Overfall Excerpt

From Broken Tide Book 1



 

“Mom?”

Cami's chest tightened at the sound of Amber’s voice. She hadn't sounded like a scared little girl in a long, long time. 

Just for a second, Amber’s voice sounded like that scared six-year-old. Cami turned, examining the surrounding buildings. They had to be on the very edge of the incoming tidal wash. If the water made it this far, surely it wouldn't go too much further[MP1] ? They were on the northwest side of Charleston, and had never gotten within ten miles or so from the coast when they stopped at Mitch’s store. The wave that rolled up the street behind them had to be at the end of its journey from the sea. And yet it was still tall enough to brush the second floor of most buildings. The wave crashed forward, pushing cars, parts of buildings—here and there a boat—and countless people forward without mercy. It moved deceptively slow, like a vision from a nightmare.

Standing there on the street jammed with thousands of other people who’d thought they were safe so far from the coast, but now desperately trying to escape the city was a recipe for disaster. She took Amber’s hand, and they pushed ahead. Cami had to get them to higher ground. She could try and wrap her brain around what she’d seen later, when they were safe.

“No time—go!” Cami shouted.

At the corner, one block from the bridge—which, just a few minutes earlier had been a two-lane road, and was now a pedestrian-only crossing—Cami saw her chance at safety. One block to the right, directly north, nestled against a gentle curve of the river Ashley, sat a squat rectangular church that looked more like a Norman keep than a place of worship. 

Cami wiped sweat from her eyes and focused on the heavy stone construction as the panicked crowd surged around her. As she stared at the church, she blocked out the screams and the jostling elbows as people fought each other to get to the other side of the river.  Solid slabs of granite formed the massive foundation on which the stone structure rose up toward the heavens.  She didn’t know if the stones would hold up better than brick and wood, but it might be their only hope.

“That’s it! That’s our best chance.” She took one last glance around the packed intersection as people pushed and shoved at each other. All the surrounding buildings were new brick and wood constructs built in a modern colonial style to blend in with downtown Charleston some ten miles away. They looked attractive, but she knew they wouldn’t have the strength to withstand a tidal wave strong enough to make it so far inland.

 

The pitch of people's voices continued to rise as panic sunk its claws into every heart. Cami risked one more look down the street. The wave continued to force its way forward and carried the ruin of North Charleston with it. They had seconds to get out of the situation before all hell broke loose. 

She tightened her grip on Amber's hand and forced her way sideways through the crowd. While everyone else tried to go west, she led Amber perpendicular and crossed the street headed north.

“Watch it!” someone barked as Cami stepped on a foot in her haste to squeeze through a gap in the crowd. The collision made her lose her grip on the bag of supplies from Mitch’s store. In the blink of an eye the bag disappeared beneath the churning legs of all the people fleeing the wave.

“Hey!!” she called over her shoulder, but the man who’d complained was already gone, swallowed up by the crush of people. Her other hand tugged back as Amber fell to one knee. Cami forgot the bag of supplies and pulled hard on Amber. “Get up, sweetie!”

Someone bumped into Amber and pitched her forward, and her bags fell, spilling rope and freeze dried food all over the road. Mitch propelled the cooler he carried into the chest of the closest person, which not only freed his hands to help catch Amber, but made the man right behind her pull up short. Ice and juice boxes flew everywhere and the man cursed, but three people slammed into him from behind and he vanished in a hail of curses.

Mitch hauled Amber upright and pulled her to the side to avoid the crush of bodies that stumbled forward. They awkwardly separated, clearing throats and looking away from each other, both blushing, they turned to retrieve what they  could from the bags.

“No time for that! Forget the gear,” Cami ordered, trying to force her way into the crowd again.  Several people, all bigger than her, blocked her path. “Mitch! Clear the road!” She pointed at the church. “We have to go that way!”