(Cover by Adrian Baldwin; original artwork by Roberto Segate)
The end is hear…
A mutant strain of meningitis has wiped out most of mankind. The few who have survived the fever are now deaf.
Bitter with loss and terrified to leave the city known as Cathedral, the inhabitants rely on The Samaritans, search teams sent out into the surrounding countryside. Their purpose, to hunt down and enslave the greatest commodity on Earth, an even smaller group of people immune to the virus, people who can still hear.
People like me.
My name is Chris.
This is my story.
“A Quiet Apocalypse is told from the perspective of ex-schoolteacher Chris, a hearing survivor. He has lost everything, including his freedom, and through his eyes we learn of what it is like to live as a slave in this terrible new world of fear and loss. I was keen to write a piece that preyed upon people’s traditional misconceptions of deafness as an illness, and the imposition of ‘hearing’ norms. It is a story that has poignancy in any understanding of the struggles of minority groups.” – Author, Dave Jeffery
~ EXCERPT ~
We’re ten miles out when we come across the body. Until this point my first hours of freedom have been uneventful. The road we walk upon is the A38, the main tributary to Birmingham, which is currently twelve miles behind us, and now known as Cathedral.
The re-christening of Birmingham is based on the nature of its rebirth, though it has about as much to do with righteousness as Margaret Atwood’s Gilead. In the city’s cathedral the last survivors of MNG-U took consensus and decided to overwhelm the few hearing people amongst their number and place them under the yoke. Thus, the emasculation of the hearing began, but it also gave rise to something equality as sinister.
Social order at a price.
The body hanging from a nearby lamppost has been there some time. It bears the usual vestiges of retribution, hands tied together above a head covered by a hood of sackcloth, the legs and torso cocooned in swathes of fabric, bound together with electrical tape. The material is gouged in places where the crows have become too impatient to wait for the wrists to flay under the weight and allow gravity to do the rest.
There is a wooden plaque about the effigy’s neck and the single word scrawled across it is both statement and crime.
I wink out and there is no longer a streetlight with a body hanging from it. Instead I am back in my classroom and standing by the media wall watching as a small boy sits at a desk as he robustly colours a circle with a bright, orange crayon on stark white card. Concentration has turned his face to stone, his mouth is an inclined hyphen, but the tip of his tongue emerges from the corner of his lips, a red strawberry that almost matches the colour of his hair.
Tim Muller has been in my class for over nine months and it is during this time that I have learned the intricacies of British Sign Language, or BSL to use the vernacular. I have managed Stage 2 and can pretty much communicate enough with the boy to be able to understand him without an interpreter, although there is always one present to make sure he is not disadvantaged in his learning. I’m destined to be his form tutor for another three years before he moves on, and during that time I will become fluent, with frequent visits to Deaf Club where I enjoy a pint and sign away the evenings as I become infused with Deaf Culture.
I wonder where Tim is now, and my heart feels heavy as I think of the effigies hanging from their lampposts, and those in trees leading up the Cathedral. Harbingers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, but the mode of disposal is always the same. Retribution is as indiscriminate as the disease that turned mankind into monsters poisoned by hate.
Dave Jeffery is author of 14 novels, two collections, and numerous short stories. His Necropolis Rising series and yeti adventure Frostbite have both featured on the Amazon #1 bestseller list. His YA work features critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham supernatural mystery series and Finding Jericho, a contemporary mental health novel that was featured on the BBC Health and the Independent Schools Entrance Examination Board’s recommended reading lists.
Jeffery is a member of the Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society (where he is a regular book reviewer), and the Horror Writers Association. He is also a registered mental health professional with a BSc (Hons) in Mental Health Studies and a Master of Science Degree in Health Studies.
Jeffery is married with two children and lives in Worcestershire, UK.
Visit his WEBSITE for further information.