Excerpt from my first novel which I’m currently scoping.
While Men Slept
Shortlisted for the Norwich Writer’s Centre Six Month Mentorship through IdeasTap.com.
Nothing can be more slightly defined than the line of demarcation between sanity and insanity… Make the definition too narrow, it becomes meaningless; make it too wide and the whole human race are involved in the dragnet. In strictness, we are all mad, as often as we give way to passion, to prejudice, to vice and to vanity. But if all the passionate, prejudiced, vicious and vain people in the world are to be locked up as lunatics, who will hold the key to the asylum?
– The Times, 1853
Blackened footprints seared into the mud. For miles they staggered and stumbled scorching flint and stone through once sun-kissed fields and dense woodland thickets until they reached the crossroad. Here the footsteps caught up with their owner. A burned body slumped smouldering against a rotten wooden sign long rendered useless to anyone who did not already know their way. His skin, bubbling and blistered still bore the memory of the flames that licked at his back and snatched away his breath. The lingering smoke robbing his lungs of the early morning air. On the ground he lay twitching, aggravated by unseen flies hovering in anticipation of the meal to come. He dared not close his eyes for fear of the images that once seen can never be unseen hiding behind his red raw lids. Suspended in this state and using the last of his energy he surprised himself by willing a stranger into existence.