Read an Excerpt


Where the Ice Falls - Excerpt
By J.E. Barnard



Wind shrieked through the vent-screens, sending skirls of hard snow at Eric’s closed eyes. His head snapped upright. How long had he leaned against the wall, half-dreaming? Clutching the aspen splits against his chest with one arm, he stumbled to the plywood door and pushed. It didn’t budge. He kicked, with the same result. He threw his shoulder against it. Dropping his kindling, he shook the panel, hammered with his gloved fists, and yelled for someone, anyone, to let him out. The wind mocked him with a howl like his own.
Before dawn the blizzard abandoned the smothered wilderness, the drifted roads and ice-rimed oil derricks. Far out on the shoulders of the Rockies, the scattering of elegant chalets at Black Rock Bowl welcomed the coming day half buried and seeming deserted, save for a lone, thin spire of chimney smoke. The sun rose, blinding in the all-white world. It kissed the woodshed’s snowy rooftop all the day through, melting droplets that trailed toward the half-buried door in ever-lengthening icicles. A day went by with more sun and more ice, and another, and three more still before the snowplow from Waiparous reached the resort. It rumbled around the Black Rock Loop from the northern end, the operator keeping a fruitless eye out for a red Toyota Camry reported overdue from the first day of the storm.
The sun added more icicles to its artwork day by day and week by week until the woodshed’s front resembled nothing so much as a creek flash-frozen in mid-tumble off a ledge. Its diamond clarity reflected the snow, the sky, the forest, and, if anyone had been standing at just the right angle to see it, the golden logs of an elegant ski chalet. But no-one left the plowed road. No-one crossed the snowy glade. No car, no footprints, no traces drew searchers toward the huddled figure of a young man.  
November ended. December began. The ice-fall thickened.

* * * * * Chapter * * * * *

“Do you want to find my emaciated body in the next Chinook?” Lizi pointed with her whole arm out the back door, her glitter nail-polish dancing in the reflected sunlight. “Niagara Falls froze over that woodshed. It’ll take me a year to get the door open.”
Zoe rolled her eyes. “Two hits at the top with an axe and it will all come crashing down. Now go, if you want a fire big enough to last until we’re done setting up.”
Sniffing with infinite disdain, Lizi flounced out to the varnished log porch and slammed the door behind her. A line of slender icicles shivered on the eaves. She stomped down the steps and set out across the glade, axe on her shoulder, ostentatiously lifting each leg high before lowering it gingerly into the next drift. The woodshed was barely three car-lengths away, well clear of the surrounding forest, but that girl had to treat it like a death-march across the Columbia Icefield. Teenagers. Ugh.
Zoe started the kettle and rested her butt against the silver-grey granite countertop to compare this cold room with the simple wooden kitchen she’d expected. The warm, rustic cook-space of her memories was erased by slate-grey cupboards, brushed steel appliances, slate tile backsplash, and a floor that appeared to be coated with concrete. Basically all gray apart from two rust-brown throw rugs that matched the stools along the breakfast bar. Nothing said ‘cozy ski chalet’ or ‘relaxed weekend getaway’ like a desolate industrial wasteland for a kitchen. Reflecting the state of JP’s second marriage? The kettle let out a whine, as if it too was conscious of its dismal surroundings. Boiling already? She reached for it.
The appliance was quiet, not even a hiss coming from its snub nose. The sound rose to a wail. Outside.
 Lizi came flailing through the deep snow, her mouth wide and pink half-mitts waving over her head. By the time Zoe had the door open she was halfway up the steps, gasping and screaming alternately like a broken steam-whistle. She lunged inside, grabbed the door from her mother’s fingers, and hurled it shut. Icicles plunged from the eaves and shattered, one after another, on the porch.



When the Flood Falls – Excerpt
By Jayne Barnard

At eight o’clock, driven indoors by mosquitoes, Lacey paced from room to deserted room. Without Dee or her gangly dogs, the house was too quiet. Her footsteps echoed from the glossy log ceiling as she reexamined the place. Had Dee really left her briefcase open on the hall stand, exposing confidential client papers to potential visitors? Those magazines on the dining room sideboard were scattered rather than stacked. The drawer beneath them was not quite closed either. Small things out of place were not like Dee. None of this should be triggering Lacey’s old cop senses. Yet she had been home for nearly six hours with no word from Dee, no hint about who she suspected of planting Friday’s nasty surprise. Could she have gone today to tackle someone? She couldn’t walk far with her ankle barely healed, and her vehicle was parked out front.
Lacey paused by the huge living room windows. Beyond the spiky shrubs and jagged borders, past the Nexus and her Civic, tall spruce-tree shadows edged across the driveway. The golden sunset vanished. Behind the peaks a spreading pile of murky clouds meant more rain on the slopes and the snow pack. More water slithering down the steep mountainsides. More of the churning brown torrent that was the Elbow River. She didn’t need to see it to know it was rising inexorably toward the bridge. The walking trail over on the town side had begun to fall away earlier. By now this bank must be crumbling too. Dee could walk that far, slowly, but she wouldn’t let Boney and Beau near the water when it was running high and wild. After months of the stalker, she hated and feared the darkness, too. She wouldn’t stay out alone if she had a choice.
At a dead end, Lacey called Dee’s phone yet again. Something buzzed upstairs, barely audible over the evening breeze singing in the spruce. She reached the upper hall in four leaps but the buzz had stopped. She hit redial and heard it again, almost at her left hand. On the hall table Dee’s phone vibrated, rubbing against a vase that amplified the slight sound.

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