Mark Griffiths Books

Geek Inc.: Technoslime Terror

ABOUT THE BOOK

A brand new comedy sci-fi series from Mark Griffiths, author of the SPACE LIZARDS BOOKS.

Somewhere in the small, dull town of Blue Hills, the impossible is happening. Inanimate objects are coming to life. Time travellers from the future are mingling unnoticed with the shoppers in the high street. School children are developing uncanny powers. Strange creatures are lurking within the grounds of a forgotten stately home. And with each of these mysteries comes a terrible threat that just might endanger the entire world…Fortunately, help with these extraordinary phenomena is at hand in the form of Gabby Grayling and Barney Watkins aka Geek Inc.! Gabby and Barney are set to investigate all the odd happenings in their town and find out the truth…In the first book in the series, Barney and Gabby meet and form a friendship when they investigate a top secret Government technology that brings inanimate objects to life. They also have to contend with the evil machinations of Gloria Pickles, the terrifying eleven year old editor of the school newspaper and would-be dictator.

EXCERPT FROM GEEK INC.: TECHNOSLIME TERROR

PROLOGUE

Lewis Grome awoke to find himself on fire.

He stared, bleary-eyed and blinking, at the bright yellow flame dancing along the leg of his shabby school trousers and wondered what, if anything, he should do about it.

It was a warm September evening and he was lying on his back in a wide grassy field bordered by neatly trimmed hedgerows. Above him, the sky was an unending expanse of blue interrupted only by a worrying ribbon of thick black smoke. The air was still and swallows skimmed the ground. A butterfly jittered past on wings the colour of scrambled egg.

The flame on Lewis’s trousers crackled. Lewis tried to ignore it but he knew he was only putting off the inevitable. He reached out a cautious hand and patted his leg. The flame died away quickly. He withdrew his hand and looked at it. The centre of the palm was black with soot but there was no pain in either his hand or his leg. On the back of his hand was a strange blue mark about the size of a penny. It looked a little like a flower – a daisy, perhaps? He held the hand up to his face to get a better look but as he did so the blue mark seemed to shimmer and fade away. He frowned, examining both sides of his hand again. But the strange blue mark had vanished.

Clambering to his feet, Lewis picked up his school bag, which was now lying next to him, and checked inside. Sandwiches, Chocky-Crocky bar, can of drink, books, pencil case. All in order.

Lewis was eleven years old, short for his age, with a round pudgy face and an untidy spray of fair hair. The school uniform he wore was ill fitting and threadbare, a grubby patch of white shirt visible through the frayed elbow of his jumper.

He looked at the wreckage of the lorry, which lay sprawled before him on the grass like the decaying carcass of an enormous beast, and at the column of oily black smoke that puffed from the charred remains of its fuel tank, and suddenly remembered what had happened.

He had been walking in the lane near his house, sauntering home from school, when he heard the lorry approaching from behind. Lorries often used the lane as a shortcut from the town to the motorway, so he wasn’t surprised to hear one coming. He stepped out of its path automatically, flattening himself against the hedgerow, waiting for it to pass. But the lorry never came. Instead, Lewis heard its brakes emit a sudden piercing shriek that sent a cold thrill surging through his entire body. He had turned just in time to see the lorry skidding into the hedgerow. It looked like the driver had swerved to avoid something in the road – some small dark object – and lost control of his vehicle. Lewis could only watch as the lorry smashed through the hedgerow into a field, its length first folding and then splitting into two sections – jack-knifing, that was the term they always used on the news, he had thought – and then toppling over onto its side with a sound of tortured metal and shattering glass. The lorry had rolled several times before becoming still.

Sprinting towards the huge ragged hole the lorry had torn in the hedgerow, Lewis tried to get a closer look. His heart pounding, he stepped through into the field. As he did so, two things happened in quick succession. The first was that, from the corner of his eye, he saw the object that the driver had been so keen to avoid. It was a squirrel, and it was crouching in the centre of the narrow lane. Oblivious to the carnage it had caused, it regarded Lewis with glassy unknowing eyes and then scurried away, its long soft tail rippling.

The second thing that happened was that the lorry’s fuel tank chose that moment to explode.

#

Now, his head clearer, Lewis paced in a slow circle around the wreckage of the lorry, ignoring the smell of singed nylon rising from his trousers. The explosion had been a small one. A few patches of grass around the lorry were still charred and smoking. In other places, strange patches of undamaged bare earth were visible, as if the grass covering them had simply vanished. The lorry itself was still mostly intact, save for the fact that its container section had snapped in two. The driver’s cab lay on its side surrounded by the smashed remains of its windscreen, the shards of glass gleaming like chips of ice. Lewis peered inside. A large man in a grey coverall sat in the driver’s seat, his hands still clutching the steering wheel, as if the lorry’s current predicament were no more than a tight parking space that he might manoeuvre out of with a little concentration. He was horribly still.

The container section of the lorry was made of thin metal and painted white. It had broken midway along its length. Lewis peeked inside both halves. Empty. He was about to turn and go home when he heard a noise: a slow steady pattering. It was coming from the far end of the container’s rear half. Curious, he climbed into the container, his school shoes clattering against the metal.

There in the corner lay a grey metal box about the size and shape of a safe. It was hidden in the semi-darkness, so he had missed it on his initial inspection. Odd, he thought, that this huge lorry had been used to transport this one fairly small object. There was a door set into the box’s front, although it seemed to have no dial or keyhole or even any handle. The door had buckled in the crash and hung limply on one of its two chunky metal hinges. Within the box, Lewis could make out an unidentifiable blue shape. He swung open the damaged door. Inside was a squat cylindrical container made of sturdy transparent plastic. It was filled with a viscous blue liquid, which was slowly dripping out through a deep, jagged crack in the front, creating slow circular ripples in a thick blue puddle beneath.

He rummaged in his school bag and pulled out the first thing that came to hand, one of his school textbooks. He tore out a page and allowed a single drop of the thick blue liquid to fall onto it.

(c) Mark Griffiths 2012