Look what Solaris sent me!
So now, not only do I have books, I have bookmarks for them too. They’re extremely pretty (rather like the cover…) and generally lovely and I keep fanning them out across my desk and cackling at them. I may have stroked one or two. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Well, not entirely ashamed. However, some of the ones which remain unstroked will be coming with me to the launch on Thursday, so if you want one then make sure you let me know.
You can also win one… and, indeed, a copy of BLOOD AND FEATHERS to go with it over on Goodreads, where we’re running a giveaway to celebrate launch week. If you’re entering, good luck!
I also promised something extra this week, what with the impending launch and whatnot (cue: shivering, trembling and generally gibbering like an idiot. Whether that’s with joy or fear, I’ll leave you to decide…).
So, with that in mind, here’s an Easter-egg of sorts for you: a (very) short story featuring one of the characters from BLOOD AND FEATHERS. It’s not an extract from the book, but is rather an idea I had while I was working out some of the backstories for everyone, so it’s a little rough and ready, but hey. It’ll stay up on the other site, on the “Bonus Features” page, hopefully along with a few more bits and pieces when I get the chance to put them there! In the meantime, enjoy….
THE NIGHT WATCHMAN
They look oddly innocent while they sleep: stripped of their uniforms, their endless kit, their weapons, and curled into close-eyed crescents beneath thin sheets, the soldiers of the Royal Corps of Signals could almost be children again. Some mutter through their dreams and shift in their beds before settling, the darkness covering all the things that they’ve seen.
And while they sleep, a single soldier walks among them; patrolling the narrow bunks in silence.
Few of them pay any attention to him by day – drafted from another regiment after the last batch of green-on-blue attacks, he keeps himself to himself. They’re friendly enough towards him, of course: it doesn’t pay to be rude to the only man awake while the whole unit’s getting some shut-eye, but they have more important things on their minds than making friends with the new guy. Things like keeping themselves and each other alive.
It suits him just fine, the brown-eyed soldier who moves in his uniform like he was born in it. This way, no-one comments that they’ve never seen him sleep; no-one questions the wisdom of bringing a stranger in to watch them. And if they should hear the sound of feathers rustling just around the corner, they simply shake their heads and put it down to the desert wind.
They’ve watched him strip down his gun in silent awe because his hands move over the parts faster than any of theirs could: twisting, pulling, sliding until they are little more than a blur.
He doesn’t join in the banter, doesn’t wait for the mail drops like they do. They’ve never seen him queue for the satphone, never seen him with a picture of his girl… and if they ask he just looks at them with those sad eyes of his and smiles.
Even if he isn’t one of them, things have been easier since he arrived on the base. No longer afraid to sleep, they’re feeling fresher – better than they have done in months. Morale is higher and even the heat and dust and that quiet fear that each dawn could be the last no longer weigh on them. For the first time since their tour began, they have hope.
They call him their ‘Guardian Angel’ – the one who watches over them while they sleep.
They have no idea…
(with thanks to John, for the bit I didn’t make up… )