Sid Hamer
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Chapter One

In that space between sleep and consciousness, four rat feet scurried across six-year-old Jeffy Moffett’s blanket bringing him upright in bed. Dirty light pushed its way through a small window next to the ceiling and into his basement bedroom, reassuring him the long night had ended. Daddy’s heavy footsteps and loud voice filtered down through the floorboards and beams. With every footfall, dust spiraled into the shafts of light, leaving trails of brown whispers. He waited until the footsteps carried Daddy into the kitchen for coffee and breakfast before stirring from his bed.

Jeffy felt the dampness of the concrete foundation walls as he pushed back the covers and lowered himself to the cold floor. The stumps, where his legs should have been, prickled like needles in his skin. He quickly pulled himself back under the warm blanket, rubbing the skin on the end of his stumps to stop the tingling. With the covers around his neck, he wondered how long it would be before he wet the mattress. The distance between his bed and the floor drain, where he relieved himself, grew with each passing minute.

He closed his eyes and envisioned legs sprouting like seedlings. They grew long with big feet bursting out of the ends, feet made for stomping in puddles left by spring storms. Six giant steps—maybe eight—would take him to the other side of the basement and relief. A sharp pain jabbed his side and brought an end to his fantasy. The wasteland of gray concrete stretched out like arctic tundra. He slid off the bed and cracked his imaginary whip.

“Mush! You lazy mutts!” Reaching forward with his long arms, he lifted and propelled his incomplete body toward the floor drain.

Overhead, he could hear his sister, Poppy, banging around in her room, getting ready for school. He wished she didn’t have to go back. Spring break had been too short. School seemed a faraway place he could only dream about.

Jeffy had been permanently relegated to the basement two years ago when Eldon Ray Moffett invited the Hereford Bulls over to celebrate winning the league championship. Outside of the farm, baseball was the only thing Daddy cared about.

“They might lose their appetite seein’ the freak scootin’ across the floor like that,” Daddy had said.

Mama’s thin shoulders drooped, but she kept quiet.

He put on his hand-me-down shirt and pants and grabbed the red rubber ball. Jeffy pulled himself up the wooden stairs, quietly opened the door and slipped into the hall. With his pant legs dragging behind him, he carefully avoided the hot grate of the gas floor furnace. A permanent imprint on his right hand offered evidence of a hard lesson learned. The oak floor around the grate felt slick and warm as he inched past. He pulled his body quickly though the living room and out the front door. The porch floor had been worn smooth from generations of Moffett comings and goings and layers of gunmetal gray paint.

Jeffy slid over to the white railing and turned his back to the Texas sun. Its warmth renewed his spirit and took away the ache. The ball made a comforting whappy sound as it came off the house and bounced back into his hand. He taught himself to play catch to pass the long hours he spent alone while Daddy did chores and Mama plowed. Daddy always said Mama could plow like nobody else.

A familiar low guttural vibration disturbed the fine hairs on the back of his neck – a  sound so terrifying that sometimes he heard it in his sleep. He lost his concentration. The ball bounced past him, escaping the porch. His muscles tensed as he slowly turned. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a black form creeping up the steps. Jeffy inched toward the screen door, knowing that at any moment, he would be eye to eye with his nightmare. One hundred and twenty-five pounds of snarling Heinz-57-variety dog stood between him and the pail of stones he used to maintain control of the porch.

“Hiya, Loco. Nice doggie.” He backed away, his mouth dry, and his heart making swishing noises in his ears. The beast stepped onto the porch directly in front of him. “I’ll just go get your breakfast now,” Jeffy whispered.

The dog-from-hell put his paw on Jeffy’s pant leg and lifted his lips in a grin. Jeffy knew that look. He had seen it on the barn cat when it had a mouse by the tail. Loco’s black eyes sent a message -- move now or this was going to be a very bad day.

With the fate of the mouse fresh in his mind, Jeffy undid his pants, slipped them off and lunged for the white plastic chair by the front door. Loco sprung forward, his teeth snapping close enough to pinch Jeffy’s arm but not near enough to get a good hold. Jeffy used the chair as a shield to keep the dog at bay.

“Help!” He screamed. But his plea only sent Loco into a chair-eating frenzy.

Dog breath, warm and sour filled Jeffy’s nose and brushed against his cheeks. The image of a cottontail down a hole flashed through his mind. The chair began to suffer from its puncture wounds and would soon surrender to the beast’s frontal assault. The flashing yellow teeth were close enough for saliva to rain down on Jeffy’s arms.

I’m going to die. He’s going to win and I’m going to be his Kibbles ’n Bits.

iUniverse Editorial Review

The Pace of the novel is almost unbelievable. A reader is involved in the novel from the first pages and is absorbed with the horrors that must be faced. There are only a few quiet moments for the readers to catch their breath, but most of the scenes are created so that the reader is urging the characters to get help to the young children before it is too late. The pace holds the reader spellbound through most of the novel.

Winner First Place, Author Helper’s Snappy Dialogue Contest. Finalist in the Panhandle Professional Writers 2002 Frontiers in Writing contest and a semi-finalist in the 2000 Austin Writer’s League Manuscript Contest


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Amazon Review: Five Stars!
I couldn't put it down.