Am Timan I hope you like it!
The third book in the sci-fi/fantasy/dark western/dystopian series The Fifth Place is completed and up on Amazon! You can find it here.
I hope those who have been following this series enjoy this dark new chapter, as different again as SLADE was to WULF, but still featuring our diverse and tragic anti-heroes we can’t help but root for.
Read below for a snippet from Book 2 of the Fifth Place. Don’t read if you haven’t read WULF (Book 1) yet and/or don’t want any spoilers!
‘Miss Slade, it is my delight to inform you that you will not die today. You are, in fact, coming with me.’
That’s what he’d told her, before he’d gone on with himself. She hadn’t been able to reply, given the silver band around her throat that stopped her from speaking, except when he allowed her to. Not that she would have offered much; it was the first time in her life she felt she could have outdone Savvi on swearing.
He never offered his name, but he referred to himself as a “Servant”. Information beyond that was scant. When she woke up (she’d no idea how he’d knocked her out and taken her; the last thing she remembered was talking to Jay in a bar in Stoneswell – had he drugged her drink?), she found herself in the middle of nowhere, her ankles and wrists bound with silver loops held together with a kind of slithery, jelly-like cord.
The design wasn’t wholly unlike common manacles, but as the days would wear on, she would be forced to acknowledge their superiority. The cuffs seemed to sense the tensions of her body, and perhaps even her mind. They were only loosely connected most of the time, allowing her to walk almost normally and use her hands. Whenever she tried to escape however (which was about eight times in all), and even when she was only preparing to escape, the glistening silver tentacle that connected the loops would draw itself in, quickly shortening the distance between her limbs. The more she struggled, the closer her ankles and wrists would press together, and the tighter the bands would be. Her legs would be unable to manage even the slowest shuffle, and her hands would clasp with such force that she was unable to use her fingers. This had been particularly frustrating when she’d tried to pick up a rock to hit her captor over the head while he’d been asleep. She thought he’d been asleep, at least, but maybe he never did. He’d opened his eyes glowing green in the night like a cat, and watched her with cool interest as she fell back down, tired and angry and hopeless.
The next day he’d handed her his gun. It was a cold grey thing, as smooth and featureless as a piece of paper. She knew at once it was pointless, but she aimed at him without emotion and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened, of course. She let it drop to the ground and he picked it up, and aimed at a stub of a tree and fired. He gave her what he must have thought was a smile. She stared back. It was a gun that only he could fire. She’d never heard of something like that before, but it didn’t matter. She understood. Until something changed, there was nothing she could do.
After that moment, she only tried to escape twice more.
At the beginning she thought he’d make her walk in front of him, but he never did. They walked in tandem, or side by side, close together or thirty feet apart. It hadn’t mattered. Unless she followed his direction, the bands tightened and she could no longer move. She thought she’d die from the frustration, the impotence.
They walked on in silence, west through the golden Sol Forests, and then into the wilds beyond. Always towards the Black Circle.
SLADE can be bought on Amazon here.
I’m currently working on the third book in The Fifth Place series. Here’s a short teaser that doesn’t really spoil previous books, if you haven’t read them yet (which you should!)
The first book in the series, WULF, can be found here, currently free!
He was born small, smaller than the other kids. Some called him a runt, others protected him – though even at an early age he could see the disappointment in their eyes.
He had more enemies than friends, but he preferred it that way. Better an enemy than a friend that turned on you. Enemies were supposed to be mean; friends weren’t. But it seemed his friends were always the type to flip like a coin.
He was told to grow thicker skin, and he did. But as his skin thickened, so too the cruelty of others increased, growing in sync, and just like everything else, he couldn’t catch up. He was too white in a white culture and too short in a world where the buildings rose higher every day.
He was beaten often. He stopped wanting to leave the house; it was a big house after all, a great manor, one with plenty of places to explore.
He remembered the adults standing over him, always over him, looking down at him with their bright eyes and sharp teeth. He never knew who his parents were, he was never told. Perhaps none of them were, perhaps his parents had died. He was raised by the Family, and when he tried to remember them, after they had disappeared one by one, they were only black, looming shapes, indistinguishable from each other.
One day, after he came home bloody and bruised, they told him about himself. They said he was not like those he played with, those who hurt him and acted his friend. He was better (the word stuck a little in their throats) than them. He would outlive them all. In his life he would see riches turn to poverty and back to riches, and when he was poor he would have to hide from them, but when he was rich, when he had power, they would be at his mercy.
Many times over the years, they would ask him: ‘What are they?’
And he would reply, as they had taught him: ‘They are weakness masquerading as strength.’
And they would ask him: And what are you?
And he would reply, ‘I am strength masquerading as weakness.’
The next evening after they had told him about who he was, about the history of their kind, he left the house again. He was grabbed by his tormentors and one, the biggest, the meanest, put a hand over his mouth to stop him shouting out.
He bit it. Hard. The boy screamed.
The blood tasted good, but the pain tested better.
The boy tried to pull his hand away, but he came with it, still biting.
It was his first taste of justice. It felt right. That those who would harm him would themselves be harmed. The punisher would be punished.
Over the crawl of following years, as the memory of that boy’s wounded cries were joined by the cries of many others, he would come to know the idea as Equilibrium.
It’s my pleasure to announce that the next Fifth Place book, the sequel to the weird science fantasy western WULF, is finished and available HERE!
It’s called SLADE – it’s more irreverent, darker, crazier, more complex and twice as epic! This is where things really get going in the series. And if you want answers to all the questions raised in WULF, here is where you’ll find them!
I’ve been working on the crazy sci-fi adventure SLADE, the sequel to WULF, for god knows how long, but I’m so pleased to say that as of today I finally finished it! Well, sort-of. It still needs a careful read through and editing away issues and mistakes – and fervent praying that there’s no gaping plotholes… but still!
It’s currently 123,353 words long, making it longer than its predecessor WULF by 50,000 words, and longer than the longest novel I’ve written by 40,000 words. It just kept getting longer!
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever written for numerous reasons. I really hope fans of WULF will enjoy this epic. It answers just about all the main questions raised by WULF while still setting up the pieces for a future installment.
Can’t wait for you to read it!
Oh, and here’s the cover!
I’ve been working on the sequel to WULF, called SLADE. It’s been hard to find a suitable extract for this site that won’t spoil anything, especially for those who haven’t read any of WULF (but might do one day), but I think this will be fine…
He leaned closer, his back permanently hunched as his fingers skittered across the holographic keyboard, for all the world looking as though he was dancing puppets or playing the piano beyond mastery.
One of his hands reached down and plucked a piece of nojo from the desk, deftly peeling it between two fingers and sticking it to the side of his bald head at the same time as another hand did the same with another piece. His round amber eyes flickered for a moment, as he felt the rush. The drug kept his mind working as fast as his fingers.
Nobody could type as fast as a spider. Not with six long spindle-fingers for each thin and hairy arm. Six arms in full, sprouting from a fat, sunken body as black as pitch. Thirty-six fingers to dance across the huge array of holo-keys of every known alphanumeric character and symbol, thrice replicated. Thirty-six fingers to play with people’s lives.
There was a knock at the door and he paused, his hands arching in mid-air. ‘Come in,’ he said, his high voice like the screech of a child.
A woman walked in, her own hands stiff behind her back. ‘Spider, two of our men have been killed. The culprits are a man and a woman unknown to us. Their dress is strange and barbaric, and the man is covered in extensive tattooing.’
He did not turn from his screens. There was a camera in the room and he looked at the woman on the respective monitor. His vibrant orange eyes blinked slowly inwards from the sides like closing elevator doors.
‘Interesting,’ he said. He paused, letting the silence reign through the room, drinking in the woman’s tension.
‘Get eyes on them,’ he said. ‘And patch me in.’
‘Yes, Spider. Will that be all?’
The woman nodded her head sharply and left. Her relief was palpable in her step.
The Spider turned his attention to the rest of the screens that covered every inch of the wall. Zoomed out it might look like a compound eye, like that of a giant fly. In front of him were reams of scrolling data, data that would never pause, never stop.
He leaned in.
Apologies for the delay, I’ve been waiting on the cover (which you can see below – well worth the wait!), but now I’m happy to say the science fantasy western WULF, the first book in The Fifth Place series, is now available as an ebook on Amazon.
You can find it here.
It’s also FREE for today (19/12/2016) and tomorrow!