Archive for October, 2011

22nd October
2011
written by amber

Dear Readers – the next stop on my book tour with my new novel, Stolen Children, will be at Cafe Books in Canmore on Thursday, Oct. 27, from noon until 2 p.m.  This novel, as well as the other two previous books in the Children of the Panther trilogy, can be purchased from me via this website or from Edge Press – there’s a link to Edge below.

22nd October
2011
written by amber

Red Flag

The body lay in the midst of the tawny gold shag carpet of an October wheat field. A brindled bull stood in solitary majesty on the other side of a six-strand barbed wire fence. Blood dripped from his horns and he was still breathing hard. The blood wasn’t as visible on the body, being the same colour as the bright red jogging suit. I could hear loud music – it sounded like blues – coming from the man’s tiny ear phones.

“When did it happen?” I asked my men.

“Call came in about 20 minutes ago. The bull was still in this field when we got here.”

“Was he still…you know…goring him?”

“No, he was grazing. And when the farmer came to put him back into his field,” they pointed at a man fussing around with something at the gate, “he went meek as a kitten.”

“Len Swanwick, isn’t it?” I said, striding over to the gate and holding out my hand. “Is that your bull?”

“I can’t understand how he got out. We’ve had joy riders on quads going across our property, leaving the gate open, so we put this padlock on it.” He held up the lock. It had been cut with a hacksaw.

“So the bull has been out before? Pretty nice grazing in the next field.”

“No, that’s the point. He could have gotten out, but he never went. For a bull, he’s usually pretty much a chicken.”

“Not today,” one of my men muttered. Swanwick heard him, and reddened, but said nothing.

“Do you know the identity of the deceased?”

“Yeah, he’s my neighbour. George Murray.”

“The one who started the yoga classes?”

“That’s him. Yoga classes, book club, bird-watching. He’s retired, he was retired. Came here with lots of money and time, buys a farm but won’t work it. Lets Silas Ross cultivate this field for hay is all. The women think he’s better than sliced bread but most of us didn’t take much of a shine to him.” Len must have seen the way we were looking at him, because he added, “But I didn’t dislike him enough to set my bull on him. Even if I had thought old Fergie had it in him.” And a shadow of pride passed across his features, briefly.

“Where were you when the bull got out?”

“In town. At the Co-op. I called you as soon as I got home and saw what had happened.”

My men nodded. “Was there anyone else at home?”

“My wife’s been lying down all day. She took her pills this morning for a migraine. They pretty well put her out.”

“We’ll need you to bring her down to the station when she wakes up, to give us a statement.”

As we were driving back to the station after the body had been removed, my men began to talk about the terrible accident. “It wasn’t an accident,” I told them.

“How do you figure that?”

“My wife’s been taking those yoga and bird-watching classes, she was in the book club. And she said Mona Swanwick quit everything at once, no one knew why. She also said she saw Mona in the mall in Walnut Valley, buying a red jogging suit.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

21st October
2011
written by amber

Abusive

My girlfriend, Cyndee, is drop-dead gorgeous. I sure wish I could break up with her.

When we met, I could barely see past her beauty but there were indications, even then, of what was to come. She played the helpless little girl and I lapped it up. “Oh, how do you know so many interesting things?” “Oh, I forgot my credit card. Can I pay you back for my share of lunch later?” She never did, but I didn’t mind.

In all other respects, she seemed to be an adult, responsible woman. She held down a good job, as a receptionist at a car dealership. She made more money than I did. She was on time for things, she wasn’t always having her car towed like she is now, she wasn’t in any legal difficulties. I know now that her roommate was the responsible one and I suspect she had her motives. She knew I’d never take Cyndee off her hands if I knew the truth.

So what is the truth?

I know how it looks these days. Last night is a typical example. We were at a restaurant. She’d invited me out to celebrate the raise she got at work. But when it came time to pay, after an hour of inane gossip about people she knows and a canny avoidance of telling me exactly what she did to deserve the raise, she couldn’t find her debit card. And I lost it. Yelling at her while people at the other tables stared, no doubt thinking I’m some kind of monster.

Yelling at her and interrogating her – where did you last use it? Why do you keep losing your cards, your keys, my keys? Why do you always park in no parking spots? Why don’t you pay your tickets? Why didn’t you renew your driver’s licence? Why don’t you grow up?

I sound like her father. I don’t want to sound like her father.

This is not the relationship I want. But, like her roommate, I know she’ll fall totally apart if I break up with her. I need to find someone to take her off my hands.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

I actually saw a couple having this fight in a restaurant.

20th October
2011
written by amber

The Game of House

I got home from school and started playing the Game of House, just grinding away to raise my status. I got ten points for putting my dirty clothes into the washer, and 20 for vacuuming the living room. And I got 100 points for cleaning the bathroom.

Plus, when I told House I’d cleaned the bathroom, she told me that was today’s Sweet Spot, and so I got 20 extra points. I decided to go back and clean it better, ‘cuz when Mom gets home and sees how many points I got, she’ll check and I could get docked for doing a crummy job.

Our House is Smart, but if it was smarter, it could tell how good I did my jobs. But at least it is Smart. My friend Cody doesn’t have a Smarthouse, but his mom still wants him to play the Game of House, with the points written on a chart instead of on a Smartwall. Which is really stupid.

Our bathroom’s usually the Sweet Spot, and it gets higher points the longer we wait to clean it. So you’d think it would pay off to ignore it as long as possible. But…whoever cleans it first gets all the points and the other players get docked the same amount. Mom and Dad were each losing 100 points today. Mom especially would be in jeopardy. She got all full of herself at Thursday’s Trivia Question and wagered half of her points. And she was wrong!

I’m closing in on her for the Dauphin level. If I bump her out of that, I’ll have access to more rewarding jobs, like Shopping and even Bill Paying. And Mom would take over my role of Serf.

Of course, what I’m really aiming at is to be Supreme even though I worry a lot about the Challenge. Mom was Supreme for a long time, but Dad worked hard and collected enough points to Challenge her. As the Defendant, she got to choose the event – she chose Grocery Shopping, and she could not believe it when Dad won. Dad will probably chose Small Repairs or Feng Shui, but I’m intending to surprise him. I’ve been studying those things, and anything else I suspect he might throw at me.

It’ll be so sweet when I’m Supreme.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

19th October
2011
written by amber

Jessie in the Well

When I find the little cat with a note from Jonah attached to its collar, all my exhaustion flies away and I run over to the truck and tell his friends, “Jonah is down that hole. It’s a mine, not a well. There was this cat and-“

“Slow down, slow down, Jessie. Show us.” Matt says, taking the note from my trembling fingers and announcing, “Guys, it is from Jonah.”

I lead them back to the opening of the shaft. “See, there’s some kind of side passage. We need to get down there, see where the cat came from. I’m sure she wasn’t down there when we were first looking in with the flashlight.”

We hadn’t told the police or the official search crew that we planned to look for Jonah on this property which once belonged to Steven’s aunt. There was no evidence to point to Steven as Jonah’s abductor, but we were certain he was behind it. So we snuck out here while Steven was at work, to look around the place, into the abandoned buildings and anything else we might find. Jonah’s friends had brought ropes and harnesses, headlamps and shovels, pry bars and axes as well as the big first aid kit from the town pool, where Andy works. “Don’t worry about all this stuff,” they’d told me. “We’re just a bunch of big boy scouts. We probably won’t need any of it.” Now I’m happy they’ve brought the climbing equipment.

Andy struggles into a harness as quickly as he can, while Matt and Luc tie ropes to nearby trees. “What can I do?” I demand.

“Call 911,” Andy advises, but Luc says, “I did that while you guys were unpacking the ropes.”

“Go down to the main road and show them where to come, then.”

I trudge away, chafing at being relegated to the background. I’m not a climber, but I’ve taken rescue courses, I know how to tie knots. But they’re finished with the knots by now, and Andy is stepping into the shaft. I’m not too far down the driveway when I hear, “Shit!” from underground, followed by Matt’s call, “Jessie, come back!”

I run back, terrified. “What happened?”

“Nothing,” Andy says, climbing back out of the shaft. “I can’t fit down the side passage is all. And Luc’s too claustrophobic to even try it.”

“I would try it.”

“Of course you would. And so would I,” Matt says. “But if you freaked out down there, or if I went in and had an asthma attack, we’d be no good to Jonah, would we? Jessie, are you cool to going down there?”

“Absolutely.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story written every day and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

To see the previous Jessie and Jonah stories, click on ‘Jessie&Jonah stories’ below.

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