Extract from my debut novel

It can be difficult to decided to invest time and money in a new author without having an idea what there writing is like and whether you will enjoy it. Part of the reason behind my blog is to give you a taste of my work, and hopefully it will whet your appetite for more.

But ultimately, nothing compares to a little sneak peek of a completed book. So, here I present to you the prologue of Free City for your delectation. I hope you enjoy it, and if you want to find out what happens next, click the link to get your copy of Free City published by Tree District Books.

Prologue

It was shortly after midnight.

The freshly reaped fields of Longmeadow Farm were bathed in the brilliant glow of the Harvest moon. It was a cool night, providing welcome relief from the unseasonal warm spell of the previous week. A gentle breeze wafted across the pastures, while the constant trickle of a shallow brook provided the only other sound to be heard for miles around. The farmer and her family were safely tucked in bed, resting after a long day in the fields. From their kitchen window, the faint glow of a forgotten lamp fell across the courtyard in front of the farmhouse.

The quiet was broken by the lazy hoot of an owl. Sat on her lofty perch atop a centuries-old oak, the bird scanned the fields below for any signs of prey, her keen eyes darting from left to right, picking up the slightest movement in the freshly cut straw, while her dish-like face funnelled each and every sound to her sensitive ears. The short stalks of the harvested field coupled with the bright light of the full moon meant spotting prey was far easier than it had been just a day before, and soon she saw a would-be victim. Around the centre of the field, a small mouse was scurrying between the fallen straw and chaff, searching for as many morsels of food as the little rodent could carry. In silence, and with a deftness not expected of a bird so large, the owl slipped off her perch and swooped with ease towards her oblivious meal. The ground was covered in seconds.

And as the owl was about to complete her kill, a loud bang echoed across the farm. It appeared to have come from behind the bushes at the field’s edge, or from the farmhouse, or even from the trickling stream; but regardless of the source, it was enough to see the mouse jerk violently, scurrying away towards the safety of a tuft of denser straw. The owl did not have time to react, and landed with a thud at the spot the mouse had moments before occupied. She let out a screech of frustration and after a short pause, with the effortless beat of a wing, she took flight again and circled the field twice, before landing once more on her vantage to begin anew the search for a meal.

Another bang, this time accompanied by a muffled scream. Gripped with panic, a man fell heavily out of the thick brambles which surrounded the base of the tree and collapsed against it. A slight yet sprightly man, his torn, grey business suit and soiled black leather shoes were out of place in the depths of rural Warwickshire. As he lay against the tree roots, panting for breath, a warm patch of blood spread from his abdomen. He grabbed at the gunshot wound, feeling the sharp pain for the first time as his adrenaline levels dipped. Fumbling through his jacket pockets, he found his phone and tried to dial for help. But in his panic, and with blood- soaked hands, he dropped the phone in the long grass.

He patted the grass frantically, trying to feel for the phone, as the dark figure chasing him through the fields stepped into view around the brambles. Wearing a long black coat with a hood entirely hiding their face, the person was equally out of place on the farm. They walked towards him, slowly, purposefully. In the glint of the moonlight was the unmistakable outline of a pistol. They raised their arm straight ahead of them, pointing the gun for the third time at the man on the ground.

“No, no, wait, please, don’t!” he could barely speak between breaths. “Please don’t shoot me.”

The dark figure ignored his pleading, taking another step forward and bracing with their left hand to better their aim.

“What do you want? Do you want money?” The bleeding man began rummaging again through his jacket, searching this time for his wallet. He took it out and threw it limply towards the shooter’s feet, the pain in his abdomen intensifying with each movement.

“There, take it. The credit card has a ten thousand pound limit; the PIN is two-five-four-three. And here,” he took off his watch and threw it next to the wallet. “That is worth at least a thousand. And I can give you more. I have more money, if you just, I need to go to hospital.”

The figure did not move, holding the gun without a hint of tremor, no reticence. The businessman began to cry, pulling at the nearest exposed tree root. He wanted to get up and run, but the last of his energy had been drained by the first gunshot wound.

“What do you want from me?”

The figure cleared their throat, “What does everyone want in life? Work and justice.”

They fired two more shots, both striking the wounded man in the centre of his chest. The owl screeched and took flight once more, this time to escape the noise.

The wounded man held out his arm for a moment, shocked, before it dropped back to the ground and he did not move again. The shooter holstered their gun before squatting over the lifeless body. After taking his pulse to confirm the man was dead, they took out a small white envelope from inside their coat. It was addressed To Whom It May Concern, and they placed it carefully on the dead man’s chest. They stood again, hearing hurried footsteps from the direction of the farmhouse, and disappeared back into the bushes.

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