The Shambles

by Gordon Bonnet

Tucker Ferguson thought his life was moving along in a predictable fashion—working as an athletic trainer by day, clubbing and partying at night. Then he receives a mysterious plea for help on his cell phone, and he soon finds himself trapped in an alternate dimension he can’t escape.

Other odd things are happening elswhere in Colville, New York, though. Wry, plain-spoken Police Officer Dean Williamson and his earnest, dedicated partner Khalil Mansour have been chasing a petty thief who has the ability to appear out of nowhere and disappear again at will. When they make the connection between Tucker’s disappearance and the thief’s antics, the situation takes a turn in a markedly sinister direction.

The three men are drawn into the connections between our world and the Shambles—that mysterious, shadowy place where all the lost things go. Lost socks, lost car keys—and lost people. And when a young megalomaniac decides that she wants the Shambles to be her kingdom, regardless of whose life it costs, Tucker is jerked out of his complacency into a world where there are no rules—and Mansour and Williamson may be the only ones who can save his life.

Excerpt:

At a little after two a.m., Officer Khalil Mansour passed the cell where Cyprian Grove was being held. Rosa Lamperez had told Mansour about the shoplifter's odd outfit—"He looks like he got dressed in the dark from the dumpster behind the Salvation Army"—and Mansour, who had just gotten off shift and was ready to clock out, was curious enough to take a look.

Grove was in the middle of the cell, on all fours, head down.

Was he puking?

But the guy didn't seem to be sick. He was moving his hand along the floor, backing up a little at a time, his nose inches from the cement, frowning in intense concentration. Between his fingers he held a piece of chalk. He was drawing a line on the floor, every so often turning his head to sight down it, checking it for straightness.

With his face nearly resting on the dirty cement, he met Mansour's eyes and gave him an impish grin.

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"Got to make sure it's as straight as I can manage." Grove's tone was conversational tone, although his words were a little muffled because he was still in the odd position with his cheek near the cold concrete surface and his skinny butt in the air. "Hope you don't mind my drawing on the floor, though. I'm not usually a graffiti artist."

"You need to stop," Mansour said. "Give the chalk to me."

"Nope." Grove looked up with an amiable smile. "When they frisked me and emptied my pockets, they missed this. Fortunately. I always carry it in case of an emergency."

"An emergency?"

Why was he letting this guy draw him into a conversation? Rosa had been right. He was a wacko. It was time to just go in there and take the chalk.

A card key allowed any on-duty officer to get in the cell quickly in case of an emergency. Mansour reached out to swipe the key in the reader, and Grove chuckled.

"Oh, no, you don't. Getting tackled once in a night is enough." He continued his line on the floor all the way to the back wall, stood and looked Mansour right in the eyes. "Hope it's straight enough. It'll have to do."

The light on the lock turned green. Mansour pulled the cell door open. At the same moment Grove, wearing a goofy grin, wiggled his fingers. "Ta-ta, now, Officer. Give my regards to the muscle-bound guy who arrested me, and the cutie who took my fingerprints."

Then Cyprian Grove stomped on the chalk line with the foot wearing the dress shoe. It made a resounding smack.

Mansour ran through the door. "What the…" He stopped, looking around the cell as if he expected Grove to reappear like a stage magician, sitting cross-legged on the bed, holding a white rabbit in one hand.

The cell was empty.

COLLAPSE

About the Author

I write speculative fiction -- my stories center around changing one or two of the rules and seeing what happens.  What if myths were based on something real?  What if there was a place that kept track of every possible outcome for every decision made by every human on Earth?  What if there was a universal junkyard -- where all the lost things go, including lost people?

My novels take perfectly ordinary people and place them in completely extraordinary circumstances.  I not only ask, "What if...?", I ask, "What if it happened to you?"


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