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BL Browne

Location: Cashel, Co. Tipperary

Bio

Completed a cosyish murder mystery novel with a female lead. It’s written in the first person and is in excess of 120,000 words. Working on second novel with the same lead character.

Current project

Cosyish murder mystery where NJ Reilly, Building Surveyor once again gets caught up in criminal carryings-on. Haven’t worked it all out yet and have a touch of writer’s block……so I’ve gone wrong somewhere

Writing sample

Chapter 1 – Water
Wednesday ??? May, Time???

If I have to, I’ll put my whole head under the viscousy water. But, I’m really hoping there’ll be no need. The truth is, taking this option would mean that it’s too late anyway. It’s absolutely freezing but this isn’t the reason I shiver uncontrollably. I focus on breaking the rhythm of those involuntary waves, willing myself to be as still as possible. I think of how successful I am at slowing my heart rate when running. Desperate, I close my eyes, but not tightly. I try to see a white room in my mind. It’s paramount I prevent the oil-like fluid lapping off the sides of the tank creating a mini swell and becoming audible.

But every sound is amplified as the stainless steel box is not designed to cushion movement. The ballcock burrows into my back but, at least it does not cause the tank to fill. My body has displaced water after all. Ever so slowly I raise a wet arm and use the tips of my fingers, as carefully as possible, to adjust the lid of polystyrene insulation. I succeed in closing off that shard of light at the right corner. Now, it is pitch black so, my hearing becomes my only source of information.

I yelp and gulp. Clamping both hands over my mouth I curse my body for betraying me. How is it that humans are supposed to be great survivors and yet our body, when we’re in a state of terror, causes an involuntary primordial cry vocalising our position, getting us caught or killed? Did they hear me? Jesus, now another reaction brews and may surface at any time. Giggling.

The hysterical guffaw. The uncontrollable and misplaced need to giggle out loud. A panic-giggle. It happens only when it is most inappropriate and only at times of high stress. When I was in the swimming pool as a child and couldn’t touch the floor with my toes without going under water, the assurance that I was going to drown resulted in a fit of giggling.

When hanging from a very high branch of an apple tree where the fall might likely kill me, I giggled. But giggling doesn’t just tighten my tummy muscles, it causes me to loose all my strength. Result: almost drowning in the municipal pool, and, breaking a collarbone at the foot of a Cox’s Orange Pippin. I can never understand it. Nothing is ever funny when this happens.

I close my eyes and try to convince my brain that I am okay and just bathing in the sea. In the dark!
‘Did you hear that?’ He is more audible than before, and there’s a trace of something. German? Central European?
‘Shush! Listen.’ Irish! ‘Shine over there. What’s dat?’
‘Old suitcases. Other stuff too. Storage, maybe. How-should-I-know?’ The foreign guy is argumentative.
‘Go have a look see.’ The Irish guy instructs so, he must be the boss.
‘You have a look.’ Or, maybe not.
‘I… I can’t…’ The Irish guy stutters.
‘What’s the matter with you?’ asks his colleague.
‘Can’t move.’ Creaking timber. ‘No, don’t touch me,’ he screams. ‘I’ll fall.’ Serves him right.
‘So? Even if you fall, you will only get a little bruised,’ says the foreigner, mockery in his voice.
‘I’ll break my neck if I fall through to the room below, ya moron.’ The Irish guy is really panicking now.
‘How will you fall through? Look, if you think you are going to fall, fall back like this. Like Christ on the cross. That way you make a bigger surface area and can’t fall between the timbers. Look at you, you are frozen to the spot.’ He laughs sneeringly. Sounds kinda like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Austrian?
‘It’s not funny ya asshole. I’ll try to make my way back to the hatch and you keep looking.’
‘Okay, don’t fall,’ sneers Terminator.

I hear a combination of footsteps and pauses. Terminator is moving in my direction. His stop-start pattern tells me that he is not afraid to fall between the joists into the room below. He is confident and has resumed his search. The storage area they were talking about is just behind the tank I am hiding in. Hope he doesn’t suffer from curiosity.

‘I made it!’ The Irish guy shouts with unmistakable relief in his voice. He is clearly at the access hatch.
Suddenly, the polystyrene lid is shoved out of position and when my eyes adjust I see two large fingers.
‘Jesus, you made me loose my footing, you fool. I nearly fell.’ My heart is racing and I tighten my clamped hands to stop myself from squealing.
‘Ha, serves ya right, ya patronising prick. Any sign? Can ya see anything?’
‘Wait.’ I hold my breath and visualise the Terminator pulling back the lid and dragging me out of my watery resting place. ‘No, just a pile of junk.’ He has moved off. I rest my forehead on my knees. He still has to pass back this way. Please God, he won’t see my holster. I buried it as best I could but, if he starts digging, he may find it. I concentrate on my breathing and try to slow my heart rate once more. It’s not working.

The tank shudders and my feet slip in the sludge coating its bottom. He must’ve bumped it or used it for balance. The lid’s displaced even more. I close my eyes, terrified that he will look in and give me a got ya smile. How can he fail to see me now?

‘Careful ya fool. Ya don’t want to knock dat thing trew the attic floor.’ Suddenly I hear groaning, or more of a muffled pleading. It seems very far away. ‘Come on, ya moron, I told ya it was just a rat or something. Let’s go before she gets out of hand.’
‘Call me that one more time you shit, and I’ll throw you down that hole.’ Terminator moves away from my general area, but I can’t open my eyes. I hear muttering and then the unmistakable sound of the hatch falling into place and then, silence. I must concentrate on remaining in place. This could be a trick. They might be sitting there, waiting for me to expose my position.

Opening my eyes, I carefully peek out under the displaced polystyrene sheeting, trying not to move it any further. It’s extremely difficult to see anything. I’m at the wrong angle. Best to wait a little longer. Then I hear them. Two voices drift up to me through the attic floor. They’re both squabbling, just like they were doing up here. What a relief! It’s time for me to come out. I’ll have to be very quiet because they’ll be listening for any and all movement.

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