Hello everyone.  Sorry for the long silence, but as you read in my last entry I lost a dear friend, Brenda Smith.  I didn’t know it at first, but she died of cancer.  She never told me or many of our other friends.  That was just Brenda’s way.  I spent part of the morning, after I heard of her death, down at the beach taking photos of the waves.  Brenda had always loved the ocean.  While I was there I got a great inspiration.  She had been one of the staunchest supporters of my writing efforts, next to my wife Helen.  Brenda even offered to get me to WorldCon last year, just for a day so I could see the HUGO Awards in person and get a look at one up close.  Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow me to take up her offer.  

So while I was at the beach I realized that my 2nd book, which is currently up to 38,000 words in length, involves the ocean and a dark secret.  So I’ve decided to dedicate it to Brenda as a thank you and to keep her memory alive in a way.

So here’s a peak at Book #2.  This takes place at an actual location here in Santa Cruz California.  In time, I’m planning to also start a Video-Log or VLOG as it’s called.  Taking you all to some of the locations that appear in my writings, or just to show you where I go to get inspiration and ideas.   In the meantime, please enjoy this small offering from my novel-in-progress “THE SHIP”

Outside the multi-million dollar beach house, the black of night ruled.  Among the few shadows that owed their existence to the outdoor lighting, was one particularly dark shade.  It had lain just outside the window of the dining room, where Cassandra had been sharing her tale with Julie.  Now, with both girls out of the room, the darkness seemed to slide down the side of the house and across the sand.

Its trajectory brought it to the water’s edge where it continued on its journey unabated.  Across the gentle waves it traveled until it reached an odd structure at the end of a pier several hundred yards away.

It looked like an old ship that had broken in half some years ago.  This was S. S. Palo Alto, more commonly known as ‘The Cement Ship’.  It was called this because the hull of the great vessel had been made of concrete.  Construction of this unique ship had begun during World War I, when materials began to become scarce, but finished a year after the war had actually ended.   She had been mothballed by the navy 10 years later and sold to a private entertainment company who had brought it here to Seaside, not far from Santa Cruz.

Once settled into its new home the ship had been built into a showplace with dining, entertainment, even a swimming pool.  But when the company went belly up during the Great Depression, the ship was stripped of its luxuries and abandoned.  Eventually the middle section broke in half and it had since been turned into an artificial reef and sanctuary for marine life.  No one was allowed onto the vessel these days.  A tall chain link fence kept it human free, but still provided easy viewing to curiosity seekers.

But tonight, a figure was standing on top of the far end of the wreck.  He had long white-hair and a flowing black cape that seemed to taper and stretch all the way down to the water some 30 feet below.  It was towards him that the living darkness moved because it was actually part of the flowing garment around his shoulders.  It had stretched itself all the way to the structure where Cassandra and Julie were making love for the first time.

The man smiled, having heard everything the two women had discussed.  He marveled, not for the first time, at the abilities of his associate.  The creature was intelligent but not wise to the ways of this world or its inhabitants.   In some ways the thing was almost animal-like in its behavior; survival and hunting were of high priority.

Mere seconds before the police had electrocuted the creature on the bridge his ally had detached itself from the main body.  It had been the first of what was supposed to have been hundreds, but its siblings had not broken off in time and were annihilated along with their progenitor.

He himself had tried to stop Cassandra and her friends from escaping the bridge, but that damned Brandon had interfered and forced him to withdraw.  This had not been the first time the son of Jerome had thwarted his efforts.  There had been others all the way up to Great Conflagration of 1887 where his enemy had finally fallen.

A smile crossed his face fleetingly at the memory.  At the time he had foolishly believed that encounter had been their last, but no.  Even death had not stopped Brandon.

But, now that he thought about it, it wasn’t really a surprise.  The members of the Elliott family were made of much sterner stuff than most people.  He knew that better than anyone.

Strange that Cassandra should be talking about Jerome and the birth of his son in particular.

The peeling of the chapel bell, from that night so long ago, still rang in his ears.  Hidden away in the darkness among the trees he had witnessed everything that had transpired.  Even he had marveled at Jerome’s tenacity to talk and move even after his heart had long stopped beating.  And the sight of the man racing out of the chamber and grabbing the child startled… no shocked him.  For a brief instant he had wondered if in fact the pathway had been sealed, but then Jerome fell to his knees and he knew better.  What he had been witnessing was an act of sheer willpower.  Driven by an overwhelming desire to protect his child Jerome had put off his own fate, but only for a few brief moments.

“Who would’ve thought it possible?” he murmured quietly.

No one who entered the chamber ever left it under their own power… except once.  Smiling inwardly he began to make plans.  Cassandra’s time was drawing closer.  He would have to keep a closer eye on her since she was the key to… the rest of his thoughts were interrupted by the stirring of his cape.

Frowning he glanced downwards and saw it was stretching down into the water once more.  Ah, you’re hungry again, he thought and waited.

Standing motionless, eyes closed, he barely noticing the gentle caress of the night breeze across his face.  Suddenly, there was a commotion in the water below.   There was a pulling sensation around his shoulders, but still he did not move.  Eventually the splashing ceased and a grayish mass, tangled in the black strands was lifted out of the water.

It was a great white shark, young, inexperienced and no longer moving.  The poor thing had not realized the tantalizing wriggling shadow that had caught its attention was something more fearsome than itself.  Hungry and dazzled by temptation it had lost its life and was already being digested in a most horrid fashion.  Already the living darkness had swallowed the snout and upper jaw containing the razor-like teeth.

The man could feel his garment pulse as it feasted, yet he did not feel any of the weight of the dead animal.  His companion was bearing the strain without affecting him.  This seemed to defy all the known laws of physics since the creature hung from his shoulders.  “Truly you are extraordinary,” he remarked quietly.  “Would you mind sharing?  I’m a bit peckish myself.”

Silently the blackness brought the body up to him.  Even though it had only been a young shark it was still over 2 meters long and taller than him.  As the animal’s remains were pressed to his chest, he did not raise his hands to grasp it.  Instead he simply stood there while the blackness enfolded them both.  Soon only his head and white hair were visible, perched atop an awkwardly shaped mass of darkness.

Closing his eyes he waited.

His expression became a grimace as the muffled sound of flesh splitting open could be heard.  Then a look of deep satisfaction crossed his features while the ebon folds beneath his chin shifted and squirmed.  Slowly the black swelling below his neck began to shrink in size.

‘Incredible,’ he thought silently.  The two of them had slightly different dietary needs, but the shark’s remains contained more than enough to satisfy the two of them and then some.  There would be very little of the body once they were finished.  And if what passed for his companion’s equivalent of saliva worked in water as well as it did on land, there would be nothing at all.  In time the talent would pass because of biological and chemical changes that would happen as it matured.

It had been a pity that he could not save the original creature.  What a magnificent specimen it had been, but Cassandra and her friends had forced the being to take desperate measures.  The moment its bond with the baby had been severed, the thing had been forced to emerge from inside the bridge.  But it had been too soon.  A few hours more and the spawning would’ve taken place without a hitch.

Alas, only this one had survived, having broken off from the main body just minutes before its parent was completely destroyed.