Excerpt From EMBATTLED

I’ll be publishing my third book soon. Here I take you back to the first.

She struggled through the thick vegetation, swinging the machete awkwardly, working her way towards her destination. Vines wrapped themselves around her legs. She yanked at the long skirt of her dress to free herself. She swung the machete again, and pushed through the narrow opening she’d created, ignoring the thorns that scratched her bare arms and shoulders. “Suitably dressed, I am, I am.” A spider web enveloped her. The machete cut through it easily enough, but remnants clung to her skin.

The sounds of battle assaulted her senses. Her heart pounded and caught in her throat with each pop of gunfire and thudded with each howl of pain. “Oh Lord, what am I heading into?”

She plunged on and burst into the clearing with a final swing of the machete that nearly toppled her. She pulled the heavy knife back, nicking her shin, but pushed ahead yelling, “Favór ida, stop! Stop!” She waved the unwieldy machete and forced her way between the combatants. Cries of rage rose from them. She watched the arching swing of machetes above her head, cringed, and waited for the killing blows. “Stop, Stop.” She yelled. The men dropped their weapons, fell back, and let her through.

*

Too damn antsy to go back to work, she paced her living room, poured a stiff drink, downed it, and paced again. She kept looking at her hands, expecting to see them covered in blood. Her shin burned from the scrape she had first noticed in the shower.

The television droned in the background. “The sharp report of gunfire, screams of the maimed and dying, wails of grief; replaced by birdsong. Traces of blood and body parts gone, erased by the scavengers. The jungle has reclaimed its ascendancy over man. More importantly, this extraordinary woman, la madame des miracles, as the natives are calling her, has lived up to that name. She has indeed effected a miracle. Proof is as near as the village just beyond those trees where tribal leaders are now debating peaceful coexistence.”

She sank to the sofa, every nerve taut, every muscle quivering. Could that have been me? No way! She squeezed her eyes shut. The jungle battle replayed on her eyelids. That was her, madly waving the machete. She held her face in her hands, inhaled deeply, smelled blood, and felt the jungle close around her.

“Oh, my God! What’s happening to me?”

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