Today marks the one year anniversary of Eternal Press. Happy birthday EP! It also see the release of my new novella. Check it out...
One woman. One man. A daring voyage across an alien ocean. The Elemental Crossing is the exciting sequel to Robert Appleton’s science-fiction adventure, The Eleven-Hour Fall.
After their hard-won escape from the perils of the desert, Kate and Jason are faced with their most difficult challenge yet on Kratos - crossing a vast ocean on just an improvised raft. Their relationship grows as hope dwindles. Procuring food, water, and a safe course across stretches their survival expertise to its limits. Despite help from an unexpected ally, what lurks beneath the surface of this alien sea?
Intimate character reflections weave through the epic scale of this second installment in the thrilling romantic survival series.
The occasional coarse gust stung Kate’s ears and tried to unstitch a wound on Jason’s chin; by the time the winds eased, both were red raw. The sky, too, bled reddish purple between blue clouds.
Bruised in the aftermath, thought Kate.
Jason suddenly scooped her off her feet from behind and, holding her close, pressed his cheek against hers.
“We’ve made it,” he said softly. “The only sand from now on is beachfront property.”
Kate closed her eyes and sighed. Swept up by the man of her dreams, her lift was physical, spiritual, vital. A week ago, in the desert, she had started a survival cycle for two; here, on the mysterious shore of a green-blue ocean, the cycle had come full circle. Jason Remington…Jason and I. Though fate had raised its skull and crossbones more than once on Kratos—most tragically to sink the Fair Monique—Kate had in fact won everything she’d wanted: her man, her life, and a chance to explore a hidden world. But in the bargain, just as many questions, if not more. Their journey to the ocean was now complete…
But in a survival cycle, she knew nothing was ever complete.
The seascape was an elemental brew, a dark green wilderness settling after a hurricane upheaval. It tossed columns of spray from the crests of its swells. These danced and merged like feverish loners in an icy rave. Two miles to the north, the giant precipice curtailed the ocean for as far as the eye could see. This straight line amid the chaos haunted Kate. The idea of an entire ocean being little more than a puddle on the surface of a giant craft made her swallow self-consciously.
“If you had to guess, how far would you say it stretches?” Jason asked.
“Well, how far can we see to the horizon?”
“Hmm…” He shrugged. “Say about five times farther than on Earth.”
“That’s conservative,” she replied. “Kratos is proportionally a lot bigger than that.”
“Yes, but our eyes can’t see infinitely through this atmosphere,” added Jason.
“I know—the electromagnetic anomaly we were told about. Something to do with gravitational distortion.”
“Let’s just say if there wasn’t an anomaly, we’d never have made it through the E.M. shield. The biggest planet ever explored, in terms of circumference; I can’t even imagine the gravitational forces we should be experiencing right now.”
“We’re miraculous survivors on a miraculous world,” she said vacantly. “And you can make a note of that for our epitaph.”
Jason chuckled and kissed her on the cheek before setting her down on the sand.
He resumed his walk. “So what’s the plan?”
“I thought this was the plan,” she replied.
“I mean what now? Saying we can make a go of it here for a while—if there’s a permanent food supply—what next, Mrs. Miraculous Survivor on a miraculous world? Where do we go from here?”
Kate smiled. “Haven’t the foggiest.”
Spectacular! The underwater visibility improved dramatically. Jason felt as if they’d crossed a purifying meridian. The partition between pale, murky green and glassy emerald stood out a mile, as clearly defined as night and day. Kate dipped her hand in the new water.
“It’s balmy,” she said, wide-eyed.
“Shall we try it out?” asked Jason.
Kate hung from the starboard side, Jason from the port. They submerged to view the secrets of the transparent ocean. From between clouds, capes of sunlight wavered across the deep, highlighting minute formations of sea life no bigger than fingernails and introducing enormous, roving shapes that spread and contracted like bloating submarines. Slender white shoots stretched up to within a hundred feet of the surface; these were identical to the spaghetti slime-line Jason had snagged during his fishing debacle. Quite where they originated from he still couldn’t fathom.
The farther they drifted across this new ocean realm, the more it teemed with life. Jason and Kate lifted their heads to breathe every couple of minutes. The sunlight intensified over the next hour, penetrating deeper into the aquatic. Enormous mandibles clasped shut far below, sending whirligigs of plankton up toward them. Kate even spied a dolphin, identical to those they’d befriended back at the reef. It dodged between a school of tiny lights and a spinning starfish.
Amazing, she thought, what evolution, unchecked, can produce!
A chevron formation of birds streaked across the sky. Kate counted twenty-six. She shuddered at the memory of being clamped in the huge beak during her eleven-hour fall, awaiting the crunch, with no way to defend herself or the man in her arms. How quickly horror had turned to hope.
Clouds parted overhead like a stratospheric Rorschach, morphing the heavens into a shape she’d only ever seen rendered by computer-generated imagery. She lost her bearings for a moment, forgetting the direction of the Elemental’s drift.
Yeah, east to west, but which is which?
Kate couldn’t find the impetus to get up and check. Though bone-dry bodily, her resolve was damp. Two days of lying on her back in a floating limbo had atrophied her every motivation. Eating, exercising, planning ahead, making even the tiniest decision now felt beyond her. At the nadir of existence, it was theoretically the peak test of a survivalist’s aptitude. But she couldn’t get over how cruelly fate had played its hand against her. Remorseless. Sadistic. From the bottom of the deck.
Just before midday, the Elemental turned slowly through forty-five degrees. The sensation wasn’t severe, but Kate felt it.
There’s no wind. Some kind of current?
She instantly forgot her maudlin marathon and shot across to the port side. The water was on the move; as she dipped her hand, it rushed through her fingers.
“Strong current, too!”
No signs of life below the surface, submarine-sized or otherwise, only a full-depth, concerted gush toward the northwest. Toward the precipice!
The entire ocean?
Two hours later, the rumble was as loud as a Harley Davidson’s engine ticking over. The throttle hadn’t yet been turned, but her ears felt the grip. White mist boasted a full rainbow and reached high over the precipice. Kate tested the lines securing her belt one more time. One fastened to each of the four cleats—more than enough.
“It might be for nothing,” she whispered, “but nothing could mean anything…”
She shook her head.
“A bit late for optimism, Katie girl.”
Her heartbeat quickened as the noise increased. The sea’s current now seemed rapid, incontestable. Still no view of the precipice through the mist. Only the nonstop fall of thunder. Billions of tonnes of water pouring into oblivion.
The depth of the ocean did not appear to lessen. She could still see a fair way down. The whole thing’s moving this way! On Earth and other planets, she’d seen waterfalls fed by either a river or a lake; here, a sea at least the size of a continent overflowed. Kate could barely hold her hand steady enough to scratch an itch on her neck. As the first specks of spray peppered the Elemental, the cascade roared with the power of a rocket launch.
She screamed at the top of her voice, but no sound escaped.
Oh, Christ, this is it!
The veil of no return. A film of cool moisture covered her hair, face, and neck. Visibility was now that of a white, backward balaclava. She felt the boat glide more rapidly and quickly through the water, and the dread welled up like hot oil in her gut. Her eardrums rang. She fought giant panic breaths with all of her pride.
The Elemental now hurtled faster than it had ever surfed as a sand yacht. Kate’s hair flapped wildly, and the spray drenched her eyes shut. Still louder, still faster, then…
To read the rest of Kate's adventure, you can buy The Elemental Crossing as an eBook at:
It's quite a ride!
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