Colin McMillan sat in the car outside the flat and stared at the window. More than once he started to get out and changed his mind. The light was on. She was there; he’d seen the curtain move an hour ago. Since then there had been nothing. For two months he had tried and failed to have a conversation with his estranged wife. Joyce didn’t want to speak to him and hung up as soon as she heard his voice.
Without her, the house in Bearsden where they had lived for fifteen years, was just bricks and mortar; rooms filled only with memories of them as Colin and Joyce: The McMillans.
On their last night together they’d made love in the dark. And in the dark, Joyce was more demanding than he had ever known her. She devoured him, scratching his back and beating her fists on his chest, like a trapped animal trying to escape. When it was over she turned away, sobbing quietly into the pillow. Because she had known.
The following evening, McMillan returned to find his wife gone, leaving him confused and unhappy and alone to wonder what he had done wrong.
Since then, he had drifted through days that became weeks then months, paralysed with sorrow; unable to come to terms with it. He had been here on other nights, hoping she would talk to him and at least tell him why.
The edge of the curtain drew back a fraction. For a couple of seconds, a face peered down at him. Or did it? He couldn’t be sure. It had been a long and difficult day in theatre dealing with a series of complicated deliveries; the surgeon was exhausted. Seeing what he wanted to see, maybe. So he waited, afraid of causing a scene, knowing it wouldn’t help. After twenty minutes, he came to a decision. Whatever the problem was it could be put right. He had to have one last go at saving his marriage.
McMillan got out of the car.
His footsteps echoed in the stairwell. A lonely sound. At the top he stopped. The door of the flat was open. He called. ‘Joyce! Joyce! Joyce it’s me!’
McMillan went inside, along the hall and into the lounge at the end. There was no sign of his wife. He tried a bedroom. Nobody there. Not in the kitchen either. In the second bedroom he found her and his world fell apart.
Joyce was hanging from a cupboard door. She had cut an electrical cable off something and used it as a makeshift noose. Her features were distorted by the agony endured in the minutes before she died. Saliva trickled from her mouth and a viscous strand of mucous hung from her chin, like the beginning of a spider’s web. The tip of her tongue poked from between her teeth below bulging eyes that didn’t see.
The books she’d been standing on lay scattered on the floor and her arms were by her side, pushed tight inside the belt she had been wearing so she wouldn’t be able change her mind. Joyce McMillan hadn’t wanted to save herself.
Colin McMillan ran to his wife and threw himself around her waist, sobbing like a child. He eased her lifeless body off the door and carried it into the lounge. On the couch he placed a pillow beneath her head and ran his fingers tenderly through her hair.
What kind of hell had she been in to do this?
The answer was on the coffee table. Three crisp pages slipped under a half-finished cup of tea, still warm. Joyce’s small unhurried hand explained all her husband hadn’t understood, and more.
At the end she had written ‘I’m so sorry. Forgive me. Please.’
Reading it broke McMillan’s heart. It hadn’t been passion that final night – it was despair. When he finished, he was crying. He turned off the light and sat staring into the darkness, drained of every emotion except hate. Joyce’s face, horribly twisted in her final moments, would be with him for as long as he lived. He loosened his tie with a trembling hand. Eventually, he folded the sheets of paper and put them in his jacket pocket, reached for the telephone and dialed 999.
'An exciting new voice in Glasgow's crime fiction genre - it will have you hooked from page one!'
I have a very pleasurable problem with Owen Mullen's books - after I have finished reading them, I am spoilt for anything else until I come down off my 'Charlie high'.
Goodreads Top 100 Reviewer
This is a cracking read, fast-paced and well plotted. More please!
Other books in this genre:
Sophie continued to ask around town about the previous owners of her house. She then found out that about fifty years ago, a woman that lived in her house vanished without a trace. What is even worse is that she was nine months pregnant! She was still missing, and the mystery was never solved. Sophie wanted to find out even more about the house after she heard that unsettling news.
Sophie was told that they searched and searched for the missing woman years ago. They dragged all the local ponds and questioned everyone in the neighborhood. Her husband had passed a lie detector test, so he was dropped as a suspect. A search party of over one hundred people searched nonstop for the missing woman during a twenty-four hour period. The police were dumbfounded by the lack of evidence. There were no clues and the case eventually became a cold case. Even though the husband passed a lie detector test, many people still believed that the husband was responsible for the disappearance of his wife. For the first year after his wife's disappearance, he was under scrutiny from the whole town every time he left his house and was seen out and about the town.
Many years later, the husband was diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria in his hands. The doctor believed that he got it from working in his garden. His doctor treated him for the bacteria, but it continued to get worse. The flesh-eating bacteria spread throughout his entire body, and it was literally eating him alive! He had a major stroke and not too long after that, he had a massive heart attack and died.
The cartels murdered his father. For former SEAL Rob Kincaid, the War on Drugs just became personal.
As the leader of the Red Squadron Security Agency, Rob is used to working under the radar - taking on government jobs that wouldn’t exactly pass congressional oversight. Being thirsty for revenge, he’s more than willing to take on Operation Snow Plow, a clandestine FBI plan to eliminate the cartels once and for all.
But as Rob digs deeper into the plan, he realizes this isn’t a typical government black op. Instead, he uncovers a shocking web of lies and conspiracies that can be traced back to the very core of Operation Snow Plow.
As he attempts to unravel that web, he finds himself plunged into a high stakes game of odd man out, where he has been targeted as the odd man.
Why read 7 short stories?
7 is a special number for people all over the world. There are 7 days in a week; 7 deadly sins, 7 virtues; 7 colours of the rainbow; 7 Wonders of the Ancient World – and, of course, the 7 year itch!
These 7 stories are special, like the number itself.
Why an extra ½?
We all like a little extra and this extra comes with a bonus.
You get to decide how the last story ends. ‘The Night Before Christmas’ leaves Emily with a choice – and it’s not an easy one! Read her story and go for what you want to happen. Wonder what you’ll decide.
Grimly he shuffled forward a decisive five centimetres. Nothing was ever going to change the world or his place in it. Just one second of courage,then it would be over. He would be over, on his way to the pavement and certain death.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. The Butcher has been caught and her trial is set. She’s going to show Jake and his team of detectives that it doesn’t matter if she is in prison, she can still get to anyone and to prove this, she hires some help to throw a wrench into the prosecution’s case by taking out some of the witnesses they have lined up. You will hear testimony that Jake and his team are assigned to protect the witnesses, however The Butcher’s associates get to a few of them, so Jake and his team are forced to rescue them. As they try to keep the witnesses safe, Ashaki, the new A.D.A who is assigned The Butcher’s case, is kidnapped and tortured. Can Jake and his team find her in time to try The Butcher’s case and put her away for the crimes she committed or will The Butcher escape and continue to grow her criminal empire in Avalon City?
14A Nobfiddler's Lane
Thursday, August 22nd 1889
Bill Sikes to Doctor J. Watson:
Hand-delivered by Urchin
Deer Docter Watsen
I am sure yule forgiv this intrushon inter your privat life, but I have come upon a situashon what you might be abel ter help with (or indeed, your pal Mister Holmes). As you knowe, I have lately been on the strayt and narrow after being a bit of a robber fer most of my lyfe, so have been involvd in doin some cleanin fer the gover ment. In fact, I have been cleanin the basement in the monument what is knowne as Big Ben. An while doin so I have come inter contact with a gentleman by the name of Mister Hannay.
Anyway, I will get to the point of this letter: Mister Hannay is a writer what is interested in writin crim books and books about villins an that, an he was arskin me what I thought about stuff. Well, whil we was talkin, he arsked how many steps there was up to the tower, so I said there were about four undred.
He was a bit upset at this and said 'So, not thirty-nine, then?'
'No,' said I.
'Bugger,' said he.
Anyway, then he said he would have ter go and I watched him goin off down the streete. Then I appened ter notice that two surly-lookin fellers was followin him, so I hurried on down and catched up with him and took him inter a nearby pub.
The long and the short and the tall of it, Docter, is that Mister Hannay needs your help. I have enclosed the address at where he is stayin and have told him to expect you shortly.
I ope this were alright.
Saturday, August 24th 1889
To Sherlock Holmes Esq. from Doctor Watson
As you appear to be ignoring my messages, I have taken it upon myself to investigate the matter I brought to your attention the other day. Since our old pal Bill Sikes is unwilling to inveigle himself any further in the affair, I sent a telegram to 'The Uphill Gardener' (a public house of dubious repute) arranging to meet with Mr Hannay and attempt some sort of intervention.
When I arrived at the aforementioned hostelry last evening, I alighted from my Hansom in a flurry of excitement. I hasten to say the excitement was not of my doing, but created by a group of young apprentices in the midst of a series of strange tasks: some bigwig by the name of Lord Shagger had demanded they ascertain the cost of performing an appendectomy on the cheap. Identifying me as a physician by my Gladstone bag, the rabble pinned me to the wall and fired a barrage of questions regarding surgical cuts etc. I whipped out my trusty revolver, prompting the youths to back off, at which point they spotted that old fiend Dr Knox across the road (still on the run concerning that body-snatching business), and set off after him.
Finally free of the fray, I scurried into the public house and located the property owner. He glanced around nervously and bade me make haste to an upstairs room where I found our client, Richard Hannay.
'Where's Sherlock Holmes?' said he, with what I deduced to be an unhelpful degree of resentment.
I explained how Mr Holmes was engaged on another matter, but that I would do all I could to help. At this, he crumpled in a heap on the fireside rug and began to sob loudly. Feeling somewhat embarrassed at this show of unmanliness, I determined to explore my feminine side and knelt down beside him. Slipping an arm around his shoulder I must admit I found the experience of human contact rather comforting (as you know, Mrs Watson has been somewhat distant lately, following her fling with that Italian ice cream seller).
It transpires that Hannay cannot return to his own flat as one of his admirers is tormenting him with threats of libel etc. (I use this term loosely, since his melodramatic plots are completely ridiculous and unlikely to provoke anything other than utter boredom). However, I persuaded him that it was foolish to stay away from his own home and we should go there at once to face whoever (or whatever) awaits us.
In the end, I only managed to convince the man after showing him my trusty weapon. His eyes lit up on seeing it, and he begged me to let him touch it. I agreed to this, since I didn't see any harm in letting him feel its solid shaft and hair trigger, so long as the damn thing didn't go off in his hand!
Thus empowered, he became considerably animated and minutes later, we hailed a cab and set off for his apartment. Had I known what lurked in the shadows of that deadly spot, I might have taken more notice of Hannay's concerns.
To be continued
Diary of Doctor J. Watson
Flat 14, Windemere Mansions
Later the same day...
It was dark when Hannay and I arrived at his apartment. My companion’s initial enthusiasm (spurred by the knowledge of the gun in my pocket), had by this time dissipated somewhat. He began to display signs of anxiety; sweating profusely from every pore, an inability to get his key in the lock, visibly starting at the click of the light switch etc. I made myself useful by making a pot of tea while he hurried to the window and drew the curtains.
I busied myself in the kitchen and was a little disappointed to discover there were no Custard Creams. When I returned, Hannay had not moved from his position by the window.
'Here we are, old bean,' I said, handing him a mug of Darjeeling. 'This’ll perk you up.'
Holding the edge of the curtain open, he took the cup and stared at me for a moment, then his gaze moved back to the street outside. 'They’re back again, see?' He turned to me, a look of utter fright in his eyes. 'What the devil can they want?'
I shrugged and peered over his shoulder. In the street below, two rather iffy-looking men were standing by a telephone box, gazing up at the flat. I determined to put a brave face on it: 'Looks perfectly innocent to me – just a couple of chaps having a quiet smoke.'
Hannay shook his head. 'No, they’re after my plot.'
I blinked. 'Your what?'
'My plot,' said he. 'They want to steal The 39 Steps.'
I considered this for a long moment, debating the consequences of such a proposition. 'Sorry, what?'
He uttered a low moaning sound that hinted at his current mental state. 'Watson! Don’t you get it? It’s all about my book – The 39 Steps. They want to steal the plot.'
I began to experience a growing sensation of annoyance. 'What, you mean this isn’t about some international spy ring?'
'Spy ring? God no, it’s much, much worse.'
My blood ran cold. 'You mean - they’re writers?'
'Of course they’re bloody writers, damn it. Ever since I came up with a cracking good idea for my new novel, everyone’s been after it.'
I sighed. 'You’re an idiot. Sorry Hannay, but I’m going home.' I began to put on my socks and string vest. However, a knock at the door startled us both. 'Who the fuck’s that?'
'It’s them!' screamed Hannay, 'they’re going to kill me.'
I pulled on my trousers. 'Don’t be ridiculous. It’s probably just someone who’s lost their way and seeking directions.' I hastened to the door and pulled it open.
Standing before us was a moustachioed man wearing a frock coat. He leaned forward slightly and muttered, 'Ostovich.'
'What?' I said. But our visitor spake no more. He pitched forward and fell in a heap on the floor. And that’s when I noticed the knife in his back.
There was little need to check the man’s vital signs, but I went through the motions nevertheless. Given my companion’s somewhat heightened sense of terror, I decided to break the news to him as gently as possible:
'He’s snuffed it.'
'My God! I’m next!' Hannay’s hands flew to his face, cupping those rosy cheeks in a girlish manner that put me in mind of my own dear wife and the ‘swooning maiden’ act she sometimes adopts whenever I ask her to iron my longjohns.
'We must fetch Sherlock Holmes,' he cried, tugging at my lapel. 'Only he can save us.'
I brushed him aside. 'Don’t be such a nancy-boy, Hannay. Pull yourself together.' I checked through the dead man’s pockets and found two items: a picture postcard of some obscure Scottish village and a small white card displaying a silhouette of a man and the slogan ‘Scudder’s Marital Aids’. Slipping both articles into my pocket, I stood up. 'His name’s Scudder and judging from his business card I don’t believe him to be involved in creative writing. Now, Hannay, this is very important – the word he uttered before he fell…'
Hannay clenched his hands. 'I thought he was asking for the Post Office.'
I shook my head. 'No, that’s meaningless. I'm certain the word was ‘Ostovich’, which is obviously Russian. This man is a secret agent.'
'But what’s that got to do with me?'
I walked over to the window and retrieved my cup of tea. 'I think this has something to do with your writing, Hannay, but it’s also got something to do with spies.'
'But I don’t know anything about spying,' he wailed.
'Ah,' said I. 'And yet, in your recent novel ‘The Forger and the Gin-Juggler' you went into great detail about the process of creating false passports.'
'Oh, you read my books?' His manner changed abruptly and he began pawing at my chest like a lovesick pig.
'Indeed,' I muttered. I turned my face away lest he perceive my lying eyes. 'I didn’t like to say so before, but I’m rather fond of a good story and the depth of research that goes into your work might easily prompt a less intelligent casual reader to think you were involved in spying yourself.'
He shrugged. 'Actually, I make it all up, but I suppose it’s possible…'
'Not only possible, but highly likely. You said yourself someone was trying to steal your new novel.' I rubbed my chin the way I’ve seen Holmes do in such situations. 'I believe that the men who've been following you are enemy agents. Scudder here was obviously involved – perhaps he was a double agent. A triple agent, even.' I peeked through the curtains and noted with a grim nod that the two men at the phone box were still there. 'We have to leave.'
'And go where?'
At that precise moment in time I had no idea, but then a thought occurred to me. Pulling the postcard out of my pocket I studied the picture closely – it depicted a traditional Scottish village and the slogan ‘Frae Bonnie Scotland’. 'We need time to consider our next move,' I said, waving the card. 'We’ll catch the next train to Edinburgh and head for Newton Stewart – no-one will think of looking for us there.'
They dragged him from the boot of the car, down an embankment to the shore; gagged, bound and blindfolded. His feet scraped grass and stones; a shoe came off and was left behind. At the jetty, Kevin Rafferty waited in the boat. In a long career of violent persuasion this guy had been the hardest to break. But it wouldn’t last. When the blindfold came off he’d realise the loch was to be his grave. Then the begging would begin because pain and death weren’t the same. And he’d tell. Everything. It never failed. Plastic ties fastened the victim’s wrists to hooks hammered into either side of the gun-wale, holding him upright. His head moved, blindly drawn to every sound. With what he’d been through – the beating, the burns, the loss of blood – it was a miracle he was still breathing.
Rafferty turned up his collar, dipped the oars in the water and started to row.
After a while he stopped. Late afternoon drizzle falling from a grey sky stippled the calm surface, they would drift, but not much. He released the blindfold. They stared at each other. Rafferty broke the spell. He opened a canvas bag that lay across his knees, slowly, so the man could see the knives, the screwdrivers, the pliers: his tools. On top he placed a bolt cutter and patted it as he would a faithful dog. The thief moaned and fought against the restraints, wild terror in his eyes. The cutter trapped the first finger of his right hand between the blades. He began to cry.
‘Last chance,’ Rafferty said.
The blades tightened, a muffled wail came from behind the gag.
A thin red line appeared at the joint. Rafferty sighed fake regret.
‘This little piggy went to market...’
An opal moon hung above the loch, it had stopped raining and the night sky was clear. The thief was slumped forward, passed out. They’d been at it for hours - or five fingers - he should be pleading for his life. Better yet he should be dead. In Glasgow, Rafferty understood it wasn’t going to be easy. Something wasn’t right about this guy. He didn’t get it. Kevin’s job was to make him get it.
He peeled the sock from the shoeless foot, bleached like a corpse in the moonlight, and lifted it into position. For the moment the gag was unnecessary, he ripped it away and waited for his victim to come round; when he did it would continue. A noise took him by surprise. He tensed. At the other end of the boat the head came up, eyes blazed in the gloom and the madman grinned at him through broken teeth.
‘I’m starving,’ he said.
‘Could murder a curry.’
Rafferty’s voice cracked with desperation. ‘What did you do with the money?’
This was insane.
‘The money! Where is it?’
The thief spat blood and sniggered. ‘Fuck off.’
Rafferty snapped. He grabbed a knife and buried it in the crazy bastard’s heart.
No,’ he said, ‘you fuck off.’
The body rolled over the side and disappeared into the dark water, Rafferty gathered the severed fingers and threw them after it; food for the fish. At the jetty, he got out and stood for a long time watching the untethered boat float away. He had been so confident, so sure. But it hadn’t worked out. He was going back with nothing. The thought of telling his father made Rafferty sick with fear – more afraid than the man he had just killed had ever been.
Jimmy would go mental.
In 1901, an innocent child was cruelly tortured, and murdered by her vengeful mother.
Twisting her once beautiful soul into something evil and monstrous.
Her name was Maisie Whitmore.
Bound forever to Promised Land Lane, she will take her revenge on those foolish enough to cross her path.
If Maisie sees you. Run, for she will never forget.
Betrayed by a friend. Loved by a stranger. Saved by a man she barely knows.
After her best friend abandons her, Savannah J. Palmer's quest for true love leaves a trail of unanswered questions. A chance meeting with a stranger offers hope of a match made in heaven, but not without consequences. At the end of her quest, an acquaintance rescues her from a disastrous fate...but is he the one she wants to pin her dreams upon?
The Black Mesa, in northwestern Oklahoma, is an enchanting backdrop for this action adventure prequel to Robert Valleau's debut novel, Mystic Dreams and Dusty Roads. It's an unforgettable story about love, betrayal and redemption during one of the most exciting times in American history -- the dawn of the twentieth century.
Book Two of The Dusty Road Chronicles.
Half-way through the matinee at the Theatre Royal, North London, the audience gasp in horror when Hamlet drags the corpse of Polonius on to the stage from behind a curtain. For the head of the famous 76-year-old actor playing Polonius, Sir Roger Nutley, is lolling at a bizarre angle that can only mean he has REALLY been killed. The touring production had been a sensational comeback for Sir Roger, two years after a high-profile court case in which the jury failed to convict him of sex crimes in the 1960s. Is his murder connected to the trial? Detective Inspector Keith Warren and Detective Sergeant Philippa Myers soon learn that the superstar's life had other secret, dark sides. Meanwhile, an outbreak of kidnappings of valuable dogs gives rookie Detective Constable Marion Everitt a chance to prove her mettle against a gang of heartless thugs. Resources at Norton Hill Police Station are also stretched by a series of armed robberies of designer handbags worth hundreds of thousands of pounds from exclusive boutiques.
A week before Mother died, she told me a story about a conversation she had with her grandmother a week before her grandmother died. Mother looked at me in a way I knew meant that she needed me to really listen and told me the story. This how the story went:
She said, “My grandmother knew she didn’t have long to live from her stage-four breast cancer when she looked at me and asked, ‘What would you like from me when I die to show you that there is more to life once you pass?’ I felt shocked but responded, ‘I would like one of your red flowers to show up the day you die.’”
Mother continued, “A week passed and I went outside to the back patio to water plants and in a pot that had an old tree, a red flower had appeared as red and as perfect as could be, just like the one I had asked my grandmother for. I later found out that my grandmother had passed away around the same time that flower appeared.”
Mother then asked me, “Now, what would you like from me when I die to let you know there is more to life once I am gone?”
I knew my mother had been fighting a rare blood cancer for years, but she often talked about dying so it did not come as a surprise that we were even having this conversation.
I replied, “I want a red flower, too.”
Mother smirked and replied, “You do not even like flowers. You are not a ‘flower-type girl.’ You would like something different — you do like chocolate. I know! Chocolate flowers!” Mother said with a big, proud grin.
I looked at Mother, shocked, and knew there was no way she could arrange chocolate flowers. I just replied, “Sure, that sounds like me all right.” I smiled and looked at her — there she was with such a genuine grin and twinkle in her eyes. I kissed my mother on her forehead and took a long look in to her hazel eyes. I wondered when I would have the next chance to see her and whispered, “I love you.”
Mother didn’t respond. She didn’t look well — she had a tint of green and yellow to her skin and her thinning hair was a dull salt and pepper color, cut extra short and clinging to her scalp. She had no makeup on, which told me she just had no more energy. I began to walk out of her room and turned to look at her. I wanted to run up to her, shake her, and beg her to tell me she loved me and was proud of me. But when I looked at her, she was already sleeping.
A week passed, and I was busy working at my real estate office. One of my office phones rang, which was a surprise because I normally don’t give that number out. I answered it, and it was a man asking for Jori. I told him that I was Jori.
He replied, “I am at your home, and there is no answer. I have a floral delivery for you.”
I told him I was 20 minutes from my home and to leave them on the porch.
He said, “I need your signature.”
I said, “Just sign my name, and I’ll come right home.”
He replied, “I can’t leave them out; it’s a hot day, and they are chocolate flowers. I’ll go see if one of your neighbors are home.”
I hung up the phone and grabbed my purse when that same phone rang again. I answered it, and it was my stepdad. He sounded upset.
I asked, “Did Mom die?”
“Yes.” He sounded shocked.
“I will meet you at your house, Dad.”
I grabbed my purse, my cell phone, and yelled to my coworkers, “My mom just died. I am going to go help my dad!” I got into my silver Honda and drove home. I felt a dumb shock but was anxious to get my chocolate flowers while I wondered how my mother arranged a chocolate floral delivery at the exact time she passed as promised. I arrived home to the note on my door to go to the neighbor on the right. I knocked on the door and a grouchy, older man answered. Without saying a word, he went to his refrigerator, opened i t, and said, “I think these are for you.”
He handed me this large bouquet of fruits all cut like flowers and dipped in chocolate.
“It looks like chocolate flowers,” he said with a grin, adding “I had a few, and they are great.”
I held my delivery. I opened the small envelope and read the card:
I appreciate you showing us homes and although it has been months, I woke up this morning with a thought that we should do something nice for you today. I hope you remember us. The Johnsons.
This was a previous client who is a pastor. He never knew I had a mother who had cancer nor did I ever mention the conversation about the chocolate flowers. It had been several months since I had heard from this couple who were considering purchasing a home. I called the client, whom I hadn’t even spoken to for such a long time. I was confused and wanted to know what made him decide to send me chocolate flowers, and why that day, of all days? He said he woke up and told his wife that they should do something nice for someone. He thought of me. His wife was the one who thought of sending me chocolate flowers.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked Dad when I met with him at home and handed him the chocolate flowers. He was so hungry from being at the hospital with my
mom all day that he hadn’t even thought of eating. He sat and ate the entire bouquet by himself without saying a word. At that moment, I knew that the chocolate flowers were for my dad, and at that time I did not know then what I know now:
Chocolate Flowers “the book” was for me.
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When Glints Collide takes a group of unknown to lesser-known writers (myself included) and combines their talents into an eclectic anthology of Sci-Fi, Horror, Paranormal