Author: Terry Tyler
'Those who escape 'the system' are left to survive outside society. The fortunate find places in off-grid communities; the others disappear into the wasteland.' The year is 2061, and in the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make. Speech is no longer free—an 'offensive' word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine. One too many demerits? Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages. Rae Farrer is a megacity girl through and through, proud of her educational and career achievements, until a shocking discovery about her birth forces her to question every aspect of life in UK Megacity 12. On the other side of the supposedly safe megacity walls, a few wastelanders suspect that their freedom cannot last forever... Wasteland is the stand-alone sequel to Hope, and is the second and book in the Operation Galton series. A third and final book, Megacity, should be available in early summer, 2021.
Excerpt from Chapter 13, when megacity girl Rae goes into the wasteland for the first time.
The gate slides back, and we're off, along the narrow track at one side of the road.
I'm in the wasteland. I can't believe it.
It's like I expected, and not. The first couple of miles is just pile after pile of rubble, muck and dust―like the old town was torn down but the clearance squad got bored halfway through.
I touch my com to activate my iSync, and feel that familiar little schli-tt somewhere behind my eyes. It's not a noise, more a feeling; some people say they don't feel it at all.
"The immediate outskirts of most megacities are like this," Nula says. "The hinterlands were left like this to discourage wastelanders from setting up home nearby, but I believe it will all be cleared over the next five years; trees will be planted, and other plants, to attract bees and wildlife. There will be a perimeter, to keep it out of bounds to anyone without a permit."
We ride further out, and the real old England begins to appear. Fields, overgrown; delapidated houses.
My God. I have never seen this before. This is real history, right in front of my eyes, not the sanitised version we see when we visit the designated leisure environments.
"Please, can we slow down?" I ask.
"Sure." Nula reaches forward and touches the screen. "We can't spend all day, but I don't mind taking it easy now and again."
The pod slows to five miles an hour. I want to drink it all in, absorb it; I want to feel it, to imagine myself living out here.
"It wasn't like this back then," Nula says. "It was cared for. Not as clean and ordered as the megacities, and there were some dreadful slum areas in the towns, but it wasn't this bad." She points to an old brick building with a grey forecourt containing swings and a climbing frame. "That was a school. And look―over there."
She stops the pod, and I turn my head to my left to see a long row of shops. Faded signs, smashed glass where the boards have been torn off. Gardners: Greengrocer. NuPharm chemist and dispensary. The Cut Above, with silhouettes of scissors on either side. NuMart Local. Eufloria―a flower shop.
Some of them still have bits of old displays, and even goods, in the windows. Just left to rot, as the businesses closed down and the people left.
"Bloody hell. This is like watching a post-apocalyptic film. It's nothing like seeing it on the wallscreen. It's so real―and sad, isn't it? You can imagine the people living here, then being swept off to live in Megacity 12."
For the first time, Nula actually smiles. "I love watching people's reactions when they see it for the first time. Makes you realise how lucky you are, to live where you do now, doesn't it?"
That wasn't quite what I meant, but I'll keep that to myself. Colt is oddly quiet; I wonder if he daren't speak for fear of betraying how loyal to the megacities he isn't, or if he's as captivated as I am.
We move on; there's little to see for a while but overgrown fields.
"Maybe you're thinking how lovely and wild it all is, and how it would be pretty cool to live out here?" She turns to Colt, then looks back at me. "But all you'd get is cold, wet, hungry and probably ill. Believe me, within a day you'd be back knocking on the gate of MC12."
I see an area of fairly new-looking buildings off to one side; Nula tells me that this was a leisure complex, built at the end of the last century.
"A bowling alley and a cinema, where people used to go to watch films. Fast food restaurants, and one of a type that was very popular about fifty, sixty years ago: the all-you-can-eat buffet." She sniffs with disapproval. "Just one of the ways by which the population was encouraged to eat itself into obesity and diabetes." She leans forward, and stops the pod. "Look, over there. See the fence?"
I see it, far into the distance. I also see movement; guards in a watchtower. "What is it?"
"That's the perimeter of Farm 35."
Colt peers out. "Can we go take a look?"
"No. Even if it was on today's schedule, there's nothing to see, and we wouldn't be allowed past the gate. Strictly no admittance to the farmland unless you work for the Department of Agriculture."
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Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-two books available from Amazon, the latest being 'The Visitor', a post-apocalyptic murder mystery set in the same world as her popular Project Renova series. She is currently at work on 'Megacity', the third and final book in her dystopian Operation Galton series, after which she may decide to write something a bit more cheerful. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team. She lives in north east England with her husband.
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