‘The Hunt’ by Tim Lebbon is out today, published by Avon. It is also the first day of the blog tour to celebrate this new book. To whet your appetites here is an extract.
When he wanted to run faster, Chris Sheen imagined being chased by a tiger. Sleek, stealthy, powerful, it pounded silently along the trail behind him, tail swishing at the clasping brambles and eyes focused on his back. He didn’t risk a glance over his shoulder. There was no time for that. If he did his pace would slow, and maybe he’d trip over a tree root or a rock protruding from the uneven path. He’d go sprawling and the big cat would be upon him. All they’d find would be his GPS watch and perhaps one of his running shoes, bloodied and torn and still containing a foot.
He giggled. Sweat ran into his eyes and down his back. Mud was splattered up his legs from the newly ploughed field he’d run across a couple of miles back. Blood pulsed, his heart thudded fast and even, and he had never felt so good.
He loved running with the dawn. Out of the house while it was still dark, leaving Terri and the girls sleeping, he was through one small woodland and already running down towards the canal towpath by the time the sun set the hills alight. Sometimes he saw someone else on the canal, walking their dog or cycling to work, but more often than not he was on his own. This morning he’d seen a buzzard in a field, sitting on a recent kill and staring around as if daring anyone to try for it. Once on the towpath a heron had taken off close by, startling him with its sheer size. He heard a woodpecker at work somewhere, scared ducks into the water with their ducklings, and he’d caught a brief glimpse of a kingfisher’s neon beauty. This early morning world felt like his alone, and he revelled in it.
Now, close to the end of his run, the giggles came in again. It was a familiar feeling. The endorphins were flowing, his heart hammering, and it felt so bloody great to be alive that sometimes he whooped out loud, running through the woods towards home. He ran with assurance and style, flowing across the uneven ground and watching ahead for potential trip hazards. Spider web strands broke across his face, but he didn’t mind. Once, he’d arrived home to find Terri in the kitchen, sleep-ruffled and clasping a warm mug of tea, and when he’d hugged her – ignoring her protestations at his sweat-soaked clothing and cold hands – she’d screeched at the sight of a spider crawling in his hair.
He leaped a stream, slipped, found his footing and ran on. He knew this was a good run, he could feel it, but when he glanced at his watch he saw that he was well on course for a personal best. It was one of his regular routes – through a small woodland on the other side of the village, along a country lane, up a steep hill to a local folly, back down a rocky trail to the canal towpath, then under several bridges until he entered the larger woodland that led back home. Twelve miles, and his best time so far was one hour fifty minutes. Not bad for cross country, and pretty good for a middle-aged former fat bastard. But today he was set to smash that record by five minutes.
‘The Hunt’ is available to buy on Amazon:-