The Raven’s Daughter
By- Peggy A. Wheeler
Genre- Fantasy, Adventure
Publication Date-February 29th
A Murdering Monster and a Myth Come to Life
After a police shootout where she killed a man, criminologist Maggie Tall Bear Sloan retires from the force to enjoy peace and quiet in rural California. When sets of young twins are murdered in her town, the local sheriff recruits her to solve the gruesome killings.
But to catch a killer, Maggie either accepts her true nature as a “pukkukwerek” —the shapeshifting monster killer of Yurok legend—or more children will die.
As the manhunt intensifies and her own family is threatened, Maggie will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Whether she’s awake or asleep dreaming, Maggie is faced with a difficult choice: embrace her heritage—even if it means turning into myth itself—or deny that heritage and lose everything.
Maggie lit a half melted lemon-sage candle, poured herself a glass of old vine zinfandel and put on her favorite Celtic Woman CD. She eased into her claw-foot tub looking forward to a delicious hot bath. She’d been gardening all day and wanted peaceful time tonight to soak the soreness from her hips, and forget about murdered children. Now, this is my idea of paradise. She slipped beneath the bubbles. She’d taken her first sip of wine when someone pounded on the front door. “I’m not answering it. Where’s that damn dog? Chester, go bite those sons a’ bitches.”
The pounding became insistent, louder. “Goddammit!” She lifted herself out of the tub. Bubbles clung to her wet skin. “Give me a second, will ya? I’m in the bathroom.”
“What?” Jake said.
“Christ. Is that you, Jake? I’M…IN…THE…BATHROOM. Quit pounding on the door.”
She dried, threw on a chenille robe and padded bare footed through the living room leaving wet imprints of her feet on the plank flooring. She opened the door a crack. “Can’t a woman take a bath in peace?”
“I have to talk to you. Can I come in?”
“Be careful. Floor’s wet.” She opened the door. Chester ambled to the sheriff for a scratch. “Well, hello, boy”
“Really, what is this about? I want to finish my bath and go to bed.”
“Can I sit for a minute?”
“Let me get some clothes on. Beer in the fridge.”
“No, thanks. I’m on duty.”
“I’ll make a pot of java.”
“I’ll take a rain check on the coffee. Gotta get back to town.”
Leaving Jake and Chester on the couch, Maggie padded into her bedroom, changed into a pair of sweats and a black wool sweater, then slipped into a pair of ancient, ripped Vans. Detouring to the bathroom, she drained the bathwater, blew out the candle, grabbed her wine and joined the sheriff in the living room.
“What’s up?” She turned down the volume of the music.
“We found another set of twins. Those girls from Redbluff that went missing over two months ago.”
“No chance you found them alive?”
“I’m afraid not. Happy and I delivered the bad news to their parents an hour ago.”
“Goddamn it all to hell.” She swallowed hard in an effort to squelch tears. She picked up her wine and rubbed the rim with her forefinger until the glass sang.
“We’ve got everyone out looking for the Sorenson kids, too, and we aren’t getting anywhere,” Jake said.
“No updates since last night?”
“The media is having a field day with this. Reporters are coming into town by the truckload. Can’t turn the channel without hearing something about ‘The Heartless Monster.’”
“Oh, so the murderer has a name now? Fuckin’ media. So what’s on the news about the missing boys?”
“This has gone national, Mag. You really should get a television.”
“No, thanks. No TV plus no newspapers equal no lies. I don’t want to put up with all that sensationalized negative stuff anyway. Gives me nightmares. How long have the kids been missing exactly?”
“Reported an hour before Happy delivered the news to us at the bear dance last night. Dolly Sorenson said she’d left them in their PJs watching TV while she went to the back of the house to put a load of laundry in the dryer. Gone maybe five, six minutes. She returned to the living room and found the front door wide open, the kids gone.”
“I can’t imagine what that poor woman is going through right now.”
Maggie bit her lip, and struggled to maintain her composure. “More than twenty-four hours. Not good.”
“No. Not good. We’ve canvassed the neighborhood. We’re running out of time.”
Maggie looked into Jake’s blue eyes. He wasn’t asking for her help, he was begging. She’d never seen him look so desperate, so frustrated. “No one walking or driving around who shouldn’t be there?”
“Dolly’s next door neighbor reported she’d seen a transient the day before, a tall guy with shoulder length blond hair, walking the neighborhood. I think I know who he is. Bobby Jenkins. Did time for a convenience store robbery. Portland Police picked him up for possession of meth in 2001 and we know he’s on a prescription med, olanzapine.”
“He’s definitely flipped his pancake. Paranoid. He’s nervous as a toad in a hot frying pan.”
“Where does he live?”
“He hangs out near Douglas Bridge with some other homeless men who call themselves The Bridge People. No idea why he was around the Sorenson’s neighborhood. We picked him up for questioning.”
“Any history of violence?”
“What about the kids’ father? Where is he?”
“He and Dolly split up a few months back. He’s in San Francisco living with some skanky stripper. We contacted him, and he’s headed to Wicklow.”
“Any chance he kidnapped the boys?”
“Not likely. He’s not the ‘daddy’ type. Too busy being a horn dog. When he gets into town tomorrow, he’s coming to the station.” Jake made furrows in his scalp with his fingers. “Maggie, can you help with this one? We gotta find those boys before it’s too late.”
Maggie took a sip of wine, and looked out the window. Ravens cawed. “I have to get some corn when I’m in town. Those damn birds will be bugging the crap out of me if I don’t.”
“Maggie? Please? I would not ask if we didn’t need you.”
“Okay, okay, enough. I’m in. But, on my terms. I want to interview the father, and that transient, too. Is he still at the station?”
“He’s there.” The sheriff raked his fingers through his hair again. “Those kids…we’re drawing a blank. Without your help, we….”
“I know, Jake.” She rested her hand on his shoulder, and gave a little squeeze. “I know.”
Maggie walked the sheriff back to his cruiser. “I’ll meet you at the station in a few minutes.”
“Bring your paperwork so we get the ball rolling for you to get into the reserves.”
“You know it’s not legal for me to talk to Bobbie until I’m in?” She looked again into the sheriff’s eyes. “Oh, what the hell.” She patted the roof of the cruiser. “See you in a bit.”
When she entered the cabin, Samantha stretched, jumped off the back of the sofa where she’d been rolled into a ball napping, and rubbed against her legs. Maggie reached down and stroked the cat’s back. “I knew from the start I wouldn’t be getting out of this one, Sam. Goddammit. Guess I’m joining the reserves.”
She sat down at her PC, powered it on and keyed in Child Serial Killers.
About the Author-
Peggy A. Wheeler is published under the names of Peggy A. Wheeler, Peggy Wheeler and Peggy Dembicer. Her non-fiction articles and poetry have appeared in a number of national
magazines and anthologies. She has written for Llewellyn Worldwide. Most recently, she her short story Mama’s Special Stew appears in WOMEN WRITING THE WEIRD II: Dreadful
Daughters, by Dog Horn Press.
Her B.A. in English Literature is from U.C.L.A. Her M.A. in English with a Creative Writing emphasis is from California State University at Northridge. While attending U.C.L.A., Peggy
was one of only twelve students (and the only undergraduate) chosen to study with Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States. She won first prize awards for two of her
poems from an Evergreen Women’s Press nation wide poetry contest. Her poetry received honorable mentions from the judges of a Los Angeles Poetry Festival and The Academy of
American Poets. Peggy’s poem Du Fu was nominated for a Rhysling award for Best Science Fiction Poem. Her manuscript for THE RAVEN’S DAUGHTER was a top ten finalist in the 2014 CCC Great Novel contest.
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