Episode 1 “The Regulator”

Dystopian Serial Novel

(Beta Shred #1)

The whippoorwill’s song is relentless, unseen from his perch on a dying tree branch, rusted light pole, or edge of peeling roof – trills like barbed wire scraping against my raw nerves. An omen. Good or bad, I do not know. The repetitive song a prediction of looming death, whether mine or another is yet to be determined. The oddity of his presence chills me, far from his natural habitat, and yet gives me a sense of kinship. I feel as wrong here as he.

Crouched at the mouth of a shadowed alley, heaving breaths drowned by the bird’s call, I dare not make a sound and frighten him away. He may reveal my location to the other who creeps among the deceptive shadows of dusk’s eerie light -elongated specters taking on human shape at every blink of my eyes. I scan the limited funnel of my gaze, gold-kissed forms of abandoned Main Street, alert to any hint of movement. Flutter of long forgotten paper, a drifting cobweb wisp, and blurry insect wing – draw my attention and darting speculations.

I wonder if he, too, is squatted in an alcove of brick awaiting my movement. Prey and hunter equally keen to the other. Onslaught of a gusty breeze quickens the rhythm of whippoorwill’s cry. His rise of unease causes me to pull the blood sticky pruning shears from my jacket pocket. I am tempted to ease forward and expand my scope of vision. Sharp pain in my thigh reminds me that agility is not my strength. I am weak from blood loss.

Copyright 2021 Joan Wiley

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