Thursday, June 23, 2011

In the Narrow Strait

As promised (see my previous entry), here’s an excerpt from Virgin Unknown.  The main character’s brother, Orestes, is commanding a ship in a treacherous passage between cliffs.  He has been pursued by the Furies, hideous flying creatures. 

            The ship lurched.  Orestes bent his knees to keep his stance, but he could feel and see the ship getting swept to the left. 
            DOUBLE TIME!”  The urgency in the steersman’s voice did nothing to calm Orestes’ heart.  He could see the muscles in the arms and chests of the oarsmen strain to the point of breaking as they struggled against the churning water.  The cliff on the left seemed to rush towards them, wanting to crush them like some hollow shell.  He gasped at the menace, and in that moment his mind flew to such a level of alertness he saw beyond the left railing a couple of crabs scuttle in the sand at the base of the cliff, the ship was so close. 
            He also saw Pylades moving, but the speed was a tenth of his friend’s normal motion.  His eyebrows twisted in consternation, as when a man realizes something is crawling across his bare leg.  Then he looked down, his body stable as he paid no mind to the rolling and lurching.  He grasped a small pouch at his waist with his large hands.  Mouth agape, his eyes grew wide.  Still in that moment of slowness, he looked up, his lips moving.  The words brought Orestes’ mind back to normal perception. 
            “Orestes!  The pearl is glowing!  The Furies approach!” 
            Pylades was gripping the huge pearl Athena had given him.  A pink light shone between his fingers.  Orestes remembered what the wise immortal had promised concerning her gift.  He looked up. 
            “AAGH!”  He saw two hideous gray things flying high, above the cliffs, following their path.  Orestes drew his sword.  

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