The Third Wheel
By Michael J. Ritchie
Dexter has a complex over the fact that all his friends are getting married and moving in with their partners – but when aliens invade, it puts a lot of things into perspective.
Publication date: January 2019Buy
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English teacher Dexter feels like he’s being taunted by the universe. Everywhere he turns he’s accosted by wedding invitations, housewarming parties and tables for two. Every last one of his friends is settling down with their other halves, while Dexter spends his evenings marking schoolbooks with his ginger cat for company. The thing is, he doesn’t even mind being single; he just wishes his friends were too.
After another wedding ends in a drunken disaster, Dexter is musing on the situation and wondering what he’s going to screw up next, when he gets the shocking reminder that he’s not the centre of the universe. An alien spaceship has landed on the continent and when first contact is made, it’s anything but friendly.
Humanity’s numbers dwindle immediately, and the survivors are left to do exactly that – survive. Dexter gathers his friends and they all set off on a mission across the country, each with the goal of preserving their own lives in this new world. But these aliens are two-headed, tenacious and have technology beyond anything seen on Earth, so saving the day looks more and more unlikely as they track down Dexter’s motley crew. In the end, perhaps it is the one thing Dexter dislikes most that will help him survive, if he can just stop thinking about himself for one minute.
Written to subvert any story that insists on including a romance subplot, as well as any science fiction story where untrained amateurs inexplicably have the right skills to save the day, The Third Wheel shines a light on those who are just trying to make it through to tomorrow in the face of overwhelming odds.
Michael was born in the 80s (against his will) and has used fiction as a means to escape responsibility ever since. After getting a degree in Creative Writing, he accidentally stumbled into retail whereupon he fell up the career ladder a few times through no fault of his own. He’s also a blogger and occasional journalist. His first novel, The Atomic Blood-stained Bus, was published in 2014 and, shockingly, did not lead to instant fame and fortune. So he’s trying again.
He’d like to be known as a witty raconteur, but he’s a realist and knows that he’s actually seen as just a bit of a geek. He has the terrifying ability to sing sharp and flat at the same time, which is why he prefers to limit his creative output to the page.
Michael is hoping the charming pledgers of Unbound will enjoy his ludicrous tale of cluelessness in the face of a foreboding reality; something we can all relate to.
What appears to be a door on the side of the craft slides open and there are immediately two figures present in the gap. They appear vaguely human, although very tall, but they are mere shadows due to the way the lighting falls. Cameras are too far away, but the BBC cameraman, hands apparently shaking like an aspen in a high wind is trying to zoom in.
“What the actual…” begins Alex, but Ruby shushes him, and the three of us (four if you include Catsby, who seems to sense that something strange was happening) stare open-mouthed at the screen. The aliens – they had to be aliens – are still several feet from the ground, and it is now clear that they are wearing some sort of spacesuits. As they take one step forward to the very edge of the door, something else becomes clear.
It isn’t two figures, it’s one. What I had taken to be the two large round heads of a pair of aliens belonged to the same creature, one with – apparently – two arms and two legs, but also two heads, each encased in its own helmet. The streets around these events – taking place in the coastal Norwegian town of Moss – are packed with people but absolutely silent. You could’ve heard a photograph cough.
The world freezes and then there is a little flicker of something bottle green in the corner of my eyes.
“Did you just…”
“Yes,” says Ruby-and-Alex. The bottle green is replaced with the turquoise of Caribbean oceans, which slides seamlessly into onyx. The figure steps from the door and floats down to terra firma, landing silently on asphalt. The heads don’t look at one another, but nonetheless you get the sense they are communicating. Occasionally I see flashes of colour – maroon and cream, chestnut and tangerine – but the planet is, for the most part, silent.
The cameras have zoomed in as far as they can, but what the alien actually looks like under its suit remains a mystery. The helmets have small black visors in a position that suggests their eyes are located in the same place as ours. The alien reaches for a silvery pack on its chest and holds it up to one of the visors, apparently looking at something. It thumbs at something on the pack and then clips it back onto its chest.
“What’s it doing?” whispers Ruby.
- 17th January 2019 Paperback Writer
Well, the day is upon us! The Third Wheel is officially available on all the usual platforms to anyone who wants it. So far, feedback has been very positive so that's been great, but now's the time to get really stuck in with directing people towards it.
If you've already read it - or when you do - I would be hugely grateful if you could pop a review on Amazon (and anywhere else you feel like it…13th December 2018 The Time Is Upon Us!
Hello everybody! Hope you're all well and full of festive cheer! But December this year is more than just Christmas, of course - it's a time of alien invasion as well! I've had my paperbacks and can confirm that they look beautiful - I can't wait for you all to get your hands on them! In fact, the more astute of you may have noticed that the ebook version is now available to download, so there's no…24th October 2018 Hello!
Sorry for the prolonged radio silence, the book is still on its way, just waiting for confirmation on release dates and so on. I can confirm though that all the edits are done, and I've seen cover art and it looks very cool! So just a little bit longer, my friends, thank you for your patience. Hopefully I'll have some great news for you soon!
Michael :) x6th July 2018 The Edit Is Complete!
Well, the final commas are in place, the t's are all crossed and the kerning is spot on. What's next? Now I'm just waiting to hear about the cover designs and then the end is in sight. Thank you all for your patience and for people who keep asking me when it's coming, my answer remains, "Soon!" although the page says this summer sometime. Given the weather we've had though, summer could be a long…29th April 2018 So, what's happening?
Apologies for the radio silence one and all! What with the editing and various other things I've been a bit lax in keeping you in the loop.
The structural edit is now complete and the novel gained several thousand extra words and a handful of new scenes, which I'm thrilled about and can't wait to share with you. And if you pledged for the reward that will net you a few extra chapters unseen by…15th March 2018 Editing
I thought I better just give an update to let you all know what's going on with the book. I've been working with the editor Debi Alper for the last few weeks to help give the novel a structual edit. This is (hopefully) the biggest edit of the novel in which she and I explore what needs correcting in regards to plot, character and the general structure of the novel. I'm thrilled to…27th January 2018 WE DID IT!
We did it! "The Third Wheel" is going to be a reality! I am humbled by the support this project has recieved, I cannot thank you all enough for your support and really hope that you'll enjoy the book.
So I am hugely indebted to all of you for helping me achieve this goal. A million thank yous to Chris, Phil, Rachel, Chris, Jackie, Sabrina, Dave, Kevin, Katherine, Pat, Ed, Helen, Katie, Amanda,…25th January 2018 Ninety five per cent!
Flippin' heck ladies and gentlemen! The book is now 95% funded which means we're now just 5% away from getting this book into shops, into the world and, most importantly, into your hands. Again, thank you so much to everyone who has supported me on this journey so far, but it's now almost at an end. We need to secure the final little bit now in the next week to make this book a reality!…18th January 2018 14% to go!
Thanks for all the support so far. I am thrilled to announce that there's just 14% of the target to go! I've now got until the end of January to reach the total, so if there are still people you think you love to be part of this and help see the book get born, please spread the word in person, via social media, or by carrier pigeon, if that's your preferred method.
Thank you very…7th December 2017 An Excerpt
Merry Christmas, one and all! I thought it was about time I gave you all a sneak peek of what to expect of the story, so as an early Christmas present, here is the beginning of chapter three of The Third Wheel , in which Dexter is attending a wedding and encounters his most recent ex-girlfriend, with whom he never felt he belonged. Enjoy!
The weather is uncharacteristically perfect. Lara-and…14th November 2017 Pledge Party Update
If you saw the original text of this post, you will see that I was supposed to be at a Pledge Party this coming Monday. Unfortunately, due to a mix up of dates, the event has been cancelled and will hopefully be rearranged for January. I will let you know as soon as I know anything, but there's still plenty of time to donate, so you can still do that - plus that doesn't factor in…12th November 2017 69%?! Nice!
Thanks once more to everyone who has pledged support to my novel so far - I'm happy to say that I'm now sitting pretty at 69% with 72 of you throwing your support behind the project. But time is of the essence now my friends - I have until the end of November to get that final 31% and see the book published. Surely you want that too?
I simply ask, if you've already supported, can…1st November 2017 65%!
It’s been a long couple of months, but I’m pleased to report that my novel, The Third Wheel, is now 65% funded! That’s nearly two-thirds of the way there! Thank you so much to everyone who has pledged support so far, now I just need a little more help to push it up to the 100% mark and get it out there for everyone to read!
Please share the book with friends, family, colleagues and enemies and…16th October 2017 Yellow Skies
So, today (16 October) across Britain we faced yellowed skies as our world fell into sepia tones thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia picking up sand from the Sahara and ash from the Iberian wildfires. Most unnerving of all for me, however, is that yellow skies is the primary indication in my novel, The Third Wheel, that aliens are about to invade.
If you want to know how to survive the…4th October 2017 33%!
Well, in just over a month we've got the book a third funded, and I literally couldn't have done it without the support of everyone who has pledged so far! Thank you so much for your belief in me and willingness to help.
I've been hard at work editing the novel the last couple of weeks to ensure I provide you with the best novel I am capable of writing - I can't wait for you all to read it! You…2nd September 2017 Meet the Characters
As we all know, a book is nothing without its characters. They could be blood-sucking vampires, wealthy socialites, Belgian detectives or ex-gods and witches, but they all bring the story to life in their own unique ways. In The Third Wheel, the characters we're following are little more grounded. Here's a quick glance at who they are.
Dexter is our narrator and hero. He's a teacher who is struggling…26th August 2017 Wow!
I can't believe it! We've already made 17% in four days! That's utterly incredible, isn't it? Thank you so much to everyone who has pledged so far, you're all superstars. I can't wait to welcome more people into the fold. If you've already signed up, I'd be greatly honoured if you'd share it with friends and relatives who you think may be interested in the novel. Watch this space for more insider…
These people are helping to fund The Third Wheel.
Rhel ná DecVandé
Suz & Lucy Diamond-Wall
Mike Scott Thomson
Marilyn and Richard Jarvis