Say hello to Bella. She is the fifth (if you count Kuba and Amelia as one) character from The End of the Road that I would like you to meet. You would normally find her on social media, vlogging about her many talents to her faithful followers. She is an artist: a dancer and choreographer. The end of the world puts an end to it all. It follows her all the way across the globe to New Zealand, where her father tries to shield their family from the disaster that has befallen the rest of the world.
Bella is young and inexperienced in the realm of relationships, love and sacrifice. She is forced to learn very quickly, to grind her teeth and clench her fists in order to survive. That’s if she wants to survive…
Here is a tiny bit of her story.
“We can only take the two women, and that’s at a push.” He is a large Maori man, his face covered with curly ribbons of tattoos, the many spirals and meanders of his life story. His eyes are big and foreboding.
“We can’t leave Dad behind.” Bella is pleading with him because Mum is in pieces and she can’t say a single word without choking on it. “If he can’t come, we won’t go.”
“Yes, you will!” Dad’s jaw is tight, like a rusty old hinge; his words come out as squeaks. “Get on that boat and be gone with you! Don’t test me!”
“No! I’m staying here with you. We promised! We promised each other not to be separated!”
“Suit yourselves!” The Maori man flicks his hand and turns away. He is taking those last few steps on dry land, to his waka, an ancient relic of a long boat, sourced God-knows where – probably from a museum. His whanau are waiting there for him, urging him to leave before the big wave comes and sweeps them randomly into the open ocean, maybe capsizes their waka, and maybe kills them. They must depart now. There are more than a dozen of them: children and adults, some fat, some skinny, some grey and wrinkled and ravished by time, all balancing on the edge of life. An uncharitable thought crosses Bella’s head: in what way are they better than us? Why do they deserve to live more than we do?
Mum is sobbing. She has let go of all her inhibitions. It is a wail so harrowing that the Maori man stops in his tracks and gives them one last chance. “What is it going to be then?”
“Take her, take Bella.” Mum pushes Bella forward. “She must go. Don’t listen to her. Just take her!”
Bella clings to her father’s arm. She isn’t going anywhere on her own. “No,” she says. There is not a shred of emotion in her tone, only steel.
“I won’t take her against her will.” The Maori gazes at Bella with a dose of rueful admiration. His eyes travel to Dad. “A fine daughter you’ve got there. I wish you good luck.”
“Wait!” Dad grabs his hand. “Wait, please! Can we have a word, in private… Just a word, sir?”
To read Tony’s extract click here
To read Agnes’s extract click here
To read Alyosha’s extract click here
To read Kuba and Amelia’s extract click here
To order The End of the Road click here