Newsletter OCTOBER 2020
Our local library held a Writing Festival last month. All held via Zoom. A great weekend.
Current Weather and Tides
Last week I took a road trip to the southern Darling Downs where I met some wonderful people. Grateful to those who purchased my books “Shadow of the Northern Orchid” and “Shadows on the Goldfield Track”.
Several outlets accepted these books on consignment which was exciting too.
Today’s picture was taken at Crow’s Nest Rest Area.
Due to the fact our airlines pay little attention to social distancing (a challenge I acknowledge) I cancelled the planned book-talks at the Cooktown and the Burdekin Libraries. I would never fogive myself if I picked up Covid enroute and delivered it to the wonderful people of the north. Fingers crossed for next year.
Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep safe.
A Pearl for your Enjoyment
Marge applied the brakes of her Land Rover on her arrival at the front door. She killed the lights, the wipers and the engine. Through the driving rain, the house appeared to be in total darkness – almost an unheard-of event. With the car door partially open, she hesitated. Her father’s classic music did not assault her ears – another unusual event. Maybe he was unwell and went to bed early for a change.
Her boots splattered water up over her jeans as her short frame landed in the puddle on the ground. Cold fingers searched in the pocket of her coat removing the small torch. A narrow bright light lit the way through the waterfall from the leaky gutter and across the wide verandah to the front door. She flicked off the torch. The bolt rattled on the thick timber as she pushed the door open. After the creak and groan of the hinges ceased the noise left a silence – a threatening presence in the room. Her hand reached for the light switch. A soft click. Darkness remained a heavy cloak over everything. Back and forth she flipped the switch. With the torch once more retrieved from her coat pocket, she panned the light around the room. A sudden chill settled in her heart; her stomach swirled.
Father had never been the tidiest of men and outside of his work, ‘disorganization personified’ had been used to describe him. On her deathbed, Mother insisted Marge promise to check up on her father regularly. But this room was not disorganized; this room was a disaster. Had a pack of animals been fighting in the lounge? Chair cushions had been tossed around like monstrous confetti. Photo frames lay smashed on the floor. Bookshelves stood emptied of their contents and the over-ended drinks-trolley sent up a sweet aroma from the puddle of cider on the floor. A gold chain with a small golden horse swam in the puddle. A gasp escaped Marge’s lips at the sight of this room.
The chain now dangling from her fingers belonged to Miss. Abbotsford, her father’s new friend. The lady with eyes as cold as the deep freezer and with a smile to match. Marge did not trust the woman. She had never trusted the tall blond amazon with her foreign accent from the first day they met.
The torchlight trembled on the walls as it wandered over the jumbled scene. From her shaking hands, the light led her to her father’s laboratory. The door hung open. Never did father leave his lab door open; never. Her voice wobbled as she called his name. Only the silence replied. She coughed in an attempt to clear the spasm in her throat and called again, several times, each call a little louder than the one before.
Once back on the verandah a fresh cloudburst drowned the silence. Her light picked out the electricity mains box. Inside the box, she expected to find the tripper had been set off or a fuse blown but instead she found the mains switch up in the OFF position. She moved it to the ON setting. Light burst from the house along with her father’s music. A sticky material on the switch caught her attention. She examined her fingers in the torchlight. A dark red substance marked her thumb and forefinger. She moved her fingers close to her nose. The smell of blood filled her nostrils. When she closed the little door of the meter box, she noticed what she had not seen in her rush earlier. A spray of similar stain decorated the box and the wall around it.
Marge swung around. In vain, her eyes searched the dark woods but nothing was visible in the black void. She bolted. Water and mud spurted out from under her boots as she raced to her car; the only normal thing here tonight. Like a rat scrabbling through a rubbish bin, her hands dug out her purse from the glovebox. In her haste, it fell to the floor along with the torch. With the cabin light now called to service, she was able to search for the strange little piece of paper her father had given her a long time ago.
“Maggie, as you know my work here is super-secret and the government keeps a close check on me and my family to keep us safe. I want you to keep this phone number close to you at all times and if you get into trouble or if you think I’m in trouble you must phone this number immediately.”
Her stomach swirled then as it did now when she dialed the number on her phone.
“Stay in your car, don’t move. A team is on its way immediately.” The calm, warm voice instructed.
While she sat there waiting, Marge’s mind began to play with scenarios.
Had her father been kidnapped and if so, who by? No doubt that Miss Abbotsford; she’s probably a foreign spy. But if she were a foreign spy why had the team not protected her father from the woman, to begin with?
Why would anyone want to kidnap her father?
At that point in her mind’s meanderings, the growl of a large engine and bright lights pulled up behind her vehicle. Doors opened and slammed. Armed men surrounded her Land Rover. They faced inwards at her.
A man nearest her door signalled for her to wind the window down. Her hand touched the winder; her mind asked silently. Why are they not facing outwards to protect me? Why face me? Could my call for help have been intercepted? Would the people who have taken my father want me too? Maybe to use as leverage to convince Dad to divulge his research work? Was he really doing such important work? Her hand froze on the knob. What should she do? What could she do? Tears began to fall when she realized she had not locked the doors.
The man reached over and unlatched the door. “Come with us, Miss.”