Prologue To A Novel By Mark Cantrell
Copyright (c) 2000
WHEN Edward Wilton stepped out of his front door, there was nothing to
show that the day would be anything but ordinary.
It was a fine summer's day. The air tasted good, with the morning's
first ejaculation of pollen. The wind brought with it the heavy tang of
a summer storm, of moisture laden air, but the clouds were still
brooding over the distant hills that overlooked the city.
Some might take that broiling mass of highly charged air as a bad sign.
Not Edward. Ever since he could remember, he loved the exhilaration of
a good thunderstorm. Even now, he could feel that energy building up
inside his own body, crackling down his nerves to power up his own
sense of excitement. And when the clouds unleashed their pent up rage,
it brought a sense of euphoria, of revelry in the power of nature;
storms were a heavenly symphony of the elements.
Rebecca hurled herself towards him with the tempestuous enthusiasm that
only a six-year-old can muster. She slammed into his knees with a force
that almost knocked him to the ground, but he used that childish
momentum to sweep his little girl into his arms and lift her high. She
giggled and wriggled, and released the laughter from his own
Sara followed at a more sedate pace from the cool interior of the
house. She folded her arms, leaned against the doorframe and smiled.
"Careful, darling! He's not as young as he used to be."
"Not as old, surely," he said, adopting a mock frown.
She smiled with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes and mouthed her love
for him. He pulled his daughter close and moved to put his free arm
around Sara's waist. She felt good as she moved closer, and the smell
of her showered and perfumed body added nuance to the passionate
He kissed her with a lingering motion. "Love you!" Then he turned and
pecked his daughter on the cheek. "And you!" Rebecca giggled loudly and
wriggled until she was in her mother's arms.
Part of his mind whispered that he was too old for this kind of
display. The warmth inside his heart said otherwise. Meeting Sara was
the best thing that ever happened to him. Rebecca's arrival completed
the entirety of his new-found happiness.
Until he met Sara, he never realised there was a gap in his life, or
that he was unhappy. As a young man, he had always felt awkward around
women, never sure how to handle himself. Quite unlike the self-assured
man he was in business and commercial circles
The result was he never found anyone, and eventually concluded he never
would. Unlike his peers - who married, divorced and grew bitter - he
threw himself into his career, and climbed the ranks. Then -
unexpectedly - he met Sara. She was one of the young analysts. She
worked for him in a distant kind of way, and he never knew of her
existence until they met in a lift of all places, both going to their
"Which floor?" she politely enquired, taking him for just another of
the middle managers. When he told her, she became obviously nervous.
How often had she accompanied senior management, let alone the vice
president of the bank - as he was then - on their way to the upper
echelons of power?
Something about her manner amused him and he found himself
automatically trying to make her feel at ease. It proved difficult to
prise conversation out of her; not that she wasn't talking, quite the
contrary. He recognised the interview-speak immediately, the well
considered words, chosen to convey a striking image of the speaker,
without saying anything that might be turned around and thrown
When they arrived at her floor, he held the lift for a while so he
could continue the conversation. It was innocent enough, but he still
had his position to consider. Offices were terrible rumour machines. He
kept their conversation as business-like as possible, trying to convey
the image of management taking a friendly - but platonic interest - in
a new staff member. Yet, he knew there was something more. He was
amazed to find himself assessing Sara at more than the professional
level. What's more, he felt her assessing him in the same way.
On impulse, he asked her to lunch. She turned him down, with what
seemed like a trivial excuse. After the initial dismay, he found
himself both amused and intrigued. Later, he found an invitation to
lunch on his internal mail. For the look of it, he left the reply for a
couple of days before accepting the proposal. Sara's voice was filled
with a mixture of surprise and nervousness. Edward discovered an
entirely new avenue in life - what's more he found himself enjoying
"We really must be going, Sir." Jenkins suddenly pulled him from the
depths of fond memories, snapping smartly to attention. Edward sighed
inwardly. Duty called. Irksome to be so reminded by the staff. He
casually acknowledged his chauffeur and turned to kiss Sara goodbye.
She murmured her appreciation, while her wandering hands promised him a
warm welcome on his return.
Reluctantly, he broke off and strolled towards the car. Jenkins held
the door for him. He took his usual glance back to his young family
before sliding inside.
"Bye, bye, Daddy!"
"Bye, Darling. See you soon!"
He waved back until the smoked glass window obscured him from his
family's view. He continued to watch them through the glass. Sara took
hold of Rebecca's hand and took her back into the house to get ready
for school. Rebecca hopped and skipped by her mother's side and Edward
felt the smile warm his face.
The smooth interior of the limousine felt cool and refreshing. The
faint scent of leather tantalised his nose, adding nuance to the summer
flavours still lingering in the air from outside. He settled into the
seat and flicked open his briefcase. Rebecca's latest painting from
school greeted him with its childish hues and a six-year-old's strange
perception of the human body. Lifting the picture, he held it up to the
light and gently nodded his head. It would make a good addition to the
gallery developing in his office.
Edward felt the car rock slightly with the chauffeur's weight and he
sighed at the prospect of another day in the office. Perhaps he would
phone home later, and arrange to meet Sara for an extended lunch. They
could take in a gallery or two, or go to the theatre. Edward reached
out to close his briefcase; his movement synchronised with the driver's
motion to touch the ignition stud.
The very last thing Edward saw was the light rushing to engulf him as
an explosion smothered the two human occupants in a ball of fire. The
pressure mingled the two men's remains over the neighbourhood. Only
close forensic examination ensured the right remains ended up in the
Rebecca and Sara came running out of the house to find burning debris
scattered on the lawn. The child stared at the dying embers of her
father's life and asked where Daddy had gone. Sara couldn't answer,
only scream as she took in the wreckage of her life.
Days later, they found the charred drawing lodged in the branches of a
TO this day, nobody knows who planted the bomb that killed Edward
Wilton. Another mystery is how the assassins managed to penetrate the
security that was an ever present and largely invisible shield around
In the aftermath of the bombing, Martial Law was hurriedly declared.
The police and the local militia brutally cracked down on all forms of
opposition. A wave of fear gripped Greyermede, already depressed share
values slumped even further, and the whole planet held its breath as it
pondered what - or who - would be next.
Perpetrators needed to be found. That was the only certainty. Politics
played its part, and an enemy was quickly found and accused. A hitherto
little known political party shot to the front pages. For the first
time, much of Middle Greyermede heard the name of the Greyermede
Communist Party (GCP).
Assassinations were nothing new. There had been a spate of them in
recent years. None of them had involved such high profile figures as
Edward Wilton; the slaying of the President of the Central Bank sent
shockwaves that would inevitably be felt throughout the colonies to
reach the Mother World itself.
So it began, but just then, nobody knew what was about to engulf
WHAT erupted on Greyermede and further afield, is merely a chapter in
the age-old human story. It began long ago on a distant world on the
rim of the galaxy we call the Milky Way. Ten millennia of civil war
took humanity to the stars; and to new worlds on which to enact this
Too long in the distant past for this book. We must start much later.
The beginning could be said to have arrived before Edward's untimely
demise; emerging from the economic turbulence sweeping the advanced
worlds and the political tremors that followed in its wake. Even that
is far too early for our story to begin.
The end of Edward Wilton must be our beginning. His assassination was a
point of change, a qualitative shift in the pattern of events that
would touch everybody on this world - and many more beyond. The storm
had broken, in an unexpected place, and it was the tempest of an
age-old human dream leaping into flesh.
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