At thirteen, Gabriel was subjected to experimentation designed to awaken latent psychic abilities.
He’s been locked in a downward spiral of self-destruction ever since.
Then one night he meets Laurie, who is the antithesis of everything Gabriel’s become: cheerful, optimistic, and comfortable in his own skin.
Laurie pursues Gabriel. But Gabriel no longer believes in love. With a dark past and a history of disastrous relationships, he’s promised himself ‘no more’. Laurie, however, won’t let go, no matter how many obstacles Gabriel places in his way.
When Gabriel starts hearing voices in his head, he realizes they belong to the scientists who experimented on him. Worse, they’re trying to track him down.
With the past nipping at his heels, Gabriel and Laurie flee together.
Can they outrun the enemy? Can they save Gabriel before either his life or his sanity are forfeit?
And is Gabriel as helpless as he, or Laurie, thinks he is?
I’m aware of people, lots of people, all around. I can hear them. They’re talking about me. I know they’re talking about me. I can’t move yet. I can’t open my eyes, but I can feel them touching me.
“Oh the poor boy. Is he alright?” … “Freak, probably on drugs.”… “Should we get help?”… “Maybe we should call an ambulance.”… “Maybe he’s going to die. Cool.”… “Did he have a fit or something? Wish I’d been here.”… “Can I help? Should I do something?”… “I’m going to be late for work, but I want to see if anything interesting happens.”… “I wonder what’s for tea tonight.” … “This is better than the telly.”
“Why? Why did he run away? I know he wasn’t coming back. I thought… after last night I thought we had something. I thought I was finally getting through to him. Why won’t he let me in? Why won’t he realise how beautiful he is, how much I love him? What have I done wrong? What did I do to scare him away? Why is he so scared? Why won’t he reach out to me? Why won’t he let me reach out to him?”
“Laurie?” Why did he say those things to me here? Why was he so open in front of all these people? Oh shit. No.
My eyes snap open and I sit bolt upright. There are maybe ten or fifteen people clustered around, some looking concerned, some interested, some hungry for more drama. I gaze at them. I can still hear them, but… but no one’s speaking.
“Did you say that?”
“What? Gabriel, are you okay?”
“Tell me. Did you speak?”
“Did you speak?”
“No. No, I didn’t speak. I was too scared.”
“No,” I whisper and close my eyes, letting myself fall back to the ground. I don’t care about the stares. I don’t care about the people. I don’t even care about Laurie. All I care about is the stabbing pain in my head—a fizzing, popping, creeping pain—and all I can think is: Oh no… no… no. Not again.
“Gabriel. What is it? What’s wrong? Please Gabriel. Speak to me or I’m going to call an ambulance.”
“No.” I sit up again. “I can’t…. It’s not…. Just help me up. I’m alright, just….”
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea, Gabriel. You look—”
“Did I ask your opinion? If you won’t help me, I’ll do it myself.” For the first time, I actually take some notice of my surroundings. I’m in the park. There’s a bench nearby. If I can crawl over to it, I can….
“You’re so fucking stubborn. Here.” I look up, blinking in the sunlight. With a sigh, I take his hand and let him haul me to my feet. The pain stabs me and I stagger. He puts his arm around my waist, and I rest my head against his shoulder. It feels good. “I’ll help you get home.”
“No.” That’s the last place I can go now. This is…. Now I know, and know for sure, I’m not safe. No one near me is safe. I glance down at the ground where I’d been lying. Nearby is a bush, a holly bush. There are other holly bushes in the park, but unlike any of them, this one has no leaves. Underneath the bush lies a robin. It’s dead.
Wayward Ink Publishing
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Nephy Hart was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Nephy has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Nephy became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Nephy lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, bearded dragon (called Smaug of course) and three cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art