Hal Thompson is a pretty ordinary guy. A widower who owns his own small business, he’s doing his best to raise his two nearly adult children alone. When they convince him to undergo a hypnotic past-life regression, he is unimpressed that his “memories” reveal the hiding place of ancient Aztec gold. Other people, however, take it very seriously and when his family is threatened, he is forced to plunge into the jungles of Mexico, battling treacherous terrain, lethal wildlife and the haunting feeling of a love that spans centuries. Can he find the gold before it claims more lives? Or will he lose the love of his life … again?
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I am a certified hypnotherapist and I have both conducted and participated in many past-life regressions. I find the entire subject of reincarnation to be fascinating, and obviously it lends itself well to stories both true and fiction.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters are shaped by the story; they must react a certain way to the experiences that befall them, and those reactions help to flesh out who the characters are.
The single bell of the half hour barely penetrated his foggy, hung-over sleep. He opened bleary eyes and tried to focus on his watch. Only seven-thirty. Gratefully he remembered that today was Sunday and he didn’t have watch until four. He could still sleep off the effects of last night’s liberty, and he fell back face first into his pillow.
Now that he was awake, though, he could hear the rumblings of the ship. Quiet voices drifted to him from other bunks, the muted clang of shoes on metal stairs reverberated from overhead. He remembered how hard it was for him to sleep on board at first; the constant sounds of the ship were all new to him, and for his first two weeks aboard, he barely got more than catnaps, just the time between bells. Now, however, he could sleep through anything.
Then why wasn’t he sleeping? He certainly hadn’t gotten eight hours yet. He was pretty sure it was after 1A.M. before they stumbled back aboard from their trip to Honolulu. They’d made a hell of a night of it, though–met some girls, gotten thrown out of the Royal Hawaiian, avoided the MPs and had still gotten laid. No one back home would believe the duty he was pulling. Instead of being just Loser Reynolds, here he was in the Navy on a battleship stationed in Hawaii for Christ’s sake. It just didn’t get any better.
He checked his watch again. Seven forty-five. He didn’t think he was going to be able to get back to sleep. Might as well get up. He needed something to get the sour taste out of his mouth. It felt like an army had walked across his tongue with shit on their boots.
Swinging his legs out of his bunk, he had to clutch at the edges while his brain spun around in lazy circles. Whoa, boy; take it easy. What was that last stuff they’d been drinking? Tequila shots, he thought. Hoping to clear his head, he shook it, but that just made the spinning worse. Finally he just clamped his jaws tight against the sickening motion and grabbed for his dungarees and his chambray shirt. If he were going to have to heave his cookies over the side, he’d better be dressed before he went topside.
Not more than five minutes later–he’d barely shrugged into his shirt and pulled his pants up–he heard the drone of planes overhead. They sounded pretty low. Someone, he thought, was going to get his ass busted for buzzing the harbor. Just like those prima donna pilots to pull a stunt like that. But then he heard muted thunder somewhere forward of the ship. Some kind of … explosion? There was another one. The ship rocked suddenly. Another explosion. What the hell …?
Suddenly the bosun’s pipe shrilled GQ from the bitch box. “General quarters, general quarters,” yelled the box. “All hands man your battle stations. This is not a drill!”
What the f? He grabbed his shoes and socks and slammed his white hat on his head. Below decks had erupted into ordered chaos, the other men who bunked in his section pulling on clothes, running for duty stations, barely missing each other in their practiced hurry. He jammed on his shoes and trotted quickly through the battleship, edging sideways through hatches as other men went in opposite directions past him. All Reynolds could think was, “This is not a drill.” What did that mean?
Retracing the familiar route through the ship’s narrow passageways, he reached the radio room and found Hamilton already at the panel. “What the hell is going on?” he asked as he pulled on his life vest.
“Grab your headset,” Hamilton said excitedly. “Listen to this.”
Reynolds found his headset, jammed it down on his head. The words leaped at him.
“… not a drill! Air raid, Pearl Harbor! This is not a drill! Air raid …”
Reynolds heard the words but they refused to come together in his brain. “What does that mean?” he shouted at Hamilton. He heard more explosions from outside the ship.
Hamilton grinned at his companion, his eyes bright with excitement. “What do you mean, what does that mean?” Hamilton whooped. “Come on, Reynolds, have a little imagination. Maybe it means we’re going to get to fight Japs. Maybe it means we’re finally going to get into this friggin’ war!”
Replacing his headset, Reynolds stared at the array of controls on the radio panel. Right now more than anything he wished he was on the bridge, somewhere where he’d know for sure what was going on. He wished he could see something.
The radio crackled, whined, crackled again. “Attention all personnel, all personnel, Pearl Harbor is under attack, repeat, under attack. Japanese Zeroes have bombed Pearl Harbor”
Hamilton let out a whoop that drowned out the voice and Reynolds waved him down.
“The Oklahoma has been hit, the Utah, the Helena-” the radio voice was cut off by the sudden jarring of the Arizona as shock waves from a nearby explosion rocked it. The thunder made the hair on Reynolds’ neck stand up. Cloistered down in the bowels of the ship as they were, any sound that reverberated down to them like that had to be terrifyingly loud–and close.
“Attention all hands,” Captain Van Valkenburgh’s voice came over the intercom. Strangely calm, his voice commanded attention. “Prepare to-”
The roar of a thousand freight trains crashed all around them and the ship rocked violently. Reynolds grabbed at the radio board. In a strange, surrealistic slow motion, he saw the edges of the board bulge away from the wall where it was bolted and felt the shuddering, burgeoning shock of explosion that seemed to catapult him across the room. Thrown against the bulkhead, he felt his shoulder snap and he slid down the wall to the floor. Still within the same instant of elongated time, he watched as the radio board strained away from its bolts and he sat paralyzed as the heavy desktop of the panel ripped loose and bore down on him. Stiletto pain lanced up his legs as the board dropped on them. The pain heaved his stomach over and stale liquor-tainted bile swam in his mouth. The entire ship was shaking, rattling, convulsing like a living thing in its death throes. The metal bolts squealed as they strained against whatever contortions were twisting them loose, and the sickening sound of metal scraping against metal was so loud it seemed to suck all the air out of the room.
Reynolds braced himself against the bulkhead at his back and pushed against the radio board with his good arm. He couldn’t move it. His shoulder ached almost beyond endurance, his legs throbbed in a way that terrified him. He might be crippled–crippled for life. Or worse yet, what if his legs had to be amputated? He thrust the panicky thought back.
“Hamilton,” he called out above the roar that still rocked the ship. “Hamilton, I’m pinned. Get me out of here.”
There was no reply from Hamilton. Straining to see around the jagged edge of the radio board–his shoulder screamed in protest and he winced against the pain–he could barely see Hamilton’s own shoulder. It looked as if he’d been thrown against the opposite wall.
“Hamilton, help me. This board is on my legs. I’m stuck.”
The shoulder that was just barely in Reynolds’ range of vision didn’t move. Half angry, exasperated, scared shitless, Reynolds grappled with the edge of the radio board and managed to pull himself up a quarter inch or so, just enough so that he could see better.
Hamilton stared back at him with dead eyes. A piece of jagged metal pierced his throat. Blood dribbled down the front of his life vest and soaked into the military drab material.
Panic raced through Reynolds like shots of whiskey, hot in his blood, buzzing in his brain. Sweat ran down the sides of his face in streams. Around him the ship screamed and roared. He clawed at the radio board but none of his exertions had any effect on the heavy slab of metal. It absolutely would not budge.
The sound of water brought him up. He heard it first, heard it splashing, falling, swirling. It sent cold chills up his spine. Then it began to pour into the radio room. It came in alive, dancing, almost rejoicing. It bubbled and frothed and swirled around the corners of the room, splashing up against the side of Hamilton, running under the radio board, soaking Reynolds’ legs. The water slapped up against him, clear and greenish on one side, and swirled away from him, blood-streaked and brownish on the other. It was cold, a terrifying, numbing, otherworldly cold. And it was rising.
“Help me!” Reynolds yelled. “Somebody, please, help me!”
The sound of the water roared in his ears. It slapped against the wall behind him, surged over the radio board. It soaked the bottom edges of his life vest. He pushed against the radio panel, pounded on it with the heel of his hand, threw his good shoulder into it. The water swirled around his chest and splashed up on his chin. He clawed at the panel in a mindless, glazed panic. He no longer seemed to have a body. The water circled around his neck, splashed in his eyes. Breathing through his mouth in a frenzied, panting way, he gulped in some water.
It tasted like blood.
Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres: biography, contemporary, western, action, romance, fantasy, paranormal and spiritual. She has been both traditionally and independently published and is a regular contributor to the superblog Indies Unlimited. She lives in a small community in northern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She also writes under the pen name Amber Flame.
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