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Alone and yet, not alone.
Broken, but not unlovable.
From the darkness of myself
To the light of peace.
From death to life.
“Put your arms out.”
She took a breath. Just lean forward and fall.
Evil unleashed. Epidemic disaster. International mystery.
A trail of unexplained deaths and impending environmental collapse lead a beautiful doctor to the shores of Baja, a suspicious surfer, and a long overdue confrontation with her sister. Despite a sinking boat, a hurricane, a spiked drink and ever worsening threats, Marina continues her dogged pursuit of the criminal responsible for unleashing a plague on humanity.
If you enjoy a good medical mystery, then this book is for you!
Chapter from Rainswept
1 | Enter Malthusias
The sputtering engine brought another round of muttered damnation – for the boat, the churning alcohol in his stomach, and the orders to work under the cloak of darkness. He stood up to switch to the spare fuel tank. The incoming storm surge caused an untimely tilt to the long, narrow panga boat knocking him off his feet.
He cursed his boat. “¡Esa maldita mula!” Trying to regain his footing, he bounced off the carefully sealed barrels. He raised his drunken fist to the wind, “¡Ondas estúpidas!” With the fuel line switched, he pulled the cord to start the outboard engine. Nothing. He pulled again. Still the engine refused to start. “¡Mujer obstinada!”
He checked the connection and pulled again. Still nothing. He kicked the offending red tank and heard the hollow echo of an empty can. Another string of obscenities erupted.
He looked around. Despite the dark grey sky, the first hint of dawn began to peek above the watery horizon to the east. He could just make out an occasional twinkling light on the mainland barely glittering above the ocean. He knew he was several miles out, but nowhere near the eight miles to the islands. He looked at the offending empty tank. He’d be paddling back in.
He lightly toed one of the barrels, trying to remember the instructions. He shook his head and wiped the sweat off his face. “¡Piense!” His mind was still clouded by tequila. “Necesito pensar.” The cry of a nearby gull startled him. His head followed the gull as it flew overhead. “Estúpido pájaro.”
He sat down. When his breathing slowed, he shifted to the seat beside one of the barrels. He looked at the top where there was a plug sealed with yellow tape. He peeled off the tape and shook the sticky tangle off his hand into the water. He turned the plug until it came out and tossed it to the bottom of the boat. He peered inside, but the opening was too small. He pushed a hand pump into the opening and put the other end of the hose over the edge of the boat. He pumped the handle several times, but nothing came out the other end. He pumped faster. Still nothing. He leaned his weight down on the pump, pushing it further into the barrel and sealing it into proper position. He pumped the handle again. Finally a hoseful of fluid came out. He settled in to pumping the liquid out of the barrel. He did the same for the other five barrels. Halfway through last one he tired of pumping and decided to pry the lid off and dump it over the side. He struggled to position the side of the barrel on the edge of the boat and hold it in place while lifting the bottom. The unexpected yaw of the boat caused the barrel to slide along the rail and hit the bench seat. It bounced off the seat and rolled on its side causing a spiral of liquid to splash on his face and hands.
In a moment of clarity, a welling sickness rose in his stomach. “¡No, no, no!” He scrambled to throw the barrel overboard before it could drain. He spit out fluid from his mouth then leaned over to scrub his face and hands in the ocean water.
Finished his work he set to paddling back to shore. After paddling and drifting on the tide into the late afternoon he beached his boat and walked to the pay phone. He dialled the international number.
“Hello?” The familiar clipped voice answered.
“Hola Señor Malthusias. It’s me. I done what you told me.”
“You’re sure you were just off Islas Coronado?”
“It’s now late afternoon for you. I want to be sure. You went in the middle of the night? You weren’t seen?”
“Middle of the night, sí, No one see me. Now I want my –” He sneezed and wiped his nose on his bare arm. “– my money.”
“How long have you had that cold?”
“You no mind about my cold. When you send me my money?” He coughed.
“This is important! How long have you had that cold?”
“No more talk about my cold. Where’s my money? You said you pay me right away. One thousand Americano dollars – every time I go out.”
“Tell me you wore latex gloves.”
“I maybe wore gloves.”
“You fool! You won’t live long enough to get the money.” He hung up. That’s what I get for hiring a drunk. He thought for a moment. Maybe it’s better this way.
With this final call from the last of his Mexican fishermen completed, he smashed the disposable phone with a hammer. I can’t continue to use the fishermen. I must find another means of completing my experiment – perhaps the drug cartel. He looked at the phone. And I’ll need another phone. He pulled out his personal cell phone and called L.A. Réserve Hotel, making a dining reservation for that evening.
While enjoying the return trip on the water taxi, he watched the sun sink behind the mountains and contemplated the horror he set in motion.
Malthusias – born this year. Will this name go down in history as the saviour of the world? Or the most despicable man in history?
Malthusias, the perfect name, from the surname Maltmaker – the man in the community that made the unfit water drinkable. I like the irony. And in honour of Thomas Malthus who pointed out the world population is outgrowing the means to support it. Humanity’s fear of dealing with overpopulation is going to wipe us out.
But then riding into world history comes Malthusias – me. I am the world’s answer to overpopulation. That which no one else has the courage to do, I do. The world may hate and fear me for a time, but they will come to realize I was the only one with the courage to save our civilization when it was on the brink of extinction. Me. Malthusias.
He took advantage of the near darkness to throw the disposable phone into Lake Geneva. In the meantime there will be no way to trace this business with that fool fisherman back to me.