Re-Blog: Preparing to Dash Through a Forest of Triffids

I first posted this a handful of years past. Having discovered it among the older files, here it is again…

Thank you, John Wyndham, for the inspiration.

triffids

Had I not read the works of the aforementioned, I would never have written Silent Apocalypse.

Annotation: Strange that, at the time, I didn’t add the cover photo. Not feeling particularly mercenary, I guess. Maybe I’d sold a couple of copies that week. Well I don’t have that luxury now: let’s put that right!

And just for good measure…the sequel!

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Well, Will I Do This Again?

The ‘this’ to which the title refers is writing. Sure the sentences between the photos in my Earplug Adventures is ‘writing’: but it isn’t proper writing. Proper writing is when the author describes the scene. Proper writing is the sort of stuff I used to live for. The sort of stuff I used to dream that (one day) I’d be really good at. The sort of stuff that comprised these four books…

The sort of stuff that looks exactly like this…

An extract from Silent Apocalypse.

Horse knew the way to our destination. Without any input from Driver, he turned across the road. By dawn’s early light we could make out the shape of a service station. Weeds grew through the cracks in the concrete, and rust had rotted the pumps. It had obviously been abandoned long before the plague had struck. Driver pulled us up in front of a plate glass window that had become opaque with dust and grime. The remainder of the building was coated with neglect also, and at some time a graffiti artist had immortalized himself. All in all this was a place that no one in their right mind would give a second glance. It was because of this very reason that the building had been selected. But that was something we were to learn later. An up-and-over door rattled open. Before us stood our man in black or at least someone who looked very much like him. Their isolation suits made each of them indistinguishable. Only body language could tell them apart. He beckoned us from the Crag Bus. I looked at Driver. He nodded.

We disembarked. Taking instructions from our mystery-man, we hurried into the dark recesses of the service station. I turned to watch him return to the Crag Bus. For some reason the acoustics of the building allowed me to catch their conversation. Driver leaned forward to best see the other man:  “Cosgrove, is it?”

The man, whom Driver referred to as Cosgrove (and quite clearly hailing from somewhere in North America), spoke without preamble:  “We’re not exactly packing them like sardines.”

“Can’t help that.” Driver replied flatly.

“It’s not like we have unlimited time…” Cosgrove spoke as though this was a well-worn conversational path.

“P’raps if you made them Whispers of yours easier to understand…” Driver suggested.

“Whispers, is it?” Cosgrove might have been amused if he hadn’t been so worried about something, “That’s a new one. No, we can’t make the message any clearer. We can’t take every urchin we find. We have to be selective – you know that. Only the brightest and the best…”

Driver finished his line for him. Obviously he had heard it many times before: “Only them what can decipher the hidden message. Yeah, I know. Aint too sure I agree with it: we could missin’ an awful lot of good’ uns.”

Cosgrove appeared weary. Perhaps this made him reply snappishly: “You don’t have to agree with it: Just do your job.” Instantly he regretted the outburst, though Driver appeared to take no offence. “I’m sorry, old-timer. Forget that. You’re a brave man. We owe you a hell of a lot.”

“You don’t have to go payin’ me compliments: It aint no bother. You’re the brave  ones so far as I’m concerned: I don’t need one of them isolation suits. But you…if you get just one nick in it…”

He left the suggestion hanging. Obviously it meant death-by-virus. Cosgrove clearly was a brave man.

“Well you’ve brought us another six: That’s six more than yesterday. If I get a little unreasonable once in a while, you’ll forgive, won’t you?”

Driver took up his reigns, “I’ll forgive you anything ‘cept failure.”

Cosgrove gave Driver a long, lazy salute. “I won’t fail. Our future depends upon it.”

Driver gave him a wink. Horse then turned the Crag Bus around, and they disappeared into the dawn mist.

Cosgrove quickly made his way to us – sliding the door closed behind us. Electric lights came on. We were all taken by surprise at the cleanliness of the buildings’ interior.

“Kids.” He said, (I hated the term) “Follow me.”

Without a word from any of us, we followed him to a door, which for all the world resembled an airlock. It hissed open, and we entered behind him. I felt a little trepidation run up my spine as it closed behind us once more. There were two small doors opposite.

“Right,” said Cosgrove, “I’m going to take the left-hand door: You take the right. One at a time, please.”

Then without another word Cosgrove promptly disappeared, as promised, through the left hand door. We all looked at each other. No one seemed eager to take the first step.

Lee put it into words. “Hey, we’ve come this far together: I aint too keen on breaking up our little team.”

“Yeah,” Wayne agreed, “Why should we separate? I say we all go through together.”

‘Is it camaraderie? Or are we just frightened kids who’ve been whistling into the dark for too long?’

We strode to the door as one. Donald pushed a green coloured button, just as he’d observed Cosgrove do. A lock was heard to ‘clonk’ open. He pushed upon the door. It swung silently open upon well-oiled hinges. Inside was a small room, not unlike an elevator. It was just large enough for us to pack ourselves in with a little room to spare. There was yet another door leading to somewhere else. The door through which had entered closed. The ‘clonk’ was heard again. Locked in. I didn’t like it.

“Thank you.” An electronic voice spoke, “Now please remove all of your clothing.”

Everyone erupted with varying degrees of colourful expletives. Unfazed, the voice repeated its instruction. It then added, “Decontamination will begin in one minute.” Now it dawned on us why Cosgrove had wanted us to go through one at a time. Donald tried the door, but there was no green button to press. In fact there were no controls of any kind. This was a one-way door!

“P’raps we could be decontaminated with our clothes on.” Lee said in desperation.

“Perhaps if we hammer on the door.” Katherine suggested.

I looked from one to the other several times. “Which door?”

“Both.” Wayne yelled.

Three to a door, we began hammering upon the hard metal, and shouting at the top of our voices. The electronic voice informed us that we had thirty seconds to prepare. At ten it began a countdown. When it reached zero we heard the now familiar ‘clonk’. Donald dared push at the door. It swung open into the ‘storeroom’, where Cosgrove stood waiting for us. It was difficult to make out his face behind the mask, but his eyes told us that he was not best pleased.

“Now that was a painless lesson about doing what you’re told, when you’re told. Ignore me again, and the next time it’ll be a whole lot less agreeable. Now go through one at a time.” He emphasized this last line. With that he re-entered his own door.

We shuffled about awkwardly for a moment or two. Finally Kevin made a decision, and approached the door.

“Need a bath anyway.” He said as he entered the room. “Bye.”

The door closed on his cheerful wave.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

A rather inactive excerpt, I think you’ll agree; but you can’t expect to have action-action-marvel-mystery-and melancholy at every turn – can you? No, of course not. By the way, this book, and those appearing above, are all available as paperbacks and e-books at Lulu.com; and as e-books at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and many other suppliers.

And to answer my question in the title of this post: God, I hope so!

 

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