author was born in
and emigrated as a three-year-old in 1956.
has a Diploma of Arts and worked as a Production Designer in television for
eleven years and then as a kitchen designer.
is his first novel and three others are underway. He currently resides in rural
was an inquisitive kid. At nine years of age, most kids have a fascination for
the forbidden, but no one could hold a candle to Martys penchant for being
nosy. So, when his parents told him to stay away from the Ramp, it was akin to
waving a red rag at a bull. After all, Marty had played at the Ramp before and
just couldnt see what all the fuss
was about, so as he dawdled home from school on that late autumn afternoon he
tossed around in his mind the consequences of what he was about to do. Marty and
his family were from
and he carried in him the determined, often stubborn streak, which earmarked
his ancestry. But he was also very much aware of the caning his backside would
receive if his parents found out he had ignored their very explicit
instructions, besides Marty was an inquisitive kid.
stood in the small clearing watching the late afternoon sun cast a myriad of
shadowy patterns through the naked branches of the densely packed willow trees
surrounding the area, as he immersed himself in his own little fantasy world.
Perhaps because of his drifting mind, he failed to notice the unearthly silence
that had fallen over the area since he had entered the private domain, or,
perhaps it was the sudden silence that enhanced his fantasy. The symphony of
sound that normally greeted any visitor to the clearing was shut off suddenly as
if a cosmic disc jockey had whipped the playing arm off a recording of
innumerable birds, frogs, crickets and the distant lowing of cows in nearby
fields. Perhaps, if Marty had not been so hypnotised by the play of light and
shade and the appeal of his own fantasy, he might have noticed the unnatural
atmosphere and perhaps then, he might have heeded his parents warning… but,
then again, Marty was an inquisitive kid.
he wandered through the shadows, he picked up a twig that had dropped from one
of the trees and began to parry and thrust with it as if in an imaginary sword
fight, which was just where his mind had placed him. His eyes fell upon the
centre of attention in the clearing, the Ramp and for an instant, his fantasy
soaked brain tried to register on his conscious mind that something had moved
ever so slightly within the shadowy area underneath the Ramp. But, he was
enjoying himself too much to heed the possibility of any warning or danger and
he dismissed the fleeting notion as a trick of the light. Marty wandered over to
the Ramp pretending he was Jason in search of the Golden Fleece, just waiting
for the skeleton army to come bursting out of the ground as had happened in the
movie his parents had taken him to see at the drive-in theatre. He would drive
them off as Jason had done and escape with his glittering prize, in this case,
an oily rag which he planned to discard long before he got home. Man, Marty
loved that movie.
stood before the Ramp waving his stick like a sword, totally absorbed in his
battle with the skeleton warriors leaping off the Ramp at him, oblivious to the
fact that his own grunts and groans were the only sounds to reach his ears and
oblivious to the black tendril which extended from under the Ramp and crept
towards his shoe. As the ropy tentacle of slithering blackness touched the toe
of his shoe, the clearing erupted in a cacophony of noise as the surrounding
wildlife suddenly found voice. Martys piercing scream of terror was lost in
the explosion of sound. Moments later, the deafening sounds subsided to a more
natural level as one adventurous cricket scuttled past the Ramp, stopping for an
instant to investigate the crumpled football beanie that had previously adorned
the head of a would-be Argonaut. Deciding that the beanie was inedible, the
little creature quickly continued on its way as if fearing a similar fate to the
stick-wielding boy. Martys
devastated mother stood before the investigating officer, wringing the beanie in
her hands, the only tangible evidence of his inexplicable disappearance off the
face of the earth. When asked why he would have gone to that area despite strict
instructions to the contrary she could only stumblingly reply
such an inquisitive kid.
rippled under the structure like disturbed pond water and blackness spilled out
of the shimmering orb onto the concrete base of the Ramp. It paused and became
still as if listening
entitys senses were universal, its existence eternal and it knew that another
part of the cosmic battle would be played out here
it waited. It sensed the
approach of a small boy and the proximity of many others, three of whom would
play key roles in its manipulations. It sensed the existence of others connected
to the three, which the entity had touched in the past, this was appropriate and
not uncommon. There were few on any world in any universe that had escaped the
touch of the darkness, it was always interesting to revisit those that had
managed to survive.
solitary boy drew near, he would begin the series of events in this realm and if
the entity could have grinned it would have done so as it envisaged the coming
madness to be inflicted upon these creatures. The darkness waited, as it did so
well, and as the boy approached it slid its senses outward.
week of summer… last day of school
a magical combination in the mind of any
child. Bill and his Comets were starting to fade, Elvis was in full swing and
the Beatles were just gathering serious momentum, like a runaway freight train,
but all that was on this small boys mind as his sneakered feet slapped the
pavement was two months of fishing, riding, climbing trees and general goofing
off. Bliss on toast, thought Glyn as he neared the intersection of his
street, Torella Avenue with Hemley Street along which lay his school, Hemley
Wallace was a small skinny boy with wavy brown hair that refused all efforts to
be combed into order, unlike his mind which was in direct contrast to his
disordered locks. Glyn had topped his class in results in the five years he had
attended Hemley Primary, only being pipped for school honours by a strange kid
with an unusually high forehead who would eventually end up in a school for
highly gifted children. But, school results were a distant sliver of thought as
he bounced down the street past some of the smaller two-bedroom cottages on the
housing estate. So engrossed was he in the anticipation of the summer vacation
that he did not register the sound of a door slamming behind him, nor the sound
of running feet approaching fast over the lawns fronting the little houses. A
hand on his shoulder and a voice bellowing, Hey Peewee, wait for me,
snapped him violently out of his reverie as the tall ruddy-faced youngster
fell into step alongside him.
John Davies, a Welsh boy whose family had moved into the estate in the same year
as Glyns and whose father, also, like Glyns, worked at the massive oil
refinery nearby. The housing estate was funded by the refinery and its backers,
a Dutch parent company, and supplied housing for its employees at a very cheap
rate. It was a mixture of the little two-bedroom cottages, slightly larger
three-bedroom jobs, up to the more expansive houses for the refineries
executives. Glyns father was a security officer at the refinery and Williams
dad worked as a fireman so they both lived in the smaller houses on offer. The
estate was a mixture of Scottish, Welsh, English and Dutch families, but
surprisingly this multi-national mish-mash lived together in relative harmony,
bonded by their work and by the ease at which their children forged and
maintained friendships. The crime rate was virtually zero around the estate
apart from some childish pranks like throwing unripe apricots onto the roofs of
houses and listening to them clatter down the tiles as they ran away laughing.
surly bully of a kid had enticed Glyn into participating one evening and the
adrenalin high he had experienced as he had hurled the fruit and then pelted
down the street had almost lured Glyn into a new realm where perhaps being the
good guy and winning at school were not so important. He and Billy Watson had
skidded around the block into a vacant parcel of land and Glyn had looked into
the wildly grinning face of Billy and for a split second had a glimpse of what
would become the disaster of Billy Watsons life.
through this mind boggling moment of epiphany, Glyn had heard the pounding
footsteps of someone approaching at a fast clip and had spun on his feet and
tore off across the vacant block just as the home-owner had whipped around the
corner and grabbed Billy by the scruff and dragged him away. Glyn could still
remember looking back over his shoulder as he ran in terror now and could still
see that wild grin splitting Billys face as he was dragged around the corner.
Glyn had been terrified for days that the police would arrive on his doorstep to
cart him away, but it had never happened. He had avoided Billy like the plague
until he was promoted to High School the following year. Apparently, Glyn
discovered later, the home-owner had only kicked Billy up the arse and then told
his parents who had grounded him for a while, but, to his credit, Billy had
never ratted on Glyn, honour amongst criminals he supposed.
was thirteen years later to the day that Glyns premonition came true as he
read in the paper about the unfortunate demise of Billy Watson who had been
smeared all over the highway by a sixteen wheeler, fully loaded and doing
sixty miles an hour. Billy, stoned out of his scone, had lain down in the road
at two o clock in the morning and according to a jogger who witnessed the
horror, Billy Watson had yelled out in a dreamy voice with a wide grin on his
face just before the massive truck turned him into raspberry jam God sucks
the big one!
estate itself covered an area approximately a mile by half a mile. Centrally
located within the estate were two huge playgrounds about a hundred yards in
diameter. These playgrounds were separated by a double row of houses, which
effectively divided the estate in half. An avenue surrounded each playground and
was lined with houses of varying sizes; Glyns house was on the south side of
the avenue and like all of them, faced directly into the playground, where the
swings, slides and see-saws quickly became a focal point for nearly all the
children on the estate.
in which Glyn and William lived opened out at the east end onto
and across from the T-intersection stood three tennis courts bounded by cyclone
wire fences fifteen feet high. It was just as Glyn was about to turn into Hemley
Street that his friend had bounded up next to him and clamped a hand on his
doin Peewee? asked the eternally affable Willie.
doing okay, but thanks to you, you smelly little nose-picker, I nearly filled my
pants, replied Peewee with a huge grin on his face.
guffawed delightedly. Peewee, Willie and their other companion, Davey
MacDougall, were inseparable friends, their nicknames and good-natured insults
only highlighting the bond between them. The natural curiosity of the
eleven-year-olds enabled them to form close friendships despite the differences
in origins and cultures; a lesson their parents could well have taken heed of.
For although they too formed friendships with their neighbours and workmates, it
often seemed with a reticence that escaped their free-spirited children.
played host to more than just the
estate children, it also served a fair portion of the surrounding district and
mostly outlying farms. But it was the community atmosphere of the estate that
bonded a lot of the children, especially, Glyn, William and Davey.
and Willie wandered down
towards the school. On their left were more of the smaller houses like their
own, but on the opposite side of the street, there were no houses. There were
the tennis courts opposite the entrance to
, then about fifty yards of open ground before you came to the Community Hall. A
big empty rectangular building with a stage at one end and a small kitchen, it
was used for meetings, dances, school concerts, markets and as a scout hall.
Further along this side of the street, about sixty or seventy yards from the
hall stood the small cottage which housed the school headmaster and next to this
was the school itself.
continued past the school as a dirt road bounded by open paddocks and willow
trees through which cows meandered, their soft lowing acting as bass
counterpoint to the more shrill tones of countless birds, crickets and frogs. On
the left-hand side of the dirt road lay a more densely treed area accessed by a
short rutted track; this was the trios favourite playground: The Ramp.
ran away to the west for about three hundred yards, before it swung left into a
short, tree-lined court. This was where the executives of the Refinery lived and
where Glyn and his friends sometimes rode their bikes and played with the
executives children. As they waited at the intersection of Hemley and Mirula
for the third member of their little clan, Glyn exclaimed, Jeez Willie,
dont you ever stop?
was at this point that Glyn had noticed his pal, as usual, with one finger
jammed up his nose as far as the first knuckle and rummaging within as if in
search of some long lost treasure.
much? added Glyn, a grin splitting his face again.
enough to have for lunch, quipped Willie.
Willie had the unfortunate habit of sitting in class listening intently to the
teacher whilst one finger would visit his nostrils in search of the ever-present
boogies, and any that came out delicately balanced on the end of his finger,
promptly found their way into his mouth to be munched on whilst his finger went
in search of the next course.
whole hand will disappear up there one day and then youll be able to thumb
your nose at people without even trying, laughed Glyn.
only thing that will disappear will be my foot as it disappears up your bum,
turd-brain, replied Willie.
with that, both boys broke into gales of laughter as David Davey
MacDougall approached along
. The smile that lit up Daveys face when he first sighted his companions soon
expanded to giggling when he heard their laughter, for although he wasnt
aware of the joke, it was enough that he was in their company again.
up? he inquired.
Willies finger, gurgled Glyn. Up to the elbow that is.
my foot up to the knee, depending on where youre standing, choked Willie.
stood patiently, with a grin from ear to ear, waiting for his pals to calm down
from their hysterical cackling, so he could get some sense from them. He
wasnt too hopeful. As he watched them, he pondered on how basically different
they were and yet how close they had become since they all met five years ago.
Glyn and himself had been born in
, but had arrived on the estate at too early an age to have retained much of an
accent. He had met Glyn on the very first day of school five years ago and
something had seemed to pass between them even at that early age, but they had
only been part-time companions until a few months later when a freckle-faced
Welsh kid had seemingly provided some sort of emotional link between the three
boys, because they had become inseparable, drawn together not only by childhood
friendship, but, also by some inexplicable bond that none of them could attempt
to explain until many years later when events would shape and alter their lives
watched Peewee, tears streaming down his cheeks, his wavy brown hair falling
over his forehead, and saw more than the short skinny kid that anyone else would
see at first glance. Davey knew from their play together that Glyns exterior
belied the wiriness of developing muscles and that his mind was razor sharp,
both at school and when in pursuit of less demanding pastimes. Daveys
attention switched to Willie who was sitting on the ground holding his stomach,
still laughing heartily. He was a good head taller than Glyn and about as
skinny, his teacher once describing the red-headed, freckle-faced boy as being
like a bunch of rubber bands in perpetual motion, because Willie could run like
the wind. Once he got those gangly legs motoring you were left chewing dust.
Davey pondered that he was the big-boy of the trio, as tall as Willie, but
big-boned and solid for his age, a product of many generations of Scottish
dockyard workers topped by a shock of jet-black hair.
and Willie slowly returned to the world of sanity, Glyn wiping the tears from
his face and Willie regaining his feet and slinging his schoolbag over his
you guys finished yet? asked Davey still grinning. Well be late for
school if you dont cut your comedy act.
okay, we surrender, gasped Glyn. Well come quietly; Im going to bust
something if I laugh any more.
Willies finger if you poke him on the nose, quipped Davey.
please, no more, pleaded Willie his arms wrapped around his middle again.
two will be the death of me; laughter poisoning the doctor will say.
be more like boogie poisoning, added Davey unable to resist joining in on the
their renewed laughter ringing through the cool morning air the three friends
at the school crossing and made their way into the school grounds. Hemley
Street Primary was nothing fancy as far as schools went, it was one of the first
schools built in the district and the original bluestone single classroom still
stood, front onto
. The newer half-dozen classrooms extended back from this structure in a
straight line, the northern aspect of these buildings overlooking an unpaved car
park and bicycle racks. The southern side looking out onto an asphalted
quadrangle and playground, beyond which were the toilet blocks and then the
grounds of the headmasters cottage.
the eastern end of the school buildings a line of huge pine trees ran from north
to south separating the quadrangle and buildings from an acre of open field
which served as sports ground and general play area. This was bounded by simple
wire fences, which formed the school boundaries. Hemley Street Primary was
rustic and quaint but, it served its purpose as the springboard for young
children to begin the long haul to maturity. Some would have to get there sooner
three boys paused at the gateway entrance to the school and as one they looked
longingly down the dirt road as it speared past the school-grounds towards the
welcoming willow trees where they would probably spend a large portion of their
holidays playing. The boys all looked at each other with big cheesy grins on
their faces, knowing full-well, without speaking, what each was thinking and
with great anticipation of the weeks ahead, as one, they turned and walked
through the gates. If they had stood there a few moments longer they would have
sighted the lone figure trudging dejectedly along the dirt road towards the