I reckon that every night some nasty little gremlin is getting into my MS and buggering it up because I’m sure I’ve fixed the same typos more than once. Anyway, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
I thought I’d include a little excerpt for your delectation. In the three previous novels of this series, the first chapter is always a botched robbery attempt so there seemed no point in changing it now.
Spoiler alert. Actually it’s not, just a word of warning for those amongst you that don’t like graphic bloodletting. I couldn’t really avoid it since this is a book featuring giant lizards bent upon eating every person on the planet. Except President Trump, of course. Even they wouldn’t dare.
I’ve also deleted the profanity which will of course, be liberally splattered through the novel. still work in progress, but it’s getting there.
‘I don’t feel the engines,’ Mallory said in a low voice, instantly carried away by the wind which was stronger up here and rising all the time.
‘Screw the engines. We don’t have enough manpower to start or run them, anyway. We’ll find anything valuable, then tow the old piece of s*** into the nearest port. Follow me.’ Apparently happy to do so, the younger man held back as Jackson made for the wheelhouse, just to check, jumping lithely up the rotting wooden steps to show the other he was as good as him any day and in any weather.
Inside the wheelhouse there was no power, which was a pity. There would be more value in a vessel with a functioning generator and engines. Maybe they were just shut down. There being nothing else to see there and still no sign of life, he led the way back down to the deck where the hatch to the cargo compartment yawned open. ‘You got your flashlight?’ Mallory nodded in the deepening gloom. His earlier ebullience had gone and his face now pale. Was it nerves or sea sickness, Jackson wondered. Probably the latter, he decided. This man was no seaman; probably just some a*****e who couldn’t get another job. With another screech, this time from the rusty bulkhead, he heaved it even further up and led the way into the darkness.
Up on deck he’d almost become accustomed to the rank stench, but down here it was indescribable. Never had Jackson smelt anything as bad, and he’d been at sea for two decades where the most revolting stenches were a more or less common occurrence, from dead fish and seaweed left behind by receding tides.
‘Are you sure this ain’t dead bodies? Stinks like nothin’ I’ve ever known.’ He wrinkled his nose in disgust. It truly was the worst smell he’d ever experienced; like rotting flesh mixed with stale air; all of which he’d known before, but never at the same time or at this intensity. Curiously, Mallory seemed unconcerned with the rank aroma and was wrestling with his heavy waterproof jacket.
‘I’m sorry to tell you, Mister Jackson, that the smell is the least of your worries.’ He turned, not at the words but from the change in the man’s voice. Gone was the lazy, almost indolent murmur. In its place was a stronger, more imperative tone of authority. And also gone was the vacant smile.
‘What the **** are you talking about?’ But he knew. Somehow he knew. His past had finally caught up with him.
‘I won’t bother with my ID for now. I think this will do.’ A moment later, revealed in the gloom was a gun. It was a far larger gun than his own and its very wide muzzle now pointed directly at his chest.
‘Customs?’ he asked without emotion. The man did not smile, but his disdain was obvious.
‘Alcohol, tobacco and friggin’ firearms?’
Jackson was outraged. He was a thief, yes, he was also a liar, but one thing he wasn’t was a goddamn terrorist.
‘Are you out of your gourd?’ He would have said more, a lot more, but was given no chance as something peculiar happened.
Jackson had seen quite a few deaths in his years, but none as quick, silent or terrifying as this. In one moment Mallory’s eyes stared fully at him, quite sorrowfully in fact, and the next he felt rather than heard something. It was like the displaced air of a newspaper as someone struck out wildly at a fly, except in this case a winged pest did not fall to the ground. Rather, with a sickening tearing sound, Mallory’s head left his shoulders. The immediate fountain of arterial blood from his neck shot almost five feet, some of it hitting Jackson in the face. There was no time to yell, or in his instant and overwhelming terror, to scream, for the other man’s head fell to the deck with a nauseating thud. A moment later, his gorge threatening to burst from his throat, he turned at a new sound, that of a high-pitched screech, almost inaudible because of its high frequency. In his panic to flee his hand hit something hard enough to snap three of his fingers but he felt no pain for with a low whine followed by a grating sound deep in the bowels of the ship, a sharp draft of frigid air from above billowed down as all the remaining cargo hatches began to creak open.
He was given no time to marvel at this, either, for a moment later a bright blue light shone directly into his eyes. It was a curious shade and quite attractive despite their grim surroundings, but he was given no time to consider this further, for less than a second after that a pain more hideous than he ever could have described filled his entire being. Worse, something began to trickle down his face. His scream, if could it have been called that, was muted beneath the rasping, snarling roars surrounding him. His fall onto quivering knees was halted as something sharp accepted his weight effortlessly and severed both legs below the knees. By now Jackson barely existed as a functioning human but more a gibbering agony-filled wreck of insanity.
It was in this position that he barely heard all cargo bay doors thudding into their fastening pins. He felt the howling wind of several more giant things writhing past him shrieking in joy, or some other alien emotion, and then one more thing. The last sensation he would ever experience as a living being. The teeth now fastening around his head had to be at least six inches long, but he didn’t know this as his skull was immediately pulverised, wrenched free from his body and dropped to the deck. Before his lifeless body could even fall, another jerk of that giant head deposited his torso into a writhing gullet where it disappeared in a single muscular spasm.
With a squawk of either rage or satisfaction the thing which had destroyed him leapt upwards, and with one more howl into the night sky joined its fifteen companions flapping away and using the rising wind to hurl them aloft towards their new home.