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Barry Green and the Supervolcano

by goozenburger 

Posted: 07 August 2003
Word Count: 5358
Summary: This is part of an epic rollercoaster of a novel – the kind of baloney pap thriller fantasy fiction that we all love to read...hmmmm.It’s aimed at the young adult/adult crossover market (so that’s every base covered).There’s an overall good versus evil plot going on here with the ultimate fate of the entire planet at stake – and whilst the imagination is stretched – the plot tries to remain within the bounds of physical possibility – and yes – Ligers and Supervolcano’s do and did exist!Honest!

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Barry Green and the Super Volcano

Chapter 1:- A strange discovery

Todra Gorge – Morocco – present day

“Treacherous accursed stumps!” grunted the archaeologist as he waded through the ice-cold mountain river. “How my puny legs betray me!”.

“Vile beastly pinions – I detest thee!” he wailed and cursed as his numbed shaking legs buckled and sagged as the energy leached out of them into the freezing water. The big man sploshed through the last few metres of rushing water and flopped onto a large river-smoothed red boulder. He looked back down the gorge – one half was bathed in intense sunlight whilst the other remained in shadowy gloom. Red sandstone walls towered all about him like brooding sentinels guarding a precious treasure.

“Crackpot Archaeologist! Mentler!?! Well let’s just see who was right all this time, let’s just see!” he muttered to himself. “Crackpot indeed!” he shook his head, checked his climbing gear one last time, took a swig from his water bottle and then began his ascent. He moved steadily up the side of the immense gorge walls. The ascent was ungainly but he was a big man and out of shape. Still, in his youth he had been an expert climber and those old skills never died – they just got a bit rusty that’s all. The sun pounded down on his shiny, bald head like a relentless jackhammer. His big hands were soon cut to pieces and the nails split and raw from the jagged rocks. 2 hours up and he was forced to stop and rest on a small ledge. “Nearly there” he congratulated himself as he dangled his legs over the side and looked down. The big boulder he had rested on after crossing the river looked like a malteser now.

“Crackpot indeed!” he chortled to himself as he removed and ate a cheese and pickle sandwich from his backpack. Delving into the backpack once more he produced a penguin bar which had melted entirely within the wrapper. He resorted to licking the chocolate off the wrapper and ended up with most of it stuck to his big black and grey beard. The archaeologist reached into his backpack a final time and pulled out a thermos flask. He poured himself a cup of tea and admired the breathtaking view. It looked like a land before time, before humans had ever walked the earth. He imagined great dinosaurs walking through this very gorge and huge pterodactyls swooping along on the rising air currents. “What a sight that must have been” he thought to himself “what a sight!”.

Refreshed from his cup of tea – he packed everything away – and began to climb once more. Out of the corner of his eyes he noticed a small lizard run vertically up the rockface straight past his head before it scurried back past him. “Damned lizard!” he thought.

Stretching for his next handgrip the lizard came darting back up the rocks and leapt into his beard. Panicking, he shook his head this way and that and blew a raspberry in an attempt to blast it off his face. The little lizard seized its chance and bit down hard on his soft pudgy tongue before running off. “Ouchhhhhhhhhh!” he yelped. The “ouch” echoed around the gorge creating a chorus of “ouches!”. The archaeologist slipped a small way down the rock face but his grip and the pegs he had hammered into the rock held him. “Stthat lithard sbit me! That bloomin thlizard justhst bit me!” he cried.

“I’ll need a rabies shot now, I just know it, that lizard must be rabid! – bitten by a rabid lizard – that’s just my luck to be bitten by a rabid lizard. I can just see the headlines now – “Its official - Crackpot Archaeologist really is mad” – “Rabid Professor foams at the mouth!” he thought. Nevertheless, he continued to clamber up the rock face passing the time by inventing more favourable headlines such as “formerly crackpot archaeologist, now highly regarded, fights off killer lizard creature”. So the headlines weren’t particularly good – but then he wasn’t a journalist was he?

As the light began to fade he placed his hand into a small crack in the rock and levered himself up into a small cave. The red cave walls were covered in strange disturbing scenes. These were ancient cave paintings from a time long ago, when man was still mastering fire and his environment. They depicted great clawed beasts with jagged teeth and men with spears grappling against them. The images were faded but the etch marks were still clear enough. It was a scene of a mighty battle or battles. The archaeologist marvelled at them for a second and put his hand against the cold rock. He brushed his hand over the faded dark brown marks. “If only you could tell me your story” he muttered to himself as he imagined the artist who had drawn this scene so many hundreds of thousands of years before. He made his way back over to his tools, stove, sleeping bag and journals he’d carried up the previous day and set to work at once. He grabbed his solid wooden handled trowel and began to scrape away at the cave floor on his hands and knees.

He continued to brush away at the cavefloor as the sun began to slip under the horizon for another day. He lit the small kerosene lamp and continued in the darkness as the gruesome images of battle flickered behind him on the cave walls. “Chink!” his trowel hit against an object. The archeologist gasped. “O my, o my” he whittered to himself and ran a dirty hand through his beard in excitement. “Chink!”. The sound echoed around the cave and out into the valley. He quickened the pace, hacking away at the floor with great blows. “Calm down, Calm down – no need to rush yourself, you have all night” he warned himself. And so he continued at a more measured rhythm. Patiently dusting away layer upon layer of history until the outline finally emerged. The outline of a skeleton. It was clearly human sized. He began to work more feverishly and large beads of sweat began to pour down his transfixed face. Under the glow of the flickering gas lamp the archaeologist finally sat back on his haunches and looked down upon his discovery with disbelief and awe.

Before him lay a set of bones that would alter mans perception of the world forever. History, science, biology, nature, evolution – everything would have to be rewritten. This was an earth shattering find, the mother lode (whatever that was), the big one, the full monty. “Oh my, oh my” he mumbled to himself, “this might cause quite a stir…”
The archaeologist poured himself a cup of tea and lit a massive Cuban cigar. As he puffed away on the cigar his mind began to wander to ever more fantastical headlines “Crackpot archaeologist drinks tea with Queen”, “Scientific community worships crackpot genius”, “Genius given keys to the city of London in recognition of his outstanding contribution to mankind”…..and so the vain list of headlines went on.
But, a darkness stirred in the far recesses of the cave. A darkness that the archaeologist did not at first sense. Instead he remained caught up in his self congratulatory revelry. Then, as he watched the thick clouds of grey blue cigar smoke waft across the gorge, a dark shadow passed over him and suddenly the archaeologist felt his heart thud against his chest like a horse smacking him full on between the ribcage.
“Who’s there? Who’s that?” he cried out in terror.
“Professor Lewis? Lewis you scoundrel come out at once” he commanded at the caves tormenting shadows. “Reveal yourself you pitiful wretch. The Nobel is mine – you’re too late. Too late I tell you!” he quaked in fear and anger.
The shadows flickered – and the light fluttered and played against the dark murderous battle scenes that looked on impassionately. They had seen it all before. This and worse - they had seen what was to follow many, many times over. Their soft etched images had soaked up the blood and bone smeared fragments of many over the millennia. This would add yet another veneer.
And then the gorge fell silent and the archaeologist released his bowels. A second later, he gagged in horror and a small flow of brown bile spew out of his mouth and through his automatically cupped hands. He had read the myth and knew the legends – they had led him here hadn’t they?, but somehow he’d never thought too hard about the consequences of chasing the dream – hunting it down. Now he knew – the dream was here to take him – but it was a nightmare, the worst you could ever imagine existing in the darkest backends of a sickened mind.
His legs buckled and he began to shiver and weep in absolute sorrow for his life and its imminent demise. And then as the shadow began to move outwards and a figure began to emerge, he began to scrape and dig at the cave floor as if he could bury himself and hide within it. Scraping and clawing like a wild beast, uncaring that his torn ripped hands clawed at dust and vomit and excrement with such futility.

A middle-aged man with a handsome face part hidden by a neatly trimed beard, and wearing an impressive Armani suit stepped out of the shadows in the far recesses of the cave where light never reached. He stared at the archaeologist through cold penetrating eyes.
“Dear God, Dear God, Please have mercy, please God spare me!!!” the archaeologist screeched in desperation. “Please spare me!” he screamed out over the gorge and into the heavens.
“Eloi, Eloi. Lama Sabachtani! Eloi Eloi!” cackled the stranger. “I’ve heard it all before!” and then he laughed with the hearty assured manner of a madman who knows exactly how they are going to kill you and the intimate pleasure of that act.
“I think you already know too much - don’t you?” spat the stranger as he lunged towards him. The archaeologist screamed briefly in terror….

St. Ungulates Orphanage, Southwark, Inner City London - Present Day
A thousand miles away a young boy stood staring out of the dirty attic window of an orphanage watching the light fade from the same evening. He didn’t mind being locked in the attic that much - but it was hard to watch his friends playing in the wild orphanage gardens below. As the sun went down he could see the last of the orphans being rounded up. A muscular woman wearing a tight black leather corset and black leather jeans that hid tree trunk legs chased the last of them inside. She waved a massive black saucepan above her head and wailed great obsceneties at them. “Move it vermin!!!!” she bawled. “Shift it scumbags!” she screamed – “Wendela’s comin’!” she bawled. The boy looked down and laughed as he saw a kid duck between her legs, avoid the arcing saucepan and escape inside.
Barry Green envied those kids out there avoiding the swipes from the metal saucepan. At least they got outside for a few hours! He decided he was probably the most hard done by 11 year old orphan he had ever met. He never moaned or cried about it - what good would that do? He just got on with what he had. In fact, now he was really quite fond of his attic with all its nooks and crannies, its leaky roof, the huge vines and ivy that spread through the eaves and the hundreds of birds that nested in the gables. He imagined it was his very own jungle in the sky – just a bit damper and frosty at times.
He unruffled his mousy brown hair and checked his reflection in the grubby attic window. A pair of sad brown eyes stared back, but a chirpy smile and a pleasant olive complexioned face made up for that. Then he turned away from the window and let out a long yearning sigh. He shuffled over to a dark dank corner of the attic enveloped by huge ferns and creepers. As he approached the corner, the rotten wooden floor seemed to writhe and move and stretch in the half light. "Hergrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" it grumbled. "Hergrrrrrrrrr". It was a sound like no other you were likely ever to hear – a cross between the most beautifully tuned V6 engine you had ever heard and a lion gurgling in satisfied pleasure. Barry ran towards the growling corner and dived on top of it.
And before he knew it, the writhing reeling mass had whipped about him and grappled him to the floor. A stripy gold and black tufty tail slapped him in the face for a second before Barry grabbed it and bit down hard. “Hgrrrrowl!” grumbled the beast as it reacted to the shock bite tactic. The tail flicked out of Barry’s mouth and suddenly all 10 stone of lithe muscle and sinew cased around a perfect smooth gold hide painted with the very faintest of black and white stripes lay poised above the small spindly form of 11 year old Barry Green. Barry rammed a hand up into its mouth and tried to push its massive hanging, panting jaws away from him. “HGGGGGRRRR” it challenged. “Herghhhhhh!!!” Barry grumbled back in defiance. And then in one impressively fast manoeuvre the sleek powerfully built cat lunged for Barry’s throat and let its jagged sharp fangs fall upon his tiny throat.
“Mercy! Mercy! You win you win Jemima!” Barry laughed in hysterical panting fits of pleasure. Jemima –one of the worlds most elegant, rare and deadly big cats rolled over on her great back and playfully cuffed him with her massive front paws and then she rolled her great body forward and nuzzled her face against his.
Jemima, a cross between Tiger and Lioness was Barry’s inheritance when he was orphaned. No-one was quite sure how she had come about as lions and tigers didn’t meet much in the wild but Barry would spend ages making up fantastic stories to explain it. She might have looked scary to most people but to Barry she was just an oversized cuddly furball. Every now and again the authorities came to take her away but it never worked. Zookeepers arrived waving lumps of bloody meat and cooing “here nice kitty” but Jemima knew their game and would run to Barry’s side and growl menacingly if they approached. And then there were the huge meat bills – Lord only knew where they found the supply of meat for her but Barry didn’t worry too much about that – he was sure the cook was just crazy about Jemima same as he was. So it was decided it was best all round if Barry kept her. But still, who wanted a Liger running around an orphanage causing all sorts of havoc? So every night, Barry was locked in the attic where he curled up snugly around Jemima’s thick golden striped fur and mane and fell quickly to sleep.
This particular evening Barry could feel his heart aching to escape into tomorrow, his head was ready to burst with the excitement as thoughts and wishes and dreams raced about his mind. He was more hyped up and excited than he could ever remember. He was out of this dump tomorrow. Free for one whole day. His first school trip ever! He snuggled up against Jemima’s thick fur and felt content and warm and safe.
Outside he could hear the headmistress screaming and railing against the cruelty of the world. It sent a sad shudder through him. He snuggled up even closer and tighter to Jemima’s strong body as if he could burrow away all his fears and leave the screams from outside and this reality alone for a brief while.
Madam Wendela had stormed outside to vent some more pent up anger. The headmistress has obviously had a stressful day. “KABOOOOOOOOOOOOM” “KABOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM” came an enormous double whammy of gunshot blast from down in the gardens. There was a brief silence which allowed a few birds to resume some nervous chirupping before two more shots thundered across the still air.
“How they mock me! Dancing and skipping in the rain! Running up and down - disgusting creatures I shall kill you all!” - and again there was the unmistakable lumbering laboured sound of Madam Wendela reloading her battered old shotgun. Today she was taking out her anger on the spritely squirrels that scamped about in the surrounding trees. Thankfully Madam Wendela was an awful shot despite the advantage of her big googly eyes so she rarely got lucky.
She ruled St.Ungulates with an iron fist and made Barry’s life a living hell. She was a strong stubby woman with short cropped hair and an awkward way of walking - rather like a chicken if truth be told - but no one told her, not to her face, not even adults. She was an ugly, ungainly woman, a large forehead led to a powerful beak of a nose with pointy slits for nostrils, wide darting eyes, pale grey lips and a huge chin like a shovel. The children called her Madam “big fella” on account of her masculine looks and size - or sometimes “birdface”. She constantly growled and snapped at the children and clouted them over the head with her favourite grubby frying pan or with her favourite alternative weapon which was a huge Encyclopaedia Britannica volume 7 covering “Ghekko to Jamaica”. The children dreaded its resounding thud on their heads which was likely at any time during the day. But for the moment Barry was safe from her – safe whilst she was busy inflicting pain and punishment on some other poor being.
“Good night Jemima” he whispered as he drifted into a deep sleep. “Good night Barry Green, the best friend a liger could have”. Perhaps he was just dreaming, he thought to himself as he dozed off.
Barry woke up early to the sound of the massive black frying pan being beaten against the metal water pipes. It was time to get dressed and ready for the day’s trials. School was every day at St.Ungulates, even Saturday and Sunday, with 20 minutes “playtime” at the end of each day – unless you were Barry Green. He lay half in and out of sleep, his little body shivering in the fresh early morning air where he was exposed to the cold air and unprotected by Jemima’s beautifully snug body. He stretched a little and smiled as Jemima purred contentedly and began to lick Barry’s face clean.
“Get off!” he joked when Jemima’s tongue tickled against his face but Jemima simply slobbered over him even more. “Things aren’t all bad” he thought to himself contentedly but then he noticed a slight change in the creak of the stairs outside. And all of a sudden he could detect the highly detectable sound of Madam Wendela marching up the creaky stairs. A stream of banshee wails trailed along with her all the way through the huge dormitory below and up the rickety stairs. He could hear the children running frantically about and crying and whimpering as she clipped them over the head with her frying pan.
“No rest for the wicked!” she cackled as she cloberred them.
Madam Wendela burst through the attic door.
“Get your miserable good for nothing orphaned backside down those stairs right now you piece of verminous dribble!” she yelled as she flew into the attic.
“Keep that thing away from me or I’ll blast it’s head off with my shotgun!” she shrilled as she pointed at the growling Jemima. “I’m warning you Barry Green - one wrong step out of you and the furball gets it!”.
Barry knew that she meant it. Madam Wendela was just waiting for the chance to turn Jemima into a hearth rug.
“Yeah alright Madam Wendella, on my best behaviour today already - don’t worry” he replied.
“Worry, worry you say? - don’t get insolent with me you unlovable miserable urchin!” she screamed and then bashed him on the head with the frying pan.
“Sorry Madam” Barry said as he rubbed his bruised head. Life in the orphanage taught you to develop a very thick skull - quite literally.
Turning to Jemima, Barry spoke quietly to his beloved pet and friend “Stay here Jemima I’ll be back this evening. Mrs Dobbins ‘ll come up and give you some leftovers and walk you later”.
“Growwwwwol” she purred, which to Barry seemed to mean “don’t get into too much mischief!”, but how could he really understand what Jemima meant? Barry shook his head bewildered.
“Don’t you shake your head at me you hideous little boy! Just get down those stairs now!!” boomed Madam Wendela.
Barry slipped on his grey shirt and tie and tied the string around his grey flannel threadbare trousers. As if to give Barry more incentive, she gave him another whack on the head as he trooped past her and down the creaky cobwebbed stairs into the children’s dormitory. He plodded past the endless rows of beds with the crisp clean starched sheets and the orphanage grey pyjamas folded neatly at the head of each one. He kept his head low as he walked into the great dining hall and shuffled along the breakfast queue to collect his boiled egg and dry toast. Every wall of the great hall was covered with epic scenes from the Old Testament. The murals were at least 150 years old and the paint had faded and peeled off most of them. You could still make out the picture of David slaying Goliath, Jonah inside the whale and Daniel in the lions den which was Barry’s favourite. Barry plodded past the faded mural of the lions den towards the back of the hall. Only once Madam Wendela had wandered off to harangue another poor child did Barry look up and smile for the first time that day. He walked briskly over to an old wooden table away for the watchful eyes of Madam Wendela and sat down next to his 2 best friends Asim and Katie.
“Barry!” they both cried “how many whacks on the old noggin today then?”
“Two, which isn’t that bad really”, replied Barry.
“Not bad at all. Poor Eric Ramsbottom got clobbered 5 times this morning” replied Asim as he picked at his food with his hands.
“Who cares how many times Eric Ramsbottom or Barry gets hit - at least we’re getting out of this place for the day!” exclaimed Katie excitedly as she gulped down a jug of water.
“Yeah and Miss Lilly is coming as well” added Asim.
Before they could say any more, Madam Wendela’s voice boomed across the chilly hall “Attention vermin! The coach leaves in 2 minutes. If you not on it we’ll leave anyway. Those left behind will do extra Maths this morning and clean the toilets this afternoon. Mister Grimble will supervise”.
The whole dining hall shuddered and gasped in horror. Master Grimble was even more terrifying than Madam Wendela. He lived in the cellar which he shared with a colony of bats and it was rumoured that they even fed off him in the night such was his pale bloodless colour, pink eyes and strange orange hair. They were all certain that he ate the smaller orphans if it took his fancy but no one could prove a thing.
The hall burst into chaos. Barry, Asim, Katie and a hundred other children flew off to grab their pens, pencils and notebooks from their lockers.
Two minutes later they were piling onto a set of coaches outside the gates of St.Unglates. Barry looked out of the coach window at the orphanage. The drab brown Gothic monstrosity looked like something a vampire would live in, with its jagged turrets, hideous gargoyles, broken windows and damaged roof. For 200 years it housed the criminally insane until they released them all into the community in the 1990’s. Now it housed all the abandoned and orphaned children from the four corners of the globe. Barry resented the huge gothic garden walls that hemmed them in and kept them from the outside world but he was thankful for the gardens. The huge sprawling overgrown gardens were clogged with weeds, boggy patches, dead trees, long thick grass and strange lichen covered statues of demons and Greek Gods. At one time the insane had wandered these gardens, now it provided the most fantastic playground for adventuresome children.
Katie, Asim and Barry sat on the back seat of their coach as far away from Madam Wendela as possible.
“I’m so excited. I can’t believe it. We’re going to Nottingham for the day. We’re going to see some real history! I can’t wait!” enthused Katie.
“Calm down there Katie, it’s not that great, we’ll still have to work you know!” pointed out Asim.
“Still, it’s better than being stuck with Mister Grimble” mused Barry.
All three shuddered and then began to laugh uncontrollably. The thought of Mister Grimble often had strange effects on nervous young children and this was just one of them. Barry looked at his two friends laughing away.
Asim was a gangly Indian boy with spiky hair and a cheeky grin. He was a bit of a disaster area really. You could always spot him bumbling down the St.Ungulates corridors wandering from one lesson to another always late for everything. Asim blamed this on the clocks which always stopped when he went near them, so he could never tell the time. “I know where I’m going just not when I’m supposed to get there” he always said. Cars broke down, engines refused to start and computers malfunctioned around him, but it didn’t seem to bother him. He always ate with a plastic set of cutlery or his hands because he was like a magnet to metal - either repulsing his knife and fork from his mouth or gluing them to his lips. These magnetic properties were a constant bother to all around him but Asim just laughed it off.
“My Great Grandad was magnetic too and it never bothered him at all. In fact he was the most popular man in Calcutta. If you lost your purse people would pray at the temple for the return of their money and then they would send for Great Grandfather Abdul to find it!”, Asim would recount. He was very proud of his family history and Barry and Katie knew his great grandfather Abdul’s adventures by heart.
Katie - well Katie was their best friend but she was a little odd too. A bubbly, small pretty girl with blonde bobbed hair and rosy cheeks. She walked around the orphanage all day with a bottle of water she constantly guzzled from. The other two found it a bit weird but they got used to it after a while.
Some of the children said she was a freak, the daughter of a sea cow or some hideous sea creature and perhaps these accusations weren’t without some merit for she had been discovered washed up on Brighton beach one sunny August morning – a gurgling crying soggy newborn baby. The “Brighton Water Baby” as the excited press had named her had never quite gotten over her unique bonding with all things wet. Not a day went by without Katie being excused from lesson to change into dry clothes - but before very long she was soaked again, a water pipe would burst or a gutter would overflow on her, there would be a torrential downpour or the toilet flush would explode but she didn’t really seem to mind. Most of the other orphans avoided them - who wanted to be with those losers!

“What time is it Barry? Shouldn’t we have left by now?” asked Katie impatiently.
Barry looked down at the battered silver watch on his wrist with the rounded white clockface and black Roman numerals running around it, and the curious crocodile skin strap. It had been his father’s watch once. Barry even remembered when the authorities had handed it back to him, the only thing they had recovered from inside the bellies of the crocodiles.
“Sorry Barry, mate, this is all we could find” said the crocodile hunter.
As he stared at the watch on the coach, Barry’s mind drifted back to that fateful day 5 years before. The radical ecowarrior parents and their son on one of their jaunts to save the African Crocodile from poachers. Barry always accompanied his parents on these mercy missions. It was his “planetary education” as his dad called it.
That day, they had been rowing their canoe down the great Zambezi river, patrolling the waters and keeping a look-out for poachers. The day was turning into a real scorcher and Barry was happily staring at a little waterboatman skulling across the water when a huge 20 foot crocodile reared its snapping jaws out of the river and sent them crashing down upon their tiny canoe. More crocodiles joined the attack, munching mercilessly through the outboard motor, the wooden oars and then to Barry’s great horror, they began to chomp their way steadily through the boat itself. In a valiant last ditch effort to protect their only child, Barry’s parents threw themselves at the mercy of the crocodiles.
“Barry if we don’t make it out of this you must continue our good work, whatever the risks” pleaded his father.
“I love you Barry Green” cried his mother before his parents held hands and threw themselves atop the crocodiles. Barry’s parents stretched their trembling arms around the largest crocodile in their very best group hug.
“Feel our love for you crocodile…we are not your enemies but your friends!” they cried.
But the crocodiles had no time for talk of love and ripped them to bloody shreds in minutes. And still the crocodiles attacked, snapping closer and closer at the forlorn Barry. “HHHH….Help!” he called out - but no one came…not until he caught the eye of a hippo wallowing in the river.
“Help! Help me please!” he begged, not really expecting any help from a hippo, “Help!!!!” he yelped out across the great river. And to his great surprise, the hippo actually began to move, move towards him – towards the evil reptiles seeking to tear his body apart in the blood muddy waters already soaked by his parents lifeforce. The hippo glided through the water and snapped its magnificent jaws at the crocodiles. Their dark reptilian eyes stared into his and behind their emotionless unblinking stare he seemed to detect a faint emotion – one of utter hate and loathing. Loathing of him. But why? But then they were gone, turned tail and submerged into the crimson waters.
Barry, sat in the wrecked canoe in a deep shock, totally confused by the recent turn of events. Later, the psychologists would put all talk of a hippo saviour down to mental trauma, but Barry’s young mind was beginning to sense that he might be different from other kids - not that he had ever really met that many - being on the road an’ all.
“Barry, helloooo, earth to Barry!” said Katie.

Barry had been staring at the watchface for quite a while now, thinking about the day on the river when the crocodiles had eaten his parents. He was determined to do something good in this life, something that would make his parents proud.

“Time, yes the time, it’s nearly seven thirty” he said distantly.

“You all right there Barry?, you seem a bit distant” enquired Asim.

“I’m fine, really I’m fine, just thinking about things I suppose” he replied shakily.

“Yeah, I know” said Katie. They all thought about their parents every now and again.

The coaches revved up and finally set off through London and towards the M1.

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Comments by other Members

stephanieE at 11:30 on 08 August 2003  Report this post
Gosh, there's a lot of stuff in here... It does seem to me that this is a children's adventure story, and I like the idea that there's some environmental awareness in there, as that seems to be a popular subject for current teens.

Umm... I wondered about starting with the archeologist. His language in the opening paragraphs isn't particularly accessible to youngsters (accursed stumps; vile pinions) and although this seems entirely in keeping with that character, because we never find out his name, he's hard to really engage with. Barry's experiences at the orphanage are vivid and extraordinary, and I think might capture your reader more readily... that's just my opinion and others may well disagree.

A couple of spelling things:
self congratulatory revelry. Do you mean revelry, or do you mean reverie?

battle scenes that looked on impassionately This word made me stop, as it didn't seem right - would impassively be a better word?

a little waterboatman skulling across the water I'm sure it's sculling with a c rather than a k...

ANother little technical thing: when using numbers, it's good practice to spell them out. So, 'his two best friends', 'got clobbered five times' etc. This usually applies to numbers up to ten, with digits used thereafter. This is something an editor will pick up, but it demonstrates professionalism if you use this in yur writing.

This sounds like the beginning of a really interseting adventure (can Barry talk to animals? how does that connect him to the archaeologist? Who was the sinister Armani-clad stranger?) and I wish you luck with it.

goozenburger at 13:00 on 08 August 2003  Report this post
The archeologist isn't too easy to engage with because i didn't want to overly upset people when he got brutally murdered - and he talks oddly because I wanted him to be antique and ancient in his phrases. I think vile is a very useful word that all children should learn - in fact "out vile jelly" was my favourite phrase ever by shakespeare - it's great word - point taken though. The archeologist pops up later though - so maybe you get a better insight then.

You're right on the spelling and typo's - I am crap for going over my work and correcting - sometimes I seem to leave mistakes in deliberately -which is a bit stupid - or lazy - or both. Sometimes I make up words as well - which almost exist or should - or sound like they do - but thats a habit I quite enjoy.

Anyway - the book is about 106,000 words long - and connects the armani clad stranger,Barry, the archeologist, madam wendela - everyone up together eventually. I suppose Barry's more of an empath than a Dr.Doolittle - bit like a horse whisperer than anything else. Still - he gets into a fair few scrapes along the way - travelling down sewers, through jungles, on ships and meets a whole gang of oddballs and deviants.

Thanks for your feedback!


stephanieE at 13:36 on 08 August 2003  Report this post
OH yeah, forgot to mention earlier that my mental image of Madam Wendela in leather corset and trousers took me a an altogether different place - it's a very S&M outfit. Was this deliberate?!

old friend at 16:40 on 13 September 2003  Report this post
I enjoyed this very much although I suggest that pruning is required.

The lizard incident is distracting and while it does present another opportunity for those (good) imagined headlines, it adds little or nothing to the story.

I just wonder if any true Archaelogist would 'hack away at the floor with great blows'? Small points... but indications that careful editing might move it up a notch or two.

It will make a good yarn. Best of Luck.

old friend, Len

Alison at 19:43 on 14 April 2005  Report this post
Very good, but I think you could probably do a bit more work on it.

For example (just to pick a few lines from the third paragraph): The ascent was ungainly but he was a big man and out of shape.

The 'but' doesn't really make sense to me - maybe just a punctuation mark is needed, to link the two phrases? The second phrase seems to be a reason for the first.

Still, in his youth he had been an expert climber and those old skills never died – they just got a bit rusty that’s all.

See, I'd expect that to come after the but - the ascent was ungainly but he had been an expert climber. Also, I'd add a comma after rusty, but that's probably just me!

The sun pounded down on his shiny, bald head like a relentless jackhammer

That's all quite cliche - maybe something more original?

On the other hand, I loved some of your descriptions, especially: It was a sound like no other you were likely ever to hear – a cross between the most beautifully tuned V6 engine you had ever heard and a lion gurgling in satisfied pleasure.

That is just brilliant!

Sorry for going on so long, and good luck with anything else you do!

Beanie Baby at 14:51 on 12 July 2005  Report this post
Only had time to read the oprning paragraphs (quiet moment at work) but it caught me enough to want to come back later and read it all. Can't say anything else until I've read it. But I'lll be back (as a certain Mr Scwartzenegger said)!

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