The world’s best scientists are baffled when bizarre, immovable black stones appear across the globe.
Society spirals into panic when the stones begin to ‘wake up’.
As worldwide anarchy threatens to erupt, United States Coast Guard captain, Guy Granger, sets off on a desperate journey across the Atlantic to rescue his kids, while Mina Magar is a photojournalist forced to take pictures of horrors she can barely believe. Elsewhere, fading popstar, Rick Bastion, is suddenly forced to fight for his survival, despite wishing he was dead.
Survival instinct isn’t so easily ignored, and mankind won’t go away quietly, but when the enemy finally reveals itself, survival seems impossible.
“★★★★★ A different take on the end of the world apocalypse.”
“★★★★★ Twists and turns as the plot thickens and some fantastic characters.”
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Elizabeth Creasy froze.
The mother bird and her fluffy grey ducklings marched single-file from the hedge on one side of the road to the embankment on the other. When the mother noticed Elizabeth, and her agitated cocker spaniel, Boycie, she picked up speed. Her brood, in turn, picked up their speed—a cute little army marching on the double. Their feathery advance took them into the long grass where they promptly disappeared.
Elizabeth grinned. “Oh, what a lovely day, Boycie.”
Boycie looked up, tongue lolling, but said nothing.
It was indeed a lovely day. The meadows were emerald green and the sky was as blue as a crystal ocean. If not for the slight thickness to the air, heralding a possible storm, it was a perfect afternoon.
Two years retired now, and yet to become restless, Elizabeth’s daily jaunts through the fields and farms surrounding her home had never failed to exhilarate her. After decades toiling in an office, she’d all but forgotten the benefits of simple fresh air, and it was an invigorating experience reacquainting with the joyous beauty of nature. If only her beloved Dennis were still alive to enjoy it with her, but that was not to be. At fifty-eight, an aortic rupture had snatched her husband away while he drove his evening bus route. The ensuing low-speed crash had not injured anyone, but Elizabeth had been left a heart-broken widow. She lamented on the time they could have spent together—‘cuddling’ in bed all morning and spending the afternoon feeding ducks by the lake. Simple pleasures sure, but oh, the absolute best.
She hadn’t been with a man since her beloved Dennis had passed, but Lord knows she had felt the need. Lately, she’d even been considering joining an online dating site just to get a man between her legs. Only so much batteries and plastic could do for a woman of her age—and Colin Firth wasn’t cutting it anymore. She needed a real man, with real man parts.
Up ahead, the little knoll she enjoyed climbing came into view. Twelve months ago, the act of hiking up it would have assaulted her knees, but now she could assail it briskly. From atop she could gaze right across the rolling fields to the sleepy village of Crapstone where she kept a modest two-bedroom cottage. The house in Torquay she had shared with Dennis had been too painful to keep, so she’d sold up a year after his death to purchase the cosy home she and Boycie now lived in.
At the bottom of the hill, she wheezed a little. The muggy weather made it harder to breathe and she was getting out of breath. Her daily hike would have to be a little more leisurely today. You could never be too careful at her age.
“Come on, Boycie, up we go.”
Obedient as always, her cocker spaniel started up the hill at an ambling pace matching her own, and together they trampled the thick, green grass as they progressed towards the top. Birds chirped, and the sunshine was so potent that it seemed to massage her shoulders with invisible hands.
She started singing—“All things bright and beautiful…”
“Settle down, Boycie. I don’t want a duet.”
Boycie barked again.
“Now, now, Boycie, settle down.” The cocker spaniel hopped from paw to paw, floppy brown ears twitching. Elizabeth was about to scold him when she saw what had got him so worked up. “Hmm, that wasn’t there yesterday, was it, boy?”
The smooth black stone was the size of a football, and out of place up on the lonely hill. No other rocks or boulders lay around, and certainly none that were jet-black like this one. It more resembled volcanic glass than anything that should be found in the English countryside. If not for the delicate grey veins snaking over its surface, it could have been an old-fashioned bowling ball, or one of those cartoon bombs with the fuses and ACME written on the side. The closer she got to it, the less smooth the stone appeared—like how a television picture degraded when you went right up to the screen.
Boycie tugged on his lead, hard enough he almost yanked free of her grasp. She gave it a swift tug and brought the spaniel back to heel. “Behave, Boycie! What’s got into you?”
The birds stopped chirping and the warmth of the sun disappeared, yet it was still so muggy that it was hard to take a breath. A distant roll of thunder, but not a single cloud hanging in the sky.
Elizabeth’s eyes fixed on the strange black stone. The word ‘obsidian’ popped into her mind. She reached out to touch it, not knowing why other than something inside of her demanded it. Her fingertips were just about to make contact when Boycie bit her.
The leash slipped out of her grasp and Boycie fled, running down the hill full pelt like a greyhound chasing a rabbit.
“Boycie, come back here!”
“Damn it.” Her hand throbbed something terrible; a purplish-blue blotch forming where one long canine had crushed her skin. Boycie had never snapped at her like that before. Never. What had got into him?
Then came more pain.
Thwump thwump thwump…
Elizabeth turned and clutched her forehead. The delicate grey veins on the stone’s surface had started to pulse and vibrate. It was calling out to her. She couldn’t help herself. She reached out.
Pressed her fingertips against the stone.
Ice cold. Like running her hand down the inside of a fridge.
It felt… wrong. Unnatural.
Elizabeth was just about to pull away when something seized her. Her fingertips fused against the stone’s icy surface. A powerful force snatched her mind and showed her unbelievable things. Distressing images seared themselves into her soul and boiled the blood in her veins.
She saw horrors—exquisite tortures of the worst kind.
A vast legion of monstrous creatures.
She saw Hell.
The pictures in Elizabeth’s mind were so wondrous and terrifying that her eyeballs melted inside her skull and leaked down her cheeks while her heart burst in her chest like a pin pricked balloon. When her sixty seven year old body slumped to the ground it was an empty husk and her days of ambling through fields were over—her retirement irrevocably ended.