Saturday, 28 January 2012

After some abstinence more of my work

I am sorry it has been so long, but finally here is more from my latest book. Please don't be shy and let me know what you think. Every comment is welcome.

Floodgates of the Heavens

Yesterday's flashbacks wakened me. I was still in my burrow, lying on soft moss and grass in one of my nests. I slowly raised my head and sniffed the air. The smell of fresh earth filled the tunnels. There was no other scent. I slowly got up and hopped to the nearest exit hole. Carefully I poked my head outside, put up my ears and sniffed the air once more. There was still no sign of anything else. There was only a fresh breeze blowing over the clearing.

I decided to have breakfast and with a couple of hops I was out in the open. I started to graze and dug up a couple of delicious roots. The digging helped me get the sleep out of my joints. A quick stretch and a thorough clean also helped.

 After the little exercise I was awake, bright and fresh. The nightmares of the previous days had become a silent echo, barely audible. I was looking around and appreciated the beauty of my new surroundings. I could start a new life here, refresh and recharge before I went back to solving the secrets that my mind was keeping from me. I had too much to explore, too many other things to think about. It was time for me to take a break from the tortures I had endured and instead concentrate on this beautiful place, this paradise.
I didn't know how long it would be until I was caught again and put away. I knew that all of this was simply too good to be true, that the wood, which was surrounding the clearing on all sides, was hiding something from me. I knew that something had happened to me, that my head had been tempered with. I was certain that some sort of experiment had been conducted on me, but I simply couldn't let this opportunity of pure enjoyment and relaxation go to waste – nothing should spoil it for me for once.

I lay down on the grass and stretched out. It was wonderful. The warm sun was shining on my pelt and I lowered my ears in complete relaxation. I slowly dozed off into a gentle dream, only now and again opening my eyes to check my surroundings very quickly, then closing them again and continuing my snooze.

 Eventually I woke up. I must have been asleep for several hours, because the sun was high up in the sky now. I was lying in the middle of the lawn, out in the open, but I was so confident that nothing would happen to me here that I had ignored my natural instincts and had relaxed and fallen asleep. I felt refreshed and recharged, ready for more adventures.

I quickly cleaned myself and then started to dig a little – just for fun. The soil was so nice and fresh, it was such a pleasure to burrow my paws into it and feel the dirt between my claws and smell the fresh grass.
Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere came this flash of memory. For a split second I saw what had been done to me. The image returned and this time stayed a little longer. The image itself didn't hurt me, but the memories it dragged up out of the deepest recesses of my brain were terribly painful. Memories of being fed some sort of powder which invoked severe stomach pains, incredible spasms which lasted for hours and in the end made me faint with exhaustion. Memories of creams being rubbed into my eyes, making them painfully sore and swollen, usually so bad that I couldn't see properly for days afterwards. Some sort of solutions had been sprayed onto my coat, into my mouth and into my eyes, making me smell horribly and burning my skin down to the flesh, making it impossible for me to eat, drink or move.

Every experiment felt like it was going to kill me, but somehow I always survived and was nursed back to health, just to endure the next set of tests, every one more painful and more severe than the last. Neither my body nor my mind was given a chance to fully relax and forget what had happened. I had just recovered when I was exposed to another potion and more pain.

During every experiment there had been two people in white coats who administered the substances to me. A man and a woman with rubber gloves, test tubes and all sorts of instruments. They used saws to open my skull and inspect my brain functions. Even though they didn't give me any anaesthetic I managed not to faint.
I had never worked out what this experimentation was for or what it tried to prove. There clearly was no relationship between those cruel people and me. There were hardly any parts of my anatomy or physiology that were similar to theirs. I was a herbivore and they were omnivores; I had a fur coat, they were wearing white coats; I had whiskers and the man had a beard. Where was the connection?

But my mind dragged up more of what had happened. It wasn't only the daily experiments and treatments that I suddenly remembered. There was more, something about this terrible experiment had changed me completely and fundamentally. I had suppressed these feelings for such a long time, and it was only now that my brain finally decided it was time to remind me.

I suddenly knew what they had done to me.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Teasers continuing...

Here is yet another teaser from the new book. Please continue to post your thoughts and suggestions. Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you for reading...

The Ark

"So, here we are then. Do you like it?"
We had eventually arrived at our destination. I didn't know how long I had been unconscious and had no idea where I was or how far away I was from the city. I only remembered waking up occasionally and being beaten unconscious again.
When we arrived, I was doused with ice cold water to revive me.
"It's our little Ark. It will be the cradle of our New World Order. This is the place where we will look down onto our creation and smile contentedly."
I was tied to a chair and couldn't move. I was completely naked – as God intended so to speak. It was a little chilly in this huge hall. I looked up and saw a man and a woman.
It was the man who was speaking and whose voice I had heard in the van. I shuddered for a moment, partly because of the cold, but mainly because I recognized them both from my nightmares. It was the Devil and his right hand.
"You do remember us, don't you, Cornelius?" the main asked.
"How could you forget us, Cornelius?" the woman added.
This ark, as they called it, looked more like a warehouse than a ship. However, very much like ships, it was damp, cold and generally unpleasant. I expected a big, fat rat to run across the floor at some point – but my surroundings were the least of my worries. It was the two people in front of me who I was afraid of.
I still didn't understand how they could have been in my nightmares and why they had become reality now, but if my dreams turned out to be echoes of past events, then these two people were the same two evil minds that had given me a great deal of pain in some distant past.
"You were our first patient, Cornelius. You were the first to witness our expertise, Cornelius – our genius," the main said.
They both paraded up and down in front of me.
"Cornelius, you must remember. Just think back a few years," the man continued.
They suddenly stopped walking and stood side by side in front of me, their devious eyes fixed on mine.
"Well, do you remember us? Do you know our names?"
I hesitated. I started to realized that my dreams had to be real memories that I had somehow lost, but that my subconscious mind had kept and brought back to me again and again in my sleep. That meant I knew who the two people were and that I had to know their names. Yet, despite my deepest fears and state of confusion, I didn't want them to feel any form of control over me. I didn't even want to give them the satisfaction that they could make me answer their questions. I was terrified of them, but I also despised them and instinctively knew that I had to try and resist as well as I could.
"Answer, Cornelius," the man suddenly shouted, but his voice quickly calmed again. "Or let me answer for you. You do remember us, I know that you do. But you are stubborn, as you used to be.
"As you know, I am Dr. Lucius Abaddon, an expert in the area of human anatomy, master of torturing the living body and keeping it alive just long enough to reveal its deepest secrets. I am sure you remember that, Cornelius, don't you?
"As you also know, this distinguished lady is my honoured colleague Dr. Judy Wormwood, an expert in the area of the human mind, master of twisting and bending people's thoughts and completely re-programming a person's brain, breaking their will and ultimately their body. I am sure you remember that as well, Cornelius, don't you?
"Judy is just too good at her work. She is unforgettable. She is a genius at her art," Lucius said and then sniggered. Judy just smiled at her fellow colleague who had described her so well.
"You do remember us, don't you, Cornelius? You might as well admit it. We know that you do. We made sure of that. We may have erased most of your memories, but we saved the memory of your torture so that it would remain with you as a warning and as a testimony to our work until such time as we needed you again."
I couldn't resist any longer. I had to show them how I felt. I pushed my fear aside and spat at their feet in a desperate attempt to show strength.
"So you do remember then. I see, defiant as before. But let me assure you, Cornelius, we will be able to break your will again. You will be our puppet, our slave, and you will fulfil our every whim once more. This time it will be much easier, because you know how painful it was before and how long it took. This time you will give in easily, because your fear will break any resistance you would like to put up," Lucius said.
I realized he was right. Everything he had said about my memories having been erased somehow made sense. Even though it sounded unbelievable, but deep down I knew that I had forgotten parts of my life. I also knew that if the pain I lived through in my nightmares was the same pain I had endured in the past, then the two didn't have to try very hard this time. It was clear now that I had to get out of here quickly. If they attempted anything right now, they would soon have me begging to stop. I would rather do whatever they wanted than go through this pain again. Anything would be better than their torture.
"Cornelius, you must be wondering what we want from you. Well let me explain. It is very simple really. Even you should be able to understand and execute it. We would have done it ourselves and we would have done it much more elegantly and efficiently than you ever could, but we simply cannot be linked to this horrendous and evil plan.
"As the parents of a new family which will soon roam the length and breadth of the World and Settlements, we cannot get involved, so we need you to do it for us. Do you see what I mean, Cornelius?" Lucius asked.
I had no intention of answering his question, but I probably didn't need to. He was obviously certain that I would do whatever they asked if they simply threatened torture.
"Don't answer, Cornelius. I know what you're thinking. You want to get out of here. You feel you can't resist our genius. We are simply superior to you. You are insignificant – you are nothing. Actually, you aren't even that. We have made you, without us you wouldn't even be here now. Without us you wouldn't even have had the chance to end up in prison.
"Anyway, let me come back to what it is that we want from you. Let me explain what your makers ask from you. You have finally ripened to the tool we designed you to be. You have grown in strength and confidence. You have grown in size and ability. Now you have matured enough and deserve to serve. Now you are finally alive."
With that Lucius turned around and started to laugh viciously. His laugh echoed through their Ark, making his laugh sound even more sinister than he had probably intended.
Judy still just smiled. Her look was fixed on me. Not even for a moment did she take her eyes off me. She hadn't even blinked once since Lucius had started to talk. Her eyes were sparkling, little flames inside her pupils flickering. There was a fire inside her burning strong, that was obvious. Her role in this was simple. Follow Lucius' wishes without question and do as told. Be his little helper, his right hand.
Yet she had her own hidden agenda. I could see it in her eyes. She knew that Lucius would only be the key to unlock the gate to her own paradise, the sandman who would put mankind to sleep so that she could live her dream.
I slowly started to remember more of my nightmares and the things they had shown me. I realized that these two people had appeared in my dreams and it came back to me who they were.
I recalled that I feared Judy most, because she didn't just have the ability to torture me beyond comprehension, but she evidently had the will to inflict any kind of pain, any level of terror, if it brought her closer to her goal.
Lucius was just mad, unpredictable, but he had neither the knowledge, nor the strength, nor the determination to be successful. Judy on the other hand had all of this and more. She was not simply determined; she was convinced that she could do anything she wanted if she set her mind and abilities to it. For her it was never a question of trying — it was about succeeding. She could break my shell and rip my heart out without even trying.
She wasn't sinister or evil. She wasn't being unnecessarily cruel or mean. She simply did what needed doing to reach her goal – no more, no less. She was efficient and clever, thoughtful even. Judy wasn't Lucifer's daughter or the Devil's spawn. Judy was simply a genius who had chosen to bring this world closer to her ideals. I didn't know what her actual motives were but I suspected she did it out of revenge – she seemed bitter.
This New World Order that Lucius was talking about didn't seem to have much in common with Judy's dreams. Still, Judy's alternative didn't seem to be very appealing either because it seemed to require a lot of force and brutality. Whatever it was that she was after, I knew that Judy could only realise and maintain her Ideal World with force and dictatorship, and that was why she had teamed up with Lucius.
I knew that I was only speculating and had no proof that Judy wasn't simply as evil and mad as Lucius, but I couldn't shake off this intense feeling that she was trying to do good – in a very bizarre way.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Something from a chapter later in the new book...

Please always let me know what you think about the writing. It's still in quite a rough form, but you should get a good feel for it. Here goes...



"Can I have another orange juice?" Jenny asked. Her bright eyes looked at me pleadingly.
"Please," she added a moment later. "Freshly squeezed, please."
I wasn't paying her any attention at all. I was miles away. I was thinking about what I had found the previous night. The information was going to be invaluable. It was the key to getting access to the SESCC. It was the ultimate hack. It would open doors for me which I never thought existed. It would let me manipulate whole countries. It would give me complete control. I knew that I would never actually use the power I was soon going to have, but nevertheless it was a strangely comforting sensation that I was feeling.
From the beginning I had planned to publish the defects that I was about to uncover in the security of the SESCC, so that people would wake up and realise that the government had too much power in their hands. There was too much information in the hand of too few people.
"Can I, please?" Jenny asked again breaking my trance.
"Sorry, I was miles away, darling. What did you just say, Jenny?" I replied.
"Can I have another orange juice, please?"
"Freshly squeezed?" I asked her.
"Yes, please," she said and smiled at me.
I ordered her another orange juice.
We had gone down to Homeland, Jenny's favourite diner. I had promised to take her there the night before last when she had caught me hacking into various security systems.
"Would you like a sweet?" I asked her.
"Oh, yes, please. Can I have a chocolate éclair, please?" Jenny replied with an even bigger smile on her face.
I knew she wouldn't say no to a sweet. She has always had a sweet tooth, so I ordered an éclair.
"Jenny. I just have to go across the road to drop something off. I will be back in a minute. Will you stay here and wait for me, please?"
"Yes, I will. I will drink my orange juice and eat my chocolate éclair."
"Good. I won't be a minute, all right?"
"All right."
I got up, walked to the door, turned around and winked at Jenny.
"I'll see you in a bit," I said to her. "Don't move, OK?"
She was too busy eating her éclair to hear me.

I walked out into the street. It was a lovely day and very busy. The sun was shining and there was a lovely warm breeze blowing between the tall buildings. I squeezed through two parked cars and crossed the road, dodging the traffic. I wanted to see a friend of mine to give her a copy of last night's findings.
The information I had discovered had to be distributed as much as possible, so that I wouldn't lose everything if the government raided my place and deleted my computer account — and any of my other accounts.
The copy I was about to give to my friend was securely encrypted. Even the government wouldn't be able to decipher it. The encryption was for two reasons: firstly I didn't want the information to get into the wrong hands and secondly, and more importantly, I didn't want my friend to get into trouble for being in possession of classified information. Even though the government didn't like people having encrypted data on their systems, there was nothing they could legally do about it. Not too long ago this was different, thanks to the famous RIP Act1.
The friend of mine was working for a small computer firm and, just like me, spent a lot of her time hacking into computer systems. The only difference was that I did it to make a living, whereas she saw it more as a hobby. I had met her when I had hacked into the local police station's system and found a trace of another hacker, who later turned out to be her. She had quickly become a very good friend and we often helped each other out if we ever happened to get stuck with our shared interest.

I had reached the building across the street and walked to the entrance. I pressed the buzzer and waited for a reply.
"Hello?" came the answer through the speaker.
"It's me," I said into the microphone.
"Oh, hi there. C'mon up."
The buzzer hummed and I went inside. I climbed the three flights of stairs to her apartment and then knocked at the door. A moment later the door opened and there she was.
"Hello, Laura. How's life?" I said to her.
"Not too bad. Come inside," Laura replied.
"No, can't stay long. Just wanted to drop this off," I said and showed her the CC.
"What in God's name is on it this time?" she wanted to know. She was used to my dropping off hot information on CC for her to check out.
"Can't tell you just yet. It's quite amazing and all top secret. Government of the highest calibre is all I can say."
"Oh, so you've cracked the jackpot then, have you?"
"Well, I suppose you could put it like that. Look, keep this safe and be careful. It's encrypted but that doesn't mean that you can't get into trouble for having it. Ditch it straight away if there is any sign of danger, all right?"
"Yeah, don't worry. I'm not stupid."
"I know. I'm just worried. This is really hot stuff, hotter than anything any of us has ever touched."
"Yeah, yeah. Don't worry. I'll ditch it if it bites. You sure you don't wanne come in?"
"No, thanks. Would love to, but can't stay. I'll speak to you soon, all right? You take care now," I said to Laura.
"Yes and you," replied Laura. "Speak to you soon."
"Oh, and thanks, “ I said as I was about to go back downstairs. “I really appreciate your help. I'm deeply in your debt. You don't know how much."
"Oh, never mind that crap. Just don't get caught, will you. You look after yourself and I'll look after myself, all right?"
"Yes, Laura. Thanks," I said and walked down the stairs. At the bottom of the first flight of stairs I stopped, looked back up and waved Laura good-bye, who was still standing in the door to her apartment.
"You're an angel," I said.
"I know, you little devil," she replied with a wide smile on her face.

When I got back to the diner, Jenny was waiting for me. She had finished her sweet and the orange juice. She looked at me as I walked through the door.
"Can we have the check, please," I said to one of the waiters and sat down next to Jenny.
"Did you like it, Jenny?"
"Yes, thank you. It was really nice. What are we going to do next?"
"Hm. How about if we go to the park?" I asked Jenny and expected her eyes to light up and her mouth to produce a wide smile.
"Oh, yes, that would be great," Jenny replied and as expected her eyes lit up and she smiled.
"Well, let's go then."
I paid and Jenny and I left the diner.

After a few minutes' walk we finally arrived at the park. Jenny couldn't wait and started to run ahead.
"Be careful, darling. I'll catch up with you at the lake," I shouted after her.
"Yes," she shouted back.
All the way from the diner to the park I felt like we were being watched and as if somebody was following us. Whenever I turned around to check, I could see a figure disappear in a side street, behind a bus shelter or something. I wasn't sure whether it was always the same person, but it was certainly unusual.
The park was a wide-open space and it would be easy to find out whether we were indeed followed. Had the police or a Fed already traced me back here? That was very unlikely, but if somebody was clever enough and knew enough about me, they could have deduced my whereabouts. I had to be careful and see whether my suspicions were right or whether I was imagining things.
I slowly caught up with Jenny. I acted normal and only when I finally reached the lake I turned around to see whether there was anything unusual. There weren't many people in the park, but nobody look suspicious. I decided to sit down next to the lake and keep an eye on what was going on around me while watching Jenny inspecting the pond life.
"Look what I got," Jenny shouted across the water. She was holding something in her hand. "What is it?" she wanted to know.
"Bring it here and I'll have a look," I replied.
She slowly waded through the water, cautiously holding her discovery with both hands. She had lowered her head and was looking at the water to see where she was going. She was always very careful not to step on anything because she wanted to make sure that she left the pond in the same way as it was before her visit. She felt that she could inspect the pond and its inhabitants as much as she wanted as long as she made sure that she returned every specimen to where she had found it. She also felt that her careful and rare intrusions would not upset the balance of the lake and its ecosystem. She was really very considerate.
"Well, let me have a look then," I said when Jenny had finally reached me and had sat down next to me. She slowly lifted her left hand from her right to reveal her discovery.
"Look. It's all wriggly," she said giggling.
"Oh, it's beautiful. It's a little dragonfly larva," I explained. "You know, dragonflies spend their childhood as little larvae in a pond."
"It's not beautiful," Jenny disagreed. "It's grey and boring."
"Well, it just looks like this now, but when it hatches it becomes a beautiful dragonfly."
"Dragonflies are boring too," Jenny insisted.
"But their wings shimmer in beautiful colours," I said. "Don't you think that they look beautiful? A bit like fairies really."
"Yes, their wings look beautiful, but this larva is boring and not like a fairy," she explained. "I'll put it back in the pond."
"Yes, darling, you do that," I said and smiled to myself. Once she had made up her mind about something, she stuck to it. She was a very confident young woman. So, off she went back into the water to return the larva to where she had found it.
I used the opportunity to have an inconspicuous look around the park to see whether we had been followed. At the other side of the lake children were playing and their parents were deeply involved in conversations about the latest child fashion, how brilliant their little ones were for their age, how expensive toys were these days and how quickly they broke, their concerns about the dozens of jabs children were given and other topics of smalltalk.
On my left there was a young couple sitting in the shadow of a big weeping willow holding hands and exchanging affectionate looks and caresses. All around the park people in office clothes had come to spend their break in a relaxing environment.
Behind me there was a man on a bench reading a newspaper. He was completely dressed in white, even his shoes – and he was wearing a white bowler hat. Suddenly he lowered his newspaper and glanced over to me. He smiled and slowly nodded his head once and then resumed with his reading. I kept looking at him to see what he would do next. A moment later he lowered his newspaper again, looked at me smiling and then nodded – as he had done before.
Then he got up and started to walk in my direction leaving the newspaper behind on the bench. After about ten paces he stopped, looked around and then sat down on the grass facing my direction – still smiling.
I started to feel a little bit uneasy. He didn't look a particular tall or strong person and didn’t appear threatening, but his smile radiated so much confidence and superiority that I felt very vulnerable.
"Jenny, I think we should go now, darling," I said without taking my eyes off him. "It's getting late."
"Oh, do we have to?" Jenny complained. "I'm not finished yet."
"Come on, we have to go back home sweetie."
"Just one more minute, please," she pleaded. "Please!"
"No, we have to go now," I said firmly while turning around to face her. "Come out of the water and put your shoes back on."
She looked at me with a grim face, her lower lip sticking out, showing how upset she was. Her whole body language made it very clear that it would take me some convincing to get her out of the water. Her arms were crossed, fists clenched, her legs close together and her eyebrows expressed the strongest conviction.
"Oh please, don't give me that, Jenny. You know it's late. We'll be back here tomorrow afternoon and then you can carry on with your investigation," I said. After a moment I added, "Please darling."
Her face cleared a little and she uncrossed her arms.
"Oh, but…," she started to say. "I…," she added a moment later. "All right – but you have to promise that we go again tomorrow," she finally said.
"I promise – tomorrow afternoon – and I'll buy you an ice-cream too, OK?" I suggested.
"OK – but it has to be vanilla," she replied.
"I promise. Vanilla it is. Let's go then, sweetie," I said turning around again to see whether the man had come any closer – but he had gone. I looked all around the park but couldn't find him. He had disappeared.

1RIP Act – Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was a piece of legislation originally introduced by the British Government and later adopted by other governments on Earth. Among a lot of controversial rights given to the government, the Act in particular meant that the police gained full access to personal e-mails and data on personal storage. If the data was encrypted, police could force the individual concerned to hand over the decryption key. The burden of proof lay with the individual to show that he or she did not have the key. If proof could not be provided, the individual was faced with imprisonment. Eventually the Act was revoked.