Thursday, September 22, 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Deleted scene from Shadow of a Life

I recently came across the original opening scene for my book Shadow of a Life. I cut this scene before I even sent the manuscript out to publishers/agents. Since today is Throwback Thursday, I decided it might be fun to share it here.

Disclaimer: This scene was written very, very early in my writing career. Pretend it sounds nice and pretty and that I didn't overuse adverbs or head hop. Okay? Okay. This is a real event from history, so the characters are 100% real.

Also, don't forget that Shadow of a Life is currently free on Amazon and Smashwords. If you download it through Amazon, you can get the audiobook for only $1.99!

Shadow of a Life
December 1872

          “Captain! Captain! There’s a ship ahead!” John Johnson bellowed. “Take a look, sir.  Somethin’ ain’t right about her.”   
            Captain David Morehouse, captain of the Dei Gratia, strode towards the helmsman and snatched the spyglass from his outstretched hand. Just ahead of them a brigantine bobbed up and down in the rolling waves. The sails of the large, two-masted ship were worn and she listed slightly to one side. Captain Morehouse ordered his crew to approach cautiously. They sailed nearer, their apprehension growing with every splash of the water. When they were close enough to see the main deck, he again raised the spyglass to his eye, but there was no sign of life on the mysterious ship.
             “Circle around her. Maybe we can see the name on her bow,” Captain Morehouse ordered. The Dei Gratia slowly cut a path through the dark waters. An eerie quiet hung in the air.    
               Captain Morehouse cursed when he saw the name emblazoned on the side of the boat.  “It’s the Mary Celeste. She should have reached Italy days ago.” 
            The crew of the Dei Gratia gathered around her bow and watched in silence, waiting for something to happen, not knowing what to expect. It was a long time before Captain Morehouse cleared his throat to speak again.
            “Deveau, take a couple men and board the ship. Captain Briggs is a friend of mine. It’s our duty to assist him and his crew.”
            “Yes, sir!” Oliver Deveau served as chief mate of the Dei Gratia. In all his years sailing, even as a captain himself at one time, he’d never come upon such a bizarre scene. The waters were a busy shipping area and it wasn’t uncommon to pass multiple vessels on a journey across the Atlantic, but he’d never seen one that appeared to be sailing itself. 
            With the help of two others, Deveau rowed the small lifeboat to the waiting Mary Celeste and boarded her wooden planks. Cautiously, they explored the main deck and then, with ever growing anticipation, made their way below deck.
            From the Dei Gratia, Captain Morehouse watched with a sinking feeling gnawing at his stomach. Captain Briggs was a fine captain and would not willingly abandon his ship. The two captains were friends and had sailed together in their younger years. On the evening of November 4th, just one month earlier, they’d met for dinner with their wives. The Mary Celeste left port the next day, bound for Europe. Captain Briggs’ wife and two-year-old daughter were accompanying him on his trans-Atlantic voyage while his seven-year-old son stayed home to attend school. Everything had appeared to be in place for an uneventful trip.
             “Well?” Morehouse demanded of Deveau as the men climbed back over the rail of the Dei Gratia a short time later. “What did you find?  Has there been some tragedy?  Have they all come down with yellow fever?”
            “Sir, the ship looks a little worse for the wear, but she’s in sailing condition. I think we should take her in for salvage,” Deveau replied.
            “And the fate of the crew?” Morehouse asked impatiently.
           Deveau hesitated. “I can’t answer that, sir. There’s nothing there. No people. No bodies rotting in their beds. Everyone has vanished.” He paused before going on. “Sir, it’s as if she were a ghost ship.”