Friday, June 7, 2013

Lifeboat, by A.B. Shepherd

Lifeboat - a fantastic sci-fi mystery...

Cass Carmichael has lost everything; her husband, her son, and her will to live. She walks the streets and paddocks when she can't sleep. One night she sees a UFO. She can't stop thinking about it. She becomes obsessed.

When natural disasters destroy the earth she is rescued by extra-terrestrials and taken to a new world where the human race can rebuild.

But something is wrong here. This may not be the Utopia she expects. Survivors are vanishing without a trace.

Can Cass unravel the riddle in time to save herself?





Cass

Present Day – Dreaming

Rural South Australia



Rain lashed down and the wind howled. Lightning flashed across Mick’s scowling face, as the booming thunder made me jump in my seat. At least Michael slept through the storm.

Mick, four year old Michael, and I were on the road, driving home from Adelaide. We’d gone down for the day to the Royal Adelaide Show.

It had been a wonderful day. Almost perfect. We had so much fun checking out stock, and trade stalls, viewing all the entries in the various competitions, eating scrumptious show food, and buying show bags.

It was a long day though. As it grew late the three of us grew overly-tired, and cranky. Although I usually handled Michael’s rare tantrums like a pro, this time I threw my own tantrum. “Mick, would you please handle your son,” I groused, as Michael shifted from whinging to a full-fledged fit. He threw himself to the ground, kicking and screaming.

“Why is it he’s always my son when he behaves like this?” Mick retorted, obviously annoyed by my nasty tone of voice, as well as my comment. He leaned down to pick up our child. Michael resisted, throwing his body back, and continued to scream loud enough to break an average person’s eardrum.

“Because my son doesn’t act like that,” I yelled. I stomped away, ready to go home. I headed toward the car park, assuming Mick would follow. When we reached our car, Mick buckled Michael, who still screamed, into the safety seat behind Mick’s. I climbed in the front seat on the passenger side, slamming the door in my own fit of temper.

Mick got in the driver’s side, closing the door before he growled, “What the hell Cass?”

“I’m tired Mick. My feet hurt, and I’m sunburned, and I just want to go home now.”

“And that means you’re just going to leave our son in the middle of the Show?”

“I didn’t just leave him. I left him with you. It’s about time you dealt with his tantrums. You’re never there when he throws them. I’m tired of it.”

It was completely unfair of me to say that. Michael’s tantrums only occurred when he was over-tired, which didn’t happen often. Mick was a good dad. In truth, he did handle Michael’s tantrums with a great deal of patience. Much more patience than I was showing. But who is ever fair in an argument?
A.B. Shepherd

“Just take me home. I don’t want to argue anymore.” I sulked.

“Whatever you say your majesty,” he sarcastically replied.

Michael soon quieted as he fell asleep, but I continued to pout as Mick drove.

The weather all day had been unseasonably warm and sunny, but as night set in so did the storm clouds. The drive back to the farm was long. The wind picked up, and the rain slashed down. Visibility on the roads was diminished and the glare of the oncoming headlights didn’t help. I was glad Mick was behind the wheel, and not me. I couldn’t see ten metres in front of us.

Several cars had pulled over on the side of the road. We could only see their tail lights when we were nearly on top of them. The pavement was slicker than a greased pig. Twice I felt the car hydroplane, but Mick managed to keep it under control. Even so, I held my breath each time I felt the tires hit a puddle or the car jolted from the rushing of the wind as another car passed us by. My pulse raced, and my knuckles glowed white in the light from the dashboard where I squeezed my fingers together.

“Mick, maybe we should stop somewhere. Wait out the storm,” I ventured.

Mick, still annoyed with me, said, “I know how to drive, Cass. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.”

Not usually so stubborn, or so condescending, it was obvious I’d really ticked him off and he hadn’t forgiven me yet. We were about ten kilometres from home, nearly there, when it happened. The crash.

The b-double driver going too fast for road conditions hadn’t a hope of stopping. Mick didn’t see the oncoming headlights until far too late.



*****



I woke, shaking, drenched in sweat. Even after five years I still frequently relived this nightmare while I slept.

I dragged myself out of bed and threw on some clothes. My hands still trembled as I grabbed my camera on the way out the door.

I walked the streets and paddocks, hoping they would work their magic and calm my nerves.
 ________

Buy Lifeboat on Amazon



4 comments:

Ab Shepherd said...

Thanks so much for sharing this excerpt with your friends and readers Alison!

Sarah Allen said...

What an awesome cover! The expression on the girls face is utterly captivating.

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, With Joy)

Catherine Stine said...

Congrats, AB. Yes, good cover!

Ab Shepherd said...

Sarah and Catherine - I'm so glad you like the cover! It was a source of much debate. :)