But the shop was closed. Shuttered, boarded up, and abandoned. It had been that way for a long time, months at least. Possibly even years. Did no one in Illdara notice when a shop shut down or a business closed its doors? Allison shook her head in disgust, then defiantly planted her hands on her hips. The front door was boarded up, but not as heavily as the match maker’s had been.
Allison took out the small knife she kept tucked into her boot and carefully pried up each board. With each one she took off, she counted in her head the number of laws and regulations she was breaking. In the back of her mind, she promised to put the boards back once she was done.
The musty interior, thick with dust and other floating particles was all but empty. A few loose pieces of decaying furniture stood here and there, where they’d been left after everything else had been taken. The floor was covered in a thin layer of dust, enough to catch the footprints of anyone who happened to walk through, but it bore none save her own.
Allison searched every part of every room, yet found nothing. Anything that might have been considered a clue had long since been carried away when the building had been locked up. During her search, she’d noticed that the building had a tiny courtyard out back.
It was barely more than twenty feet by twenty feet, and what little space was not taken up by two long structures covered in glass panes-mostly broken now-was composed of brown, brittle grass. The moist air had simply not been enough to keep the hardy grass alive without hands to care for it. Inside the two structures were rows and rows of wilted flowers. But the flower petal found in the old man’s body could not have come from one of those plants, because it had been fresh. Allison lightly touched one of the drooping flowers and its petals and leaves crumbled, pieces falling limply to the floor. Another dead-end.
As she walked back through the building towards the street, her mind wandered and she listened to the tap of her boots against the wood floor. Halfway through the front room, her boot came down and the sound was hollow…
This is really the last one, honest! The full story will be available on Amazon no later than Friday, it’s just a matter of getting my hands on the finished cover. I’m hopeful for how this will all turn out, and a little nervous as well. It’s a big step for me, putting my work out there for public scrutiny. If it’s no good, then it’ll be that much harder to get people to come back for a second novel. But if I never put myself out there, then I’m just spinning my wheels anyway.