Today I am posting the level 4 sample from the Summer chapter. It is about a man adrift at sea and struggling for survival. Enjoy the read..
Alone at Sea
Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink. I am doomed. The wooden planks of flotsam I cobbled together after the shipwreck are coming loose. I am sitting on a floating coffin with makeshift oars. It’s like Satan’s sauna out here in this big, blue tomb. The emptiness in my soul matches the spiritless sky and the featureless waterscape around me.
The days are the worst. The remorseless sun bends his full will against my survival and he is winning. I feel like I have been stabbed by a million sun spears. My blood simmers, my brain stews, and even my bones seem to smoulder in their meaty carcass. Dead man drifting. That’s who I am. I am floundering in a sea of divine-blue quicklime and there’s no escape. My tongue feels like a slab of lead, cloven to the roof of my mouth. My throat is parched and my lips are chapped and flaky. Only a god could save me now. Below the surface, huge shapes glide. Their fins break the surface like steel triangles, leaving barely a ripple. They circle and circle, constantly searching for weakness. They have followed me for three days and nights, cruel and cunning as they are. The knife fixed to the end of the oar can only keep them at bay for so long.
The tides are the mistress of the sea. They dictate the level of wind necessary for my forward movement. No tides, no wind, no survive. That’s why I hate the nights. A vast shroud of Barabbas –black fills the abyss of sky above. The wind dies down as the eerie, spectral moon appears. It casts down splinters of Solomon-gold, making the sea crests sparkle like elf-light. It is merely an illusion of beauty. I can see the full glitter of their beady eyes and the flash of their scalpel sharp teeth as they grin at me. The only sounds to keep me company are the sigh of wind, the slap of oar and the slosh of wave. The leavening sea is my enemy. It is as cold as a ghoul’s soul and my teeth are rattling and chattering. The haunting cheep-cheep of a passing tern reminds me how powerless I really am. Even he can go home. The stink of a thousand seas surrounds me. It is a mix of rotting kelp and dying fish. It assaults my nostrils and steals my hope.
But lo! There’s a huge magma-red light in the distance. I am rocked by a huge wave which pushes me towards the light. All the gods are with me. My name is Lucius Andropedus. I am a fisherman from Pompeii and I am lost at sea. It is The Year of Our Lord 79 A.D, somewhere off the coast of Italy, and I am saved.
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