Five: Episode Forty-three is based off the following book excerpt from my science fiction, supernatural, thriller, The Contingency Generation.
Tugging the branch forward, I grip the rosy Bartlet. With a small twist, the pear releases into my hand. The fruit is perfectly ripe and without blemish. It will be the top of my arrangement.
I climb down the ladder and place my picking basket on the grass. Then I trim off several tall hydrangea heads, shortening them to use as filler sprigs in the crevices of the pear tower. The entire pear pyramid will rest on a gold platter with ivy garland adorning the edges.
Substitution Day is my favorite festival on Five. Everyone brings their best gift in honor of The Great Exchange, the greatest gift ever given. This year I choose to make a red and green pear tree tower festooned with white hydrangea snowballs. The procession begins in an hour, but I need time to reassemble the offering before I meet Martha and Kate at the gate.
I tuck the floral spays inside a water cup and brace it into position inside the picking basket surrounded by the pear bounty. I return the ladder to the shed and place my clippers and gloves on the shelf.
Once outside the gardens, I take the quickest route—the path that leads to the dais by the sea.
When I reach the rocky plateau, I pick my way around the base, following the foot trail that zigzags through clearings of beach vegetation.
I’ve not been to the beach since the day I wrote my fifth message. Since then, the transforming power of living free of my unnamed fears propelled me into new activities on Five, endeavors that I never thought were possible.
Jagged white caps proudly crown the waves today. I love watching them become subdued and turn into dainty foam ruffles when they reach the ruby sand shore. The land is a boundary to the sea. Although the waves roar, they cannot cross over it.
I’m not afraid of the water, at least not anymore. It is what brings new residents to Five, and the heralds navigate it with confidence. There’s no rule against swimming in it, but customarily we enter in groups and usually under a herald’s watchful eyes.
I need to keep moving, but the play of motion, colors, and sound are mesmerizing. I savor the moment and the feel of my feet in the soft sand dune.
A flock of gulls banks above me. They hold their position in the air, gliding on the breezy current. One breaks off from the rest and heads straight out to the sea.
I follow its course. Something bobs in the water in the first crest of surf. Perhaps only sunlight bouncing off the waves and playing tricks with my eyes. Using my hand as shade, I look again.
There’s definitely a patch of golden orange riding a turquoise swell.
I walk to the shore edge and squint. Whatever it is disappears into the froth, but soon I catch another glimpse of it before the surf rolls it under again. I see long amber tentacles attached to a pale body.
Little by little, the waves bring it closer. Suddenly I realize the golden tentacles are more like hair.
Is it a person?
It’s the size of a person.
My heart races.
Is it a lone swimmer enjoying a morning float or someone in trouble? There’s no sign of struggle.
I’m torn. I look down the beach but see no sign of anyone else. Maybe it’s just a strange sea creature. Wildlife on Five constantly amazes me. I don’t want to be late to the festival for a creature. But if it’s a person….
I put down my picking basket.
It’s definitely a person.
I can see limbs, but there’s no purposeful movement. I call out and stride into the water until I’m waist deep, but the only response I get is the gulls screeching above the waves. Attempting to rescue someone without a herald present might be foolish.
What if I go under and my memories return? I could run back and get help. That’s good, too. Isn’t it?
Maybe no help is required. Maybe …
I push forward until the water reaches my chest, and a mountain of it moves toward me.
I dive into the rolling water.
This blog post is an excerpt from my supernatural thriller, Five, presented in rough draft version. The posts appear weekly as my story development progresses. The story snippets will likely be full of typos, garbage, and confusion. I’m sure to regret allowing readers a sneak peak of the chaos involved in this process of making a finished book.
Someday, if I still have an audience, my book(s) and screenplays will be polished and for sale. Until then, my story snippets are free, but payment by “subscribing” with your email would be a nice gesture. For doing this you might get a discount on my purchasable work should that day ever arrive. All you get now is a notice via email of a new story episode that I have ready to read on my “blog.” I don’t sell my email list or do anything else with it.
Why am I doing this stupid and terrible thing—letting readers see my “off the cuff” story writing?
Book industry experts say that in today’s world of book marketing, an unknown author must build their own sales platform. I’m supposed to advance my platform by collecting readers, and for now, by blogging. Since I can’t imagine blogging about what I had for breakfast or the things my cat does, then instead, I’m blogging fiction excerpts of my work(s) in progress.
Thanks for slogging along. Maybe we’ll meet on a bookshelf someday.