Tag Archives: Cathy MacKenzie

The Spot Writers – “The Visitor” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a cat stares at something behind its owner’s back. What does it see? (You can write the story from the cat’s perspective, if you wish!)

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s first novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon!

***

“The Visitor” by Cathy MacKenzie

We lock eyes. I know what’s behind her, but if I avert my eyes, she’ll realize something is wrong. She’ll freak.

Me? I’m in my glory, as they say. I want to pounce but can’t make a sudden movement or they’ll both freak.

One freakin’ female is enough.

She’s cute, though. Both of them.

I caught a look at the small one before human started staring at me. Maybe human knows. Maybe she’s forming a plan.

One of us needs to make a move.

Most likely, the human will move first. She’s the biggest. And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know what’s behind her.

Why does she remain so still? Is she fixated by my smile? Does she suspect?

Or is she off in thought? She’s a writer, after all. She sits at her computer all day long, her fingers speeding across the keyboard as if there’s no tomorrow.

Or no today.

When she’s not there, I jump onto her desk and flake out on the keyboard.

I must look behind the human. She senses something. I sense she wants to turn around. I sense she’s scared.

mouse

Mice have sneaked into the house previously. I catch them and present them to her as if trophies. The same scenario will play out today.

I scamper across the floor, skidding on the smooth surface, and land where I want before the mouse has a chance to raise its dratted paw. I catch the silly thing, grip it with my teeth, and head to human. I drop it at her feet.

She screeches. She jumps up and down as if the floor’s on fire.

And screeches some more.

Then she’s quiet, rooted to the floor. Perhaps she’s afraid it’ll come back to life. It might. It’s only stunned. Not dead.

At that moment, Man Cave Dweller returns home.

She screeches at him. “Come here. Get rid of it. Catalina has brought in another.”

“Hush, woman. Hush.”

She screeches again and points to her feet. “It’s here, it’s here.”

He shakes his head, heads toward their bedroom, and returns. He’s changed into comfy clothes. He grabs food from the fridge.

“Can’t handle you, woman,” he mutters while descending the stairs to his cave.

She shrieks again. “You scumbag. Get back up here. Do your manly duty.”

I slither between her splayed feet and bound downstairs. Man Cave Dweller is unconcerned. He plays with the remote and minutes later, the big screen comes to life.

He soon snores.

I return upstairs. I slink from room to room, looking for the female human. Ah, there she is. Hard at work, as usual, on her computer. I bet she’s writing a horror story about mice that invade her home.

Oh my! What’s that by her feet? If I were a human, I would shriek.

Yep. I pounce.

Human shrieks.

I clutch mouse between my teeth.

Human woman and I lock eyes.

I dare you. Double dare, she seems to say.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

 

 

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Drought” by Chiara de Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s theme: awakening from a bad dream or, even worse, a nightmare. This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

The Drought by Chiara De Giorgi

The alarm went off. Half awake, I tried to sit up as I heard the news on the radio.

The drought had lasted for so long, that Gap Lake had dried up, revealing a body. After the necessary examinations, it appeared that it belonged to a young man who had gone missing fifteen years ago. There was evidence that he had been killed: someone had hit him on the head with a hammer, or something similar. Then the murderer had dumped the body in the lake. The police stopped considering the young man as missing, and started investigating his murder. The reporter never mentioned the dead guy’s name, but he didn’t have to bother, I knew it was Liam Hunter.

Who would have thought that the lake would eventually dry up? How long would it take for the detectives to come knock on my door?

***

We had been dating, Liam and I, that summer of fifteen years ago. It was really just a fling, I was twenty years old, for God’s sake!

I used to work the late shift at the pub overlooking the lake, and he used to jog for an hour every night after work, before stopping by for a beer. He was always alone, as was I, so of course we started talking, then he started waiting for me to end my shift, walking me home… One thing naturally lead to another.

We were both only temporarily staying at Gap Lake City, that’s one reason why I considered our relationship nothing more than a summer interlude. My hometown was miles away, as was his. We would just be there for a couple of months, to work and save money for our ambitious projects. He wanted to go study law in Paris; I wanted to become a singer. A famous one, I mean. Most people can be decent singers, if they try, but to be extraordinary, well: that takes work. And money. Money for singing lessons, money to support yourself while you tour to find the right agent, money to maybe bribe someone into giving you a chance… If you have money, life’s so much easier.

Anyway.

One time the condom broke and I got pregnant. I asked him to split the doctor’s fee, to get rid of the baby, and he flipped. He claimed I couldn’t do that, it was his baby, too. He wanted us to get married, give up our dreams, and settle down at Gap Lake City, which was the perfect place to raise a child and start a family, with the woods, and the lake, and the friendly community. I could keep working at the pub, he would keep doing whatever it was he was doing at the time (I honestly do not remember), and we would be a happy family.

When I told him I’d do nothing of the sort, he threatened to reach my parents and tell them. I said that I didn’t care, so he promised he’d ruin my career as soon as I had one, telling everyone who would listen what an awful person I was, to put an unlikely dream before my own child and love.

I didn’t mean to kill him, I just wanted him to shut up. Or maybe I did want to kill him. After all, that was the only way to make sure he’d shut up forever.

I hit him on the head with a hammer I found on the pier, he fell into the water and stayed there. I tied a rope to his chest and filled his pockets with rocks, then took a small boat and dragged his body across the lake. When we reached the middle of the lake, I let go of his body. He’s been resting in peace for fifteen years, and I’ve become a famous singer. What would happen now?

***

The alarm went off and I woke up. I listened to the radio, but the reporter never mentioned a drought, or Gap Lake, or the dead body of Liam Hunter.

I called the studio and cancelled all my recording sessions for the week, then took my car and drove all the way there, just to make sure.

The lake’s still there, I am safe.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

 

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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The Spot Writers – “And Then, What” by Chiara de Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “Winter to spring—a time of transitions. Write a story that takes place in a train station.”

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

“And Then, What?” by Chiara De Giorgi

Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of every week, at 6:25 am, there I am. Yorkstraße. That’s where I get with the underground (Line 7), then I climb three flights of stairs and get to the platform to wait for my train.

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall: I know how the Berlin sky looks like in every season at 6:25 am.

In Winter it is dark. Sometimes it is clear and I can spot a few stars. Not many, though: the yellow artificial lights pollute the view. My breath is a white puff that lingers, unwilling to leave the warmth of my body.

In Spring I can hear the early birds singing, and it doesn’t take long before I can witness the sunrise from the train platform: a heart-warming orange-red disc rising from behind the buildings on the eastern side of the station.

In Summer the sky is clear and bright, except on stormy days, of course. The mastermind that designed this train station decided that it did not need a platform roof, and only a couple small shelters were added, but all the benches are exposed, so when it rains you can either sit and get wet, or stand and stay dry. As if you weren’t already miserable enough, being out and about at such an ungodly hour on a stormy day.

The sky gets darker and darker as Summer turns into Fall, and colored leaves twirl and land on the platform, leaving the surrounding trees bare and melancholic.

 

I almost always read a book, while I’m waiting for my train.

My mind and my heart are not on the platform. They’re in a faraway land, living dangerously, and passionately, and bravely. Sometimes I have a really hard time letting go of the story and starting my work day. Sometimes my heart rebels at the thought of the day ahead. It doesn’t want to be chained at a desk, typing the day away. It wants to live.

That’s when it suggests we jump on a train, any train, and just go. Never get off, until the train stops. Where? Irrelevant. Anywhere will do. Anywhere but where we’re supposed to go. Don’t tell anyone, just go. Disappear, do something daring, do something new. Start over, be another. Just go, go, go…

While my heart restlessly beats, my face is still, my expression unchanged. No one will ever know about my inner turmoil. And the train approaches. What will I do? Will I dutifully get off when it reaches my station? Or will I be reckless and follow my heart’s desire?

My mind toys with the idea. Where would I go? What would I do? Who would I be? I could, I would, I wish… At some point, my mind asks the most difficult question: And then, what? What will you do, when you get to Anywhere? How will you live? Who will you meet? Won’t you wish to come back? What will people say? Will it be worth it?

My heart kicks and screams, but my mind hushes it. Be quiet, little one, dreamy one. Be quiet.

Alright, my heart says, I’ll be quiet. But then, what?

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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The Spot Writers – “Future Imperfect” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “Winter to spring—a time of transitions. Write a story that takes place in a train station.”

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. In December, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

*****

Future Imperfect by Phil Yeats

I strode toward the train station in the cold drizzle that passes for spring in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A large banner adorned the columns supporting the portico of the white marble edifice. It announced the grand reopening of the hundred-year-old building.

The celebration marked the completion a major west to east upgrade to the Canadian National Railroad by its new Chinese owners. The Quingzhu Corporation’s local representative had invited me to the May Day 2028 festivities.

I presented my personalized invitation to the security guards controlling the building’s formal entranceway. I would have avoided this event if I could, but as a consulting engineer with a business to run, I needed to maintain positive relations with large firms like the Quingzhu Corporation.

Inside, I noticed the renovations adhered to the building’s early twentieth century European style. The newly installed antique display board for arrivals and departures caught my eye. The numbers of trains at this end-of-line station was limited, so I anticipated no imminent updates. But I remembered with fondness the clattering noise I heard as a child when these old-fashioned display boards updated.

I was staring at the board willing it into action when an old friend from my university days tapped my shoulder. “Daniel, my old buddy. Long time no see.”

“Jason! How’s the intrepid investigative reporter?”

“Making a decent living, but no security.”

I shook my head and cast my eyes heavenward. “Similar story. Reasonable profit from most contracts, but without another coming down the pipe…”

“That’s what brings you here today, searching for your next contract?”

“Exactly. This company’s been good to me. They’re part of the growing Chinese Mafia, so I must keep them sweet.”

“If I were you, I’d approach your contact, do the obligatory glad-handing to line up your next project and get the hell out.”

“You expecting trouble? That why you’re here?”

“Yup.”

“Isn’t this a popular project? Quingzhu’s renovated the system, built up the passenger network and lowered freight rates. What’s the complaint?”

“The entire rail system’s in foreign, read Chinese, hands with no guarantee the good times will last.”

I eyed the bar, and the tables laden with finger food. “Okay. Long-term worries. They shouldn’t affect our enjoyment of this little party.”

Jason nodded toward a cluster of suits standing several metres away. “Investment execs. They’re here to make trouble because the last independently owned industrial company was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange this morning. Our now emasculated national stock market is reduced to trading the shares of subsidiaries of foreign companies and the few remaining Canadian companies in banking and other regulated industries.”

“Come on! That bunch of stock brokers aren’t planning a riot.”

“Probably not, but a confrontation between the pro- and anti-Chinese factions is inevitable. It might occur today. Keep your eyes open when you partake of the treats you’ve been eying. If a food fight develops, skedaddle, just like we did in university.”

I laughed. “Join me for a drink?”

“Sorry, you’re on your own. I’m working, looking for a quote or two from your stock brokers.” Jason turned away. “I’ll see you around. Good luck with your next contract.”

I smiled as I headed for the bar but followed Jason’s advice and kept my eyes peeled. When I noticed security personnel slithering into the room, I positioned himself with my escape route in mind. Just like the old days.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

 +++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

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Writer Wednesdays – Suzanne Seddon

Today, Writing Wicket interviews Suzanne Seddon, author of A Fool’s Circle.

book pic 3

I asked Suzanne:

Q. Have you ever cried with one of your main characters?

Yes. I cried for Kate and Sophie. Mainly because I could understand and relate to both characters. The book is a hard read. But it was really hard for me to write.

Q.  Do you believe in writers block?

I knew where this book was going. In fact, the characters more or less led me through the whole book. So, I never experienced any writers block although there were moments I had to shut down my laptop and take a break for a few days.

Q. What genre do you favour?

I definitely favour crime fiction and thrillers. although I’m quite partial to the odd autobiography.

Q. What is your favourite childhood book?

My favourite childhood book was definitely The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I had them all. My favourite character was Timmy the dog.

Q. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Having so many ideas swimming around in my brain and trying to get them down on paper as fast as I can. Not being able to switch off is also hard. Sometimes I have woken up in the night with an idea and had to get up and grab a pen and paper.

Q. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I think it’s a bit of both, to be honest. The thought process seems to exhaust me. But once I have a chapter finished, I feel totally energized and ready to start over again.

Q. What is your writing Kryptonite?

I’m a bit of a perfectionist and worry that my scenes are making perfect sense to the reader. So, I tend to go over them more times than I should. I’m also not a lover of writing sex scenes and let my friends read them first to get their opinions, which have been very good. They all agree I have a very vivid imagination.

Q. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I wanted this book to raise awareness about Domestic Violence and Mental Abuse, so I didn’t even contemplate writing under a pseudonym.

Q. Do you think someone can be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

That all depends what the subject matter is they are writing about.

Q. If you could be any author, who would it be and why?

Charles Dickens, for sure. I would love to get inside his head. I love the way he developed his characters. I get transported to a different time and really enjoy the journey.

Q. What was the first book that made you cry?

That was definitely the Lassie books, about a border collie, by Eric Knight. They made me smile and cry at the same time. But recently, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and found myself in floods of tears when Dobby died. I had to pull myself together before my daughter returned from school.

Q. What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think a common trap for aspiring authors is that they worry if their work is going to be good enough or interesting enough. They also worry that it has all been said before. It probably has. But just not been told by you.

 

Check out Suzanne’s links:

https://wallacepublishing.co.uk

https://bit.ly/2VJt5C1 (Goodreads)

https://amzn.to/2TJa54E ( Amazon)

https://bit.ly/2FwUO3M  ( Barnes&Noble)

 

Kindle.jpg

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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The Spot Writers – “New Year’s Resolution” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story using the following five words: tables, swimming pool, pavement, trees, mailboxes.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, with elements of suspense, mystery, romance, and family relationships, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

***

New Year’s Resolution by Cathy MacKenzie

The whoosh of the wind almost knocked Callie to the ground. She was aware the winter wind was in a rage but hadn’t expected it to be this bad. She managed to stand and struggled back to the motel room. Thankfully, the porch extended the length of the motel units, with the two ends enclosed, so she could easily open the door and get in out of the cold.

She looked out the window. The mailbox across the road had blown off its pole and lay on the pavement, waiting for disaster from an oncoming vehicle. She pictured hers and Dan’s house and hoped the flimsy plexiglass around the swimming pool remained intact. Nearby trees would wreak disaster, too, should one of them topple. Would Dan bother checking, or would he be luxuriating in the man cave, cut off from the world’s realities?

She should have stayed home rather than running off like a spoiled brat, especially on New Year’s Day. But would it be too much for her husband to pay attention to her once in a while? Seemed all Dan wanted to do was watch television. He was a movie freak but would watch movies over and over, not realizing he’d already seen them. Two minutes into a movie and Callie recognized a repeat.

Did he even know she wasn’t at home? Several times over the past six months, she’d left the house in the afternoon and gone to the mall. He’d still be sitting in front of the boob tube when she returned, none the wiser. She snickered. Boob tube? How apropos.

This time, though, she’d been gone three days. She had every intention of returning home. In fact, she’d already decided to return the following day. Four nights would be enough to jolt her husband back to reality. He’d have missed her so terribly that he would never again ignore her—but if he wanted her home, why hadn’t he telephoned or texted? She had checked her phone every hour. Nothing. Playing hard to get, no doubt. They’d played silly games in the past.

She yanked the dingy drapes across the window, plopped to the queen-sized bed, and flicked on the television.

The next day, she checked out, cringing at the bill for a second until realizing the money would be well spent if some sense had been knocked into her husband.

She sped home, anticipation coursing through her loins. She had missed him terribly. The feeling would be mutual; she was certain of it.

She pulled into the snow-covered driveway and parked behind his truck. She unlocked the side door, jumping at the shrill beeping. Though they’d cancelled the alarm system, the deafening noise would be enough to scare away even a fearless robber.

She dropped her purse on the counter and flung her coat at the kitchen stool.

She glanced around the kitchen, noting the clean table and empty sink. If he’d cooked, which he must have if he’d wanted to eat, he had cleaned his mess. Score one!

She ambled down the hall. Quiet. Too quiet. Where was he?

Despite the sun shining through the living room windows, the ceiling light glowed at the top of the stairs going to the basement.

She stopped. That noise. Was someone down there with him? 

She shuddered. What if he was angry? What if he never talked to her again? What if he wanted a divorce?

Had she gone too far?

The voices ceased and music blasted, the tell-tale sound of the television. She relaxed. Dan liked the volume loud. But at ten in the morning? She smiled. Definitely bored. A good sign.

Soundlessly, careful to hold onto the railing, she descended the carpeted staircase.

He was sitting on the couch when she reached the bottom. Thank God he was alone. If he’d had another woman, she didn’t know what she would do. Serve her right, though, for trying to teach him a lesson. She regretted her actions, but she’d make it up to him. A New Year’s resolution formed in her head.

“Hi, honey. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

As usual when he was pissed off, he ignored her and continued to stare at the screen.

She crept toward him. “I’m sorry. I just felt like I needed to teach you a lesson. I wanted you to miss me. I wanted to feel needed.”

She sat beside him and grasped his arm. “I was wrong, though. I shouldn’t have gone this far.”

She leaned over to kiss him. Her lips grazed his cheek.

“Honey? Dan?”

His blood pressure machine perched precariously on the armrest. After suffering a heart attack a few years previously, he religiously—and fanatically—checked his pressure.

She touched his face, and his head plopped toward his shoulder. The blood pressure machine fell to the floor.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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The Spot Writers – “A Waif’s Treasure” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story that involves a snow globe.

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. Last week, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.

***

A Waif’s Treasure by Phil Yeats

Mary gently shook the youth sleeping on the open ground near the communal fire. “Shh, Daniel,” she whispered, placing her index finger before her lips. “Get dressed and follow me.”

He slipped from under his rough blanket, rolled it, and secured it with a strap. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly before reaching for his ragged clothes.

She sighed. Those little expressions of affection kept them sane in the cruel world they inhabited.

They’d been together for several years, orphaned children dumped into the unforgiving wilderness where they’d survive by scavenging or die. After six months struggling to avoid starvation, they were rounded up by the Protectors, marauding thugs who enslaved them, branding them as human cattle before setting them to work. Daniel and Mary scavenged the dusty plain and adjacent badlands for anything the Protectors could sell during dry periods. In the infrequent rainy spells, they tended crops of quick growing grasses festooned with blue flowers.

Daniel followed Mary in the half-light that accompanied dawn. An hour later, she pushed aside some sage and squeezed through a narrow opening in the rock. As Dan’s eyes adjusted to the dim light, he realized they’d entered a narrow cavern.

Mary peered into the gloom before turning back toward the entrance. “I’ve returned as promised.”

A girl crawled from a crevice near the opening to the outside world. She stood, eyes darting furtively, ready to bolt at the slightest provocation. She was very young,barely pubescent, and wearing meagre fragments of cloth that made Mary’s tattered clothes appear majestic.

Mary took one step toward her and extended her hands palm up. “I brought my friend Dan. We’ll help you avoid our fate. Together, we can get you to the city and someone who’ll protect you. But you must trust us.”

She crouched and extracted something from her crevice. “It’s too frightening.”

“Please, show Dan your treasure.”

With shaking hands, she held out a clear glass sphere containing a miniature scene. It was attached to a shiny black base. She overturned it, and the sphere filled with white specks that sparkled in the cavern’s dim light.

She smiled as she offered it to Dan. After Dan took it, she reached out and fingered the scars left by the hot branding iron the Protectors applied to his forehead.Mary’s forehead was similarly disfigured, but the girl’s was untouched. Was she trading her treasure for a promise to protect her from branding?

Minimal exploration proved this cave, like others scavengers discovered, contained the possessions of refugees from the global chaos in the 2050s. Decades later,their long-abandoned possessions supported the meagre lives of another generation of outcasts.

Dan and Mary loaded their two-wheeled cart with items they could trade. At the cave entrance, Mary addressed the barefoot girl. “We’ll leave tonight when it’s dark. You know where to meet us?”

The girl nodded without comment. She’d crouched by the entrance fiddling with her treasure while Dan and Mary filled their cart.

“Don’t forget to bring it,” Mary said as she pulled the cart into the heat of the outside world. Dan followed shouldering a large iron bar he would trade with the camp cook for food they’d need on their journey.

The girl peered outside, nodded again. “Thank you.”

She appeared as Dan and Mary reached the rendezvous point. Mary passed her a ragged old shirt to cover her semi-nakedness, and they strode eastward on a two-day trek to the walled city.

At dawn on their third day, they gathered outside the city gates waiting for the morning watch.When the gates opened, they registered for outcasts’ passes and queued at the trading center. With their chit for credits earned, they headed for the professor’s house.

The professor, a frontier town legend, was a renowned collector of unusual stuff. He paid handsomely for relics from the lost era.

The professor barely glanced at the girl’s treasure before hustling Dan’s two companions to a bathroom. They’d soak in a warm bath, a luxury unheard of in their normal existence.

When the professor returned, he picked up the girl’s treasure. “Do you recognize it?”

Dan shook his head. “Never seen anything like it, but it mesmerizes our friend. It must have magical powers.”

The professor laughed as he extracted an old text from his bookshelf. He leafed through the pages stopping at an illustration. “Snow globe. A popular ornament in more civilized times. They’ve always fascinated young girls.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/


+++C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [
https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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Writer Wednesdays – Drew Lankford

Today, I interview Drew Lankford.

Drew at Pa Bunks 2 (2)

Drew lives in Murfreesboro, TN, with his three beautiful children and sometimes beautiful cat. He has published four books of poetry: For You, Limitless, Lollipops, and Fluffy Socks. He has also published widely in journals such as Skive, 34th Parallel, and Living with Loss.  Unclear of its tone or direction, he is currently hard at work on his fifth collection of poetry.  Most of his encouragement as a writer comes from his friends at the writing workshop that meets weekly at the local library. Besides writing, Drew loves listening to music, going on long walks, and playing with his children in the backyard.

Q.  How long do you write daily?

I write between 2-3 hours daily depending on how well things are going. If the writing gets tense and seems to be going nowhere, I go for a long walk.

Q.  What is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is graduating from Austin Peay State University with an MA in English Creative Writing. That was tough study, and I’m proud to have made it through.

Q.  What is your major emphasis now?

Right now, I’m working on writing. Besides caring for my children, it’s all about writing. Nothing will get written on its own.

Q.  What are you currently reading?

I am reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. Her writing looks so simple it’s amazing. She’s one of the best, ever. Besides Austin, I’ve started re-reading some of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Q.  What is your favorite book?

I’ve got to go with two here: The Call of the Wild and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Q.  Which contemporary authors are you reading now?

Billy Collins is one of the coolest authors we have with us today. His imagination is incredible. Also, I enjoy reading the playful and lighthearted M.C. Beaton mystery books.

Q.  What are your goals?

One goal is to have ten collections of poetry finished by the time I’m fifty. That sounds like a good number to me. Also, I’d like to try writing something off the grid: a collection of essays, humorous tales from the classroom, things like that.

Q.  What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working hard on the fifth collection of poetry. If it makes sense, the collection is lifting off a bit–its shiny head in the wind–and I want to keep it down, but I know I can’t restrain it. I’ve got to let go and see where it leads. That’s what I’m working on.

Q. What do you hope to get from writing?

I always want to learn more about myself and others. I love to see how far we’ve come and the possibilities of the future.

Q.  If you could tell your younger self something about writing what would it be?

I would tell my younger self that writing is like life. There are unpleasant times and there are pleasurable times, and the trick to the whole thing is to stay at it, no matter what.

Q.  What did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was a child I wanted to be a Major League baseball player. I made it to high school, not bad, considering.

Q.  What do you do for a full time job?

At this time, I’m between jobs and that gives me time to write. Trust me, I’m taking advantage of the time.

Q.  What are your feelings about ethics used in writing about historical figures?

Accurate history must be based in truth or it becomes fiction. If the author is honest and tells us if his or her work is based in fact or fantasy, that would ease much tension.

Q.  Where can we find your work?

www.dwb.publishing.com

or through any normal online locations.

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Booklet” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places.

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

The Booklet by Chiara De Giorgi

I am a small booklet: just a few pages bound together, home-made style, with a blue, battered cover.

I was written by an elderly woman, who gave me to her grand-daughter. She had written her verses and thoughts on my pages, she even put in a couple of beautiful drawings.

Her grand-daughter had just moved to a country far away and was feeling bewildered and a bit dazed by the different language and habits, by all those unfamiliar faces and places. She cherished her grand-mother present, reading and re-reading the short poems and being comforted by the woman’s words.

Every time she flipped through my pages, she smiled softly to herself; she even shed a tear of two, thinking of her grand-mother. From my pages she drew the strength to face her daily challenges with a brave heart.

One day I realized she didn’t need me anymore. I was lying on her bedside table, as usual, and I watched her cuddle her newborn baby, while her husband lovingly hugged them both.

That afternoon, while we were at the park, I discretely slid from the stroller’s blanket, landing on the grass and waiting for someone to find me.

A young boy saw me and tenderly picked me up, a big smile growing on his face. He put me in his coat’s pocket and off we ran.

He wiped my cover and straightened my pages, then put me on his sister’s bed, half hidden under a giant stuffed panda bear’s foot. He watched unseen, as the little girl found me and started flipping through my pages, stopping to admire the beautiful drawings.

The little girl had just moved to a new school and was distressed because she couldn’t make new friends, nor forget her old ones. From that day on, she always brought me with her. I reminded her of her big brother, and every time she felt lonely or afraid, she just opened me, finding a poem, or a few lines in a short story, that helped her feel comfortable again.

One day I was watching her from the bench in the schoolyard: it was summer and she was playing with her school-mates, running around and laughing happily. I understood my time with her had come to an end, and let myself fall under the bench.

The old janitor found me. He picked me up and brought me home. He put me on the table while he ate a quick supper, then we went to his sister’s, all the way across the city.

His sister had recently been widowed and was feeling very sad and lonely. She was unable to sit on her husband’s favorite armchair, or to sleep on his side of the double bed. Every single object reminded her of the man she had shared so many years with, and she could only sit next to the window in the small kitchen, looking out and remembering the time gone.

She didn’t care much for me, at first, but then she decided to open me and read a few words here and there, until she started doing so every morning. One poem, one memory, one aphorism a day, I kept her company and showed her there were still thoughts to be thought and words to be spoken.

One morning she entered the kitchen humming a happy tune. She kept humming and cleaned all the house. She moved the furniture and put her husband’s armchair next to the wood stove, then she chose an old record from a pile and played it, quietly dancing by herself around the room. Her eyes were clear, her face serene, a hint of a smile stretched her lips.

The window next to me was open, and a gust of wind gently lifted me. I was flying towards my destiny again.

***

The Spot Writers – Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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The Spot Writers – “Back to Work” by Val Muller

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places. Today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of the spooky novel The Man with the Crystal Ankh.

Back to Work By Val Muller

From the moment her daughter just “had to have it” at the checkout line, Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel drove Marie crazy. It should be illegal for stores to have children’s items in the checkout section. Or any items, for that matter. The check-out line was always the worst part of grocery shopping with a toddler and a newborn.

But what is a mother to do? When there’s a fussy toddler and a cart full of items to be placed on the conveyor belt, the easiest thing is just to give in. And the toddler always knew just how to time things just right—messing with the cart items just to the point of causing an actual mess. It was like she knew her mommy would be frazzled enough to buy the small book. In the game of chicken, the toddler always won.

And it was what, $3.95? But it was a four-dollar mistake. Since its purchase, Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel kept popping up everywhere, even when Marie tried to hide it.

It wasn’t even a great story. It made its point with alliteration. Each page played with a letter. “Harrison Habbinger loved lemons, licking his lips for lavender lemonade…” The author had labored so much on making the alliteration happen that there was nothing interesting about the story. The toddler didn’t learn any new facts about squirrels, there were no insights, no characterization, no funny jokes put in there for parents. Some children’s books did all these things. They were—well, maybe not quite enjoyable to read, but at least they made an effort at it, eliciting a chuckle at some idiosyncrasy of the grown-up world.

But not Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel. Yet for some reason the toddler was obsessed with it. The book followed them everywhere. Even when she thought she put it back on the bookshelf, it would materialize in the pantry, under the TV next to the DVD player, in the passenger seat of the car…

One day, Marie received an email from her husband at work. He’d discovered the book stashed in his briefcase. He’d showed it to his co-workers, and the office had a good laugh at the stupidity of the book.

Every night, the toddler asked for it to be read once, twice, sometimes more. It was excruciating, and the worst part was that the alliteration made it impossible to tune out. It was laborious for a tired mom to read at the end of the day. As the newborn grew, his love of the language patterns only helped encourage the toddler’s obsession.

And it didn’t just stop at the book. The obsession with the squirrel transcended the pages.

The toddler often asked for stories in the car, always about the squirrel. Waiting in line. In the bathtub. At bedtime. Eating lunch. In the car. Everywhere, the toddler demanded a story about Habbinger.

It was getting harder to make up original stories about the squirrel that had very little personality. When trying to put the baby to bed, Marie cringed at the excited cheers downstairs shouting the fact that as soon as the baby fell asleep, Mommy would be free to read Harrison again.

And again.

And again.

When Mommy was stuck for hours at a time and a chair feeding the baby, she was held captive by a toddler and her book.

Marie tried to remind herself that she was only away from work for 12 weeks. The time would fly by quickly, the baby would get bigger, and the toddler would return to daycare as well. The time would fly by fast, even if the hours might seem long. But still: every time she saw that book, she shuttered.

Her seven-hundredth attempt to hide the book failed on the cusp of her return to work. She spent her last waking moments of maternity leave reading the squirrel book several times to the squealing delight of her daughter who seemed nowhere near ready to fall asleep for the night.

The first two days back to work were a sort of reorientation into the work world, with coworkers taking her out to lunch and her regaling people with stories of the birth and the first few weeks and the toddler’s reactions and all the cute baby pictures that leave out the less desirable moments of parenthood—the diaper blowouts and temper tantrums and the obsession with badly-written kids’ books.

But after those first two days of work, things got back into routine. Everyone focused back on their jobs, and Marie realized she had a lot of catching up to do. It was on that Dreadful Wednesday, hump day, dreary rainy blurry Wednesday, when she actually felt a bit tearful dropping the kids off at their daycare. She stared at her desk. Had she done it? Has she been one of those moms to squander her time off? Everyone told her to appreciate every little smile, every little diaper accident, every little change of clothes, every all-nighter, every annoying story, because those hands wouldn’t be little for much longer. They said it was way too easy to squander if you weren’t careful.

Had she squandered all that time?

She dug into her bag to try to find her lunch. She’d packed some Halloween candy, and chocolate always cheered her up. As she dug through her bag, something tattered and worn and colorful peeked out at her.

It was Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel. In all its glory. There in her work bag.

How had it got in there? She smiled and knew the answer. That little toddler of hers, as mischievous as she always seemed, always knew how to time things just right.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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