Riptides

Carol Moreira

From chapter 16...

Cam’s boat usually roars to life when he turns the key. The engine noise fills the air like it means business. Now he can feel the engine’s energy trembling beneath his fingers on the wheel, but he can’t hear the motor above the surging wind. Even when he rams his foot down on the throttle, his boat struggles to move away from the dock.

    As he inches out into the bay, Cam feels like he’s forcing Ashley along with the power of his mind. He grips the wheel between his hands and tries to hold her steady, but his boat rocks and spins in the waves.

    Eventually, she rounds the headland past Wreck Island and travels on toward Shadow Island. By sea, the route is longer than on foot and it seems very long now. Cam is cold and scared. His clothes are soaked and cling to his body. “Come on, girl,” he urges his boat.

    He pats the wheel as if Ashley is an animal he can encourage. “Come on.” He’s careful as he circles Shadow Island. Hitting a rock would be bad. Even a small hole in his boat would be serious in waves like these.

    At first, he doesn’t recognize the red thing he sees floating on the water. Then his heart lurches against his ribs—it’s Dev’s maple leaf hat. Cam scans the water. “Dev?” he shouts.

    There’s no reply and nothing to see except massive waves rushing in and bursting on the island’s rocks. Cam shudders. He longs to turn back, but he must check the landward side.

    He urges Ashley toward the churning patch of water between the island and the shore, still talking to her as if she is alive. “Come on, girl, you can do it,” he tells her.

    When he sees Anika’s head in the ocean, he doesn’t realize what it is. Her dark hair looks like the tip of a water-covered rock.

    Then he hears Dev shout. “Cam, get Anika!” Cam spins toward Dev’s voice and sees the little boy standing on Shadow Island. Dev is pointing at the rock.

    Cam’s pulse jumps. “Anika!” he yells. But she can’t hear him. His voice is faint, weakened by the roar of the wind. Anika doesn’t turn. Her head is getting lower in the waves.