Weekly Writing Challenge 03/17/2021

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Real life has intruded once again and I was unable to update the current story in progress. I believe it has a lot more to do with the fact I’m trying something new with this story, stretching my literary muscles if you will. I lack the confidence to continue, but continue I will. In its place I’m sharing a snippet from my current work in progress, my novel, Bitter Hollow. I’m shooting for a late summer release for this one. I’ll keep you posted. Here is a little taste of chapter 2.

A shadow washed across Harold’s face, contorting his features. The dog barking in the back yard came to me as if from a million miles away. The old man smiled and opened his mouth to speak, darkness escaping the prison behind his teeth as I fired again, aiming higher this time. Harold’s head whipped back, a bloody wound forming a third eye in the center of his forehead. Something old and terrifying crawled through my belly when Harold lowered his head to look at me with those flat, dead, eyes. A wicked smile bisecting the bottom of his face.

The old man fired a third time, the round embedding itself in the wood at my feet as I returned fire. Harold took another staggering step, driven by an unseen darkness that wrapped him in its embrace. The pistol, a well-worn .22 revolver, slipped from Harold’s hand and fell to the surface of the deck. He took another step, reaching for me with bloodied hands as blind panic overwhelmed reason.

“Why won’t you die?” I screamed as the old man crumpled to the deck.

The world shifted around me and I realized I’d fallen onto my ass, sitting with my back against the railing as Harold pulled himself towards me. His fingernails, dirty and cracked, dug into the wooden surface softened by past rains and the passage of time. Harold’s hands flexed, each finger digging into the wood. Several nails had broken as a result, peeling back from his fingertips, blood spotting the wood a soft pink.

I realized Harold was looking at me, his eyes filled with an impenetrable emptiness that reached out to envelope me in an endless despair.

I tried to warn him, Harold’s words whispered in my mind.

 Laura’s face swam into view, her features twisted into a grimace of pain and terror, and it filled me with a blind rage. From somewhere a dog barked hysterically and I searched for the source, only to find a vast emptiness that lay spread out all around me. I felt like I was lost,

The sound of a distant siren was punctuated by that frightened whiny bark. I looked back at the old man sprawled out before me. One hand outstretched, the fingers curled into a partially closed fist, and in it I spotted an object that glittered with a light all its own.

It held all the answers, and I wanted it. I leaned forward to retrieve the object as the siren filled the world around me. Running steps and voices came as a hand pulled me back until I was resting against the railing. I glanced into Sheriff Burris’s face, noting the worry in his eyes, then looked at the shimmering object as others gathered around the body.

It knew the answers to all my questions. Why Laura left. Why I’d been fired. Why Harold did what he’d done. Everything I needed to know lay hidden in that soft glow.

I tried to reach the object, only to be pushed back by a paramedic working on my wounded shoulder. Someone was shouting my name and I glanced at Sheriff Burris, then back to the glittering object in the old man’s hand. I had to have it.

Something poked me in the arm, and I was overwhelmed by a desire to lay down and take a nap. But I couldn’t. I had to have it. Michaels knelt next to Harold’s hand and retrieved the shiny object. No, that’s mine, I wanted to scream but found no voice as a mind-numbing cloud enveloped me. I’ve earned it, it’s mine, the thoughts whispered as the world dimmed.