The following is an excerpt from the Mike Scott thriller Wreck of the Huron.
The air was chaos. Hurricane winds pushed the rain sideways and roared past like a freight train with no stops in sight. Boards from old houses, palm fronds and sand blew around as Mike and Sarah ran through the night looking for shelter — both from the weather and from the men chasing them.
It was almost pitch dark, but the night sky was punctuated by flashes of light as lightning shot over their heads. Sixty feet away, a power transformer exploded and the darkness deepened.
“In there. I think we’ll be safe!” Mike shouted, pointing to the remains of a small house.
“Anything has to be better than this,” Sarah yelled back as she ran onto the broken-down porch of the small bungalow. She grabbed the door handle and pulled the old door open in one motion. The wind caught it and nearly wrenched it from her hand as they jumped inside. With effort, they got the door closed
Inside they surveyed their surroundings and realized the house had been abandoned for a long time. The furnishings were toppled and strewn about. The windows were broken. Rain leaked through holes in the roof. But it was still better to be out of the wind and rain for a moment. At least they could talk without screaming.
“Do you think they followed us out into the storm?” Sarah asked after she caught her breath, leaning against the wall.
“Don’t know. Probably best if we don’t wait to find out,” Mike said.
“I’m not too thrilled about going back out into a hurricane right now,” Sarah said, looking through the broken window as the remnants of an aging curtain flapped in the wind, her sodden clothes glued to her body. “My arm is killing me.”
Mike was still up and was moving around, checking out the house. “I wish I could do more to help you with that arm. I know it must be pretty tough to keep it in a sling when you’re running for your life. When we get out of this I’ll find a way to make them pay for that. ”
“It’s not your fault, Mike. They knew they would never get you to tell them anything. Easier to hurt me and get to you. Always the way it goes with you tough guys,” Sarah rationalized. “Hurts like hell, though. And you’ll have to stand in line behind me to get some payback for it.”
The men chasing them had used Sarah as leverage to get to Mike, slowly twisting and finally breaking her arm. He had fashioned a makeshift sling for her when they escaped, but it wasn’t enough to keep it steady…definitely not while running. He knew it had to be killing her, but she refused to complain.
Mike explored the two-room shack, moving into the kitchen to see if there was anything they could use as a weapon or to communicate with their friends on the research ship. They weren’t going to be able to last forever without help. When the storm passed, they would still be on the run.
“Hold on, it looks like this house has a storm cellar. If it’s solid, it’ll keep us safer than up here,” Mike said as he pulled on the small door built a few steps down from the kitchen. The angled door seemed to point straight into the ground.
“How does it look?” Sarah asked. She stood and began to follow, then hesitated at the top of the steps. Mike eased his way down the narrow steps with their one slowly-dying flashlight. The room was built into the earth below the house with wooden walls to keep the sandy soil from collapsing. The ceiling was so low that Mike couldn’t come close to standing up. The air was musty and stale, but dry.
“Looks solid,” he called from below. “I definitely think this is going to be safer than staying up there. We’ll be out of the wind and away from prying eyes,” He waited for a response that didn’t come. “Come on down.” He shone the light on the steps while Sarah began climbing down, gingerly holding onto the wall with one hand while she cradled her injured arm against her body.
Sarah was on the third step when her instincts told her it was time to move. She leaped forward into the small, dark room. A fierce wind from the storm slammed the angled storm cellar door shut behind her.
“Did I suggest diving in?” Mike asked with a laugh as he lay sprawled on the floor where Sarah had tackled him.
“You made it sound so appealing I just couldn’t wait to join you. You know how I am,” she said with a chuckle as she rolled away, and then hissed from the pain in her broken arm. She moved to sit up, but Mike held his arms around her for a minute.
“Do you really think this is the time and the place for that?” Sarah asked, looking at Mike through the dim light and dust.
“Probably not, but it felt pretty good,” Mike said, relaxing his hold and helping her to sit up. He watched Sarah move in the half-light for a minute before he half-stood up to examine their surroundings — his 6’2” frame filling up the room.
Sarah began moving around the cramped, musty cellar, looking through shelves and behind boxes with only the dim light from Mike’s light to see. Mike moved up the steps toward the door. He turned the knob but nothing happened. He pushed against it and then shoved upward with his shoulder, bracing on the steps below. Nothing.
“We’re not getting out this way any time soon. Part of the house must have fallen against it,” Mike said.
“Then we aren’t getting out at all. That’s the only way out. No back doors,” Sarah said. “I did find some candles, though. Got any matches?”
“No such luck.”
“It’s going to be a dark, wet night until this storm passes,” Sarah said. “Maybe we’ll see another opening in the light of the day. I see lightning flashes through cracks in the ceiling from time to time. We’ll find a way to get out when we can see something.”
She slumped down to the floor with her back to a wooden wall. Mike moved toward her and placed his arm around her shoulders. She leaned into him and they sat still for a few minutes, listening to the wind and rain howling and crashing above them.
“Are we going to make it through this?” Sarah asked during a lull in the clamor.
“Of course we are,” Mike said, doing his best to lighten the mood. “If we don’t, you can tell me I was wrong.”
“Who knows? Maybe those guys chased us out into the storm and they’ll get killed,” Mike said, trying to sound reasonable. “It could save us the trouble.”
“That would be nice, wouldn’t it?” Sarah said, looking up with a sparkle coming back in her eye. “Although it would be a little disappointing – I wouldn’t get my revenge.”
Get your copy of Wreck of the Huron today, in softcover or Kindle. It is also part of the Mike Scott Boxed Set that includes the first five novels and two short stories.