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by Sarah Gill
05th Jun 2024

What happened to Grace Doran?

On a beautiful weekend in May, Grace, and her friend Sarah travel to the seaside village of Castle Cove. They have been invited to stay in a luxurious summerhouse, The World’s End, with Sarah’s boyfriend and some of his friends. After a night of partying and sizzling temptation, they hire a boat and sail to a nearby island. Five go out, but only four return.

One year later, Private Investigator Lana Bowen journeys to the seaside resort to try to piece together the catastrophic events that happened the summer before. Haunted by a traumatic event in her own past, and tormented with panic attacks, Lana fights her own demons as she tries to piece together what happened on the island. The further she delves, the more she uncovers – a web of deceit, betrayal, and a sinister undercurrent. Someone is desperately trying to hold on to a secret.

Written by Limerick-based actor, producer, director, writer, and educator turned debut novelist Karen Fitzgibbon, she has been co-writing, co-producing, directing, and performing in short plays, full-length plays and short films with community and professional groups for over fifteen years. The World’s End is the first in the series, introducing Private Investigator, Lana Bowen.

Read on for an extract below…

The World’s End by Karen Fitzgibbon

A lone figure stood outside the bravura summerhouse as Lukasz steered his boat out into the dark waters of the Atlantic. Up late, he thought, finishing his day – not like himself who was up early about to start his. It was just after six. Lukasz loved this time of morning, the quiet of Castle Cove, the small, scenic fishing village sleeping soundly as the sea lapped gently around its shores. In a few hours the pier would be bustling with locals and tourists savouring its beauty but, for now, it was all his to enjoy. He noticed a second figure as he cruised past the house, hands gesturing excitedly, harsh words floating in the air. A fight, he assumed, or a drunken argument.

He navigated his way out to sea. The sun was rising behind Mutton Island, a microcosm of sedimentary rock, pine trees and sand, uninhabited except for a colony of seagulls. He sailed close to the island now, enjoying its tranquillity as the sun peeked over the rocks. He noticed a shape on the sand, a heap or mound of something, he could not be sure. It appeared too small to be a beached whale, but possibly the cadaver of a large fish. Lukasz decided to help the creature – it could be alive and unable to find its way back into the ocean. He drew in close to the pier, disembarked and tied the rope to one of the dock cleats. As he turned, he caught sight of loose fabric billowing around the fish, and then, a flicker of movement beneath the cloth. A hand. He hurried up the strand.

A young woman lay on her side. There were beads of moisture on her forehead, drool dripping into a hollow in the sand. Her long, dark, stringy hair was speckled with sand, glittering in the early- morning light. Her lips were cracked at the edges and the right strap of her white sundress was torn. But not to the same extent as her face which had been eviscerated with gashes, especially on the left side. He knelt down to check for a pulse. It was faint, but it was there. Her eyes were closed, moving rapidly beneath the lids. Lukasz thought, she sleeps as if she has a nightmare. He winced when he saw her legs, or at least what was left of them. Glancing up and down the beach, he saw that it was completely empty, save for him and the girl, no boats or cruisers out on the sea. He had to make a decision. He gently lifted the girl and carried her to his boat. With effort he climbed onto the vessel and carefully laid her on the deck. Her breath quickened as he moved, a faint murmur of something he couldn’t understand.

“Spokuj,” he soothed – easy. He removed his jacket to cover her legs.

Starting the engine, he pulled the lever and headed back to the mainland.

There, he jumped onto the pier and shouted for Nora, the harbour manager.

“Nora! Nora!” He secured the rope to the mooring cleat and sprinted up to the port cabin. “Nora! ”

A heavy-set, middle-aged woman with short, spiky red hair emerged from the cabin, a look of concern on her face. “You’re back early, Lukasz?”

“I found something!” he gasped. “A girl. Call an ambulance. Now.”

****

His thoughts were diverted by the alert of sirens. He was worried the noise would frighten the girl. Nora stepped onto the pier and waved at the vehicle. The ambulance pulled to a stop in front of his boat.

Lukasz glanced down at the girl lying in front of him. He didn’t even know her name. Suddenly, he felt so sad for her. An image of her mangled feet drifted in front of him. He closed his eyes. He wished Pete or some of the other fishermen had come out this morning. They could have all helped the girl together. To think he almost did not go out on the water himself. He did not want to contemplate what might have happened if he had made that decision.

The paramedics fixed an oxygen mask to the girl’s face and carefully lifted her onto a stretcher before rolling her into the back of the ambulance. One paramedic sat in beside her while the other climbed into the front seat. A moment later, they drove away, their lights flashing.

The World’s End by Karen Fitzgibbon (€16.99) is on sale now.