Okay, I’ve finished Parallel and the next book is coming along quite nicely, thanks for asking. Now I have just about zero exposure to any potential agents and publishers and nothing previously published. (Coward cries the voice in my head.)
Here’s the thing, I’ve got this short story I’m writing and the plan is to make it the first of a number of short stories connected by worldwide events. I paint the picture with the first chapter and others contribute. If the end result hangs together as I think it should, it will make an epic dystopian fantasy. Here’s the opening.
The iron grate gave a grinding squeal before clattering onto the cobblestones. Chez climbed from the stormwater drain and into an alley that was bathed in the pre dawn darkness. He had seen much in his thirteen years; perhaps more than any thirteen year old before him.
He walked with caution down the alley sliding his fingertips along the old brick wall as a guide, until he came out onto George Street and the glow of the transients’ fires. Burning garbage cans lined the cluttered footpaths, lighting the way North and South. As soon as he had that light he began running north, towards the harbour and the Circular Square.
The air was cold against his face as he sprinted down the broken street, past the rusted car bodies and the shattered shopfronts long ago looted of anything useful. Past the grand old Town Hall where the Vols hung out sniffing glues, solvents or anything else they could scrounge from the corpse of the city. Past the fallen dome of the Queen Victoria Building, the once beautiful landmark now a burned out skeleton. Chez kept running, ignoring these distractions and the burning in his chest. He had to make it to the top of the square. They were all depending on him.
Nan had told him, “Today is the day, Chez, I can feel it. You have to be our eyes now. Run and don’t stop until you reach the top of the Circular Square.”
Chez ran down the length of the shattered streetscape, passing the empty buildings that had made up the, once proud, city of Sydney. He could not imagine what those days were like. How these glass and concrete ghosts were filled with people. There was plenty in those days and people either thought or pretended that it would last forever. It didn’t.
“It was foretold that there would be terrible times in the last days and they were terrible times indeed,” Nan had told him.
“Today is the day, Chez, I can feel it.” Nan’s voice in his mind strengthened him and soon he could feel the others.
As he ran beneath the starless sky, others entered his thoughts, like guests arriving at a feast. Each arrival brought with them a recollection, a moment in time that they had shared together, and by it he recognised them..
There was Dredge and Stalk who had recently managed to raid a stash of old canned goods from the Hyde Park Rangers. None of the cans had labels but most of them had rip tabs on top making them easy to open. The group sat around a fire on the underground platform at Museum Station, opening tins and exchanging contents until everyone had eaten their fill. Then Chez had opened one more can, just to see what was in it, and there were these orange balls chopped in half, floating in thick yellow liquid.
“What’s this?” he asked Nan.
Her eyes lit up at the sight of the apricot halves. She insisted he share them with everyone else but there was not enough for Nan or himself.
“That’s okay,” she said with a smile. “You have the juice.”
He had sipped the nectar of the apricots and it was like heaven. He drank it slowly, savouring the sweet draught until it was all gone and he cut his tongue trying to lick the last few drops of syrup out of the tin.
As each new mind arrived they took the place around the memory.
There was Darl whom Chez had a crush on, but he kept those feelings hidden from the others. She smiled at him as she had that day and he blushed.
Nan’s voice in his mind suddenly brought him back to the ravaged streets. “You’re nearly at the Square.”
Up ahead stood Australia Square, the cylindrical tower silhouetted against the lightening sky. Leaping over a low wall where a long dead garden had been, he cut across the courtyard to the foot of the old cylindrical skyscraper.