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.
Disclaimer: The lack of speech marks and other idiosyncrasies are deliberate.
Here is another extract from it.
Unidentifiable insects roamed the walls with sneering abandon. This place was theirs first and would be theirs still after the humans and semi-humans and all their creations were long dead. Even the moments when you couldn’t see them you could hear them, tickling the inside of the walls, and in the silent seconds each of their tiny legs resounded like clacking boots.
The last attempt to paint the place must have been in some previous age of humanity, when humans cavorted naked and whooping as nought but shaved apes. As if we had only regressed since then, evidenced in this maggot’s palace. The water ran, just about, and the plumbing worked on occasion, but any upkeep and maintenance more than that was the stuff of fancy. Was the place ever liveable? Perhaps in that previous age. Before whoever owned the place had turned their attention to things of greater import, such as dealing, gambling, prostitution and snuff rackets.
The place was a front, that was clear. But Mr White kept his head down and his eyes blinkered and he made sure he knew nothing. They walked to their room on the ground floor, and any of the rotting wooden doors left open slammed shut as others heard their approach. Red narrowed his brow as they passed one, and evidently he heard something salacious for he smirked and shook his head. Mr White was not listening. He just wanted to sleep.
They entered the room and were surprised to find it no worse than the hotel in District Five. Sure, the curtains were rags that had at no point ever been actual curtains except when defined by their use. Sure, the bed was grubby as muck and painted in a thousand stains, not just the sheets but soaked through into the broken-springed mattress, all those essences of soul and sickness that leaked down into the barrel of the world. But it was a place to sleep, and it was dirt cheap, and that had suited Red, at least, fine.
Mr White looked around the small room, as if expecting something tucked away, as if the room could hold big secrets in its corners. He put his hands on his hips. There’s only one bed. I thought there’d be two.
Shotgun the bed.
You can take the floor. Here man, take the second pillow and the extra sheet.
No worries. I’m goin sleep now. You alright?
Guess what we’re doin tomorrow?
As soon as they entered the bar Mr White knew something was different. The lighting was the same, and yet the room appeared darker, shrouded and close. It seemed as though the space within was trying to escape the walls, push away from claustrophobia or some dark energy, as though something within was a force without reckoning, something foreboding and fearful that all other matter and empty space shifted imperceptibly away from. The walls showed strain, buckling towards another dimension.
The whole area was a bubble and it swallowed them up. Inside even the air felt sharper, daggered and skeletal. Air colourless as always and yet inexplicably blacker, swaying with dust and decay and creaking soundlessly. It made its place there not as a giver of life but as though it were a saw upon the human soul. The soft lights, still and yet aching under invisible duress, cast shadows upon the wall so dark as to be empty forms in the universe, empty souls and holes in the world. Looking and losing oneself in those small oblivions turned the inconsequential animate and malicious, lengthening such casts to gangling monsters and cage bars.
The bar smelled of whiskey and smoke and death. This was not intangible, a phantasm of the world under the scope of the mind. This was something real to them and they breathed it in as one might breathe in anything that was there.
They found themselves moving towards the epicentre, and that which pushed all around it pulled them in as though they were at the end of a rope.
Rum and mixer. Red was leaning over the bar. Yeah, anythin. No, that orange one. With the pirate. Yeah. No ice. Cool.
Mr White stood by him and shivered though it was not cold. He turned to the man next to him.
Johnny Black’s face was not as conventionally handsome as Red’s, and certainly possessing none of that effeminate prettiness, none of the cleanness or smoothness, the jovial cheek. His face was hard and weathered, as if dashed by sandstorms. His nose was lean and pointed like a weapon. His jaw was tough and grizzled and leant his features a grim mood, as though the grit of it ground his teeth from a life of too much death. His hair and eyebrows were black as the night and his eyes were pits of surging darkness. His was a face of authority and command, of beckoning attraction and obsession. From the feel of it all, from how weak and silly you felt in comparison.
He was sitting at the bar smoking and he turned to look at his witness and Mr White shared a gaze that locked his limbs. It went right to his gut and his heart and the soul of his groin tore like paper.
Um. My name’s Mr White, Mr White said. He was stiff and self-conscious of trying to act normal. Self-conscious of sweating. He curled his toes tight.
You got a first name? The man’s voice was hewn and leathered and edged in Death’s whisper.
Mr White hesitated. We . . . don’t need first names.
Fuck that. The man held out his hand, hot and rough. The name’s Johnny Black.
Kidd Red pushed in front of them, holding his drink sloshing the sides of the glass, and the man whipped his hand back, sheathing the thumb into his belt.
I heard of you.
Well. Ain’t that something.
You murdered three people out in Seven. We were there and I was talkin to some folks and your name kept comin up. They said the cops were raidin places lookin for you.
Wowee, Johnny Black said blankly, his voice low and guttering. Wasn’t me. I distinctly remember not being there. I was out in Nine, killing six. He smiled, and his eyes burned, and he put that fat black cigar of his back twixt his white lion teeth.
You’re joking, right? Mr White said.
Now why would you ask a question like that? His deep southern accent was almost well-spoken beneath the cracks, as though he could belong both at a dinner party and on a ranch. He spoke like a hard-living man well-read.
Johnny Black puffed on his cigar, and crackling desert smoke broiled out in front of them, making Mr White cough. Johnny twisted on his barstool and beckoned the bar girl over.
Three whiskeys. The one with the holocaust on the bottle.
She swamped and fired the little glasses so the liquid was hot on top like bubbling blood. She banged them down in front of the three of them and each one sounded like a gunshot.
He laid out a note on the bar top without looking, wrapped around a knife. His eyes were intent on the floorboards.