The Temporal by yours truly is free today at Amazon.
It has been doing well–not as well as Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter the first day it went free (see the old post), but not bad either.
Still, if you have space on your Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Android device, PC, or Mac, please download it today while it is still free.
It would make me ever so happy.
It is currently #30 in Amazon’s Action & Adventure category. Do I hear a #29?
It’s free and as someone told me on Twitter this morning, who can resist a freebie?
The Temporal Chapter Three by CJ Martin (Right click to download)
(If this is the first section you’ve heard, start with the Prologue Podcast)
Looking around, Sam thought he had to be in the States. The buildings up and down the street were American style with English lettering. But something was wrong. There was smoke, confusion, and a teary-eyed mother searching frantically for her child. An explosion. Screams. Some horn was blasting, building in volume and depth. Sam arched his neck in the direction of the sound. A creeping darkness encroached upon the periphery of his field of vision like an old-time photograph.
Something was terribly wrong.
Another explosion. More screams. A gaggle of people ran down the street toward him. In the distance, there was a ball of fire consuming everything in its path—as high as the sky, as wide as the buildings containing it. It grew larger heading—no, aiming—directly for Sam. His legs defied the command to move. He threw up his arms in a futile attempt to fire-proof his face.
Sam awoke with a gasp of air and labored breathing. He was in a hospital room, and through the half-curtained window, he could see it was a moonless night. A bathroom mirror light gave the room a subtle illumination—the kind that make shadows seem to be more than shadows.
He noticed there was an ancient night drawer opposite of the bathroom. The large sliding door to the room was closed. A thin, translucent bag in the trash can near the door twitched ever so slightly. There must be a draft, he thought. But then his eyes and ears made out a fan on the floor quietly circulating the air.
As his breathing returned to normal, he heard a voice to his left. A woman’s voice was speaking quickly and softly. He could only recognize scattered words here and there.
“Ikanakereba naranai—I must go…”
He turned but saw nothing.
Another voice, this time of an older man, came from the direction of the window. Sam jerked his head quickly, adjusting his eyes to the darkness. He heard one word:
Just then, the door cracked open, and he heard a third voice say, “Shitsurei shimasu.” The door slid open fully. A man very much visible walked in. The bathroom mixed its dim light with the bright hall and Sam could see it was a doctor.
“Ah, you are awake. We were very worried.”
The doctor flipped the light switch, illuminating the room and causing Sam to squint his eyes slightly.
“Doctor, wh… what’s going on? Where am I?”
“You were very lucky. Do you remember earthquake?”
Sam was unclear what happened at the beach, but, yes he nodded, it must have been an earthquake.
“It was shindo six—in the Richter scale, I don’t know, but it was big. We found you the next day. In fact, how do you say, the center of the earthquake was close where you were, maybe exactly where you were. A small hole opened under you and things fell over you. We had dogs and one of them found you. There was some fear of tsunami but it’s okay now.”
The doctor smiled quite a bit. He was very pleased that his English was being put to such good use. It was fairly rare for the doctor to have a patient with whom he could practice his English. It was a small village and the tourists were usually healthy.
“Ah, pardon me. I am Doctor Watanabe. And more importantly, you seem to be in good shape. You have some bruised ribs and mild dehydration, but considering, you are in excellent health. I’m not sure why you were out so long—I didn’t find any evidence of head trauma. Just be sure to drink plenty of water.”
Next to a pitcher on the side table was an upside-down cup. The doctor flipped it over and poured Sam a drink.
Sam took the small cup and drained it in one gulp. For a few moments, he just looked at the empty cup unable to process what had happened.
“Are you all right?” The doctor’s smile changed to a concerned frown. “Do you have any pain?”
Sam shook his head and focused his eyes and mind on the current situation. The earthquake made sense; the voices did not.
“No. Arigatou. I’m fine. Doctor, are… are there other people in this room?”
Dr. Watanabe seemed puzzled at first, but quickly stooped under the bed and obligingly peeked in the closet.
“Nope. I believe we are alone.”
“I know this sounds crazy, but I heard a woman over there and an older man at the window just before you came in.”
The doctor’s big smile returned.
“I’m sure you heard a patient in the next room. This is an old hospital. The walls are quite thin. We Japanese have a saying, ‘The walls have ears and the paper walls have eyes.’ Better not tell any secrets here!”
With that he gave a big chuckle. He told Sam to get some rest and that he would be around in the morning. A nurse would be on hand if needed. Her English wasn’t great, he said, but better than the day nurse’s.
Sam, slightly reassured, smiled back. The doctor turned off the light, and as he slipped out, he pulled the door shut. “Shitsurei shimasu,” Sam heard muffled from the hallway.
Sam closed his eyes, half expecting to hear the previous conversation continue. It didn’t, and Sam soon drifted off into a deep and pleasant sleep.
The Temporal Chapter Two by CJ Martin (Right click to download)
(If this is the first section you’ve heard, See the Prologue Podcast)
Sam’s new job would begin later in the month. This gave him time to find an apartment and, of course, time to explore Japan. The hotel concierge helped him order shinkansen—bullet train—tickets to Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. The return trip would be a scenic route back through the Hokuriku area in central Japan.
It was August, the time of the Obon festival when everyone traveled, the concierge warned. Sam was fine with that. He wasn’t in a particular hurry and thought it therapeutic to be around crowds of unfamiliar distractions.
The next morning at the station, with a little help from a kind and elderly gentleman and a kid eager to practice his English, he found the correct train and waited in a line that led him directly to his seat.
In the train, his mind wandered aimlessly in search of an anchor. At times it seemed he didn’t have the strength to stop it from latching on to his wife—his ex-wife. (He had a hard time accepting that simple change of title.)
The announcement music began, snapping him back to reality. A tinny, speaker-tainted voice announced the next stop in Japanese.
Two elementary school girls giggled at seeing “Fuji-san” for the first time. Sam closed his eyes and was back in his childhood. He and his classmates had climbed that active volcano several times.
Living in Shizuoka prefecture, it was his school’s yearly summer field trip. Well, the bus would drive them up to level four and they would hike to level five. This is how they “climbed” Mt. Fuji. Still, even this short hike was enough to exhaust the young Sam. The air was thin and with every step, it became thinner.
Thoughts of his classmate’s laughter and the tossing of volcanic rock at the crows gave way to fleeting images of recent events mixed with absurd abstract notions that seem so sensible to a half-asleep mind. This continued until the announcement music brought him back to the train and Osaka was just ahead.
He got off and did the touristy stuff, not really sure about his direction. He came across and boarded an English tour bus. He heard all about Osaka Castle and that big crab in mid-town Osaka. But his mind kept wandering Stateside. Self-pity engulfed his thoughts. Nothing could penetrate this shroud of darkness it seemed—not even the sharp pincers of that giant crab.
A day or two later, he boarded a train to get to Kyoto and found a hotel for the night. After that, it was Hiroshima, but it was no matter. His mind was ever sinking, and his spirit was crushed under the weight of failure and betrayal. No change of scenery reciprocated a change of mind. But onward he went.
Hokuriku was different. He took local trains stopping at every minor town. A business man in his forties sat next to him all the way through Fukui prefecture. Unusually bubbly and eager to strike up a conversation with a foreigner, the man provided a welcomed distraction from Sam’s melancholy. The man had been on a week-long business trip; a week away from his family. The businessman stepped off at Eiheiji in northern Fukui leaving Sam to contemplate the meaning of the word, “family.”
In short order, Sam got off the train at Kanazawa in Ishikawa prefecture. It was a typical August morning in Japan: humid with no healing breeze. He found an information desk at the station and asked for an English guide to the sights around Ishikawa.
He had been here once before. His parents took him to Kenrokuen—one of the three great gardens of Japan, he was told. As a child he glossed over the controlled natural beauty of the garden. At thirty-five, he would have another look.
A young girl, surely on her first summer job, took his money and handed him his ticket. It had a full color photo of the park in the winter just as he had remembered it. The snow covered rock gardens, stone bridge, and roped trees he saw as a child instructed him how beauty—and by extension, love—needed to be restrained and cultivated. But it was now a hot, eternal summer and the trees were left naked and free. This led his thoughts back to his wife; was he too controlling or not enough? He knew the trees were trying to teach him something, but he wasn’t sure what it was.
Following the instructions on the tourist guide, he took a bus to Noto Peninsula. Noto boldly sticks out the top of Ishikawa prefecture into the Sea of Japan. Sam wanted to be bold.
They stopped at a small building that served as a bus stop. The sounds and smell of an unseen beach were strong and nearby.
The Japanese characters on a paper pinned to a board caught his eye. He started to ask someone what it meant, but thought it better to leave the mystery intact for now. He began jotting down a rough representation of the kanji to look up later.
He only copied a single character when a clock chimed and distracted him. He heard it ring one, two, three… He knew it had to be ten o’clock, but he continued counting anyway… six, seven, eight…
Somewhere between nine and ten, time stopped. The earth, a hungry lion, groaned. There seemed to be a pause, a preamble to the inevitable, like the moment after an orchestra tunes the strings but before the performance begins—an overwhelming silence.
In a moment seemingly outside time, he relived his birth. He didn’t have time to think of the oddity of it. In fact, it seemed there was no time involved. It was more of a holistic feeling; not a thought or memory, but something he just understood instinctively. He experienced his mother’s mixture of extreme pain and joy, seemingly opposite feelings in perfect harmony.
Then the rubber band snapped.
All the pent-up energy imploded inside him. Time had no hold on him. Sam, for that one moment, seemed to float outside his body; see all things, hear all things. His senses were heightened and time slowed if it existed at all. A terrible sound; of trumpets; a thousand percussion; brass instruments; simultaneously striking a crescendo of vastly discorded notes. The sound waves were even visible to Sam’s eyes as they blasted him with extraordinary force into a newly formed cavity. The building next to him collapsed and showered him with debris and large chunks of earth.