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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.

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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.”

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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 – “The Snow Globe” by Cathy MacKenzie

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

Snow glob

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

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

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The Snow Globe by Cathy MacKenzie

For the fourth time that day, Miranda stood in her bedroom. Her mother hadn’t disturbed the room except to clean and move some of her books into Kevin’s room.

She spied her Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland book and Ramona, the over-sized ratty rabbit she’d had since her third birthday, and cradled the soft toy in her arms, inhaling scents of long ago. Stuffing escaped from the seams where the stitching had loosened. One floppy ear hung lopsided where her mother, eons ago, had reattached it, but the ear would never be the same. No one could put Humpty Dumpty together again either, not to its original form.

The stuffed animal’s forlorn amber eyes stared the way Kevin stared at her, forcing her to look away. She heaved the stuffy to the bed and shrieked when she spied the snow globe on the shelf, a gift from her father on his last Christmas. The name tag had displayed both her parents’ names, but he had proudly exclaimed that he had picked it out, so she had always considered the gift from him alone.

She shook the globe. White flakes lifted from the bottom, revealing the bitty brick walkway leading from the log cabin to the edge of the glass. Mesmerized, she watched while the flakes settled and obscured the path.

Why did a cherished object bring forth such horrible reminders?

She sank to the bed, one hand clutching Ramona to her shoulder, letting the threadbare fleece absorb her tears. Too many scenes bombarded her: Paul, Kevin, her parents. What was real and what wasn’t?

How could one object that once held so many fond memories conjure such horridness? And how could one small object be so perfect in its portrayal: a non-descript cabin in the woods, an ordinary path leading to the cabin’s door. Pristine snow.

The more she stared, the more the past surfaced. Memories she wanted to forget were jammed in a plastic object, small enough she could hold it in her hand. Small enough she could toss it across the room, watch water cascade down the wall, and eye fake snowflakes falling to the carpet instead of to the bottom of the globe. She could even crush the trees and the cabin beneath her feet.

She wanted to scream. Wanted to shout to a God she didn’t believe existed.

She shook her head, bringing herself back to the present, and squinted at the innate object in her hand. The scene should be a tranquil one—and it would be to anyone but her—but it showcased where she’d spent six years of her life. She almost hurled the globe as she had Ramona Rabbit minutes previously, but she returned it to the shelf, sliding it behind a china doll.

No matter the horrid memories, she couldn’t trash one of the few treasures she had left of her father.

She must pull herself together. Had it been purely by accident she’d managed to escape the kidnapper’s clutches? Her foggy mind wouldn’t allow her back there, at least not to that last evening. Perhaps God did exist, after all.

She dried her tears, slipped off the bed, and knelt on the floor. “Thank you, Heavenly Father. Thank you.”

 

The foregoing is a passage (slightly revised and with an “ending” to make it more of a “complete” story) from a scene in the book, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. Miranda is kidnapped at sixteen, escapes after six years, and returns home. She and her mother must learn to readjust while constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering if and when the kidnapper will return. Twists and turns will keep the reader turning the pages.

Read this book to discover, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

***

 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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