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First pages

Library

Prologue

The dogs had been acting oddly for a while and now they were hiding under the kitchen table whining. Bang! At the exact instant the window slammed shut we plunged into complete darkness. I groped through the blackout to the shelf by the back door and the searchlight torch beam shone out across the kitchen.

I dropped the latch but even though all the windows were now firmly closed the wind was howling. The barrage rapidly grew louder like a jet fighter taking off, only greater, deeper. It sounded like a lot of battle tanks coming through the back field. We were under attack but even in the Army I had never heard such a loud noise. Louder than mortar or cannon fire, much louder than a chinook, probably on a par with an artillery barrage from the First World War. The huge deep noise and the low rumbling made my guts vibrate. Much greater than the strong winds and storms normally lived through up here on the mountain. The candles were soon burning in jam jars in the kitchen.

Despite having good night vision I couldn't see a thing outside until I turned the torch on to reveal three rats on the patio. We don't usually see many up here, they tend to stay in the valley below. These didn't run off straight away but stared back at us. What was going on? Very odd! As I crossed the backlawn and turned for the stable yard the wind really hit. The noise seemed to be coming from the valley just behind the stables. It was like a lot of trains hurtling up the valley. What is going on?

In the stables the horses were spinning round and round, rearing, terrified. Now I felt scared.

At the fence at the top of the slope I shone the torch down the bank into the valley. There was no valley! Rushing past me, the wrong way; a river of trees, broken bits of wood, rubbish, odd yellow shipping containers and occasionally a body. There were cars, lorries and bits of buildings but mostly there was wood. Whole trees, trunks, branches, twigs and matchwood. There were bits of fences and rooves. All churned up and packed together in that maelstrom. A rat, the only living thing I saw, clinging to a shattered tree as it sailed past. Things suddenly appeared in the beam and were then whisked off again into the darkness.

It suddenly struck me that we were 300 metres up so a lot of people were dead. The majority of people! The water was thundering past us faster than you could run, exploding up the valley. It must be a tsunami. In Wales! Everything going round and round as it shot past. If you were in there you would be ripped to shreds. Bayoneted.

The water slowed but kept on rising. It was marching across the yard now, advancing towards the stables. I thought about releasing the horses but hesitated because they would certainly bolt and hurt themselves. Suddenly, abruptly, the noise changed. Quieter and not so deep because the rush had stopped. A filthy lake, more debris than water but a lake that filled the huge valley to the top. A white plastic bucket floating past, picked out in the torch beam for a few seconds, then spinning away back into the darkness. A small boat, miraculously looking undamaged. Debris spinning, colliding, bashing, sinking and rising. All grinding but so much quieter than before it seemed as though the noise had stopped, like I'd gone deaf. The flotsam floating on the top was resting on and being pushed up by a mass of churning... well, mostly wood but mixed up with everything.

After some time the water started to retreat and the noise level rose again. Debris left with the water. I saw the bucket and the small boat go back down. Briefly reappearing in the torch beam and then gone again. Once I helplessly saw a half submerged car with a person in. I couldn't see any movement. I have no idea if they were alive or dead. Like a ghost gliding past. One second there, so close, and just as suddenly gone. Disappeared.

The noise was still loud and deep but it didn't have that gut-wrenching quality of before. The horses would be safer where they were as the water level was dropping.

I drove over to the Hogan's farm and looked down the road off the other side of the mountain. The headlights picked out the jumble and it looked the same as our side. We were cut off! The mountain top was an island and the car radio dead.

Back in the kitchen the whole family and our guests surrounded by candles in jam jars. I fetched an atlas from the hall bookcase. "We are three hundred metres high. If these tidal waves have affected the whole country then all the big cities have gone. London for a start." Dave went even whiter - "40 million people?" "Yes, and Swansea and Cardiff, Liverpool. Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Southampton, Plymouth, all the big cities. Most, the majority of the population"

"So what's left?"

"Apart from us? A few people on top of mountains in the rest of Wales and Scotland. Maybe some in places like Sheffield. The Cotswolds, the Peak district, I don't know but not much. Look at the atlas - all those brown bits on the map - where very few people live."

"So what can we do?"

"No electricity, no mobile phones, no internet, no radio. We look after us."

Later that morning on the car radio we picked up an emergency message on behalf of HM Government. Huge tsunamis probably caused by a meteorite or meteorites had devestated large parts of the UK and Europe. Infrastructure was destroyed. No help coming. More meteorites could be on their way. More tsunamis could happen. If you were on high ground and had survived the first strike then stay put. If you were on lower ground and had somehow lived through it then try and go higher. Find food and shelter.

It was official, we were on our own.

Chapter 1

I left the dimness of the forest and threaded my way along the bank of the stream until I found the place. I knew it was the right place, I could feel her, her and her hunger. Shafts of sunlight shone down through the willow trees and off to my right a green caterpillar twirled at the end of a sparkly silver silk. The only way it could go now was down, down to the waiting minnows. A huge green dragonfly whizzed backwards around the thread and then shot off after mosquitoes.

The yellow and reddy-brown leaves, the first of Fall, gently drifted down with the meandering current on their short journey to the sea. Some of these slowly spinning ships carried small spiders and beetles. Fish would be waiting for them in the faster shallows and rapids downstream; just as I was looking for my prey.

I looked past the surface to the sandy bottom with the vivid green patches of weed moving gently in the current. Shoals of small fry darted in and out of the weed across the clear runs. Drowned leaves tumbled past, twisting and turning like small golden fish. Sometimes they settled for a second before continuing their journey. Caddis crawled around in their tubular shells of grit and plant stalks, only visible when they moved. There was a pile of sunken leaves below the undercut where the current had piled them. They moved gently, but not with the current, invisible eels crawled through looking for worms and any washed up morsels. A good spot to come back and set a willow withy fish trap.

THE WEAPONS ARE IN PLACE.

ALL THE CONNECTED ARE IN PLACE.

TONIGHT THEN.

AGREED. THIS MAKES SO MUCH MORE SENSE THAN ALL THE OTHER WAYS WE HAVE TRIED.

This sort of thing happens to me quite often. Over the years I have become accustomed to it and now I actually enjoy working out what it is all about. Sometimes it is pictures and then it can be obvious such as when I saw the man harvesting buddleia. Sometimes I understand straight away and sometimes it takes a while. I'm sure it would drive a lot of other people mad. Perhaps I am a bit mad?

 

Underneath the bank she hung watching the shiny spinner sink lower. Suddenly the minnows were gone and she was there, clear against the yellowy, sunny background. She started to rise effortlessly, nearer and nearer to the surface.

Keep on watching, don’t look anywhere else.

Slowly I crouched by the bank, peeped through an iris and slipped my left hand into the water. I could smell the river, the mud it carried and the life in it. Rich and earthy but different to damp earth, one of my favourite smells.

Don’t be afraid, watch the caterpillar.

I willed her not to notice my hand. I reached further down and along, upstream along her green and black mottled side until my fingers were next to the gills. Gills that opened and closed in a regular rhythm showing the blood-red rakers inside.

Keep still.

In one move I swung my fingers into the gills and up onto the bank. The pike flapped until I knocked it on the head with a stick. She was nearly four feet long and would be tea tonight and breakfast tomorrow. I grinned, hefted her and guessed her weight at fifteen pounds.

“Big brother, how can you do that every time?” he grinned back at me.

“It’s a gift. We need to get back now to meet our visitor.”

“Arun, how do you always feel it when we have visitors? What is it with you?”

It was much stronger than a feeling. Somehow I just knew.

Using my knife I quickly gutted the pike by the bank and made the offering to the eels under that pile of sunken leaves on the bend below the current. That's where I would set the weighted trap next time. This offering would be a guarantee to keep the river happy so we could catch again. She had given us one of her own and I had returned the compliment. I cut off a thin piece of willow and threaded it through the gills to make it easier to carry the fish back home. You can carry them by the gills but they are rough and a heavy fish like this will cut into your fingers after a while.

It has to be one of the best feelings to return after a successful hunt. You mustn't take pleasure in the killing. You can pride yourself on a job well done and a quick kill that causes little or no suffering but not the actual death. It is right because we have to eat and after all, rarely did a fish die of old age.

Rob and I followed the path along the bank and past the butterfly shrouded burdock beds. Some of the butterflies were the brightest blue, brighter than any sky or sea, yet I'd never seen their caterpillars. What do they eat? There was so much life and joy in the world. There was so much that I didn't know.

We headed back to the caves, the warmest, driest holes in any of the clay banks in this area. Long before we could see them we could smell the woodsmoke, it was home, safe.

We arrived at the same time as Richard. His old travelling cloak looked worn and stained. Tall with long fair hair and beard but tired looking, more so than the last time he was here. About forty I would guess if I had to. It was hard to tell. He seemed ageless. No, I wasn't confident about that forty. He could be a lot older. What about younger? I bet you've looked like that all your life.

I gave Mum the pike and she filled the cavity with a herb and mushroom mix before wrapping it in burdock leaves and putting it on the slate above the fire. The cooking fire was low, perfect to cook on. Dad asked about news from around the area and Richard told about good harvests, births and betrothals. He gave Mum some potatoes he had carried with him. You could see from the turmoil on his face that Dad couldn’t decide whether to let Mum cook them or save them for planting. I know he wished there were more but even if there were he would still face the same dilemma. We were having beans with the pike. Unlike potatoes we did have plenty of beans. Dried beans shrink and are really hard so they have to be soaked for two days before cooking. They contain protein and have made a huge difference to our diet. Originally we grew them up sticks and ate the green pods with immature beans in them. They were good for fibre and carbohydrate but little else. We used to save a few each year for seed and we often had more than we could find sticks for. To be honest finding the long sticks was a pain. A few years ago I had a dream where I saw the climbing beans growing along the ground and the pods were left to allow the beans to mature. It was the same man and his family that I had seen making coracles and fish traps. I saw beans gathered, shelled and dried on trays in a room with a fire in a metal box. We couldn't make enough large wooden trays so we decided to dry them in the sun. After one mistake where one batch went mouldy during the winter we now have it down to a fine art.

Succulent white meat, some stained with mushroom juice, which crumbled and fell into flakes; Roast burdock roots from our patch on the edge of the forest, beans, blackberries and apples. Who could want anything more? I love late Summer and Fall. You know Winter is on the way and you get ready. If we reach our target of six hundred apples we know the Winter and spring will be good. Ruby red rose hips high in vitamin C are collected and split open. You have to scrape out the itchy berries and quickly wash the peel before you dry it. This can be added to meals or chewed in front of the fire. Drying beans, shallots and garlic on hides and sheets in the sun so they don't go mouldy in storage. Drying grass and leaves to make the bedding for the winter. We have some wool but it is nicer if we add to it and make it thicker. The leaves break down after a while but the dried grass and wool are still really comfy to lie on. The race to gather everything in if the sky starts to darken and dim. Dad offering little prayers and pleadings to the Sun. His quick anger if one of us says something stupid like, "well it's a bit cloudy but at least it isn't raining." Tempting fate in this way is guaranteed to make him mutter and sulk for the rest of the day.

 The fire and air dried mushrooms, meat and fish, salted fish, olives and nuts all go into store for those shorter colder days when we would spend long hours round the fire retelling old stories. Dad and I look forward to eating Mum's speciality of shredded horseradish root. It goes well with fish and bean stew, grey squirrel and cock pheasant.

Like everyone we know we have a huge collection of clay storage pots that Mum and Dad have collected over the years to keep the mice and voles out. Winter is when Mum trades back the wool she has dyed for the traders from Credon. She scrapes lichens off rocks up on the high moor behind the wood and uses these in her secret ways to produce the colours that are in such demand with the merchants. I always know when they are going to turn up so they have finally given up trying to catch her out. Resigned to having to pay the going rate they seem to have accepted that the short supply guarantees high prices for them.The tall standing stone always receives a few whispered words and a caress as she lingers there before the work begins. Mum wouldn't ever scrape that King stone that holds the spirit of the moor and a quick prayer guarantees a good harvest next season.

 We'd already gathered quite a lot but any day now we will start collecting dry dead wood in earnest ready for the winter. Nobody angers trees by cutting down fire wood. Because we follow the rule and always thank the big oak by the stream we can regularly gather small twigs and branches that the trees let fall for us. It is quite stunning how many twigs fall naturally but for larger branches we have to wait for strong winds to do the job for us.

Willow is one of the two exceptions to this rule. We need to cut young willow shoots to make baskets and fish traps. In return we always plant some willow shoots in the mud by the existing trees. It is a good deal for both us and the willow trees and the result is that we now have an inexhaustible supply. The other exception is buddleia. We originally planted the bushes because the dried stems make brilliant kindling. As the wood contains oil and has a flaky thin bark it lights very easily. Now there are many self-sets and we don't have to actively plant any more. We cut on a three year cycle leaving the thicker stump to sprout again. Of course the other benefit with buddleia is the nectar it provides for all the bees, butterflies and moths. I love to watch these insects visiting the plant. Sometimes we will track the bees back to their hollow tree trunk nests and we might gain some precious honey. It is bitter-sweet because we always get stung, no matter how carefully we smoke them.

The largest cave is used for storing firewood and the smaller ones for us and the food. We also collect as many pine cones as we can, we eat the seeds and burn the cones. Food, light and heat in one go. Give it another month or so and the Burdock harvest will start. You can leave them in the ground and dig them up as you need them but because the roots are so deep we like to have some already in the cave in case the weather is hard and the ground frozen. Not that it ever falls that low any more but we humour Dad because it worries him.

As the preparations come to a close the whole family start to grin. Even Dad relaxes. There is nothing quite as wonderful as the feeling that we have enough food and firewood and are prepared. So satisfying! Ready for Winter! Bring it on!

“As always Cherry your cooking alone makes the journey worth while. That fish was delicious. Thank you. Well, time to pay back for that wonderful meal. What would you like? News or a story? I know some stories from long ago. I'm older than I look , Arun." I didn't say anything, just turned away, how did he know?

What about Library?

"You are always welcome," Dad replied. "Whatever you decide will be fine."

Midges and mosquitoes came whinning round and Mum threw some leaves on the fire. I saw wormwood but when it caught I could smell sage and rosemary as well. The midges disappeared.

"Will I tell the true story of Library then? There's so much you probably don't know yet."

Rob moved the cooking slate, stirred the ashes and put two more logs on the fire. Dad got a cloak for him and Mum to share and two bottles of last year's cider for us all to share. A pot of tiger nuts, my favourite, was circulated. Richard stared into the dancing orange and blue flames and with perfect timing he started to recite as the sun went down.

"A different world to this. A world where there were a lot more people. Most of those people lived in towns and cities where they couldn't grow their own food because there was no soil. The soil was buried under concrete and tarmac. The food was produced by a few people who lived outside the cities in the countryside. However it wasn't countryside as we know it. To try and produce enough food for everyone they thought that they had to kill everything that they didn't eat. To do this they used poisons to kill caterpillars, spiders, beetles, fish and the bright blue butterflies. Some of the older people mourned the death and disappearance of the birds that used to eat these things. Some of them mourned the death of the flowers and plants that humans didn't eat such as burdock. As the older people died the younger generations never realised how much damage had been done and how much had been lost. Change happens gradually and you tend not to notice. It's like your children growing up. You turn your back and suddenly, without you noticing, they are ready to move out into the World. Most people didn't know what had gone. Some laughed at the old people - after all when you are old the summers always used to be better years ago."

"That's true Dad!"

"Watch it!"

"Most humans lost touch with the world and the life and the joy. The majority followed a way of life called Liberalism which allowed them to do almost anything they wanted without any consequences they could understand. Many people were ill and mental health was a huge issue just before the flood. People lived in such proximity to each other and were so stressed. They were plagued by cravings and cut off from nature. Animals were held as hopeless prisoners so that they didn't have to be hunted but could be killed in millions every day. To do this they were bred in huge numbers. We cannot begin to understand how much sadness there was. Humans had made great advances in medicine and science and were capable of incredible things. However to achieve this they had inflicted imeasurable cruelty on the animals and plants that they shared the planet with. The Earth was ripped open to extract metals and chemicals. Great wounds, deep and scarring. The soil, air and the water were poisoned. The majority of the Earth's trees were cut down. There was some replanting but they were usually planted in straight rows and the other plants and animals that make up a wood were destroyed. The new "woods" were souless tree prisons. Like the captive animals the trees knew they were waiting to die and there was no joy in them. It couldn't carry on. Every year there were less and less plants and animals. Bees had died out in the wild, the only ones left were kept by humans but even those were dying out as well. Most people didn't understand that the appalling state of the planet meant that the situation for humans was critical. The population was heading for disaster, even extinction. Those who did acknowledge the pain and suffering inflicted on the planet's inhabitants and who warned about the danger were ignored at best or even vilified for interfeering with business, trade and profit. The people in charge didn't care as long as they were well off. Many of the wealthiest people wanted everyone else to have miserable lives. This meant that the majority had to work for very little and this increased the profits for the rulers. The whole world was miserable. Gains in material possessions and healthcare did not increase levels of happiness. Many people used drugs or alcohol to try and blot out the misery of their lives but of course they just developed another craving and the misery was still there when they came round. There was an evil in the world and this suited some people. There was a kind of madness and many people lived a fantasy life where they played games, invented online personas, believed in aliens and flying saucers that abducted people and thought they were more important than the real world."

Who would want that?

"Some people realised what was happening and they tried to change it but it was too big for a few people to change everything. Some who complained the most were put in prison or even killed. "They" called it "silencing." All the concious people could do was try to live their lives as decently as possible. One family moved out of the city and set up home in the old school building we now call Library. They tried to grow all their own food and they fished and hunted. They kept bees for the honey and like you they made their own cider."

"The cider wouldn't have been as good as your's Dad."

"Was their wine as good as ours?"

"They didn't make grape wine or grow olives because the climate was much cooler then. They did make wine from locally grown fruits such as damsons, plums and blackberries."

"They planted trees and encouraged plants and animals but it wasn't enough. There were very few people trying to put right too much wrong. The Earth was being destroyed. What people like that did was to create islands of wildlife amongst all the industrial, sterile, desert. Of course, in the end these islands were very important."

"Then, one night, there was a wind and a growl so loud and so deep that there is no way to describe it. The ground shook and the people of Library thought that it was the end of the World. Library was on top of a mountain above the other houses and people down in the valley. But in the morning light, as they cautiously crept outside, they were stunned to find that they weren't on a mountain top anymore but an island. The valley had been filled with water, mud and broken trees. Mixed up in the mess were bits of broken houses, cars and horribly broken bodies. There was all the mess of the last World piled up in a wet heap. They were safe but they couldn't cross to anywhere so they were cut-off. They couldn't help anyone and nobody could come to them. On their hilltop they were surrounded by fields of crops, mostly potatoes, so they weren't going to starve. The other thing they had was a library of books of knowledge. It was the end of that world, but the start of the one we live in.The survivors on top of the mountains were given a fresh start when they were saved from the giant waves that went round the world. Human survival had been in doubt before this fresh start. Humans had come close to using up all the life and joy in the world and were on the way to a lingering, drawn out, death. Because bees had virtually disappeared the crops weren't being pollinated. There were a few pockets of plants and animals left. Not many at first but they quickly spread. Life came bouncing back and filled up all the empty spaces again. A tree that might have only been visited by two or three birds in a day before the flood within a few years hosted hundreds. The birds spread seeds and the forests thrived again. Hedges grew out into fields and within a few years filled them. The first colonisers such as birch and blackthorn were eventually shaded out by oak and beech. This didn't happen overnight but as it happened the joy came back.The water receeded but stayed at a level much higher than before so the shape of countries changed dramatically. Most of the large cities were gone and hundreds of millions of people died. The new sea level was about eighty metres above the previous and Britain was split up into the large islands that we now know; Cornwall and Devon, Cotswold, Wales of course, The Midlands, The Peaks, Lower Scotland and Greater Highlands. To the west are the eight large islands of Ireland and about one thousand small ones. To the east Holland and most of Belgium disappeared. To the north Denmark went altogether. Of course there are thousands of small islands as well dotted about off the new coast lines. Climate change also affected everything. Spain, southern France, Italy, Greece, Turkey became mostly desert and the few people who still live on the coasts there make a living from salt pans and fish. North Africa is uninhabitable at the moment. As the valleys of Wales dried out more people found their way over the debris to Library. A new knowledge was developed to allow people to live within the new world. Life was simpler, everyone had to be involved in food gathering to survive. Gone are the cars and planes run on fossil fuels and people walk or sail. "

"We use two coracles and a net for our winter store of fish."

"Yes, many people do. A lot of information such as how to build coracles came out of Library."

"Arun already knew how to build a coracle."

"How did you know that ?"

"It just seemed to come to me, in a dream I guess. And it seemed so obvious, trim off any bumps or knots on the ouside of the frame so they didn't rub. I could picture it being done. Like I saw somebody, giving me a lesson? You know."

"Well no, we don't."

"Now there are much bigger wooden clinker built boats for trade. Some go over to the Irish Islands, some to France and even down to Spain and the Mediterranean. Life has changed because there is a lot more water than there used to be. We all live on islands. We think the sea level is so much higher because of ice melting at the North and South Poles. The climate is certainly warmer than it used to be and many plants and animals are very different to those recorded in old books. It is possible that meteorites hitting the north released vast deposits of methane which shifted the climate dramatically in a very short time."

"To begin with there was some fighting. In the cities there was looting and gangs fought over territory and food supplies. Some survivors were pushed out into the countryside andattacked and looted or took over farms. There was violence and death. One large group of city survivors tried to take Library but were beaten off. Life was hard enough for all the survivors without fighting amongst themselves. There were epidemics, starvation and disease which weeded out weaker individuals. Eventually the population stabilised at its current sustainable level. It was a tougher population than before the flood as the weak had died off. The survivors were the toughest and the gene pool was the strongest it had been for over a thousand years. The survivors were far more concious of their relationship with the rest of the Earth. Working with soil, trees and water, plants, wood and fish has put the soul back into humans again. At first there were a lot of guns and these were often misused but after the first hundred years or so the ammunition ran out and they ceased to be a problem. To start with the new seas and waterways were polluted and held very little food. But life is resilient and as the pollution dispersed and reduced the life bounced back and we now have seas full of fish and shellfish. Enough for all. Nobody needs to be hungry and life is good for most. With the air pollution gone trees suffer less diseases than they did two hundred and fifty years ago. So do humans for that matter. The disease called Asthma has disappeared. Farming has changed, land is left fallow to recharge, dead wood is buried two feet below ground level to provide longterm fertilizer and rotation always includes a planting of beans to put nitrogen back into the soil."

"And we don't take the bean roots out when we harvest the crop."

"Quite, and that information came from a gardening book at Library. Library is famous. It is not just a myth, a story from a long time ago, it is still there and still very special. I stay there when I can and soak up the atmosphere and the learning. It is quiet and full of knowledge and wisdom and very special people who have been drawn there.They do important work. It is so full of energy that sometimes it feels as if it will burst out. Some of the people who are there visit other places."

Like you? What work I wanted to know? What other places? I needed to know. What was it like? Where was it? I was intrigued. Richard told us about lots of different things; monitoring the butterfly and insect populations of small islands in the inland sea all the way up to Wolverhampton, trying to work out the range of the shoals of sardines that we caught so many of when they ran up the inland sea and checking the production of olives and other seeds each year(they are increasing). If an oak tree lives for a thousand years and replaces itself once then it has been successful but recently oak trees were doing so much better than that. Part of this seemed to be that the increased depth of rotting leaf litter helped seeds to germinate successfully. There were also more animals hiding, storing and distributing the seeds. The health of the land and sea can be judged by studying the diversity of the flora and fauna. If there is a healthy population of voracious tiny predators such as shrews then there isn't much wrong with the land. It wasn't all about plants and animals though, humans were important as well. Advisers visited areas to offer help and share information. Medical help was also offered where necessary. Part of their job was teaching. Before the flood many people had stopped thinking or doing practical things. Now, thanks to Library, we all knew how to use blue penicillin mould to cure infections. Unbelievibly, before the flood if you liked animals and plants you watched pictures that somebody else had seen and sent you. You could do this in your own home without ever going outside. Food could be delivered to your house. Many people moved so little and ate so much that they became obese and they died younger than they should have. Now everyone had to find and gather and prepare their own food or trade something useful for it. If you couldn't work things out and make them happen then you were stuck. Although the population as a whole was much more resourceful than before many skills had been forgotten or lost so things had to be rediscovered. Library played a big part in spreading information from one community to another, such as how to use willow wood to build coracles and fish traps, so everyone benefited from that knowledge. Some people thought that our new lifestyle used our brains more because we all had to work everything out. Perhaps brain size is increasing? Richard talked long into the night until he said his throat was dry from talking and smoke from the fire. But despite his hints the cider was finished and we all went off to the stream and cleaned our teeth with fuzzy hazel twigs before going to the sleeping caves and closing the doors. It was a long time before I slept. When I did I saw wooden walls which shone in yellow light. On these walls I could see the bright blue of butterflies, the red of the gills and greens and yellows. I saw a man, the same one I had seen building the coracle. This time he was building a shelter out of branches and turf and a small fire in a hole in a bank. I also heard the voice again.

TOO MANY UNCONNECECTED. TOO MUCH DATA. WE ARE SWAMPED AND MOST OF IT IS WORTHLESS. REDUCE THE NUMBER TO A MANAGEABLE LEVEL. YES, MOST OF THEM ARE NO LONGER NEEDED.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

A biologist and keen observer of nature I am concerned over the future of the organisms that we share our planet with. When I compare the paucity of wildlife that we have now to only fifty years ago I am appalled. I also worry about the future of mankind as we increasingly destroy our life-support mechanisms. Something needs to be done but who can help? My own little patch of land and venture into self-sufficiency provides a small oasis but it cannot achieve much in isolation.

Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Even the most spiritual amongst us have lost contact with nature. Most people are cut-off to a large degree. How many modern humans are more concerned with arriving on time than killing moths, flies and other road kill? How much real, long-lasting joy is in everybody's life?
Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
Seeing otters play in the wild, visiting a bird island off the coast of Norway, growing my own food for my family as my Father did for me. Suddenly waking up to the fact that I haven't seen thrushes cracking snails on the garden path for decades - and my children have never seen it.
Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
This book is the start of one version of mankind's possible evolution. If we regain the oneness with other living things and grasp that they are just as important as we are then we stand a chance. As it grows different blind alleys emerge and problems have to be tackled.

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