Time runs in slow motion as the girl tumbles down the waterfall, a smear of colour against the rocks. If she makes a sound, it’s lost in the roar of the water and then she hits the catch pool and vanishes under the boiling waves. I stand scanning the moonlit surface of the river, waiting for her to reappear.
There’s still no sign of her by the time I’m clambering round the rocks edging the water and, without considering I might be doing a really stupid, dangerous thing, I kick off my shoes and dive in.
I‘ve swum in this pool a million times but never in the dark when it’s taking the run-off after a storm. I head to where she went under, take several deep breaths and dive downwards. It’s a black, muffled world underwater, with the raging torrent trying to drag me away. I have to work by touch and all I can feel are the sharp corners of the boulders at the bottom of the pool.
I burst to the surface, into the roar of the waterfall and the silver-tipped waves, and scan round. Why hasn’t she come up? Even if she’d knocked herself unconscious in the fall, why isn’t she floating?
I dive again. My arm scrapes on a rock. My knee grazes the bottom. My eyes sting. It’s too dark to see. My foot jars against a stone. The freezing water saps my strength. Still I find nothing. I grab a handful of slimy weed which comes off in my hand and, for a moment, I imagine I’ve pulled her hair off and it freaks me out. I let out a silent shout; a stream of precious air bubbles bursting upwards, leaving my lungs empty and aching. I’m starting for the surface when my hand brushes against soft skin; an arm.
I pull at the body, wondering why she’s at the bottom. Is she stuck? I wedge my feet on a rock and tug harder. This time we’re away. We burst to the surface into the moonlight and the cool night air. I cup my hand under her chin but I have to work hard to get her to the side and jam her half onto a rock. She’s a bit precarious but thankfully she doesn't fall off as I climb out beside her and pull her clear of the water.
The next few minutes are weird. I give her a shake but her eyes are shut tight and she doesn't move. I guess the lifeguard drills pay off because I know exactly what to do. I listen for any sound of breathing. It’s hard because the water is thundering but I don’t hear anything. I try to spot movement from her chest in the moonlight.
I start CPR.
Breathing. Check if her chest rises.
Suddenly she splutters and coughs and I’m elated. I punch the air. I’ve saved someone. The lifeguard kicks in again. Reassure the victim, keep them calm.
“I’m Joe,” I say. “You’re going to be all right.”
She’s spewing up water like a fountain but eventually she turns to look at me. I expect her to be grateful I saved her life; instead, she lets out a strangled scream and starts to scramble backwards over the rocks.
“Hey. It’s OK,” I say.
She’s slipping all over the place then she has another choking fit and has to stop.I move over and slap her on the back until she’s finished and she lifts her head and watches me as though I’m a rabid dog about to bite her.
“Don’t worry.” I try to speak as gently as I can. “You’re OK now.”
And she dissolves into tears, huge choking sobs that shake her body. I put my arm round her but she tenses up so violently I take it away again. I must resemble Jack the Ripper or something; maybe I shouldn't have cut my hair quite so short. I clamber over the rocks and jam my feet into my trainers. The night breeze chills my wet skin and I realise we’re both shivering.
I've never seen the girl before. She sits, hugging her knees to her chest, her dark hair falling round her face, her body shuddering with every breath. She’s wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and she appears to be about my age. The roaring river drowns the sound of her crying and I can see her fighting for control. After a minute or so she takes a deep breath and straightens up as though she’s preparing to do battle.
“I’m Joe,” I say again. “Are you all right?” (Stupid question.) “What’s your name?”
Her teeth are chattering and she never takes her eyes off me, like she’s expecting me to turn into a three-headed monster.
I stand up, hold out my hand. “Come on. I live up the hill and my car’s over there. We’ll get you a blanket, get you warmed up. My brother’s a doctor, well training to be one; he’ll make sure you’re OK.”
She begins to slide backwards up the rocks at the mention of doctors.
“Hey, I only want to help.” I hold out my hand again. “Can you walk?”
Very, very slowly she takes my hand. Her fingers are trembling so much I can hardly keep hold of them. I put my hand under her arm and pull her to her feet. “Are you hurt?” I ask. She shakes her head.
I put my arm round her, half-expecting she’ll push me off again but she doesn’t and we walk to the Land Rover. She leans against the bonnet whilst I search for the fleece I left in the back. It’s an old one but I drape it round her shoulders and she gives me a flicker of a smile.
About Ninety-Five Percent Human:
Teenager, Joe Kendrick, thinks he’s got problems. The farm he’s looked after since his father’s suicide is failing and his brother wants to sell it, his girlfriend has dumped him and his normally down-to-earth Nan starts muttering about seeing UFO’s. And all Joe wants is a ‘normal’ life. Then he saves suicidal stranger, Sarah, from drowning.
What Joe doesn’t know is that Sarah is a human/alien hybrid, sent to test the viability of life on Earth, and, as she’s survived hostile aliens are already planning their attack.
Ninety-Five Percent Human is the first in a two-book sci-fi adventure.
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About the Author:
Suzanna Williams is a perpetually eighteen year old YA author who lives in the wild, wet, Welsh borderlands surrounded by ruined medieval castles and Celtic mythology where she looks for UFO’s amongst the stars and imagines all the people she meets have dark secrets.
When she is not inventing radical problems for her unsuspecting heroes and plotting their escape, Suzanna is a serial collector of random badly paying jobs and has never found a use for her BSc in Psychology whatsoever.
As a child, Suzanna filled notebook after notebook with stories and her first taste of writing success was a poem published in the local newspaper aged just nine years old. She has written and directed several plays and pantomimes before publishing her debut novel, ShockWaves, in 2012.
Suzanna loves sci-fi action adventures, playing the piano, believes Romeo and Juliet should have talked more and considers sarcasm to be the highest form of wit.
She has a daughter who is a drummer, another daughter who is a driving instructor, a son who is a dancer and a 'nearly' grandson she's dying to meet.
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Note: All opinions presented in book and product reviews are my own. Opinions presented in posts authored by others reflect the view of the author only and not necessarily my view or opinion.