I was hoping to post all of chapter one onto my blog. Unfortunately, blogger will not allow me to publish the PDF file that I was sent. Therefore this is the start of chapter one for you to enjoy. If you would like to read the rest of this chapter then please click on the link at the end of the post. I hope that you all enjoy this little taster and that it will encourage you to buy a copy of the book, once it has been published on the 25th April. Please also read my review for it HERE
You can also check out the great new website at (www.thelostworlds.co.uk)
Calum Challenger gazed in awe at the image on the computer screen. Well, to be fair, he gazed in awe at the image on the central one of the ten screens that hung, at different heights, suspended from articulated arms, in front of his work desk. The image was blurred and grainy, but that wasn’t the screen’s fault. His multi-screen, high- definition, hex-core computer system was the best that money could buy – and despite the fact that he was only sixteen he had access to a lot of money. An awful lot of money. No, the image was blurred and grainy because it had been blown up from a photograph taken with a mobile phone camera at long range while the subject was moving. Even so, he could just about see what it was.
He leaned back in his chair. Five years he’d been waiting for an image like this to turn up. Five years. Now it was here, captured in colour on his computer screen, he wasn’t sure how he should react.
A cold breeze from the darkened expanse of the warehouse behind him caressed the hairs on the back of his neck. He didn’t turn around. He knew that it was just a random gust of wind through a ventilation grille – the alarm systems would have gone off if anyone had actually broken in to the warehouse. He was, as he almost always was these days, alone.
The screen showed a figure against a background of grass, bushes and rocks. Judging by the figure’s shadow the background was slanted – perhaps a hillside or a slope. The interesting thing – the thing that had made Calum catch his breath in wonder – was that the figure didn’t look human.
It was difficult to tell its size, with only the heights of the bushes to compare it with, but Calum got the impression that it was about the size of a large man. It was stooped, with rounded shoulders and bowed arms that dangled in front of it. Its skin seemed to be covered with short, red hair, with the exception of pale lines up its spine, down the inside of its forearms and beneath its jaw. He could have been looking at a big, hairy man with a stoop, except that the face was different. A thick ridge of brow pushed out over the eyes, like a chimpanzee, and the teeth and jaw were pushed out slightly, but a distinct nose projected out beneath the eyes. Chimpanzees didn’t have noses.
He drew a box around the figure’s right hand with a couple of clicks of his trackball, and flicked the section of image inside the box to another of his screens. The result was pixelated almost to the point of incoherence, but he could just make out what looked like a thumb that was separate from the rest of the fingers, and angled so that it could close against them. An opposable thumb – that was another thing that ruled out the possibility that it was a chimpanzee. Calum knew that their thumbs were much shorter than the rest of their fingers, making it easier for them to climb trees. Gorillas had opposable thumbs, but this wasn’t anything like a gorilla. Some Old World monkeys, like mandrills, also had opposable thumbs, but they were all small – the size of a dog – and there was no way they could be mistaken for human. No, this thing was unique.
He ran his fingers through his long hair and interlaced them at the back of his neck. He supposed it could be a man in a mask and a hairy suit – like that 1967 footage taken in California which was supposed to show an ape- like creature locally known as the sasquatch but which had turned out to be a hoax. That was the problem with these blurry photographs or jerky video clips – they could so easily be hoaxes. And yet . . . its forearms seemed longer in proportion to its upper arms, and to the rest of its body. Reduced to a silhouette, it just didn’t look human. If the creature was a hoax then it was a very well constructed one.
The creature. He laughed suddenly, and the laughter echoed back to his ears from the cold brick walls of the warehouse. He was already thinking of it as the creature. Just a few moments ago it had been the figure. Somewhere in his mind, it seemed that he had already made a decision about the photograph’s likely authenticity.