It seems the book is teasing us before going live on 28th November 2020.
It would only be fair then to take a sneak preview inside, to allow ‘your‘ journey to begin.
So, here is an excerpt chapter from the beginning of the novel ‘The Windmill‘.
I hope you enjoy it.
A pungent smell of wet earth pervaded as the dampness reached deep inside to scrape at their bones. An unbearable coldness numbed their legs as they crouched low in the shallow, mucky, water-filled ditch. Their eyes strained, searching in the darkness for shadows and silhouettes. Farther down the trackway, balls of light emanated from torches, arching from one side to the other, scanning intently for something or someone who must be found. All her senses were alert as she concentrated on every movement. Her chest pounded, and she experienced such anxiety, never felt in her life before, knowing she must keep control, not for herself but for the sake of those beside her. She tenderly squeezed the arm of the child beside her, sensing his heart quicken.
‘Be strong,’ she whispered as she listened to the faint voices gather around the light on the track. The whimper of the child next to her told her it was time to move on. These conditions would not allow them to stay here much longer and the danger was imminent. She bent forward, feeling for the hand of Freya, and fumbled until she touched her face, drawing her near.
‘Comfort the children. Keep them quiet, no matter how cold or uncomfortable they become; this is imperative for their safety.’ She took a deep breath to evade any signs of nervousness. ‘I’m going further up the ditch on my own.’
‘No argument, Freya! For the sake of the children. I know what I must do. Stay here whatever happens and at dawn creep back into the coppice. Follow the treeline and do not come out. Do not go on the trackway. Move quietly and quickly. Do not stop until you reach the edge of the forest. There, seek cover but remain alert and wait, no matter how long… until you are safe. Do you hear me?’
Her breath shallow, she nodded in compliance.
‘I will see you again… someday, I promise.’
With those final words, she reached over once more, this time to kiss her on the forehead, whilst letting go of her clenched hand.
The young boy next to her had attached himself to her, his hand encircling her arm as if in an iron vice. He only relinquished his grip as she prised open his fingers and placed his hand in Freya’s and patted his shoulder to comfort him. Aware of his tears and the fear he exuded, she kissed him softly. The emotion rising inside her was becoming overwhelming, and she turned and thrust her hand into the bitter cold water of the ditch before any of the other children would notice; the striking pain tore away at any sentiments of weakness that would have broken her only a moment ago. Not only for their sake, she did this, but for her own sanity.
Numbed by the gelid conditions, her legs and feet, almost paralysed, would not respond. One after the other, slowly she moved each limb, trying to be quiet; she needed to cause a distraction, but not here… further away.
At last, her limbs, although still leaden, were able to function without her dragging them and she grabbed the edge of the bank, digging her nails into the drenched grass, and cautiously pulled herself up. From here she could again see the light from the torches in the distance. The mud-sodden trackway appeared empty. With all her might, she heaved her listless body out of the ditch and scrambled to her feet. Still awkward and clumsy, she managed to cross the track.
On the other side, the ditch wasn’t as deep or wet and she manoeuvred herself into it, aware that behind her was a steep climb up through the trees. The view from here gave a better vantage on what was materialising, and she became alarmed at the proximity of the torchbearers to the location of the children and Freya.
A sudden commotion started amongst the searchers, and the shadows appeared to advance up the track. With no time for hesitancy, there was only one thing to do, and her body surged into action, pumping adrenaline through her, forcing her to launch herself without care onto the trackway and stand in the darkness. Through the mist she viewed the silhouettes congregate near the ditch, opened her mouth to scream… nothing.
Desperate and with no control of her panic, she took another breath and let forth a soul-terrifying shriek born of true frustration.
And it worked.
Surprised at the cry exploding from her, soaring down the track to catch the attention of the intent searchers. Frozen to the spot now, unafraid; defiant, she refused to move. The swathes of light stabbed in the darkness as bursts of sound reverberated up the track… within seconds the pursuers converged around her.
Relief came to her in this moment, knowing she’d drawn them away from the ditch. For the sake of the children, she remained standing exactly where she was, determined. Not seeing anything… but the lucent, blinding light.
The windmill is released on 28th November and is available for order as a paperback or on 18th November in Ebook format from Matador, Troubador Publishing. Click on THE WINDMILL link below:
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