Authors: David Antocci
Tags: #Fiction, #Retail, #Suspense, #Thriller
A New Life
David J Antocci
After saving a drowning man during a savage storm, Abby wakes up in a tropical paradise in a fight for her life.
She has no idea how she got there, and notices changes in herself that she cannot explain. Haunted by unsettling dreams of her past, she meets up with Eric, and together they set out to escape. Standing in their way is a madman, and his band of willing followers, with a mind set on murdering their unwelcome visitors. An eccentric hermit who has been living there for years offers them refuge, but they must deny his generosity. Escape is their only option. Yet, they discover this deceptive paradise is harder to leave than they had ever imagined. One mystery leads to another, until their escape throws them into even greater danger as Abby’s frightening past finally catches up with her. Her escape is only the beginning.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locals, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase and additional copy for each person you share it with. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.
Copyright © 2013 David J Antocci
All rights reserved.
Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
For information about permission to reproduce selections from this novel, visit the author’s website,
HER EYES FLASHED open with a start as she gasped for air. Heart pounding, she reached up and felt her moist face. Her eyes were wide open, yet she saw nothing. Blackness surrounded her. She heard what sounded like white noise all around her. Reaching down to feel her body, she found that her skin was cool and wet. A blinding white light streaked across the black sky above, forcing her eyes closed for a moment. Rain. She realized that she was hearing rain beat down all around her.
She sat up, with some effort, her
stomach muscles felt very sore. She felt her stomach and thought that it seemed smaller than it should be. Odd. With another flash of lightning, she saw waves pounding the beachhead in front of her. Consumed by confusion, she struggled to remember where she was.
How did I get here?
Through the haze, she knew one thing. She was soaking wet and feeling a chill. She needed a place to dry out.
Behind her she saw only tree
s and darkness. Ahead, she saw the blackness of water as far as her eyes could focus. To her left, she spotted a cliff jutting out of the water and up into the emptiness of the sky. There were a number of trees pushed up against what looked like an overhang off the side of the cliff.
That’s probably the driest spot around here
, she thought. Pushing her wet hair out of her eyes and running her fingers through it, she couldn’t help but think that it seemed a little longer than it should. She assumed that was because it was wet.
Where the hell am I?
Her thoughts were fuzzy and she could not put the details together, as hard as she tried. She wrapped her hair around itself in a quick ponytail to keep it out of the way.
Still sitting on the sand and looking around, she wondered if there was anyone else out
there. “Hello?” The crash of the waves and sounds of the storm drowned out her voice, even to herself. “HELLO!” Listening, she heard nothing.
Wait, was that someone calling?
Looking left and right as the lightning continued to flash, she saw no one—only empty beach for about a hundred yards in each direction. The sand pushed up against the cliffs on the left, and the tree line came out to meet the water on the right.
She put her left hand on the wet sand and her right hand on her thigh to brace herself to stand. Her right hand felt something hard and leathery. Her fingers traced the object. If she did not know better she would say it was a knife. Perplexed, she wondered,
why would I have a knife strapped to my thigh?
She managed to stand, though confusion still reigned over her senses. The rain and waves both let up for a few seconds. There it was. Someone was definitely shouting. It sounded like it was coming over the water.
Walking across the wet sand toward the crashing waves, she wondered what she was doing. She stopped to listen. Nothing. Did she imagine someone yelling? As the lightning continued to split the sky, she gasped as a flash revealed a body floating out in the water.
Who is that?
It appeared to be a man, face up, but she could not make out any of his features in the intermittent light.
Instinct kicked in, and she jumped into the water. At least it felt warm cascading over her body. Swimming out to him, she discovered that he was a big guy, lean but muscular. She hooked her left arm under his arms and across his chest. Quickly, she paddled for the shore with her free hand.
Heading toward shore with the waves was much easier than it was swimming out, until one crashed over them, driving her right elbow into a sharp rock underwater. Screaming in pain and getting to her feet, she dropped him in the water. She attempted to lift him again, but he was far too heavy. There was no way she could pick him up and carry him.
Getting her feet under her, she grabbed a fistful of his shirt and dragged him, floating on the water, toward the sand. Without warning, a large wave lifted them both and deposited them on the beach.
Laying there, her chest heaving for air, she looked at him. He had landed face up, just like in the water, but she was unable to tell if he was breathing. Barely a moment later another wave crashed on top of them. She had to get them away from the edge of the water before they were both dragged back in.
Her entire body ached from the swim. With the little strength she had left, she sat him up and grabbed him from behind, under his arms, and dragged him through the sand. She walked backwards like this for what seemed to be forever, her legs burning, toward the ledge that was overhanging the cliff.
She dropped him under the ledge where it was mostly dry. Damp would be an accurate assessment. It was better than soaking, though. The storm seemed to be letting up quickly, and she saw surprisingly few clouds in the dark sky. Her heart still pounded, and she struggled to breathe from the effort of dragging him through the sand. Leaning down and straining her eyes, she could finally make out his face. He was handsome, yes, but not someone she knew. Her hand rested on his chest where she could feel a heartbeat, which was a good sign anyway. Leaning in closer, she felt his breath on her cheek. Even better.
She leaned back against the rock wall. She worried it would be uncomfortable,
but found that it felt good right now. The cool bumpy surface of the rocks massaged her muscles as she stretched against it. Exhausted, she decided to close her eyes just for a moment.
The daylight made her squint when her eyes fluttered open a few hours later. Standing up, she raised her arms high above her head to stretch. Her long, dark brown hair had fallen out of its ponytail and her loose curls hung down past the midway point of her back. She took inventory of her body and determined that she was completely sore from top to bottom.
Her head, neck, shoulders, back, arms, all the way down to her toes, it all ached. At just over five feet tall, and around one hundred and twenty pounds, there was not much to her, but every inch felt as though it had been exerted to
its fullest. Other girls used to tease her about being short, but she did not mind. Plenty of men liked shorter women. She had enough curves to attract more attention than she wanted, but it was her eyes that drew in most men. She had been receiving compliments on her big, light amber eyes for as long as she could remember.
Looking at the mystery man, she saw that he was still passed out. Contrary to her build, he was a big man. He was fit; that much was obvious from the damp T-shirt that clung to his chest, but he was not
too muscular or overbuilt. His sandy-colored hair was a mess at the moment, but it looked to be cropped above his ears, and was probably very nice on a normal day. His face was clean-shaven, and even in his sleeping state, it appeared that he smiled easily. She could picture the dimples that must show up when he laughed.
Twisting her back, she saw that behind her was more than a sheer ledge. At the base, a cave went into the cliffside for a short distance of about five
yards. The light reflecting off the water danced on the dark rock walls inside. She went back toward the small cave and stuck her head inside to examine it more closely. It was dark, and damp, and very small. Without a good source of light, there was nothing much to see inside.
Opening and closing her mouth a couple of
times, she felt she could really use a toothbrush and a coffee. At the very least she needed a giant glass of water. Her mouth was bone dry. Walking out from under the ledge, she stepped onto warm, white sand. Spread out in front of her was the clear blue ocean for as far as she could see. This was much nicer than it looked last night. Taking in her surroundings, she found that there were no signs of people anywhere. No lifeguard chairs, no one on the beach, not even litter on the ground.
Why could she not remember how she wound up here? A horrible thought entered her mind. Could this man have drugged her? They could not be too far from civilization. The California coast is littered with beautiful white sand beaches like this, especially Southern California. They must have met last night and drove here. But why could she not remember a thing? She looked back into the dim light. He looked harmless enough. He possessed a sort of innocent boyish quality when she looked at him, though she knew from experience that looks could be deceiving, and wondered if she should be afraid.
She stuffed her hands into the damp pockets of her shorts. No phone, of course.
Where did I get these shorts?
They were made of a thick material, but were very comfortable and had good-sized pockets. They just were not from her wardrobe.
Maybe I picked them up recently, because they look brand new
Her eyes traveled further down her leg and there she saw it. It
a knife. A large one, too, and the handle felt familiar somehow. Unconsciously, she flipped open the safety latch with her thumb and pulled it out of its sheath to examine the blade. It felt very comfortable and natural to hold.
Like the shorts, it looked nearly new. The blade itself was about seven inches long and had a serrated edge on one side near the base, close to the handle, which turned into a flat edge leading toward the sharp tip at the top. The handle was probably four or five inches of some sort of hard plastic composite with grooves for her fingers to sit in. The base of the handle was capped with a shiny chrome piece.
What did I get into last night?
Sliding the knife back into the sheath and looking into the cave, she decided to let him sleep it off and question him later. The car must be on the other side of the trees. She hoped to find it unlocked so she could retrieve her phone and find something dry to wear.
About twenty feet into the trees, all she could see was more vegetation.
How deep in are we?
Walking a few more minutes through nothing but trees, she began to get a nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Where exactly am I?
Looking behind her, she could still see the crystal blue water of the ocean. A warm breeze lightly filtered through the forest. It was refreshing, but seemed foreign. It made her think of her childhood – whenever she visited someplace new, even the air felt different. The trees looked different too. Untamed.
With no obvious way out, she decided that she did not want to stray too far and get lost. She figured it was better to wait until her companion woke up and fill her in on where they were. If he was a threat, at least she had a weapon.
The vegetation around her was abundant, but she did not recognize all of it. The low-lying ferns with giant leaves cradled cups of water. Her mouth was so dry that it might as well have been filled with sand. Not seeing any other alternatives, she carefully bent down to take a drink. The leaf collapsed and spilled water all over her shoes.
Wait, are those my shoes?
They were very nice, some sort of rugged half sneaker, half boot, though they definitely were not hers. Even so, they seemed to fit her perfectly.
She realized that wherever she went last night,
it wasn’t anywhere fancy. She was certainly not dressed to go out. The only item of clothing she had that made sense was her tank top, a staple of her wardrobe since high school.
There was a leaf next to the recently collapsed one that was also holding a good amount of water. Lying down under it and slowly tilting the leaf toward her mouth, the edge of the leaf collapsed under the weight of the water, spilling its contents all over her face and chest.
. She was still damp from last night; now, she was just plain soaked all over again.
Standing up, dripping, and assessing the situation, she decided not to move the next leaf at all. Bending over, she put her hands under the leaf to support it, dipped her face into the water, and sucked it up.
Wow, that tastes great
. She moved on to the next one, and then the next, until her stomach was full and her thirst quenched. She decided to head back to the beach, but then figured she should bring the mystery man some water, too.
How do I transport it?
After several failed attempts to pluck one of the giant leaves and keep the pool of water in it, she gave up and started walking back. On the beach, she noticed dozens of tiny shells overturned in the sand, many of which held little spoonfuls of rainwater from last night. This gave her an idea. Looking around the beach, she tried to spot a larger shell.
Many of them were broken, but she finally put her hands on what looked like half of a huge clamshell. It was about the same size as the palm of her hand. It would not hold much water, but it was better than nothing. Going back to the giant leaves, she realized that between her many failed attempts to drink, her gorging, and her efforts to pluck the leaves, there were only two remaining that held water.
She carefully scooped the water from one of the leaves into the shell, and cautiously navigated her way back to the overhang, not spilling more than a drop or two. Walking up to him, she saw that he was still sleeping. She called out to him, “Hey, uh… you? Wake up.” When he did not respond, she nudged him a little with her foot. Still nothing.
She knelt down next to him and gave him a little shake with her free hand. Starting to worry, she wondered if he was dead. No, she could still see him breathing. She placed her hand on the back of his head and lifted it up, putting the shell to his lips. Some of the liquid got into his mouth and traveled just far enough for him to choke on it.