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  • Published: 4 May 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143775423
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $19.99

Violet Black

Extract

ONE:

VIOLET

My head is an over-ripe watermelon, about to burst. My eyes are stinging, and my skin burns.

My limbs are heavy, as though someone poured molten lead into my veins. I can't turn my head, can't speak, can't see beyond this white-white-white.

I'm dead, just like all the other kids this epidemic has taken away.

Hell is a bright light searing your retinae. Heaven is a myth. I close my eyes. Wait for the reckoning.

TWO:

VIOLET

Violet. The name is a bubble inside my brain, perfectly rounded, but ready to burst as soon as I try to touch it. I've been here before, many times over recent hours-days-weeks. Stupid me, I can't stop reaching for that bubble, though.

Clinging onto life is a reflex, even when all else seems futile. My lungs are inflating, deflating. My heart beats a foreign rhythm. 

Violet. Blink once if you can hear me.

How can I blink when I can barely open my eyes? But I do, so slowly I can almost hear my eyelids creaking. My virus-addled brain tries to make sense of the images before me. A pointy nose, black-framed glasses, a receding hairline. Who does this Picasso face belong to, and what is that beeping, and who is moaning? Not the Picasso face, not me . . . I don't think.

'Violet,' the voice repeats, and it's as if someone has raised a pair of binoculars to my eyes.

The world rushes in. It's almost too much. But I reach for that bubble, step back into the light.

Blink. Once, just once. The doctor smiles.

'Welcome back, Violet Black.'

He thought I was going to die too.

I know that for a fact.

 

THREE:

ETHAN

Fact: Measles is a highly contagious disease that is easily spread by salivary or mucous droplets when coughing, sneezing or talking.

Fact: Measles can cause serious complications, from ear infections and pnuemonia to the most life-threatening, encephalitis.

Fact: Encephalitis is swelling of the brain. It can kill you. Trust me, I know.

Fact: There is a highly effective vaccine for measles.

Fact: In the late 2010s, a fall in vaccination rates led to a measles epidemic. Many years later, a new, deadlier strain of measles began to circulate – M-fever.

Fact: There is no effective vaccine for M-fever. Yet.

Fact: Ten percent of all those infected with M-fever will develop encephalitis. Ninety-five percent of those with encephalitis will die.

Fact: Against the odds, I have survived. Don't ask me how, or why. I guess I was lucky.


Violet Black Eileen Merriman

The first book in the Black Spiral Trilogy

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