I have two new works in progress, the sequel to my 2015 novel Ribbonworld and a spin-off from my 2013 novel Freefall, which I’m calling Survive.

The sequel first, Jungle Green carries on two years after the events in Ribbonworld. It features some of the characters and introduces a few new ones in a tale of counterfeit drugs.

 

Jungle Green

 

 

 

“TC is the wonder drug. Manufactured in secrecy on a remote planet at the edge of the galaxy, it makes world’s inhabitable; and Balcom Industrial lots of money. Then, suddenly, the people who need to take it to stay alive start to die!

For Layla Balcom, fresh from wresting control of her father’s inheritance from those who would have destroyed it, the news is devastating. Can the drug be flawed? Or is something else going on?

In the search for answers, Layla and those close to her find a web of lies and hostility. Then she is dragged into criminal activities and it becomes far more personal. It’s time to sort the good from the bad and protect Layla’s legacy.”

 

 

 

Rough-cut Sample.

Next day, Miles and Greg went back to the Nontano club just before fourteen. They sat at the same table, the music was different, a lot harsher and the patrons seemed rowdier than on their last visit. Knowing what to look for they saw Bonnie enter, still wearing the blonde wig.

Spotting them she went over. “Good, you’re here,” she sounded relieved. “I’ve convinced Mik to help you, it’s taken me since I saw you last. Just wait a minute, he’s outside.”

Bonnie went to a side door and opened it. A large man peered around the door frame, shaven-headed and tattooed; his face wore a nervous expression. Bonnie nodded and took his hand, pulling him into the bar. He sat on the bench opposite them with his back shielded from the bar by the tall backrest.

“This is Mik,” she introduced him.

“Day all,” he mumbled, his accent thick and barely comprehensible.

“Hi Mik,” said Miles. “Can you help me? I need to know where my wife is.”

Mik gave him a look. “How am I supposed to know that?” he replied, his tone belligerent. “Bonnie, what have you got me here for? I don’t feel safe with these strangers. I don’t know you, mister, and I don’t know your wife.”

He was very agitated, Miles wondered if he was on some sort of stimulant. He kept looking around and some of his words were slurred.

“I know you don’t. Listen, she’s been taken by whoever makes the fake TC you’ve been selling. Where does it come from?”

Realisation dawned and he shook his head. “I don’t know if I can help. It’s more than my life’s worth to tell you that.”

Greg spoke up, “We can protect you, we’ve promised Bonnie. Come with us to our ship and we’ll get you somewhere safe.”

Bonnie looked at Mik with pleading eyes. “Do it,” she said. “Tell them and let’s get away. You’re worth more than this place; we can start again somewhere new.”

While Mik was considering things, there was a commotion over the sounds of the music, a fight had started on the other side of the room, punches were thrown and bottles crashed. A shot was fired and there was panic, tables cleared and people dove for cover.

Mik hardly seemed to notice, he licked his lips, you could see he was agonising.

“Wherever you want to go,” said Miles, “come with us, please.”

“Miles, we have to go,” said Greg as the fighting escalated.

“OK,” said Mik. “I’ll tell you what I know and then you can get me out of here. There’s a space factory where they make the drugs.”

The fight was moving closer, people crawled past them heading for the exits. The fighters were shouting and there was the crash of breaking chairs.

“A space factory?” said Greg. “How do they keep the plants alive in space?”

“I don’t know, look I’m telling you, there’s a space factory, orbiting a Gas Giant.”

“No distractions, Greg,” pleaded Miles. “We can get the finer points later. Where is this factory?”

“In orbit around a Gas Giant,” repeated Mik. “One with a large blue spot, it’s a long way…”

He stopped and looked past Greg’s shoulder, as if he recognised someone. Miles turned to look.

There was a second shot.

Miles felt his face splashed with hot liquid. Bonnie screamed. Miles looked back. Mik’s head had collapsed in on itself in a welter of blood. His body toppled sideways on the couch and lay twitching.

Bonnie screamed again and stood up, her screams were cut short as two red blooms marked bullets hitting her chest. The force of their impact threw her backwards in an untidy spiral of arms and legs. Her wig fell off and lay beside her body like a loyal pet. Then all the lights went out.

Stunned, Miles and Greg dropped to the floor and crawled with everyone else towards the exits, the emergency lighting was on and blue signs showed the way to the doors. They could hear more shots and the thump of bullets and they were kicked and trampled by the other panicked patrons as they fought their way out but when they had got out through the doorway into the open air they stood and forced their way out of the crowd.

“We’d better get away from here before the police turn up,” said Miles, he was shaking from the adrenaline rush.

“I agree,” said Greg. “That was a bit too close for comfort. You’ve got blood on your face and shirt.”

Miles wiped his face, it came away red and sticky. He looked at Greg. “So have you. We need to get away from here before we get found. The police will want us once they know Mik and Bonnie are dead.”

 

Note

Jungle Green is the sequel to Ribbonworld, at the moment it’s sitting on my desk while I decide what to do with it, I like the start and the end, and this extract but I think it needs a bit of work overall before I let it loose. There is also a third book, “The Lost Princess,” to follow it and tie up all the strands.

 

 

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