Austen slid back into the cockpit. She thought of diving over the side, but the little boat already moved too fast for such a try. Helpless to stop their tow, Austen tried to memorise course and location of the attack, so she could get help and get back to Kayla.
Kayla. Her partner could swim some, but she had no ability to swim distance, she could barely do two laps in a pool. Thank goodness she has a lifevest on,” Austen thought. Except…“Shit!” she exclaimed to no one. Just before spotting the speedboat, Kayla removed the vest in order to shed her tee shirt, since the cool of early morning moved rapidly toward the expected high of 93°F. The lime green vest was still on the floor of the cockpit, less than useless.
The speedboat slowed at the edge of the wide-open area of the lake, which Austen knew as The Broads. When the boats stopped, the swimmer jumped in the water and approached Skimmerbug. Taking no chances, Austen dove into the lake and swam away, only to stop in dismay as he boarded her boat, and, brandishing a hunting knife, began slashing at the lowered sail. Finished with his vandalism, he untied the rope, dove back in the water, and returned to his boat. Dropping their shorts, the three flashed lily-white asses, mooning her. Final shouts rang out, denouncing her as unwanted for her chocolate skin colour and her queerness, and declaring all manner of uncouth, unkind things about her presence here, despite being a lifelong resident of the state.
Back on Skimmerbug, Austen watched them recede into the distance, headed toward either Wolfeboro or Alton; she cared not which. Kayla lay miles back, perhaps five miles or more. She had no sail, and only two oars, but without oarlocks, she could use only one.
Disorientation made her lightheaded; coming on fast, Austen decided, because she hadn’t noticed the telltale signs of a drop in blood glucose during the attack and tow. She reached for her duffel bag, growing upset when her hand couldn’t take purchase. Finally sliding it out, she fumbled for the peanut butter crackers, ate one, and bit off a piece of another and chewed, following with a second bite. Raising the snack for a third, she slumped backward and passed out, dropping the uneaten half onto the Sunfish deck, where it slid off into the lake to serve as fishfood.
More than half a day later, Austen knew she was lucky to be awake now. What little she ate of the crackers combined with rising blood glucose, as injected insulin dissipated in her body, finally allowing her to come to, but the rising level created a new worry. She would need an injection, and soon, as well as a snack, since she hadn’t eaten and needed energy to row.
Reaching in the duffle bag again, she found an LED flashlight she had forgotten was in there, and snacks. The cooler, they brought a Coleman cooler. She felt hungry, but knew if she ate too much without insulin, she would have another problem. Finding the little day cooler, she fished out a sandwich sealed in plastic, still cool, although all the ice had melted. Protein, with some carbohydrates.
Pulling a wedge of sandwich from its protective wrapper, Austen bit off a sizeable bite of ham and cheese, and finished the half in four bites. She needed food, she needed to row, she needed insulin, she needed to find Kayla. She needed help.
Oar in hand again, she began to paddle, knowing at this rate of speed, she wouldn’t make the nearest shore for well over an hour. Undeterred, she rowed on; insufficient to occupy her mind, her thoughts veered toward what would happen if she had to rouse campers from slumber. People just don’t show up at lake cottages in the middle of the night.
Her ears detected a low droning sound, causing Austen to look about. Off to her right, towards the east, running lights gave away the presence of a night travelling boat. She switched on the flashlight, only to hesitate as her mind cautioned, what if those men are still out here. She would take the chance.
Aiming the light east, she began to signal, catching the attention of the boat. Minutes later, it pulled alongside, a boat nothing like the one from earlier in the day – or yesterday, since Austen knew not the time. As a man and woman moved to help her, Austen could not help but wonder if her horror had just ended, or only just begun.