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Alone on a Boat – Part 9

Part 9 of a collaborative story between myself and Sharmishtha Basu where the main character Angelique is neither on a boat nor alone. At least at the moment.

Here’s what has happened so far: Our heroine Angelique has been kidnapped and brought to a temple in the jungle by two men. They are going to sacrifice her to get through a door to steal a large diamond. However, a huge tentacled monster attacks them before they can. She runs away and finds other monsters, but comes across an old man named John who is Australian but now lives alone on the island. He takes her back to his cave for the night so they will be safe from any monsters or creatures that are around.

But then, a huge multi-headed snake, a naga, attacks in the night, and John has to take her through a secret tunnel into the temple of Lakshmi, where there is gold and gems everywhere, including a huge lotus made of diamonds. Gold nagas stand guard and John says they will attack anyone who tries to steal the treasure.

Sharmishtha has posted all the previous installments here.

Alone on a Boat – Part 9

Angelique lay down to sleep surrounded by millions of dollars worth of gold and gems, not to mention the priceless diamonds that formed the lotus blossom in front of the goddess Lakshmi’s idol.

She was glad when the flare burned out and darkness hid the unobtainable wealth from her. She had meant what she had said to John about not wanting to be rich, but still, now that it was all here in front of her, images of what she could do with such riches kept creeping into her mind.

“There are only about four hours until dawn,” John said out of the darkness. “I’ll keep watch until then.”

“I thought you said this was the safest place we could be—that no monsters could get in here.”

“That’s true,” he said, “but still.”

He is watching because of me, Angelique thought. In case I try to steal something. It gave her an odd feeling.

She woke up to see a long sliver of daylight slicing across the temple floor. John’s figure was silhouetted against it.

Angelique got to her feet and went over to him. “The men who kidnapped me were trying to get in here,” she said. “They seemed to think that only human sacrifice would let them get through this door.”

“Perhaps they were right,” John said, still looking out. “I don’t know how to get in through these doors. However, if you come in the way we did, it is easy to come out this way. The doors push open from the inside. They will not stay open, though. I once came out and left them open. They were shut tight when I returned.”

“What do we do now?” Angelique asked. “Are we safe from monsters now?”

“I don’t know. Yesterday I would have said yes—that they do not come out in the daylight, but then again, I would have said nothing could have found us in my cave. I will try to lead you down to the shore and then you can get away in your boat. I think we can get there in a few hours by a path I know.”

At that moment, the sound of a helicopter broke the morning stillness. It came into view a minute later, a civilian model with Thai markings on it. It landed in the clearing of the temple courtyard, the rotor whipping at the overhanging branches. As soon as it on the ground, the door opened and a muscular, tanned man in his 50s jumped out.

“Dad!” Angelique shouted and ran towards him. He hugged her tightly.

“Are you okay?” he shouted over the noise of the rotor. “I got your distress signal and rented a helicopter as soon as I could. Then we followed the GPS signal. Where’s the boat?”

“Down in a cove. How did you get here so fast?”

“I was in Phuket,” her father said. “Just a few hours away.”

“Were you following me?” she asked.

“Not following, just staying close. Just in case. What happened anyway?”

Angelique led him a little ways from the helicopter and explained everything that had happened, about the two men who had kidnapped her and brought her to the temple.

“How did you get away?” he asked.

She hesitated. “Something attacked them. A creature. Then I ran into John and he helped me.” She introduced John to her father and the two men shook hands.

John had been standing with his back against the temple door while she had been talking to her father, and she suddenly realized that he had been trying to push it closed. Before she could say anything, her father looked up at the temple.

“What is this place, anyway?” He took a step towards the door.

“Dad, don’t. Let’s just go.” It was no good. Her father seemed to have forgotten she was there. He took another step, looking around in amazement. He hadn’t seen the gold and jewels inside yet, but it was only a matter of another few steps.

“Dad, please. Let’s just get out of here. Back to the boat.”

She knew it was useless. Her father’s greatest fantasy was to be the real-life Indiana Jones. He took another step forward and she saw his eyes suddenly widen.

“Mother of Mary,” he said softly, and she knew it was too late.

(to be continued on Friday on Sharmishtha Basu’s blog)


Alone on a Boat – Part 7

Part 7 of a collaborative story between myself and Sharmishtha Basu where the main character Angelique is neither on a boat nor alone. At least for now.

In case you’re behind on the story, our heroine Angelique has been kidnapped and brought to a temple in the jungle by two men. They are going to sacrifice her to get through a door to steal a large diamond. However, a huge tentacled monster attacks them before they can. She runs away and finds other monsters, but comes across an old man who is Australian but now lives alone on the island. He takes her back to his cave for the night so they will be safe from any monsters or creatures that are around.

Sharmishtha has posted all the previous installments here.

Alone on a Boat – Part 7

The only light in the pitch blackness was a tiny, blinking red LED on the emergency distress beacon. Nowhere near enough light to see by, even if she wanted to.

Angelique lay in the sticky darkness, the hay crackling under her whenever she moved. She tried to lie perfectly still.

She heard a faint rustling at the entrance of the cave, like the branches of the bush that hid the entrance being moved aside. She wondered if John, the old man, had gone outside. The sound came again and then a long, drawn-out scraping sound, like something being dragged across the dirt.

She wanted to say something, but she was too afraid to move or make a sound. If it was John, then there was no problem, but if it was something else… She heard it come closer. There was a long hiss, like air escaping from a tank.

Pop! The cave was lit with an explosion of smoky red light. In the sudden glare, Angelique saw a grotesque, multi-headed monster looming over her, fangs bared. She screamed and rolled to the side, shielding her head with her arms. There were sounds of struggle, but she did not dare to look up.

“It’s okay. It’s over.” It was John’s voice and he sounded shaken. Angelique looked up to see him standing over a thick cylinder of flesh and holding a bloody machete. A flare sputtered and popped on the floor.

“What is it?” she asked, backing further into the side of the cave. John had cut the thing in half, but still a few of the heads twitched spasmodically.

“It’s a naga, or at least the thing the nagas of legend are based on,” John said. “I’ve only seen one before this, in much different circumstances. I keep a few flares here for emergencies and when I woke up and heard the sound, I thought I should use it. I’m glad I did.”

naga“Why was it coming after me?”

“That’s what troubles me. The situation is obviously much worse than I thought, if these monsters are able to find us here. There is only one place where we can be safe now. Quick, before the flare dies.”

He held out his hand to her and she took it and stood up. John crossed to the back of the cave and pushed away a large boulder that was resting against the back wall, revealing a small, dark opening. He picked up the flare and motioned for her to enter. He followed and pulled the rock over the entrance.

“This is both the safest and most dangerous place we could go,” he said as he took the lead and began to descend the tunnel. “It is safe because no monsters will ever find us here.”

“Why is it dangerous?” Angelique asked after a moment.

“Greed. Even I was taken by it once; it took years to let go the fantasies and dreams of luxury and power that could be.”

“I don’t have any dreams of wealth,” Angelique said. “I just want to sail around the world, then have a comfortable life. I don’t want to be rich.”

John gave a low laugh. “You say that now. Normally, I would never take you here, but we have no choice if we are to live through the night.”

They came to a large door and John pushed it open. “We are here, the temple of Laxmi, goddess of wealth.”

Gold glittered everywhere.

(to be continued on Friday on Sharmishtha Basu’s blog)


Alone on a Boat – Part 5

This is Part 5 of a collaborative story between myself and Sharmishtha Basu. First of all, my apologies for it being posted so late in the day. I committed to posting my part every Monday. However, this weekend has been a bit busy and I am so tired that it wears at the creative engine a bit.

In case you’re behind on the story, our heroine Angelique has been kidnapped and brought to a temple in the jungle by two men. They are going to sacrifice her to get through a door to steal a large diamond. However, a huge tentacled monster attacks them before they can.

Sharmishtha has posted all the previous installments here.

jungle night

Alone on a Boat – Part 5

Angelique ran.

Unseen branches and leaves stretched across her path, slapping her and entangling her arms. She forced her way through, just trying to get as far away as she could from the dark temple behind her and the screams that still echoed through her mind.

There was a sudden splash and she plunged up to her knees in cool wetness. She was standing in a stream and along its course, she could see a narrow slit of sky and a full moon rising over the trees.

She had totally lost her bearings in the dark jungle, but a stream had to lead down to the coast and that was where her boat was. She set out, splashing through the water, and feeling with her sneakers for large rocks on the bottom.

If it wasn’t for the glimmer of the moon on the water, Angelique would never have seen the edge of the small waterfall that plunged into darkness. She stopped and listened, trying to determine how far the water fell. The jungle seemed to have gone silent and only the faint tinkle of the stream could be heard.

As she was hesitating, trying to decide the best course to take, a strange, melancholy whistle came from the water below her. It came again and she looked over, trying to see if it was an animal. She saw a point of pale luminescence in the water, by the base of the falls and as she watched, it grew and spread out over the water. A bubble formed on top and expanded and stretched into the grotesque form of a slimy homunculus. It continued to grow and then slowly began to move up the waterfall towards her.

Angelique was gripped with terror and turned and ran back up the stream. She was vaguely aware that she was running back towards the temple, but at that moment, the only thing that mattered to her was to get away from that luminous goblin that was slowly climbing up the waterfall.

Time lost all meaning as she splashed through the water, tripping and stumbling on stones and trying not to fall. Suddenly she ran into something wide and yielding that was stretched across the stream. For a moment, she thought it was a huge spiderweb and it was all she could do to keep from screaming. It wasn’t sticky though and she realized that it was a net.

A voice came out of the darkness near her, speaking an unknown language.

“Hello?” she said after a moment.

“Ah, you speak English,” the voice said. “Come out of the water; you will damage my nets.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see them,” she said.

“I wouldn’t think so, nor do the bats that get caught in them.” Angelique had the idea that the speaker was an old man. A moment later, he uncovered an oil lamp and she saw her guess was right.

“Now,” he said. “What are you doing here at this hour? A lost tourist, perhaps?”

“I was kidnapped,” Angelique said, “and taken to a temple by two men.” She told him about the tentacle monster in the temple and the luminous creature on the water.

She saw the man’s face become serious just before he covered the lamp again and they were plunged back into blackness. She felt him take her hand.

“Come,” he whispered. “This is no night for mortals like us to be outside. Great and dangerous forces have been awakened. We must hurry.”

(to be continued…)

Alone on a Boat – Part 3

This is Part 3 of a collaborative story between myself and Sharmishtha Basu. It’s a bit difficult to name stories that are written in this way, since the authors have different ideas of where it will go (my last story written like this was simply called “The Adventure” since I had no idea what was going to happen.) Anyway, you will notice that the main character, Angelique, is now neither alone, or on a boat. But that’s life.  Here is Part 1 and Part 2, if you missed them.

sailboat bedroom

Alone on a Boat – Part 3

Angelique lay on the cabin floor with her hands tied behind her back and felt the boat slow. They must have reached the island. Now the two kidnappers would take her ashore, and if they had been telling the truth, they would kill her.

She thought of what her father had said before she had left, when he had pulled her aside during the farewell celebration. “You’re a strong girl,” he said. “You can do this. But know that at some point, you will get into trouble. It’s inevitable on a voyage this long. At some point, your engine will break, or you will be robbed or you might get lost. I hope and pray that when it comes, it will be minor. Still, be expecting trouble, be resourceful, and most of all, don’t be afraid to call for help.”

He had given her an emergency distress beacon. It was in the drawer by her bed—five meters away at most, but could she get there without them noticing? Slowly, she crept across the floor and opened the drawer. The drawer was packed with small items, but her probing hands soon found the plastic rectangle that was the transmitter.

“What are you doing?” Tom was standing in the doorway, frowning at her.

“Just . . . water . . .” she said. He strode across and put his hand into the drawer. A second later, he pulled out a jackknife with a triumphant look.

“Nice try, but we’re here now. Come on, get up.” Angelique forced herself to her feet, the small emergency transmitter clenched in her fist.

The light was fading as they came out on deck. The boat was anchored in a small inlet. Henry was already lowered her small dingy into the water.

When they got onshore, Henry led the way into the jungle, shining a flashlight ahead of them. Bats were flying in the trees above them and bird cries echoed through the dusky foliage.

“It’s gotta be around here somewhere,” Henry said. He was cutting through the underbrush with a machete, leading them further and further in. Mosquitoes whined and bit Angelique, delighting in her inability to fight back.

A few times, Tom and Henry stopped and stood close together, talking quietly and shining the light on an old scrap of paper that Tom carried. Hours went by and the forest descended into pitch blackness. Weird sounds came from the darkness.

Henry was chopping at vines over his head when there was a loud ting! of metal hitting stone and sparks flew from the machete blade.

“We got it,” Henry said, his voice trembling with excitement. “Here’s the southern arch.” He shone the light up and Angelique saw an ivy-covered arch of carved stone. Just above her, the face of a fierce Hindu goddess glared down at her.

Tom unscrewed the cap of a water bottle and tipped it up for her to drink. “Your part’s almost here, but I figured you’d be thirsty anyway. Call me soft-hearted.” He laughed.

Angelique looked into the eyes of the man who was planning on sacrificing her soon—ending her young life, all for the sake of a treasure. She spat the water back in his face.

(to be continued…)

Alone on a Boat – Part 1

This story is a collaborative story between myself and Sharmishtha Basu, a good friend of mine. I have written stories like this with my sisters growing up and with other friends, but this one is inspired most recently by the Baker’s Dozen story I took part in. This story, however, will just be the two of us, writing back and forth until it is finished. I will post every Monday and Sharmishtha will post her sections every Friday.


sailing alone

Alone on a Boat – Part 1

The tangy sea-spray smelled like freedom to Angelique as she stepped out onto the deck. Dawn was close and the lightening sky promised a beautiful day to come.

She was only twenty and sailing around the world on her own. Her yachting father who had taught her to sail had tried halfheartedly to talk her out of the idea. Her superstitious mother would not let herself give voice to all the terrible scenarios in her mind, but she finally said, “Won’t you be lonely all by yourself?”

Ha! There was plenty of excitement, fatigue, terror, even boredom, but never loneliness. How could she feel lonely sailing her own craft across an ocean of white-flecked sapphire, with seabirds crying above her and fish flashing silver as they leaped around her bow?

It had been a month after she had set out from Lisbon, and she was now anchored in a deserted cove on the Andaman Islands. After a swim in the cove and breakfast on the bow of the boat, she hoisted anchor and set off again, heading southeast for the Malacca Strait and Singapore.

It was about ten in the morning and Angelique had settled into the routine of the day when she spotted something floating in the water off to the right. Through her binoculars, she saw that it was an oil drum. As she got closer, she saw something clinging to it. A man. He was not moving.

What should she do? Picking up a strange man was out of the question, but she couldn’t just leave him to die either. Unless he was already dead. She thought about calling the authorities to pick him up, but how long would they take?

Her boat was close now and Angelique slowed and steered closer. It was definitely a man—she saw the scruff of black hair on his chin. His skin was dark, either naturally or from the sun, and his eyes were closed.

“Hey, are you okay?” she shouted.

The man opened an eye and said something so faintly, she could not hear it. She brought the boat closer. “What?”

“Water,” the man said.

Angelique brought the boat closer and then after a moment of hesitation, threw him a rope. He grasped it weakly and pulled himself towards the boat. When he finally managed to drag himself over the side, Angelique was ready, a glass of water in one hand and the flare gun in the other.

“I have water for you, but don’t try anything. Okay?”

The man nodded and she set the glass on the deck and pushed it towards him.

“More please,” he said when he had drunk it all. She got some more and he drank that too and then another two glasses.

“Were you shipwrecked?” she asked.

The man shook his head. “No.”

“Then why were you out here?”

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“I’m going to Singapore right now. I can drop you at Port Blair, on South Andaman, if you want. It’s not too far away.” That was less than a day away, if she changed course and used the back-up motor. She did not want to spend a night with him onboard.

The man shrugged. “Okay.”

“Okay.” Angelique edged towards the wheel, keeping as far from the stranger as she could. “So, if you weren’t shipwrecked, what are you doing out here?” she asked.

The man put his head back on the gunwale and looked up at the sky. “Curious little joey, aren’t you?”


(to be continued…)

Good Old Sammy

I know you’ve been there, so don’t even pretend you haven’t. You’re right on the edge of doing something you know you’re going to regret and if any other guy but Sammy was there, you’d just walk away, but it’s Sammy and so you don’t walk away and you end up regretting it.

At least in my case it’s Sammy; We’ve all got that one friend that we like, even though he (or she) sometimes annoy us—the one we couldn’t get rid of even if we tried. The one that makes us do crazy things, like skinny-dipping in the town’s water supply. And for some reason, you just can’t say no to him.

Good old Sammy.

A few months, I was on my way to play pool with Sammy and my other friend James, who we called Jerve. We saw a Ferrari pull up to the curb ahead of us, blaring loud music. A bunch of guys got out, all slow-motion and cool-like and went into a club called The Speakeasy.


“Hey, let’s let the air out of their tires,” Sammy said.

“Are you crazy?” I asked. Sammy didn’t answer; maybe he didn’t know the answer either.

“Come on, it’ll be fun. They’re probably jerks anyway.” Then, without waiting, he sidled up to the car on the street side and started feeling around for the valve on the front wheel. “Are you coming, or not?” he whispered, and Jerve—being dumb and prone to peer pressure—went to the back wheel and crouched down.

That’s the genius of Sammy: sudden and explosive escalation of events. One moment you’re going to play pool; the next, you’re vandalizing a sports car.

“Don’t leave us hanging!” he hissed at me. I could already hear the air hissing as it came out of the tire. I hate to admit it, but I’m not very good at resisting peer pressure either, especially from Sammy.

I went over to the other side of the car, which unfortunately was facing the club and fully illuminated by the streetlights. I was just bending down to find the valve when I heard a shout from behind me.

“Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”

I straightened up. It was one of the guys from the car, looking at me in a threatening way.

“I just dropped my keys,” I said.

Jerve stood up at that moment. “Hey guys, the air’s all out of this one.” He noticed the guy and took off running, immediately slamming into Sammy who was just standing up after emptying his tire. Jerve hit the pavement and smacked his nose, but the knowledge that we were in serious trouble picked him up and all three of us were off and sprinting away before the rest of the guys could get out of the club.

What followed was an exhausting slog of a chase. We weren’t in great shape and were puffing and wheezing before we’d gotten 100 feet. Luckily for us, the guys behind us weren’t in any better shape, so the whole chase happened very, very slowly. Sometimes we were all just walking, with Sammy, Jerve and me about two hundred feet ahead. The guys following us wouldn’t give up though and they kept yelling terrible threats and insults at us when they had enough breath.

I wanted to find a taxi, but there weren’t any in the area and I was too out of breath to call for one. We’d be staggering along for about twenty minutes and had gotten into a pretty posh neighborhood. Sammy suddenly lurched to one side and started pounding on an iron gate. The sign on the gate said it was the Honduran embassy.

“Yes?” said a voice from a speaker by the gate.

“We want political asylum!” Sammy yelled. “We’re refugees.”

“From whom?” the voice asked.

“From the US. We’re being persecuted.”

“Just a moment.”

It was more like two minutes before the gate opened. Luckily for us, our pursuers seemed to have had enough of the chase and just wanted it over with. They slowed way down until the gate opened, and then made a rush at us as we ducked inside. Then, between gasps, they yelled some perfunctory death threats and trudged back towards their car

The next few hours were rather awkward, as we met with the ambassador and Sammy tried to explain how exactly we were being persecuted. His argument boiled down to taxes.

When Jerve found out that they spoke Spanish in Honduras, he wanted to practice all the Spanish he’d studied so hard in school. Unfortunately, all he remembered was “¿Dónde ésta la biblioteca?” He kept saying it so much that they finally took him to the house library.

It was about midnight when they finally decided we were full of it and kicked us out. Jerve really hit it off with the deputy ambassador though; they started dating after that. Apparently she really liked the library too.

Sammy chalked the whole thing up to a great night out.

Good old Sammy.


Just grin and bear it awhile :)

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