Read an extract from Adam Hamdy's gripping, FREEFALL!
'One of the best thriller writers I've read in recent years, Adam's writing is slick and unputdownable, he hooks you in from the first chapter and doesn't let you come up for air' Jenny Blackhurst,#1 eBook bestselling author
Posted on May 16, 2018 in Extract
Tags: Adam Hamdy, Extract, Freefall, pendulum
Sylvia Greene longed to accept her fate. Knowing what was coming, she had tried to prepare herself, but all rational thought was lost to instinct as she faced death. There were no words, no conscious thought, nothing she could articulate, just an overwhelming urge to fight the noose that crushed her neck. It didn’t matter that she wanted to be there, hanging at the end of the rope, that she knew it was the only way to protect her family. The darkest, most primitive regions of her mind rebelled and sent her fingers flying up, setting them to work on the thick rope. Her nails clawed at the rough fibres, and her bare legs kicked the air, desperately searching for something solid.
She could see her chair, lying on its side, beneath her flailing feet. The pain of the noose biting into her neck was unbearable, and her struggle was only adding to the misery. Her manicured nails were being shredded by the ferocity of her efforts, sending shards of agony shooting along her fingers. She tried to comfort herself with the knowledge that it would all be over soon.
Research had been her business and she’d gone into this situation armed with as much knowledge as possible. She knew she had to endure less than five minutes of suffering before her brain died. Once that happened the pain would stop. Her heart would keep beating for another fifteen minutes, but like an orchestra robbed of its conductor, would eventually lose its rhythm and cease. Then she’d grow still and cold, and the ugly business of death would begin, the rigor mortis, the decomposition. Sylvia hoped that Connor found her. Not the boys, she prayed. Not the boys. She hated to think of them seeing her dangling at the end of a rope, naked but for her underwear. Blue. Lace. She’d chosen a matching set in her favourite colour, knowing what was coming.
Sylvia wished she hadn’t thought of the boys. Pictures of their faces filled her mind, and the urge to survive became unbearably strong. She saw them staring up at her as unsteady toddlers, holding her hand, their moon cheeks pushed back by broad smiles, basking in her unstinting love for them. Bigger, older, the puppy fat lost, laughing manically as the rollercoaster hurled them around Thorpe Park. Crying over a grazed knee. Arms cradling a boy lost in awe of a Star Wars film. A startled face suddenly exposed from beneath a duvet, discovered reading Harry Potter way beyond bedtime. Then, her husband Connor, watching her undress, his desire palpable, his love enduring. Sadness, smiles, fear, anger, hope and joy, rich moments, all shared together. She and Connor steering the boys through the storm of life, trying to help them chart the most favourable course. Her heart ached and tears streamed as she thought of the three of them making the rest of the journey alone, but this was the only way.
She’d known she’d cry. The scale of loss made it inevitable. She was healthy, smart, just the wrong side of forty, and she had a family she adored and a job she cherished. Everything was being cut short and it was the theft of her unlived life that saddened her most.
In the days leading to this moment, Sylvia had often found herself wondering whether it truly was inevitable. Perhaps if she’d handled things another way? If she had been a different person? If she’d sought help sooner? But there was no more to be gained from lamenting what had happened than there was from mourning her unlived future.
She wondered if this was how schizophrenics felt. Her rational mind was calm and reflective, but there was part of her that was determined to fight the inevitable. It felt feral in its angry efforts to try to breathe, to tear the rope, to lash out. Her whole body shuddered with the sheer force of this beast, while her brain registered what was happening as it might note the behaviour of a stranger, as though her death was happening to someone else.
Bright lights suddenly flared in her vision. Colours so vivid she could taste them. They exploded wherever she looked, filling her eyes with beauty. Sylvia had read about this, the last furious firing of the brain before it began to shut down. Her body writhed violently as though the primitive regions of her mind sensed they had very little time left. It was hard to see through her tears and the crackling colours, and now Sylvia had a sense of the world growing distant. Then there was a sudden pinprick of white which burned brighter than anything she’d ever seen.
It grew bigger, consuming everything until her eyes saw nothing but the blazing heart of a sun. Freefall. The reason she was dying. The unwelcome word violated her mind, burning through it, leaving nothing in its wake. Her very last thought: Freefall.
Sylvia’s body fell still, and the primal resistance died, the instinctive and the rational uniting in emptiness as the last embers of her life were extinguished. Her heart kept beating after her body fell still. After a while it stopped and the blood began to cool in her veins.