Friday, May 4, 2012

A Sneak Peek

Okay, call me cruel - I've been called worse - but after thinking and thinking about it, I've decided to share a teeny tiny tidbit.  A sneak peek, as you will. 

For the past five months, I've been hard at work on the sequel to Running into the Darkness.  We're nearing the halfway point, and next month is the start of work on the cover art.  So for those who've been emailing about the sequel, Piercing the Darkness, here's living proof that it is truly in the works.

I hope it whets your appetite.

Chapter 1 – Coming to the Surface

The steady cadence of waves slapping against the boat would put the ordinary fisherman to sleep.  But Billy McCurdy considered himself a step above any ordinary fisherman.  Hell, more like ten steps.
As the line of one fishing reel played out, he baited and tossed out the next until every available inch of the deck stood at attention.  The Cathouse may have appeared derelict by some standards, but she was one workhorse of a fishing vessel.  The old girl had it where it really counted.
Best of all, she was his.  Not tied up by a partner nor a bank, but one-hundred-percent his own, and McCurdy treated her with the touch of a lover.  When he’d make port and sell his catch he always brought her back something special.  Each time her engines started up now, the purr threatened to give him a hard-on.  In no time he’d have her rigged up right nice if the fish kept biting.  Get the hydraulics for the crane and nets functioning again, maybe next season he’d be in a position to hire a real crew.
For now, he put up with his good-for-nothing son for a crew.  Joey didn’t have the common sense of an onion.  On the day God passed out personal gumption, Joey was likely sleeping off the drinking binge of the night before.  Running a boat required a minimum second set of hands, and at least Joey had the hands, if not the brains, to fulfill that requirement.
“Hey, Pops!”
Speak of the devil.  “On deck!”
Joey’s hulk blocked the sun as he leaned over the wheelhouse railing.
“That radar thingy has a pretty big area showing just off this way,” Joey said as he pointed to his left.
“My right?  That would be starboard, son.  Starboard!”
“Yeah.  Whatever.”
McCurdy took the steps up the ladder two at a time and glared down his son as much as their identical six-foot-five frames allowed. 
“Learn the damn terms, boy.  Now get down on deck while I assess the target.”
As Joey slunk down the ladder, McCurdy entered the wheelhouse and reviewed the depth finder.  He let out a low whistle as he surveyed the shadowed mass on the sonar.  The school of fish arrayed on the screen would give him a pretty hefty payload in short order.  Looked like no other fishing vessel was close enough to reach it before he secured the choicest pick.
Hot damn.  Maybe there was hope for Joey after all.
“Weighing anchor,” he called over the loudspeaker.  “Pull in the lines and get ready to work your ass off, boy.”
The engines rumbled up from idle into full power as he angled the Cathouse out of Pocomoke Sound and into the Chesapeake toward a nice chunk of change - hopefully.  Less than fifteen minutes later they pulled up in deeper waters just southwest of where sonar showed the school.  The anchor released with a rattle of chain as he set the engines back to idle.
Down on deck, McCurdy directed, “Pull out the small nets and rig the poles so we can get them in easier.  I don’t want to waste this opportunity with standard fishing line.”
Since they both had to work the deck manually with an inoperable crane, they’d be unable to tow nets and follow the school.  After the first scramble, maybe they could move on ahead and take a second shot at the mass, but larger boats would likely be on them by then and they’d lose out.  The school’s sheer size gave them a good chance to fill their tank in one go-around if they played it right.
Movement in the first nets relayed the arrival.  Father and son jumped into action and started reeling in as fast as their bulging arms allowed, then heaving the wriggling catch into the tank before lowering nets back into the water.  The furious pace continued.
McCurdy’s heart thundered against his chest as he strained against the nets.  He couldn’t tell if it was strictly from exertion or excitement – probably both.  When it appeared the school was moving on, they began releasing the catch right onto the Cathouse’s deck to facilitate returning the nets back into the water until they came up empty.
The school had advanced toward the dark recesses of the Atlantic.
They stared at each other, their arms limp at their sides, faces drenched in sweat and saltwater.  McCurdy let out a whoop.  The deck swam with writhing fish – the biggest single catch of his fledgling fishing career.  Joey had surprised him by sticking to the task right alongside him.  Yep, there was definitely hope for the kid yet.
As they set about shoveling their catch into the tank, McCurdy mentally calculated the payout.  Soon as they got to port, he’d make a call to schedule the Cathouse for her crane and hydraulics repair job at season’s end.  Then maybe he’d make a trip into the city to get rid of some of his pent-up excitement and fatten some one else’s wallet a bit.  Might even take Joey along and introduce him to his first stripper-fest.
“Shit!”  Joey’s exclamation ended the delicious thought. 
“It’s only fish, boy!  Grow a pair.”  When McCurdy turned to laugh at his son, the shovel clattered to the deck.  “What the hell?”
Near the bottom of the wriggling mass, they stared in horror at the swollen and half-eaten remains of a human body.

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