Come on an adventure with Jack and follow along as he writes his new book in real time! Here is chapter 14.
by JACK DEY
A whisper from the wilderness calling.
A slight and almost insignificant movement centring around the cottage door grabbed Ish’s attention, and when Caylin noticed the concentration in his piercing glare, he suspected Ish had seen something Caylin hadn’t. Staring in the same direction and trying to work out what was going on, Caylin knew from bitter experience Lisa didn’t need long to turn a normal and unobtrusive situation into a full-blown and reprehensible state of affairs. A few more uneasy minutes passed and still there was nothing to indicate Lisa had taken exception to Dani’s presence with everything remaining abnormally quiet and calm.
Caylin felt the growing tension acutely, seemingly hanging in the air like smoke from the activated fuse of dynamite. He could only attempt a guess at dynamite’s unsurpassed ability to create devastating havoc, but even for him, Lisa’s explosive capacity and the silence was a far greater unknown, and just made the waiting game a nerve-racking encounter for the two devoted husbands. Powerless and forced to watch as their women attempted to break through the figurative razor wire of mistrust without being taken out by a contentious, emotional gunshot or a hidden psychological landmine, a lot was at stake. This was the real battlefield of human relationships and the tangle when things went wrong and if either party made an offensive, erroneous move, the mission would conclude prematurely and end with horrific consequences.
Ish remained completely silent, concentrating all of his prayer might at the cottage and in particular, his beloved bride. The two women represented differing extremities of an obvious spiritual fight and were precious to both Ish and Caylin respectively, neither wanting to see collateral damage inflicted on either esteemed spouse, but both desiring a healing outcome. Taking Ish’s charismatic lead, Caylin whispered a mystical prayer to himself, unsure of the effect it was having on the situation, especially in the powerful aura of Ish’s praying presence. It was times like this that Caylin wished he had a relationship with Ish’s God, and not the hollow meaningless of church attendance and relying on the pastor to email Caylin’s request to the throne of God. Things needed to happen… and fast!
A sharp gasp struck Caylin, refocusing his glare as he recognised movement. Moments later, Dani’s slender form appeared and shimmied around the half-open access, but the bag of supplies she’d taken for Lisa was nowhere to be seen, presumably left inside. But what was happening? Had Lisa accepted Dani’s presence and the offer of food? If so, why was she apparently leaving so soon if the dowry had achieved its goal? What of the expected storm, and why was Lisa apparently so calm after this encounter and not reacting like she had in the initial incident back in Kirby? Caylin’s disbelieving stare pinpointed Dani’s position, expecting some kind of latent backlash from the lioness to ignite at Dani’s unprotected flank, and he was prepared to warn her of any stealthy attack, even it meant appearing like a traitor and taking sides against his own wife.
Two sets of apprehensive eyes puzzled as Dani struggled with the cottage’s stubborn door. Ish took a step, wanting to run to Dani’s aid, but was forcefully stopped by an abrupt and unheard command. Obeying the familiar voice instinctively, but not knowing what was happening, Ish willed a giant token of his strength to aid Dani‘s efforts, and eventually, the misbehaving door relented, finally succumbing to her persistent tugging. When it did finally close, it offered its signature scrape as a disgruntled indication of Dani’s win. Carefully stepping down off the rotting timber porch and dodging the rubble as she walked, Dani made a direct but wary path back to the truck. The tension increased with each step as Dani drew closer, but as her expression became clearer, it was blank, giving little indication of the outcome or her meeting with Lisa.
“What happened?!” Ish finally burst, shouting to his wife as she came within earshot and no longer able to contain his curiosity. “Did she take the food?!”
Dani unexpectedly paused and took a backward glance at the cottage as if she was checking the sequence of events and whether she’d interpreted the situation correctly. Turning back to face her husband, she shook her head, her face clouded with confusion. “She wasn’t there!”
“What?!” a frantic Caylin entered the chaos, finding it hard to connect Dani’s words to her meaning. Staring at her with his mouth open and expecting her to change her statement as if it were a poor attempt at a joke, she unintentionally cut him to the heart and reiterated the confusion with the same repeated words.
“She’s not there!”
Caylin took a glance up at Ish, only to see the same concern reflected in his face, trying to make sense of the debacle, too. Not waiting for further revelation and before they could think to question him, Caylin spun on the spot and took off running. Watching him fiercely zigzagging in and out of the wreckage like a madman, he eventually crashed through the cottage door and almost tore the wooden guard from its ancient hinges and then disappeared inside.
Searching for comfort in the arms of her massive man, Dani and Ish embraced, but kept a vigilant watch on Caylin’s progress. Neither spoke as the level of concern spiralled, wondering where Lisa had gone and how she’d managed to disappear without anyone noticing. Relieved this part of her task, at least, was over, Dani broke the silence and began to offer what she’d seen and hoped that her detective husband could help her to understand what had most likely become of the lioness.
“There were extensive maps of the property scattered on her bed, Ish. They appeared to be very old and yellowing, but I didn’t disturb anything. It’s like she just… vanished!”
“Are there any other doors in the cottage, babe?”
“No! Not that I saw, honey. She would’ve had to leave the same way I did. It feels really creepy in there, too!”
“Creepy?! In what way?”
Dani exhaled loudly. “It’s hard to explain, honey.” Dani paused for a few seconds, thinking, and then the mental picture flowed into words. “If you can imagine a showcase from an expensive city furniture shop on display in an abandoned horse stable, then you’ve probably got the picture.” Turning in Ish’s protective embrace to face the cottage, she tried to think of anything else that would shake a helpful clue out of the things she’d seen. The cottage picture burnt so indelibly into her imagination offered little more to add, but Caylin’s abrupt re-emergence disturbed her focus and they both followed his rapid approach.
Sprinting back to the truck, Caylin almost cracked when he abruptly stopped. “I’ve gotta find her, Ish! This isn’t like her!”
Still trying to order Dani’s facts into usable thoughts, Ish tried to formulate a plan, but Caylin’s fidgeting was distracting the big man and driving him crazy. “Calm down, Caylin, and think! Is there anything in there that shouldn’t be or is there anything missing?!”
However, Caylin had crossed the bridge of horrors and wasn’t having anything to do with calm. “It’s that Goliath monster!” Caylin spat. “I know it!”
“How did you come to that conclusion?!” Ish countered, not at all ready to accept Caylin’s way-out explanation.
Taking a glance back at the cottage and noticing the sun was going down, Caylin shuffled his feet anxiously, wanting to search the property and the surrounding forest before Lisa became a real notch in Goliath’s belt. Caylin huffed and almost cried as Ish stalled even more, wasting precious search time. “O-kay!” Caylin’s desperate disclosure was about to add fuel to the fire. “Late last night someone stopped in the driveway with their headlights trained onto the cottage and they were stalking around the car. I saw their image projected onto the cottage wall, but the BMW’s security system detected movement and set off. Lisa woke up and as usual, bellowed like a bull and silenced the alarm with her set of keys, dismissing everything I told her. Whoever it was left, and when I went to investigate, it was like they were a mirage and there were absolutely no signs of intruders… anywhere!”
“You went out to investigate?! I’m impressed, Caylin! But that puts a different light on things. Is there anything else that might give us a lead, Caylin?”
“N..n-o-o. Not that I can think of. Come on, Ish. I’ve got to find her!”
“What about personal items? Was anything missing, or more importantly, still there that shouldn’t be?”
Caylin began to frantically search his memory and had an unexpected thought, but then dismissed it as insignificant.
Noticing the flash of an idea in Caylin’s eyes and then its immediate dismissal, Ish probed further, “It might be important, Caylin. It may be our only clue and it could help us track her down.”
“It’s just her water bottle. She carries it everywhere with her and that was gone, too.”
Unable to glean anything of significance from Caylin’s latest insights and with the sun sinking lower in the sky, Ish opened a side panel in the trailer and removed a powerful light. Finally, and with Caylin about to melt down, Ish was ready and the two men set about to walk the property in search of Lisa, while Dani agreed to stay in the protection of their trailer home and keep an eye on the cottage just in case she returned.
Yak back to Jack