Warren Murphy: Troubled Waters

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Troubled Waters: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Not So Jolly Roger . . . Complete with skull and crossbones fluttering in the wind, "Captain" Thomas Kidd is the new scourge of the Caribbean, raiding unsuspecting pleasure craft and pursuing the great piratical tradition of looting, pillaging and plant walking. The bloodthirsty crew tosses the lucky ones overboard, while saving the women for dessert at Kidd's private island hell. When these maritime marauders kidnap the daughter of a senator, CURE sets out to kick some serious pirate booty. Posing as rich tourists. Remo and Chiun set a course for the tropics to tempt these freebooters into the mistake of their career. But Remo soon fines himself swimming with sharks while Chiun senses some illicit treasure in his future. Even so, they are ready to dispatch the sea raiders to an afterlife between the devil and the deep blue sea.

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Destroyer 133: Troubled Waters

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

Chapter 1

The woman was lost but tried to deny it, as if by withholding the information from herself she could somehow magically discover an exit from her private hell on Earth. She was a city girl and proud of it, dependent on street signs and landmarks to negotiate her way through daily life. The jungle that surrounded her seemed vast and alien.

She made a conscious effort to control the fear that stalked her like a silent predator. Panic would finish her, destroy whatever tiny, fragile hope she had of breaking free, saving herself. They might be after her by now, and if she didn't keep her wits about her, she was dead-or something infinitely worse.

Her body ached from the abuse she had endured since being taken prisoner. Was it three days? A week? A lifetime? She had no idea what day it was, but dawn was approaching to mark another morning of captivity, another day and night of torment.

Only this time, when her jailers came for her, they would be in for a surprise. She knew that her impression of the jungle's vastness was illusory. Her prison was an island-that much she was certain of-and not a huge one, from the way her captors spoke of it. An island meant the jungle was bounded by the sea on every side, and all she had to do was strike a course, stick to it, keep herself from wandering in circles to escape the brooding darkness of the trees.

And then what?

She had never been an athlete, even though she kept herself in decent shape, a trim size six, with just a bit more in the bust than most women her size. But on the best day that she ever had, it would have been impossible for her to swim an ocean. Going where? From where?

She didn't have a compass and couldn't have read it accurately if she had. Besides, direction was a useless concept when your world was ringed with fathomless green water, the depths teeming with predatory life.

Swimming was suicide, but she would risk it anyway before she let herself be dragged back to her cage and what was waiting for her.

A root or vine reached out to trip her, and she went down on all fours, unable to suppress a muffled yelp of pain. Her bruised, aching body protested the jolt, and now her palms were skinned, her knees raw, a small but nagging pain radiating from her ankle, where a splinter or a thorn had pierced her flesh.

It wasn't the first time she had fallen since she fled her captors, and she had a feeling that it wouldn't be the last. Each time she fell, she hesitated, braced on hands and knees or sprawled on the forest floor, listening for sounds of pursuit, anything that would tell her the men were behind her, drawing closer, perhaps homing in on the sound of her fall.

Perhaps there was a way that she could make them kill her, if they cornered her and she resisted to the point that taking her alive was too much effort. That was a hope she could cling to, as a last resort, but she preferred to think of the slim chance of escape that remained.

At the moment she was taken, she had logically assumed that ransom was the goal of her abductors. Why they had not spared her husband was a mystery that haunted her, the image of his violent ending branded on her soul, but she supposed men were more difficult to manage. And they offered less amusement to their captors while they waited for the final payoff.

Scrambling to her feet, the woman started moving once again, following what seemed to be the ghost of an old game trail, barely visible now, overgrown completely in spots.

IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY when she first smelled the ocean. When she stopped, she could hear the first faint sound of breakers crashing onto sand.

Armed with a new, improved sense of direction, the woman veered left, leaving the vestigial trail as it wound away through the trees--curving, she now saw, away from the sound of the ocean. If she had not paused then and there, at that precise moment, she might well have missed her goal entirely and continued on through the jungle until she was cornered or simply collapsed from exhaustion.

She emerged from the jungle and turned right, then began to move along the beach as quickly as her legs would carry her. She stayed close to the tree line, walking on sand to give her lacerated feet a rest, still close enough to cover that she could vanish in a heartbeat if she saw trackers in front of her or heard them behind her.

In the sunlight, growing brighter by the moment, she possessed a stronger, clearer sense of time. Her watch was long gone, with the other jewelry and cash aboard their yacht, and while she had no fixed idea of what time she had fled the camp, she knew it had to be coming up on 6:00 a.m. by now. Each moment with the sun above her multiplied her odds of being spotted, run to ground, but it was still her only chance, as slim as it might be.

The woman guessed she had been following the island's coastline for an hour and a half, at least, before she struck the river. It was small, as rivers go-more of a creek, in fact-but it supplied fresh water, and she fell to hands and knees once more, burying her face in the sweet, cool current, splashing water over her hair and the back of her head with cut and bleeding hands. She drank deeply, unmindful of old movies she had seen, in which parched travelers were warned to sip a little at a time to ward off some calamity never specified. She filled her belly with the sweet, fresh water, taking it in place of food, to stop the growling in her stomach, feeling it revive her like a draft from the mythical Fountain of Youth.

And when she raised her dripping head, to shake it like a dog's, she spotted the canoe.

It wasn't native craftsmanship. If anything, in fact, it looked like something from an old Sears catalog that had been roughly used for years, perhaps for decades, and abandoned on the rough bank of this island creek. A paddle was lying in the old canoe, with scars around the blade, its handle satin smooth.

Stepping into the middle of the creek, surprised at the sudden chill of its water on her bare feet and legs, the woman dragged her only means of transportation into the gentle current. The creek was shallow, and she had to stoop painfully, pulling the old canoe along, but it was infinitely better than trying to carry the boat fifty yards to the sea.

Gentle breakers curled in toward the shore at the point where creek spilled into ocean, fresh and salt water mingling briefly before the former was lost. Without another backward glance to check for spotters, she plunged into the surf, dragging the canoe behind her until it was suddenly buoyant. The old canoe was thirty yards from shore when the woman finally succeeded in crawling over the gunwale and dropping inside, almost tipping the boat in the process. She shifted to prevent the paddle gouging her back, then reluctantly sat up and stared back at the island.

There was no one on the beach, no sign of movement in the shadows of the tree line. Could it be that she had managed to outwit her captors after all? It seemed impossible, but the woman was wasting no more precious time. Facing the sea, she lifted the paddle and began to dig in, remembering to shift her strokes from port to starboard to prevent the canoe from circling back toward the island.

Muscle cramps set in eventually, and she was forced to stop paddling, almost collapsing where she sat, pain-racked and sobbing. Even then, the ocean carried her beyond sight of the island, and no ships came after her to drag her back or sink her, let her drown.

By slow degrees her strength returned, and the agonizing cramps began to fade. Now thirst and hunger took their turn, but there was nothing she could do except force her mind to concentrate on escape, find a new rhythm with the paddle, hold exhaustion at bay by the sheer force of her will.

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