Chapter 3

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

The afternoon has changed, mutated into something wild and ugly.

High pitch sirens barrell through the once quiet street, red and blue lights intermittently flash. Bright, yellow tape with the words ‘ACCIDENT SCENE-DO NOT ENTER’ boldly printed in black, imprisoned the said area. People in blue uniforms and white coats swarm, some inside the tape, some out. Orders are loud and impatient, occasionally drowning out the tireless drone of inquisitive bystanders. Trolley beds rumble, children cry as their terrified parents hastily channel them to safety. 

Phil stands by the kerb, speechless, helpless, useless. A cold, alien sensation stiffens his muscles, knotted his queasy stomach.

This isn’t happening, he thinks. Perhaps, it’s all just a mistake… a horrible misunderstanding. Perhaps Harry will appear any minute, wearing that impish grin that was purely his, his wide, cerulean eyes sparkling and saying, ‘Gotcha, Dad.’

But as every empty, painful minute passes, Phil’s hope slowly diminishes.

A female police officer stands nearby, asking questions. Phil doesn't answer, his head too crowded with his own questions.

To his rear, slow, even footsteps sound then stop.

Phil turns and finds himself facing a short, stocky man. The man immediately reminds Phil of a feral fox with his sharp, narrow, facial features and his shrewd, murky grey eyes. His silvery hair is slicked back, not a single strand out of place, as perfect as his creaseless suit.

He introduced himself as Detective Sergeant Harrington. To Phil, his voice sounds oily, arrogant.

“Mr Thomas,” he said, “I need you to come inside. It’s important we talk to you and your wife together.”

He hasn't thought of Mary since her friend, Beryl, coaxed her inside. By then Mary is a mass of floundering muscles and non-stop tears.

Phil gazes towards the street’s end. “I c… can’t… my boy might come and….”

“Please, Mr Thomas. In situations such as these, the first twenty-four hours is crucial.”

Phil rubbed his brow, suppresses the urge to inform Detective what-ever-his-name, that Harry is not a situation. Harry is his son, charming, vibrant and so very loving. Pain stabs his chest and he groans. Nearby a woman’s hearty laugh invades the dismal atmosphere like a poisonous intruder.

Phil bleakly nods to the Inspector and shadows him to Phil’s home.

The first thing Phil notices iss the backyard appearing as if someone has just pressed the evacuation button. The only visible life surrounding the half-empty platters of food is a cloud of ravenous flies. The once firm bouncy castle slopes dejectedly to one side. A paper cup scurries across the lawn.

With rolled down shoulders, Phil turns and enters the house.

Mary sits curled on their floral sofa, twisting tissues until bits tumble to the floor, Beryl loyally beside her.

Mary’s complexion is unusually ashen, her eyes red and sunken. “Phil, … oh… Phil,” she says. “I’m so sorry….”

“Sorry?” Phil shrugs. “For what?”

Fresh tears well up and tumble down Mary’s face. “I didn't think it mattered,” she whispered. “I really didn't think it mattered.”


You’ve certainly captured a level of numbing uncertainly and parental torment that must surely be part of losing a child so suddenly and under what looks to be, sinister circumstances. Whether this loss turns out to be temporary, or something permanent, there are still many secrets to be revealed. The characters are well drawn and very believable. A really good read. Great work Roseyn.
It's turning much more into a story now. Real life drama happens in a lot of situations but I'm starting to lose my belief in this one.
Hi Ken. I am going to avoid suggesting where it might go. But keep your belief in the story and enjoy the ride the writers take you on. Maybe you could have a go at an author only serial using this starter as the introduction.
Another thing I am doing is taking one of my starters and a chapter from another serial and writing short stories from them. They are going into my short story collection. That is something you or any of the other writers could do as well.
I understand letting it go but when I was taken off 2 other serials for not following the story even though I was well on the grid still gives me the right to get my opinion out there with current work. When creative work is public not everyone has to like it and that is an important reason not to take any criticism personally.
This is a great chapter from Roseyn. Action and good dialogue a-plenty, especially the flies around the half empty platters. That gives the reader not just a look at the scene but great feeling of a dramatic event aftermath. This is only chapter 3 so there is plenty of time to develop the situation. This is also thought-provoking. Nice chapter, Roseyn.

This conversation is what the Story Mint is all about. Of course as writers we must believe in our work but we must also be aware that we are in a team that we do not want to let down. In serial writing we must be our own creator but also make sure that we are picking up the threads of the previous chapter and following the plot in general. There can't be anything wrong with introducing a dramatic sudden turn of events to spice the narrative up as long as the general plot is moving along and the same characters are involved. I sympathize with Ken who created the idea and plot in general. It is hard reading the serial as it takes a turn away from what the originator visualized. Suraya makes a good point about writing your own complete serial. We have come a long way and now is the time for several writers to try this.
Thank you Gabrielle and Ray for your generous comments. I really appreciate them.

This chapter is I think a very electrifying addition to what started as a very human emotional drama. It started to turn into a tv series with the last chapter and is evolving into a crime drama that is almost a caricature of life. I think the writing is great and very entertaining but I am afraid the original human character of the story is getting lost. I sympathize with Ken and think the challenge in doing a chapter is to get into the head of the starting author build on it. Does that make sence?
Well said jlabrum. I too sympathize with Ken. Even though, as writers, we might not have a fully formed plot in our head, we do have a sense of where we hope our story might go. It can be difficult and disappointing when someone whips it off - in an entirely different direction. I hear what you're saying, but in my defense would add; sometimes the voice that pulls you in a different direction, is very insistent! :) I guess the really important thing is that we continue to enjoy what we do - and continue to learn from each other.
You're right Gabrielle. I can't dwell on where it should have gone. I'll look at writing the whole serial option. Other writers contribute something else to the story even if it causes a ruckus. It comes back to once the work is public not everyone has to agree with what is out there.
Too true Ken and I admire your attitude. Hope you write the serial soon - I know it will be a great story!
I completely agree with Gabrielle and Joe and feel sympathy for Ken also... for when your starter doesnt go where you sort of think it should.

But i guess at the end of the day this is what Story Mint gives us... an avenue to explore and improve. Look forward to your serial as well, Ken.
I think it is about personal choice over what chapter gets accepted: getting on the grid is not enough. I've had 2 chapters for other serials refused even though they were well on the grid. Another writer ended up contributing that chapter. My versions didn't follow the storyline in the preface and previous chapter but it is the same situation with this one. The closing line in the preface was about a dead mother. This thread hasn't come up again.