Michael Woodhead

WHITE PAINTED WOMAN:
A Time to Be Born, a Time to Die

The First Lady Carlinea Adventure

When a Calgary television personality is murdered, the news opens some old emotional wounds and wished-to-be-forgotten memories for Lady Carlinea Teri Rae Tallfeather. Combining the skills of an Apache warrior and those of the Ninja assassin, Carli works as a special agent for C.H.I.E.F. (Calgary Headquarters Interprovincial Emergency Forces), and she sets out to hunt down the murderer. Eventually, she not only uncovers d.emons from her past, but also discovers a nationwide criminal organization masterminded by the one person she fears the most-Khana Ch'i-Lung, .the DragonQueen.

A Time to Be Born, a Time to Die will be the first in a series of novels featuring Carlinea. I originally conceived Carlinea as a female combination of Ian Fleming's 'James Bond', Peter O'Donnell's 'Modesty Blaise' and Eric Lustbader's 'Nicholas Linnear'. However, over the course of several drafts, she has evolved her own personality.

[I'm currently haflway through this book]


CHAPTER ONE

Calgary | Alberta | Canada
Summer | Present

Lady Carlinea Teri Rae Tallfeather shunted to the open side door of the old Beechcraft King Air B90 plane. Wind howled past the opening and whipped the loose tendrils of long black hair that escaped from beneath the lip of her safety helmet.

She gazed out at the billowing white clouds that, in the distance, seemed to have congealed into puffy mounds of cotton solid enough on which to stand.

But that, of course, was an illusion.

Much like life and people, she reflected.

Life deceived you because you never knew when it would deal out happiness or heartache, blessing or tragedy. People deceived you because most of them tended to wear psychological masks in order to hide their true thoughts and feelings.

Musam-Grandfather-was never like that, though, she averred. He always spoke his mind no matter if what he said hurt or not; you learned to deal with it. But, he never spoke in a malicious or damaging manner, and you always knew where you stood with him. He loved you, no matter what.

Mum and dad on the other hand-well, not only had they worn masks, but they also did or said hurtful things regardless of the consequences. They never seemed to care. Maybe not never, she conceded-but, most of the time anyways.

"Are you ready, Carli?"

Peter Castle's voice interrupted her momentary reverie. The sky-diving instructor had shouted above the noise of the rushing air, and even then, the sound slightly muffled his words.

However, she nodded, and then he slapped her twice on the shoulder. She threw herself out of the aircraft, and into the emptiness of the sky.

On previous jumps, she'd been tempted to yell "Geronimo!" as she launched herself, but that only caused her to laugh because Grandfather's name was Geronimo--Goykoleh Tallfeather, to be exact, but all who knew him called him Geronimo.

It was said he'd been named after the great Apache chief and was somehow related to him, too, but no one really knew for sure, and even Grandfather himself didn't refute the claim. Or verify it, either, for that matter.

At first, there seemed to be no sensation of falling; more like flying, or even gliding, as the wind whistled past her, flapped the nylon fabric of her jumpsuit, and pushed against the exposed flesh of her cheeks and mouth.

And yet, as it had done before on several occasions, the experience invigorated her, and gave her a sense of total relaxation and freedom, not unlike the feeling she got from listening to New Age music.

For a few fleeting moments, in the comfort of this floating sensation, her thoughts drifted again to her parents.

Carlinea was supposed to have been a boy.

But when she entered the world through an incision in her mother's abdomen after twelve hours of strenuous labour, Tokala and Heike Tallfeather were more than a little disappointed.

Her arrival devastated them.

It happens, explained the doctor as he shrugged away their angry protestations. Perhaps the technicians misread the ultrasound images; perhaps something between the fetus' legs was in such a position as to look like a tiny penis, and they interpreted it as such. Or, perhaps the couple were supposed to have a girl. Besides, what did it matter whether the child was male or female? It would be their little bundle of joy.

However, as far as they were concerned, the child was no bundle of joy to Tokala and Heike. They'd already spent over ten thousand dollars redesigning a room for their Terry Ray in little boy motifs, stuffed animals, pictures, and toys. They'd already bought baseball bats and gloves, hockey sticks and pucks, basketballs and hoops, not to mention dozens of cute outfits in which they could show off their little boy.

Unfortunately, as they reiterated on more than one occasion, she had come along instead.

To compensate, Carlinea's parents feminized the names they'd already chosen, and then further saddled the girl with what they thought to be a harsh sounding name from some obscure European relative on her mother's side. Perhaps they thought this to be some way of getting even with God, or Fate, or whatever they believed had deceived them.

In addition, the room remained the way they designed it, and Carlinea had to wear the clothes they'd already bought. In fact, they treated her as much as they could like a boy until, by the time she was seven, it became obvious to everyone that 'he' was a 'she'.

Following Peter's previous instructions, Carlinea turned, rolled, dived, and tumbled. She thoroughly enjoyed this sense of liberty, but remained ever conscious of the fact that the ground drew nearer and nearer even if, for the moment, it didn't immediately look like it.

As gravity wrenched her body down at the rate of thirty feet per squared second, ten thousand feet would be a lot of distance to fall in a short amount of time.

She checked her altimeter watch. Only a few scant seconds remained before she had to pull the cord that would release her life-saving parachute--the only thing that offered escape from the sudden and, usually, immediate death.

Some cartoons, she reflected, always showed characters hit the ground, bounce up, and walk away; or they created a large crater in the earth and then crawled out; or they exploded into a million pieces only to be fully whole in the next scene.

Carlinea knew that wasn't the way it happened. Rather, when the body hit the ground, the skin folded up like an accordion as the bones and organs crumbled to mush.

She shook her head to get rid of the morbid image and yanked the ripcord.

It snapped in two.

Carlinea's heart flip-flopped as her body hurtled down towards the fast-approaching solid ground.


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