Hail pelted the windows on my tiny red two-door as I raced through tar-black fog towards the only available port. All of the residents of Chespia County were used to the rain. The tiny county was one of three on the quaint island of Cadieux Bay- and water, whether in the form of rain, snow or mostly sea, was an integral part of daily life. Once colonized by the French, and the subject of many a sea-sick wanderer’s sonnets, the island was now better known for its exports of fresh cod. Residents here were scarce, activities even scarcer, but cod abounded and was the center of the island’s world. A huge statue of a French conqueror holding a cod above his right shoulder stood in the middle of Chespia town square, as if we needed a reminder of something our lives already revolved around.
I often sat in the attic of my tiny shingled-roof home when it rained, to hear the noise reverberate around me- a staunch echo in an otherwise silent and dull abode. Rain mostly evoked no emotion in the residents here- it neither helped nor harmed – just simply was. But I always loved the rain. It was the sweet tears of the gods after too many days of supposed happy sunshine. I detested the pretentious smiles of my neighbors, and their gleeful waves as they headed out to the harbor to mount their fishing boats, or into town to arrange their cod at the fish markets. Some of them grew vegetables to sell, or wove baskets, or made elaborate plates to display-what else… cod.
I was a desperate writer, who had come to this desolate island to immerse myself in my latest mystery novel. Coming here was a great idea and all, but I hadn’t planned on staying here this long, with only six chapters of a crappy, stereotypical murder book completed. I had been here three years when the crisis happened, one ordinary, lifeless night. I was just contemplating how much I abhorred cod, whilst eating a dish of stuffed cod and potatoes when I heard the first gunshot go off. I should say, at the time it occurred, I didn’t know it was a gunshot, because why would anyone on Cadieux Bay Island need a gun? Boredom, gossip and complacency all settled and found comfortable homes here, but not conflict. I had never seen any conflict living on the island. I startled outside upon hearing the noise, confused. “Thunder?” I wondered. “Had the Markson boys brought fireworks from the mainland again?” Then I saw the body. Mrs. Nettles, sprawled out amongst her beloved magnolias, with the clear evidence of bright red blood streaking her moonlit face. And before I could make sense of what my eyes beheld, a second gunshot. A third. I ran into my house, picked up my phone to hear only dial tone, and began frantically running about to lock anything I could- doors, windows, screens. Except nothing locked. Who needed locks on such a friendly, pleasant island? I tore on my shoes, grabbed a bag and packed it with the closest clothes and toiletries, just as I heard a crash. Another gunshot? No. This time- actual thunder. And then the hail began. Hail like I had never heard before, ravishing the roof, punching at the sides of the house, wailing and screaming on windows, threatening to break in. As the first strike of lightening lit up the front windows of my home, I saw him. He was looking back over his shoulder at me, and although his silhouette was nearly void of any detail, I was certain he was staring directly into my eyes. Then, with another flash, he was gone. A sharp pang of fear stabbed my stomach. I raced to the living room, tapped the keyboard on my open laptop pulling up my unfinished murder mystery and began reading- chapter 2, paragraph 3, first sentence.
-“Mrs. Nettles lay in her beloved garden, watering her flowers with her own blood, when the residents hear another gunshot go off. This time, it is Mr. Smith, the town physician who has been slain by two whizzing bullets into the back. He didn’t even stand a chance.”-
My heart fell from my chest to my belly, color drained down my face and into my hot, beating chest. I grabbed my bag and ran like hell through the falling pieces of sky and into my car, then began racing for the nearest port. I had to get off this island before the rest of my novel came to light. In my isolation and depression due to this cod filled, monotonous island, I had written myself into the novel as the next victim.