Now that Atomic is done, which you can see on my earlier post, I will show you my other recently finished work: ARARANKHA.
Of course, a novel is much bigger than a movie. I originally wanted it to be a downloadable PDF file, but my Mom suggested I should just post chapters. So, here's the prologue and first chapter for my techno-thriller, Ararankha. More will come soon. Tell me what you think!
"Quite possible," I dryly remarked. "But, Uncle, if these antediluvian animals formerly lived in these subterranean regions, what more likely than that one of these monsters may at this moment be concealed behind one of yonder mighty rocks."
-JULES VERNE, A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
A SCIENE FICTION NOVEL
PROLOGUE: THE FALL OF THE INCAS
CITY, ARARANKHA VALLEY, ANDES, PERU
The jungle was silent that day. Long, fathomless hallways of dense forest path, trodden down by the footfall of gigantic animals, wove a labyrinth across the land only they knew by heart. Dense cycads, reeds, ferns, and toadstools the size of your fist made a thick wall on all sides, and the sky was cloaked in a thick canopy of vegetation.
“No light entered fractured. No life exited in one piece.”
Those wise words from his Grandfather reverberated through his mind on loop, as he noisily crashed through the jungle. He stopped, panting in breath. Birds scattered from the trees, and a millipede the size of a dog scuttled out of his way and into the dense bush.
The world was dead silent. He hadn't thought about it. His Grandfather was killed just two minutes ago, fell to the stocky jaws of a bull Majong. He held his Grandfather’s token of good luck to his heart, an engraved symbol of a winged serpent, little wings stretching out of it’s coiled body, and wept. The tears fell, silent as they hit the ground.
It was gone. The people knew. They had fought for this land for decades, but they knew their time there would end soon. The corn fields dissipated, the livestock killed, the transportation devoured. All they could do was hole up in their small stone city, the inevitable slowly dawning on them when a Majong pack tore down the wooden fence and started to kill:
This land would never be tamed.
His mother knew this. She had planted a series of stones into the pathway, leading a trail to the river. She vanished that night, but hopefully her attempt wouldn't be in vain.
He ran down the pathway. Suddenly, to his relief, the jungle opened up at a corner, and a lazy river was in sight! He turned back, listening one last time to the faint chaos in the village, and made a mad dash for the river. He jumped.
The cold, clear water felt good on his skin, as he sunk down. He staggered upward, pulling himself in a foamy splash, upward to the air. He seized a passing log, and held on.
As he rushed down river, he saw a serpent perched in tree, eyeing him. Like all serpents here, with the exception of the real snakes, he was covered in downy plumage, and bight green wings.
“Get out of here, you filthy monster!” The boy shouted in spite. The serpent spread its wings and flew, disappearing from view as it soared over the canopy. He didn’t hate the serpents. But they had failed to save his people, and that was bad enough for him.
Soon, the boy heard it. He had never been this far from the town, only heard stories, but he knew now how to exit this accursed valley. He looked up. The canopy was gone, only the high walls of the mountains.
He was speeding now. Speeding towards the rushing, foaming maw that would show him sky, then plunge him down into the black, and decided wether he would die or live. The trees parted back, showing him the gateway. He saw the sky. He held the stone of the winged serpent tight in his hands.
I will be free soon, Grandfather, he thought. I will not let you die in vain. I will escape, and tell of the bravery of you, and your father, and your grandfather, and his-
He felt the drop, and plunged into darkness.
EL RECTO CAMINO AL INFIERNO, ANDES MOUNTAINS, PERU
She was looking at the floor of the bus. Striped rubber, vertical grooves from top to bottom, covered in leaves. She would focus on that. Not anything else. She cursed herself for taking the right side of the bus. Silently, Marika looked over, and peered out the foggy, glass window.
“CRAP!” She startled everyone on the bus, and jerked back, once again looking to the floor.
Marika loved to feel secure. Not just in safety, but about herself. She wanted to feel like the tough, brave, hip gal most people would picture her as. Unfortunately, she kind of wasn't.
The glass window fogged it a bit, but she could still see the monstrous death drop to the jungle chasm below. She was unfortunate enough to be on el Recto camino al Infierno, Rather humorously translated to the road straight to hell. A little know but nonetheless dangerous road, carved by dynamite as a traveller’s pass in the 1870s, it was clearly only barely big enough to hold a small buggy. It clearly wasn't designed to hold a traveller’s bus, the right tires barely on the dirt road as the right side jutted out, right into thin air. It wasn't nearly as big as Yungas Road in Bolivia, which had higher death count, but only because more people travelled on it. The massive overhang of rock almost the entire way didn't help either. She clung to her sleeping bag roll like a teddy bear, holding tight and never letting go.
Marika shuffled uncomfortably on the leather bench. With short, reddish hair, thick jeans, a beanie, and wool scarf from the Andes, any passing person not ogling her could guess with ease that she was traveller. She loved traveling, which was odd, considering her high list of phobias: arachnophobia, acrophobia, ophidophobia, etc.... most things that just creeped people out TERRIFIED her. She couldn't leave her last hotel room, considering a cockroach the size of her fist clung to the doorknob, and could only leave when a bellhop came in to evacuate her. It was a childhood fear, that had followed her long into adulthood.
“It’s never fun, this road.” She looked up. Most seats were occupied by various types of people: goat herders, mountaineers, botanists, and filmmakers. The man two seats ahead of her was an old African American man in his 50s, with greying hair and glasses. A camera crew sat across him, holding large black nylon bags full of equipment.
“Recto camino al Infierno has been a common road for me, every time I go to Peru. Executives say viewers cant get enough of a “death road”. It’s not bad, once you get used to it. No one travels on these roads.”
She paused. “Wait,” she said. “You're....”
“Amani Abasi, at your service. Good to meet you, m’am.”
For a brief second, she hardly believed what she was seeing. Abasi was a famous traveller, host of the traveling show Wild Earth. A botanist from Kenya, he spent his entire life filming the most beautiful locations in the world, from the peaks of the Himalayas to strange fish on the darkest depths of the ocean floor. A big name in traveling, considering he pretty much visited every place on earth.
“It’s an honor to meet you, sir! Why are you, why are you here?”
“Well, not for the best reasons. I’ve been hired for this show on Discovery called First Contact.”
She chuckled. “Seriously? You’re on a show about Aliens?”
“Worse. They’ve got permission by the Peruvian Government to be the first people to visit an uncontacted tribe. Im basically here to film the culture shock, of natives discovering technology and stuff.”
“That’s actually pretty cool.”
“You’d think. But I don't think it’s right. Uncontacted tribes are usually antisocial, some are even violent. I’ve met a couple during my trips to the Amazon. They don't like outsiders. Even worse, contact is extremely dangerous for them, too. It’s like War of the Worlds.”
“It’s an old science fiction book. In the book, the Martian creatures try to attack earth, but die from the flu, which they have no immunity to. It’s like that, going to tribes. You gotta be careful.”
“Well, wouldn't giving them new technology be a good thing?”
“Sometimes. But this isn't as much an operation as is it a gimmick. Science television has gone downhill in recent years. They pull crap like this all the time, doing dangerous stunts and crap documentaries, all for the sake of ratings. Ever seen Mermaids?”
“Heard about it.”
“It was a documentary on Animal Planet, aired a couple years back. It claimed they found real Mermaids, even had talking heads and scientists! Turns out, those scientists were ACTORS, and only an itty-bitty, blink and you’ll miss it disclaimer at the very end! It’s atrocious! It was a lie, on a SCIENCE CHANNEL, to get ratings! Now they’re all doing it! Giant sharks, alien abductions, Bigfoot! You can find at least one pseudo science show for every science channel! I got into the job to teach people, now they send me into this filth!”
He sighed, coughing a bit into his shirt. He obviously had vented a lot of frustration.
“Sorry you had to hear that, just needed to vent that out.”
“No, no, it’s all right. Always like the opinion of a professional.”
“So, what are you here for?”
“I just got back from a nature hike to Machu Picchu. Going south to Argentina. Doing a long trip ‘round South America.”
“I just love traveling. Go places whenever I can.”
Abasi smiled. “That’s a good reason.”
“I’m a folklorist, work at Mojave Community college in Arizona. I research mythology whenever I can, so I can answer my student’s questions.” She chuckled. “I also got a cat at home. A big, grey Tabby called Mr. Glumblington. One time, I forgot to leave the door to the cat litter open while I was in Canada, so laid a turd in the fireplace. I didn’t notice until I lit the next fire. I fled the house. It smelled so bad, I thought it was some sort of gas warfare!”
She laughed. Abasi looked at her curiously.
“Why do you find that funny?”
“It’s just....never mind. Toilet humor. Love that cat.”
‘You seem afraid of the drop.’
“Yeah, I guess I am. It doesn't look very safe.”
“It isn't. I have deep respect for Bud’s driving ability, but I’ve seen far too many crashes on this road. But this will probably be our last time going down this road, anyway. I’ve learned a healthy antidote to the fear.”
“Just look down the aisle, straight ahead to the road. Glass window is fairly big.”
“Thanks, Mr. Abasi.”
“Don't mention it.”
He turned back in his chair. Marika peered down the Aisle. It was a fairly normal sized travel bus, and she could see the large, tinted glass pane easily. The road ahead was tan dirt and crumbling gravel. It seemed as if the ground moved forward, and the bus stood still. Abasi was right. It was comforting, if only a little bit.
The dark overhang overhead rose up and disappeared. They were now on the edge of a cliff. The bus stopped.
An intercom hissed to life, silencing the passengers. “Okay, everyone, the overhang clears up into a cliff-face. Now, this area us a common rockslide hazard, and I need everyone on their best behavior so I can concentrate. Otherwise, it’s a fifty foot drop to the forest below. Got it?”
Everyone was silent.
“Good. Now, relax. This is only a two mile stretch, then we can get to Argentina! I got some rather appropriate music to calm your nerves.”
The Intercom clicked, and music began to play. Marika recognized it: it was a song from Evita, a play about Argentina’s revolutionary war. A couple elder gentlemen chuckled, getting the reference. The bus turned on, the engines humming, and slowly drove across the road. Replacing the overhang, on the left side of the bus was a massive, steep slope, ranging from gravel to boulders the size of a small houses. Light rain splattered against the window, rattling overhead. A couple signs passed by, ROCKSLIDE emblazoned on bright yellow panels. She kept her eyes focused on the road. Thunderclouds rolled in, darkening the skies. The rattling increased enormously, and many people pulled out their iPhones to tune it out. Lightning flashed overhead, blinding the road for a split second.
She looked up towards the rockslide. It rose up in a steep slope for 70 feet, disappearing over the horizon. For a split second, something dashed between the boulders. Startled, she rubbed the fog away, staring. It was gone.
Two hours passed. The roads now flooded, and the windshield wipers strained to control the flood. Muddy pools poured off the edge like miniature waterfalls. Thunder rumbled.
The driver cursed. Half the passengers jerked up, just barely catching the monstrous streak of lightning crash over the bus, scarring a massive boulder with an ashen black mark.
They mumbled, concerned. The driver was probably concerned, too, considering he picked up the speed a bit.
A flash of lightning hit the ground twenty yards away. The driver cursed, picking up the pace. The crowd panicked, some screaming. The bus shot forward, the tires tearing up dirt and mud as it shot down the trail.
“STOP! The lightning can’t hurt us inside a car!” Abasi shouted, but the driver didn't listen. He shot down the road, mad with fear.
Ten feet away another flash of lightning clashed against a boulder, blowing chunks everywhere. A large animal, moving too quick to be seen, dashed from it’s hiding place onto the road. The green blur’s glowing eyes locked with driver.
It all happened so fast. The animal jumped, crashing into the windshield, the tinted blue disintegrating into a white spiderweb. A massive, leathery creature crashed into the bus, hurtling down the aisles.
There was a swerve, a sound of screeching tires, and a jolt. The road ahead careened off and plunged into a swirling vortex of alternating colors:
Blue, brown, and green. Blue, brown, and green.
Sky, cliff, forest floor. Sky, cliff, forest floor.
Everything floated for a split second. People who didn't wear seat-belts flew up and crashed against the walls like a pinball machine.
Marika’s heart pumped. Everything slowed down. She could hardly believe what was going to happen.
Oh my god, she thought. Im going to die.
She was jerked upwards by a large crash.