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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Beach

The Beach by Jaye Frances


Alan loves the beach. More than a weekend respite, it is his home, his refuge, his sanctuary. And for most of the year, he strolls the sand in blissful solitude, letting nature—and no one else—touch him. But spring has given way to summer, and soon, the annual invasion of vacationers and tourists will subdivide the beach with
blankets, umbrellas, and chairs, depriving Alan of his privacy and seclusion—the fundamental touchstones of his life. Resigned to endure another seasonal onslaught of beach-goers, Alan believes there is nothing he can do but prepare for the worst.

But fate has other plans.

Delivered to him on the crest of a rogue wave, the strange object appears to have no purpose, no practical use—until Alan accidentally discovers what waits inside. Now he must attempt to unravel an ageless mystery, unaware that the final outcome will change his life, and the beach, forever.

In the companion novella Short Time, you’ll meet a respectable but bored middle-class executive, who exchanges his future for six months of excess and extravagance, only to find out the price he must pay for his hedonistic indulgence is beyond anything he could have imagined.

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How many times have we heard an obliging parent tell a frustrated child, “you’re too young to understand” or “someday you’ll know what it means to . . .”? I suppose it was their way of explaining away the uncomfortable, awkward questions of youth, often done to protect a child’s innocence.

And while their intentions may have been in the right place, I’ve often wondered if those moments of inquiry, when the mind is most receptive, are times to be seized, to influence with wisdom as well as knowledge. To paraphrase Wayne Dyer, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear—even though the lesson to be learned is a hard one.

In the following excerpt from The Beach, the main character, Alan, is engaged in conversation with Efil, an unusual stranger who has offered Alan the opportunity to wield incredible power over life and death. As Alan evaluates the possibilities, his single-minded analysis focuses only on one selfish concern—the cost.

Although Alan was far from ready to take Efil at his word, he was willing to set the issue aside for the moment. “So let me ask you this. Let’s say I believe you, that I’m willing to go along with the idea that you have the power to grant me whatever I want. Now what?”
Efil’s smile reflected total approval. “Yes! Now what, indeed! It is yours to decide. Your needs and wants shall serve us both. And I stand ready to begin.”
“Okay, okay. I got it. The world is all sunshine and rainbows after you’re done. Why don’t you start by telling me how this works. Exactly.”
“Ask for anything you like. Describe your request in as much detail as you can. You may include contingencies, conditions, or time limits. Fashion your dreams without constraint. Structure your future with abandon. Bring accidents of misfortune upon your enemies or sprinkle them with the rains of generosity. Blessings or curses—they are yours to bestow.”
“And then you tell me what it’s going to cost, right?” Alan’s voice was dripping with caution.
“The cost is always commensurate with the value received. Especially when you consider the significance of what I have to offer.”
Alan had kept the thought buried. Now he could no longer contain it. “It’s my soul you want, that’s the price, isn’t it. That’s the way these deals work, right? You give me anything I want in exchange for my soul.”
Efil’s eyes were electric, his pupils radiating staccato discharges of light. “On occasion I have bargained for souls, when the client’s spiritual essence had evident and negotiable value. In your case, however, I will need to consider other assets.”
Alan wasn’t a religious man, but as a student of logic, he never bet against the unknown. If heaven was waiting, Efil’s assurance that they would not be haggling over his soul—real or not—was a relief. “Okay, one more question. How long do I have before I give you my decision?”
“Oh, I’m afraid my offer expires upon presentation. You see, when I leave, so does the opportunity. And I must tell you, time grows short.”
Alan had been enjoying his verbal jousting with the stranger, but now sudden panic set in. He knew the advantage of a deadline usually benefitted the one who set it. He had to think quickly, keep his mind on the prize. He was not about to lose his chance—if there was one—of striking a deal. Maybe the deal of a lifetime. “Okay, give me a few minutes. I need to think.”
“Understandable.” Efil nodded, the movement releasing a thousand tiny points of light that zipped back and forth inside the blue transparent cloud—the display clearly intended to remove any lingering doubt about his ethereal nature.
“You care if I think out loud?” Alan asked. “It might help.”
“Not at all. In fact, if you desire I can assist you in sorting through things. Just provide me with the basics and I will compare the features and benefits, weighing the factors with impartial objectivity.”
“But you won’t trick me, right? I mean, you won’t take one of my stray comments and make it my final decision, will you?”
“Of course not.” Efil answered. “Upon the conclusion of our negotiations there will be no doubt in your mind—or in mine—concerning the exact nature of your request. I will take no action to bring your desire into fulfillment until you authorize it.”
For most people, making such a choice would have been a daunting, even overwhelming challenge. But not for Alan. He had known from the start what he wanted. And while he could easily describe the end result, he wasn’t exactly sure how to accomplish it.
About the Author: 
Jaye Frances is the author of The Kure, a paranormal-occult romance novel, The Possibilities of Amy, a coming-of-age romance novella, The Cruise-All That Glitters, a humorous adult satire about love on the high seas, The Beach, a sci-fi supernatural tale about the possibilities—and horror—of wishful thinking, Love Travels Forever, a collection of poignant and touching short stories, and the upcoming adult erotica series, World Without Love, to be released Summer 2014. Born in the Midwest, Jaye readily admits her life’s destination has been the result of an open mind and a curiosity about all things irreverent. When she’s not consumed by her writing, Jaye enjoys cooking, traveling to all places tropical and “beachy,” and taking pictures – lots of them. Jaye lives on the gulf coast of Florida, sharing her home with one husband, six computers, four cameras, and several hundred pairs of shoes.




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