This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
A ‘CUPBOARD 55’ NOVEL (133,000 words)
CHAPTER 1: TWENTY-THREE SKIDOO
Friday December 31st 1993. Surrounded by high snow-white peaks, in a world far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the quilt-coated young woman tore herself from his pawing clutches. First she had rejected his invite to the ice carnival and Torchlight Parade and now this.
“No, Ed. I just can’t, I’m sorry!”
She was getting wise to him and wasn’t buying into any of it any more. She wiped all trace of his unwanted kiss from her rosebud lips with evident finality.
“Ok, suit yourself. Whatever! Just forget it. I just had some crazy idea you might want to start the New Year together.”
Fidgeting Ed was losing his cool again. The craggy faced older man released his grip on those small, gloved younger hands and shrugged his denuded shoulders. Turning from his former lover he walked with funereal poise back to the garish red and yellow snowmobile.
“I’ll run you back to town then, Carla.”
The air dipped deeper into sub zero. Struggling to muster a composed exterior he forced the thinnest of insincere smiles back at her through a wispy ginger goatee. Tautly wrapping her scarf about her head and neck the disdainful blue-eyed beauty purposely avoided his moistening green eyes then baulked at putting her arms around Ed’s diminutive torso as she mounted the machine behind him.
All his wooing ways that Sunday afternoon, all his talk of roaring hearth fires in a cozy red Maple log cabin were vapid words swept away on a chill winter breeze.
“You can see your daughter whenever, Ed. You know that.”
Scant consolation for Ed who spat some expletive before yanking hard on the throttle. As he headed out into the cold wilderness along an invisible trail covered in that crystalline holiday bounty, Carla realized this wasn’t the path they had come.
“I was gonna show you a place with the best views across the Hudson. Would’ve been the perfect spot to raise a family!”
He cranked the throttle harder and they headed deeper into the rugged forest terrain. Her unprotected eyes started to smart uncomfortably in the cold upstate air.
“It’s getting late, Ed. Just take me home, ok?”
No answer. But Ed zipped his machine ever more haphazardly and a cringing Carla gave out a piercing shriek as he roughly dodged a precipitous rock. Ed, now laughing, started to mock his feeble-minded passenger.
“What’s the matter, honey? Thought you loved those pretty postcard views - those tall, proud trees?”
On he surged, faster and ever more dangerously. He would get a reaction from her even if it killed him. Erratic Ed consumed with unswerving bitterness had collided for the last time with her chill apathy. She flinched as he darted perilously, almost fatally, between dense packed, brutal monolithic forest trees. Even if it were the thinnest strand of emotion, he told himself, he would extract at least something, anything from the unyielding, harsh bitch.
“Ok! Slow down, Ed! You made your point. Ok!”
As myriad-dappled colours scorched across a bleached white canvas the slalom trekker spun deeper into boondock country, weaving uncontrollably across terrain she never knew nor wanted to, driving toward death through the cooling twilight.
“Jesus, stop you crazy jerk! Didn’t you see that branch? Stop-pleeeaaaase!”
She shrieked loudly and vainly into an uncaring wind only just ducking her head in time and begging him to think of their young child.
“You’re gonna kill us both!”
He didn’t hear – he couldn’t hear in that whistling, stabbing wind. He swerved violently towards a mesmerizing amber beacon, more obscenities flung to the frigid wind like gasoline fire belching from his lungs. Fast approaching was a black strip of meandering highway now painted red and orange with a fluorescing ribbon streak. In the race toward annihilation the snow charioteer homed in on his new target.
The angry engine roar from the snowy mountain draws attention from a passing car slowing for an icy bend. The dazzled driver watched dumbstruck as the eerie bobcat’s lights pitched a fiery mask into his eyes.
Suddenly, the two-manned missile catapulted itself up over the freeway and a deathly cry pierced the gloomy Catskill dusk. The rag doll figure could keep her grip no longer and prepared for death. In the final milliseconds before impact she foresaw their doom in a volcanic explosion of ripped metal, flesh and gristle. But Ed’s timing was off- momentum lost - somehow the boondock bullet bounces off the soft verge and the kamikaze four-stroke Yamaha wreaks but one fatality - an innocent scrawny brown woodrat.
Silence. Like everything else in life, Ed Richards had bungled it. A sharp stabbing pain shot from her wrist right up to her neck. With vision blurred into a fractal pattern of crystallized safety glass a battered survivor struggles to recognize the dimming blood red sky above. Just before a painful black fog steals away her vision she sees before her the upturned wrecked machine and a feckless weasel executioner lying motionless.
Flash! Click! Whir! Flash! Click! Whir! Noise? Then from an aching brown-gray haze comes muttering. A crowd of uniformed men stood imperiously over her with torches, urgent voices and photographers snapping. Carla strains to feebly beg for help.
“Oh, thank god. Help me, please!”
Laughter? But why are they laughing? How dare they? With her one good hand she loosens the scarf from her face for a better look and strains to see these are neither police officers nor rescue workers – they are corrections officers. Dizzy and feeling faint the gnawing cold bites at her uncovered bare flesh.
“Why am I naked?”
Bizarrely the officer with the camera beckons the others closer and smiles lasciviously.
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
TruffleQueen: This piece of writing is more than just letters across a screen. Its more than just 40 chapters. Its a different world. And in that world, you get to experience so many things. I mean, you're practically sucked in there and once you just keep reading it gets harder and harder to get out. This st...
Ben Gauger: Kudos to Bryan Laesch, author of Remnants of Chaos:Chaotic Omens for his use of the Gothic style of writing and in addition the footnotes and endnotes at the end of each chapter, a welcome accompaniment to be sure, though his use of grammar could use a little improving, but his use of punctuation...
Sammi Chan: THIS WAS AMAZING!!! My favorite part of this story was the slow build of Merlin and Arthur's relationship. Their relationship was rlly nicely fleshed out and so good :) The way that you handled the magic reveal was super enjoyable. I rlly liked the switching POVs. Good!Mordred was cute and I'm rl...
tyleroakleyfan: thank you for writing this story I loved it. it was great I enjoyed every minute of it I couldn't stop reading you did a fantastic job. Thanks for killing ron he was starting to piss me off. he was being a dick. I love that you made it a gay love story its about time someone did. love it great job.
dd1226: I love reading about other countries and I think this story about Cambodia after Polpot creates awareness of the tragedy that happened there and the actions of the U.N. to hold elections. The heroine of the story is easy to relate to, a modern, middleaged woman looking for an adventure, wanting t...
Leah Brown: This was an amazing read! I was hooked from the very first chapter, holding my breadth to see what would happen next. The characters are rich and vibrant, and the world Danielle has created is fascinating. If you love YA, you MUST read this book. Such a smart, brilliant debut novel. I loved it!
ga1984: I really enjoyed it! Characters were deep and plot was pretty complex. A bit on the violent side but it doesnt detract from the story. Very dark but situations make sense. Ends kinda abruptly and later chapters will need some editing work. I'm assuming there's more in the works?
Stephen Rodriguez: Oh My God! Thank you for giving the ending to Chuck we have all wanted since we left them on that beach almost 4 years ago! I would sincerly hope that if a new Chuck season or movie are made that Zachary Levi reads your story as a guide for the story line! Thank You! I was glued to my tablet and ...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."