Friday, February 13, 2009

Willows Blood Excerpt (Just for fun)

Below is an excerpt from the last third of Willows Blood (still in first draft condition). Warren is one of three characters who make an appearance in both Troubled_Waters and Willows Blood and he's one of the two most important.

If you'd like to read the (only) other excerpt I've posted of this and weren't with me last August, you can look : HERE. That excerpt is from this character's pov as well (that was sort of an accident--I simply searched for strong scenes that wouldn't give the entire plot away). Regular readers; if you'd like to read the first chapter or two (both which are written from the POV of Sevin--the primary character), let me know and I'll e-mail it to you. To avoid making any prospective agents unhappy ( a girl can dream), I won't be posting any more of either book.

Chapter Thirty-seven

Warren knew running without a plan would only make it worse. There were more of them than him, they hadn't been deprived of food for nearly two weeks and they knew the woods better than he did. But he continued south up the nearest hill, turned east along the crest, half jogging, half stumbling, between boulders, sliding on damp shelf rock, then stopped in the shadow of closely spaced trees.

Lost for a second, he scanned the landscape. They were still coming behind him, but were only about halfway up the hill and well west of him. They were looking for him so they weren't moving as quickly, but it wouldn't be long before they realized he'd turned. At a brief loss, he stood still and took stock of his options as he scanned the terrain. He sighted a hollow, covered in thick brush at the base of the hill on to the north.

It would mean some gymnastics to get down there, but it would have to do. He half slid and half rolled down the slope until he came to rest in the depths of the underbrush. Scrambling, ignoring the complaints of bruised shins, he crawled as far into the bushes as he could fit and buried himself in what leaves he could scrape together in less than a minute. He hoped none of his pursuers were gifted with a good sense of smell; the odor of his own his own long unwashed body filled his nose and he considered breathing out his mouth, only rejecting it because he was afraid it would be too noisy.

Laying in the darkness of his cover, he listened to the rushing of boots above him, snapping deadfall and crushing leaves as they abandoned stealth in favor of speed. It was the satisfying sound of a panicked stampede. Whispers grew to mutters of confusion.

One person gave voice to his frustration and it reverberated though out the hollow, echoing off the bluffs, scaring away some flock of huddled birds.


In his hiding place, Warren smiled.

The footsteps converged, gathering and stopping as the group tried to decide where to go next. Someone, probably the big blonde guy, barked a single word of command. He was sure there were silent gestures, angry points, impatient nods. They gathered, spread deliberately apart, and moved away, down the other side of the hill and faded to near soundlessness.

When he was sure they were well past him, he climbed out of his nest, and went west along a narrow creek bed, hoping to turn south again and continue toward his car when he'd put more time between himself and them.

He tried not to give into panic. It was slow going; the creek bed was full of loose rock, overgrown and full of short drop offs and rises and his unfed body objected to the journey with light headedness and weakness. He was very near collapse. The adrenaline or whatever magic it was that had carried him through tunnels, out of a burning house and through miles of woods, began to fade.

Two miles later the creek bed forked to the north and south. He paused and looked down the southern branch. The terrain was changing. He'd moved well into the mountains, with fewer slopes and deeper bluffs. If he was going to change his route, he was going to have to do it soon. The men who were looking for him him were, as far as he knew, on higher ground. If they varied their route at all, they could see him easily as he climbed over the rocks and his mobility was already impaired by exhaustion; he didn't stand a chance of escaping by running. He needed to get higher and stay in the trees.

The sun, he noted when he looked up again, was veiled by a roiling line of clouds. The air around him was moving around to accommodate the front, twitching trees, shifting grasses. It smelled like summer for just a second.

And then, as if, someone up there wanted to let him know he was right, it thundered.

Of course.


He couldn't see anything in the blowing downpour, couldn't find a single tree that held enough at bay so he could see his way, couldn't find a place to wait it out, but couldn't go forward more than a few yards without stopping again.

So he pushed onward and up the mountainside, shielding his eyes with from the downpour with one arm, using saplings for ballast as he climbed. He was forced to stop frequently, trying to guess which was south, praying he was right, and climbing further. A dozen times he thought he'd arrived at the summit only to find that it was yards away. His body was giving out and he couldn't hear anything, not even his own footsteps, the rain was coming down so hard. Finally though, the mountain ran out of summits and he could stand for an instant, like a half-folded beach chair, gasping for breath with his eyes closed. When he opened them, he was standing on a large bald knob.

For the first time since leaving the compound, he knew right where he was. He'd seen this mountain top from his car when he was parking it. If he was right, it was only about two miles away. if he stuck to the tree line it would take easily thirty minutes more to reach the other side. If he cut across the clearing, it would be less than fifteen. He didn't have thirty minutes so he'd have to chance the clearing.

With a quick glance around to confirm that he was alone, he stepped into the open.
And directly into the line of sight of the men standing against the backdrop of forest. Dressed for the weather in windbreakers with hoods, rain coats, and parkas, they'd stood like trees, waiting, as though they knew he would find them.

And, two feet away, somehow plainly audible, even in the downpour, someone took the safety off a trigger.


Dr Atomix said...

Mary, that passage reminds me a lot of Jude Law's character, Inman, in the movie Cold Mountain. You can feel the chill that Warren feels when the weather changes. Where can I buy some signed copies of your books? Seriously.

Mary Paddock said...

Hi Charles. You're very kind, thank you. I am searching for an agent at present so no signed copies yet, but when/if/when I do, you'll have one.