.” I said admiringly. “The others aren’t quite so keen to find out.”

“Yeah, you can count me in.” The diminutive girl said eagerly, “I’ll come with you. It’s about time I did something other than sitting around picking my nose.”

“Too much information!” Kylie wailed.

I hadn’t actually been seeking a side-kick on what was essentially a very secondary mission; but now that I had a volunteer I realised that it was probably a good idea to take someone along. Shane must have seen my reaction.

“When do we leave?” She asked as she dropped into a spare seat.

“No one said that anyone is going anywhere.” Karen said disapprovingly.

I chose not to hear the older, wiser girl.

“Well I’d like to finish my coffee before we go, if that’s okay.” I answered.

“Yes, that’s right.” Karen sniffed. “Ignore me completely. Ignore the voice of rationality.”

So Shane did as she had apparently been instructed. It was only when Tasman and Kylie also voiced their concerns that she responded with:

“Hey, maybe we should take Dainam along: after all he speaks the lingo which is more than we do.”

So it seemed that the decision had been made – in my favour.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

These books were actually written ten years apart. The former was polished somewhat and re-issued in 2014, following the completion of the latter. Both are available at most e-book suppliers. The paperbacks at Lulu.com (see side bar).

 

Silence Revisited

It’s been a while since I last visited my better literary works – those being Silent Apocalypse and Silent Resistance

So I thunk to myself; “Let’s give the guys an extract from the former, quickly followed by one from the latter. A kind of two for the price of one sort of deal.” The result of this altruistic thought is…

Silent Apocalypse

It was Kevin who found the road map of Great Britain in a desk drawer. It was old and stained, and probably horribly out of date; but Wayne spread it out upon the table and immediately bent to the task of matching his co-ordinates with those printed upon the map. Since he was no cartographer it took him a while; but eventually his two index fingers slid across the map, on a collision course, until they met upon the boundary of land and sea. He ringed it in pencil. Everyone craned their necks to look.

“Winston Crag.” He read out the accompanying reference. “Anyone heard of it?”

No one had.

“Catch the Crag Bus.” Katherine almost breathed the words, “Now it almost makes sense. There must be a bus waiting at Winston Crag.”

“Would you risk your life on it?” Candice spoke, the sullenness of earlier remaining, despite a general rising tide of optimism.

“Do you trust in your prescience?” Katherine countered, though none of us saw the significance.

“Not if I can help it.” A hint of a smile returned.

I wondered then, if perhaps she really did have the ability to see future events. By taking us to the farm she had led us into a trap: This argued against such an ability. ‘But yet there’s something about her…’

“Right:” Lee announced, “Let’s go. How do we get there?”

“Well I was thinking of a top-of-the-range four-by-four, with leather upholstery and air conditioning.” Katherine spoke with not a hint of sarcasm obvious.

“And a telly.” Kevin added. And I knew with certainty that there was no sarcasm present in his suggestion.

It was so infuriating: we now had the information we required. We had somewhere to go. Some hope. But a group of stupid boys, who had better, more important things to do with their lives, were besieging us. All our hopes and plans were now in unnecessary jeopardy. It made no sense. It was all so illogical. It almost made me glad that the whole stupid human race had virtually wiped itself out.

“There’s a combine.” Kevin spoke into the silence that I hadn’t noticed, “In the barn.”

All eyes turned to him.

“A combine harvester?” Donald asked, “In that barn out there?

“I see it through a hole in the roof.” Kevin said proudly. “Looks like a good ‘un too!”

“Given a choice, I’d pump for a time machine.” Katherine stated. “But failing that I’d take a combine harvester. But, assuming that it goes, isn’t a little on the slow side? We’d do well to outrun a sloth.”

I warmed to the idea instantly. “It would be very difficult to stop.”

Lee lent his support. “I wouldn’t want one of them things coming at me.”

“But it’s so slow.” Katherine returned to her original argument, which was validated as she continued, “They could run alongside and simply pick us off at will. Heavens, with us hanging on for dear life, they could probably pluck us off with a baling hook!”

No one was listening though: They didn’t want to hear contrary arguments: They had a vehicle to hand, and somewhere to drive it.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Silent Resistance

The ride from hell lasted approximately fifteen minutes. No one was actually watching the clock or counting the passing seconds; instead they were either hanging on for dear life, or threatening to copy Dainam, who now appeared almost comatose in his misery.

The moment that I realised that we’d finally gained upon our quarry was when Kylie flicked the headlights to low beam, and stepped off the gas.

“Tail lights ahead.” She said without taking her eyes from the road. “A ways ‘round the corner. How do you want to play this? Full speed ahead, and run them down?”

With the bus upon a more even keel I was able to consult the ageing AA roadmap.

“We have to get in front of them – without their knowledge.” I answered. “Stay as close as you dare. Can you drive on side lights? They mustn’t see us.”

As the external lights dimmed further, Kylie said, “Are you sure this is a good idea? I can hardly see beyond the end of my nose.”

“Lucky it’s such a large one then, isn’t it!” Colin laughed from somewhere near the back.

“Thank you – I’ll remember that.” Kylie said as she concentrated upon keeping the bus in the centre of the road.

But I wasn’t really paying attention. My eyes pored over the roadmap in search of a turn-off that we could take that might allow us to get ahead of the Espeeg and their prisoner. Not necessarily a short-cut, but a route where our superior speed could be put to good use. Then I found it – a narrow lane that branched off to the right. A lane, according to the roadmap, that was so narrow that it might actually be a dirt track. It cut through arable farmland, and included a tiny hamlet and a farm along its length. Most importantly it cut across a loop in the road that followed the bank of a river that was almost five miles long. The lane, I was exhilarated to calculate, was only one mile long.

Peering into the darkness beyond the light of the passenger compartment I could make out exactly nothing of the world outside. I had no idea where we were in relation to the map.

Joining Kylie at the front of the bus I said, “Keep your eyes peeled for a turning to the right. It’ll be really narrow, and might be signposted Bittern Dabney or Bendals farm.”

“We just passed it.” Kylie yelped in delight – before hitting the brakes like a Formula One driver arriving at a chicane.

Whilst I was busy picking myself up from the floor, Kylie was trying to find reverse.

“Can you drive one of these backwards?” I inquired as I rubbed a sore elbow.

“They call this on-the-job training.” She responded. “If I can’t right now, I will in a few minutes. I just need a little practise.”

“No time for that, I’m afraid.” I said with false solemnity.

Kylie grinned as she found reverse. “I didn’t think there would be.”

Kylie had never reversed a vehicle of any kind, and in the darkness her mirrors told her almost nothing of her immediate surroundings. Instead she relied upon all of us looking out through the rear and side windows to shout instructions to her. As a result it took us several precious minutes to back-track the three hundred-or-so metres to the turn off; but once she had the vehicle lined up Kylie was able to set the road ahead ablaze with the power of her full beams. The diesel engine roared as it quickly shifted up through its multiple gear ratios, and we fairly raced along between high banks and overgrown hedgerows upon a relatively recent tarmac surface.

As expected, both the hamlet and farm had been abandoned – presumably being too far from anywhere significant to have caught anyone’s eye. I took note of their location: they might be useful one day.  

Within moments, it seemed, we were approaching the opposite end of the lane. Without any instruction from me, Kylie cut the lights, and rolled the bus into position across the main road – blocking it entirely. Anyone wanting to pass it would have to take to the fields on either side, which would be difficult because of the barbed wire fences that formed their perimeter.

“How do we know we’ve got here first?” Colin said sullenly. “They might have passed already.”

It was a fair point, but I was confident that despite our initial lost time we’d more than made up the difference.  

My confidence wasn’t wasted: moments later Dexter shouted, “Lights. I see lights.”

As one the entire party threw themselves against the side windows and stared into the night. We were rewarded with the sight of twinkling headlights a mile-or-so distant as a pair of quad bikes made their relatively slow progress through a series of bends that would ultimately bring them to us.

With little time to prepare Colin and I immediately donned our helmets, whilst the others hurried from the bus.

“Right,” I said as I joined them upon the tarmac surface, “you lot get lost. Go hide up the lane. If there’s a ditch there – jump in it. I don’t want anyone getting hit by stray rounds and ricochets.”

Shane shook her head. “We can’t leave you two alone.” She said.

“Yeah,” Dexter, as per usual, agreed with her, “the odds’ll be fifty-fifty. Those are bad odds. It aint like you’re betting money: this is your lives.”

I felt, rather than saw, Colin’s resolve waning.

“Rubbish.” I said to both of them. “We have the element of surprise: That’s worth at least two extra guns. They literally won’t know what hit them – until it’s too late. Now get out of here. Scat.”

No one was keen to leave us alone to face the approaching alien Law-Keepers; but Tasman urged them to join him in the darkness beyond the range thrown by the interior lights of the bus. And suddenly Colin and I found ourselves standing in the only available light for miles around, and feeling very vulnerable indeed.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Although both books were published during the same year, they were actually written ten years apart. I’d like to think that, as a story-teller, my skills had grown during that decade and that Resistance is a better work that Apocalypse. But, of course, the later book couldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for the earlier book, so I like them equally. Both are available as paperbacks and e-books via the book cover links on the sidebar.

Captive Moment

I know that most of my blogs feature either silly tales or half-way pleasant photos, but every once in a while I’ll post a snippet of my more serious work: and this is one of those ‘every once in a whiles‘. I’ve chosen to present an excerpt from this book/e-book…

Yes, that’s right: I also write under the ridiculous name of Clive Thunderbolt. It’s to differentiate between the family friendly stuff of Paul Trevor Nolan and slightly more violent and vaguely sexual stories, such as the above tome. Don’t blame me for the pen name: my son thought it up.

Anyway…to the excerpt…

Wozniak couldn’t help himself interrupting again: He was used to telling stories – not listening to them, “Yes, yes. There’s a theory in quantum physics that suggests that everything that can exist – does exist – somewhere. It’s just the matter of accessing it where the problem lies.”

“That’s right,” Katherine nodded her appreciation. It seemed that this lecture was more for Janice’s benefit than anyone else’s’, “All potential events and decisions – every possible twist and turn of our lives – takes place somewhere – in some dimension – with vastly varying consequences. From what I understood from the necessarily brief induction I received in Wycksford, it seems that in one reality a rock may fall from a cliff: In another it may remain in place for another hundred years. The ramifications of that event in one world may result in a world vastly different to the one in which it failed to take place.”

Wozniak was off again, “Exactly. In one dimension a Prince may get brained, and the kingdom falls to a barbarian horde…”

To his surprise it was Janice who, in turn, interrupted him, “In the other he passes by in ignorance, builds a huge castle nearby, and founds a dynasty that lasts for a thousand years. What a brainteaser. You know this really is quite fascinating. But is it real? I mean – this is all very nice in theory – but where is the evidence to prove that it really exists?”

Wozniak indicated Katherine with a backward slant of his thumb. “You’re looking at her.”

Janice pursed her lips, and answered, “The jury is still out on that.”

“Well let’s allow the principal witness her time in court, shall we?” Wozniak suggested.

Katherine nodded her polite gratitude, and took up where she had left off; “Wycksford accessed multiple alternate states two years ago. It was a very hush-hush affair: Only a small knot of people knew anything about it – even the existence of the theory. Peter Wozniak – the other one, that is – was one of that small group. Naturally – being a mere secretary – I was not. Well, very quickly they realized that they had a tiger by the tail: To say that they grew fearful would be the understatement of the year. Can you imagine what might happen to a society if anyone got hold of such a working technology? Well just not anyone: How could you trust your own government with such technology? Nowhere would in inaccessible. Enemies of the State: Terrorists: Criminals: If they operated LLD, there would be no defence against them. Absolute anarchy would rule. Civilized society would collapse. And perhaps miscreants would soon be crossing into societies throughout all inhabitable dimensions. As a worst-case scenario – in the wrong hands – perhaps religious extremists, or ethnic supremacists  – it could result in the destruction of civilization everywhere. And I don’t mean everywhere in the world: I mean everywhere – with a capital E!”

“In which case, I for one, sincerely hope that this is just a theory, and has no place in reality – any reality.” Janice opined in a shocked tone.

“But it isn’t.” Katherine sounded desperate to convince the doubtful woman who stood before her. If Janice was to be of any genuine help with her task, it was of absolute importance that she believed the truth. There would be no time for hesitation. “Wycksford took the only logical course of action.” she continued, “Despite the vociferous arguments from Peter Wozniak: They destroyed the only operating machine, and incinerated every piece of data pertinent to it. Short of mass suicide, they effectively erased it from history.”

Giving Janice and Wozniak a moment to assimilate this, Katherine continued her lecture.

“Everybody thought that was that. Job done. Game over. To use a mixed metaphor, they’d bottled the genie, and capped the well. Now all they had to do was sit back and wait for all the members of the team to pass away in the fullness of time, as nature intended, and the threat would be over forever. Then two days ago I never turned up for work. I had some important papers on me at the time. They searched high and low for me – but of course they didn’t find me for hours – and I was in a state of shock when they did. Of course I had no idea what had happened to me. First I thought I was having a nightmare, from which I’d soon wake up. When I didn’t, I actually thought that I’d gone mad. There I was driving to work in the early hours, then suddenly it was mid-morning, and everything had changed. I was still on the same road, but the turns were different. There were suddenly many more trees lining it. Brambledown was different too. There were no border guards or check point. I was becoming hysterical when I raced for Wycksford – only to find no trace of it. At this point I was in danger of becoming seriously unhinged. So I hid in the woods until dark – when suddenly I was sitting in a field just outside Wyksford. I could see my car was parked in a nearby lane. I didn’t try to comprehend what had happened to me: I just cried with relief. A returning search party found me shortly afterwards.”

“And your bosses?” Wozniak enquired. “How did they react?”

“I think you could safely say that the sky fell on them. They understood completely what had happened to me. LDD was back – and they didn’t control it.”

“Correction:” Wozniak spoke gravely. “They don’t control it. Present tense.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

If you quite enjoyed that, you’ll be thrilled to learn that the e-book is available just about everywhere (see side bar for access to a few well-known stockists) and as a book via the publisher, Lulu.com, which is accessible by clicking the Lulu logo on the side bar.

Tooty

 

Ancient Excerpt

I thought it was about time that I reminded the world that once upon a time I used to write stuff that didn’t involve a camera and a bunch of earplugs. Enter stage left, this book…

Yes, it’s the original Causality Merchant book. The same book that I keep promising to write a second sequel to. And here’s an extract…

Janice sat beside Wozniak as he manoeuvred the large estate car out of the driveway of The Peaks, and into Pikes Lane. She caught sight of her dishevelled hair in the sun visor vanity mirror, and attempted to reassemble the wayward strands into the neat, but unflattering pulled-back style in which she usually wore it.

“Leave it.” Wozniak said with a little more urgency than he’d intended. “It’s fine like that. Better than fine in fact. You don’t have to do anything with it.”

Initially startled at Wozniak’s abrupt demand, Janice reappraised her appearance.

I suppose it does look a little more care free’, She thought to herself, ‘If a little scruffy’.

“Really?” She enquired. “It doesn’t look a mess? I’m sure mother would think it was perfectly ghastly.”

“Yes, I expect she would.” Wozniak grumbled as he angled the large vehicle between the earth bank and a small van approaching from the opposite direction. “But then she’d think I was perfectly ghastly too; and we know that’s not true – don’t we!”

Janice didn’t reply verbally: she merely nodded and smiled slightly. She decided to get back to the subject at hand.

“I assume that when you say I’m to meet and greet the great Katherine Marcus, you don’t mean Doctor Katherine Marcus?”

“You assume correctly.” Wozniak replied – grateful for a moment’s respite from wheel-twisting as the vehicle entered a more open part of the lane.

“Isn’t that going to be rather difficult?” Janice said as she looked sideways at her chauffeur.

“Not if I’m right.” Wozniak said – his confidence of success seemingly high.

Janice pondered a moment before responding. This is not the Peter Wozniak of just a couple of days past: he had been pleasant enough then – but he’d also been a man who appeared to believe that he’d reached the end of his usefulness. He had referred to himself as a ‘washed-up writer’ more than once. Now this little adventure – even if much of it was delusional – was giving him back his confidence. And she was grateful for it: after all wasn’t she being thoroughly entertained in a way that she could never have previously imagined? And as regards to Peter – she was so pleased to see him favouring his cerebral nerves over his erectile variety.

“Supposing you’re right…” she said.

“Which I am.” Wozniak interrupted.

Janice ignored this, and carried on, “…how can you guarantee this doppelgänger Katherine Marcus is going to show up in the village? Judging from the way you described her previous behaviour, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brambledown hasn’t seen the last of her!”

“If I’m right…” Wozniak began in turn.

This time it was Janice who interrupted:

“Which you are.”

Wozniak grinned. “Yes – which I am. She doesn’t have much choice.”

“Of course that’s assuming Doctor Katherine Marcus goes to work this morning.” Janice reminded him.

“Oh she will.” Wozniak assured her. “She absolutely lives for her work. Given a choice between me in the sack, a national lottery win, or a morning at the office – or should I say ‘the laboratory’ – I know I’d have to settle for a distant second place. Or, dare I say it, third. Oh yes I’m pretty certain that my favourite doppelgänger will turn up: she has no choice in the matter.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

This is available as a paperback and as an e-book. See sidebar for details.

Wallpaper 447: Late to Bed

I was up early enough to catch this little guy making his way home. I had to use all of my 50X zoom lens to ‘see’ through all the dead wood and bushes to get this; but as I did so, I realised that this was the first daytime badger I had ever seen in my sixty-one years on this planet. I’ll have to get up early more often.

Some More Potentially Apocalyptic Stuff

Well I’ve shown you snippets from three of my four ‘serious’ books: here’s one from the fourth. This one, to be precise…

Darkness had long since fallen, and Katherine had disappeared on an errand of great importance. Both Wozniak and Len had filled their stomachs, and had been found accommodation in a corrugated iron hut. Roughly built bunks lined both walls of the long, thin edifice. A single lavatory cubicle, and two wash basins were all there was to service the potential inhabitants that, if all the beds were put to use, would number forty. Wozniak sighed. Of an ice pack there was not one sign.

“What do you reckon, Len: army billet, or hospital?” Wozniak asked the only other inhabitant as they lounged upon two of the forty bunks that were covered with coarse horse blankets, with a single cotton pillow at each bed head.

He’d been thinking about what he might be doing if he hadn’t become the innocent victim of trans-dimensional backwash. He felt certain that whatever path he’d chosen – it was highly unlikely that he’d end up with Len Peters at his side. He cursed himself for his decision to return to The Peaks. Then he thought of Janice. ‘Where would she be right now?’

He had no way of knowing. He thought of his twin’s corpse in the cellar of their rented house.

Where was the key to the cellar door kept?’

He didn’t know. He prayed that Janice didn’t either.

“Could be either.” Len answered his earlier question. “Wonder what folk are up to? I don’t like being cut off like this. Events are moving quicker than I expected. I figured on downing a half pint of ale down at the Trotters Arms about this time of day.”

Len had tried to leave earlier – but he’d been denied his freedom. It was assumed that the Droxfield Militia now roamed freely in the countryside separating Wycksford from Brambledown – and Len certainly couldn’t walk back –  and Wycksford certainly couldn’t afford to release any vehicle to him, for the simple reason that they had none to spare. He was urged to remain in a place of safety – and just to make sure that he did as requested, they locked the door behind him.

Wozniak checked his watch. Mentally adjusting for the time differential – he judged that they had something like thirteen hours before Droxfield’s deadline, at which time the scientific community must pass all their technical data to them. Intrigued by the history that had led them into their current situation he asked Len how it had arisen.

“I mean – aren’t there rules that prohibit one group from firing upon members of another without provocation?” He said. “Are there no controls over the behaviour of such tiny communities? Where is the government? Who are the practitioners of law? Where the hell’s the army when you most need it?”

Len seemed to ponder this, so Wozniak filled the silence.

“Earlier you mentioned the danger of countries being formed again? What did you mean by that? Are there no countries in your reality? Are there just villages? Thousands and thousands of villages – right across the globe?”

Had he asked anyone but Len, perhaps he wouldn’t have received such a fulsome answer. As it was, Len understood how the worlds worked in both realities. He could appreciate, better than anyone, Wozniak’s line of questioning.

By means of explanation, Len gave Wozniak a potted history of his world. He informed him that his world had, for reasons unknown, been more technologically advanced than that of Wozniak’s. Perhaps by as much a two centuries. But, conversely, their social structure had been less so. The result was a series of World Wars, much like those of Wozniak’s history – but far more numerous – which ultimately brought advancement to a halt many times over, and often forced the world to fall back upon earlier technologies to maintain some decent level of existence. The last war had resulted in the use of nuclear weapons. Fortunately for Len and his ancestors, England had long since ceased to be a world power, and had not fallen directly foul of the calamity. They, and the countries that survived, came to an agreement: the means to make war on such a scale must be removed. Borders must be abolished. Countries must be abolished. Only closely knit partnerships, or confederations, could be allowed. Only communities smaller than the towns of earlier times, would be allowed. Often they would specialize – therefore advancing the idea of free trade between them – making them inter-dependent – but still largely independent, and free from influence by outside forces. Until the moment that Wozniak had appeared, this situation had existed for almost a century and a half. For certain it had stifled advancement – but it had also stopped humanity from wiping itself out. Now only Central Liaisons – appointed by a confederation or co-operative – maintained a Balance of Fairness, which in an earlier time could have been thought of as a government: but in real terms it was powerless. It had no policing policy, and lacked any military capability. It negotiated deals and agreements. It was a go-between. It was a system, which until very recently – at least locally – had worked extremely well.

“If you ask me,” Len murmured, as his tale reached its end, “your world could do with learnin’ from our mistakes.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Some Potentially Apocalyptic Stuff

Although my most popular books (sales wise at least) are the two Silent tales, I do have a couple more that don’t feature the youthful first-person narrator, Felicity Goldsmith; but instead has a middle-aged writer as the third-person central character. His name is Peter Wozniak, and he reluctantly stars in this duo of literary thingies…

Here’s an excerpt from the latter  tome…

Wozniak hadn’t taken a moment to think when he realised that his ‘phone had fallen silent. He grabbed the key from Wallace’s grasp and raced from the pavement. In an adrenaline-fuelled leap that wouldn’t have disgraced an Olympic hurdler, he threw himself over the hedge into the field beside Number Eight.

“Peter. Peter.” Wallace called into the darkness as he heard Wozniak’s ragged breathing as the big man picked himself up from the damp grass in the field beyond, “What are you doing?”

“Got to find Jan, Wal.” Wozniak called back. “We’ve lost contact. Maybe I can’t travel in time, but I can still move in the remaining three dimensions.”

Wallace then saw a small penlight illuminate his friend’s handsome features.

“You used to live here, Wal.” Wozniak swung the feeble beam around in an arc. “Where would you estimate the garden shed should be?”

“What?” Wallace cried in confusion. “How the hell can you expect me to remember that? And what if I get it right: what do you propose to do with the key now? You can’t hand it over to her.”

“I’m using a kind of reverse logic, Wal?” Wozniak tried to explain. “I know it won’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the only thing I can think of. Shit, Wal – I’m a science-fiction writer: it’s my job to come up with crazy ideas!”

“Jan.” Wozniak called into his ‘phone. “Answer me!”

He was relieved when he heard the muffled scratching sounds of a telephone being removed from his lover’s cleavage.

“I’m thinking!” Janice’s voice crackled from the device in Wozniak’s hand. She sounded both irritated and worried. “I was getting nowhere with the bench, so I decided to come back, but when I stepped through the gate – you and the twenty-first century had gone. Peter, I don’t mean to alarm you, but at this precise moment I’m stuck in the nineteen-fifties!”

Wozniak fought down panic. He took a few moments to author his response. He hoped that the fear in his voice didn’t travel well through time.

“Are you near the garden shed, Jan? It’s important.”

“Where do you think I am?” Janice’s annoyance certainly traversed time without dilution. “I’m trying to pick the padlock on the door – with a rusty nail.”

“Good girl.” Wozniak replied – somehow certain that whatever predicament Janice should find herself in, she would think her way out of it. But he also realised that she could use all the help she could get. “I’ve been thinking – it’s now doubly important that you complete your task. Whether you like it or not, this is destiny, Jan. You’re there for a reason – I’m sure of it. All that God-stuff?  I’m with you all the way with it.  And that reason includes saving the life of Mavis and George Courtney.”

Janice’s mood hadn’t lightened any. “Thank you for stating the bloody obvious, Wozniak: I’d managed to figure that out for myself. I’m not a complete idiot you know. Damn it, I’m getting no where with this arse-holy lock!”

“Well stop then.” Wozniak commanded her. “I have a better idea. Now tell me – how far from the house are you?”

It took a few seconds for Janice to reply. Obviously she was trying to make sense of Wozniak’s question. Her faith in him soon overruled her questioning mind.

“About twenty metres.” She replied.

“Stay right there.” Wozniak instructed her. Then turning to Wallace, who now stood upon the opposite side of the hedge, he said, “Best estimate, Wal: Where’s the front door?”

“Wait right there.” Wallace replied.

He then quickly scrambled into his four-wheel drive vehicle. After starting the motor, he crashed the machine into gear, and mounted the kerb with the front wheels.

“Step back, Peter, dear heart.” He called out. “I’m no off-road expert.”

Then without further warning he revved the large diesel engine, released the clutch, and in a second had driven the huge vehicle straight through the hedge.

Wozniak stood in the glare of the headlights. “What the fuck?” He mouthed.

Wallace cut the motor and jumped from the driver’s seat. “And he said ‘let there be light’ and there was light, and the light was good.” He cried. “Darling, you can’t go stumbling about in the dark: If you’re going to try to reach Janice, the least you need is to be able to see properly.”

Wozniak could have hugged his friend, but this was neither the time nor place.

“Nice one, Wal, Right then – the front door? From there we can calculate the location of the garden shed. Make it quick: someone’s bound to have called the police.”

It took a couple of  minutes, and some comparisons with the neighbouring houses, before Wallace was reasonably certain that he and Wozniak now stood in a position that was adjacent in time and space to the garden shed of his childhood.

“Right, now try to find something solid that’s survived since the collapse of your home.” Wozniak instructed Wallace.

Wallace looked at his friend with disbelief. “You’re taking the piss, right? The house blew up. It was demolished, and the ground became a farmer’s field. It’s had cows shitting all over it for decades: How are we going to find ‘something that’s survived’? Peter, I love you dearly, but sometimes you talk bollocks of the highest order.”

Wozniak realised that perhaps he was being a little over-optimistic with his request, but he also discovered in that moment of introspection that he actually believed in the idea that he was a Causality Merchant. 

“Trust me, Wal.” He grinned. “The shed was wooden right? It must have sat upon some sort of slab. Concrete: Flag stones: Something like that.”

Wallace shook his head as he cast his mind back to his formative years.

“Concrete blocks I think. Raised up about six inches. The ground ‘round here was always boggy.” Then another recollection impinged itself upon his consciousness. “With a fucking great stone step leading up to the door. I fell off it once, and had to be taken to the surgery with a tooth through my lip.”

Wozniak cast his gaze and his penlight to and fro as he began searching through the thick, tussocky, grass. His foot came up against something hard that was buried in the soft, moist soil beneath the grass.

A huge smile spread across his hairy face. “What, like this, you mean?” He said.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Some More Apocalyptic Stuff

Since the extract from Silent Apocalypse went so well, I thought I might tickle your fancy with an excerpt from its sequel…

And why not; it’s fab!

My arrival in the quaint rural conurbation was instantaneous. One moment Tasman was wishing me good luck; the next I found myself standing on the pavement directly outside the village community hall. Tasman had asked me why I needed to be placed in the open air when he could just as easily place me inside the house again.

“I won’t have any difficulty getting into the house.” I’d said, “But I need to know what everyone else is doing before I act.”

So now I stood in a biting late November breeze; in my Navy SEALS battle dress; with my face blacked up; armed to the teeth; and listening to an ill-tuned upright piano being played appallingly inside the building beside me. Moments later a large group of young voices broke into song. They didn’t sing well, and the song itself could only be described as a dirge. Easing my body past a clump of stinging nettles that were tall and well past their best I slid my body along the slatted wooden exterior wall of the communal building. Standing upon tip-toes I peered through the grubby high level window. Inside I could see a facsimile of one of my dearest friends from my own continuum – Thomas Kingsbury. He was two years older than me, but this version looked as though he had twenty years over me. He was leading the youthful villagers in a rather old fashioned song that I didn’t recognise and which would have sounded better coming out of the mouths of people two generations older. In any other circumstance it might have been amusing, but I knew that it was the false meat that had done this harm, and it doubled my determination to correct the situation.

I think my heart must have missed a beat when I recognised the pianist. It was none other my best friend (and Tom’s younger sister) Katherine. Katherine the caustic, easy-quipping heroine had been reduced to playing the role of choir mistress.

‘Not that I have anything against choir mistresses: it’s just not Katherine’s ‘thing’.’

It was difficult for me to see everyone inside the building without running the risk of someone spotting my blackened face at the window. Nevertheless I did as best I could and was horrified to see the previously trouble-making Lee singing heartily. Donald was there too – at the back where I’d expect him to be, which suggested that the false meat hadn’t entirely stripped him of his inhibitions. Even poor simple Kevin Lutchins sang along as best he could. But my greatest horror was reserved to last. It came when the long mousey locks of the only person in the room bearing a gun were cast aside by a casual flick of the head. I too stood there; or at least my double did. I/she wasn’t singing, but I/she didn’t appear to be enjoying myself/herself either. That in itself wasn’t the true horror of the situation – she wasn’t, after all, really me at all: No, that came when the song ended, and Martine stood to deliver a speech. By taking up her position to the right, and slightly behind the alien girl, this world’s Felicity Goldsmith betrayed her position in the new order of Brambledown: She was the enemy’s body guard. Her personal Rottweiler!

I recalled at that moment what this world’s Colonel Cosgrove had told me of ‘his’ Felicity, and how he’d despatched her, Lee, Katherine, and Donald upon a mission from which they were yet to return. Now I knew what that mission was: to fetch the population of Brambledown to the sanctuary of Crag Base. Now they would never return. Now they were mere pawns in game played by a psychotic alien teen-ager who dreamed of her own empire.

‘Not if I have anything to do with it!’

With everyone who was likely to recognise me (despite the black face and cropped hair) together in one place, the time was ripe for me to act. Quickly making my way back to the pavement I struck out in the direction of the house that Martine had sequestered in my reality. I’d recognised it in the video recording so I knew that she’d done the same in this reality.

Less than two minutes had elapsed before I arrived at the house. It stood reasonably separate from its silent neighbours, and was surrounded by a chest high hedge that someone had maintained quite expertly. The gate creaked gently upon only slightly rusted hinges as I let myself on to the property. Gaining entry to the house was no problem; Martine, secure in the knowledge that no one of sufficient intelligence to break in existed, had left the door unlocked. I simply turned the round brass handle and stepped into the darkened house. Once inside I produced a tiny flashlight from a breast pocket and moved directly to the cellar door. Opening it I shone the narrow beam into the stygian darkness below. I was rewarded with the reflected light from a huge pile of metal canisters that had been stacked together in the centre of the room. There was no mistaking their identity; just like the one on the video returned by the camcorder, these too contained the hallucinogenic processed meat that reduced vibrant young people into malleable fools that could, in the worst cases, border upon zombie-like.

Recalling how I’d destroyed an identical stash in my own reality I searched the main room for oil lamps. Finding none I tried the drawing room, but without success. As if to prove that no two realities are entirely alike it seemed that this Martine had dispensed with quaint old fashioned technology, and had had an Espeeg generator installed. I found it in a cupboard under the stairs, and took great delight tearing the house wires from it. This act, if momentarily pleasurable, didn’t solve my problem.

‘Improvise, Fel: improvise.’

I needed a material that would burn easily and with high intensity. Balled up paper simply wouldn’t do, but that was all I could readily lay my hand on. I recalled passing a parked Land Rover in the street, but that was almost certainly powered by the virtually non-inflammable diesel; and in any case I doubted that I had the time or means to syphon any from the tank. Finding my way into the kitchen I tried looking in the cupboard beneath the sink. All I found were the remnants of some bleach and a bottle of floor cleaner. From there I proceeded into the integral garage.

‘Bingo!’   

From my position in the doorway that led from the kitchen I was looking straight at a shelf upon the opposite wall of the garage. My flashlight beam had ensnared two bottles of white spirit that perched invitingly at one end of the shelf.

I don’t recall crossing the distance between the door and the shelf, or finding a box to stand upon in order to reach the manna from heaven. Neither was I aware of returning to the kitchen; snatching a pile of tea towels from the worktop; and returning to the cellar. It seemed as if no time had passed at all. But I was very aware of what I was doing as I soaked the tea towels with white spirit, then stripped the dining table of its cloth covering and drenched that too.

I tried throwing a tea towel into the cellar, but the false meat stack was too distant and it fell short. A second attempt failed in the same manner. Despite not wanting to descend into the cellar for fear of being discovered and having no escape route I was forced to pluck up the courage and make my way down. Having done so I tucked the towels into every nook and cranny I could find in the stack of canisters, and then draped the table cloth over the top. Stepping back to look at my handiwork I felt reasonably pleased. All I needed now was an ignition source. Unfortunately the contents of several drawers yielded not one match or lighter. I considered turning on an electric ring of the kitchen stove with the idea of setting alight a length of screwed up paper and carrying it down into the cellar. But I realised that my earlier act of vandalism  had scuppered that plan. So instead I loosed off a shot from my MP7. It was a standard full metal jacket, and merely split open a couple of cans. The second had the same effect. But the third was a tracer round, and its white-hot incandescent casing ignited the vapours that rose from the spirit-soaked material. Instantly flames erupted across and through the stack of canisters. In a few seconds the blaze had engulfed it – heating up the fatty medium in which the false meat was suspended, turning it to liquid, where it flowed from the bullet holes, and proved most inflammable. I sent several more rounds into the inferno – spreading the fire further and wider.

I was about to congratulate myself upon a job well done when something came from the darkness behind me and knocked me senseless. I felt no pain as I tumbled like a ragdoll down the stairs into the cellar. Neither did I feel the coldness of the flagstone cellar floor or the searing heat of the fire at the cellar’s centre. But I was aware of a female voice screeching in anger and desperation.

“Who cares who she is: put out the fire. Put out the fire!”

This was followed by the abrupt illumination of the houselights on the floor above me and the clatter of a multitude of shod feet.

As my senses returned fully I became aware that I was lying upon my back and looking up the short flight of stairs that I had so recently fallen down. Illuminated by the flames that seemed to be coming ever closer to me I could see a solitary figure looking down at me. She wore her hair long and cradled an MP7 much like my own which lay a distance from me and appeared to be melting as the lava-like juices from the cans engulfed it.

“Fel.” I shouted at her. “Fel!”

She appeared to be startled at this. The barrel of her gun wavered as a look of confusion passed across her face.

“I’m you.” I lied. “I’ve come from the future.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Whoo – are you wondering what happens next – or even what the heck is going on? Buy the book and its prequel, and you’ll find out soon enough

Some Apocalyptic Stuff

Yes, after much frivolity its time for an excerpt from this fair tale…

And why not, it is my better-selling tome after all.

To shield his eyes, Driver crammed a wide brimmed hat on to his balding head. He then clambered in with us; extracted a huge hand gun from a metal box; before returning to the driving seat. He arrived in time to see two figures – one male, and one female – arrive with a confident stride from the darkness beyond. They were both dressed in identical, well-tailored coveralls and wearing helmets with rather intimidating mirrored visors. They held sophisticated-looking hand guns, the like of which none of us had ever seen.

Driver shook his gun at them: “You two can get lost, for a start!” He shouted.

The two figures either didn’t notice, which seemed unlikely, or they simply weren’t interested in what he had to say. To me it reeked of great arrogance; and that worried me.

Surely they recognized the lethalness of the weapon he held? ‘Or do they? Do they care? Who are they?’

They seemed far more interested in Horse. They approached, not with caution, but with open fascination. Horse tried to back away, but the Crag Bus stopped it. A small, sharp blade appeared in the hand of the male figure. I was horrified at the thought that they might actually dissect the animal then and there.

Naturally Driver was alarmed. He fired a shot in the air. This gained the attention of our two strange visitors. They approached Driver – totally oblivious of the gun aimed at them. They looked at his face – moving hands to their visors – which seemed to become transparent automatically – as though they were comparing the lines of Driver’s face, with an absence upon their own.

Kevin was absorbed with the whole situation. Unseen by any of us, he’d begun to lean out of one of the windows to gain a better view. Because of this the male figure became aware of us. It was a slow awareness. Not the sort when something catches your eye, or when you hear a sudden sound. No, this was slow – almost as if he’d known all along, and was only now letting us know that he’d seen us: that we’d finally gained his interest. His gaze gradually moved in our direction. It was like the whole world had gone into slow motion. His gaze slid along the sides of the Crag Bus, until his eyes locked with mine. How I knew this, I can’t say because his eyes were in deep shadow: But I knew. Then Kevin fell out of the window.

The two sophisticated handguns ascended as one. Both fired a single shot that made an unusual, but characteristic ‘zip’ sound that I’d not heard before.

Driver roared, “No!” He then squeezed the trigger of his handgun. Nothing happened, and he began shaking it in frustration.

The stranger’s weapons shifted their aim to the drivers’ seat. As if in response came several ‘puffs’ of silenced machine gun fire from an unidentified source. Both figures received direct strikes to their torsos. They staggered for a moment, and although we could see no blood or obvious damage to their coveralls, we were sure they would fall.

Katherine screamed in horror. Then she screamed again, but this time in fear for her own safety as, unbelievably, both figures recovered their balance and began casting around for signs of their assailants. Clearly confused, the female brought her weapon back to bear on Driver.

Lee let loose with the SA80. The female was flung bodily across the road by the impacts, but, as far as I could see, her suit was undamaged.

‘Wafer-thin body armour?’

The Male reacted by firing in our direction, several holes appearing in the side of the vehicle, but mercifully missing any living targets. Driver’s gun suddenly freed its obstruction, and seemingly fired itself at extremely close range. The old gun packed a huge punch; but although the male figure was sent reeling, he remained essentially unhurt and rolled back on to his feet with worrying agility.

“Get down.” I yelled at the old man.

But he was already on his way to cover. Showing remarkable nimbleness for a man of his age he was able to leap clear before the female figure opened fire upon his driving position.

Wonderful thing – adrenaline: Makes us all into Superman.

Donald and Katherine fired as one. By luck, or chance, each had selected different targets. Both scored hits, but with the same lack of ultimate effect. Rather belatedly (I thought) I finally squeezed off a few shots. Some hit their targets – most didn’t. But it helped keep the strangers off balance – if not really turning the tide of battle – for that was what we were surely in, as our opponents were able to respond with occasional shots in our direction.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kevin rise slowly. He spotted Driver lurking behind the Crag Bus. As quickly as his four limbs could carry him, Kevin scrambled to join the old man. I then noticed the two holes in his haversack. Once again he’d escaped serious harm, and at that moment I promised myself that if I ever met the man who’d manufactured such a sturdy haversack I would give him the biggest kiss that there ever was. Then, almost simultaneously, our ammunition ran out. That stark moment of silence was followed by a lingering moment of horror as the two figures began advancing toward us – their guns raised.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

 

 

Twelve Years On. Can My First Serious Book Inspire Me For a Second Time?

The best-selling book in my chequered portfolio is this one…

It took a long time before I felt ready to write its sequel…

But since the latter book has become my second-best selling book, wouldn’t it seem logical to write another? To create a trilogy? Here’s a snippet from the 2014 partial re-write. Maybe re-reading the first will inspire a third.

At that point Candice seemed to shrug off the tom-boy image that everyone knew. It was uncanny. It was as if I was seeing her for the first time. I could imagine her in tight revealing clothes – out clubbing on a Saturday night. A ‘babe’. A boy-magnet. The transformation was utterly astounding.

‘How the hell does she do that?’

“Quid pro quo is a payment,” she purred her explanation, “given, or taken, in equal measure to the service, or item, or person, supplied.”

To his credit Hawley was quick on the uptake. “You mean a life for a life? Something like that?”

“I can see why they put you in charge of this outfit.” She smiled.

On cue Lee spoke up: “We took one of your lot: you take one of ours.”

‘Is Lee in on something, or is he, as usual, playing it by ear? Winging it?’

Hawley had a moments’ trouble dragging his attention from Candice, who formerly  no one could describe as being particularly attractive; perhaps ‘average’ might come close – if one such word could describe anybody; but who now seemed subtly altered. She was dirty, cut, bruised, and dazed, but now a hitherto submerged vivacity shone through it all. But Hawley succeeded.

“But I’ve got you all already: What’s to deal about? Anyway, Wayne’s not one of my lot.”

Lee had obviously seen the change in Candice also. He indicated her. To Hawley he said, “What’s to deal? You got eyes, aint ya?

Hawley was tempted, but I could see his resolution was going to win. So did Candice. With a startling display of ambidextrousness she whipped the two stolen hand grenades from her pockets, and flicked out the safety pins. Teenagers scattered in every direction – except Hawley. Candice had him in a bear hug – a hand grenade pressed against each shoulder.

He eyed Steve. “You should’a frisked her, ya useless wassack!”

“Quid pro quo.” She whispered to Hawley.

I lurched forward. This was exactly what I feared she’d do. I cried out, “Candice: No!”

Lee caught me by the midriff, and dragged me back.

“Candice, yes.” She replied.

Katherine then called out, “But you don’t have to give yourself up to these louts: There must be another way…”

But, pressed close to Hawley, Candice was shaking her head. “My friends I’m almost twenty. How long do I have? Haven’t any of you noticed that I can be a little crazy at times? I’m running a temperature already.”

‘No: this must be some kind of ruse!’

I saw Hawley flinch. “You…you’re…sick?” He stammered. Then controlling himself he added, “This quid pro quo stuff sucks. This isn’t a deal: it’s sodding charity!”

Candice allowed herself a smile. “And they said wit was a lost art. Now let’s think this through, shall we? You could threaten to have one of my friends shot…”

“I could threaten to have all your friends shot!” He interrupted her.

She was not fazed. “No doubt, but judging by the behaviour of your friends, these two little items in my hands are the real deal. I’m sick; therefore I’m dying. The thought of an abrupt and spectacular ending isn’t that abhorrent to me. You, on the other hand, are only – what – eighteen? You have your whole life ahead of you: Two years anyway.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

An impasse. Ooh…

This book is available as a paperback and e-book at Lulu.com (see sidebar) and as an e-book only at all major outlets, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Googlebooks etc (also on sidebar). It’s not a comedy, but it is entertaining.

Three Years On – Can a Book Improve With Age?

I can’t believe that more than three years have passed since I completed (what I believe is) my best work. What have I been buggering about with since then? Oh yeah – some certain Earplug Adventures. Well, just to prove that I can be serious, here is a brief snippet from this book…

For bonds Tasman used cable ties that he found in the maintenance department. Speaking pidgin Espeeg to our captive he instructed the youthful technician to sit upon the floor with his legs out in front of him. He then tied his hands together, followed by his feet. Then, just for insurance, he bound his feet and hands together.

“I hope he hasn’t eaten recently.” I said. “With him bent double like that we’re likely to find out what it was.”

“Couldn’t care less.” Tasman said as he stood up. “All I care about is that he stays still and quiet.”

He then mocked the technician by making chicken-like movements and clucking.

For a brief moment I began to feel pity for the captive: I assumed that like many a soldier before him he’d been a victim of his civilisation’s ways and the demands of their society, which meant that he little option but to comply with the demands made upon him. Or to put it more simply – he’d been drafted. But when I saw the malice in his eyes; the arrogance in his bearing (even when bound hand and foot); and the barely disguised smirk upon his face, my sympathy evaporated.

I waggled my Espeeg weapon in his face. “Tell him that if he moves I’ll cut him to pieces with this.”

Tasman translated for me as best he could, and our captive’s widening eyes told me that he believed that I’d do what I said. But they quickly narrowed once more when the distinctive hum of an approaching Espeeg flying machine permeated the building.

“They’re here!” I shouted needlessly and with an obvious panic that embarrassed me and emboldened our captive into a full-on sneer.

Tasman ran to the electrically powered roller door that led from the bottling plant to the outside world. Looking through a tiny window set into an adjacent pedestrian door Tasman confirmed my hypothesis. Unslinging his MP7 he hit the ‘up’ button on the roller door control box.

“No time for cleverness and subterfuge.” He said, “Let’s give these guys a warm welcome: a very warm welcome.”

Then he was moving towards the plastic swing door that led into the warehouse. I was yet to move – apparently rooted to the spot with a terrified look upon my face.

“I’ll take care of the dogs.” He shouted as he placed distance between us, “You take out the Law-Keepers.”

Then, just as he was about to disappear from sight through the semi-transparent material he added, “Watch your trigger finger, Fel: If your gun is anything like mine it won’t reload.”

‘Anything like? It’s exactly like!’

“Thank you.” I shouted at the empty space that Tasman had occupied a nanosecond previously, “Thank you very much indeed.”

Then my adrenal gland went to work.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Gosh, what might happen next? Big shoot ’em up perhaps?

See side bar for outlets that supply this book in e-book form. For a paperback version simply click on the Lulu logo. It will not be the worst thing you’ll do this week. Quite the opposite, I think.

Long Overdue Extract

Yes, after giving all my readers a break from my ‘serious’ books, for close to an eternity, here’s a brief extract from this wondrous tome…

Yes, I’m also Clive Thunderbolt.

Bullets made ragged holes in the grassy bank beside her car, and stones were kicked up, which spattered the vehicle’s paintwork.  Katherine ducked down inside the vehicle as a second volley of machine gun fire studded the tarmacadam road surface between Wozniak and the tiny vehicle.

Anger exploded inside Wozniak’s brain like star shell. He grabbed Len and threw him at the car. Then he strode into the centre of the road, turned to face the corner, and raised the huge revolver. Two uniformed men were running down the road toward him. Both were armed. One with a machine gun, whom Wozniak assumed was the primary culprit, the other held a rifle. The man with the machine gun loosed off two careless shots as he cantered towards Wozniak before his magazine either jammed, or became exhausted. Wozniak coolly shot down the man with the rifle with a single round that caught the slightly built man in the shoulder – spun him around – and dumped him, face down, in the road.

The machine gunner looked at his fallen comrade for a moment. He appeared startled. He appeared torn, and seemed to consider fleeing, or perhaps diving for cover behind an ancient mile stone that lay partially embedded in the bank. But when he realized that his colleague wasn’t breathing, anger got the better of him, and instead of using discretion, he wrenched the magazine from his weapon, grabbed a fresh one from his webbing, and slotted it into place beneath the barrel. Wozniak then shot him down too. Two bullets smashed into his upper chest. He was thrown backwards by the impacts – and the gun spun away from his outstretched hands. His body slammed on to the road surface beside the rifleman. He twitched twice before slumping inert.

It had been a cold and calculating act of ultimate violence, and for a brief moment Wozniak hated himself for it. But, he reasoned well enough, it had truthfully been either them or him, and it wasn’t like he’d shot an unarmed man. Their intent had been clear. So in Wozniak’s mind his act wasn’t murder – whichever way one looked at it – or so he tried to convince his conscience.

“I’m getting rather good at this.” He said grimly. Then noticing Katherine’s inquiring expression, he added, “Killing people. And all I ever wanted to do was write TV shows. Is that asking too much?”

Len didn’t say anything, but he laid a huge, gnarled hand upon Wozniak’s shoulder, and patted him gently.

© Paul Trevor Nolan

This is actually available in paperback and e-book form. Perhaps you should purchase one or two. See the Lulu logo (on the side bar) for paperback and e-books; or the book covers (also on the side bar) to access Amazon, B&N etc.

Not So Much a Best Seller…

…More a Least Worst Seller. The title of this post refers to a book and e-book first written in 2004; then re-written in 2007; before being giving a once-over again in 2014. It is…

new silent ptn 8x11

But since it is my Least-Worst seller, here’s an extract from it…

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.

© Paul Trevor Nolan