Sunday, April 10, 2011

Autumn is Here.

The weather has turned cold. I hasten to add, that is by our standards.
My brother lives in the UK. I was talking to him last night, he was saying it was a lovely sunny day and beautifully warm.
I was grumbling because it was cold and wet. When we compared temperatures we were both talking about 20ºC (68ºF). I guess things are relative.

Anyway this afternoon the clouds broke up and the sun came out for a while. So Deb and I decided to go for a walk.
We stayed fairly close to home and went to a spot called The Plenty Gorge Park.
As you can see from these trees autumn is starting to bite.In the Park is an old farm the LePage homestead.
The original farmhouse was built in the 1850s. Then it was rebuilt in the 1870s. Unlike the Georgian buildings I photographed in Tasmania this building shows the hallmark of Aussie bush homes verandas most of the way around. They keep a house cooler in summer and if you get really desperate you could sleep on the veranda on hot nights.

I would guess this old bluestone barn is one of the older buildings on the property.
Around the corner you can see down to the pond below.As you can see the garden is planted in a cottage garden style.And one last shot a rose budding in the shade.Now to the extract from my WIP.

Last week if you remember Valentina was stopped by Stepan on her way home. Things are about to get a whole lot worse…

Valentina Meshcova
Berlin 1948
'Get in the car Tina’, Stepan jerked his head at one of the men, ‘Put the child in the front vehicle.'
One of the thugs picked Natasha up, not roughly, but not gently either. Her eyes were huge in her little face, her eyes desperately clung to me until she disappeared into the car.
With a sinking feeling I slid in next to Stepan. It was a huge black car, not German I thought, maybe American.
It was a limousine really, with a huge amount of space between the driver’s seat and the rear bench seat. Half lying, half sitting on the floor against the far corner is a woman’s form. A black hood pulled down over her face. With a frightened intake of breath I recognised the clothes.

It was Penelope.

'Hands behind your back Tina.’ Stepan’s voice strained impatient, ‘No! Facing away from me!'
The cold of metal against my wrists, with a clicking noise my hands were cuffed tight. 'Now face me.'
I turned to face him. 'What is going to happen?'
He was white and shaking, 'I warned you Tina. I warned what would happen if you didn't watch yourself.'
He slid across toward the far door pushing Penelope’s body further into the corner with the callous thrust of a boot. A muffled moan from under the hood.
‘Tina, into the middle.’
One of the men climbed in next to me.
With a lurch the car moved off, 'Where are we going?'
For the first time Stepan smiled as if to a private joke, 'As the Americans would say "we are going for a ride".'
'Stepan, please.'
'You have forfeited any right to ask favours of me. There is nothing I can do. Consorting with an enemy of the people,' he jabbed Penelope with his toe, 'means you are an enemy as well. Hood her!'
The world went black as a bag was pulled over my head.

Time drags when you are frightened. A second becomes a minute and a minute like a day. Not being able to see only made it worse, the trip seemed to go on forever.
Towards the end the vehicle bounced and swayed from side to side.
When we finally came to a halt everything went quiet for a moment.
In the hood sounds were muffled and magnified at the same time. Disembodied men’s voices, the sound of the door opening. Someone seized me by the arms and pulled.

With my arms still pinioned I was half dragged and half fell out of the car. Not onto cobbles but onto soft ground. I was dragged maybe another metre or two and dropped on my face. The smell of grass and leaf litter.

More words, the creak of the car’s springs. The thump of something heavy hitting the ground next to me. A moan, half pain half fear came from the body that had fallen against me. ‘Penelope?’
Her voice muffled by the hood, ‘Val? I’m sorry, I cocked it all up.’
‘Shut up!’, man’s voice bawling in Russian.
Noises, a regular thumping, then a rhythmic muffled metallic sound. A sound of, of what? I puzzled for a moment. Someone swinging a pick, another digging with spade.

Someone digging a grave.

Penelope must have realised what was happening almost as soon as I did. She half sobbed, two choked sobs. Then low, so low I could barely hear although I was against her she began to mutter. ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done…’ again and again she chanted.
‘I said shut up!’ The hollow sound of a blow.
Then silence. Silence except for the rhythmic sound of digging.

I have been under fire many times in the war and had been very close to death many times. I had always been terrified, often so frightened I could barely move.
This time was different, my death was absolutely certain. Strangely I felt no fear, none. Instead I felt a terrible grief that my life was over, with so much wasted opportunity. But then, an appalling fear gripped me not for me, but what would happen to little Natasha. Was the other car here too? Surely they wouldn’t hurt her?

Inevitably the digging stopped. Then more hands grabbed me, some by the shoulders and some by the feet. I was carried a short distance, but suddenly shouting, a tirade of shouting. Surely it was Stepan’s voice but I couldn’t be sure. I was dropped again an involuntary ‘whoosh’ of air was driven from my lungs as I hit a pile of soft powdery dirt.

Grumbling voices, the noises of car doors opening and the slamming. The engines started, revved and began to move away. They faded but before they vanished entirely away they stopped as if they had been turned off.
Silence, then voices. A little girl, and Stepan? I screamed aloud, my voice muffled in the hood. ‘Not Natasha, Stepan please anything! Please not Natasha!’

11 comments:

Charmaine Clancy said...

Gotta love a good verandah :)

Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

Old Kitty said...

What on earth have you got planned for Natasha and Valentina - and Penelope too?!?! Good grief!!!

Enjoyed this extract - talk about trauma!! Take care
x

The Words Crafter said...

It would be heavenly for me if it were 68 F year round! Bliss :)

Am I going to have to wait a whole week to find out what happened? Wow! Talk about intense, well done!

sibi said...

Very good writing! Informative too. Keep blogging!!

N. R. Williams said...

Love the pictures.

Your writing is very good. You should consider e-publishing. I have read some really bad stuff from some indie published books online. Yours is a shining star. A little warning. There are thieves looking at blogs, copying what people post of their writing, stealing it and selling it under their name. Be sure not to post the whole story. Your work is yours. Be sure to add the copyright symbol.

Wishing you much success.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

Deniz Bevan said...

My friends in the UK keep teasing me about the weather too!
Love that shot of the rose.
Very dramatic snip - how on earth do they get away?

L'Aussie said...

I hope your computer's fine now Al. I had a virus last year and it took my blog off the air for awhile. Luckily my son told me all the programs to download to kill it. It worked.

Loved the autumn walk. As you know we rarely get autumn leaves here in Queenland (gotta go to northern NSW for that,) so it was gorgeous to see. Love old homesteads too. A lovely walk. I go walking/running around Brisbane nearly every day, but usually along the river which is always interesting. The water is still reddish from all the farms that it contains.

Denise<3

L'Aussie Travel Blog A-Z Challenge I is for Ibiza

Hart Johnson said...

I'm cracking up and you and your brother and your opposite perceptions of 68 degrees *snicker* In Michigan we are very happy to see it, at least this time of year. The only time it seems cold is late July or August..

Great pictures--I love a wrap-around porch.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

it kinda freaks me out that you're going into Autumn right when i'm going into spring...

Susan Fields said...

I think 68 in spring feels warmer than 68 in summer because you're used to colder temperatures as opposed to warmer temperatures. Those fall trees are so beautiful!

Al said...

Hi Charmaine,
Not much beats a good verandah does it?

Hi Jennifer,
I’m mean that way (read my post from tonight)

Hi Words,
Make that about 80 -85F and I would agree with you.
Thank you, but yew my inner sadist will make you wait!

Hi Sibi,
Thank you!

Hi Nancy,
Thank you!
Thank you very much for your kind words about my words. I have published my first book and it is available on kindle too.
Copyright thieves are a real nuisance. The plan is to publish this WIP once it is ready, it’s a kind of sequel to my first.

Hi Deniz,
They were having good weather for a change.
Glad you liked the flower.
Thank you – you’ll just have to wait and find out sorry ;-)

Hi Denise,
I have sorted it finally. It ie a real pain in the proverbial.
Not a lot of deciduous trees in QLD but it makes up with a bit of warmth.
Brissie is usually gorgeous in spring and autumn.

Hi Hart,
It is funny isn’t it? All relative.
Pleased you like my piccies!

Hi Sarah,
We are kind of used to the idea because we tend to hear more news from Uptop than you do from Downunder.

Hi Susan,
I guess you are right there. But I have to say 68F always feels pretty cool to me!
Thank you!