Guardian of the Abyss
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 127
Word Count: 43,500
Buried at sea by the sorcerers who created him, Abaddon is unable to heal himself and unable to replenish his energy. He has lived here for longer than he can remember, with no hope of escape. Time is against him as the sea eats away at him, body and soul.
When her diving partner tries to kill her to take over her company, Sarah finds herself trapped beneath the waves and dying. Having brought light to Abaddon’s dark existence at last, only she can grant him the courage to do what must be done to escape his watery prison.
Abaddon must sacrifice his wings to save her. Sarah must come to terms with being trapped with someone she has been raised to believe is a demon, and face the betrayal that nearly destroyed her and the company she built. Together, they must take on the ocean and their own fears. The consequence of failure is death.
Excerpt of Guardian of the Abyss
The following is © 2012 Shannon Phoenix
Sarah and James had been doing this for years. He had scuba gear on with more than enough air for two, and even an additional mini-tank for her. They held the weighted sled and the pair plummeted towards the large enclosed, protected area of coral on the sea floor. It was only one-hundred-ten feet. They would take the photos and then return to the surface.
She loved doing this, she always had. It was so beautiful here under the water, and free-diving brought peace and comfort to her. James loved scuba diving, but had no interest in free diving. Sarah paid for his gear and for trips around the world with her.
Nothing could go wrong, because they planned with great care, and James checked on her every few seconds. She had no extra breathing apparatus, but she had the ability to free-dive, which meant she could hold her breath and dive to incredible depths. Her personal best was just short of three hundred feet.
Anchoring the boat, they dropped into the balmy waters off the coast of Bimini, on the opposite side from the more famous ruins. They were here to photograph a rare circle of delicate coral. With much of the world’s coral dying, the still-living coral here was a miracle. So, camera in hand, Sarah descended. This time around, she intended to do something unprecedented. She would remain down as long as she chose to, with the secondary tank that James was bringing. She had never done so before, so it was a new thing for her.
However, because of the depth, there was little choice for her if she was going to remain there for more than a few minutes. Once at such a depth, they would need to take decompression stops along the way back up. They had provided more than enough air for themselves to make these stops, and thus neither of them felt any concern as they descended towards the beautiful ocean floor, cameras strapped to their belts and their spirits high.
In the boat above them, they had left a local diving expert, so that they knew they had surface support as well as each other. Sarah knew what she was doing was dangerous, but she had done everything possible to make it a calculated risk. She was as safe as she could make herself while free-diving. She took a lot of ridicule for her precautions, but she was content.
High above them, water glittered as the sun danced on the waves. Around them, fish darted or lazed along. Bubbles floated up from the sled and from James’ breathing apparatus. Water caressed her skin and surrounded her intimately, an embrace more familiar and beautiful than a lover’s caress. It was, in a word, glorious.
Once they reached the bottom, it was gloomy, but not dark. Sarah turned her light on and looked around her. The coral was brilliant in the beams from her headlamp, and she shook her head for the moment when James offered her the smaller air tank. She was still doing well, and knew that shortly she would need more air, but by then she could take on the tank. She had longer since she was ‘tanking up’.
She turned to take a picture, and saw one of the many drug-cartel packages floating some 10 feet or so away. That was uncomfortably close, and she turned to signal to James to look out for them. But as she turned, she realized it was too late–far too late. Apparently there had been one where James was, as well. And James had activated the mines the dealers built into the buoy.
The bombs were intended to prevent people from stealing the weighted bags of drugs. The bomb detonated and the water filled with blood. James’ goggles floated past her, and Sarah did the one thing she had never done before. She panicked.
Even as the fear took her, and darkness began to close in as adrenaline sped up her heart rate and stole the oxygen from her brain, she saw a face loom in the blossoming blood. It was a face from the pit of hell and it followed her into darkness, black eyes pursuing her ruthlessly even as her impending death stole all functioning from her mind.
She tried to scream, but nature had locked her throat closed, a phenomenon known as shallow-water blackout.
* * * *
Abaddon had lived in this ocean hell for so long now that he didn’t even know how long it had been. Unable to connect to the wind or the Earth due to the water around him, he had been forced to attempt to revive what energy he could from the distant sun. Water was his enemy, and he had never known it more than now.
Most of the ‘guests’ he got here were men or women whose intentions were vile. Their nefarious purposes broadcasted so strongly that even the wildlife here felt it and hid. Abaddon hadn’t known of their explosive devices for very long, but he’d found out by means of a curious–and now dead–shark. He had never touched their strange packages, and knew nothing of what they contained.
But today, he had stepped out of his underground lair in order to attempt some time in the sun. He needed replenishment, and in these depths, watery sunlight was all he could get. Unfortunately, it came at a cost as the water continued to etch away at his stone form. He had no idea what would happen, but without sufficient power, he couldn’t renew it. Would he die? Never return from stone form? He didn’t know… didn’t care to find out. So his forays out were few and far between.
As he sat there in stone form, he had seen the human man detonate the bomb, and felt his ill will. The water had filled with blood and then Abaddon had seen the woman and the terror on her face. She wore none of the strange apparatus the others always wore, and Abaddon wondered how she survived so long under the water. Yet he also realized that her death would happen any second now. He looked up after the retreating man. He could jump and catch him. Then he could climb the rope and be free of this prison at last.
Or he could save the woman. He felt her shining soul and he could do nothing but gather her close and make haste towards his cavern. He refused to look at the retreating chain that held her companion. He couldn’t bear it, and he might change his mind. He already regretted it. It was likely that she would die anyway, and he had thrown away the first opportunity he had ever had to escape. The others had never lowered a chain. They swam down with their bodies covered in strange machines, and swam away again.
It was almost more than he could bear to let it go, but now the decision was made and with each passing second, it went beyond the reach of his highest underwater jump. He pushed into the cavern and leaped from the water in a single jump. His powerful legs took him up onto the ledge that made up his prison.
Had he never found this underwater chamber filled with air, his stone form would have been taken over by the ocean long ago. As it was, he was able to escape the water’s constant torment for great periods of time.
He laid her down carefully, concerned about her health and well-being. She looked fragile, laying there alone in the slight gloom from the lichen that coated the walls. He had no memory of how to care for her. It had been so long since he’d been around humans–anyone at all, for that matter–that he had no idea what to do.
A moment passed and she suddenly convulsed. Abaddon decided that was most likely a bad thing. He turned her onto her side and watched as water and something else spewed from her mouth, filling the chamber with a vile odor. Disgusted, he cupped water from the ocean and let it carry the vile substance back with it. After a couple of minutes, she lay still and quiet except for the strange, regular sound of air going in and out of her. That, he felt sure, was a good thing.
He wondered what he would do when she awoke. Maybe he would just sit in his stone form, and she’d go away. She couldn’t stay here, humans were fragile. She had gotten down there without the strange objects the humans kept on their faces, so she would leave his cave and go back the same way.
Satisfied by this certainty, he moved a few feet away and squatted down to watch her taking in and releasing air. It was odd that humans, even while rejuvenating, could not be still. Fascinating, as well… and lovely. No doubt he only thought so because he hadn’t seen a woman in… how long had it been? Well, a long time, anyway.
The usual silence of his cavern was broken by the woman’s sounds, and Abaddon found it difficult to focus. Perhaps he should go outside and attempt to utilize the remaining hours of daylight. It was a wise choice. Not doing so was likely unwise in the extreme.
But Abaddon sat and stared at the constantly moving form of the woman. If there was one thing he could admit, it was that at least he hadn’t forgotten what a woman was. Nor, in all those long years, had he forgotten what it felt like to be betrayed by one. He’d be rid of this one as quickly as possible. Until then, he wasn’t above enjoying looking at her. She was beautiful, and that was a fact. He’d remember her for a long time after she was gone.
The thought made his heart pinch. He didn’t want her to be gone. Except he did, because her being here was just plain dangerous on every level, for both of them. Not that she was his problem. She wasn’t his problem. But if she was, he’d want her back to her own world quickly, for her own good. Humans had needs, as he recalled. A rather excessive lot of needs, at that. He had absolutely no way of caring for a pet, aside from the shark he sometimes fed. Other than Geoff the shark, he didn’t need anything, unless it could get him out of his personal hell.
And that, he decided, was that.
Shannon Phoenix always wrote stories. She watched the characters take on their lives within her mind, and began to write down what they were doing. She would write the stories and then let them go. But a few years ago, she got caught writing those stories. You know… those stories.
To her surprise, the person who found her stories loved her characters as much as Shannon did. She tentatively allowed others to read the stories, as well, and it was from that first foray into the scary world of letting others read her ‘little tales’ that Shannon Phoenix Books was born.
Shannon lives in New Hampshire with her husband John, her daughter, and their family cat, Song. Her full time job is parenting, her part time job is as a mother’s helper to a family friend, and her passion is letting the characters in her mind out on paper–or keyboard, as the case may be.
Welcome to Shannon Phoenix Books. May you find the magic in your own life.