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Excerpt: (Kindle Locations 117-157)
DESOLATION BAY HARRISON LAKE BRITISH COLUMBIA 1861
Desperation drove the young woman on. She stumbled over rocks and boulders alongside the torrential waters crashing down the creek. She fought her way through tangled bushes and scrambled over waist-thick roots of ancient hemlocks.
Despite the pounding of her heart - so loud it seemed to be reverberating in her head – she could hear the clattering of stones as he pursued her.
Reaching the tree line, she tried to recall that day, more than a year ago, when he had hauled her out of the wooden canoe and her blindfold had slipped; tried to remember the path taken when he dragged her up through the brush.
Taking a chance; half-running, half-sliding down through the rain-soaked forest, then through wild brambles and dark green salal, she fled towards to the bay.
Her breathing came in shorter, tighter gasps.
When she reached the beach, the shingle shifted beneath her feet. She could not see the canoe. Now unsure, she shook her head in despair; her shoulders sagged in defeat.
Perhaps he had moored it elsewhere.
She ran down to the water’s edge where her feet slewed on decaying salmon carcasses. In the dark, she had not seen the torn guts leaking red-orange spawn. She lost her balance and fell. Disgusted by the slime on her hands and the foul smell of rotting fish, she pushed herself back up.
Hearing the clattering pebbles, she knew he too had reached the beach. He was gaining on her.
She must keep moving; but which way?
Then the clouds in the dark sky parted. The moon’s brilliance exposed the bay in a cruel, cold light.
Now she saw it; half-hidden in the shadow of a dogwood tree. She could just make out the movement of the canoe as it gently rocked in the breeze, the water slap-slapping against its sides.
He was not far behind her now; so near she could hear his heavy breathing.
She staggered towards her only chance. On reaching the craft after a few more slippery yards and with one last lunge, she grabbed the rope that tethered the canoe to the dead branches of an old tree. As it slid free from the slip knot, she stepped forward into the shock of icy cold. Splashing knee-high into the glacier-fed water, she pushed the canoe ahead; out into the dark and questionable safety of the bay.
Aware of the suicidal nature of her only chance of escape, she hesitated. Was she heading for a watery grave?
Then a shaft of moonlight struck the water and, there, clearly visible in the shallow, translucent water, was the body of a man she recognized; the whites of his dead eyes looking straight up at her.
She knew she had no other option: she pushed the canoe out into the bay.