Too Good To Be True, a short story I created out of my novel The Most Dangerous Species when it became too long.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Literary fiction, Kings River Life, September 2013: http://kingsriverlife.com/09/21/let-sleeping-dogs-lie-a-short-story-with-a-fresno-connection/
This is something entirely different than my crime fiction… A story that brings together Beijing and Fresno, California
Story titled “The Man Who Loved Birds” in The Big Click, http://www.thebigclickmag.com/the-man-who-loved-birds/
Short story titled Impulse Control, published in Shotgun Honey, December 7, 2011, http://www.shotgunhoney.net/2011/12/impulse-control-by-mar-preston.html
Mystery Readers Journal: The Journal of Mystery Readers International, Vol. 30, #2, Summer 2014, p. 53, “No Escape from a Blizzard.” As the journal is hardcopy, I include the story here from a Word file.
In my standalone mystery titled Payback, I wrote about a blizzard from the point of view of a village security officer who traps the killer in a house marooned high on a mountain road. Our heroine, the security patrol officer, cannot prevent the Bitch Viper Killer from knocking her to the ground and escaping from the house.
But where can this creature who has wreaked such havoc in in the village go? The roads are closed. The snow plow rolled over on a curve on the road down below. Her SUV is stuck in a snowbank crosswise in the road. The temperatures are below freezing. The radio network and telephones are down. Holly (the heroine) knows there will be no one riding to her rescue. If the killer returns to finish her off, she will be powerless to stop her. But the killer seems more determined to escape.
Starlene, the killer, jams her feet into high heel snow boots, snaps her ten inches of cleavage into a parka and runs out into the snow, carrying a cardboard box filled with cash.
Payback is set in Sierra Mountain Village, a rural hamlet in Central California where I now live and watch what happens when infrequent blizzards close the roads. As a Canadian citizen raised in Northern Ontario, I know something about blizzards. I’m also a member of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and have a pretty good idea how precarious our infrastructure and communications are in a snow emergency.
This is my third murder mystery and I wanted to be inventive in the chase and capture of the villain. I’d used guns and knives. I’d thought about having her plunge over a cliff and freeze to death. That was too static.
And the answer came to me from a memory of a sad event of long ago. The security officer (Holly) stumbles out of the house after her in time to hear the whine of a two cycle engine starting up. Of course—a snowmobile. Holly crawls out to the deck, her gun useless in her broken hand, to watch the town’s enemy escape on a high-power snowmobile that Holly didn’t know was parked in the shed in the back. She can do nothing to stop her and her escape seems inevitable. But…as I wrote in Payback…
As Holly watched, the head of the snowmobile rider suddenly separated from its body. The head flew off the neck, bounced on some rocks, and came to rest beneath a pine tree, staining the snow red. The trunk spouted an arterial fountain of blood.
A wire clothesline, invisible and stretched taut across her path, had taken Starlene’s head off with one smooth slice.
The snowmobile with its headless rider skidded to a stop and crashed into a tree. The motor’s high-pitched whine cut off, abruptly reverberating in the silence.
The severed head lay in a spreading pool of blood, black in the glinting moonlight, the mouth open, the eyes staring upward into the starry sky.
I am told that by snowmobile enthusiasts that this happens. You can’t see a clothesline when you’re running at 60 mph. There’s also a report of a personal vendetta being solved by stringing a piano wire between two trees.
It’s gruesome, I know, to tinker with new ways of killing people off for entertainment and that’s what murder mysteries are, I suppose. It allows law-abiding people to dance close to the abyss, and to take ourselves and our readers into worlds they will never know.
Mar Preston is the author of No Dice, Rip-Off and On Behalf of the Family featuring Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department and his girlfriend Ginger McNair, a community activist. Preston divides her time between glitzy Santa Monica and a peaceful mountain village in Central California.
Payback, the debut of a second series, features a Kern County Sheriff’s Detective and takes place in a village somewhat like where she lives. Only nice people live in Pine Mountain, however. She is a co-founder of the local SPCA, a network of low-power radio stations, and picks up road kill for her wildlife rehab buddies to feed the big raptors.
My other stories have been published in print magazines.