Christine Benedict’s mystery thriller won 1st place for the 2015 Clue Awards and was 1st Runner Up for the 2015 Eric Hoffer Book Award. A 2015 First Horizon Nominee, 2015 Indie Book Awards Nominee, and 2016 Wishing Shelves Book Award Nominee.
Christine studied creative writing at Baldwin Wallace Collage and Cleveland State University. She’s had the privilege of working with Karen Joy Fowler (author of The Jane Austin Book Club) at Cleveland State University, and with Paula McLain (author of The Paris Wife) through the Ohio Arts Council. Her short stories have been finalists for Perigee Publication for the Arts and The Fish Short Story Prize.
Feel free to read an excerpt:
Having to pee, Debra unzipped her jeans in the bathroom before remembering that Greg had turned off the water.
“Geez-oh-Pete.” At this point the gas station was too far. She traipsed down the corridor that led to the basement. A quick flip-of-the-switch was all she wanted, just enough water to flush. The stairwell was dark and steep; the light-bulb’s pull-chain at the bottom. She clicked on the flashlight from Greg’s toolbox, and holding her pants up, cautiously stepped down the narrow stairs. Every inch she eked past spider webs meshed in between the cracks of hand-hewn quarry-stone walls. She stopped at the bottom step where she could finally reach the light, not wanting to take the last step onto the broken cement, muddied from the last rain. It smelled like the bottom of a creek bed, like earthworms and sludge. Spider webs were draped from the ceiling to the walls, and hung like shelves in every corner.
The quarry-stone walls dating back to the 1800s were pitted blocks of sandstone—every bit her idea of a dungeon. From where she stood, Debra scanned the walls, trying to see the water valve. But she didn’t know where to look. A wolf spider the size of a quarter sat very still at the bottom step, then scurried across the floor. She shuddered right down to the bone. Another spider sat like a brooch on a jacket that Greg had hung on a hook. And in that moment before the light flickered off when all she could hear was her own heart, she swore that something was crawling up her leg. She let out a piercing yell, kicking wildly. She kicked off her shoes. She kicked off her jeans and dashed up the stairs in her panties, wanting to nail the door shut right then and there. At the top of the steps she eyed a yard stick that she’d used to stir paint, and picked it up. Then she made a mad dash to the basement and flogged her jeans to death right there in the sludge. Holding them at arm’s length, she brought them upstairs and looked them over. She begrudgingly pulled them on, and ran outside to the back field. The sun shining off the white of her derrière, she squatted behind a briar bush where no one could see.
At least that’s what she thought.