Well, the second book in The Fractured novellas is almost finished. I just have a bit of post-editing polish to add to it.
Like Elena, Maggie will be available exclusive to Amazon in ebook format. I’ve decided to go for a nice and simple release date – 1st May 2013. One week exactly. Put it in your diaries now
If you’ve read The Blemished you’ll know Maggie as Mrs Murgatroyd, or Murder-Troll to her students, a formidable woman with red curly hair and a penchant for cruelty. What turned her into that woman? Maggie delves into Mrs Murgatroyd’s past and reveals the heartbreaking events that caused her to lose aspects of her humanity.
Here’s a little sneak peak:
“Thank you for coming on such short notice, Margaret. Please take a seat,” Peter said. He had the sort of voice that never rose or fell, yet commanded attention.
Margaret sat down and crossed her legs.
“I think you know why you’re here.”
Her head burned under the bandage. The whiskey worked through her system, making her sweat. Her stomach churned a little. A blonde woman with slim-line glasses stared at her and wrote something on a pad. What could she be writing? Margaret hadn’t even had chance to speak yet. Was she just writing down her appearance, like she was some sort of science experiment: subject appears agitated with some sweating and fidgeting.
“Yes, Peter, I can imagine. I’m sure the Ministry would like an explanation for what happened with the Blemished girl – Mina Hart – and I am here to state my case, as it were.” Margaret forced a smile.
Peter cleared his throat and made a pencil mark on his pad. The others scribbled down notes. She noticed the other blonde woman make an adjustment on her Plan-It, a small rectangular device connected to contact lenses and ear buds that the GEM and middle-class community use as a communication device. Members of Security used special contact lenses with a tiny transparent chip to record whatever they wished, including tribunals. The written notes were for little more than passing on their own judgement, and to distract the interviewee from the fact that they were being recorded.
“An unfortunate set of circumstances, Margaret. The loss of the girl was… regrettable.” He flipped his pencil between his fingers. “I believe she has made it across the Scottish border and is now under Compound protection. Unfortunately, there was a high bounty on her head.”
Margaret’s lip twitched. “Well, I spared no expense when it came to trying to kill her––”
“No,” Peter interrupted. “No, you shouldn’t have done that. The orders were never to kill her.” He dropped his pencil onto the table. The silent people scribbled onto their pads.
A single light from the centre of the room flickered, catching her eye. She squinted and looked away. “But I assumed––”
“You assumed wrong. We were under strict instructions to keep the girl alive. You nearly killed her at the farm, and then in the ghettos.”
Margaret sighed. She’d had many opportunities to kill Mina. Some she had attempted to take advantage of; some she had let slip through her fingers like an incompetent fool. She supposed she should be grateful now. The death of the Blemished girl might have been the death of her.
“I’ve failed,” she said with a resigned smile. “I failed at following orders and I failed to capture the girl. Perhaps it is time for me to let go of my Ministry duties and become a full-time teacher.” She said the word teacher through gritted teeth.
Peter leaned back in his chair and looked at her with his droopy green eyes. “Is that what you want?”
“No, Peter, of course it isn’t,” Margaret snapped. “There’s nothing worse than having to teach those inferior things. If it was up to me I would refuse to be around any of the Blemished. You know how I feel on this matter.”
Peter leaned forward and clicked the off button on the tape recorder. The two blondes and the grey haired man put down their pencils and looked at him. “Leave us for a moment, would you?” he said to the note-takers.
Chairs scraped against floor boards and the three Ministry workers filed out of the room. Peter watched until the door closed behind them. He waited a few moments before turning back to Margaret.
“I don’t care what happened with the girl. That’s in the past now. We have bigger problems to deal with.”
He sighed. “Yes, the Resistance. As you know, the situation with London is… unsettling. Car-bombing and kidnap is almost a daily experience. They don’t even hide anymore, Margaret. They are out in the open, protesting, and throwing petrol bombs at the Enforcers.”
“What has the GEM planned for this?”
Peter smiled slowly. “I knew it. I knew you went deep into the Ministry. You know about the Solution, don’t you?”
A sense of calm spread through Margaret’s body. “There was… talk. My husband mentioned––”
“They want you back,” Peter said. “They want you back in London.”
Margaret’s back straightened. “Who? The GEM?” Her mouth opened and shut. It wasn’t possible. She hadn’t been in London since she was twenty-one years old. The tips of her fingers felt numb and her throat dried up.
“Yes,” Peter continued. “They want you and they said that you were the only person who could do it. It’s all based on your work, Margaret. And they need you to go back and take control.”
Margaret longed for a glass of water, or better yet – her whiskey. She wanted to run out of that door and never come back, but there was no running from the Ministry. No, they would find her. The GEM had the power. She ran the back of her hand across her sweaty forehead, itching to rip the bandage from her head.
“Who asked for me?” she whispered.
Peter leaned forward. “What did you say? I didn’t hear.”
“Who asked for me?” she said again, lifting her chin and raising her voice a fraction.
Peter paused. “You know who it was.”
Margaret closed her eyes, took a breath and opened them again. “I want you to tell me. I want you to say his name.”
Margaret gripped the table for support. Just the mention of his name made tears prick at her eye-balls, tears that she wanted to fend away with her flask of whiskey. She didn’t care about Peter anymore; she straightened up and reached into her bag for the flask. Peter watched her as she took a sip, but he didn’t say anything.
“Will you do it?” He asked after she replaced the flask in her handbag.
Margaret turned and stared out of the window. It was sunny. The overgrown grass swayed in the breeze. She idly thought about how there wouldn’t be much grass in London; or many birds, or trees and fields.
“Yes,” she said. “I’ll do it. I’ll go to London.”