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#1: Rebirth - About - Go to Chapter 1

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

Saturday 29 November 2008

Anthology update

It's taken a while but I've now got everything I need to start pulling the first edition of the *.fiction anthology togther. All the submissions are in my hands and now I've just got to format it all so it looks like a book. I've got great submissions from ten authors so it's going to be an exciting taster of different types of online writing and hopefully very affordable.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Review: Futurama: Bender's Game (Blu-ray)

My review of the latest Futurama release is now online at

Friday 28 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 65: Hanging In The Darkness

The car stopped in a clearing at the edge of a cliff. Shadows from the mountains kept us in relative darkness but I was still worried about getting out of the car.

I had no idea how much ultraviolet light my skin could absorb before it started to burn. One of the few things I remembered about leaving The Brotherhood’s regional headquarters the night before was lying in the helicopter feeling like my skin had been removed inch by inch with a potato peeler. I had only been in direct sunlight for about thirty seconds.

Jackson got out of the car and opened my door. My hesitation spoke volumes. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘We won’t be out here for long.’

Why, are we getting picked up?’ I asked.

No, this is the end of the road. Have you flown yet?’

Erm, no. Not really. Why?’ I asked. I almost forgot that I was supposed to have been a vampire for only a few hours, not a flying, murdering, Captain-eating son of a bitch.

You know the fight or flight theory?’


Well, for your brothers and sisters it’s more literal than it was when you were human. Get out of the car and I’ll show you what I mean.’

I hesitated again, but Jackson had finished being friendly. He leaned over, grabbed me by my shirt collar and dragged me out of the car.

Hey, what the hell are you doing?’ I shouted as Jackson picked me up and lifted me above his head, ‘Put me down!’

Time to learn how to fly, new boy.’

Jackson ran to the edge of the cliff and threw my struggling body into the darkness below. My whole body tingled as I felt myself tumbling down. It was like the dream where you’re falling forever and only ends when you wake up in a cold sweat.

Only I didn’t wake up. I was more awake and alert than I’d ever been in my life. I screamed as I fell feet first. The warmth of my blood spread up through my body and collected in my head and shoulders. The air in the dark chasm became colder the further I fell.

Then, just when I thought I was destined for a bloody end on the rocks, I stopped falling.

My descent slowed and slowed until I was hanging in mid-air. I stopped screaming and looked all around me. It was the strangest feeling I had ever had. I could see the sharp rocks below me on the base of the cavern but something was stopping me from falling, suspending me in the air just a few metres from a small ledge and a pair of large wooden doors built into the rock.

Did I do this? Am I controlling my body?

I looked up and saw two figures appear in the bright band of sky above and fly down towards me. In a swift intricate move, Jackson flew headfirst towards the ledge and performed a back flip in the air to land perfectly on his feet. Skinner stopped next to me, holding our metal case in his arms.

That was a shitty thing for him to do,’ he said, ‘Are you okay?’

I guess so,’ I said, still in shock from the fall.

Skinner grabbed me by the collar and dragged me across the chasm, setting me down on the ledge as he landed. I took a couple of steps, steadying myself on my feet.

Jackson banged on the wooden door. After a few seconds the sound of unlocking bolts filled the chasm. The doors creaked open.

Two vampires dressed in black cloaks, with swords at their side held the doors open as a female figure dressed in black combat gear stood waiting for us.

Welcome home, Jackson,’ she said, ‘All of you come inside. I need to speak to you. Now.’

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Wednesday 26 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 64: Unmarked Car

Just a few moments after we saw the sign telling us we were entering Blackchapel, we’d passed through the small town high in the mountains.

In a town that comprised a hotel, a filling station and a few shops that whizzed past the car window, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that drew my attention. A lone car was parked outside the hotel. A lone car that looked suspiciously like one of the police department’s unmarked cars. Unmarked cars are supposed to blend in anywhere but the sight of a slightly battered dark blue Ford out here in the middle of nowhere made me a little suspicious. I hoped this was my cop’s instinct rather than another one of my new powers.

We made our way through the mountains in silence. Skinner had long since lost topics of conversation with Jackson and I had lost the will to interrogate him about being a vampire. I had learned all I wanted to learn so far today and I didn’t want to think about what surprises were in store when we arrived at the place our driver called home.

The car turned a corner and we were faced with a huge chasm. As we worked our way round the sheer drop next to us, I looked round and saw a car on the road behind us.

The dark blue Ford.

I knew this was far too much of a coincidence and had to do something to find out who was in the car. If it was Dave, I needed to know. I needed to know that he was okay and I needed to know that he was nearby if I ran into trouble.

I grabbed my stomach and shouted, ‘Stop the car!’

Jackson looked in his mirror, ‘What’s wrong back there?’

I think I’m going to be sick.’

What? We’re nearly there.’

Pull over. Please!’

Jackson stopped the car before the corner at the edge of the chasm. I flung the door open and stuck my fingers down my throat. As the burning flow of vomit moved up through my throat and splashed onto the floor, I wondered if I could have thought of a better way of getting him to stop the car.

The car that had been following us drove past and I made eye contact with the driver. As I suspected, it was an unmarked car and the driver was a police officer. A detective called Dave to be precise.

I spat the last piece of vomit onto the road and closed the door.

Are you okay?’ Skinner asked.

Yeah, I’ll be alright,’ I said, ‘Must have had too much for breakfast.’

Jackson took us barely a mile down the road until we reached a metal gate at the side of the road. I saw that Dave had pulled over just ahead and I’m sure our driver didn’t fail to notice him either. He took a radio control out of his pocket and pressed the button. When the gates were open, Jackson took us into the darkness ahead.

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Monday 24 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 63: Knowing Looks

I wish I knew what the hell is going on, Dave thought.

The black car that had passed the hotel was indeed the black car that Dave had followed from Doctor Forrest’s house to Blackchapel. Now, on what was quickly turning into the strangest day of his life, Dave was back doing what he seemed to do best.

Following this damn car and not knowing who is driving or where they’re going.

The road out of Blackchapel led them further up into the mountains. There were no turnings whatsoever so Dave could afford to back off and let a large gap build up between them. After all, if the driver in front cottoned on that he was being followed by the same car again, Dave wouldn’t have room to turn round and make his getaway.

Dave tried to call his wife again but the mountains obstructed the mobile phone signal. He hoped she had taken his advice and got the kids out of the city. He didn’t want the same thing to happen to his family that had happened to Doctor Owen’s wife. It had only been a few hours since Tom had come knocking but he suspected he wouldn’t be able to return home for a while. This investigation was sure to take a long time so he knew it would be for the best if his wife wasn’t waiting at home worrying about when he might return.

He was trying to piece together the events of the morning so far. The police station had been attacked; most likely by a vampire from the description Tom had given him of their techniques. This had led him to the house where Officer Myers was attacked. Now he was following a car being driven by a man who had visited that house to pick up some syringes that had been hidden in the main bedroom. At the same time, the police had changed their line of enquiry to the very people who had asked him for help at the lake.

And they’re counting me as part of that gang.

As Dave turned a corner, he saw that a large part of the road ahead was visible and just before another turning, he saw the black car hit the brakes.

It’s slowing down.

It’s stopped.

If Dave stopped as well, the driver would be alerted to the fact that he was definitely being followed. He decided to take the risk that the driver had stopped for a different reason and kept going. When he reached the car, he saw the door behind the driver swing open. A head popped out and threw up onto the road. The head then looked up at Dave.


Dave kept driving and went past the black car and round the corner without incident.

As soon as he saw Tom, Dave knew that he must have stopped the car on purpose. Tom must have known Dave was following them and wanted him to know that he was with whoever that was in the car. There had been a third figure in the car, which Dave assumed was Skinner.

Dave pushed on ahead and about a mile further down the road, saw a turning. He didn’t take the turning, however, due to a metal gate obstructing his path. Just further down the road was a lookout point that allowed travellers to admire the views of the mountains.

Dave stopped the car and got out, pretending to take pictures with the camera on his mobile phone as soon as the black car appeared at the top of the road. He saw the car stop at the gate, wait for it to open and drive through.

Looking around the tall mountains, Dave noticed that they were casting long shadows everywhere, even though the middle of the day had only just passed.

You could probably walk for miles without being in direct sunlight. The perfect place for vampires to make their home.

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Friday 21 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 62: Introductions

Agent Clarkson had been listening to The Brotherhood’s radio conversations all day.

They had been completely focused on the capture of Doctor Owen and his companion, Agent Jane Simpson. There was also talk of a detective called Tom Ryder and a missing soldier called Private Skinner. She had heard no talk of anything else, which is why she was shocked to hear the general’s announcement go out across the airwaves.

‘This is General Graham. All troops abort your missions and return to Hartley House immediately. Repeat: return to Hartley House immediately.’

A sign at the side of the road indicated that a lay-by was coming up soon so when she saw that it was clear, she slowed down and stopped her bike in the clearing. The car that was following her did the same. She knew it would take another twenty minutes to reach the address on the note she had left with the tapes so now that The Brotherhood had called off the search, it was time to say hello to her new friends.

She dismounted and took off her helmet, leaving it perched on the seat of her bike, then approached the car and made her way into the back seat. The faces of the man and woman in front of her were still trembling slightly with shock from the attack. They had only just escaped and had no idea who this person was.

‘Who are you?’ Jane asked, with more than a small dose of fear cracking her voice.

‘Forgive me for what has happened this morning. I felt compelled to help you,’ Becky began.


‘You’re Agent Simpson, aren’t you?’

‘That’s right.’

‘I was once an agent of the World Health Organisation as well. Because of the situation we’re all in I guess you already know they are not to be trusted. When I realised you were not following orders of the World Health Organisation or The Brotherhood, I knew I had to find out what you know. You’re Doctor Owen, aren’t you?’

‘That’s correct.’

‘And you’re picking up all the materials you have on the primary treatment, is that right?’

‘Yes. How did you know?’

‘Why are you doing this now?’

‘Wait a minute,’ Jane said, ‘why should we be talking to you? We don’t even know your name.’

Becky looked Jane straight in the eye. ‘You may have heard of me. My name is Becky Clarkson.’

Jane’s eyes widened. ‘Oh my God. Agent Clarkson. But you’ve been off the grid for…’

‘Two years. I had no choice. I discovered something that put my life in jeopardy.’

‘What was that?’ asked Doctor Owen.

‘I know of an agreement between humans and vampires. The treaty is not in place to maintain the current populations. It is there to support a concerted effort to balance the populations of the species.’

Jane shook her head vigorously.

‘That’s not possible. The vampire community is compelled to maintain a small population. Their numbers would grow exponentially if they came out into the open. The Costas report states that the human species would be wiped out within just a few years. That would also result in the extinction of the vampires because there would be no human blood to feed on.’

‘I know the report you’re talking about but it purposely doesn’t take all factors into consideration. It neglects the idea of collusion between vampires and humans, where the populations are actively maintained at mutually beneficial levels. That report was leaked into the public domain on purpose in an attempt to keep the idea of vampires a fantasy.’

‘I don’t understand,’ Jane said, ‘How can the population levels be maintained?’

‘I have evidence at the address on the note,’ Becky said and opened the door, ‘I think the doctor will be particularly interested in what I have to show you. Follow me.’

‘No,’ Jane said, ‘how do we know we can trust you?’

‘I saved your life. Don’t worry, you don’t have to thank me now, but if you don’t follow me, you’re on your own against the vampires and The Brotherhood. Your choice.’

Becky slammed the door and marched back to her motorbike.

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Wednesday 19 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 61: Change Of Plan

General Graham hung up the phone and only just resisted the urge to pick the portable comms unit up and throw it across the stone-floored entrance hall of Hartley House.

The general hated taking orders from anyone at the World Health Organisation, but he especially hated taking orders from that pencil-pushing bastard Ellis. All Ellis cared about was the treaty and following the conditions of the agreement between humans and vampires to the letter. He didn’t care about the effects of the Rising, only what it meant for the people they were supposed to protect. All he cared about was getting paid.

General Graham didn’t believe in the treaty but he followed it. He had no choice. After all, the plan had been laid down fifty years ago when it became clear that medical treatment for the virus might be possible.

Both species knew they needed to secure their future. If the vampires broke the treaty, they knew they wouldn’t have the numbers to mount an effective resistance against the humans, and if the humans broke the treaty, there would be widespread panic if the vampires came out into the open. Now, fifty years since the treaty was signed and five hundred years since the first agreement between humans and vampires, the plans for the species to co-exist would come to fruition.

Fearing what would happen on the day of the Rising, General Graham had unofficially empowered Commander North with the task of developing a weapon that could be used to wipe out vampires once and for all. This had to happen before their numbers grew too large to deal with. But just as Doctor Owen and Doctor Forrest had almost completed work on the primary treatment, they had both gone missing and all the work they had done was quickly disappearing from their locations around the city.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the World Health Organisation had just called and told him to scale back their operations until tomorrow morning, when they would be informed of their new mission. If he didn’t recover the doctor before that operation, he suspected it would be too late.

Too late to stop the Rising.

General Graham stepped out of the main doors and looked across the grounds. Debris from the previous day’s battle was still scattered across the lawns, which had been torn apart by gunfire and the falling remnants of the wooden lookout towers. The falling rain was quickly turning the once-beautiful grounds into a muddy bog.

The general’s attention was taken by a battered truck chugging down the gravel drive. It stopped at the front steps and two men immediately jumped out. They took one of their men in their arms and ran up the steps into the house. General Graham winced as he saw the burns on the face of the unconscious casualty, whose camouflage gear was charred and falling apart.

He walked down the steps to meet Captain Sayers as he got out of the truck.

‘We need a recovery crew to go to the Expressway,’ Captain Sayers said, ‘We’ve got two trucks sitting on the road holding up the traffic. This is going to make the news. Too many people saw everything. Private Blondheim was blown in half trying to stop the explosion. It’s a fucking mess.’

‘I’ve already sent a team to pick up the wreckage,’ said General Graham.

‘If we’re going to stop Agent Simpson and pick up the doctor, I’ll need more men.’

‘There has been a change of plan. The World Health Organisation are pursuing this line of investigation. We will remain here and await their call.’

‘What? With Agent Clarkson out there? We need to stop her at all costs. She’s going to screw up everything. I’ve just lost good men today to a chick on a motorbike. We’ve got to get back out there and take that bitch apart!’

‘Keep that attitude in check, Sayers. We all have orders. I have mine and you have yours. Shit rolls downhill.’

‘Yes sir,’ Captain Sayers said grudgingly, ‘How is our resident vampire?’

‘Stein’s still alive for now. Have you got a use for him? I was thinking about leaving him out here to get a suntan.’

‘The detective is still missing. He could still help us out.’

‘Okay, you check on him. Unless he’s causing any trouble, we’ll keep hold of him until this is over.’

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Monday 17 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 60: Ghosts From The Past

It was a dark day outside and the clouds were gathering in the sky. It was a day for ghosts from the past to make their reappearance.

Steve Ellis stood at the door to his office, watching the return of Will Harris, their prodigal son. As soon as they realised that Becky Clarkson had come out of hiding he had ordered Jodi, his deputy, to move Will back upstairs after two years in exile. Steve had been sorry to lose Will. He was one of the most capable operatives on the team and had clocked up more hours on Black Ops support than anyone else. Even now, no one had come close to his achievements. Steve was certain he would fit back in to the team in no time.

He needs to fit back in if we’re going to track down Agent Clarkson.

The phone on Steve’s desk rang and he shut the door to his office. The plaque on the door read ‘World Health Organisation Regional Operations Director’.

He sat down in his Italian leather chair and answered the call.

‘Mister Ellis,’ a deep voice boomed down the telephone. Steve had been expecting the call but this did not stop him being gripped by fear at the mention of his name.

‘Marcus,’ Steve replied in a hushed voice, ‘To what do I owe the honour?’

‘I understand there are complications. Enlighten me.’

‘Agent Clarkson went dark two years ago. She has just come out of hiding this morning. We are still investigating her reappearance but she has already caused casualties today.’

‘I thought she had been taken care of.’

‘A Black Ops mission was thought to have resulted in her death but there were no survivors so we could never say for sure. We thought it was safe to assume she had been neutralised.’

‘We cannot afford to make any assumptions. Will this affect our plans?’

‘No sir. I guarantee this will not affect our plans at all.’

‘Excellent. We will be moving ahead with the plan tonight.’


‘That won’t be a problem, will it Mister Ellis?’

‘Of course not sir, I would let you know well in advance if we had any problems.’

‘That was not intended as a question, Mister Ellis. The plan will be moving ahead. Your protection will be required at sunrise tomorrow. The location remains the same.’


‘I would also like to remind you that for now the treaty remains in place. The Brotherhood have operated without their usual level of secrecy for the last three days. You must ensure that they maintain a low profile until tomorrow morning.’

‘I will speak to General Graham immediately.’

‘And inform your superiors that the next phase of the plan will be going ahead. We have all waited a long time for this moment and finally it is within reach. The Rising must proceed without interruptions.’

With that, Marcus Verrico was gone. Steve knew General Graham would not appreciate being told to scale back his efforts. That would make it very difficult to pick up Agent Clarkson, but there was nothing he could do. The plan had been written and agreed many years ago and there was nothing anyone could do to change it. He checked his watch.

Less than twenty hours until the Rising reaches the point of no return.

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Friday 14 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 59: 'She's Back'

Agent Becky Clarkson had only one magnetic grenade left but there were still two trucks ahead of her. The soldiers on board were now well aware of her presence and had diverted their attention away from Jane and the doctor, who were still struggling to pull away from the thundering military vehicles on their tail.

That’s exactly what she wanted but she wasn’t prepared to let them use her as target practice for long. Bullets whistled past her and she dropped back, knowing it was only a matter of time until one of them found their intended target.

She took the grenade in her hand and flicked the plastic cap off the end. A red diode lit up to indicate the grenade was primed.

I’ve got to time this perfectly.

With her other hand Agent Clarkson yanked the accelerator and moved closer to the trucks, keeping her head down from the gunfire. When she was confident she was within range, she pressed the button on the end of the grenade. It made a small whining noise that wasn’t audible to her through her helmet but she knew how much time she had.

Three seconds until it turns magnetic.

Becky threw the grenade into the air and hit the brake. The bike slid all over the road and she had to speed up again to re-gain control.

One… two…

Before the grenade hit the road, it changed direction in mid-air and flew towards the truck on the left. There was a clunk as it hit the rear bumper.

Five seconds.

Becky watched from a distance as one of the soldiers on board the doomed truck knelt over the tailgate to see where the explosive had landed. He held onto the back of the truck with one arm and tried to lean over to reach the grenade. He gripped it and tried to wrestle it free but the magnetic force was too strong for one man to break the seal.

Five seconds are up.

The back of the truck exploded in a ball of fire, and the top of the soldier’s body turned into a cloud of red mist that blew away in the torrential rain. The rest of him fell off the back of the truck onto the road. Becky had to swerve to avoid the bloody pair of legs that flailed towards her.

The remains of the flaming truck skidded to the right and crashed into the back of the remaining truck, which lost its grip on the flooded road and spun through one hundred and eighty degrees, coming to a halt in the emergency lane.

Before the soldiers could compose themselves and pick up their weapons, Agent Clarkson hit the accelerator again and zoomed past the wreckage. She pulled her bike up alongside what was left of Jane and the doctor’s car and looked through the driver’s window.

Both the driver and the passenger had shock written across their faces. They stared at her, unsure if they were next on her hit list. Becky pointed forward to indicate they should follow her and moved ahead of their car.

Captain Sayers kicked the truck door open and stumbled onto the road. Two soldiers got out of his truck and ran over to the burning shell next to them. They dragged one of their squad mates out of the driver’s seat. His uniform was on fire and he screamed as they rolled him on the road, trying to extinguish the flames in pools of rainwater.
Sayers lifted his radio. ‘Come in General Graham, this is Captain Sayers.’

‘This is General Graham, come in Luke.’

‘We’ve lost two vehicles.’

‘Did you capture the fugitives?’

‘Negative. We were ambushed.’

‘Was it a lone attacker on a motorbike?’

‘Affirmative. How did you know? Do you know who it was?’

‘Yes. We’ve just found out this second. It’s Agent Clarkson. She’s back.’

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Wednesday 12 November 2008

Review: Guilty Pleasures - Masters Of The Universe

My arguments for and against the merits of this relic ofthe 80s are now online at DVDActive.

The Rising - Chapter 58: 'Pull Over Now!'

Jane floored the accelerator and weaved in and out of the traffic. The wet road made manoeuvring difficult and she felt the wheels of the car spinning as they passed over patches of standing water.

Most of the cars on the road were either slowing down or veering wildly across the lanes to get out of the way of the massive trucks that were thundering along the Expressway. Jane had to keep her wits about her just to avoid the panicked movements of the car ahead of her, never mind the firepower that was being unleashed just behind them.

Soldiers of The Brotherhood were hanging out of the passenger windows of each truck, firing their rifles in the direction of Jane and Doctor Owen. They didn’t think twice if their bullets found another target. The sound of tearing metal and screeching tyres drowned out the rain, which was interrupted by regular crunches of metal on metal and blaring horns.

Captain Sayers sat in the lead truck, watching the attack unfold. Don’t kill them, he had told his men, but make sure you scare them and run them off the road.

The car Jane was driving was more nimble than their trucks but they had all three lanes of the Expressway covered and all she could do was swerve across the road from the gun sights of one truck to the other. The back of their car was being torn apart by all the gunfire it was taking but it kept on going. It wouldn’t last forever but they were living by the second, just doing their best to survive with no thought of how they could escape the attack.

Sayers picked up the radio. ‘Jesus Christ, can’t any of you hit the tyres?’

He didn’t expect a reply and didn’t get one. ‘Okay,’ he continued into the radio, ‘Cease fire and hit the lights.’

A huge set of spotlights on the top of each truck illuminated and cast a blinding beam of white light onto the road ahead. Captain Sayers hit the button on the radio to turn it into a loudspeaker.

‘Agent Simpson,’ his voice boomed across the Expressway, ‘Pull over now and you will not be harmed.’

Jane straightened the car’s movement but did not slow down. Captain Sayers nodded to the soldier who was hanging out of the side of his truck. The soldier fired off a short burst that tore through the rear of the car. Sayers picked up the radio again.

‘Agent Simpson, pull over now!’

She slowed the car down and started to pull over towards the edge of the road. The road ahead was almost clear. Everyone on the road had either pulled over or hit the gas to get as far away from the gunfire as possible.

Jane was about to stop the car when there was a loud bang from the truck on the right. Sayers looked out of the window to see it swerve and spin off the road, with smoke pouring out of the back. It smashed through the barrier at the side of the road and fell onto its side as it hit the grassy verge. Jane put her foot to the floor and moved back to the middle of the road.

‘What the hell is going on?’ Captain Sayers shouted into the radio at the other trucks.

‘Grenade, Captain. No casualties but our truck is out of commission. It was a single attacker on a motorbike. Look out behind.’

Sayers turned round to look out of the back of the truck and saw a figure in black on a motorbike speeding towards them.

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Monday 10 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 57: Nowhere To Go

Jane opened the boot of the car and found a space for the bag of tapes next to the medical boxes of samples they had taken from The Brotherhood’s base. She slammed the boot shut and ran round to the driver’s door.

‘Do you know where Abbey Tower is?’ Doctor Owen asked her, shouting through the noise of the rain bouncing off the car.

‘No,’ Jane replied, ‘but there’s a road atlas in the car. You can navigate. Come on, let’s go.’

They got into the car and Jane hit the accelerator. Under Doctor Owen’s guidance they got back onto the Expressway. With most commuters now at their places of work, the traffic was moving along at a decent pace, even if the conditions were still wet.

‘Keep on going,’ the doctor said, running his finger along the map, ‘The exit isn’t for a while yet.’

‘What the hell happened back there?’ Jane asked, not for a moment expecting a coherent answer from her companion.

‘Whoever killed all those people must have known we were going there.’

‘Who knows about that place?’

‘Doctor Forrest springs to mind, but why would he give the location away to anyone else if he wanted us to retrieve the tapes?’

‘Are you sure you can trust him? Maybe he’s putting us through all this to set us up.’

‘No, we can trust him. I’ve known him for a very long time. He has my total confidence.’

‘Anyone else?’

‘Apart from Doctor Forrest, you can take your pick of pretty much any member of The Brotherhood. If they saw us deleting the data from Mantek, they probably would have assumed we would try to get the tapes.’

‘But whoever killed those soldiers couldn’t have been from The Brotherhood, and I’m sure that none of them were vampires either. Something else is going on here.’

‘Look, we’ve still got two more stops to make. Whoever this is must be able to help us. Why else would they leave us that note?’

‘I hope so. Otherwise we haven’t got a chance of standing up against another building full of armed guards.’

Jane slammed her fist on the dashboard and yelled obscenities in frustration.

‘What is it?’ Doctor Owen asked.

‘Look at us. We haven’t got a clue what the hell we’re doing. We left The Brotherhood last night with boxes full of samples for you to carry on your work but now we’ve got nowhere to go. We’ve been trailing round the city picking up more of your crap and now we’re blindly going to another random address just because someone wrote us a note. It’s amazing that we’ve stayed alive this long!’

‘We’re out of options, Jane!’ Doctor Owen shouted back, ‘It’s a shitty situation but it’s the best we’ve got.’

Jane cast a look in her rear view mirror. A big black object was far behind in the mist. A few seconds later she looked again. This time the black object was bigger, joined by identical companions on either side.

‘Have you seen the trucks behind us?’ she said.

Doctor Owen turned round. Before he could check out the trucks that were moving quickly towards them, they heard a faint rattle of gunfire. The rear windscreen shattered into a thousand pieces.

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Friday 7 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 56: No Missed Calls

‘Room service!’

Dave got out of his chair for the first time since he arrived at the hotel and opened the door to his room. He found himself faced with the concierge, carrying a tray that held a silver platter, a bottle of water and the smallest bottle of tomato ketchup he had ever seen.

‘Jeez, are you doing every job today?’ Dave asked as he let the concierge into the room and watched him place the tray on the end of his bed.

‘Pretty much,’ he said, ‘Have you managed to get some rest?’

‘A little.’

Dave signed for his meal and saw the concierge to the door.

‘If you need anything else, just give me a call,’ the concierge said.

‘Thanks,’ Dave said and closed the door on him.

He ran back to his chair by the window and gazed outside, just as he had been doing all morning. The rain was still pouring heavily from the dull grey sky, falling diagonally as the wind got stronger and stronger.

He lifted the lid on his lunch and took the plate full of over-priced cheeseburger and fries in his hands. He hoped he hadn’t missed the car going past in the few seconds that it took to get rid of the concierge. That’s the reason there was always two people on a stakeout, so one could cover while the other went to get refreshments or take whatever type of relief was required.

The television news channels were still reporting on the investigation into the attack on the police station. Unsurprisingly, there appeared to be no progress until Dave heard a reporter’s voice say, ‘We can now go live to the police station. Chief of Police Chris Cameron is about to make a statement.’

Dave moved his chair to allow himself to keep one eye on the road outside while taking in the announcement. The chief appeared outside the police station, walking directly into an onslaught of flashing cameras.

‘Thank you for your time,’ he said, ‘I will keep this brief and I will not take any questions following this statement.

‘I wish to announce the names of the individuals we need to speak to in the course of this investigation. I would encourage these people to come forward to allow us to eliminate them from our investigations.’

Yeah, right, Dave thought, These are the people you’ve got down as prime suspects.

The chief continued. ‘They are Jane Simpson of the World Health Organisation, Doctor Andrew Owen of Mantek pharmaceuticals and our own detectives Dave Thomas and Tom Ryder. All attempts to contact these people have proved fruitless so I am appealing to these people and anyone who may know where they are to call us with information.’

What the hell?

Dave took his mobile phone out of his pocket.

No missed calls. They haven’t tried to contact me.

He had a terrible thought. He called his wife and was relieved when she answered.

‘Dave, where are you? I was just about to call you. Have you seen the news? The police are looking for you.’

‘I know. I’m safe. I’m at a hotel in Blackchapel. Something weird is going on. Where are you?’

‘Blackchapel? Where the hell is that?’

‘It’s up in the mountains. Just tell me, where are you?’

‘I’m at home. Why?’

‘I need you to take the kids away. Rent a car and go up the coast.’

‘What? I’m not leaving.’

‘Trust me, please. We’re in danger.’


Dave almost dropped his burger as he got out of his chair. On the road outside, a black car was approaching. The black car.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘It’s very important. Believe me, you have to leave. I have to go now.’

He hung up, cutting his wife off as she continued her protests, and sprinted for the door.

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Wednesday 5 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 55: Moved Upstairs

Will Harris took the last gulp of his third cup of coffee of the morning. With no help from any of his so-called colleagues, he was getting nowhere and starting to despair.

The Mantek file system had been completely wiped and it was his job to restore all the files from the offsite backup. This was proving impossible because he would need someone from the offsite storage facility to bring the tapes over to him but no one was answering the phone over there.

Will had tried to escalate the problem to his manager but as usual, he had something better to do. Will knew that as soon as someone important decided this was a big problem, his manager would be interested but until then he was on his own. He had half a mind to get in his car and drive out there himself. After all, it’s just outside the city and he could have been there and back in the time he’d been hanging on the phone.

To hell with it, he thought, No one would thank me for it. Time for another cup of coffee.

Will got out of his seat and as he turned round to leave his cubicle, he was faced with a dark-haired woman in a sharp suit and glasses. She had blanked him for the past two years on the rare occasions they saw each other but now she wanted to talk. It was Jodi Carr, his old boss from upstairs.

‘Will, I need you to come with me,’ she said in the unfriendliest way she could.

‘Hi Jodi, how are you?’ he asked in a mischievously upbeat tone.

‘I need you to come with me, Will. Right now.’

‘I can’t. I’ve got to sort out this file system problem. I reported it to your guys upstairs but I haven’t heard anything back so I guess it’s up to me.’

‘This is related to the file system problem, Will.’

‘Well, there’s no answer at the storage facility. I don’t know how I’m going to restore the files.’

‘You won’t be able to,’ she said, ‘We have a bigger problem that we need your help with.’

A bigger problem that they need my help with? This should be fun…

‘What could you possibly need my help with?’

‘This,’ Jodi said and handed Will a photograph. It was a picture of a female with short dark hair, dressed in black running up a flight of stairs with a gun in her hand.

‘Who’s this?’ Will asked.

‘That is Agent Becky Clarkson. She has reappeared this morning. That picture was taken at the offsite storage facility less than an hour ago. She murdered everyone there. When our people got there, the dead bodies of the men were all neatly piled up and all the tapes were gone.’

Will was stunned. She was back. After two years, he thought he’d never hear anything from her again.

‘You were closer to her than anyone here.’

‘Close to her? I worked with her a few times but I wouldn’t say we were close.’

‘You’re the best shot we’ve got at bringing her in before anyone else gets killed. Pack up your things. You’re being moved upstairs.’

‘What, permanently?’ he asked, with hope in his voice.

Jodi didn’t answer his question. ‘Follow me.’

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Monday 3 November 2008

The Rising - Chapter 54: Virex

‘How long will it take to get there?’ I asked.

Jackson looked in his rear view mirror at me. ‘A little while, so make yourself comfortable.’

I checked the backs of my hands. They had turned a strong shade of pink in the short time it had taken us to run to the car, but my skin was now back to normal. I couldn’t imagine how the incredible healing power of the vampire virus would ever cease to amaze me.

I looked out of the window and watched the city rush past me and turn into countryside. The events that were unfolding were not what we were expecting when Skinner had the idea of officially registering me as a vampire. We had thought it would help my safe passage should we run into any bloodsuckers, but now we were being taken to their home. As it turned out, carrying the head of Commander North around with us had worked – we were about to find out so much more about what was going on. But at what cost?

I had many concerns going round in my head. The biggest worry of all was what the vampires knew about us without asking any questions. The vampire driving the car had worked out the whole situation at the outpost just a matter of seconds after he had arrived. Without saying a word, he had known who we were and whether we posed a threat to him or not.

Can he read our minds? Can he tell what I’m thinking now?

‘What’s going to happen to those men we left back there?’ I asked.

‘Don’t worry about them,’ Jackson said, ‘You’re not the first rebirth to go crazy after your first taste of blood. You won’t be the last, either. You only broke their bones. Their bodies will heal in time. If you had removed their limbs, it would have taken a lot longer to repair the damage. It’s their job to look after guys like you so I’m sure they won’t hold a grudge.’

‘Wow, us vampires are a friendly bunch, aren’t we?’ I quipped, trying to figure him out.

His stony face cracked a tiny smile. ‘Up to a point, new boy. Up to a point.’

He shot another glance at me in the mirror. ‘How was your first taste of blood?’

I wondered if he knew how I felt. Does he know how sick I feel after drinking the blood of a child, no matter how sweet it tasted and how much it quenched my uncontrollable thirst?

‘I can’t remember,’ I lied.

‘Do you remember why you went crazy?’

‘I would have preferred my first feed to be a little older.’

‘I understand. Get used to it though, new boy. When you have to feed, you don’t have a choice. Boy, girl or some old dear doddering along the street, they’re all the same to you now.’

I looked out of the window again and let his words ring in my ears. When you have to feed, you don’t have a choice.

As the hours went by, I was beginning to think there was no way back for me. Even if the doctor could finish work on the treatment, was I too far gone to turn back? I had already tasted the blood of two people and slaughtered more. As time ticked by, I was becoming less and less human.

The box containing Commander North’s head sat on the back seat next to me. Our ticket into the underworld. I knew The Brotherhood would be looking for us and I thought of Jane and Doctor Owen, hoping they were safe. In a perverse way I was happier to be with the vampires than on our own. I knew that at least if The Brotherhood found us, we would have a better chance of surviving their attack. Safety in numbers.

Jackson asked Skinner about what had happened the previous day at The Brotherhood’s regional headquarters. I took Jackson’s advice and sat back in my seat to get comfortable. As I tried to stretch my legs out, my feet hit something under the seat in front. I looked down and saw a small plastic box. Intrigued, I gripped the box between my feet and slowly drew it out into my foot well.

I was surprised at what I saw. The box was full of individually wrapped syringes, each filled with a yellow liquid. The plastic packaging around the syringes was printed with the word ‘Virex’. The yellow liquid looked exactly the same as the treatment Doctor Owen had given me. I was confused. This was too much of a coincidence.

If this is the same treatment I received, what is it doing in the back of a vampire’s car? And why is it packaged with a brand name?

I knew I had to get a sample of this back to the doctor. He would certainly want to check this out for himself. With Jackson still talking to Skinner, as quietly as I could I bent over and lifted two syringes out of the box and slipped them into my sock.

My actions had been quick enough not to warrant another glance in the mirror from Jackson. I sat back and watched the countryside go by, trying to work out the significance of my discovery.

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