A rough excerpt from Haven Earth as Malibu and the girls hit the beach on Catalina...
In the end it appeared about twenty were heading to the beach at some stage, but perhaps only ten or so in the near future. Most were in the same clothes they had been wearing on the flight down, but I did manage to get Sierra and Tiger and a couple of others into swim costumes that looked like one piece antiques from the 1920's, Tiger even had a little skirt. It was all very retro, and actually quite cute. I assumed she had picked mine as well, but I had no idea why she had chosen white polka dots on pink.
I could see, however, the beach might be more of a challenge than I first thought. Many of the crew were having trouble even managing the stairway to the lower levels beneath the enclosed balcony leading from the Catalina terminal to the resort proper, or haven as the locals called it. After negotiating that obstacle, and it actually seemed that many had never – ever – seen a stairway in their entire lives, we came a landscaped nature strip which acted as a buffer between the haven and the beach. There were a few patrons in the open shade here and there, most older rather than younger, but the majority seemed to be further inland behind the safety of the extensive glazing.
Then we hit the sand. It was dry toward the top of the beach and already warm in the morning sun, the light of that flashing on wave crests ahead. I was already barefoot, something Nile had protested and I ignored, and I relished the sand between my toes. It was somewhat course, and not particularly white when seen up close, but it was there and real and that was enough. I noticed some of the more adventurous patrons were even out on the sand, but no more than thirty across the entire beach – and nobody was anywhere near the ocean itself.
I noted the murmur of those with me as they followed, some struggling with a soft uneven surface that was so unlike the smooth floors of Avalon. I wondered if they had even walked in parks as part of their preparation for deployment. A few were even hanging back at the nature strip and that was okay for me. It would be enough for them to just get a feel for the outside world without passing out, at least for now.
Tiger, however, was near, as was Sierra. There were others as well, although the group was starting to spread somewhat, each with their own points of interest. Most were gazing toward the ocean, of course. Few if any had ever seen the ocean with their own eyes, including myself when I thought about it, and now it was near – high tide perhaps, but neap. I looked for the moon without any luck.
I wasn't stopping with the sand, of course, and waded out into the surf, the cool water dragging at my calves. It wasn't chill, but then it wasn't exactly warm either, and I looked back to the others, noticing I had something of an audience. “Come on in, it's great,” And I backed slowly away, the waves crashing against my thighs.
Tiger was near enough that a wave slid over her toes and foamed about her ankles. The look on her face was priceless. “It's wet,” she said, stating the obvious.
I could only laugh. “It's water, dummy.” I glanced to the calm waters of the bay. “You wanted to swim, so let's swim.”
Sierra by then was standing in water to her knees, reaching down and letting it run through her fingers, while several others were brave enough to at least set foot in the breakers. “You can't swim here,” Tiger was saying. “It's full of things that bite and eat you.”
I smiled and I turned, diving into the surf, a squeal of exclamation behind that was soon lost to a roaring in my ears. It was a day of firsts for me, but then my new life would be full of such things. I had memories of this, and now actually swimming in the endless waters of planet earth hardened such memory to stone, made it real and tactile. I could feel the currents tug at my flesh, feel the coolness of the water – hear and smell and taste...