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Planet Downfall Sneak Peek

People in peril!

I’m making good progress with my new Flight of the Kestrel science fiction novel, called Planet Downfall. So here’s a sneak peek at a crucial point:

Crisis of Conscience Kestrel spaceship
‘How far do we run?’ Alvia gasped.
‘Just until we find somewhere to hide,’ Parks said. ‘Everyone keep your eyes open.’
Deeper and deeper they ran, the thick canopy of the trees creating its own gloom to add to the failing light as the sun set. Soon it would be too dark to see. Then Tonia shouted, ‘Over here!’
She had spotted a group of trees very close together, with bushes growing between them. They all dived in and crouched down, trying to quiet their breathing. After running, forcing their way through the thick grass, they were gasping. They covered their mouths with their sleeves to try to stifle the sounds. Time passed, and they were beginning to think they had given the miners the slip, when they crashed into view. They turned around, afraid they would be seen. Behind them was a solid wall of Pitcher Plants, their tendrils wrapped around the bushes and the trees. Alvia gasped, and Pierre covered her mouth quickly.
Bromeliad Billbergia vittata Brongniart
One miner said to the other one, ‘They cannot have gone farther in, they have to be somewhere between here and the edge. We had better split up. You go that way and I will meet you outside in an hour.’
Parks signalled the others to stay put, pointed to his weapon, and disappeared after one of the men.
When they had gone everyone relaxed a little and dared to breathe. Pierre took his hand off Alvia’s mouth and apologised.
‘No, that’s all right.’ she smiled. ‘You were just protecting everyone. Thank you for staying near me.’
He smiled back, grateful that she wasn’t going to pieces. ‘I’ll look after you. You tell me what you need.’
Tonia said, ‘I suggest we all stay hidden until Mr Parks comes back, and keep your voices down, just in case one of them comes back this way.’
Alvia turned towards the curtain of Pitcher Plants. ‘I can’t believe this, and they moved so silently!’ She crawled closer to examine them and spoke softly to them. ‘Thank you, thank you! You’re so clever to shield us this way.’
Jogli turned to Tanner who was sat beside her and said softly, ‘Look at her. I think all this stress has sent her strange in the head. She is talking to them now.’
Tanner didn’t reply and she looked at him more closely in the gloom.
‘Are you all right?’
There was a strange smile on his face and his attention was elsewhere. Jogli reached over to Tomos and tapped him on the knee.
‘I think there is something the matter with your friend.’
Tomos couldn’t see much, so he crawled over to Tanner and peered at his face. Tanner didn’t acknowledge him. Tomos touched him lightly on the shoulder. He shook his head and blinked.
‘Oh James, it’s you. Is everything all right?’
‘That’s what I was about ask you,’ Tomos said. ‘You were miles away.’
Tanner frowned. ‘No, Tomos, I was right here.’
Tomos laughed softly. ‘No, I meant your thoughts.’
‘Oh, no, my thoughts were right here too, only I don’t know where.’
There was the sound of weapons fire a short distance away, and they all gave a sharp intake of breath and ducked down further behind the bushes. Then Parks reappeared and climbed into their hiding place.
‘I got one of them, so we’ve only the other one to worry about. It’s too dark to look for him. I don’t want to use a light and give myself away. The other miner will probably wait for morning before looking for us and his companion again, so I suggest we eat and try to get some sleep. We’re well hidden here. If I hadn’t known about the Pitcher Plants I would have missed you myself. We’ll have to take turns to be on guard.’
‘That won’t be necessary, sir,’ Tanner said suddenly. ‘The Pitcher Plants will keep us safe.’
‘They may do, but I would rather we stood guard as well. I’ll stand first watch. Pierre, I’ll wake you in two hours.’
I hope that has whetted your appetite. Keep watch for further news!

Head shot Ann Marie Thomas
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of five medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series
Flight of the Kestrel, Intruders, Alien Secrets & Crisis of Conscience are out now Follow her at