I’ve been busily banging out stories to be released in my upcoming book and the newest one is named: Orca I’ve pasted in a chapter below to whet your whistle.
Excerpt from Orca
The bungee cord snapped into place as Niamh secured her paddle to the kayak. The swell was growing as the storm blew in from the west. The hunt was well under way with numerous kayaks and canoes on the water, the occupants armed with harpoons. Frantic to capture the travesty, she pulled her digital SLR from the front hatch and began snapping pictures. The water ran red with blood as the men retrieved harpoons that struck home, attached to the flaccid bodies of dead harbour seals. Niamh felt nauseous, her mouth filling with bile as the scent washed over her, but she swallowed it back down again, determined not to miss a thing.
Caught in the growing westerlies, Niamh’s kayak slid across the water, closer to the fray. Still snapping away with her camera, a few of the men in the boats began to point and shout as she drew nearer. Their words were lost in the howling wind but she ignored them anyway. It was her mission to make the world a witness to this brutal ritual. She’d been unable to get the shot she was desperate for, that of a hunter poised in the prow of a canoe, deadly harpoon raised to strike. The moment was upon her sooner than expected. As her boat crested a large swell, the barrel of her lens found the intense concentration of a hunter’s eyes as he lifted his weapon. She snapped the shutter and whooped in triumph as she inspected her treasured pixels.
Happy with the outcome, she lifted her gaze back to the carnage. Her stomach retched and her heart ached as she watched another seal hauled out of the water, bleeding from a gaping wound in its breast. A flicker of movement in the corner of her eye drew Niamh’s attention. Turning her head for a better look she watched a streak of gray flash past under the water, only to disappear again. She scanned all around but the surface of the water revealed only the leaden overcast sky as her kayak bobbed in the swell. The shouts of the hunters and the overwhelming stench of their work captured her attention again and she raised her weapon of truth back at the fray. As the kayak descended into a deep trough, Niamh lowered the camera just as the gray streak returned. A heartbeat later, she shrieked in surprise as a fleeing harbour seal launched itself out of the water right at her. The compact torpedo like animal slammed into her chest and the kayak rolled over exposing its white belly. Niamh was trapped underwater
Stunned, it took a moment before Niamh realised her peril. She hung upside down from the kayak, the black neoprene spray skirt holding her in place. Back in Seattle, she’d practiced this manoeuvre many times as she’d paddled around Vashon island. She knew exactly how to roll herself back upright again. Unprepared for this event, however, her paddle was stowed and she hadn’t had time for a deep breath. Her lungs screamed for air, and she was vaguely aware it wouldn’t be long before hypothermia took hold. Remarkably, Niamh was still clutching the SLR in her hands. Letting go with one hand, she reached forward to grab hold of the blurred bright yellow strap attached to the front of her spray skirt and gave it a tug. Nothing happened. She was still attached to the boat, no closer to that breath of fresh air. She tugged again but the tight rubber seal wouldn’t give way. Frantic as her oxygen ran out, Niamh realised she would have to drop the camera to free herself. She grunted like Maria Sharapova as she pulled with one arm but it was no use. A pained expression of real grief crossed her face as she let go of the camera to take hold of the strap with both hands. Pissed at herself for hiring the smaller, tighter spray skirt, Niamh poured all of her strength into her back and gave the strap a mighty yank. This time, the skirt came loose. Pushing off from the gunwales, Niamh freed her legs from the boat, and kicked to the surface.
Breaching the interface, Niamh grabbed hold of the kayak and took in great heaving gulps of air. There were shouts coming from all around but for the moment Niamh didn’t care. The relief she felt with oxygen pumping through her veins was more than enough to take in right now. Slowly, she became more aware of her surroundings and remembered the lost camera. They weren’t all that far from shore, maybe if it wasn’t too deep she could dive down and get it. She plunged her head back under the water. Late in the day, with an overcast sky, it was dark under the surface no matter how clear the water might be. Niamh glanced about but it was no use. Without goggles or a mask she could barely make out her feet, much less a black camera on the ocean floor. Under the water, the scene was peaceful, quiet. She could hear the distant splash of paddles amidst squeals and clicks. She was reminded of her visit to SeaWorld as a young girl. Niamh had been captivated by reruns of the TV show Flipper, reading every book and searching the internet for everything there was to know about dolphins and whales. For her seventh birthday, her mother brought her to swim with real dolphins. The dolphins at SeaWorld had made similar squeaks and clicks as they swam around her. The memory made her smile, but that was long before she realized the tortured life they led. It was another two decades before she began her life as an animal activist. She glanced about trying to locate where the clicks were coming from, but it was no use and she needed air.
Back at the surface, Niamh found her kayak flanked by hunting canoes. The hunters were shouting and waving at her but she understood little of their tongue. She simply ignored them, hoped they’d go away and went about trying to get her kayak upright again. Seconds later she was doused by a splash of water from a hunter’s paddle. Niamh was shocked and incensed.
“Hey! Fuck off, dickhead!” she shouted, wiping the seawater from her eyes.
“Ska’ana!” he yelled.
“Whatever, asshole. Just let me flip the kayak over and I’ll be on my way.”
“Ska’ana! Ska’ana!” he yelled.
A hunter paddling another kayak drew up alongside her own and tapped on the bottom of her boat. Niamh looked up. He was younger than the others, with long raven hair tied back in a loose ponytail. His face was tanned, his cheeks had an almost chiselled appearance. She looked into his eyes and found not a shred of the anger she expected, instead his expression registered fear and concern as he pointed behind her and said, “Look!”
Niamh turned around, but she saw only open water, the Queen Charlotte islands a long way off in the distance.
“Not there!” he yelled over the howling wind, and he leaned over her boat just enough so she could see where he was pointing, “There!”
Niamh swivelled to look and her blood turned to ice. The squeaks and clicks she’d heard underwater weren’t coming from dolphins. They were coming from orca.