Salby Evolution Blurb
One man holds the key to our future. One man holds the key to our extinction.
The merciless Salby viral strain, sweeping across the country, spawns a new breed of predator.
Simon Lloyd, borderline alcoholic, must vanquish the demons of his past and change his single-minded ways.
Filled with resentment, he enters a world far removed from his own. He must choose to take a stand or risk losing his estranged wife and children forever.
Against overwhelming odds, unethical science and the prospect of eternal exile, the decisions he makes will shape the future of mankind.
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2 – Journey
Salby, North Yorkshire, 19th March 2014, 1050 hours
It had been one hell of a night. I woke in a cold sweat at around 1100. The nightshift meant I could afford to sleep in most days—sometimes until noon; no one cared. I pushed myself up with a muted groan. As I shuffled along the tired, worn out bedroom carpet, my foot snagged on the pile of dirty clothes from earlier. I kicked at them in annoyance. The bedroom was quirky, according to the landlord, which was a fancy way of saying it was small.
My body screamed for more rest, but today I had to be up and at ‘em. I pulled at the vertical blind, just enough to allow the light from the overcast sky to illuminate the room briefly—it looked like it might rain later. My mouth tasted like a pack of twenty marinated in stale coffee. Flush and brush filtered to the fore.
In the bathroom, which was just as quirky, I stripped out of my shorts. Out of habit, I kicked them towards the already overflowing wash basket. My wife—dammit—ex-wife, usually took care of such things. It was surprising what I took for granted. My Goddamned shed for another thing!
The steam of the shower seduced me into a welcoming embrace; slender fingers of hot water massaged the throbbing aches in my shoulders and back. To be fair, at fifty-four, that was the only real niggle.
Clean and considerably more alert, I stepped from the cubicle, stood at the basin, and scrutinised in the mirror. Despite the condensation, I’d faired pretty well, in my biased opinion.
“Life in the old dog yet,” I muttered.
I still sported a relatively full head of hair; wavy and flecked with the tell-tale grey, it had a mind of its own. Although my eyesight wasn’t as sharp and glasses were needed more often, other than that I’d kept the later life spread at bay, well mostly.
I towelled dry, padded back to the bedroom to dress, eyed the least creased T-shirt, and, with a quick sniff to see if it was clean, or clean enough, pulled it on. I picked up the discarded shorts and added them to the top of the wash basket pile, followed by the wet towel. Jeans would suffice for today. At least they were clean.
“It’ll keep ‘til tomorrow—” I mused.
With a final cursory glance at the box bedroom, I took the stairs down as I made my way to the ‘practical’ kitchen. That smarmy son-of-a-bitch saw me coming. A caffeine kick wouldn’t be a bad idea. My mind began to recall the night as the kettle groaned into life, and that uneasy inner quiver made itself known once more. I needed coffee, and fast.
It took serious effort, but my thoughts snapped back to reality and I formulated a plan for the remainder of the day. It included reporting the incident that had occurred this morning to the police, but not before making it over to see my children.
In days long passed, years looking back, I’d once been an easy-going guy, a family man and loving husband who rarely stressed over much of anything in my life. That changed after the separation and my exile from the family home, still a great source of resentment within me. I loved my then baby son, and I thought I had the makings of a promising father. Things began to go wrong, especially when the second pregnancy was announced.
You did your best, you worked all the hours you could to bring in needed cash, you’re not invincible. My conscience argued.
It seemed as though the whole world closed in around me, I felt trapped, boxed-in, and this was a factor in the breakdown in the end. There were accusations of infidelity on my part, unproven and unjustified, maybe just the hurt feelings manifesting themselves into some sort of rational explanation; a final nail in the proverbial coffin.
She accused you, remember?
My beautiful wife, Charlotte, kept really busy with our newborn son, Tom and then two years later, our daughter, meant one-on-one time had been sporadic at best. Overtime beckoned for the new arrival back then, which saw us having even less time than usual, and added to our joint fatigue—for different reasons. The ever-opening fissure in our once tight bonding finally took its toll. We split just before Holly was born.
You couldn’t take any more verbal abuse, it wasn’t right, wasn’t fair. You did the right thing!
Over the last five years or so, I’d thought long and hard about those events, about the sadness in my own heart, the guilt at the outcome, and about what to do for the future. Of course, I wanted to be a dad! I wanted all the things that go with being a parent, but the uncertainty of what I might find after so long had become a daunting prospect, only multiplied as the years rolled onwards. Anyway, enough self-pity.
I picked up my wallet from the side cabinet, grabbed the car and house keys and stuffed them into my jeans. In a lightweight jacket, I stepped out into the street and eyed my car. The fresh dent screamed: “Guilty.” I looked up and down the road—it was a fairly affluent area, most of the houses either privately owned or bought-to-let properties.
It still seemed quieter than usual, given the time—no mothers getting ready for the return of their kids from school on lunch hour, usually to be seen chatting over fences or hedges. None of the older generation making their way slowly to or from the local shops—but as I looked up the street, I could see something. I instinctively pulled my glasses from the inside pocket at my breast and slipped them on to sit neatly square on the bridge of my nose. “Everything in its place. A place for everything.” My father’s voice echoed in my mind.
Some sort of animal lay in the middle of the road, a pushchair abandoned close-by. Beside the carcass, or more specifically, bent over it, what appeared to be a child—who should probably have been in class. Maybe the animal had been hit by a car, though there didn’t seem to be any. I walked closer to the prone boy and almost stopped when the familiar, tingling sensation hit me, a pre-emptive alarm about what was to come. I dismissed the feelings and continued to walk towards the lad. He was no more than ten years old, crouched over the body of what now appeared to be a swaddled baby.
“Hey kid, you okay? Where’s your mum?” I called.
The child stopped moving and pushed back from the small, bundled form to rest, bottom on heels, before he turned his head towards me. Now I froze, unable to comprehend the vision before me as my mind screamed for me to turn and flee as fast as I could. It was irrational, given that it was only a child, but the image of the boiler-suited roadkill sprang to my periphery once more. The young boy stood, and slowly wiped away the sticky, sweet red blood from his chin, his hair caked in the thick coagulated life liquid of the baby he had clearly attacked. I stared wide-eyed at the boy, his white school shirt covered in red spatter marks. His hands dripped thick splodges as he began to walk towards me with an expression of pure rage. His small, contorted face appeared aged by the twisted furrows of his brow, and his teeth showed remnants of flesh beneath peeled back lips. The high-pitched scream of a youth possessed pierced the otherwise still air.
After a myriad of pointless, irrational, time-wasting thoughts flashed through my mind, I did the only sensible thing—turned on my heels and ran for the car. I dug deep in my pockets as I opened my stride to outrun the advancing child. I popped the door locks and slammed the door behind me, locking it from the inside as the blood-soaked boy approached. My fingers wouldn’t work properly. I fumbled with the keys trying to find the ignition but couldn’t tear my gaze from the boy. Finally, I managed to insert the key and turn it, and the engine kicked over.
A thump to the passenger side window saw me rush for the door lock on that side. Now I wish I’d fixed the central locking. I pressed the small lever down and scrambled back behind the wheel. A woman, covered in mud with her clothes ripped to shreds, thumped her head into the glass. Her torn sleeves revealed sizeable wounds to her arms as she locked her blackened stare upon me. She gnashed her teeth together as she withdrew for another strike.
Click, click, click-click.
The sound terrified me. Another headbutt to the passenger-side glass. It wouldn’t take too much more to break it.
Without thinking, I slammed the gear lever into first. The gearbox clunked and ground metal-on-metal as the drive tried to engage too early, but mercifully, it held long enough to send the car surging forwards. I yanked the steering wheel hard over to the right, my foot pressed insanely hard to the floor as if the pressure of the pedal on the chassis would make it go faster, sooner.
My actions catapulted the car onwards before a gear change even registered. The woman cartwheeled as her grip waned on the bodywork. The boy, less than twenty feet away, moved to his left in an effort to thwart my escape, clearly unable to distinguish the distinct disadvantage he had against the size of the Vauxhall.
The car juddered with the torque from the engine as it tried to feed power to the wheels on the slightly damp surface of the road. Sure enough, it gathered speed, and I veered to the right in a vain attempt to miss the boy. I hit the horn in one long, uninterrupted blast, a warning I had no intention of stopping. To my surprise, the youngster didn’t attempt to move out of the way. He stepped farther to his left and into my path, determined that I would not pass. The car struck him hard at pelvis height and threw his small body upwards over the bonnet. I instinctively covered my face as the windscreen cracked inwards when the child’s head bounced off it, leaving a spider-web impression, and a large clump of the boy’s hair and scalp embedded.
I stamped hard on the brakes. The body of the boy slid off the bonnet to disappear beneath the front of the car. It emerged with the momentum of the impact a split second later and I watched the once tense limbs crack and break, becoming floppy and loose as the joints shattered. The boy rolled repeatedly, finally coming to rest upon his back.
I stared blankly at the spindled windscreen, my brain not processing what had happened and refusing to allow me to move until it had. My eyes tried to focus through the spiked, angry-looking cracks in the glass to the body of the child in the road, as my hand unconsciously gripped the door handle. It’s a child! The noise from the pop of the door snapped me back to some sort of reality and I began to tremble inside. The realisation that I’d just intentionally run over a schoolboy hit me like a, well, like a car driven at speed.
I pushed the door open, and my gaze never faltered from the body, transfixed by the small form lying on the ground. I feared the possibility of having killed him, but more so, the fact that he could very well be alive.
I approached as quietly as I could, my footfalls deliberately subdued, cautious, so as not to wake the prone body—I needn’t have bothered. When I got to around six feet away, the boy sat bolt upright and turned to match my gaze. I screamed in terror and tried to turn and run at the same time, only managing a half-step before my legs tangled and gave way. My face met the macadam and left a calling card upon it. My arms pulled me forwards as I scrabbled to rise to my feet, for a split second fleeing on all fours and unaware of whether I was pursued or not.
I made it back to the car, scrambled inside, and floored the accelerator without even closing the door, which slammed shut in reaction to the forwards momentum. The rear-view confirmed it: my head and face were a mess. I tried to focus on something, anything to take away the only images I could see as I drove hard towards the far side of town.
The plan was simply going to see my children, maybe to stop at a shop to buy them something to soften the shock of my arrival after so long. It would only have been a token gesture really, but I thought of it none-the-less.
That was what I would do. I refused to falter from my resolve to rectify something I should have done years ago.
Born in Sutton Coldfield, England, Ian served with the British Army for four years both here and abroad.
Ian works full time and also owns his own internet based business. Having been writing short stories and poetry for many years his first published novel, Salby Damned, was released in July 2014. Ian has since written the sequel Salby Evolution, due for release on 1st August 2016
He now lives and works in Goole, East Yorkshire. Ian recently headed the first group anthology created for charity entitled You’re Not Alone, featuring a host of talented authors from this group. You’ll find it on Amazon so please, help us to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support by buying your copy.
Ian’s Blog Page – The Quill Pen Writes: