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Scenes from a Work in Progress (1)

A Plot Device from Her Own Devices

Her Own Devices is an unpublished sequel to Geoffrey Dutton’s Turkey Shoot currently in its fourth revision, expected to come out in 2021. He’s looking for feedback on the 600-word excerpt you see here, a scene from chapter 8. Comments are welcome, either down below or on the parent page that features other excerpts and has a form you can use to contact the author privately.


A bit of background: Anna Burmeister, a young Swiss political exile living in Piraeus, Greece, is wracked by guilt and memories of the late father of her four-year-old son she has named Ramadi in his honor. She and her Iraqi lover were on the run in Turkey when he died under hapless circumstances she blames herself for. Ever since then guilt has haunted her, and now he haunts her like a preternatural uninvited guest, able only to bear dumb witness to ongoing life on the corporeal plane. In his words,

A tour guide without tourists, that’s me. All I can do here is revisit familiar places with nobody to relate them to. Save for the never-ending astral chorus I constantly hear, they appear as silent movies in the muted colors of old postcards. I am free to approach the screen but not to penetrate it to where life is being lived.

Our spirit guide is Mahmoud Al Ramadi, whose life was taken at 23 in Izmir, Turkey, but had already been ruined in Mosul, Iraq when Isis slaughtered his parents and abducted his younger brother. His life’s journey—his jihad, essentially—was prematurely aborted, and now he he feels he must somehow demonstrate that it was not in vain if ever he hopes to enter paradise.

In this scene we find Anna and Ramadi in her kitchen with her hacker buddy and IT guy Ottovio—affectionately known as the Greek Geek—as they try to dope out whether or not the partner of the kidnapper Anna caught in the act really is, as he claims, an auxiliary policeman. As they peer into Ottovio’s laptop, Ramadi attentively listens in while his late father watches them from limbo, unseen and out of earshot.

Here’s a reading prompt:

Ghosts and beings from other dimensions populate supernatural-type mysteries and horror stories, but does having a ghost as a character make a novel supernatural, even if the ghost doesn’t do anything and no one knows it’s there?




If this didn’t confuse you, how well do you think it works? If it doesn’t work for you, would you please be so kind as to say why? You can comment here or on the private contact form on the main page for Her Own Devices to have your say.

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