by Ann Morven
© copyright Ann Morven

Smashwords Edition 2009
Published by Darling Newspaper Press
PO box 176, Kalamunda, Western Australia 6926.

First published by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, 1993.

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THE willy-willy nearly took my ute wagon as I drove over the red plains to Cattlecreek. Then it was raining bullybeef tins. One of these gouged my handbag on the passenger seat as I braked to a halt, and I read on the faded can-label “Use before Feb 1898”.

There’s plenty of history in rubbish tips of the Australian Outback, but the twister also brought a crimson cape that caught my fancy. Stiffer than ordinary silk, its edges were embroidered in fine gold thread. I held two corners of the garment, letting the gale spread it out for me, which is when I noticed the bloodstain.

Caked from the centre, its dark presence claimed most of that rippling expanse. The breeze pricked my neck.

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