The Spot Writers – “Werner’s Syndrome” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to use the following words or images in a story: whirlwind of leaves, wizened old man, lonely call of an owl, crackling fire.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. Last 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/

***

Werner’s Syndrome by Phil Yeats

The wizened old man gazed, as he did most mornings, at the world outside his woodland cabin. A whirlwind of colourful autumn leaves swirled past his window, and his trusty friend, an old owl, stared as immobile as a statue from a nearby tree limb.

He’d learned when only thirteen that he would never be normal. Stunted growth, arthritis, and cataracts already dominated his life. Operations to replace the cataracts with plastic lenses improved his vision, but the other signs of aging marched on relentlessly. His life expectancy at thirty-two was measured in years, not decades.

After breakfast, he split logs for his evening fire. His only strenuous activity; he had to accomplish it in the morning when his strength was greatest.

Half an hour later, he set the chunks of split firewood and kindling beside his hearth and positioned his easel in the brightest part of his woodland cabin. Drawing was his life, his only solace from the cruel fate nature bestowed on him.

He spent the morning generating illustrations for a children’s book. At noon, he set them aside and turned his attention to his private drawings, therapeutic ones that kept him sane.

The young woman from the publishing house arrived in mid-afternoon. She studied each of the drawings he’d set aside. “Perfect,” she said when she arrived at the last one. “We never reject any. You wouldn’t believe the fights we have with our other illustrators.”

He picked up the manuscript she’d given him when he received the commission. “Don’t see what’s so difficult. You read the book and draw the images it generates.”

She smiled as she strolled to his easel. “What have we here?”

“Images from my imaginary life.”

She shook her head. “A naked woman like a model from a figure drawing class and two tykes dressed like they could be from that book.”

He took the sheet, tore it from top to bottom, and handed her the pieces. “There you go, two separate drawings.”

She handed them back. “I must go, get your drawings to the office before quitting time. New manuscript that’ll be perfect for you arrived this week. I’ll get it to you once the editor decides.” She smiled, nodding toward the drawings in his hand. “In the meantime, I’d pay for a drawing of me in a pose like that one.”

“I’d need photos to work from.”

She skipped out. “Watch your inbox. I might do it.”

Darkness fell upon his woodland glade as he prepared his evening meal. Afterwards, he lit the fire he’d laid that morning. When it was crackling nicely, the lonely call of an owl, perhaps the one he’d seen perched in his tree, pierced the quiet night. He shredded his therapeutic drawings and fed the fragments into the fire.

***

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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The Spot Writers – “We’re in this Together” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to use the following words or images in a story: whirlwind of leaves, wizened old man, lonely call of an owl, crackling fire.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming early 2020. Watch for it!

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

***

“We’re in this Together” by Cathy MacKenzie

Walter rubs his hands and shivers. Night is drawing to a close, and morning will soon be upon him.

He throws another log on the fire, humming a sorrowful tune that came to mind. He can’t remember the name—or the words—so he sings his own. Nonsensical phrases he’ll never repeat even if he had a friend.

Loneliness. Grief. Sadness. Where’s the happiness he once enjoyed?

“Silly me,” he mumbles, knowing darn well where his joy went. The way of everything good: a wife, kids. A home. A job.

Not that he needs a job at his age. His meagre pension covers his expenses. He’s thrifty. Has to be. Enjoys it, actually, as if proving he can overcome any obstacle.

He tosses another log into the fiery mass. The resulting sparks remind him of autumn leaves blown about by the wind. He’s careful to keep the fire contained within the metal rim. Mustn’t play with fire: a haunting refrain from his childhood. He didn’t know much about fires then and never played with matches, but his parents still spewed the words.

He stares into the crackling pit. Flames rise, higher and higher. Out of control. In the distance—the far distance—he hears screams. Shrieks. Smells burning flesh. Oddly familiar. But no, he’s never smelled anyone burning. That would do him in, for he’s read that burning flesh is an odour one never ceases smelling. His sense of smell remains intact even though the rest of him’s gone to crap.

Despite that, he inhales. A huge deep breath that relaxes him.

No horrific smell; nothing but the smoky pine of the campfire.

And the screams? A lonely owl crying in the night.

The vision? Gotta keep that out of his mind. Nothing exists around him but his tent and trees. The moon. And darkness except for the hypnotic fire that’ll die if he neglects it. That’s what happens with neglect: death and heartache.

The fire is fine. Contained in its container. Nowhere for it to go. He should never have lit the fool thing, but every time he camps, he feels compelled to do so. A mysterious force that commands, “Light me, light me.” And he does. His penance, he figures.

He’s never enjoyed camping, but the dark shrouds him from himself. He can pretend he’s twenty-five when his life stretched before him. He can ignore the white hair, the mottled skin, the discoloured fingernails. Nasty yellowed toenails, too, but his feet are hidden in his haggard hiking boots.

It’s impossible not to feel close to ninety when glimpsing a wizened face in a mirror. A stranger—no one he knows. He sighs and rubs his palms against his dungarees. Who’s he kidding?

He doesn’t consciously look at himself except for shaving, but sometimes the bathroom mirror draws him in, forcing him to shout at the invisible person behind it. “I’m alive! Foxed you, eh?”

He stares into the darkness, somewhere behind the trees. “Hey, God, I cheated death, didn’t I? Or was that your plan all along?”

God shouldn’t take the innocent, but He doesn’t care. Too many gone too soon. Too many too young.

The fire dances. He blinks, swearing he can see his wife. Yes, there she is! For a second.

Then gone.

His son and daughter. Sees them, too, but for a lesser instant if it’s possible to cut an instant in half. He didn’t have his children as long as he had his wife and barely remembers what they look like. But, no, there they are. Their faces rise with the flame, and they screech, “Daddy, save us. Save us.” His wife’s arms wrap them close. “Hush, my babies, hush. Everything will be okay,” she says. “We’re in this together.”

He’s positive she’d have said those last four words. She used to comfort him with the same words when life didn’t go quite as planned—minor blips on life’s stage now. We’re in this together.

Yes, she would have said those words when she comforted the children. When he wasn’t there to save them. When they must have called out to him, “Save us, save us.” He should have been there.

They thought he was.

But he wasn’t.

He returned home to an inferno, the flames devouring their home. Firetrucks surrounded the house. Firemen with hoses battled an undefeatable rival. Helplessly, he stood. Hopelessly, he fell.

Despite fisticuffs with everyone blocking his way, too many stronger arms held him back.

He heard no screams. Smelled no burning flesh. He couldn’t even form the horrid images of what transpired. Their deaths. What must have been in their minds?

Their charred remains were found, the three entwined together as if seeking warmth from the cold. We’re in this together. Would the words have comforted their children as they’d once comforted him?

He leans back. “We’re in this together,” he yells to Heaven.

He prays his family heard.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbles. “I’m so sorry. We should have been in this together.”

***

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 – “Me Time” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to use the following words or images in a story: whirlwind of leaves, wizened old man, lonely call of an owl, crackling fire.

***

“Me Time” by Val Muller

There he stood, in the strip mall in front of Tropical Palms Spa. His skin tingled from his facial, and his muscles were so relaxed he could melt. He sighed and glanced back at the neon palm tree in the window. Of course, there was nothing tropical about it, it being located in the middle of Hudson, Ohio. But that was the point, to go somewhere away from it all. Near a national park, it was a good place to get lost.

And getting lost was easy to do. He’d taken his doctor’s advice and started Intermittent Fasting, eating only during an eight-hour window each day. Gone were the days of keeping gingerbread cookies at the ready, eating one practically every five minutes. Without the chill of his wintry abode, he didn’t need that much insulation anymore, and the extra weight was bad for his knees.

He wondered if his wife would even recognize him after his sabbatical. He’d lost countless pounds and dropped so many pant sizes that he could wrap himself in his old clothes threefold. His energy had increased, just like the doctor said it would. He went for walks now, long walks, wondering how in the world he used to conquer all those lists and deadlines.

The checking once, twice; the playing moral judge. It had all been so taxing, so ubiquitous, so constant. Who was he to determine naughty or nice? His therapist was right: it was time for parents to start looking after their own children’s behaviors. Santa needed to look after Santa.

His elves, he’d sent off to a holiday in the tropics. The coconuts and rum would be good for them; after all, they lived on carbs. They would be back just after Thanksgiving. That would be plenty of time for them to run maintenance on COAL 2.0, the new program the rep installed. It was a fully-automated system that assigned kids gifts or punishments based on algorithm.

It scanned their parents’ social media posts, monitored phone conversations with grandparents and friends, even tapped into school security cameras and data from the NSA. In mid-December, it spit out a list of kids good, bad, and neutral. Then, it assigned one of a small range of toys—about twelve possible options, including rocks for punishment (coal was not environmentally sustainable)—based on age and behavior.

There was really nothing Santa needed to do. The program sent the gifts to homes via drone delivery. He could still ride on his sled, but the ride would be mere ceremony. He would be back in time to catch a Christmas movie with the missus while enjoying a hot chocolate (if it was still during his 8-hour feeding, and not fasting, window).

He stepped off the curb, and a whirlwind of leaves swirled from the side of the parking lot onto the sidewalk, surrounding him and playing with the stubble on his clean-shaven whiskers. The cold made his face, fresh with the facial, tingle. He shivered, for a moment missing his plush red robe. He heard the lonely call of an owl and turned around. The lot was largely deserted, it being the middle of an October work week, and he examined the Halloween décor in the windows.

He envied Halloween. It was everyone’s job to give out candy. And that, said his therapist, is how it should be. The world had no right to demand a single entity be responsible for billions of toys each year. That was too much for any man. A flashy jack-o-lantern in the window mocked him with its smug confidence.

He gritted his teeth and reached for a cookie, but there were none, of course. The therapist had blamed sugar—in part—for the Breakdown. Santa sighed and noticed a Costco across the street. He couldn’t help himself. He’d been working on thinking of himself and his wife only—as his therapist directed—but his mind naturally went to buying in bulk. He would just take a peek.

Inside, the store was already decorated for Christmas. They must have sold out of their Halloween items long before October 1. Sparkling colored LED lights on magnificent plastic trees. His body—his old body, the fat one, the one before his recovery—in miniature, carrying a heavy sack, standing on a mirrored music box. And Christmas cookies. A box with 96 of them for $8.99. He smiled, remembering the good old days and how that box would make a nice midnight snack. He reached in his pocket and fingered the ten-dollar bill. Crisp, but not as crisp as those cookies looked.

And then he heard the pitter-patter of children. A check of his watch let him know school must have been let out. The kids ran up the aisle examining the Christmas wonder. A little boy—that was little Timmy from Twinsburg—was pushing his little brother (Joey—he was such a good little boy) to get a closer look at the tree display.

“Naughty, naughty,” Santa muttered, reaching for his list.

But he had left his list at home. The therapist told him to destroy it, but Santa had opted to store it in his drawer instead.

“Hmmm,” he said, gritting his teeth. He picked up the box of cookies and walked to the register to pay.

Out in the parking lot, at his rental car, he put the remaining half-box of cookies on the passenger seat and brushed the crumbs off his shirt. In the window’s reflection, he looked like a wizened old man, not a holly-jolly one. He shook his head as he got in and pushed the start button.

“On, Dasher,” he said, chuckling. Then he reached for another cookie.

Across the street, the smug jack-o-lantern was still watching him through the window, with beady eyes and an insistent LED smile. Dash him and all his goblin friends, Santa thought, watching a mother load bags of candy into her trunk. The woman’s two young daughters—the Beardsley twins—were bickering about who got to have first pick of the Halloween candy. Neither even gave a thought to helping their mother.

Santa cringed and stuffed a handful of cookies into his mouth. The sugar made him feel much better.

“North Pole,” he typed into the rental car’s GPS. It was a long drive, according to the map that appeared. He’d need a lot of cookies. Luckily, the rental car’s on-board computer had a way to search for stops along the way. He would need one at least one every few miles. Yes, it would take quite a while without his trusted team. But at least when he got there, there’d be his wife, and an endless list of names to double-check while sipping hot chocolate in front of the crackling fire.

***

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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The Spot Writers – “The Whispering Tree” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story inspired by what you see out your window.

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 Whispering Tree by Chiara De Giorgi

The tree was the first thing I noticed when I looked out the window the day the real estate agent showed me the apartment. One branch, long, thin and bare – it was Winter – reached to just beneath the window sill.

In just a year or two, on a stormy night it will scratch the window pane, I thought.

I don’t know why the thought thrilled me. A tree branch scratching the window pane on a stormy night sounds like something out of a horror tale, but I guess it appealed to my romantic side: there I was, renting an apartment in one of the busiest cities in Europe, and yet there was a tree outside my bedroom, whose branches would scratch the window as if I were living in a cabin in the middle of the forest.

I moved in shortly after that first visit and for a few weeks forgot all about the tree and its branch. I was busy unpacking, buying and assembling IKEA furniture, hanging pictures and mirrors on the walls.

Then suddenly it was Spring, and I opened the window. The thin branch was now full of small leaves, tender green and delicate. I smiled and silently encouraged it to grow stronger and reach higher.

Seasons came and went, and by the following Spring the branch had finally reached my window. I looked at it and I can swear I heard its voice. Here I am. Now you have to let me in.

I quickly closed the window, then stared at the tree through the glass. I needed curtains.

I’ve probably never bought anything with such urgency: the same night, the whispering branch was hidden behind lace curtains.

A few days later, though, I realized I missed the view from my bedroom window: the soft pink sky at morning, the golden sunsets, the children playing in the nearby garden, the elderly strolling along the street, the dogs, the cats, the birds… I pulled the curtain aside and peered out. The branch was bare and withered!

I opened the window at once and asked the tree: What happened to you? but I got no answer. I felt sad and weirdly responsible, so I removed the pretty curtains.

The following day, the tree was as alive and lush as before, and I thought I must have imagined everything. However, I didn’t dare open the window, in fear that I’d hear the branch speak to me again. That’s why it scratches my window pane at night, every night. It wants to tell me something, it wants me to let it in, but I think a whispering tree belongs in a horror tale, which is where I don’t want to end myself. I’m never opening my bedroom window 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 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 – “The Impatient Passenger” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story inspired by what you see out your window.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. Last 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/

***

The Impatient Passenger by Phil Yeats

 

I stared from the front window of my second-floor apartment in an old urban house as I waited for my early morning coffee to brew. A woman standing on the curb attracted my attention. She was young, perhaps twenty-five years old, and decently dressed, like someone heading for the university or a job that didn’t require formal clothes. It wasn’t her age or attire that caught my attention; it was her nervous demeanour.

She shifted from one foot to the other as her head swiveled, glancing left and right. When a gap developed, she stepped onto the road and stared at the oncoming traffic. Seconds later, she leapt onto the curb as a dark grey econobox swung toward her and screeched to a halt. The rear passenger door flew open, she dove inside, and the door slammed shut. More screeching of tires and honks from annoyed drivers as the car recklessly charged into the traffic.

I noted nothing particularly distinctive about the car or its passenger, but her nervousness and the obvious haste of the car’s driver left me imagining the strange events that could generate these observations. Was there something sinister, or just people in a big hurry?

***

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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Before Time Stood Still

In Memory of Matthew

October 11, 2019
Before Time Stood Still

Thirty-one months
And time stands still
—As do I.

Your marker reaches toward Heaven,
Pointing the way to all that’s good—
You:
One of the good ones,
Died too young,
Taken too soon,
In your prime—
Lame expressions
When no other words exist.

Sometimes silence
Is best,
And the dark
Where I can hide,
Or in the mornings
When I pull covers over my head,
Not wanting to face the day.

It’s dark when I can’t see:
When time stands still,
When winds don’t blow
And clouds don’t rain,
When the sun doesn’t shine
And grass doesn’t grow.
It’s dark then.

Life’s happier
When I can’t see—
Until the light shines
And I remember
And wish it were dark again.

I have no breath,
No feeling,
No jumping for joy
Or giggles or laughter,
No eating fine foods
Or drinking pricey wines—
Not like those enjoyed before time stood still.

Now there’s no yesterday,
No tomorrow,
Only today.

I wish time would wake up
And move
So I don’t have to stand still for all eternity
And bow my head
And wish for yesterdays
When life was happy
And everyone laughed.
When things couldn’t get worse.

I wish that time would move as it had,
Forever and ever,
Before it stood still,
Before I stood at your grave
Wishing I could turn back time.

Matt Headstone KenzievilleMatthew

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The Spot Writers – “Monster in the House” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. October’s prompt: “write a story inspired by what’s outside your window.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s 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 early 2020. Watch for it!

***

“Monster in the House” by Cathy MacKenzie

I lay in bed, not daring to move. That noise. What is it? Someone’s broken into the house is my first thought, but I’d have heard the beeps of the alarm system—wouldn’t I?

They’re at the front door. Outside—no, definitely inside. But how? Was I that sound asleep I didn’t hear the alarm? Didn’t Hubby hear it?

Hubby is beside me. Fast asleep. I can’t see him in the dark. I’m too afraid to open my eyes, but I’m positive it’s dark.

Quiet now—no, there it is. Definitely at the front door.

My heart thumps against my chest. I clutch Hubby’s arm. “Wake up,” I whisper. My fingers press into his flesh. “Someone’s here.”

“Wha—what’s wrong?” His voice is thick with sleep.

“Shush. Someone’s at the front door.”

“What? Who?”

“Shush,” I say again. “Shush.”

Silence.

Nope. There it is again.

“At the front door. Someone’s here. They’ve broken in.”

“Someone’s in the house?”

“Yes!”

Maybe it’s not the front door. But it’s somewhere close by. There! Again.

My eyes are open now, but it’s as if I’m blind. I point in the darkness. “Down the hall.”

The noise is down the hall, by the bathroom. Mere feet away.

“It’s an animal.” A squirrel?

“Go back to sleep,” Hubby says. “There’s nothing here.”

Three days ago, we moved into our new-to-us house. I’m not attuned yet to these different night sounds. What creatures might lurk in the dark? Or in a nook or cranny we haven’t yet discovered. The house could be haunted for all I know.

The intruder—or intruders—isn’t mice. I’m familiar with the soundless pitter of those rodents. This commotion is far from soundless.

But in the house?

Hubby sits. “Your imagination again.”

Last night, I heard an unmistakeable noise and woke him up. It could have been mice then as it was a weird sound in the walls. Turned out to be the furnace. The previous owners forgot to turn off one of the in-floor heat zones, so the furnace turned on occasionally at night.

He plops back to the bed.

“There!” I poke him in the side and sit, clutching the linens to my heaving chest. “Definitely down the hall.” The sound reminds me of an elderly person on crutches, with his bad leg dragging on the floor.

If Hubby doesn’t hear it this time, he needs to return to the doctor to get his ears unplugged.

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Shush, you always talk so loud.”

Silence except for my thumping heart that’s about to blast from my chest.

“There! You must hear it now.” The shuffling is louder. Must be an animal in the house. Hubby has a habit of leaving the garage door wide open to the elements. Maybe it’s a raccoon. A family of raccoons made their home in our attic a few years ago. Could a raccoon have snuck in?

“Hmmm… There is something.” He gets out of bed and sneaks down the hall. Turns on the hall light.

Silence.

Where is he? Has the “monster” gotten him?

He’s been gone too long.

“Where are you?” My voice is too low for him to hear.

The light finally goes out.

“Nothing there,” he says, returning to bed.

I hear it again. The sounds are louder. Shuffling. Scratching. Hubby hears it, too; I can tell by the change in his breathing.

I shriek. “It’s outside. Behind my head.” Someone’s spying on us. That one-legged man?

Hubby peers out the window by our bed. “Probably a branch rubbing against the window.” He turns on the bedside light and looks out again.

The noise increases as if the creature—animal or human—is afraid of the light. Shuffling. Scratching. Screeching.

“Raccoon,” he says. “Raccoon in the compost bin.” He shuts off the light and comes back to bed.

“You can’t leave it,” I say.

“I’m not going out at three in the morning.”

The raccoon eventually calms down. Maybe it falls asleep. Maybe we do.

***

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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MISTER WOLFE!

I’ve been diligently working on MISTER WOLFE, the sequel to WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. I’m quite confident, despite challenges life throws at me, that I’ll have this book published in early 2020.

If you haven’t read WOLVES DON’T KNOCK yet, you best order it and read it NOW!

MISTER WOLFE would be better understood if you have the WOLVES’ background first.

WOLVES DON’T KNOCK…available from me (autographed copy for $15 and FREE shipping in Canada for the month of October–send me a message to purchase) or from Amazon, either US or Canada: https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie-ebook/dp/B07F8ZZJFG/

Wolves Don't Knock FINAL PRINT COVER

As stated above, here’s the start to MISTER WOLFE:

Not ten minutes into Paul’s drive to Halifax, a nauseating stench permeated the cab, immediately reminding him of his mother incinerating in the family home. Without checking for other vehicles, he pulled to the side of the road, cranked the lever to pop the hood, and leaped from his Ford 150.

Shivering, he raised the hood. Sure enough. A critter, seeking warmth from sub-zero temperatures, had met its death in the radiator fan and was so mangled the species would be undeterminable even to the most experienced animal scientist. He had been out earlier that morning, to Timmies for a coffee. A small luxury he afforded himself once in a while—when life got too hard and he needed a reward. Despite the sub-zero temperature, the engine block would have stayed warm.

Stupid, brainless animal.

He couldn’t clean up the mess, not while on the side of the road. And not in this cold.

He returned to the truck and pounded on the dash. Fuck! He didn’t have time for this crap.

Was someone messing with him? He snickered at his next thought: terrorism. Weren’t terrorists on everyone’s minds these days?

No, the hood could only be opened from the inside. Just a fluke the damn critter picked his vehicle. But living in a cabin in the woods, what did he expect?

He leaned against the steering wheel. His beloved Perrywinkles could have perished under the hood of his parents’ car. Instead, it lost half an ear. A small price to pay…

 

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The Spot Writers – “Pencil” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story inspired by what you see out your window. This week’s post comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Find out more at www.corgicapers.com

Pencil by Val Muller

val pencil

When I was born, my mother told me I could be anything. Dad wrote the first draft of a thesis that went on to earn the Nobel Prize in Physics, disappearing to the college and never coming back. Each night, Mom tells tales of what Dad must be doing. She imagines him in a glass case somewhere, under shining lights, being admired by passers-by as the brains behind the thesis. Mom has spent her whole life jotting down phone messages in the Jones’s kitchen. It’s not the Nobel Prize, but it sure helps the Jones family keep up their appointments.

“We all have a purpose,” she always says.

Me? I wasn’t sure of my purpose until this August, when I was placed in Rob Jones’s backpack. Turns out I’m going to be a School Pencil. Mom told me that’s important because school is the foundation for everything else in life. Maybe Rob Jones will earn the next Nobel Peace Prize. Not in Physics, though, let me tell you.

Mom sent me off with a smile, knowing my life would already turn out better than Brother’s. We don’t really talk about the incident with Rover, but I’m glad Rob keeps my backpack on a hook out of Rover’s reach.

*

There’s an important physics test this afternoon, and I can’t help wondering if I’ll be chosen. After all, physics seems to run through my veins—my lead, that is. I’m sure I can help Rob ace the exam. After countless hours in the dark, Rob opens the backpack and reaches for the pencil case. His fingers grasp an erasable pen—don’t even get me started on the Paper Mate family—but then think better of it and choose me instead.

Now is my time to shine. The test is on Objects in Motion. This is easy stuff. Dad raised me on this like nursery rhymes before he left. I prepare to write my response when—Rob, what’s happening? His hand is getting sweaty, tarnishing my beautiful yellow shine. Now what’s he doing? Chewing my eraser! Rob, you know this stuff. No need to abuse me. Just write the response already.

Finally, he starts to scrawl something. He needs to brush up on rotational motion a little, but he’ll get partial credit, at least.

Now what? Ouch! He’s chewing on me. My smooth yellow coat is tainted with bite marks. My mind races with flashes of Rover. I see bits of Brother’s splintered body all over the kitchen floor, and I wonder if my fate is the same. The pressure is relieved by a gentle crunch.

An actual divot.

My dignity gone, I no longer care about the test. I just want to get out of there. My mind races. Maybe Rob can toss me on the ground, and maybe I’ll be picked up by that girl in the corner. She has a glitter pencil case and keeps all her pencils sharp one-hundred percent of the time. She never chews on her erasers, that’s for sure.

Rob slams me on the desk to go ask the teacher a question. I will myself to roll off the desk. Rob hears me fall and hurries back to pick me up before continuing on to the teacher. At the teacher’s desk, Rob’s sweaty hands plop the test down and then take out their frustration on me.

“I’m not sure I understand the question,” Rob says.

The teacher isn’t buying it. “This is all from the review packet,” he says. “If you were paying attention last class, and if you had studied, this would be easy stuff.” Indeed, the teacher motions to a stack of tests that students have already finished.

I realize in horror that Rob hasn’t studied. He doesn’t care about physics.

His frustration bends me—literally. He holds me between two hands, and he bends me in an arc.

“I did study,” he says. “This stuff is just too hard.”

The teacher’s expression remains skeptical.

“I think I need more time,” Rob says. “An extension.”

The shake of a head. “I can’t do that, Robert.”

The boy shakes. He’s angry now. The arc he’s creating with me sharpens, and my wood starts to creak and crack. Rob, stop. Stop this madness.

In my panic, I look up at the ceiling, where three pencils are stuck in the asbestos ceiling. Shot like arrows, no doubt. How many years have they been there, their lead impotent?

The tension becomes unbearable. Splinters break through my paint job. I snap in two, my lead exposed to the world, a small shard of wood landing at the door near the teacher’s feet. I’m sharpened lead on one side, eraser on the other, and a splintery mess in the middle.

The teacher just shakes his head. “I take it you’ll be repeating the class next year if you keep up this attitude,” he says. Then he looks down at me. “Looks like you’re going to need a whole lot more pencils.”

The teacher holds out his hand, and Rob slams me into it, both halves of me. I remain in his hand long enough to see him hand Rob a new pencil, a black Ticonderoga one. As if to say I wasn’t good enough for him. As he walks across the room toward the trash can, I realize my fate. Mother will never see me again. Instead, a high class snob will take my place and probably charm Mom into adopting him.

Or worse. With Dad out of the picture, who knows what charms that Ticonderoga will grace Mom with.

The day is long as I await my fate. It comes in the form of a squeaky cart rolling down the hall. A tired sigh as a custodian upends the trash can, tossing me with other detritus into a black plastic bag. Before long, the bag is closed around me, and all become darkness.

***

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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Sucked Down the Vacuum Void

The inevitable happened a few minutes ago. I almost saw it coming when I put the jar in the pantry this morning. I actually hid it so I wouldn’t be “so inclined.”

So, tonight, after sharing a bottle of bubbly with Hubby, along with sausage spaghetti for dinner—made from scratch, of course (not!)—I needed a special little treat. Garlic always does that to me.

My Goodies!

Was not meant to be.

The unthinkable happened. But I kinda saw it happening.

And when it did, it happened in slow motion. I had no opportunity to grab the jar. Or to save it from its untimely demise.

Or to save me! My demise—cause I’m always craving these fool things.

This morning, I had dumped the bag of Goodies into a jar and hadn’t twisted the lid all the way. So, when I grabbed it tonight (trying to take a few on the sly so Hubby wouldn’t notice), the jar slipped from the lid. Out of my fingers.

“My Goodies!” I screeched.

Hubby was asleep on the couch, empty wine glass in hand, but he jumped up at the horrendous crash. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”

“My Goodies,” I screeched again.

“Is that all?”

“Is that all? I can’t eat them now. They’re all over the floor. And who knows what’s been on this floor.”

He got up from the couch and came over. “Glass,” he said. “There’s glass all around. You can’t eat those!”

So practical, he is. I had never thought of glass shards. Sure enough, when I looked closer, so many bits of shiny glass.

“You’re right. I don’t want to eat glass.” My heart thumped. What would I eat now to satisfy my sweet tooth?

Nothing! We had nothing else in the house despite grocery shopping earlier. And my poor Goodies!

“I guess I have to get the vacuum out,” I said.

It was a torturous job. I so wanted to stoop down and stuff a few  candies in my mouth before they disappeared into the vacuum void. But I couldn’t. The thought of unknown germs on the floor, not to mention glass particles, stopped me.

“Can we go back to the Superstore?” I begged, vacuum in hand.

“Not tonight,” Hubby said, back on the couch, remote in his hand.

“Tomorrow?”

“Nope, you did it. You suffer the consequences.”

I finished vacuuming. I almost cried. So, so sad.

goodies

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