Friday 29 November 2013


Around us is an invisible ecosystem of spirit creatures.

Tom Corloni is one of the few people who can see them. But this gift means that they notice him in return - and he looks delicious.

In order to protect himself from magical predators, Tom becomes the apprentice of a black magician.

While other kids are at cricket practice, Tom is learning to deal with demons, trading pieces of himself for safety and power.

But how much will be left by the time he's ready to graduate? And what will he do if his mum finds out?

Discipline is a gripping fantasy tale, taking you from a small country town to the gates of Hell.

If you're in Australia, I can send you a copy for $25 including postage - just message me through Facebook.

If you're elsewhere in the world or you prefer an ebook, you can get Discipline from:
Still not sure? Here's a little sample for you. At this stage of the story, Tom is nine years old and his ancient master is showing him how a magician enforces his borders.

At least once a month Kevin would patrol the perimeter and I usually accompanied him. It was a car trip of some twelve hours. We’d drive from town out to the edge of our territory, then do a long loop around it. He had a map with the agreed boundaries on it, hand-drawn in meticulous detail, and we followed it very carefully.

The windows were always wound down, even in the coldest weather. I didn’t know why until the first time we found something.

“Can you smell that?” Kevin said.

I sniffed deeply. There was something rank in the air, a musky miasma that heated my nose like chilli.

“It’s pretty yucky, Master. What is it?”

“It’s not a demon, and it’s nothing holy. What do you think?”

“Something undead? A zombie?”

“Good guess, but no. The spells that generate them generally keep the odour contained. So what else could it be? I know you know it, it’s in the basic texts.”

I sniffed again. It was like really bad breath, with a coppery tang to it. And as I breathed out, there was a hint of wet fur.

“Is it something cursed, like a wendigo or a were?”

“I believe so. We won’t know which until we find it, but it will be something of that sort. A predator, certainly, it stinks of old blood.”

He pulled the car over to the verge and slowed down to a crawl, taking us between the trees until we were completely hidden from the road. Reaching down behind the seat, he extracted a long leather satchel.

“Wait here,” he said, “don’t leave the car for any reason.”

He got out and closed the door, then jogged off into the bush with the satchel slung over one shoulder. I closed all the windows and locked the doors, just to be on the safe side.

I still wasn’t very good at waiting, so it was only a minute or so before I was bored. I rooted around in the glove-box and behind the seats, coming up with a few items of interest. There was a multi-tool in a leather pouch, so I spent a good ten minutes swinging out the various blades and discovering all of its hidden gadgets.

Then I got stuck into an old book of Norse legends, which was told rather amusingly from Loki’s point of view. I was just chuckling at a joke he’d played on his stupid half-brother, when I heard a rustling in the bushes.

For a moment I was caught between the kid I was and the adult I wanted to be. Half of me said to just keep reading, because what I couldn’t see wouldn’t hurt me. The other half wanted to get a good look at what was coming. After a few seconds of indecision, the smart part won and I dropped the book, scanning the bushes while my hands plucked a blade out of the multi-tool.

I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, so I knelt on the seat to get a better view. I scanned all around the car, heart thumping in my ears. Nothing, for long tense moments. Then a single tap rang out right above my head. I shrank away from the roof in fear.

I held my breath and tried to listen for movement, but my heart pounded louder and louder until the breath finally squeezed out of me. I made my breathing so quiet that it couldn’t possibly know I was there. Silence was my protection. Stillness was my camouflage. I hunkered there until pins and needles ran up my shins, but nothing stirred. And eventually I began to feel foolish.

Was there something up there, or had a big gum-nut just fallen onto the roof? And if there was something up there, staying still made no more sense than ignoring it and reading a book. If it was on the car, it knew I was inside. But was it up there at all, or had I just gotten the heebie jeebies?

I reached up and knocked three times on the roof. I waited breathlessly, finally sighing a breath of relief. It must have been a twig or something falling off a tree.

Pang. Pang. Pang.

Three slow sharp taps on the roof. It was the mad axeman story all over again, but with some sort of furry beast on the roof instead of your garden-variety homicidal maniac. I swallowed hard, trying to control my shakes.

My hand was cramping around the multi-tool, and I saw that I’d pulled out the corkscrew to defend myself with. I quickly pushed it back in and fumbled with the handle, trying to find a blade. But the whole tool slipped through my sweaty fingers. I dived after it, spending a nightmare moment upside down in the footwell, scrabbling under the seat.

I found the multitool and got upright, pulled a blade out, then shrank back in the seat. I stared at the roof. Then the windscreen. Then the other windows. Then the roof again. And so on, until my neck began to hurt.

Stop it, I told myself, if this thing wanted to kill me it would have done so already. It moved on the roof, some squeaky foot noises with a few scraping sounds. Then it began to rain up there. A yellow rain which ran down the windscreen. I gawped for just a moment, then turned on the wipers.

A face appeared at the top of the windscreen, peering down from the roof, turning left and right with the windscreen wipers. It had a long narrow muzzle, covered in black curly hair. Like a big dog, but with spookily human eyes. It was entranced by the wipers and I almost laughed. I might be safe after all, maybe this thing was too dumb to hurt me. I hit the wash button and squirted water onto the windscreen, getting rid of the thing’s pee. It was fascinated by that as well, blinking furiously. And it seemed a little taken aback when I turned it all off.

“All right Rover,” I said to it, “down you get.”

It looked at me, turning its head to one side.

“Come on, boy, off the roof!” I hit the roof with my fist. “Down!”

It started to obey me, slinking down to the bonnet. Its body was more or less canine, covered in that same springy black hair, though it also had a great fin along its back. It turned around to face me, hunkering down to have a good look.

“Shoo!” I told it. “Bad dog, off the car!”

It growled suddenly and I very nearly shat myself. This was a ragged menacing noise from the dawn of civilisation, which it set me straight about the predator/prey relationship I had with the werebeast.

The threat activated my left eye, which target locked onto the dog’s face. But a safety device was engaged over my other eye, so it was useless to me, and I blinked the glowing greenness away from my vision. I held up my puny little blade and shouted with all the squeak I could muster.

“Get off! Go on! Get out of here!”

I waved my knife, but the thing came forward, dripping foam onto the windscreen. It put one foot up onto the glass and tapped it with a claw, ringing the window like a bell.

With a chilling deliberateness, it raked one paw slowly down the windscreen, gouging three deep scratches in a squeal of tortured glass. It repeated this motion half a dozen times, then moved a few feet to one side and started again. When it had two long scratch marks, it began connecting them at the bottom with a sideways scratch. I only realised what it was up to when it started the fourth line, completing the square. I scrambled into the back seat and turned to watch.

The beast inspected the gouges, sniffing them carefully, then it reared up, bringing its front paws smashing down in the middle of the square.

The windscreen fractured along the scratch lines and the thing’s two front legs landed on the dashboard. It pointed its head up and howled, like a long shivering laugh. The dog in the darkness defeating the ape in the firelight again.

It hunkered down and stuck its head through the hole, filling the car with the smell of wet wool and bloody breath. Its teeth were massive, curving inwards, jagged. I employed a frantic squirming to keep myself as far away as possible, which it really seemed to enjoy. I thought my fear would overwhelm me and my heart would explode.

But the longer it sat there grinning at my helplessness, the more I felt a curious detachment descend. A calm part of me whispered that the worst had already happened, that nothing would prevent my death, so I might as well accept it and act accordingly.

I guess my expression must have changed, because it snarled and leaned back, preparing for low lunge through the hole. I put my left arm out, giving it an obvious target to bite so my right arm would be free for stabbing. A nameless tear leaked from my eye, attached to no emotion I knew.

“Come on then, you fucker,” I said hoarsely.

With a squeal of claws on duco it came for me, but jerked up short with a clack of teeth, caught outside the windscreen by an arrow through its throat. It coughed and choked, then made a furious squeal and turned to face the archer. Another arrow blossomed in its side – thwock! - knocking it clean off the bonnet. I heard it breathe out liquidly, and then a stillness descended.

“Come out,” Kevin said, “come see it. Quickly now.”

He opened my door and I swarmed up to him. He patted my back briefly then took my hand and led me around to the beast  It was clearly a goner. Kevin squatted down next to it.

“What is it?” he asked. “Do you know?”

“I think it’s a were-thing. But I haven’t seen one exactly like this, so I don’t really know.”

“I shall have to give you some books on the subject. And you are correct, it is a were thing. A were dog in fact, the result of a curse.”

He pulled a hunting knife from his satchel and efficiently removed a few pieces from the weredog; a foot, a tooth, a kidney. He sat back from the steaming corpse.

“It had to be killed, but at least some parts of it are useful to our trade. Now watch, with both eyes.” The body shuddered and shivered, becoming fluid. It flowed into two separate shapes, a small naked man with an arrow in the throat, and a large hairy dog with an arrow in its gut. They set into solidity and then relaxed in the way of death.

“This is the responsibility that comes with our demense,” Kevin said, “we keep it clean of vermin. No land is yours unless you defend it from such as this. Do you understand?”

“Yes, master.”

“These poor creatures,” he gestured to the fallen man and dog, “they appear to be a random thing. But I am always wary that just such a random thing could be arranged by Mr Hart to… inconvenience us. The accord that rules us both prevents any direct action while you are my student. But something like this, it needs only a little encouragement to become a most unfortunate incident.”

He squatted down and began removing the arrow from the dead man’s throat. I retrieved the other, glad I had the dog. Kevin took the arrow from me, looked the head over carefully, nodded in satisfaction. He put his hand on my shoulder.

“Wherever invaders like this come from,” he said, “they are a danger to you and yours, so you kill them. Have no pity for the monsters, have pity only for their potential victims, yourself included.”

“Okay. But next time, can you tell me the plan first?”

“I always plan to have you around at the end of the day, you can rely on that. But today I needed to see your discipline. Which I did.”

“Should I get the shovel out?”

“Very good, boy.”

Discipline is available in paperback at Amazon, or as an ebook from Lulu, iTunes, and the Kindle Store. You should go and buy it. Twice.

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