My new novel – Sunday’s Child has just been released. Here’s an excerpt…
The children had just finished their afternoon break. Biscuit crumbs, half eaten sandwiches and spilled cordial adorned the blanket on which they had been sitting. The sun slowly sank in the early afternoon sky, gradually easing the heat from the day.
The shrill sound of a whistle silenced the little babble of voices. Winifred Mathews’ voice boomed out.
“Okay boys and girls, it’s time for some exercise! Let’s have a race to the creek and back. The first one back will get a prize.”
She shook a brightly wrapped package in the air.
“Now, no cheating! Miss Andrews will be watching.” She pointed to a chubby figure puffing her way down to the creek through the dry, yellow grass. “You have to go all the way down to the creek before coming back.”
The children watched her with round eyes. A couple of the boys were already running in place excitedly.
“Now quickly, I want a nice straight line. Are you ready? Go!”
Fifteen pairs of little feet pounded down on their way to the creek. One of the girls was winning until a boy just behind her pulled on her dress and she stumbled.
“I saw that Nathan. That’s cheating! You’re disqualified!” Miss Andrews charged towards the little girl and helped her to her feet. The girl poked her tongue out at Nathan. “I hate you!”
“Come along now. That’s enough!” She took them both by the hand, pulling them back up towards the tents. The other children had turned now and were coming towards them, puffing and panting in the afternoon heat.
“The winner is Simon Bradley!” Winifred went towards him and gave him his prize. Simon tore the paper off eagerly. “I got a phone! Look!” He waved the toy in the air excitedly.
“It’s not fair Miss,” one of the other boys whined. “He’s older than us.”
Winifred Mathews sighed.
“Come along all of you and get a drink of water from the table.” She hadn’t realized this camp would be so draining. They had played games, sung songs, and then there was the constant bickering… Winifred was glad they were all going home tomorrow. She couldn’t wait to sleep in her own bed.
She turned around. Celia Andrews was looking at her in alarm.
“There’s someone missing!”
“What? No! Are you sure?”
‟Yes, I’ve just done a head count. There’s only fourteen kids, there should be fifteen.”
Winifred looked down towards the creek. A shiver of alarm tingled through her body.
‟Go have a look in the tents, Celia. I’ll go down and check down by the creek.”
She started retracing the children’s steps. ‘Maybe someone had fallen over?’ She reached the creek which had shrunk into little pools of dank, muddy water, in the drought. She searched along the creek bank and in the bushes.
But there was no one there.
Winifred stood scratching her head. She walked a little further out. There was a sandy track that ran alongside the creek. She looked up and down the track.
She rushed back up to her assistant, Celia.
‟Who is it? Who’s missing?”
‟It’s little Sammy. Sammy Knowles. What are we going to do Winnie?”
‟Call the police, please Celia. I’ll call his parents.”
The police alerted, the two women went wandering around the camp site again.
The other children stood watching them, their expressions varied between confusion and fear.
The anxiety Winfred had experienced was turning into shafts of dread.
But there was no response, only silence….
To find out more about Sunday’s Child, click HERE