Slow The Shadow Creeps
Slow the Shadow Creeps is the second book of the trilogy and I am currently reviewing and updating it. STSC will first be released on Amazon as a Kindle edition, but hopefully soon after that both TFNS and STSC will again be available as paperbacks, from either Amazon or Lulu.
To all the TFNS readers who have asked how soon they can get the next part of the story, please be patient, it is coming! Until the release then, here is a taster:
Emma Gordon shivered and huddled closer to the fire. The long steel poker broke apart the peat, exposing the glowing red interior as she prodded at it. Small blue and purple flames flickered deep within the fibres and a sweet smoky aroma swirled around her. She pushed the blackened old metal teapot further into the glow and waited for the water it contained to boil. It was the only suitable container she could find for the purpose, but it served her well.
Sleet rattled against the window. Wind howled around the cottage. The metal roofing sheets creaked in protest. At first when the weather worsened Emma had feared that the roof would be torn away and the windows might shatter, but she soon grew used to the voices of her temporary home and confident that it would protect her.
Set alone on the side of a hill close to Glen Coe, the shuttered holiday cottage had seemed to beckon to her as she fled north into the Highlands. It was little more than a bothy but the weatherworn white walls and black-painted roof were strong and, while searching for something with which to break a window to gain entry, she found a key to the front door under a stone by the path. The kitchen cupboards contained only a few tins of corned beef, baked beans and a pot of teabags but peat was stacked high outside and split kindling piled by the fireplace. A shop and a hotel outside the village of Glencoe served to replenish her supplies.
For weeks she had wandered, staying a night or two in any place that seemed to offer safety and shelter. Six days ago she found this cottage and gradually fell into a routine: rise in the morning; boil water for tea and to mix with the icy flow from the single cold tap so that she could wash; make and eat breakfast; then walk among the hills until she returned to open a bottle of wine or whisky, eat a simple meal and drink until she curled up in her sleeping bag and fell into a fitful sleep.
Bitter weather had not broken her routine, but this morning it was too wild even for her. Unbidden and unwelcome, a resignation that she could not live like this forever bored its way through the mental blankness she had erected. At first she hated being alone. Now she dreaded the thought of being among other people, of facing their questions, of having to think and talk about what had happened.
It was over twelve months since the terrorist released pandemic had come, mutated and gone, leaving fewer than five hundred people alive in Scotland. Even at that it might now be one of the more densely populated countries in the world.
<Section clipped to avoid spoiling it for those who have not yet read There Falls No Shadow>
Emma shivered again and drew even closer to the fire, hugging herself, fighting the desire to pour whisky into her cup instead of tea; to blank out the memories. And what did it matter if she did? Who was to know or care? What else did she have to do on this foul day in this Godforsaken place?
Then her face set. Snatching the teapot from the fire, she tore off the lid and flung the contents onto the coals, stood up and began to stuff her belongings and a few supplies into her backpack. She took a last look about the room, glanced contemptuously at the bottle of whisky left standing on the table, picked up the shotgun that was lying beside it and then strode out and closed the door firmly behind her.
The Land Rover started at the first turn of the key. The heavy-duty suspension bumped and bounced as she sped down the track to the main road. After pausing briefly to decide, she turned left at the end of the track and headed south. She could not return to Knockside but her life was not over yet. Other settlements were forming. People were establishing a new community in Glasgow, though she did not fancy going into a city. No matter, she would find somewhere that suited her or move on until she did.
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