As black smoke rises, order disintegrates…
Former SAS soldier Andy Richards is no stranger to horrors, but no training could ever have prepared him for the nightmare unfolding at home. While a viral epidemic hammers London, Andy finds himself trapped in the epicenter, forced to protect his family. Together with his young daughter, he leads a small group of survivors toward latent refuge, all the while searching for his missing son and infantryman; this is the ultimate game of survival.
With those infected displaying brutal, inhuman behavior and caught up in a climate of martial law, no one can be trusted. Old connections may help to unravel this mystery virus, but the resultant hellscape means Andy and his group meet danger at every turn.
Stakes are high, and failing means a fate worse than death…
The perfect tale for troubled times, Capital Falling delivers dark thrills and surprising sentiment—twisted, cerebral fun. You’ll race to the end like your life depends on it…
Targeted Age Group:: 25-50
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always wanted to try writing a novel, I am a single father and when my daughter was younger I spent a lot of time by myself while she was in bed etc, I had an idea for a book so I decided to use this time constructively and give writing a go!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters were driven by the story line but had heavy influences by my personal circumstances and some of the people I knew.
A massive blast hits, the wall on my right exploding. The force blasts me sideways off my feet, and I'm hitting the ground hard, covered in rubble. My head is spinning, ringing.
Bullets screech overhead, thudding into the wall behind me, enshrouding me and in yet more debris and cloying dust, my nostrils and throat now thick with concrete, slowly choking me.
Another RPG hits the outside wall; the explosion is huge and the two men taking cover there are instantly gone, blown apart as if they'd just been a mirage, their bodies scattered fragments plastered in the dust of unimaginable–but thankfully, fleeting–agony.
Then I'm suddenly staring through the dry dust haze at a crescent moon with bright twinkling stars beneath it–exactly where the wall used to be. And then reality floods back. The twinkling stars are bloody muzzle flashes sending more shit our way.
"Andy, Andy, you okay? Andy, talk to me, wanker!"
Rick is standing over me, shouting. He grabs my arm, pulling me free, tugging me out from beneath lumps of brick and shards of wood, bullets still thudding by my head and into what is left of the wall. I give him the thumbs-up, about all I can manage. Now, kneeling on the floor in amongst the debris, looking up at him, no words coming.
This is not the first time he has had my back, a favour which is returned by me on a regular basis. His face is matted in dirt and dust and his helmet is black, singed from the explosion, but the lucky bastard still has that reassuring look on his face, as if nothing is going to touch us!
Then, WHAP–Rick's face erupts outwards covering my own face and chest in his blood and brain matter, and bone.
"Rick!" I scream, "Rick!"
"Daddy! Dad, Dad."
Sitting bolt upright, covered in sweat and my whole body shaking, I'm in bed, and I cry out still. But I hear only, "Dad."
Throwing my covers back as my hand trembles clutching onto them, I hustle myself from my warm cocoon and stumble–still shaking–my skin wet and cold, quivering in the darkness.
Quickly, I go into Emily's room and from the glow of her nightlight, see her sitting up in her bed, gazing at me, worry and concern etched on her face.
"Daddy, I heard you shouting out again in your sleep. You were calling for Rick."
"I know sweetie. I'm sorry I woke you again. I try to stop it, you know."
I feel helpless and ridiculous.
Sitting on the edge of her bed now, she simply looks up to me, smiling. Smiling like always.
"Well, they were just dreams again, Dad. You're home now, with me–and I've got school in the morning."
I can't help but smile back; my daughter is eleven years old, but sometimes, I wonder who is looking after whom?
"Yes, sweetie, we both need to go back to sleep or neither of us will be up in the morning." Emily frowns and tells me she will make sure we are up in time.
Emily lies down, cuddling into Sarah, her small ragdoll, her oldest friend. She closes her eyes. Pulling her quilt up over her and looking down at her beautiful face, I instantly think how lucky I am. I lean over, kissing her on the forehead, whispering night, night. But she is silent, already drifting back off to sleep.
Closing her bedroom door to, I sneak one last peek at my daughter and leave a small gap, just the way she likes it. I'm not sure whether this is so I can hear her, or she can hear me, I think.
Going into the bathroom and turning on the light, I go over to the basin, lean down into it and drink cold water straight from the tap, refreshing my dry mouth. Looking up, my tired reflection stares back from the mirror; Jesus, I look terrible.
I'm sure I used to get a better night's sleep in my cot in the deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan than now, and my thoughts immediately return to my pal, Rick.
Rick and I met on the first day of Royal Marine Recruit Training. I was on the young side of nineteen years and he was a year or so older. When Rick and I met and throughout our training, we didn't get on for the longest time. Rick was definitely the alpha male of our intake and could act like a know-it-all dickhead sometimes. Well, often.
He excelled, it seemed, in every aspect of the training, an outstanding athlete, marksman and tactician–but most of all, he was a commanding leader. He rubbed most of us other recruits up the wrong way, Rick was a perfectionist in every small thing he did.
None of us could deny, however, that he was a top soldier and–don't get me wrong–the rest of us were no slouches, especially me. Being a Royal Marine Commando was the job I had always dreamed of, and I ran him close in most areas, occasionally even beating him. Rick was a natural, however, born to fight.
When we completed our Marine training, we both happened to be assigned to 42 Commando at Bickleigh Barracks near Plymouth in Devon, on the glorious English south coast. After originally cursing my bad luck at being posted with him over the coming years, deployments and tours, Rick and I became mates at first, then friends, then the very best of friends.
We had been through the shit together both on and off operations, and it followed naturally that he'd be my best man when I married Jessica, later to become the mother of my children. And it had definitely been his idea, too, for the two of us to pass selection–not try, but pass–and join the SAS, even though he would swear that it was all my doing.
I look again at myself in the mirror. I had better try and get some sleep, I tell myself as I walk back to my bedroom. Somewhere in the distance, in this sprawling City of London, I can hear a siren howling away–or is it two sirens?
I smile to myself as I get into my still warm bed, thinking of Emily again. Am I Daddy or Dad now? She's growing up so quickly and I should know how time flies since her big brother is now twenty-three.
My heart sinks, however, when thinking of Jessica, their mother, and of what became of us.
My phone alarm shrieks into my left ear, rudely ejecting me from slumber and into a deep sense of stress. Who knew that the sound of a Sea Breeze could become so fucking annoying?
I swipe snooze and just lie looking up at the ceiling, the early September morning sun seeping in through the cracks in the curtains. In the back of my mind, I register that the siren I could hear the night before is still whining away somewhere off in the distance, but it's now been joined by at least one other.
My thoughts, it's sad to say as I lie there, rest on the daily battle to get through the dreadful London traffic to drop Emily to school and then the rush to get to the office at a decent time. I still find it amazing how mundane, 'normal' life just takes over, trying to fill in the gaps of what went before as if it never happened at all.
A year after becoming a civilian, some five-plus years ago now, I joined a private security firm in the city. An old Marine mate of mine–Dan, Dan Atkins–had talked me into contacting them. He was sure that with my skill set, as he called it, I would be a 'shoe in' for one of their constantly available security contractor positions, more commonly known as a bodyguard role. As for me, I wasn't at all sure that security contracting or close protection was the type of work I even wanted to get into, since what had happened with Jessica had somewhat erased the shine from it all. She'd decided she 'wanted to do something different with her life', even after I'd resigned my commission from the army in a last-ditch attempt to save our marriage.
That decision had sealed my fate. Suddenly, I'd found myself thrust into the life of a civvy, and what's more, I was wifeless, aimless, jobless, and, unusually for me, income-less. But there was no immediate time to mull on it all; I had lost a wife and gained responsibility for the kids–in one fell swoop.
I had to become both mother and father to Emily and, to a lesser extent, to Josh too; although he was older, our son still lived with us when not on duty with his regiment at Woolwich Barracks in London.
One thing was clear; the security contractor thing hardly fitted into any sensible plans. But then again, I wasn't sure I even had plans, let alone sensible ones. I did already know, however, that a bodyguard's life was incompatible with children and childcare, and with normality itself. There were the odd and unpredictable hours to consider, stints away from home, the poor communications and occasionally dodgy Wi-Fi–hardly a good thing when trying to discuss a school report with a teacher–and then, of course, there was the danger. Those were only some of the reasons it couldn't work out, and my children now had to come first. Even if I'd taken work in the U.K., the nature of the job and its schedule were still demanding, volatile and thankless. Nobody would let you knock off early if the kids had a crisis. So that was that.
And so, against all better judgment, I went ahead anyway. Old habits, and all that. I decided to contact the company to satisfy a curiosity, to see exactly what type of contractors they were looking for. Well, what else was I going to do? I only knew one thing; how to be a bloody good soldier. So, I emailed my CV to a contact Dan had given me at Orion Security. A day later, their phone call came in, inviting me to go in for a 'meeting' as they put it. And the very next day, they phoned me again and asked me to attend another. And so it went.
It was at that second meeting that I was offered a position. But it was not as a bodyguard, and no one could have been more surprised than I was.
Sea Breeze again wafts into my ears and I quickly lean over and, this time, swipe cancel. So much for Emily making sure we were up on time! Swinging my legs out of bed, I get up and go and throw open the curtains. The sun bursts into my bedroom, making my eyes squint momentarily.
Looking out over the suburbs, it looks like it's going to be a gloriously sunny day, thankfully. We have had a few of these lately as the summer draws to an end. In the distance is the city, and even the Shard–the tallest building in London–looks minuscule from here.
Closer, and just to the right of the skyscrapers, something catches my eye. Something burning? A tall smoke plume rises into the sky, billowing, the sky directly overhead turning grey in apparent relentless anger. Surely, this can't be where the sound of the sirens is coming from? It's too far away to pick up from here, yet the size of the plume tells me it must be a pretty big blaze. Maybe I'll see more of it, up closer, on the way to the office. Ha, that's if it's not the office that's on fire! I grin, knowing I shouldn't–but doing it anyway. Turning away from the window, I head for a shower.
A hot shower is one of life's luxuries–privileges, even. Believe me, when you have been without one for sometimes weeks or even months on end, these are things you will always appreciate. The bathroom door opens, and I can just about make out a smallish figure through the steamed-up, frosted glass. It's moving towards the toilet.
"Morning, sweetie," I call out and just about hear Emily's tired low grunt of a reply. "Make sure you brush your teeth and wash your face," I call, again hearing just a low huff of a response. It's fair to say my Emily is not much of a morning person.
A morning shower to wake her would take far too long for Emily, what with drying her long blonde curls; that is always a job for the evening before she goes to bed. Still just a child, I marvel at how she already takes care of her hair as only a woman could. I think of how pretty she looks perched on the edge of the bed, loosening the errant strands as she eases them through her fingertips with one hand, the hairdryer clutched in the other.
With a towel wrapped around my waist, I go back into my bedroom to check the time and glance out the window at the smoke as I go. There is now a second plume, the first looking like it's increased in size. And the second–well, the second seems too far away from the first to even be the same fire. My mind contorts, trying to work it out.
Reaching for the television remote, I press 1, for BBC Breakfast News, where a panicked, perhaps over-zealous reporter covers the fire live, while a rolling on-screen ticker-tape provides the breaking news. The man stands immediately in front of a police cordon, while there in the background, the smoke rises and gathers an eerie momentum. It looks to be a major incident, whatever it is, but coming from my own background, I still think the reporter's hoarsely-elevated voice and panic are overkill. I leave the report to play in the background, dropping the volume somewhat. The good old BBC will be sure to run this same piece all day, over and over, ad infinitum. They sure know how to do a story to death. The two renditions of Sea Breeze were quite enough repetition for one day.
After throwing the TV remote on the bed, I go into Emily's room to get her school uniform ready for her and see if she needs any help. Her bedroom door is still slightly ajar and I softly push it open wider; she is already nearly dressed, not needing her dad at all.
"Is that the clean uniform I ironed last night?" I ask her.
"Yeeesss, Dad," she says turning towards me, her face suddenly scrunching up. "Dad, can't you put a top on, I don't like to see your scars and everything!"
I laugh. "I'll get dressed, then I'll get you some breakfast," I go back into my bedroom, sit on the end of the bed and concentrate again on the TV.
What I see on the television news, while sitting on the end of my bed in my towel, is unbelievable, even for an ex-military man like myself.
The reporter, still broadcasting live from the scene, is in his early to mid-thirties with curly dark hair. He is panicked, bearing the look of a man afraid for his life, a look with which I'm very familiar.
From the corner of Marble Arch and looking down the length of Oxford Street, a police cordon with barriers blocks off Oxford Street's nearest end. And it's ominously empty of people from about ten meters ahead of him.
"At approximately 12.30 a.m. this morning, a fire broke out at what is described as a Secret Government Storage Facility, in some way connected to the Ministry of Defence. And it's said that the fire caused the release of some kind of toxin, virus or disease that is, as yet, unidentified," he says, his eyes wide and his raised voice showing obvious distress.
"As a precaution, the police have cordoned off a large part of the centre of London, with all roads closed and there is no access in or out from the cordoned-off area."
"It is my understanding," he goes on, "that the release is highly contagious but not airborne, meaning that whatever the release is, it is not in the air and cannot be breathed in.
"The Government has issued a statement informing all members of the public in the Greater London area to stay indoors, both inside the cordoned-off area and outside it until the situation is under control. So, wherever you are now–if you are inside, stay there, and if you are on the streets, go to the nearest safe place inside and remain there until further notice.
"The Government has also issued an order for all schools and other public facilities, all businesses and places of work in the Greater London area to close for the day. So, do not attempt to travel."
Behind the reporter, the police at the cordon suddenly spring into action and start to open the barrier blocking off the access to Oxford Street.
The reporter stops dead in the middle of his report, his head turning slightly to the right; he is obviously looking at something. His lips keep moving slightly as if he is about to say something, while an audible rumbling comes through the TV. His head moves to the right slightly more, as if he is following something.
I know what is coming before it even appears, as I know the sound all too well. The television camera swings towards the source of the rumbling and from the left of the TV screen, a Challenger 2 tank appears, its massive tracks looking like they will tear up the road's tarmac.
The tank rumbles past the reporter, heading directly towards the now open barrier of the police cordon. Immediately behind the Challenger, following in tight formation, come five Bulldog personnel carriers, each of which will be carrying at least ten combat-ready troops. The Bulldogs are then followed by two Warrior armoured vehicles, their gun turrets pointing forwards. Then more Bulldogs come.
An Apache Attack helicopter flies overhead slightly in the distance, providing aerial cover. The column keeps coming. There are other vehicles and personnel carriers in the column, more tanks and more Apaches flying overhead.
This is serious, I have no doubt about that now.
There is no way the powers-that-be would be imposing a curfew on the whole of Greater London and putting this much hardware and personnel into the middle of London if there wasn't an active, extremely high threat. For Christ's sake, an armoured column is snaking down bloody Oxford Street for the whole world to see on television!
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