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Audrey Mac Cready

Location: Dublin

Bio

Archaeologist, librarian, genealogist, EU official…now a writer. Still digging.

Current project

Working title: to be revealed in December

Based on a true story.

Previous (unpublished) novel: ‘Love in the Time of Rebellion – a story of 1798.’

Writing sample

‘Madame, madame, are you okay?’

Norah opened her eyes to see four people staring at her. A man kneeling on the step beside her, holding her hand in his. These were older than the earlier visitors – two men and two women in shorts, tee-shirts, caps and walking boots. Suitably attired for a day in the sun, on a mountain, backpacks sprouting bottle holders and phone pockets. They looked worried.

‘Thank goodness, she’s alive,’ one of the women, standing behind the kneeling man, breathed.

‘Can you hear me?’ the kneeling man said. He was speaking English, with an American accent.

Norah nodded. ‘Yes,’ she whispered. Becoming aware that some explanation might be welcome to her audience, she added, ‘I fell, in the spring.’ Waving her hand towards it, she said, ‘I banged my head.’ She gingerly touched the lump growing there.

Mr Kneeling turned to his companions. ‘We need to get some help here. Anyone got a number for an ambulance?’

Three backpacks swung down from three sets of shoulders and a race commenced to extract mobiles from various pockets. In the event, the other man in the group won.
‘I specifically looked up the emergency number before we started and put it in my gsm,’ he said with an air of authority.

‘You would,’ one of the women muttered.

‘Best to be prepared,’ the man replied, punching on the 112 number.

Norah closed her eyes again and heard him talking to the services in Greek,. In English he queried, did she have any broken bones, was she nauseous?. Could she stand? She replied in the negative to all three questions, having made a feeble attempt to stand. Her head spun and she slumped down into a sitting position again.

‘Okay,’ the man said into his phone, nodding. ‘Entáxei, tha kratithoúme edó. Póso kairó pistéveis? Sostá. (‘Okay, we’ll hold on here. How long do you think? Right.)’ He hung up. ‘They’re sending an air ambulance.’

‘Oh my God,’ Norah said. ‘An air ambulance? Is this really necessary?’

Mr Kneeling patted her hand, which he was still holding. ‘You can’t walk to a hospital,’ he said. ‘Or even back to the entrance to the Acrocorinth. They can’t reach you quickly on foot, so I guess it has to be a chopper.’ He grinned. ‘Lucky you, you’re going to have a great ride.’

The woman who had commented on her companion’s preparedness, stepped closer. ‘Never mind a great ride, let me help her now.’ She pulled the man aside and knelt down. ‘I’m trained in First Aid;’ she said. ‘Is it okay if I feel your limbs?’

Norah nodded and the woman felt quickly along her arms and legs for fractures. Then she smiled at her and gave her a thumbs up. ‘Given the bang on your head and how weak you are, I’d say it’s concussion. You have abrasions, too, though they’re not bleeding badly. And you’re soaking wet, so hypothermia is a possibility.’ She turned to the others. ‘Anyone got a spare pullover or rain jacket?’

Another scramble took place, and the second woman produced a rolled-up raincoat and handed it to Ms First Aid. She unwound it and wrapped it around Norah.

‘You brought a raincoat? In this weather?’ Mr Mobile Phone said.

‘Best to be prepared,’ Ms Raincoat said, exchanging a glance with Ms First Aid. They both smirked.

‘Thank you,’ Norah said, sighing, ‘thank you all.’

‘No problem,’ Ms First Aid said. ‘I’m Angie, and we’re stationed here. US Navy, Ma’am.’ She reached her hand out to shake Norah’s. She smiled. ‘You’re in good hands, don’t worry now. We’ll take care of you. Do you think you could make it up the steps to outside? It’s warmer there and the sun will help to dry you out.’’

Norah smiled and nodded, it seemed the polite thing to do in the face of this overwhelming care. She wasn’t used to it. Great, she thought, first the Irish Diplomatic Service, then the Greek police, now the U.S. Navy. Where will this end? What does it take to get The Bastard?

Holding on to Angie and Mr Kneeling, Norah struggled up and out of the springhouse. Five minutes later, a helicopter sounded in the distance, and a murmur of approval from the people around her.
What are Greek hospitals like? Norah wondered. Hopefully not sixteen hours waiting in A & E, like in Dublin. Will the rental car be okay, parked here? How will I get back to collect it? Never mind. A fog of tiredness crept into her mind, and she closed her eyes. She realised she was still shaking from head to toe, quivering like a jelly, despite the warm sunshine. Her wet hair straggled around her face. Angie reached out to move it, saying, ‘May I? She delicately tidied the damp mop back, tucking it behind Norah’s ears. A motherly touch.
Mr Kneeling handed her a bottle of water. ‘Here, you should drink this. It’s unopened.’ He unscrewed the cap. With a wobbly hand, she took it and drank several mouthfuls.

She watched, holding her breath as the helicopter approached, hovered overhead and a crew member abseiled down. Mr Mobile Phone pointed to Norah and the abseiler squatted beside her. With Angie’s help, she got Norah on her feet.
She lifted the visor on her helmet. ‘Hi, I need to see if you’re able to go up in the strop,’ she shouted above the noise of the rotors. ‘Are you in pain?’

Norah nodded, pointing to her head. ‘Nothing broken, though, I don’t think.’

‘You bleeding?’

‘No. I’m cold.’

The abseiler looked upwards as she spoke into a mouthpiece which curved from her ear to her mouth. She lifted a large, padded band from over her shoulders and strapped Norah into it. It was attached to the same cable with which she descended from the helicopter.
‘It’ll swing around a bit as the air catches it, but don’t worry, you won’t fall.’ She smiled at Norah, who stared wordlessly at her in return. This woman had so better be right.

A flurry of hand signals and shouts passed between the Americans and the Greek angel who had descended from the airborne machine. Norah, clutching her wet backpack, couldn’t make out any of it under the deafening roar of helicopter blades. Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing, though. With a sudden jerk, she and the angel rose off the ground together. Sure enough, they began to turn slowly as the cable pulled them up. Norah focussed on the machine above her, the thin metal line in front of her face and the dark-uniformed winch operator looking down out of the aircraft, awaiting her arrival.
Air, wind in her face, noise, turning, rising. The pressure of the strop against her back, the angel holding her. She reached the door, the man grabbed a cord on the back of the strop and dragged her into the chopper. The smell of metal, fabric, his strength. Safety. The angel crawled in after her and slammed the chopper door shut. The winchman detached Norah from the cord.

‘Stay where you are.’

She was happy to comply.

In what seemed like minutes in her vague state of mind, they were landing on the helicopter pad of the General Hospital of Corinth. An ambulance – a real ambulance – took her from the aircraft to the entrance to the A&E.

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