The Oracle at the Temple of Amun

Here’s an adventure-filled excerpt from my novel HalfWorlder.

Having just careened into the cold waters of an underground lake below the Siwa Oasis, with nothing but massive phosphorescent fish for light, Alexandra is injured as rocks begin to fall on them from above. A patch of square light calls to them from the bottom of the lake. A way out. But can they make it?

I swam over quickly, and just in time too, because something above gave way and rock began to careen into the lake from above us. Alexandra started to come to and I pulled her quickly to my side, throwing my hand out to form a shield above us like Ryan. I was surprised by the weight of the rocks. They bore down on me, slowing crushing against my powers. Alexandra realized this. Her eyes were alarmed. I was too new at all this and I was already exhausted.

Her eyes fluttered. She didn’t look well. “You have to let me go,” she said quietly into my head.

So, she did realize.

“This is too important. The answers are down there.” Her face looked slack and unnatural. “We’re on the right path. You know it now. We can save the Earth. You can save it still, Gil,” she corrected. Her mental voice went quieter with that realization.

What was wrong with her to talk like this?

“There. Down there.” She tried to nod her head in the direction of the square of light below our feet, but it just rolled. Her eyes brimmed with tears, and she tried to pull away from me. But I held her tightly.

“Are you kidding me? I’m not letting you go!” I yelled out loud. “Good ancient false gods, you are fatalistic!” Adrenaline surged through me and I pushed out through my hand. She made me angry. There was no way I was losing her. Not for billions of lives. It was hers alone I wanted to protect. I couldn’t lose her. The rock above us rose slightly at this burst of heated energy.

Her eyes fluttered and she looked up at me as I held her in the cold water. She reached her hand for my face. Wounded as she was, she acted without her usual restraint. “You never give up do you?” she asked.

“Not when you’re involved,” I answered honestly, looking down on her. She said nothing, but she had heard me. Her eyes fluttered again and half closed. I was desperate. My Bau was fatiguing. I looked around frantically. I had to save her. There had to be a way.

“Can you help?” I asked her, looking down. I had to jog her just slightly to get her to wake and even hear me. She just looked at me. This was so unlike her. She must be really hurt. She was practically limp, I realized. I wasn’t even sure she was still conscious anymore. Her eyes hung open glassy this time.

Oh, God, please let her not be dead.

All around me, falling rock, choking water, giant fish. All of it was capable of killing us. None of it could help.

Unless.

I wasn’t so good at the telepathy thing. I could talk to ships, mumble to Alexandra. Could I catch the mind of a simple fish?

I tried it.

I focused my attention on a massive whale of a creature far down below and waited. It shot up through the water, its mouth open in a gaping hole.

Ah! Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea!

The fish’s massive body was translucent. Its guts and veins bulged purple, red and black under its scales as it approached. But it also glowed phosphorescent too, allowing me to see it in all its horrible glory. It seemed to turn its eye on me at the last second and then swallowed the two of us whole. It closed its mouth tight, so we had the privilege of air along with a great view of the other titan fish swimming around its clear body as we rocketed back down to the bottom of the lake.

The fish was fast moving and avoided the falling rocks by swimming zigzag through the water, sending an already hurt Alexandra tumbling around its massive tongue. The air wouldn’t last forever and I willed it to swim quickly for the square of light below. I didn’t know what would happen when we got there, but I felt sure it was our only hope.

The fish stopped in front of the light and I tried my best to thank it. I think it was confused at first we wouldn’t be a permanent meal, but its mind was simple and it accepted without much fuss. It swam in front of the doorway of light and let me take it in a moment before expelling us. I was pretty sure I could see something behind the blue light, and the material looked similar to the stuff that made up the mini dome we practiced in, so I was confident for the first time in 20 minutes.

It was something at least.

Alexandra was semi-conscious now and looked around in wonder realizing where she was at. A slow smile spread across her face and she accepted my help. “Hold your breath, Alex,” I said gently taking her in my arms. She pinched her nose lazily and took a deep breath. The look on her face was slightly spacey. Our fish friend opened its mouth and we burst across the barrier into a dry room filled with air.

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