Richard Harland - Ferren and the White Doctor

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The War Against The Seagulls

 

Ferren, Miriael and Kiet stood on the final rocky shelf at the point of the promontory. They considered the rope that connected to the first tiny island. How to get across?

The rope was about ten metres long, made of strands of seaweed interwoven with strands of human hair. Projecting lumps of rock had been cut and grooved to anchor its loops at either end. In the middle, it hung down until it was barely skimming the waves.

'We'll have to pull ourselves across hand over hand,' said Miriael.

Kiet shivered. 'What, dangling in the water?'

'Yes.'

Ferren was already shrugging his pack from his shoulders. Miriael followed suit. Then one by one they lowered themselves over the edge of the shelf. Holding fast to the rope, they pushed off and swung out above the waves. Ferren was in the lead, then Miriael, then Kiet.

As the rope arced down, their feet dangled in the water. Soon they sank in up to their knees, then their waists. The water was cold, and floating seaweed slithered against their legs.

'Ugh!' cried Kiet.

Hand over hand, they hauled themselves across. They were almost half way when a single seagull flew down. It perched on the rope ahead of Ferren.

Cark!

It fixed a beady eye upon him. It looked vicious and aggressive, blocking their way. Ferren continued to advance.

Cark! Cark!

As the rope swayed, the gull gripped more fiercely with its red webbed claws. It extended its wings and drew back its neck to strike.

But Ferren struck first. He was less than an arm's length away. He flung himself up out of the water and swung at it with his balled fist.

The blow knocked the bird's head sharply sideward. It tumbled into the sea with a squawk and a splash. In the next moment, it righted itself, paddled backwards and took off with a furious beating of wings.

Ferren, Miriael and Kiet resumed their progress. As the rope arced upwards again, they rose higher and higher out of the water. The island was sheer-sided rock, with brown seaweed hanging down. Ferren was almost there when Kiet yelled a warning.

'Look out!'

Above their heads, the sky was dark with wings. It wasn't just a few birds sent to drive them away. The entire flock was intent on their destruction.

Even as they gaped, the first squadron came hurtling down.

Ferren leaped into action. With two great lunges, he pulled himself up onto the flat top of the island. He knelt and leaned out towards Miriael, extending his hand.

The birds focussed their attack upon Kiet. A snowstorm of wings descended over her. She was helpless. Beaks and claws ripped at her hands as she tried to maintain her hold.

She let go of the rope and fell back floundering. With no experience of swimming, she thrashed and spluttered and swallowed water in mouthfuls.

'Catch hold!' cried Miriael.

She was three quarters out of the water. She stretched back with her long slender legs. Kiet got the idea when her thrashing arms made contact with Miriael's left foot. She clung on for dear life.

Miriael towed her in closer to the rock. The birds whirled around and turned against Miriael too. Without thinking, Miriael spread her wings.

That was what saved them. Miriael's wings were purely ceremonial, useless for flight - but they were still far larger than the wings of any seagull. As the white feathers fanned outwards, the birds swerved aside in a sudden flurry. If not panicked, they were at least disconcerted.

There was a brief lull as the attack drew off. It was just long enough. Miriael pulled Kiet in to the rock, then lifted her until she was able to take hold of the rope again. Ferren helped them both up on top of the island.

They stood there dripping water, gasping for breath. In the next moment, the gulls returned to the attack.

This time it was a more calculated attack. The birds came in horizontally in successive waves, first from one direction, then another. Their beaks were their weapons and they were going for the eyes.

The top of the island was only a few paces wide. Miriael, Ferren and Kiet stood back to back in a defensive triangle. They whirled their arms and yelled at the tops of their voices. Trying to keep the beaks from their eyes, they were stabbed, slashed and buffeted. Blood ran down their arms and the sides of their faces. The sight of blood drove the gulls into a kind of frenzy.

Kiet staggered backwards under the buffeting. Her shoulders hit up against Ferren's shoulders. She recovered her balance as he lost his.

'Aaaagh!'

He toppled off the island and into the water. He came up spluttering. Kiet and Miriael rushed to the edge of the island and peered over. Ferren clutched onto a spur of black rock.

Already the gulls were massing to attack. They hovered in a spiralling column over the sea. Clearly they were going to pick Ferren off first. The column swirled closer.

'Climb up! Climb up!' shrieked Kiet.

He lifted his face and shook his head. There was no rope on this side of the island. It was too sheer for him to climb unaided.

The column of seagulls exploded outwards at the bottom. A stream of birds skimmed over the waves, aimed like projectiles straight at Ferren's head.

 

previous extract

 

Ferren and the Angel

Ferren & the Angel

 

Ferren and the White Doctor

Ferren & the White Doctor

 

Ferren and the Invasion of Heaven

Ferren & the Invasion of Heaven

 

Ferren's World

Ferren's World

 

About Angels

About Angels

 

 

 
Extracts from the Second book in the Heaven & Earth Trilogy...
The City of the Dead ... Asmodai Appears to Miriael ... Kiet Dances with Ferren ...
Doctor Saniette Marches In ... The War against the Seagulls ...

 

Read extracts from the first novel, Ferren and the Angel
or the third novel, Ferren and the Invasion of Heaven

 

 

 
 


- Ferren Home - Ferren and the Angel - Ferren and the White Doctor - Ferren and the Invasion of Heaven -

The FERREN series is published by Penguin Books Australia

 

 

 
 

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OTHER BOOKS: Walter Wants to be a Werewolf! - Sassycat - The Vicar of Morbing Vyle - the Ferren trilogy - the Eddon & Vail trilogy

 

 

 
   
 

Copyright note: all written material on this website is copyright
1997 - 2015

Richard Harland.