Last year, as is often the case, I had an idea for a story that looked like a good bet for a novel length piece of writing. As is also often the case, I got a few thousand words in and the well dried up. So, I’ve decided that I need to kickstart this idea back into life again and see if I actually have it in me to finish a novel.

The story is called “The Island” (although this is a working title). I started thinking about what would happen if an eco-terrorist organisation decided that the best way to save the environment was to wipe out all human life by releasing a bio-weopon. I did some reading on Smallpox and thought this would be perfect. I wanted to set the story on a small island off the Scottish coast and have all the disease stuff mostly happening “off screen”. The link to bigger events would come from the arrival on the island of one of the terrorists who has gotten cold feet and gone looking for refuge with an old friend.

I’m going to start putting up what I have written so far in the hope that somebody out there in cyberspace might give it a read and leave some feedback that might spark me back into action!

The Island – Chapter 1

The island jutted from the sea like a rough emerald. Seen from the air, its craggy outline looked a bit like the head a dog with its mouth open. As you moved inland, the land rose into a trio of small hills that stopped the wind from sweeping unchecked across the whole island. A variety of ships dotted the firth; a few pleasure craft mixed in with the more weather-beaten fishing boats. Dwarfing them all were the ubiquitous ferries shuttling back and forth to the mainland with their cargoes of tourists and locals going to and from work.

One of the ferries was pulling into its shallow berth. Its white hull was dotted with thin streaks of rust. The smell of diesel fuel mixed with the smell of seaweed drying in the sun. A crowd of passengers stood at the top of the slipway in a shifting clump of windbreakers, backpacks and cameras dock, disgorged a few minutes earlier by the bus. A whirring of gears announced that the ramp was about to be lowered. It descended in a short arc to land with a clank just above the waterline. Moments later the first cars began to roll up the jetty followed by the foot passengers.

Ryan and Jamie stood astride their bikes watching the scene although neither boy was paying more than half a mind to it. Jamie had stopped to read a text from his mum.

‘Postie been yet then?’ Ryan asked. Both boys had been nervously waiting for the post all morning. They had been at Jamie’s house until his mum had shooed them out the door, fed up with their nervous milling around while she tried to get the housework done.

‘Aye, that’s them here,’ Jamie said reading out the message. ‘Big brown envelope, she says. Cannae be anything else.’ He went to stuff the phone back in his pocket when it pinged again.

‘What is it?’

Jamie smiled. ‘She’s asking if she should just open it for me and put me out of my misery now.’

‘Fuck! Tell her no.’ Ryan sputtered. ‘We’ve got a deal remember?’

‘Awright, awright keep your hair on man. I haven’t forgotten.

Both boys had sworn a pact to open their Higher results together. The tradition had started after the previous years’ Standard Grades. Both had been pleasantly surprised at how well they’d done and had vowed to repeat the process this year in the hopes of producing another double whammy.

‘Well, it’s not like I’m superstitious or anything,’ Ryan said

‘…but it would be bad luck not to do it!’ Jamie said.

‘Text her to bring them round to the shop.’

‘Will do.’ Jamie’s thumb flew over the buttons and pressed send.

The last of the passengers had transferred. The ramp rattled home again and the ferry blew a short blast on its horn to announce its imminent departure.

‘Better head back then and get it over with.’

‘Race you there?’ Jamie asked.

‘Ha! The day you can beat me on a bike is the day I put on one of my ma’s dresses and change my name to Susan.’

‘You’re there for the taking McInnes.’

‘Is that so?’ Ryan kicked up his pedal to the ready position. Jamie followed suit and leaned forward ready to push off. ‘On the count of three?’

‘Ready when you are.’

‘One…twothreego!’ Ryan pushed off before Jamie had a chance to realise what was going on.

‘You cheating prick,’ Jamie laughed after him.


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