Friday, 13 April 2012

The Prophecy Underground Chapter One

Marijam looked up at the skylight. The smoky plastiglass, which
covered the ordinary plastic window, was distorting her view of
the stars. But it could not dull the brightness of the strange lights,
which were shooting across the sky tonight. They were still
changing colour. They were even more intense now than when
they started an hour ago.
‘Is it working again?’ her mother called up from the other
Marijam looked at the dataserve screen. Still frozen. She bit
her lip and ran her fingers through her hair. She wanted to finish
the unit on the causes of sunlight poisoning in the late twentythird
century. That would complete her Part One, the first of her
Specialist Study for her High School Graduation Certificate and
well before the summer holiday.
‘No!’ she called back.
‘Well give it a rest, now, sweetheart,’ her father called. ‘You
really should watch this. It’s the first time the Northern Lights
have appeared for centuries.’
Marijam’s mother, Louish Kennedy, came into the
room. Dressed from head to toe in a besequined pale blue
satin, Louish stood out as usual from the damp greyness of
the cave walls. Marijam winced as she saw her. She preferred
to blend in with her surroundings. But even Mrs
Kennedy couldn’t compete tonight with the light show out
‘Do you think’ she said to Marijam, ‘it might mean that the
poison cloud’s beginning to lift at last? And it really is something,
isn’t it?’
Marijam watched as a sheet of light shot across the sky. Marbled
streamers of pinks and golds and greens flowed into one another.
Marijam had never seen so many colours in one go. It was
so dull down here in the caves. And even when you went up into
the tubes and walked across the surface, you looked at everything through grey glass. The colours were so bright tonight that the
glass couldn’t dull them.
‘I don’t think it is actually the Northern Lights,’ said Marijam’s
father, appearing in the doorway. ‘I’ve seen movie clips of
them, and they weren’t this pretty. Even when you saw them direct,
and not through plastiglass.’
‘I don’t think you’ll be able to get anything else done tonight,’
said her mother. ‘There are too many problems with the
network.’ She shivered. ‘The other support systems will work, won’t they?’ she asked, looking at her husband.
Marijam’s father, Frazier Kennedy, Head of Education,
‘They’ll be fine,’ he said to Louish, combing his hand through
his wiry black hair.
Marijam recognised the gesture. He always did that when he
was trying to convince himself rather than the person he was
speaking to. He hugged his wife, resting his dark brown cheek
against her greyish pale one. Not for the first time Marijam
looked at her own arms and wished she had inherited her father’s
skin colour instead of her mother’s. The cave-life was just washing
white people out.
‘They always give the air top priority,’ Frazier continued, the
skin round his eyes beginning to crinkle as his eyes smiled.
‘They’ll keep the seals in place as well.
‘But they’ve got to keep the life support systems going… on
the farms and everything,’ Louish continued.
Marijam suddenly noticed how anxious her mother looked.
The pupils of her eyes were bigger and her face was a shade
whiter than normal.
Frazier shrugged his shoulders lightly and opened his arms,
turning his palms upwards, and admitting defeat. ‘The education
networks will be the first to go down,’ he said. ‘They’ll keep the
lights on in the plantation caves, and yes, they’ll let us carry on
breathing. Don’t worry so much.’
A purple light, edged with silver and blue streamed across the
sky, catching Marijam’s eye and making her look again through

the skylight. She held her breath. Not even the Midsummer Presidential
Laser Show could match this.
It wasn’t just the lights, though. There was something about
the atmosphere tonight. It was warm, even with the air conditioning,
and she had this overwhelming feeling that something tremendous
was about to happen.
‘Well, I guess nobody will be studying much tonight,’ said
Marijam’s mother. ‘Everyone will be up in the tubes, getting a
closer look at the sky.’
‘You should go and meet your friends,’ said Frazier. ‘You’ve
just got to enjoy an event like this with people of your own age.’
‘Well, we’re going anyway,’ said Mrs Kennedy.
It probably was a good idea. There seemed to be little hope of
completing her project tonight. And goodness knows when anything
as exciting as this would happen again. Marijam felt a
strange fluttering in her stomach. Her heart was racing.
‘Go on,’ said Louish Kennedy. ‘Put on your best tunic. Go
and meet your friends. I’ll bet they’re all out there.’
They left her room. Marijam turned to her wardrobe. It was
overflowing. She was the only daughter of the Head of Education.
All the Heads of Services – Education, Transport, Agriculture, Life
Support, Diastics and all the other services which kept this isolated
planet going – were rich and important. Marijam could have anything
she wanted apart from fresh air. Her parents had even let her
have the room with the skylight. She opened the door. Row upon
row of tunics. Black and grey ones. Some were made from expensive
wool and cotton. Then there were the ordinary ones out of
ripon, the cheap comfortable cloth that everyone wore. And some
in blue, red, lilac, in fact every colour you could think of.
How can I possibly choose from all these? she thought. So
much for equality.
She always felt guilty that her father’s position allowed her so
much. Everyone was supposed to be born with equal chances.
She knew, though, that she had it easier than many. That was why
she normally preferred to just wear a comfortable dull-coloured
ripon tunic.

She really didn’t go out much, even though she was allowed
to use the cyber beaches and holoscenes as much as she liked.
That was yet another advantage of being the daughter of one of
the Heads of Services. There was never a question about the cost.
On the whole, though, she preferred the solitude of her room and
her dataserve, and the sky above, which she looked at through her
skylight. She liked to dream of a time when all the people – even
those from the Z Zone – would be able to walk freely on the surface
of the planet. Would they ever be able to again? And would
it be in her lifetime?
No, that won’t do, she thought to herself as she took down her
old grey tunic. Not today. Today’s really special.
Marijam found herself gently touching a purple silk tunic. It
was so soft and smooth beneath her fingers. She had not worn it
before. It had been a present from her aunt, her mother’s sister.
‘You should get out more and enjoy yourself,’ Aunt Kayla
said. She always told Marijam off about spending too much time
in front of a dataserve screen, of not going out enough and mixing
with other young people.
Well, Aunt, thought Marijam, you would be astounded. Yes,
this will do nicely.
She felt the soft fineness of the silk next to her skin. It added
to her excitement. She sprayed on some perfume, and even put on
a little make up. She looked at herself in the mirror.
Yes, she would do nicely as well. Though for what, she was
not quite sure. Another streak of pink light rushed through the sky
above. She heard the swish of the vacuum doors closing in the
entrance hall below. Her parents were already on their way. Time
to get going for her as well.
The crowds making their way through the cave networks were
stifling. Marijam had never seen so many people out at once. If
you could really call it ‘out’. Even up in the tubes wasn’t really
‘out’. She had often wondered what ‘out’ would really be like.
Not even this many people were around for the President’s Laser
Show or the Christmas Walks. The queues for the lifts were really
long. Marijam asked herself whether it would be better to just
make her way to one of the large skylights. But no! Looking up
from a tube would be a bit nearer to standing in a field and staring
at the night sky.
‘Oh come on, get a move on,’ she heard one man mumble under
his breath.
Exactly, she thought.
‘I expect we’ll get there eventually,’ a woman’s voice answered
It was amazing how calm people were staying.
Eventually she was at the front of the queue and the lift came.
In seconds they were up at the surface, and she was joining the
crowds now making their way along the tubes. She desperately
wanted to get to somewhere where they didn’t criss-cross over
each other so much, so that she could get an uninterrupted view
of the sky.
Odd that she had not yet seen anybody she knew. She had to
walk almost half a mile before she came to somewhere she could
stand and look.
The lights still rushed across the blackness. Occasionally two
from different directions would collide and then a shower of
golden and lilac stars would sprinkle down towards Terrestra’s
surface. But it was not accompanied by the ‘oohs’ and aahs’
heard at the President’s laser display. Everyone stood in absolute
silence. This was something really special. The excitement carried
on growing inside Marijam’s stomach. She felt as if she were
glowing. And it was good watching the lights through the plastiglass
tubes. She seemed as if she was nearer to them than when
she looked through the sky light. You didn’t have the long tube of
rock and stone.
Gradually, though, the brightness of the lights faded, and their
path across the sky became slower, less urgent. Suddenly, one
last vibrant streak of red seemed to rush at the plastiglass tube
where they were standing.
The silence broke. There was a gasp of surprise, perhaps of
fear. The light hovered, almost threateningly. Then it vanished
suddenly. There was nothing left but a clear night sky. Clearer,

Marijam thought, than she had ever seen it before. Was her
mother right? Was the poison cloud shifting at last?
The noise that the people now made as they moved towards
the lifts compensated for the earlier silence. There was an excited
chatter. And all sorts of ideas about what might have caused the
‘I bet it’s somebody from another planet,’ a young boy cried.
‘I bet they’ve got some guards up there that they didn’t tell us
about. They’ve been zapped.’
‘It could just be some strange meteorite storm,’ the man with
him replied.
‘I wouldn’t have thought they’d be that colourful, though,’
replied another man.
Marijam didn’t want to go back to the apartment. It would be
too much of an anticlimax to go back to work. And she was not
far from the Laguna, the nectar bar where people from her school
level were encouraged to go to meet people of their own generation.
For once, anyway, Marijam felt the need to be amongst people,
and drink some of the state-provided nectar with its mild
mind-altering chemicals.
The Laguna was buzzing when she arrived. Marijam almost
turned straight back. People she wanted, yes, but not this many.
But she had to pause a moment to admire the granite walls. The
Laguna, at least, was a real cave, unlike most of the man-made
ones that inhabitants of Terrestra used as their homes. The ceiling
was covered with a huge screen, which showed the picture taken
from a camera up on the surface. You could almost believe that
you were outside.
Marijam looked up at the sky. No, there was definitely no
more sign of the lights. And yes, she was sure the sky did look
clearer than normal.
‘Marijam!’ a voice suddenly called. ‘Over here!’
Marijam turned to see who had called her. A girl in a silver
tunic and with purple hair was waving frantically at her. A whole
group from her school unit were sitting in one of the alcoves. It

was Sadie Rojens. They had once worked on a project together,
though mainly via the dataserve.
‘So what do you think caused those lights?’ asked Sadie excitedly.
‘We’re just getting one or two ideas here.’
‘What would you like to drink, Marijam?’ said a male voice.
A tall boy who was now standing up next to the table. It was
Rainer Elbman. He looked quite elegant in his deep navy tunic. It
looked as if it was made of wool and so must have been expensive.
‘Oh, er… a peach and melon, I think,’ said Marijam blushing
‘Hands off, he’s mine,’ Sadie hissed in her ear.
The thought had never occurred to Marijam.
‘Well, Marijam, what do you reckon?’ asked another masculine
voice. Ponty Davidson. ‘What was all that about?’
Marijam felt herself flush. Ponty made a point of talking to
her at every school meet. She always felt so awkward talking to
boys, but with Ponty it was worse. He seemed to stifle her. She
couldn’t work out what he wanted of her.
‘Do you think it’s the poison cloud going?’ she managed to
mumble eventually.
‘Maybe,’ replied Ponty. ‘Or maybe it’s because one of the
most delicious girls in our social group has decided to show off
her assets at last.’
His pupils were wide open and she could feels his eyes first
on her legs, and then on her breasts. He slid an arm around her
waist and pulled her towards him, nestling his nose into her hair.
‘Oh, and you smell so gorgeous too,’ he said. ‘Have you any idea,
what you’re doing to me?’ he asked.
‘Put her down,’ said one of the other girls. ‘This is much
more interesting.’
Marijam managed to wriggle free. She was surprised, though to
see something different flash across Ponty’s face. There was something
in his eyes. He looked almost as if he was going to cry.
‘Sorry,’ he mumbled. ‘Won’t you go out with me, though? I
promise I’ll behave well.’

‘Oh look,’ said Marijam, as another bright flash chased across
the sky. When she turned back, Ponty had disappeared.
‘Well, I guess we’ll know soon enough, what’s been happening,’
said one of the other boys. ‘I bet the scientists are on to it
‘They’ll be putting it up on the news screens soon, then we’ll
know,’ said someone else.
Rainer placed her drink down in front of her.
‘Who’s that over there?’ he asked.
Marijam looked over to where he was pointing. It was a boy
she had never seen before. His tunic was a little odd. Not really
quite the usual shape. He was white but had much darker skin
than she had ever seen before and his hair was much lighter than
everybody else’s.
I don’t know, thought Marijam, but I wish I did. That odd,
exciting feeling was beginning all over again. Her stomach was
turning summersaults and her heart was racing. She held her
breath until she really needed to breathe again.
Now she understood what Sadie was talking about. She took a
sip of her peach and melon nectar.
Want to read more? 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Extracts from The Prophecy

I'm publishing extracts form The Prophecy here. If you like what you read, why not buy the book?

The Prologue 
‘It’s quiet, isn’t it?’ said the commander of the Scouting Vessel
2195, Western Sector 3.
‘Well, that’s what you’d expect, isn’t it?’ replied his young
trainee, Kyle Thomas. ‘No craft landing. Nor any coming from
it,’ remarked Kyle. He looked down at the milky blue planet.
They were quite close to it now, and it filled almost half of the
screen. It seemed so still, as if it were surrounded by a pool of
The rest of its solar system was buzzing. Small scouting
vessels like their own, and bigger cargo ships were busily going
backwards and forwards between the planets. It made
navigating this stretch of the Sector 3 rather tricky. He was
glad the autopilots were amongst the most sophisticated
‘Well, it sure is still a fairly blue planet,’ Nielson continued.
‘Shame, though. It used to be so much prettier than this. It was
even bluer. And you could see greens and brown as well, before
the poison cloud.’
‘Why do they bother?’ asked Kyle. ‘They have a poison cloud
and they’re still living there? They could live anywhere.’
‘I suppose they feel safe enough down there, ‘replied Nielson.
‘What with all their farms and things tucked up nice and safe in
those caves of theirs. The rest of us could learn a thing or two, if
only they’d let us get a bit closer.’
‘Not much chance, though is there?’ replied Kyle. ‘What with
them wanting to keep disease out. They won’t let anybody in.’
‘Yeah, well,’ said the Commander. ‘That’s something else it
would be great to learn about. It’s funny how they’ve gone so
shy. Considering it all started there in the first place.’
‘When was the last time anyone moved from the planet?’
asked Kyle.
‘2309,’ replied Nielson.
‘Just after the first colonies formed?’ asked Kyle. ‘So, over a
millennium ago? It’s mad.’
‘Yep,’replied Nielson, ‘and they’ve reported being diseasefee
for just over two hundred years now. So, it ain’t just that So, it ain’t just that
that’s keeping them there. I reckon they’re just using that as an
They were beginning to leave the blue planet behind.
‘Right, we’ll go on to manual now,’ said Nielson. ‘I want to see how well you can steer this thing.’
Kyle felt the power surge as the scout switched over.
‘One wide orbit around Terrestra and then out to the end of
the solar system,’ said the Commander.
Kyle turned the craft. It wobbled and juddered a little. He
fought hard with the controls for a few seconds and then she began
to glide gently back over Terrestra.
He began to get the scout under control. He had the measure
of her now. She was purring along.
It was then that he noticed it. A flash of green lightening
ripped through the soft blue mist that surrounded the quiet planet.
A cascade of sparks followed. Kyle opened his mouth to say
‘Watch it,’ said Nielson suddenly.
A smaller scout was nudging its way across their flight path.
‘Watch the dataserve,’ said Nielson. ‘You must follow its coordinates.'
Kyle concentrated on the controls again.