Currently being edited pending publication

 

Front cover design  

Barrie David

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Barrie David

Exercise Sacristan

United Arab Emirates - 1972


 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

 

Luke Blake’s Screenplay

 

The setting is contemporary Arizona… 

At age thirty-six, Jeffrey Blake is a multi-millionaire businessman whose unrelenting obsession for more wealth has totally alienated his fifteen-year-old son, Luke, a highly sensitive budding writer. With subtle but firm persuasion from his mother (Lenny), a very grudging Luke agrees to go with Jeffrey on a man-to-man, two-for-the-road vacation around the state in a robust Recreational Vehicle. When inevitable conflict between father and son leads to a heated quarrel but a fragile truce, they head into the interior and camp beside a small lake at the peak of a remote mountain range.  

Rediscovering each other in the two idyllic weeks that follow, in the blink of an eye they are plunged into a terrifying ordeal, the ultimate nightmare, in which their only chance of survival lies in their absolute trust in each other.

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

Sunrise – Desolate Interior – Southern Arizona

 

As daybreak approaches, the rugged terrain of endless mountain ranges and cactus-laden desert is dominated by utter silence. A dull orange glow gently illuminates the horizon, challenging the supremacy of darkness before devouring it for the sun to announce its arrival amid a spectacular kaleidoscope of copper and gold clouds. Not a single sound breaks the silence as the sun brushes aside the clouds in favour of unbroken sky. By midday it is at its most fierce, singeing the land with merciless heat. Gliding with majestic ease above a bleak mountain range, an eagle gazes down on a stationary Recreational Vehicle on a narrow track, surrounded by boulders. It is crudely hand painted in dark military green and layered with the grime of extensive mileage. The sliding side door is slightly open.  

On a top bunk in the small rear bedroom a man in his mid-thirties lies sound asleep. A blonde-haired teenage boy sleeps on the top bunk opposite, and between the two lower bunks, also asleep, is a medium-sized, black-and-white mongrel. Spying movement on the crest of one of the boulders, the eagle plummets with breathaking precision and scoops up a small rattlesnake. Predator and prey become an animated dot in the vast unblemished sky, the tranquility shattered by the speed and ferocity of the attack. Moments later, countless more snakes emerge from beneath the boulders…

 

 

Three Weeks Earlier…

 

Southbound Freeway – Phoenix, Arizona – Early-evening Rush Hour

 

Traffic is flowing steadily on all lanes as the driver of an ageing pick-up, an elderly Mexican man, lights a second cigarette from the one he’s already smoking and glances anxiously at the engine’s temperature gauge, which is nudging into the red. In his rear-view mirror he glimpses a police cruiser. Seconds later, dense black smoke billows from the engine bay, instantly initiating the cruiser’s hazard lights, its wailing siren and the frantic arm-waving of its two-man crew, warning other drivers to slow down and back off. A deafening roar of grinding metal culminates in the truck’s engine seizing, bringing it to a juddering halt across two lanes.

 

The police car pulls up well short and the officers hurry out, one to control the traffic while his partner leads the unhurt but badly shaken driver to the rear seat of the cruiser. With the entire freeway backing up, many drivers shut down their engines and either leave their vehicles to debate the delay or reach for their cell phones and iPads. The interruption of the usual Friday evening commute will change the life of one driver forever when he joins the mammoth tailback and becomes hemmed in by vehicles of every size and description.