Smashwords End of Year Sale is ON!
To start off, I am participating in the Smashwords End of Year Sale, which runs today, December 18th, through January 1st. All of my collections, plus Swordsmaster, are available on Smashwords at 50% off!!! You can find Smashwords links to all my participating EBooks HERE on my Current Promotions page.
Now, to continue our regularly scheduled Fractured Fragment Friday
“Out of Place” started with an inside joke – the opening “Bunnies!” line is something I shout (but softly) every time I see one in our North Dallas neighborhood. We’re being overrun with all sorts of creatures – rabbits, raccoons, hawks, coyotes, buzzards, bobcats, etc.. I thought it would be fun to take the neighborhood incursion to an extreme where reality seems to be fraying.
Here’s the Blurb
So many things out of place. Wildlife. Tribesmen. Husbands…
Wildlife seems to be overrunning Sue’s neighborhood. At first Sue thinks that’s all it is, just local fauna run amuck, but her world is changing; an uncomfortable situation for someone who expects everything to stay where it belongs. Who knows where it will all end up?
And Here’s the Excerpt
I slam my foot on the brake pedal. The van squeals to a halt, and we narrowly miss the trailing member of the two lumps of brown fur as they race across in front of us. I glance back at Timmy in his car seat, his three-year-old body straining and jiggling with excitement as he points and claps at the pair of rabbits which are now in Nancy Gregory’s yard. Well, Nancy Madison’s, now that her divorce is final.
“That’s right, Timmy – bunnies,” I sigh as I exhale.
With all the development going on in the area, those dumb bunnies are overrunning the neighborhood. They used to seem disoriented, like they were confused about where they had wound up, but now they’re accustomed to it, and to us. The two nose around some geraniums; Tom had said that Nancy sprinkled garlic powder to keep them away from her plants, but they don’t seem to be bothered by it, either. Well, he said he didn’t think it was going to work.
“Sue,” he said to me with a wink, “you know that garlic trick relies on scaring the rabbits into thinking that they’re about to be cooked, but they’re not that smart; I bet they don’t even know how to make stew.”
It was a joke, but he was right about it not being any use. I wish there was a trick that would at least keep them out of the street. One of these days they were going to lose the game of chicken they were playing with me, and I was going to have to explain to Timmy why Mommy killed the cute things.
Nancy comes out her front door in her pink short-shorts and too-tight tank top, all ready for her morning jog. Her perfectly dyed blonde hair and her perfect everything else bounces all over as she tries to shoo the rabbits away. I smile – the rabbits seem oblivious to her, and that’s something she probably isn’t used to. I know Tom can’t ignore her when he sees her run by. Maybe if I had an outfit like that.
I let my foot off the brake and continue the drive to the mall.
“That’s them?” Security Officer Williams asks.
The image on our cameras is a little fuzzy. You can make out that the three men are dark-haired, and they wear some sort of fringed clothing, like they’re trick-or-treating as hippies or Indians or something. Probably Indians, because they have spears. I’ve been telling Tom for ages that we need better cameras, but he says they’re good enough for a gated community – who would we need to record?
Officer Williams and I watch them catch a pair of those rabbits; well, not catch – they impale them in our front yard with their spears. It was a good thing it was Wednesday, or Timmy would have seen them do it, instead of being in daycare. As it was, I had to keep him out of the front yard when we got home so he wouldn’t see the remains.
“I don’t know what good it does us to live in a gated community if people like that are able to get in,” I say.
“No one like that has come in or out of our gates, or we’d have stopped them,” Officer Williams says.
They keep glancing around at the houses as they settle down in our grass and skin and gut the rabbits. Then Pedro – Nancy’s chihuahua – makes his daily escape from her backyard. He comes at the Indians and interrupts their meal prep, until they put an end to his yipping and add him to the mix. Their uneasiness finally gets the better of them, and they pack up and head down the street before there are any more incidents.
“Well, the rabbits are one thing, but killing pets is another situation entirely,” Officer Williams says. “We’ll have to involve the police.”
I don’t know why that would make a difference, but I count my blessings; at least now Tom won’t have to waste any more time catching Pedro for Nancy, or taking up evenings fixing her fence. Maybe he’ll spend that time with me, instead.
I’m reading in the backyard when I get to have the death talk with Timmy. He’s playing with his trucks in his sandbox when a rabbit squeezes under the fence.
It wiggles its nose and hops over to my pansies, against my protests, and Timmy toddles toward it, and that’s when this hawk swoops down and tears into the rabbit like we aren’t even there.
“Bird!” Timmy says.
“Get out of here!” I shout, but it keeps chowing down on the rabbit; I have to throw my book at it before it finally flies off. I could make up something creative, like how Harry Hawk is taking his friend Peter Rabbit on a trip, but Harry has left Peter lying there in the grass. I should hide some of it, but I’m a bit unnerved by the whole experience. Some mom, huh?
Timmy has been trying to catch a bunny for weeks, but they’re always too fast for him. This one isn’t anymore, and he reaches over to pet it.
“Don’t touch it!” I shout.
I scoop him up in my arms and hold him.
“Why isn’t it moving?” he asks.
“It’s dead,” I say.
“What’s dead?” he asks.
“That’s when the part of you that’s you, that’s deep down inside, leaves.”
“Where does you go?” he asks.
I point at the sky.
Timmy looks at the clouds and thinks about it.
“When will it come back?” he asks.
“It won’t, sweetie.”
The mountain lion would be comical if it wasn’t so big – or so close.
I’m out jogging first thing in the morning, because Tom likes me to stay in shape. I’m wearing a pair of pink short-shorts and a tank top just like Nancy wears. He hasn’t seen me in it yet, and I’m running along, thinking about how he’ll react when I turn the corner, and there’s this big mountain lion standing in the middle of the street, just staring at me. At least I think it’s a mountain lion – I’d be surer if it wasn’t this cartoon-orange, like Tony the Tiger without the stripes. I’m ready to freak out, and between that and being short of breath, my vision blurs so it looks like it’s staring back with four eyes.
It’s not like I haven’t seen wildlife before when I’m out running, but it’s the kind of thing you expect to see around North Dallas – rabbits, squirrels, skunks, dogs, feral cats, maybe even an occasional coyote. They’ve gotten a couple of the smaller neighborhood pets – I was glad we only had Timmy’s turtle to worry about, and that stayed in his room.
I expect the big orange cat to come after me, so I start running backwards, just so I can keep an eye on it, but it doesn’t move – just stares at me. When I think I’m far enough from it, I turn around and don’t stop running until I reach our house. I jog up to our back door and let myself in. I’m sweated from my run, so I grab a water bottle from the fridge and pace around the kitchen trying to slow down the pounding in my chest. I don’t know how long Tom’s been ogling me; he’s leaning against the door jamb with his suit jacket over his shoulder when I finally notice him
“Looking good!” he grins.
That’s why I bought it, and it’s nice to hear him say it, even if I don’t fill things out as nicely as Nancy does. He puts his jacket on the counter, then stands in front of me and kisses me, his hands cupped under my not so perfect butt. He’s wearing a cologne that I don’t recognize.
“You smell good – where did that come from?” I ask.
“Don’t remember. Free sample, I think,” he says.
He gives me a last squeeze, and then gets himself some coffee.
“How was your run?” he asks.
“I saw a mountain lion,” I say.
“A mountain lion? You sure it wasn’t a bobcat just trying to look big?” Tom says.
“No, it was weird looking, but really big,” I say. “I thought it was going to attack, but it just kept staring at me.”
“Who wouldn’t?” Tom asks, and he winks at me.
“Mommy! Daddy! Big cat!” Timmy calls from the living room.
We hear his little hands jiggling the doorknob. Both of us run to the front room, and I scoop Timmy up before he can get the door open, but Tom stands looking out the living room window.
“I’m not sure that’s a mountain lion, but that’s definitely no bobcat,” he says. “I wonder how it got here.”
Whatever it is, the big cat saunters away across the Nancy’s lawn. We watch it until it disappears around the corner of her house.
“I don’t think I’m taking Timmy to the park today,” I say. “I’ll call Animal Control.”
“I have to get going – let me know how it works out,” Tom says.
“You’re not going out there?” I ask.
“Don’t worry – I’ll get in the car before I open the garage,” he says.
I wait by the front window with Timmy and watch while Tom drives past in his Corvette. Timmy waves at him until he turns the corner by Nancy’s and disappears behind her house.
Nancy keeps slipping into Sue’s narrative. I wonder if there’s something up, there… “Out of Place” is available at many online retailers, including, but not limited to:
“Out of Place” is also included in the collection Goddesses, Sleep with the Snowmen, and Other Fantasies. (The first ten people who purchase the collection on Smashwords with coupon code NQ72T will receive a 67% discount – that’s only 99-cents for TEN stories – such a deal!) (of course, you can still get the collection at 50% off during Smashwords End of Year Sale):
Current Book Promotions
For info on how to preorder my latest release (“Two Buttons to Eternity”), or even get it for FREE, as well as information and links for my other current promotions (including the FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.