I’ve started writing again… I suppose it was only a matter of time. Believe it or not, this is a technological thriller.
The first few pages
“We’re going to be okay, you know,” Jake said, looking in the direction of his seven year-old son.
The boy sat, back turned to his father, mindlessly picking up handfuls of sand and letting the tiny grains run through his slowly spreading fingers. He gazed out at the bay they had washed up in, studying the waves as they crashed upon the beach. For a boy his age, he now had a great understanding of the power of nature… and immense respect for its wrath.
Brandon rotated about on his hands, his lower half remaining planted on the ground. He faced his father, “How do you know?”
Jake thought about this for a moment. He hadn’t expected this little boy he knew to question him. Perhaps the trauma that had preceded their little day on the beach had shaken Brandon more than he had imagined. He took a deep breath and ran a hand through his shoulder-length brown hair, acknowledging the gritty sand and dried salt that now mingled within his once-perfect hair cut. He sighed, “Because God is watching us, and he doesn’t let bad things happen to good people.”
Brandon thought on this for a moment, inching his knees around to come full-circle in facing his father. He glanced back at the angry ocean that had delivered them to the beach, and then back to his father, “Then why did the boat catch on fire?”
“I don’t know,” Jake responded, quickly adding, “but we’re alive aren’t we?”
Brandon did not respond. His attention drifted from his father’s sun-burned face to the thick palm forest that lined edge of the beach, stretching down the sands for what must have been miles. He looked to the life-boat that his father had arduously dragged ashore. They had spent two days in that boat… just the two of them, with no food, and only half a 20-ounce bottle of water. Even Brandon, a child who naturally had never before been joined with thoughts of his own demise, knew that their chances for survival were bleak. Yet, here they were, presumably the only survivors of the trans-Pacific cruise that they had departed Long Beach, California on six days earlier. They had survived.
Brandon stayed silent for a moment, giving thought to what his father had said, though not in the way that Jake had intended him to. He wondered if there was a reason why they were still alive. Just as quickly as the thought had entered his mind, it left him, persuaded by a very persistent message from his body.
“I’m thirsty,” Brandon spoke, uttering the two words that Jake had heard from his son incessantly since their first night adrift. He shot the little boy in need look at his father, an expression that he had learned to employ long before he became a castaway
Jake looked at the dwindling reservoir within the water bottle. There was barely a sip left. Even though they had washed up on dry land, he didn’t dare assume that they would find fresh water any time soon. Still, they weren’t going to find it just sitting on the beach.
“Then let’s go find some water,” Jake said, standing up. There was no need to hang around the beach any longer. He had enjoyed a good ten minutes of rest since dragging the boat ashore, and despite being slightly overweight, he wasn’t in that bad of shape (or so he had convinced himself).
Jake watched his son slowly get to his feet, concerned with the boy’s lack of energy. He had been giving him twice the rations of water he had been taking for himself and it still wasn’t enough. He needed to find water and food fast.
“On second thought, why don’t you stay in the shade by those trees over there,” Jake said, deciding that he would rather have Brandon conserve what little energy he had left. He pointed to the tree-line, “You rest up while I take a look around and see if I can find us some water.”
Jake anticipated resistance, but received none. He watched as his son nodded and walked toward the trees. The boy plopped down in the shade, leaning back against the trunk of a massive, fruitless palm. He closed his eyes.
Is that how exhausted we are? Jake thought. We didn’t think to sit in the shade until this moment?
Jake shook his head, trying to collect himself before walking up to his son and kneeling down beside him. “I love you,” He said, placing a hand on Brandon’s shoulder.
Brandon responded without opening his eyes, “I love you, too, Dad.”
Brandon’s eyes opened. He met his father’s gaze, “I’m okay, Dad.”
“Okay,” Jake said, confident as he could be that his son would still be alive when he returned. He watched as Brandon’s eyes closed once again before looking into the thick mess of tropical vegetation that lay before him. There was no telling what kind of wildlife lurked within. His mind raced with images of poisonous snakes and insects. His various phobias concerning the creepy and crawly could very well be tested in this place.
Jake stood perfectly still and listened for a moment, trying his best to distinguish any other sounds beyond the thunderous crashing of waves behind him. Films like The Swiss Family Robinson, and television shows like Gilligan’s Island had taught him that tropical islands were just teeming with wildlife… yet he heard nothing.
With one last look at his son, he stepped off of the beach and into the tropical wilderness.