book cover of The Dark Atoll

The Dark Atoll

(The first book in the Castaways series)
A novel by

There was something out there. I could hear it. There, beyond the beach, behind the tree-line. Off to my left, out of sight. I was still on the beach, just beyond the waterline. I crawled here a few minutes ago. I heard the rustling almost immediately; as soon as I had become conscious again.
I didn't know how long I had been there, apparently washed up by a higher tide sometime earlier. My clothes were still wet, so I must not have been here more than a few hours. I didn't wake up coughing, so it didn't seem that I had drowned. The life-jacket seemed to have kept me above water.
I was on my knees, scanning the tree-line for movement, and listening... and trying to get my bearings. I had been awake for just a few minutes. The sun was up, but barely. Of course, we almost never saw the sun because of the ash clouds, but they were getting better every year. It had been 18 years since the cataclysm.
If the cataclysm had taught us anything, it was to be careful and think things through. I wasn't in immediate danger as far as I could tell. My only injury seemed to be a really painful, but minor head-wound from where I had been hit.
We had left the compound on Tahiti early yesterday. Or was it the day before? I guess it didn't matter. I guess I didn't know for sure what day it was. I didn't have a watch; we didn't have much use for them. When you don't have appointments, and no train to catch, precise times aren't that important.
I had intended to travel with just the cargo, but Aunt Irene hated the islands and wanted to go back to what she thought of as her home. For some reason, she expected to find the resort and the town just like she had left it. She was delusional. I might not have said that last week, but after what happened, I would have a lot more to say if there had been anyone to listen to me.
What I couldn't figure out was how she and Clark thought that they could survive a two year journey at sea in relative isolation, eating mostly fish. Irene was used to demanding that others do her work for her. How did she imagine that she would handle a trip like this with just me, Clark, and the four sisters? She didn't even like any of us. My plan was to stay on a different end of the boat as much as possible.
But that was all pretty much ancient history now. Last night, I was standing at the bow of the boat, watching the last of the sunlight disappear. It was going to be dark. The moon didn't show much these days.
Irene came up and stood beside me and said, "So, out there is Rangiroa?"
I said yeah, but there was something strange about the question. She knew as well as I exactly where we should be and where our course was taking us. Yeah, the island Rangiroa and it's neighbors was just in front of us. We'd be passing them overnight. There was something weird in her voice.
She sighed and said, "Yeah," and then I felt something hit me in the back of the head and I passed out.
I woke up on the beach here, listening for something out there, beyond the tree-line.

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