Extract: Missing Pieces by Tim Weaver
After a day trip to remote Crow Island with her brother Johnny goes horribly wrong, doctor and mother-of-two Rebekah Murphy finds herself badly injured and completely stranded. Rebekah must do whatever she can to survive – and to find her brother alive. But although the island has shut down for the season, and all its residents have left to escape the cruel winter weather, Rebekah can’t shake the feeling that someone else is here, and they’re after her…
But why would anyone want her dead? And why is no one looking for her?
After tending to her injuries, Rebekah finds an abandoned bicycle and heads to the main road to find her car and look for Johnny. Read on to find out what happens next in Missing Pieces…
She bumped onto the mile-long track that left the main road and went down the slope to Simmons Gully. On the descent, every dip and crag seemed to spear at her through the saddle, the vibrations shuddering up her arms and into her face, but eventually the track flattened into a muddy, uneven parking area.
There was only one car: her Jeep.
It was coated with fallen leaves, sown by the storm, but otherwise it was exactly as she’d left it. The window was still shattered, the tyre still slashed.
She put the bike down carefully, suddenly afraid: what if someone was here? What if they were waiting for her to come back to look for Johnny?
‘Johnny?’ she said quietly, fearfully. She looked at the wall of trees that surrounded her. ‘Johnny?’ she said again, a little louder, then waited for any reaction from nearby: any noise, any sign of movement.
All that came back was silence.
She headed into the forest, following the path she and Johnny had taken less than twenty-four hours before. Somewhere, close by, there was a stream. Soon, though, the sound of it faded, the trees grew thicker, roots punching through the ground like fists, and the path became a clotted, unnavigable maze, swamped with leaves and fallen branches from the storm. Pretty soon, she realized she was no longer on the route she was meant to have taken and had unwittingly carved out a new one. She was lost.
Panic hit her.
As she retreated, trying to get back to the trail that she and Johnny had used the day before – the trail that had led to the dig site – she called out.
She was shouting, her desperation making her careless.
‘Johnny, it’s me. Johnny!’
If someone was still there, they’d have heard her. They’d be coming for her. I shouldn’t be shouting his name like this.
I shouldn’t be –
She didn’t get to finish her thought.
Suddenly she was stumbling sideways into a tree trunk. It stopped her dead. Winded, her hands slimy with moss, she looked up at the branch that had come out of nowhere and swiped her in the throat.
Tears welled in her eyes.
She wiped them away, trying to gather herself, but instead she slumped to her knees, thinking of the last time she’d seen Johnny: the glimpse of him ahead of her in the trees as they’d run for their lives.
She let herself cry, let it consume her, then hauled herself to her feet again, going through her pockets automatically, searching for her cellphone. Except it wasn’t there. All she could feel were the keys to the Jeep.
Her phone was long gone.
It had been taken for a reason: there were no utility poles on the island, no physical phone lines, and only one cell tower.
And a cell tower was no good if you didn’t have a cellphone.
She continued her retreat, back in the direction she thought she’d come, mud caking her. Her hair was damp, her skin cold, and under the shade of the trees she’d begun to shiver. She called Johnny, then again once she’d found her way back to the trail.
And then she came to another stop.
What if her cellphone hadn’t been taken away from this place completely, just dumped somewhere in the forest? If it was close enough, she could use the Bluetooth function in the Jeep to connect to it – and she could make a 911 call from the car.
A charge of adrenalin hit her.
She broke into a sprint.
She yanked the driver’s-side door open and slid behind the wheel. The passenger seat was soaked with rain and strewn with glass from the smashed window; the dashboard was wet too, the instruments misted, and there were leaves everywhere.
She didn’t worry about any of it.
Putting her keys on the centre console, she pushed the ignition
button and listened to the Cherokee rumble into life. The touchscreen display blinked – the clock showing the time as 14: 12 – and then the Jeep logo flashed up and disappeared, and two rows of icons filled in.
She leaned forward, tapping a finger to Phone in the bottom row, but she already knew something wasn’t right. There was no Bluetooth logo on the Phone icon, as there should have been, and when she hit the next screen, she felt her whole body cave: no cellphone was connected. She tried searching for one, knowing hers would automatically have paired if it was close enough, and after ten seconds, a message appeared, confirming nothing was in range.
She smashed the steering wheel with the flat of her palm, then again, and again, so frenzied, she accidentally hit the horn.
Its blare was shockingly loud in the quiet of the forest.
Slowly, she slumped forward, her head almost touching the wheel, and stared into the trees, forlorn.
‘Why?’ she muttered.
She was so cold she couldn’t feel her fingers.
‘Why is this happening to me?’
The wind gently stirred the leaves inside the Jeep.
She turned to the back seat, searching for something – anything – she might have discarded the day before that she could put on to warm herself.
There was nothing.
Just two empty child seats.
Enjoyed this extract from Missing Pieces by Tim Weaver? Let us know in the comments below!