Lucy Burkhampton, socialite and mountain climber, is heir to the Burkhampton fortune and stands to inherit the whole Burkhampton estate upon her father’s death. In the meantime she spends her time in the same way as any young lady, attending balls, doing good works, and scaling the world’s highest peaks. As we enter the story she is resting on a ledge before attempting the next stage of her climb up Mount Kilimanjaro. Now, read on...
Lucy lifted her flask from where it hung at her side. The air was cool, but the climbing was hot. She forearmed sweat from her forehead and studied the rocks ahead. She was roped, as any good climber should be, and Emily Garbert-Smithe had found a good place to rest and secure the rope. So there was little chance she would fall, but Lucy prided herself on making every climb utterly flawlessly.
Her eyes traced over the cracks and gaps in the rock, picturing the climb in her mind, seeing and almost feeling the way her hands would slot here and here, while her toes could hold there and there.
She was just readying herself to commence the climb when she heard a scuffling from above. She looked up and saw Emily grappling with a man in black. He seemed intent on throwing her from the cliff.
And then he did just that!
With a shrill scream, Lucy’s best friend since childbirth, her sister in all but name, teetered on the brink and then, with one last shove from her mysterious assailant, was ejected into space.
She plummeted past our plucky heroine, trailing her rope behind her. Lucy braced herself for the jerk, and it came. Emily reached the end of the line and slammed to a halt, still screaming and now swinging in towards the sheer cliff face.
Lucy held on with all her might, but the weight of her friend was too much, she was being pulled towards the edge herself!
She reached down to her side and grabbed her ice axe. She hadn’t needed it so far, they weren’t high enough up, but now she did. She pulled it free and slammed the point into the ledge with all her might. It bit deep and held true, and she clung on with all her strength.
Looking down, she could see that Emily had been knocked unconscious by her impact against the cliff. Looking up, she saw the man in black looking down.
“Who are you?” she shouted. “What on earth did you do that for?”
The man laughed before he responded and the sound of it chilled Lucy to the very heart.
“Who am I?” he called in a mocking tone. “Why, my dear girl, I am nothing less than your nemesis!”
He paused to laugh again, then continued.
“I will be the end of you and of all things Burkhampton. I have already disposed of your father, after getting him to make over his Last Will and Testament to me. In a moment, I will be free of you, the only challenge to my success. And then I shall track down the Red Eye of the Green God from the Yellow Isle of the Blue Kingdom and all of your riches and lands will be mine!”
This time the laugh was definitively maniacal. And it went on for a long time.
Meanwhile, Lucy was struggling to hold on. Emily’s dead weight was pulling at her, and she was powerless to resist. She slid, inexorably, towards the edge of the cliff while the madman in black laughed.
He did nothing more than watch as first one foot and then the other were pulled out into space. And then she was hanging by her fingers from the cliff, her unconscious friend unconsciously dragging them both to a jagged death.
What will happen next? How long can this ‘cliff-hanging’ moment last? Will our heroine and her friend survive? Who is the man in black? What is the Red Eye of the Green God from the Yellow Isle of the Blue Kingdom? To find out all the answer to this, and more, tune in next time...