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2065 – In the aftermath of the horrifying events of eleven/eleven, a new world order prevails. For political deputy, Jack Tirrand, the future holds promise but echoes from the past surface when he is confronted with the terrifying consequences of the project, codename - OCTOGEN

 

3rd May, 2024 –

Published in Paperback and as an e-book on Kindle –

ISBN 9789899730076

Set in 2065, ‘Octogen’ is a dystopian family drama with historical political overtones that resonates with the disturbed times in which we live

2065 - Thirty-five years have passed since the global attacks of eleven/eleven reduced the supply of fossil fuels to a trickle and curtailed economic activity for a century. As civilisation totters on the brink of disaster, out of the chaos and confusion, an international coalition emerges. Hard lessons have to be learned; personal liberties curtailed and national governance ceded to the new, collective authority known as INCOL.

For Deputy Jack Tirrand, rising star in the London Assembly, the future of his family appears secure. But appearances are deceptive. As his wife. Rebecca and twin daughters, Harriet and Alison, wrestle with personal crises. Jack finds himself forced to confront his demons from the past and present alike. His life is under threat and time is running out for him to avert the terrifying consequences of the project – codename – OCTOGEN

Excerpt

EXODUS

THREE RIVERS – TEXAS, USA

Thirty-five years and one week ago -

November 2030

Mary Jo Hammond drew long and hard on the cigarette wedged between her chapped lips.

As she looked out from the porch of their single-storey wood cabin, the tall leaves of the filler tobacco grown from Cuban seed swayed gently back and forth in the half-light as night approached. In happier days, before Bobby took ill, they had chosen the six-acre field for cultivation with just one aim in mind. When the plants were fully grown, they would hide the federal correction centre on Highway 72 from view. Out of sight, out of mind.

The signs on the entry roads into Three Rivers in Live Oak County described the township as the oil capital of Texas. It was an august boast. The guidebooks made only a passing reference to the penitentiary where many of the most dangerous redneck reactionaries, renegade murderers, and rapists in the Union were incarcerated.

On a still night, if she strained hard, Mary Jo could just make out the sound of the oil rigs humming some five miles away, alongside the refinery. She had been born and bred in Three Rivers and was mighty proud of her birthright.

The rasping, mucus-filled cough started up as she exhaled, forcing her to spit a ball of yellow phlegm onto the parched earth. It was ironic, she thought. That very plant, growing so high and strong just a stone’s throw away, would consign her husband’s body to the ground in a week or two and, most likely, see her lying in the soil next to him within the year. The thought caused her to laugh out loud, provoking another bout of coughing and spitting.

‘You see this, Mother?’ Bobby had called her ‘Mother’ ever since their only child was born some thirty-odd years ago. Millie survived until she was two when the consumption had taken her, but Bobby just went on calling Mary Jo ‘Mother’ until this very day.

‘What is it, Bobby?’

Her husband was propped up on a make-do sofa bed in the lounge, his watery gaze fixed on the television. The sound was turned down because the noise hurt his ears. Nothing but skin and bones, cancer racked the body of this former fifteen-stone hard man and federal prison guard. Bones poked through the grey/blue skin of his skeletal frame. Pain and suffering were all he knew. Once, he inflicted these two ills: now, he had to endure them.

The image on the screen was like a scene from a science fiction movie. The sky above some desert location was full of drones, small, black-painted craft swarming incessantly like bees about a larger, torpedo-shaped drone with mechanical arms embracing a package the size of a small suitcase. From time to time, a smaller drone would explode into flames and fall to earth, causing the rest to realign to protect their queen.

An industrial complex came into view on the horizon. Within minutes, the drones were hovering over a series of circular metal towers, losing height and numbers as mid-air explosions sent many crashing to the ground. The larger unit came to a halt, the sound of its motor whirring as it hovered in position. The mechanical arms opened, and the package fell to the ground.

Spontaneously, a large red and orange mushroom cloud lit up the screen. As it expanded and dispersed, the camera trembled. The earth below creased in a ripple effect, as though some gigantic prehistoric monster was moving at breakneck speed just under the surface. Suddenly, theimage froze and then disappeared before a visibly shaken announcer appeared in the studio, framed against a ‘Breaking News’ background.

‘What’s he saying?’ Mary Jo asked.

Bobby half turned his head. ‘I guess it’s just another of those damn Arab killing Arab terrorist attacks, somewhere in the desert. I don’t know why we don’t drop a bomb on the whole fuckin’ lot of ‘em. He grimaced. The strain of talking sapped his energy. ‘It’s the third one they’ve shown.’

‘More likely the same one the third time,’ she retorted, losing interest and walking back onto the porch.

Thank God she lived in the good old US of A, the land of the free. She laughed to herself again as she reached into her housecoat pocket for another cigarette. Free, that is, if you’re not on the other side of the six-acre field, banged up in a prison cell.

It was dusk. The only sounds to break the eerie silence were the flapping of the leaves of the tobacco plants, the occasional bark of a dog, and the swish of the rigs as they travelled the highway.

Today was Veterans’ Day. She would pick up on the news after Bobby had taken his morphine and was asleep. She enjoyed the late shows.

From the distance came a low humming sound. The night sky lit up over Three Rivers as if dawn had broken. A pall of red and orange smoke, just like the one Bobby had pointed to on TV, rose in the sky, reaching out toward her, turning white as it moved. The sound came seconds later, an ear-shattering noise that pierced and burst her eardrums. She watched in horror as the earth vibrated beneath her feet, gradually at first and then violently as the tremors increased.

On the horizon, a curtain of water erupted from the ground. Her eyes stung. The federal correction centre, enveloped by the cloud a second ago was no longer there.

Mary Jo rushed into the cabin. Bobby dozed in the chair as she dug urgently at his arm. ‘We’re gonna die, baby. We’re gonna see Millie.’ She glanced down at the cigarette in her hand. Her last thought was how she had finally beaten the curse of tobacco.

The six-acre field vaporised a split second before she did.

Octogen by Geoff Cook is available on Kindle, all Amazon platforms, and through all major booksellers.
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