“MITCHELL, YOU DRECK! THIS is fucking crazy! Take us back—” Leeza loses her grip as the boat slews crazily. She smacks her hip against the table and falls. “Shit!”
The storm bellows, mocking. Lightning strobes. She’s zinging with the hot spinal surge of fear, adrenaline, the onset of the second upper she’d popped. She bares her teeth, gums tingling, biting the sharp tang of the high.
The boat bucks and heaves, waves breaking over the windows. Leeza’s plugged into her backpack unit, trying to catch some visuals on nightscope. The boat shudders sideways and she scrabbles for a grip, loses it, slides across the floor in a clutter of plastic dishes. Alarm flames, the rush exploding through her nerves into panic as beyond the rain-smeared window a mountain of churning water rears up raging monster Madre de Dios black abyss beneath it sucking them down.
“Oh, my God!” She dives under the table, huddling, eyes squinched shut and hanging on as the boat tips, rolls way over, shudders and shakes and finally plunges upright again, climbing another wave. Wind bellows, engines shrieking in her ears.
“Damn it, that’s it!” Terrorized, and pissed-OFF, she crawls out, slithers and gropes her way to the wheel where Ariadne and the asshole are shouting over the noise. Ariadne’s waving a hand, they’re totally ignoring Leeza and all she can see is black out there, rain lashing streaming over the windshield.
“Mitchell, you bastard!” she screams. “You’ll get us killed! Take us back!”
They don’t even look at her, Mitchell leaning over the wheel, one hand reaching for the throttle.
“Stop it! I said, take me back! I’m out, get it?” She grabs his arm.
“Christ!” He jumps, then shakes her violently off, and she bangs her elbow on something. “Keep her off me!” he yells at Ariadne as the boat slews crazily over again and he’s like a madman on the wheel, swearing, foaming whitewater breaking against the side windows.
“Asshole!” Leeza lunges for him. “Don’t you dare—”
“Lisa!” Ariadne grabs her arm and pulls her back, Leeza fighting but Ariadne’s like a rock, shit she’s strong.
Another bellow in the night, flash of lightning and a breaker foaming, spilling over them, they’re tipping under it.
“No! Help!” Leeza screams and clutches at Ariadne but they’re falling, nothing under her feet and then Wham! Pain bursts through her head. Darkness. . . .
Voice far off beyond the roaring, heaving, and the pain throbbing her head. “Lisa. Leeza. Can you hear me?”
And then the touch. That magic touch. Cool water in a desert, gentle mother-love, a bed of blossoms, sparkling sun on soft seas and the laughing dolphins. Fingers lightly stroke her head, voice murmuring, “Let the pain go, Leeza.” That touch tingles down her spine, the pain of her cracked head washing away in the waves to a distant ache. “It’s all right. We’re through the worst.”
Warm arms hold her as the boat crashes and shudders through the storm, the murmur of Ariadne’s heart near her ear. Lisa’s come home.
“Wow.” She wakes up alive the next morning, sunlit blue sea past the bunk porthole, rolling by in smooth innocent swells now. The engines droning steady-Eddie. Just to make sure, Leeza Links in and pulls on the monitoring headset.
*** “Madre de Dios!” Raging monster black seas heave and hurl Leeza into the maw of the storm.
“Holy shit!” She’s plugged IN! It’s the ultimate Link, nerves flayed on the razor edge between blind gibbering chaos and the transcendent art of terror. A scream sings electric down her spine.
That giant fist of foaming whitewater grabs her, hurls her against the hull, and her head cracks in a blossom of pain and then darkness. . . .
“Lisa.” Warm whisper in her ear. And bringing her home, Ariadne’s arms hold her safe***
“Yes!” Leeza exited, humming. That storm—pure gold stored on chip. “Blast me to the heart of your fire. . . .” she sang, watching jagged black islets swell closer up ahead.
She cautiously touched her head where she’d cracked it the night before and conked out. Still a little sore, but there wasn’t even a goose-egg. Leeza grinned. Even better—now she could add her own experience of “Saint Ariadne’s healing touch.”
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