Campaign has ended. This book was not selected for publication.
Back to top

First pages

Chapter 1

Jacob eased down the boat’s ladder and pushed off into the cool blue water, staring in wonder at the coral formations that dotted the sandy bottom of the Pacific waters beneath him. He could see the multitudes of colorful fish, darting in and out of dark recesses. There were plants of some type, lavender in color, gently swaying back and forth with the currents in a way he found hypnotic.

Why didn’t I grab my snorkel gear? He chided himself. The moment he had peeked over the boat he had abandoned any idea that might delay his immersion into this idyllic environment. He just wanted to splash right in. Now he regretted his haste.

His attention shifted to the stretches of white sand beach that lay only fifty yards away from him, and where the boat was currently anchored. It was an amazing view, completely unencumbered by a single living soul. No college guys partying and drinking on the beach, no kids screaming and playing in the shallows, no locals peddling their wares to pasty bodied tourists. It was all for them, the three of them, just as Chris had suspected. He’d met Chris only the previous evening and hadn’t formed a complete opinion on him yet, but as he tread water and stared out at their own private oasis, he decided he’d give him a mental high five.

Where were those two, he wondered? Chris seemed intent to polish off his bottle of Overproof Rum before he ventured out into the hot tropical sun. Drinking wasn’t Jacob’s first thought, but to each their own, he figured. Sophie, however, had slipped away into the cabin to put on her swimwear. She was who he was really waiting for. She was the true reason he was out here.

His thoughts were interrupted by a thump, followed immediately by a muffled cry. Great, if we have to drag his drunk ass back to a hospital I swear I’ll kill him. Another cry reached his ears, this one sounding more urgent.

Jacob reached back for the ladder, cursed as his wet hands slid along the slippery metal, and hoisted himself back out of the water. Climbing to grab the top edge and hold himself steady, he called out for the others.

“Sophie? Chris?” No answer. He scanned the boat from bow to port and saw no signs of his two companions. “Let’s move, you two! Time’s a wasting!” Again, no answer. With a deep sigh of frustration, he clambered over the side and was greeted by another cry. This time he pinpointed it, rising from the cabin below deck.

Frustration now edged over toward concern. He moved through the doorway and down the steps that led to the galley and the small bedroom beyond. As he entered the cramped kitchen and dining area, his attention was drawn first to the bottle of rum that was now half gone and alone on the small table to his left. It had been full only an hour before. Then came a grunt from the bedroom. The door, which was unlatched and swinging freely, slammed open as a foot collided with it from the bedroom’s interior.

Jacob saw immediately what was happening. Sophie was pinned on the bed beneath Chris, who had one hand pressed over her mouth while the other worked to drag down his shorts. She appeared to be naked and was struggling mightily to dislodge the much larger man on top of her.

“Quit wriggling, dammit! You’ll enjoy this, I promise!” Chris’s voice slurred out through doglike panting.

A flip switched in Jacob’s head, dimming his lights to near blackness and flooding his vision with a red haze. He stormed forward, grabbed Chris by his shaggy blond hair, and lifted him off Sophie in one powerful motion. Chris let out a grunt of surprise, which ended abruptly when Jacob thrust him with tremendous force against the wall near the door. A cracked divot appeared where his head struck and his body crumpled to the floor, leaning heavily against the open door.

Jacob’s eyes moved to the kitchen countertop, scanning along the sink and small row of drawers and cabinets for a weapon. His thoughts were primal, rushing through his head with the speed and violence of an avalanche. He wanted a knife, he wanted this sick bastard to get what he deserved, but the counters were clear. All he saw was a small fire extinguisher mounted to the side wall near the kitchen’s sink. That would do. He stepped over Chris and up to his weapon.

He didn’t bother to unhook the device, he just grabbed it with both hands and yanked it free of its mountings. Then he turned his attention back to Chris, who was holding his head with both hands and struggling to his knees.

“What the fuck, man? I mean, what the hell?” Chris’s words didn’t sound slurred now he’d been torn from his sick fantasy and thrust into the real world.

Jacob raised the red metal cylinder over his head, registered the shrill scream of a woman nearby him, and ignored it. The extinguisher came down with lethal intent, slamming into the back of Chris’s head, turning the sandy-blond hair an instant shade of red. Blood splashed out on to the floor and doorway. Chris collapsed to the ground, no longer struggling but for a small twitch in his right leg. Again, Jacob struck, and again.

“Go to hell, Gerald!” Jacob slammed it down again, opening a bright crimson cave in the back of Chris’s head. “Enjoy it, you bastard!” Another downward strike, the cave opening into a valley of sticky gore smattered with brain matter. Jacob barely registered it. He was somewhere else now, his arms rising and falling with a deadly life of their own.

He felt somebody behind him, pushing past him, and saw the form of a woman fleeing up the stairs leading above deck, dark hair swinging madly behind her.

Mother?

“Don’t look back! Run, don’t look back!” He screamed out the words, exhaustion finally forcing his arms to slow and judder to a halt. Beneath him a wreck of human flesh, nothing more than a clump of strawberry jam and matted blond hair. He paused to stare vacantly at the mess, his eyes glassy.

Gerald is dead. He’s finally dead, after all these years.

The mess below him expanded in his vision until he could see nothing else. Its color danced and swirled, red to black to yellow to red. Then he saw no more.

Chapter 2

The dawn breaks yet again with the sweetness of a first kiss—or perhaps a last kiss—and with it, Jacob’s tenuous hold on reality. He had always struggled to find a purpose in his life, a reason, but now he’s had reason and purpose thrust upon him. Survival. There was a time, it seems to him a million years ago, when survival was a given. Prosperity even, by most standards. Now prosperity for Jacob Daniels is surviving the terrors of the night with enough food and water to survive the real terrors that come with the light of day.

The light. He and his soul have had endless conversations on the light. How it feels upon the face. How it brings the warmth that melts the muscles and chases away the darkness that strives to quiet lustful souls. He chased that light and warmth to distant spots all around the globe, dragging behind him his precious soul. Or maybe it dragged him, he could never tell. What he could tell is that it was dying. Slowly but inevitably. The way a grand ocean wave carries itself toward shore, moving so powerfully, but without hurry, yet dying out before ever reaching land. There are others too, of those waves, making the same desperate journey and achieving the same sad result.

He sees things differently now though. Where once he saw the yearning to reach something he now sees only the desperate efforts of flight.

There are monsters. Parents tell tales to children peeking out from bedcovers, unable to confront their imaginations head on, yet unable to flee either. Parents leave the rooms as their frightened children quiver under blankets. Adults, turning out lights while wearing satisfied smiles of a job well done, confident in their own beliefs that monsters really don’t exist. They drape themselves onto couches, perhaps with glasses of wine and snacks close at hand, while monsters stare them straight in the face. Unthreatening. Friendly even. Parents fall asleep to soothing whispers of monsters who tell them stories of their own. When they wake, monsters are there to greet them, telling them yet more stories, helping them prepare for the day.

Day after day.

Each day surrounded by other monsters, demons of every sort, all doing what demons do. Convincing us that they are helpful, necessary even. And we all are happy to convince each other that these soothing assurances are true, because to believe otherwise is scarier still.

His thoughts are rambling though, as if they were only of ancient tales and near forgotten myths. Maybe someday they will be forgotten completely. Someday soon, when he is gone.

But for now, for him, myths and tales long forgotten have become all too real. Myths walk the sandy shorelines and tales stalk the lush greenery of the inner island. He’s reasonably confident it’s an island now, though he finds confidence in anything hard to come by anymore. Still, he has ranged frantically yet slowly, oh so cautiously, far enough in all possible directions. It all ends in the same demoralizing sight and no rescuers are valiantly sailing in to sweep aside his nightmares. He has been living in this dark dream for days, or even weeks now? Yet he had walked right into it, sure he was walking out of a nightmare he had lived for years. Life is full of ironies like this. Well, maybe none like this.

Nothing like this.

But his thoughts are jumping ahead, when going back is what’s necessary.

In the real world, he didn’t run through jungles or learn to hold his breath for minutes at a time, he just trudged along daily with the rest of the herd and learned to make his own sense of things, things that really made no sense at all. Sometimes there were stretches of days at a time where he even felt somewhat alive. Like maybe the world wasn’t wilfully insane and there was an order to things that was almost comforting. He had a roof over his head. He had devices that entertained him. He had his favorite meals that were reasonably healthy and didn’t take too much effort to make. For periods of a time, here and there, he would even throw himself into a workout routine to feel some form of self-satisfaction. Running to and from places, lifting heavy amounts of weight over his head, learning how to roll around with other lost souls and choke them unconscious. He drove a nice vehicle and even owned half of it. His favorite work shirts came from Nordstrom, they fit just right and made him look respectable. His favorite casual t-shirts came from Banana Republic, they flattered his form and were pleasantly stretchy. When he wanted sushi, he knew the right spot downtown and when he needed something to cut apart with knife and fork he knew the perfect place to drive and the easiest route to get there while avoiding traffic.

As he saw it, his life was built around knowledge and functions that gave him a temporary satisfaction and sense of control. He built a house of satisfaction and sheltered himself in it, smiling and waving to his neighbors. Some he pitied for their little houses and others he envied for the large creations they managed to manufacture or purchase.

Occasionally, he would catch highlights of dazzling celebrities receiving awards while the world watched intently, marveling at their beauty and perfect smiles. How satisfied they must be! he would think. How happy!

It was all bullshit.

The physical exercise made him feel better about himself but held no answers. The art of jujitsu was fun and taught him how to increase his sense of self-belief but provided no enduring sense of purpose. The clothes, the truck, they made him feel a level of success that didn’t truly exist. The celebrities? Well, they were freak shows with fake personas, fake bodies, and fake happy smiles likely put there by a false sense of self-importance and internalized through copious amounts of mind altering drugs. It didn’t really take the dirty details of their carefully constructed lives being aired in public to truly understand that. Sickness manifests itself in many forms and theirs were just more glamorous looking than the average persons’, but their sickness was just as vile and putrid as everyone else’s.

That knowledge just increased the question. What the question was he couldn’t even say with certainty, but it always was there, digging into his brain like a jagged splinter.

What is happiness? That seemed close sometimes but felt to him like the opening line of some overpriced self-help book; “Find Your Happy Place!”

What is the meaning of life? A question with answers that are different for everybody. Forty-Two was the answer to that great question, he once read someplace, and that was as good an answer as any, he supposed.

Maybe asking questions is the completely wrong route to take altogether, he would think. Don’t questions just lead to dissatisfaction? It might be that a content person is one who just forms a routine and trudges through it dutifully, day after day. Everybody should do their part. Everybody has a role to play. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? At this point in his life his role was playing middle management for a local nonprofit that, amongst many other things, provided government subsidized housing to low-income elderly people. A worthy endeavor, he thought. Something that meant something. So, he just trudged along.

Dutifully.

Chapter 3

A typical work day. The job starts at 7:00 a.m. and Jacob’s alarm is set for 6:15 a.m. It’s a marvel to him that so many people, especially those of a female persuasion, require so much time to primp themselves to leave the house. Those types would immediately think he must roll into the office each day rumpled, wrinkled, and blearily sucking on a cup of coffee since he couldn’t possibly be fully awake just yet. For many poor folks, forty-five minutes isn’t even long enough time to commute to work.

He knows this, and would defend himself by saying he fancied himself a simple man. His brown hair is short and easily managed. His clothes are clean and organized, his closet small. His dress shoes are two flavors, burgundy—a fancy way, he thought, of saying brown—and black. Black is a must have since it goes with just about any other color. His belt is reversible, brown to black with a twist of the buckle. If he were to wake at 6:15 a.m. he could easily be dressed and groomed to satisfactory social standards within fifteen minutes.

As it happens, he never wakes to his alarm anyway. Typically, he is out of bed by 5:30 a.m. or earlier. Stress maybe, hormonal imbalance possibly, or perhaps just a complete lack of respect for schedule, he doesn’t know, nor do the doctors he’s mentioned it to.

All that aside, he is ready, breakfast and lunch packed, and out the door by 6:50 a.m. Then it’s the commute. That bit consists of roughly a half mile of not so frightening downtown traffic. In truth, it’s frightening to him, but he’s wondering after of the average, normal person now.

On occasion, he’ll think to himself that life is pretty good. Maybe he’s just an ungrateful chump and he should be happy and quit with all this malcontent. There are millions of kids starving in Africa after all. Baby boomers would look at somebody like him and think, What is it with his generation anyway? Yet another question.

Once he makes it through the short, but raging frenzy of road raged traffic, it’s time to roll into his office and get busy. Phone messages are checked, very few of those. Emails reviewed, more of those. Do people really talk in person these days? Not he prefers that. He’ll get a hundred plus emails throughout the day but generally the mornings are sparse on that count. Then it’s on to his to-do list; editing and approving compliance notices, reviewing incidence reports, checking vacancy rates and turnover times, any number of engrossing things he has been caring less and less about.

These were all just routine to Jacob. Like millions of others he woke up, made himself look civilized, unenthusiastically got himself off to work, and went at his job like somebody that was hopelessly uninspired but did solid work to avoid any embarrassing slip ups.

Uninspired, he supposes, is the key word. In talking with others, he would say that being inspired is almost a shameful afterthought. It’s just not normal. Unnecessary really. You want to be inspired? Be inspired for a new movie with big explosions and even bigger tits. Be inspired to see what the Kardashians are up to so you can emulate them. Fired up about living life though? Truly living? That thought makes people confused and uncomfortable. Isn’t that why you go to the gym? Learn new hobbies? Have cocktail parties and smoke weed?

Jacob would argue to anybody listening that those things don’t prepare you for true living. These things are just keeping you entertained. These things are just keeping you occupied. They prepare you for nothing. They certainly don’t prepare you to wake, half drowned in salty water with a mouthful of sand and screeching demons at your back.

Nothing truly prepares you for that.

Chapter 4

What’s happening to me!?

The light was blinding, like a burning red flare shot right up in front of his face, yet his eyes were closed. He wasn’t even aware of that fact just then. It wasn’t until the pain of clinching his eyes shut came to bear. The thought of opening them was fleeting, then passed. He couldn’t open them. They were steel traps blocking the true brilliance of the sun from melting his suddenly sensitive orbs.

He made the attempt anyway. Nothing. He wasn’t sure whether it was a true physical inability or his mind protecting him from his reckless instincts. Yet he persisted. He wanted his eyes open! Needed them open, urgently Maybe because all his other senses seemed to be lost to him. Maybe because he sensed he was in a desperate situation.

Still, nothing. He accepted defeat and moved on to testing his other bodily functions. His ears were enveloped in a world of noisy, high-pitched ringing. Years of loud rock and roll music told him that they would be out of service for the immediate future. He moved on. The taste of salt filled his mouth and throat, creating a rough, burning sensation he wasn’t aware of only a moment before. His nose felt the same, full of seawater and snot. Down to the feel and touch now. He tried to calm himself and take mental notes of his physical surroundings. He was on his hands and knees in what felt like a foot or so of water. A cool wetness enveloped his forearms up to the elbow, while a burning struck him above and beyond that point. His hands were clenched deep into sand so he used those tenuous handholds to steady himself against the constant push and pull of the waves that were rocking him back and forth.

Pausing like this he waited impatiently, urging his body to get back to work. His breath came ragged and his throat was like sandpaper, but slowly it was getting easier to pull air. The great humming ring that blared in in ears moments before was subsiding and noise was creeping in, muffled as if from a great distance.

That was when his confusion and torment changed to something else entirely. Sounds were coming through in waves and those waves washed his torment away and left in its place a pulsating ball of barely contained terror. This bright new fear was brought on by the distorted and unrelenting shrieks at his back. They hit him almost like a physical pain and abruptly reminded him of the mythical Harpies from old sailor stories. When the fantastical sound filtered its way through to his reptilian brain it was translated as the bloodthirsty howls of a demon, his mind was convinced of it. Those noises were like nothing he had ever heard before, not during waking hours. They were straight out of the dark recesses of a twisted brain. The harrowing calls of ghosts that have visited only in his nightmares, during one of his many restless nights lying awake, listening to the voices of his mind. Only there did the distant echoes of those shrieks make themselves known.

But not like this. In those late night moments those shrieks came from a long way off, echoing along corridors and around corners, much like the voice of a past lover that couldn’t be recalled in perfect detail. Probably because he didn’t want to remember them. Some lovers, he thought, are demons in their own way, trying to ensnare you with passion when they realize that traps might be their only way to keep a hold of you. Forming relationships with people is difficult. Forming relations with the past is almost natural. You can mold them as desired.

Shaking his head, he chastised himself, Here I am thinking of the ghosts of my past when the real monsters are at my fucking back! His senses were coming back to normal, but in a heightened state. The shrieks are deafening but he could still appreciate the rhythmic lapping of the waves as they broke against him. His eyes wouldn’t begin to turn toward the threats at his rear but they would take note of the drift of white sand moving back and forth along the ocean floor that his hands were still digging into. He feels the heat beating on his back and air rushing more easily past his throat and into his heaving lungs.

It was there that his brain resumed some sense of its normal function. The knowledge of what he was doing there and the details of why he washed ashore are eluding him, but things are beginning to click in place. Thoughts are stringing together. Simple instinctive thoughts, like moving. And a deeper thought, like maybe he has just lost his mind, or even deeper, maybe he was dead and this place was the After. Perhaps he was struck by a car while crossing the street or even had a massive heart attack at the ripe old age of … of …

Thirty-three! Yes! That was right, he could feel the truth of it. That brought on a renewed sense of reality. Your name is Jacob. Again, on the mark. It sounded somewhat foreign, like somebody else was informing him of his own identity but he knew on some base level that it was correct. Your name is Jacob, you’re thirty-three years old, and you need to run. The thought came in a string, very matter-of-factly, which made it seem to be a very rational, sensible thing to do.

He pushed himself to his feet, the spongy sea floor beneath him giving way and causing him to pitch forward. Moments before he had been frightened and disoriented but now he had calmed himself enough to know when to panic, so that is precisely what he did.

Digging his toes more firmly into the sand and pushing with both arms he shot himself forward like an Olympic sprinter, exploding out of the water, legs like pistons and knees pumping high to clear the surface of the water. The howls at his back grew louder, though whether in protest or because they were excited to give chase he didn’t know and dared not look back to find out.

He cleared the water and hit the sandy beach going full throttle. Ahead of him was a dense wall of deep green jungle, which his mind recognized as suitable cover. There was perhaps seventy-five yards of ground to cross before breaking through the cover of the tree line and when he made it he was nearing exhaustion from the dump of adrenaline but he sure as hell wasn’t going to stop. His momentum kept him moving forward into the thick brush and his fear kept him going beyond that. He pushed forward through the dense growth, arms flailing as thick webs broke across his face and leaves slapped at his cheeks. Sweaty hand pawed desperately to clear away the sticky strings crisscrossing his cheeks and forehead. He hated spiders!

Intensely he listened for his pursuers and their inhuman calls while at the same time wondering where the pursuit would come from. Was he surrounded by these devils? Was their travel solely on the ground or could he be pounced on from above at any moment?

He veered past a clump of bamboo trees, bumping into several in his haste, and decided he would be best off focusing on not falling flat on his face instead of on all the possibilities of how he might be caught and torn to pieces. Besides, with every breath feeling like fire in his lungs and legs full of lead, he thought he might just have to surrender soon regardless.

It was then, when he felt like he was running on fumes, he burst out of the bush and into a large field, with the opposite tree line looking several hundred yards off.

“Nooo … no, no, no …” The words came out as feeble whimpers, sounding dangerously close to panic, even to his own ears, but he recognized that even a small chunk of hysteria is still one step better than defeat.

His eyes slashed across the expanse of the yellow field, realizing that if he attempted to cross the open breadth of it he’d be left for much too long out in the naked expanse, exposed fully and with no place to hide. Doubling back was out of the question. The idea of moving left or right to skirt the field left him feeling no better. All his yearning was directed toward the other side of the clearing, because that would be a straight line leading away from the shit show at his back and everybody knew that the crow flies the fastest route. Can’t go forward, can’t go backward, nowhere to run. And why are you even bothering, Jakey Boy? You’re probably in Hell, and in Hell, where is there to run to?

With that thought, he promptly collapsed to the ground and leaned back against a palm tree, taking that last step toward resignation, and waited.

Chapter 5

His resignation didn’t last. The instinct for survival eventually kicked in, as it is wont to do. As the roar of his breath lessened and evened out, his hearing started to work better. What he noticed then were not shrieks or howls, it was silence. Not complete silence like one would expect in a jungle full of threatened prey, but the pleasant silence of nature, with little chirps and whistles made by happy little creatures enjoying another fruitful day gathering food and hunting for mates.

This made no sense to Jacob but it struck him that for once maybe he shouldn’t question, maybe he should just be happy ignoring whatever it was that was causing his current distress. Just go with it.

Gingerly, he rose and slowly stretched out his aching muscles. The accompanying flares and pops were immensely satisfying. Back at home he might use his forty-dollar foam roller to accomplish this, it was supposed to be very good for a person, but this felt just as satisfying.

Once that was done he took in his surroundings. Behind him is a wall of trees, thick with variety that included several palm trees, and several smaller plant species full of colorful blooms. In front of him, stretching off for what might have been miles, was a sea of tall grass, each one green along the stem and yellow at the top. The breeze rustles them around to make them appear as if they were one living organism moving in odd, synchronized patterns. On the other side of this grass sea was another wall of lush green trees, and not far past that, a small mountain loomed over the canopy.

At this point, he thought that it might be smart to get to the top of that distant peak so he might see his environment and get a lay of the land. His stomach, however, didn’t give a rat’s ass about lays and lands. What his stomach deemed important was food.

How can I possibly be hungry! But he wasn’t just hungry, he was ravenous. His body had used every resource to get him this far and now it screamed at him for replenishment.

Beyond staying alive, finding food became the top priority. It seemed unlikely he would be rustling up anything worthwhile in the grass sea and he definitely wouldn’t be going back the way he had come from, so going forward seemed necessary by default. Surely there was an abundance of fruits and vegetables in those distant trees. Mango, banana, coconut, plenty of things to feed his growling belly.

As he waded through the waist high grass something large enough to shift the stalks around scurried out of his way, causing him to wonder if there weren’t other furry or creepy-crawly monsters he should be worrying about. What manner of creatures existed in a tropical climate? Spiders terrified him almost as much as demons and he was sure he was stepping on plenty of those at the moment. Snakes, he never had to give those much thought in the Pacific Northwest but he supposed they might be a concern in that climate. Hell, even those friendly, colorful looking frogs he’d seen on wildlife shows were a concern in a place such as this. Their kisses weren’t likely to turn him into a prince. Boars? Now that gave him pause and he slowed his pace to scan his immediate vicinity a bit more thoroughly. He’d seen videos of real live boars before, and while his stomach saw them as good eating he thought that they might see his stomach the same way.

He decided right then, that along with food, a weapon might also be a top priority. Surely no crude club would keep him safe from a boar but he figured that if he waved it around enough while making the appropriate grunting sounds then a boar might just decide he was weird enough to look elsewhere for its meal.

Halfway across the grass sea now and the sun was really feeling brutal. He considered his clothing, which consisted of nothing more than a pair of bright blue swim trunks. The rest of him was exposed to the elements. His feet still felt okay, but that wouldn’t last long. Blinking at the sky, he glared at the intimidating presence until salty drops splashed into his eyes, blurring his vision. There was a humidity here he just wasn’t used to and sweat was dripping from every pore.

Back to the priority list. Food, a weapon, and water, now in the number one spot. Food was a luxury at this point, death by boar may be a luxury before it was all said and done, but death by dehydration was something he didn’t wish to experience.

He attempted to think back to his survival training, of which he had none, and decided to go with logic instead. Whether right or wrong, he was going with a couple of assumptions. One, that water would have to shed from the mountain. Two, that water would need to find its way to the sea, or form some other pool. If those two assumptions were correct then he should be able to either circle the mountain or circle the island and eventually cross a source of fresh water.

Now it was just a debate between those two choices. Perspective was difficult but the mountain appeared to be within four or five miles distance. Not too bad. It wasn’t tall, but it was a long looking range and may take a while to circle. The closest way to the beach was back the way he had come and he had already established his unwillingness to risk traveling back into the maws of the banshees. That left him clueless as to how far in any direction he would have to go to actually reach the shoreline. To gain that knowledge he would need to at least climb part of the way up the mountainside. Not to mention, he had no idea as to the circumference of that mass of land he was on. It could be large. In fact, he was hoping that it was. The bigger the area the harder he would be to find.

That made his choice obvious. The mountain it was. In the time that it took him to reason that out he had crossed the last stretch of the grass sea and reached the far tree line. The cover was dense and he desperately hoped it would thin out quickly or it could take days to even reach the base of the mountain. If that turned out to be the case he would need to luck into some water on the way or risk a very agonizing end.

As he pushed his hands through to part the dense foliage, his eyes searched suspiciously for any eight-legged ambushers. Then he glanced back to check his rear. As of yet, there were no signs of pursuers. Stepping through the wall of green, he breathed a sigh of relief knowing he was shrouded once again in the encroaching growth of nature.

What an adventure! This was not what he had thought of when he’d booked a trip to Fiji. Back then his head was full of sparkling waters, white beaches, scantily clad women, and cold cocktails. Briefly he wondered what time it was, but couldn’t make out the sun’s position in the sky with all the long palm fronds bending out over him like reaching arms. Noon, maybe?

“What would I be doing now, if I were back home?”

Thinking of work gave him a weird sense of real world vertigo. His life back home was barely conceivable after recent events. It was as if he were in a whole other universe where the normal order of things was shifted far out of whack. Considering the current circumstances, he figured that even work would be favorable to this nightmare.

Familiar faces, comfortable routine, and predictable outcomes. They sucked at his vitality before, but offered comfort to him now. Even though that part of life had been thrust into chaos shortly before he’d left. Dan had caught him by surprise, though really, it shouldn’t have been all that shocking. That day at work had started out so normal.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Reading has always been a passion of mine. It gives me the ability escape in to stories and environments that I can't experience in "real life". My other passion is travel and I've been lucky enough to experience several distant locations far from where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. After years spent dreaming of being a writer, I resolved to make my dream a reality. My sincerest hope is that I can bring readers to lose themselves in my creations, and to also make it back.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
With a dash of luck and a bit of daring, I found myself leaving a corporate life behind and came across a temporary housesitting job that put me in Fiji for eight weeks. The beautiful scenery and incredible people stirred up a story in me and before I knew it, the words flowed to paper.
Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
With this book I started only with a first sentence and it took off. It was intended as a standalone book. Soon after I finished, I realized that I wasn't ready to leave the story behind and quickly realized a second book was itching to get out and it did. At present, number three is going well.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
I sympathize greatly with those who struggle with mental illness. You never truly know what another being is dealing with, so compassion is a powerful and necessary aspect in life. I'm also fascinated by the grey area in between right and wrong, good and evil. Hopefully my readers experience this.

Next in:
Science Fiction & Fantasy
The Game Players of...
Nations are defined by the games they play.
Cold Solar
Call of Duty meets Game of Thrones
The City and the Dungeon...
Slice of life in an RPG world