Category Archives: Fiction

Moral Zero extract #1

Moral Zero is a dystopian thriller with post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, existential and horror themes. Contains visceral and potentially disturbing sexuality and violence and is not for everyone, certainly not the faint of heart and stomach.

It is currently self-published as an ebook and can be found on Amazon for Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Zero-Set-Sytes-ebook/dp/B00LDWTQC2/ 

Disclaimer: The lack of speech marks and other idiosyncrasies are deliberate.

Here is an extract from it.

 

On the lowest flight was a grand artistic rendition of some seemingly apocalyptic scene, but it was smeared and sooted from some past fire, and whether the work was of a great battle, a religious revival or a ferocious orgy was unknown. Mr White peered at it as he dropped step to step, and he could just make out in the very centre of the piece some black shape, a human figure perhaps, but it could as well be a curious blot, a burned scar forming nothing but the centre of everything.

Mr White came out of the fire escape into the sun and met Red with his back to the wall, one foot up. Red was wearing shades and pendants on chains and was staring down the sun.

Hola.

How long have you been out here?

Red shrugged. He had a cigarette in his fingers dropping ash and his other hand thumbed his belt. You ready.

Mr White looked up at the sun, still blinking as his eyes adjusted to the light. It wasn’t joyous and rich, it was thin, artificial, as though the sun was an imposter. Perhaps nought but a bright moon shone on them that day, as every day. Cutting through the skim of the city’s milk. As though it were a bubble, and nothing could pass through and keep its lustre, its original power and integrity. Mr White waved a hand through the air and he could feel it. The cloy of the city, the milk, the soul. Sour and pungent.

You ready?

I’m ready. Mr White took a deep breath and the air was neither fresh nor clean.

Red looked at Mr White and grinned. Old habits die hard, don’t they.

Mr White smiled and stretched a little. Yeah.

They moved off, Red leading, Mr White just a step behind. Red walked with his customary jaunt as if he thought he was a rockstar or a drug dealer or a pirate. He could have been all three and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Mr White felt a dull, snapping breeze on his neck as though someone was clicking fingers on his skin. He reached up and found a button undone on his shirt, and he hastily rebuttoned and held his coat tighter to him.

Red glanced at him. It ain’t cold.

I don’t like it.

Red chuckled and kept on.

They walked through trash and bottles span and splintered as Red’s boots kicked them away.  Beside them cruel looking taxis vibrated back and forth along the road. They looked like they were battered out from sheet iron. The windows were frosted to obscure both driver and passengers, but the appearance was more of glass punched and cracked over and over, utterly smashed and held together with invisible tape. Like some crude icing rink after years of use without repair. The wheels were crags that crunched refuse and dead things under their merciless tread.

On their left buildings and shop windows were passed without comment or notice, all the same, all hopeless and blank. White lights shone into the day, advertising, always advertising, but without vigour, as if even the perpetrators of such had fallen to resignation, a disbelief in their products. Once in a while a tree was passed, but they looked plastic and they stood like statues, the leaves as still as iron claws. Beside every one were two benches, one on either side, blue paintwork scabbing away to show a brown leprous heart. On some sat people, and they all stared forward, even those in halting conversation. Talking as if ghosts in a foreign land.

You oughtn’t have done that. An old man stared ahead and he blinked so slow and heavy that it was a wonder if he knew whether he was awake or asleep, or alive or dead.

I know it. His companion was emaciated, looking like something just dug up. You know how it is.

No I don’t.

The man from the grave sighed, and the world seemed to fall off his bones. Every man wants to be seen as dangerous some point or another. Capable of such things. No man can go a whole life otherwise. Every man wants to know he’s a danger. To be thought of such a way. For one moment or two.

You oughtn’t have done it.

I know it. It is how it is.

Red and White walked on out of earshot and at length they came to a checkpoint cutting off the street. It clustered with police, in their black uniforms and black mirrored helmets.

You done this before?

Mr White shook his head.

It’s easy. They got nothin.

They were looked at like robots handling objects but they gave their names in the booth and they were let through without further consideration. There were no niceties. They were ushered in and out and they walked away from the faceless stares, those expressionless things that seemed so alien and hostile, void of feeling. They walked away with their necks prickling into District Seven.

Moral Zero cover

The Violet Dark opening extract #2

Here for your enjoyment is the second part of the opening to the hallucinogenic road thriller/horror The Violet Dark. The previous part is in the previous post. Again, first draft, work in progress! My aim is for you to follow me along my own road; that of crafting a new novel from scratch.

 

Bigger than us

 

She didn’t know how long the night span on but on it did. The world wheeled past. The bikes crunched through on the infinite scrawl of the road. The whites, the blacks. The thin grey desert carved through the hollow thickets of the land.

See the brambles and thorns as scissors with the sky. See the howl and thump of the air. Feel it, feel it pour through you. Her hair swung out behind her, each strand a pagan goddess, swaying seductively, amorally. The motes in the air the audience, rapturous, hushed. Waterfalls in the night when the lights go low.

The bikes seemed to run slow, but who really knew. Time couldn’t keep up with the moving world. The bushes and dark ones did not whip along, but watched in a gradual impermanence. Each skull grin, each wide eye, caught in the crazed obsession of the blackness, all caught and replayed. Things took their time here, the route the orbit of the spirit. She remembered each beautiful nightmare. Each slide in the film. The projectionist looking down on her. Turn it down, dad. Wind it on, turn it down.

Ahead of her he came closer and closer, and she realised he was slowing, or she was still and he was riding backwards. He turned into the side and came off the motorbike like a falling tree.

‘What?’ she said, the word moving through her like the ocean’s sigh.

‘I thought it might be getting tough to ride for you now. The road wants us to take care of ourselves. Come in. Brake, brake, come in.’

She took the hand of the great pardoner and stepped off into his kingdom. Her princess dress nothing but the cobwebs blown through the early hours.

‘Lie down,’ he commanded. She followed after he did.

‘Enjoy,’ he commanded. She came first.

At first the grass tickled her, a thousand hands invading her, laying siege to the wall of her back. And then she closed her eyes, and the hands pulled back in deeply held respect.

She breathed in waves, feeling the rise, the crest – then exhaling the spume off the bare shore. Blowing the rolling hills back to the blue depths.

She felt the motions of the world, felt its pulse. As she breathed the ground beneath her feet breathed. A thousand giants below the surface, pounding anvils and raising steam, jumping, stretching, fighting and fucking. Each cough a storm, each sneeze volcanic.

No, just one, one behemoth, bearded and brawny, his hair the grass and trees, his beating heart the Earth’s core.

She saw through the soil, saw his rolling mad eyes, his tectonic fingers prying, probing, turning valleys to mountains. Then his eyes were the moon, two moons, except cast below deck by an intemperate God. Then whites go red, and the eyes were the twin cores of the Earth, still watching, still pulsating, melted blind and pupilless.

If only others knew the truth: that the rhythm of the world was the monster Gaia, the great, terrible wild man of all impossibilities. Wild man of the woods, the rocks, the deserts, the oceans; the mists in the sky his fogging breath.

 

All the time or none of the time. That’s how you live, that’s how you love. They lay side by side in the motherly guardianship of the stalking trees. Fingers so close. They could feel its each other’s existence, more aware than any two beings ever had been before. A devil’s angel and an angel’s devil.

 

She opened her eyes when the trees moved. She saw the eyes in the trunks, saw the nests of the damned, saw everything watching. A silent crowd watching, moving slowly in gnarled twitches.

She made a noise and her body sat her up. Somebody was still running the thing, while all those upstairs either lay in a stupor or were petrified like stone.

He sat up next to her, and she cried out again at this sudden zombie. She thought she was trembling all over, but when she looked at herself she was still. Her body looked alien to her. She swore there were eyes on her skin, looking at her through wrinkles, just out of sight. Mouths in the crooks of her arms laughing. And the corpse of him.

‘It’s okay,’ he said.

‘No it isn’t.’

‘You’re right, it isn’t. But it will be. You need to brave it out.’

‘Brave . . . what . . . out.’

‘The violet dark.’

 

She’d been running. She knew that from the sweat, from the punch of her heart, from the army drawing its breath inside her. But she couldn’t remember, not really; just a rush of shapes, crawling patches of darkness, bogs of the pitch-dark sky sucking at her feet.

Why had she ran? The eyes… the laughter, the chorus of the owls perched all around like the bloodhungry at the Coliseum. The birds on the branches examining her with surgical eyes, just rotten old plague doctors; they’d not seen any in some time. Watched by all parties as she made her way through this house of trees with stoned terror.

Now she was in a drunken, wheeling panic. She felt like a girl who had woken up in a room alone at a strange house, drugged and ripped, a foreign chatter above past sprawled corridors that never ended. A date gone foul.

She struggled to make sense of the panic, to take action on it, to exchange information body to brain and back. He was not there.

The first drops of the storm landed on her fingers, then her nose.

 

She slipped through the trees as the rain ate at their leaves. It was a chatter that continued to increase in volume, a party of souls with as much wine as they could drink.

She imagined she was on a ship, an old galleon with high masts. Reading the stars by the lamps of the owls. Guiding the vessel through a maze of rocks, hands dancing at the helm – the trees crowding in, coming at her left and right.

When she bumped into him and he put his hands on her she thought that maybe life had ended. Everything stopped for a heartbeat, a freeze frame. She thought of it as a photograph in a book of her life. A baby in her father’s arms. A child playing on the farm. A woman in the arms of the dead.

Her fist clawed at his head, and he tripped her up, sending her flat to the ground. Surely this was dying, she thought, but then he was there, his breath against hers, urging her that it was okay and stroking her hair as the rain came on.

 

The sky rent and gnashed, great holes appearing and reeling drunk like gaping portals to the black clutches of alien space. The air bellowed and screamed, swooping banshees in their ears and the ears of all creatures big and small.

I am drowning, she thought, and yet she breathed through the water, writhing in transformation to mermaid. The world was a waterfall, and it all came down.

They were offering themselves as a sacrifice to the storm, laid in a small clearing as trees melted around them and sank into the earth. She swallowed the rain and it filled her belly, and she wriggled in the mud like a fish.

Watch the world drip away

Drip drip drip

It all falls down

Every last bit

The heavens ripped open with atavistic savagery, some calling of primeval gods ending in their destruction and the birthing of their blood fouled sons and daughters.

A homicidal night, and watch as the spindral hands of God come down from on high, from the tears in the cloud – or the hands of that Gnostic demonking, spectral and skeletal, crooked and shining in the blue white of the newly dead. It reached out, darting and jagged, and fingered the holes in the earth.

She rolled on the ground, hands clutched over her head, and he lay prone yet soaked and trembling, half concussed and with asylum eyes. Mouths were opened and mouths were shut and –

All words were lost in the screech and holler.

 

TVD_01

The Violet Dark opening extract #1

Greetings. For my first proper post… here is the first draft of the opening to my work-in-progress novel, The Violet Dark. The Violet Dark is  a ‘beautiful nightmare’, a hallucinogenic road thriller/horror. I hope you enjoy.

 

The violet dark

The horror’s heart

 

He found her crouched like a dog over the corpse of her father. He was cruising on violet and she appeared to him then an angel, hair so white it hurt his eyes and her own eyes bursting with life.

He knelt down beside her as she quivered. ‘What happened?’ he said, raising a hand to put on her shoulder and then thinking better of it, hovering it in the air.

She told him between coughs and cries that he had been murdered. He looked and saw the hole through the chest, the drying blood sticking to the tarmac.

‘Let’s get you off the road,’ he said, and she stiffened as his hand fell on her, but she allowed herself to be moved to the verge. She didn’t ask who he was.

He looked up and saw the moon blinking cold and yellow; greasy and indolent and huge. It seemed to dwarf the land, a zoomed in face with its pots and scars oiling the sway of the wind and leering down at him. An owl sat in a grand spike of a tree, eyes like headlights. He heard the hoot like a foghorn and the grass at his feet moved in moans and soft howls.

He closed his eyes and opened them again before the bursting brilliance began, before the violet could pull him deeper in. He found himself hugging the girl, rocking back and forth as far off he watched lights click on and off in the town, bathing the streets in their white-yellow pools. He could hear the clicks as well as if they were doors  closing right by him, though the town was miles away.

‘What was he doing out here?’ he asked, and silently smelt her hair. It smelled of incense and earth.

‘We – we heard a noise. He went to go see. He didn’t come back -’ She started sobbing again.

‘Easy,’ he said. He glanced at the farmhouse, a mountain in the moonlight, a fortress of shadow that whispered in creaks. He shivered and once more he heard the foghorn of the owl. He was always on the watch for shadows. They could come from anywhere.

The girl suddenly affixed him with eyes of a blue so radiant that he could have plucked them out and called them jewels. He moved his gaze down, fascinated, to the ruby red of her lips that lit up the jostling shades of her face. He stroked her back and swore his fingers passed through wings.

He gestured to his chopper, to the beast waiting to growl. ‘I was riding fast,’ he said. ‘I heard your cry in the dark. It was lucky I didn’t hit you.’

‘I wish you had.’

He shook his head empathically, and the trees blurred left and right. ‘Don’t say that.’ He shook his head again, admiring how the land became a melting pot yet her figure stayed constant, as perfect and still as an oil painting.

‘He was such a good man,’ she said, tears leaving her face in pearls and icicles. ‘He didn’t deserve this.’

He breathed in deeply, sucked sickly clamour and spice. He took out his hipflask and offered it to her. ‘Here, drink this.’

She trembled in her grief. ‘What is it?’

‘It’s a dream for a better world.’

She took it and sniffed at it. He knew the smell, just like the colour. The smell of violets. She drank.

‘We need to get you a bike,’ he said.

‘Get me one,’ she said.

 

She lay on the road looking up at the night. The man had gone to get a bike. She didn’t care, for the world was changing.

Time was slowing. The patches of darkness around her grew like children. Solidifying and looming, growing tall, growing fat, growing protective and malicious. From either side of the road black trees reached out their arms to pull her in.

Bursts of dark colour around her eyes, dull flashes with every blink. The mind winds down, pads softly, carefully, a cat through the bracken. She closed her eyes and felt herself sway and spin at the top of a spiral staircase. A jumble sale of shapes and ideas thrown and bouncing around her. Melting fragments, elliptical omens and geometrics cavorting like gypsies at a funeral.

She opened her eyes before she fell through the road and down into the depths. The stars glimmered soft and warm, coins of burnt gold scattering the heavens. The treasures called to her with such siren intensity, her body floating so light in its struggle to be free of gravity that she had to turn her head away from the sky before it pulled her up like a UFO abduction and swallowed her whole.

The violet kept on.

 

She was in a deep hollow of white – decorated in snowflakes, each pattern as sharp as knives, as skittery as spiders.

Feel the frogspawn as it swims the long silent lake of the soul. Twitching paddles breaking the divine lines. Flick. Twitch. Alien species find new holes to enter.

We feel fate… our hearts beat softly, so deadly softly, like a quivering fly… tears slide down the thrumming wall of blood. Oh, oh we feel fate alright. Father. Mother’s egg. We feel fate.

The mush of the brain eaten by the higher forces… gobbled spoons… lipsmacking by those that dwell beyond fate: monsters, monsters out to get you, just nothing and nobody.

Crocodile werewolves and nothing and nobody.

 

The road helps those who help themselves –

‘Can you feel it?’

She opened her eyes into a shrouded world. He stood over her, his grin leaked out, pulling its milky whites past the edges of his teeth, becoming lunar and painterly and yet with only a pinprick of a snarl it was ghastly in its Cheshire madness.

‘I can feel the dying calls of the dead,’ she said. ‘I can feel the beasts feeding on their new kill.’

‘The dead have instruments,’ somebody said.

A slow pluck at the world’s strings. A black note. Somewhere in the darkness something hatches.

My father is – who was he – fifty-two years –

‘You’re lying on the road. That’s not good.’

‘The world…’

‘Yes.’

Yes.

‘Get whatever you need,’ he said. ‘I got you a bike. Get your things and ride with me back to where I left mine.’

 

She swayed through the cruel corners of the house. Moving as if in a dream. Once familiar shapes foreign and lurking, waiting for their chance.  She tried to focus on the rest of her essentials. A toothbrush. Toothpaste. She grabbed them from the bathroom and tried not to look at the grotesque manikin that watched her from the mirror.

As she moved back through the ground floor she saw a figure standing quietly by the living room door. She shook her head and it sat down. Crossed its legs, saying I’ll be here if you need me. Not speaking, not even there, but time isn’t for the conscious, it isn’t for the rational. It isn’t for thinkers. It’s for the doers. It’s their king and it’s their world.

She left the front door wide to the night like an open mouth. She had her things and she had no idea how she had got them. Not like this. The house shuffled forward full of monsters and she ran to the bike and got on behind him and they drove off down the road, away from her life.

 

TVD_01