Karen Skinner
© Karen Skinner 2022
GODS OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE Copyright, Karen Skinner 2020. No part of the synopsis, sample, or any other story can be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the author. The curse of the logical mind is a question I’ve spent most of my life trying to answer. Why do I have to be this way? I’ve always been this way. My life is one of routine and discipline; strict organisation that not only avoids but also future proofs against errors. I will willingly admit to being a little anal, but not excessively so. Every day is planned and organised so that all jobs, whether domestic or professional, are met on time. So, being kidnapped on a busy workday morning really messed up my plans. Keep reading to discover the start of Kim Anderson’s first adventure. Well, I suppose it all depends on what you call scary. One person’s thrill could be another person’s horror. I don’t much care for the rodents some people keep as pets and I hate amusement rides, but being dumped in the middle of nowhere, with no means of communication, sounds like a relaxing holiday to me. I certainly wasn’t frightened to begin with, but then I didn’t know what the day had in store. Everything had seemed so normal. My alarm had gone off as normal, my husband had ignored it, and I ate breakfast and went to work as normal. It was about mid-morning that I got a call from my manager, Andrew. He was delayed at a meeting and asked me to pick up his client from the train station. He hoped to be back at the office by the time I returned. Andrew didn’t usually ask me for such a favour, but I don’t think the unusual circumstances occurred to him. They didn’t occur to me. I was just helping him out. The train station lies just outside the main drag of the town. Most towns are built around such places, but here, the station was built to service the town, which was originally a hamlet, too small to have its own train station. The back of the railway line is farmland with a few wooded areas; a small reminder of the way the landscape used to look before the needs of the people took over. Bulky looking barns and animal sheds are scattered here and there like misshapen dice on a games board. The farmers’ houses appear luxurious by comparison. Most of them were built when farmers were an authority in the rural towns and their idea of a second job was mayor or town councillor. Now, many of the farm buildings are empty and abandoned and the unemployed workers will tell anyone who’ll listen that it’s because the powers that be don’t care about local regeneration. The beautiful station clock read twenty past nine, but then it’s always read twenty past nine. It stopped on daylight saving time around 1965 and nobody bothered to correct it. Nobody will correct it now because the iron lattice support it sits on is rusted to hell and any attempt to adjust the clock could send it crashing to the ground. Even the surround was pretty, once upon a time. They seemed to have a knack back then, of being able to make even the most functional, attractive. The simple white face now just gazes serenely down on the unobservant commuters below and patiently waits for their return, while the once bright blond of the brass surround slowly tarnishes in the weather. The ugly and unforgiving digital display in the main entrance, however, said 11:17. Years ago we would have given someone the benefit of the doubt and called that a quarter past eleven. With the introduction of digital technology, you are sharply reminded that if you were expected at a quarter past eleven, you are now running two minutes late. ‘Excuse me,’ I called to the man behind the glass, interrupting him from a most important report on the sports pages. ‘Is there another train due from London this morning?’ He tutted loudly over his teeth then lifted his head to see who had spoken. My business dress has different effects on different people, I have found, and a smart blouse and skirt combo with high heeled shoes tends to be the most effective at persuading others that it would be in their best interests to give me what I want. ‘Sorry, love,’ he said, rising from his seat, ‘ain’t gonna be another for at least an hour.’ He hoisted his baggy trousers up towards his paunch, unsuccessfully. ‘Could always wait in waitin’ room,’ he suggested, swaggering over to the glass. ‘There’s a vending machine in there.’ ‘Thank you, but no,’ I replied, giving him only my second best smile. ‘I’m waiting for someone, and it appears they’re a little late.’ ‘Oy, oy,’ he winked mischievously, ‘private meetin’, is it? I’m good at keeping secrets like that. Seen a lot as an attendant ‘ere, I have.’ I regretted my next words as soon as they left my mouth. ‘A client, actually,’ I said coldly. Mr Attendant’s eyebrows immediately shot up and his eyes widened almost to the size of his smile. ‘Almost given up hope there was one of you round this neighbourhood,’ he whispered, leaning on the counter. ‘Wiv green eyes, too! I could be one of yours. Got some stashed away, wouldn’t mind spending a bit on a classy bird like you.’ ‘Not unless you’re into printing,’ I called over my shoulder. ‘That’s one you could teach me,’ he laughed. I’d already made the decision to head back to the office when I saw a very handsome man leaning against the railing opposite the entrance. He was eyeing me carefully, as if weighing me up before coming to some sort of conclusion. I was about to give him a mouthful, but he spoke first. ‘Excuse me,’ he said politely, ‘but are you from Brownlow Print?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, relieved to have a reason to be standing outside a train station at that time of the day. ‘Kim Anderson. Pleased to meet you.’ His handshake was firm and confident; here was a man used to being in control. ‘David Peters. Pleased to meet you, too.’ His blue eyes twinkled as he only half tried to suppress a smile. He was in his early thirties, I guessed, with dark hair cut short and slightly tousled. He was just a little taller than me. ‘Do you have a car?’ ‘Oh, yes, of course. This way.’ ‘Do you mind if we stop at another office on the way?’ he asked. ‘I need to meet with a colleague and pick up some papers.’