Here it is . . . sample chapters (the first and second) from my new book – The Boy Who Stole One Million Socks.
Release date: 05/07/2017
CHAPTER ONE: AN UNEXPECTED OBJECT
There was a boy called Seaweed. He had a serious problem.
It was not the kind of problem boys normally face. He did not have a spotty forehead or a squeaky voice. He did not forget his lunch money or accidentally walk into the girls bathroom. He was not allergic to peanut butter sandwiches, nor was he the greatest sock thief the world has ever known (well, not quite yet, but we will get to that later).
His problem was much more . . . explosive.
He was holding a BOMB.
Top government scientists have a theory. They believe that holding a bomb that is seconds away from exploding is the most terrifying thing for a human to experience. Unfortunately, their theory remains unproven as none of the test subjects have been able to fill in the questionnaire afterwards.
Seaweed looked around. The annual Picklington Parade was in full swing. It was the one event of the year that everyone attended, even the local pigeons. The townsfolk had gathered together to celebrate the greatest invention of modern civilization – electricity. There were hundreds of fabulous floats sparking with limitless voltage parading through the high street. A thunderstorm of electrical brilliance rained down over the people. The crowd was mesmerised.
Nobody had noticed the boy holding a bomb. Nobody ever noticed him, and not through lack of trying. Seaweed was the only citizen of Picklington who thought that things could be different. He believed in global warming and carbon footprints and renewable energies. He believed we should look after our planet. He wanted to show his town how to use less energy, and perhaps then the Mayor would not need to build the new Nuclear Power Station.
So there he was, walking through the parade with a shoulder bag full of leaflets entitled ‘Ten Easy Ways to Lower Your Carbon Footprint’ folded into paper aeroplanes. That was how he came to hold the unexpected object. He had reached into his bag for a harmless piece of folded-up paper and pulled out an explosive.
Deciding they would prefer not to be a part of any hair-singeing experiment, Seaweed’s forearm hairs uprooted and stampeded to safety under his armpit. Thankfully, his instincts kicked in. He bowled the bomb backwards, wore his shoulder bag as a helmet and did his very best impression of a shy hedgehog.
Everyone in the crowd was too distracted to notice. They were smiling and clapping and cheering and completely unaware of the rolling bomb. Seaweed clasped his bent legs and stapled his eyelids shut whilst his forearm hairs huddled together and said their goodbyes.
Then the bomb exploded.
CHAPTER TWO: THE PICKLINGTON PARADE
The Mayor of Picklington watched the parade from the safety of his office.
He suffered from an illness called Absolute Power – a condition where the afflicted becomes addicted to the authority they wield over others (usually contracted by corrupt dictators of oil-rich countries and the occasional maths teacher). He oozed the many symptoms like a snotty tissue.
Having governed the town for thirty years, his condition was now terminal. That was the problem; once you have been sitting on the throne of power for as long as he had, your bottom falls asleep, and your legs go stiff, and your fingernails get lodged into the armrests. In fact, it had reached the point in his condition where the Mayor believed he had become the throne, which in turn meant he could treat everyone else as his footstool.
His advisors sat respectfully around the boardroom table. The Mayor strode into the room, ignored his advisors’ mumbled greetings and continued to once again stare down at the parade.
“I see you have done a fine job on security this year, Mrs. Jones,” he commented. “Double the manpower, dog patrols, security cameras, very impressive work indeed.”
Mrs. Jones straightened her back, but only slightly. Praise was always followed by praise-eating piranhas.
“But, as we all know, the star prize goes to whoever captures me a Carrot Bandit.”
Everyone in the room flinched. Those two scary little words crawled under the advisors’ skin and wriggled about until all their insides were thoroughly jumbled up. The Mayor, on the other hand, was completely unflustered. It took more than two little words to jumble his insides, mainly because he had a large amount of insides in the first place.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the Mayor’s Advisory Panel,” said the Mayor to his advisors. “Today is going to be a good day. Today I will strike back. Today I will show this bunch of amateurs that no one terrorises my town. Nobody can stop me from switching on my Nuclear Power Station in one month’s time.”
Since the Mayor had announced his controversial plans, a meddlesome group of activists had been causing trouble. It was controversial because he announced the major one-year project to build a Nuclear Power Station one month ago. He thought it was a good idea because he was using the promise of unlimited energy to become re-elected, and it was working. Picklington Lake, which had been bubbling away with a toxic green vapour hovering over the surface due to a disastrous radiation leak, strongly disagreed.
They called themselves the Carrot Bandits. They were a sneaky bunch, always managing to ruin the Mayor’s plans without being caught. However, he was a man well accustomed to vengeance. Evil anticipation flowed through his veins.
“But, sir, don’t you think,” muttered a wobbly voice behind him, “and I mean this with the deepest respect, that ignoring the Carrot Bandits’ threats to sabotage the parade and endangering the public by not cancelling seems a bit, well . . . immoral.”
The Mayor sighed. “Thank you, Mr. Dean. That’ll be all.”
The entire boardroom slouched a few inches. To the untrained ear, that sentence could be mistaken to mean the Mayor valued Mr. Dean’s opinion or even appreciated it. However, may I point out that all the other advisors turned their heads towards the victim and mouthed ‘it was nice working with you’. Mr. Dean sheepishly stood up, collected his things and reached for the door knob.
“Before you go, I could do with an extra pair of eyes on the ground. I can see the perfect spot right at the front that will do nicely. Now run along.”
Everyone in the room gulped. The furniture creaked. The plant in the corner withered slightly. The condemned advisor scuttled off. The pigeons perching on the ledge outside courteously cooed to fill the silence. The Mayor congratulated himself with a satisfied smirk.
Suddenly, a paper aeroplane whizzed past the window. The Mayor traced it back to the source and found himself staring at a scrawny boy. Never before had the word scrawny been a more fitting description. The boy was the only person partaking in the parade on foot. Everyone else was using fossil fuels and the electricity provided, like good citizens.
He cast the insignificant boy aside and checked on his main attraction. At the centre of the parade stood an eighty-foot-high Plasma TV pyramid advertising his Nuclear Power Station’s Grand Opening Ceremony one month from now. It was the light fantastic. The people of Picklington were absolutely awestruck.
The wonderful thing about propaganda was its overall ease and effectiveness. Simply advertise all the good stuff, neglect to tell anyone about the bad stuff, throw in some juicy lies and project it all on huge TV screens. The people of Picklington always believed every pixel, without fail. Nobody needed to know that the Nuclear Power Station had a list of safety problems roughly the size of his enormous belt. He also found that a catchy theme tune helped.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed something rolling away from the boy. Then there was a loud BANG . . .
. . . followed by another BANG . . . and another . . . and another.
A chain reaction of explosions spread across the panicked crowd.
“Release the armed security team,” growled the smiling architect of chaos, “and make sure they capture the boy alive.”