A New Double Act

In The Lost Valley journalist Rob Wallet is still being asked to find Peter Miles, the alleged fifth band member who disappeared in 1973. Meanwhile Raven, still hoping Susan Bekker will turn her into a vampire, is growing more impatient by the day as her time on earth runs out (she’s nineteen). The pairing of these two misfits is starting to generate some real comedy episodes to balance the dark themes of the Totenseries. Here’s an early exchange from the first draft.


The email had an attachment. Raven opened it. The attachment was a brief set out by Wallet. He called it a brief, but it was actually a set of instructions evidently written under duress or in a fit of beligerence.

You will not cause a scene or throw a fit when asked to do something you don’t want to do. You will not play music by One Direction at any time or by any other ‘so-called’ music act. You will not use phrases like ‘life sucks’ or any teenage expression that normal people over the age of twenty five will not understand. You will not make a noise when you’re eating or eat with your mouth open.

And on it went for three pages. Some of the restrictions even had sub-clauses.
Raven tweeted Wallet:
@robwallet am i allwd to tweet u
She waited.
@ravenswish Only if talking causes a risk to your life otherwise no. And learn how to spell!
@robwallet nxt few weeks r gonna b shit

Raven was in the dining room of the farmhouse when Wallet appeared. He was only a few metres away in his own room, but still the speed of his arrival was shocking. Raven almost jumped though the patio windows.

“Oh, shit! I still haven’t got used to you lot doing that. Be careful.”

“Don’t you shout at me. I’m old enough to be you dad.”

From another room Rene’s voice joined in. “And I’m old enough to be you granddad. Keep the noise down.”

“Now see what you’ve done,” said Raven.

“Sit down,” said Wallet.

“No, I won’t.”


“All right, all right. I’m not the dog.”

“We haven’t got a dog, so you’ll have to do. Look,” Wallet joined her at the table and spoke as quietly as he could, “neither of us want this. You want to be a vampire and you’ve gone to great lengths to look like one. I want to be part of the band’s day to day musical activity, but they won’t let me.”

“What’s any of that got to do with me eating with my mouth open? I don’t eat with my mouth open.”

“And you’re not gonna start now. Susan has asked me to find Peter Miles and asked you to help me.”

Raven was running the long spiked ends of her blue fringe through her fingers. The mention of Peter Miles’s name just made her want to run away again. “Why me?” she said. “What have I done to deserve this?”

“You got what you wished for. You know what they always say about meeting your idols.”

“They’re always shorter in real life.”

“What? No, no. . . .  Oh, never mind. We’ve drawn the short straws, we’ll just have to get on with it.”

“My straw’s a lot shorter than yours. Look at all these restrictions. They’re just for your benefit.”

“I know.” Wallet drew away from the table. “It’s called hierarchy. In some parts of the world privilege. One day you’ll have your own menial to push around, but until that dreadful day comes we’re stuck together.”

“I hate my life.”

“Wallet turned Raven’s laptop to view the screen. “I thought I’d included that phrase. I’ll have to send you another attachment with a supplementary appendix.”

“Well, add this phrase as well,” said Raven walking away. “Get stuffed.”


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