A British boy narrowly survives the sinking of his yacht in a huge storm off the coast of Morocco. After days alone at sea in a tiny rowing boat Bill rescues a girl clinging for her life to a barrel. Aya, from the nomadic Berber tribe, was escaping to Europe when her migrant ship was destroyed in the same storm. Through endless days and star-spangled nights, they drift – mere specks on the vast, empty ocean – weakened by fear, hunger, and burned by the unforgiving sun. Aya tells Bill about The Arabian Nights, and Shahrazad, who told 1001 stories to save her life. As hope of rescue begins to fade, they find strength in these tales of magic, brave heroes, wily thieves, greedy sultans, and courageous girls.
When they land on a desert island, they're surprised to be confronted by a stranger who is not what he seems... and back out on the waves once more in the dark deep, a shadow follows...
It is my stop today for the Girl. Boy. Sea. by Chris Vick blog tour and I am excited to be sharing an extract from this brilliant book! Let me know in the comments what you think and don't forget to follow the rest of the tour!
The thing was dark and round-ish. Jetsam. Maybe a barrel or oil drum bobbing in the water. And there was something on top of it. Some clogged-up rope or netting.
I got closer. It was a plastic barrel. The thing draped over the top was covered in rags.
And had two spindly legs sticking out of it.
My heart thumped. ‘Hello?’ I shouted. ‘HEY!’ My voice sounded strange in the silence.
I paddled near in the dusk.
‘Oi!’ I shouted. I found a euro coin in my shorts and threw it. It bounced off the rags and plopped into the water.
I sat there a while, knowing I had to go to the barrel, to the rags, the legs. But working up to it. Because I’d never seen a dead body before.
Closer, I saw a nest of black hair falling from the end of the rags and dusty feet sticking out the other. Skinny legs. Bones wrapped in skin.
I was shaking. I wanted to see. I didn’t want to see.
I paddled up to the barrel and prodded a foot with the oar.
‘Hey!’ I said. Then I thought: I’m shouting at no one. You’re dead.
I grabbed at a bit of rag and pulled the barrel closer. The rags were a blanket or cloak. I lifted it with trembling fingers. Underneath was a girl. About my age. Long thin face, closed eyes, dusk skin. She didn’t seem to be breathing.
She was dead. But I had to be sure, had to know. I reached over the side of the boat, as much as I dared without tipping it, and got a hand under each of her armpits. I closed my eyes and turned my face away. She smelled rank. I pulled. She was skinny but a hefty weight. A dead weight. The boat rocked as I dragged and lifted, huffing and grunting, hauling her over the gunnel. She thumped on the floor like a massive landed fish.
Her eyes were closed, but her lips parted slowly, as if they’d been glued together.
Her lips closed, then opened again. Her eyes opened too. Brown and wide, rolling and spinning. Not seeing. She breathed a croaking sigh.
‘Hello,’ I said. I sat there like a lemon before I sussed what to do. I grabbed the water and poured a sip onto her mouth.
‘Aman,’ she breathed.
I gave her more water. I felt bad because it was all I had left. Then I felt bad for feeling bad and gave her a bit more. A bit.
She saw me then.
‘Aman,’ she croaked, and pointed to the sea.
‘What man?’ If there’d been a boat, or anything, I’d have seen it.
‘Is that aman?’ I said. The barrel she’d been floating on was bobbing in the water a metre or two away.
I paddled us to it. It had a short length of rope on the top end attached to a handle. I tied it to the hook on the bow.
I gave her more water. Her hand reached to grab the bottle. I pulled it away, showed her what was left, and shrugged.
‘We have to save it,’ I said, thinking: I have to save it. I had the idea that if she got hold of it she’d drink it in one go. All of it. I thought of the food in the hold, of how long we might be out here. I was glad to have found her, and at the same time, not glad. Worried.