Sunday, August 02, 2015

The Deal

By A. W. Lambert
Suspense/Thriller. 534 pages
Cover design by A. W. Lambert, finishing cover art by Pat Evans

Seventeen years ago teenager Nicardo Clarke grasped his brother’s hand and a sibling deal was sealed. Now Nicardo’s brother is dead, brutally murdered and Nicardo, forced to honor the deal, is drawn to another continent and a dark world where life is cheap and one man fears placing his trust in another.

It was as black as pitch and Nick could see nothing. His heart was thudding like a steam hammer and his breath was coming in short cramped gasps. Pain lanced through his neck and head and one knee felt as if it had been stepped on by an elephant. But he was conscious; he could think, and slowly the situation came into focus. The car was on its roof and he was doubled in two, hanging upside down, his weight driving the still-attached seat belt deep into his stomach. It was why he was finding it difficult to breathe.

With one hand he reached down and pushed hard against the roof of the car, easing his weight from the belt. With the other hand he searched for the buckle, hoping it hadn’t been damaged and would release. It did, and with a painful thud he crumpled into the roof of the car. Screwed almost into a ball, he lay for a moment, his breathing easier now, taking stock and listening, the only sounds the hisses and creaks of a dead engine cooling in the dark night air.

Without light…probably the crash had caused the car’s battery to be ripped from its connections; he could only go by feel. He groped to where he thought Aisha should be and his hand found her head lolling awkwardly forward. She, too, was hanging, bent double in her seat belt. He ran his hand over her face and it came away sticky.

“Aisha,” he whispered. “Are you okay?”

There was no reply, but he thought he could hear the rasp of laboured breathing. He squirmed to one side and attempted to lift her body and release the belt, but the angle was too great and as strong as he was, he couldn’t manage it. Finally, turning on his back, he wriggled one shoulder beneath her hanging body and eased her weight from the seat belt, reaching round her prostrate form searching for the seat belt buckle.

Suddenly he froze.

A new sound had joined the slowly diminishing hissing and ticking of the engine. It was a gentle whoosh, a sound he instantly recognised and one that struck a cold terror in his heart.

“Jesus God,” he muttered, fumbling frantically around the front of Aisha, not caring what part of her lifeless body he clutched at. “We’re on fire, Aisha girl. We need to get out of here, so come on, move yourself.” He knew she couldn’t hear, couldn’t move anything. He was talking to himself, but somehow just talking helped, made him feel less alone. At last his right hand found the buckle buried beneath her furled up top, jammed deep into her stomach. He pulled the buckle open and Aisha collapsed on top of him. He rolled her away from him and as he did so realised he could suddenly see. He could see by the light of the flames licking around the front of the car directly in front of the shattered windscreen. The heat and fumes immediately began to permeate the car, a heavy, choking, petrol-filled fug getting thicker by the second.

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