Monday, August 25, 2014

Entry #9: MARKED

73,000 words
YA Urban Fantasy
Lexi zipped her jacket as she followed her dad into the auto shop. Men in greasy overalls crowded the three work areas, while orchestrating their way around vehicles in various stages of repair. Uncle Lucas peered around the hood of his 1957 Chrysler Diablo before rounding it, his gaze trained on a stained rag as he wiped his hands. “We need to talk.”

“The truck?” Dad asked, his voice barely audible over the power tools and music.

“That, too.”

Dad and his brother were close, often huddled in private conversation.

Sometimes, they invited Lexi’s younger brother to their powwows, but no matter what bodily harm she threatened the brat with, he never revealed anything. He only puffed his chest out and said, “Man stuff.”

Uncle Lucas stopped in front of Lexi, smelling like exhaust with BBQ undertones. He wasn’t a tall man, only 5’10”, two inches taller than her.

“Enjoyed the article in your school paper about the declining wolf population,” he said.

“Thanks. Was hoping you’d let me interview you for the next one.” Since he was a freelance wilderness guide, he’d be perfect for a follow up piece.

His wide grin crinkled the corners of his eyes. “I’d love that.”

He shared her love of all things animal. It wasn’t "man stuff," but it was theirs.

Uncle Lucas gestured at Dad. “Give us a minute to talk.”

“You know where to find me.”

iPhone in hand, Lexi strolled through the reception area and down the narrow corridor to the office, until the aroma of the grill pulled her attention away from Twitter updates. Uncle Lucas’ cooking was the one perk to playing taxi driver for Dad while his SUV was in the shop. Well, that and gas money. Lexi glanced at the small office, and then through the archway leading to the back door. She should wait for the others but her stomach growled.

Decision made, she slipped outside. The view from the hilltop always astounded her. Short trees competed with pines, creating a wide blanket of green. Sometimes, wolves congregated near the base of the slope. Uncle Lucas said the scent of meat attracted them and told her not to worry because they wouldn’t dare come up the hill as long as he was around. What would he do if a pack approached, smack the alpha on the nose with a socket wrench and tell him "no"?

Lexi crossed to the grill and grabbed a skewer. A column of heat and smoke surrounded her when she opened the lid. She coughed into her arm, waving away the cloud to reveal an abundance of meat and assorted vegetables. The latter were for her. She’d sworn off carnivorism since being elected co-president of the Pet Animal Welfare (PAW) Club, yet her mouth watered for a wing slathered in custom sweet with a spicy punch BBQ sauce. Tofu and meat substitutes had nothing on Uncle Lucas’ cooking. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure no one was coming before spearing a small chicken wing.

My name is Lexi Fletcher and I am…a crappy vegetarian.

Closing the lid, she hid around the corner from the wind and carefully waved the appetizer to cool it faster. A smoky scent clung to her hair and clothes like a cloak of shame. The first juicy bite made her swoon, just the right amount of sweetness before the peppers cleared her sinuses. The back door opened and she paused with the goods half way to her mouth. She started forward out of her hiding place. Dad’s hushed voice stopped her.

“What’s wrong?” His solemn tone lit her curiosity.

“Clark fell,” Uncle Lucas answered.

Lexi didn’t know any Clarks, besides Kent. Maybe the guy was an old friend. Great, now she felt worse for eavesdropping on their conversation about their injured buddy. She peeked around the building in time to see Dad nodding a few times in his standard processing information mode. Uncle Lucas set a bowl on the grill shelf and then raked a hand through his short brown hair, pausing mid-way through the motion as he glanced over his right shoulder. Lexi ducked back before he scanned her direction. She should either let them know she was there or make like a ninja around the building to the front door. Then again, she had every right to be on the patio. A tentative step brought her to the corner again.

“When?” Dad finally asked.

“Tuesday.” Uncle Lucas slathered more sauce on the meat. “Michael needs to know.”

Why would her little brother need to know? Was this "man stuff"?

“I’ll tell him.” Dad placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “But, you could’ve told me about Clark over the phone. Why am I here?”

Lucas ran a palm down his thigh and held it there for a moment before clenching his hand. “Activity’s increasing in the foothills.”

Ears heating, Lexi quietly backed against the wall. The concrete felt cool against her arm.

“That where it happened?” Dad asked.

The grill creaked as Lucas closed it. “Near Broken Trail.”

“That far? Damn. How?”

“Trail of bodies leads to mountains in that area.”

Bodies? There hadn’t been anything on the news about a serial killer. Might be animal attacks, but people would be talking about that too, especially at school. So, what were these two talking about? No, she didn’t want to know. Whatever it was had nothing to do with her.

Forget about being caught with a chicken wing, if Dad discovered her snooping, he’d ground her until college. She inched along the wall, intent on heading to the front door and slipping inside.

“Never seen anything like it. Took two of us to take that thing down,” her uncle said.

Lexi froze.

“Was it an alpha?” Dad asked.

“Might’ve been, but we took care of it.”

He’d killed an animal, a big one by the sound of it. There was blood on his hands. Lexi’s gaze fell to her sauce covered fingers and the wing clutched in them. Stomach churning, she pressed her lips together to force back the bile.

On the way around the building, she flung her stolen chicken wing into the woods for the raccoons that raided the trashcans, and hid the skewer inside her sleeve. Was everything she knew about Uncle Lucas a lie? He always showed interest in her PAW Club efforts.

She ambled through the reception area and down the corridor, still undecided about how to handle the situation. If she confronted him, she’d have to admit to eavesdropping. But if she didn’t say anything, she couldn’t convince him to stop.

A splash of daylight flared on the wall beside the office when the back door opened.

“There you are.” Uncle Lucas cruised down the narrow hallway. His happy eyes reminded her of a puppy. With the same sandy brown hair, high cheekbones, and a slight hook of a nose which looked good on him, her no so much, Lexi resembled Uncle Lucas more than her own dad. “We were looking for you.”

She tucked an errant lock of hair behind her ear and when she lowered her hand, the skewer fell. Her uncle’s eyes tracked its movement, and he hitched an eyebrow. She swooped to pick the evidence up.

“Knew something was missing.” The humor in his voice failed to soothe her.

“I got hungry,” she said, though her voice sounded higher at the end, turning the statement into a question.


  1. Oh, wow. The voice here is great and the crafting as well. I felt pulled in right away, and I connected with Lexi quickly, too. I would definitely keep reading!

  2. Interesting stuff going on. I was a little confused about your world regarding the wolves, and where the uncle and father fit in with it, but from what I understood I think it does a lot to build tension. Now I'm interested to see what's up with the uncle.

    Good luck!

  3. Seems to me like there's something more than normal wolves out there!

    So is this a gas station/auto-shop in a remote area? As soon as we were in an auto-shop I assumed urban, but it's rare to find wolves unless you're pretty far out of town. Maybe a sentence or two to establish a somewhat broader sense of place?

  4. I liked the voice here, but I was also a little confused about the setting at the start. Is the auto shop attached to her uncle's house somewhere out in the woods? If so then you might want to make that clear since an auto shop with a back patio and bbq out in the woods seems a tad unusual (or maybe they're common and I've just never encountered one).


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