The Cleansing (Earth Haven: Book 1)
Extract from Chapter One
The message washed over her like a cold wave. She gasped and sank back into the armchair, which groaned beneath her bulk. She closed her eyes and saw the images, still so familiar to her after all this time: ebony spires and minarets and monoliths, great glass domes peering from the constantly shifting dunes, pyramids and ziggurats, obelisks and amphitheatres, and endless deserts of dark sands gleaming faintly in the baleful light of a dying sun.
She gasped again when she saw the craft: vaster than a mountain range, blacker than night, sleeker than an otter’s hide. It was emerging from the desert floor, the sands boiling and parting; she could almost hear the slithering sound the sand made as it cascaded off the smooth sides of the craft.
Her jaw set into a determined line and she opened her eyes. At last, they were coming.
It was time for her to send a message of her own.
The armchair creaked and complained, then sighed as she pulled herself upright. From habit—there was nobody before whom she had to make herself presentable—she smoothed down her housecoat and walked in a rolling gait across the apartment to the work station upon which stood her computer.
She eased herself into the chair that she’d had custom made; it supported her weight without so much as a creak. The work station stood before a picture window that looked out over Central Park. While she waited for the computer to boot up, she stared down at the people braving the December cold. Couples strolled beneath the weak morning sun, muffled and gloved and hooded against the biting winter breeze. Long-coated businessmen strode purposefully, clutching briefcases or portfolios, intent on reaching the cosy sanctuaries of their plush offices on Fifth or Madison. The occasional fitness enthusiast in jogging bottoms and sweat shirt bounded by. A chattering kindergarten class snaked along the paths, the children in woolly hats and gloves, the cold failing to douse their excitement at the field trip.
She watched this snapshot of humanity and for a moment, only a moment, felt a pang of sorrow. Her broad brow wrinkled into a frown and she shook her head to clear it. This was no time for regrets.
Returning her attention to the computer, she opened her e-mail application. The message had already been written. It had sat in her drafts folder for years, since she had first decided that e-mail would be a far simpler, relatively effortless way to spread the word. Of course, not every intended recipient of the message would have e-mail access. Even with today’s blanket coverage, some remote corners of the globe were out of reach or were blocked from communication with the outside world by isolationist governments. She had another method of reaching them; a method that would cost her a great deal of mental energy, but she was prepared. She had been prepared for many years.
She opened the message from the drafts folder. It was simple, only four short sentences: They are coming. Begin immediately. Mercy is not an option. Acknowledge.
The e-mail was set up to be sent to almost five thousand addresses, addresses that she had painstakingly kept up to date.
Her right hand clutched the mouse, moving the cursor over the send button. Her index finger hovered over the left-click button of the mouse while she hesitated.
She allowed herself one more glance out of the window, at the people moving through the Park, and was powerless to prevent a profound look of sadness from moving across her face like a dark shadow.
Again she shook herself and her features hardened. Looking back at the computer screen, she pressed the send button.
Mankind’s fate was thus sealed by the click of a mouse.
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