As a writer and a mother, I am always juggling with too many chainsaws. Despite this, I love writing short stories. They have a quicker turnaround-time than novels (I can write a 2000 word story in a few hours, and sell it for publication in a few days), and they are a fun way to practice and improve my writing skills.
Work-in-Progress (WIP) Wednesdays is a new concept I’m testing out. I want to share a little snippet of something I’m working on each week. Maybe you’ll discover a story you love, hopefully I’ll have extra incentive to write more (I can’t exactly share excerpts of the same story every week).
Here is the beginning of a short story I’m working on, which forms the backstory for a character I plan on using as the main character in a thriller soon. I hope you enjoy it.
THE MEAT HOOK MAN
Tree trunks flashed in the headlights as the old red bakkie bounced and shuddered its way down the narrow mountain track. A sliver of tangerine sky peeked through the trees ahead, darkness hovered behind. Trevor was driving too fast, but he’d driven this road more times than he could count and he knew each twist and bump in the trail.
It would take them another hour to get to the bottom of the mountain, then two hours to get back to Durban.
“You have a good time today?” Trevor asked.
“Yeah, it was great.” Ian said.
Trevor’s new brother-in-law had always asked what he did when he went up into the pine forests to cut fire breaks. Today, for the first time in five years, Trevor had taken the kid along with him.
“You have fun with the chainsaws?”
“They were okay,” Ian held his hands up and flexed his fingers. “Made my hands numb though.”
Trevor laughed. “Yeah, they’ll do that to you.”
“Can we stop?” Ian asked. “I gotta take a leak.”
Trevor sighed. With a three hour trip ahead, he really did not want to be stopping, but the kid wouldn’t be able to hold it in all the way.
“Sure thing kid, I’ll stop at the next clearing.”
He found a clearing two kilometres further down the track. A smaller trail broke off from the main track, little more than a pair of rutted tyre tracks in the undergrowth, and made enough space for Trevor to park the bakkie safely off the main trail.
“Not exactly a One Stop,” he said, “but it’s the best we have up here.”
“Every tree is a lavatory,” Ian said.
Trevor left the headlights on and climbed out of the bakkie. He and Ian walked in opposite directions. A few meters from the bakkie, Trevor unzipped and sighed with relief. The forest was quiet around them. There were no large mammals in a Sappi forest. The paper company kept the land free of game and the birds that called the forest home had all gone to roost. The mountainside was silent except for the wind whispering through the pine trees. And footsteps in the darkness ahead of him.
“You done already kid?” Trevor asked. “You shouldn’t go into the forest like that, especially at night. Your sister would kill me if anything happened to you.”
“I’m still busy,” Ian said from Trevor’s left.
Trevor’s stream cut off and his balls shrunk up into his body. He’d definitely heard something, and he was pretty sure they were footsteps.
“Quit fucking around, Ian.”
The sound came again. The unmistakable crunch, crunch, crunch of someone walking through the leaf litter. Trevor strained his eyes but he could barely tell the trunks from the shadows between them.
“Who’s there?” he called into the forest.
The footsteps stopped only a few meters away.
“Quit fucking around, you shouldn’t be out here.” Trevor called.
Nothing. No movement, not even the sound of breathing.
Trevor zipped up and hurried back to the car. Ian was already there, eyes wide with fear.
“You heard it too?” Trevor asked as they got back into the bakkie.
“Yeah, let’s get the fuck outta here.”
Trevor gunned the engine to life and pulled out of the clearing faster than he should have. The back wheels slipped in the gravel and the bakkie fishtailed on the narrow dirt road. He loosened his grip on the steering wheel and let off the gas. Tree trunks whizzed past the side of the car, close enough for him to touch. They slowed and the wheels found traction again. He sighed and wiped hair out of his eyes. He’d panicked and put his life, and Ian’s, in danger. The cliff was only a few meters away from the track. In this part of the forest, it was a hundred meters down to the forest below.
He looked over at Ian. The boy’s face was pale, his eyes wide, and his hands gripped wads of his jeans. Poor kid was terrified.