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.