Extract: The Calculations Of Rational Men

Daniel Godfrey – The Calculations of Rational Men (Blog Tour)

Author Daniel Godfrey

The Calculations Of Rational Men is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. Many thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

I’ve been a bit swamped with life and other things recently, so sadly have not had time to read The Calculations Of Rational Men, but I’m sharing this extract safe in the knowledge that I will not be the only person who reads it and immediately pops it on the TBR stack! The broad church of crime fiction has plenty of space for smart, slick thrillers that ask “What if?” and then explore the best and worst of the answers…

First, the official blurb: The United Kingdom and her allies have been targeted in a widespread nuclear attack. December, 1962. Just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 500 men of HMP Queen’s Bench have found themselves in the midst of a new thermonuclear nightmare. We do not know the status of our towns and cities. We shall not know their fate for several days. Prisoners, wardens and soldiers must now work together to forge a new future, even if some inside the shelter can only think of how to turn the situation to their personal advantage. Radioactive fallout will present the greatest risk to health. Medical staff and supplies are available. Caught in the very centre of the power struggles is Dr Joseph Marr. Just days into serving a life sentence for murder, he is given the responsibility for the health of all the men of HMP Queen’s Bench. But the question for him now is: how does he ensure those in the shelter survive?

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CHAPTER ONE

10th December 1962

Joseph Marr shivered and pulled his rough, woollen blanket closer across his shoulders. He’d been drifting in and out of sleep, the silence from the thick prison walls so different to the gentle murmurings of his cottage. Perhaps in a couple more years, he’d start to feel more at home. Now, though, only a few days after his incarceration at HMP Queen’s Bench, every small semblance of difference kept his eyes from closing. A foul odour filled his nostrils. Somewhere in the room, a chamber pot waited to be emptied.

The morning bell!

Joe flinched, almost shouted. The bell had the same pitch as a screaming, hungry child; drilling into his skull. Impossible to ignore. Wasn’t it still far too early? Yes, he could remember most of the time since he’d first settled onto his bunk. He’d only managed a few minutes dozing at the very most.

Damn it! Joe punched hard into his pillow as the noise subsided. At some point, he’d need to get some decent rest. But not now. The cell lights had been switched on, accompanied by their horrible electric hum. Worse, shouts were already echoing around the prison landing, just beyond the cell door. He listened for a moment. They weren’t the normal wake-up calls.

On the top bunk, Melvyn mumbled; “What’s happening?”

Joe glanced up as the canvas rippled and bulged with his cellmate’s movement, then re-focused his attention towards the painted dark green steel of his cell door. He had no idea. On a normal day, they would have about thirty minutes following the bell before the wardens came for them. Thirty minutes to get dressed, wash, and tidy their cell. But something odd was happening now – with more shouts echoing around the landing.

It was impossible not to think of a fight. Or perhaps another prisoner had tried to prematurely end their stay and leave this world behind. Either way, the wardens would surely come for him. He was a lot closer than the infirmary medic if they needed urgent help.

“Sounds like someone’s kicking off.” The bunk creaked and wobbled again. “What time is it?”

Early, thought Joe. It must be very early. The tiny window at the top of their cell wall might as well have been a narrow strip of black marble. He couldn’t believe it was six thirty. “Maybe three in the morning? Or four?”

“Shut up, doc.”

Shut up? Joe resisted the urge to place a dismissive jab into the underside of the canvas. Back home, he would have at least shouted some small obscenity at the ignorant thug above. And that, he realised, was exactly the sort of mistake he might make here when tired. There was a reason Melvyn slept soundly. Few challenged him. And yet Joe had quickly established an uneasy peace with his cellmate.

Joe played rugby. Forward line, top of the scrum. He was broad-shouldered and square-faced. And his nose didn’t quite run in a straight line, not after being broken three times. So, for the time being, Melvyn hadn’t yet tested how far he could push him – and the other prisoners had also kept their distance.

“You think it’s the McArthur brothers?”

Joe didn’t answer.

“Doc?”

“No,” Joe replied, testily. It might have been, of course. But all Melvyn was probably thinking about was the tobacco they owed him, rather than their welfare. And he didn’t want to speculate further. The shouts were getting closer, accompanied by hammering against the cell doors.

Something had brought the wardens out in force. They seemed to be making their way rapidly along the prison wing. The bell sounded again. Joe had never heard it go twice. Once was more than enough to rouse every man and bring them to their feet to wait for the daily ritual of slopping out.

“Inspection?”

Melvyn didn’t answer. Someone was at their cell door. Joe let his feet find the cold concrete floor and then he glanced towards the chamber pots. A moist length of turd was ready to be transported down the landing.

“Whatever it is,” Melvyn whispered, “it’s best to show ’em you don’t know what they’re on about. That they’ve got it wrong.”

Three quick blows struck the outside of their cell door. Keys jostled in the lock. The mechanism shifted almost begrudgingly before the door swung open.

It wasn’t six thirty. Joe knew that the instant he saw the warden’s face. He was a sallow white, his eyes unnaturally wide. As a doctor, Joe had seen the same look many times before on the faces of men and women for whom the end was near, or whom had at least realised the possibility.

“Grab your stuff,” shouted the warden, already on his way to the next cell. “Clothes, shoes – nothing else – and get down to the main yard. Now!”

The door had been left wide open. Joe pulled on his trousers, and then hurried out onto the landing to find prisoners streaming from their cells. Some were shouting, others whooping like they were getting off the trains at Blackpool. Most though remained half-asleep, obeying their instructions only through zombie-like instinct. Joe shouted; “What’s going on?”

The warden who’d freed them was already mid-way through the same hurried instruction at the next cell door. “We’ve got four minutes!”

And the size of the world suddenly collapsed down to a single isolated point.

“What?”

“The Russians have launched!”

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Daniel Godfrey is a writer of the techno-thrillers New Pompeii, Empire Of Time and The Synapse Sequence. New Pompeii was a Book Of 2016 for both the Financial Times and Morning Star and The Guardian included The Synapse Sequence in its round-up of the best recent science fiction in June 2018. New Pompeii was also shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the British Fantasy Awards 2017. Daniel has appeared at writing conventions FantasyCon, EasterCon, Nineworlds and Edgelit as both a panellist and moderator. He is from the Yorkshire coast, and currently lives and works in north Derbyshire.

You can follow the author on Twitter here: @campaniadreamin and on Instagram here: @dan.godfrey.54
Find his website at: www.daniel-godfrey.com/

Don’t forget to check out all the reviews on the blog tour…
…and the tour continues over on Instagram too!

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