By Jeff Salter
We read a lot about people supposedly “re-inventing” themselves. But have you ever wondered what it might be like to meet yourself all over again? That’s part of the notion behind my novella, Pleased to Meet ME, published this recent October by Clean Reads.
Stumbling through woods in a dark thunderstorm, she doesn’t know where she is, why she’s there, or what has happened to all her belongings. Up ahead is the small, isolated cabin of handsome young survivalist Cody Wilder, who’s grown accustomed to his bachelor life off the grid.
In a blinding thunderstorm, a woman comes to after a mishap and staggers to the nearest cabin in an isolated, mountainous part of eastern Tennessee. She has no recollection of what happened or why all her valuables and identification are missing.
The younger male cabin dweller is a modified survivalist, who only gets to town about once each month, and loves his simple off-the-grid life. Handsome Cody Wilder offers shelter, attempts slightly awkward comfort, and tries to help her evaluate her past and her future.
Hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from Chapter One:
Panic. Shouting. Blows. Hands all over her. She screamed and fought. She ran through the thunderstorm’s torrent of cold and darkness. Night noises nearby and animal cries in the distance.
Her soaked clothing was torn and muddy. Fear and adrenaline had helped her escape one danger, but there were more terrors with each exhausted and slogging step. Besides survival, these issues pierced her brain: How did I get here? Where am I? Who’s looking for me? At least one other point jabbed inside her head, but she couldn’t remember what.
No letup in the punishing tempest. No light to search for shelter. Her only course was to continue trekking up this muddy logging road. But where does it go? Several times the road split and all she could do was stumble in the direction her instinct leaned.
Drenched, shivering, terrified, with no idea how far she’d gone…only a sense or a hope that she’d gotten away. Pelting rain mixed with salty tears. Where am I?
No way to measure how far she’d stumbled, but the cramping pain in her thighs and calves made clear she’d been climbing the whole time. When she crashed into trees and brush, she’d learned to follow the expanse of mud and turn around, still heading up the slope. Must be switchbacks.
Why don’t I have a jacket? And where’s all my stuff? She checked her pockets. No light, no phone…money gone and watch missing. Or did I even have a watch? No jewelry, either. Doesn’t feel right.
What am I doing here, and where did I come from?
Slogging through an icy torrent, she had no sense of time—only that each minute was an hour. Finally, a dim light in the distance. As she approached the light, trees and brush fell away from the sides of the muddy road. A clearing! More painful trudges and she thought she saw a frame around that dim light. Maybe a window.
She’d prayed for safety, but was this it? No vehicle outside the small structure—maybe nobody’s home. She called out but no one answered. If only her voice were stronger. They probably couldn’t hear her through the din of the storm.
She pounded on the massive door. Nobody answered…though she saw a shadow moving inside.
As she reached for the handle, an enormous man in faded jeans and a worn flannel shirt yanked open the door and, with a shotgun cradled in one arm across his chest, demanded, “Looking for somebody?”
She staggered backward. “Not really…I’m not sure.”
“What do you want up here?” His penetrating gray eyes glared.
She scraped back the shoulder-length hair plastered to her face. “Shelter, to dry off, maybe some food.”
He hadn’t moved his muscular body from blocking the doorway.
“Or just loan me a towel.” She clutched the soaked and torn shirt about her neck. “And let me use your phone.”
“Ha,” he replied with a grunt, then leaned his shotgun against the inside door frame and stared.
Not the haven she’d hoped for, but her ordeal had already sapped too much from her entire body, and she collapsed. Only his strong arms kept her from hitting the plank floor.
“Pleased to Meet Me.” Novella, only $2.99. Clean Reads, 2015.
Cover by Amanda Matthews at A.M. Designs Studio
Have you ever lived off the grid? Have you wanted to? What you have to give up?
[JLS # 277]