Tag Archives: YA

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

 

 

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