Tim Lebbon’s latest book The Silence is coming soon from Titan Books.
“In the darkness of a underground cave, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, voices, and they feed… Swarming from their prison, the creatures thrive; to whisper is to summon death. As the hordes lay waste to Europe, a girl watches to see if they will cross the sea. Deaf for years, she knows how to live in silence; now, it is her family’s only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others. But what kind of world will be left?”
Here’s an exclusive extract from The Silence…
“Several deaths are reported in a caving accident in northern Moldova. The Discovery Channel was broadcasting a live transmission from the site when the accident happened. There is no indication that Discovery Channel employees are among the dead. The nature of the accident is unclear, and claims that “creatures” were seen emerging from the cave have yet to be independently verified. Dr Kyrylo Orlyk (Moldova State University, Chișinău) who saw the footage from the scene says, “It’s quite evident that a scientific expedition, or perhaps the coverage of that expedition, has been hijacked by publicity hounds seeking coverage for some as-yet unnamed media event.”
— Reuters, Friday, 18 November 2016
I surfaced from one of those nightmares that follows the sleeper into reality. As sleep faded and my whole life rushed in—reminding me of the person I was, my mind once again rescuing itself from the endless void that dreams can become—the monsters were still there. Normally I could not identify them, nor could I really say what they looked like. They were just a presence, a background threat, a weight behind every waking moment, and with them came the usual soundtrack to my nightmares: the screeching of brakes.
The screech went on and on, as it sometimes did when I was having a nightmare. It didn’t matter what the bad dreams were about; they were always about the accident. This time it was different. Trying to open my eyes, squinting against the dawn sunlight that pierced through a crack in the curtains, I saw one of those ambiguous flying shapes circling the fragmenting landscape of my dream. Its mouth was open. It emitted an endless, limitless screech of desperate car brakes, and I hauled myself up at last to escape the inevitable crash.
I sat up quickly in bed, and silence smothered the dregs of my nightmare. It was so unfair that the only times I could hear were in the grip of my worst dreams.
I looked around my bedroom. I loved that room. Beside my bed was the iPad that linked me to the world. My small desk was awash with sketches, notes, open schoolbooks, other bits and pieces. There were several posters on the walls, ranging from a stunning Canadian landscape to a cartoon version of that summer’s Olympic Games in Rio. My guitar stood on its stand in the corner; clothes were strewn at the foot of the wardrobe; and in one corner lay the mixed chaos of my constantly changing sporting preferences—a hockey stick, running shoes, basketball. I sighed, breathing away the bad dreams. Just a nightmare, I thought. That’s all.
Touching the tablet screen, several messages popped up from friends. One of them glowed red—I’d given one name that distinctive tint—and I felt my own cheeks flushing the same colour. Rob had messaged during the night. He might not have been my best friend, but he was my best boy friend. Dad took the mickey out of me about that. But that’s all he was, a mate, and something of a special one. Apart from my best friend Lucy, he was the only other kid in school who could sign.
I opened Rob’s message.
Don’t ever ask me to go caving with you.
I frowned, and everything rushed back in. Not a dream at all, I thought, and I remembered all the fears and doubts of the night before.Watching the strange, confused news item had been bad enough. There was little detail, and the snippet of film they showed again and again was nowhere near as distressing as what I’d been watching live on the Discovery Channel. The people in charge of the news reports must have decided that most of the footage was too traumatic to show.
But as well as that, there had been the troubling atmosphere between Mum and Lynne. They had been sitting close together, and the tension that I’d felt between them when I’d entered the room had not dissipated. I had become very sensitive to atmosphere and emotion. Sometimes Mum said it was because of my deafness, but I didn’t think that was the case at all. Maybe I did compensate in some ways, but empathy and an ability to sense the emotional load of a situation had always been with me.
Later that evening I’d asked my mother what was wrong, but she’d simply shaken her head and kissed me goodnight.