Fathom Five - Excerpt
(See also: the synopsis)
This excerpt is from chapter four. The siren Fiona has made her move and convinced Peter that he has to return to the waters that are his home. This involves running up a path that leads up a cliff by the shores of Georgian Bay. Rosemary has spotted them, however, and is running after them as fast as she can...
"Fiona!" Peter gasped. "Slow down! I can't keep up this pace!"
They were on a dirt track that was changing to a rugged trail that climbed the escarpment. Peter stumbled on the stony, uneven ground.
Fiona giggled. She wouldn't let go of his hand. She tugged him, playful and insistent. They hadn't met a single person, on foot or in a car, but he couldn't think on the strangeness of this while Fiona kept up the pace.
"We must hurry, Peter," she breathed. "The portal awaits!"
"Portal? What portal?"
The fog veiled all. Peter could barely see where to put his feet on the ground. He could no longer tell where he was in relation to the road, but he could hear the sounds of waves against a rocky shore, and the squeal of seagulls, and he figured they must be approaching Clark's Point.
The pathway levelled out and they stepped onto a ledge. The rocks of the escarpment rose sheer on his right, topping out ten feet above him. On his left, the ground dropped away to nothing. The ledge curved away in front, making his small patch of land look like the only solid ground in existence. Somewhere beneath the sea of white, the waves of Georgian Bay rolled.
He pressed himself against the rocks, stabbed by a pang of vertigo.
Fiona smiled at him. "Don't be afraid. We're almost home."
Peter stared at her. "Where?" He had a sinking sensation the answer was "down there".
"You shall see."
She let go of his hand, stepped to the edge of the cliff, threw back her head, and sang.
Fiona's voice was barely on the edge of human hearing. There was no melody. It was a chord, higher than a piccolo and more beautiful. It made the fog roll back. The water below grew more distinct until it was as though they were standing in the eye of a small hurricane.
Then Fiona leaned forward. For one heartpounding moment, Peter thought she was falling, but she cast her arms out and jumped into the air. Her body glowed, and then flew apart into a dozen sprites of light that drifted down out of sight.
Then Fiona's voice rang in his ears. Now it's your turn, Peter. Come to the edge.
Peter leaned out and looked down. The rock wall stretched below him fifty feet. What looked sheer from the ground was full of outcroppings and protrusions of stone from this perspective. Whitecapped waves lapped at a narrow stone beach.
Vertigo tugged at him. He staggered back and gripped the wall as best he could with his hands and his back. His breath came in short, sharp gasps.
But he could hear her voice in his head. Come, it whispered. See, the portal is opening...
The compulsion to look returned. Keeping a hand on the wall, he leaned out and looked down. In the centre of the small cove, the water was bubbling and frothing, as though there was a ship beneath the waves, leaking air.
Come home, Peter.
Peter whipped around. Rosemary was standing on the ledge with him, her face pale, and the knuckles of her right hand white where she gripped the rocks. She reached out with her left.
Peter fumbled with his words. "Rosemary, how--Go away--Leave me--"
Rosemary took a step toward him. "Peter, please, you don't need to do this!"
"Get out of here," Peter gasped. "I don't want you to see me."
"I'm not leaving without you!"
Peter looked down. His knees wobbled. He pitched back into the wall. "Rosemary, get out of here!" he yelled. "I have to do this."
"No, you don't!"
"She's calling me, Rosemary! I have to go to her!"
Rosemary shouted over him. "There are people you can talk to. There are other ways you can deal with this! For God's sake, Peter, don't jump!"
Fiona's voice rang in his ears. Don't listen to her, Peter!
Peter gulped air into his lungs. He pushed away from the rock face and straightened up.
"Peter!" Rosemary was crying.
The voice grew dark. Enough! Come, Peter!
The vertigo grabbed his legs. He staggered forward, arms cartwheeling. He tilted, beyond his balance, beyond any hope of getting back. He screamed.
Rosemary leapt forward, grabbing at him. She caught his arm. Peter's stomach lurched as he saw her feet slip on the leaf-covered edge.
Peter and Rosemary's screams echoed as they fell the fifty feet into the water.