NaNoWriMo: Day 2
Word Count: 8,024
A shriek split the air.
The burlap slipped in Joel’s fingers, and he grabbed it before it fell to the ground. The soldiers on either side looked around, searching.
The scream came again, louder and more urgent. Joel dropped the bag and spun to face the canal, eyes racing along the edge. He could have sworn there had been two children running by the water.
Now there was one.
He lunged forward, slamming into one of the soldiers full-force. The man fell back, thrown off balance. Frantic hands reached out to grab his arms.
“There’s someone in the water!” he shouted, pulling away.
He could feel his feet pounding on the dirt, hear the wild cries from behind. Pursuit or rescue?
“Stop! I’ll shoot!”
Joel’s feet skidded ten yards from the edge. Something was churning beneath the muddy water, and a flailing arm broke the surface. Throwing up his hands, Joel turned around.
“I’m here. Get her out!”
One of the guards grabbed his elbow, and another shoved the tip of a bayonet against his chest. Joel twisted around—Terrence was at the water’s edge, reaching for the girl’s hand.
“Jump in, you fool—she’s too far out!” he cried.
Terrence pulled back. “I can’t swim…”
Anger coursed through Joel’s veins. Wrenching his right arm free, he swung his fist into the soldier’s jaw and dove for the water. He didn’t reach it. The butt of a rifle struck him across the shoulder blades, and he hit the ground on his stomach. Dirt stung his eyes. He choked, reaching blindly for the water.
He couldn’t hear the splashing anymore.
Someone had bent his arm at the elbow and was forcing it up toward his shoulder. “Get off!” he screamed, his voice sounding hoarse and unnatural. “She’s drowning!”
Voices were shouting from the direction of the street, and footsteps raced toward the canal. Somewhere a child was crying.
The water had gone still and silent.