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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Paulson

Sneaky Peeky of Two Hundred Bones

1962, Northwestern Saskatchewan

The aging Chevy careened down the narrow trail, spraying gravel and sliding dangerously near the precipitous road’s edge.

The night held neither moon nor star; a thick blanket of threatening cloud obscured the sky. Only the car’s dimming headlights illuminated the towering forest looming ahead.

“One more run, that’s all we asked for,” grumbled the driver. “Not too late to change your mind.”

He gunned the engine. The man in the back seat sucked in a breath as the wheels slipped perilously sideways, just as they crossed a bridge over the tumbling river. Bridges in these parts had no railings. The infrastructure wasn’t crumbling. It simply didn’t exist.

“No,” the man said, straightening his spine. “I’m out.”

“Maybe we can convince you,” said the passenger. His mouth contorted into a sneer as he opened the glove box, drew out a pistol and aimed it over the seat.

“Now, no call for that,” said the man, drawing his body backward. “For Christ’s sake, it was one lousy run.”

“The biggest one. You were the only one they trusted. Now what’re we gonna do? Hey? What?”

The driver took a sharp right, barely navigating the turn onto an even narrower trail. The big car took up the entire width of the slick dirt road; fir tree branches slapped and scratched the sides.

“What the hell?” asked the passenger, his fingernails embedded in the dashboard.

“We have company,” the driver answered curtly.

The man in the back twisted his neck around with a spurt of hope. Seconds later, he saw the lights of the pursuing vehicle; but they flashed past on the main trail. Oh God, he thought.

Suddenly the Chevy was airborne, flying over a hill unseen in the utter darkness. The failing headlights shone directly ahead, giving no warning of uneven terrain. The car bottomed out with a bone-rattling thunk as the undercarriage made a hideous crunching noise.

“Shit,” swore the driver, and wrestled the steering wheel hard right for the second time. The dying vehicle rolled several metres into the dense trees, wheezed, and stopped.

The man in the back lunged for the door handle, wrenched it down and lurched out of the car, but not before the passenger spun and pulled the trigger. A bullet grazed the man’s arm and sprayed into the thin metal of the door.

Bent at the waist and wounded, the man ran deeper into the forest as quickly as his posture would allow, trying not to pant with exertion and pain.

“Get the fuck back here!” screamed the driver.

The car was dead, but the battery was not. Not quite. The faint remaining glow of the lights revealed the running man, glinting off the side of his glasses. He stumbled in the thick foliage, roots reaching out to baffle his footing.

A volley of bullets broke the dead quiet of a northern night.

The killers had brought their shovels. They rolled the man’s body down a short incline and covered him in earth before stumbling back toward the trail. A lake awaited, as they knew it would, down a series of small hills. They almost tripped over a rotting fishing boat, climbed in, and paddled away.

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Jan 03, 2021

Free sucks... yes, and having drifted along that same road as you, and remembering watching a music career crash on free as well as a weekly newspaper... ARCs only are free. Thanks for putting it out there, Jo!


Naomi Lane
Naomi Lane
Jan 02, 2021

This looks amazing Joanne. I can't wait to read your new book. I thoroughly enjoyed Fire Lake.

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