The version of the chapter presented here is a far cry from the version currently in print (and I have a standing offer regarding the current version; Buy a copy, leave a review, I’ll send you a signed copy of the rewrite when it’s published). For that matter, the version presented here is a stretch from the previous versions posted on this blog (most recent here).
The version here is my reading at a Read ’em and Weep online workshop I recently attended.
Creator and above level members can listen to the reading here.
Jamie reached for Shem’s tail. The big golden sat on Jamie’s bed staring out the cabin window. His coat glistened in the moonlight, his tail thumped with excitement. Peepers and crickets chirped outside. Raccoons chittered. Opossum and skunk barked. Owls hooted. Loons called. Far off a wolf howled. Another answered in the distance.
Jamie caught Shem’s tail and held it motionless. “What is it, boy?”
Shem looked back at Jamie and whined softly.
Jamie ran a delicate hand through his ginger hair. He looked past Shem to the oak, elm, and pine of the northern Michigan forest. The Moon, full and bright, illuminated the trees and the small, one-room cabin at their center.
“Do you have to pee?”
Shem jumped off the bed and scratched at the door to go out.
“Shh.” Jamie glanced at his parents, Ellie and Tom, asleep on the other side of the cabin. “You want to wake mom and dad?” He crawled out from under the covers and tip-toed to the door. Standing on a chair, he drew back the bolt and lifted the latch.
Cool winds changed rustling treetops into brooms sweeping low-hung clouds from late September skies. Dust devils spun mists where night air met day-warmed rocks. Trees bowed to the rising Moon.
Shem walked into the night. Jamie followed.
The Moon continued her ascent. The woods fell silent.
Ellie sat up in bed, her hands clenching the blanket, holding it tight against her. A cold, dank wind swirled through the cabin, lifting things slightly, inspecting them, putting them down, drawing a musk of old earths in its wake.
Moonlight entered the cabin’s single room.
Her eyes fixed on Jamie’s empty bed.
Tom rose and put his boots on in one motion. “Where are they?”
Ellie pointed at the open door.
Tom threw Ellie her coat. “They must be together. Shem won’t let Jamie out of his sight.”
“Something’s got them. Some wild animal.”
“There’s no blood anywhere, Ellie. Shem’d raise hell if something got in the cabin or near Jamie.” He grabbed an iron poker from the woodstove.
Ellie stopped at the door, a silhouette against the night. “Shh.”
Tom came up beside her. “What the…?”
“What are they doing?”
“It looks like they’re playing.”
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