A long way from anywhere, on a road going nowhere, lays a small, unremarkable town. It seems a peaceable, prosperous little place, on the surface at least.
Away from prying eyes however, in the shadows and the forgotten corners, there is a web being weaved through the lives of its inhabitants by the town’s urbane and mysterious Mayor. A man prepared to make a deal for your heart's desire and, maybe, for your very soul…
Welcome to Hawker’s Drift, a town where nothing is quite as it seems…
Only three people trudged behind the coffin-laden wagon.
He assumed the woman in the black dress was the widow. Her face was veiled, but her back was straight and she moved as freely as the cloying mud allowed; a young widow. A small bookish man peering through rain-smeared spectacles laboured next to her, struggling to hold an umbrella over them both in the wind. Behind came a cadaverous looking old bird clutching a dog-eared bible to his chest. A preacher.
Amos pulled his horse to the side of the road; if that wasn’t too generous a description for two mud-choked ruts. It meandered towards a town that occupied a low slung hill; the only feature on the vast tableland of grass. He took off his hat and let the rain sting his face as the little procession passed. The widow glanced up at him hesitantly, before nodding an acknowledgement. From behind the shadows of her veil he got the impression of an attractive woman with no intention of crying. There was sadness, not unexpectedly, coming off of her, but interspersed with those dull grey waves came prickly spikes of fear too.
The preacher flicked a glance in his direction as well, but he quickly dropped his eyes and scurried along, his body bent forward against the driving rain. He looked terribly unhappy with his lot. The preacher was suffering, a physical pain beneath a terrible craving.
The third man, his jacket flapping in the breeze, ignored him, and Amos tried to do the same to the hot, fetid desire that was rolling off of him like a burning fever.
Whoever was being buried had not warranted much in the way of gestures from the rest of the town. What did you have to do to end up with only two mourners and a sour-faced preacher at your funeral?
As the wagon bearing the coffin rattled on towards the cemetery, signified by a small forest of crosses poking above the surrounding long grass, he let the rain wash the scent of their souls from the air before he replaced his hat and pushed his weary horse on towards the town.
Out here, where seas of grass washed towards too far away horizons and the earth squatted beneath colossal skies, it amounted to civilization.
He slipped his coat back and made sure his gun was free to draw.
Civilization, he had found, tended to suck.
Andy Monk lives in London with his partner and their goldfish.
After a high-flying academic career and glittering success in professional sport, followed by a jet-set lifestyle of wild parties, exotic holidays and beautiful women, he settled down to write internationally acclaimed best-selling novels.
Andy Monk has a tendency to exaggerate and has an occasionally tenuous grip on reality.