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From Beneath
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-374-1
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 261 Pages
Published: July 2017

From inside the flap

The suicide of Ruth Markham is a mystery to Mae Osborne. Ruth was wealthy, in good health, and looking forward to retirement. Almost as puzzling is the bequeath of a strangely shaped piece of land on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. When Janie Jackson, a young attorney, informs Mae that Ruth has left her the property, she omits that Ruth’s last act before her suicide was an attempt to stop the land from going to Mae.

Unsure herself how the land is now in Mae’s name, Janie offers to show Mae and her grandson, Andy, the land. Without understanding why, Janie dreads going to the property and asks Casey, the niece of her office partner, to accompany her.

Andy is pleased to spend the summer with Mae while his parents are out of the country, but both he and Casey find Janie’s behavior bizarre and irrational.

Too late, they discover Janie’s dread is based on fact and Mae understands her friend’s suicide. Only Casey’s uncle, Craig, understands they are lost and in peril.

From Beneath (Excerpt)


Chapter 1

Ruth Markham's eyes filled with tears of relief as she hung up the phone. At last the changes she had made to her will were ready for her signature. There was still time to save her friend. She glanced out the window of her kitchen and saw the sun just above the horizon. An involuntary moan escaped her.

Too late.

A flicker of hope sparked. Maybe there was still time. She could dash downtown to Mitchell Jackson's office to sign the papers before dark. If she left immediately, she might make it. She rushed to the front hall, grabbed her purse from the table in front of the large gold gild framed mirror, and ran back through the house to the door leading to the garage.

The windowless garage was dark and she hesitated. The light switch was just inside the door but to reach it she would have to enter the dark. She rummaged through her purse for the garage door opener but remembered it was on the visor of her car. She turned, rushed back through the house, out the front door, and opened the garage door from the driveway.

The sun itself was no longer visible, only the last rays reflected in the clouds as florescent pinks and oranges. She was fooling herself. It would be dark before she reached Mitchell's office.

Ruth Markham fought a temptation to remain outside in the fresh air and enjoy her last sunset. A moan of despair from her throat startled her. There was no time for the luxury of delay. A wave of lethargy and painful emptiness swept over her. As it passed, panic replaced her despair.

The unseasonably warm weather was in sharp contrast to the shorter days. The weather felt like summer but the barren trees and brown grass confirmed it was winter.

Christmas was just around the corner and the temperature had not dropped below forty degrees. As a child in the Midwest town of Alton, Illinois, this time of year had always been a crisp cold with the promise of snow.

Ironically, it had been the unseasonably warm weather that had caused a moment of clarity and unveiled the horror to come.

A week ago, the temperature had been seventy degrees and she sat outside on the wraparound porch of her Victorian house built on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. She dozed off in the bright sunlight streaming through the barren branches of the Oak and Maple trees whose leaves normally shaded the house. She woke from a disturbing dream and was suddenly struck with an understanding. It was incredible, but there was no other explanation.

As a retired accounting professor from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, facts and figures ruled her life. Often described as brilliant but with no imagination, she knew what her fate would be if she didn't act soon. Ruefully, she reflected on how much wealth she had transferred.

Then she remembered the strip of land and her will. What would they do when they discovered they didn't have the very piece of land they wanted? She immediately called Mitchell Jackson and dictated the changes in her will.

Now fearful of the impending darkness, she returned to the house and hoped her dear friend, Mae Osborne, could forgive her and not suffer her same fate. The only sounds in the large home were the ticking clocks. The chimes of the grandfather clock in the front hall began to strike and she rushed through the rooms turning on every light.

She paused in the dining room and glanced toward the floor to ceiling windows that faced the river. The reflection in the glass showed the large, Waterford crystal bowl that had sat in the center of the polished rosewood dining room table since before she was born. It seemed a lifetime ago she had removed the heavy drapes that impeded the magnificent view of the river. Now there was no way to keep out the dark just behind the window glass.

Frantically she searched the house for a way to end it. The shotgun she remembered being in the front hall closet for the past sixty years was gone. All knives from the kitchen had been removed. The medicine cabinets in the bathrooms had been emptied of anything that would aid her. Another wave of emptiness swept through her and she fought to retain her sense of self. It didn't pass completely and only the memory of clarity was left. She had only moments left.

Pulling down boxes from a closet in a guest room she found a small suitcase she had carried on trips to out-of-town seminars. In a zippered compartment was a small plastic bag with first aid supplies including an unopened bottle of Tylenol. She rushed to the kitchen and began swallowing the pills drinking directly from the faucet.