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The Vines

The forest was too still; he was being watched.

He tasted blood and realized he’d bitten his tongue. Another scalpel could whiz through the air, this time landing in an eye or the back of his head. Unlike all those who’d been incinerated or transported to Potter’s Field on Hart Island, his body would rot where it landed.

If Finn had respected his father’s ruling that North Brother had become too risky, he wouldn’t now be defenseless and alone, about to die on a deserted island surrounded by eight million people.

The faint hum of traffic underscored the proximity of help; so close, yet so far.

He knew his best option was to flee. Surveying the greenery, he spotted the tennis court fence that marked his escape route. Yet he didn’t bolt.

Either his invisible enemies were defending the woman, or they wanted to kill her, too. Assuming they hadn’t already sliced her throat, Finn and she, together, might be able to make it to his kayak. The currents would quickly carry them beyond the range of those blades.

With the daylight, a patrol might notice them leaving, but he’d gladly take an illegal trespassing charge over death.

A pokeberry plant blocked his view of the decaying bathroom. He eased aside a long, thin cluster of dark berries, revealing only more vegetation. He would have to get closer.

Shifting his pack onto his back, he realized that he’d dropped his sketchbook and turned to reach for it.

The air trilled.

A third scalpel—this one from above—stabbed the moleskin cover. Protecting his face with his hands, he looked up.

Excerpted from THE VINES by Shelley Nolden. Copyright © 2021 by Freiling Publishing

The Vines
by by Shelley Nolden