It was shortly after midnight.

The freshly reaped fields of Longmeadow Farm were bathed in the brilliant glow of the Harvest moon. It was a cool night, providing welcome relief from the unseasonal warm spell of the previous week. A gentle breeze wafted across the pastures, while the constant trickle of a shallow brook provided the only other sound to be heard for miles around. The farmer and her family were safely tucked in bed, resting after a long day in the fields. From their kitchen window, the faint glow of a forgotten lamp fell across the courtyard in front of the farmhouse.

The quiet was broken by the lazy hoot of an owl. Sat on her lofty perch atop a centuriesold oak, the bird scanned the fields below for any signs of prey, her keen eyes darting from left to right, picking up the slightest movement in the freshly cut straw, while her dish-like face funnelled each and every sound to her sensitive ears. The short stalks of the harvested field coupled with the bright light of the full moon meant spotting prey was far easier than it had been just a day before, and soon she saw a wouldbe victim. Around the centre of the field, a small mouse was scurrying between the fallen straw and chaff, searching for as many morsels of food as the little rodent could carry. In silence, and with a deftness not expected of a bird so large, the owl slipped off her perch and swooped with ease towards her oblivious meal. The ground was covered in seconds. 

And as the owl was about to complete her kill, a loud bang echoed across the farm...

Want to find out what happens next? Find out this Friday when Free City launches on Kindle, available now for pre-order.

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