Extract from #theLight by Jim Alexander

Today I welcome author Jim Alexander who is bringing us a taste of his new book the Light. You will remember I featured Jim previously when he released GoodCopBadCop and I am delighted to invite them again. We have a brilliant extract below, but first some details about the book!


the Light is the new novel out now from Jim Alexander (Metal Hurlant Chronicles, Batman 80-Page Giant, Star Trek Manga).

The book explores a world where you wake up and know this is the day you die. How would such a world shape the way we think, our views on each other and society, how we conduct our personal and financial affairs; how we live and how we will die?

This is Alexander’s second novel after the award-winning GoodCopBadCop. Check out the five and four-star reviews on Goodreads

More on ‘the Light’:

On a daily basis, people are required to take the Light; a device that ascertains whether this will be their last day. The story alternates between showcasing and building up this new world and telling the story of an ordinary person having to cope in extraordinary circumstances. We will see through his eyes a world so achingly similar to our own, but different in one shattering, all-pervasive way.

When approaching death, whether it’s dying in your sleep or experiencing your whole life flashing in front of your eyes, in the end it is no longer a case of floating towards the light. The Light wants to find you first.

the Light, coming in at 320 pages, is on sale now. Some links to follow:


Amazon (print)Amazon (Kindle)Kobo (ebook)


Amazon (print)Amazon (Kindle)

Kobo (ebook)

Barnes & Noble

Extract as follows;

Chapter 1


He opened his eyes. It was different this time.

It was five in the morning. Geoff had hit the snooze button once already before finally, irrefutably coming to his senses. It was as much of a reprieve as the world could muster. There was a feeling originating from the pit of his stomach, travelling through the extent of his gut. He knew that something was up. Today of all days. Today of any days.

In some respects the morning was no different to any other. Geoff’s undergarments were arranged on the dresser in his bedroom. Suit and shirt for the day, hung from the night before, were perched on the curtain rail. Watch and wallet rested on the second top shelf of the tall bookshelf which came with the flat as way of fixtures and fittings, gobbling up precious space, its presence made doubly conspicuous by the scarcity of books on display. Upended there like two lonely, slightly off-tilt sentries were Jilly Cooper’s latest and a Jack Reacher novel. Both were intended as birthday presents for his ex, only for the relationship not to last that long. Now they were uncomfortable, incidental, fictional reminders of what might have been, consigned to the gathering of dust.

Shaver and foam each occupied the designated place on the bathroom shelf next to toothpaste and toothbrush. It was a Tuesday and Geoff as a rule always shaved on a Tuesday. He was the kind of fella who made sure everything was where it should be, so he could sleepwalk his way through morning ablutions with no need to engage the brain. Get dressed, get ready for work. He would wake and everything was where it should be—as it should be—except that this was the morning where it wasn’t.

He woke with a strange tingly feeling moving up and down his arm. There was a rhythm to it, more psychological than physical in impact. It made him feel sick. He knew what this meant; who wouldn’t? In a flash, body swivelling, moving from the horizontal to the near-vertical, he climbed out of bed. The soles of his feet, moving downwards, made a slapping sound on impact with the wooden floor, disturbing the morning silence. To be fair, this early in the day you could argue the world hadn’t started yet. At least, not one he recognised. The heart hadn’t fully started beating. The pulse was still to quicken. What more was there to expect from a slap on a wooden floor? The sound of flapping fish on the deck of a fishing boat? The energetic patter of bath water? The sound of a glass eye falling from the heavens making impact with the ocean surface? The noise you’d associate across all genders with overenthusiastic masturbation?

The thing was he couldn’t feel the floor; couldn’t feel the solidity of it. Take away the reality of the wooden slats below him and there was no sensation to go with the sound. No thunder with the lightning. The soles of his feet were numb to the fact, numb to the world. If he closed his eyes and wished away his surroundings, for all he knew his unreliable feet could be standing on quicksand. Or hot burning coals. Except for the fact he wasn’t sinking, or burning.

His chest, on the other hand, felt the strain like it was broken. Like he was on a rollercoaster, on a straight hundred-and-eighty degree drop; the metal bar designed to prevent you from falling out doing its job only too well, overcompensating, crushing against you and pulverising your breastbone. He was giddy. He couldn’t tell if the room was spinning or he was spinning, or both. There was no feeling in the soles of his feet and the rest of his body seemed to want to compensate for this wildly. But this in itself wasn’t necessarily something to worry about. You would think.

Who was he kidding? Geoff closed his eyes and fought the temptation to moan, fearing if he started, he might not stop. No time like the present then, he thought as he lunged towards the curtains, opening them in theatrical fashion, only to be greeted by the all-pervading gloom, the darkness of late winter. He knew it was cold outside. It was that time of the year. He held up his hand. He pushed apart his fingers, establishing a good gap between digits, before diligently placing his palm against the window pane. Against a sheet of glass bereft of condensation, he pressed with force, or so the logic functions of his brain dictated was the case. But for all that, he could not feel its coolness. He could not feel the actual glass.

The thing was he was feeling fine. He was fit. He’d run a half marathon last year, with blisters on his feet the size of a small planet to show for it. He hadn’t taken a day off sick for something like eight months. The Dear John text he received from Brenda—the Jilly Cooper/Jack Reacher fan—complained about many things, but personal stamina was not one of them.

For something better to do, Geoff grunted loudly. It was a short-lived outburst which was no kind of mercy at all, the ensuing silence coming across as stark and undernourished, worse than before. His mind was a cluster of stinging nettles. What to do? This wasn’t happening to him. This was happening to him and he better do something about it. He was mistaken, his instincts were wrong; he’d made some kind of error. He wasn’t mistaken. He was still asleep. He was awake. This was fucked up. This was really fucked up.

A thought popped into his head, a terrifyingly volatile one; the kind that made you wonder whose side your brain was on. Was it possible to die standing on your feet? Literally standing on your feet? How could you stop your body from folding in on itself? Your feet from buckling under the weight of you?

His mind was racing, racing, racing while ever conscious of the fact he needed to calm down. Taking deep breaths in rapid succession, shallow and deep, which began to overlap, utterly befuddled, struggling to distinguish inhalation with exhalation. The only way to bring all this to a close, he decided, was to stop breathing. What was the point, he thought? He held the thought along with his breath; crystallised; caught in a loop, seizing his brain, whirling, maddening, like the satellite images of a storm, signifying overwhelming threat, an impending doom. Was this ever going to end? Don’t answer the question. His palm was still up at the glass, limbs locked and fused. A statuesque idiot, hoping for divine providence that, get real, was never going to happen. Each of his thoughts picked up an echo, flitting around inside his skull like a succession of trapped birds. His body not moving, his mind refusing to stay still, was this how he intended to spend his last day on earth?

‘What’s the point?’ he finally said aloud. Popping into his head, he felt like he was a magician conjuring up a cliff face, something he could hang onto to stop him tumbling into the abyss. ‘I still have my voice. Christ, some might say that’s my biggest asset.’

It was that—and the fact he’d started breathing again.

‘Only asset,’ he added, snorting in jest. And suddenly his mind started to adjust to something like normality—breathing more regular—bordering on the blissful.

He thought about going back to bed and just sleeping it off. There was a theory going round if you recognised the signs and avoided taking the Light, introduced a liberal measure of self-denial to the mix, that you could rewire the brain and kick-start the physiology and so avoid the inevitable. He’d heard the stories just like everyone else, but mere hours ago he would have happily scoffed at them. Helpings of withering scorn dismissing them as urban myth with a flourish of a hand and enlarging of the eyes.

‘I need to work superfast,’ he said. ‘Don’t have time and whose fault is that?’

An answer was not forthcoming. The sense of bliss from just seconds before had already burned itself out. Slowly, mournfully, he withdrew his hand from the window. His mind was still trying to keep up with events, the unfolding raw materials of reality, but once it did so, he shook his head furiously. Lethargy was a luxury right now he could ill afford.

He knew he shouldn’t. He knew his yammering brain had wasted enough time as it was. What was the expression? Hope springs eternal. As if to emphasise the point, Geoff dropped to all fours. He stuck his head under the bed. With both hands he scrambled around furiously. He’d only recently put it in there, but as things stood he would have been as well burying it at the bottom of the Bermuda Triangle. Fingers and thumbs, inert and devoid of feeling, did their best to scurry and search through all the crap which had accumulated there over the last two years, starting the day he moved in. An empty bin; bedside lamp with no bulb; used batteries; a couple of plastic bags full of magazines, the majority still in their original wrappers; a ceramic ashtray; a small artificial Christmas tree; a hand-carved chess set; an old pair of trainers; a packet of condoms, bashed but unopened; a Bon Jovi t-shirt. Signs of a wasted life.

Conscious of time—always conscious of time. Time an unconstrained animal, something had to give; perhaps it would be his sanity. Hands formed as fists pushed into both sides of a block of cardboard. He had his reprieve. Revelling in its pliability he let out a victorious yelp. Hands so compelled, in the shape of claws, dragged out the shoebox. Secured in his line of sight, he took off the lid which he tossed, spinning elegantly, over his shoulder. He peered in, his face a strange combination of agony and ecstasy switching from one to the other; expecting miracles in an age where such things were no longer considered fashionable.

Point proven, inside the box was a platoon of tiny, half-chewed, dark green plastic toy soldiers. Their only function, it appeared, was to keep guard over an emaciated bundle of notes. If the shoebox was a cupboard, it was enough to make even a battle-hardened Old Mother Hubbard weep. Hope; he was blinded by hope, and hope in this instance came in the guise of an old cardboard box. It was the kind of hope that dug him out of a hole only to subsequently throw him back in again. And now without hope, the only thing on hand to fill the vacuum was sick realisation. He stared slack-jawed at the meagre savings on display in front of him. He had been deluding himself and not for the first time. He’d tricked himself. He had only himself to blame. He had fucked himself.

Maybe he was mistaken in his prognosis. Perhaps he’d misread that troublesome feeling in his gut that greeted him as he awoke. It was there, then it was gone; ephemeral; the dispersal of dandelion seeds in a light breeze. It had happened once before. He’d come to and thought that was it, curtains for the Geoffster. (The other type of curtains.) Back then there was no feeling in his arms, but that was a night where he’d slept on his front in the grip of a deep sleep, one that wouldn’t seem out of place in a mausoleum, hands tucked under his hips, effectively cutting the circulation from the elbows down. He thought he was going to die, but he was mistaken. He’d dropped the ball. The first of nine lives, he remembered thinking, as the feeling reluctantly, jarringly returned to his hands. He made the seesaw staccato transition from distressed to calm, swallowing back his anxiety and gathering up his composure like the folds of a favourite shirt. A false alarm, thankfully. It was only his arms that had been dead.

If that was the first of nine, then this would be his second. He still liked those odds.

He could just check and then he’d know for sure. Extinguish the doubt. Exorcise the ambiguity. But to do so he’d need to steel himself and overcome his natural default position as the cowardly lion. He’d need to face that very special type of terror. The thing that stops you from finding out, real or imagined, what’s lurking around a corner in the dark; or from peeking through sweaty fingers at the nerve-shredding reveal in a horror film; or stopping you, despite the pain, so regular and severe, from making that doctor’s appointment. The terror of certainty.

The shoebox was his ‘mattress fund.’ The idea was to save enough cash to allow you to whore, drink, smoke, gamble, and gorge the whole day through. Or that’s how it should have been. In fact, that’s what it was only months previously. Safely tucked inside the box, there was several thousand easy. But he needed a new catalytic converter for his Fiat 500 Abarth 599 convertible. And how could he refuse her? It was love at first sight; bowled over by her design and attitude; sporty, compact, bijou, and fruity. Clean, but could get dirty if she wanted. It was true love. It was man/machine love. Right from the off, smitten, he had a name for her: Vera.

And what were the chances? One month a catalytic converter, the next Vera needed a replacement gearbox. It was a personal badge of honour, one of several, to drive in the city centre as fast as he could. To cut corners, sometimes literally. He hated the idea of having to slow down. All that yanking, turning, and skidding at full speed had a cost, though. Sometimes, as he swerved in front of another car to claim the one parking space available over a growled whisper of ‘fuck you-fuck you-fuck you,’ he could hear the scrunching, screaming metal of the car’s insides. Small car, high maintenance; Vera, the shiny love of his life, was crippling him. Nothing made Geoff’s eyes water more than the phrase ‘monthly instalments.’ To pay for the repairs he could have asked for an extension to one of his personal loans, but he just couldn’t face the medicals. So what else was he to do, buy a fucking Panda? What it came down to was that he needed someone to look at his car over a number of weekends and no self-respecting streetwise mechanic would allow anyone to jump the queue for anything other than hard cash. This was Leytonstone, East London, after all; a law to itself. A mini-universe.

For as long as he could remember (as a rule, he discounted any memories from before the age of twelve) he’d always wanted to live in the city. And he had followed his dreams all the way to a cramped flat in Leytonstone with its unloved bookshelf, which at least gave his cleaner something to dust and make him feel he was getting marginally more value for his money in return for his services. The irony of this wasn’t completely lost on him, but he didn’t care much anyway. The rent was extortionate for a place too small to swing his ex-girlfriend’s cat. Not that he could be persuaded to keep swinging for long. He had this thing about cat hairs getting into his eyes, mouth, every orifice you could think of. It was intolerable, made him want to scratch to the point of requiring a tranquiliser. In fact, thinking back, on one of the rare occasions he found himself back at hers, the act of propelling the furball in a fit of pique at the wall (to be fair, it had been a particularly bad day at work) may well have proved the final straw; the catalyst for her Dear John text. In the blink of a watery eye (a cat hair had got in it) his current had become his ex. Tough outcome, especially considering, apart from a broken claw, the cat was perfectly okay.

Living and working in the city meant everything to him. Any decision worth making—politics, finance, commerce—was made here. He could feel the power of the place vibrate through his feet, shuffle inside his shoes (when his feet still had feeling, that is). He was part of a monster, a socio-financial complex; a nation state in all but name; a Garden of Eden for a modern age; a city landscape to form the perfect backdrop for any self-respecting pop video. Stuff your New York. When London farted, the rest of the world, nostrils flaring, knew about it. He was a tiny component, sure; a particle, a corpuscle, an ant—and not an important one at that—but part of the fabric nonetheless. Part of the colony. For Geoff, living in the city was worth the premium; worth swallowing up all he earned and then some more. Even the air—the gritty, shitty, dirty city air—he’d take a moment to breathe it in. It was that simple, made even the bad stuff bearable; better than bearable. Residing in London made life worth living.

But what about death? Where did that fit in?

He should never have needed to dip into his shoebox, that shouldn’t have mattered at all, but his bonus was postponed for what seemed like the hundredth time. Another fall in the markets was the reason. Fucking banks. Gutless. And it was a thousand times worse, he lamented, his cross to bear, working for one of them. His bonus should have been paid by now and used to refill the shoebox without fanfare. Mattress fund replenished. But these days it was never about now, always a case of jam tomorrow. It couldn’t be helped, so his manager would tell him. It wasn’t the right time. He needed to be patient. But for Geoff it was the right time. It was no use to him tomorrow. He needed funds desperately. More than what he had, the bare bones, which was scarcely enough to buy a date and walnut muffin and grande (venti at a push) cappuccino.

He’d spent it. He was spent. He hadn’t saved nearly enough, and now he was beyond saving. He’d fucked up. He was the kind of guy who fucked up a lot, but not one to apologise for it or learn from his mistakes. The fact he never gave to charity was another badge of honour. It was something in his own mind he could happily justify. It was a choice, a brutal one. A brutal life choice. Deep down, if put to the test, he’d probably agree with the assessment he wasn’t a particularly likeable person. He rooted for the bad guy at the movies. More Joker than Batman. But still, this wasn’t a reason for anyone to deserve to die.

‘This can’t be happening to me,’ he said. ‘It’s so unfair,’ his voice again, this time agreeing with himself. He was sobbing, knew he had to do something. He slapped his face with his hand. It wasn’t a hard slap, no conviction behind it. He felt a tingle move up and down his cheek in the shape of radio waves. In contrast, there was nothing in the way of feeling emanating from the palm of his hand. It was like part of him was cut off from the world already. People spent their whole lives preparing for this, but this didn’t mean they were ever truly ready for it. ‘I’m going to die,’ he wailed. ‘This is the day. This is the day.’

Then from the depths of his despair there blossomed a solid, unexpurgated thought. Maybe, he reflected, there was still time. ‘It’s early,’ he said, ‘it’s still so fucking early.’ It was as if by saying the words out loud made the day all the fucking earlier.

There was a square panel fitted to the living room wall in its customary position next to the door. From it came a mauve glow. It was unavoidable, but Geoff wasn’t ready to face it just yet. His was a ground floor flat, two rooms, and for now, in the grip of stultifying indecision not sure what to do next, he was staying put in the bedroom. His routine would have to be the first casualty of the day. He’d bypass a shower. Although it was Tuesday, there would be no shave today. In any case, today of all days, he didn’t relish being in close proximity to a razor—or shaving cream, strangely, for that matter. At least his stubble would enjoy a stay of execution.

‘The early bird,’ he said. He had to keep talking. His voice, its timbre, was something he could rely on. But even this strategy, basic as it was, was not without risk. He heard a noise he did not immediately recognise before realising it was his own laughter. This was a situation where rationality, like ready cash, was not a given.

All he could do was wait until the laughter—not loud, an audible tickle trying to break out of the back of his throat—subsided. He started to count inside his head from one upwards. Every number was a sledgehammer cracking open his hopes and dreams. He thought if he reached one hundred he would scream, which at least would replace the laughter. He thought he’d collapse to the ground, froth at the mouth, and start chewing on the carpet. At the count of thirty-one, mercifully, the laughter stopped.

Geoff got dressed in record time, taking advantage of where everything should be, but ruining everything by having to halt, bend over, and redo the tying of a shoelace which flopped in his defective hands like boiled spaghetti. He was aware, always aware, of that unobtrusive, inconspicuous square panel in the next room. Its dampened iris light was burning a hole through the wall and into the back of his skull. It was the Light and wasn’t for getting out of his head. It came with the flat. What was he supposed to do? It was the elephant in the other room.

He was dressed and almost out of there. He dashed into the living room, animated, a collection of jingly jangly limbs. But that all stopped as he stood motionless at the door. It had been a morning of fits and starts, now he needed to take a moment and expunge the thought, fight the compulsion to place his palm on the Light. His body spasmed; it shrank and shook as it resisted a lifetime of conditioning. The global crash that was the First Day happened when he was seven years old. To take the Light was as much a morning ritual as a five-second yawn or ten-second scratching of his rear-end. All three would have to wait. He willed himself into movement, his frame unfolding, as he hauled himself out of the door.

He had panicked but he could take the Light at any time, or so the voice at the back of his head was telling him. But he knew; he really did know. Except that he really didn’t know.

In a flash, the clinking of keys, he darted back indoors to face that square panel once more. There had been enough drama in his life, more than enough that morning, so without fanfare—or at least without any more unnecessary grief—he placed his palm on the Light. In return, up on the screen there would be a tick or a cross. It was as simple as that. No thumbs up or emoticons, nothing that could pass as social media. You either passed or failed. You hoped to pass many, many times and live a long and full and at times fulfilling life. You only failed the Light once.

He was blinking too much, so barely registered the screen, not that there was much in the way of information to absorb. Moments later, he was back out the door and on his way. He could feel the invisible umbilical cord between him and his precious flat stretch perilously. He heard the door behind him slam shut. It was such a final sound. Unhappiness enveloped Geoff like a shroud.

At one point in the recent past, he thought Brenda was going to move in. Right up to the extent he couldn’t sleep with worry, wondering where she’d put her stuff, how much space he’d need to free up to make room, terrified at the prospect of having to downsize his seventy-five-inch TV screen. And if that wasn’t enough, she wouldn’t be alone. The reality hit home, setting off endless scenarios in his head, plotting events which would lead to the euthanizing of Public Enemy Number One—her tabby—while minimising the risk of any blame being attached to him. But that was all over, it was never to be. Brenda was out of his life and now he was going to die alone.

‘No,’ he admonished himself, dragging him out of his self-pitying stupor. ‘Not throwing in the towel yet. Still have a Plan B.’

He was outside, feet placed firmly on terra firma, or so his brain was telling him. He was only in his suit, no coat, despite the low temperatures. Whatever was going to kill him, he’d decided it wouldn’t be the cold. His head spun. He breathed in the petrol-tinged air. It was raining; a shower; a light one. Down the street, not too far, he could see where the shower started (or ended). He drew breath and focussed on the twenty feet or so in front of him where no rain was falling. It was impermanence in action. The world could be so different, one of marked contrasts. One side wet and the other side dry. On the one hand shimmering and treacherous, and on the other safe and unchanging. He was next to a road and cars passed by, moving from one state to the next, dry to wet, wet to dry, between both worlds; testimony that transition was possible. He couldn’t recollect ever having seen anything like it, not in all of his twenty-nine years. Or perhaps instead, it was the first time in his life he’d considered such a thing significant enough to notice.

Twenty-nine, that was the key. No one ever died as young as twenty-nine. That was it; he had to be dreaming. The rain, the shoebox, the Light, they were all the stuff of dreams. But could he really take the chance? Didn’t people die in their sleep? In their dreams?

He awoke from his reverie and focussed on Plan B. A short, hurried walk took Geoff to Sainsbury’s Local, still early, but showing stirrings of being open for business. More to the point, there wasn’t a queue at the cash machine outside. He strolled, back straight, setting his sights on that hole in the wall. He couldn’t help but experience a rush; an anticipation of the fact, hallelujah, that his luck was finally for turning. Once there, utilising finger and thumb, he slipped his debit card into the card reader. There were some gentle clicks and clacks as the machine accepted his plastic with unfussy motorised ease. He entered his PIN, thinking that this was such a blatant, brazenly obvious and audacious thing to do that it just might work. That somehow, while he may not have been the first to consider such a course of action, he was the first not to immediately dismiss it out of hand. Ominously, from the cash machine there came a swishing, clattering din. A message popped up on the screen saying ‘Verification Void,’ and despite the wild optimism of moments before, Geoff knew it wasn’t referring to the validity of his PIN. With an iron pyrite gargle down the metallic tunnel, the machine swallowed his card. Frustrated, beyond frustration, Geoff swore under his breath but wasn’t of a mind to stop there. Undeterred, he produced several more cards, repeating the same action while hoping for a different result. The machine took no time in eating all the plastic in his possession, company credit card included. All the while, Geoff, if not mad (and it was a big ‘if’), painted the picture of an increasingly agitated man.

‘Why don’t you just swallow me up as well, you bastard?’ he wailed, bringing both hands down with an almighty thump on the non-cash dispensing cash dispenser. He then stood rigid, wide-eyed, every muscle in his body frozen, terrified that it might just do that. It had devoured everything else. After the morning he’d had he was due a few flashes of insanity. The odd brain fart. Now having subsided there followed moments of clarity. He was content to accept that nothing of the sort was going to happen, another urban myth he might have heard (or imagined) where people who failed the Light were eaten up by cash machines. His mind was hostage to fortune and fairy stories.

There was no one around, but the feeling he was surrounded was all he could think about. He was twitchy, ready to turn to face his nemesis in the shape of a nearby streetlight. But this was no ordinary streetlight. There was the regular LED lighting, perched in its customary position up top forming a near forty-five degree arch to light the way when dusk falls. Where there’s a head there’s also a heart. Halfway down the column, occupying a central position, was a box which emitted sangria or mulberry light, or some such purple hue. This was the Light, readily available twenty-four hours a day as way of public service. It was universal, although less so on the streets where some were vandalised or awaiting maintenance, which usually came down to something as straightforward as the application of a screen wipe from an employee at Waltham Forest Council.

Its prevalence did not stop there. The Light for the most part was in people’s homes and offices. It was in hotel rooms. Every eventuality was catered for in case you’d simply left home and forgotten to take it, or were away on a business trip, or who knows, maybe on a dirty stop out. There could be no excuse, the Light was everywhere.

Before going on holiday, in addition to making sure you have your traveller cheques, plug adaptor, the correct documentation, travel insurance, and the right vaccinations, you needed to make arrangements for the Light. You needed to apply for a Light visa, which came in the form of a barcode and only worked alongside a biometric passport. If you were visiting a country that didn’t extensively offer the Light (for whatever reason) you had to ensure you took sufficient currency to see you through the holiday, then resign yourself to the pain of sorting things out when you got back.

The stipulation was clear, every day you needed to place your palm on the Light. It was accepted, the social norm, the first thing you did (or as near as) when you awoke. For an external reading outside your home or place of work, additionally you’d input an ID number, more than likely your National Insurance number, more than likely using a key fob, or just as likely a chip implanted in one of your fingers.

The Light measured the level of electrolytes on the palm of your hand. It didn’t matter if you built up a sweat, generated any kind of heat, there was no getting around the fact that a reading of no electrolytes equalled Last Day.

Doubly so, there was no getting around the fact you had to offer up a human palm. There were many instances of people—desperate people—begging, bribing, and threatening friends, family, and the vulnerable; a sacrificial lamb to offer up a hand. The living imitating the soon-to-be-dead. But this was illegal and the penalties severe (at least for the living). There were numerous police and government departments dedicated to combatting Light fraud. The ultimate sanction was to be barred from the taking the Light entirely, effectively ostracised and cut off from society.

Could it be considered acceptable no matter the circumstances for someone with no future to jeopardise another’s future? Social norms were built up, the establishing of taboos; the favours, requests, threats; the one thing you could not ask for.

Not that this was of concern to Geoff. He could have phoned and tried to persuade Brenda to put her hand forward in place of his. Just maybe she might have said yes if he’d settled for being friends and hadn’t posted all those nasty things about her on Facebook. She would have been his knight in shining armour, like that was going to happen. But he was an anxious man, full of frantic thoughts. Brimming with desperate yearnings, he was a dam with a structural weakness which threatened to overflow and burst open.

There were no loopholes, or was it simply that people had stopped looking for them, afraid of what they might find instead. That life was a secondary concern. That everything that led up to the here and now was ancillary and superfluous. Meaningless. Geoff was not alone in facing a day like no other, frightened out of his wits; matters made worse by the real possibility that his Last Day was closer to the finishing than the starting line. It was the realisation that scared him half to death.

Over half, as was likely the case.

About the Author

My first novel GoodCopBadCop is a modern crime take on Jekyll and Hyde where the ‘good cop’ and ‘bad cop’ are the same person. You can’t move around its Goodreads page without tripping up on five-star and four-star reviews, which is nice. In another life I scripted the adventures of Batman, Spider-Man and Judge Dredd. I often wonder what became of those characters.

My new book the Light explores a world where you wake up and know this is the day you die. How would such a world shape the way we think, our views on each other and society, how we conduct our personal and financial affairs; how we live and how we will die?

To be fair the word death pops up in the book quite a lot, but the book very much revolves around the living. How our understanding of death informs how we live our lives. It’s possibly the strangest conundrum associated with us all, the human race. It is our awareness of mortality that defines us.

I’m not saying the Light has any answers. Maybe asking the question and expecting an answer isn’t the point. The point is we’re here, it’s now, and it’s enough to know where we came from and ultimately where we’re headed. This is what I mean when I ask you to join me as we look to the Light.