Deserts have traditionally been mystical places where one goes to find inspiration, themselves, the meaning of life, but nowadays people use the desert as a park, a place of recreation rather than re-creation. They whiz by on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles, they honk their dogs (let the dogs out of the vehicle and and follow along behind, honking whenever the creatures go to far astray), they have drunken parties, and they dump trash, including old furniture.
I used all of these bits to set the scene for the first chapter of Rubicon Ranch: A Collaborative Novel, a novel being written online by me and eight other Second Wind authors, especially the discarded furniture. I do believe I have seen enough old furniture in my walks to furnish a living room, but the piece that most captured my imagination was the television sitting out in the middle of nowhere. No road led to the television, just a footpath. Yet there it was. And so it appears in my chapter:
She turned around to get shots of the trail she’d just climbed and saw a glint of metal reflecting the sun. She squinted. What was that? A television? She found herself smiling—her first smile since Alexander died. She scrambled back down the trail. The television had been dumped a long time ago judging by the creosote bushes that had grown up around it, but footprints leading to the box suggested it had been visited recently. She took several shots from the trail, about fifteen yards from the television, then moved closer. The television had no screen, and she could see that something had been stuffed inside. A doll? She crept closer. Ten feet away, she stopped to take another photo, and the truth washed over her. Not a doll. Crammed inside the console was a child, a girl, her eyes half-eaten by some desert predator.
We’ve now posted the first six chapters of Rubicon Ranch, the latest one by Christine Husom, author of the Winnebago Mystery Series. The most fun of a project such as this is that we do not yet know who killed the little girl (if in fact, she was killed) and we won’t know until all but the final chapter has been written. I hope you will enjoy following our story as we write it.