Chapter 9 and “An Open Door” (Beta/WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Kepler 62f’s larger moon hung low over the eastern horizon, following the planet’s sun rising high into the turquoise sky. Gentle waves lapped at the sloped stone roof and washed against the stern of the wrecked trimaran, pulled up onto the rooftop out of harm’s way. A pile of meager belongings, retrieved from the boat, sat on the roof: a knapsack of food, a solar charger, a pair of handheld tablets, and the two e-suits, neatly folded with helmets sitting atop them.

Anna sat beside the pile and looked out at the water, at the broken rooftops and spires of the ancient city pushing their way above the waves, structures she had at first thought to be rocks and reefs, worn down by the ages and the frequent storms of this world. How far had the sea level risen here? How deep down were the streets and avenues these people had once walked? She could not tell.

She turned her gaze upward, following the line of the gleaming space elevator cable, reaching far into the heavens until it dwindled out of sight. The sun was near its noon zenith, so even with Kepler 62’s dimmer light she had to shield her eyes against the brightness of its light, and she could not make out the orbital ring at the elevator cable’s other terminus. Would this millennium-old artifact still work? She knew it was doubtful, but she had pinned their hopes on it, and now they were here. Only one way to find out. She turned and dropped her gaze to the building wall behind them, and the elevator’s base just beyond it.

Read more at

An Open Door

(2,483 words; 9 min 55 sec reading time)

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A while back I mentioned something about how the menu structure on the website, breaking the story down into chapters and scenes, was becoming unwieldy, at least for my 13″ laptop screen. Even more so on a mobile device! So, that is now done. Have a look, you’ll see that under Works in Progress / Alpha Reads and then The Silence of Ancient Light, there are now two entries for Part One and Part Two. Part One has the first six chapters, and Part Two has the rest of what I’ve written so far (which is to say, chapters 7 and 8 and the first scene of chapter 9). Now, I should warn you that the divisions of the chapters into parts is somewhat arbitrary, more around neatly organizing the menu onto the web page that organizing the structure of the story. If and when this story makes into a finished novel format, these part divisions are unlikely to remain with it.

So, with that out of the way, welcome to Part Two, and the beginning of Chapter 9!

When last we left our heroes, they had just shipwrecked (again!?) upon the island of Ar-Makati, the forbidden island that is also home to the thousand-plus-year-old disused and possibly ruined space elevator. The space elevator which Anna is holding out as their best hope of getting back into orbit and thus finding a way to return to their starship. Clearly they have some rather large hurdles to overcome to make all this happen, but just as clearly their next order of business is going to be to find a way into the interior of the ancient buildings of this island.

And so that’s what they are now setting out to do. The only problem is, almost everything is underwater. But come on! These people crossed twelve-hundred light-years of interstellar space to get here! A little water is hardly likely to stand in their way, right?

As always, I welcome your feedback, both on the structure of the website as well as the story itself. Tell me what you like! Tell me what you don’t like, too.


header image credit: user:cottonbro / pexels.com via Pexels License

The Drowned City (Beta/WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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The days and the nights passed, and if it were not for the desperation of their situation, Anna would have found the sailing nearly idyllic. The small trimaran performed brilliantly on the broad reach of their course, the skies remained clear and the tradewind constant. Occasionally a brief squall passed over, enough to keep their water jugs full, but not so much as to cause alarm. They had enough food if they were careful, though it became increasingly bland as they relied upon the salted fish and seaweed that Ca-Seti had thoughtfully left on board, supplemented with their own dwindling supply of prepackaged meal bars.

Ca-Tren continued to ask questions about the stars in the sky, and Anna tried to teach her the basics of astronomy and the structure of the galaxy. Ca-Tren struggled with the human names for the stars and constellations, and Anna wondered if she really grasped the distances involved or was just being agreeable. How does one teach the idea that light has a velocity to someone who has never before had to learn more than how or why their world has seasons? At least Li-Estl taught her students that their planet was a sphere and that it revolved around their sun, so thankfully Anna didn’t have to broach that particular subject, and Ca-Tren had been exposed to the idea that the stars in her sky were other suns, far away. Yet the speed of light remained a difficult concept.

If our boat could fly, could we sail to your world? Ca-Tren asked on one of these nights.

Read more at

The Drowned City

(2,659 words; 10 min 38 sec reading time)

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If someone lights a fire in front of you, you see the fire instantly, right? Even if the fire is a mile away, assuming it’s large enough, your sense is that it takes no time for the light of that fire to reach your eyes. It could be many miles away, at the edge of the horizon, and it will seem this way to you. Of course, you’re an educated person, and you know from school or books you’ve read that the speed of light is not instantaneous, but it is very fast. In fact, it is so fast that to travel from a huge bonfire on the horizon, which for sake of argument we’ll call 20 km away, it takes a mere 67 microseconds to reach you, or 0.000067 seconds.

According to a 2017 MIT study, it takes 13 milliseconds (0.013) for the electrochemical signal to travel from the lens of your eye through your optic nerve and thalamus and finally reach your cerebral cortex, where your brain recognizes it as a visual signal. I’m sure you can do the math from here, but yes, that means that in the time it took for your brain to “see” the light already at your eye, additional photons from that same bonfire have traveled the 20 km to reach you 195 times. In fact, the only reason you see the light of that fire at all is because it continues to shine longer than 13 ms, as otherwise it would be so fast as to be unperceivable by you or I. This is beyond subliminal.

So, a civilization with no experience of anything beyond the surface of their world could be forgiven for not thinking of light as something that has to travel at all, but rather something which simply is.

In this circumstance, how would you begin to explain to someone from that civilization that the stars they see in the sky are not as they are, but as they were hundreds or even thousands of years ago?

This is where Anna begins as she attempts to instruct Ca-Tren in the nature of the galaxy around her.

Of course, such near-philosophical discussions are but a pleasant interlude, as Anna, Ca-Tren, Laxmi, and Jaci are about to arrive at the island housing the ancient base of the space elevator they have been seeing in the sky for months. What will they find upon arrival?

You’ll have to click that link and read on to find out.

As always, drop me a line and let me know what you think of the story so far!


header image credit: Enrique Meseguer / pixabay.com via Pixabay License