Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

UNDER GROUND
Friday, January 24, 2020 by LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

PLEASE WELCOME

LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

TO

FICTION FRIDAY

 

EXCERPT FROM UNDER GROUND

 

At the familiar whistle of a V1 bomb, Ruth Brown dove under her bed, praying this was not her day to die. Seconds later, the explosion tore away half the house, exposing the tiny room she shared with her best friend, Varis Gladstone, to the cold, damp dawn. A second hit, and the bed collapsed on top of her. Stunned, she lay under the debris. Bits of glass, wood, and plaster rained down upon the mattress and floor. Her ears rang, and dust filled her throat.

“Ruth!” Varis’s voice came from a distance. “Where are you? Ruth!” Footsteps thundered toward her then the sweet release of pressure when the mattress was lifted away. Varis shoved the wooden bed slats aside and leaned close. “Can you hear me? Are you all right? I thought I’d lost you.” Tears streamed down her face.

Ruth eased herself to a sitting position, wincing at the pain that peppered her body.

Varis draped an arm around her shoulder. “Can you stand? We should evacuate the house. It could fall at any moment.”

“I think so.” Ruth climbed to her feet and took an inventory of her injuries. Nothing seemed to be broken. She shivered and turned to her closet. “Let me get a jacket. Then I need to find my typewriter.”

Varis frowned and shook her head. “We need to leave now.”

“It will just take a few minutes. We’ll be fine. The bomb was probably a one-off, some Jerry who got lost on his way home hadn’t used all his armament.”

“I’m not worried about more bombs. The house could collapse.” Varis’s trembling voice was scratchy, from dust or screaming Ruth didn’t know.

Ruth had done some screaming herself. Even after living six months in London and experiencing the explosion in Ireland, she couldn’t get used to the horror of a falling bomb with its high-pitched, ear-splitting whistle and the tearing sound it made as it rushed toward them from the sky. The ground shook and shuddered with the impact, followed by the crash of masonry as houses and buildings toppled. The pervasive smell of gas mingled with the ash from crackling fires.

Shaking the memories from her mind, she rose. They picked their way through the ruins and out the front door that sagged on its hinges. “I thought I could keep you safe if we lived outside the city, Varis.”

“I knew the dangers when I chose to come to England.” With a crooked grin, she gestured to the broken plaster, boards, and debris shrouding their belongings. “Besides, who else would help you sort through this mess to find your precious Smith Corona?”

“No one but you, that’s for sure. Now, let’s see what else we can salvage.”

Varis nodded. “All right, but let’s be quick about it.” She turned to sort through a pile of rubble next to the couch

Ruth tackled the pieces of their broken dresser searching for undergarments and socks for each of them. Fifteen minutes later, her fingertips were raw, and her back ached from moving dozens of bricks and countless pieces of wood scattered on top of their belongings. Weary to the bone, she leaned against the wall still standing.

With a crack, the plaster gave way. Arms flailing, Ruth reached out for something, anything, to hold on to prevent her from falling. Enveloped in fabric as she fell into a closet full of clothes and fought to breathe. Blindly, her fingers scrabbled for and then caught the first garment she could reach, but the item slid off its hanger, and she landed with a thud under a pile of blouses, skirts, and trousers. She coughed, and her ribs sharply protested. Bruised and aching, she shifted to take the weight off her hip. The floorboards snapped, and she plunged into a dank hole.

“Ruth! Ruth! Are you all right? Where are you?”

“I’m down here. Under the floor.” Something jabbed her in the back. “Ouch. Bring a flashlight. I need to see how to get out of here.”

A murky ray of light cut through the darkness. Ruth screamed and leapt to her feet, brushing away the cobwebs that clung to her and a large human skeleton lying in pieces on the dirt. Several articles of clothing from the closet above were in a lump beside it. She shuddered and looked at Varis who goggled at the pile of bones. “Who could it be?”

“Whoever it is has been down here a long time. Only his shoes are left.” With a shaking hand, Varis pointed to the skeleton’s legs that disappeared into the tops of crumbling, black leather boots.

ABOUT UNDER GROUND

It’s been six months since Ruth Brown followed clues to England and discovered the identity of her sister’s killer. War continues to rage as Ruth reports on food shortages, the black market, evacuation of London’s children, and the bravery of the British people.

When a bombing raid destroys her home and unearths a twenty-year-old skeleton in the cellar, her reporter’s senses tingle in anticipation of solving another mystery. Unfortunately, the by-the-book detective inspector assigned to the case is not interested in her theories. As Ruth investigates the case on her own, she butts heads with the handsome policeman.

Will she get to the bottom of the story before the killer strikes again?

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/bwv8OY

ABOUT LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Now located in central New Hampshire, Linda’s favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors. 

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Comments

Linda Shenton Matche From New Hampshire At 1/24/2020 8:35:22 AM

Thanks for hosting me, Linda. It's always a pleasure to be part of your blog.

Reply by: Linda Wood Rondeau

Glad to have you.

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