Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Whitby Connection: Author Interview with Theresa Tomlinson.

I recently wrote a post about Whitby and how, historically, it has inspired and attracted literary greats. I explained why I chose Whitby as the setting for my forthcoming novel, Black Eyed Boy. Now, I bring you authors who have felt the same need to set their stories in this wonderful Yorkshire seaside town. Below is an interview with the brilliant, talented writer Theresa Tomlinson.

What is it about Whitby that made you want to write about it?

Theresa: As a child I lived in Carlin How, just up the coast from Whitby. One of my earliest memories is of walking down Flowergate and suddenly looking up to see the abbey in the distance. It seemed to float magically in a sea of green, high on the other side of the harbour. I thought it was a castle from a fairytale. Stories of St Hilda and Caedmon were part of my childhood, then later as an adult I became fascinated by the Victorian/Edwardian photographs of the famous photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe. They gave a wonderfully detailed picture of the harsh way of life for the fishing families, so that I felt that I could almost step into the photographs and experience life at that time.

What is your favourite spot in Whitby?

Theresa: This is a tricky one, because there are so many fabulous hidden away corners in the town. However, I think I have to settle for our allotment, which is situated at the back of the Abbey Visitor Centre and I believe it to be within the ancient monastic boundary. We have a fantastic view over the town and up the river, and in my imagination it has become the model for Fridgyth’s herb garden, from A SWARMING OF BEES. We try to grow herbs, marigolds and vegetables there, but the soil is very fertile and we also grow far too many weeds.

How did you get into writing?

Theresa: As a child, ‘Art’ was my favourite subject. I worked for a few years as a primary school teacher and then, when I stopped for a while to look after my children, I began to make them picture books. At first I just enjoyed drawing and painting, but as the children grew, the simple stories that I wrote grew longer and I eventually became completely hooked on putting a story together. I was spending so much time writing that I decided to try to get something published. We lived in Sheffield at that time and going to a weekly Writers Workshop helped enormously in terms of support and criticism.

Can you tell us a bit about your books?

Theresa: My first publications were for children 10/11 years and the ones that seemed to work best had historical themes. FLITHER PICKERS and THE HERRING GIRLS were both inspired by the Sutcliffe photographs. BENEATH BURNING MOUNTAIN was also set on the North Yorkshire Coast, though at an earlier date – it focused on the harsh lives of alum workers and their struggles with the press gang.
MEET ME BY THE STEELMEN and THE CELLAR LAD both had Sheffield settings and related to the early days of steel making. Other interests developed and THE FORESTWIFE TRILOGY- was aimed at Young Adults - 3 linked novels that give a more feminist version of the Robin Hood legends. THE MOONRIDERS and THE VOYAGE OF THE SNAKE LADY – also for Young Adults, took me to Turkey to research the links between the Amazon Women and the Trojan War. When my children left home, we moved to live permanently in Whitby and this enabled me to focus on the Anglo-Saxon history of the town.
The first novel set in this period was WOLF GIRL, a Young Adult mystery adventure. I had hoped to continue the theme, but found that publishers were wary of Anglo-Saxon settings. They seemed to consider the time period too difficult for modern readers to relate to. However, I’d become obsessively interested in the 7th century and couldn’t let it go. I also began to feel that as I got older, I wanted my main characters to grow older too. This need led me to self-publish two adult novels - A SWARMING OF BEES and THE TRIBUTE BRIDE using Acorn Independent Press.
I now have hopes that publishers are becoming more receptive to stories set in this exciting period of history. A&C Black have recently published my Primary age historical story BETTER THAN GOLD – and I’m delighted to hear that it will be sold in the Birmingham Museum shop, where the Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition is now on display.

What are you currently working on?

Theresa: I have three books on the go and I’m jumping from one to another. One is another children’s Anglo-Saxon story, there is also a sequel to A SWARMING OF BEES – and a fairly strong idea developing for another Victorian Whitby setting about jet workers. I think the children’s story is almost finished – then I must get back to my Anglo-Saxon herb-wife, Fridgyth.

What are you most proud of?

Theresa: This is almost impossible to answer. I’m proud of THE FLITHER PICKERS, because it was the first book that I ever had published. I’m proud of my two self-published books because it was a risky thing to do, though I’m glad to say that they have been a financial success. I’m proud that BETTER THAN GOLD has been judged to be good enough to be sold in Birmingham Museum Shop.

How much research do you need to do for your writing?

Theresa: I used to do years of research before I started writing - and then try to put everything I’d learned into the story - sometimes I got bogged down with facts. Now I research as I write and that way I discover what I need to know as the story develops. This seems to work much better.

Where can we buy your books?

Theresa: My most recent paperbacks are available at THE WHITBY BOOKSHOP – HOLMANS, THE GUISBOROUGH BOOKSHOP, SALTBURN BOOK CORNER and various other venues in Whitby and the surrounding area. Ebooks and paperbacks are available through Amazon and KOBO and many other internet outlets. Sadly many of my earlier books are now ‘out of print’ – but second hand copies are often available on the internet from second hand book dealers.

Can you describe Whitby in five words?

Theresa: Historic, mystical, exciting, rugged, eccentric!

Do you have a message for your readers?

Theresa: I’m glad to have the opportunity to say this. I seemed to come unstuck a few years ago when publishers told me that the Anglo-Saxon period was unpopular with readers. I now feel thoroughly vindicated in sticking with it and choosing to self-publish. My books continue to sell well. I am so very grateful for the loyalty of readers - both young and old - who have supported me and showed their enthusiasm for this fascinating period by buying my books and writing so many positive reviews.

Theresa's Links:




Thank you very much, Theresa, I wish you every success with your future writing projects.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Whitby Connection: Author Interview with Robin Jarvis.

I recently wrote a post about Whitby and how, historically, it has inspired and attracted literary greats. I explained why I chose Whitby as the setting for my forthcoming novel, Black Eyed Boy. Now, I bring you authors who have felt the same need to set their stories in this wonderful Yorkshire seaside town. Below is an interview with the brilliant, talented writer and illustrator, Robin Jarvis.

What is about Whitby that made you want to write about it?

Robin: I first went there on my 21st birthday when I was at college at Newcastle. I stepped off the train with Carmina Burana playing on my walkman, and there was the ruined abbey high on the cliff. What a perfect soundtrack to see it for the first time. Winding my way through the town to reach the abbey, I just fell in love with the place. It has so much character that it's pretty impossible NOT to have stories
popping up inside your head. The more I learned about it, the more fascinated I became. This was long before I ever thought about becoming a writer. It has the kind of atmosphere that just impels you to create stories and characters.

Where is your favourite spot in Whitby?

Robin: Favourite spot ...umm, so many to choose from, whether in the abbey ruins, leaning into the wind whilst walking through the churchyard, standing at the end of either pier, going through that spooky little tunnel in the Khyber Pass at night, in the Pannett Park Museum staring at Mr Merryweather's glorious Tempest Prognosticator...but no, my favourite place is kind of half way up the 199 steps, when you're level with the red pantiles and chimneys on one side, can see across the harbour, and the rich scent of Fortune's kipper house is tantalising your senses as gulls wheel and cry overhead - that's Whitby.

How did you get into writing?

Robin: I got into writing through my drawing. For some reason I spent an entire weekend coming up with mouse characters in my sketchpad and creating a world for them to inhabit and be terrified in. A friend of mine saw them and said I should write a story about them - and that was it. I never had any ambitions to be a writer before that, or even thought I could do it. But I wanted my mice to have their story.

Can you tell us a bit about your books?

Robin: My books are described as dark fantasy and sometimes as horror. I don't really think of them that way. I try to write exciting, supernatural thrillers. I just don't pull any punches and make the threats as dangerous as possible, so the heroes really have to struggle and are put through the the mangler. It's always good vs evil but for good to win they have to sacrifice a lot and not every favourite character makes it to the end. Just because some books are about mice, doesn't mean those stories are twee, the torments inflicted in them are some of my all time worst. I want to keep the reader of the edge of their seat and constantly surprise them.

What are you currently working on?

Robin: At the moment I'm working on something a little bit younger and a lot shorter than my last trilogy but nothing is signed yet so I can't elaborate unfortunately. I've also got an idea for something else which I'm looking forward to and excited about.

What are you the most proud of?

Robin: I think most authors will say their books are like their children and you don't really have favourites, but I'm very pleased with the way the Dancing Jax trilogy turned out. It was something a little bit different and set very much right now which is always unnerving when the world you know falls apart. It had some juicy grotesques and monsters in it too, which I always love coming up with, and the characters faced harrowing decisions in their struggle to win through. Yes, I'm really pleased with Dancing Jax. The world was very intoxicating and I don't think I'll ever stop thinking about it and the things I could have added to it. But they were already very long books.

How much research do you need to do for your writing?

Robin: I spend a lot of time doing the research, even a fantasy novel needs more research than you'd probably expect. I love that stage, you learn so much and you'll never ever use most of it.

Where can we buy your books?

Robin: You should be able to buy the most recent titles, the Dancing Jax trilogy in a bookshop, or online. Some of the older titles, including the Whitby series, are currently out of print, but the Deptford Mice are available as ebooks, so hopefully the Whitby stories will follow.

Can you describe Whitby in five words?

Robin: I can do it in one word – Mirificus

Do you have a message for your readers?

Robin: I'd say thank you for continuing to read my work, it means the world to me to hear how much people enjoy my books. For long term fans, I'd say there's a possibility of revisiting a familiar but forgotten race so watch this space and keep your fingers crossed for me.

Robin's links:

Twitter: @RobinJarvis1963

Thank you, Robin, it was a pleasure to interview you. Good luck with all of your future writing projects.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why Whitby?

Why Whitby?

Every book needs a setting, whether it’s a fantastical, invented planet deep in space or an ancient world we can only imagine. I chose to set my novel in Whitby, a small seaside town in North Yorkshire, England. Or did I? Did, indeed, Whitby choose me? I truly believe that if you have a creative spark within you, then this idyllic, magical little place draws it out of you and, somehow, you can’t quite help yourself.

Whitby, historically, is a location that authors feel the need to write about. So many great literary figures have been inspired by this quaint, northern coastal town, including Charles Dickens, George Du Maurier, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Linskill, Walter Scott, Lewis Carroll and Bram Stoker; some weaving the place into their writing, capturing it forever. It is said that Lewis Carroll created part of the remarkable Alice in Wonderland whilst on holiday there and that he wrote The Walrus and the Carpenter verse whilst sunning himself on Whitby beach.

Dracula is celebrated in Whitby, due to its intimate connection with the Count himself, as key, integral parts of this classic and legendary horror take place there. The author, Bram Stoker, visited Whitby in the summer of 1890, to investigate if it was a suitable place for a family seaside holiday. He resided at 6 Royal Crescent, that elegant arc of tall, distinguished houses which face the sea on Whitby’s West Cliff.

He noted, in August: The setting sun, low down in the sky, was just dropping behind Kettleness; the red light was thrown over on to the East Cliff and the old Abbey and seemed to bathe everything in a beautiful rosy glow.

In my mind, no other setting would be quite right for those scenes in Dracula, where the Count stalks Lucy up those eerie 199 steps, deep into the night.

Few towns of its size, in Britain, can match the diversity of Whitby’s historical connections, aside from the list of impressive writers I have previously mentioned. Whitby boasts The Captain Cook Museum, situated in the very house in which he lodged in, as an apprentice, in 1746-1749.

There are several jewellery boutiques dotted about the town, dedicated to the crafting of intricate items, all made using the black stone of Whitby Jet, the fossilised driftwood of the Monkey Puzzle tree from the Jurassic period, 160 million years ago. It was popularised by Queen Victoria, when she introduced the wearing of Jet into court circles, as she had searched for appropriate black mourning jewellery after the death of her husband, Albert, in 1861. Thanks to the photographer, Frank Sutcliffe, so many amazing photographs of Victorian Whitby endure, as he dutifully recorded life in Whitby during this time, he captured the very essence of the place and there is a gallery, showcasing his work, in the town.

One of the aspects I most cherish about Whitby is that it is quite separated into two parts. There is the West Side and (my personal favourite) the East Side. Stepping off that swing bridge and into the old cobbled streets is much like going back in time with the long-standing cottages, the thin ghauts to the riverside and the yards which appear the same as they did hundreds of years ago.

Bram Stoker wrote this about the East Side: The houses of the old town – the side away from us – are all red roofed and seem piled up, one over the other anyhow.

This side of Whitby houses the jewel itself, the magnificent Abbey, or what is now left of it. It dominates the skyline for miles away, sitting proudly and overlooking the rest of the town.

Bram Stoker: It is a most noble ruin, of immense size and full of beautiful and romantic bits.

Just down the path, situated at the top of the calf-firming 199 steps (you have to count them) is The Church of Saint Mary.

Bram Stoker: a big graveyard, all full of tombstones. This is to my mind the nicest spot in Whitby.

Again, I find that I can’t help but agree with Mr Stoker, the view from this spot is captivating and perfect, you soon forget about anything else.

All of this magic and wonderment and I find that I still haven’t mentioned the Whale Bones, the piers, the bustling harbour, The Dracula Experience, Pannett Park, The Whitby Museum, the ghost walks, the award-winning fish and chips, the clean beaches, the Goth Festivals, Whitby Regatta, the steam engine, the quirky shops, the boat trips, the sunsets or the friendly people; so many of these locations, buildings and attractions appear within the pages of my first novel, Black Eyed Boy, which is set to be released in 2015 by Crooked Cat Publishing. It is a Young Adult novel, an urban fantasy romance and a celebration of my most favourite holiday destination, the small but vastly important coastal town, a seaside gem, to be found just over the tops of those gorgeous, heather-topped rolling Yorkshire moors. And that, folks, is why. Why it’s Whitby.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The best email. In the world. Ever.

I'd like to thank you, once again, for taking the time to submit your story, BLACK EYED BOY, to Crooked Cat. I found your full submission to be enjoyable, obviously of a very high standard and unique and, to that end, would be delighted to work with you to publish it through the Crooked Cat imprint. With this in mind, I have pleasure in offering you a contract for publication.

So, what does this mean? Absolutely everything.

I started writing my own stories and poems at a very young age, both at home, for my own amusement, and at school. I would be frequently reprimanded for the state of my handwriting, though it was only so scruffy because I would write three or four times more than my classmates. I had too many ideas and I rushed to get all of the information from my head on to the paper, in the allotted time. I knew, from the age of 9, that I wanted to be an author, and I was fortunate enough to have an incredibly supportive teacher. Should you ever read this, Mrs Calvert of Greenhill Primary School, I thank you. Thank you for displaying my poems up on the wall, and for all of those most coveted gold and silver stars.

I was also a voracious reader, which always intensified during the six weeks of the summer holidays. Every week, I would wander up to the library and borrow as many books as I was allowed. I would read them all to return and replace them with another round. I just loved books, generally, and would read anything and everything. I was much the same at secondary school, I even looked forward to doing my English homework, especially if it was creative writing. I think it is time for another teacher mention, Mrs North of Meadowhead School; thank you for always pushing me further and, also, for predicting, in my record of achievement, that I would be published one day.

Adolescence and the following years were intensely difficult times for me, for too many reasons, and some too private to go into here. Too many years were consumed by grief, heartbreak and distress. Sometimes, despite being happier and considerably more settled now, the pain infiltrates my writing, it finds a way to manifest itself, wrapping around my words and my written work often feels darker for it. Handy for horror, perhaps, not so fabulous when you’re trying to write a cheerful love story. But that’s just the way it is.

After turning 30, I worried that I had let too many things slide by, and that I had been drifting, quite aimlessly, for a long time. I embarked upon a short Open University course, Start Writing Fiction, and I have never looked back. I can highly recommend this course to anyone at all interested in writing fiction, it was fun, interesting and, most importantly, gave me some confidence that I had been sorely lacking. I was motivated, I was ready, it was time to write and send my words out there.

The very first story I submitted was short-listed in a competition and I couldn’t believe it. There was no stopping me then, I sent off bits of flash fiction, short stories, poetry, and I was lucky enough to start having some successes, winning a total of four writing competitions and my work began to be published in books. BOOKS. ACTUAL REAL BOOKS, on Amazon and everything. Each time this happened, it felt incredible, but I still had an itch to scratch. I wanted a book with just one name on the front: mine.

I stopped submitting short works and I thought about all the books I had enjoyed reading over the years, what did I want to write about? An idea struck me as I was washing the pots (which is almost always the case, curiously). It quickly became a scribbled list of chapters as I invented the characters. Or did they invent themselves? They became so real, dictating how the story would go. After months of forcing myself to sit at that laptop and type, of constant thinking and analysing, and quite writing my heart out, I, finally, had what I had always wanted, a completed novel.

A novel I felt brave enough to submit to publisher, Crooked Cat, in April of this year. And, a dream came true, they liked it. I signed the contract at the end of September, and my first novel, Black Eyed Boy, is due to be released early to mid-2015. I worry that I will wake up soon, I fluctuate between shock and intense giddiness most of the time.

Life has been upside down and bloody hard sometimes, which perhaps makes this experience all the richer. A wish I had, as a little girl, is happening before my very eyes, and it means the whole wide world.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


She sits, in the darkness, haunting the corner of the room where the shadows dance. The fire flickers and illuminates her pale face. She is beautiful, as ever; timeless, forever young, but her large dark eyes appear increasingly fuller of a silent sorrow, which she carries around upon her strained shoulders.


I call her name, but my love does not reply, or indeed acknowledge that she heard me, perhaps she didn’t, as her eyes gaze forward, in another intense daydream.


I call again, but I am interrupted by the domineering chimes of the grandfather clock. It breaks the spell; Martha has returned to the room and her sweet face turns to face me.

‘It is time, my love,’ I tell her gently.

She nods, her eyes are now void of emotion and it is difficult to tell what she is thinking. I don’t understand her disinterest, my body yearns for the blood of another. The tips of my sharp fangs can almost taste the scarlet nectar, I crave the metallic red, the pierced skin of a slender human neck. But, not her. It’s as though she is giving up, surrendering and collecting dust. It seems as though she doesn’t enjoy it any longer. I hope this isn’t true.

I race out into the liberating, cold night, the chill of the wind is exhilarating as it runs through my hair. I tightly clasp hold of Martha’s hand, taking her with me, showing her that this is us, what we do, and what we love. She seems to remember, at least for a short while, as her eyes twinkle with that irresistible glimpse of danger and thirst, and her fangs are visible underneath that luscious, soft top lip of hers.

A pretty maiden takes a wrong turn, though the right one for me as I grab her and take away her being. I hadn’t fed for a few days, and I was ravenous, I quite drained the young lady, finally satisfying my appetite.

‘Your turn, my love,’ I say.

I hold her hand again and we head, quietly and furtively, towards the town, full of sleeping residents and the odd intoxicated reveller, clumsily snaking their way back home, smelling of beer, which infiltrates our sensitive nostrils.

Martha peers into the windows of the tiny slum houses, she counts the people, so crowded into the small, oppressive rooms. Then, she stops, suddenly, and I don’t recognise her facial expression.

‘What is it, my dear?’ I ask, rushing to her side at once.

She points to a child; a little girl, she is fast asleep, her hair is a mass of ginger ringlets, spread out, over the pillow which rests her head.

‘I want her,’ cries Martha, in a whisper containing so much longing and pain that I am speechless to her request.

‘A child, I yearn for a child, Alistair. Please?’

She begs me as blood-red tears soak her perfect face.

‘Martha, no, not a child, you cannot think to change a child, this would be no life for her.’

I attempt to pull Martha away from the window, but I see that she is bewitched by the sleeping infant; her rosebud mouth twitches slightly as she dreams and Martha cannot take her eyes off her.

‘I could be her mother,’ Martha pleads.

‘No, my love, no.’

But Martha doesn’t hear my words, she opens the window and she begins to step inside.

‘Martha, don’t,’ I say, to her back.

She turns around, one last time, and looks right into my eyes.

‘Forgive me,’ she asks, and then she is gone.

Always the bridesmaid.

He didn’t want to go out on such a night but he’d stopped having a choice long ago. Instinctively, he put on his shoes, sitting on the cold doorstep. It was a beast of a night, he threw on his coat, but he was soaked as soon as he’d reached his garden gate. The heavens had opened, the sky leaked the sort of rain that whipped your face with a ferocity. He could see the town up ahead, as that was illuminated by the amber blur of streetlights. Further on, he could see the lighthouses, one for each pier, flashing, reassuring, and guiding the late night boats to safety through the hungry harbour mouth. But he couldn’t see here, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded my rolling hills, long fields, rocky paths and dense woodland. Here, he could scarcely see in front of his own feet.

He slid the torch out of his pocket. He was okay for now, on the level ground, every bump in the road was etched into his memory, but when he needed to ascend the steep, winding stairs, leading up to the cliff-top church, he would need it then.

It was a dangerous route, particularly at this time of night and in this sort of relentless, heavy downfall. Mist began to follow him, to chase him up those rickety stairs. People had died here; walkers, climbers, depressed individuals who had chosen their own sorrowful fate. Every couple of weeks, the bright yellow helicopter growled over the pretty coastal town, bringing the residents down, as they knew nobody ever survived. He had to be careful, he couldn’t risk falling, she needed him.

She was all he ever thought about, night and day he pictured that cherubic face, the large pale blue eyes, the dimpled cheeks, the honey blonde curls and the smile which portrayed equal amounts of innocence and mischief. He hurried now, clinging to the side of the cliff as he made his way up. It would have been a beautiful view in the daylight, as heather became sand and sand became sea. But it was almost midnight now, and all his eyes could make out was the vast, shimmering blackness of the sea, like a billowing, gigantic dark blanket.

Almost there, he switched on the torch and tried to keep a steady pace, despite the biting ache in his calves now as he began the sharp incline. He saw the looming silhouette of the old church and the sprawl of ancient, broken and wonky gravestones which appeared as though they had been randomly dropped from above, scattering and stabbing into the grass.

There. He’d done it. He shoved the torch back into his pocket and strode up the gravel path and around the side of the building to the small door at the back, which was always left open, a tiny crack, but he slipped inside with ease. It was cold and dark, the same as every other night. He lit a few candles and seated himself on the front pew, and waited for her. He counted the seconds in a whisper.

‘One, two …’

There she was, walking down the aisle of the church in her, now dated, bridesmaid dress, posy of flowers in hand. She looked so content, so thrilled and utterly proud of herself. He smiled at her earnest little walk and he wept into his palms. She would have been twenty-eight this year, yet she remains six years old, haunting this place by night, playing out her favourite and most treasured memory, over and over again. He tries to pretend that he can’t see through her, his ghostly daughter, but he can. Until she fades with the morning sun, and he starts the walk back home.
Just a drop.

At 9.05pm, he tentatively opens the bottle of whisky. It’s fine, he’ll just have a drop or two.

By 11.32pm, the bottle is half empty and he’s started smoking again.

‘Just one more glass before bed,’ he says to himself loudly.

Just gone midnight, he sobs into the cushion on the tattered sofa, missing his dead wife, desperate to have one last embrace.

1.04am, his crystal tumbler is smashed into hundreds of pieces, against the wall. Tears blur his vision. The drink heats his temper. The bottle taunts him, blames him, and chastises him.

1.48am, the whisky has gone, his legs won’t move and he wets his trousers. He stares at the empty bottle, ashamed, but far too drunk to feel it properly. It is the last thing he sees as he drifts into sleep on the living room floor, to dream jumbled dreams of life and death, of wedding days and funerals.

When he saw his wife running around the farm, chasing the animals, and eating them, the raw meat, as they dropped to the ground, he couldn’t move or speak. It had been a frantic, sickening hour of bleating, squawking; pained animal cries. It had rained feathers and bloody insides. His feet had refused to budge, all he could do was watch, in pure horror, as his normally timid and demure wife had gone completely mad. When she’d turned on the kids, he’d leaped into action then, desperately attempting to shield them and keep her away, as her newfound lust for violence exploded, and their shrill cries echoed around the farmyard, their eyes wide with a cruel mixture of terror and confusion, fear and a rapidly failing sense of maternal love. She’d been too ferocious, even for him. She’d got to them in the end, all four of them. That’s why he was holding the blood-splattered teddy bear; some kind of shitty memento of his dead family.

He’d fetched the gun, last used on an unfortunate, deformed new-born calf. He’d shot his wife in the head, he’d had to. After that, the silence suffocated him and he couldn’t stand to view the horrific scene any longer, but his hands trembled too much to drive, and his head couldn’t remember where he’d left the keys for the truck. And, so, he waited, by the roadside, hoping for someone to come along and take him away from the massacre and the madness. He’d brought the gun, the radio had blared alarming words at him as he’d left: infection, brain, epidemic, attacks, shoot them in the head, shoot them in the head, shoot them in the head. The broadcasted words fired out and were loaded with panic. They had quickly turned into screams, and then the muffled, choking sounds of death, and then the frenzied sound of a most disturbing hunger; ripping, chewing and swallowing. Finally, the fuzzy off-air sound reigned as the radio show abruptly ended.

But, here came a truck tearing up the sandy path, a blessed familiar red one, belonging to Hank from the next farm up. He felt intense relief as it screeched to a halt beside him.

‘Thank God,’ he whispered as Hank opened the door.

He was about to get in, but there was a definite look of crazy in Hank’s old eyes, and blood dripped from the corner of his emotionless lips. There was part of someone’s leg on his lap, it still had a shoe on the end of it. Slowly, cautiously, with twitching fingers, he reached for his gun.