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#1: Rebirth - About - Go to Chapter 1

#2: The Rising - About - Go to Chapter 1

Friday 31 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 53: Out Of Your Depth

Jane did a U-turn and stopped the car on the road outside the storage facility. She checked her pistol was loaded and clipped it back into the holster under her jacket.

‘Okay, Doc, you’re the expert. What’s the plan?’

Doctor Owen looked at Jane with a blank expression on his face. She’d known the answer to her question before she asked it but she wanted to see his reaction. Unfortunately, it was exactly what she suspected.

‘You mean you haven’t got a plan?’ she asked, anger growing in her voice.

‘Have you still got your Mantek badge?’ he asked.

‘Yes,’ she said and fished it out of her pocket.

‘That’s our best option.’

‘Jesus Christ, Andrew. This is a shambles. We’re going to get ourselves killed.’ Jane shook her head and rubbed her eyes. ‘Come on, let’s go.’

They got out of the car and ran through the rain to the front door. Jane was despairing at their lack of organisation. Her work was always so well planned but now she felt helpless. She always had to have a plan A, B and if possible C, but they barely had a plan A. For all she knew, they were walking right into a trap and there was nothing they could do about it, but as Doctor Owen had told her, they didn’t have a choice. They had to recover everything on his list. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to stop The Brotherhood developing and distributing the primary treatment.

‘Wait,’ she said as they approached the front step, ‘the door’s open.’

Jane drew her pistol as they reached the door. With the fingertips of her left hand, she slowly eased the door open.


There was a pool of dark red blood on the floor. Jane stepped inside and took a deep breath as she saw a dead body lying in front of her, stopping the door opening all the way. He was clad in combat gear, with blood was still slowly pouring from the hole in his head. Jane grabbed Doctor Owen’s arm and dragged him inside the building, closing the door behind them.

‘Oh my God,’ he exclaimed.

‘It looks like someone’s beaten us to it. We’re too late. What the hell is going on here, Andrew?’

‘But this is a Brotherhood facility. Who did this?’

They slowly followed a trail of wet footprints up the stairs. At the top they found a security pass hanging from a cord tied to the handle of the door. They shared a look that told each other they had no idea what was going on. They were out of control, out of their depth and they knew it.

Jane removed the pass and opened the door to the reception area. She had no idea what to expect when she opened the door but the sight before her left her speechless.

The bodies of four dead soldiers were lined up on the floor next to the reception desk. Just in front of Jane as she stepped through into the reception area was a heavy clear plastic bag that was filled with data tapes.

A hand-written note sat next to the bag. Jane picked it up and read it out loud. ‘Doctor Owen, you and your companion are out of your depth. If you want to stay alive, go to the following address: 112 Abbey Tower. The Brotherhood are coming. Go now.’

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Wednesday 29 October 2008

Review: The Edge Of Love (DVD)

My review of this war-time movie with Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller is now up at DVDActive.

The Rising - Chapter 52: Out Of Hiding

Traffic was heavy on the Expressway and the rain continued to pour in torrents. Becky Clarkson put some distance between her and the doctor by dodging in and out of the slow-moving cars, ignoring the honking horns that were becoming all too familiar.

After taking the exit ten miles down the road, she turned the corners that led to a plain, uninspiring industrial estate. The roads were relatively quiet, with the last of the commuters arriving late to their office jobs. Becky slowed down and stopped her bike in the car park of the building that sat opposite the storage facility. She stared at the building for a moment. There were no vehicles parked in any of the spaces at the front, but she hadn’t expected The Brotherhood to leave military jeeps sitting outside.

Looking around to ensure she was out of sight of any security cameras, Becky unzipped a long pocket on her right thigh. She took her pistol out of her pocket, checked it was loaded and the safety catch was on, screwed the silencer into the barrel and tucked it into the back of her leathers.

She then turned her bike round and zoomed across the road, splashing through puddles and stopping just in front of the main door. Her heart was pumping fast as she dismounted and walked up to the door. She took off her gloves and dropped them on the ground under the shelter of the awning above the door so the rain wouldn’t soak them through before she returned. If she returned.

‘Who is it?’ was the reply almost as soon as she hit the intercom button.

‘I’ve got a delivery,’ she said, lifting her visor just enough for her voice to be audible.

‘What have you got?’

‘I don’t know what it is. Look man, I just get paid to deliver this crap. Do you want to sign for it or not?’

There was a brief silence, followed by ‘Okay. Wait there.’

For an insufferable amount of time nothing happened but as soon as the lock buzzed and the door opened slightly, Agent Clarkson was unstoppable.

In one swift move she booted the door open, smacking the man behind who answered her call right on the nose. His hands instinctively went for his bleeding nose when he should have reached for his gun, but he didn’t get the chance. Becky drew her gun and shot a hole directly between his eyes. There was no immediate noise from inside so she knew he was on his own.

Stepping inside, Becky pointed her gun left and right but the only route was up the stairs ahead of her. Removing her helmet to improve her vision, she spotted a security pass around the dead man’s neck and tore it free. With no time to lose, she ran up the stairs and spotted a security camera at the top. She shot it with pinpoint accuracy, shattering it and debris rained to the ground but she knew her face must have been recorded.

Got to move quickly.

The door buzzed as she swiped the security pass and she took a step inside, holding her pistol behind the open door. Two men in camouflage combat gear stood in the reception area, their pistols clipped in their holsters.

‘Hey, who are you? Where’s Bill?’

Without replying, Becky revealed her gun and shot the man furthest away from her in the throat. Blood sprayed over the white wall next to him and he fell to the ground, clutching his neck and gurgling blood in his throat with his final breath. Before the man closest to her could react, she grabbed his right arm with her left and twisted it behind his back. She pushed the gun hard into his neck.

‘What the hell are you doing? You won’t get away with this.’

‘Where do you keep the tapes?’

There was no reply. Becky cocked the hammer on her pistol.

‘None of that counting to five bullshit. Tell me now or you’re dead.’

‘Okay,’ he relented, ‘There’s a safe in the main office.’

‘Where’s the key to the safe?’

‘Behind the desk.’

There was a loud bang of a door being flung open around the corner followed by two sets of heavy footsteps. In a flash, Becky released her grip and pushed the man forward, then took a step back and went down on one knee, obscuring her from the view of two more men in combat gear who appeared round the corner. Before they could react, she fired a shot into the back of the man she had interrogated.

As he sunk to his knees, she used the cover of his body to fire a shot over either shoulder. Both bullets hit their targets, one hitting a soldier in the eye and the second tearing through the other soldier’s ear. The man with one ear gripped his head and didn’t have time to return fire at Becky before she finished him off with a bullet to the forehead.

Anticipating the appearance of more soldiers, Becky got to her feet and took deep breaths to regulate her heartbeat, but there were no more obstacles in her way. There was no one else for her to kill. She took a second to take in everything that had happened and tucked her pistol back into her leathers, pleased with the fact that none of her shots had missed their targets.

She searched behind the desk and found the long safe key hanging on a hook. She checked her watch. Almost four minutes had passed since her arrival.

They’ll be here any second. Better get my calling card ready for them.

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Tuesday 28 October 2008

Review: London Film Festival

Last Friday I took a trip to the London Film Festival to see W., Frozen River and Johnny Mad Dog. My article about the day is now online at DVDActive.

Monday 27 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 51: Time To Come Out Of Hiding

As soon as she saw them take the ramp onto the Expressway, Agent Becky Clarkson knew where Doctor Owen and his companion were going. She’d tracked them out of the city using the PDA mounted on her motorbike, following the blinking red dot along every road and round every corner.

She had already checked out the offsite storage facility a long time ago, not long after her disappearance. She made it her mission to know as much as she could about every installation that belonged to the World Health Organisation or The Brotherhood, both official and unofficial.

What the unsuspecting souls in the car she had been following didn’t know, at least not for sure, was that The Brotherhood would be waiting for them. And they were armed and ready. Becky had been listening in on Captain Sayers’ chatter with his men all morning. When the patrols failed to find the fugitives, Sayers had predicted they would attempt to pick up the backup tapes.

They should have gone there first, Becky thought.

In the time it took for them to visit the bank, Sayers had already sent a team of men to assist the man on site and more were on their way. Becky thought there had to be at least five men waiting for them when they arrived, with at least another five en route.

They haven’t got a chance.

Faced with the almost certain death of the subjects she was pursuing, Becky couldn’t intervene if she was going to remain out of harm’s way. It was the philosophy she’d lived by for two long years as she tried to get to the bottom of what she’d seen that night. Above all else, self-preservation had been her motivation, above even the lives of others.

But Becky knew she didn’t have a choice. Everything that was going on right now pointed to the beginning of something. Something she heard from people she had met on her travels all over the world. Something that was going to happen here, and was going to happen soon. It would shake the world and wake every man woman and child up to the terrible secrets that had remained in the domain of the underworld for centuries.

The Rising.

She knew that if Doctor Owen was deleting data and had The Brotherhood chasing after him, he was no longer part of the plan. He was working outside the terms of the treaty, unaware that the wheels were probably already in motion and nothing could stop the plans of both sides.

But he must know something. Something I don’t know. There’s very little time left. I have to help him.

With no more than ten minutes until they reached the storage facility, Becky knew she would have a window of only five minutes, even if she could get there twice as fast as the doctor. There was no other option in her mind. Five minutes was all she needed to neutralise the threat at their destination.

She hit the gas and roared past the doctor’s car into the mist that filled the Expressway.

Time to come out of hiding.

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Sunday 26 October 2008

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Friday 24 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 50: SPRAY: SLOW DOWN

Doctor Owen ran across the road through the pouring rain and got into the car, rubbing the rain water out of his hair. He had only been gone for fifteen minutes but to Jane it had felt like an eternity. In his hand he had a manila folder full of papers.

No problems?’ Jane asked.

None at all. That’s two down. Let’s get going. We need to head to the offsite storage facility to pick up the tapes.’

Jane hit the accelerator and took them down the road as fast as she could, dodging in and out of the traffic and paying no mind to the honking horns that greeted her manoeuvres.

She was happy just to be moving. All that time spent sitting in the car made her feel more and more like a sitting duck. The newspaper article had put the frighteners on her and the fact that the girl in the coffee shop had recognised her, even if it was only subconsciously, made her think everyone out there was looking for her. They had to get these jobs done as quickly as possible, then find somewhere to lie low. If anyone recognised her then that would be it. They wouldn’t have a chance.

Doctor Owen directed them away from the city but rush hour traffic was slowing them down. Jane cursed the city’s one-way system that took them on a convoluted route to get them on the right course for the Expressway.

How long will it take us to get there?’ Jane asked.

No more than ten minutes once we get on the Expressway. As long as it’s clear, of course,’ Doctor Owen said, ‘It’s not far out of the city.’

The bank was too easy,’ Jane said, ‘The Brotherhood must know we’re going to pick up the tapes. It’s stupid going there. We might as well call them and tell them we’re coming, for God’s sake. Isn’t there any way we can miss this place out?’

Not at all. The pact I made with Doctor Forrest was that whichever one of us had the ability would retrieve all samples and documents. The tapes are essential to continuing our work without allowing The Brotherhood to continue without us.’

Doctor Owen stopped talking when he saw the worried look on Jane’s face.

The story in the paper has hit you hard, hasn’t it?’ he asked.

Jane avoided answering his question directly. ‘No point in worrying about anything else. If we don’t get the samples, we’re all going to die in the end, aren’t we?’

They reached the Expressway and drove up the ramp to see a cloud of spray ahead of them reaching up into the grey sky above. Visibility was poor and the electronic signs that hung overhead at regular intervals advised drivers to slow down. One driver that didn’t heed the warning was the rider of a black motorbike that sped past them and disappeared into the misty spray.

Hey, that’s weird,’ Jane said.

What’s that?’

I’m sure I saw that motorbike before, when you were in the bank. It pulled in behind us.’

Are you sure?’

I recognise the plate.’

Jane tried to shrug it off, hoping it was a coincidence but couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something was amiss.

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Wednesday 22 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 49: Two Hundred And Fifty Syringes

Roxy opened the door to Doctor Forrest’s lab. As ever, he was working hard and didn’t allow her entrance to break his concentration.

He acknowledged her importance to the cause and knew full well that she had the ability to end his life in a heartbeat, but he was a scientist. He took his direction from the experiments in front of him, irrespective of the seniority of the people who supported him. They needed him a hell of a lot more than he needed them.

On the bench in the centre of the lab a plastic box held over two hundred capped syringes, each containing a dark red liquid. Doctor Forrest picked up the last empty syringe and dipped the needle into a basin that held a few dregs of crimson. He pulled the plunger to suck the remnants into the syringe, then wiped it down with a cloth and slid a cap onto the end.

That’s your lot. Two hundred and fifty, ready to go,’ he said, finally looking up at Roxy.

Excellent,’ she said, ‘It was a lot of work at short notice but once we put them to good use, we will be on our way to an army of thousands. What’s the target time?’

Obviously it depends on the physiological make-up of the subjects but it should take about two hours to take hold.’

Perfect. We should have the subjects at the drop-off point by that time.’

It almost makes me feel sorry for the poor bastards who are going to be on the receiving end. Any news on my treatment?’

Yes,’ said Roxy, ‘I’ve just received a call from Jackson. He has picked up your treatment and he is also bringing two of our brothers with him.’

Rebirths? It’s too early in the day for a pickup isn’t it?’

One of them survived the attack at The Brotherhood’s headquarters. He was the one who helped smuggle the bodies into the base. According to our brother at the outpost, they have the head of Commander North of The Brotherhood.’

Doctor Forrest removed his glasses. ‘If that’s true, it affects our plans.’

That’s why I’m bringing them in. If it is true then it will work in our favour. The Brotherhood will be running around trying to find whoever killed their Commander and won’t worry about us for the rest of the day. By then, it will be too late and they’ll have to do whatever we want. Don’t worry, we’re still going ahead with the plan.’

Are you sure we have enough brothers and sisters to coordinate this operation?’

I’ll make sure we’ve got enough. The only thing we need to worry about is completing the operation successfully. If we don’t, we’re probably all going to die.’

What? Why?’

The Lord Chancellor is coming here tonight. He wants to know what happened to Luca.’

But you had to kill him. He was going to ruin everything.’

Let’s hope he sees it that way too.’

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Monday 20 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 48: Picked Up

Almost as soon as the racket outside had started, the dogs stopped barking.

Skinner and I moved towards the door, in a futile attempt to obscure the bodies on the floor behind us from whoever had just arrived. A strange sense of realisation struck me, knowing there was one man standing behind the door.

The keypad by the door beeped and a clunk announced that it was unlocked. Very slowly, the door creaked open to reveal a tall, wide man standing in the doorway, sheltering from the rain and sunlight.

He was holding a pistol but tucked it in his belt when he saw that we were no immediate threat. He stepped inside and looked us up and down. Skinner was about to talk but the man pointed at him and told him not to say anything.

The man moved in closer and went toe-to-toe with Skinner, looking deep within his eyes. After a few seconds, he took a step to his right and did the same with me. He then looked over my shoulder at the bodies on the floor. He didn’t bat an eyelid, like he already knew they were there. He stepped round me and knelt down to take a closer look at the injured vampires on the floor.

They’re not dead,’ Skinner said.

The man looked up at us and narrowed his eyes. ‘I know,’ he said and got to his feet. He looked at me and said, ‘You’re the rebirth, aren’t you?’

Yes, I am.’

He pointed at the door of the cell we had been held in. ‘There’s a body in there. Was that your first feed?’


He cast his eyes around the room and knelt down next to the vampires again. His footsteps squelched in the wide pool of blood that had gathered around the bodies. He turned Carl’s body over and found a leather holster attached to his belt. Carl’s gun was still clipped into it.

He’s still got his gun,’ the man said as he got to his feet, wiping his bloody hands on his jacket, ‘Your story checks out.’

Our story checks out? We never told you anything,’ I said.

I got all I needed to know from your eyes. I can tell we’ve all got the same blood flowing through our veins and I believe I can call you brothers. My name is Jackson.’

Skinner and I did our best to breathe a sigh of relief without looking like we were worried and introduced ourselves.

Roxy said you had a box,’ Jackson said.

Yes,’ I said and made my way into the office, ‘It’s through here. It’s…’

Whoa, I don’t want to know what’s in it,’ Jackson said, ‘I’ve only got orders to take it back with us. Just bring it with you. We’re leaving.’

Where are we going?’ I asked.

I’m taking you home. Roxy is very anxious to talk to you.’

I picked the box up from the office and followed Jackson to the door. He escorted us outside into the pouring rain and shepherded the dogs inside the building before closing the door behind us.

I take it you’re both photo-sensitive?’ he asked.

I am,’ Skinner said, then pointed to me, ‘Not sure about him yet though.’

It’s not far to the car and with this cloud cover you won’t get a massive dose of UV before we get there.’ Jackson pointed his keys at the car and pressed a button. The lights flashed to tell us the car was unlocked.

Ready?’ Jackson asked.

We nodded, then I ran for the car like my life depended on it.

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Friday 17 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 47: Two New Friends

The rain was still bouncing off the road as the black motorbike stopped on the corner, watching the car that had pulled in to the side of the road. The figure on the motorbike was a little confused.

They can’t be vampires and they’re definitely not members of The Brotherhood, so who are they? Agent Becky Clarkson thought as she watched Jane run to and from the coffee shop. After two years on the run from The Brotherhood’s attempts to find her, she was in no mood to stick her head above water, but she had to know more about the two people in the car.

As Doctor Owen opened the door and ran across the road into the bank, Becky knew she had an opening. She unzipped a small pocket on her jacket and took out a small, round piece of plastic with a magnet fixed into one end. Holding it between two gloved fingers, she unzipped another pocket and pulled out a PDA. A gloved hand tapped on the screen with the stylus and loaded up a road map. A red dot was blinking in the centre of the screen.

She put the PDA back into her jacket pocket and slowly rode the bike down the road and pulled in just behind the car. Kneeling down at the front of the bike, Becky pretended to check the tyre and when she was certain no one was looking, delicately stuck the magnetic tracer to the underside of the car.

As she stood up, Becky saw the car’s rear wiper clean the back window. Jane adjusted the rear view mirror. At that moment, Becky knew it was time to leave.

Jane stepped out of the car in time to see a black motorbike with a rider clad in black leather heading down the street. She made a mental note of the registration plate and walked round to the back of the car to take a look. Everything looked okay and with the rain already soaking her, she ran back to the car and jumped in.

Stop it Jane, you’re just being paranoid, she thought as she picked up the newspaper and started to read the cover article again.

Becky looked over her shoulder and saw that the car hadn’t followed her. She pulled into a side street and stopped to examine the PDA. The red dot was still blinking in the middle of the screen. Confident that the tracer she’d planted was working perfectly, Becky moved her bike into an alleyway to find some shelter and decided to wait and see where her two new friends would lead her next.

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Wednesday 15 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 46: I Feel Nothing

I dried my eyes on a patch of my sleeve that wasn’t soaked with the little girl’s blood. I felt the warmth of my blood move from my head and back through my body. I got to my feet and looked down on the lifeless young body sprawled out on the floor.

I feel nothing.

Just moments before, I had been weeping for the lost life of an innocent soul but now I found myself struggling to care either way. Sorrow had passed as quickly as it had arrived.

Is this what happens to all humans who become vampires? Am I going to stop feeling anything at all?

I inched away from the dead girl and out of the cell, shutting the door behind me. Skinner was standing just behind me, observing the sudden change in my emotions.

It passes quickly, doesn’t it?’ he said.

I’ve just fed on the blood of a little girl. I’m an animal! Why can’t I feel anything?’

Did you feel the blood rush to your head?’

Yes. What did it mean?’

Like the doctor found out yesterday, it must have been moving to where it was needed most. As soon as you started to feel guilty, the blood moved to your brain to change your state of mind. I remember feeling that sensation when I first started to feed on dead bodies. It passes quicker every time you feed.’

So my blood is programmed to make me get over the emotional impact of sucking someone’s blood?’

That’s right. Eventually it will feel natural to you.’

Natural. It will feel natural to feed on the blood of children.

I felt helpless. I was a slave to the monster that was growing inside me. The only way I could stop this was to help Doctor Owen’s cause any way I could. I thought of what he had told me at The Brotherhood’s base.

You’ve got a very common blood type, O positive. If you start to feel hungry, you won’t have to kill very many people to find a match.’

He was right. Beneath my disgust, I felt renewed. The little girl’s blood was now flowing through my body in the new unnatural way that was becoming sickeningly familiar.

We’ve got to get out of here,’ I said.

We can’t,’ said Skinner, ‘it’s sunlight outside and the door is locked with a code from the inside. Unless you want to wake up your friends down there and try and get the code out of them, we’re stuck here until Roxy’s man comes to pick us up.’

How are we going to explain all this when he gets here?’

They’re not dead. You’re a new vampire and you flipped out when you had your first taste of blood. They were hurt while trying to restrain you. It’s not the first time something like this has happened.’

But will he buy it?’

It’s the best chance we’ve got. You’d better get cleaned up.’

I walked down the corridor and found a bathroom. Unlike the disgusting cell our hosts had confined us to, the bathroom was gleaming white all over. Spotless.

I looked at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t believe what I saw. From my nose down, my face was caked with blood. The tears from my eyes had carved flesh-coloured tracks in my cheeks. I ran the hot water and quickly splashed handfuls on my face over and over again. The blood poured off me and turned the sink a light shade of red.

I looked up again and opened my mouth, prodding my teeth with my fingers. My canine teeth had retracted. Other than the blood that was soaking the shirt Dave had loaned me, I was back to my tired, stressed-out looking best. The white towel sitting next to the sink turned a deep shade of pink as I dried my hair, face and neck.

I threw the towel in the sink and left the bathroom. I passed a closed door as I made my way back into the corridor to join Skinner. Somehow I knew the body of the little boy we had heard from inside our cell was in there. Nothing made me want to open the door to see if he was still alive.

I stepped over the twitching bodies without a thought for their well-being. Carl has started to make a faint gargling noise and his eyes followed me as I stepped over him. I could tell that very slowly, their bodies were starting to heal, but I felt the same way about them as I did about the children they had brought here. They were nothing to me.

Skinner was about to say something to me when our attention was distracted. Through the heavy door, we heard the dogs outside the building start to bark.

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Monday 13 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 45: Nothing Has Changed

Jane felt nauseous. She rolled down the window a little to get some fresh air.

My family declined to comment?

She didn’t want to think about what was happening to her mother and father. Reporters were almost certainly camped outside their little house in the countryside, laying siege to the old man and woman inside who had no knowledge of the terrible accusations being directed at their daughter.

She looked again at the last comment by the unnamed source.

I may as well draw a target on my head for everyone to shoot at. I’m guilty until proven innocent.

Jane wasn’t as media-savvy as Tom but she knew that when newspapers cited ‘a source’, what they really mean is that they made up the whole damn thing themselves. She was certain all this stemmed from their escape from The Brotherhood. They were trying everything they could to draw them out as soon as possible, but the urgency of their attempts to turn the world against her and the doctor was unexpected.

2am Exclusive’ meant that the lead headline had been changed through the night. The first edition that hit the streets would have had a completely different lead story. Jane flicked through the paper but found no other mention of her or the doctor.

Is that all they wrote?’ Doctor Owen asked.

It looks like it. The Brotherhood had a hand in this. They must have knocked this story together overnight, knowing that we’d see it this morning.’

They’re trying to draw us out. At least we know they’re struggling to find us. They’re clutching at straws.’

Jane started to read through the article again but Doctor Owen grabbed the newspaper out of her hands and threw it onto the back seat.

Hey, there’s nothing you can do about it.’


No, Jane. It’s not important. The only thing that matters is getting our hands on the samples and documents and meeting Doctor Forrest. As soon as we left The Brotherhood, we knew they’d be after us. Even with the newspaper article, nothing has changed.’

Jane spent a moment with her thoughts. ‘You’re right. It’s just so difficult. Everything’s changed since the attack on your lab. I’d give anything to go back to two days ago.’

How do you think Tom feels?’

Jane didn’t answer, choosing to look at her watch instead. ‘It’s nine o’clock. Do you want me to go into the bank?’

No. They’ll want me to sign for the box and they’ll only let me open it.’

Okay. Don’t be long.’

I’ll be as quick as I can,’ said Doctor Owen. He opened the door and ran for the shelter of the bank as the rained continued to pour down. Jane reached for the paper and started to read the article once more.

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Friday 10 October 2008


2am Exclusive!

A woman who worked for the World Health Organisation is being sought for the bombing of the Mantek research facility that left three late night workers dead.

Jane Simpson, who performed an unnamed role for the international body, is said to be missing from her home and workplace and is the prime suspect in the race to find the bomber.

Police have also linked the Mantek bombing with the police station attack last night that left six dead and one prisoner missing but declined to comment on the link.

Chief of Police Chris Cameron said, ‘We need to talk to Miss Simpson to eliminate her from our enquiries.’

Miss Simpson was believed to be investigating the bombing at the Mantek research facility but suspicion has fallen on her since her disappearance without warning yesterday from her WHO office.

Also sought in the investigation is Doctor Andrew Owen, who worked for Mantek and the World Health Organisation, and is also missing. Doctor Owen has not been seen since the day of the bombing. When asked if the two disappearances were linked and if Dr Owen and Ms Simpson could be working together, Cameron said only ‘No comment’.

While there is currently no link between the bombing and the helicopter attack on the Freeway two days ago, a source close to the investigation tells us that ‘It’s only a matter of time until the two are linked. There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence there and this is a much bigger investigation than you might think. The police believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.’

Our source continued, ‘As long as Miss Simpson and Doctor Owen are still out there, we can expect more attacks.’

Miss Simpson’s family declined to comment. Dr Owen’s family could not be reached at the time of going to press.

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Wednesday 8 October 2008

Review: The Business (Blu-ray)

I've been on holiday but I'm back reviewing now. My review of Brit crime flick The Business is now online at DVDActive.

The Rising - Chapter 43: Monster

I felt hands gripping my shoulders tightly. A hard slap across the face brought me back into reality. I realised I was in the corridor outside our cell. I had lost time.

Did I black out?

Skinner shouted in my face. ‘Snap out of it, Tom. Jesus Christ, what have you done?’

What do you mean?’ I had no idea what he was talking about.

You don’t know?’

No,’ I said and shrugged his hands from my shoulders, ‘Get your hands off me.’

Okay Tom,’ Skinner said, ‘Look what you’ve done.’

Skinner moved aside to reveal a scene that filled me with horror. The door to our cell was wide open. On the floor of the corridor were two twitching bodies: Carl and another man I didn’t recognise. Very slowly, I took small steps towards them. Their heads were both twisted at unnatural angles. I looked closer. Their limbs twitched like they were being electrocuted and their eyes were darting around in their sockets.

Oh my God,’ I exclaimed, ‘They’re not dead.’

No. They’re vampires. You can’t kill them by battering them and breaking their necks like you did, but it will incapacitate them for a while until their bodies heal.’

I did this?’

Yes. Just a few seconds ago. Don’t you remember?’

Not a thing.’ I looked at my hands. They were dripping with blood. The vampires lying on the floor were injured but they weren’t bleeding heavily.

Where did the blood come from? As soon as the thought entered my mind, I knew the answer.

I stepped over Carl’s twitching legs and held my breath as I slowly peered round the door to our cell. Lying on the floor just inside the cell was the young girl, her delicate clothes soaked in her own blood. Her neck had been ravaged. The skin was hanging like it had been ripped apart by a savage beast.

I swallowed. A horrible metallic taste slid down my throat. My heart was pumping so fast, I thought I was going to pass out.

I didn’t do this. I couldn’t do this, I thought as I looked down at my shirt. It was soaked through with the little girl’s blood.

All the blood in my body raced to my head. The warmth spread up my legs and arms and neck. My body crumpled and I slumped to the floor, weeping into my bloody hands.

I screamed as loud as I could. I felt Skinner’s hands on my shoulders again but I didn’t shake them off. I took the little girl in my arms and hugged her tightly. Blood poured from her wound as I squeezed her body. The wound where I had bitten her neck and fed on her blood. I couldn’t remember a thing.

What’s happening to me?

I’m turning into a monster.

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Monday 6 October 2008

The Rising - Chapter 42: The Cliffside Hotel

The small town of Blackchapel sat high in the mountains, far from the interference of the big city. Its main function was as a stop-off point for hikers, mountain climbers and those making their way up to the ski slopes in the winter.

It’s definitely not skiing weather today, Dave thought as the first heavy drops of rain rattled off his car. The wipers were going at full speed as he turned his car into the car park of the Cliffside Hotel, an impressive structure with a large wooden entrance that gave it the look of an over-sized ski lodge. Overlooking the foggy depths on the opposite side of the road, it was an unexpected, imposing sight on a road that had been empty for miles.

Blackchapel was a town based solely on one side of the road. Just down from the hotel were a bar and a convenience store with apartments above and a filling station at the end of the row of buildings. Driving fast enough along the mountain road you could blink and almost miss the whole town.

At nine o’clock in the morning, Dave assumed correctly that the bar would be closed and instead decided to head for the hotel entrance. The wind outside made the rain pour into the car as soon as he opened the door. Dave jumped out, ran across the car park and up the steps to the revolving doors that led him into the hotel reception. He did his best to shake the rain off his jacket and what hair hadn’t receded from the top of his shiny head.

A young man in a red jacket approached him. ‘Hello, sir. Welcome to the Cliffside Hotel. I am the concierge. Can I take your bags?’

Erm… no thanks. I haven’t got any. Just passing through.’

Passing through, sir? Are you visiting friends?’

Something like that, yes. Do you have a room free?’

Of course, sir. We’re out of season now until the winter. The weather’s turning so I don’t think the few visitors we’ve had here over the last few nights will be staying long. Please come over to the desk.’

The young man escorted Dave to the reception desk and walked round to the other side. Dave cast his eyes round the amber-lit reception hall and noticed that he and the concierge were alone.

You’re right. It’s quiet here today. Is there no one else working here?’

Not at the front desk, sir. Just me today.’

Must be slow out of season.’

No, sir. Actually, the Morningside Mall rents out a lot of the rooms during the quiet season for the staff that work the night shifts.’

The Morningside Mall? That’s pretty far away, isn’t it?’

It is, but there’s a bus that picks the staff up and brings them home. They’ll be back here very soon, actually.’

I suppose I’d better get my head down if I want some rest, then.’

No, don’t worry. They usually just sleep through the day.’

Are the workers from round here?’ Dave asked, expecting a shifty look to confirm his suspicions that the mall workers were illegal immigrants.

Yes sir. They’ve lived round here for a long time.’

Dave thought it was odd that a mall would rent out a hotel for its workers but not being an expert in the leisure industry, he shrugged it off.

Can you give me a room with a view of the road and the mountains?’

The concierge looked at Dave a little funny. He picked a set of keys off a numbered hook behind him and handed them to him. ‘Here you go, sir. Room two-thirteen. Perfect view of the road. And the mountains of course. Take the elevator to the second floor then take a left and follow the signs.’

Thanks,’ said Dave and made his way to the elevator.

The silence of the hotel was eerie. There wasn’t even any muzak playing in the elevator to put his mind at ease. He got out of the elevator and made his way towards room two-thirteen. The floor creaked under his feet. He reached the door to his room and looked up and down the long corridor to his left and right.

No one. No movement. Not a sound.

The whole place made him feel uneasy and he felt a sense of relief as he entered the room and shut the door. The bed, desk and chair in the corner made the room look just like any other hotel room he had ever stayed in but it didn’t feel them same. Dave locked the door behind him.

He walked over to the window and threw the curtains open. Just as the concierge had said, he had a perfect view of the road. The wind was blowing the rain away from the hotel so there would be no problem spotting the black car belonging to Doctor Forrest, should it return to Blackchapel.

Dave pulled the chair away from the desk and sat himself down by the window. He grabbed the remote and turned the TV to a news channel, just to have some background noise and cast his gaze towards the road.

The car had better return soon. This place is freaking me out.

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