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About the book:
An Adrenaline filled thriller, the exciting storyline pulls the reader along whilst also inviting them to ask sometimes challenging questions of themselves. Laura travels the world to fulfil a loved one’s deathbed wish pursued by powerful and frightening enemies. Along the way, she meets people who help her to form a different view of herself and the world around her.
About the Author:
Anthony Whelan started life as a farmer, working with nature, but serious injuries sustained in a farm accident forced him to change career. Through personal experience, Anthony formed a questioning approach to life, values and relationships. He has combined this understanding with his literary skills to produce a novel that will enlighten as well as entertain.
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Bushes crashed against her, scratching and scraping her exposed arms. The Samui sun beat down relentlessly, drying the breath in her throat as she dashed crazily from side to side. The terror was a palpable force in her arteries, pushing the blood to her muscles.
‘Fight or Flight’ – this was Flight, pure and simple!
Still she could hear her pursuer smashing his (or, please God, no; their) way through the jungle vegetation. Amazingly, even as she fought to escape the ensnaring tropical growth, part of her mind acted as observer, like an interested but aloof critic watching a movie. This critic marvelled at the absurdity of such terror in such an idyllic spot, Koh Samui – one of the many island paradises off the Thailand coast, with hazy lazy summer sun in the June tropics.
Yet here she was, scrambling for her life when she should be relaxing, sipping her Singha beer and sunbathing under the June sun. The critic wondered, How did you get here?, reviewing the past months when she went from being a carefree backpacker, through bereavement, to end up as an international fugitive from unseen but clearly powerful and deadly enemies. She wondered if she was having a nightmare, but she could not deny the reality of the biting and gouging undergrowth, or the stifling humidity that made it so hard to run.
The creepers tried to ensnare her, the shrubs tried to entangle her, but still she scrambled – up, through, over. The conscious part of her mind sought to penetrate the brush in front of her – all the time trying to decipher the dappled greenery and understand the path of least resistance. All of her senses reached out in front, trying to interpret the moving colours and forms. The dense foliage was both friend and enemy, making it impossible to see an escape, whilst at the same time hiding her. The horror and panic were overwhelming, threatening to overpower her mind. She wrestled, battled and gouged her way forward; all the time hearing the sounds of pursuit, never within reach but always on the point of closing in on her.
Again, the critic kicked in, but this time with a suggestion instead of an observation. The jungle was so thick, she could only sense her pursuer by the sound he was making. He sounded like a big man, which meant that he would find the foliage an even more impenetrable barrier than she did. Maybe the trick was to stop running, and stay still – and very, very quiet. Laura weighed and assessed the thought – in one way it was very appealing, as it gave her an excuse to stop, and her legs had become so heavy and leaden. On the other hand, it was terrifying, to stop running, and just hope that her hunter could not find her amongst the foliage as he played hide and seek instead of catch.
Laura realised the decision was being made for her – she simply could not go on, her limbs were starting to shut down from exhaustion. Her legs quaked and she could barely stop them from buckling under her. The sweat flowed from every pore of her body, soaking her clothes and blinding her eyes. Her heart felt as though it would burst if she tried to force the blood through it any quicker. There was a mist roiling in front of her eyes, even though she knew no mist could persist in the midday Asian sun. The pain in her stomach from the combination of exertion and stress was threatening to double her over in agony.
Decision made! As she raced through non-existent openings in the tangled shrubbery, she launched herself off the ground with one final effort. She landed in a bed of soft mulch, formed by rotting leaves. Laura buried her hands into the natural compost, making a hole that she could bury her face in. She wriggled her hands and face as deep as she could, using her hands to keep a breathing space in front of her face.
She tried to force her breathing to be quiet, but it sounded like a turbine in her ears. She lay still, hoping that her manic stalker would neither see nor hear her. As she lay there, she could feel the compost start to come to life. It was as though her intrusion had awoken the spirit of the forest – the entire mixture that she was lying in seemed to crawl and squirm. She could feel movement all over her body, and sensed the incredible life that held her within its grasp. She started to relax into the feeling, with an almost hallucinogenic acceptance of some otherworldly presence. Her sense of peace came crashing down as she felt wriggling around her ears and nostrils. She closed her mouth, through which she had been gulping air, but it was too late. She could feel the invaders within her mouth, her nostrils, her ears. Her hair was moving as if of its own accord, made mobile by the multitude of insects swarming through it.
Laura knew her life depended on staying absolutely still, on co-operating with the forest, blending into it to become part of nature and lying unnoticed until her hunter gave up. Even as she thought this, she realised that she was not going to be able to do it. She had never been a ‘girly-girl’, afraid of spiders and creepy-crawlers, but she was going to have a phobia after this. She thought about how to escape, wondering if she could quietly crawl to a less infested patch without drawing attention to herself. She decided to creep forward, away from the direction she had come from, to continue to put distance between herself and her pursuer.
She lifted her head out of the damp compost and risked looking around – she could detect no movement, no sound. The entire forest seemed to have paused, to be holding its collective breath. The only sound was that of the surf on the beach that lay a kilometre or so to the east. She blew out as hard as she could out of her nose, trying not to make noise. She spat, and shook her head from side to side to get the insects out of her ears. Finally, she felt that her body was her own again – the invaders had been repelled. She thought of all the books she had read on survival in hostile terrains, remembering the sections on hungry wildlife.
She knew she had to move very slowly, taking care not to disturb the undergrowth around her. It was so still – any movement would be instantly noticed. She had to stay as low as possible, hugging the ground. She must make sure not to snap any of the underlying twigs or frighten any of the forest residents. So much to think of, she nearly froze on the spot. Yet she was caught between two impossible alternatives – stay where she was and be eaten alive; or stand and run, with the prospect of being caught by her heretofore unseen aggressor. She started to move.
Inch by frightening inch, foot by terrifying foot, yard by petrifying yard. Slowly moving her left hand and arm forwards, then joining it with her right. Painfully drawing her right leg up under her, then joining it with her left. Then, oh so slowly, moving her torso forward, spreading the strain across her arms and her legs, so that she would not gasp with the pain and effort. Second after second, minute after minute – it felt like hour after hour. She lost all concept of time, her entire world reduced to the ball of pain that was her body, and trying to move it without moving at all. Aching, hurting, stinging, throbbing, agonising, burning, anguishing, torturing, suffering, racking pain – this was the entire universe of her existence.
As she moved into a deeper patch of shade, the temperature dropped a few degrees. She wondered how far she had come. Was it safe to stand and ease the cramps screaming throughout her body? Still afraid of capture, she resolved to stretch out where she lay, without rising, and let her abused body recover a little. Remarkably, her overwrought mind sought refuge in near-catatonia, and she drifted in and out of semi-consciousness whilst images of the chase raced through her mind. She came to with a start, not sure how long she had dozed. The sun was setting ahead of her in the west, so it was at least a couple of hours since the chase had started.
The forest had settled into its dusk routine – insects chirping, birds coming home to roost, and a gentle breeze blowing in off the sea. For the first time that afternoon, Laura felt she could relax. At last, the jungle felt safe and secure, instead of scary and vulnerable. She didn’t know where to turn next. She decided to forsake her belongings back at the room she had hired. Unquestionably the first thing she had to do was get off Koh Samui, back onto the Thai mainland. From there she could use her backpacking experience to get out of Thailand, and hopefully back to safety.
Laura started to stand, slowly and gently. As she rose a couple of inches off the ground, her mind screamed in panic as a heavy body crashed onto her, pressing her back down into the dirt. Her head rapped off the ground, and she was sure she would have been seriously injured if the earth were not so soft. She tried to scream, but a large and calloused hand was smothering her entire face. She couldn’t breathe, let alone scream or look around.
Laura realised that this was it – this was the end. She searched for understanding, but could not find it. She had responded to an apparently simple (though strange) request from her dying father; only to be met with exploding airplanes, attacked cabs, and now being hunted through a tropical forest. She felt her consciousness ebbing away, her mind slowly shutting down from suffocation. She tried to kick, to scream, to escape; but her exhausted body was no match for the strength and weight and power that had her pinned to the ground. As consciousness finally departed, her final thought was that whatever the point of life was, it had certainly passed her by.
Book One of
The Thrillosophy Trilogy
By Anthony Whelan