Chapter 6

Written by: MatClarke

Frances snorted while shifting into yet another uncomfortable position in her chair, then sighed. Robin’s lips parted in a smile as he came closer to a sentence aimed at getting a reaction from his captive audience.

'...Pooh remembered that he had forgotten to ask who Small was...'

The group laughed.

She supposed the books weren't all that bad.

The afternoon sunshine dwindled leaving mottled branches and hazy shadows. It had been an hour and still no word from her brother. Frances brow furrowed as she thought of a reason why Peter would leave without any word. She got up from her seat and stretched while looking for her bag. Everyone else sat unmoving, engrossed by the story and mesmerized by Robin’s voice, especially Lizzie. Frances knew she couldn't compete with her and it was obvious Robin was going to have Lizzie’s affection, especially now that David had eyes for her. She did like David’s tattoos but that had been only a fleeting thought.

She clicked on her phone. Still no messages. No response when she called him, either. Peter had been even weirder lately—more than brothers usually were. He would often spend time on his own or talking quietly with David. He also had some new friends that didn't hang out with the rest of the group. David sometimes did, but even he said they were odd.

Francis flicked on her flashlight and wandered down a nearby track. After a few minutes she saw another campfire. She turned off the light and walked by the glow from her phone screen. She heard yelling and what she thought might be growling from a dog. She checked her phone again, still no messages.

Maybe Peter had said, 'hi' to this group while walking passed the campsite, or maybe he was with them now?

Three men were jumping about, hollering and laughing around their campfire. They looked drunk. She had to admit she was a little tipsy herself from two glasses of wine. As she came closer she could see that none of them was Peter. A dog ran around barking and growling, playing with something furry in its mouth.

She stopped and called out, deciding that she was close enough.

They didn't turn or acknowledge her. She began to feel a little unsafe with their swearing and yelling. She breathed deep and tried to adopt a serious face so she didn't appear afraid. Her shaky legs brought her in closer. If they didn't answer this time she would leave.

“Hello?” Frances called again. “I was wondering if you had seen my brother, Peter?”

One of them snapped his head around and stopped laughing. The other three did the same a moment later. Their faces glowed orange in the rippling flames. Their eyes so dark and deep they were cavernous holes.

Frances clenched and unclenched her fingers at her side. She felt more frightened than she ever had..



Mat Clarke (AUS)


Looks as though we are moving into the climax of this serial. Mat has set the scene for more action to come. On one hand there is the light-hearted reading of a Pooh story and on the other, tension as one of the female teenagers collides with a group of weird young men. With a minimum of dialogue Mat has moved the story along and created good juxta-position between innocence and foreboding.