Afflicted – 01

Well, here it is: the first installment of my serialised book. Leave comments & etc.

I’m doing this Dickens-style. All comments will be considered in the context of the story and the forthcoming works, and may well influence what I do here.

So – here’s the first part. Enjoy!


AFFLICTED

Dedication & thanks

This book is dedicated to five key people. These are, firstly, Lisa Dempster, publisher and editor; Julian Fleetwood, editor; and Alan Baxter, author, without whose suggestions and comments this book wouldn’t be half of what it is. Secondly, Kate Jarrett, a great friend and fan of my work. And thirdly—and most importantly—Daniel (Foss) McIntosh: my partner, best friend, and biggest fan, whose encouragement and support is as much a part of this book as are its words, and without whose inspiration this story would never have happened. [NOTE: This dedication was written in 2008. Foss is no longer my partner and so this dedication, while true at the time, is no longer the case – Biodagar.]

A quote before we start:

‘… it’s actually men, you’ll find, who are far more romantic. Men are the people you will hear say “I found somebody. She’s amazing. If I don’t get to be with this person, I’m fucked. I can’t carry on. No, I mean it, she’s totally transformed my life. I have a job, I have a flat, it means nothing. I can’t stand it. I have to be with her, because if I don’t I’m gunna end up in some bedsit, I’ll be an alcoholic, I’ll have itchy trousers. I can’t. I can’t walk the streets anymore.” That is how women feel about shoes.’
—Dylan Moran, Monster

Prologue

Bevan and Rick met up the next morning and walked down along the river. They hadn’t done it for what such a long time. They didn’t talk much. The beautiful sunshine was warm and with its cascading heat came silence, which walked with them for most of the way. Each was absorbed in his own thoughts, neither of them taking much notice of their surroundings, even though for both of them the river was easily the most wonderful place in the world. The two boys had been living in a fog for what seemed half their lives, a fog that had made them forget the simple pleasures in their lives. Each of them felt that life was coming back to normal, after a period of time that felt like years.

The walk down around the river took them a good while. Their usual spot was a good five k’s or so along, and much of that was over rutted tracks, through pestilential weeds resplendent with thorns and other nasties that catch you unaware if you don’t pay attention sometimes. It took them an hour to get there sometimes. But Rick’s condition meant that it took them longer than usual; and the sun was so nice that it made them want to linger on that walk.

After a while they got to where they were going, to the big tree on the bend in the river. They stopped in their tracks at the same time, as if by telepathic consensus and, now hidden from the sun and in the strengthening breeze, they pulled out their jumpers with one accord and put them on. They also simultaneously looked up, sat down, and lit up a smoke. They smoked, and sat, and looked up into the tree, contemplatively. The sun filtering down through the leaves hit them in the face now and then, and highlighted how ill they looked.

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