The Sound

Ren takes a job nannying for a family on an exclusive island, hoping for a low-key summer. What she doesn’t count on is falling in with a party-crowd, falling in love with a bad boy, and falling out with a dangerous killer…

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1. Extract

I’m running. I’m running blind. Into the dark. Into the woods. Richocheting off branches, tripping over tangled tree roots, gripping my arm as I stumble, still sobbing. And are those his footsteps coming after me or is it the wind? A bird? An animal?

 

I come to a flying halt, crouch down in the dirt, trying to listen. Is he following me? But my breathing is so loud and laboured it’s all I can hear. That and the wild drumming of blood in my ears. My heart is no longer a caged bird but a dozen bats trying to burst free. I close my eyes and try to sink down into the dark.

 

My fingers are buried in damp sandy soil, beneath leaves. I want to claw my way deep into the earth, roll beneath the leaves and bury myself. I want to sob and scream and melt and turn to smoke and vanish. When I open my eyes the world spins, recedes then rushes back in.

 

‘Ren!’

His voice yells my name. Over and Over. His voice fills my head and tears apart the night.

I need to stand up. I need to run. But I’m frozen. My back is slammed against the tree. My lungs are beginning to close down. I try to suck in a breath but it gets stuck and all of a sudden the sky looms darker and larger overhead, the stars fuzzing out of focus and dissolving into the blanket sky.

A crunch.

I shrink back even further, feeling the bark of the tree scratch a bloody trail across my shoulder. I bite my lip, choking off the scream that is fighting to burst out.

He is out there, holding his breath as I hold mine. Ears pricked, eyes scouring the darkness. I can sense him there waiting, just a few feet away, his head tilted as he listens and I can no longer balance my weight on the balls of my feet. My knees are going to give, my arms are shaking.

Tears are slipping noiselessly down my cheeks as my eyes dart left and right strafing the darkness. I can’t see anything. It’s pitch black out here. In the distance the roar of the ocean seems to be calling to me, whispering my name, urging me to make a run towards it.

A twig snaps to my right.

I haul myself to standing in that same second and I am running, ignoring the shooting pain in my arm and the sting of branches slashing at my face. All I can hear now is a roaring in my ears.

And behind me, coming closer, his breath, his footsteps and the heat of him rising like a mist. My feet hit something soft. I’m on the beach. The trees have given way to sand dunes. The ocean sounds wild and close. If I can only make it there…because where else is there to run to? And then suddenly my foot hits something sharp, a rock buried in the sand and I’m I’m flying, falling fast, and I land hard, my ankle twisting and I let out a yell that I try to smother with my other hand. I roll onto my back, kicking at invisible hands. I try to draw my legs up to my body, to curl into a ball but my ankle explodes in pain and I can’t move it. And I whimper, not because of the pain but because fear floods my tongue and it’s as foul as earth and it’s fear which is closing up my throat as surely as his hands sliding around my neck and squeezing.

I want my mum. And I sob her name out loud into the darkness and over the sound of the ocean roaring I hear his breathing, loud and heavy and excited coming close.

But the thought of my mum is enough to push back the fear and let the rage in. And I’ve never felt such rage before. It almost cancels out the fear, roaring inside me as deep as the ocean.

I start scrabbling desperately for something – anything - to use as a weapon.

My hand sinks into the tune trying to find the object I tripped on and my fingers close around a rock, heavy with jagged, sharp edges. I draw it into my lap and sit there clutching it as the tears stream down my cheeks.

 My breathing is coming in little gasps now. I’m struggling to force air down into my lungs – they’re on fire from the inside, smoke filled and layered with ash. My fingers are starting to tingle. My lips are going numb.

And then he appears, a dark shape against the sky, and the rock slides out of my hand and falls with a muted thud to the sand.  I open my mouth to scream but I can’t because my throat has squeezed shut and there’s no air left in my lungs.

And the last thing I see, before the darkness drowns me completely, is him. 

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