When you look at someone and all you hear is nothing.
When you ask the darkness something and get no reply.
When you hope against hope to hear (from someone) but never do.
The sound of your skin hardening. Your ears healing over. Closing through neglect. Never to reopen. Sealed forever. Bound with the grim whisper of the tomb. Skin and bone combine to fuse and form a permafrost.
The small scald of neglect, that daily burn upon your skin when the absence of attention you expect but hope against occurs once more again. Once more. As before. And again.
The words here are like the mirror that used to hang somewhere in the house but has long since removed yet every time you pass the spot where the mirror used to hang, you still look to see your face but find yourself not reflected anymore.
When you walk the world knowing that no one has anything to say to you today or any other day. You could walk the same path with the same steps for several lifetimes and be safe in the knowledge that only silence will accompany you.
Perhaps that’s a comfort.
Some people prefer solitude. The simplicity of silence. Of not having to engage. Ask. Joke. Laugh. To share.
Some people prefer to ignore those that surround them. That fill their space. Perhaps for fear of making that space a shared one? For, they might argue, who wants to share their space with anyone? As if intimacy is a pathogen only worth disinfecting; like washing your hands instead of stroking their face.
I’m sure these people find this act of ignoring others liberating.
The desperation. The despair. The endlessness of the inevitable.
The distance. The silence. The isolation.
The not seeing and not doing because there’s no one to see and nothing to do.
I’m fighting back.
I’m not giving in to the endless opportunities to always give in. To my tired mind up always seems to suggest a way out, an escape, an opportunity to climb out of something; a pit, a hole, a darkness normally of our own making.
Yet when we speak of defeat we talk of giving up which, I suppose, means (and I love to be wrong so please correct me) that we are relinquishing the opportunity of escaping by surrendering an up-and-out manoeuvre for a down-and-in one.
Down? In? Retreat? Withdraw? Include only you? Exclude everyone else?
I’m normally against taking stands but I’m taking a stand today against not taking a stand.
The moment that you are, that moment before you turn, must be full of a lifetime remembered and about to be forgotten. That pain is brief but final. A forever pain.
There is anger. Despair. Hunger, of course. But also a notknowingness. Suddenly all thought is replaced by only instinct. Yet at the very heart of the creature there must still be the very slight and occasional reminder of a life before the virus. The twitch of an eye. A stare into space. The splinter of a fragment of a stab of a broken memory.
This is not a solitary life. Creatures gather together, swelling and swarming, driven by a collective urge to hunt and bite and rip and tear, boosting the ever-growing ranks. Swarmlike in their tendencies, they move like clouds of angry insects, their numbers forever swelling as they congregate and consume and then congregate once more. The habits of the infected are one and the same, restless and repeating, spreading, never-ending, only onwards towards the only goal, infection.
The viros look like anybody and everybody. They look like you and me. They are fully clothed. They are naked. They are ripped and ragged. Clean. Dirty. Filthy. Smeared with blood, especially around the mouth. The virus causes multiple physical reactions in its victims and this creates a wide range of possibilities for their portrayal. Aside from the blood smears, there are some common characteristics; twitches and other facial tics; a vocal range from roars to whispers to sighs and screams, all of which combine to create the chorus of some kind of horrific choir.
And so the task begins, as I start to turn the highly successful VIRO book series into a proposal for a TV series. Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing insights and updates as to how this process is going. So let’s begin at the beginning.
VIRO – The TV Series Proposal
GENRE: Horror/Science Fiction – Post-Apocalypse
TAG LINE: Four Kids, One Apocalypse
LOG LINE: As a viral pandemic turns the world into bloodthirsty creatures, a boy with special needs looks for his missing mum.
VIRO tells the story of Jake, a boy born with special needs who wakes one morning to find that the world has been catastrophically overrun by a deadly virus and his mum has not come home after work. Determined but unused to being out on his own, Jake sets off to find her.
The book series is set in the south east of England and Season One takes place in Burton-on-Sea, a fictional seaside town modelled on Hastings. The time is somewhere in the 1970s.
There is no knowing exactly where the virus came from and the point of the series is that no-one will ever know. There is a lot of speculation but no definitive explanation. This makes VIRO darker and bleaker as we soon come to realise that the world will not be saved.
The story is not a race to find a cure but about finding a way to simply survive. Science, like God, and society, is broken now. It makes no difference, especially to a group of teenage friends who don’t really have time to try and make sense of what has happened. They just want to stay alive.
‘I absolutely loved this book. Powerful and poignant, VIRO packs a punch. Sad and haunting, VIRO is a new take on the zombie genre.The characters are dynamic and interesting, finding strength despite their horrifying circumstances. Jake is a character that will stick with you long after the final page. The action sequences are thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat!’
As a viral outbreak turns the world into bloodthirsty creatures, a boy with special needs looks for his missing mum.
‘The writing style is beautifully compelling, and after the first couple of pages I couldn’t put it down. The author very skilfully creates a world and characters through deceptively simple prose that draws the reader right in. It is a fascinating blend of one-after-the-other edge-of-the seat scares, alongside a haunting narrative about what it is to be human.’
‘Capturing the voice of a young character with special needs (I spent 25 years as a special education teacher/administrator), Taylor’s story of a group of young people coping with a world disintegrating in front of them; with the loss of structure and trust, and with betrayal by the adults who should be protecting them is both uplifting and horrifying. Do not be fooled by the simple language of the narrator: there are hard questions asked and realistic, unsentimental consequences to the apocalypse confronting the children, and an ending that you are unlikely to forget easily.’
‘I absolutely loved this book. Powerful and poignant, VIRO packs a punch. Sad and haunting, VIRO is a new take on the zombie genre. The characters are dynamic and interesting, finding strength despite their horrifying circumstances. Jake is a character that will stick with you long after the final page. The action sequences are thrilling. I was on the edge of my seat!’
Get your copy today – Book One FREE for download HERE
An old man wearing a ragged tweed suit and broken brogues stands at the side of Front Square. He has stood here every day for as long as anyone can remember. When Trinity College teemed with tourists this old man and his daily vigil was a noteworthy addition to the guided tour of the grounds. Now that the College, like the city, the country, and the world, is about to be finally destroyed this old man is no longer remarkable, is no longer anything. He is just someone else about to die like everyone else.
Since the very beginning it has always been considered that the most likely cause of the final downfall of the human race will be plague or flood or pestilence or virus or war or blast or heat or a final collision with a passing heavenly body. This is the sensible and serious narrative that has caused the world to always be wholly concerned with its own destruction.
The world could never have known that its absolute end would come about as the simple expression of a merely malevolent whim.
Amidst the chaos and the screaming and the suffering and the hatred and the horror and the hopelessness and the gunfire and the pleading and the taunting and the sheer futility of it all, a small child works alone in Front Square. A small child with a broken nose who works all day, using a household hammer to smash bricks until her arm burns and she cannot lift it any more. Spent and close to collapse, this small child then falls asleep near where I am laying. No one pays her any mind.
And yet existence can live alongside the very destruction of the same and though the notion of life here is clearly finite in its duration it is the same life that resolves to sing as the firing squad takes aim or signal eternal defiance with a shout from the scaffold and until there is no-one left to hear the song or hear the shout then there is always the hope that even songs and shouting might actually signal something more than simple silent resignation.
And even in the darkest darkness ever to have descended from way beyond on-high there are still voices to be heard. They may be single. They may be strangled. They may be shortened. But they are voices all the same.