Wednesday Sampler: Imbroglio by Alana Woods
February 3, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Wednesday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Imbroglio, a gripping conspiracy thriller from Alana Woods.
As one reviewer said: Ms. Woods has the rare gift of painting vivid, action-packed pictures with her words. I was there with the characters: smelling the ocean, feeling the sun, hearing the waves…
On a dark night in far north Queensland a car runs off the road and bursts into flames. Driving closely behind Noel Valentine doesn’t hesitate to pull over and drag one of the occupants to safety.
In rescuing David Cameron she has an inkling of what she may be setting in train, but no idea that one outcome will be a fight for her own life.
Would she have saved him if she had known she would be facing sharks of the finned as well as the two-legged variety?
Something grazed her leg. It took a long moment for the fact to register because she was almost comatose.
Blinking in the sun she turned instinctively away from its blinding light. Where she was came next. Then why she was there.
Something had grazed her leg.
She came fully alert, her heart suffocating in its small confines.
She grabbed for her feet and wilted with relief that they were both still attached. She ducked her face. No blood. No marks.
Needing air almost immediately she whipped her head up and, whimpering, craned around for the signs. Nothing. Panicking she ducked under again and twisted, waiting to see it, waiting for the connection, anticipating the pain, dreading the death.
Please no, she kept praying, please no, not like that.
Waiting for it her fear turned to dutch courage and she forced her fingers wide, making claws of her hands. Come on, she screamed in her mind, I dare you. I’ll bloody well gouge your eyes out before you get me. Where are you? Come on. But no predator answered the challenge. Whatever it was that had brushed past, it had not been interested. She was alone. The birds had left. No ships were steaming to her rescue. And the sharks weren’t hungry.
The shock revitalised her. The shore became possible again, with one difference. She had remembered there were more dangers in the sea than drowning. Now she swam with that constant in mind and the sun, risen in the east, beating on her head, her arms and legs bloated weighty appendages she could have done without.
She floundered some time after that, with the sun high in the sky.
‘Come on, baby, swim to William.’
She blinked. She couldn’t focus, the sun’s reflection on the water making of it a shining heaving sheet of bubbling glass.
‘Come on, baby, I’m right here.’
She shielded her eyes and sank past her nose. Water flooded in and she retched and spat and gasped and cupped her fingers over her eyes. He was standing not six feet away, rising and dipping on the waves. As she stared he held out a hand. ‘I died for you, Noel. Come with me.’
He put his head to one side, hurt. ‘I loved you. And for that I died. Your fault, Noel. Make it up to me.’
‘No! Your fault … your fault …’ She flailed away from him, ‘… your fault.’
‘You’re going the wrong way. I’ll be waiting.’
The wrong way? She looked back. He was gone. He hadn’t been real, couldn’t really have been standing on water. Just her conscience … your fault … your fault. Wrong way. She slitted her eyes and peered waterily up at the sun. How could she tell? It was midday and she couldn’t tell the way until it dropped. She saw William again, bobbing up and down some distance away, smiling. She turned from him and splashed away.
The sun had shifted and had her face in a vice, leeching the skin from wet moistureless flesh. Her eyes were swollen, she could barely see, then the sharks came. Circling at first, gauging their prey, accommodating her frantic efforts to get away. The circle was wide and as she wondered if she could swim through the gaps more and more joined the ring until they were tip to tail. Then they began to close the circle, slowly, ritually, and as it tightened they formed two, then three, outer rings. Their fins loomed large the closer they circled. She stopped swimming and watched the fins move in, appalled, fascinated. Like a ballet troupe, as one they altered their course and turned inward. In their rush they grew huge, obliterating the sun, looming like tankers, casting her into black shadows. Then they lunged and she screamed and waited for the pain, rearing waist high clear of the water as they clashed.