Extracts - Chapter 1
The first blow struck the side of my head.
I stagger, almost falling to the ground.
Sandino moves forward, stepping over the man lying dead at his feet. The man I saw him murder. Now he means to kill me.
I stumble back.
He thrusts out his cudgel, jabbing it hard into my gut.
Doubled up, I scrabble onto the rocks away from him.
He grunts in annoyance and follows.
I glance around desperately. Only the river, behind and below me, rushing in full flood.
Sandino grins, 'No escape for you, boy.'
He raises his arm. Swings his cudgel again.
I jerk my head away to avoid his next blow. My feet slip on the wet surface.
He shouts a curse.
I am falling.
The sudden shock of cold water.
And the river has me.
The current batters my body, grabbing at my clothes, dragging my legs. I swallow great lumps of water but I force my head to the surface and try to swim. My flailing is useless against the strength of the flow as it hurtles me onwards in its greedy grasp. I must try to reach one side of the riverbank. I must.
But I am weakening. Unable to keep my head up.
Then a sound fills me with terror. A waterfall!
The noise becomes louder, the water swifter. I am seconds from death. With a last effort I fling up my arms and scream for help. I am flung over the waterfall and slammed down into the foaming, broiling torrent.
A thundering mass of churning water pounds at me, driving me under. Caught in the whirlpool, I cannot break free of its deadly force. My face is upturned, mouth stretched wide, desperately sucking for air. The falling water distorts my vision. A shattered rainbow. Beyond it is light and life. My eyes roll back, blood roaring in my brain.
Now I seem to see myself from a great height. As though my mind views my body from another plane. Removed from this Earth to a different place, I look down and watch the frantic, dying struggles of a ten year old boy.
Clawing. Breath. None now.
Splintered light and utter darkness.