Saturday, August 14, 2010

Torrential Trouble - A Weather Blogfest

Today is the Weather Blogfest given by Nick over at A Little Slice of Nothing. I love drama. Not just relationship drama, but honest to goodness edge-of-your-seat drama. I had a scene in mind as soon as I read about the blogfest.

I wrote a series of books called the Intelli-Trace Files about bounty hunters for stolen technology. This excerpt is from the first one entitled, The Shadow Effect. I entered a blogfest earlier and entered the first chapter here.

August, the main character, and a group of Intelli-Trace operatives are making their way through the jungles of Peru trying to track down the people who stole and interrogation formula.  Hayden, Jake and Daryl are his team mates.  The girls he's refering to are from a local village. They paid the girls to help with the equipment and to act as guides.

Hayden has the habit of never asking for help when she needs it, a theme throughout the book.  She is August's love interest.

The Shadow Effect - An Intelli-Trace File

The air pressure changed and August felt a stirring in the weather. The hair on his arms stood up, and then a flash of lightning scratched along the dark sky followed by the roar of thunder overhead. Up at the front of the caravan, Hayden looked up at the sky, her brow furrowed.

His earpiece clicked, and August heard Jake and Daryl swearing from the end of the caravan. Hayden called out to the girls to stop walking and dug in her knapsack. August did the same, located his rain poncho, and pulled it over his head just as the oversized drops started pelting down from the sky.

With this weather, August thought, their trek will take twice as long. At least the rain took the edge off the heat.

Up ahead, Hayden motioned for the girls to continue. The rain pounded on August’s head loud against the plastic of the hood. He could barely hear anything else. He looked back at Jake who gave him the thumbs up sign, and the group started moving again.

They picked their way along the path toward a ravine with a steep embankment on the other side. The girls stopped ahead of them and chattered amongst themselves, pointing to the ravine. As he got to the edge, August realized that the ravine was much narrower and deeper than he thought. It looked like it used to be a river. An old ladder-bridge spanned the ravine four feet down from the edge and almost fifty feet across. Directly underneath the bridge, the middle of the riverbed narrowed abruptly to a V. The torrential rain poured into the ravine, the water already rising.

Construction crews often erected these makeshift bridges to get supplies across to a site until a road is cleared, August knew. This one looked at least ten years old. Weather damaged and rotting from the constant moisture in the jungle air, August noticed some of the slats missing.

It wouldn’t be safe to double back and take the main road. Not knowing where the militia was made it dangerous to go hiking around VasTech’s grounds. This path at least provided some cover. They had to press on.

Hayden said something, but the sound of both the pounding rain and the splashing water drowned her out. He shook his head and cupped a hand to his ear, listening.

“I said we have to get across now,” Hayden repeated.

August nodded. “It’s rising fast,” he half-yelled back.

In the time they stood there talking, the water rose almost to the bottom of the bridge. Hayden said something again, but he didn’t catch it, the noise of the rain deafening.

Hayden called to the girls to cross, but another thunder clap drowned her out. August saw her flinch. The sound roared over them, filling the space around them and then rolled onward down the ravine.

Motioning for the girls to follow her, Hayden took up her knapsack, walked ahead of them, and crossed to the other side of the ravine. August looked up. The black clouds churned and a wind picked up, chilling the rain.

Following the girls, August started across the ladder bridge. The water lapped along the bottom of the slats and the mud supporting the bridge sloughed off in chunks from the side of the ravine. August felt the bridge shift under them.

“Hurry up,” Hayden yelled. “Get across.”

August doubted the girls heard her over the thunder.

Hayden caught August’s attention just as a flash of lightning ripped across the sky lighting up her eyes. She looked scared. She climbed up onto the other side of the ravine and reached down for one of the girls, helping her climb up.

“It’s giving way,” Hayden yelled.

He nodded and continued toward her. Hayden reached down again, grabbed a crate from another girl, and then helped her up the steep side to her level. One by one she pulled the girls up. Frightened, they grasped at Hayden. The last girl moved up to the embankment, August a few yards behind her. August gave Daryl and Jake the thumbs up sign, and the two started down the side of the embankment toward the bridge.

Up ahead, August saw the last girl hand her crate to Hayden. The girl flinched as another streak of lightning lit up the sky, connecting with a tree on the far side of the ravine. Sparks erupted from the tree and a deafening crack tore across the field as the tree toppled over.

August gritted his teeth. If they didn’t get out of the storm, they’d get either fried by lightening, or crushed by a falling tree. They had to move.

More thunder rumbled over them. Spooked, the last girl pawed desperately at Hayden, trying to climb up.

“Stop,” Hayden yelled. “Para. Me voy a cayer!”

She was losing her footing, and August saw the mud start to slide from under Hayden’s feet. They were dealing with a rushing river now, the rain water flowing toward the basin.

“Back up,” he yelled, but was drowned out by another roll of thunder. “Hayden!” The water, now up over his knees, slowed him as he tried to get to her.

“Please,” he prayed. “Don’t let them fall. The current is too strong.”

He was almost there. The girl had a hold of Hayden’s poncho and was pulling herself up by it. Hayden leaned back trying to get some leverage. Almost there, August could see a large chunk of the ground under Hayden crack and then give way, toppling her into the ravine.

August reached out and grabbed at Hayden just as she hit the water. He caught her by the strap of the knapsack and pulled her toward him. She was bleeding from her forehead; probably hit her head on the bridge. She reached out for the girl, but the current was already pulling her down.

That's my entry in the blogfest. I hope you enjoyed a jaunt in the jungle with the Intelli-Trace crew. Check out the other great entries over at A Little Slice of Nothing.  Until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by edenpictures.


Francine Howarth said...


Oh god, rope bridges! You just know everyone has to move it - get across as quickly as possible. These sort of scenes always have me on the edge of my seat, and the descripton so good here that I could see all the characters as though up on the big screen.


Justin W. Parente said...

Hi Raquel,

This is a great scene, but a few minor points to note:

I believe you have a POV slip in the first paragraph between August and Hayden. You start us with August, who seems to be in the back of the caravan, and then describe Hayden's brow furrowing and she's at the front of the caravan.

You also have some minor grammar/spelling things, but I won't go into that.

As Francine pointed out, having this bridge as the conflict in the piece was a great choice. It's formidable as is, but for it to be rocking and swaying in storm winds and some of the slits missing? Lightning flying everywhere. Trees crackling.

Oh yes, weather is a nasty thing.

Thanks for the read!

Anonymous said...

I'm not entered in the blog fest, but loved your entry.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Rope bridges are a nightmare of mine. Literally.

Your entry was a movie in my mind with your vivid details and grounding me in August's perceptions. Bravo. Roland

February Grace said...

OH man, I'm with Francine and Roland. Rope bridges never bode well!

Was hanging on every word.

I am loving this blogfest.


Amalia Dillin said...

That is some definite weather as character! Very menacing and well done! I could really feel their desperation to get across before things got out of hand further, and August's concern for Hayden. It seemed like Hayden was just as worried about him getting up and across as he was about her slipping in the current.

Nice scene!

Dawn Embers said...

Well done.

There is a lot going on with this scene and there is an element of confusion that it creates. For the most part this adds to the tension. Though, I'll admit, I was confused for a brief moment on the gender/sex of August. I got it figured out but there was a slight pause for me to do so.

Rain plus a river, nice choice. A sudden downpour can lead to the swell, which you did well showcasing in this.

Nicole Murray said...

This was so easy to read along and see in the head. Great description and build of action. And what a perfect jungle action scenario!

Thank you so much for the read!

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Rope bridges scare the stuff outta me. I love how the weather created chaos and just kept coming at them.

Great post! that rebel, Olivia

Alison Pearce Stevens said...

Wow. I could feel the bridge slipping, and I still feel tense. You really brought the scene to life!

Denise Covey said...

Great tension Raquel. Obviously a lot of people have a thing about rope bridges, especially dreading getting that swing up..:)

dolorah said...

That was an intense scene. Yeah, I was picturing in my mind the swaying bridge, the wind, the gully filling up with water at flash-flood rate. I could see and feel it all. Excellent work.

One question though: Did you mean for this to be in omniscient POV? If you did, you need to add in the guide girls, Jake and Daryl's thoughts/struggles during the scene. Otherwise, pick which character - August or Hayden - should be the pov character for this scene.

I can tell this is a suspensefull novel - CLIFFHANGER type drama and action. I'm intrigued. Your excerpts are always page-turner types for me.


Unknown said...

Great writing, Raquel!

Rope bridges give me the creeps.


Seriously, they do.

J.C. Martin @ Fighter Writer said...

For someone afraid of heights, rope bridges give me the heebie-jeebies! Great atmospheric writing!