On The Seventh Day – Preview

Having reached the 30K word mark on my new novel, I’ve reached that point where the characters have begun to do their own thing and the story has taken a shift that I hadn’t anticipated. At this point it generally becomes clear how the story is going to pan out and I can begin the process of placing the book in a genre and also the marketing process.

With this particular book, I’m not entirely sure how or who to market it to.

With a religious satire, riddled with (what some will find) vulgar language, the notion that God is a total bastard, the imminent destruction of humans at the hands of said bastard, Satan as the good guy and Jesus and Moses returned to save the humans they love, I’m not going to win many friends.

My long-term dEaDINBURGH readers will not be impressed by this book, I suspect. But in the words of Stewart, our Lord God.

‘Fuck thum. Fuck the lot of thum.’

In structuring the novel, I’ve chosen to alternate chapters between, Nick (Satan’s) telling of his history, and our own evolution, to a barmaid; and Jay and Mo’s adventures on earth. The friends have been placed into the bodies of adult humans, instead of being born on earth this time, and have one week to save our souls before God scrubs the entire universe and begins form scratch. Interludes featuring the head of a global charity foundation, Named Mr Saluzar, will break every other chapter, forming the subplot.

I’ve included two chapters for you.

The following (unedited, un-proofed) excerpt is from Mark Wilson’s upcoming novel, On The Seventh Day and is copyright of Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing 2015.

On the seventh day promo2

Graphic language and sex, as well as plenty of religious irreverence to follow. You’ve been warned:

4 

Jay and Mo

Blinking hard, Jay tried for the third time to focus his eyes, finding once again that the murky fluid of the world wouldn’t shift. He closed his eyes tightly and rubbed at the lids with the middle knuckle of his index fingers, kneading the soreness behind them. Hair tickled his eyelids. The first sign that he had displaced another soul and taken its body. Jay sighed heavily. Part of him had hoped that his Father may have reconsidered the method by which he and Mo would re-enter the human world. Jay didn’t like to cuss, dad did plenty of that for the whole of Heaven, but several expletives escaped regardless in sympathy for the poor soul he’d disembodied upon arrival in the material universe. Earth to be more specific.

Cricking his neck to the left and right, Jay prepared himself mentally for the imminent discovery of who and where and what he now was. A week, seven days, was not a great deal of time on earth to bring about a change cataclysmic enough to delay God’s decision to obliterate, the universe and begin his grand experiment anew. It was all he had, though. Needs must.

Jay opened his eyes and observed the ceiling of the room he lay in. Think. Observe. Examine. He told himself as the ceiling came into view. The murkiness struck him once again, but part of his subconscious whispered that this was the haze through which human eyes perceived the world. His new body’s eyes were working fine. This was all they saw.

Closing his eyes once more, Jay decided to let his other senses feed him the information he needed for a moment. He remembered from his time in Palestine, two thousand years previously, how very important smells and sound were. Jay regretted the decision immediately as the unmistakable aromas of cold Chinese takeaway, stale farts and crusted spunk-from far too nearby- filled his senses.

Choking back on the suddenly all too familiar sensation of a gag reflex, Jay focused the sounds of the room. Traffic passing, nobody else at home and the gorgeous melodies of The Police wafting through the apartment? House? Thank Dad he has some good music in the house, whoever he is.

Rising from the comfortable bed, Jay found a long, full-length mirror propped against the magnolia wall. He closed his eyes for a moment, bracing himself for the disappointment, he half expected and then took in his new face and body.

He was a tall lad in his thirties, much taller than Jay had been in his ‘God Incarnate’ body in Nazareth. His new face was…okay. Just okay. Nothing remarkable, a bit dull looking if anything, but he had all his hair and teeth which Jay supposed was something at least.

A powerful cramp suddenly surged through his intestines, doubling Jay over. On porcelain in seconds, grimacing and sweating as his bowels emptied in a torrent, Jay eyed the stack of takeaway containers littered on the floor in the next room.

What the hell’s this guy been eating?

Jay’s new body finished purging itself. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, Jay took off the T-shirt the guy had been sleeping in. His slightly flabby body was covered in thick, wiry hair and hadn’t seen much sunlight from the pastiness of his skin, but really wasn’t in bad condition at all.

Suddenly aware of the smells of someone else, Jay decided that a long hot shower was due. The feel of hot water against his skin, was pure bliss. Nothing as pleasurable as a simple shower existed the on his last visit to earth. His short life in the Middle-East had been one of heat and hunger and sand. One never felt truly clean in those days. In Heaven of course no matter existed, so showers were not required.

Stepping reluctantly from the steam-filled bathroom, Jay dressed himself in a Pink Floyd T-shirt and denims, which were the cleanest-smelling clothes from the pile laying in the bedroom.

The guy’s house is a pig-sty, but at least he has taste, Jay thought, absent-mindedly shuffling through some letters on the dresser. Noting the name on a Scottish Gas bill, he made, a not too bad face. Garry Crawford, that’ll do. Plain, ordinary, nowt flashy. Yeah. It fits the unremarkable face and flabby body nicely.

Scanning down the little window of the envelope Jay’s heart sank as he read Garry’s address.

Motherwell…Bloody Lanarkshire. Dad you are entirely sadistic at times.

Jay sighed and tried out his voice.

“Awright? Big Gaz here, how ye daen, mucker?” Jay closed his eyes and took a moment to compose himself before trying again.

“Hiya. Ahm Gaz. Good tae meet ye.”

Better. Obviously dad has stuck me with the accent, but at least I can smarten the dialogue up a bit.

Jay noticed a bass guitar resting on a black stands and rolled his eyes. Couldn’t even get a real guitarist, he groaned. Returning his eyes to the mirror he spent the next few minutes staring into his new face, wondering how to paint an expression on it that would make millions, billions of people trust him, despite the Lanarkshire accent. Arranging his new features into a state somewhere between kindness and constipation, Jay shrugged.

Best it’s going to get. Time to find, Mo. As he began searching for a phone another cramp racked through his guts, sending him racing back to the little bathroom.

Got to get this guy on the salads.

 

 

∞∞∞

A spasm of pleasure ran along his groin, almost doubling him over. Leaning forward slightly, Mo rested his hand onto the lower back of a woman he’d just orgasmed with. She slid back along the length of his cock, tilting her hips a little to tease some life back into it. She needn’t have worried, it had lost perhaps five percent, changing form rock hard to merely stiff and rubbery.

It’d still do the job.

Mo closed his eyes again, enjoying the sensation of bareback shagging. It’d been so long since he’d been on earth, he’d forgotten the simple ecstasy of flesh and fluids connected and mingled. Turning his partner over-he wanted to look into her eyes- Mo fought back the distraction of her unfamiliar body. She was much thinner than the women of his era. She would almost seem fragile if she wasn’t at that moment forcing him onto his back and positioning herself to ride him. Supposing her appearance was simply fashionable now, Mo shifted his awareness back to where they were connected and to her face, which was simply beautiful, and oddly familiar.

Once again, the rush of orgasm came.

“Fackin’ hell, Chris. You gone and spunked again?” She didn’t sound angry, just surprised.

“That ain’t like you, love,” She said, reaching up to his face, to stroke his beard.

“Yeah,” Mo replied, noting his cockney accent. “Sorry about that, darlin’.”

She smiled, illuminating the room.

“Not to worry, got to get a move on now anyway, Chrissy,” She said. Rising from his weakening cock she placed a gentle kiss on his forehead before slipping off the bed and into the en-suite, the noise of a shower followed soon after.

Mo stretched back onto the bed, reaching his hands behind his head. Enjoying a long, feline-like stretch he smiled to himself. Rising from the mattress, Mo found a mirror and approached. His first look at his new body and face, brought a wide smile to his face as it dawned on him why the woman’s- his wife’s- face was so familiar. Scanning along the tanned, slim and toned torso of his new body, Mo moved his eyes up to the bearded face, and top-knot crowned hair.

In his mid-twenties and handsome; his generations’ most gifted footballer- spoken in the same vein as Maradonna, Ronaldinho and Messi- the broad, bankable smile of Man United’s goal-scoring machine, Chris Pillans smiled back at Mo.

Mo stood grinning at himself in the mirror for a full minute. The moment was broken by the chorus of Uptown Funk, issued from an iPhone on the bedside table.

Retrieving the phone, Mo glanced at the screen.

FaceTime incoming.

 

Clicking connect, Mo rubbed at his beard as the call connected. The blue screen was replaced by the unfamiliar face of an angry looking man in his forties with dark hair and very familiar blue eyes; his best friend’s eyes. They took in Mo’s new face, recognising it immediately. His brow creased.

“You fuckin’ jammy bastard,” Jay said with a thick Lanarkshire accent.

Mo managed to keep a straight face, for a moment. “You sound just like your daddy,” he said.

Obscured by the sound of Mo’s laughter, Jay barked, “Just gies yer address, bawbag.”

5 

Nick

Beth reached over the bar, placing a hand on top of Nick’s. “Is it painful? Telling me your history?” She asked.

Nick narrowed his eyes, thinking about the question. Finally he said,” no. It’s not, but it’s hardly the first time I’ve vented to a stranger.”

“Why me?” asked Beth.

Nick shrugged. Mostly timing and circumstance. Right place, right time,” he said.

“Mostly?” She asked.

“We’ll get to that later, Bethany,” Nick said softly. “I have a story to tell first.”

Beth’s eyes flashed fear, but she hid it quickly behind a sip of her vodka and a smile.

“Where was I?” Nick asked.

Beth drained her drink before answering. She felt like she’d been drinking for days. Exhaustion crept on her.

“Water,” she said, “Water and life.”

Nick nodded once in thanks.

“Yes. Water and Life. The moment when everything in Heaven and in the material universe was irretrievable altered.”

Nick smiled warmly at her before continuing.

“Water, lightning and some chemicals, that’s all it took.”

“It was random?” Beth asked.

“Yes and no,” Nick replied.

“The lightning, the spark was intentional. He meant to begin the process. What came after, He left to chance…no not chance, nature.” A shadow of sadness passed over Nick’s face as he spoke.

“God made the atoms and molecules form into nucleic acid, DNA. Proteins formed, membranes, organelles. Cells combined, proliferated. Others went extinct. This simple snuffing of a cell shocked Angels whose lives were unlimited by time, or health or predatory chance. That a spark of life, even one so small, could be snuffed out was abhorrent to us in our eternal lifespans. God reassured us that it was all in nature. Part of life.

Billions upon billions of identical cells emerged from one common ancestor. Some adapted, some disappeared from the gene pool forever. Groups of cells formed bonds or fused together, forming tissues, or other structures. The single-celled inhabitants of a pool of water adapted into a myriad of multicellular creatures. Simple organisms. Some photosynthesised food. Some didn’t. Some hunted. Most perished.

All who survived adapted in some way. Muscle, teeth, fins, gills. Some became simple worm-like creatures, or fish-like organisms. Others adapted to become plants. Hundreds of millions of years passed. Billions of organisms, whole species lived short lives and died.

Angels wept for their brief existence.

Adaptations, evolution continued. Rudimentary life found a way to survive, to adapt, to become complex life. Animals with eyes and mouths…faces emerged. Simple things, who fed and bred and not much else, but they had faces.”

Nick looked deep into Beth’s eyes, causing her to shrink back a little.

“You cannot fathom the clamour that this simple development-a creature with a face- sparked in Heaven. Angels flocked to God. ‘What does it mean? They have faces? Is it blasphemy? Does the existence of creatures with faces mock you my lord?’

It seems an absurd reaction I’m sure, Beth but consider this. We were God’s only creations, made in His own likeness by His own hand. We looked like Him. We had faces.

That nature, evolution had created an organisms with a structure so closely resembling one of our own, by random chance, seemed a heresy.”

Beth grinned.

“Yes,” Nick said. “Seems ridiculous to you, I agree, but you were born into a world where a face was the first thing you saw. In all of Heaven and God’s good universe until that moment, only God’s creations, His Angels, had faces. That these random mutations of nature had produced a creature with such a structure was truly terrifying to us.”

“Yeah, I suppose I can get that. Faces…terrifying,” Beth said, sarcasm lacing her tone.

Nick rolled his eyes.

“God- calm as he’d been since our creation- spoke to us, His Angels, gently, reassuring us that all was as he intended, part of nature. ‘Observe, my Angels. See what nature does next. Trust in me.’ Of course, we did trust in God and followed his advice. We witnessed the development of brains, simple but entirely functional. Ears, limbs skeletons, nervous systems, kidneys, hearts, livers pulsed and beat their way into existence. The rate of development was astonishing to us. You must understand, Beth, time is…different in Heaven. We existed for many millions, perhaps billions of years, before God created the universe. Time passed for us, but didn’t. Things changed, adapted I suppose, but nothing was diminished, only magnified by its passing.

Change occurred in Heaven but only as we willed it, not at the mercy of nature and not on the scale that life was adapting in the Universe. It seemed to us that time passing in the material universe simply meant death. Once an unnoticed companion to us in Heaven, time now seemed to stalk the material world. To us, the evolution present in the universe and the death that drove it was truly shocking.

I’ve been talking about evolution of creatures on earth, but this was happening on countless planets, throughout the universe.” Nick had spread his arms in a broad gesture.

“The unrelenting speed; the efficiency of nature in stimulating these frighteningly effective adaptations in animals and plants, shook us. We returned to God once more, in greater numbers than before. ‘Lord. Look what matter, what nature has done. Fish have grown legs and lungs and crawl the earth. Faces look to the skies. When will it stop?’

God’s patience with us in our ignorance seemed eternal at that time. He merely smiled kindly and allayed our fears.

As his first Creation, his closest companion, I was hurt in another manner by what unfolded in nature, so I asked God. ‘There is a spark of life in them, a light, not unlike our own ethereal light. When they die, does it come home to you, my Lord?’

I had witnessed God create matter and I had witnessed it change and evolve from basic chemicals, to the first cells and into a myriad of living animals and plants. The light inside each of the billions of cells was so familiar to me that it may as well have been part of my own self. I was in conflict. Where did this light go upon their deaths? Did their consciousness reside in the spiritual part of themselves and if so how can God suffer them to die and this light to just dissipate? If that’s what truly happened.

I didn’t really believe that He would allow these organisms to suffer such brief lives and their light to dissipate. That would be cruel. God was not cruel, He was the source of all love and warmth in Heaven and the universe. He was the Creator. But the questions remained as thorns in my subconscious.

Did God in creating this abundance of life, share his own light amongst them? He hadn’t seemed diminished in any way by the act of Creation. If anything he’d seemed magnified. Was he receiving the light of these creatures back into himself upon their death? I knew for a fact that he wasn’t, we would have witnessed the entry of such light in Heaven. Despite this knowledge, I was also certain that he must have a plan, a destiny for this light of life; otherwise the whole experiment of the universe, life, was the cruellest punishment imaginable.

Consider a brief life in the material universe followed by just… nothing? I couldn’t abide the thought. In hindsight, that moment was when I began to lose my trust in God and became his Accuser.

I recall Him looking into my eyes. ‘You must trust in me, my Angel. There is a plan.’ I nodded and prayed and made all the right noises, Beth, but something crucial and irreparable had broken inside me. Despite this, it would take many years, uncountable trillions of deaths and the evolution of humankind to set me firmly on my course.

God, of course, reassured time and again that all was in nature. All was intended. Many Angels made a choice to trust God and merely observe. Other turned away from watching nature’s progress altogether, returning to those concerns in Heaven that had busied them before God had created the universe. I resolved to be and remain The Watcher.

End of Excerpt

On The Seventh Day will be published in August, 2015 by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing

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

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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.

Interludes and Pace

Here’s the second interlude from The Man Who Sold His Son.

MHSHS-Lanark-strays-feet copy

In this case I wanted to relay the story of a character who has a massive effect on the beginning and the outcome of the story, but wanted to keep his presence light throughout the main narrative, so as to not affect the flow or pace of the story.

The following excerpt is from Mark Wilson’s upcoming fifth novel, The Man Who Sold His Son. Due for release Late July from Paddy’s Daddy Publishing. It is part of the Lanarkshire Strays Series available on Amazon now:

Lanarkshire Strays cover copy

Interlude

 

“I’m talking to you, James. Don’t walk away from me.” Fiona screamed.

He kept right on walking through to the kitchen.

“I’m very nearly done with this shite, James.” She grunted with effort and a vase sailed past his head, missing by centimetres. James Sinclair barely noticed it. He might not have noticed the missile at all but for the wind generated by its passing. Numbly, he bent over and retrieved the larger pieces it had broken into. Fetching a small brush and pan, he began sweeping up the smaller debris. “Watch yer feet,” he muttered.

Oh, do fuck off,” Fiona spat at him and left the room.

Feeling a pang of regret, he turned to follow after her tell her that he was sorry. He hadn’t slept more than three hours a night in six months, maybe more, not since…

James Sinclair pushed those memories away, somewhere dark and dusty that he never explored, along with childhood beatings at the hands of school bullies and his father’s hands. He swallowed the excuses and the stillborn-apology and threw the shattered fragments of the vase into the bin, continuing to the freezer.

Fuck. It lay there, the vial. He shouldn’t have it, nobody knew of its existence. At the time, he couldn’t not take it, not after the way that bastard had treated him, treated his own son. The contents of the vial were not dangerous-they may in fact be very important one day- not even if they thawed, but frozen they must remain. So there they were, taunting him, reminding him of his cowardice each time he reached into his freezer, which was often. Reached in, his hand hovering over the vial for a few very long seconds. If he only had the courage.

Sinclair sighed and picked up the bottle of Beluga vodka and gave a sardonic grin. If you’re determined to be an alcoholic, James, might as well do it in style.

As he poured himself four fingers of the luxury drink, Sinclair gave a resigned shrug as he heard the front door slam.

End of Excerpt

The Man Who Sold His Son and the Omnibus of the Lanarkshire Strays series will be available, late July, 2014.

That Difficult Fifth Novel

Having just passed the 30k mark on my work in progress, I thought I’d post an update and an excerpt. The Man Who Sold His Son is by far the most difficult book I’ve written so far. normally I sit down at my PC and just type about the movie I’m watching in my head. Aside from a little research and some plotting before hand, there’s hasn’t been a lot more to the writing process for me than that instinctive and spontaneous approach.

This book, though. It’s my difficult fifth child. The plot is more complicated and precarious than any I’ve written before, and I’m finding that for long periods I sit and take notes and make maps of plot points and events to join together and work through. getting t all straight is hard work. the actual writing comes as easily as ever, but the process of getting to the point where I’m ready to go is more complex. I’m unsure if that’s making the book a more rounded read, or just a bastard to write. time will tell.

The following excerpt comes from my upcoming fifth novel, The Man Who Sold His Son, a new addition to the Lanarkshire Strays series Due for publication by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing, Summer 2014:

MHSHS-Lanark-strays-feet copy

Interlude 

Some years ago…

 

Garth felt an impulse rack his little body, sending another spasm of intense pain through his neurones. He felt the pain travel along his chest and down his spine. Unable to respond to it, the ten-year old merely observed as it travelled to his toes and left as quickly as it had come. He felt a pang of regret as it left him. He experienced so little of anything physically these days; these spikes of intense pain were becoming old and welcome friends. They reminded him he still existed. The only other things that tied him to the world were the voices he heard. People moving around his bed, talking, discussing him. Wondering aloud if he could hear them. He certainly couldn’t respond.

Doctors, nurses, his father; they discussed his future, or lack of it. They argued over treatment, whether to continue or if the time had come to turn off the motors and pumps that kept his lings inflating and his blood circulating. Part of him wished they would. Part of him was ready to go somewhere else. Not yet, though. He had his voice to cling to. His father’s voice.

 

I think it’s time to consider the removal of the viral particles from his spinal fluid.”

“That’s a very risky option at this stage. He’s unlikely to live through the procedure.”

“He’s not living now. This isn’t life. He hasn’t breathed alone in months. There are no detectable traces of brain activity. It’s over; it’s time to switch these machines off… With a sample of the virus, directly from his spinal fluid, we could make huge progress in understanding this virus. Maybe prevent what’s happened to Garth from happening to anyone else.”

“I still think that if we can give him more time, we should.”

“He’s been this way for eighteen months. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but Garth’s condition is unlikely to change. This is a totally unique, totally new virus we’re dealing with. It has properties we’ve never seen before in a pathogen of this type.”

“I know. I just wish there’s more we could do, other than keep him comfortable.”

“This young man’s contribution will change the lives of millions, maybe billions. This is the right thing.”

 

Garth Listened to them, smiling to himself. It’ll be over soon. At least I’ll get to help other kids. Other people. He took his mind elsewhere, to happier times, years before, when Mum was still alive. Before her illness, before dad lost himself in his work and put Garth into a boarding school. Garth watched images of his mother and father flashing across his mind’s-eye. Happy smiles, hot chocolate, racing through long grass in meadows filled with summer flowers and love. His family.

Would mum be waiting for him? Would his dad be alright alone, or would his son’s passing make him even more detached, more fixated on his business. He couldn’t know.

 

He was being moved along a corridor. The lights overhead flashed through his eyelids. Suddenly the gurney stopped and the metallic sounds of surgery began. A mask was pressed to his mouth. He tasted rubber and unfamiliar gasses. Garth focused on the voices again.

 

“How long until he goes under?”

“Seconds. He’s probably under already. If you’ve anything to say, do it now. He won’t hear you, but if you don’t, you’ll regret saying nothing to him before he’s totally gone.”

 

Garth felt a warm fluid flow over him. All pain was gone. He could move again, he could think again. He was free of the dulling effect of the morphine. He was free, period. As he moved into his mother’s arms he heard his father’s voice whispering into the ear of what used to be his body.

 

“You’re going to make me a lot of money. Goodbye, Son.”

 

————————–

 

 

“I’m terribly sorry, Mr Ennis. He’s gone.”

“Right. Get me that sample, Doctor. I’ve got work to do.”

 

The veteran surgeon pushed back his dislike for the man beside him and made the incision into Garth Ennis’ spine. Ten minutes later he watched, sickened, as the businessman’s eyes brightened when he handed him the small vial of spinal fluid.

“He could’ve had another few months, you know.”

Ennis held the vial of his son’s fluid up to the light and stared into it.

“My son’s contributed more to medicine with this sample than you have in your entire little career, Doctor. This…” Ennis held the vial up for him. “This, will change the world.”

The surgeon bored holes into Ennis with his eyes. He’d made allowances for Ennis, these last few months. He’d ignored the man’s clinical manner, his coldness towards the comatose boy. At times it had felt like he’d been protecting the boy from his own father. Since succumbing to the virus, this new virus, and slipping into his vegetative state, Garth had lain in the same bed, in the same room, in his care. Garth’s father visited every day, but said nothing to the boy. He didn’t kiss or hold him. He barely looked at the boy’s face. Gavin Ennis would just sit there for hours, tapping away at his handheld computer; working. Making plans for the genome of the virus that was killing his son.

The surgeon made excuses for Ennis’ demeanour. He knew the family history well. Ennis’ wife had died from meningitis three years back. His small business was in trouble. Having created synthetic gametes that nobody wanted, Ennis Company looked to be going into liquidation. Simply, no-one wanted to have children conceived using synthetic sperm. Ennis had expected single, career women who’d left it too late or couldn’t find a partner to jump at the chance. Or married gay couples, but there just wasn’t the interest. People had chosen to use the DNA of a stranger or relative rather than Ennis’, lab creations.

The man was on his knees. Dead wife so young, his son dying so very young. The surgeon had found plenty of reasons to excuse Ennis’ behaviour, until now. The callousness of Ennis’ actions today clawed at the surgeon’s conscience. He felt a fool for having made allowances for this man, who had effectively used his dead son for profit.

Injecting all the venom he could muster into his voice, the surgeon spat out,

“You sold out your son to get it. I hope it was worth it.”

Ennis had already turned and begun to walk towards the exit.

The surgeon headed in the opposite direction, his next task, the disposal of little Garth Ennis’ remains.

 

End of Excerpt

You can find Mark and his books (including the Lanarkshire Strays series) at Amazon UK and Amazon US