Authors: R. K.
R. K. Sidler
Copyright© 2013 by R. K. Sidler. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical without the express written permission of the author. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.
Copyright© April 2013
Printed in (Country) U.S.A.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The Illusion of Truth
Too Many Diets, Not Enough Chocolate!
eligions Don’t Want You to Know . . . An Expose’ of Belief Systems
The Adventures of Hoppy, Floppy & Squeak!
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R. K. Sidler was born and raised in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. He is a U.S.A.F. veteran, and lifetime member of the V.F.W. He currently resides with his wife in Colorado, U.S.A.
September 6, 1492
, San Sebastian de la Gomera, Canary Islands
he four ships drifted free from their moorings and were soon able to unfurl their large square sails to capture the morning winds. The most recent addition to their party arrived two days prior and completed a speedy resupply while the others waited. Had it not been for the officially sealed letter relaying orders from Queen Isabella, the original complement of ships would have departed alone.
This new addition was a mystery to both the crews of the other ships, as well as its own. The captain, Thiago Luis-Aroso, enlisted every member of his n
ew crew—except for his first mate—for this journey just one week before. The cargo itself was placed on board before the men arrived. Even the captain’s longtime mate was absent for that undertaking which caused no small amount of suspicion to build in his mind.
They assumed their place in line several hundred yards aft and slightly starboard of the ship ahead of them. During times of darkness a lookout was assigned to maintain a visual sighting of the running lights from the ship ahead. They continued without incident four weeks into the voyage.
Although he had been serving under Captain Luis-Aroso for three years now, and respected him more than any other he sailed with previously, he still could not get over the fact that even
was not allowed in the storage hold. The subject was bandied about by the other sailors and he did his best to ensure it didn’t reach the point of distraction, but time did little to placate his own curiosity.
The captain retired to his cabin for the night and the watch was set as he looked off into the starry skies above. The seas were mostly calm as they coursed their way westward. The occasional large wave greeted them with a misty spray, followed by a lunge through its trough. This was the time he loved the most. He felt at ease being alone with the sea and at peace with the world around him.
He took a pull at the bottle of rum he had inside his overcoat. The men were prohibited from drinking while on ship; it was the captain’s rule. He had gotten away with it ever since he came on board. He believed the captain knew about it, but didn’t say anything because it never became an issue. The rest of the crew didn’t know about it or they surely would have said something.
He rarely drank heavily while at sea. Tonight, he was feeling good about himself and had more than usual. When he retreated from the deck to turn in for the night he went instead to the cargo hold. He took one last swig from the bottle before placing it inside his jacket. He removed a master key he held that would unlock any door on the ship. The captain never asked him for it and he never volunteered it.
He managed to fit the key into the slot on the third try and opened the door with mild apprehension. He decided he would only take a quick look to satisfy his personal interest and then he would leave it alone. He stepped into the dark room and removed and lit a lantern from the wall before closing the door behind him. The room smelled dank and stale. Straw was strewn about and the sound of rats could be heard skittering about the compartment. He ignored these and stood and stared, swaying with the rhythm of the waves through instinctual behavior, trying to focus his cloudy mind on the sight before him. The hold was not full. Apart from the standard issue of foodstuffs, gun powder, munitions and additional rigging materials, there was only one crate lashed to the center of the floor with a brown colored canvas securely fastened around it.
It wasn’t a very large crate, n
ot big enough to fit more than one average sized teenage boy inside of it. He pulled out the bottle and took another swig as he stood there staring. His mind was now focused on nothing but that crate. He stumbled forward to get a closer look. Any thought of being caught where he was not supposed to be had escaped his mind.
When he reached the box, he put the bottle of rum on the floor next to where he was standing and held the lantern higher to see better. There was nothing written on the canvas itself. Without thinking any more about it, he removed a knife from his belt and cut through one of the ropes holding the canvas fast. The upward motion from the cut made him stagger back a step before he quickly recovered in natural response. He replaced his knife and manipulated the cord so as to gain access to what was hidden inside.
He flipped one side of the canvas over the top to get a better look. It was an intricately carved container that appeared to be made of gold. He felt it and it was cold to the touch. His curiosity getting the better of him, he held the lantern near his face as he shoved on the top of the crate. The lid began to move as he pushed it just far enough to see inside. After he peered into the container, he involuntarily took one step backward as the cry that started from his stomach failed to reach his lips. He remained as if in a frozen state of shock as his skin began to turn gray and started to flake away. His once corporeal body disintegrated into a heap of ashes in mere seconds. The now insubstantial form was no longer able to support the lantern causing it to fall to the floor.
Flames and fuel reached out to engulf the dry grass. The remnants of the bottle of rum added to the slowly building inferno as it too was overturned by the motion of the ship. The well-crafted interior of the vessel contained the smoke inhibiting any early detection by the
crew above. If it had not been for the proximity of the munitions the ship may have survived. But it was not to be. Before warning could be given, the Ay Papi broke into two as the effect of the explosion shattered the tranquility of the night.
The three other vessels loitered in the area for several hours, the following day, searching for survivors. There were none. When it was no longer reasonable to delay, they resumed their original course.
he intensity of the sun’s rays began to fade as the eighty-foot-long Cantankerous II pulled into its berth. Only a few of the plentiful gulls massing at the wharf came near to inspect the craft. Experience had taught them this was not a fishing vessel likely to provide what they considered to be a tasty morsel. The captain expertly maneuvered the large vessel into place while another man jumped onto the dock with a heavy rope in tow. After he quickly tied off the stern line, he moved into position to receive the other dock lines to provide sufficient stability for their passengers to disembark.
Sebastian Alexander Tate, Alex to anyone who wished to keep their interaction with the short-tempered man on friendly terms, was performing tasks well beneath his professional experience and background. At thirty years of age, five feet eight inches tall, and one hundred and sixty pounds, Alex Tate was a product of the Florida Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He also had a talent for all things mechanical. His diminutive size, dirty blond hair and boyish looks naturally made people think he was much younger than his driver’s license claimed. He’d completed
six years of
duty service with the U. S. Navy, which eventually led to his current situation and partnership. The combination of his legal name, stature, and background contributed to enhance his spirited and somewhat fiery nature.
That partner was now going through the standard procedures for closing out the official log and shutting down the engines. He peered through the cabin window to make sure Alex had finished securing the lines before he placed his books in a cabinet and walked aft to where his passengers were waiting. Sean Rylan was the antithesis of his best friend and partner. At thirty-one, six feet tall and weighin
g one hundred and ninety pounds, Sean’s frame reflected his past participation in college athletics and a similar tour in the Navy as a diving officer. Sean actually looked his age. While the average passerby wouldn’t give Alex a second thought, Sean’s handsome features often received dutiful attention of the feminine kind, and begrudging respect from his male counterparts. His emerald green eyes and rich black hair were traits that ran true to his lineage. His smile was disarming and his manner was mild, bordering on playful. The one characteristic which seemed to tarnish his over-all appeal was his sardonic wit combined with his complete disregard of appointed authority. This particular trait was often the topic of discussion between him and his former superior officers, as well as his parents. He was a free spirit who chose to live by his own rules, at least for as long as he could get away with it.
Currently they ran treasure hunting and diving expeditions out of Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, Florida. Atlantic Treasures Unlimited was a business name that promised more than it had provided. Today’s venture did little to change that predicament.