Robin Jarvis-Jax 02 Freax And Rejex

BOOK: Robin Jarvis-Jax 02 Freax And Rejex
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Y
ET ANOTHER NEW
blog. How many sites have I been kicked out of now? There aren’t any UK-based hosts left that aren’t under
their
control. I’m having to use a Dutch server. That isn’t a clue as to where I am though, so don’t bother trying to find me, Mr Fellows. You won’t.

 

So – it’s been how many months since that foul book was published? I can’t and don’t keep score any more. I won’t waste time or space here by doing the whole ‘told you so’ routine, but I want you to know I did my best. I tried – we tried – to warn you. Some listened, but not nearly enough – not until it was too late and it had gotten too strong a hold.

 

Just look at the state of the UK now. The anger and the protests and curfews have stopped because there aren’t enough of you left out there with your own minds. Somehow they got to you; somehow you were made to read, or listen, or ate that foul muck and now you’re the same as the rest of those brainwashed sheep.

 

For those of you who are still resisting (I know there are still a scant few) by whatever means, either through strength of will or simply because you’re just naturally immune to that madness as I am, I urge you to get out, as soon as you can. Leave the country; there’s nothing you can do there now. Britain is finished. But you can help stop the evil spreading across the world. Find the escape route – the links are out there on the Web.
If you can satisfy our agents you’re genuine, you’ll be given instructions and directions and real help. Apologies for the hoops you’ve got to jump through, but we have to protect ourselves.
They
are watching;
they
will stop at nothing to catch us. Good luck!

 

Martin Baxter

R
EGGIE
T
UCKER HOISTED
his rucksack on to his shoulders. It was time to leave the park. Crawling from the safe cover of the rhododendrons by the far wall, he joined a path and hurried along. He clamped his mouth shut tightly as he passed through a cloud of fat, buzzing flies. A stink of decay hung heavily over this gloomy corner. The weird, repulsive plants that had first appeared several months ago were firmly established now. They had taken over the rose beds and their bristling trailers stretched through the railings in search of fresh soil.

Reggie stepped over them carefully then quickened his pace. The smell from the ugly grey flowers caught in his throat. He glanced back in disgust at the swarms of bluebottles that clustered round the sickly petals and hastened on.

Keeping his head down, the boy avoided eye contact with a dog walker and a small group of people sitting close together on the grass. They were reading intently from a book, rocking backwards and forwards as they uttered the words aloud. He didn’t need to wonder what book it was. There was only one book now.

Reggie hoped nobody would notice him, or if they did then the low-numbered playing card he had pinned to his coat would be enough to satisfy any curiosity.

He was desperately hungry. He had eaten the last of his hastily packed rations yesterday. There was money in his pocket, but he was too scared to go into a shop to buy food.

He was tired too. For three nights now he had been sleeping rough. So far he had been lucky. It was a warm, dry April and no one had spotted the twelve-year-old boy skulking around empty back streets, trying to gain entry to deserted buildings or hiding in a burnt-out van that had blazed
during the recent riots, or under some boards in a skip.

And yet, at that moment, Reggie wasn’t thinking about his stomach or lack of proper sleep. He was anxious and worried, but not for himself. It was late afternoon now. Where was Aunt Jen? They had arranged to meet here at midday, but she hadn’t appeared. He knew she was being watched, yet surely she would have texted if there had been any problem slipping away? He checked his phone once again. There were still a couple of bars of charge left and a good signal, but no new texts from her. The last had been yesterday morning.

 

From: Aunt J

Will meet 2moro at 12. U know where!

Plz be careful. X

 

Reggie tried to ignore the other texts that had come in since, but his eyes couldn’t help flicking over them.

 

From: Mum

You won’t get far

 

From: Dad

Filthy aberrant!

 

From: Mum

I hope they kill you

 

There were others from his sister and the lads who used to be his best friends. It was all the same: vicious threats and insults. Reggie marvelled at how unmoved they left him. Was he really so used to it now? Before this madness started, he had never even heard the word ‘aberrant’. For the past month it had hounded him wherever he went, at home, at school, in the streets around town. Strangers yelled abuse and spat at him. Then last week the first stone
was flung. The bruise was still there on his leg. Others had bloomed across his body since.

The twelve-year-old thrust the phone back into his pocket. Aunt Jen was the only other person he knew who had not been taken over. For some reason, just like him, that mad book hadn’t affected her. Uncle Jason and her two kids treated her with contempt because of that and she was ready to go. She and Reggie had planned this escape in secret. They had intended to make a run for it at the end of this week, but Reggie couldn’t stick it out at home any longer and had fled. It had ruined their careful plan. She was going to steal the family car on Friday, drive the forty miles to his house and then they would make for the coast. She had contacted someone on the Net. There were people out there who could help, unaffected people like them, who could get them out of England, away from this country that had gone insane.

“Hey, you!” a voice called suddenly. “Blessed be!”

Reggie looked up. A young girl, no older than seven, was twirling around on the grass. She was wearing what had been a Disney princess costume, but the outfit had been customised so that the sleeves now hung emptily from the shoulders and her arms were slipped through holes cut beneath them. Ribbons and tasselled curtain ties had been sewn to the bodice and around the skirt for a more medieval look.

“That’s a little number!” she cried, checking the playing card on his coat as she skipped towards him. “You’re only a three! I’m a six. I’m better than you.”

The boy looked around nervously. Where were her parents? But then families weren’t the same any more. They wouldn’t worry or even care if she was missing all day long, especially if it fitted the character she was playing from the book.

“Read to me!” she demanded.

“I have to be somewhere,” Reggie muttered, continuing along the path.

“Read to me!” she commanded again in a louder voice. “You’re just a three. I have to get back to the castle, but I don’t know the big words. Read to me now!”

“I don’t have my book with me,” Reggie explained hurriedly.

The girl stared at him in surprise. She had a pale, pretty face and her mousey hair was plaited into a stubby rope. Her grey eyes were glassy but questioning and her lips and chin were stained with the livid juices of fruits like those he had just passed.

“Everybody has a book,” she told him. “Mine is over there. I get it. You read it me.”

She was about to return to where she had left her copy of that horrible book, but Reggie called her back.

“Let me go get mine,” he said quickly. “It’s at home. I forgot to bring it with me. I’m on my way there now.”

The girl put her head on one side and looked at him quizzically. Something about the boy was wrong. There were no stains around his mouth and the dark centres of his eyes were too small. She started to back away. Then her young features scrunched up and she screamed at the top of her voice.

“ABRANT!” she shrieked, pointing accusing fingers and shaking her head violently. “ABRANT!”

Reggie reached out and tried to shush her, but she jumped clear – still screaming.

“ABRANT!”

Reggie looked back fearfully. The group of readers were rising to their feet. One of them was checking an iPad. The boy knew the online list of UK aberrants was being consulted. It was updated daily so his picture was sure to be there. His mother had probably provided his last school photograph. Yes, he saw the man with the iPad look up sharply. He had to get away, fast.

The readers began running towards him. The dog walker came hurrying back along the path and, with the girl’s shrill screams in his ears, Reggie legged it.

The street where Aunt Jen lived wasn’t far from the park. He had spent the past few days making his way here. It had been slow going, trying to keep out of sight, but he had been pleased and surprised by his own
resourcefulness. It had brought him so close. But why hadn’t she shown up?

Reggie ran until the people in the park had been left behind and he was sure no one else was following. Slowing down, he caught his breath. He walked for another half a mile, but felt sick from hunger and leaned against a garden fence as he looked around cautiously.

This was a pleasant, leafy suburb. The housing estates were agreeable groupings of detached homes, each one different to its neighbour, with well-tended front lawns and faux leaded windows. His aunt’s house was close, just two streets away. Reggie knew it was stupid to go there, but he had to find out what had happened. Besides, where else could he go now?

Setting off again, he noticed how eerily quiet it was here. No sound of traffic. No music or noise coming from the houses, not a single person in sight. It was all so still and deserted that when a magpie came swooping down from a tree and landed on a lawn nearby, it startled him so much he jumped sideways into the road.

Reggie began to wonder if these streets had been evacuated due to an emergency, perhaps a gas leak or something? That would explain the forsaken emptiness of the place. It might also explain Aunt Jen’s silence, if she had been forced to leave the house suddenly and in the rush had left her mobile behind…

“That must be it,” he told himself. “She’s had to clear out with everyone else. So why am I still going to the house? Why don’t I turn round and get out of here as well? It might be dangerous. It might be poisonous – or explode.”

He frowned and turned the corner into the street where his aunt lived. “But then everywhere’s dangerous now,” he told himself grimly.

His aunt’s house was almost in view. Reggie gripped the straps of his rucksack and continued, taking short, sampling sniffs of the air as he went. He couldn’t smell gas, just the faint reek of that horrible plant. People were growing it in their gardens now.

The boy’s imagination began inventing other explanations for these empty streets.

“Radiation,” he suggested fancifully. “A dirty bomb has gone off and this whole area is contaminated. Or… a chemical spill in the water supply? Subsidence? A big hole might’ve opened up in one of the roads and the houses aren’t safe. Plague! All these houses are filled with dead bodies; it kills instantly and turns you green – with huge spots full of pus. A lion might’ve escaped from a zoo, though there isn’t one anywhere near here…”

Reggie grimaced. He knew that whatever had happened was bound to be because of that book. He almost wished there had been a chemical spill or radioactive fallout – or even a crazed killer with an axe. At least they were things he could understand.

There were no garden fences or hedges in this street. The lawns sloped gently up from the pavement and paths edged with solar-powered lamps led to the front doors. Soon the boy was standing outside number 24. It was large, detached and half-heartedly half-timbered. The lamp post outside was hung with long coloured streamers like a maypole. He saw that the driveway was empty. Then he stared at the front door. It was ajar.

Had they abandoned the place in such a hurry that they hadn’t bothered to close it? Was someone in there?

Reggie looked left and right, up and down the street. There was still no sign of another human being anywhere around. Should he chance going inside? He had come this far – besides, there would be food in the kitchen and he was starving.

The boy sprinted across the lawn and pushed the door wide open. The hallway was neat and tidy. There was no sign of any hasty evacuation. He stepped inside and his heart beat faster. Moving warily through the hall, he peered into the living room. Everything looked normal: sofa, plasma TV, cork coasters on the coffee table, family photos on the wall. A framed print hanging above the fireplace caught his attention. That was new. The print was of a white castle, the one featured in that book.

The boy shuddered and looked away in disgust. He quickly made his way to the kitchen where he tore into a bag of bread and stuffed a soft
white slice into his mouth. Then he pulled open the fridge and gave a grunt of satisfaction as he gazed on the illuminated contents. Grabbing ham and cheese, he threw them into two more slices and ate them so fast he almost choked. Then he found a can of Coke and guzzled half of it down in one swig. He checked the fridge again. There were some sausage rolls. He wolfed one down and shoved two more in his pocket.

Chewing greedily, he knew he should take as much as he could fit in his rucksack. Removing it from his back, he set to work. There were some things though that he didn’t dare touch: yoghurt, juice cartons and a fruit pie. The packaging bore the logo of that book and contained the pulp and juice from the foul-smelling plant.

Once that was done, Reggie turned his attention to the cupboards. Fresh stuff wouldn’t last long. He should take some tins as well. Two lots of beans, an oxtail soup, macaroni cheese, they were all his bag could take.

“Tin-opener,” he told himself sharply. He yanked open a drawer and began searching through the cutlery. A knife and spoon went clattering on to the tiled floor and the unearthly silence was broken.

Reggie froze. Why hadn’t he been more careful?

“Who’s there?” a voice called suddenly.

The boy turned.

“Who is it?” the voice called again.

Reggie’s stomach flipped over. He knew who that was! His face broke into a huge grin and he rushed to the hall and clutched at the banister as he glanced up the stairs.

“Aunt Jen?” he cried. “It’s me – it’s Reggie.”

“Oh, Reggie!” the voice answered faintly. “I knew you’d make it.”

The boy ran up the stairs. His aunt sounded tired. What had his uncle done to her? Had she been locked in a room? Perhaps she was tied up.

“Why didn’t you come to the park?” he called when he reached the landing. “Why didn’t you meet me? What’s happening here?”

He looked quickly into the bathroom, then in his cousins’ bedrooms. They were all empty.

At the end of the landing his aunt and uncle’s bedroom door was half open. It was dark inside.

“I couldn’t, Reggie,” his aunt answered from the darkness. Reggie’s relief and joy disappeared. Dread and fear took their place.

“Why?” he asked.

“It’s no use, Reggie,” Aunt Jen replied.

The boy took a step closer. “Why didn’t you text me?”

“I couldn’t.”

“Why not? What did Uncle Jason do? Where is everyone?”

There was no answer. Reggie put his head round the door. The curtains were drawn, but the light of the April afternoon leaked in at the edges. At first he thought someone was slumped on the bed then he realised it was only a mound of clothes. The drawers and wardrobes had been ransacked, their contents strewn about the room. Then he saw, in front of the curtains, a figure sitting before a dressing table mirror, gazing at her reflection in the gloom.

“Aunt Jen?” he ventured. The person didn’t move.

“Jen?” he said again.

Reggie didn’t want to go any closer. He shouldn’t have come here. He could just make out that the woman’s head was covered by a veil of black lace.

BOOK: Robin Jarvis-Jax 02 Freax And Rejex
4.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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