An unknown virus has taken hold on the Isle of Man, a small island in the middle of the Irish Sea. It is so contagious and so deadly that the World Health Organisation, with the help of the British Government has quarantined the whole island. The quarantine is rigidly enforced by men with guns and the determination not to allow the virus to escape the boundaries of the island. Street marshals in protective clothing don’t hesitate to shoot anyone breaking the stringent lock-down. The church said it was the work of the Devil, but even the Devil could not have dreamt up a nightmare as bad as Coviman-12. If it breaks loose from the island, it could wipe out half of humanity.
INSIDE THE ZONE
In Bishop’s College, a private school, Nick and Jack thought they were returning from the winter break to continue studies for their A levels. Within days of arriving back, the quarantine is enforced and they find themselves locked in for the duration – or until the virus breaches the school boundary and ends their young lives in untold agony. As the weeks pass, and the strain and tensions become unbearable, events inside the college turn their world on its head. The future looks bleak for Nick and Jack, though they discover that there are some unexpected benefits along the way.
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I was just 18 years and 1 month old when I saw my second dead body. It came as a bit of a shock before breakfast to see a group of students standing round the hunched form of a fellow sixth-former. Braxton Boddington lay slumped at the foot of the sundial in the middle of the quadrangle and, judging from the blood-splattered hockey stick that lay next to him, his brains and the top of his skull had been removed with some considerable force. His demise had been determined at the hands of a man. A man with some strength, I would say. So much for my initial skills of detection.
I guess I shouldn’t be quite so blasé about a dead body, but I never had liked Boddington, so I wasn’t going to shed too many tears for him now. And anyway, back in early February of 1967, the threat of death was all around us. We’d been intimidated by death’s black menace for weeks. We had almost become immune to the concept, though I admit that the blood and gore was more than I had wanted at eight o’ clock in the morning.
Since that morning in early February, during my life I’ve seen many more dead bodies, but only one has matched the fury and carnage of that scene, and I had seen that other one just two days earlier. Death is always disquieting, even an expected death. But only yesterday, Braxton Boddington had been a living, breathing individual. Even during his short eighteen years, he had developed complex and sophisticated layers of personality and emotion. His brain, now spread across the flagstones, had harboured many thousands of computations and memories. That was yesterday. Today only his corpse remained, and even that had been defiled, dishonoured and pillaged by some unknown assassin or assassins. You’d have to hate a man quite a lot to do that to him. So much for my secondary skills of detection.
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