12 Days at Silver Bells House – chapter one excerpts:
Kate jolted in her seat and gripped the steering wheel as a deafening, squawking noise erupted above and around her. The early evening sky darkened as though the devil himself had swung the cape of evil from his shoulders with a wrathful flourish. Hark! The herald of the country. Parrots. Hundreds of them.
‘For God’s sake,’ she yelled as she slowed the car. They swooped so low that for a second, she couldn’t see the road in front of her, just a sea of slate-grey wings and red topped heads. She pounded the horn.
‘No,’ she hollered as globs of dinner plate-sized parrot poo hit the windscreen. White mess. Lots of white mess. What the hell did the birds eat around here? She hit the wiper-washer — no water. ‘You’re joking!’ She pulled the arm again — still no water, just a squelchy squeak as the blades made a Picasso of the poop on the windscreen. And the car was still moving.
Kate pushed the airbag down, helping it deflate faster with hard slaps; punching her fury into it. She gripped the steering wheel and watched billowing white powder float in the air and all over her figure-hugging indigo and eggshell coloured business dress, designed by herself. Now she smelled like talcum powder. Why me? Life had changed too fast and she wasn’t referring to the last five minutes. Kate had changed. She turned her head and looked out at the sprawling green and brown paddock through the side window. No — she hadn’t changed, she’d been kicked out of her own skin. She’d lost herself.
And now she’d ditched her bloody car.
Welcome to the country.
The top of a yellow cab came into view, rumbling down All Seasons Road. A crane or a digger or something. With a workman!
‘Hello,’ she called, waving madly at the workman driving the huge yellow digger. It slowed, and Kate sighed in relief. He’d seen her — or perhaps he’d seen the broken gate which was now shattered over the road and the muddy paddock. She flinched as the digger-excavator steamrollered parts of the broken gate and then came to a shuddering stop.
The workman opened the cab door. ‘Are you alright?’ he called, getting out and jumping off the conveyer-belt tread.
Kate knew all there was to know about designer style and this guy had none of the style she was used to. But he did possess muscles. Beefy ones that matched his height and his work boots. Kate ran an expert eye over him, deciding he was a 48-inch chest, a 36-inch inside leg and a size thirteen shoe. About six foot three, all up.