Excerpt from “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand ~~Strafed~~

picture-Unbroken-HillenbrandAs the bomber flew toward them, they lay down. Phil pulled his knees to his chest and covered his head in his hands. Mac balled himself beside him. Louie took a last glance at them, then dropped into the water and swam back under the rafts.
The bullets showered the ocean in a glittering downpour. Looking up, Louie saw them popping through the canvas, shooting beams of intensely bright tropical sunlight through the raft’s shadow. But after a few feet, the bullets spent their force and fluttered down, fizzing. Louie straightened his arms over his head and pushed against the bottom of one of the rafts, trying to get far enough down to be outside the bullets’ lethal range. Above him, he could see the depressions formed by Mac and Phil’s bodies. Neither man was moving.
As the bullets raked overhead, Louie struggled to stay under the rafts. The current clutched at him, rotating his body horizontally and dragging him away. He kicked against it, but it was no use. He was being sucked way, and he knew that if he lost touch with the rafts, he wouldn’t be able to swim hard enough against the current to get back. As he was pulled loose, he saw the long cord that strayed off the end of one of the rafts. He grabbed it and tied it around his waist.
As he lay underwater, his legs tugged in front of him by the current, Louie looked down at his feet. His left sock was pulled up on his shin; his right had slipped halfway off. He watched it flap in the current. Then, in the murky blur beyond it, he saw the huge, gaping mouth of a shark emerge out of the darkness and rush straight at his legs.
Louie recoiled, pulling his legs toward his body. The current was too strong for him to get his legs beneath him, but he was able to swim them to the side, away from the shark’s mouth. The shark kept coming, directly at Louie’s head. Louie remembered the advice of the old man in Honolulu: Make a threatening expression, then stiff-arm the shark’s snout. As the shark lunged for his head, Louie bared his teeth, widened his eyes, and rammed his palm into the tip of the shark’s nose. The shark flinched, circled away, then swam back for a second pass. Louie waited until the shark was inches from him, then struck it in the nose again. Again, the shark peeled away.
Above, the bullets had stopped coming. As quickly as he could, Louie pulled himself along the cord until he reached the raft. He grabbed its wall and lifted himself clear of the shark.
Mac and Phil were lying together in the fetal position. They were absolutely still, and bullet holes dappled the raft around them. Louie shook Mac. Mac made a sound. Louie asked if he’d been hit. Mac said no. Louie spoke to Phil. Phil said he was okay.
The bomber circled back for another go. Phil and Mac played dead, and Louie tipped back into the ocean. As bullets knifed the water around him, the shark came at him, and again Louie bumped its snout and repelled it. Then a second shark charged at him. Louie hung there, gyrating in the water and flailing his arms and legs, as the sharks snapped at him and bullets came down. The moment the bomber sped out of firing range, he clambered onto the raft again. Phil and Mac were still unhit.


1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Military, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand ~~Strafed~~

  1. Laura Hillenbrand was born in Fairfax, Virginia, USA on 15 May 1967.
    “Unbroken” was published in 2014, being the biography of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian, air crash survivor at sea, and a prisoner of war.

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