Genießen Sie diesen Titel jetzt und Millionen mehr, in einer kostenlosen Testversion

Nur $9.99/Monat nach der Testversion. Jederzeit kündbar.

A Secondhand Dreaming

A Secondhand Dreaming

Vorschau lesen

A Secondhand Dreaming

Länge:
220 Seiten
3 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
May 20, 2011
ISBN:
9780958048989
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

What if an act of terrorism destroys most of the population of the world, leaving behind just a few people living in isolated pockets amongst the ruins of a vast and visible civilization? What sort of lives would these people create for themselves? What would they make of the things that are left behind – things they have no idea how to use or make? What stories would they tell to make sense of what happened to the people who died in such huge numbers?
Tez, his girl friend, Mig, and her brother, Jaf, live in a settlement of patchwork shacks at Currimundi Lake in what used to be SE Queensland. Each of the three has a good reason to escape the settlement and venture south, first to the City of Light and then to the territory of the Horse people whose exploits are known only by the stories brought by the Traveller on his annual trading visit to the Lake. Tez is fascinated by the Traveller’s stories of the power that makes the City light up at night. Jaf wants to see the legendary Horse people for himself. Mig just wants to be with Tez and away from her grandfather, the Old Man of the Lake settlement.
The three learn quickly that the world outside the settlement is a dangerous place and that a young girl without protection is vulnerable to attack. They lose all their possessions when they are chased from a derelict shopping centre by vicious store vermin. Chel, son of Caradoc One-Leg, the leader of the Horse tribe, discovers them in the forest and takes Mig captive. Left to die, Tez and Jaf are found by Jay and Mel of the Hill folk. Mel tells Tez that the Horse people use young Hill children as slaves in the camp. He makes a bargain with Tez: his help to rescue Mig in exchange for Tez’s skill with a sling shot. An ex-slave himself, he hates the Horse people and wants to destroy their camp.
The Horse camp seems impregnable but their wise man, Nestor, has foretold its downfall at the hands of a black haired stranger with a magic rock. Tez is the black haired stranger but what is the magic rock that will destroy the Horse? Is it the sling shot pebble he teaches the Hill tribes to use in their attack against the camp? Or is it the magic rock of legend which Tez believes is the source of the City’s power and which he uses to kill his enemy, Chel?
With Mig rescued from the Horse camp and the City of Light city burned to the ground it is time for Tez, Mig and Jaf to create their own settlement and for their adventures to become new stories for the Traveller to tell. What if the stories of Tez, Mig and Jaf are passed from mouth to mouth down the ages until they are finally written down at some time far into the future? What will these new people make of them? Within the legends of Tez, Mig and Jaf remain the remnants of the older stories of our own civilization and how it was destroyed. Old bones, old buildings, old stories. Is this our destiny?

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
May 20, 2011
ISBN:
9780958048989
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Must ... stop ... writing ... Sometimes I really wish I could. It gets in the way of real life. At the weekend I prefer sitting in front of the computer with my pretend friends instead of going out with my real ones. It destroys my sleep. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night knowing I need to change one word in the paragraph I wrote the evening before - and I have to get up and do it. And it makes me a dangerous driver. Get me on the road and my characters start having conversations in my head. And why are they so much more lucid and logical then than when I attempt to scribble them down at the next red light?I write because I love language. I love English with its collection of mongrel words. It's like an enormous button box where you can pick between half a dozen languages each one of which holds the history of Britain at its heart. I love the shape of words and the sound of them. I love what you can make them do on the page. And what you can make them do to your readers. Laugh, cry, stay up at night.What I like best is having a conversation with a reader about one of my characters. The reader talks about my character as if s/he is a real person. Discusses the character's motivation. Speculates about what the character did after the end of the novel. And I think, but it's all made up. Every bit of it. Out of my head.Then I know it is all worthwhile. Bringing characters alive to walk on the page. Creating a world for them to live in. Immersing myself in the shape and rhythm of a novel in the making. It's exciting stuff. And it's even more exciting when the book is finished and I hand it over to you, the reader. Enjoy!


Buchvorschau

A Secondhand Dreaming - Pamela Lamb

A Secondhand Dreaming

Pamela Lamb

Published by Agneau Press at Smashwords

Copyright 2011 Pamela Lamb

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this writer.

Chapter 1

Michael Hunt sprinted up the shallow steps of the city building. It was early afternoon on a late summer day. The sky was covered with thick brown clouds. A cold wind was blowing, skittering litter along the street and rattling the leaves on the palm trees growing in pots by the door. The big glass doors opened at his approach. Inside it was warm and light. A woman sat behind a desk.

‘Good afternoon, Mr. Hunt.’

‘Maureen! What are you doing here? You should be at home by now.’

‘I’m waiting for Mr McMillan. He’s still upstairs.’

Michael shook his head. ‘No, don’t wait. Just let me in and then get off home. It’ll be dark soon.’

Maureen leaned forward and pressed a button on the computer keyboard in front of her. The lift door slid open.

In his spacious corner office on the twentieth floor Ian McMillan, his tie off and collar undone, stood by the window feeding the shredder. With his big, jowly face and thick, grey hair he looked like an old bear. Or a wolf. He had been called a wolf often enough in his forty years in business. But he didn’t care what they called him. He was the Australian CEO of PowerCo, the international supplier of nuclear energy, and one of the most powerful men in the country.

Michael came into the room. ‘How much longer are you going to be? I’ve sent Maureen home.’

‘A few things to tidy up first.’

McMillan nodded towards a bottle of whisky uncorked on the table amidst a jumble of papers.

Michael raised an eye-brow.

‘It’s an unusual day,’ growled the old man.

In this room it was hard to believe there was anything unusual about it. The blinds were closed and the lights had come on, against the gloom of the day.

‘What’s the news?’ Michael turned towards a small screen flickering in one corner of the desk.

McMillan handed Michael a glass. ‘Townsville’s gone. Doesn’t give us much time. Are you ready? At home, I mean.’

‘Ready as I’ll ever be.’ Michael reached for the bottle and poured himself a generous slug.

‘Worried?’

‘A bit.’

‘Don’t be. There’s nothing to worry about. Just get yourselves into your prepared room and keep listening to the radio. A couple of days – a week at the most – and everything will be back to normal.’

‘That simple?’

Michael leaned forward and picked up McMillan’s small grey gun lying exposed on the table as the papers fed the shredder. It didn’t surprise him to see it there. He carried one like it in an inside pocket of his jacket and had become used to its warm bulk. These days a gun was something everyone carried, especially those who visited the city where gangs of kids would knife you for the contents of your wallet, or the man you shared the train with day by day would turn out to be an assassin, hired by a rival firm.

McMillan glared at Michael from under bushy eye brows.

‘Listen Michael, this is a nuclear accident, plain and simple. They happen from time to time. As you well know.’

‘It’s hardly an accident, Ian. Simultaneous explosions on four continents? It has to be sabotage at the very least. Or terrorism.’

‘Yes, yes, all right. Sabotage, terrorism, call it what you like. But that’s not what we tell the public. Only good news on their plasma screens. You know that.’

‘I’ve heard there’s a biological agent in the cloud. Not something a prepared room can withstand. A bit of tape round the windows.’

McMillan grunted and reached for his gun. ‘You’ll be all right. You’ve got the cellar, haven’t you?’

McMillan had helped Michael design the wine cellar under his beachfront home at Currimundi on the Sunshine Coast. Double brick walls, absorbent lining, air filters. A separate power generator. It had cost him a small fortune but nothing was too good for his precious wine collection, or so McMillan had told him at the time. And now? Now it was going to save his life.

‘Well, then.’ McMillan bent to stow his gun in the pocket of his jacket hanging on the back of his chair. ‘Now finish your drink and let’s be on our way.’

Outside the building they were grabbed by the cold wind that teased their clothes and threatened to knock them off their feet. Above their heads, in the narrow space between the tall buildings, the thick clouds hurried across the sky. Only the sound of the wind broke the silence of the empty city. McMillan hunched his shoulders, sinking his grey head into the collar of his coat.

‘Are you going up to the lake?’

Michael nodded. ‘They’re expecting me.’

‘Cutting it a bit fine, aren’t you?’

‘I suppose I could just stay here.’ Michael jerked his head at the brightly lit building behind them. ‘You always said the power would never fail.’

‘Yes, that’s true. The unit in the basement will last a hundred years. But the building isn’t sealed, Michael. You don’t want to be breathing this stuff when it hits.’ McMillan thrust out his hand. ‘Now I must be going. Good bye.’

Michael stood at the top of the steps and watched the old man thrust his way along the empty, wind-swept street until he was out of sight. He wondered if he would ever see him again.

It was eight years since the first nuclear ‘accident’ when a terrorist cell had lobbed a bomb down a reactor chimney and blacked out half of Europe. Michael had made it his business to find out who was behind the attack and he had been monitoring them ever since. They were crazy, of course, like all fanatics. But this … this was utter madness.

Tucking his chin into his jacket Michael hurried down the steps. Behind him, staining the underside of the thick clouds a lurid red, the familiar zigzag logo of PowerCo blinked on and off in the gathering gloom.

It was a winter afternoon, the sun dipping behind the line of hills beyond the lake, the air turning cool, the first star a spark of light in the clear, pale sky. Mig made her way slowly up the beach, swinging an old plastic bucket in one hand. She walked with a dancing, nimble step, hopping from rock to rock and avoiding the small waves that threatened to wet her feet. The bucket in her hand was full but not heavy. She had been out along the beach gathering pumice stone.

When she came to the outcrop of black rock that sheltered the lake from the brutal northerly winds and hid from her sight the small settlement on the lake shore, she paused, searched carefully for a place that would not be damp and sat down. She was waiting for Tez. He had been out hunting all afternoon in the scrubby, marshy country beyond the dunes and would be making his way home along the beach.

Mig dug her bare toes into the cold sand and grabbed handfuls of it from either side to run through her fingers. She unearthed a skull half-buried in the sand, the bone white and porous, and amused herself pouring sand through the eye holes in an attempt to fill them up. After a while she looked up and saw that Tez was on the beach a long way up, walking with his own peculiar shambling gait. He looked as if he wasn’t watching where he was going which, Mig knew, was because he was far away in his thoughts.

When he got closer he stopped walking and Mig saw him screw up his eyes and look around, unable to see her in the darkening shadows of the rocks. She raised her hand and waved and he grinned and waved back, then trudged through the soft sand at the top of the beach and flopped himself down beside her. They sat for a while. Tez needed time to catch his breath. The cold air affected him and he was gasping and wheezing from his walk along the beach. The shadows, now, were long on the sand and it was dark under the trees behind them.

‘Come on, Mig,’ said Tez finally, climbing to his feet and reaching down his hand. ‘The dogs will be out soon.’

Mig allowed Tez to pull her to her feet. She leaned against him then pulled back with a cry of surprise. Tez grinned. He reached inside his shirt and pulled out a large fish.

‘Sea eagle dropped it. Good, eh?’

‘It gave me a fright.’ Mig leaned forward and kissed Tez. ‘Your nose is cold.’

‘Let’s go home, then.’

Tez took Mig’s hand and they made their way along the beach past the shallow lake held in place by a high ridge of sand, then climbed the dune to follow a narrow path which lead to the settlement. It was dark here among the stunted, wind-tortured trees and small aromatic bushes. Smoke hung in the air, and the smell of cooking. They quickened their pace, trotting one behind the other towards their supper.

Suddenly Tez stopped short. ‘Shh!’ He held up one hand.

Standing still, heart pounding, Mig could hear it too. From the settlement, a high, shrill screaming. The sound of women’s voices. The screaming cut off and then begun again, higher and more urgent. And then a final shout, a mixture of pain and triumph, which seemed to hang in the evening air.

Mig started forward eagerly. ‘Aen’s baby!’

But Tez held her back. ‘Wait.’

They stood together on the narrow path, close enough to feel each other’s warmth, their ears straining. There was silence. Then the high, keening sound of women mourning shuddered through the air, followed by the hollow stump, stump of footsteps along the path. An old man came into view, walking quickly towards the sea. He was tall and big-boned with a mane of white hair. In one hand he carried a plastic bag containing something heavy and bulky, something which bucked and jumped

Mig grabbed his arm. ‘Grandfather. Don’t!’

But he pushed her aside violently. ‘Get off home. This is not for you,’ and she fell down amongst the little prickly plants by the path which sighed their bruised fragrance into the cold air.

She scrambled to her feet and, hand in hand, she and Tez crept down the path after the old man and peered out to where he strode rapidly across the sand and stood, legs apart, at the very edge of the water where the daylight still lingered, golden from the dying sun. He began swinging the heavy bag sharply around and around his head before, with a last powerful jerk of his arm, he flung it as far as he could into the oily, sullen water.

Mig watched, shaking and weeping, as her grandfather came back up the beach, brushing his hands one against the other as if they had sand on them. She seemed to be alone on the dark path but she was aware of Tez hidden in the dark trees behind her. She stood and waited until her grandfather reached her, panting with exertion, and grasped her not unkindly on the back of her neck. She felt the scratch of his extra finger, the one with the thick, misshapen nail that hung useless from the side of his hand

‘Come on, now, girl,’ he said, quite gently. ‘Let’s get ourselves home.’

The settlement was silent, cocooned in cold air. Mig and her grandfather passed through the narrow gap in the thorn fence with Tez slipping in behind them like a black shadow, and the old man pulled the gate shut and secured it. They went along the narrow passage between the sleeping houses and Mig’s grandfather pulled aside the old woollen blanket that hung in the doorway to allow her to go inside. The sudden draught caused the flames in the oil lamps to jump and flutter, adding twists of black smirch to the blue smoke that hovered under the roof.

At the big central table women were busy laying out an assortment of plates and bowls for the rabbit stew that hissed and bubbled in battered pots clustered over the blazing fire. The women looked up when Mig and her grandfather came in then looked away, reluctant to catch the old man’s eye.

Small children emerged from under the table where they were playing games with smooth pebbles on the rough brick floor. They gathered around Mig, clutching at the bucket in her hand.

‘Mig, Mig, what did you find? Show us, Mig. Go on!’

But Mig’s eyes were smarting with tears. She pushed past the children without speaking and went into the sleeping-house she shared with her grandfather and her brother, Jaf. By habit she touched the familiar zigzag image of Powy-coe painted on the wall at the back of the little shrine by the door. Under his image was the symbol of his power: a shiny white oblong with a switch and three narrow slots that looked to Mig like a strange little face. Protruding from the back of the oblong was a tangle of coloured wires threaded into a piece of grey tubing that went up to the ceiling. Mig knew that these wires, along with wires from the other sleeping places, went all the way up to the top of Powy’s pole and carried the prayers of the people across the dark forest to his dwelling place in the City of Light far to the south.

Her grandfather was there. Head bent, he was rummaging in the old wardrobe that held their clothes. In the cracked patchy mirror on the door Mig saw her own image. Her eyes were red and swollen with tears, her mouth sagging with misery. The old man turned his head then stood up, dominating the small room with his bulk. His pale eyes stared down at her.

‘Well, girl?’

"Was it made so very wrong?’ Mig tried to swallow the hard lump in her throat.

‘Wrong enough,’ the old man growled. Then, more kindly, ‘Come on, child. Aen has accepted it and so must you. She is a good girl and knows her duty. Men think, women breed is Powy’s law, as you well know. When your turn comes you must concentrate on breeding and leave the men to decide what is the right thing for the people of the Lake.’

‘But Grandfather …’

The old man was turning back to the wardrobe again. ‘It’s done, Mig. Forget it now.’

Mig’s tears were flooding her face. ‘It isn’t fair. Why do the babies have to be perfect before you let them live? You have an extra finger. And you have bred me. And Jaf.’

There was silence in the room. Mig felt the old man’s displeasure like a palpable force. Above her head the rising wind rattled the wires on Powy’s pole. Grandfather took a step across the room and grabbed Mig’s thin shoulders. The thick nail on his extra finger sent a small shiver running under her skin.

‘It is not your place to question my judgement, child. Besides, you know about my finger as well as I do. You know that I was born at the end of the Dark when the black winds blew from the north …’

It’s like a story, the way he tells it, thought Mig. It’s like he can’t tell it any other way. She heard the words inside her head.

… and the birds dropped like stones from the sky. Spiders drifted in the air and spun their sticky webs across the doorways. Cockroaches scrambled over sleeping faces. Vermin infested the land, feasting on the bodies of the dead. In those days women’s wombs spewed monsters that died as they took breath and any child that survived was given the chance to live.

‘Now we know it was part of Powy’s punishment to send those children to us.’ Grandfather’s voice changed as the story ended. ‘We know we have to return the children wrongly made that Powy sends to trick us. We know we have to work hard to please him so he will return his gifts to us. Do you want to live like this forever?’

Mig said nothing. She knew no other way to live.

‘I know what it was like before the Dark,’ the old man continued. ‘I remember the stories my parents told me. About the god’s power that travelled in the wires. About the stores full of things for the people to take. About the shiny carts that travelled on the black roads and took the people to the City of Light to worship at Powy’s shrine.’ Grandfather’s nails dug into Mig’s skin. ‘I don’t blame you for being disappointed. We all are. That’s the third child in a row Powy has taken from us. But it’s our only hope. We can’t go on much longer the way we are.’ Abruptly he let go of her and brushed his big hands together. ‘Now come along, child, wipe your tears and go and have your supper before it’s cleared away. The Traveller’s in so we’re eating early tonight.’

The old man’s hand in the small of her back propelled Mig out of the cold sleeping room into the light and warmth of the central area.

‘Are you all right?’ Tez stood in front of her, peering anxiously into her face.

‘I’m fine.’ Mig rubbed her hand over her face, leaving dirty smears.

Tez put his hand on Mig’s arm. He ignored the Old

Sie haben das Ende dieser Vorschau erreicht. Registrieren Sie sich, um mehr zu lesen!
Seite 1 von 1

Rezensionen

Was die anderen über A Secondhand Dreaming denken

0
0 Bewertungen / 0 Rezensionen
Wie hat es Ihnen gefallen?
Bewertung: 0 von 5 Sternen

Leser-Rezensionen