Exhausted single mother Rebekah Murphy leaves her daughters with a friend in the city to enjoy a day out with her brother on a coastal island.
An hour after arriving, the two of them are attacked.
He vanishes, she’s left for dead and, by the time she makes it back to safety, it’s already too late: the island has closed for the season –– and it’ll be seven months before anyone returns.
But even with her brother missing, even with no boats, phones or people, Rebekah will soon realise that finding a way back to the mainland is only the start of her nightmare. Because someone is waiting for her...
... and they don’t want her to make it home to her daughters alive.
She stumbled along the aisle.
It was so dark, she could barely see one foot in front of the other, her hands out – helping her feel her way forward – her hair soaked, her skin slick, her clothes matted to her body. When she got halfway down, she stopped and looked back. It was like she was adrift in some vast, black ocean.
The window she’d crawled through hung in the shadows like a picture frame, glass still ragged along one of its edges, the rest shattered on the floor beneath it. She could hear rain on the roof – a relentless, mechanised rhythm – and see lightning flaring in the sky: whenever that happened, her surroundings would briefly strobe into life, giving her the chance to try and make sense of what was around her. She needed food, a change of clothes. But more than either of those, she needed a mirror and a sewing kit because the blood wasn’t just leaking into her eyes now, it was running all the way down her face.
Wind shook the bones of the building.
She was terrified. She was hurt. Worse than both, she was totally and utterly alone. Just give up. Something tremored in her throat.
Drop to the floor and give up.
She squeezed her eyes shut, pushing the voice away, waited until the next fork of lightning and then made a beeline for the back of the room. In the darkness, she fumbled around – knocking things over – but soon had her hand around what she’d been looking for.
She switched it on. A dazzling white glow skittered ahead of her and she realised how small this place was: it had seemed massive in the pitch blackness, but now she could see it was just thirty feet across.
She swiped a chocolate bar from the nearest shelf, ripped the packaging open, and took a bite out of it, ravenously hungry, then – as more blood ran into her eye – switched her attention to the other side of the room, where boxes of Band-Aids were lined up. It wasn’t until she was right on top of them that she realised there was a first aid kit too, half-hidden at the back of the shelf. It had everything in it she’d need – scissors, antiseptic, sterile dressing, butterfly closures – except for a needle and thread.
She felt her strength start to fade again – but then something caught her attention close to the counter.
Under the glass was a bait needle; on top of the counter was a selection of fishing lines. She scooped up the thinnest thread she could find, plucked a Zippo from next to the register, then returned to where the first aid kit was.
Nearby was a mirror on a rotating stand of sunglasses.
She shook all of the glasses off and set up the stand so that the mirror was at eye level. Unravelling the fishing line, she fastened it to the needle, securing it in place with a knot, and then used the scissors from the kit to snip off about half a foot of thread. She took a breath and leaned into her reflection, tilting her head, so she could see the wound next to her right eye. She’d glimpsed it, briefly, in the dirty window of her car a couple of hours ago – maybe three, maybe four; she had no idea what time it was now – but the window had helped conceal the full severity of the injury, its depth and sheer brutality.
Another wave of emotion hit her again.
‘Why is this happening to me?’ she said softly, her voice barely audible above the rain. She sterilised the end of the needle with the Zippo, readying herself for what was coming, but then her eyes started to fill. Tears mixed with blood, pink trails casting off down her cheeks, like coloured roads on a map.
She could suture in her sleep, so it wasn’t the idea of stitching her face together that was overwhelming her.
It was something much worse.
‘Please let someone else still be here,’ she sobbed, her words smudged. She raised the needle to her face, her hands shaking, her fingers barely able to clasp it. ‘I don’t want to be alone in this place.’