Opening to Chapter Two of The Bleeding Horizon

In the world’s most sophisticated skyscraper on the island city of Galatea, people are taking blind ambition to a whole new level. As sinister forces human and artificial conspire to drive everyone over the edge, the smartest will be those who learn to look down and deep within. For something truly out-of-this-world is making its way to the top, and everyone’s vision will be getting a little stranger…

The quarantined island of Galatea. Twenty-one years after the Fall.

The black amorphous shape must have arrived by boat, because there was no other sane way to the island. Swelling up from the wine-dark sea, it advanced assuredly through the red haze. This wasn’t the sea creature. That was watching patiently from the waves and hadn’t moved towards land yet.

Night watchman Rex Tuckman removed his Glock 19 pistol from the desk drawer and checked it was loaded. He’d woken from an early evening dream of his father telling him not to sit around waiting to die but to go fishing at the lake. Later he would leave the portacabin, whack golf balls into the void then retire for the night to tell himself another bedtime story about a middle-aged man-about-town and two twentysomething female tourists.

Now he had a visitor. The first for six months, since a hapless PRISM surveying team dressed in yellow and black boiler suits arrived on a trawler to scout the contaminated land for plastic. They wandered like children through the decrepit pleasure pit, mesmerised by the fairground carousel which still rotated and tinkled. We’ll send someone to pick you up, one of the square-jawed simpletons said when leaving. We can still win this war. The system hadn’t spat anything out since. Except two crippled seagulls which Rex stalked with relish before administering the coup de grâce.

A tall man in a long coat was visible through the dirty, cracked window. He had a climber’s rucksack strapped to his back and a grubby white vest tucked into his grey, weathered combats. Locks of dark, curly chainmail hair ran to his shoulders. A gaunt figure, like an emaciated lion, reminiscent of the malnourished prisoners Rex used to marshal into PRISM’s camps. Handsome though. And seeing as he’d made it out this far, clearly crazy. Dry as a bone too. Rex slipped the gun behind him, shoving the barrel into the waistline of his tea-stained canvas trousers. This was love at first sight.

“If you’re here for the wet t-shirt competition, you’re too late.”

“I’ve come to see the tower.”

“Tourist season is over pal,” Rex grunted, pointing to the sign in the window. NO ACCESS PERMITTED TO ANY OUTSIDERS. The stranger’s eyes were drawn to the decal of a dove bearing the legend PEACE ON EARTH. A sardonic joke from the previous security officer, long since retired for what PRISM called ‘the affliction of cognitive dissonance’.

“You’re two decades behind schedule. All paths terminate here. The campers have packed up. The rides are shut. Evening entertainment is just me, shaking my maracas. Awaiting the presence of the sublime.”

Rex curled the fingers on his right hand to meet his thumb and flicked his wrist back and forth, gesturing to the magazine lying open on his desk. Under the headline NOT IN MY MESS, OFFICER, horny housewife Starshina Sessions was spanking a white whale of a man. He wore only a leather jockstrap and a green beret too small for his bald head. A few more pages of this and the rest of the general would go stiff.

The stranger seemed unimpressed by the martial foreplay. Staring through Rex, he scanned the hut, clocking the TV, radio, filing cabinet, camp bed, cooking stove and two crates of low-grade Kalypsol. On the noticeboard was a three-year-old calendar, a map of the island and a poster listing emergency telephone numbers. They’d all been crossed out with a red felt tip pen. Scrawled across the top margin of the poster were the words EVERYTHING IS FUCKED.

“It’s a lonely life here,” said Rex. “But it’s great literature like this which fills the void within.”

The Bleeding Horizon is available to buy at Apple BooksAmazonBarnes & Noble and Google Play.

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