dEaDINBURGH – On Location and Chapter 12 Preview

Having spent a day shooting locations from the book with Paul McGuigan of PMCG Photography, it felt like a good time for another update.

At this point in the book, Alys and Joey have reunited after a three year absence. Alys has convinced Joey to enter a no man’s land in the South of the dead city, beyond the inner fences in search of a cure and a madman.

Lyrics from Unified Zombie Republic used with  permission of Gavin Bain
of Hopeless Heroic and Silibil-N-Brains

The following excerpt is from dEaDINBURGH by Mark Wilson and is copyright of Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing:

Chapter 12

 

A sudden push against the bus sent it wobbling to one side. Alys and Joey both snatched their weapons up and stood to look through the misted windows.

“Didn’t you have a check around before you arrived?” she snapped at Joey more out of shock than genuine anger.

“Of course I did.” He said calmly.

Both turned their eyes back to the winnow, Alys stepping forward to rub some of the condensation away with the sleeve of her coat. She gasped as she looked out onto Canonmills. Joey pressed his cheek against hers to get a better look through the gap she’d made and let out a little sound of his own.

The bus was surrounded by Zoms. Every panel, front, sides and rear was being pushed upon by a herd of them, three deep in parts. Each of them was completely fixed on the bus, lips drawn back from snapping teeth.

“Where the hell did they come from?” Joey asked. “You ever see that many in one place?”

Alys shook her head.

“You?”

Not like that.” He replied. “They’re all pretty fresh.

By fresh he meant fast, vicious, dangerous, and of course, hungry.

There was little chance of them pushing the bus over; they simply didn’t have the strength or coordination for that, unless they got lucky. The greatest risk to them was that the hands that had begun to slap against the windows would eventually break the glass. Neither of them was particularly worried about a zom climbing through a broken window, the panels were too high for that, but the broken window would definitely mean exposure to the bitter winter wind howling louder than the Zoms groans outside.

“Upstairs.” Alys told him, leading the way to the top deck.

From the top they gained a better view of what they faced. Alys guessed maybe sixty Zoms, all fresh, had surrounded the bus. She rubbed her temples, thinking, what the hell brought so many of them here?

Canonmills was outside the inner fence, but only just; and generally was fairly clear of the dead. Those she had encountered recently in the area had been older ones, slow and part-frozen with the winter frost.

Glancing along the aisle of the bus towards Joey who had his face pressed against the rear window, she gave him a sharp whistle. When he turned, she pointed up at the ceiling, eliciting a conspirational grin from him, followed by a quick nod of approval.

Stepping on Joey’s interlocked hands, she boosted herself up towards the skylight, pushed it open and climbed through, out onto the snow-covered roof, before dangling her arm through to help Joey up.

“I’m cool.” He told her. As Alys withdrew her arm, Joey’s hands grabbed the skylight and his feet suddenly shot through followed by the rest of him, head last. He landed lightly on his feet in a crouch.

“Show off.” She shook her head at him. “Let’s see what we’ve got.”

She said, heading towards the edge to lean over. Her sudden presence above brought a surge of hungry groans from below.

“You think you can shoot them off? Maybe just clear a section for us to break through?”

Joey had a quick peek over.

“Na. Too few arrows; too many Zoms. How about we go back to the lower deck and just start braining them through the windows after they’ve broken through?”

Alys scowled.

“Too risky; too easy to get grabbed or bitten whilst reaching out.”

Joey’s face suddenly broke into a wide grin. Hooking his bow over his back, he went through his ritual of checking his weapons, tightening his laces and pulling his hood up, before cocking an eyebrow at her and flashing an even wider grin.

“Back in a minute, Alys.” He laughed and leaped from the bus’ roof onto the nearby bus shelter, from where he did a tight sideways somersault, landing on the roof of a phone box several feet away. With a final cartwheel-tuck, he span off the phone box, landing catlike two feet behind the row of Zoms who still faced the bus.

Launching into a song, he took off up the hill towards a burnt put Esso petrol station, Sixty-odd dead shuffling behind him like a grotesque parade.

“Searching for answers and finding more reasons, not to believe in the bullshit they feed us….” Joey sand loudly and out of tune, laughing as he ran, tumbled and span his way up the hill, away from the bus.

He’s entirely too full of himself, that boy, Alys thought, supressing a smile.

Returning a few minutes later, Joey had doubled back around the Zoms who were still headed up towards Rodney Street. Joey was walking towards her, arms wide in a what you think gesture. Alys shook her head, “Nice singing, Joey.”

He laughed loudly. “You like that? Jock taught me it.”

Joey launched into another verse, ducking as she threw a right-hander at him.

“Shut up, idiot. You’ll have them back down here.” She nodded up at the herd of Zoms. Some of the rear ones had lurched around and were looking in their direction, teeth bared.

“Okay. Let’s go tell your mother that we’re running away to find a cure at The Royal Infirmary, which is by the way, surrounded by murdering madmen who worship a Zommed-out footballer. That’ll be fun.”

Alys cocked an eyebrow at him. Deadpan she said. “Okay.”

End of Excerpt

On location in dEaDINBURGH

You can find Mark and his books at Amazon, US; Amazon, UK and at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing.

You can follow Mark’s progress on dEaDINBURGH on twitter at dEaDINBURGHbook

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dEaDINBURGH: Padre Jock’s Journal

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Rather than slow down the pace of the novel with backstory I chose to launch straight in to my main characters’ (Joey MacLeod and Alys Shephard) lives and insert little passages from Joey’s mentor’s Journal throughout the narrative. This is a sample giving details on how the city became quarantined. Hope you enjoy.

 

All text copyright of Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing 2013

<strong>Padre Jock’s Journal</strong>

In 1645 the bubonic plague (or the Black Death) raged through the populace. Millions had died worldwide and the city’s residents were beginning to feel the effects of the disease. In a desperate attempt to isolate the infected and to save the remaining residents, the council leaders forced the sick into the underground streets of Mary King’s Close and sealed them in. Beneath the cobbles of old Edinburgh the infected, begged to be released, suffered and were eventually forgotten, dying inside the crypts below.

The plague mutated underground for hundreds of years and some survivors became something other than human. Undead, shuffling through the dark crypts racked by a 400 year hunger.

On New Year’s Day 2015, the city leaders opened the Close, with the intention of erecting a memorial to the ancient plague victims and using the Close for tourism. The Close’ residents poured out from their tomb and spread the new plague through the city. Edinburgh was full of partygoers and New Year celebrants. The plague spread quickly.

Within a day, many of Edinburgh’s residents were infected. Within a week, the UK government, recruiting the armed forces had erected a huge and extensive fence around the circumference of the city bypass, quarantining the city. Edinburgh was declared an official no-man’s land; a dead zone, its residents left for dead and to the dead.

 

I had a chance to leave, before they sealed us in, but stayed to help the survivors. I never thought for a second that they, the world outside, would leave us here and forget about us. For that first decade of isolation, I always believed that sometime, they’d find a cure, that they would release us. I should have remembered my history.

 

<strong>End of Excerpt. </strong>

 

You can find Mark and his books at <a href=”http://www.paddysdaddypublishing.com/mark-wilson.html”>Paddy’s Daddy Publishing</a> or follow Mark’s progress on the dEaDINBURGH series on twitter @dEaDINBURGHbook <br /><br /><a href=”https://markwilsonbooks.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/20131214-115700.jpg”><img src=”https://markwilsonbooks.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/20131214-115700.jpg&#8221; alt=”20131214-115700.jpg” /></a>

dEaDINBURGH Preview – Meet Alys Shephard

The following excerpt is from Chapter 2 of the upcoming novel, dEaDINBURGH and is copyright of Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing 2013

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Chapter 2

 

Alys

 

Standing from a crouch Alys leaned back, stretching her vertebrae to their maximum extension. She gave a few sharp turns to her left and her right, loosening off her hips. Finally Alys leaned forward and down, wrapping her arms around the backs of her legs, bringing her forehead to her shins.

Jennifer sighed. “Every time, Alys? You won’t always have time for that nonsense you know.”

Alys was sick of her mother’s sharpness and performed the routine simply to provoke her. She was most accomplished fighter in her age group, and several classes above her also, but nothing ever seemed good enough.

“Just limbering up.” She said flatly.

Her mother pursed her lips. “Does an animal limber up? Do the dead limber up?”

Alys ignored her and took her ready-stance. Jennifer sighed and assumed her own ready-position. Alys stepped forward and delivered a series of sharp blows with her hands, alternating between her mother’s face and chest. Jennifer easily blocked each one, but she was supposed to, Alys had used the flurry as a cover for the kick she shot out at Jennifer’s knee. This too failed to connect as the older woman slipped her front foot back ten centimetres, causing Alys’ kick to jab into the ground. Jennifer steeped onto her daughter’s front foot, trapping it and preventing her daughter from stepping back from the vicious hammer punch she flashed out with lightning speed.

Standing over her prone daughter, Jennifer checked her watch. Five seconds, this time Alys. You’re getting better. Alys glared up her for a second before picking herself up out of the mud. She spat a mouthful of blood onto the ground a few centimetres from her mother’s feet. “Again.” She demanded.

Jennifer smiled her approval and moved in to deliver another lightning blow to her daughter’s face.

 

An hour later, Alys stood in the centre of the practice plot. Dripping with sweat and with the smell of her own blood in her nostrils, she glared at Jennifer, who stood calm and impassive as she’d been when their practice had begun.

“Again” Alys growled.

Jennifer approved, but showed nothing of that approval on her face.

“No.” she said, simply and walked away. As she left, she turned back to face her daughter. “Remember to take the offering up to The Brotherhood’s gates.

Alys didn’t reply, choosing instead to stand in the rain and let it cool her anger as it washed away the sweat and blood she’d shed. The rain and cold of an Edinburgh autumn was as familiar to her as the sunshine and relative warmth of its springtime. Her life had been lived, exposed; farming, fighting and living under canvas, here in the beauty of Princes Street Gardens.  Most of her community felt free. Free to farm and eat and train and live under the Edinburgh sky in the shade of the craggy castle. Alys just felt trapped.

The only way she could leave The Gardens permanently was to convince her mother that she was ready. That she could fight. Still standing in a ready-stance, fists quivering and face up towards the falling rain, Alys finally relaxed her bunched up muscles. Standing simply with her weary arms at her sides, something glinted and caught her eye. She looked up towards the Castle’s Esplanade, noting that he was there again. She’d never once been allowed to venture outside her community’s fences, the farthest she’d walked was to deliver the Communities’ offerings up to The Brotherhood’s Gates on the royal mile.

Alys couldn’t understand why her people continued to feed the reclusive, pathetic Brotherhood and had grown to resent the men who lived up on the royal mile. She’d been taught to fight, to earn her place in the community and to fight to keep it. Her community didn’t allow men in its gates, believing that their weakness was a risk, so why were they helping feed a group of men who were too deluded to grow or scavenge their own food? Yes she resented them but most of all she resented the boy with the bow.

 

The first time she’d seen the boy had been on a food-run up to The Brotherhood’s gates on Bank Street around five years ago. She’d been ten years old and had dutifully carried the container of fresh foods to the gates, traipsing sullenly alongside her mother. After Jennifer had placed the food at the fence-line, she’d turned and began making the short journey back to Princes Street Gardens. Out of curiosity, Alys stayed.

She’d never seen a member of The Brotherhood. She’d heard plenty of stories, of how they lived in their crypts, how they worshipped zoms, wandered among the dead creatures and even fed them their own blood; but hadn’t seen one. It wasn’t just their strange lifestyle that drew her, she hadn’t seen a male since her father had gone. She’d asked her mother many times in the early weeks following his departure, and several times in the intervening ten years or so, but always received the same reply from Jennifer.

“He’s just gone, Alys.”

So she waited, around the corner, peeking at the fences from behind the edge of a building. After a few hours, a boy had appeared. He was dressed in simple, slim-legged black denims, a long sleeve black T with his thumbs poking through holes at the ends of the sleeves, and a trash bag with holes cut for his arms to slip through. Over his head a hood concealed most of his face, but a few locks of very blonde hair strayed out from underneath. Warily he’d come close to the fence, opened the gate, and retrieved the offering. As quickly as he’d come, he left.

Alys couldn’t say why at the time, but she waited in that same spot a little longer until eventually the same boy appeared once more. He stood at the fence, staring at her. This time, he didn’t look nervous.

“Hello? Are you still there?”

Alys’ eyes opened wide at his greeting. She’d been taught that The Brotherhood wouldn’t or couldn’t speak. Guardedly she came out from her spot and approached the fence.

“Alright?” the boy had asked, with an awkward smile.

Alys simply nodded, narrowing her eyes as she noted the quiver on his back and the bow in his left hand. Realising that she felt threatened, the bow placed his bow on the ground, stood straight again and pulled down his hood to reveal a head full of shaggy blonde hair, and beautifully vibrant green eyes. He was around the same age as she was, that in itself was strange, she’d thought that The Brotherhood were all grown men. That he stood smiling at her with excitement in his eyes and a grin on his face, took her completely by surprise. She’d heard that as well as being silent, The Brothers were perpetually numbed by a substance they inhaled to commune with the dead. This boy was anything but numb. He had cocked his head to the side and was assessing her as she assessed him.

Approaching him, Alys asked

“What do you want?”

“To say thank you.” He nodded back towards where his people lived. “For the kindness.”

“If I had any choice I wouldn’t bring it.” She blurted out. “Your people don’t deserve it.”

The boy’s eyes lost a little of their sparkle and his smile flattened. Clearly hurt, he picked up his bow, raised his hood once more, and turned to head towards the Castle. After walking a few feet he turned to face her again.

“Well, Thanks anyway.”

With that he took off at a run, executing a few little leaps and somersaults using the masonry and steps of the local buildings as launch pads. Alys heard him laugh as he whirled and ran his way up to the Castle Esplanade.

She’d seen him many times since then; practicing with his bow, leaping and somersaulting through the Royal Mile and along the Castle buildings. She hated him for how care-free, how happy he seemed. He trained hard, that she was impressed by, he practiced with his bow every day, but why should he be so free, so happy, when her people, when she, had to work so hard to provide for him and his people?

She imagined him laughing with his Brothers at how gullible her community was for providing them with supplies. As time went on, she began to realise that the rest of The Brotherhood were as silent, as disconnected from the world as he people had described to her. This boy, the boy with the bow, was the exception. She hated him even more for his ability to free himself of the constraints of his community and trained all the harder, fuelled by contempt for him, by jealousy and in the hopes that she may one day discover a way to be as free as he was.

 

Alys lowered her head and looked at her trembling hands. She’d made contact with her mother twice during their session. It was twice more than she’d managed before, and whilst her blows hadn’t really had any impact, the mere fact that she’d landed them lifted her spirits. She was definitely getting better. Placing her arms around herself in a hug, Alys took a last look up at the Castle to see the bow with the bow, pulling another arrow from his quiver, lining up his shot and releasing yet another perfect arrow. The satisfaction she’d felt at her progress disappeared and she took off on a run up the Playfair Steps. The Brotherhood can wait for their free meal. I’ve got stamina to build.

Alys punished her legs running up and walking down the long staircase for the next sixty minutes. Hunched over on all fours at the top she looked along the mound and up to the castle. Another convulsion racked her and she threw up what bile she had left to throw up, and glared upwards, daring the bow with the bow to show his face.

Satisfied that she had nothing left, no reserve of energy with which to pull herself up the stairs once more, she made her way down the gentle swooping slope of The Mound, returning to Princes Street Gardens and the task of preparing The Brotherhood’s offering.

 

End of Excerpt

The dEaDINBURGH Trilogy by Mark Wilson will be published by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in May/June 2014

You can find Mark Wilson and his books at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing, at Amazon, US or at Amazon, UK

 

 

dEaDINBURGH Novel – Preview

I’m currently writing the dEaDINBURGH trilogy. Here’s a wee excerpt, cast bios and Plot summary.
All text is copyright of Mark Wilson 2013

Excerpt:

Joey regained consciousness and became slowly aware that he was still on the grass, beneath her. She hadn’t left him. Whirling, jabbing her Sai, leaping and kicking, she was a lethal whirlwind of blows and strikes and death. Inches from his prone body she did what had to be done. That’s what she always did. He rolled over from his back onto his side, curled his body inward and ripped off his right shoe. On glance at the red stain blossoming out across the fabric of his sock from the big toe of his foot told him that it was all over. He watched it spread detachedly, noting to himself how like a poppy it looked with his toe at the centre of the blood flower. Why is she still here?
Glancing across at his left hand, he noticed that the injury he’d taken there, was bleeding freely also.
Trying to stand, he braced himself with the palm of his right hand pressed into the mud and blood, but found that his legs weren’t listening and crumpled back to the ground. He tried twice more to stand before she kneed him in the shoulder, knocking him back to a curled position. She’d fought hard and made a three second gap in the fight to turn her attention to him. Three seconds was three times as many as she’d need, but that’s how she was; well prepared. He’d taught her that.
Instead of the terror he’d expected when this moment came, a peaceful acceptance slid over him. He didn’t raise his hands to protect himself and he didn’t close his eyes. Placing one foot either side of him in a strike position, she drew her third Sai, the deadliest, swirled it around in her palm to a stabbing position and threw herself at him. As she struck, he did close his eyes. Not for himself, not to welcome the black darkness he still missed from Mary King’s Close, but for her. She shouldn’t have to look in his eyes as she killed him.
Thank you, Alys, Joey’s voice whispered inside his head. Outside, Joseph MacLeod was still.

End of excerpt.

Cast:

Joseph MacLeod:

Born onto the cobbles of the Royal Mile, Joey lives with a religious cult named The Brotherhood of Elisha. We meet Joey at 15 years old. The Brotherhood resides in the crypts of Mary King’s Close and worship the walking dead, who they call The Children of Elisha. They have taken a vow of silence and feed the dead by filling troughs with their blood. They inhale desiccated zombie flesh in ceremonies called Communion and believe this makes them closer to the Children of Elisha. The Brotherhood walk among the dead unharmed, believing that their religion makes the Children of Elisha ignore them.

Joey has grown up in darkness and silence but secretly leaves the crypts to visit the esplanade at Edinburgh castle, where he practices archery and parkour. His bow, a takedown, recurve bow made from carbon fibre was left in his chambers along with a quiver-full of carbon fibre arrows when he was ten years old. He doesn’t know where it came from and is his only possession. He’s taken under the wing of Padre Jock after saving the older man from an unseen Zom.

Joey dresses in slim black denims, close fitting thumb-hole long-sleeve black ribbed top, and leather jacket. He always wears hiking boots. Joey has blonde, tangled hair and green eyes.

Alys Shephard:

Alys was also born in the city but lives in Princes Street Gardens with a community of female farmers. No men live in the community as they were banished a decade before. The residents believe that the men are weak and dangerous in their weakness, but share their harvest of crops with the Brotherhood who are their nearest neighbours.

Alys is tough, lethally clever and has been trained since she was a toddler to fight zoms. She is an expert gymnast and fights with three Sai. Two are blunt and one, tucked in her belt, has been sharpened. She has black hair, green eyes and is stunning. She is slightly taller than Joey although the same age. Very lean and athletic. Alys treats Joey with disdain, like a cross between a pitiable idiot and a risk. Alys’ mother is leader of the farming community and is very demanding of her daughter. Alys’ father ‘left some years ago’ according to her mother.

Padre Jock:

In his sixties, Jock was sealed in with the other residents of Edinburgh when the mutant plague hit and the dead claimed the city in 2015. A former marine chaplain, Jock has fought in many wars and is an expert hand to hand combatant. He lives in the crypt with the Brotherhood, but does not subscribe to their dogma. Jock protects the Brotherhood by hunting and killing the strongest and most dangerous zoms that come too close to the fenced area. He watches over Joey but does not speak to him until the boy saves him one afternoon on a hunting trip. After this encounter, he begins teaching Joey to hunt zoms. Jock wears his dog-collar with a black shirt, dark blue denims and cowboy boots. He wears biker leathers, gloves and boots to go hunting. He also wears the mask of a plague doctor when hunting, discovered in the crypts of Mary King’s Close.

Fraser Donnelly (Joey’s Dad):

TV exec in the outside world. Very wealthy, very clever. Very unlike Joey in appearance

Somna:

A handsome, madman who cut off his own eyelids, perpetuating the myth that he never sleeps. He calls himself Somna and cuts the eyelids from his victims, keeping them in an ironically cheery, ‘I love Edinburgh’ bum-bag around his waist. Somna is obsessed with his looks and wears slim-cut suits and styles his hair in the fashion on his celebrity king, a zom whom he worships.

Plot:

dEaDINBURGH will be set over three books and focuses on a group of survivors quarantined in the former city of Edinburgh.

In 1615 a large group of plague victims were sealed in the crypts of Mary King’s Close, an underground town beneath the cobbles of Edinburgh. The city council took the measure to isolate the plague victims with the intention of protecting the uninfected populace. The people of Mary King’s Close were sealed in and forgotten about. The plague mutated underground for hundreds of years and some plague victims became something other than human. Undead, shuffling through the dark crypts racked by a 400 year hunger.

On New Year’s Day 2015, the city leaders opened the Close, with the intention of erecting a memorial to the ancient plague victims and using the Close for tourism. The Close’ residents poured out from their tomb and spread the new plague through the city.

Within a day, many of Edinburgh’s residents were infected. Within a week, the UK government, recruiting the armed forces had erected a huge and extensive fence, quarantining the city. Edinburgh is declared an official no-man’s land; a dead zone, its residents left for dead and to the dead. The remaining uninfected struggle to survive in a city of walking corpses.

The dEaDINBURGH trilogy will be published in May/June 2014 by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing. You can find mark’s books and other great titles there.

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