Here is the second half of the prologue of my upcoming novel (part one here if you missed it). If what you read catches your fancy, or you’re looking for a suspenseful post-apocalyptic thriller, then I hope you’ll consider taking a look at Forged in the Dawn when it releases on Friday 22nd July on the Amazon Kindle store (I can’t wait for release, if only so I can stop repeating that bloody line).
His heart skipped at the sight of the predator, and adrenaline surged through his system. He eased out the small knife he carried on a string around his neck and thumbed the blade open. The wolf raised its powerful muzzle and sniffed the air as it padded out on to the road. Two more wolves came into view, and a sinking dread settled over Aiden’s stomach. He might have been able to fight off one, but if a pack attacked him then he would be eaten alive. There was no way he would survive the onslaught of teeth and claws.
Any movement now would just draw their attention, so he sat as still as he could, gripping the blade with white knuckles. He watched the wolves pad across the road, expecting them to turn and sprint at him at any second. But they seemed uninterested, only briefly turning their yellow eyes towards him before continuing on their way.
A final wolf stalked into view, the pack leader, a scarred beast with thick grey fur. It stopped in the road and focused directly on Aiden, unmoving. Locked eyes with the alpha predator, he suppressed the panic that flared from deep in his genetic memory. The moment stretched out as he fought his urge to get up and run, knowing it would be the end of him. He braced himself for the animal to bound towards him at any second.
The spell was broken by a low droning noise coming from somewhere to the south. The wolf pricked up its ears, then turned and followed the rest of its pack. Once the wolf disappeared from view leaving Aiden alone again, he forced himself to take deep, shuddering breaths in an effort to calm his pounding heart.
After a few moments, the adrenaline slowly faded away to be replaced with a numbing exhaustion. Looking down at the knife he still clenched in his hand, he ran a finger over his wife’s name etched across the handle. He still remembered watching her the morning of her birthday as she clumsily scratched her name into the wood, declaring she would carry it everywhere.
The droning was louder now, and growing closer. Looking towards the source of the noise, Aiden caught sight of a spray of dust on the road back towards the south. A vehicle was on the road, and heading this way. Rare to see these days. The trafficker must be well connected to warrant such a use of resources.
Aiden knew he had to move, but his muscles refused to respond. Just one more minute, then he would find his feet. He sighed and closed his eyes as he listened to the sound of the nearby trees creaking in the rising wind. A few minutes later, he dimly registered the sound of a vehicle pulling up, and the sound of two people climbing out. The engine continued turning over as they walked around.
‘You seeing anything, Bill?’ a man’s voice asked.
‘Nothing,’ the other replied. ‘Looks like he’s alone out here.’
Footsteps crunched over the crumbling asphalt of the road as one of the men approached. Aiden managed to open one of his eyes slightly to see a pair of polished black boots planted on the tarmac in front of him.
‘You look tired there, friend. You got a name?’
Aiden was beyond exhaustion now, barely registering the question, his mind adrift and unable to focus. One of the men knelt down, putting a hand on his shoulder. A blue sleeve. The uniform of the city police.
‘Is that your blood? Are you hurt?’
Aiden stared down at his stained hands again and shook his head. Not his blood, no. He rubbed his palm with a finger, feeling the dried blood flake off.
‘Looks like he’s in shock or something,’ the kneeling man said. ‘You reckon this is our man?’
More footsteps crunched over the loose stones as the other man approached. ‘Oh hell, it’s got to be. Even if it ain’t, look at all that blood on him. Who’s going to argue?’
‘Alright, you’re probably right. I don’t fancy getting caught out here in that storm anyway, so let’s get him in the car and head back to the city. We can sort it out there. Come on, friend. Time to go for a ride.’
Everything felt distant and unconnected as Aiden was hauled to his feet. His hands were bound behind his back by something cold and metal, and he was pushed into the back seat of the vehicle. The door slammed shut and he leaned his head against the dirty glass. He gazed through the cracked windscreen towards the north where the dust storm rose up high above the horizon.
The two men climbed into the front of the vehicle, one carrying Aiden’s pack. The car turned around and headed back towards the south, picking up speed quickly as the storm rolled after them. Unable to keep his eyes open any longer, the vibrations of the engine soon lulled Aiden into a deep sleep.
Forged in the Dawn Copyright © 2016 Gavin Zanker