Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme is “monster,” to be interpreted in any way. Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who is hard at work finishing her first (and only) novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. The following is an unedited excerpt from Chapter 3 of the book.
WOLVES DON’T KNOCK: Expected publication date: November 1, 2017.
Miranda carefully shut the door behind her. She must not disturb Paul.
Despite wanting to flee far away from the cabin as quickly as possible, she paused to inhale great gulps of crisp woodland smells. The fresh scent of pinecones brought forth memories of Christmas. She exhaled, watching her breath spiral like smoke from a chimney and then vanish.
The wood pile, overflowing with logs for the stove, looked smaller surrounded by clusters of snow that remained after the milder temperature the previous day. Trees around the property, taller and thinner, appeared eerie in the dim light. Paul’s battered pickup truck sat by the cabin. Why hadn’t she snatched the keys?
Paul allowed her outdoors every few days, when he freed her from the chains, but she knew better than do anything foolish. She couldn’t jeopardize the little freedom he gave her. She relished those times—and others in the cabin—when she felt free, for her captivity could have been much worse.
Had it been that long since she had been outdoors, or had the chill changed the surroundings? Everything once green looked dried-up dead. Most of the snow had melted or Paul would be able to track her footprints.
The moon hovered, illuminating her path to freedom—if she could find the path.
The shed! She must investigate the shed.
She froze. Had he woken? Was he after her? The wolf? More than one?
The shed forgotten, she raced through the woods until she couldn’t run any longer. Gasping, she leaned against a tree in a vain attempt to fade into the blackness and ignore sets of eyes that watched from behind every object.
Shivering, she jerked the threadbare sweater around her chest, her hands resting across her stomach. Her baby. Kevin would be—what? Five? Six? Seven? She shook her head. She could ponder later.
Where was the road?
She glanced around. Too many paths. Which way? And where would they lead?
She shuddered and swiped her hand under her runny nose. She didn’t know the time when she escaped, but it had been closer to morning than midnight. How long had she been outside? Three hours? Four? Frostbite worried her. The night had grown colder. The nubby wool sweater with its overstretched sleeves hanging below her hands didn’t afford much protection, but she had seized the chance when it arrived, not wasting time searching for proper clothing. Thankfully, despite wearing sneakers, her feet were dry. Nothing was more uncomfortable than wet feet. Not that comfort concerned her. She was elated to be out. To be free.
She jumped at the sudden sound. An animal? Wolves?
Not Paul. Paul the animal would have pounced long ago.
The cold, dank night seemed never ending. Eyes tailed her, glowing in the dark. Lights, white and yellow.
Inch by inch, the moon disappeared, allowing the sun to rise. Cousins trading places. Light overtaking dark. Monsters soon to be revealed for what they were.
Tree limbs lay on the crusty snow. A miracle she hadn’t tripped over them. She discovered a strength she thought lost and sprinted from one tree to the next like a rabid rabbit running from a wicked wolf. She would run for a few minutes, take shelter behind a tree, peer around to ensure the coast was clear, and flee to another tree.
Eventually, she would reach a road and find people. She had to believe that; she had believed that for the previous few hours.
While she mumbled prayers, Paul’s words rattled in her mind. “I’m Paul Wolf. That’s all you need to know.” She would never forget those first words out of his mouth and ones that followed about death to loved ones if she tried to escape. She hadn’t wanted to endure more death. The death of her father had been horrid enough, but selfishly she was relieved he was gone—if one believed, to a better place—because he would be ashamed of her.
Paul had moulded her the way he wanted, but she kept enough of herself intact. She endured pain at his hands but learned to co-exist, and thoughts of escape faded while endless days merged into endless weeks and weeks into nameless months. How long had it been? How many years?
When she had been home, before being taken, the odd news reports broadcasted abductions, and rarely had results been good. Paul ensured she had food and allowed her input into the grocery list. At the beginning, he regularly forced himself on her but those incidents gradually lessened. The more he ignored her, the nuttier and crazier he became. Had she turned into a nutcase as well?
Days had been so foggy she wondered if she would ever see clearly. And nights were worse when wolves surrounded her, chased her, howled. Ahhhh woooooooo!
She patted her pocket, which gave her comfort. The photograph she kept hidden. Paul had never found it.
When she glimpsed a road between the trees, she stopped to catch her breath. At the sound of a vehicle, she slipped behind a pockmarked pine and watched the car zoom by. Her stomach sunk.
No, all was okay. She would wait for the next car. The sun had fully risen, and she would see a vehicle in the distance and discern if it was Paul. If not, she would chance that, if he followed, he would be on foot, but she prayed he remained passed out on the floor. Time was running out. The cold would kill her if he didn’t. She must flag down the next vehicle. If he wasn’t already after her, he would soon be waking, and she had to be far away before then.
Minutes passed. Or was it hours? Snowflakes swirled. She stopped, sticking out her tongue to catch them. She hadn’t realized how dry her mouth was.
A vehicle! She dashed into the road, flailing her arms like a crazy person. The driver might run her down, thinking she was a crazed individual, or the driver could be Paul. Either way, she would be dead, but she had to chance it.
The Spot Writers—Our Members:
Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/
Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/
Dorothy Colinco. http://www.dorothycolinco.com
CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/