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A single day, surrealistic journey past ruthless villains, living statues, strange creatures and the siren’s call, seen through the eyes of a naive yet coming of age young man. What other-worldly forces are secretly engaging, within the beautiful beaches of La Jolla? And of all people, why is a 19 year old Kansas resident caught in the cross-fire? Waves is one day in the life of Paxton Treadwell, plucked from his comfortable, predictable Kansas life, and dropped into a California coast that outwardly seems lovely and inviting. But as Paxton wanders through hang glider cliffs, exotic beaches, tunnels, caves, upscale villages and everything in between, he is gradually absorbed into an other-world mystery. He drifts in and out, one foot in a dangerous reality of ruthless killers, and the other in an even more dangerous unreality of melting buildings, ghostly animals and living objects, told through a first person stream of consciousness narrative.

Fantasy / Adventure
Age Rating:

Chapter 1 Where Am I?

The red and white hang glider drifted past me, left to right, just off the edge of the cliff, with the bluest of blue Pacific Ocean in the background. I was sitting, around a hundred feet from the edge of the cliff, maybe even closer. So close was I, as it sailed by, that I could see the driver’s peaceful expression as he quietly and effortlessly navigated his air machine. I’m not sure how it worked, something to do with the ropes that he pulled or maybe the way he leaned but he controlled this glider really well, they all did. Three more hang gliders were floating a bit farther away, to the left and higher in the sky. Their bright colors and tranquil movements were just as hypnotizing as the one directly in front of me. And off to the right were two more.

This one, with the broad red and white stripes, was now starting to dip down below the level of the cliff. His descent seemed to lack purpose. But I guess that was the point. He wasn’t going anywhere, just floating gently downward merely for the pleasure of it. The whole thing played out in slow motion, lower and lower he went then just like that, he was gone, out of my sight. So I gazed over at some of the other gliders. They were just as cool as the one I had been staring at. They floated gently up and up and up and then eventually started sliding back down. There were no sudden movements, no surprises; just wide, peaceful maneuvers, as if they were weightless. Then my red and white friend slowly emerged from the cliff edge, over to the left now. He must have turned around while below my line of sight. Without fanfare, ever so coolly it rose like the sun, past the cliff horizon.

What a life that must be, to live courageously enough to jump off that cliff, over the ocean, with only a wing-like contraption strapped to your back. I could never do it, but it was a nice pretend. I won’t even ride the Ferris wheel at the county fair. I suppose you could say that I’m afraid of heights, among other things.

I had never seen the Pacific Ocean before, or any ocean for that matter. It was more water than I had ever thought possible, water and more water, seemingly going on forever. I had actually never been to a body of water that I couldn’t see across. I have to admit, however, that I was not completely sure that this was the Pacific Ocean in front of me, but something inside me told me it was. You see, I seem to not know where I am or how I got here. I don’t think it’s amnesia. I know who I am and can remember my life perfectly.

My name is Paxton Treadwell. I’m nineteen years old and live in Salina Kansas. People say it’s about as close to the middle of the United States as one can get. I never confirmed that, but it’s fun to say. I’ve only been outside of Kansas once, well once before today that is. Our high school band played in Lincoln Nebraska. What a thrill that was - the big city. We even visited the University of Nebraska, the greatest school in the world. What it must be like to actually be a Cornhusker.

My dad is from Nebraska originally. He’s a plumber, his name is Jim. Jim the plumber, that’s what many people call him anyway. I don’t think he likes that nickname much. Actually he doesn’t like being a plumber much. He doesn’t like much of anything really, except Nebraska football. We knew growing up that if we ever had an emergency, if our arm was hanging out of the socket, it better not be during a Cornhusker game.

My mom teaches elementary school, fifth grade this year. I think she likes second grade the best. She keeps it all together, you know, mom-like.

My sister Megan is sixteen. She’s a drag most of the time, but what are you going to do? We used to be close. Maybe we will be again but not now.

My life is good, mostly. I go to community college and work part time for my dad. I don’t like plumbing either, but I guess someone has to plumb. I don’t have a girlfriend, actually I’ve never even gone on a date. There was this girl in high school, Ashley that I wanted to ask to the prom. But let’s face it, that was about as likely as me hang gliding. Wow, Ashley McQueen. I still think about her occasionally.

We were pretty good pals when we were kids. Neither of us were athletic, so we had a kindred spirit, you know, as the perpetual last kids picked. She was a skinny, nerdy kid and so was I. But a funny thing happened to her in high school. Everything developed in just the right way, I mean everything. She became a goddess. All of a sudden her lack of ability to kick a ball or climb a rope didn’t mean anything, but it meant more than ever to me and my life. Kind of a cruel twist I guess. So she landed in one social sphere and I in another. And we both knew our place, she treated me as if I didn’t exist and I treated her as if I didn’t exist. All was right with the universe.

Then as we started our senior year, we landed in the same Civics class. Alphabetically assigned seats put us a few rows apart. After two weeks of too much gabbing with her girly friend, she was moved right next to me. I was a quiet kid so it probably seemed like a safe move. But for the first time in three years Ashley McQueen talked to me. She just had to converse, that’s who she was. Just to be clear, this was not one of those Forrest and Jenny moments. We were not like peas and carrots, more like a swan and an ant, but I liked it very much.

My problem was, when she talked to me, I couldn’t keep my eyes from wandering all over her body, and I’m sure she could tell what I was doing. I would even psych myself up before going to class, look at her eyes, look at her eyes, look at her eyes, I would say to myself over and over, but it never worked. My eyes had a mind of their own. I was powerless.

Thinking back, I’m sure I misinterpreted her talkativeness as an attraction, wishful thinking to be sure. I so badly wanted to ask her to the prom. Alas, my fears won. I suppose it saved me from some embarrassment. I never found out who she went with. I’m sure she had many offers.

Anyway she went off to NYU to study TV journalism, a perfect occupation if there ever was one for a pretty girl who loved to talk. And for some weird reason, I went off to an unknown hang glider airport, somewhere near thePacific Ocean. Everyone has to be somewhere, but why was I here?

I can’t remember coming here or even when I started watching these hang gliders. I may have been here for five minutes or five hours, I really didn’t know. It’s like I was slowly melting into awareness. I loved watching this red and white hang glider, float in and out of view. I loved it, but how long had I been loving it? I hadn’t a clue.

The odd thing was, I wasn’t scared. I should have been, I’ve been scared by a lot less than this, but I felt surprisingly peaceful. I wasn’t even sure who these strangers were that I was sitting with. I would say there were around thirty of us, sitting in folding chairs, skewed at different angles, watching the hang gliders float up and down and back and forth, all the while looking out at the massive ocean, rippling and swelling. Some spectators were alone, like me, while others were joking with their friends. The chairs were on pavement, the same pavement that housed a small blue building to my left. There was a snack bar in the front of the building and a little store to the back. Maybe they sold glider stuff, whatever that would be, but more likely T-shirts and snow globes. Although snow globes in San Diego just didn’t seem right.

That’s it! I was in San Diego. Don’t ask me how I knew. I just felt it. It was another awareness. San Diego California, that’s where all the wackos live isn’t it? That’s what everyone says about California anyway, but it seemed okay to me, so far. And I guess this place, on the edge of this cliff, was the official hang glider airport. I liked it here.

I love that light green one. Light green with white trim. It looked like flying spearmint gum. Over to the right was the runway, if that’s what it’s called. There was a young woman, she didn’t look much older than me, if at all, ready to take off. She had a vibrant blue hang glider and a red helmet. All of our heads were turned to the right or our bodies contorted to the right, eagerly awaiting her take-off. Sometimes she would start, jog down the runway toward the cliff edge, then stop. Perhaps the wind just wasn’t quite right, or maybe she was nervous, I would be. Then she would walk back and start over. We felt teased by her false alarms, at least I did.

But then something seemed to change. This time seemed different. She pulled the ropes in such a way that the glider became full of air. There was deliberateness to her jog. She picked up speed as she ran at the cliff. All eyes were focused on her. I was kinda nervous, was she going to die? The closer she got to the edge, the more I subconsciously lifted myself from my seat. I guess to give her a little body english. She ran off the edge and then poof, the air took hold of her and up she went, like a bird. Not a flapping bird but a soaring, hovering bird; no sounds, no noticeable effort, just walking on air. It was beautiful.

After her, there were a few more take-offs, all elegantly successful. And there were some landings too. I’m not sure how long I had been sitting here, transfixed. Some people left while others arrived. The snack bar was busy serving sodas, water bottles and hot dogs. It looked pretty good.

There was also a mascot here, a pig. That’s right a pet pig that scurried about, completely unafraid. It was this pig that separated the regulars from the newbies. The regulars either ignored the pig or talked to him like an old friend. Some even came prepared with some sort of pig snacks. The newbies acted as if a wild boar was about to attack, flinching and jumping up from their seats. But after it became apparent to them that the pig was tame, the flinchers relaxed. While pointing and laughing they reseated themselves. I guess I was the only newbie that wasn’t shocked and afraid. I’ve been around pigs quite a bit. I don’t live on a farm but have spent plenty of time on farms. However I’m used to pigs being in pens, fattened then eaten. Pigs didn’t have names where I came from, unless bacon is a name. This was different to be sure, but it was okay with me.

Well after awhile I started to settle in to this new world that I found myself in. I was starting to think more intently as to why and how I was here, and more importantly, how to get home. It’s like I was waking up. I really enjoyed this momentary respite from worries but I was feeling like myself again, good or bad, it was me. What was I doing in California? Do I have money or a phone or a car or anything? Is anyone worried about me? All of a sudden these hang gliders and that magnificent sea become secondary.

So I stuck my hand in my front pocket - nothing, then the other side - also nothing. My back pockets were empty too. I had nothing. So I looked around, on the floor, on other chairs near me. Maybe I put my stuff down. But I saw nothing. What was I going to do? Panic started creeping in. Yep, this was me all right.

So I got up and walked around, I guess I thought that walking would somehow make things better. Maybe I would see someone or something that would trigger a memory. Maybe I would find my wallet, filled with money and a return plane ticket. You know I have never been on a plane. Here I am dreaming about hang gliders and I’ve never even flown in a plane.

I walked into the little store, right there at the back of the building. I suppose I felt there was some sort of safety inside. I pretended to shop, although maybe I wasn’t pretending, maybe I was shopping for sanity, or reality or a blend of both. There were no snow globes but plenty of T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets, all sporting the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Torrey Pines must be part of San Diego. I think I remember Torrey Pines when my dad was watching some golf thing. There was a newspaper on the counter. They weren’t selling it, it belonged to the worker. I badly needed to know the date, to help me get my bearings. So I pretended to be interested in some little trinkets on the counter.

“Can I help you find something?”, said the bored woman.

“No, no thanks, I’m just looking around”. I guess I could have said I was looking for my world. She gave me a fake smile and went back to her book. Now was my chance. I picked up a keychain, pretending to be interested. Then I carefully and quietly moved her newspaper to expose the date. There it was, April 9th, 2015. That was exactly the date I thought it should be. I was a little relieved that I hadn’t lost a day or a month. But it didn’t get me any closer to… Something! Anything!

So I stepped back outside, under a little awning that extended past the door to the store. Funny that I didn’t notice this before but right there, on the slab, was a pool table. No one was playing but there it was. In another time this could have been a really fun activity, playing pool with some friends, watching the gliders, eating a hot dog, soaking up the California sun. That sounded like a great life, but I wanted no part of it at this moment.

Then that pig came by. Maybe he saw me standing and thought there was a treat in it for him. Oh he was cute and funny a few minutes ago. Now he was just a reminder of this unbelievable circumstance that I found myself in. Hang gliders, pigs, oceans, what was going on? And on top of all that, I just realized that I was hungry, really hungry. By the position of the sun, I’m guessing it was nearly noon, maybe eleven. Although how do I know what the sun is like in San Diego? Do they even have the same sun? Settle down Paxton, you’re getting delirious.

Maybe I could borrow someone’s phone and call my dad. Oh I could just hear that.

“You’re where!?”

Just then an odd man approached me. He looked a bit older than my father and had a scruffy two-day gray beard. He wore a camouflage floppy hat, a faded Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and tall socks with sandals. He walked right up to me and stopped.

“Finnegan”, he said, abruptly.

“Excuse me?”.

“That’s my name, Finnegan”.

“Well… great”, normally I’m better at manners but I had other things on my mind. Plus if he was looking for a hand-out, he came to the wrong person. Now I may have acted differently, at that moment, if I had known then that this oddball Finnegan was about to change my life.

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