Island of Bones

Chapter One

 Island of Bones
Our Noir Publishing

Dark. It was so dark. She could see nothing.

But she could feel. She could feel the rain stinging her face, the trees tearing at her flesh. She could feel her heart hammering in her chest, feel the life beating inside her. She could still feel and that meant she was still alive.

She kept running.

The wind was blowing hard now, making the trees twist and groan above her. The wet leaves rained down, sticking black on her bare white arms. Her feet were slippery with mud and blood.

She kept running.

Something dark rose up in front of her. The fence...she had made it to the fence. Her eyes raked the dark wood, looking for a gate. Nothing, no way out. She had to climb over.

She jumped, grabbing the top of the fence. It was jagged, cutting into her fingers, but she held on. Placing her feet on the wet wood, she strained to pull herself up. Her bare feet slipped on the wet wood but she was strong. She got an arm over the top and pulled herself up. Her blouse snagged on a board but she didn't stop. She jumped down, falling and rolling in the mud.

There was a gash on her arm and something burned on her right foot, but there was Mangroves...she had reached the mangroves. But where was the dock? She stopped, her eyes raking the darkness.

The light. Where was the light? There was a light on the dock. She had seen it before. She had seen the dinghy there, too.

She pushed her wet hair back off her face and tried to get her bearings. Had she gone the wrong way? Everything looked so different at night. The storm must have knocked out the power. Where was the dock?

A sudden blast of wind knocked her back against a tree. Her knees buckled and she grabbed the rough bark, clinging to it, pulling herself back up.

A light. The dock light! She could see it now, faintly through the trees.

With a cry, she pushed off the tree and stumbled toward the light.

She froze.

The light was moving. Jerking, swinging back and forth. It wasn't the dock light. It was a flashlight, coming toward her.

God, not here! Don't let me die here! Don't let her die here!

She pulled a ragged breath deep into her burning lungs, pushing down the fear that was rising in her throat. She sank back into the black mangroves, crouching in the rib cage of roots.

The beam of light grew larger and brighter. She bit down her lip to keep from crying and tasted her own blood. A violent clap of thunder rose above the wind. She closed her eyes.

Then, suddenly, for just a moment, the wind died and it was quiet.

Her eyes shot open. A bump. In that one second of silence she had heard the bump of a boat against wood. Just a few feet away.

Get up! can make it! Run!

She could smell the water now and she moved toward it, feeling her way and stepping carefully over the high twisting mangrove roots. She could feel the cold mud covering her feet now and then the water rushing up over her ankles.

Oh God! There it was! The dock!

And the boat was there. She could see it, a small slash of white bobbing in the churning black water.

She looked back. The flashlight was gone. She looked back at the dock. Twenty feet, all she had to do was run twenty feet out in the open to the boat. Just twenty feet and she would be free.

She crept out of the mangrove cover and into the open. Her feet hit wood and she ran down the dock to the boat. She jumped inside, pulling off the lines. She pushed the boat away from the dock, grabbed the cord on the motor and pulled hard. It jammed.

Her eyes shot to the dark shore. Through the slashing rain, she could see the flashlight. Faint but moving again, coming toward the dock.

With a cry, she yanked on the cord again. Something tore in her shoulder but she kept pulling. Finally, the motor sputtered to life, its whine rising above the roar of the storm.

She looked out at the water. Nothing. No lights, no land. Just the angry swirl of the night sky and the roiling black waves spitting out whitecaps.

She took one last look back. The flashlight coming fast.

She hit the throttle and the little boat started away.


The rain was slicing into her like knives. A flash of lightening and for a second, she could see the huge waves, green and foaming.

Then a sharp crack of thunder so close she could feel it.

A sudden sting in her back.

A pain burning through her body like a hot sword.

She reached back to touch her back and felt something warm.

Another sharp, close crack of thunder.

She jerked as the second bullet pierced her neck.

Then it was quiet.

She couldn't see anything. She couldn't hear anything.

She couldn't feel anything.

The motor sputtered out and the small white boat lurched sharply. A huge wave grabbed it, heaving it up on the foaming crest and then smashing in down into the trough.

When the boat bobbed upright, it was empty.

© P.J. Parrish