EXCERPT FROM THE SEEDS OF TIME;
"Billy gathered his ‘treasures’ together and laid them at the end of his ramshackle bunk in hut nineteen. There wasn’t a lot to account for three years’ incarceration at the hands of the sometimes-brutal Germans, but his treasures represented his life and more importantly his soul. He thought about the refugees who had filed past the gates of his camp. Old people: women with children, babes in arms, the injured, burned, terrified, and the deranged. All were fleeing from the horrors. The Christians among them struggling to believe and reconcile their religious beliefs with Nazi cold-blooded excesses and mass murder.
Billy considered his pitiful little pile: Christmas cards from Penny, her heavily censored letters and her simple but evocative poetry, the hand-made playing cards, two cigarettes, the German soldier’s – Dieter’s – belt buckle and Nathaniel’s penny whistle. Nathaniel. Billy shook his head in regret and fought back the familiar choking feeling that arose in his throat whenever his memory arose. He thrust his dark thoughts aside and continued picking over his possessions. He would take as many clothes as he could carry. He had nothing heavy; he’d given his Bible away, hopefully to someone who would put it to better use than he. Gathering up his things, he tied them into a bundle with his faded and much darned pullover, and slung it over his shoulder. He straightened his back, lifted his head and stood as erect as his gammy leg allowed. I’ll march out of here proudly he thought. Together with his comrades they formed into ranks and marched smartly up to the gates. The weak and sick were supported by their stronger colleagues, their spirits rising. They didn’t know where they were going, but it had to be a better place than this.
The Atlantic 2005
Richard knew he had no choice. It had to be now; he would never get another chance. He took a deep breath and pushed off the heaving wet deck of his yacht. With sheer determination, he dived for the rescue net. He hit the water, and his lower torso disappeared into the black froth that seemed to claw and clutch at him. Somehow, he managed to stretch out, and as he grabbed the harsh net with one arm, he felt the mesh tangle around him. The ship lurched, and this time he was fully immersed in deep water. What seemed like minutes later, he broke the surface, coughing and choking, the salt stinging his eyes. Clamping his other hand round the netting, Richard clung to it like a limpet. The water roared and hissed around his ears, terrifyingly black. He knew he must climb the rescue net quickly, as his energy was rapidly ebbing away, and conditions weren’t going to get any better.
Moving one arm higher, he found a rung and hauled himself up, grunting with the exertion as he did so. His hands were bleeding from fresh cuts where he had smashed against the rough barnacles on the ship’s hull. Fatigue was rapidly overwhelming him. The past few days of untold stress and lack of sleep were taking their toll. Gritting his teeth, he managed to move up another foot of net and then by willpower alone, he pulled himself up rung by rung. He heard the faint encouraging cries of the crew far above him and paused. He looked up and saw a line of faces peering down at him. His adrenalin surged, and with renewed vigour, he at last collapsed thankfully on the ship’s deck.
Utterly exhausted by his ordeal, Richard lay there not quite believing where he was. Water streamed off his body, and he knew that soon he would begin to feel the cold as it seeped through to his bones. Coughing and retching seawater, Richard sat up, suddenly noticing the ring of sturdy-looking sea boots before him. He attempted to stand and felt strong arms supporting him. He braced his legs against the motion of the deck and looked round. A circle of anxious faces stared back: a stocky bearded fellow whom he assumed to be the captain, four or five crew members, and an ashen-faced Toby. The captain cleared his throat, about to speak.
Again, Richard looked around his surroundings and forestalled him by saying hoarsely, ‘Where’s Connie? Where’s my wife?’ His voice wavered, and he felt his heart thump wildly in his chest. There was silence. No one spoke. All sounds drifted away from him. He was in a dreamlike glide, and the reality was too strange to comprehend. He felt as though his actions were slowing, as if in a slow-motion film, frame by frame passing by. Everything took an eternity: a raised hand placed on his shoulder, a sentence spoken slowly by someone, but everything seen with an achingly clear focus, sharply defined. He imagined her limp in his arms, her head thrown back, and the curve of her throat, so beautiful. She was gone.
The slow world turned crimson red. It spun wildly on its axis and then rushed up to engulf him as his head hit the hard deck with a thump.
Richard William Barker couldn’t get the idea out of his head that something was up. Nothing had been said, but he was now feeling edgy once he had finished talking to his friend, Toby Ellis. Richard thought over what Toby had told him.
“Guess what? I knew you were waiting for that new piece of navigational software to come out, and I’ve pulled a few strings with some pals of mine at Oceantech. I’ve been given a sample which they’d like you to sea-trial for them. I was thinking – I have a bit of leave to take, and I thought I’d bring it out to Tenerife instead of trusting it to the post. The piece probably wouldn’t reach you in time before you leave to cross the Atlantic anyway. So I’ll see you both tomorrow. The flight gets in mid-afternoon, and I’ll get a taxi to the marina. I must say I’m looking forward to seeing you and Connie and catching some rays. The weather here is bloody awful at the moment.”
Although Richard liked Toby, he knew his friend was often selfish and usually worked off his own agenda, so Richard had every right to feel suspicious. He paused on the foredeck of his yacht and shook his head. What the hell! There was probably nothing in it at all, and he was being paranoid. Toby was simply doing him a favour in delivering the piece of software and using Tenerife as an excuse to see some winter sun. Once Richard and Connie set sail, he would no doubt move into the swankiest hotel on the island and cast his roving eye around for some beautiful woman to pass the time. Richard laughed. Toby was the devil when it came to women, and no female under the age of fifty was safe as far as he was concerned. Richard didn’t know how he managed it. He decided he needed a cold beer before Connie got back from her shopping and rummaged around in the cool box until he found what he was looking for. He deserved a ten-minute break anyway.
Richard reached the cockpit of his beautiful sloop-rigged yacht, Ellentari, and looked along her deck. He still felt a shiver of pleasure as he ran a hand over the smooth varnished mahogany trim. This trip was going to be the adventure of a lifetime, and it was something Richard had planned down to the tiniest detail. As far as he could tell, nothing was left unorganised or forgotten, and he was as coiled as a spring with anticipation.
Richard’s long-term plans had come together nicely. They had all the necessary ingredients: the time, the money, and a successful partnership in which they complimented each other for the majority of the time they spent together. After a heady, passionate early marriage, Richard and Connie Barker had settled down with only the occasional stormy row to punctuate their steady relationship. Richard loved Connie – there was no doubt about his feelings towards her, but being fairly undemonstrative, Richard usually kept his inner feelings to himself….
KOBO BARNES & NOBLE APPLE iTUNES SMASHWORDS