Sample: Local Voices Chapter 1
A feral chant greeted Annie as she threaded between the barriers separating the platform from the concourse. Guttural voices growled “Witch!” Or was it “Bitch!” Over and over, till it made no sense. Alarmed, she dropped Kevin’s hand and moved to shield her girlfriend, her eyes darting in search of the source. The train had been packed and a throng of panicked commuters elbowed their way forward as if the station were on fire. Borne by the flow bursting from the gates, there was no turning back. If only her bodyguard, Xenia, had been there.
Annie spotted a dense knot of women brandishing placards some yards away when a hard object struck her face just below her eye. Smashing as it did, a viscous liquid trickled down her cheek, letting off a foul smell of rotten eggs. She sank to her knees, instinctively putting up her hands to protect her head. Kevin screamed and ducked, cowering behind her.
Sensing danger, the crowd stampeded, bowling over the two crouched figures and would have trampled them to death had not firm hands grasped the girls and heaved them to their feet. Xenia. Kate heaved a sigh of relief. No one would dare jostle her now. All the same, Annie couldn’t stop trembling as the woman summarily wiped the mess from her face before wrapping her in a strong embrace. Nearby, Kevin was blotted in the arms of Leonor, sobbing. “…like animals…” Annie heard her moan.
Fishing a tissue from the bag that always accompanied the nurse, Leonor handed it to Annie, saying, “Wipe your face.” Adding, with a smile, “You stink.” The tissue was moist and smelt vaguely of perfume. Annie did as she was told, although she suspected the stench would cling despite the perfume.
“Let’s get you to safety,” Xenia said, a hand in the small of Annie’s back gently but firmly guiding her towards the exit.
Tossing the used tissue in a bin, Annie looked up at the massive clock that hung over the concourse. Nine. The crowd in Waterloo station was thinning. The demonstrators had melted away, all signs of angry placards vanished, as if the whole episode had been but a dream. Were those nightmares that had plagued her waking day beginning again? She’d been so relieved to be rid of them.