This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Imagine the sound of a truck, a B-train, one of those semis with the double trailer, crashing of a bridge into the river below. That’s the sound of my birth.
The date was January 10, 1992 and the location was the middle of the northern Pacific, more than 1,600 kilometers east of the Hokkaido, Japan, more than 3,300 kilometers west of Sitka, Alaska and 1,000 kilometers south of Attu Island, the most remote island in the chain of Aleutian.
44.7° N x 178.1°E to be exact.
At the time of my birth, there was a severe winter storm in this part of the northern Pacific. Heavy, seas were the order of the day. Seas that turned a massive container ship more than a kilometer long and a football field wide — a ship so big that when it crosses through the Panama Canal, there’s only a few inches to spare on each side — into a toy boat in a bathtub. When waves are this high and the ship is being tossed around so much, crew members are denied food because they’ll never be able to keep their meals down.
Non-essential crew members are confined to bunks and the ship is in a state of emergency preparedness, the radio constantly releasing its position into the atmosphere so as to remind everyone where they are, just in case. These procedures are not in place because they were worried that they were in danger of capsizing; it was only company policy.
But like that metaphorical toy boat in a bathtub… well next time you take a bath try to sink one of those things with just the splashing of waves. Won’t happen.
A large number of crew had already lived through such storms in their careers, you cannot circumnavigate the seas of the world on a regular basis without experiencing the wrath of Poseidon, I can attest to that. But there is always a lingering sense of worry.
Sailors are a superstitious lot, be they a gang of Viking oarsmen bent on pillage and rape, a platoon of marines aboard a Man-O-War, or a crew of mostly Philippinos in a PanaMax container ship. And one thing they never take for granted is the power of the waterways in which they ply. They are, for the most part, comfortable in the floatability and resilience of their ship, but they are not stupid enough to dismiss the power of Nature. There are too many stories of capsize in the annals of history to remind them.
To give you a sense of the power of that storm on the January day, you only need to check the ship’s inclinator readings. The inclinator is tiny yet vital piece of equipment on almost every single large commercial ship in existence today. It measures the roll and pitch of a ship. On an extremely calm day, when the ship is perfectly level with the water, the inclinator reads close to 0°. There is never any moment in a ship’s lifetime when its inclinator reads 0°, save for when the device is installed. After that it’s a topsy-turvy world that never settles down to the calmness of nothing. At the opposite end of the spectrum is 90°, and then you’re talking about a ship keeled over on its side and chances are, sinking to the depths of the Trident’s world.
On the day I was born, the inclinator first read a roll of 55° to port and then a 53.67° roll to starboard. I’ll leave it to you to imagine how you would respond if your world is ever rocked and rolled in that way. Maybe you’ll be able to pick yourself up off the ground. Maybe you’ll need help. Maybe you’ll stay down, I don’t know.
But the severity of such a pitch and yaw knocked free a few containers from that ship and they plunged into the water crashing like that metaphorical semi trailer B-train.
Nobody knows how or why my container burst open — maybe we struck another container, maybe one or two of the stays, those three-inch thick steel cables that normally keep containers tied to the ship, broke free and slashed about, slicing our container open before we fell. Possibly, it was just the force of our home striking of the surface of the water after an eight storey fall. But open we did and what followed has become the defining moment of our history.
We call it The Great Gasp.
There is no other event in history, prehistory or otherwise, that equals it. Of course, there is the Big Bang, that massive, abliet still theoretical, explosion that created the universe. But that was only an explosion of matter and its respective elements. At the time of the Big Bang, at least as far as one can know, there was no consciousness participating in the event, save for those from an Italo Calvino story. Maybe there were witnesses, ancient beings gazing at the sight the way some humans chase the world for solar eclipces. But actual participants caught in the initial conflagration that became our universe, I don’t think so,
And while humanity did come into consciousness at some point in its history, that was just a gradual awakening of intellect that was barely noticed by its participants.
The Great Gasp was something else. It was the sudden intake of breath of 28,000 entities instantly coming to life. In the space of a moment, the blink of an eye, a split second, an instant and a heartbeat, we went from inanimate objects, plastic toys bound for the shelves of North American discount stores, with no feelings, no thoughts, no awareness of our existence, to total awareness.
sujitha nair: What's so distinct about this story was that it could easily be real. Praveena can be your classmate, neighbor or that girl you saw at the coffee shop today. The important decisions she makes and the dilemmas she faces, remind us of our own twisted lives.
Hali McGowan: when will the third book be done? I am absolutely hooked. I red the first two books within less than a week. I'm itching for the third one. The plotline is absolutely wonderful. I've never been much for sci-fi ish books. but you've got me hooked on this series
Jessica Esa: With a tantalising end to the first chapter, the authour has given us a treat and a welcome addition to the fantasy adventure genre. To limit it to just such would be an injustice however, as this novel clearly draws on elements of historical fiction, fairy tale and horror. Simply, there's someth...
Tavis Ryan King: "What Happened to Charlie Carmine" is a fabulous mo-gee-toe cocktail fuelled midget orgy of psychology, fantasy and sarcasm. I laughed out loud when reading this novel so many times it made the London commuters I shared space with look at me with curious disdain - and I did not care.The protagoni...
ArgyrisMetaxas: Thrilling story which builds layer ontop of layer. A few mis spellings every few chapters. What I found special was that it took a modern day problem and took it to its logical conclusion and plays this realism with gritting precision. I'm always on edge ready to shout from adrenaline. This is gr...
Alisha Banks: You have me hooked! I immediately upon finishing the first book had to start the second. It is a captivating story and I can't wait to finish the other two book! I will definitely be recommending this book to others to read!
aaron10905: This is undoubtedly one of the best books written on here. I actually unistalled this app until someone told me about this story. I came back not expecting much, just to be drawn into the story and the characters. I would buy this book in real life, as long as another was promised shortly after.
makaylakay: I love love this story! It's written incredibly and well thought-out plot! I love how it's a different twist in fantasy fiction, other then the usual vampire or werewolves. Love the romantics and drawn to the two characters so much already! This book will draw you in within the first chapter and ...
Ruby0h: Overall I thought your story was really good! It drew me in right away and kept me interested as the story progressed. I loved the character of Kayla being inserted into this story, and the way she affected and shaped the life of the original story into something totally new and interesting. I lo...