Read a sample : Shadows of Olympus
On this page you can read the first Chapter of my sixth Sci-Fi book “Shadows of Olympus”, available on Amazon kindle. If you like it, please don't hesitate to share via the social media buttons at the bottom of the page.
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the previous books, reading this sample can spoil some of the story line, which I don't recommend.
Chase felt as if he was being syphoned away from where he stood.
What the hell is happening to me?
The force pulling on his body was like nothing he had ever experienced. He tried to counter it but there was no escape. He was being sucked out of the Hope as if a black hole had taken grasp of him and him alone. His vision was distorted and it felt as though time had stopped. His friends were all around him but none of them seemed affected. They looked like statues, frozen in time, while Chase skidded against his will across the floor of the Hope’s bridge towards a dark portal.
The oval-shaped doorway swallowing Chase was a void with ominous purple lightning all around its circumference.
Chase fired one fireball at it. When that failed he unleashed a dozen more powerful ones into the portal but they were simply swallowed up. To make things worse, the portal now grew bigger and the gravitational force even stronger.
If he’d had any illusions about escaping this relentless force before, he could forget about it now. There was nothing Chase could do. He called for help but no one could hear him. After several minutes of struggling, the gravitational pull proved too strong. Chase lost his footing and tumbled forward. Instead of falling onto the ground he was snatched in midair and swallowed inside the portal.
* * *
Chase was lying on the ground in an unknown place. It took him a few seconds to regain access to all his senses. Whatever feedback they were providing made no sense, though. He lay on something that felt organic. It was soft. And it was moving. The place was dark, and he could barely see anything. He heard soft murmurs all around him, thousands of them. Some distant, some so near he could almost feel people breathing down his neck.
From time to time purple lightning flashed in the sky. For a brief moment it would illuminate the place, but the resulting light was so strong that Chase’s eyes couldn’t adapt fast enough to get a clear picture of where he was. The split-second shadow of an image he saw made no sense.
His heart started beating more strongly. Whatever this place was, it felt ten times worse than the underworld he had visited not long ago. There was also a wretched smell all around him.
“Can anybody hear me?” he cried out, but all he could hear were the layered and indiscernible murmurs. Voices he wasn’t sure were even human, but they sounded as if they were either in pain or afraid. Perhaps both.
He struggled to his feet, having trouble keeping his balance. The ground was not a flat surface; that much he was sure of. He needed to see where he was. The last lightning flash had rendered his eyes useless in the dark. He cast an icy-blue energy sphere in his hand in order to see what was around him.
What he saw terrified him to the core. He was standing on a pile of bodies, some human, some alien. They were in constant movement, their faces deformed by pain and suffering. Their bodies were dark and their mouths opened and closed as if they were fishes gasping for water. Their eyes were wide open but all gray: no irises, just dark, gray globes. When Chase moved, they jerked their heads around in a brisk and unnatural way, as if they reacted to his presence. That sent shivers down his spine.
What the hell is this place? Why am I here?
Chase moved the ball of energy around to get a better picture, but it was hard looking at this unfathomable mud, made of bodies, limbs and faces as far as the light would shine. The sky was just a dark void, starless and filled with thick, dark clouds that moved like smoke. Even in his worst nightmares he had never seen anything so terrifying. Could it be a nightmare? He sure wished it was and hoped he would soon wake up.
“Why am I here? Answer me!” shouted Chase.
Something moved a couple of yards in front of him and he aimed his light towards it.
Something or someone was trying to rise from the sea of intertwined bodies. The view sickened him but he felt compelled to keep looking. A female shape took form and rose upwards from the fleshy ground. Many hands and arms wrapped around her as she did. They didn’t seem to want her to rise from below. Her back was towards Chase so he couldn’t see her face. Hands grabbed her in an attempt to bring her back down. Long, dark and filthy nails planted themselves into her dark skin, ripping into her ashy-colored flesh. Black, gooey liquid oozed from the wounds.
A dark pit formed in Chase’s stomach. He had never before seen anything so gruesome and disgusting.
He needed answers though, so he addressed the tormented female figure.
“Ma’am? Are you alright?”
Multiple lightning bolts shot from the sky all around him, hitting the piles of bodies, their murmurs turning into unbearable screams for a few seconds after each strike. Chase’s blood froze. His mind was unable to fathom this horror.
If there is a hell, I’m in it.
When the lightning-bolt storm ended the woman’s head turned an impossible one hundred and eighty degrees in a jerky and unnatural motion, accompanied by the sound of bones cracking with every inch of movement.
The woman’s features were deformed by pain. Only when she spoke did Chase recognize her voice.
“Chase,” said Aphroditis, her voice weak and tainted with torment.
“Oh my god,” was all Chase could say in return. “Is it really you?” He wasn’t sure he really wanted an answer.
When she spoke her mouth moved in a strange way. Like a puppet’s mouth, somehow. But her expression morphed from one moment to the next. With each syllable her face grimaced with agony. The sight gave Chase the creeps.
“It’s me, Chase. Listen to me as I don’t have much time. It took a long time to get through the pain and gather enough energy to find the strength and focus to contact you. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to invite you into a nicer place.”
Chase dreaded his next question, but felt compelled to ask it. Aphroditis had often brought him into visions to talk to him. But they were, more often than not, projections of peaceful and relaxing places. This was the complete opposite. “Is this a visual representation of how it feels to be inside the machine?”
A black, oozing tear ran down her cheek. “Yes.” Her voice trembled.
For the love of the gods. What have I done?
“I’m so sorry, Aphroditis. This is all my fault. Please forgive me.”
“Never mind that, Chase. It matters not. You must save Earth. You have no choice but to leave it behind for the time being, or that evil Gaia will destroy you and your fleet. But don’t stay away for too long. Come back to free the planet as soon as you can. This is paramount, Chase. Do whatever it takes, but don’t let Earth fall.”
More hands grabbedAphroditis’ body and dragged her slowly back down inside the fleshy ground.
“Tell me how I can get you out of this hell. Please!”
“You can’t, Chase. Perhaps once the Furies are gone. But if you destroy the machine or attempt to rip me from it, you risk creating a tear in space and time that could destroy all life in the universe. So you have to promise me you won’t do it.”
Chase’s frustration grew exponentially. He was responsible for this. Guilt permeated his being.
“I can’t do that, Aphroditis. I can’t leave you here for all eternity.”
“You have to, Chase. Promise me!”
Chase clenched his teeth. How could he? How could he promise to abandon all hope of ever rescuing her?
“I understand you want to appease your conscience, Chase, but understand that I don’t blame you for any of it. You’re doing what I expected of you. You’re putting your life on the line to defeat the Furies, and I know in my heart that you will succeed. You need to understand that this place, this torment I feel . . . I accept this fate gladly if it means you complete your mission.”
Not good enough!
Her wounded body had sunk halfway back into the mass of tormented bodies. She had turned slightly more to the left and had to rotate her head more to look at Chase, which meant more bone-cracking.
“Please, Chase, promise you’ll put all your energy into fighting the Furies and won’t try to get me out of here. I beg you. Please give me your word.”
Chase felt like firing fireballs at the other bodies that were dragging her back into that fleshy pool of pain and suffering. He felt compelled to destroy this entire place by unleashing his fury. But deep inside he knew it wouldn’t make the slightest difference. This place existed only in his mind, a terrifying representation of what his oldest Olympian friend was going through.
“If you are truly my friend, then promise me, Chase.”
The words cut his heart like a razorblade. But in the end he resigned himself. “I promise, Aphroditis.”
“Thank you, Chase. Please don’t tell Ares about any of this. It will only make things worse.”
Soon her head was swallowed back into the ground and she disappeared.
Almost instantly Chase’s body was sucked away from this place and he was back on the bridge of his ship. For a split second everyone around him was still frozen in time, but then they started moving again.
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Artwork by Christian Kallias