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THE LESSER WITNESS

(Book One of the Eschatos Chronicles)

 

Eschatology [es-kuh-tol-uh-jee], noun, theology.

1. any system of doctrines concerning last, or final, matters, as death, the Judgment, the future state, etc.

2. the branch of theology dealing with such matters.

Origin of eschatology

1835-45; < Greek éschato (s)

 

2025

…it happened the spring of the year when kings go out to battle…

The ESCHATOS CHRONICLES

A Journal of Apocalyptic Proportions

By GORDON BRICE, London CorrespondentDECEMBER 31, 2025

Human Interest Story: The Atacama Desert Destroyed.

Reported by Carina Alfuego (The Eschatos Chronicles correspondent in Chile). In the copper-laden mountains of Calama, a sable-skinned boy named Pichi pokes a stick at a grasshopper—one he has trapped inside a rusty toy truck.

One can only imagine him saying, Monstruo, muerte, as he giggles at the insect, which means, Die monster. Not because Pichi is cruel but because he just doesn’t know.

He also doesn’t know that behind him a building swarm of haze is scudding toward him. Daylight fades to dark when sand and earth, roiling within the wind, smudges out the sun. But innocent Pichi isn’t aware. He remains in a squat with his oily back turned from the storm bowling down upon the swatch of hardpan leading to the spot where he stoops over his insect. Dirt particles swell up off the ground as though losing gravity. The ball of filth gathers speed and grows to heights where small planes fly.

Witnesses claim they saw wings and horns in the dust. But Chileans are known for their superstitions giving weight to supernatural visions, to apocryphal sightings, and to mysticisms. What Chileans might call God, others might call Mother Nature.

The difference between God and nature is that one controls the other and nature is no match for God. Not at any time. Certainly, not this time. Nature could only stand back and watch as the first zephyr undulated over the land.

One witness said Pichi must have felt the fury in the wind because he stopped poking the grasshopper and stood. He turned—slow and deliberate—but all too late. The witness tried to scream for him to run but the monolithic wall of debris consumed him. All Pichi could do was gasp. Then he was gone.

Others spoke of the wind in Biblical terms—of thundering horse hooves, searing temperatures, and tidal waves. Survivors scoured through its toll—statues and mining equipment uprooted, homes flattened, lives taken—lives like little Pichi. They reported the wind feeling alive, that it was hungry.

Pichi’s story is one of many catastrophes occurring across the globe. A person would have blinders on not to see something far worse was at play. It seems from several other reports with similar symbolism from witnesses that these catastrophes have split open the gates of Heaven. Have carved out the cells of hell. Placing armies from Heaven and throngs of the ungodly squarely on the shoulders of earth where every living soul is at stake. Where lines have been drawn in the rubble. From which sides have been taken.

There will be a winner. There will be a loser. There will be a fight to the death.

Game on.

CHAPTER ONE

2025 – San Juan Island, South Beach – The End

Then there was utter ruin. It showed up in waves around the lesser island miles south and north, east and west, and the ruin circled—uremic and deadly as saliva from a diseased dog. But ruin took its time arriving as though ascertaining a precise target for its killing blow—one lone stump of land sitting in the sea miles from the mainland.

In ruin’s wake, came a deluge erosive, exact and succinct. The first onslaught was worst. The second and third? More like toeing the island—checking to see if it were still alive.

Amid the devastation, barnacles floated like rose petals along a bridal path. They lolled in the water after the torrent passed.

Ruin had waved its wand.

Scant traces of life dotted the water and coastline—a befuddled lone Orca loosed from its pod, fish skimming the surface in search of their school—searching through the erratic slosh of boiling tidal action.

The Orca lurched up but was brought down by a scaled coil around its neck. It slapped the water trying to break loose but to no avail when the coiled monster ripped the head off the Orca’s body.

And the beast snaked through the water. Its long dragon-like head emerged when it smacked the roiling ocean surface with its tail, glistening through a stream of spray that arced up and, as suddenly as it appeared, the beast went under. At that same moment, the raging ocean consumed its dead.

Momentarily, the world went numb allowing for other species to reacclimate, to ready themselves for the next great thunder to erupt—a thunder that would once again send life scattering in another bloody array through water and rock.

Until then, ruin submerged into the dark void of the sea.

Because of cowardice or intelligence?

Only heaven knows. Either way, it waited for the next great upheaval—the final blow intended to scour the land and alleviate the land of its occupants.

****

Croy Justice barrels across a strand of beach no wider than a city sidewalk. Amazed she made it in one piece after tripping through the mile-long barricade of driftwood separating this single stretch of land from the rest of the island.

She struggles with the sandy tract until once again her legs tangle beneath her. After falling twice, she slows her pace but keeps moving forward for fear the gang will catch up to her.

Against her alabaster skin, her platinum eyebrows all but disappear. Her strained breathing muffles the sound of each footfall in her fight to get away.

Sand flies up, spraying in all directions, most of it falling into her hiking boots where the grit grinds hamburger out of her heels. Her side aches from the strain like a knife stabbed under a rib into the lung.

An errant surf laps high onto the seaboard, higher than she’s ever seen before, at least any time since she's lived on the island. Slopping high onto the bottom of a stolen pair of cargo pants, each pant leg clings heavy on her—like dragging a duffel bag through an airport—the wet clothing slows her even more.

Breathless, Croy stops on a sudden patch of green grass. The spot looks lonely so near the bleak shoreline. The swathe winds with the sea bounding off to the east, south, and west fanning out toward sunrise and sunset.

Croy checks behind her but doesn’t see them.

Three hours earlier she’d lopped off her hair—shaved her head cue-ball-clean. Then, hunting in town for supplies. Finding the dead man. Stealing his Bible.

Is that a sin? To steal a Bible? It felt like a sin. But it was lying right there. He had no use for it anymore.

“Can’t fix that now. Keep going,” Her own words break so much silence that they startle her.

It’s been forever since she’s spoken a civil word to anyone. The term civil makes her skin prickle. Her body aches. She shakes his image—the feeling of his breath on her neck—out of her head and tries to stay focused.

Why didn’t he just shoot me?

A grizzled and desolate sky bounds over the sea. Croy looks back again and strains to listen for any signs of the virulent pack only to hear waves crest and bubble. Foamy water laps onto the sand, into spongey pools, and seeps back into the earth. The whooshing of the water calms her somehow and contrasts with her erratic breathing.

Contrasts with her fear.

She checks behind again for the dangerous gang and digs at a ragged thumb nail then chews at it. Where are they?

Could it be she outran them?

Croy straightens her back, arches and stretches, and then stands strong, still watching for the boys. Still breathing hard but with less pain.

The knives in her lungs are gone. For now.

A sense of reprieve loosens her shoulders.

And, yet, the hair follicles on the nape of her neck prickle. She's let down her guard far too long if only for a few seconds.

Croy aches for a respite. She aches for some sense of safety. For the sanctuary of her small boat.

All this dogged running, hiding, and trying to survive—in a place that has become unsurvivable—has worn her nerves brittle as onion skin.

A fire burns somewhere. Its oaky perfume plays hell with her senses and twirls her thoughts back to a time in her youth—to a campfire with her parents. When she was carefree and safe. When all she feared, was a made-up monster under her bed.

But, now, the monster is real.

She gazes out over the ocean. She needs to get to the mainland and spots her boat. It’s still there.

It rocks with the sea’s motion and looks so small from where she stands.

The anchor held. The beast didn’t destroy the vessel—it left the cat and dog alone. But, why? How?

Croy turns to view the path behind her. The barren stretch is marked by darker indentations where her feet have landed.

Then she gazes ahead of her. She places an arm over her head and slumps to the ground. The emptiness on the island—in her heart—stifles her.

All this self-examination, self-pity makes her sick.

“Buck up,” She tells herself.

But when she stands—in the beat of a butterfly wing—something hammers into the back of her skull.

Croy lurches forward and falls to the ground.

Lying face down, a knuckle-sized stone rolls off her shoulder and lands next to her face.

She hears the gang cheering.

CHAPTER TWO

2025 – A Week Before Present Day

“No. Please. You can have anything.” The old woman begged, her hair falling in shags from a loose rubber band at the back of her head.

Addy held the ragged ponytail in one hand, snapping her head hard as he wadded her hair tight and crammed to the end of his gun.

“Shut up, hag!” His face beamed with the idea of killing this woman—who would be out on the streets if she didn’t have this cabin over her ugly head.

“Addy, let her go,” Obadiah said, “She’s not gonna stay. Not if we take it.”

“Really,” the woman agreed, “You can have it, I’ll find something else.” She bartered for her life.

“You? Find something else?” Addy jibed her further, “With all of your wealth? Where? There’s nothing left, you stupid cow. The whole island is destroyed.” He started to laugh, “What the hell? Why am I even talking to you?” He pulled the trigger so fast, the boys couldn’t even gasp.

Her head shattered, as the bullet penetrated her skull and exited. Blood and brain matter sprayed everywhere—on a table, on the wall, on a basketball.

Addy let go of her ponytail letting the woman slump to the floor looking wide-eyed and empty.

“See? You didn’t feel a thing.” Blood pooled around the woman as the open wound emptied. “Clean it up,” Addy ordered Page, waving the gun in his direction.

CHAPTER THREE

Murder sounded good to Addy. Killing always felt like a cleansing. One fewer person to detract from his own purposes. And noble purposes they were—serving the master.

He needed a team to help facilitate his goals and found one with Obadiah—who the hell named this boy anyway—and the younger kid, the idiot, Page. They had been hanging around San Juan Island for a few years now running in similar circles. Mostly outside but living on the fringe. Fringies, he called them. Those too weak to commit. Those who needed a leader.

But that was before the end. Now, they showed promise—Page more than Obadiah but Obadiah was alone and he needed Addy too. They both needed him to survive. That was self-evident by taking over the hag’s home.

The trio served as a team, to loot and gather what they needed. Addy’s appetite for things grew each time he stole and each time he killed the person he was stealing from. He felt empowered.

The big score for Addy was in offing the man at the store. The man had a whole store all to himself. Now, it was one of Addy’s victories. Another one. The few still living on the island who had survived the tsunami, made taking supplies more difficult for Addy.

Addy needed only to find cause to take someone out. Getting all of the supplies was cause enough.

“We need to go shopping,” his smirk told both other boys what he intended—to steal and kill. Something the trio had become accustomed to in the past few days and even before the end.

That’s why they hid up in the old woman’s house. That’s why he killed her. No one expected her to emerge from her hermit life. She was from old island roots and money. But that was gone. Plus, she’d all but alienated herself after earning the title of the island Bag Lady.

And there she was. On the floor. Stinking up the place.

“Page get rid of her.”

“That’s wack, Addy. How’m I s’posed to do that alone?”

“Pull her. I don’t care. Out the door. Toss her off the back,” Addy meant from the tall wooded precipice the old woman’s house sat on. A prime piece of real estate with a broken view of the ocean.

“Toward the water?”

Addy nodded and turned away, “Now. She stinks.”

Obadiah rocked anxiously on the sofa. His worrying didn’t escape Addy.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“This isn’t right. You can’t just keep killing people.”

Addy wheeled a blade from his pocket and launched himself at Obadiah, placing the tip directly under his chin.

“You want some of this? Or this?” He put the gun in his face while keeping the sharp point of the knife pierced into his skin. A single drop of blood sluiced down the blade.

“No!” Obadiah fell backward to get away from him.

Addy stood tall, “I didn’t think so,” and he turned away and said, “you do as I say. The master talks to me. I’m his right hand. You do as I say!” He wielded the blade again as he turned back to Obadiah.

Obadiah flinched, making Addy and Page laugh.

CHAPTER FOUR

My arms feel like cat claws are ripping at my skin. Scorching heat jars me awake. I gasp.

A rumbling chord of thunder booms across the sky. I'm tossed onto the floor and notice the searing temperature first, like molten lava, engulfing me—my arms, my legs, the skin on my face—a blow torch of heat. The dog and cat duck under the bed.

The sun flares bright making night turn to day. A Roman candle in the sky shines brighter than ever before but, in a blink, the candle flickers out.

A sound bursts through the sudden darkness. A loud earsplitting pop blasts out and makes me envision an ancient oak snapping. I rush the window and spot the tail of something huge burning through the sky. It was a comet. It flashed by and disappear in a second. Fast like that—like a god throwing down fire balls at the earth.

Thankfully, it was only one and, thankfully, it didn’t hit the planet. Had it? Well, there’d be no more planet.

And then everything goes quiet.

The dark is so dark with no moon in the sky. With only stars that look as if you might reach up and pluck one off its velvet backdrop. That’s how close they appear—huge and shimmering but so distant.

Now, the earth has gone cold and feels suddenly icy. My body jitters at the abrupt change in temperature and I scramble back into bed and cover up with a heavy blanket.

Sound taps into the hollow of a vacuum, like tinnitus, there’s a shrill ringing in my ears. All sound escapes except for two weak recognizable noises. I hear them crying—the cat and dog.

"Come here!" I demand but my voice is absorbed as if I’d thrown it against a wall of cotton or like how snow absorbs sound within its cover. But their mewling continues.

“Come here,” I repeat and I hear them trying to scamper out but right when they do the foundation moves and the floor rolls beneath us. The dog and cat howl when the aftershock rumbles. They both freeze partly visible from under the bed.

Lightning strobes outside, severing a telephone line, and starts an electrical fire. The arcing wire zips and sparks like a fiery bullwhip in the night sky.

The rafters swell and bend and I'm not sure how long before they will explode under the pressure.

"Come here!" I shout again to the animals who scrape out and as low to the floor as possible.

I feel around for the carrier, which always I keep at the end of the bed. It’s not there. Blind from the dark, I grope around until I land a hand on it. The tremor has caused it to wriggle across the room. Then a second shockwave hits that creaks the walls causing debris and drywall to crumble and spray us.

The animals bury themselves under the bed again.

“No. Stay,” I yell. They’re under the bed but where is the bed now? I continue to grope, feel for the carrier, and get to my knees. I feel around under the bed for the cat, snag the scruff of her neck, and pull her out. I do the same with the dog but instead of his neck, I pull him out by one leg. He’s not happy, but I don’t care about that. We have to get out. The ceiling is crumbling and I don’t know how long before it collapses on us.

I thank someone, something—not sure who or what—for the warm clothing I put on last night before bed. I twist the blanket from the bed and drape it over the carrier to keep the animals warm. To quiet them.

I grope around and find the doorway and set the carrier under its arch just in case we have another tremor. I learned long ago that archways are supposed to be some of the safest spots to stand during earthquakes.

The knowledge that our island sits at the tip of the San Andreas Fault does not fill me with warm fuzzies. The island lays as far north as it can get before its base turns east and plunges off under the greater tectonic plate of the mainland.

I gaze around through a wall of darkness.

Was it night when the comet glanced by? Was it day? Why can't I remember? With the disruption—sheer shock waves it caused you’d think a person should remember.

The electrical fire outside bursts with new life singeing nearby trees and lighting up the room inside.

My clothes are strewn about. Drawers lay askew on the floor or hang from the dresser like a tooth waiting to be yanked from a gaping mouth. I barely pull one drawer and clothes spill out like an abscess. I locate a heavier woolen zip-up and scramble back under the door jamb to retrieve the animal’s crate. I thank someone again for giving me small pets and not a golden retriever.

A random strand of hair strings across my brow and gives me a respite while I brush it away. I remember yesterday.

I want yesterday back.

And just as the thought courses through my mind, another rumble rocks the ground nearly knocking me over, and I snap back to now.

My stocking feet won’t withstand nature’s treachery. I left a pair of grimy work boots inside by the front door so I head that way. I shuffle the carrier with one foot to get the animals to safety.

We have to make it to the boat. We'll all be safe in the boat. The boat is safe.

Michael's camping gear is still in the berth. He loaded it before he left us. How excited he was to leave. He showed me a few self-defense moves—a hand to the throat, a foot to the side of the knee. His energy was through the roof.

And there it all is, an ammo box filled with rations and other survival gear. I still haven't cleared out all of his things from the boat. Only from his closets. I didn’t want a reminder every time I walked in one.

My face wrinkles in sadness and I wonder how my mother is. I scan the room for my cell phone which I’m sure is lying somewhere under the bed by now or under one of the drawers on the floor but the phone is not exactly presenting itself nor do I think it’s a viable source of communication any longer. Just as I decide to lift the carrier into my arms, the ceiling ruptures. I run out from under the door jamb uncertain if we’ll make it out alive.

Another vicious wave worms its way under my feet making me lose my balance. I stumble hard to the left, nearly dropping the animals. When I right myself, I fall forward against a wall that’s still standing for the moment and save the carrier. However, the wall begins to shimmy against my arm alerting me to pull away. The drywall warps and wriggles like a thousand pieces of chalk. It looks as though it has lost the will to stand.

After righting myself again and pushing off from that wall, I dash through the hallway toward the living room. As I worm my way through the wreckage, the wall explodes behind me and buckles the ceiling.

The place looks as though a bomb went off. It also sounds that way, like small bombs exploding with each segment of the house losing the battle against Mother Nature.

Under my feet, the floor boards shift. After each step behind me, the boards bow and splinter. Pictures crash to the floor and the ceiling looks like an ellipsoidal rectangle, something out of some circus fun house.

Just then, the plaster tears in the ceiling and streaks in cracks along its length. The ceiling ruptures with drywall tape shredding under the heat. The paper ignites and flames snake along the tape in rows across the ceiling.

I hear another loud snap and see a large plank of drywall arch and crack in half only eight feet from us. I dodge to the right toward the door and nearly grab the metal handle but it appears warped and is glowing red.

The thickness of the glue-lam door is the only thing untouched by the damage. I spot my boots and slip my feet into them.

One more intense snap! And the living room ceiling caves in.

I scream then choke from dust and ash. A cloud mushrooms out spraying chalky shrapnel throughout the room.

I flinch and pull the carrier under me and next to the front door.

Missiles continue to shoot out from the ceiling glancing off my shoulders, my back, and my head.

My breathing is erratic. Smut riddles the air making it difficult to pull in one good breath. I choke again.

The house groans. It’s warning me to get out.

I place my shoulder against the door. I don’t want to touch the handle. I back up and jam my body against the door hard, but it refuses to budge. Only my shoulder has weakened.

Eyeing the immediate ground around me, I spot a stray hunk of wood. Its angle reminds me of something a carpenter might build as part of the roof. I gaze behind me and the ceiling is hanging only three feet from the floor. Storage boxes have tumbled out and are on fire. The wood must have broken off from one of the ceiling joist.

I grab the wood and use it like an axe by slamming it over and over into the door, trying to bust open a hole. But nothing happens. Then I use the wood like a battering ram but when I slam my body against the wood and the door, I only succeed in hurting my stomach. Finally, I get all caveman on it and use the wood like a hammer bringing it down onto the handle. The metal sparks like jumper cables on a car battery. I slam it down again and the wood causes the handle to twitch. Again, sparks fly off from the searing metal.

The house creaks behind us. The rocking walls wince under the weight of what’s left of the roof. The sound, screeching so near, warns me to get out now or die with the house and the animals.

Sweat trickles down my back and pools under my breasts against my shirt. I feel beads of sweat spilling from under my arms and down to my elbows.

Glass shatters somewhere and then erupts. I cover my head and slump into a ball to avoid getting sliced up by flying glass. The sliding glass door has lost its ability to stand. A warping metal frame is all that remains in its place.

Then, another explosion erupts. This one is louder than any other eruption so far and comes from outside. A blast of white illuminates the door like a bolt of lightning.

I slowly uncover my head to see what happened.

One of the propane tanks over by the barn went off. The small one has exploded and the second larger one beside it will be next.

It swells and burps. Then it goes off as expected.

The vibration hurls me forward, throwing me against the door and against the carrier.

My cheek gets bashed in the process. My shoulder too.

The floor feels like a rope suspension bridge swaying in the wind.

The tank subsides mellowing into a soft steady gas-fueled torch, it drips from the ragged hole created in the explosion and spills a liquid flame onto the ground. Deadly sulfur fills the house causing my head to float and pulling the house into a hallucinogenic vortex.

The floor topples when the foundation under the house gives way but stops at an irregular angle. The propane-fueled bead of fire makes its way straight for us like satan’s tongue—forked and jagged—fiery, ready to lap up one more doomed soul.

I turn back to the door. Breathing so fast I can barely tell that I’m breathing at all. I slam the chunk of wood onto the handle with all of my strength. Nothing.

The cat screams but the dog has gone silent.

I’m wielding the wood like a crazed woman, banging it harder down onto the handle—once, twice, three times. Still, nothing.

Finally, the dog yelps. I back up enough to put my entire one-hundred-twenty-five pounds into the thrust. And when I bring the chunk down, the handle kinks down.

The fluttering fire is only inches from my feet and licking at my heels as it closes in but the bolt unlatched. Once again I use my shoulder and with a tooth-grinding grunt, the door scrapes open an inch. If that.

The fire reaches my boots and climbs fast to my ankles. I stomp but the action only seems to make the fire rise.

Once more, I bang my shoulder against the door. It cranks open another inch seeping in fresh air, feeding the fire, which climbs up my legs. The pain is excruciating.

I snap up the carrier and jam the door with everything I’ve got. The door edges open enough for me to fall through. I land on the ground with the carrier and then roll to extinguish my pants.

The house offers up one insane squeal before becoming completely engulfed in the fire and crumbling around us.

The fire continues to climb within millimeters of the carrier. I reach out and shove the animals out of its path. The threshold seam causes the flame to drip away from us and spill down along the perimeter of the house, trimming it like Christmas lights along the foundation.

The only thing left standing is the beam around the door and the door itself. The door balances askance but open, propping itself against the ground. It’s a doorway to nothing—a doorway to a hissing fire.

We made it out. We’re still alive.

For now.

CHAPTER FIVE

The land feels suddenly muddy, sloppy. Mud has seeped into my pants where the fire burned holes in them. The sting of fire still rests on my legs and my boots sink four inches deep into the mud.

I lift one foot. The wet ground nearly sucks off my boot, making a slurping sound in the process. Makes me think how everything is hungry, how even the ground could eat you alive when it wanted.

I wriggle the one foot free and step to a higher spot. Then, proceed with the next foot, wriggling it free from the hungry earth.

The fire trimming the foundation of the house sizzles and sputters, but is quickly consumed by a ravenous flow of mucky water and sediment.

What used to be our home now sits inside a depression where the foundation once lay. And we're standing alongside it—an empty, Olympic-sized mud puddle—an enormous mud pie, house and all being consumed.

I realize the mud pie is a sink hole that was shaken loose by the earthquake, the earthquake that knocked me out of bed earlier.

Retrieving the carrier, I hold the animals close to my chest and make the climb out of the hole. It’s difficult going. I slip and fall forward once but recover when I land on the carrier and manage to scramble up a jagged incline to the top of, of what?

I can't see anything anymore. I guess, of what means what used to be. My entire life disappears behind me, below me. All around me. Mud sluices in to the sink hole. It surrounds the battered walls and front door—the ground crumbles away only inches from my feet. I know that within seconds the ground will be gone where I stand.

I dash up farther. I have to get to the boat.

I have to get aboard the only place that might save us. A place that had become a covenant between me and Michael after he died, when I promised never to set foot on it again. But what else can I do? I have to break my vow or die in this soup with the animals. None of us should die because of a promise I made in grief. Even though, I pause and look up to the empty dark night. Where are you? Are you watching me, Michael?

I considered, how much easier it would be to just die. To give up.

So I pause.

A wind whips around and cools my neck. I close my eyes at the sensation and breathe in. A rumbling shakes me and my feet sink deeper into the mud.

The hungry earth.

All at once, my focus is back on the boat…and I run and run and run toward the boat.

I break my long-held vow to board her. Anger pierces my heart. I’m disgusted by my own weakness.

Truth looks filthy. Like a present wrapped in wet leaves with rivulets of grime that streak its exterior.

Before he left, Michael hired someone to shrink-wrap the cruiser in this heavy-gauge plastic to keep filth from violating the interior. To keep nature at bay. But, nature has a way of undoing anything it wants to undo.

The wrapping has shred near points of contact with the boat. It’s murky and hangs in sheets like wet laundry waving in the wind on a clothesline rather than something to protect against the elements. But, the boat's canvas tarpaulin beneath the shrink-wrapping has held up and draws me closer to the swim step—something that appears like a threshold waiting for a bride to cross.

Get on.

My throat tightens. A sudden urge to cry cramps in my stomach. The scene of Michael asking me right here and then telling me how he wanted to get married onboard her. He called her Truth—a nod to my name. The word is emblazoned in stark black letters against the boat's white shell.

I shake off the urge to cry out and instead I focus my energy on the swim step, on my aching arms from holding the carrier, on the ground disintegrating behind me.

Instinct takes over and prods me forward toward the boat—prodding me to safety. But then I stop. I’m not sure I trust my instincts. Still, I reach up to board her. After pulling up, I can now see that Truth has dropped into a crevice where once the land was solid.

Fear grips me and I freeze.

The length of the crevice continues to form as the earth splits below us. It’s moving forward, out toward the street a good two hundred, feet away and zags off behind the boat as it trims the boundary line between mine and the neighbor’s property. The crevice ends somewhere down by our lake. I glance over to the neighbor's.

No lights. No screams for help. No nothing.

I squint in the darkness and gaze deeper into their property. I can tell that the white walls of their home—where they used to stand—are no longer upright.

They are listing, leaning one on top of the other—a shamble of dominoes.

A thick darkness fills a void where the top of their house used to be. Then, all at once, a rumbling blasts from another gas tank, the neighbor’s, and flashes up, and sends the tank straight up.

I crumble to my knees but I’m still hanging on to the swim step. I work to protect the carrier but nearly fall back into the pit. I reach behind me to steady myself and grab at something, anything, but find nothing. I start to tumble. Somehow I regain my balance by sliding my right boot deep into the muck. I have to get onto the boat.

As I shimmy out of the mire, again I glance to the bonfire that once was my neighbor’s home. It explodes again. And after the second blast, the house is gone.

A row of trees, a clothesline, with their cars, their rowboat all spark up, one after the other in a blaze setting the woods trimming the property on fire.

I turn back to Truth and realize the rig that Michael used to trailer her has fallen somewhere beneath the boat’s hull. I can't tell how deep the crevice is. Can't see bottom. For all I know, the trailer has dropped through the earth's core and ended up somewhere in China.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Susan Wingate, an Amazon bestselling, award-winning author whose novels span genres of suspense, mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal, fantasy, and memoir. Twists and turns of Susan's stories and her likable, touching characters are always unique. Susan's books are filled with unforgettable heroes and fantastical worlds where readers can escape and are recommended for teenagers, young adults, and for older adults who are young at heart! Susan is host of Dialogue-Between the Lines.


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Teen & Young Adult
Feathered
A magical new twist on the story of Swan Lake
Unknown Ties
Vampires aren't made...they're chosen!
The Gem Experiments
Seraphina Luxgrove is a liar - and a lie.