The Moon Stealers and the Quest for the Silver Bough

The Yorkshire town of Parsley Bottom has a problem…

Peter Crisp, a boy with an unusual gift of being able to see things that others cannot, goes missing after spending the night in a graveyard. Two of Peter's school friends, join forces with a Knight of King Arthur to attempt to find him but come across some mysterious engravings which propel them on an adventure beyond their imagination.

Meanwhile MI6 operative Steven Knight is sent from London to investigate a meteor landing site, but Steven is advised by his own boss not to trust the puppeteers that hold the strings to his investigation. Within the core of the meteor is an alien bacteria that evolves at an alarming rate that not only puts Steven's life at risk, but the entire human race.

By unravelling ancient codes and riddles the children journey within the bowels of Edinburgh Castle as they attempt to find the key to Peter’s disappearance. The children not only need to save Peter, they need to save the world while they’re at

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6. Newton Rise Abattoir

Three miles away from Parsley Bottom on the road to Harrogate was the slightly larger town of Newton Rise, a farm town which regularly held a cattle market in the main square every Wednesday. The farmers markets had become a regular tourist attraction in the summer where anything could be bought from local honey and fresh breads to prize-winning cattle and waxed jackets. Pedestrians walked along the pavements past the sandstone-clad shops while motorists respectfully drove slowly along the narrow roads simply to admire the buildings and be part of the uniqueness of a country town.

Away from the town the old abattoir was a boring grey concrete building protected by a high boundary wall with black iron gates barring the entrance. At the front of the building were two large shutters big enough to admit lorries, whilst on the right side a covered walkway led from a field at the back into the main building. By contrast the interior of the building shone white and gleamed with the steel machinery.

In the staff canteen a man sat hunched over his cup of steaming tea at the first table nearest the doors. There weren’t many people in the canteen at this time of the afternoon and he was happy to have some time away from his work colleagues and rest his weary body on the plastic chair. He had already tried to eat a packet of biscuits but today he couldn’t keep anything inside his stomach, it seemed to be permanently tight like someone had reached inside him and wouldn’t stop squeezing.

He pulled out a tissue from his trouser pocket and wiped his nose. Before returning it to his pocket he checked the tissue for more signs of blood.

Gilbert Rackham had been working at the abattoir since he was just 17 years old after being encouraged to follow in his father's footsteps. He didn’t particularly enjoy the work he did but at least it paid his bills and kept food on the family table. He would probably keep working there until the day he retired. But, the work had changed over the last few years and instead of being an important part of the market town, the abattoir was becoming a symbol for animal cruelty and on occasions Gilbert’s children had been bullied by their school friends who didn’t agree with their father’s job.

As he sat at the table playing with the salt and pepper shakers, he thought back to the strange events of the last few weeks after he had noticed something unusual about a cow that had come from Parsley Bottom. So much had happened since then. After four hours the cow had been removed from the building and he had been interviewed twice by official looking men, as well as having all of his clothes removed and swabs taken from his skin and fingernails. He had asked why so much precaution was necessary, but no one would give him an answer. He was just forced to do as he was told.

Gilbert tried to think about the meat he had seen and what it was that made it so different to a normal cow, except for the strange dark colouring of the flesh inside. There had been no reports from any of his colleagues about the cow acting unusual, and all of the other cows from the same herd had seemed normal. So why was this cow so different?

His mind wandered back to the canteen that he was sat in. He didn’t know what was happening to him recently. He seemed to have no energy despite wanting to eat more than usual and he had a constant ache in his legs and arms. Every morning it was getting worse, but he didn’t want to mention it to his wife; it was probably just his age or maybe he was coming down with the flu. He had even noticed that the skin on his hands was getting thinner and showed the bones beneath more clearly.

As he sat there, he noticed that his breathing was becoming quite hard and all he could manage were short shallow breaths. He screwed his eyes up tight trying to clear the fog from his vision but it never changed. His hearing was also becoming muffled and distant. He tried to focus on the large white-faced clock on the wall at the end of the canteen but it seemed to swim in mid-air before him. He could just about make out the black hands telling him that he only had 5 minutes of his break to go before he would have to get back on the work floor. Gilbert decided to freshen up as much as possible so that he could see his day through to the end and not lose any of his pay.

He struggled to get to his feet. By holding on to the wall he slowly made his way through the double doors into the locker-room looking like a crooked old man. He found his locker amongst the sea of other identical metallic grey boxes and fumbled with the key as he tried to get it into the small lock. He felt his forehead with the back of his hand; it was cold and wet. He took a box of pain killers out of his bag and pushed two tablets out of their silver pockets and into his hand.

An overwhelming feeling like a wave of shivering heat washed across the surface of his body and his legs collapsed from beneath him. By the time his body hit the floor, Gilbert was already dead. His still open eyes turned a milky colour, his heart stopped, his lungs could no longer suck air into his body and his muscles had wasted away, eaten by an unknown bacteria that fed on his flesh to grow and consume his body.

Unknown to Gilbert, the bacteria had transferred from the cow’s meat under his fingernails and into his mouth. The rest of the staff at the Abattoir had also picked up the bacteria off the work surfaces, handrails and doorknobs that Gilbert had touched, as well as through the air he had sneezed and coughed into and they would slowly go the same way as Gilbert, his wife and their two daughters.

Unless something could be done about it, this unknown bacteria would continue to spread in the same way from staff to their families and very quickly it would consume humans to develop into a species all of its own.

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