The Wheels of Cady Grey
Cady Grey Mysteries Book 1
by Paul L. Arvidson
Publication Date: August 21, 2019
Get in the way of ruthless people and it's gonna get you killed.
"Forget all you know about disabled people. This novel will blow everything you knew out of the window. A story of strength, intelligence, love and disability".
Cady Grey is invisible. One of the 'perks' of being in a wheelchair. Sometimes it's better that way, 'specially when you're a sweary, spitty teenage girl who's main aim is getting through high-school in one piece.
But then a sinister shell company wants to knock their school down and is prepared to stop at nothing. She and her friends are the only ones invested enough to care and smart enough to investigate.
Regardless of the danger, Cady finally gives up being invisible to fight. And she discovers that getting in the way of politicians and their schemes might just get her killed.
"Cady, with spark, snark and enthusiasm will capture your heart in such a way you will want her to be your best friend. She is a voice, hero and visibility for a young disabled generation, a guide for us all and a mystery to solve".
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Cady Grey lay nose down in the soil, the wheels of her chair spun above her, the weight of the chassis pinned her down. Rain fell in great big drops all around her. She couldn't move her legs at the best of times, but she was sure her right shin was broken. She was too stunned to feel much of it yet. Everything was one great bruise. Her head felt muzzy, she must have banged it. Along with everything else.
Petrichor: the smell of rain after a dry spell.
WTF, Cady. Where did that come from?
The subconscious can properly fuck with your head sometimes.
She opened her eyes. Eye. Grass and soil close up. Some kind of edging stone, with a smear on it. Something trickling from her fringe down her nose on the right-hand side. For a moment, it felt comfortable. Like being held down by a massive duvet or hugged tight in a huge embrace. She could just go to sleep.
And… BAM, here came the pain.
Cady clenched her jaw, at least that wasn't broken. Her lips were sticky, she could taste metal and salt. The right shin: definitely broken. But good news, she could feel her toes: they hurt like hell too. Head. She couldn't pull her focus to that yet, all too stabby. Somehow she knew if she let herself focus on that too much, she'd pass out again. And that would be bad. Really, really bad.
Shit. Shit. SHIT. Focus on something Cady.
Noise. What was that noise? Straining, laboring. Something's gonna break. Mechanical? Not exactly, electro-mechanical. Chair wheels, running full tilt, with nothing to grab on. Flailing like a beetle on its back. The chair must’ve been sat on its arm, with its controller bent backward. Well, that was going to burn the motor out and no mistake. She spread her awareness out, slowly. It wasn't far from the controller and it wasn't broken. She shifted her weight from her hips to her right arm.
Too much weight on her to get free, but she could move her hand. The whole chair arm was twisted out of shape. She could see along the profile of the chair that plastic engine cover had snapped loose, spilling its wiry intestines onto the grass. Man, this chair was fucked up. Dad was going to be so pissed at her. She felt for the chair controller joystick. The golf ball she always had on the top of it had gone. Lost in the crash. Just a metal stick left. She pushed the metal stick into the soil, back to its neutral position. The skree-ing noise stopped. Good. Quiet now. Not quiet. Ringing in her ears and rain sploshing. She must’ve been lying where a puddle was gathering, because her legs felt wet.
Tic… tac… tic…
Was that in her head? She'd dreamed about that before. Was she concussed? Another part of her brain was waking up. Her hind brain, home of warnings, of fear, of fight or flight. But she couldn't fly. Her wheels were broken.
Now she knew. That noise. Bad brain, slow brain, now it was catching up. TicTac. A noise and a person. Bad. Bad person. It spooled out of her like an old broken film reel, images yammering from her brain on fast forward.
Flash—the glint of a gold ring on someone's little finger. Insincere smile. Not him.
Flash—the joy of the chair lights springing into life when she’d flicked the new switch, Dad was the best. Not Dad.
Flash—bright flash, muzzle flash, ringing noise. There, that was it.
Flash—flash—flash, but only one bang? Ears overloaded in a confined space. Certainly a bang first time. Ears still ringing now. A short time ago, then.
What was that noise? Getting slowly louder, slowly closer, that was important. It was an odd noise, a stupid noise. A WTF noise. A lazy noise, a rhythm noise, like a metronome.
Like blues. A walking blues. That was it. Everything.
Tic… the noise was walking.
Tac… the sound of those stupid segs on the man's shoes.
Tic… the man: greasy hair and arrogance. Tall, Thames estuary accent.
Tac… dots tattooed on his knuckles. Something black, metal held firm in his hand. The smell of oil.
Tic he was coming. For her.
Tac… and he was going to kill her.
Tic… tac… Bill had called him TicTac.
Shit Bill. Where's Bill? Something made her not want to think of that. The rear brain. Fight or flight. No flight. There was another one. What was it? Fight, flight and—
Tic… tac… Freeze. That was it. Fight, flight or freeze.
The air filled with noise. Her chair back jerked. That noise. Bang never quite seemed to describe that noise. It filled her ears with loud. Even out here, face down in the grass. And an echo, off every hard surface of the building behind them. The town hall. No flash this time, with her face in the grass, but at least that meant she couldn't see what was coming. No wait, it also meant the chair body was between him and her. Something from deep inside her chair was fizzing.
"Oh, there you are," the voice dripped arrogance. She hated that voice, "don't go anywhere, will you? Oh, wait, you can't!"
"Fucker," was all she could manage in return, but with her face in the grass, she could hardly hear herself.
Tic. Tac. Tic. Tac.
"I don't really want to do this, you know?" he said. God, he loved the sound of his own voice.
He laughed—harsh, echoing. It rang off the walls. Harsher somehow than the shock of the gun. The gun. He really was going to kill her. How many rounds had he fired? Could she remember? There was something stopping her recall. Flash, flash, flash… What was it? Flash, flash, flash… Bill. Bill falling, falling, shouting out.
Shit. Bill. How many rounds? One just now, three at… Three from before. One before that? So… one left? Did guns even have six rounds in them these days? How did she need to know this? But one. One was plenty.
Tic. Tac. Tic.
Fight, flight or freeze. Her Dad always said, ‘you never really know which you're going to do until something bad enough happens.’ Something so bad that your insides have already turned to water and your brain is racing in six different directions at once. And you're going nowhere.
"Here I come, Cady! Time to pray."
He couldn't be serious? Pray? No, this cocky shit-bag would be all about that, wouldn't he? Bang, bang. Oops, sorry I killed somebody. That's okay though, right God? Bit of absolution 101 and off we go again. Tough job being a killer, but someone's got to do it. God says it's okay.
Tic. Tac. Tic. Tac.
"Nothing come to mind? Let me choose then. Seems fitting."
Cady struggled under the chair. Her arm flailed, she couldn't move it too far, besides, the chair in the way was the only thing saving her. Even if all he saw was her hand, if he shot it off that would kill her plenty quick enough.
"Bastard," she growled into the soil.
"Oh, now. Do you want your last words on this earth to be a curse?" But before she could answer, "I've thought of one, how about this?"
Good God this guy could talk. At least being shot would be a relief from his voice.
"As I lay me down to sleep… do you know that one Cady?"
"Oh, yeah, that's great." Keep him talking, probably too late now anyway. No-one here, he could talk all he liked. She was delaying the inevitable.
"I pray the Lord my soul to keep."
She heard the metallic chick-chak of the gun being cocked.
"If I should die before I wake.”
Cady got a whiff of excited sweat and gun, oil. She wriggled, her left arm was free. That was both arms now, maybe…
"I pray the Lord, my soul—" He leaned over and stood on her left arm at the wrist. "A- ah, stay still."
She felt the metal of the gun rustle in against the base of her skull and press there.
"I pray the Lord, my soul to take…"
But no one's year began that badly, right?
PAUL ARVIDSON is a forty-something ex lighting designer who lives in rural Somerset. He juggles his non-author time bringing up his children and fighting against being sucked into his wife’s chicken breeding business.
The Dark Trilogy is his first series. He is also working on a thriller.
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