Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Machineries of Mercy by Tim Major

Release date: October 23, 2018
Subgenre: Dytopian YA

About Machineries of Mercy:


It's a beautiful day in the village of Touchstone.

The birds are singing. Everyone is happy.

Everyone except Ethan.

The England he knows is broken and dangerous.

But perhaps Touchstone is more dangerous still.




MERCY. The word hung in the air, riveted to the arch of the wrought-iron gateway.
“You brought a mask or something, right?” Lex tugged down her headscarf so that it covered the upper part of her face, then arranged it so that she could see through the eyeholes cut into the blood-red fabric. She watched as Ethan pulled a balaclava from the pocket of his duffel coat. “Don’t just stand there holding it.”
The balaclava was bulky but too small for the kid. It looked itchy too. Lex imagined that Ethan’s mum might have knitted it. Still, one good thing about the balaclava being so thick was that it would muffle the sound of shouting from the street. Ethan had actually been shaking as Lex had led him here through the alleys.
“And do you have something for me?” She held out a hand.
Ethan stared at her blankly.
“The card?”
Ethan patted each of his coat pockets in turn. Then, with a guilty expression—he must have known where it was all along—he produced the identity card from the breast pocket of his shirt. He cradled it protectively before passing it over. Lex glanced at the photo above the strip of patterned black blocks. Cecil Wright looked almost exactly like his son, only more plump. He had the same worried expression.
“It’ll be all right,” Lex said. “He’ll never know.” She swiped the card through the slot of a silver device attached to the gatepost. The gate swung open. She smiled. “Don’t expect it all to be that easy.”
Mercy’s headquarters was a tall, wide building in the centre of the walled compound. Gleaming metal struts broke up the expanses of tinted glass.
“Won’t our footprints give us away?” Ethan pointed back the way they had come. They had left deep tracks in the snow.
“We’ll be long gone before anyone spots them. Anyway, we haven’t broken in, so nobody will have been alerted. You don’t have a criminal record, do you?”
Ethan gaped at her. It was clear that the idea horrified him.
Lex noticed flickers of movement against the dark walls of the building. CCTV cameras, adjusting their angle to observe them. They wouldn’t have long, but Ethan didn’t need to know that.
The muffled yells, thuds and splintering noises from the street increased in intensity. Bricks meeting glass. Ethan spun around in alarm.
Lex gripped his shoulder, making him flinch again. “Cool it. The only reason Mercy get away with having their HQ smack-bang in the city centre is because nobody with any sense would come anywhere near.”
Nobody with any sense. She felt a sudden wave of sympathy for Ethan. How old was he? Fourteen? Fifteen? Only a few years younger than her—her nineteenth birthday had come and gone without her acknowledging it—but he’d lived a far more sheltered life than she had. She felt twice his age.
“I had no idea it was this bad,” Ethan said, nodding towards the sounds of rioting.
“Yeah. I blame the government.” Lex grinned. “I’m guessing it isn’t like this behind the Gates.”


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About Tim Major:

Tim Major’s novels and novellas include You Don’t Belong Here, Blighters and Carus & Mitch and he has also published a monograph about the silent crime film, Les Vampires. His SF thriller about spontaneous clones, Snakeskins, will be published by Titan Books in spring 2019. Tim’s short stories have appeared in Interzone, Not One of Us and numerous anthologies, including Best of British Science Fiction and The Best Horror of the Year.


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