Excerpt from “Dark Skies Over Brightwater”

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I’ve written a book. No, really, I have! I promise.

Need proof? Here: an excerpt from near the beginning. Dorothy Brightwater, the protagonist, and her two friends come back from investigating one of the sheep mutilations plaguing their tiny seaside village

 

Almost no one in Brightwater had a personal computer. There were three in the village hall that were open to the public, and Daddy and Uncle Godric both had very nice, new ones in their home offices, but for the most part, no one had much use for them. It was better to keep records on paper where they could be got to at any time, and still have the landline open.
However, a few years back, Uncle Godric upgraded his desktop, and, having a perfectly functional screen and tower and all the bits at his disposal, decided Mordred ought to have it. Mordred had protested and gotten all red in the face, but now he was very attached to it. He didn’t have a lot of spare time to spend rifling through books, he said, and also if he got dirt or worse on the keys it could be wiped off and not ruin any pages forever.
No one ever called the Argosy house, so he wasn’t often disrupted. He had gotten very good at wringing results out of the cesspool of garbage websites that had repelled Dorothy.
The computer was in the kitchen, next to the back door, protected from the elements by a plywood divider she and Mordred nailed to its table right after he got it. Mordred took the sort of obsessive care with it that other men dedicated to their cars. If it broke, he wouldn’t be able to fix it, and his internet withdrawals would probably drive him mad.
He pulled up two chairs for Dorothy and Akuba. The modem resting on top of the monitor shrieked to life, and after a moment or two, connected.
“Here, here’s some of the stuff I found…”
They clicked around his bookmarks for a few minutes.
“This all in the United States,” Akuba commented. “And with cows.”
Dorothy supposed the only difference meaningful differences between a cow and a sheep were that a cow was larger and a sheep more useful. Quite a few of the sites, instead of being new articles, were on one-person websites, with photos and long compilations.
“Are these… legit, Morty?” Dorothy asked. “This guy just said it was aliens. And that other guy claimed in was army men in black helicopters…”
“There’s not a lot on it,” Mordred said. “Nobody cares about farmers, so none of the big news sites talk about it. Except some in the States.”
They finished going through the websites without much more commentary, save the occasional snort from Akuba, the most scientific of their trio. She liked concepts with Latin names and quantifiable data. The merest mention of aliens and UFOs filled her with contempt.
Even the more conventional explanations, however, were a bit lacking. There wasn’t enough time between when the mutilations must have occurred and when they were discovered. Here in Brightwater they owned small, family farms, not the sprawling ranches in the United States, and they counted their sheep and cows every night. And it just wasn’t hot enough to evaporate all the blood like the articles claimed must have happened. There weren’t enough bugs to have eaten it all, either.
Besides, carrion beetles and maggots didn’t arrange corpses. Humans did that.
“Alright, now, you’re gonna laugh at me, but just… I know it seems daft but hear me out, just, just hear me out, alright,” Mordred said, sweating, as he pulled up his bookmarks one more.
“You panicking, Morty,” Akuba said.
“I found it on some guy’s site, and I’m not saying he’s all the way right, but it got me thinking…”
He pulled up the site. Dorothy was immediately blown away by how much she hated not only the website, but also the guy who made it, and also Mordred for making her look at it. The background was a tiled image of dark desert bluffs, while the title was bright red and animated so it looked like it dripped blood.
“Ted’s Cryptid Page,” she said aloud. “Mordred, what is a cryptid?”
“I know what this looks like,” he started.
“Garbage,” Akuba supplied.
“Utter shit,” he agreed. “But one of the pages here…”
The cursor looked like a flying saucer. When it clicked, it lit up. Sickened, Dorothy had to admit that it was kind of clever.
Apparently, in the southern United States and the surrounding countries, they were having a problem with animals coming up dead, drained of blood. Lots of animals ended up dead, all with three circular holes in their chests. The victims, at a loss for an explanation, blamed it on some sort of vampiric monster.
“El chupacabras,” Dorothy read. She was trying, really she was, to be nice about this, but sarcasm bled in nevertheless.
“Goat-sucker,” Mordred translated.
“Mordred. Argosy.” Akuba’s voice would have put the most exasperated of aunties to shame.
“Listen, I’m not saying—”
“It really seems you are—” Dorothy tried to interrupt.
“I’m not saying that it’s some sorta weird magic alien creature or, or whatever, but—”
Morty.”
“But maybe there’s some sort of, y’know, heretofore undocumented sort of animal out there, is what I’m saying!” he said. “That’s all!”
“No way. If there something out in those woods, you of all people would have seen it,” Akuba said.
“Maybe.”
“And that wouldn’t explain why they were… why they were all…” The words were there, but Dorothy couldn’t get them past her lips.
“Dissembled,” Mordred finished.
He pushed his chair back, and started to pace. The kitchen was cramped, so he ended up turning little circles more than anything, scratching at his acne and murmuring.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “How it’s happening doesn’t match up with why. There’s got to be something we’re not seeing!”

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