Greetings and salutations! Welcome back to another blog post. Hopefully, this one will be an enjoyable one. Been trying to get the word out about my newest novel, Red Star Sheriff (—>https://www.amazon.com/Red-Star-Sheriff-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B085MNJX71<— ), as far and wide as possible. It’s not gaining a whole lot of traction, but, what can you do? All I can do is keep writing and put it up wherever possible. But, with this new one, I’m hoping I’ll attract the attention of an actual agent to get traditionally published. We shall see.
The story is called ‘Left Of Midnight’. I wrote an initial draft back around 2010. For the last few months, I’ve revisited it and have been working on revising the whole concept. At the time of this writing, I’m roughly 86k words into the project and nearly half way through the story. I’m attempting to actually edit the book down to under 120k words. So we’ll see how that goes.
For now, I thought I’d drum up some interest by posting the very first section of LOM and seeing how it’s received. There’s plenty more to go into the novel and I already know what the ending will be (I wasn’t happy with the original ending because I didn’t think it really hit the mark on what I was going for) and it’s much better than originally intended!
In these uncertain times, we just have to keep forging ahead and work on what makes us happy and lets us express ourselves fully. I may have been forced to return to return or risk losing my job AND the potential for unemployment, but that won’t mean I’ll stop working on this project. Excelsior!
Anyhow, enjoy this first section and I’ll have something more to get into at a later date. Hopefully, not too much later.
SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN
LIGHTNING FLASHED BRILLIANTLY across a tortured sky. Dark storm clouds roiled and pulsated as thunder drummed out across the breadth of the tumultuous sea, waves raising into the air hundreds of feet high as if the damned were pleading with the heavens to set them free. And across this midnight nightmare fell a curtain of rain so thick it was nearly impossible to spot the two specks of gleaming metal flying through the chaos.
To the fore of the two, a Japanese Zero aircraft, single propped, white paint showing scorching and faded use. The red circles on the wings paling from too many days sitting in the sun. It strained and whined as it banked, deking and diving trying to evade the fire shot flowing from the American Corsair’s wing cannons. Streaks of heated hate hailed into the chaotic revelry of nature letting loose, the fired trails molten red, yellow, and white. The Corsair twisted into a dive following as close as possible to its fleeing foe.
Inside the Corsair, the pilot, Flight Commander Avery Wilkes, gritted his gnashing teeth and focused his sights once more. He pulled the trigger on the yoke and saw more flaming cannon fire singing forward barely missing the vessel pulling up above an outreaching wave.
“No you don’t, Poseidon! You can have him after I’m finished with the heathen!”
He pulled up to keep track, lightning illuminating the interior of his cockpit briefly, his teeth bright against the deep shadows across his face. Reflections beamed off of his goggles and rainwater cascaded down the canopy trying to blind him ever further. The console of his flight controls blinking in and out of sight in a strobing fit from fluctuating brilliant bolts striking the ocean surface in random intervals. The Zero twisted upwards and out of range and Avery howled as he throttled up to the Corsair’s max, its engines wailing under duress and anger.
“Come on, you great blue bitch! Catch up! Catch up!” Spittle flew from his lips, his grimace one of maddening single-minded focus as he twisted up and over a rising wave and pulled upwards.
The Zero darted back down and out of his sights.
He juked to follow, his dark blue craft with its gullwing wings nearly vanished into the dark flowing abyss surrounding them. He could barely see the little Japanese vessel for all the streaming current embracing his cockpit windshield as if a longing lover.
What I wouldn’t fucking give for a goddamned pair of wipers right about now! He dove, the Corsair’s engines rising in anguish loud in his ears even over the torrent blasting his canopy and the thunderous booming rattling the hull. He depressed the trigger. Every shot disappeared into the leviathan depths below the Zero deking back up and towards a looming sequence of shadow barely visible through the lightning strikes highlighting rippling clouds far above, their ominous undersides signaling only death. If he had his way, he’d be taking his hated foe with him. It had already been hours on this chase when they’d gotten caught in the sudden storm. Fuel was low but his fury was only growing stronger, fomenting his desire to finish his enemy before lunging into the waiting clutches of Davy Jones’s Locker.
And then looming before them was what Avery could only figure was some sort of island. Just a silhouette against the flowing storm, of course, but visible enough to see that the Zero was making a beeline straight for it and Avery clenched his jaw tighter.
You think you’re getting away, you little maggot! But you ain’t! Within minutes he’d leveled out with the Zero has it zoomed into a gulf between large ranges of stone that might have been a canyon or a gully though it wasn’t clear to Avery as he lined up his shot and tried to close the distance. A smile grew across his visage, his teeth wide and vivid against the dark interior of his cockpit. The rain was growing thinner here as they zoomed along this narrow corridor. Stone walls whipped by in a blur to both sides. Above, some formations were flowing by in a haze as well. He couldn’t make out what as he considered his task. You might be more maneuverable in the open, but you ain’t faster in close quarters, now are you, fucker!?
Below them, a canopy of trees zipped by in the little light be cast. Rain still pelted the windshield, but it wasn’t as fierce allowing him a better attempt to fire upon the Zero struggling to outpace him. He pulled the trigger. Hot molten fire shot outward, highlighting the tree tops under red and yellow flashes. The cannon fire sunk into the wings and the tail and a flame out sprung to life as the Zero caught fire, an explosion tearing away a rear tail wing.
“Yeah! Take that you fuck! Eat it and weep!” The cockpit reverberated with his deep, howling voice.
The Zero zoomed upward and disappeared from view. He frowned and growled. “Where ya goin’!? Eh!? You can’t—shit!”
The Corsair’s wing clipped an outcropping of stone that came out of the dark rain filled void. He found himself going into a horizontal spin and Avery fought with all his might to correct the plane. He succeeded to a degree but the Corsair dipped too low and within seconds he was deep within whatever forest sat deep in the ravine.
“No, no, no, no!” he tried to pull up, but there was little draft in which to draw upon, to pick up lift. Now, he was little more than a hurtled metal rock speeding through tearing limbs and clutching branches.
Tree trunks blazed by as the sounds of the hull being ripped to pieces shuddered the craft. A thick branch lanced the cockpit cracking it open. Rain streamed inside soaking Avery’s head and he raised his arms to shield his face letting go of the yoke and waiting for the inevitable ram into the side of a sturdy trunk of whatever wood grew wild on this island. He breathed rapidly as the whole vessel racked and ricocheted, shuddered and vibrated. His thighs pulsed and his sides plowed into the cockpit walls. It was as if any moment every inch of his plane would be torn open leaving just him to splatter into something like an egg against a house.
It’s been a good run! Least I took that fuckin’ Jap out with me! He took in a deep breath and dropped his arms to glare out into the dark abyss with a scowl and a howl. “Come on then! Finish it!”
The plane slowed to a stop. No final crash came. It was like the plane just decided enough was enough and settled into a nice, soft nest. Silence reigned for a long moment. Only his breathing, the storming thunder and falling rains, the slight rhythmic pounding of branches against the outside of the plane were the sounds making up his new existence.
“What the shit?”
Avery leaned forward. There was no interior light, all his instruments seeming to be dead. Indicator lights on the flight console all either smashed or in quiet slumber. He pulled his goggles up to his forehead and tried to look out the left side canopy window. Condensation was quickly growing thicker on the inside and he was forced to wipe his hand across the moisture. Still, all he could see was the black void and the smattering rain roiling off the outer canopy. Water was pouring onto his head from the cracks overhead and his lap was now a cold collection of a small pond.
He unbuckled his harness and leaned forward to eject the canopy to get a better look. The canopy released fast and flew backwards over the rear of the plane. He could hear it snapping limbs and shattering further as it raced to the floor of the woods surrounding him. Somehow, the Corsair had managed to come to rest amid a collection of thick immovable branches. He looked over the edge of the cockpit and down towards the forest floor. Rain streamed past him and downwards into the black environ. He could see some leafy branches and limbs all around the underside of the craft, could see two of the three trees’ trunks from his vantage. The third was on the right side and too far in the dark to make out much even when the lightning flashed far overhead. And he couldn’t see much of the lightning due to a thick canopy of forest above him. Avery had no idea how far up he was from the floor below. Flying into this nightmare, he’d noted they were traveling slightly at a decline. But it’d been a brief observation. He had other things on his mind during the moment.
Alright. You’re stuck in a tree, numbnuts. How do you get down? He looked around standing as much as he dared which amounted to a simple half crouch as he looked out both sides. The forward wings just ahead of the cockpit were still intact. Scratched up some, but otherwise solidly locked into a copse of heavy branches. There he wasn’t concerned. The rear of the plane was a total loss though. The tail section was completely missing. Large portions of the hull had been sheared away showing the skeletal frame beneath. Even if he had entertained the notion of somehow getting the craft out of the trees, it would never fly again.
Anchoring the craft, the three very large tree trunks looked to have branches the thickness of his body growing out at irregular intervals. Probably close enough to grab on too. But he had no idea how many more were down in the darkness and if they were clustered close enough together to make for a ladder to the ground.
There’s always the wing, I suppose. Climb out onto it, find a place to climb down and… He grimaced and leaned into the port side of his plane. “And what, Avery? Play Tarzan? Are there even any vines here?”
He looked around more, the rain collecting deeper in the cockpit. He shook his head. “It’s not like you have any other options, now do you? Gotta get down… radio for help. If the radio isn’t waterlogged yet.”
Avery sighed and turned to reach behind his seat. He pulled out a knapsack full of rations. There was a parachute on his back but he doubted it would prove very useful in the current predicament. There would be no room to unfurl it and no clear hope that he could use it to climb down with. So, he left it alone and turned to the console to remove the detachable radio. He shoved it into his knapsack, praying that it hadn’t gotten too wet. Then latched the knapsack around his chest and stomach and went to work figuring out how to climb out onto the wing of the Corsair. The bend in the center of the wing was even more slanted from this angle and he would have to be extremely careful as he slid down towards where the wing was flattest and nearest what looked to be an even thicker branch with enough purchase that he could shimmy down towards a lower grip. Or so he hoped.
He tossed one leg over the canopy. Held on tight to the side of the canopy as he brought the rest of his body over the edge. His right foot was already trying to slip away and he looked down to the rest of the wing.
Okay, here we go. One… two… thre— He let go and immediately found himself sliding down over the edge of the wing. He imagined that he’d be hearing the rest of three singing down into the darkness as he opened his mouth to scream. Instead was a very long howl that sounded very much like, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu—!!”
The long scream held until he fell through a thick collection of branches, twigs, limbs, leaves, and wet foliage. Ooofs, umphs, curses, and heavy crashing rang out into the raging storm. Avery hit a heavy copse of brush and rolled down a steep embankment before coming to rest in a stream of muddy water. He was face down and lifted his face upward, his goggles having managed to find a new resting state on his chin. His face was thick with nearly black mud and he reached up to try and wipe it from his eyes. The hand only got half way as he grumbled.
Then promptly passed out.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for further blogs coming soon.
~Timothy S Purvis