Thoughts at Twilight

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When I was a kid, my dreams were often filled with visions of cartoon characters of my favorite shows, make-believe adventures with my closest friends and my brother, fantasies of strange creatures and the ever familiar flying experience. I looked forward to sleep in my youth. Sure I had to contend with nightmares every once in awhile but, by and large, my dreams were a place of happiness.

As I grew up, life became complicated by my life-choices. Along the way, I think I lost that childhood innocence of dreaming. Oh I still dreamed, but the visions took on a materialistic turn. Where fantastic creatures and unbelievable companions once reigned, now desires for fancy houses, beautiful cars, stacks of money piles and 24/7 parties took over. The world’s influences rearranged then corrupted my fantasies.

Lately, I miss the innocence of those fantastic dreams. Part of the beauty of writing Paraclete’s Promise, was the return to that make-believe world; bringing outlandish adventures to life through Timothy’s dreams was like revisiting an old friend. The cares of adulting, the pressures of professional performance; the worries of debt all seemed to melt away while journeying with Timothy. The dreams were once again whimsical and fun; frightening but wonderful at the same time. And I always seemed to awaken refreshed. Ready to take on a new day.

I think it’s time to revisit those dreams again. Set aside the worries and cares of the world for just a few hours of reality, in exchange for the timeless journeys of the fantastic. I want to remember what it’s like to dream amazing stories, and wake ready to share them with the world.

I think a story’s coming…

Paraclete’s Promise- Chapter 5: Light In The Darkness

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Chapter 5 wraps up our little hero’s first adventure. If you need to be brought up to speed, I encourage you to visit the previous chapters. If you truly like what you’ve read thus far, why not consider buying a copy of my book. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple. Thanks for sticking by me, friends.

Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4


 

5—Light In The Darkness

The dive helmet proved to be the coolest piece of equipment, of the entire suit. Once he slid the helmet over his head, the familiar computer voice spoke within the helmet’s audio system, as the device automatically ran through a series of diagnostic checks. Inside the bug-eye visors, a checklist scrolled down, accompanying the voice.

OPTICS AT 100 PERCENT; AIR FLOW NOZZLES AT 100 PERCENT; SEALS ENGAGING.”

Tim’s ears popped as the helmet gently squeezed around his neck; and under his jaw.

AIRTIGHT SEALS AT 100 PERCENT; READY FOR DIVING, MR. SMITH.”

Jonah’s voice filled the hidden speakers within the helmet.

“Let’s go. Time’s wasting. I’m setting the wet room to submerge in 20 seconds.”

Tim descended the ladder into the wet room. The inner floor hatch, with the peep hole in the center, slowly closed and sealed with an airtight woosh.

“Wet room submerging in 5, 4, 3, 2,” Jonah counted.

Oval slates along the smooth stainless steel walls opened, sending a flush of sea water into the tiny room. A flash of panic ran up Tim’s spine as the room quickly filled. He groped for something to hold on to, and braced for the cold shock of sea water.

“I never understood why this always frightened you, Tim.” Jonah said. “After dozens of missions, you’re still jumpy when the wet room fills.”

As the water rose over his waist, then his chest, and up to his helmet, Tim closed his eyes and held his breath, waiting for the helmet to spring a leak and fill with salt water. When he couldn’t hold out any longer, he inhaled deep, breathing in cool, clean air. He opened his eyes in time to see Jonah swimming out of the wet room, through the bottom hatch, into the darkness of the sea.

“The water’s not freezing,” he said.

“Of course it is. The suit’s regulating your temperature, you dope. C’mon, let’s go.”

As he followed Jonah through the open hatch, his fingers again performed a series of unknown, but familiar taps, pressing buttons on the left side of his belt. The hatch slowly swung shut locking them outside of the pod’s protective hull. At the same time, Tim’s helmet lit up a brilliant green inside. The shrouded darkness of the sea could now be seen in a green hue that showed everything within a radius of 200 feet, as clearly as daylight topside.

“I see you! I see the cave below. Wow!”

Tim stopped stroking and hovered in place. He spun from side to side, looking every-which-way possible, in awe of the sights to be seen in this strange new world. Everything was alive with activity. Deep sea sharks, 100 feet above the pod, swam around in their own patterns just as the fish at the Coney Island Aquarium had done when he’d gone to the park for his 6th birthday. The base of the mountain was out of sight, but he could still make out bubbles floating up from what must be its bottom.  Jonah hovered a few yards out from Tim’s position, anxiously awaiting his partner.

“Tim, I’ll feel a lot better if you save the sightseeing for later. We’ve got to get the treasure back to the pod.”

“What’s the rush Jonah? I’m just getting used to this. Besides, it’s not going anywhere I don’t think.”

“I’m not worried about the treasure walking off without us, Tim. I’m worried that we’re not the only intelligent creatures alone down here anymore.”

The crocodile; how had he forgotten so soon? Terror settled over Tim again. He was aware of the vast emptiness surrounding them both. That creature could be watching them right this moment, just outside the range of their hyper vision goggles. Tim punched a sequence into his belt’s computer. The system responded.

EMERGENCY THRUST PROPELLERS CUED; READY FOR ACTIVATION.”

Against his hips, two tiny triangular slots—like inverted pop tops he’d seen on the table salt canisters Mom bought from the grocery store—suddenly flipped open on the belt. Miniature ports drop down out of the slots. In the far corner of each bug-eye visor, an energy gauge displayed two vertical bars; one for each thrust propeller. Tim’s helmet hummed as the tiny engines prepared to fire.

“Easy on the throttle, Tim. We’ll need to save energy for the journey back up to the pod, while we carry the chest together. Use just enough boost for a quick start, okay?”

“How big is it, Jonah?”

“Well, let’s just say we’re both going to have a time dragging it out of the cave.”

Tim stretched out in a diving pose. He glanced at Jonah, giving him two thumbs-up.

“Thrusters fire,” he said.

ENGAGING THRUSTERS.”

The belt tightened against his waist as the thrusters exploded, propelling him through the water at a blinding speed. There was a sudden jerk on the top of his helmet, as the leather flap extended. Tim turned his head left, toward Jonah. His suit responded by changing his trajectory, speeding him toward his partner.

“Watch yourself, Tim!” Jonah yelled over the radio. “Get it together, bro. What’s gotten into you?”

Tim shifted again, turning his head in the direction of the cave below. It was hard to keep his limbs in line with the target at such speeds. Behind the visors, a number display read 70mph and continued climbing. The cave entrance, a distant speck a moment ago, now seemed as large as a Ferris wheel circle.

“Back off of the throttle Tim. We can swim the rest of the way into the cave.”

“Roger than, Jonah. Thrusters stop.”

THRUSTERS DEACTIVATED.”

The two explorers swam for the mountain cave, frequently watching over their shoulders for any signs of movement. Close to the entrance, a light-bulb fish appeared from behind a high crop of mountain rock, startling Tim.

“Stay sharp, Tim. I think this cave might be the beast’s lair. We’re in dangerous territory here, so let’s watch each other’s backs.”

As they swam up the hollowed shaft of the cave, the walls closed in. The ceiling and floor of the cave also condensed. The girth of the huge cave slowly diminished.

“Jonah, I don’t like it. We’ve got nowhere to run if he’s here.” Tim fought against the fear rising within his heart.

I am still with you.

“Who said that?” Tim shouted, as he stopped stroking and spun around.

“Who said what?” Jonah asked. “C’mon, stay with me here. It’s just the two of us.”

“Jonah, someone else has been speaking to me since…well since I woke up back at the control console.”

“I knew it!” Jonah yelled.

“Well who is it? Whoever he is, he’s beginning to creep me out.”

“I knew you fell asleep while I was down here alone! Tim, that crocodile could’ve eaten me alive while you were snoozing up there. You have to watch my back at all times.”

“Jonah, I’m telling you, someone’s been talking to me.”

“Okay, let’s pretend you really are hearing voices besides mine, thousands of feet under the ocean. What are they telling you while we’re busy swimming up an underwater tunnel, in search of lost treasure?”

Tim felt heat in his cheeks; anger rising. What was it that Dad said, back at home? Just then, an idea came to mind.

“That’s it. I’m dreaming. I must’ve gone to sleep at home. Yup that’s it, all right! I fell asleep in the box. None of this is real.”

Tim heard Jonah sigh over the radio.

“Now I’m your imaginary friend. That’s awesome. We’ll see how you feel once we’ve found the chest, Tim. When we return to the surface, you’re going to the doctor to get your brain examined.”

An alarm beeped inside his helmet, directing Tim’s attention toward a wire frame digital diagram showing the terrain of the cave, projected through his visors. The explorers were swimming toward a vertical wall at the back of the cave. As they approached, Tim saw jagged protrusions jutting from the vertical surface.

“Are those steps I see, Jonah?”

“It looks that way, yeah. I think, at one time, this area of the cave was a huge air pocket. You noticed we swam up through the tunnel, to get this far. Maybe, this wall wasn’t always underwater. Someone would have needed a way to get into the upper cave.”

“Upper cave; I thought this was it?”

“No, we’ve got to swim up a ways, before we find the air pocket.”

The vertical turn was easy enough to maneuver. Tim kicked while his padded fingers gripped each jagged step; 18 in all. Jonah reached the top first, climbing out of the water, onto a ledge.

“Watch your step up here,” Jonah said. “The deck is a bit slippery. You won’t need your helmet anymore. The air is a bit stale, but breathable.”

Tim reached up, penetrating the water’s surface for the first time in weeks, his memory told him. Jonah gave a hand, pulling him out of the depths, into a cavernous hollow. Large stalactites and stalagmites of differing shades and colors were everywhere. Off to the far right of the hollow, Tim saw a bright glow emitted behind a large rock wall. Judging by the pathway of trampled and crushed dripstone, Jonah had previously walked in that direction. But the pathway of destruction of the natural formations was far too wide to have been caused by Jonah alone. Tim deactivated the helmet’s hyper vision.

“Jonah, I—”

“Yeah, you see it don’t you? That crocodile’s been in here. I didn’t have to disturb any of the dripstone formations to get to the chest behind that crusted wall. The creature’s been guarding it. Looks like it hasn’t returned, so let’s get what we came for.”

“Roger that,” Tim said. The duo walked further into the cavern, toward the far rock wall. “Sure is spooky in here.”

“Hey, God did not commit to us the spirit of fear,” Jonah recited. Tim smiled wide behind his helmet.

“But of power, love, and sound mind. Thanks, Jonah.”

“Momma’s bible study, every Sunday evening for as long as I can remember. She made me memorize 2 Timothy 1:7, knowing I would someday be an explorer.”

“Dad likes that one, too. He makes us say it every night before bed.”

Tim suddenly missed home. He missed his siblings and his parents. He remembered this was all just a dream, and soon he would wake up. As they approached the wall, he squinted. The golden light on the other side was so bright!

“Jonah, did you leave the box opened when you left the cave?”

“No! I shut the lid; made sure of it, because I had to figure out how we were going to move the whole thing through the water without losing a single piece. I latched the clasp and shoved a small piece of dripstone through the lock hole, to keep the lid shut. As soon as I closed it, the light was locked away inside the chest.”

Tim ran for the wall, with Jonah quick at his heels. The duo rounded the edge of the wall. Standing before them was a large wooden box trimmed in tarnished golden ribbing. Its ancient hinges were rusted from ages of sitting in the damp air. Its wood had taken on a soggy and splintery texture. Barnacles encrusted the bottom of the chest, onto the floor of the cave. Behind the chest, golden light flooded the tiny chamber formed by several close cropped walls and a low ceiling. Tim’s eyes were fixed on the chest, unable to look away.

“It looks just like my toy chest back home, except for the gold stuff along the edges and the old wood. It’s the same.”

Tim brushed a gloved hand over the lid of the chest. A fresh wave of sadness washed over him as he pictured home in his mind.

“Tim, take a look at this.” Jonah stood ten feet behind the chest, hands on hips, gazing at the cave floor. “I promise you, this was not here before. I don’t know where it came from. I’m not even sure of what it is.”

The urgency in Jonah’s voice broke the allure of the chest. Tim slowly walked toward the back of the cave shielding his eyes from the onslaught of brilliant light pulsing from what looked to be a large oval of light in the floor.

“Jonah, what in the world?”

“I just said I don’t know what it is, Tim! It wasn’t here before.”

“Whatever it is,” Tim started, “I feel like I’m supposed to…”

I am with you,

“What?” Jonah asked. “Tim, you’re supposed to what?”

“I don’t know. Feels like it’s calling me, somewhere deep down inside.”

Jonah turned away, walking back toward the chest. Tim heard the latch squeak and the hinges creak in protest; metal on metal grinding. The cave, already alight by the hole in the ground, now blazed a magnificent golden yellow, as Jonah pushed the lid back. There was a loud thunk, as the lid collided with the back of the chest. It was filled to the brim with golden nuggets resembling peanuts, cashews and walnuts.

Tim walked to the chest and scooped a handful of the little nuggets. The duo glanced at one another, before exploding in laughter. Tim stuffed a handful of nuggets into the hidden pockets of his suit, laughing hysterically.

“I can’t believe we found this! We did it, Jonah! We actually found the lost treasure of the pirates of Camoon! Now we have to figure out how—”

A great splash and enormous thump ricocheted off the walls of the cavern, shaking the nuggets within the chest. Tim crouched while Jonah reached for a small stick strapped to his right leg.

“Stay put, Tim. It’s here. I’m going to draw its attention away from the chest, while you make a run for the water. Get to the pod as soon as possible! Do you understand?”

“Jonah, I’m not leaving you behind. We figure out how to go together.”

Jonah thrust the stick out. Two thin shiny blades popped out of both ends of the handle. Inside the visor-goggles of Jonah’s helmet, Tim watched the hyper vision light activate, then turn a shade of red, as Jonah took up an attack stance.

“Seriously Jonah, you’re going to charge that thing! Are you insane? There has to be another way out of this cave without facing it.”

“There isn’t, so wait for my signal. When I yell, go for the water. Trust me, if you’ve got a better idea, I’m all ears.”

A guttural roar alerted them to the creature closing in on their position. Jonah sprinted for the edge of the wall, screaming like a warrior; the double edge spear lifted high above his head. Another monstrous roar resonated through the cave, and Tim heard Jonah screaming in fear as he tore up the opposite end of the cavern. Stalactite and stalagmites crushed into powder under the creature’s advance.

“Now, Tim! I’ll see you on the other side!” Jonah yelled.

There was a sound like metal reflecting off stone. Jonah fought the beast somewhere within the cave! Tim was petrified, once again unable to move. Somehow he mustered the courage to take a shaky step toward the edge of the wall separating the chest’s hiding place from the main cavern. One step became two. Two steps became a slow trot. The trot gained momentum until he was running around the wall straight for the entrance pool.

Come to me, Timothy. I’m still with you.

“No, not again!” Tim yelled. His small hands went to the helmet, trying to cover his ears. “Who are you? Why are you doing this to me?”

Come to me, Timothy.

Tim looked over the devastation of dripstone debris leading toward the darkened end of the cavern. Deep within that darkness arose the sounds of battle and destruction. Tim whispered.

“Combat vison.”

COMBAT VISION ACTIVATED.” The computer responded.

The helmet’s hyper vision lit the visors a brilliant red hue, illuminating the cavern before him. There was Jonah, racing back toward Tim. His broken spear dangled in his right hand, a crack in one of his visor-goggles, a tear in his suit along the left arm. He’d never be able to make the swim back to the pod with a ruptured suit and busted helmet! The freezing water would kill him within minutes. Behind Jonah the crocodile beast slithered snake-like with incredible speed, gaining on him. Shiny blue scales and massive sharp yellow glowing teeth bore down on Jonah.

“I thought I told you to swim! What are you waiting for? Go now!”

“Lord, I don’t know what to do,” Tim screamed, as he looked toward the entrance pool a few yards away. Even if they made the water, the creature would have them captured in the tunnel.

Come to me, Timothy.

Beyond the fear that gripped his heart, Tim found a quiet, peace rising within his spirit. Suddenly, he knew where to go. It made no sense, but he knew it was the right thing to do.

“I told you what to do, Tim,” Jonah barked. “Run for the—”

Tim darted back toward the chest hiding behind the far wall. His heart pounded, His mind couldn’t focus as he ran. He knew he needed to get back to that little hiding place.

“Don’t stop, Jonah! Follow me,” he yelled.

Jonah couldn’t believe what he was seeing, as he banked left to follow his partner back toward the treasure chest. They were going to die down here. He was sure of it. Tim had lost his nerve and his senses. Jonah’s last idea was to make a final stand in the back of the small hiding hollow. He ran with all his might. When he rounded the wall, the beast was so close, Jonah could feel the breeze from its chomping bites push against his back. Tim was airborne, head first, diving.

Tim, rounded the wall, still following the direction of the voice.

That’s it. Come to me, Timothy. I’m still with you.

Without so much as a second thought, he threw himself into an awkward headfirst dive over the opened chest, sailing straight for the pulsing yellow hole in the ground, behind the treasure. Screaming through the air, Tim shut his eyes just as he connected with the light of the hole. Somewhere close behind, echoed the screams of Jonah and the enraged roar of the beast.


 

So faithful fans, now you have a feel for Timothy and his amazing adventure thus far. What happens next? You’ll have to read the book!

 

 

Paraclete’s Promise – Chapter 4: Partners & The Prize

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Hi faithful fans. If you have yet to read the previous chapters of my book, I encourage you to visit these posts before reading chapter 4:

Chapters 1&2

Chapter 3

As always, I really appreciate your support and feedback. Paraclete’s Promise: The Fantastic Fantasies Of Timothy is the first book in the Paraclete’s Promise saga. While this book is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple, the second book is in progress. Enjoy.


 

4—Partners And The Prize

Tim was petrified; heart pounding, breathing shallow. All around him, bleeps and blips of the electronics on the console sounded off, running through routine pod operation. Static lit through his left ear again.

“Unlock the hatch buddy. I’m on the way up. I don’t think it’s safe to turn on the lights yet, so keep an eye out for me.”

Tim’s heart rate slowed. Shallow breaths became long tugs. His hands steadied.

“Tim, are you there?”

“Roger that; I’m keeping an eye out for you.”

Tim rolled the captain’s chair within reach, and slowly sat down. The soft stretch of the supple leather and pneumatic hiss of the chair’s cylinder, under his weight, were welcomed sounds. He rolled the chair up to the control panel and pressed a sequence of buttons, activating Jonah’s personal tracking device. Just above the control panel, the on screen readout placed Jonah approximately 700 feet away from the pod, and he was moving fast. His heart rate was slightly elevated, but otherwise his vital signs read normal. Tim set his arms against the soft armrests, and reclined. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.

How’s your adventure coming along? Much more exciting than a video game, I’ll bet? I’m with you.

Tim was so startled by the voice resonating in his head that he flipped the entire chair over backwards, crashing to the floor. But his trained muscles responded. With a quick roll, he was back up on his feet poised in a defensive stance, feverishly scanning the control room for another person, he hadn’t seen before. He pressed the com-link button as his eyes searched the room, top to bottom.

“What was that Jonah? I didn’t read; over?”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t say anything. Closing in on 250 feet; over?”

“Uh,” Tim faltered for a moment. “Yeah, roger that; 250 feet and closing.”

His eyes fell on the floor monitors to his left. Lying there, almost invisible against the high definition darkness of the ocean, was his bible. In the drab light of the dimly lit control room, the stainless steel hard cover book was a welcomed sight. He picked it up, opened to the last page and read the custom inscription written across the back cover.

To my brave explorer: May the Lord’s word be a shining light when you are surrounded by the darkness of the cold world.

Love Mom.

Tim’s thumb absently parted the pages. Flipping through, he smiled at the scripture he found. Dad once said the Holy Spirit would always watch his back. First Samuel 14:7 was a comforting scripture to have handy, alone in the dark.

“‘Do all that you have in mind,’ his armor-bearer said. ‘Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.’”

The words washed over his heart. The remnant of his fear seemed to melt away.

“If God is with me, who or what can stand against me?”

Scriptures flooded his mind, strengthening his spirit as he continued to recite miscellaneous lines from different books of the bible. Courage surged within his soul. He remembered bravery comes after great fear.

An alarm beeped, letting him know Jonah was within 50 feet of the pod. Tim set the bible onto the console, and ran through the control room door toward the rear end of the pod. He jumped and dodged miscellaneous cargo and equipment still cluttering the hallway. As he reached the wet room, toward the pod’s rear end, he flipped open a wall panel and punched in a sequence of commands on the illuminated key pad. A loud flush reverberated through the pod. Beneath his feet, a small room filled with ocean salt water. Glancing between the keypad monitor and the sealed peep hole beside his left foot, Tim watched the water level swallow the entire wet room, before closing the water jet ports. The monitor read out blinked a confirmation message across the screen: WET ROOM FILLED.

“All set up here, Jonah. I’m opening the hatch now.”

“Roger that, buddy. I’m at the hatch. Waiting for the pop.”

A large button on the keypad pulsed brilliant red. The monitor read out blinked, and Tim saw an overhead video feed of Jonah wading underneath the pod. A new message scrolled over the video feed: ESCAPE HATCH READY. Tim mashed his palm against the red button. The whole pod shook as the pneumatic cylinders of the hatch swung the three-piece sealed doors out toward the ocean floor. Tim watched Jonah swim up through the opening, then sit down on a stainless steel bench molded into the smooth circular walls of the wet room. Tim smiled as he recognized Jonah’s diving suit. It was amazing to see the body molded flat air tank, the high tech diving helmet with its polarized lens, the retractable flippers and personal water jets protruding from his belt.

“Ready when you are.” Jonah said. “While I decompress, get your suit ready. You’re gonna want to come back down with me.”

“Did you find something good?”

“Oh yeah, I did!”

“Sweet! I’m setting the decompression sequence now. Have a nap for ten minutes.”

“You read my mind, buddy.”

Tim tapped at the keypad. The doors of the escape hatch shushed closed, shifting the pod again. Behind the steel bulkhead to his left, he heard a whooshing sound as the machinery simultaneously pumped the water from the wet room and decompressed the chamber. He watched the monitor read out for a moment, making sure the sequence progressed slowly. As the water pumped out through the jet ports, recessed in the walls of the wet room, oxygen filled the damp room.

“Hey, do me a favor, will ya,” Jonah said. “Try not to decompress me too fast. Last mission, you almost made my head explode.”

Tim laughed, as a memory of Jonah screaming like a baby suddenly filled his mind.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I rushed through the process. Looks like you’re decompressing at a good rate, this time though.”

“Good. Go on and get geared. I’ll keep an eye on the sequence from down here.”

“Roger that, Jonah.”

Tim looked down through the peep hole. Jonah flashed him two thumbs-up. A renewed wave of excitement came over Tim, as he walked up the narrow hallway toward his locker. He gently lifted the latch, slowly opened the vented door and marveled at the sight of his very own dive suit.

“Whoa, sweet,” he whispered.

Tim stroked a finger across the shoulder pad of the suit, hanging from a hefty steel hook. The material felt like soft leather, but was rigid like plastic. The whole one-piece suit seemed to be fashioned out of emerald scales. Each scale shimmered as his finger rubbed down its blunt edge, and pricked his finger, as he trailed back up against the scales. As he pulled the suit out, the hook retracted into the sidewall of the locker and a small compartment opened. A stainless steel shelf slid out of the open hole, with a dive helmet resting atop it.

Tim draped the suit over his shoulder and watched the helmet slowly spin on top of the shelf. Two bug-eye shaped polarized lens, two tiny holes on the nose bridge, and a glowing open slit across the mouth made the helmet look like an alien head, from a comic book. The ears were shaped as small bubbles; speakers for the radio. Across the top of the helmet, he saw a leather fin stretching from the crown to the back of the helmet. Retracted now, it looked like a flat green ponytail. But, Tim knew that fin opened up in the water, to help maneuver his suit while swimming. He lifted the light weight helmet from its spinning stalk, and the shelf retracted into the sidewall of the locker. As the compartment closed, another compartment opened on the opposite sidewall, revealing an air tank shaped like a flattened book bag.

Tim saw a green light pulsing on the yellow metallic surface of the tank.

“Fully charged and ready for use,” he said.

He set the helmet on the floor beside him, and removed the tank from its magnetized charging hub, with his free hand. The compartment closed, and a computer voice chimed.

DIVE SUIT DIAGNOSTICS COMPLETED. FULLY CHARGED AND READY FOR USE. HAVE A NICE SWIM MR. SMITH.”

The locker closed automatically. As the latch clicked shut, a small stainless steel bench slid out from the wall behind Tim. He sat down and climbed into the suit, feet first. The inside was lined with a warm, soft material that felt like silky fur against his body. As he pulled the zipper up to his chin, he gasped as the suit compressed against his body, to form a tight yet comfortable fit.

“Wow, this is so cool.”

Tim lifted the air tank from the bench and slid his left arm through the shoulder strap. The tank seemed to move with a mind of its own, centering itself across his back with an electronic hum. The right shoulder strap automatically flipped over his right collar bone, across his chest, and magnetically connected to the left shoulder strap.

“Whoa,” he yelled.

A retractable belt cinched around his waist, from one side of the tank, to the other. As soon as the belt pulled tight, Tim saw a series of tiny lights strobe across his waist. A computer voice chimed from the belt.

TANK SECURE. POWER LEVEL AT 100 PERCENT, MR. SMITH.”

Everything fit perfectly and comfortably, as if the suit had been specially designed for him. He looked at his gloved hands and noticed the rubber webbing between the fingers. He watched the light-show reflecting from his utility belt. He was so enthralled with the technology of the suit, that he didn’t notice Jonah standing directly in front of him.

“Ha! You’re looking at that thing like it’s the first time you’ve ever put it on!”

Tim looked up. His mouth fell agape and his knees suddenly unhinged. He dropped to the floor, never releasing his gaze on Jonah. He could have been staring into a mirror at the moment.

“Hey, are you alright?” Jonah dropped to his knees and reached for Tim, who skirted backward. “Tim, it’s okay. It’s just me; your ole pal, J-Man. Take it easy.”

Tim mumbled as he stared into the hazel eyes of his twin. The wisp of freckles across the bridge of his nose; same bushy black eyebrows; same dimpled cheeks; same haircut; Jonah was the perfect clone. His mind struggled to register what his eyes were seeing.

“Jonah?” he finally mustered.

“Yeah, buddy. That’s the name I was born with.” Jonah flashed a smile. “Breathe slowly.”

Tim shut his eyes and shook his head, silently praying that God would make sense of this whole experience. When he opened them, Jonah stood above him; a gloved hand reaching to pull him up off the floor. Tim slowly reached for his hand. Jonah yanked him from the floor, to his feet and clapped him on the shoulder.

“There ya go! What was that all about, brother?”

“Sorry. I…I was…just…surprised to see me…you…standing there…staring at me.”

“Hey, if you liked my little stealth approach, you’re going to love what I brought back with me.”

Jonah reached for a thigh pocket weaved into the left leg of his suit. As soon as the snap was undone, a yellow glow illuminated the hallway. Jonah reached into the pocket and palmed something that he’d found on his excursion outside of the pod. The glow seemed to radiate from both ends of his closed fist as he raised his arm over his head triumphantly. He tapped a button on his diving belt and the pod’s ceiling lights switched off.

“Wow. Jonah, what is it?” Tim raised a hand to shield his eyes from the light.

“I found it, Tim! I’ve found a whole chest full of these things down there in the cave. I opened that chest and almost went blind from the golden glow of the stuff. I think opening the chest probably alerted the beast, you know? Like he was some sort of watch dog for the stuff or something.”

Tim shielded his eyes with both hands now as he tried to get a closer look at the object.

“Jonah, how in the world did you ever get close enough to grab one?”

“That’s the funny thing,” Jonah said. His eyes were ablaze. “Move in close and you’ll see what I mean.”

Tim moved closer, still cupping both hands over his brow. At the same time, Jonah opened his hand and swung his arm down to waist level. The closer he moved toward Jonah’s hand, the object began to take shape, no longer shrouded by intense light.

“Can you see it? Tim, it’s as if these things were calling for someone to find them. The farther away I was from the opened chest, the brighter they seemed to glow. The closer I stepped toward them, the luster changed from gold to yellow and the glow faded just enough for me to see that they were shaped like—”

“Peanuts? This thing looks like a golden peanut, Jonah. A box full of golden peanuts! We’ve found the lost treasure of the pirates of Camoon!  Let’s go get them all!”

“Yeah, now you’re talking, brother!” As Jonah turned toward the wet room, he flipped the golden peanut through the air, toward Tim. “Your good luck charm. Hang on to it. There’s a lot more, where that one came from.”

Tim shoved the peanut into a small pocket on the arm of his suit. He scooped up the dive helmet from the floor, and quickly followed Jonah to the wet room. Somewhere below them, a lost treasure awaited.

Paraclete’s Promise: The Fantastic Fantasies of Timothy (Chapters 1 and 2)

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Chapters 1 and 2 introduce us to Timothy, his…charming personality and the start of his fantastic fantasies. I look forward to introducing the book to the world, later this year.

CHAPTER 1

Tim stood in the hallway, in front of a large closet-door mounted mirror. His hazel eyes inspected blooming auburn color in the caramel complexion of his cheeks; a stark contrast to his favorite navy blue Transformers T-shirt, and frayed blue jeans. His tiny fingers combed through his black unkempt natural curls, Dad had just trimmed two days ago. He checked out the slouch of his 9 year-old stance, and flipped an index finger underneath his nose, absently wiping the damp finger across a pant leg.

“I’m not sick,” he mumbled. “It’s just a stupid cold. I don’t know why I can’t go outside.”

“You’re not going outside, because I said so, kiddo.” Dad replied as he walked toward the front door. “You had a slight fever this morning. That means rest and indoor activity for you, buddy; understand?” He ruffled Tim’s hair as he passed by.The front doorbell rang twice.

“Yeah,” Tim grumbled.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” Dad pronounced, as he swung open the door. “Care to repeat?”

Tim drug his feet over to the living room couch, picked up his orange-cover Fire Bible from the arm rest, tossed it across the room, and pressed his face into the soft seat cushions. He smashed a throw pillow over the back of his head, and screamed.

“Yes sir!” His voice muffled beneath the couch cushions.

Dad was already talking to the guests standing on the porch, instructing them to walk a delivery around to the side of the house. As he closed the front door and started back toward the kitchen, Tim sprang up from the couch and peaked through the bay window curtains to catch a glimpse of the visitors. Outside, snow fell from the slate gray sky in huge flakes, blanketing everything in wintery white. A blue and white delivery truck was parked in the driveway, with the front of the truck facing the street. Tim watched two men walk up a metal ramp lowered from the back of the truck. They reappeared moments later, slowly carrying a huge white cardboard box down the ramp, then up the driveway toward the side door.

“What is that?” He whispered, as he walked toward the kitchen.

Dad stood at the side door stoop, watching as the two men carefully carried the box through the propped storm door, and down the basement steps. He flashed a wink, and two-thumbs up, at Tim.

“We’re back in business now, buddy.” Dad said. Tim reasoned that Dad was going to be occupied for a while. This would be the perfect opportunity to get into some video game playing time. Last night, Mom made him shut it off, just as he was about to begin a new level. She had told him he spent too much time on the game.

“Dad, since you’re gonna be busy, is it alright if I play the game for a little while?” He asked. A little smirk creased the corners of his mouth. As Dad descended the basement steps, he called up,

“Sure buddy. No, wait a minute. Uh…we’d better ask Mom once she’s back from the grocery store. She thinks you should spend a little more time doing other things besides mining blocks and killing exploding Crappers.”

“They’re ‘Creepers’ Dad! I don’t spend that much time-”

“Tim, you’re not getting me busted, son. As soon as Mom’s home, you can check with the boss.” Tim heard the delivery men laughing. “Why don’t you get a jump on the next chapter we’ll be reading tonight, in second Corinthians?”

Tim stomped back into the living room, and spied his Fire Bible lying on the floor, next to the television table. He kicked the book across the cream Berber-carpeted floor, flopped down on the couch, and gazed through the bay-window. The sounds of plastic ripping and tools clanking together resonated from the basement. Then he heard an awful sound like metal scraping across the concrete floor. Dad yelled up the steps.

“Buddy, if you don’t want to read, why don’t you play with your toys?”

Tim clenched his teeth and shook his fists at the living room floor.

I don’t wanna read the stupid bible, or play with dumb toys he thought.

He huffed, and rested his chin on top of his hands, folded neatly across the back of the couch. Tim watched snow cover 12th Street in an awesome sheet of white fluff. His ears burned and his stuffy nose dripped, as he watched his brother, Kyle, and twin-sisters, Alicia and Asia, streak through the front yard, throwing snowballs at one another.

“Kyle’s outnumbered,” he said. “I should be out there with him.” His eyelids grew heavy. ***************************************************************  

Tim opened his eyes to see Mom kneeling over him. Her warm fingers were gently massaging his brow.

“Hi, sweetheart.” Mom said. “You’re still a little warm. Are you feeling any better?”

Tim sat up on the couch and stretched wide. He had fallen asleep while watching the snowball fight. Suddenly, he remembered Dad telling him to ask Mom about playing the video game. Faking a horsed cough, he sighed.

“Hi, Momma. Yeah, I guess I’m feeling better. My throat’s a little scratchy and I’m a bit tired.” He whined.

Mom wrapped her arms around him and squeezed tight.

“Oh, Momma’s little man is definitely sick. How about you stay put, and I’ll get you a blanket, okay?”

She kissed his forehead, before walking toward the bathroom. A wicked smile glistened across Tim’s freckled face, as he lie back lacing his fingers behind his head. Mom returned carrying a small plastic medicine cup half full of pink medicine that always reminded him of liquid bubble gum.

“Here honey,” she said handing over the cup and a small Afghan blanket. “Drink this and rest for a while. I’ll be in the kitchen putting the groceries away, if you need me.”

It was now or never. Tim quickly swallowed the pink medicine, and called out to Mom as she turned the corner, into the kitchen.

“Momma, Dad told me to ask you if I could play the game for a while. So, can I, please?”

Mom peered around the corner; one raised eyebrow, a sideways smirk lit across her face, and a hand rested on her hip.

“You must think I came down with the rain, Mister Smith. I was on to your little ploy from the beginning. Since you have enough strength to concentrate on your game-play, you’ve got enough strength to walk right into this kitchen and help put the groceries away. Hop to it, skinny-minny.”

Skinny-Minny; he hated being called that. Tim huffed and launched the blanket across the living room. It came to rest over the bible. Jumping from the couch, he defiantly folded his arms and stomped into the kitchen, grumbling under his breath.

“Hey! What’s with all the racket up there?” Dad called from the basement.

“Tim is about to help put away the groceries. I don’t think he’s in the mood to cooperate, Daddy!” Mom yelled down the basement steps.

“Tim, do you want me to come up there?”

Judging by the tone of his voice, Dad must have been standing at the bottom of the steps poised to race up. He was probably waiting for Mom to give the word. Best to drop the attitude.

“No sir, I’m fine. I was just about to help her put the food away.” Tim cut a sour glare at Mom, who stood before him smiling.

“Alright, mister.” Dad said, “You behave yourself, up there. I’m going have something for you to play with, shortly. In the meantime, be my big guy and help Mom out.”

Tim pouted all the way through the boring tasks of gently stacking eggs in the refrigerator, stacking canned goods inside the low cupboard, gathering up the discarded plastic bags, and depositing them in the storage bin. Mom made small talk, but Tim had decided to ignore her. It wasn’t fair that she wouldn’t let him play the game.

“Hmm, not talking to me, eh?” Mom said. “That’s fine. You and your attitude should be able to keep each other company in your room; definitely no video game time for you, Timothy Jonathan Smith.”

“What?!” Tim yelled.

“Don’t you back sass me, mister. Off you go, now. Make sure to pick up, and refold, that blanket in the living room, please. And pick up your bible as well.”

As Tim tromped through the kitchen, Dad intercepted, yanking him off his feet, and hoisting him in the air above his head. Tim squealed in frustration, as Dad hugged his little body and spun around the kitchen. Tim didn’t know whether to yell in anger, or laugh at how dizzy Dad’s spinning made him.

“Hey!” Mom yelled. “You two knuckleheads take that foolishness out of my kitchen. Your son’s going to spend some quiet time in his room.”

Dad set Tim on his feet. The whole kitchen seemed to spin around him. He reached out to steady himself, when Dad caught a loose arm, helping him regain a sense of balance. A few seconds passed before his eyes adjusted. Tim scowled at Dad.

“Whoa! If looks could kill, I’d be in serious trouble, Momma,” Dad chuckled. “What’s with the lemon face, buddy? Your attitude earned you a ticket on the ‘time-out trail’ again? We just read in Proverbs 29:11 this morning, ‘fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.’”

Mom whispered, “I think the T-Y-L-E-N-O-L he swallowed, is making him a bit S-L-E-E-P-Y and C-R-A-N-K-Y.”

“I can spell, you know.” Tim said. “The bubble-gum stuff isn’t making me tired, and Dad, I don’t even know what that poor verb means!”

Mom and Dad laughed. Dad reached into the snack cupboard, and pulled out a juice box and small bag of potato chips.

“Here buddy,” he said, shoving the snacks into Tim’s hands. “I’ll give you a pass on the trail today. The proverb means you have to learn to control your temper. Foolish people allow their anger to control them. When that happens, trouble usually follows.”

Tim rolled his eyes, and sighed. Dad always had a bible scripture ready to recite.

“Okay, I can see you’re not in the mood to listen. Tell ya what: the new dryer is installed. Why don’t you go on downstairs and check out the box I had the guys leave, by the steps. Maybe you can make something happen with it.”

“I don’t want to-” Tim started to protest. He was quickly interrupted by Mom.

“Timothy, I’ve had just about enough attitude from you, mister. You can either go to your room and sulk, or you can go to the basement and play with the box. Either way, you will not continue to traipse through this house, pouty-faced over your video game! Are we clear, Mister Smith?”

Tim glowered at Mom.

“Better do what Mom says,” Dad said. “Go on downstairs and let that imagination, between your ears, take over for a while. Who knows? You just might have a bit of fun.”

Tim gazed into Dad’s brown eyes, reassuring smile and shiny bald head, like a chocolate milkdud. He remembered watching the delivery men haul the box toward the side door, through the snow. It did appear to be a pretty nice sized box. He sighed then slowly walked toward the basement steps.

“Wait,” Mom said, walking into the living room.

She reappeared carrying the Afghan blanket and his Fire bible. As Tim mounted the first few steps, she draped the blanket over his shoulders like a cape, and handed the bible to him.

“Here ya go. You might need these down there. Have fun.”

“It’s just a dumb box,” Tim mumbled. “How much fun can I have with it?”

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CHAPTER 2

Tim walked down the tile basement steps determined to completely ignore the dumb box. Instead, he planned to walk straight to the toy chest. Better yet, he decided to destroy the stupid box, using Dad’s tools. He just needed to reach the toolbox inside the laundry room.

“Go play with a stupid box. What am I gonna do with it,” he complained, “Rip it to pieces.”

After the last step, Tim rounded the corner leading toward the laundry/utility room. Standing there, blocking the path of the basement hallway, sat the white cardboard box. He had only seen it from a distance before but, up close, the thing was humungous!

“Wow! Hey, Dad this thing is huge,” he yelled. “Can I cut a hole in it? I might need a window for my…fort…or something.”

Ideas and possibilities began to flood his mind, and suddenly destroying it seemed like a bad idea.

Dad shouted down the steps, “No buddy; no holes. We can use it for garbage later, this week.  That won’t stop you from playing with it, right?”

“No, I guess not. I can tip it over and make…” An idea clicked as quickly as a flash, and he was off to collect supplies and equipment.

Tim squeezed between the box and the narrow sheet-rock basement wall, and darted for the wooden toy chest at the far end of the hallway. Tossing the lid open freed the familiar smell of cedar. Secretly, he loved the smell of the old chest. It was filled with all sorts of toys he and Kyle played with. He rummaged through the chest, randomly inspecting an action figure here, a stuffed animal there. A variety of things were at his disposal. What would he need to make a trip through the depths of a newly discovered and uncharted cave?

No, not a cave, he thought. It’s my new race car, so I’ll need a few fix-it guys to put the wheels and stuff together.

While rummaging, he happened upon a red tyrannosaurus, and several action figures of interest.  One was a plastic ocean diver, with one pull-off, retractable flipper still attached. The futuristic diver was equipped with a removable utility belt and a flattened inflatable yellow plastic air-tank draped across his back. It was a present for Kyle’s 9th birthday. A few years ago, he had given it to Tim. The second action figure was a limited edition metal spaceman, Dad bought for Tim’s 5th birthday. He paused for a moment to press the buttons on the spaceman’s wrist computer, and smiled as miscellaneous lights buzzed on the action figure’s suit.

“Cool. Your lights still work Abe.” He said. “I guess you can come, too.”

The third action figure was a big-game hunter, Tim had bought with his own allowance money, two years ago. He remembered how proud he’d been, paying for it himself. There had been so many adventures the little hunter had shared with him, and so many nights the hunter had been tucked under his pillow while sleeping.

“Nimrod,” he whispered. A wide grin stretched across his cheeks, as he stared at the hunter. “I almost forgot about you, buddy. How about you take one more big adventure, with me?”

Tim set the dinosaur and three action figures on a shelf, before continuing his search through the toy chest. He found a lion-tamer’s bullwhip: a souvenir from a visit to the circus. Deep down at the bottom of the chest, his fingers wrapped around a battery powered light saber, Mom had bought for Kyle a few years ago. Flipping the toggle switch activated the toy. The plastic, round tipped blade flashed then hummed a bright indigo blue.

“Wow! The sounds still work, on this thing. Better take it with me, just in case I might need to fight off monsters, or something.”

Leaving the toy chest, Tim turned and walked through the dark utility room passing by the new dryer and the washing machine, and headed straight for the linen closet where mom kept the winter comforters and Dad’s special-occasion winter hats. He held the light saber overhead, illuminating the dark closet as he searched for the perfect comforter. As he waved the toy left to right, he thumbed through the neatly stacked linens.

“The force is strong with me.” he said. Tim yanked on a large green and brown comforter usually found on his parents’ bed. He dragged it across the basement floor, out the utility room, back into the hallway toward the box. One swift kick at the bottom, toppled the huge box. The open lid landed just before Tim, spilling miscellaneous wrappings to the ground. Inside, he discovered big rectangular pieces of packing foam and a large wad of bubble wrap.

These might come in handy later he thought.

Setting the light saber aside, he grabbed the comforter with both hands. In one quick yank, the comforter flew into the air and settled down over the big box. He ran back into the utility room, over to the low shelf where Dad kept all sorts of paint cans. Mustering all of his strength, he picked up one of the cans by the metal loop handle and dragged it back to the comforter-covered box. He walked the can to the back of the box and set it down on top of a corner of the comforter just as Dad came down the stairs, carrying Tim’s Fire Bible, he’d intentionally left on a step.

“What are you…ah, I see,” Dad said. “Making a little hideout huh?”

“Yep,” Tim beamed. “I just need one more can to hold down the roof so it won’t blow away when the storm comes.”

“Oh, yeah we wouldn’t want the roof to disappear would we?” Dad said. “I don’t think your insurance claim would cover imaginary disasters. I see your roof doubles as a front door too. That’s pretty good thinking, kid. I won’t tell Mom that you’ve got her clean comforter on the basement floor.”

“Thanks Dad,” Tim said as a yawn escaped his parted lips. “Can you help me carry another can over here?”

“Sure buddy. Where are we gonna put it; on the other side, at the corner?”

“Yeah, I was thinking about maybe using something for the-” Tim started, but was interrupted by another yawn.

“Sure you’re not getting sleepy buddy?” Dad asked.

“Dad I can’t sleep now! I’ve got stuff to do here.”

Dad shook his head and raised his free hand feigning retreat.

“Alright, why don’t you go back in the closet and grab one of the spare pillows. You may need a seat in there. I’ll just toss this inside, in case you need a little light reading on your trip.”

“Yeah, the pillow’s a good idea, Dad.” Tim said.

Dad started for the stairs.

“Okay buddy, I’ll leave you to it then. You need any help, just yell. I always knew you were gonna do something great, kid. It’s your destiny.”

He was half way up the staircase, when Tim yelled.

“Dad! Can you cut the light off up there please?”

“Sure buddy.” Everything was just about set. The lights flicked off, surrounding Tim in the darkness of the basement. He stood motionless allowing his vision time to adjust, before reaching for the light saber on the floor. Thumbing the button, the basement was illuminated in a soft indigo-blue. Tim walked through the darkened basement toward the toy chest, back through the utility room to the linen closet. Opening the closet door, four different hats, each its own unique color with a silk band around the crown, hung from cap hangers screwed into the door. Each hat wore its own see-through plastic bag. Dad once told Tim the Fedoras, as the hats were called, needed to be protected from dust.

“Probably shouldn’t touch these.” Tim whispered.

He reached up the door and tipped the brim of the hat on the lowest hanger: a caramel brown Fedora with a chocolate colored silk band. Setting the light saber down, Tim pulled the smooth felt hat out of its thin plastic covering, and hid the bag between two blankets.

“Wow, this is so sweet.” he snickered. “Every explorer needs a cool hat.”

He closed the closet door, picked up the light saber and walked back to the box. He set the large hat over his head. It sank low over his ears. Tim picked up the small bag of potato chips and the juice box, while holding the light saber under his arm. He crawled into the box and set aside the snacks and the light saber, right next to the bible. Next he hauled the packing foam and bubble wrap to the back of the box. He then crawled out to gather his passengers: the diver, the spaceman, the hunter and the red T-Rex. With just enough room inside to maneuver between the front and back of the box, he decided to organize everything.

“This is great, Nimrod! You guys need to sit in the back just in case of an emergency.”

Tim pushed the dinosaur and action figures between two packing foam blocks near the rear of the box, before sitting on the pillow.

“Well, I guess I need to eat before takeoff. You guys check the ship back there for any broken pieces. I’m just gonna have a snack and then we’ll be off.”

Tim sat, ate chips, and drank the juice while staring into the blue light of the light saber. The light reminded him of the night light mom used to turn on at bedtime. He was afraid of the dark once.

Not anymore. I’m a big kid now, playing in the dark. Nothing to be afraid of he thought.

As he ate and drank, Tim flipped the little bible open to the spot where his Spongebob book marker had been set in second Corinthians, chapter 13. By the blue light of the light saber, he absently read through verse 13:14.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the presence and fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Tim barely noticed another yawn slip through his lips as his eyes slowly glided toward the soothing glow of the blue light. The blue light was nice. The blue light was…somehow warm. The blue light…the light…

Excerpt-The Beast Bellow

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Hi friends. 10 years ago, I wrote a story about a little boy and his large adventure. I’m seriously thinking of revamping the tale and throwing it out into the open to see if it generates any interest. Today, I’d like to share an excerpt from the original story. It has been revised (I have a greater grasp on writing technique than I did ten years ago). I’m seriously looking for any feedback on this, so feel free to comment or email me with any advice, you may offer. I hope you enjoy.

 

“Wait. Something’s down here; something big.”

Static sounded over the com-link. TJ pressed the red button, as he looked through the monitors off toward the distant undersea mountain side.

“Mike? Mike come back, I didn’t catch that last transmission. You said something’s down there?”

No answer. TJ fought panic, as a few seconds of silence became one minute of dead air space.

“Mike, are you there, buddy?” A cold shiver began to climb his back as he again waited for some answer from Mike. TJ stood staring at the monitor. His hand gripped tight around the zoom toggle wheel. A dull ache began to throb in his forearm. Suddenly, static pierced the silence.

“Up!”

More static.

“It’s coming your way; Buckle up!” Mike screamed into the com-link.  TJ felt his heart jump into high speed and his body suddenly chilled over.  He pressed the red button on the com-link again.

“Mike, what was that? I didn’t hear your message, Mike.  Please repeat!  Mike!”

“TJ can you hear me?! That thing’s headed for the cave entrance!  It must have seen the lights!”  More static, and then, “Strap in and shut off the lights! It’s headed your way!”

“Oh no,” TJ whispered. He turned and darted back toward the control room. Suddenly, there was a loud bump from the front end of the pod. TJ lost his footing as the weight of the under-sea vehicle shifted under his feet. His face slammed into a locker and he crumpled to the floor.

Static filled his left ear just as alarms began to wail all around him. Pulsing red lights flashed in unison with the alarms.

“TJ, I repeat: the beast has left the cave, and is headed your way. You have to shut down the pod lights!”

TJ shook the stars from his vision and shot a glance toward the front of the pod.  He had to get to the light switch before that…thing…circled back again. He jumped to his feet, still feeling the effects of the blow, and centered himself.  Pressing the red button on the com-link, he bolted for the front of the pod and yelled into the com-link’s mini speaker.

“Roger that, Mike!  I’m on my way up front!  What is that thing?”

“Thank the Lord, you’re okay. I don’t know what it is. I didn’t get a good look at it, from the cave.”

The crash had strewn equipment all over the pod. TJ jumped and evaded loose boxes on the floor and sparking cables, hanging from the ceiling as he ran. Just as he made it back into the control room, TJ took a flying leap and landed, chest first, onto the control pane. His right hand thumbed the toggle switch to the off position as he collided with the controls. The lights on the roof and below the belly of the pod died instantly.

At first there was a wave of bubbles and a shove of water as the force of the creature’s abrupt stop shoved the pod back gently. When the bubbles cleared, TJ found himself staring at a thing that looked, oddly enough, like a gigantic Blue crocodile with no appendages. The creature waded slowly and effortlessly in front of the pod as if waiting for something to happen. Its eyes, one on each side of its head, seemed to glow a bright yellow in the darkness of the ocean. TJ saw jagged, horns protruding from the monster’s snout, traveling back and over its head.

He lay still across the control panel, convinced that the monster could somehow see him through the thick quadruple-reinforced steel shell of the pod. Static shrieked in his left ear, sending a chill up his spine.

Mike whispered, as if he were in hiding. “Don’t touch anything, TJ. It’s staring right at the outer hull of the control room. Are you good?”

“Mike, I wanna go home right now,” TJ whispered.

“I think it knows you’re in there,” Mike said.

TJ remained motionless as the gigantic crocodile-thing slowly began to move to the right of the pod.  It swam close, almost touching the metal hull with its snakelike body slithering through the ocean.  His eyes, trained on the monster, paced the creature as it circled around the back end of the pod. He saw that the horns across the head grew increasingly larger as they drew across its back, until the tail itself was nothing more than a huge sharp horn.  TJ slowly inched his way off of the control panel and stood on shaky feet. Watching the floor monitors, he saw the creature swim underneath toward the front end again.

Radio static sounded over the com-link in TJ’s left ear.

“Mother of pearl, that’s a big sucker.” Mike whispered.  “I guess now we know why no one’s ever returned with Camoon’s treasure. Are you okay up there?”

“Fine; I don’t think it sees me, but don’t want to make any sudden moves yet.”

The creature circled the pod again in the same pattern as before, and centered toward the front again. Its mouth opened wide, revealing a double row of sharp points on the top and bottom. Despite the darkness of the deep blue sea, the monster’s teeth seemed to glow a magnificent yellow, just like its eyes. A wave of terror gripped TJ, as he suddenly imagined the monster ripping through the metal walls of the pod with those teeth.  The creature’s yellow forked tongue appeared from the black nowhere of its open mouth and began jerking fiercely. TJ pressed the com-link button on his ear piece.

“It’s trying to lure me out,” he whispered. “It does know I’m inside.”

The mouth snapped shut, as one of the weird light-bulb stick fish swam too close to the jerking tongue. The creature moved with lightning speed for its size. It made an about-face and disappeared into the darkness of the open ocean.