– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Too Early For Death’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but b
About the Author :
I am an emerging author, a submission to a short story anthology kicked it all off.
Black Cat is my first short story, and the hero isn’t maybe who you would assume.
Originally from Doncaster, South Yorkshire and now Corby in Northants. I’m in my forties, married with three children. We share our home with a Bengal cat and a Pink Tongued Skink.
I’ve been lucky enough to have had an interesting (well to me!) life. I have been a truck driver, university graduate and motorbike salesman amongst other things.
My two novellas, Newdon Killers series, The Crucifix and Famously Ordinary are out now!
The third book, Death Dolls is coming soon estimated launch date 22 August.
Later this year a new series in a different genre Mystery / contemporary fantasy will be published.
• Paperback: 322 pages
• Publisher: Farrant Fiction (6 May 2019)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 1916116205
• ISBN-13: 978-1916116207
Death can take you to the most unexpected places.
Damien Lennon finds himself on a mysterious island… and dead.
He has more questions than answers. Why? Where? How? What next?
In a place where forests hide secrets and a leader rules with an iron fist, can Damien change his destiny?
‘Too Early for Death’ starts a journey through the Limbo Island trilogy, a series that unravels a story of life after death, hierarchy, tragedy, jealousy and eternal love. A heartbreaking yet heartwarming adventure awaits.
‘Ready when you are!’ Nancy Lennon encouraged her twelve-year-old son, Marcus, to open the envelope that had dropped through the letter-box. It had his latest school report and grades within.
They stood close together in their kitchen, the heart of their modest family home. Taking a deep breath, he ripped it open, slid the paperwork out of the envelope and cast an anxious eye over the grades. Then he broke out into a huge grin—top grades for every subject.
His dad, Damien, beamed with pride. ‘This is amazing, son! We promised that you could have a treat for good grades, Marcus. Where would you like to go?’
Without hesitation, Marcus said, ‘I want to go to Newdon Museum please.’ Happiness radiated from him.
‘Are you sure you want to visit the museum, Marcus? We could see Liverpool play a match.’
‘Hilarious, Dad. I’m positive I’d like to go to Newdon Museum. They are doing an exhibit about Japan for the next three weeks.’
‘That sounds superb.’ Damien wasn’t being sarcastic, for a change. He and Nancy were very proud of their only son and would do anything to make him happy. Life, in general, was and had been good to them.
Damien’s outward appearance showed that he enjoyed food; he was obese but certainly not unhappy. At a touch under five foot ten, he was average height, but he liked to joke that he should be six foot five to match his weight. He and Nancy liked to dress in fashionable clothes and, unlike most men, he looked forward to going clothes shopping with his wife. He was a regular at the local barber shop, and proud of his ginger hair.
Nancy also loved a trip to the hairdressers, at least once a fortnight, and kept up with the latest styles. Her current cut was short and blonde. Unlike Damien, Nancy was slim and enjoyed a daily jog around the housing estate and park. She often tried to get Damien to take up exercise, but her efforts were to no avail. He sometimes thought it might be a good thing for his health to get fit, but try as he might, he could never quite summon the energy or motivation to do something about it.
They had lived in the same home for many years—at least ten. It was a lovely, well looked after semi-detached house with a decent sized garden, which wasn’t so common in the estate. They weren’t exactly loaded with money, but they had accumulated some pretty good furniture and paintings over the years.
Damien was king of the barbeque, which he fired up as often as he could during the short British summer. It was also a good excuse for indulging in cider. Their elderly frumpy neighbour, Deidre Parsons, sometimes moaned about the stereo being too loud in the garden, but Damien always disarmed her with an easy smile, a burger and a glass of alcohol, which was guaranteed to lighten her mood. Another feature of the garden was a bug hotel that Marcus bought from eBay when Damien declared that it would be too hard to make one. He relished seeing the bugs and critters exploring their boutique residence.
Damien and Nancy had married eighteen years earlier, a dream wedding in warm sunshine and a gentle breeze. She had looked gorgeous in her wedding dress and felt amazing. She knew it was the one when she saw it in the shop window; it stopped her mid stride as she walked through Newdon town centre. The dress was a new style, without a train, and a gorgeous ivory colour.
After the hairdresser had worked her magic on Nancy and her bridesmaids, they all felt like a million dollars and looked like magazine models. Damien, who was much slimmer back then, also looked extremely handsome in his formal suit with a burgundy handkerchief in his top pocket; his best man wore a matching suit but didn’t carry it off as well as Damien.
The wedding took place in a traditional parish church, with well over a thousand pounds’ worth of fragrant flowers. Only the best was good enough, the thick photo album testament to the best day of their lives.
Marcus was born six years later, after four years of receiving IVF treatment to conceive. Thankfully, the pregnancy came along at the right time, because Nancy didn’t want to endure the rollercoaster journey of IVF treatment anymore; she simply couldn’t bear the thought of seeing yet another ‘Not Pregnant’ result displayed on a testing kit. Just trying to conceive had become stressful enough in itself, and making love only happened on the days that Nancy had worked out she might conceive. The heartbreak never seemed to end.
Like with many other families, once they stopped worrying about conceiving, Nancy became pregnant. She and Damien were overjoyed; furthermore, they were blessed with a trouble-free pregnancy. She didn’t even suffer too much from morning sickness, which she had dreaded. Her older sister, Lynda, had suffered more than most with it. Their mum had also had bad sickness with both Nancy and Lynda, so Nancy had been fully prepared for the worst.
The perfect pregnancy was so much like a miracle that on the actual due date, Marcus was born. The labour and birth itself had been a positive experience, with no pain relief apart from gas and air. Nancy fulfilled her dream of giving birth in a pool at home, with her mum and Damien on hand.
The perfection of the whole thing would’ve been hard for anyone to believe, but Nancy and Damien counted their blessings.
As the midwife handed Marcus to Nancy and said, ‘Your beautiful son. Congratulations!’ Nancy became overwhelmed with emotion. Tears of joy streamed down her makeup-free face as she nursed the son that she thought she and Damien would never have. Their little family was finally complete; it was amazing, and their new arrival was instantly enveloped in a love like no other.
Nancy’s sister was never around much and Damien was an only child, so they were both used to being part of a small family. Still, they would have loved nothing more than to have had a little brother or sister for Marcus—maybe even two or three more. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, but they never let their unfulfilled wish turn into a regret. In Damien’s eyes, Marcus was pretty much perfect and all he ever needed—except for Everton Football Club, of course.
Damien tried many times to persuade Marcus to support another team, any team but Everton. He wondered if this was the price he’d have to pay for having his dream of a son in his life. If that was the case, it was a price worth paying a million times over. However, he did wonder if he should’ve taken Marcus to see Liverpool play before his uncle took him to Goodison Park.
Marcus excelled at school, much to his parents’ pride. He loved the academic subjects, history in particular. His school reports were always fantastic, with never a negative comment from the teachers, apart from the odd one about when he daydreamed too often or needed to pay more attention to his handwriting. He was popular too, but never big headed. Even if he was destined to be a handful, Nancy would have placed his feet back on the ground.
The family unit was at the centre of Damien and Nancy’s world. They had both turned forty earlier in the year but still felt much younger. Of course, the family had their arguments and fights behind closed doors, but they never let those linger into prolonged disagreements. Their personalities helped. Damien was most often positive and treated life as a fun challenge. Setbacks did hurt him, but he turned them around as quickly as he could. Nancy was more pragmatic; she had always been quiet as a child, and that stood her in good stead as an adult. Her parents had separated when she was in primary school, so she’d always had to be more mature than her years.
Nancy was the practical one of the pair whenever there was a problem to be solved. For example, if there was DIY to be done, Nancy would often take over from Damien—it was the only way of making sure the job was ever completed, and to the best standard. He would always protest to begin with, but it became like a well-rehearsed dance over the years. Despite their differences, neither Damien nor Nancy could ever imagine what life would be like without the other. They truly believed in love for life, and their friends all agreed that the Lennons were the most solid family around.
The next day, while they drove the seven miles to the museum, the sun burst through the panoramic sunroof of their new family car—a Ford Focus in a sober, dark blue colour. Traffic was light, as it always seemed to be when they went to the museum for some reason. It was almost as if they were destined to go there every time.
‘Come on, Mum, you can drive faster than this!’
Nancy chortled at the perpetual family joke. ‘Yeah, if you pay for the petrol. Until then, be quiet.’
Marcus was as excited as ever when they arrived. He got out of the car the second that Nancy pulled up the handbrake in her Ford without waiting for his parents.
‘Wait for us, Speedy Gonzales!’
‘Lose some weight, Dad, then you’ll be able to keep up!’
Nancy cackled, allowing Marcus to escape being told off for his cheekiness. That didn’t happen often; Nancy was usually a stickler for good manners. She remembered well how often her manners had been corrected as a child, so it was imprinted on her personality.
Damien wasn’t as strict as his wife, but he tried his best to encourage the same principles. It wasn’t too often that Marcus pushed the boundaries; he was a laid-back kid. Nancy always said that he must have got that from her; she would usually look for the best in people and let life wend its way through hers as it came.
A cool wind blew the last of the autumnal leaves into piles at the edges of the car park, causing the family to shield their eyes from grit carried on the wind. Nancy pulled her coat tighter around herself and buried her face into her new scarf. Not a moment too soon, they hurried up the few wide steps to the museum doors.
With an exuberance many would consider unnecessary for the task, Damien extinguished his cigarette into a metal plate on top of the bin designed to keep cigarette stubs and chewing gum off the street. He was pleased to note the sign showing that the museum’s cafe had a five-star hygiene certificate.I hope they have some nice cakes in there!A stern ‘No Smoking’ sign stood over the door, making him thankful he had been compliant.
Just inside the traditional museum entrance was a pop-up sushi stall, much to everyone’s delight. The vendor wore a beautiful red kimono with intricate flower designs printed on it, and a large red flower in her hair. Nancy noticed a scar running across the woman’s temple; it looked like it had a tale to tell. Her black skin radiated charm and elegance, while her super long dreadlocks looked fabulous arranged into an assortment of hair accessories on top of her head. A delightful, probably expensive perfume hung in the air around her. An equally expensive looking necklace with a diamond centrepiece hung proudly around her neck.
‘Nice taster for the exhibition,’ Damien said between scoffing sushi pieces. Best sushi ever. I’m glad they aren’t covered in Wasabi. I still have space for cake and coffee… ‘Fantastic, Damien. Leave some for others,’ chuckled Nancy, her affection flowing freely towards her husband.
‘Funny. Not.’ Marcus rolled his eyes.Parents. So embarrassing.He loved spending time with his parents, more so than most of his classmates did with their own folks. He’d always wished for a brother or sister, but he knew that the likelihood of having a sibling was almost zilch. That fact did hurt, but he knew it hurt his mum even more so he didn’t talk about it to her; he didn’t want to cause her any pain. He did enjoy banter with his father, though, proclaiming that it was a good job he was an only child; after all, he was so amazing that the other child would get no attention anyway.
Nancy and Damien didn’t mind the fact that they had a small family, extended family included. It meant they could focus their efforts on those who really mattered. The only drawback was that it would’ve been nice to have more support when it was needed.
Dragging Damien away from the sushi stand, they moved on into the vast space of the main exhibition hall, entering through a huge arch made of stone from a long-since-closed local quarry. Even though the stone had blackened in places from years of exposure to the atmosphere, the brilliance of the original cream colour still shone through.
Samurai outfits glistened under the artificial lighting, and swords glinted by the sides of their bodiless counterparts. Pride of place in the exhibition went to a suit of armour in the Haramaki style from 1850. Newdon Museum had borrowed dozens of exhibits from the V&A museum in London, such was the reputation of the museum for putting on excellent exhibitions. The family took over an hour to view and admire each of over two hundred exhibits. They liked taking their time; to them, that was the best way to experience life. But they weren’t done yet. Having been extended several times, the museum had much more to offer than just the grand hall. The next display room contained more exhibits, mainly photographs from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Despite the many sombre scenes showing nothing but death and destruction, Marcus was fascinated by the famous images, in particular the picturesque image of the Nagarekawa Methodist Church, which was blown apart by the nuclear catastrophe.
‘I hope that President Trump has seen these and doesn’t bomb North Korea.’
‘Wise words, son. I doubt that any world leader would dare to launch a nuclear bomb these days.’ Damien got a lot out of days like this; he often thought that he’d learned more from his family and their excursions than he ever had at school. He sometimes wished he’d paid more attention back in his school years and got a more glamorous job than working at a car dealership. But reflecting on it, he was glad how his life had turned out and wouldn’t really change anything.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds