K. R. Dunn
I have always loved action-adventure, especially those with a touch of science fiction. I hope to bring my influences from pulp fiction, marvel superheroes, cliff-hanger movies like Indiana Jones, and my personal experiences as an adventure traveler and professional motorcyclist to the reader seeking something fresh and exciting. Follow my journey in my blog here and on my Facebook account to becoming a successful published author!
About this crazy dreamer...
Just a quick skinny on this long-time action fan, artist, adventurer, lover, husband, dad, writer, motorcycle nut, GM, Superhero worshipper and constant goof.
Writing has always been a passion of mine, and being able to turn writing into a career excites me to no end. I wrote in the school newspaper when I was young, and over many years have contributed to several Powersports industry information sites as an expert in that field. I also started journaling when my first daughter was born over two decades ago, and my family will one day have many in-depth reads to look back on me. Already have four 700 page journals full of my banter, fears, triumphs, and personal observations of the world around me. Will probably raise some eyebrows long after I am gone I hope.
I am a long time Powersports Retail Manager raised in retail since I was kid. I have enjoyed the industry that has supported me for many years and added to my passion for traveling by my many business travels for it. Motorcycles have always been a love of mine, so this industry was an easy transition for me, and my passion for motorcycles shown through to my clients. They always say do what you love, and I did just that.
But I really longed to use my creative talent for which was locked away inside for far too long. For many years I was mentally blocked because all that I read said you had to plot out your characters and story in advance. I found that daunting and stifling to any creative juices I did have.
It wasn't until I was unemployed and laid up after neck surgery in early 2018 that I just let it rip and created my first full 370+ page manuscript in just under 90 days! I found out I was what they call in the industry a Discovery Writer (aka "Pantser Writer"). In other words, I write by the seat of my pants and discover where the story takes me. Many great writers are Discovery Writers, including Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame.
That realization emboldened me to pursue my passion to a higher degree. I joined several critique groups locally. Attending several each month and along the way found a great editor in Marissa Stevens from my old haunt of Southern California who has now relocated to Chicago. She was generous enough to work pro-bono and I hope to make all her hard work pay-off when "we" get published!
Since then, I’ve never looked back and have been improving my craft ever since. I have been spending all my free time towards this endeavor of becoming a #Creative and #Author. So now I push hard to achieve my other long time passion and my goal is to be a successful multi-time best selling author! No pressure right?
Hope you will follow me on this crazy endeavor so I can take you along for the adventure! Thought it would be good to have a website for those new to the industry writers so they can see they are not alone with the challenges of becoming a successful/professional writer entrepreneur. Many new writers do not realize they are also starting a business if they want to be successful which includes quality writing, but also proper prep time for events, good communication with other's, and a good marketing sense to truly make it in the industry these days. Doesn't matter if you want to be a Indie Author (Independant self-published) or go the traditional route of getting an Agent to represent you to the publishers. It has been quite a learning curve for me and still will be for quite some time into the future. The market continues to change and evolve with the advent of self-publishing and expansion of audio books. What a ride!
Read on to learn more about my work and feel free to contact me. Check out my blog on this site which will cronicle my weekly trials and tribulations of my writing goals. As well as check out my author Facebook page, as well as my other FB pages that cover my other hobbies like Motorcycling and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I will add those links to this website for you. I’d love to hear from you, truly.
The Man Who Could
I am extremely proud and honored to share my latest excerpt with you. My close friends, family, and of course my editor know how much work has been put into getting this book ready for query and publication. I’m very excited to soon share my novel "The Man Who Could" I am confident you will find it a very exciting page-turner with a very climactic and satisfying ending. It can also be found on my FB author page found @KRDunnAction pinned to the top.
91,112+ words- 05.11.20, 371 pages
This excerpt 20 pages | Prologue through Chapter Two | 5,480 words. | 19 pages
THE MAN WHO COULD ©
Kevin R Dunn
Matipuyaut and her young child watched as the great spirit fell from the sky. Parting the darkness like a splitting of the sea as it sunk into the earth. A deep booming echo emitted throughout the valley. They belonged to a Native American tribe called the Lalimanux. Part of the Chumash tribe in this area. The summer had baked their soils and brought hot winds from the east for several months.
The Lalimanux inhabited the west part of this Valley, a lush tree-filled bowl nestled on the perimeter of coastal lands below. Matipuyaut’s people had lived in this valley for hundreds-of-years; the plains below, the mountains to the north, and the islands offshore all were considered part of their home. They believed in protecting the earth, so she would bring the great harvest to them in the form of acorns to be crushed and used as a mush to be served with shellfish, and meats obtained from the land and sea.
The falling of the star is a bad omen, Matipuyaut thought, which her fellow tribe members agreed as they all came out to view what she had seen and they had heard. A blue glow radiated from the place where the great deity fell, and all were told to not go near the area in fear of angering the fallen spirit.
Several full moons had passed when many tribal children had decided to indulge their curiosity and investigate the light that fell on their land. Despite their elders’ stories, which had warned them of the spirit’s certain retaliation against any disturbance, the boys had goaded each other to explore the unknown. Pressing closer to where the light had made its home marked by a large crater surrounded by lush vegetation next to a hillside. The girls that had come along encouraged them to turn back.
A girl named Halashu dressed in a deerskin skirt, walked over a meadow of orange-tinged flowers that caressed her bare feet and were lit up by blue light rimming their edges. She could not resist plucking one to admire its delicate beauty. One boy named Alow, not wanting to show fear to the other boys and seeking to impress the girls, approached the location. A low hum vibrated the ground as he got near, the grass and plants of the area now all glowed on their tips as if they were coming alive, revealing thousands of tiny little specks of light illuminating the ground that was shaded by the hillside.
As Alow reached the edge of the crater, his foot sank into the ground, like it was quicksand, pulling him deeper down. He cried out for help, desperately trying to grab anything that was solid. It was as if the ground had turned to water but nothing was wet. All the plants around him seemed to lean into his direction. It was as if they were magnetized to him as he descended into their soil. The children ran screaming back to their village as one of the boys backed up in fright. Halashu extended a long branch out in an attempt to help him, but as it neared her friend the branch turned to dust. Then the boy was gone, his scream silenced by the earth itself.
The luminescence on the land had taken one of their own. This signified to the tribe that the ancient deity was angered for this disturbance and tribute was needed to sedate his wrath upon them. Providing fruit and nuts along with baskets full of jewelry made of shells and stones, the tribe offered this tribute every night into the flames for several full moons, hoping to redeem themselves with the great spirit.
Egbert Newbury and his wife Fannie sat on their porch looking out over their ranch on a clear star-lit night with the sounds of their many sheep in the corrals nearby. Egbert came to this beautiful place from Michigan, the cold and miserable north, Egbert thought, compared to that, this area is a warm paradise. He loved that he could sit outside nearly year-round. This area was soon to be named by him as Newbury Park, upon his home being the first official post office in the Conejo Valley, and Egbert its Postmaster.
Egbert’s thoughts went to his sister still living in Michigan.
I wish I could convince her to join me here and enjoy all that I have come to call home.
His ranch spanned many acres with waves of wheat and was home to hundreds of sheep that he managed with the help of several ranch hands. It was an enjoyable evening when a brilliance of blue light flashed from a nearby hillside. The ground trembled as the light subsided to a dull glow, the feeling reminiscent of a distant earthquake deep underground.
Jumping up, he sent out a low whistle with his lips, which called Jake to his side. The large hound had gone everywhere with him for years, and Egbert started hiking with his friend at his heels, toward the area to investigate. The blue light dimmed in the distance. His agitation grew as he traveled, his shaky hands scraping through trees and around bushes. Egbert continued on Jake at his master’s heels despite the bristled fur at his neck. When they finally reached the light, it radiated from the ground located against the hillside topped off with large boulders.
Jake ran ahead and put his nose down to the traces of twinkling lights on the ground, searching for the reason of his master’s concern. Tremors from deep below made pebbles dance on the ground as Egbert watched Jake’s body start to quiver and shimmer. Before he could react, his hound that he had loved for many years had vanished. He panicked and ran to the stop the dog had just been standing, yelling Jake’s name frantically.
Egbert was met with a soul-shattering silence. His eyes must have failed him, Jake must have simply gone ahead. He knew, though, that his friend would never ignore his call, and there was not even a distant howl or yelp. How strange that the land had gone silent, Egbert thought as it brought a shiver to his bones, contemplating the absence of even a cricket’s chirp. Jake was gone, as was the fading blue mist.
Then the ground started to sway and roll underneath Egbert, creating an avalanche from the hillside above releasing tons of fresh rock and soil which covered the area. No signs of the mysterious glow could be seen. He stayed out most of the night, desperately searching through the cold marine layers’ limited view. His mind played tricks on him as the mist reflected his lantern’s light in the shape of a dog that seemed to swirl in it, saddening Egbert’s heart at the loss of his loyal friend.
It took Fannie calling out to him to finally bring him home to warm up by the fire. Egbert and Fannie searched and called out for Jake every day for nearly two weeks after that night. Fannie told Egbert that he was probably taken by a mountain lion, but he knew the truth, knowing she just didn’t believe his story to be possible. They continued to put out Jake’s food bowl and water on the porch for months in hopes that he would one day return. That day never came.
Marcus Simmons had been sitting in his idle car, awaiting the appearance of his target to start his day. This was his fourth day of surveillance here in Camarillo.
Marcus thought; What a wasted assignment.
He felt like a cheap private eye, waiting for the proof to take back to the paranoid wife who suspected her husband was cheating on her. The agency thought he could be a threat. Marcus just didn’t see it.
This guy is as normal as you can get.
After having watched him go to a softball game with his daughter, walk his dog, go to the market, take his motorcycle for a spin, and go to work. Nothing was out of the ordinary with this guy.
The agency’s intelligence on this one is just way off.
Out came his target, a man of about six feet, with a bit of a gut, wearing a hoodie with matching sweatpants.
Looks like he’s out for a run.
The man left his house heading towards the local hills that lead up to the Conejo Valley and Newbury Park grade. Marcus followed him in the car from about two blocks away until he could go no further on four wheels. Parking at the hillside entrance to the trail, He watched his target ascend the hill slowly. Getting out of his car, he stretching and grabbed his backpack from the trunk which had his binoculars, towel, water bottle, and a couple of snacks.
Looks like I'm going for a run too.
He wasn’t worried about catching up to this guy, the man wasn’t in the best of shape, unlike Marcus, who had years of running under his belt, but he respected the man for trying.
Marcus noticed his target had stopped and was resting against a tree about two hundred yards ahead, so he pulled off the trail by a nearby boulder and pretended to tie his shoe. Pulling out his binoculars to get a better look, his body jerked in shock as the man vanished from his view.
Marcus frantically looked around with his binoculars to find the man, but he was no longer visible. He then verified with his own eyes and confirmed his target was gone. Another person was visible a hundred yards up on top of the hill. Raising his binoculars once again, Marcus did a quick check on this new figure, thinking his guy must have just gone behind the tree for a leak.
The other man on top of the hill must have come up from the other side.
The view through the lens said otherwise, confirming it was his target.
What the hell is going on?
His target kept pace, moving over the hill which blocked Marcus’ view. Throwing his binoculars into the backpack, he sprinted up the slope to catch up, sensing a sudden urgency not to let this guy lose him. He huffed a bit at the top but could see his target just two hundred yards ahead. A safe distance to keep him at for surveillance.
As his man continued up the next hill, Marcus was careful not to take his eyes off him, finding a good vantage point from behind a tree. The guy paused again, stretched, tied his shoelace, then looked around as if he was making sure he wasn’t being watched. Marcus’ jaw went slack as he watched the figure blink out of existence.
The torrent, as it falls off the precipice with millions of liters of water per minute, roars like a hundred jets that surround the never-ending deluge. Joe was now on a path having just walked over the bridge into the Zimbabwe side of the National Park. This cobblestone footpath offered views of the falls through cut-outs in the vegetation that had been chopped down for the tourists. Only a rudimentary fence kept onlookers from getting too close to danger.
No traffic here, thought Joe.
Wondering how it felt for those early explorers when they came upon this spot, he sat and closed his eyes against the mist. At this moment, he felt as if he were the first to discover it; the rumble of the falls through the jungle beckoning him to seek out its mystery. No one could possibly be prepared for the reality of its majesty as Victoria Falls came into view.
He had always been an explorer, and exploring here was incredible. As a child, he had traversed the mountains next to his childhood home in Tahoe. The desire to travel carried into his adulthood, leading to trips around the world, exploring while on vacation or escaping from work back home in Camarillo, California.
Joe had picked his townhome just over the hill off the 101 freeway because it was adjacent to a vast natural playground of parks, and hidden trails that lead you into towns or down to the beach and lent itself to his adventurous outdoor spirit. The house was close enough to his ex-wife and daughter to be there when they needed him, but far enough away to allow him his own space.
Throughout major changes in his life, he tried to take care of himself. The location he had chosen to live had been a sincere attempt to do so. Looking down on the beauty before him, though, the realization of his past failures grew. The years after his divorce brought him nothing but sadness, mingled with short distractions.
Thinking back, regret still tugged at his mind now as he dwelled on the bottles that use to be in his hand far too often. Joe had struggled to make one job stick, which certainly hadn’t helped. Despite his activities outdoors, his love of fast-food had become the reason for the thirty extra pounds he once carried. Now in good shape, and standing just over six feet, the memory of that added weight that previously formed a donut around his middle, reminded him how easily it could come back.
Beads of moisture danced as they fell away from the cascades, settling on Joe’s bare head, and brought him some relief from the heat. He had surrendered to his receding hair by shaving it off in the years following the divorce, leaving just a shadow of his former self at the sides and nape. Joe usually kept his style casual, but it may need to change into something more practical if he continued to be sent on these kinds of missions. While the polo he wore wasn’t too bad, the jeans were not breathable in this humidity that he was currently being subjected to. Otherwise, he felt like his preparation for today had gone fairly well. Trading out his typical sneakers for some more serious hiking shoes had been a great idea, and the backpack and tracking device on his belt wasn’t too heavy for the job at hand.
Hiking out to where he now sat hadn’t exactly been easy, but he had managed it without too much difficulty. Still, he paused to dig for his pillbox from his pack and popped the blood pressure and cholesterol medicine that his doctors had placed him on a while back in hopes of keeping him above ground. At least now he was able to take them in smaller doses since improving his health regime.
Before closing the box, he glimpsed the reflection of his eyes in its metal surface, noting how the creases, while still there, seemed to have lessened. Was there any sort of improvement, or was he just perceiving himself in a more positive light now? He had stumbled across a deeper sense of purpose. His mind couldn’t help but trace back over the toll that the last several years had taken on him.
Shaking his head, he smiled slightly at how far he had come in such a short time. Joe was relieved that his therapist had helped him get through his anxiety and depression issues. They used to cripple his ability to function and go out in the world at times. They still occasionally reared their ugly heads. That combined with the drinking, and loneliness he had felt back then, he was surprised he even made it through those dark times in his life. Joe still felt depressed and had panic attacks at times, but now he had a purpose. This new-found inner strength has emboldened him to accomplish even more and fight through any mental issues that may still linger.
Things weren’t always that way. Growing up in the Sierra Mountains of California as a kid, the outdoor life that only high altitude can bring with fresh crisp air was his religion. He had moved to Southern California at the age of eighteen. The idea of becoming a model or maybe even an actor was on his list, but mostly it was to get away from his abusive father, who had only gotten worse after his mother’s death. His father’s verbal abuse spitting the words ‘worthless’ and ‘a waste’ at him constantly. Joe was glad to be away from that misery, and his years of fear.
Now he just had to wait.
Not a bad place to be stuck at.
This was, after all, a place considered by many to be one of the top wonders of the world. A blend of rough squawks and gentle bell-toned bird calls drifted to him from the branches behind, with the occasional peal of a monkey’s laughter. His eyes were focused on the moist vapors rising in front of him, rolling off of the falling water as if to caress the surrounding trees, an effect that had brought on the nickname “Smoke that Thunders.” The spray rose up over a thousand feet into the sky, creating a brilliance of colors as a rainbow shined over the gorge. He had never realized it was so much bigger than Niagara Falls.
The pictures really don’t do it justice,
Joe thought as he settled himself back with a sigh as more of the misty spray of the waterfall settled on him.
Funny, look at all these tourists walking around here in their cheap plastic rain hooded poncho’s.
The bright yellow and green ones looked like walking vegetables to Joe, which brought a grin to his face.
It’s amazing how much can go through your head when you have time to relax in the presence of such an incredible view. Now, where is my guy I'm supposed to meet with?
Late was not good, which means all of the agency’s special planning may go down the tube. The spy they had implanted in the Botswana Diamond Mining Company was supposed to meet him here. He had proof that the company was illegally mining through the Namibia corridor and Angola, somewhere in the Caprivi Game Park or into Mucusso National Park. They had a new boring machine that allowed them to stay underground tunneling longer distances to find new diamond caverns without ever showing on the surface.
When they were done, the tunnel system would not support itself from the annual water flow according to the agency's environmental engineers. Joe was told it would flood and collapse into itself. That would be devastating to the plant life which in turn would endanger the wildlife that migrates to the area downstream each year, cutting off their vital sustenance.
Two years prior, another attempt to get information from the elusive group ended up grim, when the UK’s spy turned up dead with only pieces of his body being found downriver. A pride of lions was the official press on his death, but Britain had sent out their own forensic experts who determined he was dead long before the lions found him. It was decided that he had been beaten to death. Leaving the freshly mangled body as food for the lions was their attempt to make it look like an accident. Seismic recordings in the area also helped the US conclude that more was going on under the surface than what was being told to the local governments. Or someone was being paid off for their silence.
The US and Britain had united on this one to find proof that the Botswana Diamond Mining Company was behind it at the request of the UN Environment Program, working on behalf of both Botswana and Namibia. The Chobe River flows south from Victoria Falls, separating the two countries and was the lifeblood to the ecology of the area. A spy was sent in to infiltrate the organization and after several months was able to get pictures and documentation of their illegal orchestration. Joe was told his name was Baruti, and he would be wearing a red scarf hanging from his belt.
Easy enough, just a simple pick-up, what could go wrong?
That was answered quickly as the sound of a gunshot rang out in the distance. The loud bang echoed in the gorge, disturbing a huge flock of Red-billed Quelea Birds, which flew into the air in unison, crying out their ‘sweep,’ ‘sweep’ sounds by the thousands.
Men yelling in the distance prompted Joe to walk faster in the direction of the voices. He rounded the corner as a man ran into him at high speed. They were both knocked down, leaving them sprawling on the ground. The impact knocked the wind out of Joe as the man got back up to flee. Joe noticed the red scarf on the ground next to him. He tried to shout out, but he still couldn’t find his voice. He got up and started running after the man as he clutched his aching side, but he was fast, like cheetah fast, Joe thought.
The man ran into a small wood building off the trail, as Joe followed and knocked on the aged Mopane cracked wood door. Despite still being short on breath, he forced himself to speak;
“Baruti, I’m Joe, the one you’re supposed to meet, what is going on?”
“They are after me, get yourself away. Not safe for you here.”
“I can protect us both, just come out and we’ll get out of here.”
The door creaked open, and Baruti peered out just as three men came running down the pathway.
“They come; you must run!”
He tried to force the door shut, but Joe blocked the attempt with his foot, saying;
“Give me your hand.”
Baruti hesitated in confusion and shoved past Joe. Barely able to touch his shoulder as he ran out, that was all Joe needed as he materialized them both onto the other side of the river at the famous Devil’s Armchair viewpoint in water above their waist at the waterfall’s edge.
Once a sacrificial location used by ancient natives of the area, now it was their savior. Rapidly moving water surrounded them as it flowed past them over the stone rim. Baruti looked terrified as he looked around and down, realizing he was in a new location as the cool water shocked his senses.
“Your safe now, do you have the information?”
Baruti’s eyes bulged like he was looking at a wraith. His shaking hands brought out a small package from the pocket of his shorts.
Joe said, “Thank you,” just as Baruti’s panic bubbled to the surface.
He screamed and ran away, paddling with his hands splashing in the water to help speed his plight. Several tourists turned to the sounds of a Motswana man yelling in his native tongue as he attempted to move through the heavy water, wanting to be as far away from Joe as quickly as possible.
Hmmm, not quite the first encounter I had planned, but not much I can do about that now. Goodbye Victoria, you’re beautiful. A perk of the job, as he vanished.
If anyone had been watching, they might have thought a man had just gone over the falls to his death to explain what they just saw.
Six months earlier, summer 2019
A morning bicycle ride up the hill into the Newbury Park area was calling his name. He rarely had Saturdays off from work. An area renowned for its great trails, it regularly attracted cyclists, horseback riders, and hikers from all over. The rough dirt trails had serious elevation changes, surrounded by beautiful vistas of arid trees and bush-covered hills. Views of small towns like Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks in the Conejo Valley peak through each crest. On a clear day with no low-lying cloud layers, often referred to as the marine layer, the ocean may even peek through between the mountain.
Joe was trying to get back in shape and was taking it slowly, hoping to get some cardio in. It was one of those perfect mornings, the marine layer had started to roll back, so as Joe climbed the hill with hard peddling, the sky opened up to warm sunshine. The temperature rested at 58 degrees, a contrast to the high that reaches 85 by mid-day.
Joe thought; This is what I love about this area. This marine layer will usually roll in every night and blanket the hills, cooling everything off. It allows the city lights to bounce off the clouds, creating a mystical image before they roll back out to let the sun and warmth return each morning. It doesn’t get much better than this.
It was one of those stereotypically perfect days which tended to occur in this state. California was mostly known for liberals, environmentalists, surfers, and Hollywood, but Joe knew that there was so much more to the state than most people expected. He knew it well, having been born and raised here, and having lived in both Northern and Southern California.
Being a motorcyclist and avid outdoorsman, he had experienced much more of those off-the-beaten paths than most residents knew or even cared existed.
Today’s early workout was just about enjoying the ride and the numerous views of various animal life he would come across. He often enjoyed the presence of roadrunners, rabbits, deer, and even a couple coyotes in the distance. In these early hours, the animals would come out of their hidden locations foraging for food and enjoy the early sun. The coyotes seemed to be watching him with a hungry interest, as they tracked alongside him in the distance for part of the ride.
After Joe passed two riders with a friendly wave, Joe charged hard up a light grade trail on his orange and black KTM mountain bike. His right foot was at the top of its pedal stroke when the earth seemed to drop out from under him. It was one of those rainwater run-off cracks that he was accustomed to seeing along the many hillsides and trails in this arid soil of California. This time though, as his front wheel caught the crack, the ground gave way to a much larger gap, a sinkhole that was pulling him in.
Within seconds, Joe was engulfed up to his shoulders. The ground seemed to liquefy all around him as he started to panic. With his pulse throbbing through his temples and adrenaline pumping, he struggled to climb out. The weight of the bicycle still attached to him below, continued to drag him down, like someone had hooked it to a chain, and was reeling him down to hell. He silently cursed that his clip pedals were wrapped around his shoes and would not let go.
The bicycle felt hundreds of pounds heavier, dragging him ever lower. His breath heaved as he desperately grasped at the soil in an attempt to pull himself back up. There was nothing to grab ahold of. Within seconds he had vanished under the ground. His sight started to grow blurred, a dark thought entered his mind. The last thing I’ll ever see is pouring dirt. He lost consciousness just as the soil had blocked the last vestige of sunlight above.
When Joe awoke, he found himself buried in dirt, yet still alive. Surrounded by dozens of glowing crystals, there were all different sizes embedded in the rock around him. They illuminated his limited view of the small pocket of open space that had formed around the top of his body.
I’m still alive in this underground tomb?
His head was foggy, but he was slowly gaining the ability to form full thoughts again. He focused his eyes, the grave of mild crystal light surrounding him gave him just enough hope that he still might have a chance at life. Attempting to reach out with his left arm, he found he could not move it. Unsure if it was broken, or just covered in dirt and rock, he attempted to move his other arm, and relief flooded him as he felt motion, this time he felt it move, though just barely.
Amazing how heavy dirt feels when there is this much around you.
Realizing how labored each breath was as he slowly crept his right arm forward. With each movement, he desperately hoped not to cave in any more dirt. It wouldn’t take much more to block the already faint light, which would snuff out what little hope he had. Finally, he was successful, as his hand reached forward towards the largest crystal that was putting out the brightest glow.
The blue and white gleam seemed to hum at him. It was mesmerizing, and a breathy word escaped his lips,
He felt compelled to touch it, feeling a deep desire to be close to it. Despite his panic, he submitted to the draw, allowing his hand to stroke its smooth edges and trace where it was embedded in the side of his prison. Before he could further assess his position, his body shuddered, like an electric current was running through it and he slipped away into unconsciousness again.
The next time Joe awoke he found himself surprisingly calm despite his situation. Not knowing how far under the surface he had gone; Joe noticed the big crystal that he had touched in the wall of stone in front of him was no longer putting out any light. The only reason he could still see was due to the many other smaller crystals that still put out their own individual illuminations.
Like looking up into the heavens. How intoxicating it all is, even though this will probably be where I die.
Something felt different this time though, as he now attempted to use his legs, and this time he easily pushed upward, but the motion did cause more dirt to fall on top of him, smothering his face. Refusing to die despite the instinctual alarm, his desire to live pushed him on. Joe reached up and pushed through the dirt finding himself being pushed forward by unknown energy that he hadn’t had before. Not knowing if it was his own adrenalin giving him the strength, or just that the soil had changed, he was elated to be moving up.
He worked for several more minutes to continue his ascent, and all the while more dirt rained down on him. It grew increasingly dark as that last bit of visible light from the crystals vanished under the onslaught of ever more rocks and soil from above.
Panic climbed further up his spine,
Am I too deep under the surface to reach the top?
But just as he started to despair, he felt his hand reach into the open air and felt the breeze on it.
Thank god, the surface.
Focusing hard and continuing to dig, he found himself breaking out of the darkness. Joe rested back on the dry surface, looking at the bright light of the California sun. He laid there on his back for several minutes savoring the sunshine and cool fresh air.
Rolling to his side he noticed a small jackrabbit who sat nearby, casually watching him with a curious look as his whiskers twitched. He gratefully soaked it all in, thinking,
Thank you for letting me live, whoever is watching over me.
Just then, the sounds of the coyotes that had been following him earlier scared off his little rabbit friend and rose high on his radar knowing they thought he was an easy target in his exhausted state. Luckily another cyclist came riding up the hill and skidded to a stop. The rider looked at Joe, noticing his wounds through rips in his clothing, and all the dirt and blood still on him as he lay on the side of the trail. He called out,
“Hey, you ok?”
Joe didn’t know what to say at first. He felt his legs, and then touched his stomach, arms, and head, and answered,
“Yeah, I guess, I am”.
“Man, what happened? Where’s your bike?”
He had clearly seen Joe’s cycling gear, but with no bicycle anywhere in visual range.
Joe’s stomach dropped as it dawned on him that he had just lost his favorite bike.
I’m sure as hell not going to go down and get it back!
Nature had consumed it and had very nearly consumed him as well. Exhaling deeply, he replied to the bewildered fellow cyclist,
“I think it’s gone. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you what happened.”
Standing slowly, Joe pointlessly tried to brush himself off, but when he looked at the condition he was in, he quickly gave up. So, giving the guy a nod, who was still staring in bewilderment, he took the first steps of his impending walk home.
"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"