Maddy has met the Devil on a plane. Is it the End of the World, or is something still more sinister taking place? Either way, the wolves are approaching, and Maddy has to run... (Contains Mature themes)
John R. Morgan won the 2005 annual NaNoWriMo competion with the novel Cruel World. His prize was a certificate, which he had to print out himself, and write his own name on. It was the pinnacle of his career, which spans ghost tour guide, composer of children’s musicals, and, most terrible of all, computer programmer.
He lives in York, England, with his fabulous wife, and gorgeous two children.
She is suspended several thousand feet in space, and she is terrified.
Maddy clutches at the cobalt blue armrest next to the plane window, digging her nails deep into the fabric, trying not to let out a squeal, trying not to give out any sign of abnormality.
She has been scared before, sometimes the lads at Black Street could be intimidating, but she has never felt this fever, this monstrous overbearing that is striking her now. Even when she had been mugged for her laptop passing through Charing Cross, she had felt more bewildered and tinged with sadness.
She can hear the air steward passing down the aisle, dispensing G and T’s to the gaggle of harridans sat a few rows in front.
I must pretend to be asleep.
She forces her eyelids together, and twists her head towards the window. She can feel her chest panting and cleaves her tongue to the roof of her mouth to slow the intake of breath.
“Would you like a drink? Sir? Madam?”
NO THANK YOU.
The voice scrapes and forces its way into her head, a screeching,violent cacophony that makes her gums bleed. She clasps her lips tightly shut and prays, prays that nobody notices her discomfort. It isn’t him, she tells herself, not coherently but with a pressing force.
That is not the man I am sat beside.
She remembers what he looks like, or what he looked like, she dare not look at him now. She hadn’t really paid much attention to him when she boarded, her mind was still spinning about the dem’, but he had graciously stood to let her into her seat, and she exchanged pleasantries with him as she sat.
He reminded him of her uncle, who was a vicar in the Black Country, a great arc of baldness with wisps on either side, and a square, but lean face, accommodating a wide, conciliatory smile. He even had the same dent on his nose that suggested the pinch of reading glasses. His voice had been high pitched for a man of his build, not the throaty roar that she has just heard. Above all, he had been ordinary. Well, ordinary for a New Yorker.
There is something else occupying that space now, something she cannot comprehend, as if the spectre of death has lowered himself into the body of her neighbour.
She can feel her left hand scratching her wrist, peeling away at the skin, exposing the red raw flesh underneath. She hears the rub of fabric, and knows he is shifting in his seat.