Excerpt: Eden by Tim Lebbon
The BiblioSanctum is pleased to be participating in the tour for Eden by Tim Lebbon, an original eco-horror thriller pitting humanity against nature in a time of environmental upheaval. Today we are sharing an exciting excerpt from the book, available now from Titan Books wherever books are sold! Check it out, and be sure to also visit the other stops on the tour!
In a time when Earth’s rising oceans contain enormous islands of refuse, the Amazon rainforest is all-but destroyed, and countless species edge towards extinction, the Virgin Zones were established in an attempt to combat the change. Off-limits to humanity and given back to nature, these thirteen vast areas of land were intended to become the lungs of the world.
Dylan leads a clandestine team of adventurers into Eden, the oldest of the Zones. Attracted by the challenges and dangers posed by the primal lands, extreme competitors seek to cross them with a minimum of equipment, depending only on their raw skills and courage. Not all survive.
Also in Dylan’s team is his daughter Jenn, and she carries a secret–Kat, his wife who abandoned them both years ago, has entered Eden ahead of them. Jenn is determined to find her mother, but neither she nor the rest of their tight-knit team are prepared for what confronts them. Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way. And here, nature is no longer humanity’s friend.
Excerpt from Eden by Tim Lebbon, published by Titan Books. Copyright © 2020 by Tim Lebbon
Jenn always loved the companionable tension between seven people who’d prepared together many times before. There was the clink and brush of kit being checked and packed, the smell of chafe cream and sun lotion, the sweet aroma of a fuel-heavy breakfast bubbling on the camp stove, the swill of water in bottles and rucksack bladders, and the nervous and excited chatter, quieter than usual, as if speaking too loud would disturb the comfortable balance they had all found.
She loved the sense of danger, too. They all did. That was why they were here, away from their families, homes and real-world jobs. They all agreed that this might be the most dangerous thing any of them had ever done.
Forest sounds muttered around them—the hushing of leaves in the morning breeze, bird song, secretive rustlings as small creatures went about their dawn tasks unseen. It was everything that made Jenn feel invigorated and alive, and a refreshing change to the rattle and roar of the aircraft.
“Thirty minutes,” the woman said. She called herself Pocahontas, or Poke for short. Jenn had laughed when she’d introduced herself, but Poke’s stern glare had seen the smile away. She conveyed all manner of experience and knowledge in that look, and Jenn had to respect that. No matter what she chose to call herself.
“You don’t look like a Pocahontas,” Cove said as he strapped a rolled bivvy bag to the top flap of his rucksack.
“So what the fuck do I look like?” Poke asked. She was sitting on a fallen tree, smoking a foul-smelling cigarette and watching them prepare. Her dad said Poke was the best fixer he’d ever met.
Jenn found her fascinating. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen anyone smoking. She was pleased to see that the old woman was smiling, and her dark wrinkled skin, lean physique and functional clothing indicated that she was very much at home out here. The gold on her fingers and hanging from her ears showed that she still liked some of the finer things. Her hair was snow-white, and braided tight to her scalp. She had scars. Jenn wondered at the stories each one might tell.
“Maybe a Mildred,” Cove said.
“Or a Whitney,” Jenn said.
Poke laughed out loud, rocking back on the tree and coughing cigarette smoke at the sky. “I guess after Eden’s eaten you all up, I’ll change my name.” She stood and walked a wide circle around them, watching them work.
The pilot had surprised them by turning around and taking off minutes after landing and disgorging them on the old road. Jenn thought he’d have at least checked the aircraft over, but he’d seemed eager to leave. Poke, emerging from the trees as soon as they appeared, said that if he was caught his plane would be impounded, and it was his only source of income. It wasn’t only people he smuggled.
She’d led them into the forest and to a clearing where she’d prepared for their arrival. The stew cooking on the camp fire made Jenn’s mouth water, and she looked forward to how it would fend off the early morning chill. She had decided not to ask what meat it contained.
“Twenty-five minutes,” Poke said.
“It’s a six-hour hike to the boundary,” Cove said.
“And?” Poke stopped close to Cove.
“So why the countdown?”
Poke looked him up and down, chuckled, then continued circling the group without replying. Cove glanced at Jenn and raised an eyebrow. He was the most beholden to gear among them. Branded labels adorned his clothing, rucksack and other kit, and he’d probably spent more money equipping himself for this expedition than the rest of them put together. She wanted to tell Poke how experienced Cove was, but it wasn’t her place to stand up for him. He wasn’t usually averse to singing his own praises.
“Poke’s got us on a tight schedule,” Jenn’s father said. “Listen to her. She knows what she’s doing.”
Jenn noticed that Poke had stopped pacing and was staring at her.
“What?” Jenn asked.
“Nothing.” Poke stomped out her dog-end and pulled another rolled cigarette from her shirt pocket. “Just wondering where the rest of your gear is.”
“Lucy’s already mourning her precious gadgets,” Gee said, chuckling. Lucy glared at him from where she stood next to the small pile of kit they were leaving behind. Eden was a pristine place, the oldest and wildest of the world’s thirteen Virgin Zones, and Dylan had insisted that they treat it with the appropriate respect. This expedition was as stripped down as any they had ever undertaken—no hand tablets or net implants, no GPS, no satphones, no electronics or gadgets at all. It was them against Eden, and there was a purity about that which Jenn found beguiling.
I love writing, reading, triathlon, real ale, chocolate, good movies, occasional bad movies, and cake.
I was born in London in 1969, lived in Devon until I was eight, and the next twenty years were spent in Newport. My wife Tracey and I then did a Good Thing and moved back to the country, and we now live in the little village of Goytre in Monmouthshire with our kids Ellie and Daniel. And our dog, Blu, who is the size of a donkey.
I love the countryside … I do a lot of running and cycling, and live in the best part of the world for that.
I’ve had loads of books published in the UK, USA, and around the world, including novels, novellas, and collections. I write horror, fantasy, and now thrillers, and I’ve been writing as a living for over 8 years. I’ve won quite a few awards for my original fiction, and I’ve also written tie-in projects for Star Wars, Alien, Hellboy, The Cabin in the Woods, and 30 Days of Night.
A movie’s just been made of my short story Pay the Ghost, starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Wayne Callies. There are other projects in development, too.
I’d love to hear from you! Website: http://www.timlebbon.net Twitter: @timlebbon