So, here, for your delectation and delight, are the first three stories from Apocalypse. If you like them, and want to read on, the book is available in Kindle and print versions from all Amazon stores. Here are the links for UK and US, but if you live elsewhere, simply change the .co.uk or .com to your local variant.
Amazon UK – Kindle version
Amazon USA – Kindle version
Amazon UK – Print version
Amazon USA – Print version
Enjoy, and remember, it's not the end of the world...!
Brandon grabbed another beer from the cooler and turned to survey the crowd. He nodded to himself. It was going well. He was happy.
Now, if he could just find a way to get Ashley on her own, he’d be even happier.
He worked his way past the knots of people who had gathered in the kitchen area to talk, and back into the main lounge where the music was playing and some few people were dancing.
Ashley was over by the bedroom door, her glass of wine cupped up by her neck to keep it safely out of the way of gyrating bodies. She was talking with Jess, but that was okay. Jess and Brandon had dated for a while, but it had been years ago: a platonic, early teenage thing that they laughed about now. That she was still his friend gave Brandon confidence that he was an okay kind of boyfriend.
Brandon was halfway across the room, moving around the dancers and swaying to the beat, when Zach blocked his path.
“Josh is here,” he shouted, struggling to be heard over the music and chat.
Brandon nodded his understanding. “Cool. Has he got them?”
Zach nodded, grinning.
“Cool,” Brandon repeated. “Now?”
Again the nod.
They parted: Zach moving towards the main door to the apartment where Brandon could see Josh waiting with a large box in his arms; Brandon heading in the other direction, to where his iPod was plugged into the speakers.
“Hey!” he shouted over the groans and protests that greeted the sudden silence. “Hey, everyone! Up to the roof. We’ve got a surprise!”
He headed back through the crowd which was now grudgingly making its way out and up the stairs. He was able to position himself next to Ashley as he did so, and guided her through the crush with a hand on the small of her back. She gave him a smile and he knew that things were going to be okay.
Up on the roof, Josh was unpacking the box and setting up small devices around the parapet. Central Park was a dark absence in the distance. It would be the perfect backdrop.
“What is it?” Ashley asked Brandon as they found a space to stand in.
Brandon grinned and took a pull on his beer. “Wait and see.”
A moment later Josh moved back towards the gathered crowd, unwinding a spool of cable and holding a small box. He looked over at Brandon, who nodded, and then he pressed a button on the box.
The first set of fireworks went off with a whoosh and a second later fire burst in the sky.
There were an assortment of gasps and whoops, and Brandon felt himself tingle as Ashley slipped her arm through his and gazed up at the sky.
Another press of a button and a second set of rockets burst into the sky, lighting up the night.
However, unlike the first set, the light from these fireworks didn’t die away. Instead they grew in intensity. The light became almost too bright to look at, and then Brandon realised it wasn’t coming from the fireworks but from the sky itself. The dark of the night sky was torn with ribbons of red, like lava running through the atmosphere.
And then fireballs started to fall from the heavens and the assembled enjoyment changed to confusion and panic and, as one, the crowd turned and tried to squeeze through the door.
In the melee, Brandon lost sight of Ashley and then, in a tangle of feet, he fell and lost sight of anything at all.
He liked the dark. That was where he lived. Even when he walked in the daylight, talking and joking with friends and colleagues, he existed in a cocoon of darkness.
The night was the time when he could really be himself. No need to hold his desires in check, he could let them spread out far and wide and no-one could see them.
He stood in the shadow of the tree and waited. Sunset came late at this time of day on the Eastern seaboard, but it had finally arrived and he only had the streetlights to contend with.
He watched people walk past on the street and smoked another cigarette. He looked as though he was killing time, but he was waiting for that particular someone.
She came past here every Tuesday at this time, walking back from her Pilates class. He knew where she went and who with.
Always do your homework was his number one rule.
He knew which routes she took and when and why she might change her routine. He knew everything he needed to know.
And he knew that tonight was the night.
Right on schedule she appeared under a distant streetlight. The evening was warm, and she was still in her sweats. He could see the glisten on her skin even from here.
He watched as she approached, counting slowly under his breath, and then as she passed him he stubbed his cigarette on the sole of his shoe and slipped the stub into his pocket with the others. No sense leaving evidence.
From his other pocket he pulled the thin latex gloves on – skin coloured so as not to give anything away – and then he set off after her.
She would turn off the main drag just one block up, and that’s where he would take her. There was an alleyway between the school and the track which was always deserted at this time on this day.
He was so intent on following her that he didn’t see the sky start to change and ripple. He didn’t see the tears which appeared in the firmament.
The first thing he knew was when she glanced to the sky and started to run. He looked up and finally saw what was happening, and just had time to notice the ball of fire which was hurtling towards him.
After that he knew nothing.
- Wow, look at those stars, dude.
- Don’t call me ‘dude’, Gav; it makes you sound like a dickhead. This is Romford, not fucking Venice Beach.
- Oh, man, chill, ‘kay? It’s all good. Here, have another toke, dude.
- You are such a spaz.
- Ha. I know. That’s why you love me, innit?
- Argh, gettoff. Stop being such a dick.
- Worried someone might see?
- Don’t be daft. Who’s around, in the middle of nowhere, at this time of the morning?
- Ah, but that’s the question.
- What’s the question?
- I said who was around at this time of the morning, and you said that was the question.
- Well, it is the question, dude.
- What is?
- Is it morning?
- Of course it’s fucking morning. It’s… well, just after five.
- Ah yes. Five. A lovely number. But is it morning?
- That’s why they call it five in the morning, dickhead.
- But we’ve not been to bed.
- So, if you’ve not been to bed, then it’s just a late night, innit? I mean, think about it, dude. It’s all perception. If you stay up all night, then it just gets later and later until suddenly – bang! – it’s morning, and then it’s early. But where’s the… you know… tipping point thingy.
- Hah, ha, ha. You said cum!
- Crum, you dick!
- Oh. Yeah. So, where’s that, then? When does late become early. I mean, if I was your mum…
- Leave her out of it.
- Okay, dude. Chill, man. If I was my mum, I might go to bed at like, ten thirty, and then if you woke me at midnight, I’d be like – ‘who is that at this late hour?’ – or whatever. But to you and me, it would be early, cos we’d’ve, like, only just gone out and that. But if you woke her at four, she’d be all like – ‘why did you wake me so early?’ – and suddenly we’ve tipped over. Cos, that might just be late to you and me, cos we’d been up all night. So, is it late or early? That’s the question.
- Does it matter? It’s five in the morning either way.
- It sure is, dude, and those stars are amazing.
- That, I can agree with.
- Is it me or is the sky melting?