The Other Store
The Other Shore on Smashwords - first half of the book available for free
A young marine officer explores a strange world in his quest to be reunited with his crew and his love. Battles, exploration trips, storms, romance, death, and the struggle to find out what is real and what is part of a dream.
Is the time always flowing with the same speed and in the same direction? Do we live in a dream or do our dreams live in a real world? If a temporary bridge connects us to another corner of the Universe, how would we see such a world? How would we change it? How would it change us? If we encountered an extraordinary advanced civilization, will we acknowledge its existence at all?
1795. Excelsior, a military brig on a routine sea mission disappears without a trace, just to return to her harbor three months later with an incredible story. Alberto Shimada, the second officer on board is separated from his crew during a fierce fight with the locals of a mysterious island where gold is as cheap as stone. With his direct access to the coast blocked by the enemies, he treks along a mysterious river with the intention to reach the shore in a farther away area and return to his people by sea on an improvised raft. But things becomes stranger and stranger along his journey, as he seems to live several lives at once. He falls asleep in one just to wake up into the next. Faced with the Chuang Tzu dilemma about the man dreaming of being a butterfly or the butterfly dreaming of being a man, Alberto doesn't know which one of his lives is real.
A young woman and her father save the officer from the brink of death and help him recover in a mysterious village. Alberto falls in love with Nivit and they begin a journey across the mountains nearby planning to reach the shore and return to Excelsior. A snow storm blocks them in a cave and Nivit can't survive the prolonged cold. Now Alberto is split between his duty for his crew and his desire to cross into the world where Nivit disappeared and save the woman he loves. Can he do both? In the end, which one of all the existences he experiences is the real one? And what kind of universe is hidden behind the shores of this mysterious island?
"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tzu, dreamed I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Tzu. Soon I awoke, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things. "
I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about the words of the great sage. I hear some noises in front and see a small fire still burning in front of me. An improvised spear and stone ax lay on the floor to my left. Where am I? Where is the great cave with the luminous ceiling and the edible mushrooms?
I feel totally lost. Then, slowly, my memory comes back. It is the early morning of June 20, I got lost from my people during the fight on the island and am following the river to the sea in order to rejoin them. The entrance of the little cave is jammed with many pieces of wood tied with vines. And from outside, some unknown beast tries to get in.
Still dizzy from my vivid dream (it felt like I lived in it for nine days), I’m taking a burning branch and come closer to the entrance. Behind the trembling shadows, I see a large lizard-like animal scratching the improvised wooden door. A quick sting with my primitive spear makes it retreat for now with an angry roar. The dawn is near and I hope to have a quiet morning, but I know the creature will come again at nightfall, when I might not be so lucky with my shelter anymore in case I chose to continue my trip.
First 50% of the book can be read on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/90767