Sanctuary by Judy Nunn Read Online (FREE)
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The island appeared out of nowhere. One minute they were relentlessly adrift in a rickety wooden dinghy with nothing in sight but the horrifying blue of the Indian Ocean, then the next they had run aground. On what? Land? A submerged reef? Both it seemed. A rocky barren island with low-lying shrubs, little more than a scrub-covered reef. Why hadn’t they seen it earlier? But then they’d seen virtually nothing for days as sky and sea had merged into one all-consuming blur. Even before the storm, which had wrecked their vessel and taken the lives of so many, they’d stopped looking for land. Their minds had been wandering in and out of consciousness for some time now, all nine of them, including the child, who was somehow still miraculously alive.
They couldn’t tell how long they’d been adrift in the dinghy. Was it a day? A day and a night? Yes, there’d definitely been a night, a night of unbearable cold that had cut through their drenched clothes and their bones to the very marrow of their being. Was it two days? Perhaps three? They didn’t know, and in their state of exhaustion were beyond caring. Even Rassen, the doctor who had taken on the role of leader and in whom the survivors had placed their trust, even Rassen had resigned himself to the inevitability of his death. He, too, had stopped looking out for land. Like the others, he’d stopped trying to even guess in which direction it might lie. And now there it was right before his very eyes.
The dinghy lurched drunkenly to one side and settled itself in the rocky shallows, as if like its occupants in a state of exhaustion and nearing the end of its life, which indeed it was.
No one made a move. Several of the survivors remained in a semi-conscious condition and were unaware of the extraordinary event that had taken place, while others stared dumbly, uncomprehendingly, their minds unable to absorb what they saw.
Rassen squinted through the morning’s wintry glare, hardly daring to believe he could be right, for the light of the sun reflecting off the water’s surface played tricks with a person’s mind. Is this a mirage? he wondered. Surely my eyes deceive me. There are huts on this island. There are huts and there are jetties projecting into the sea. Where there are huts and jetties there are people. We are saved.
‘We are saved,’ he heard himself croak in a voice that wasn’t his, a voice parched and by now so unused as to seem quite foreign. He addressed the words to his wife, Hala, who sat beside him, also unable to believe the vision before her.
‘We are saved,’ he repeated, but this time to the survivors in general and this time in a voice that, although weakened, held an edge of authority. Someone must lead them. His tone proved effective, bringing the others to their senses, rousing them from the lethargy of their surrender. ‘Massoud,’ he said to the young Iranian who throughout the ordeal had become his second-in-command, ‘help me get everyone ashore. We must find water.’