Scott Matthews, a disillusioned city worker, finds himself being drawn into a bizarre corporate conspiracy. From the ruthless greed of '80's London, to the austere beauty of Western Scotland, Scott begins to unravel the threads of an enigma dating back centuries, while gradually falling under the spell of the mysterious and forbidden Singing Loch. Against all odds, he discovers love, enlightenment, and ultimately a truth more startling than legend.
This is a story about land, about those who own it and about those who dare to trespass upon it. It's about how the loss of wilderness and of our right of access to it threatens the very soul of mankind.
As the tube hurtled its weary way through the darkness, I took a long, hard look at the reflection of a man, in the window, opposite. He was nearing thirty, pale with a lanky sort of build and a thick mop of dark hair that looked a
fortnight overdue for a good cut. He wore a Marks and Spencer's suit which he didn't fill out very well and on his lap was a battered, black briefcase. He wore spectacles, with round wire frames like the ones you used to get on the National Health, forty years ago, only now they were fashionable.
The tatty briefcase lent him an air of bruised sophistication. What was inside? Business papers? An earth shattering thesis? Or perhaps more likely it was a sham and his case was empty but for a copy of New Scientist and a Tupperware carton containing his hastily prepared lunch.
He looked sour, as if his way of life did nothing to sustain his spirit. I made an effort to smile but the reflection didn't respond, and that was odd because the reflection was my own.
It was the summer of 1987, early on a Monday morning and the compartment was crammed with bodies, all making their way to work. A girl shifted her weight and hid the view I'd had of myself.
She was tall and shapely, a model, I guessed from the designer clothes case slung over her shoulder. Her bleached blonde hair was tied back tightly and held with a comb, exposing every contour of her unblemished face. It was one of those classical faces, a Greek sculpture, with the pale neon light casting soft shadows over its seemingly boneless structure.
She glanced at me once or twice as she hung from the rail. I could have given up my seat for her, but there were dozens of other blokes sitting down as well as me, and you had to be careful these days. I'd offered my seat once before to a lone woman, and I swear she'd got the wrong idea. She'd thought - I don't know - that I was about to start coming on to her or something. She'd refused the seat with a disdainful curl of her lip, and then turned her back on me as if I'd suggested something filthy. I hadn't been living in the City for long and when one's trying to adjust to a strange environment, one tends to be conditioned by experiences like that. I was paranoid of course; I think we all were.
There must have been forty of us crammed inside that compartment but not one of us was touching; we were all safe, crouching inside our precious body space - forty pairs of eyes shying from contact. And we were silent, each of us tuned in to the miserable whine of the machine that bore us, each of us afraid to speak for fear of being overheard, as if we all had to watch out, to be on our guard.
It was eight forty. At eight forty two, the machine would stop and we'd all file out like robots, like well oiled components moving to take up our positions in the great clockwork machinery of the City
- millions of us, tiny gears in a Newtonian Universe, all meshing together, yet somehow carefully lubricated so we could function without actually touching.
I'd been in London for five years after a prematurely aborted career in physics. My degree had gained me rather a poor salary and a dead end research post in a laboratory I gather they've now turned into bicycle shed. I'd moved to the City as so many have done before me, throughout the long history of these isles: poor, ragged Dick Whittingtons in search of golden pavements, only to find a kind of sickly grey.