The Ghost of Calliope Creek

Linda and her two young children are escaping an abusive marriage.

Jake is dealing with the death of his wife and daughter in the only way he knows how – by immersing himself in his job as a State Emergency Services volunteer.

One night of flooding rains will bring them together at Calliope Creek.

And a ghost will change all their lives forever.

Formats: ebook $2.99

Genre: urban fantasy

Audience: general, young adult

Length: short story

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Jake Green settled back in the swivel chair and glanced around the office. The State Emergency Service volunteers had done a fair amount of fundraising in the last year, enough to fit out their headquarters with some decent second-hand furniture and a small fridge, and to buy much-needed equipment for the truck. They’d also bought two mobile phones, one for Barry Grimwade, the chief, and the other for Jake, who was deputy this year.

After the floods the year before, it had been a unanimous decision.

This flood wouldn’t be anything like that, though. Last year floodwaters from further inland had joined with the rain, making Calliope Creek break its banks for the first time in nearly twenty years. Water had inundated half the town, cutting the main highway and isolating the surrounding district for days. The rain then had been savage, as bad as the torrent now pounding on the SES’s tin roof, but it had gone on for days. The Bureau of Meteorology had forecast this would probably blow over by tomorrow morning.

In the meantime the SES would probably be called out at least ten to fifteen times to tarp roofs or move trees which had blown across roads.

Good night for Barry’s missus to have the baby, Jake thought. Barry had rung him that morning and told him he’d be in charge for a few days, as the local hospital had told his wife to go to Edgeworth Hospital for the birth.

Neri had been born in the middle of a massive storm too. Fiona had insisted on naming her Nereid. Fi had always been a great one for alternative stuff; herbal remedies, rock lore, even a little white magic rituals now and then. ‘It’s a sign,’ she’d said as she’d held out their daughter to him. ‘She’s got to be a water spirit, born into this lot!’

Jake stood abruptly, the chair’s casters squealing on the concrete floor, and went to check the truck. Lists, order, neatness, they were all he had now to combat the chaos of cancer and chemo that had taken Fi from him three years ago. And volunteering with the SES, helping people put their own lives back into some kind of order, was how he dealt with Neri’s loss as well.

Beneath that compulsive need to put things in order, to control what he could, far, far beneath, was a dark place he’d clawed his way free of… and sometimes, frighteningly often, felt himself sliding back into.

The coroner had ruled Neri’s death ‘accidental’. A sedan packed with five teenagers on their way back from Edgeworth, five friends trying to outrun the floods to get home to their families. They’d almost made it too. They’d been crossing Calliope Creek when the waters had suddenly risen, bringing a slew of debris with them.

The car had been washed off the bridge, snapping the guard rail like a length of cheap bamboo, and landed on its roof in the raging torrent.

His daughter had died barely a kilometre from where he and two other SES volunteers were using the dinghy to rescue a family whose home was going under.

One of the other volunteers with him that night, Sam Tyrrell, had lost his son too.

The Tyrrells had moved away two months later.