Book Review – This is How You Disappear by Allen Miles

Allen Miles doesn’t fuck about. Jeezuz. I think he either hates his characters or loves them a wee bit too much.

Sadistically, he drops his characters into the brown stuff and invites all his mates round to watch then swim. Not to mock, not to judge just to observe. Maybe have a wee smoke or a beer and take in the mayhem.

It’s only as the reader staggers through the ragged-edged corridors of each story that it slowly becomes apparent that Miles has issues. The scenes unfolding, the dirty-filthy, wonderful emotions his characters have to suffer and the sheer hardship they endure are excruciating at times. What makes me worry about this Miles laddie though is how he gets the reader smirking when they know they shouldn’t and places you firmly on his characters side rather than laughing darkly at them, from beyond the fourth wall. My granny would describe the boy as ‘Just no’ right, son’. Miles lays bare each and every one of his neurosis for us to see in this collection, at least in my head he does. Simply because it’s much safer to assume the laddie’s ‘no’ right’ than to accept that he’s just this good.

miles

Allen Miles and his books (and neuroses) can be found at Amazon, UK and US

Book Review – Russian Roulette by Keith Nixon

A collection of all seven Konstantin Novellas:

    • Dream Land
    • Plastic Fantastic
    • Fat Gary
    • Bullet
    • Infidelity
    • Close Contact
    • A Chorus of Bells

Russian-Roulette

If you’re a crime novel connoisseur and love punchy, bullet-paced plots with pitch perfect dialogue and the darkest of humour, Nixon and his anti-hero creation Konstantin are the very boys for you.

Me? I never read crime fiction. It’s just not my bag, I’m a character-development man and like a slow burn story where people are gradually revealed along the way. Despite my unmanly aversion to crime novels, I’m first in the queue when Nixon delivers his latest work. In the Konstantin series Keith manages to pull both worlds together, violently fusing a hurtling plot with outstanding characterisation and development.

As each chunk is a complete little story in its own right shoving you through Konstantin’s hurricane, so too is the greater collection a cleverly constructed journal of Konstantin’s complexity of character, morals, and capacity for general mayhem. Konstantin himself seems genuinely ambivalent towards the right or wrong of his actions.

Nixon’s work, all pace, venom and clattering twists, never fails to drag his readers into the piss-soaked murky alleys and streets his characters frequent.

Another lesson in storytelling from one of the mainstays of the new Brit writer invasion currently swaggering through Amazon Bestseller lists.

You can find Keith and his books at Amazon, UK and US

Book Review – The Search for Ethan by Robert Cowan

This was my literary surprise of 2014. I picked this book up for a few reasons. The author comes from my home-county. Mainly though because of some great reviews the book has been picking up.

Robert is a cheeky bastard. With his debut novel, Cowan has thrown out the rule book and avoided all the basic errors first-time writers always, always make. Cowan shows, he doesn’t tell. His dialogue is tight, and the pace is perfect. Generally books from Scotland fail to deliver the true feel of the towns and cities, simply because they’re steeped in stereotypes and tired clichés.

Cowan unapologetically lays his protagonists out for the reader, each of them a heart-felt, painful and emotional mirror of the towns they spring from. Each truly representative of the type of people found in every impoverished town. Complete with their problems, desperations, virtues and victories, Cowan’s characters radiate realness and are heroic in their murky, hopeless-heroics.

With his debut novel, Cowan joins the ranks of a new breed of British novelists, telling their stories the way they want them told. Wonderful.

Aye, he’s a cheeky bastard this Cowan.

cowan

You can find Robert and his books at Amazon, UK and US

Somna Origin: dEaDINBURGH 3 Preview

Somna was a periphery villain in dEaDINNBURGH: Book 1 and will come to prominence in the second book.

A relentless killer of survivors in the dead city, Somna collects the eyelids of his victims and worships the reanimated corpse of a famous footballer.

The following excerpt is set before the city of Edinburgh was sealed, is unedited, contains no Book 1 spoilers and shows Somna’s beginnings:

dEaDINBURGH: Din Eidyn Corpus Book 2 Cover

dEaDINBURGH: Din Eidyn Corpus Book 2 Cover

Somna

 2014

 

I follow her along Carnaby Street the sound of her heels clacking on the concrete becoming a metronome, accompanying the pounding of my heart in my chest. It doesn’t irritate me, this monotonous soundtrack, rather it acts as an overture, joining the other London sounds building in intensity, stoking my bottomless appetite.

My imp giggles as he catches our reflection in the blackened windows of the vans store. I shush him and he glares at me with undisguised contempt.

“It’s my night, killer. It’s me who’s in charge tonight, don’t fucking forget who I am.” The vitriol drips from his sneer.

That’s what he calls me, killer, like it’s a curse and reverence in one word. I nod once in reply. In deference. Now’s not the time. Besides, he’s right. It is his night. He’s in charge, he controls what happens, how it happens and to whom. These days, I’m just a passenger. No, that’s not right. I’m more of a tool for him to use to enable his insatiable urge to kill. Of course, I’m hardly one to judge having held those same appetites and compulsions all of my life. My imp merely……sharpens those instincts and gives me so many new, delicious ways to love my victims.

Once, maybe two years ago, I moved through this world of stalking and loving and blood and joy alone. I’d killed dozens by then, men women, teenagers, but no children. They didn’t make the urge beat and pulse the way older people did. They felt too…familiar. Too much like me. Too…human.

My imp joined me after I’d killed a man in an alleyway in the Lanarkshire town of Motherwell. He was mildly drunk, his five year old skipping along beside him. Normally when my prey is with a child I walk away. I lose all urge to kill when a child is present, and decided to return to stalking him another night but as I turned to leave, I saw him land heavy blow with meaty hand to the back of the boy’s head. His son fell to the stony ground as I leaned in from a misty distance to listen.

“Too fuckin’ noisy.” He barked down at the lad.

The kid glared up at him from the ground. I caught the shadow of what looked like faded bruises around his angry stare.

“Don’t look at me like that Matthew.” The man raised his hand to threaten.

His action did nothing to dampen the fire in the boy’s eyes. He stood glared at his drunken father then lowered his head.

The man nodded and continued walking, his son running ahead towards their home, no longer interested in skipping alongside the bully he called dad.

I’d taken him then of course. As soon as the boy had left, my urge came rushing back on the crest of a hundred beatings from my own father. A thousand insults of eternal mocking about my obsession with footballers.

He died very quickly- which was which a disappointment- but cried and begged with shameful cowardice, which was wonderful, if too brief. I hadn’t had the opportunity to repay my own father for his love and this man’s death had proven a wonderful substitute, and one that made a significant change happen within me.

My imp joined me afterwards and has been my constant companion throughout life and death since. Initially he’d been unobtrusive, an observer. An ever-present facet of myself in many ways. Keen to offer suggestions, but largely a passenger. Over time, he’d sharpened my appetites.

My kills had been careful in the past, after all, I’d killed dozens, from all walks of life in many cities and countries. No police force had so much as linked any of my kills together. Once my imp began speaking to me, exerting his will, I became very creative.

I used different methods of dispatch and never stayed true to a certain type of victim. I’d like to say that this was all my own inventiveness, but truly, my imp has had so many good ideas these past two years. More and more it’s made sense to just let him, take control. To direct, to command.

 

As she passes Merc Clothing my victim’s heels screech a little, breaking the build-up of the moment for a split-second as she turns along Broadwick Street. Perfect.

As my victim passes Mozzino, my imp hisses at me.

“Now!”

I check up and along the narrow little road and then rush at her. She’s in her mid-forties, very fit and much smaller than I am. Most people are. I place my hand over her mouth, pulling her head back sharply, so that her hair presses against my chest.

Wrapping one beefy arm around her waist I lift her into myself and slightly to the side to avoid her kicking legs. Quickly I dart through the half-shut gates into a service yard my imp laughing that sissing laugh. The one that reverberates around my head and makes my skin crawl. I ignore it. My imp’s as excited as I am, maybe more so. He’s entitled.

I put the woman in a choke hold and she passes out. My imp looks at her and smiles broadly, his face a twisted mirror of my own.

As soon as she’s unconscious, I walk to the gates and close them firmly. Retrieving a canvas bag with a few implements suggested by my imp, I kneel beside her and begin placing my tools at her side. Sometimes I tie them and wait until they awake whilst I do this. The terror in my victims eyes as they see what toys I’ve thought ahead to bring for them is a wonder like no other. For her, she gets to stay asleep.

My imp issues a series of instructions, making my hands his own. I simply obey. The pleasure I feel washing over me isn’t diminished by this act of near servitude. Quite the opposite is true. Surrendering myself to the imp’s voice, to his needs and his commands, amplifies my experiences to a plane I could never have achieved alone.

Cut the artery. Remove the trachea. Crush the kidney in your fist. Kiss her.

My imp laughs as he commands. I’m in the moment, entirely, when my mind starts to drift. I pull my attention deliberately back to the beautiful act of deconstruction I’m doing to this once hard-earned muscular body, but I can’t seem to stay focused. I think of the kills I’ve done since my imp joined me. So many. We learned so very much together. Something feels wrong. Something is……not pleasurable. Something hurts.

Dozens of kills flash before my eyes. Disembowelment, hangings. Arms severed, genitals eaten. Livers fed to stray dogs. Strangulations, beheadings, skulls caved in, eyes gouged. So many beautiful communions with my prey. My imp, learning from me. My imp teaching me. Football, always football, my only other love. My imp loved Manchester Utd even more than I did. We enjoyed the history of the club, the greatest players. Sir Alex. All our heroes in red. We stalked one of our heroes, the hero actually, through the streets of Paris, but my imp cried out that we must not. He was special.

 

I drop the gore-covered surgical scalpel and part of her intestine from my hands and turn to look into the face of my imp. His smile is toothy and wide. He looks different, I’ve never seen him so happy. I blink hard several times and smile back, mostly out of reflex. He smiles so rarely, it just seemed the thing to do, to smile back.

My eyes narrow and drop to his hands. He has a large kitchen knife form our bag. It’s dripping with warm, bright blood. Blood too fresh to be hers. My fingers feel around to where the pain lanced in my spine and disappear into the stab wound.

I feel my imp slide the eight inch blade into my neck, plunging it through the trapezius.

“Why?” I gurgle, a clump of blood splattering from my mouth.

My imp laughs.

“Don’t need you anymore, killer.” His voice is slap of sarcasm.

I feel the blade being pulled out. It’s actually quite a pleasant sensation. Not unlike defecating. I fall to the ground my face coming to rest on my victim’s open abdomen.

“I’m proud of you.” I whisper with my last words.

He laughs.

 ∞

 

He stands over the body of the killer and sighs. A sort of sadness passes over his being, only briefly but long enough for him to notice the desolation and be surprised by it. He hadn’t considered that he would feel a sense of loss. Still, he supposed, two years is a long time, and I have learned an awful lot from the killer. He absent-mindedly flicks the knife sharply to his right imitating samurai he’d seen in movies cleaning their katana.

Cocking his head to the right he moves his eyes dispassionately along the bodies in front of him. The man at his feet, face plunged into the growing pool of blood of their victim. He coldly removes his own clothes. Standing in only his Spiderman underwear, he walks slowly to the gate, rearranging his face into one of a traumatised seven year old. With a final look over his shoulder he whispers, “Goodbye, killer.” And slips through the gate in search of a policeman or Samaritan.

Steven takes another long pull on his cigarette and jabs at the volume minus button on his remote. He nods towards the door.

“”Can you check in on him again, love?” His wife, Sharon, smiles at him, indulgingly.

“If it’ll make you feel better, of course.” Sharon creaks quietly half way up the staircase leading from their living room to the two bedrooms on the second floor. Pausing, he lifts one ear in the direction of one of the doors and listens.

“All quiet love. Turn that up a little will you?” she asks, descending the stairs and taking her seat once more.

Dermot Murnaghan speaks a little louder as Steven jabs the volume up button.

“It seems that Matthew Houston, the seven year old who disappeared two years ago on the night of his father’s murder, is settling in well with his aunt and uncle.”

Dermot’s kindly face is replaced by the head teacher of Noble Primary School.

”Yes, we’re very pleased with Matthew. Despite his ordeal, he’s adjusted very well to normal life once again and is proving to be one of our brightest pupils.”

Dermot nods sympathetically and looks into the camera as the footage from Noble Primary disappears.

“After two years held captive by what appears to be Britain’s most prolific serial killer, young Matthew Houston’s bravery and spirit is an inspiration to the people of Scotland and Britain. Dermot Murnaghan, news at ten, in absolute wonder at a genuinely heroic little man.”

 

Steven jabs the red button, turning the image off.

“He’s a special kid, isn’t he, Sharon?”

He is, love. To have been under the control of that monster and fight his way free, is amazing, but to have come home such a confident, assured young man, it’s a blessing, Stevie.”

Steven nods his agreement. “He’s some boy. Only thing he’s asked for since he’s been back is a poster of David Beckham.” Steven’s face drops a little.

“He’s a wee bit obsessed is he not?”

Sharon shook her head. You were the same with football at that age. It’s good for him.”

Steven smiles. “Aye, I suppose so.”

Rising he makes for the kitchen to brew another cup of tea for them.

“Looking forward to taking him through to Edinburgh next week for the New Year fireworks?”

Sharon smiles broadly.

“Can’t wait, love.”

 

End of Excerpt

dEaDINBURGH: Din Eidyn Corpus Book 1 is available now at Amazon, US and UK

dEaDINBURGH: Din Eidyn Corpus Book 3 is due for publication by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in March, 2015

dEaDINBURGH Excerpt – Michelle MacLeod

The following excerpt is taken from the upcoming second volume of the dEaDINBURGH: Din Eidyn Corpus and details the insertion of Michelle MacLeod into the dead city.

Michelle is the mother of one of my lead characters from Book 1 and is thirty one years old at the time of the excerpt.

*****MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD******

IF YOU HAVE NOT READ dEaDINBURGH: BOOK 1 DO NOT READ ON

The following excerpt is Pre-Edit and copyright of Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing Ltd:

Michelle 

Early Spring, 2032 

Part One

 

Michelle woke to find herself laid face-down on a very cool-feeling white tiled floor. The cool-sensation wasn’t entirely unwelcome and helped her focus on something and pull her tangled thoughts together into a semi straight thought process. Her hand went immediately to her abdomen and lay there for a few seconds. Unsure what reassurance she gained from the gesture, she welcomed it regardless of how superficial.

Rolling onto her back, her head swam and her neck ached with the effort. Opening her eyes seemed an insurmountable challenge, a mountain too steep to conquer. An image of her student days, waking on Darcie’s floor after a hard night’s drinking and dancing came to mind, but left as quickly as it came. Not many nuggets of information were presenting themselves to her ever more alert mind regarding her current whereabouts or situation, but she knew for certain that alcohol hadn’t been a factor, having eliminated it from her life some fourteen weeks before.

She blinked hard six or seven times and finally managed to get her eyes in focus. Nothing she looked at made any kind of sense. Michelle sat up groggily and rubbed at her gluey eyes. She felt her pupils contract in response to the clinically harsh, xenon glare of the lights blasting the unfamiliar too-white room and laughed at the absurdity of the dream she was surely having.

Looking down at her own body, she found herself clothed in rags. Filthy sack-like canvas shirt covered her upper body loosely. Men’s trousers three sizes too big and rancid, really truly rancid, draped her lower half. She fought down a familiar nausea as the waft from them hit her senses. She wore no underwear and subconsciously pulled her arms around herself.

As the brightness became normal, she became aware that she wasn’t alone. Far from it. Moving her eyes was painful, so she rotated her pounding head on aching vertebrae and scanned the room. Perhaps ninety people lay in various states of consciousness. Men, boys, women and girls, lay around her on the pristine, sterile floor of the very white room.

All were clothed as she was. Some looked at her, like a child looks at a parent for answers, for reassurance, simply because she was the most alert-looking in the room. Many were too busy looking down at themselves or around the room, wondering what they wore and where they were. Michelle’s eyes teared-up as they flitted from one face to another. Some were scared white. Others shook their heads certain, as she herself was, that they’d awake somewhere warm and familiar at any moment. Most were starting to panic as they became fully awake. None of them looked to be anything other than very ordinary, very scared people.

One man started laughing loudly, causing Michelle to jump at the suddenness and intensity of his Sid James-esque bray. In other circumstances she’d have laughed along with the man and described his laugh as the dirtiest she’d ever heard. Today, in this place the man’s laugh was the sound of his sanity rustling as it left him and breaking against the white walls. Today the laugh was truly terrifying and corrupting to the tenuous grip on sanity held by the room’s inhabitants.

Michelle shut the noise out and focused on a group of seven people who still lay prone near the only door visible to her. A few others had started to move towards them also, drawn by their relative stillness. As Michelle drew nearer the group of people- a mixture of adults and children, male and female- she noticed that each of the group weren’t as still as they’d seemed from the other side of the room.

They were twitching and jerking, only slightly, like someone in the depths of a nightmare. Michelle felt a laugh of her own escape. Irony always had made her laugh.

Pushing her way gently past the little group of stunned people gathered around the apparently asleep people on the floor, she mentally swatted away the mist of a thought that was beginning to surface and placed a hand on the nearest boy’s forehead. The boy was burning up with fever. A quick glance at the other sweat-soaked faces in the group confirmed that they all were fevering. And then she saw the wounds.

Michelle’s eyes widened with horror as her subconscious pushed harder and filled her mind’s-eye with thousands of images of people she’d seen in the same condition. People in the latter stages of infection. People who’d been bitten. Infected.

Without guile or embarrassment she pulled the filthy clothes from her body and searched every visible inch of herself for bite marks. She pulled a man who stood next to her close and asked him to look in all the places she couldn’t see. Without asking, she pulled his shirt and trousers from him. Too stunned to protest, he allowed her to check for bites. Word spread, quickly. Within minutes everyone in the room was naked and checking each other for any signs of broken skin.

Eventually each of the room’s occupants, silently dressed once more, relief smashed aside with returning panic. Why? Why were they here? Three things happened in the next five seconds to make their question the last thing they needed to worry about.

 

Michelle

 Early Spring, 2032

 Part Two

 A loud clang rang out and bounced around the tiles of the room. Many of the people jumped in fright. Some of them disappeared, dropping through the large trapdoor that had fallen six feet from the pristine white floor to a barely-lit tunnel below, forming a slippery white tiled ramp into the darkness.

Many of the people in the room stood and gaped into the darkness, but only for a single second. Only until the loud scream of a child at the rear of the group snapped everyone’s attention around to the fevering group of almost dead at the main doors. Almost dead, now fully risen and attacking people closest to them with a bottomless, vicious hunger that tore flesh from bone and limb from socket. All of those present had seen the show. It didn’t need said, but one man, the still-laughing man, felt the need to shout out the obvious.

“We’re in dEaDINBURGH”.

He was positively gleeful. Until a newly animated Ringed tore his throat out with its clawed hands and devoured the flesh.

Like a wave of pestilence The Ringed moved throughout the room, tearing, biting and clawing with the strength and speed of the newly risen, at the room’s panicked occupants.

Michelle MacLeod saw none of this. As soon as the trap door had slammed into the darkness, she’d become a blur of movement. No thought, just deed. Launching herself along the tunnel, Michelle shouldered each of the people in her path aside. Leaving them in a wake of bewilderment, she cut through the darkness, one hand grabbing the loose waist of the men’s trousers she wore into a fist, the other reached out in front of her, searching through the darkness.

Her fingers cracked against a wooden panel, causing a jolt of nerve pain to lightning up her arm and the panel to dislodge. A crack of very strong sunlight lasered through the gap she’d made. She saw the dust and dirt she’d swept along with her swirl around in the biblical shaft of light that cut through the tunnel’s blackness and took a second to shout back to the other people, if people they still were.

“This way. There’s a way out.”

Shouldering through the panel of MDF, Michelle clattered onto the earth outside and shut her eyes against the brightness of the day. Beneath her eyelids, her eyes still hurt, such was the intensity of the Edinburgh, sunshine and the contrasting darkness of the tunnel. Placing a hand over her closed eyes she gave her pupils the dangerous few seconds they needed to contract and tentatively peered beneath her eyelids.

The world was a cacophony of colours in the air and the flora and fauna. She looked down a landscaped apart of the countryside. Trees and bushes, grasses and shrubs, all filled with bright berries, flowers and fruit shone alongside a straight, concrete path cutting through the beauty of the landscape. The fauna, perhaps a hundred yards along the path, hadn’t noticed her yet, but with the screaming coming along the tunnel behind her, their desiccated faces and mouldering teeth would turn her way soon.

Michelle blinked stupidly into the sun and let out a quiet sneeze. She’d always been a sun-sneezer. Her friends had mocked her playfully for it, but she’d always liked the trait she shared with her mother. Her eyes darted to a meadow to her right and picked out the unmoving body of a dead, truly dead, Ringed. She moved with speed towards the partially-rotted pile of bones and decayed flesh that not even the maggots feasted on.

Picking up the fleshiest part she could see- badly putrefied quadriceps- Michelle covered her exposed flesh and already rancid clothing in the black, jelly like fluids of the decaying Ringed. She coated her face, and carefully applied congealed fluid that had once been blood as though it were her favourite make-up. Taking her time, she flicked away the little clots that threatened to make her vomit despite the state of cold calculation her mind had entered, and smoothed fold blackened paste-like flesh over her own skin. When Michelle had finished her task she looked as though she’d fallen into a container of rotted offal.

Taking a belt from the trousers of The Ringed she’d coated herself in, Michell tied it around her waist, gathering the folds of fabric together, hurting her waist with the tightness of the leather. She shut herself off to the loud moans of dusty hunger and the wet tear of torn cracked teeth on flesh coming from the cycle path at the tunnel’s exit. Nothing to do. Nothing I can do. Just move. Years of images flooded her mind once more. Information on operation she’d been privy to as a board-member of the UKBC flooded her mind along with detailed layouts, blueprints and maps of the dead city.

Subconsciously she placed her hand over her slightly protruding uterus, absorbed strength and purpose from it, decided on a destination, and used the other gift her mother had given her. A lifelong stamina athlete, Michelle MacLeod ran like she’d never run in her whole life.

dEaDINBURGH: Din Eidyn Corpus 2 is due for release by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in late January, 2015.

deadinburgh-Book2-barbb-yeallow-cover copy

dEaDINBURGH: Din Eidyn Corpus 3 is due for release by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in late February, 2015.

deadinburgh-book3-red-cover-alley copy

You can find Mark Wilson and his books at Amazon, US and Amazon, UK.

Preview of dEaDINBURGH (Din Eidyn Corpus Book 2)

 

The following excerpt is taken from the upcoming second volume of the Din Eidyn Corpus.

*****MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD******

IFYOU HAVE NOT READ dEaDINBURGH: BOOK 1 DO NOT READ ON.

 

 

Din Eidyn Corpus Book 2 Will follow Alys and Joey directly after the events of book one, but will also show awider look at the outside world, beyond the dead city’s fences. As well as continuing Fraser Donnelly’s story, we’ll also see Michelle MacLeod (Joey’s mother) before she entered the dead city and discover how she came to be in amongst the dead.

Most of the information about the outside world will be relayed through a new character’s story arc. This is what follows:

 

dEaDINBURGH: Book 2 excerpt:

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

 2051


 

Voiding the light breaking through the gap in his curtains, Jack squinted at his Holo-Screen, blinking the fog from his eyes. Seven a.m.

He’d been playing the dEaDINBURGH: Lair of The Ringed video game since midnight. Since the feed had been cut from the live show. He flicked his finger across the air in front of him, causing the UKBC screen to pop up. The countdown until the feed re-connected sat at 00:15. Just fifteen more minutes until they had the show back onscreen in full High-Def Holo-Image. Jack saved his progress and kicked at the desk in front of him, sending his ergonomic chair scooting backwards through the pile of empty energy drink cans and takeaway boxes littered across the carpet of his living room.

Scratching at his crotch with his right hand, he lifted his left arm and sniffed at his arm-pit, screwing his face up at the sourness. Should have time for a shower if I get a move on. Jack stood with a groan in protest at the crack of his knees. It’d been a while since he’d had quite so long a session on the game. Scooping a handful of Cheesey-Puffs off of the desk and into his mouth he headed to the apartment’s little shower cube.

 

As he sang from the shower, the dEaDINBURGH theme began blasting from the surround sound speakers, eliciting a whoop of delight from him as he barrelled from the bathroom, not bothering to dry himself, body wobbling back into his still-warm chair.

Leaning forward he made a little gesture, enlarging the screen and scanned the info-bar along the bottom of the page to catch any updates. There were too many to read so Jack flicked at finger at the Holo-Screen, bringing up a highlights reel on a smaller screen within the main one. Whilst the main screen flickered into life, he flicked his eyes from the main image to the highlights feed, gleaning everything he could about what had happened to his favourite Survivors during the feed-loss.

Suzy-Wheels, Danny McGhee and Jennifer Shephard, his main characters, all were more or less where they’d been when the feed had cut twelve hours earlier. Jack flicked at the screen a few more times, bringing up images of one of the less popular and least-covered Survivors he’d been following.

Joey MacLeod’s face filled the frame. Jack liked this kid. He’d begun to get a little more airtime recently, mostly because he’d been in a few scraps with The Ringed of late. Jack remembered him from the episodes where he’d left The Brotherhood a few years back, with the old Padre.

Padre Jock had been a favourite of Jack’s as a kid. As a Zom-Hunter and one of the most colourful characters on the show, he’d had a huge chunk of airtime over the years and had consistently been in the top-ten Survivors chart for over twenty years. When he’d been killed by Bracha, Jack had shed a few tears for the old man who seemed as intricately tied to the show as its theme tune to a generation who’d grown up watching him. Three years later, Jack still felt grief whenever he looked at one of the many images of Jock on mugs, posters, T-shirts and other merchandise around his home. Jack had a massive poster of Jock over his bed, a scene from the show, showing a young Jock, blades flashing, Silencing five Zombies. It bore the legend: Running rings around The Ringed. One of Jack’s online friends had a tattoo in the shape of the characteristic Ring o’ Roses rash of The Ringed.

Many of Jock’s fans had now latched onto the eighteen year old the old preacher had trained out of the need for a connection to the familiarity of the Padre. Aside from that, they’d grown to know and love Joey during his time with Padre Jock.

The screen showed Joey and Alys, both shot from behind, in a large open field. Joey had his bow over his back and was following along behind Jennifer’s daughter. They looked tired and were both covered in a grey dust. Jack watched as the cameras zoomed out, revealing a mass of Zoms spilling out into the field from a cycle path and a little clearing in a woodland. From the trail in the long grass, it was obvious that the teens had come from the Zom-infested area.

It was a beautiful shot, so much so that it moved Jack to click the little thumbs-up icon at the corner of the screen. He was only the hundredth to do so. It made him feel a part of something special, that he was amongst the first to see the beauty in the photography.

Wondering how the teens had survived the massive congregation of Zoms and why the infected weren’t pursuing them, he whirled the highlights footage over to the main screen and began searching through it, hoping that he hadn’t missed something special. He looked at the view counter at the edge of the highlights screen.

One View. A single viewer besides him.

Jack felt a thrill surge through him and clicked the thumbs-up icon, making himself the second person to have done so. As the images moved he watched amazed as Joey and Alys moved like crowd-surfers along a mass of the dead. They seemed completely calm, so at ease. Jack he’d never seen anything like it. Nobody had.

As the scene progressed, it was suddenly cut with footage from earlier in the day. They had battled hundreds of the dead in that same clearing, Joey in a tree firing arrows and Alys a demon with her twin Sai. It was astounding and contrasted so sharply with the serenity of the previous footage that Jack felt a prickle all over his skin.

He watched Joey and Alys’ Survivor ratings rocket from the around 10,000 straight to position two and one, respectively. Realisation suddenly made him jerk in his seat. He motioned at the screen and watched as his viewer rating appeared. Last night he’d been in the upper ten-million region. A respectable position for someone in Kent. The total viewing figures worldwide for dEaDINBURGH were at around four billion.

Due to his early support for Joey, and lifelong support of Jock, he’d voted and thumbed-up Jock hundreds of times, maybe thousands in his lifetime, Jack’s Viewer Rating would receive a boost. Factor in his support of Alys by proxy of being a Jennifer Shephard supporter and combined with this morning’s early acknowledgement of both the live-feed and the highlights package, and Jack’s viewer rating should be at an all-time high, perhaps top one million.

Jack blinked in disbelief as he looked at the numbers. His rating had been propelled to top 500, worldwide. Number 1 in Europe.

His Holo-Screen suddenly lit up with emails, messages and invitations regarding  interviews, expert analysis, insights. He was being lined up for a series of appearances across some of the biggest shows on the network and a clutch of major blogs and newsfeeds.

Messages of congratulations from his network-family scrolled across his screen. In one minute he’d gone from being another nobody, an above-average fan who spent a little too much time watching the most-watched Holo-programme on the planet, one of those guys who haunted the thousands of fan-sites and pages looking for insights and extra-footage, to the hottest viewer-consultant in Europe.

He’d always known that he was someone special. Always felt that he was destined for something better than his current station in life. Something that made him worthy of the name he carried. This was it. Finally.

Jack Thatcher glanced down quickly at his mostly-naked, wet body, edges of the towel barely meeting around and under his belly. He gave a curt, decisive nod, to himself. Time to get sorted. The first thing I’ll do is get that liposuction and a skin removal. And my teeth. Get my teeth fixed.

With the kudos and the money that’d be coming his way, it was time to get himself together.

Rising from his seat, he stopped for a second, lifted his right thigh a little and expelled a cloud of gas before heading to his wardrobe. Drying off, he sniffed at then  pulled on a pair of reasonably clean sweatpants, figuring that he’d aim the Holo-Camera from the waist up. Best to be comfortable.

Jack then pulled on an old dEaDINBURGH T-shirt his dad had given him on his thirtieth birthday, with an image of Jock in full Plague-Doctor outfit on the front. It felt a little tight, but familiar.

Striding back through to take his seat, he flicked open the Comm for his first interview with an American news network, allowing himself to enjoy a moment of satisfaction at finding his rightful place.

He smiled warmly and connected his call.

 

END OF EXCERPT

SILHOUETTE-cover

dEaDINBURGH (Din Eidyn Corpus) Book: 1 (and Mark’s Lanarkshire Strays collection) are available now as a paperback and on kindle at Amazon, US and Amazon, UK.

Mary Magdalene – Twelve Mad Men Excerpt

I’m not sure how Bracha talks me into these things. When he proposed the Mad Men project I rolled my eyes and thought, ‘that’s an impossible project’ luckily for me I’d had beer, lots of beer and my mouth ignored my brain, telling him, “sounds magic, I’m in.” I’m fairly certain he times his approach deliberately.

Taking twelve very different writer’s stories and merging them into a coherent narrative is an immensely difficult task and one that most writers wouldn’t consider approaching.

Ryan Bracha, in Twelve Mad Men, has taken the differing personalities, voices, morals, madness and writing styles and formed not only a coherent novel from them but an utterly original and compelling piece of fiction.

Without a doubt the maddest of the twelve, Bracha (the bastard), took each of us involved out of our comfort zone and gave us permission to indulge ourselves in a way we wouldn’t normally do in our own books. He brought the worst and the best out in my writing and pulled off his ridiculous project with gusto. Dick.

Here’s my contribution:

Suggested for over 18s only. Contains very strong language and very graphic violence.

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Mary Magdalene

By Mark Wilson

“Hello? I’m here to fix the lights. Can you get in the corner, please?” I press my ear up against the door, listening for shuffling to confirm that he’s done as I asked. All I hear is a rhythmic slurping, slap sound. I listen a little closer. The meaty slurp sounds like it’s coming from a distance away so I slip my key in the door, turn and push gently, keeping a firm hold of the handle, in case I have to slam it closed again.

Peeking my face through the grate, I see Wilson in the corner. More precisely, I see the back of him. He’s sitting in the corner like I asked, but I get the distinct impression that he was already there before I came knocking. He’s not that tall, and only lightly built but even from behind it’s clear that he’s powerful. He has that wiry, coiled spring musculature, I can see it in the movement of his shoulder. I can see his body quite clearly as there’s nothing covering it.

His right arm is moving with some force, repeatedly hammering away at something as he sits. He’s talking to himself, but I can’t quite make out what he’s saying. It’s not the accent, it’s his voice, so gentle. Like he’s talking to a lover. He’s facing the wall to his right, staring at a photograph. I move a little closer, just close enough to hear better and get a look at the image. It’s a tattered photo from some sort of boarding school. There are about a hundred kids, half a dozen nuns and maybe twenty priests, all standing in rows posing for the camera. I peer in a little closer and start counting.

Fourteen of the priests and two nuns have a very thick, very bold tick made with a red marker on their faces.

I cock my ear to the left and hold my breath. Wilson hasn’t made a move, just that piston he has for a right arm pumping up and down in a decidedly masturbatory manner. So long as he’s happy. I take another step closer, finally I can hear that gentle voice.

“Cotter, Docherty, McNally, O’Donnell, McGuire…”

He lists surnames, maybe ten, maybe twenty and starts again, tugging at his cock with each name whispered. I’ve somehow forgotten why I’m here or the danger present and lean in for a closer look.

Wilson stands and turns quite gracefully as my foot scuffs the stone floor a little louder than intended. The cock-bashing hasn’t stopped, or even slowed, it hasn’t changed pace, I’m suddenly very grateful that it hasn’t sped up. He tilts his head very slightly. His shaved head glints in the moonlight and his eyes widen as he takes me in. There are scars on his chest, low down just above the abdomen. They look nasty.

“Lalley, O’Malley, Foley..” His head straightens and the chanting stops, although the arm keeps perfect time.

“Are you fixing the lights or not,” he asks, never missing a stroke. His voice is softer than any man’s, he sounds like a woman, a pretty woman. I search for words, but my capacity to speak has been taken away by the sight of this very slight man with a cock like two cans of Red Bull stacked on end, wanking at me.

His arm starts to slow, so I start talking. “Yes, sorry Mr Wilson, if you could just stay in the corner, I’ll..”

“What’s your name?” He asks gently. His eyes are curious, but something else, there’s excitement there, and maybe fear as well.

I tell him my name.

His face softened, and he tilts his head again, throwing me a seductive look.

“Are you a religious man?” he asks, with a giggle.

Involuntarily, my eyes dart to the faded image on the wall and back to his quickly. Not quick enough though, he saw it. His eyes narrow, all friendliness gone.

“My sister asked you a fuckin’ question, cunt!” he roars at me in a booming baritone.

The change in him is staggering. The softness is gone, so has the curiosity. His whole posture has changed, all playfulness and grace has vanished and pure predatory aggression glares from him.

Fuck knows what the right answer to his question is but his arm has started pulling at that two-can cock with such ferocity that I’m genuinely frightened for its well-being despite the danger I’m in.

I blurt out, “No, I’m not. Used to be, but..”

“Shut the fuck up, ya dick.” He spits at me.

I do. I watch him transform again in front of me. The face softens, the eyes widen and the body becomes a graceful swan in movement once again as she returns.

Something’s changed in her though, she’s no longer throwing me admiring, curious looks. She’s looks friendly enough, and her wanking has returned to normal pace, but something’s shifted.

She moves beside me to get a good look at my face. I use my peripheral vision to make sure that I have an egress.

“I’m sorry about my brother. He’s a little overprotective,” she says gently. “I’m glad you’re not religious, I like the religious type, but Paul, my brother, does not.”

“Okay,” I sing, with false cheeriness as the lean man with the woman’s demeanour and voice wanks serenely in my direction. “Best get on then. Would you mind going back to the corner, don’t let me interrupt…” I nod down at her… his reddened cock.

“I’d like you to stay for a few minutes. I so rarely get to talk to anyone.” Her face darkened a little, the threat of Paul behind her eyes. “Paul gets angry if I’m not happy. Let’s talk, just for a little while.” I nod and watch her walk back to her corner and resume her previous position, only this time she’s facing me.

I sit a few metres away and ask. “So what’s a nice girl like you doing here?”

Her face drops. “I’m not a nice girl,” she says.

“I’m sorry,” I blurt out, it was just a joke, y’know, cos that’s what people say.”

She nods, but I can tell that I hurt her feelings because her cock twitched at me in response.

“Why don’t you tell me how you came to be here, you and your brother,” I suggest. “if you don’t mind, that is….” I suddenly feel ridiculous, but have to ask.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

The wiry little, very scary man with the huge dick, blushes, he actually blushes and pauses his wankery for a second in surprise.

“Nobody ever asks me that, not in all my time here. They just call us both Wilson.” She smiles with genuine warmth before resuming her stroking at a more leisurely pace than I’d seen her do so far.

“My name’s Mary. Pleased to meet you.”

“And you,” I say with a ridiculous little bow that makes me feel stupid, but it makes her laugh and the cell lights up when she laughs.

“Would you like to hear about how I came here? She asks

I shrug, “Only if you’re happy to tell me.”

She gives me a little bow of her own, mirroring mine in a gentle mock, making me laugh. Her eyes dance with light and she drinks in my happiness as she starts to tell her story. I sit and stare into the face of the scariest, most beautiful man I’ve ever seen as he-she, as Paul-Mary speaks.

***

My sibling and I had been in St Margaret Mary’s for around six months. We’d been to other schools, loads actually. We were good kids, but dad moved around a lot. Army officer. Came from money and gentry, couldn’t be bothered being a parent after Mum died. It was an alright school and was close to Edinburgh city centre which was awesome for a couple of fourteen year olds with time to kill and no parents around.

On our first day, the head teacher, Father Connelly, introduced us to our peers at the house assembly. He made a big deal of us being twins, we were the first twins to attend St Mags’. Father Connelly was a lovely man, I really looked up to him, to all of the staff, to be honest. That’s probably why I have a thing for the religious type, especially Catholics. Never works out though.

Paul played rugby, Mary studied hard. Friends were difficult to come by, most of the kids our age seemed withdrawn, sullen. We didn’t particularly care, we had each other after all, but it would’ve been nice to have some more friends.

Eventually we were invited along to one of Fr Connelly’s private dinners. He’d been telling us for months how special being twins was. He really liked that about us.

Mary wore a very white dress, one that father Connelly had remarked on at an assembly some months before. Paul looked as scruffy as always, but at least he’d had a shower. When we entered Fr Connelly’s quarters, a huge table filled the room. On it was a large white sheet, covering the food and around it sat sixteen of the school’s priests and four nuns. I remember our eyes fixing on the sheet. Paul took Mary’s hand and began to drag her back towards the oak doors we’d entered by, but Mary pulled free of his grasp. This was Mary’s big night, and Paul wasn’t going to spoil it.

I remember rushing to Fr Connelly and apologising. He smelled strongly of wine, they all looked a little drunk, even the nuns. Paul grabbed Mary from out of Fr Connelly’s hands, she let him this time. The elderly priest we had so admired smiled at us as we backed up to the doors. Doors that had already been locked.

Paul rushed at Father Connelly and rugby tackled the head teacher to the floor, clattering the old man’s head against a strong wooden chair leg as they fell. The room erupted, in laughter. Strong hands grabbed at Paul, grabbed at Mary also. Strong hands tore off our clothes and bound us and violated our bodies.

They passed us round. The tore our bodies as well as our clothes. They fucked the nuns, they pulled the sheet from the table and fucked each other with the implements of sex that lay there. They pushed them into us as well, those toys.

Hours passed I came and went. Some minutes passed torturously as years of pain and humiliation. Some hours passed in seconds of unconsciousness when I blacked out. Mary, Mary Magdalene. Fuck Mary Magdalene, they chanted as they passed us around.

I woke many miles from St Mags on a rocky shore of the Firth of Forth. I’d been tied in a mail sack, along with my sibling. I’d freed my head and breathed. My sibling had not. It was a mercy. I climbed out of the sack and onto the smooth, cold pebbles of North Queensferry, a wretched creature. I kicked the body of my twin, still inside the sack back into the water and blew it a kiss.

I didn’t go back to Edinburgh, instead I went home to Dundee and emptied my father’s safe at home. I went online with the black book full of passwords I found in his safe and emptied every one of his accounts too. The bastard deserved us for putting us in St Mags’.

I disappeared. I got a new identity, I travelled, I grew up. I came back to Edinburgh, but I’d changed. I’d grown, become a man. A strong man, younger and more capable than the elderly, filthy men who’d violated Mary and Paul. The first one, I took whilst he crossed Charlotte Square. It was pathetic how old he had become. The hands I remembered clawing at my thighs and pants, were sparrow’s claws, ineffectually pulling at my grip as I dragged the old cunt into the back of my van. I bestowed upon him every torture my sibling and I had suffered at his hands and the hands of his brethren.

I went so much further with him than even they had with Paul and Mary. I cut his eyelids and placed him in a room full of mirrors to watch as I sliced and pierced and fucked and ripped and gouged every ounce of fucking pain I could drag from the evil bastard. I did things to that creature that some would say makes me worse than all of them. It doesn’t though, because he wasn’t a child. That’s the bare truth of it. He and his brothers of the cloth, men of God, betrayed children. I tortured and fucked an evil old man into a bloody puddle, then I hunted some of his fellow holy men. I still have some to find, to punish. For me and for my brother.

***

My eyes are stinging and I become aware that I hadn’t blinked the entire time Wilson had been speaking. He’s still sitting in Buddha position wanking away in the corner.

“Your brother?” I ask.

“Yes, Paul, my brother.” She makes a sort of ‘duh’ face at me. Standing, she continues tugging on her cock and extends a hand for me.

“Thanks for listening. You should go now, Paul will be back soon. He doesn’t like you much. Go.”

I reach out and give the offered hand a little squeeze, similar to the one Benny had offered me earlier. As I let go my eyes go for a wander to Wilson’s feet. They are small, maybe a size four or five. The legs are lean and strong but long and slender also. Whilst Wilson’s torso is scarred the scars screamed a familiarity. I’ve seen scars like those on she wears on his-her chest somewhere else before. Maybe a TV show.

Wilson catches me scanning his body. That smile lights up the room again.

“You like it?” She asks. “I paid a fortune for it. Tits out and sewed up, vagina closed and this,” She jerks that cock. “This I’m delighted with. Nice and big, plenty of damage done tae a hole wi’ this big bastard, I can tell ye. Three piece titanium rod inside, hard whenever I want for however long I need it.”

I gape at the scars.

“Only problem is that I’m a dry-shagger. They cannae give ye baws, well wee rubber wans, but not working ones full of spunk.” Her eyes mist for a second as she loses herself in a rapey-reverie. “Och I’d have loved it if I could’ve had spunk tae splash over thae bastards,” she says, wistfully.

Suddenly her face begins to darken once more and her voice deepens. Half way between Paul and Mary he-she roars. “Get fuckin’ oot!”

She doesn’t have to tell me twice. I rocket through the door and lock it shut behind me. Peering in through the little trap, I watch Mary kneel back into the corner and her back straighten. Paul’s voice comes.

“Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene. She’s fuckin’ coming fur ye, ya basturts.”

End of Excerpt

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Twelve Mad Men features contributions from:

Paul D Brazill (Guns of Brixton, A Case of Noir)
Gerard Brennan (Fireproof, Wee Rockets)
Les Edgerton (The Bitch, The Rapist)
Craig Furchtenicht (Dimebag Bandits, Night Speed Zero)
Richard Godwin (Mr Glamour, One Lost Summer, Apostle Rising)
Allen Miles (18 Days, This is How You Disappear)
Keith Nixon (The Fix, The Eagle’s Shadow)
Darren Sant (Tales From The Longcroft, The Bank Manager and The Bum)
Gareth Spark (Black Rain, Shotgun Honey)
Martin Stanley (The Gamblers, The Hunters)
Mark Wilson (dEaDINBURGH, Head Boy)

and is available now at Amazon US and Amazon UK.