Over Your Shoulder by C J Carver
For the first time, we quote an extract of the Read of the Month for you to enjoy. This is how Over Your Shoulder by C J Carver begins…
(C) 2018 C J Carver
We were on the sofa as usual at 10pm, watching the news. Susie lay curled next to me, her head resting against my chest, my arm around her. The BBC’s political editor was discussing the Brexit narrative – nothing new that I could tell – and I was looking at the wood burner and thinking about nothing more than putting on another log, when Susie went quite still.
Whenever she did that – not that often to be honest – I was reminded of a wild animal. A rabbit who’d just sighted a fox. Or a wolf sizing up their prey. It depended on the situation. I quickly checked for spiders (Susie hates spiders, they are the only thing that seems to freak her out) and since we appeared to be spider-free, I followed her gaze to the TV, unable to see what had triggered her sudden tension.
The reporter was talking about a terror attack in London that happened earlier that day. Susie worked in London. That was weird, because she hadn’t mentioned anything. I glanced down at her but she was immersed in the TV, where the BBC reporter was pointing across a large pedestrian area strewn with police cars and news vans.
Apparently, a masked gunman had entered a restaurant and opened fire while yelling Allāhu Akbar! Four people had died and eight had been injured but it could have been much worse except for one of the diners who had taken the gunman on. Incredibly, the man had launched himself at the terrorist and either through luck or excellent timing hadn’t been shot. The second he’d brought the gunman down, three other men had joined in, disarming the attacker before sitting on him until the police arrived.
‘He’s been called a superhero,’ the journalist was saying. ‘And like a superhero he’s vanished. As soon as police officers arrived and arrested the gunman, our unidentified hero disappeared. All we have is CCTV footage.’
As the screen changed to a grainy black and white image, Susie yawned. Stretched a little before settling back in my arms.
I watched as a man in a balaclava, dressed in dark jeans and fleece, charged into the restaurant, firing his weapon. A man to one side launched himself from his table, diving for the gunman with no seeming concern for his safety, laying the gunman flat. I watched him hit the gunman – a full-fisted punch into the face followed by a powerful blow to the throat – and wrestle the gun free. At that moment other men piled in too, but there was something about the first man – the hero everyone was talking about – that had me riveted. Was it his unreserved heroism? The way he hadn’t hesitated? Or was it the efficiency of his blows? As he sat astride the gunman’s chest, he looked up, straight into the camera’s lens. My heart stopped. My ears rang.
He was older, but then he would be. Twelve years had passed since we’d last seen one another. His hair was longer, curling at the nape, but appeared just as untidy. His face had always been boyish, but now it looked leaner, more mature. His gaze was direct, his eyes blazing from the adrenalin rush – a look I could remember all too well from when we competed against each other. My heart gave a gigantic thump when I saw the scar I’d given him when he was three still marred his chin.
I heard the reporter asking viewers to help identify the superhero but the voice faded into the background as the years poured away.
I was no longer in our cottage with my wife in my arms. I was standing on a wind-blasted beach staring at the debris of an eighteen-foot skiff shattered by one of the worst storms to hit the south coast in a decade. I was listening to the policeman telling me this was all there was, that they’d found no floatation devices, no body.
I was looking at the pieces of wreckage and hearing Mum sob.
I was shivering with grief as I laid a wreath on his grave.
I stared at the TV, straight into the eyes of my brother, Rob, who’d supposedly drowned at sea. He was still alive.
Sounds good! For more info about author and international rally driver CJ, visit https://thecra.co.uk/find-an-author/carver-c-j/
Note: CJ won the CWA Debut Dagger a few years back. She’s written a blog for the aspiring writers among you on the Debuts site: https://thecwa.co.uk/the-debuts