First writers to develop the story will be Carina Chestnut (USA) and Val Gumley (Australia).

All novice writers are welcome to join in.  Get your name on the list and I will allocate you a block of the story to write.

Each week the story will grow.  If you would like to participate, email me (Jim Parsons) at writing-course@hotmail.com


Cassie Travis pounded along the dirt track beside the river, revelling in the damp, earthy smell as her feet kicked up the leaf litter. From time to time she turned her face upward to the overhanging trees to glimpse particular birds as they warbled.  It was the best time of day.  An expectant stillness hung over the city emerging in the dawn light.  Fantastic!

Dawn – just enough light to see the path as she jogged, but another half-hour yet before the first rays of sun struck gold off the taller buildings in the business district across the river. She was an early riser and liked to keep fit but today the real reason for her early morning jog was to clear her head.  She had some big decisions to make and, after the so-called discussion with the editor yesterday, she had ended up so damned angry with Jock she would very likely do something stupid. Yep, even tell Jock to shove it and resign from the dear old Argus.

She had been so proud to join the Daily Argus three years before as a wet-behind-the-ears junior journo, and quietly confident yesterday when she took her request to her boss. Of course, Jock was no push-over. Certainly, he was an experienced newspaperman; he was also elderly, stubborn and set in his ways – not to mention, a sexist pig. 

He had her locked in to the social column, fashion reporting, a few ‘good news’ stories about Boy Scouts and Glee Clubs, and yesterday –  she gritted her teeth at the memory – yesterday, he had actually laughed when she had begged for the crime reporter position that Terry Watson’s demise had suddenly created. 

“Crime is a man’s world, dearie,” he had said.  His very words! No argument would convince him, and there seemed no answer but to tell him what he could do with the social column and try the newspapers in some other city.

Lost in thought, she rounded a tight corner in the path and almost ran into a man. It was so unexpected: there was usually no one else out jogging at this early hour. The man gasped and looked stricken.  He stared around wildly as if seeking to hide. 

“It’s all right. I’m just out jogging,” Cassie said. 

Finding someone on the path was unusual but finding a barefooted man in pyjamas and dressing gown was bizarre.  He was around fifty, his tousled hair grey and thinning. There was no aged facility in the area – no hospital or mental institute – so he could only be a resident.

The man jumped aside, stumbled and his gown dropped open.  For an instant, before he hurriedly clutched at it again, she saw the bright splashes of fresh blood all down the pyjama top.

“Are you OK?  Do you need help?” she urged.  For reply, the man pushed past her and broke into a run. He ran swiftly, gown flapping.  He certainly wasn’t wounded.