“I’m going to be sick.”
            Just look at the basket.”
            “I mean it. I’m going to be sick.”
            “Dead men don’t vomit, Gerd.”
            “Don’t care.”
            “Just look at the basket. Nothing else exists. No cliff, no sky. You’re standing on a nice, flat piece of land, and there’s only you and the basket, nice and close and easy.”
            “You’re a lying bastard and I’m going to be sick.”
            “Just close your eyes. Go on, close them.”
            Slowly, reluctantly, Gerd did so.
            “You have no idea how many things I blame you for.”
            “Yes, I’m a truly terrible person. Now, there you are, on a flat piece of land. You feel it, beneath your feet?”
            “Of course I do.”
            “That’s good. Now, can you see a cliff?”
“Of course I can’t see the sodding cliff!”
            “It’s not there.”
            “I’ve got my eyes closed, you git.”
            Marius poked him in the ribs. “It’s not there,” he said through gritted teeth. “And there’s no sky. Just you and the basket. That’s all. Open your eyes and all you’ll see is the basket.”
            “How will—“
            Marius took a step back, and to the side, so that he stood directly behind his friend. “Open your eyes.”
            Gerd opened his eyes.
            “Do you see the basket?”
            “Yes, I—“
            “Good. Don’t forget to grab it.”
            He drew his elbows back and pushed Gerd as hard as he could, flush in the centre of his back. Gerd teetered for a moment then, with a scream, pushed off from the cliff’s edge and fell into the basket. It swung out from the cliff with his momentum, swung back to crash into the white stone, then slowly, in diminishing arcs, returned to its original position, twisting this way, then that, around the taut line of the rope.
            “You’re a bastard.”
            “Are you all right?”
            “I’m going to be sick.”
Marius turned to Brys.
            “He’s all right.”
48 500 words in, three beta-readers killed off, two to go, and it’s all progressing rather nicely. Marching Deadcomes out in early 2013.

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