Eighth Circle (Chapter 4, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 4

The rain stopped and the sky cleared. Tom sat in the boat and surveyed the coastline. He knew where he was. The essential features were the same as in his former realm. He had left Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel and was heading south towards Hartland Point in Cornwall.

At least, that's what they were called in the Sixth Realm. He didn't expect them to have the same names in the Eighth Realm. Apart from the towering cliffs and jagged rocks, everything was totally different. Lundy Island was a bird sanctuary and Hartland Point was set in a desolate landscape in the Sixth Realm. The headland he was approaching was anything but desolate.

Huge buildings dwarfed the natural features. They stuck up from the sea and lined the top of the cliff. Only a rich and advanced civilisation could have created such an impressive city. Tom felt a twinge of excitement. Things were looking up. He was still wet and cold but no longer marooned on an island with a primitive headhunting warlord and a pack of seals for company.

The orcas no longer bothered him. They were scary at first but that was understandable given their reputation as ferocious meat eaters. He told himself that he had good reason to feel apprehensive when they put in a sudden appearance. It was only natural to be concerned by their huge mouths and razor-sharp teeth. They could have tipped up the boat in an instant and made short work of him ... but they didn't.

They dashed in when the naked girl fell over. He had been distracted by her physical appearance and had failed to notice when they yanked on the tow ropes and dragged the boat away from the rocks. When he saw what was happening it was too late.

Being towed out to sea by a pack of killer whales was worrying but not nearly as worrying as their habit of rising up on their tails and peering into the boat. They took it in turns to stare at him and he suffered agonies, lying in the bottom of the boat, trying to look as unappetising as possible.

That hadn't been necessary. The orcas were more curious than hungry and he revised his opinion of them. His antagonism was based on the way they hurled the girl around as if she was a seal being tenderised before eating. On second thoughts, the way she butchered their companions with her ray gun wasn't very nice either. It was understandable that they might harbour a few hostile feelings towards her.

The young lady came over as a very unconvincing character. She said she had come to take him to safety but her body language told a very different story. The way she gesticulated with the gun, telling him to get into the boat, was far more threatening than friendly. And her tale about being a princess had a hollow ring. Princesses didn't dress up as mermaids and ride around on the backs of dolphins. And they didn't slice up marine animals with ray guns. Royal protocol required them to live far more genteel lives.

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