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The Left-Handed Sword -Chapter One

All Rights Reserved © 2010 Will Kalif

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by
any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system, without
the permission in writing from the author.



Softly she kissed me
Under a pane of mistletoe
Soon thereafter she left
And took my heart away with her
Never to return again

-The woman with the long brown hair


Chapter One - Darkness Arrives

"We dance around the circle and suppose while the secret sits in the center and knows" - Robert Frost

   The car wound its way gracefully along the single lane highway. Storm shifted it gently into second gear and the warm Newport air caressed the hood as it purred its way toward the old city. It was a toreador red blur that darted its way easily along the curves.
     There is a certain magic surrounding Newport. It's very old New England and it still retains its roots in Europe. It is the French Riviera of America. The beaches are long and narrow and for miles they come right up to the road. The homes are large and beautiful, replete with hand-woven rugs and imported Italian marble. The whole city reeks of money and of something else.
     When people inhabit a place on the earth for many generations the place tends to remember things, and the spirit of the people stays behind long after the people themselves have left. This is a phenomenon that is everywhere but we generally don't notice it. A human being absorbs everything that he sees, hears, and experiences, then it becomes a part of him. The same is true for everything in this world. If you place a sturdy rock in a stream the stream slowly changes it. Over time the flow of water, no matter how gentle, senses the insulting edges of the rock and softens it. The same is true with living things. If you plant a grapevine near a pumpkin patch the wine will have a hint of pumpkin. If you grow thousands of people over one patch of land the land will retain a hint of them. This is the way of Newport. For two hundred years sailors, merchants, Mill-barons and commoners walked its cobblestone streets; and the streets, like a rock in a stream, absorbed the flow of the people. Some rocks are stronger than others, they resist the change for thousands of years. Other rocks quickly comply to the pressure and change. Newport is like the latter. It eagerly accepted the heartbeats and thoughts of the people that crossed it. It is a place of mystery, a place where the very threads of people and time meet and have an affect on each other. The fabric of life here is very thick and this fabric settled easily into the fertile soil.

     Storm eased the corvette into third and the tone of the engine changed from a purr to a masculine roar. He looked over at Arabella and she smiled at him. They had the road to themselves for the moment. In the late afternoon everyone was still locked in what they were doing. Everyone that was out was still at the beach or perusing the shops in town but in another hour or two, when dusk starts to creep in everyone would pack up their beach chairs and head to the restaurants and clubs for seafood dinners and jazz. Storm looked at Arabella again. Her hair fluttered gently in the salty air. He loved her hair. It was long and straight, very thick and dark brown. He brought his eyes down to her legs. She was wearing her favorite jeans, the ones with rips in the thighs and knees. This went out of style in America in the late eighties, but in Spain where she grew up, it was still fashionable. Most Europeans proclaim distaste for America and everything American, but secretly they all pine for the glamour that Hollywood portrays.
     He took his hand off the shift and slid it right into the hole at her left knee. He pushed his hand into the rip and cupped it under her knee. Arabella gasped gently at the surprising contact, gave him a knowing glance, and without saying anything she closed her eyes and laid her head back on the rest. She rarely spoke. Her English was not that good and Storm had forgotten most of his college Spanish but it didn't matter. She didn't need to talk. She communicated everything she felt and thought with a glance or a touch, or an innuendo of breath. She preferred to communicate in non-verbal ways and love making for her was an exquisite experience. He learned long ago that when they were making love to pay close attention to her breathing and the subtle motions of her body.

     Without opening her eyes she reached her hand across, ran it gently over his head, brushed his ear then gently brought it to rest on the back of his neck with a gentle squeeze of need.
     His head was shaved completely bald and she enjoyed the feel of it. A man should shave his head so the world can see the machine that changes the world but a woman should grow her hair long to show her connection to the earth -the brown of autumn leaves or the gold of wheat and honey.
     The tempo of her rubbing his neck changed and he looked back over at her. She was staring at him, her brown eyes showing a rising need. She wanted him to pull the car over so they could go out on the beach and make love. Storm grinned. It wasn't just the touching. Newport did something to her. She loved the beach and she loved the sun. She loved the sound and the smell of the ocean but she never went in the water. All her life she has had terrible dreams of drowning so she was deathly afraid of going in the water but the raw tactile power of the ocean still attracted her.
     Storm coaxed the car to go faster. They were racing upward now. Thick slabs of granite bluffs were on each side of them and they were fast approaching the final curves and the top of the bluffs. In a few moments they would be over the top. The granite would fade away and gentler topsoil would dominate the landscape for the final few miles to the city.

     A hundred yards ahead a figure stood by the side of the road and watched them approach. Storm saw him as they got close and turned his head to get a longer look as they passed him. It was a man, a large man, and he was dressed in a long dark coat. His hair and his eyes were dark and he was holding something in his hands. It looked like a large Axe - the type with blades on both sides.
     Storm turned his attention back to the road and glanced in the rear view mirror at the man who was just stood still and watched them as they passed. Arabella turned all the way around in her seat and looked back at the figure. Under his black coat his clothing was a dull metal color; almost like some type of armor.
     Arabella touched his arm. Storm couldn't tell if it was concern for the figure or worry for their safety. That was some character he thought. Lots of Theater groups in Newport. Maybe it was some actor in uniform whose car broke down on the way to a play. He watched the road ahead; looking for a broken down car. Tough place to break down. He is exactly between the city and the beaches. It was a walk of a couple of miles either way. You could flip a coin. It didn't really matter which way you went. It was barren and unpopulated here because the granite bluffs and the river made it impossible for anything to be built. So this few miles was just a no mans land. Funny though how the man didn't wave for help. He just stared at them as they passed. And while he was carrying what looked like a pretty nasty axe sure as hell nobody was going to stop and help him. They rounded another curve and Storm took one more look in the rear view mirror to be sure they had the man well behind them.
     When he brought his eyes back to the road something dark and about the size of a large dog darted out in front of them.
     In the perplexity of the last two minutes of driving Storm hadn't decelerated the car at all. His right foot had been locked in the same position and the car remained in third at too high a rate of speed. His reflexes took control of him before his mind could override him and he jerked the wheel sharply to the left and slammed on the brakes.
     His body filled with adrenaline and the whole world went into slow motion. The tail end of the car turned out to the right and Arabella's side of the car slammed into a granite outcropping. This turned the car completely around and it launched itself backward down a slope between outcroppings and directly into the ocean. They hit the water with a deafening crunch then for a few seconds everything was quiet until the water started rushing in and Arabella screamed. It was the most horrifying thing that Storm had ever heard and it went through his head like a spike. This was a sound he never thought he would hear from the woman that never talked. He unbuckled his seat belt then reached over and unbuckled hers as the water level inside the car quickly rose. They couldn't have gone that far out into the water but six feet deep would be enough to totally submerge the car.
     Arabella was in a panic now. She was grasping at her legs somewhere down below the water level. She screamed again, but this time it wasn't a scream of shock, it was one of pain. He followed her hands down her legs as the water turned red. When the car hit the rocks it crumpled her side of the car and now her feet were trapped. He pulled on her knees and she moaned. The water continued its rise, now up to her chest and he dove his head under to look. She had a very bad gash on her thigh and it hurt him to see it. He choked back a gasp. The water was clear enough to see that her feet disappeared into a mangled mess of metal.
     He popped his head out of the water and grabbed her head in his hands. "The water here is shallow. Breathe deeply! Take deep breaths!" Recognition registered on her face and she started breathing in a long rhythm and just as fast as it started it seemed to end.
The car jolted and with the water at their necks it came to a stop; and the water stopped its climb. They forgot about their breathing and paused. Then like a knife reality came back to Storm. The panic of the moment was gone. Up until now everything was reaction. The moment of crisis seemed to be gone and now he had a small amount of space to think.
     He assessed their situation. The car launched itself into the river backward and now the rear end was the lowest part of the car. The current of the river was brisk -rushing quickly by them and through the car. Their position was precarious at best. The force of the river could move the car and send them deeper into the froth.
     Arabella's face was getting pale. She was losing a lot of blood. He took off his belt dove back under the water and tied it tightly around her thigh above the gash. The red water quickly turned clear. The belt stopped the bleeding but if stayed too long she would lose the leg. There was no telling the condition of her feet.
     He put his hand on her cheek. "Help is probably already on the way. Try to stay calm." The sheer terror showed in her face. This was the thing that she always had nightmares about -drowning. It was something that sought her out and she had no control over it. No matter how careful she was for her whole life, never going in the water, never even taking a bath, it still found her.
     "I am going to climb out the window, swim around to your side and try to open the door." He waited for her to respond but she just leaned her head back and closed her eyes. He turned and grabbed at the steering wheel so he could wedge himself by it and a shock of pain hit him. He pulled his left hand out of the water and near his face. His thumb was broken and dislocated. The largest thumb bone, near the palm of his hand had snapped, probably against the steering wheel at some point during the accident. With the adrenaline of the situation he hadn't been aware of it but when he reached for the steering wheel to get out his thumb wasn't where it was supposed to be and he jammed it hard. He closed his eyes and calmed himself. If he passed out in this position he could slip under the water and drown. If he tried to reset the bone now he would surely pass out so he left his hand alone, just floating in the coolness of the water. After a long minute the pain subsided to a manageable level and he opened his eyes. Through the cracks of the windshield he could see the shoreline from where the car launched. There was a figure standing there and his heart, again, raged into action. He took a quick look at Arabella then scrambled for the window quickly squirted his way through, and when he surfaced outside of the car he screamed for help.
     "My wife is trapped inside and She's hurt. Did you call for help? Is help on the way?"
The figure didn't seem to move. Maybe he was mistaken, maybe it was a tree. Storm shook the water out of his eyes and looked again. No mistaking it was a man. He wasn't very far away - only about the same distance as if he were standing on the sidewalk across a busy street. Storm got a very good look at him and he shook his head again. It was the man in black. The man they had seen just before the accident and he was carrying an axe; a big nasty looking double bladed axe.      His long black overcoat shimmered in the windy torrent of the river's edge. A hint of gold gleamed around his neck and the clothes he wore under the coat were of a strange make. The fabric at his chest and legs shimmered with a faint rainbow hue. His pants and shirt were made of what looked like overlapping scales of some large fish. He just stood and stared at Storm. Sitting by the mans side was what at first looked to Storm like a dog with a dark black coat of fur -In its sitting position it was enormous - coming to over the mans waist. But it was no dog, its head and jaw were too big for a dog and its shoulders were enormous. Framing its face was a mane of black fur. It was almost a cross between a big dog and a lion.
"Go get help! There's someone still in the car."

     Storm waved his arms above the water and beseeched the man. But he and his pet just stared back.
     He swam around the car and popped his head into Arabella's window. She was still breathing but she looked terribly pale. The cold water was helping with the blood flow but soon she would be in shock. He frantically grabbed at the door handle and pulled. It was a futile move the door felt like it had been welded to the car. The accident had closed it securely in place. He looked in on her again and she turned her head to look at him. "Your head." She whispered. He brought his right hand up to his skull and felt around. A flap of flesh on the right side of his head over his ear screamed at him when he touched it. He leaned his hands and his head on the top of the car and looked over at the man on the shore. The man raised his left hand and pointed at Storm. The creature at his side, as if being commanded, took two long lunges and launched himself into the water.
      When it surfaced it's head made a wake that pointed directly at Storm and Storm looked on in horror as it growled and its yellow eyes fixed on him. 'What the fuck! This wasn't good. What the hell is going on? Who is this man and what is this creature?'
     He took one quick look at Arabella through the window and she coughed some water out of her lungs. Again his heart started to race but this time it was labored. There was very little adrenaline left in his body. His reserves were exhausted, his thumb was broken, he had a nasty cut on his head, and who knows what else. He fought off the instinct to run his hands down to his legs to see if they still were there.
     The yellow-eyed creature was halfway to him now and malice was clearly in its eyes. It growled in a timbre that sounded like no creature on earth.
     Storm quickly assessed the situation. The thing was big, maybe a hundred and fifty pounds and most definitely strong. It couldn't be too mobile in the water needing all four of its legs to stay afloat, but the jaw, that was a weapon to be afraid of and it looked like it could snap an arm with very little effort. It drew quickly closer and the sound of its heavy breathing rose above the water noise. It was laboring in the water and a few feet from Storm it veered and with a scratching noise it hoisted itself out of the water and onto the hood of the car. Its nails clicked as it walked across the windshield then took a lunging bite at Storms head. He pushed himself away from the car and watched in horror as the weight of the creature tilted the car. Inside Arabella struggled to keep her mouth above water.
     Anger rose up in Storm. Up until now everything was like a surreal dream, cloudy and out of focus but now everything was sharp, it wasn't just the coincidence of things that happen , now it was a tangible threat, something that he could focus his energy against -the creature. The car shifted and creaked as the thing shuffled around on the windshield. Storm had to get it off the car or Arabella would drown.
      It was uncomfortable in the water and maybe Storm, with that and his weight advantage could capitalize.
      With two strokes of his arms he moved back in against the car then and put his already damaged left arm up to protect his face. The creature immediately attacked by clamping its powerful jaw on his forearm. The pain was like a lightning bolt to his head and he almost passed out but he didn't.
      He curled up his legs in the water then pressed his feet against the car and pushed with everything he had. The force of his kick propelled him away from the car and it took the creature off the car and into the water. He wrapped his other arm around its neck then rolled in the water so he was on top of it. Its legs kicked furiously but it wouldn't relinquish the grip it had on his arm.      Storm took a deep breath then dove himself down into the water. The two of them went down, locked in a death grip. One of them would die right here and the other would return to the surface.      The instinct of the creature was not suited for this type of a fight. In it's life it would latch onto its prey with its powerful jaws and tear and pull until the other creatures in its pack could find a killing bite to the neck or throat. But its pack mates weren't here and it couldn't bite and tear for the few minutes it usually took to wear down its prey because it had very little air and very little time.
      With a final gesture of its stubbornness and a shaking of its head that sent renewed sparks of pain through Storm it exhaled its air, breathed in the cold water and with a jolt it went quietly to death.
     That was a lot easier than he thought it would be. The damn thing practically gave up without a fight but its jaw was still locked onto his arm. He surfaced, shook the water out of his eyes and with his good hand pried the thing off. and it floated down and away. Storm turned back to the car then turned again, and again in the cold water and for the fourth time his heart leapt. The car was gone.
      He couldn't have gone far down stream. He looked to the shore. The man with the axe was still standing right there. Storm swam toward the shore, now in a panic and he bumped into the car. It was submerged only a few inches below the surface. He dove and darted his head in the window.
      Arabella was holding her breath and looking at him. He motioned for her to exhale, she did and he placed her mouth on hers and gave her what was in his lungs. He darted back up and screamed. "Get Help! We need help now." Taking three quick breaths he submerged again, popped his head in the window again and gave Arabella another breath. He continued this pattern.      Each time he surfaced he called for help then submerged again. Everything started to get gray and blurry. The rhythm of his breathing became a metronome of pain. Up to the surface, then back down to the car. He was hyperventilating but still not getting enough oxygen and had lost a lot of blood from his head and even more now from the bite on his arm. There were just a few inches of water between Arabella's life and her death.
     He pushed himself harder and broke the surface again and sounds came to him out of a blur of numbness. Was something happening? There was a commotion on shore. He thought it might be voices but it could just be the blood pumping weakly inside his head.
      He dove again and now he couldn't see the car -the water had clouded; or was it his vision that clouded? Where was he in his rhythm? Going up or going down? Oh yes -going down. But he couldn't see her anymore so he felt for her, grabbed her face, kissed her and again breathed into her. He broke the surface again. Were those voices? Were people coming? Or was it his ears? Where was he in his rhythm? Going up or going down? Oh yes. Going down. He dove and a voice told him that he didn't get air so he looked at what he thought was up and he saw light. He moved toward up and the light turned to gray then the gray turned to black.

End of Chapter One


Chapter Two - Darkness Thickens

"When you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Continue on to chapter two

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