OUTBACK: Moment One

This complimentary excerpt from OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters is only available for a limited time. Introduction posted June 1, 2017 at 6:01 a.m. EST. Moment Two posts June 28, 2017 at 6:28 a.m. EST.

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MOMENT ONE

HANGIN’

“Be them ever so cruel, there’s no family crueler than ours!” Driew Qweepie’s hooded tormenter chuckled. “Go! Here comes that Brown kid!”

Four teenage silhouettes bounced through the overgrown pumpkin patch, their escape concealed by the shadowy tree line.

Fall’s first cool breeze crept through the once popular town of Dawson Springs, ending the suffocation of summer’s dog days. Driew Qweepie’s tween body hung limp in his overalls from the scarecrow’s post. Cawing crows, darker than his hair, mocked him from their perch above.

His eyelids rose and fell over eyes of blue and green. Heterochromia, the condition was called, thought to be hereditary, or caused by a disease or an injury. Since he was healthy and the only family member with heterochromia, Driew’s explanation was an unimaginable injury. His siblings teased, “Dropped on your head is your problem.”

Thick wire-rim glasses obscured the condition. Non-family members awed at Driew’s pleasing appearance. His dark complexion, chocolate ringlets of hair, and dwarf-like size made him a doll for sure.

As he hung from the scarecrow’s perch, his consciousness swayed like a porch swing in a gentle wind. The hangin’ left him to reflect on his family hierarchy. An unwritten historical timeline that flipped through his mind recalled a decade of prank-filled albums created by four tormenting siblings. Soon his eleventh year would bring new volumes of teenage tortures.

Labeled “little bother,” he was the youngest and lowest ranking member in the Qweepie family. From the first moment of his life, he learned trust was not easily earned. His bothers’ and sinisters’ torments had worsened since moving to the Kentucky farm.

His parents, Nieve and Marq Qweepie, uprooted their Florida lives to resolve nasty letters received about their farm’s demise. Marq listed the property for sale after his father died and never intended to return. Ida Mae, the caretaker during Marq’s absence, became feeble and unable to maintain the farm properly.

“She needs you. She needs you,” a voiced echoed melodically, awakening Driew. His heavy eyelids rose to reveal a hazy heterochromic gaze reflecting his own.

“PSST! Holy Dooley! You alive mate? G’Day! Here down under!” a voice called below him.

Driew’s light-sensitive eyes focused on the pumpkin patch. Behind the scarecrow’s post, the setting sun cast a veil of darkness over the stranger. “Wh-wh-who are you? Wh-wh-what do you want?” Driew’s voice screeched into the silent patch.

“I heard whimpers. Thought I’d find an abandoned pup out here, or something entertaining. People dump treasures off this road all the time.” The stranger pointed toward the road leading to the Qweepie farm.

Scarecrow was an elevation from being a “little bother.” This prank signified his torturous life—a pawn to ward away intruders.

“No worries. They aren’t coming back,” coughed Driew.

“Who did this, mate?”

“My bothers and sinisters.”

The stranger tugged at Driew’s overall straps, releasing him from their confines. The stranger backed away in awe of Driew’s glide to safety.

A whirling cloud of dust howled through the patch. Crows abandoned their perch, alerting the hillside of the disturbance.

“A willy willy! Let’s rack off! These spirits give me the heeby jeebies!” The tween stranger grabbed Driew’s overall straps and led him away.

—•—

Text and illustrations copyright © 2016 by Mark Wayne Adams. All rights reserved. Family Tree Novel is a SYP Kids imprint.

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