Category Archives: writing
This prompt was inspired by a writing event I attended. At the Loudoun Library’s Words Out West Festival, I shared from my newest novels, The Man with the Crystal Ankh and The Girl Who Flew Away. Afterwards, author Bobbi Carducci shared some writing prompts with the audience, and I stayed to participate.
The prompt was the first line in the story below.
While most people thought of literal riders—horses, I had corgis on my mind. I couldn’t help but remember the legend of the fairy saddle, so of course in my mind, the four riders were fairies, all riding fairy steeds—corgis!
Petunia’s Corgi Steed
From behind a lacy curtain she watched as four riders galloped toward the house. They were the same four as last time, and they held the fur of their corgi steeds with wild abandon. The corgis flew through the dewy grass, leaving four dark trails through the otherwise pristine lawn. As they neared, Petunia could see that the corgis’ fur was wet from dew.
They approached the house, and the corgis left stains of water and mud on the patio. She could only imagine the mess they would leave in the house. Just like last time.
The leader of the four, a fiery fairy with golden hair and wild, orange eyes, dismounted. He shaded his eyes from the morning sun and glanced up at the window. “Petunia, we know you’re up there. We see you at the window. Come out.”
Downstairs, the dog barked.
Petunia pulled the curtain aside and called through the open window. “There was too much trouble last time, Sunbeam.”
“Nonsense. We’re riding to the pond today. The beavers have dammed the stream again, and there’s all sorts of mud pooling around for our steeds to enjoy. We’re going to eat dandelions and rose petals and bask in the sun.”
The mud she could do without, but rose petals were her favorite. But after what happened last time…
“Fluffy got in so much trouble last time. And she was given a—” She lowered her voice. “A bath.”
Downstairs, the dog barked again.
“Don’t call her ‘Fluffy,’ ” Sunbeam said. “You know her name just as well as I. Shadowdancer of the Weeded Meadow.”
Petunia sighed. “Her name is Fluffy, and she’s not supposed to get out while the humans are away. It always upsets them so. Last time after the bath, they kept her inside for days.”
The rider snickered. “What are you going to do, watch ‘Fluffy’ sleep on the floor all day? What kind of life is that for a corgi? Corgis are made as fairy steeds. They are meant to run through meadows and grass and mud. And guardian fairies like you are meant as riders—not house fairies!”
Another rider called up to Petunia. “Just look at how happy our steeds are.” Lilac waved her lavender locks as the corgis twirled in circles on the patio.
Petunia sighed. A breeze brought the scent of grass and flowers, and the curtain brushes her wing.
“Okay.” She sighed. Then, with a low whistle, Fluffy—Shadowdancer of the Weeded Meadow—arrived, ready to carry her fairy rider into the great outdoors.
The pair pranced down the stairs, over the pristine carpeting the humans had just cleaned, past the neatly-folded laundry in the hallway, and across the sparkling floor of the kitchen. Petunia stopped her steed by the door. Should she really do this? There would be yelling. Fluffy would have a bath. Was it worth it?
Fluffy—Shadowdancer—scratched the door and barked.
With a smile, Petunia hovered in the air and unlocked the mechanism humans loved so much. Outside, her four companions hovered, too, using all their might to pull open the heavy glass door. In a quick moment, Shadowdancer was free, and she joined her four companions. The five fairies descended to their steeds, and they rode into the breeze that carried the scent of mud and dandelions and rose petals and adventure.
Corgi Capers book 4 is in the works. In the meantime, you might consider my two new young adult releases:
For the younger end of the YA spectrum:
No good deed goes unpunished when freshman Steffie Brenner offers to give her awkward new neighbor a ride home after her first day at school. When her older sister Ali stops at a local park to apply for a job, Steffie and Madison slip out of the car to explore the park—and Madison vanishes.
Already in trouble for a speeding ticket, Ali insists that Steffie say nothing about Madison’s disappearance. Even when Madison’s mother comes looking for her. Even when the police question them.
Some secrets are hard to hide, though—especially with Madison’s life on the line. As she struggles between coming clean or going along with her manipulative sister’s plan, Steffie begins to question if she or anyone else is really who she thought they were. After all, the Steffie she used to know would never lie about being the last person to see Madison alive—nor would she abandon a friend in the woods: alone, cold, injured, or even worse.
But when Steffie learns an even deeper secret about her own past, a missing person seems like the least of her worries…
Find it at Amazon and other retailers. And from April 30-May 14, find it discounted directly from the publisher during the Spring Fling Sale!
And for the slightly older YA crowd:
Sarah Durante awakens to find herself haunted by the spirit of her high school’s late custodian. After the death of his granddaughter, Custodian Carlton Gray is not at peace. He suspects a sanguisuga is involved—an ancient force that prolongs its own life by consuming the spirits of others. Now, the sanguisuga needs another life to feed its rotten existence, and Carlton wants to spare others from the suffering his granddaughter endured. That’s where Sarah comes in. Carlton helps her understand that she comes from a lineage of ancestors with the ability to communicate with the dead. As Sarah hones her skill through music, she discovers that the bloodlines of Hollow Oak run deep. The sanguisuga is someone close, and only she has the power to stop it.
Find it at Amazon and other retailers!
The morning was going relatively smoothly. The toddler, who now tries to “help” feed the corgis, had not tried to eat any dog food this morning. She had also refrained from playing “witch’s cauldron” with the corgis’ water.
The corgis had not gone off chasing early-morning deer, nor was the neighbor’s half-corgi out to start a barking war at 6 a.m. And Leia had even refrained from rolling in the tempting scent of whatever was using the space under the pine tree as a pooping ground.
I’d even packed my lunch, full of freshly-cut fruit and vegetables. I filled my water bottle and glanced at the clock. It was only 6:39.
All in all, a good morning!
I still had time for—could it be?—breakfast! I set the toddler down at her play kitchen. She seemed content drinking her milk while dancing to the alphabet song that plays each and every time she presses the stove button.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G…
A, B, C, D….
A, B, C…
The song rang aloud as in my head as I sang to myself about the possibilities of breakfast.
A, B, C, D….
A bagel, banana, perhaps a yogurt?
A, B, C, E, F, G, H, I….
A breakfast sandwich in the freezer… Or, dare I sit down to a bowl of cereal?…
The possibilities seemed as endless as the repetition of the alphabet song.
I glanced in the pantry and noticed Yoda watching me shyly from the living room. He usually sleeps on the kitchen rug near the kitchen sink. Why was he cowering in the living room? I looked at Leia, normally the source of his terror. But she wasn’t being her normal menacing self. In fact, she seemed to be cowering, too. A moment more of extended eye contact, and she whined, then backed up a few paces toward Yoda.
Something was going on.
Thoughts of breakfast faded and I grabbed the toddler to examine the living room.
And there it was.
Three bright red streaks on the beige carpet.
I first checked the toddler. No blood. Of course not. I would have noticed.
But this was a lot of blood. Wouldn’t I have noticed if one of the corgis was bleeding that much?
“Corgis, outside now!” I urged. Something in my voice made them move especially efficiently. I shoed them out onto the deck and shut the glass door, glancing for traces of blood.
Earlier in the season, I’d discovered something had tunneled underneath our patio. And the night before, there had been a huge opossum hiding behind our grill. (I mean huge: larger than Leia, it seemed. We’re talking Rodents-of-Unusual-Size-from-The-Princess-Bride-huge). I didn’t know much about opossums, but I wondered: would they attack if provoked? And how was it that all morning I didn’t notice an injury on either corgi capable of producing that much blood?
Or another option: had Leia caught another mouse? She is more persistent, if not clumsier, than a cat, and has caught her share of mice. Could that red streak be… I shivered at the possibility, especially imagining what might happen if the toddler got her hands on a mouse corpse.
Since the corgis seemed content outside, I hurried to clean up the blood, before the stain had a chance to set. While I cleaned, I let my mind work. Did I have time to run the injured corgi to the vet before work? Should I collect a sample of the blood?
As I cleaned, I noticed that the stain came right up—not typical of blood-on-carpet-experiences of the past. It also smelled kind of fruity. My sleepy mind meandered around logic. Could it be diarrhea? Maybe one of the corgis had some bathroom issues and then wiped themselves on the carpet after coming in…
I wrapped the toddler in a blanket and went outside to investigate. The corgis were still sitting on the deck (looking at me rather strangely), and their piles of poop were as normal as ever there in the back yard.
I came inside and gave them an extra treat, an attempt to convince them I wasn’t losing it. I then called my husband. The night before, he’d run our automatic vacuum robot, and I wondered if maybe the vacuum had dragged something red across the carpet.
“Hey, what’s red and squishy and may have left a streak on the carpet?” I asked.
I could hear his eyebrow raise.
“I don’t think it’s blood,” I added.
He sighed. “Weren’t you cutting up strawberries this morning?”
“Right! Thanks!” I ended the conversation, relieved. Of course I’d been cutting up strawberries, and I’d given a little slice to each of the corgis. Leia, as usual, devoured hers immediately. But Yoda does this thing.
Whenever anyone gives Yoda a treat, whether it’s a bit of meat, a piece of fruit or vegetable, or a cookie or rawhide, he trots off with it, his paws clicking on the kitchen floor as he prances away with his treasure. He drops the delight in front of the two stairs that form a landing in the living room. I remember when we moved into the house, the literal first thing Yoda did was run into the living room and rub his back against those two stairs. Since that first day, the side of the bottom stair has been crusted with dog hair: it’s his altar and his friend, his favorite square foot of the house.
He repeats the motion anytime he gets food, only instead of rubbing his back against the stair, he places the food in front of the stair and rubs his back and neck on the food.
“Yoda,” I called. Yoda approached, hesitantly.
He obeyed my command, and I looked carefully in the black fur of his tricolored coat. Sure enough, there at the neck, was a tiny speck of sweet-smelling strawberry juice, evidence of his early morning adventure with a strawberry treat and reassurance to his frazzled corgi-mom that all was indeed right with the world.
At least for the rest of the morning.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was called Four Puppies (I found a few copies available on Amazon.com here). At that age, I loved the changing weather and enjoyed watching the four puppies learn not to mourn the loss of each season.
Recently, however, I remember having a conversation with someone: we both agreed that each season offers something more to look forward to in terms of what follows—except for autumn. Winter offers the promise of spring, of melting snow and blooming flowers. Spring offers the promise of endless and carefree summer days, of wind whispering through leafy trees and painting patterns of light and shadow on the lawn. Summer offers the promise of cooler autumn days, of blazing foliage and cozy harvests. I personally never look forward to the cold, crippling snow of winter.
For my corgis, Leia and Yoda, their “looking forward” is a bit different than mine. For them, summer still offers the promise of a respite from heat (as well as all the awesome smells of autumn’s decaying leaves); autumn promises the fun of a crisp snow (Yoda could sit in snow for hours!); and winter offers the promise of melting snow, smelly mud (for mud baths!), critters emerging from winter hiding (all the smells!); but spring offers only the promise of weather that’s too hot for my corgis to enjoy. Indeed, I could never convince my corgis to enjoy water, whether a large body of water, a little wading pool, or a squirt from the hose. They’d much rather hang out inside, where they take turns napping on the prime kitchen vent, through which the cool air conditioning brings their heavy coats to a more tolerable temperature.
I never understood why they feared water so much. If only they gave it another try, maybe they’d see what they were missing. It’s the same way I feel about a certain relative of mine (ahem!) who refuses to try seafood of any sort. If only she would give it an honest try, she would likely see what she’s been missing. (I can’t believe she gives up the opportunity to have bacon-wrapped scallops every Christmas!)
My dad always told me, “A coward dies a thousand deaths; a brave man dies just one.” Although I knew what he meant, even I was hesitant to take chances, especially in my younger days. I preferred the familiar. And it’s true—we mostly regret the things we didn’t do, not the things we tried.
It’s a lesson I wish Yoda would learn (for a growing list of things he’s afraid of, check here). In Cora Cassidy and the Craven Corgi, a book I based largely off of Yoda, I write of a corgi who is afraid of, well, almost everything; and his owner, the opposite, looks forward to each new experience.
In celebration of the changeover to spring, my publisher is offering the book from now until March 31 for only $10, shipped! You can purchase here for the special $10 promotion.
If your dog is anything like mine, you may notice a personality change in direct proportion to the level of stinkiness. My corgis are so sweet and cuddly when they’re clean, and then the dirtier they get, the more wild they become.
Had a b-b-b-bath last night.
Even the bedding was washed.
Fur smooth, scent fresh.
Must not allow this to happen again.
Person was very cuddly today.
Kept complimenting my smell.
Received two extra treats.
Bedding fluffy and comfortable. I awoke well-rested.
Maybe baths not so bad.
Tired of cuddling.
Bed too clean.
Went exploring Yard while Person distracted.
Found pile of dark brown Stink.
Thinking either skunk or raccoon.
Will investigate further for consumption.
Went back to Stink pile.
Started to eat it.
Was stopped by Person.
Rubbed nose against Stink while Person wasn’t looking.
Jumped into Crate, rubbed snout on blanket to save Scent.
Will have a good night.
Person asked, “What’s that smell?”, took out trash, seems content for now.
Found several more Gooey Blobs in Yard.
Person has been watching too closely.
Could not investigate further.
Fur has developed lovely patina.
Life is good.
Person would not come Outside with me.
Rubbed in Muck but Scent was wiped away by Rain and Towel.
Will try again tomorrow.
Rain made Muck perfect consistency.
Dashed outside despite Person’s warnings.
Was yelled at.
Smell like Muck.
I find this somehow exciting.
Had a b-b-b-bath last night.
Even the bedding was washed.
Fur smooth, scent fresh.
Must not allow this to happen again.
If you follow my other blog, you know that I feature flash fiction every Thursday as part of a writing group I’m in (The Spot Writers). This week, I was inspired by the extreme cold–and my task of keeping the pipes from freezing. We were supposed to write a story about a character’s reaction to an intruder. I added a bit of a spin, making the intruder the cold. The story features Courtney and follows her continuing journey to be a better person.
by Val Muller
“Don’t forget to leave the sink dripping,” Mom said.
Dad smiled. “Wouldn’t want the pipes to burst.”
“And if anything happens, call Belle or Cassie. They know we’ll be gone for the night, and we’ve asked them to look in on you.”
“I’m in seventh grade already. I can take care of myself.”
“Seventh grade isn’t that old, young lady. Remember, no going out. Let the dogs out once or twice, but that’s it. And no visitors.”
Mom jingled her keys. “And Dad will be back around noon.”
“Got it.” Mom reached over for a hug. Moms always did stuff like that. “Have fun at your conference,” Courtney added.
Finally, finally, they left. Courtney watched them from the front window. She couldn’t wait. She had the entire night planned—a movie marathon coupled with a chat session with her friends. And she could text Dave all night, too. She was finally being treated like an adult.
But that was all. She was turning over a new leaf. Her parents finally trusted her, finally un-grounded her. So no sneaking out, no inviting anyone over. Just watching movies with the volume as loud as she wanted, eating whatever she wanted, and having the peace and quiet of being away from her brother.
It would be…like being a grown-up. It was going to be awesome.
And then, when Dad returned in the morning and saw the house was still standing the dogs were fed and happy, her parents would trust her even more. Never too early to start thinking about driving—only a few years away!
The kitchen sink was set to drip—last year the pipes had frozen along the outside wall. They hadn’t burst, luckily, but there were so many stories in the news with this recent cold snap. It was breaking records and pipes–and it was the reason they were letting Courtney stay by herself. She was supposed to keep the taps dripping and the thermostat turned up. And, in case anything happened, she knew where the main water shut-off was, and she had her parents’ cell phone numbers memorized. Mom’s presentation wasn’t until the morning, so she could call them whenever she wanted. After that, Dad would answer.
Not that she would need to call either of them. She was in seventh grade now.
She settled into the recliner—Dad’s recliner. She set up Mom’s laptop on the end table, plugged in her phone charger, opened a bag of popcorn, and pulled a blanket up to her chin. Breaking small rules didn’t matter. Dad would never know she was eating in his chair, and Mom wouldn’t miss her laptop tonight. She smirked and broke one final rule. “Come on, Sapphie,” she said to her dog. “You can sit up here with me.”
Sapphie took a running leap without even thinking, burrowing into the forbidden comfort of the recliner. Adam’s dog yelped and hid under the couch. “Poor Zeph,” Courtney said. “Too bad Adam couldn’t have taken you to his sleepover.”
Courtney shoved a handful of popcorn into her mouth and pushed “play” on the DVR. Sapphie wagged her tail, vacuuming up the popcorn as it spilled on Courtney’s shirt.
The first movie started playing just as a text from Dave came in. Courtney signed onto Facebook and posted on her friends’ walls. She didn’t have to worry for once about a parent peeking over her shoulder. She could talk about whatever she wanted, using whatever language she wanted to, and she didn’t even have to use commas! She giggled; she could even fart right there in her father’s recliner and no one to reprimand her.
It was everything she expected, everything she hoped. Living like a grown-up was awesome.
Halfway through the bag of popcorn and the movie, the microwave oven beeped. The lights went out.
Sapphie and Zeph barked in alarm, sensing her tension. She picked up her cell phone. The pale moon outside did little to light the way.
“It’s okay, dogs,” she whispered. She hoped.
“Power out,” she texted to Dave.
“Yeah, me too,” he responded. “Sux. Guess I’ll go hibernate until it comes back on. Gonna get cold with no heat.”
And he was gone, just like that.
And then Courtney shivered. Cold with no heat. With no heat, how would she keep the pipes from freezing? In the kitchen above, she heard the refrigerator turn on. Why weren’t the rest of the lights coming on, too?
Then she remembered: Dad had wired their generator to come on automatically to run the refrigerator. She thought about calling Mom and Dad. They hadn’t been gone that long. Maybe they would come back. Besides, this was Mom’s conference. They had already talked about Mom going by herself and Dad staying behind. Maybe he could come back now.
She looked at her list of contacts, ready to push the button for Dad’s phone, but she shook her head. Sure, she was only in seventh grade, but that was pretty old. She could handle this on her own.
Outside, the wind howled. She must not have heard it over the movie’s volume, but it was raging. It pressed against the windows, making them creak. It lashed against the shutters and whipped through the trees. She remembered being a little kid, all wrapped in a comforter in bed and hearing these same noises. How comforting it had been all those years ago, wrapped up tight with Mom and Dad downstairs to protect her.
Now she was on her own. No one to protect her—and assigned to look after the dogs and the house. And all those chips on her shoulder.
She ran up to the kitchen. The faucet was still dripping. That’s right—water and phone lines were on a different system than electricity. She remembered Mom saying something about that. She pulled the faucet, making the stream of water more steady. Less chance of freezing that way.
But what about the plunging temperatures? A quick trip outside with the dogs proved that the wind was bringing with it a cold front, an arctic blast whose icy grip reached into the ground and into pipes and water lines and skin.
Courtney shuddered and hurried back inside. She touched the exterior kitchen wall. It felt cold. This was no good. She picked up her phone again, ready to call Dad.
But no. She could handle this on her own. If the refrigerator ran off the generator, then certainly a space heater could as well. Some of the sockets in the kitchen still had to be electrified. It was only a matter of finding which ones…
* * *
The next morning, she awoke to the sounds of dogs barking. They scampered happily down the stairs as Courtney sat up. Her sleeping bag pooled around her, and she looked up at the kitchen sink. It was still dripping. The space heater was still spinning, directed at the cabinet under the sink. She’d stayed up most of the night, checking the pipes and making sure the space heater wasn’t about to catch on fire. It was the most exhausting night she’d ever spent. She must have dozed off right around sunrise.
The clock on the microwave blinked, letting her know the power was back on. She looked up in time to see Dad coming into the kitchen.
“What happened?” he asked. “Did you sleep in the kitchen?”
Courtney rubbed her head and shrugged. “Power was out,” she said. “Had to keep the pipes from freezing.”
Dad helped her up, and she trudged upstairs to shower.
“I’m proud of you,” Dad called up the stairs, “working so hard to protect the house.”
“Yeah,” Courtney whispered to herself. “Be proud all you want. Being a grown-up stinks!”
In Corgi Capers, Mrs. Hollinger (the protagonists’ mother) is a freelance copy-editor. Bad grammar is more than her pet peeve. She allows typos and misused punctuation to distract her from the time, from her appointments, from the road–in short, from her life. Luckily for the family, her distractions lead her to fun, serendipitous things like finding two corgi puppies at a tucked-away farm.
Like Mrs. Hollinger, and like my own mother, I love grammar. Maybe I don’t love it, but I feel the need to protect it. Just the other day, I had to stop myself from replying to an email in order to thank the sender for correctly using the correct punctuation (a semicolon) when using “however” as a conjunctive adverb. It was only when I started typing the thank-you email that I realized how crazy I sounded.
Don’t worry: I deleted it.
During a writing class, I asked students to think about an object that had power to them—and then write about the object from the object’s point of view. When I assign writing, I try to model it by writing on the topic, too, volunteering to share if no one else is willing. Through brainstorming and drafting that day, it occurred to me that I find much power in a pen. I always have; in fact, Courtney wrote about this on my blog, too, as part of an assignment she had to write.
I ended up writing from the point of view of a red pen—but not just any red pen. A pen with thick, wet ink that glistens as it dries on the paper. This is a pen wielded by a pompous professor, a Mrs. Grundy. It is a pen feared by many. Here is what my pen had to say:
My ink smells like fear. Thick and red, it bleeds onto the paper as I slash students’ work with painful lesions. I’m a high-class pen, more expensive than most—and rightly so. A benefit of being so expensive is that my ink was designed not to run after it dries. This is important because I’d hate for students’ tears to wash away the genius of my markings.
Sometimes I press so hard against the paper that I bleed onto the pages below. My favorite letter to draw is an “F,” but I am content drawing C’s and D’s as well. I’m also especially fond of a minus sign. I am good at writing check-marks, but I’m even better at writing X’s. I’m so powerful that I leave marks even on teacher’s hands when they wield me because they are not perfect, either, and I love to show them their flaws. No, even teachers are not strong enough to escape my judgment.
I stopped writing because it occurred to me that perhaps that is how some people see pens: they see writing as scary, grammar as a mystery. And that made me sad.
In grad school, my education professors warned us not to use red pen to grade students’ work. The red, they claimed, looked too much like blood, and it would seem that the comments were actually wounds on the students’ work—like the paper was bleeding.
I didn’t buy that, and I have since asked students their opinion on the matter. They chuckle whenever I ask, telling me that one color marking is just as intimidating—or not—as the next. But the professors’ comments got me thinking about pens and their effect on people—the connotation of their stroke, thick, thin, watery, or dry.
I do not like to write with pens that use thick, flowing ink that comes out wet. I do not like to use pens to intimidate. The pen truly is mightier than the sword, and it should be wielded responsibly.
I prefer smooth pens—of medium or fine tips—with ink thick enough to run evenly but thin enough to dry on impact. The pens I like would not sound as spooky or arrogant as the one above. The pens I like are full of potential, each one housing an untold story within its ink. For me, a pen is full of a liquid dreams—an elixir that allows the mind to transcend its metaphysical boundaries and share itself with others. For me, there are few objects that hold more wonder, or potential, than the pen.
That magic came out in full force for me this past winter when, during a terrible snowstorm, I penned the majority of Corgi Capers 3 while waiting for the schools to reopen. It amazed me that the story cooking in my head could enter reality via that magic ink.
I’m excited to be finishing the final edits on Corgi Capers Book 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls, in which I pay tribute to the bravery of fire fighters and the spirit of everyday heroes like a very special dog named Denby. My goal in writing the book is to inspire people to see heroes in everyday people and magic in everyday occurrences. The book should be released soon, and I hope you enjoy it!
Be sure to check out
the newest post on
Omar Blue’s blog:
He’s the corgis’ favorite Internet pal!
* * *
What happens when Adam Hollinger and his obnoxious older sister, Courtney, convince their absent-minded mother to allow them to adopt a pair of corgis — after their father explicitly said, “No!” ?
Author Val Muller answers this question as the mystery on Dorset Drive unfolds.
There’s a serial thief robbing every house in the neighborhood, including the Hollingers’. As the plot deepens and the suspense builds, Adam and the rambunctious corgi pups are determined to crack the case. Even Courtney can’t resist getting involved.
Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive (223 pp., $8.99) is the perfect book for your ‘tween detective. From the brother/sister bickering and teasing, to the elderly couple that raise corgis, to Sparkles and Owl, the parents of four wiggly little corgi pups, to the pups who talk to one another and get adopted by their new people, this book will quickly become a favorite with your children. The story line is intriguing, the pups are adorable, and there’s plenty of humor to keep your children turning the pages until they reach the suspenseful climax.
Here and there light from a front porch spilled onto the road. Still, as he looked up, the trees took on sinister shapes. When the wind blew, a giant oak looked like a three-armed monster reaching out to grab him. And there was just enough of a crescent moon to show the filmy clouds hovering spookily in the sky, veiling the stars in a gossamer shade.
Adam shivered and turned on his flashlight. He felt like it was Halloween.
Zeph, on the other hand, was not afraid. His nose took over so that the darkness didn’t bother him.
“You’re braver than I am,” Adam admitted as he shined the flashlight at the oak — just to make sure it was still an oak.
With that, Zeph let out a long, low groowwwl.
“What is it?” Adam gulped.
Zeph froze, his nose pointed toward the cul-de-sac. A moment later, Adam heard the shuffle-shuffle-shuffle of feet.
“Is somebody there?”
Adam pointed his flashlight in the direction of the noise. A jogger dressed in dark clothing shielded his eyes from the flashlight.
“Do you mind?” asked the jogger in an energetic — almost nervous — voice.
“Sorry,” Adam said. “You scared me. Why are you jogging in the dark?”
“It’s the best time,” the man said hastily.
Adam shone the flashlight again on the man, but the man covered his face.
“It’s dangerous to be out in such dark clothing. Especially with a burglar on the loose.”
Adam pointed the flashlight once more at the stranger, but the man had already started jogging away.
* * *
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