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“While clearly sci-fi, the book has many elements of a classic adventure series. It has great pacing and engaging characters and evokes the world of the future beautifully.”

Four thousand years in the future, driven from their frozen world, the Camarilla have found a new home in a land of plenty. The new land, however, has many perils. Old enemies have debts to settle and a new threat hangs on a decision.

6001 The SLEEPERS

The Sleepers is the second book of the Camarilla Chronicle trilogy. The first, 6001 ICEWORLD, was reviewed by the prestigious Booksellers and Publishers Magazine:

6001 The

Sleepers

Ingamo shook his head. “No. We should let these sleepers be. They come from a different world. They lived in the Good Times. They are not as we are. They will not like it here.” Whether to act or do nothing was Tasha’s dilemma. Parents had placed the children they loved into the capsules, entrusting some race in the future to find and release them. Wouldn’t it be wrong to deny the children a new life?

W. R. Widerberg

ISBN 978-0-9808096-1-9

9 780980 809619

The Camarilla was the last remnant of humankind on Earth and their time could be running out....

W. R. Widerberg


6001

THE SLEEPERS


Published in Australia by South Head Press ABN 75823432905 P.O. Box 7135 Bondi Beach N.S.W. Australia 2026

Copyright Š 2012 W. R. Widerberg First published in 2012

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of South Head Press

The National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry: Author: Title: Edition: ISBN:

Widerberg, W.R. 6001 the sleepers/W.R.Widerberg. 1st ed. 978-0-9808096-1-9 (pbk.)

Cover design by Alli Spoor Text typeset and designed by Mercier Typesetters Pty Ltd, Granville NSW


6001

THE SLEEPERS Book 2 of The Camarilla Chronicle

W. R. Widerberg


To my granddaughters

Natasha and

Charlotte


The Author Bill Widerberg grew up in Clovelly in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. His first novel, The Big End of Town, an adult thriller, was published in 2005 to great reviews in all media Australia wide. His second, 6001 ICEWORLD, which also received good reviews, is the first of the trilogy, The Camarilla Chronicle. 6001 THE SLEEPERS is the second book of the series which is written for young adults. Widerberg’s short story, Sunday Morning at the Bay, won first prize at the Stroud Writers Festival in 2009. The following year, his story, The Target, won the Dymocks Award for the best short story at the Bundaberg Arts Festival. During his business career, which spanned the production and marketing of soft drink, canned fruit and beer, Bill Widerberg was named by Business Review Weekly as the top marketing man in Australia.


Acknowledgements I thank Lauren Nitschke and Alli Spoor for allowing me to use Lauren’s beautiful face on the front cover and Rod Mercier for his advice and assistance in the presentation of this book.


Chapter p 1

B

iscetti held Dumperty’s hand, in her anxiety squeezing it until the pressure was too much for him and he pulled free. Like all those waiting below the summit of the mountain the Camarilla had named the sleeping hare, they stared up at the rock face that now hid Tasha, Dram, Snotty and Mangrove from view. The roaring in their ears persisted, rising and falling, never stopping, drowning all other sounds. “Where are they? What’s happened to them?” The tiny Dumperty looked up at Biscetti, seeing the concern on her face, wondering as Biscetti did whether the four who had gone ahead were now victims of whatever was making the noise that shook the air with its intensity. “I wish I knew,” Biscetti said and saw that she had failed to hide her despair from him. In the months since they had been driven from their homeland by the Torterats and forced to travel south, Dumperty had shared the hardship and disappointments of the Camarilla. Small as he was, he was aware that that the suffering may have been for nothing. Biscetti looked at Dumperty and could have wept. It was too much. We’re just children. Why did it come to this? But she knew well enough. The Camarilla, the small trusted band, was the last remnant of humankind on earth and their time could be running out.


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6001 THE SLEEPERS

From the day of her birth she had been told the stories of the Good Times, that long and happy period that went into decline when greed warmed the planet and drought ravaged the land until food crops would no longer grow. Biscetti, like every Camarilla child, had grown up with the legends of the Good Times and how they had ended, but Biscetti had seen more. She had been in the belly of the mountain carved by ghosts. As she waited, dreading what might have befallen the advance party, she recalled that night in the hollow mountain when Dram had by accident activated the film left by the ancients; an archive to tell the story of the end of civilisation. Biscetti tilted her head again to search the summit – nothing. Dumperty pulled at her tunic. “What if...” She put her finger on his lips. “Shh. They’ll come for us soon.” “But the noise?” He held his hands to his ears, imagining that no one could survive, that his idols, the Foragers he cherished most, the boy hunters Mangrove and Snotty, might have gone already to Endless Night. “Shh.” Biscetti was thinking of Tasha, two years older than herself, Queen of the Camarilla and bearing responsibility for the safety and welfare of the band. If Tasha was gone, the clan would be leaderless. If the boys, if Dram... Her eyes roamed the ridge above; still no sign. She smiled at Dumperty, trying to raise his spirits and her own. Behind the smile her thoughts centred on Dram, and even though Tasha had ruled that Dram was forgiven, Biscetti had too many memories of the tall and beautiful girl. Pictures of past events were vivid in her mind: Dram’s willingness to desert Biscetti and leave her to freeze in the ice; Dram abandoning Tasha at the makeshift bridge across the crevasse; later in the forest of Kaldor leading the revolt to depose Tasha. There were many things Biscetti held against Dram, no matter how she had redeemed herself. Again Biscetti craned her neck and in frustration screamed into the wind and the raging turmoil of sound. “Where are you?” On the crown of the sleeping hare, the four who had gone ahead had no chance of hearing her. There the wind blew even


CHAPTER 1

3

more fiercely, screaming in from way beyond the ocean’s horizon with nothing to slow its progress. Borne upon the wind was the endless crashing of waves that far below foamed and tumbled to the shore. Tasha, Mangrove, Dram and Snotty gazed in wonder at the ocean, turning to look at the land which they had travelled so far to find and for so long. No one spoke, each reflecting on the green expanse of rolling hills and dales that lay before them, turning again to look in awe at the wild beauty of the ocean. This place to which they had come could not have been more different from their homeland, the land of ice, the land from which they had been driven by the Torterats. Facing the ocean, leaning into the wind, the hair of the Foragers streamed behind them and their tunics of soft animal skin pressed so hard against their bodies that ribs were outlined. Snotty grinned with pleasure and shouted his joy to the others. “I love all this.” Forcing his way against the wind he walked to where the sleeping hare fell away in a vertical drop to the sea, the only flaw in the smooth rock-face the minor protrusion of a single ledge. He looked down to where hundreds of metres below, waves pounded at the foot of the cliff. The grandeur of all that lay before him was overwhelming. “This is where the land ends and the rest of the world begins.” He whooped his delight to the sky, to the rushing air and to himself because he thought that this wonderful day would be forever etched in his memory. Snotty spread his arms wide, marvelling that wind which was only air, which was really nothing, could blow so hard that he could lie against it without falling. He tilted his head for the pleasure of wind on his face and as he did so it snatched away the feather in his hair. Dram saw him try to grasp it, but the feather spiralled up and away, out of reach, out of sight, gone. With foreboding she watched it go. The feather had come from the raptor that Snotty had killed in saving Mangrove. It was a trophy Manny had taken


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6001 THE SLEEPERS

from the bird, a badge of honour for Snotty to wear. For a moment Dram feared that its loss could be a bad omen and she looked again at Snotty. Carefree, he had no thought for the feather. “Come here. Come and see this.” The words were plucked from his mouth and flew unintelligible to Mangrove and the girls. They laughed at the sight of Snotty with arms wide, standing angled toward the sea. Dram and Mangrove pushed their way to him, leaning forward as he did. With one hand, Snotty took one of Dram’s and raised it. With the other he held Manny’s so that the three of them stood with arms spread wide against the wind. A stronger gust caused them to stumble backwards. Laughing they recovered. Tasha watched the enjoyment before turning her attention to the valleys that promised so much. Her people would love this land. She sat and hugged her knees and gave thanks to the stars. Behind her the others played with the wind. “Come on.” Snotty pulled Dram and Manny toward the edge, pulling them further until below them there was only the sea and they were looking straight down at it. This is madness, Mangrove thought. He glanced at Snotty and saw him held by the wind, heedless of any possible risk. Dram too was rapt, weightless from the pressure of the rushing air. Their euphoria was contagious. Manny followed suit, resting feather-light on the wind, his caution overcome by sheer joy. Never could the Foragers have imagined such an experience. Their feet were on solid ground, but they were floating on air, as close as they ever would be to flying. Within each was the sensation that this was how a bird would see the world. They squeezed hands, thrilled to feel so free. The way they stood, on the edge of the cliff, leaning beyond it, they looked like skydivers from the twentieth century, daredevils with hands linked, bonding together in the sky. A stronger gust lifted them, as though they were hinged, blowing tears to streak from their eyes, making them laugh. But the gust was followed by quieter air. Off balance, briefly unsupported, still joined by their hands, the three fell into space.


6001 The Sleepers - by W. R. Widerberg