Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kingdom of the Nanosaurs by David Callinan - An Excerpt!~~~


THE KINGDOMS OF TIME AND SPACE


young adult fantasy trilogy

by

David Callinan

Book one of trilogy

KINGDOM OF THE NANOSAURS

                                PART ONE

1. The angel of life

Morgan glanced back at the tense group of boys gathering in the ancient courtyard, dwarfed by the shadow of Evanstone College’s towering fa├žade, and took a huge lungful of air before slipping in through the prohibited entrance.
The voice had entered his mind as he was walking across the gravel, still rigid with fearful anticipation after his rash acceptance of the challenge. Morgan came to a halt in the mote-ridden gloom and listened. He had read about people who heard voices. They were mostly mad as bats in a maze. He shook his head to try and rid himself of the weird intrusion. But this voice was distinctive and hard to ignore. It had spoken his name softly but urgently.
“Morgan, I have been sent to help you.”
If this was madness then how come he felt perfectly normal? The voice sounded as though someone or something was standing right next to him. He began to step cautiously across the well-trodden oaken floor towards the staircase.
“Morgan, you are not mad, believe me.”
Morgan stood without moving, his hand reaching out into the murk to grip the carved banister. The voice was real despite its existence being totally impossible.
“Who are you?” he asked, half inclined to laugh at his own stupidity.
The voice seemed to sigh as if what it said next would be even more unbelievable.
“I am an angel, Morgan. My name is Oriel.”
Morgan spluttered, choking back laughter. “Angel? Don’t be ridiculous,” he muttered to himself. “Stress more like. Come on,” he urged himself, “get a grip,” Morgan climbed the musty mahogany staircase that wound its way creaking and twisting into the darkened upper floors of the school. He crept past abandoned classrooms filled with the cobwebbed ghosts of dead pupils and long forgotten knowledge. It was strictly out-of-bounds and his heart was pounding for fear of being caught but more so the fear of the do-or-die dare he faced after he had stupidly allowed Barker to provoke him.
“You can fly. Trust me. I will hold you in my arms as you fall.”
Morgan shook his head then clambered out onto the roof, four storeys high, where the empty wind from Salisbury Plain whistled over the tiles and between the ludicrously tall chimney stacks. The voice was so insistent, so distinctive. It didn’t feel like an hallucination. He shrugged to shake off his nerves as he shuffled his way forward until his toes reached the crumbling edge of the roof where the ancient guttering creaked, hanging on rusted supports. He glanced down quickly then up again and stared fixedly at the horizon to try to stop his heart from pounding so violently.
Pale blobs of indistinct faces, clustered like a sea of white pebbles, stared back up at him. They were silent. They were watching and waiting. Morgan couldn’t recognise any individual after such a quick glimpse when they were so far below, and he refused to look down again. But he knew Barker would be there grinning, his tongue lolling over his lips and his small eyes unblinking like a waiting snake.
“I am with you. Look into the sky.”
Morgan didn’t believe in angels. He only believed in whatever could be proven by experiment or by design. The existence of angels wasn’t logical. So, where had the notion of this angel come from? Whatever it was, it surely couldn’t be some disembodied spiritual entity. It had to be some other part of his subconscious trying to inject some much needed courage into his veins. He gazed across the Wiltshire landscape as the early morning sun flooded the awakening fields. Pools of light and shade drifted over the flocks of sheep scattered like white freckles on the smooth, round hills. He slowly looked up into a sky where strips of cloud were being carried on a higher wind.
A large blob of orange light caught his attention. It was distinctly brighter even than the watery sun. It must be some kind of military aircraft; this was Salisbury Plain, after all. But, something about the intensity of the light and the way it seemed to be focusing on him and entering deeply inside him caused Morgan to doubt his perfectly reasonable explanation.
Of course. How could he have forgotten? Cygnus Hyperbole was world news.  For a crazy moment he imagined it was the comet with the weird name that had been talking to him.
Suddenly he wavered, his legs rubbery as he felt his balance shifting. A cold fear the like of which he had never experienced began to turn his insides into a feverish mush. He hated Lord Archibald Barker at that moment with an intensity that made him want to scream. But it was he, Morgan Lane, who was standing precariously on the school roof preparing to jump and not the rich, bloated oaf below. So, who was the smart one now?
Morgan wasn’t brave. He used to think he was, especially when he had faced up to his avowed enemy at the back of the school surrounded by a curious and expectant crowd. With Barker’s fleshy face thrust inches from his own, Morgan tried not to flinch from the stale odour of his breath.
“You’re just chicken, Lane, with your so-called super memory,” Barker had sneered and licked his narrow lips. “I know what you did even if no one else does. And I’ll prove it. Memory Lane, huh!  I don’t think so. I’ve already told Doctor Simpson.”
The delicious prospect of smacking that bulbous toffee-nose extremely hard caused Morgan to clench his fist in pleasurable anticipation until he realized he might be in enough trouble as it was without adding assault and battery to his alleged misdemeanours. Instead, in a moment of inspiration, he had slipped his hand into his pocket and taken out his mobile phone. But, this was no ordinary device.  Morgan had rebuilt it as a multi-stage transponder, decoder and scanner that could intercept encoded transmissions and decrypt them as well as having many other useful functions. Whilst keeping his eyes fixed on Barker’s ugly face in a head-to-head stare-out, he manipulated a small control into record mode.
“You’re a toe rag, that’s what you are,” Barker had growled. “My father could buy this school and get rid of you just like that.” Barker had snapped his fingers. “We don’t need types like you here so why don’t you jump before you’re pushed?”
High above the gravel and concrete, Morgan began to rock to and fro and as he did so a blanket of warm, breathily scented air suddenly enveloped him filling him to the brim with hope and courage. Some powerful outside force was at work but he could not define or locate it. He was all at once immersed in a joyous protective embrace. The mesmeric angel’s voice penetrated deep into Morgan’s inner being.
Believe in me. Believe.”
Imbued with a sudden and ecstatic injection of utter trust in this strange force, Morgan stood on his toes and extended his arms as though they were wings made of gossamer. He felt light and aerated, his very blood corpuscles floating like bubbles of lighter-than-air gas. Smiling and looking down, he jumped.
He heard a collective gasp of disbelief explode from the crowd gathered below. He could feel himself supported by this intangible power as he glided in a perfect arc like a bird of prey riding the thermals. The angel’s voice reassured him bathing him with hope and belief.
I have you in my arms. Allow yourself to fall. The Guardians have chosen you, Morgan.” 
Morgan began to accelerate. Gravity was no longer an academic subject to be studied in the physics lab, he realized now that it was too late. It was real. As he fell, his fifteen-and-a-half years of life played themselves out like a newsreel. He was filled with love for his parents despite being an absolute tearaway in his early years and driving them to distraction. He was acutely aware of his strengths and his weaknesses and his many shortcomings and failures. But right then, as he plummeted to earth, he accepted everything about his life as being the way it was destined to be.
Images blurred, whizzing past his vision. Racing up towards him at incredible speed was the hulking shape of a huge inflatable safety cushion. It resembled a large, one-piece, bouncy castle tipped on its side. Amid the screams of amazement, Morgan could just make out the comforting sound of the generator pumping compressed air into the giant rubber pillow left in position after the school’s fire escape drill.
When he hit the surface of the inflatable something held him. Instead of the juddering impact he expected he was lowered gently into its balloon-like, claustrophobic embrace and immediately felt a stabbing thrill of relief and achievement. He had done it. He was still alive. He bounced several times and relaxed.
Within seconds, a clapping, cheering crowd of boys was pulling his trembling, weak-kneed body out onto firm ground, shaking his hand, thumping him on the back and generally making an embarrassing fuss of him. He’d conquered his fear. But, he had had some help. He listened for the voice of the angel. He wanted to say thank you.
But the angel had gone.
So much for angels. It must all have been just a trick of the mind and the light. But somehow he knew he would never have made it otherwise. He also found that he quite liked the idea of being chosen by angels or Guardians, whatever they were, despite the whole thing being completely unscientific and therefore impossible.
Instead of an angel, the rasping, spluttering sound of Barker’s voice filled his ears as the larger boy thrust his face into Morgan’s.
“Well done, Lane,” he said. “I’ll admit, I didn’t think you’d have the guts. Your types are usually all hot air.” He gurgled at his own wit. “But, it’s not over, Lane. Doctor Simpson wants to see you in his office, now.”
Morgan glared at Barker with contempt and pushed him out of the way. As he walked off across the quadrangle towards the main school building he was fingering his mobile phone containing Barker’s recorded voice. And, as he climbed the stairs towards the headmaster’s office, he knew exactly what he was going to do with it.

                      2. Cygnus Hyperbole

Morgan had managed to catch the 11.06 train from Salisbury to Cambridge to spend the summer holiday at home. He gazed out of the window and stared at the comet, narrowing his eyes to bring it into focus. He shuddered when he remembered standing on the school roof watching it. How could he have thought for one second that it was anything more than a perfectly natural phenomenon. It certainly wasn’t a vehicle for transporting angels or any other kind of supernatural beings. That was impossible. He had convinced himself that he must have suffered some kind of mild mental aberration when he jumped from the roof.
Cygnus Hyperbole appeared in the gloomy late morning sky as a bright smudge with little starfish tails attached to its back. It was as though someone had dipped their thumbnail into a pot of luminous silver and orange paint and scratched a jagged squiggle in the heavens. It didn’t appear to be moving yet it was – at a phenomenal speed. Luckily, it was reaching its nearest point to Earth but, at around four hundred thousand miles  that was a few thousand miles too close to the Earth as far as Morgan was concerned.
Morgan gazed at the bright celestial body with a mixture of wonder and fear. There had been headlines. There had been warnings. Astronomers and scientists, including Morgan’s Nobel Prize winning father Rufus, had been located, dusted with face powder and plonked in front of television cameras to display instant expertise and explain the possible dire consequences of such a close encounter with the mighty comet.
His last week at Evanstone would fester in his memory for some time. He squirmed in his seat as he remembered the headmaster’s words.  To be branded a cheat because he had got straight As at the end of term exam was just one barb too many. Morgan had memorized the syllabus in the first week and then lounged around, played football and wrote the most ridiculous poems that, awash with embarrassment, he had ceremoniously and privately set alight on the last day of term. Morgan just hated the injustice of being accused of something he hadn’t done, especially by the odious Barker. It wasn’t just the straight As that were the issue. They weren’t uncommon at Evanstone. No, this was the first time he had relied on his remarkable memory to help him. He had just been lazy and the exam papers seemed to suit him.
The headmaster, however, had not been convinced by his explanation. Somehow, and Doctor Simpson didn’t know how, Morgan must have used foul means to achieve such a result. Barker's father was a school governor who wielded immense financial influence. The headmaster was clearly acting on an unfounded accusation and only went as far as issuing a severe reprimand and a lecture about cheats never prospering.
But Morgan had left Barker with a little problem of his own. He had transmitted the ‘jump or get pushed’ insult into Doctor Simpson’s mobile phone and caused it to ring during their interview. He watched with pleasure and satisfaction as the headmaster’s face turned puce with rage. Flustered, and barely suppressing his fury, Doctor Simpson had dismissed Morgan with a wave of his hand while he listened to the message again fully believing it was meant for him.
Bored with gazing out of the train window, Morgan slipped his latest device out of his inside pocket. It resembled a slim metal pen with tiny antennae sprouting along the sides and a crystal embedded at one end.  He’d designed and built this little gizmo that could open most any lock and move objects at a distance. It was a really useful gadget to have. Idly he manipulated the sliding bar at one end and watched as the filaments performed an elegant dance, intertwining with each other and changing colour. Morgan aimed the gizmo at an empty cardboard coffee cup left behind on the table. With gentle movements of his wrists the cup slowly rose from the table and was transported across the aisle and deposited into a wastebasket behind the seat opposite. Morgan quickly slipped his gizmo back into his pocket just as the ticket collector came through the interconnecting carriage door and stopped to stare at the wastebasket. He shook his head and clipped Morgan’s ticket looking at him steadily before lurching along the aisle.
Morgan’s mother Hilary was waiting for him at Cambridge station. He hugged her on the platform where long shadows shimmered, stretched and merged together as passengers made their way to the exit.
“It’s wonderful to see you, M. How was the journey?” She kissed his hair and smiled as they walked along the dusty platform with Morgan lugging his suitcase on wheels.
“Oh, pretty boring. It’s good to be home. I hate that school, Mom. I told you what happened, didn’t I? You do believe me, don’t you?”
“Of course. But maybe you’ll have to be careful how you use that memory of yours from now on. We’ve had a letter from Doctor Simpson.”
“Oh!” Morgan looked disgruntled.
“Perhaps you won’t have to go back. We’ll talk about it tonight.”
“How are the primates?” he asked, changing the subject.
“The primate research is going really well. Your best friend Winston is really longing to see you. When I told him you were coming home he got really excited: he does understand, you know. He’s in the car with Lin. I’ve told you about her, haven’t I?”  His mother stood still for a moment, touched Morgan’s arm gently and looked at him seriously, lowering her voice.  “She lost her both her parents in a terrible car crash in the United States so we said she could live with us until she can decide what she wants to do. She has nobody else. We don’t raise the subject unless she does, okay? You probably remember her father, Jack Rainbow? He was a colleague of your dad’s but moved to America. They did a lot of work together and we became very close. Lin’s mother was Chinese. She was an actress and very beautiful.”
“Oh!” said Morgan without much enthusiasm. “Does she sound American?”
“You can find out for yourself,” said his mother. “Lin Rainbow, pretty name isn’t it?”
“I suppose so.”
“You two will get along fine,” she said with a teasing smile. “Lin is really interested in animals so she’s helping me with the primates.”
They reached the Volvo estate and Morgan could see Winston’s big eyes staring out through the rear window. Next to him was another face and it wasn’t smiling. Lin Rainbow was pretty, Morgan had to admit, but she looked nervous and at the same time a little full of herself. Maybe it was just self-protection, he thought as he loaded his suitcase into the boot and his mom opened the door to allow Winston to leap out chattering and grinning. When he saw Morgan he loped over with his long, golden-haired arms outstretched.  He was wearing his best dark blue shorts and white tee shirt with his name printed on the front and a red baseball cap. Morgan smiled, really happy to see his friend again. Winston wrapped himself around Morgan and the boy stroked the young ape’s thick, wiry fur and looked into his big eyes. Winston burbled quietly, making perfect sense as far as he was concerned. Morgan laughed and hugged him.
Winston was tall for an orangutan. He also stood a little differently with a more upright posture and wasn’t so bandy legged.  “Hiya, Winnie,” said Morgan. “Mom says you’re getting smarter every day.”
Winston appeared to wink, but it could have been the early afternoon sun in his eyes. He sniffed Morgan’s neck, checking his smell. Morgan did the same, burying his face in Winston’s hairy neck and inhaling the pungent but not unpleasant scent of warm skin and fur.
“He really likes you,” said a girl’s voice.
Lin Rainbow had stepped out of the car and was looking at him with a slightly defiant expression.
“Hello,” said Morgan.
“Hi,” she replied. She was wiry and dressed in dungarees and a yellow ’Save The Whale’ tee shirt with large oversized boots. Her hair was jet black and her oval face was almost perfect, framing her Eurasian features. “I’m Lin. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Morgan looked over Winston’s hairy shoulder as the ape still hugged him. He watched Lin Rainbow slouching uncertainly clutching a book in one hand. She regarded Morgan with the eyes of someone who was habitually cautious with strangers. Morgan thought she looked like a tough street kid.
“You’re the genius, right?” she said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
“Who told you that?”
“I’ve been listening to your mom and dad. You’ve got this special memory, haven’t you?” She sounded a touch aggressive.
“It’s no big deal,” said Morgan as Winston clambered down and loped over to Lin to take her hand. “It comes and goes.”
“Wish I could remember things,” she said.
“I can only remember certain things,” Morgan explained. “I forget a lot of stuff, too.”
His mother was behind the wheel starting the ignition.
“I think your mom’s ready to go,” Lin said climbing into the back seat.
“What are you reading?” asked Morgan as he joined her and they sat either side of Winston.
She held the book more tightly to her. “Oh,” she said. “You wouldn’t like it. It wouldn’t interest a scientific type.”
“Try me,” said Morgan.
She looked at him challengingly. “All right then,” she replied with a shrug. She held up the book. ‘The Spirits – An Anthology of Metaphysical Thought’ by A J Routledge.
Morgan said nothing. It was ironic that this hard-voiced girl had a book like this in her possession. He wouldn’t have pegged her as a new ager. Maybe she wasn’t as rough as she made out?
Morgan’s mother told them they needed to go shopping on the way home.
“You’re not taking Winston into a supermarket?” said Lin in surprise.
“Yes,” she told her. “At least, we have done once or twice. It’s not strictly allowed but I like to see how Winston reacts. We get some odd looks and sometimes they ask us to leave. They say it’s health and safety or some such PC nonsense. It should be quiet about now. If someone complains one of you will have to take Winston back to the car.”
“Most people think he’s just a kid dressed up in an ape suit for a charity stunt,” explained Morgan.
At the store, his mother placed Winston inside the trolley and they went in. At first there were a few glances but no one said a word. She walked quickly picking up groceries while Morgan fiddled with his gizmo.
“What’s that?” asked Lin looking the strange cylindrical object with its tiny waving tendrils.
“Oh, just something I made,” said Morgan.
A woman pushing a child in a trolley went to pass by them but stopped suddenly. “Oh my God!” she cried. “A wild animal.”
“It’s okay,” Morgan’s mother said reassuringly. “He’s house trained.”
Winston stared at the child in the trolley and chattered, showing his teeth.
“Look,” she said, “he’s being friendly.”
The woman had other ideas. She screamed. Nearby, a man in tweeds was picking up a jar of beetroot when he heard her yelling.
“Shame the law says I can’t get my 12-bore from the car,” he said threateningly. “That thing should be in a zoo or hanging in my trophy cabinet. Animals are strictly prohibited. They’re unhealthy.”
Surreptitiously, Morgan aimed his gizmo at the jar of beetroot. He manipulated a revolving control at one end and the filaments performed a slow, intricate dance. Slowly at first the lid began to turn, then increased speed till it spun off whirling. The man didn’t notice as the beetroot tipped into his shopping trolley in a long, smelly stream staining everything bright purple. Lin leaned in close to Morgan. “You’re not as stuffy as I thought you’d be, Morgan Lane,” she whispered into his ear. Her soft, warm breath sent a tingling shivery thrill through him. He tried to say something but found he couldn’t.
A small crowd of shoppers had gathered pointing at Winston in disbelief. As Morgan watched the group he noticed that the bright strip lights on the ceiling were causing shadows to fall behind the knot of people staring and complaining about animals being allowed into a food store. That was normal. What wasn’t normal was that, as the tweedy man moved, quickly discarding the empty jar of beetroot, his shadow remained exactly where it was.
Morgan suddenly began to see things in slow motion as the whole scene dissolved into a dream-like state. The shadow was not being cast by anyone human or anything physical.  The tweedy man’s own shadow was moving with him. Morgan gazed around looking for an obvious likely source. There was none. The rogue shadow was just there, man shaped and blacker than the blackest night.
Then the shadow moved.
All by itself.
It began to slide along the wall, rippling over the shelves stocked with cans and packets until it had blended with other shadows, real ones, further along the aisle.
“Did you see that?” Morgan asked Lin. Before she could answer, two managers strode along from the opposite direction clapping their hands.
This was the wrong thing to do. Before Morgan’s mother could move, Winston had leapt out of the trolley and was loping along the aisle scattering shoppers, baskets and trolleys hooting with annoyance.
“Quick,” said Morgan to Lin. “I’ll go after him. You go down the next aisle and try to head him off.”
Morgan raced after Winston while Lin sped off in the opposite direction. The supermarket by now was resounding with screams, shouts, crashes and primate chatter. Morgan ran at full speed, skidded around the corner at the end and saw Winston three aisles along. He sprinted left, dodging panic stricken shoppers. One of them was calling the police on a mobile phone. At the checkouts Lin finally cornered Winston and calmed him down. He chattered, showed his teeth and then stretched his long, hairy arms high in the air as he waddled towards Morgan’s mother. Morgan ran up panting just as a squadron of managers arrived herding shoppers and curious onlookers back, clearing a space to isolate Winston.
“It’s okay,” Morgan assured them. “He’s fine now. We’ll take him out. Sorry about, well, all this.”
“I’m sorry, young man, but we intend to call the police,” said the senior manager in his stiff suit. “It is strictly forbidden to bring animals into the store.”
“Unless they’re dead ones,” snapped Lin.
Winston smiled at the store manager and then turned his attention to a towering stack of cans glittering in the artificial lights. The junior member of staff who had lovingly created the tin mountain was standing close by watching closely and gripping a metal ladder. The gigantic monument of cans, with their labels proudly facing front in regimented perfection, was within arm’s reach. A hush descended just as Morgan spotted the strange shadow once again, this time slithering along towards the entrance, up on to the ceiling then down and out around the automatic doors.
Was he the only one who could see this thing? He rapidly scanned the nearby area and could see nothing moving, no circular advertising mobiles, nothing. He opened his mouth to say something when Winston reached out and selected a shiny can dead centre of the stack.  The ape’s long reddish fingers seemed to play a game of eeny-meeny-miney-mo dancing over several cans before making a selection. The watching crowd of staff and shoppers froze and stared at Winston as the orangutan removed the can from the stack delicately before putting it to his mouth.
The column remained upright and motionless. The fixated audience exhaled a collective sigh, as audible as air being released from a balloon. While everyone’s attention was distracted, Morgan’s mother moved. She snatched Winston into her arms as Lin took the can away from him.
“Let’s go,” she commanded and ran out of the store with Morgan and Lin hurrying after her. Outside, they sprinted to the car. Seconds later there came a huge crash and clattering sound of cans spinning, rolling and colliding amid shrieks and angry shouts.
“Calm down, Mom,” said Morgan glancing out through the rear window when they were back in the car. “No-one’s coming after us.” His mother spent a couple of moments breathing deeply as she drove back to the house near the River Cam.
“Not a good idea,” she said. “Next time I suggest taking Winston shopping you have permission to lock me up.” Winston suddenly grinned and stretched out his hand to tickle her hair. The others burst out laughing. Morgan’s mother tried not to join in but couldn’t hold back and began to giggle. Moments later, Morgan glanced out at the gathering dusk. Cygnus Hyperbole had arced across the heavens and was dominating the sky which was turning an unpleasant shade of deep violet and purple and looked deadly and threatening.
“Looks like we’re in for a storm,” remarked Lin.
“There’s something not right about that comet,” said Morgan.
“Your dad believes it might trigger some damaging weather conditions,” said his mother.
“It’s an omen,” said Lin mournfully. “Something terrible is going to happen. Same as that weird eclipse last year. Have you noticed that the birds have stopped singing. I haven’t heard one single bird all day.”
“I suppose I haven’t either,” remarked Morgan. “Wait a minute, what’s today’s date?”
Lin told him.
“It’s the same date,” Morgan said in astonishment. “That eclipse lasted for hours. No one knows why but weird things happened, didn’t they? Well, it’s exactly one year to the day.”
Winston puckered his lips and blew a raspberry.
As they watched the torch-like, torpedo-shaped celestial body hovering above the Earth, a bright spark of incandescent yellow-blue light broke away from the comet’s tail and shot towards the planet. Just like a mini-comet, it had an intensely dazzling core and left a trail of blazing light all the way back to Cygnus Hyperbole.
“What’s that?” said Morgan.
“I don’t know,” said his mother.
“It’s another comet,” gasped Lin. “It’s going all the way to Earth. Look!”
As they watched, the streak of dazzling light gathered speed and plummeted towards the horizon.
“It’s not a shooting star,” said Morgan. “It looks like a space craft of some kind. It’s not burning up in our atmosphere.”
“Don’t let your imagination run away with you,” said his mother. “It must be a splinter from the main comet, that’s all. It’s bound to burn up otherwise we could have a disaster on our hands somewhere in the world.”
They drove in silence for several minutes until they reached Trumpington Road and turned left into Silver Street. Morgan could see at the end of the road the detached Victorian pile he had grown up in. It wasn’t far from the university yet well isolated from neighbouring properties and approached along a private road. He still loved the large, squat old style villa covered with a thick canopy of ivy and honeysuckle. At the side and set back from the house behind a high fence was his mother’s former primate research facility, now closed because of numerous complaints from neighbours about the howls, screams and chatter of her special apes. Morgan could remember the day the animals had been moved to the university’s zoology department several miles away and the compound was turned Winston’s private jungle playground. Sinuous branches and twisted tree tops thrust their way through the protective wire roof. Instead of the urgent call of the macaque or gibbon, the miniature jungle now attracted a huge variety of bird life. At the rear of the house the River Cam lapped lazily at the bottom of an extensive garden that covered an area the size of three football pitches where Morgan used to lose himself and play his private, only child, games. Around the perimeter of the garden enclosing a large gravel drive, stood a motley collection of algae encrusted statues of gods and nymphs lurking in the half shadow light of the evening sun.
Morgan noticed an old, battered Lotus Seven parked next to his father’s Mercedes.  Morgan’ father preferred to work at home and Cambridge University had provided him with a research assistant in the shape of the languid Lawrence Gallow, whose old Etonian drawl Morgan found intensely irritating. The Lotus Seven belonged to him. There was something about Gallow that made Morgan highly suspicious. He had the narrow, pinched look of the serially ambitious. His personal agenda was deeply hidden but one day, and very soon, Morgan was going to find out what it was.
~~~