Roots is what is known as a ‘cosy catastrophe’, a much maligned genre, used to describe such novels as The Day of the Triffids. Now I am actually a massive fan of John Wyndham and have read a lot of his works – the above mentioned The Day of the Triffids, as well as The Kraken Wakes, The Midwich Cuckoos and Trouble With Lichen. The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos have both been filmed, of course.
This novel is my tribute to John Wyndham, if tribute is the correct word. The novel is initially set in the Midlands, although the catastrophic effects encompass the entire world.
I don’t want to say too much about this novel, as I don’t want to give away any details of the plot, only to say that mankind faces an implacable foe.
Extract from Roots
The next news is not delivered by the internet, but from the BBC, that most reliable of sources. The BBC rarely gets things wrong – and when they do, you can be sure that the Murdoch Empire will make sure that everybody hears about it. it has to make sure that it is so balanced in its reporting that it gets ridiculous some time – not something which you can accuse The Sun of.
The report is about some village in Africa, in Nigeria, where all of the villagers were alleged to have disappeared, according to reports coming in from other villages in the area.
The village, whose name escapes me – I don’t bother to write it down – was in one of the oil field areas, where western oil companies basically decide everything which goes on in the area, Nigerian government or n. It could be a dangerous area, for you did not really want to get on the wrong side of those multinationals, not if you knew what was good for you. According to several human rights organisations some of these oil companies employed the sort of thugs who weren’t worried about killing the odd protester, if it shut people up about the damage that these oil companies had done to the environment. I recall hearing in some report, a year or two ago, that an oil spill had ruined hundreds of hectares of farming land – and we were talking about what was basically subsistence farming here, not somebody with the Common Agricultural Policy helping them out. These people could not afford to have oil despoil their land. So some of them started complaining most vociferously. Only to get shot by thugs who must have been working for the oil company – although, of course, the oil company denied any link to those killings. They had kept their lily white American hands technically clean, employing somebody else o do their dirty work for them
I think that was in Nigeria. But it might have been in Niger, instead. Or in one of those other countries in that part of the world. I was never that good at geography. You didn’t really need to be, working in a record store.
Anyway, the BBC reporter is in Abuja, and he is hundreds of miles away from this village, in the area controlled by the multinationals. On that little red strip towards the bottom of the screen the BBC had Abuja as the capital of Nigeria. It’s funny, but I thought that Lagos was the capital. Then again, I don’t know that much about the geography of that area. But I was fairly certain that I had not even heard of Abuja before.
Well, the reason why the BBC reporter, I guess, was in Abuja and not in the village where everybody had gone missing was because it was also one of the areas was the Moslem faith of the north came into conflict with the Christianity of the south – and it had been conflict, with members of one religion murdering members of the other religion. Things like that make me quite happy that I’m an atheist. I don’t want any of that God nonsense, not if it makes you go around murdering your fellow man.
Anyway, I’m guessing that it was too dangerous for the BBC reporter to go to that village and have a look for himself. Or maybe he was the only reporter which the BBC had in the whole of the country.
I only see the report once. But it says that local villages had gone to whatever-that-village-was-called, and had found that everybody was gone. Every woman, every child, every man, and every dog had gone from that place. There was no indication where they had gone to, because nobody had seen them leave. It was feared that there had been some sort of massacre. But there had been no reports of blood, or corpses, or body parts, which is what you might have expected in such a case. The only thing which is reported was that the soft earth around the village had all been dug up, as though maybe some vehicles had been there. And that the disappearance must have occurred some time ago, as tough animal fibres, like roots, or lianas, had already covered the houses of the village. Except that the people from the nearby villages said that things had been fine three days beforehand, the last time that anybody had visited.
I only pay a bit of interest in the report, and I do not hear anything again. Not about that village, anyway. Maybe the story was fake, and that was why it was not repeated. It did sound pretty vague, after all. But what catches my interest in this story os the suggestion of being roots involved, on the houses, and around them. It reminds me of that story which I had heard on the internet, of that town in Nebraska where everybody also had disappeared – and where there had been roots there, too. It just seems like a bit of an odd coincidence to me.
I am supposed to be doing some more writing, rather than watching television. My writing though, has slowed down in the last day or two, although it has not yet come to a halt, as it always has in the past. I have done about five hundred words that morning, I reckon. As long as it doesn’t stop completely, and my words run dry, I will be happy. In fact I have got it into my head that if I can manage to get to the six thousand word mark, something which I was laboriously approaching, but have never reached before, that I would be okay, and the rest of the words would start flowing again. That is what I am thinking, anyway.
So, after the news report, I should be writing about Day Two in My Welsh Hell. But, instead of returning to my waiting notebook, I go back upstairs and powered up my computer. Ah, anything to avoid actually doing any work, the one thing which I am really good at (but wjhich nobody will ever pay me for).
I go looking for that website which I had run across by accident. But, to my annoyance, I can’t find it, not even using Google. I can’t recall what the address of the bloody website was. and, because of some of the other websites which I study to, er, improve my knowledge of female anatomy, as it were, I always delete my internet history after going on the internet, just in case something goes wrong with my computer and I have to take it to be mended (and, in the past, so Stephanie never knew that I was looking at stuff like that). I don’t want some spotty oik at Computer World smirking at all the sites I’ve been looking at. Yeah, like you’ve never done the same, mate.
I know that I could spend all evening on my computer trying to find that site again and never rediscovering it. So I turn my computer back off, and go downstairs. I take up my notebook, and my gel pen, and begin writing about my fictional definitely not libellous villain of the piece, Farmer Jones, and my quest to obtain milk from him. Of course, in this darkly comic tale, I intend to exaggerate everything to the nth degree.
Roots is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.