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The Lost Trident of Cloesthitus

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In 1915, a paper entitled A Scientific Look at the Origins of the Sahara Desert (author unknown) made waves among the Bembridge Scholars. Poppycock, some had called it. Utter tripe had been a favorite term for it, usually accompanied by a face mottled red from anger and a bulging vein or two in the forehead. Ill-researched, more speculation than fact, the paper had put forth one very interesting theory that Evy Carnahan (as she had been known at the time) had found fascinating: that the Sahara Desert, which was in fact the largest of all deserts on the planet, had once been covered in water.

Nearly fifteen years later, Evelyn O’Connell stood atop a sand dune, eyes wide behind the round lenses of her glasses, and pondered that this was probably not what the author of the work had had in mind.

“Evy!” Jonathan’s footsteps on the dune sounded frantic. Her brother came up behind her, out of breath and holding onto his khaki hat. “I’ve been searching all over for you. It’s not safe out here in the open and—good god, is that what I think it is?”

“A rainstorm,” Evy said, never taking her eyes off the wall of green-and-gray water coming toward them over the horizon.

Jonathan looked like he was two seconds away from stamping his foot in protest. “How is that bloody possible! We’re in the middle of bloody Egypt!”

“Yes,” Evy said, her voice acidic, “and we’ve never witnessed anything impossible in Egypt before.”

Jonathan swung about to give her a betrayed look. “This is no time for sarcasm.”

Evy opened her mouth to point out that simply stating the truth did not always equate sarcasm—though this time it had—but the squeal of tires on the packed road behind them cut her off. She turned just in time to see Rick, driving like a madman coming straight from hell, swerve to a stop.

“Don’t just stand there!” Rick shouted when the siblings gaped at him. “There’s a storm coming! Get in!”

Jonathan and Evy exchanged a look and scrambled down the dune together as one, tripping and stumbling as they did so. There was a brief scuffle at the car, but Evy won and climbed into the passenger seat, leaving a pouting Jonathan to take the backseat. She cursed under her breath, a habit she’d picked up from Rick, as she tried to fit the trident into the car with her.

Rick gawked at the artifact. “Why do you still have that?”

“Because!” The roads in this part of Egypt weren’t the greatest, as they’d been built with camels rather than cars in mind. Evy had to clench her teeth as the car rattled on. When the road smoothed a little—though the greenish-gray wall of water in the distance was still in view and rather worrisome—she turned in her seat and gave both of the men in her life a long look. “We’ve plenty of past experience that tells us it’s best to hold onto these sorts of things, as they’re usually instrumental in reversing the effects of whatever it is we’ve done!”

“Well, right now it’s drawing that storm to us like a magnet,” Rick said, leaning forward to peer through the grimy windshield.

Evy wanted to tell him that that was patently absurd, but she had a strong suspicion he was right.

“We’re going to die,” Jonathan said, his voice a long moan. “We’re going to drown in the middle of the desert.”

“Nobody’s dead yet,” Rick said.

“Speak for yourself.” Jonathan yanked off his cap and fanned himself with it, rolling his eyes toward the heavens. “I can’t swim! Which was, admittedly, one of the reasons I never minded the family business. Makes more sense to study Egypt when you can’t swim than it is to, say, be from an island country.”

Rick stomped harder on the gas. “We just need to get inside and wait out the storm,” he said. “It’s not going to drown us. It’s a rainstorm. Surely even the Sahara’s had one of those in thousands of years of existence.”

“Millions,” both siblings said as one.

“And this storm is no ordinary storm.” Evy yanked her gaze from the window, from that mesmerizing storm in the distance, to look at the trident she was clutching in both hands. The Lost Trident of Cloesthitus, a lesser-known acolyte of the Greek god Poseidon. A god known for his love of wine, his love of rain, and for backing off every time he had ever been challenged in a fight. Thanks to an expedition funded by her new patrons, the British Museum, it was no longer lost. But given that the sky had turned the color of a three-day-old bruise the moment Evy had exposed it to natural sunlight, perhaps it had been better off that way.

“What do you mean, no ordinary storm?” Rick said. He paused, squinting a little. “Besides the obvious.”

“Cloesthitus was believed to be a lesser patron god of waterspouts and other storms sailors saw at sea,” Evy said. She’d studied all of the texts that the British Museum’s grand library had contained that had anything to do with the little-known god. Oftentimes that had meant walking up and down the corridors with a fussy Alex, trying to soothe him with one hand and read with the other. Other babies were read stories about giants and beanstalks at bedtime. Alex, she was afraid, would have to settle for the rather grim tales of the Greeks and the Egyptians.

Luckily, he was at home in his nursery with a nanny, not here facing a possible death by drowning in a desert.

“And?” Rick asked.

“And sharks,” Evy said.

The car rattled on in absolute silence for a few seconds while both men processed this. “Sharks?” Jonathan asked, his voice high-pitched once more. “I’ve read about sharks. I do not like what I’ve read.”

“Sharks,” Rick said. “In Egypt. That’s...actually par for the course with what I’ve experienced in this country.” But he jerked the wheel hard to the left suddenly.

Evy gripped the dash to keep from being thrown against the door. Her hair tumbled into her face, and she pushed at it irritably. “Whatever are you doing?”

“If there’s a storm coming, and it’s brought on by the god of sharks, I’m not facing that without backup.”

“You’ve three entire sleeves of guns in the boot!” Evy said.

Rick shot her a reckless grin. “You know me too well. But in this case, I meant backup of a different kind.”

“I’m sure it can’t be too bad,” Evy said with confidence she didn’t feel. “After all, in the incredibly unlikely event this wasn’t a coincidence and this trident does have something to do with the oncoming storm, I doubt we’ll have to deal with sharks at all. Surely it can’t be that terrible.”


It was worse.

Ardeth Bay handed her the farseeing-glass with a grim look on his face. He was soaked through, his wet black robes plastered to his form. They’d found high ground early in the storm and Evy feared it might not be enough. She could see water gathering and surging near the buildings they’d taken up as shelter. The floodwaters would only rise. Around the Nile, she feared it was ten times worse.

Egypt was simply not prepared for this sort of deluge. This wasn’t her dull, rainy home.

“This is indeed no ordinary storm,” Ardeth Bay said. “Already I begin to see tornadoes.”

“Tornadoes?” Evy gasped and raised the spyglass.

“Of water.”

“We’d call those waterspouts, I should think,” Evy said as she focused the glass. “A tornado would technically be composed of wind, which would—heavens, there are two or three of them. Those might destroy anything in their path.”

“There are dark specks in those waterspouts that I find troubling,” Ardeth Bay said.

Evy peered hard into the glass. “You’re right. I wonder—”

Evy!”

Three things happened at once: Ardeth Bay reached for his scimitar, a wave crashed over the hill to Evy’s left, and Rick sprinted at her and tackled her to the ground.

Something large, gray, and terrifying flew through the space Evy had occupied an instant before. Horrified, she watched as an actual shark landed, skidded on the wet sand, and made a lunge toward Ardeth Bay. He leapt out of the way, pivoted on the toes of one sandal, and thrust his sword deep into the middle of the shark, pinning it to the sand.

Blood flew everywhere, spattering the tribesman’s robes and face. Evy and Rick, breathing hard, gaped at him together. He rose, straightened his robes, and gave them a regal nod. Evy transferred her attention instead to the shark, gawking at it. She’d read about sharks in books before, but this one was a great deal bigger, covered in stretchy-looking gray flesh, its wicked teeth jagged.

“Evy?” Rick said, and she wrenched her gaze away from the giant maritime creature. Her husband touched her cheek. “Almost lost you there.”

Evy mustered up a smile for him. “Of course you didn’t. You got to me in time.”

Rick opened his mouth to reply, but Ardeth Bay cleared his throat. “We must leave this place. It is not safe.”

“Good idea,” Rick said, starting to get up.

Jonathan, once more out of breath and looking panicked, raced up. “You won’t believe what the chaps back in the other building just told me. They’re saying there are—” He finally spotted the dead gray thing with Ardeth’s sword still sticking out of its head. “Shark! Bloody hell, I can’t believe it, they were right. Sharks! There are sharks.”

“This one is dead,” Ardeth Bay said, pulling his sword clear. Jonathan abruptly turned an unhealthy shade of green. “Others, however, will follow.”

“He’s really not kidding,” Rick said in a strangled voice. Evy turned to follow her husband’s gaze and jumped. The entire horizon had become flooded, which was terrifying to start. But even worse than that were the little gray triangles that dotted the water. Rick pulled her to her feet. “Go. Go, we need to go right now, run.”

They piled into Rick’s car again, but instead of climbing into the driver’s seat, Rick opened the boot and pulled out a metal briefcase. “Rick, we really need to go,” Evy called, eyeing the horizon with its damning number of shark fins. “Need I remind you that we’re quite outmatched against that number of sharks?”

“I think this will even the odds,” Rick said, and he pulled out a machine gun. He handed her the keys through the window. “You drive. I’ll shoot.”

The smile he gave her as he climbed in and braced the gun against the window made Evy wish quite suddenly that they weren’t surrounded by water, sharks, her brother, Ardeth Bay, and the off-putting trident of a so-called god that might or might not have existed. She would much rather be ripping Rick’s clothes off. Time for that later, the helpful part of her brain chimed in, and Evy stomped hard on the petrol pedal.

And not a second too soon. The minute the car, sliding precariously in the rain, took off, there was a great crashing sound behind them, followed by Jonathan’s whimpers. Evy looked in the rearview mirror and felt her insides turn to liquid. Water broke through the hastily-constructed dam wall and it was surging straight down the channel at the car.

“Faster, Evy!” Rick said. “Driving faster would be good. Right now. Faster.”

“Not helping,” Evy said, as she was already pushing as hard on the petrol as she could. The car was shaking with the effort of trying to accelerate under the deluge. Her palms felt cold and clammy and water made it difficult to see through her spectacles, but she pushed forward.

Jonathan’s repeated chants of “I don’t want to drown” were really not helping, either.

The car skidded a little as the back tires lost traction. Evy gritted her teeth and shifted gears, straining to keep her grip on the steering wheel until the car was suddenly back on the right track. She could hear the water rushing toward them like an inevitable death, but she focused on a point in the distance. They had to get to safety, they had to—

“Shark!” Jonathan shouted, and something slammed into the side of the car, knocking them a good meter sideways.

Rick shouted and opened fire. The machine gun boomed, the sound deafening her and turning everything into a high-pitched whine. The shark that had attacked the car fell away, dead, and Rick continued to let out a long shout as he swiveled to take out another shark, and a third. They were jumping from all directions, throwing themselves blindly at the speeding car as it raced along their waterway. Hungry and confused, no doubt, Evy thought. She’d be hungry and confused, too, if she’d been summoned by the mysterious trident of an ancient god.

“Aagh!” A shark slammed into the opposite side of the car, and Evy was sure it would leave a giant dent. She nearly lost control again when Ardeth opened the back door without warning. “Could you do me the favor of perhaps warning me when—”

Ardeth stabbed a shark through the side.

Evy decided maybe the improperly opened door was the least of her worries. “As you were,” she called over the noise of the machine gun and her husband’s shouting, and Jonathan’s screaming as he kicked feebly at a shark that kept jumping for his window. It tried to remove his leg; for a second in the rearview mirror, Evy saw the clash of teeth as lightning scissored across the sky, illuminating everything. A shot rang out and the shark fell away, shot clean through with Rick’s revolver.

Rick tossed the gun to his brother-in-law. “Make yourself useful,” he said, and returned to picking off the sharks with the machine gun. “Evy, faster!”

You go faster,” was a poor retort, but it was all Evy had. Until she stomped the petrol again...and the car shuddered. Frowning, she repeated it.

“We’re slowing down!” Jonathan said.

“Evy!”

“Something’s wrong. It’s not like I’m doing it on purpose.” No matter how she tried, the car wouldn’t speed up. In fact, they were slowing down at an alarming rate. They were so close to dry land and safety, but…

The car rolled to a stop.

“I smell petrol,” Ardeth Bay said.

Rick went pale. “Everybody get out.”

“But the sharks,” Jonathan said.

“Get out! Now!”

Startled, Evy pushed open the door, which wasn’t the easiest thing to do when the water was up to her shins, and stumbled out. A few meters from the car, she cursed and ran back, snatching up the trident through the window.

It wouldn’t budge.

“Evy!” Rick waded back to her. “What are you doing!”

“We can’t leave it behind!”

“We have to go!” Rick reached out to pull her away from the car, though she automatically tried to lean in the other direction. She just needed a second more, to pull the trident free—

The shark that leapt at the back of Rick’s head came out of nowhere. She saw it happen in slow motion, like time had suspended itself for her. That gaping maw of a mouth, aiming right at her husband, its rows upon rows of glittering teeth sharp and deadly.

Evy yanked the trident free and charged, knocking Rick to the side. The shark hit her instead, blood gushing everywhere as she speared the trident through its chest. It knocked her back into the car, forcing the air right out of her lungs. The world went briefly blurry, and then Rick shoved the shark off of her, muttering, “we have to go, we have to go, we have to go,” the whole time.

They ran for the high ground together. The minute they reached it, Evy threw herself on the wet sand and gulped in great lungfuls of air, amazed to still be alive. She was still clutching the blood-covered trident. Rick sank to the ground next to her like his knees had simply given out on him. On his other side, Jonathan was bent forward, hands braced on his thighs as he tried to gain his breath. Even Ardeth looked shaken, though he stood up straight.

All four of them winced as the car exploded in a giant orange fireball.

“My favorite Colt .45 was in that car,” Rick said, breathing hard. Evy reached for his hand, and he crushed hers in return.

“I don’t mean to belittle your favorite weapon,” Jonathan said, “but in case you didn’t notice, we were just repeatedly attacked by sharks.

“I remember that, yes,” Rick said.

Evy, however, began to frown as she considered the shark fins on the horizon. She could see one of the giant waterspouts coming slowly toward them, but it was still a long way off. She wished she hadn’t dropped the farseeing glass, as she would have liked a closer look at it now. If the dark specks in the water, the dark specks in the waterspouts…

“Good god,” she said. “They’re sharks.”

All three of the men swiveled as one to look at her. “The nice big fishies with the even bigger teeth that have been doing their best to eat us?” Rick said. “Yes, they’re sharks.”

“No!” Frantic, she pointed at the waterspout in the distance, the great swirling mass that made all of the blood in her body run cold. She scrambled to her feet. “In the waterspout! Sharks! They’ve been sucked up in the force of the waterspout, and it’s headed right for Alexandria.”

“Of course it is,” Rick said.

“I clearly picked the wrong day to get out of bed,” Jonathan said.

Ardeth cleaned his sword on a patch of his robes and sheathed it. “How do we stop it?” he asked calmly.

“Evy?” Rick asked, looking at her.

“Well, how should I know that? I’m a historian, I don’t study the weather!” Evy abruptly realized that she was sticky. The rain evidently wasn’t doing the best at washing away the shark blood. Frustrated, she brushed at it. “I’ve no idea how waterspouts and tornadoes actually work without the assistance of some ancient bloody spear.”

“Trident,” Jonathan and Rick said, and Evy supposed that was fair, as she’d been correcting them on that point for months.

“The waterspouts appear to be joining,” Ardeth said.

Indeed, instead of three separate nightmares, the three tornadoes had converged into one giant night terror. It rose out of the earth, an angry, churning force. Evy had experienced sheer terror before. She hadn’t relished the feeling then and she definitely didn’t now.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I wish there were a way to disrupt it or something—”

“Disrupt?” Rick shot her a quick look, his eyes suddenly alive with interest. “Like blow it up?”

She should have known that would be her husband’s first suggestion. Evy opened her mouth to turn it down—and stopped. “Ye-es,” she said, drawing the word out.

Rick blinked at her like he was sure he’d misheard.

“But you’d need to do it from up high,” Evy said quickly. “To get the bomb truly in the heart of the cyclone. Which means you’d need a plane or, or some other flying device.”

Jonathan let out a long sigh. “We gave it our best,” he said, obviously feigning regret. “It was a good idea while it lasted. But where would we even find a plane?” He looked up at the sky, blinking and squinting against the rain. “I mean, we can’t even go a few miles in the bloody car without being attacked by sharks or blowing the car up. There’s no hope we would…” He glanced over his shoulder, trailed off, and scratched the back of his neck. “Huh, would you look at that.”

All four of them turned and stared. “I’m reading that correctly, right?” Rick asked. “That sign says this is an airfield?”

“There’s no chance they’ll have a plane that can withstand this sort of weather,” Jonathan said, shaking his head.

Twenty minutes later, Rick fitted on goggles over the aviator cap he’d grabbed out of the abandoned airfield office. He tugged at the makeshift harness they’d rigged that kept him anchored to the wing. “You were saying?”

“This is a prodigiously bad idea,” Jonathan said, hunkering down into the well of the pilot’s seat. “I’ve had one lesson. One! And I barely paid attention as it was. We’re all about to die.”

“Why did you even take the lesson in the first place?” Evy asked from the copilot’s seat directly behind him.

“She was lovely and she had legs up to her ears. Why else?” At a nod from Ardeth, strapped to the other wing, Jonathan sighed and started the plane. “When we go down in a flaming wreck,” he called over the noise from the engine, “I’ll be the first to say ‘I told you so.’”

Evy tucked her head down and let the aviator cap and goggles take the brunt of the stinging rain as the plane rolled down the runway. She could see the waterspout in the distance, growing in size and fury and moving forward to devour everything in its path. Everything that would likely soon include them. She looked at Rick, who clutched his gun to his chest as the plane bounced and bucked. When he noticed the attention, he gave her a little salute, which did make the whole thing just the tiniest bit better.

She heard the engines whine, saw the fence growing closer and closer and then with a snap, they were airborne.

Luck had been on their side with the discovery of the plane. In addition, they’d also found some sort of bladed device inside the office and a canister of something that Ardeth claimed would save the day. They had both items with them, as well as the trident, fixed to the plane with rope. The plan was simple: fly as far as they could into an unnatural force of swirling water and sea creatures bent on their destruction, where Ardeth would toss the canister as far as he could, and Rick would shoot it, causing an explosion. A simple plan, really, which was why Evy knew it would all go horribly wrong.

As the plane flew on, the cyclone of sharks sounded like an oncoming train, overwhelming the sound of the plane’s engine. A hammerhead shark flew by overhead, far too close for comfort. It wiggled as it passed, teeth snapping at the plane. Evy would almost prefer mummies that came back to life at this point. At least they feared cats.

“Is that far enough?” Jonathan shouted over the din.

“Closer!” Evy said.

“I was worried you’d say that.”

“We only get one shot at this! We have to get it right.”

“I knew—” Jonathan bobbed the plane as a Great White flew by, perilously close. “—you’d say that, too.”

To her right, Rick gave her the signal. “On second thought,” Evy said, waving frantically to get Ardeth’s attention. A shark no longer than her arm flew straight at her head; she ducked. When she popped back up, another shark hit the left wing of the plane, taking off the very chunk at the end. The plane shuddered, tossed sideways by the force of the collision—and Ardeth lost his grip on the canister of acid.

Evy watched it plunge for what felt like an eternity, drawn in by the force of the water. “Rick!” she shouted, watching all hope vanish.

The single crack of a gunshot filled the air.

Evy’s breath caught in her throat. That had been an impossible shot. What if he’d missed, what would they —everything abruptly turned bright orange. The explosion was even larger than the one that had decimated their car: it bloomed and billowed, swallowing live sharks whole. The percussive wave hit them like a fist, and Jonathan yelped and shoved the plane into a steep dive, straight into the waterspout.

Water sluiced over the plane from every direction. The plane shook so hard she hit her head against the controls and came up dazed, her thoughts a jumble. She was aware of shouting, of the sound of the wind whistling in her ears. And then of Jonathan swearing viciously and repeatedly, shouting at something to just pull up, dammit, just a little more—

The plane hit the ground and bounced. Once, twice, three times, skidding over the mud with a sickening squeal of wrenched metal. When they finally stopped, she had to fight back an absurd desire to giggle. She leaned her head back against the seat and just grinned at Rick, who was frantically unstrapping himself from the wing. They’d survived. Wonderful.

“Evy!” Rick shouted, though she had no idea why. He snatched up the chainsaw, yanked a cord, and leapt. Only then did Evy notice the great white shark that had been going straight for the little plane’s cockpit. Rick met it in midair, leading with the chainsaw, Evy Carnahan O’Connell watched a shark swallow her husband whole.

The shark sailed through the air right over the plane. It landed in the mud and rolled, its tail thrashing.

No!” Evy struggled out of her restraints. “Rick!”

“Evy—Evy, no, it’ll eat you—” Arms held her back, even though she struggled. She rammed her elbow back, hitting something soft, and broke free. She took two running steps over the wing, snatched up the trident on the run, and charged, ready to spear the shark to bits and dig Rick out with her bare hands if she had to. He wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be.

The tail caught her in the midsection, throwing her back and knocking the wind out of her. With a grunt, she slipped and fumbled to her feet, ready to charge.

The strangest sound cut her off. It was a high-pitched whine, like a small motor...coming from inside the shark? She raised the trident again, but the shark had stopped moving completely, not even twitching—and then a rounded blade burst through its side. Blood geysered briefly up into the rain. Jonathan, Evy, and Ardeth watched, frozen in their surprise, as the blade rotated and cut away at the flesh from the inside out. When the gap was finally wide enough, Rick stumbled out, covered from head to toe in shark blood and coughing.

“Rick!” Evy said, racing forward.

He barely turned off the chainsaw in time. “Let’s never,” he said, holding her at arm’s length with one hand while he ran his other hand down his face, “do that again, all right?”

Evy just jumped into his arms and kissed him instead of answering. She didn’t give a damn that they were both covered in blood and gore from all of the sharks. She had nearly lost her husband, an experience she never wanted to live through, and from the way Rick hugged her back tightly, the feeling had to be mutual.

“Oh, great,” Jonathan said. “This again. Kissy-kissy. How come I never have somebody to—huh. Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

Evy broke away from Rick, though she didn’t step back. “What are you seeing?” she asked.

“The sharks. They’re not moving.”

Rick looked up. “Rain’s stopped, too.”

Ardeth crossed to a shark that had landed a few meters away and prodded it with the tip of his scimitar. “Dead,” he said. “Like the rest.”

“How? They were perfectly fine a moment ago. Unless—you mean to tell me that plan worked?” Evy asked as all four of them stood in amazement, looking at the flooded plains and the dead sharks all around them.

“We’ve had longer odds,” Rick said, but he didn’t sound so sure. “I can understand why the explosion might have disrupted the waterspout, but why did the rain stop? The trident?”

“How?” Evy asked. “I hardly did anything with it, just charged some shark.”

“I have no idea, but perhaps let’s get inside and cleaned up and not question it for now?” Jonathan suggested. “Tomorrow we can put that thing back where it came from and pretend this all never happened, yes?”

Rick picked up the trident that Evy had dropped, turning it over in his hands. “The storms started the minute it was exposed to sunlight. If we put it back, some overly curious historian with a cute nose—”

Evy wrinkled said item at him.

“—is just going to dig it out again. I think I might have a better idea. I’ve got this friend who owns a storage company.” Rick continued to look at the trident, with its slightly dented prongs, the finish eaten away by age. “In California. Far away from here. War buddy of mine—if we ask nicely, he’ll never even open the crate.”

“Brilliant,” Evy said, giving him a smacking kiss. “Now let’s get that thing out of direct sunlight before it comes to the conclusion that our little ploy with the waterspout wasn’t enough of a challenge and decides to try again, shall we?”

“Let’s,” Rick said.


Seven thousand, seven hundred and fifty two miles and eighty four years later, the battered, boarded up crate sat, as it had been for most of the past century, completely undisturbed. It was on the second shelf, shoved back out of the way like most of the possessions belonging to one Edwin C. Clarke. A thick layer of dust coated the entire crate. Like the crate, the dust had lain completely undisturbed for most of a century.

Unfortunately, that was about to change.

The beam of a flashlight bobbled wildly, like the hand holding said instrument wasn’t entirely steady from drink. It splashed off the walls and bounced across the floor of the Clarke Moving and Storage warehouse, which had been abandoned due to the family running out of funds nearly twenty years prior. George didn’t care about any of that. He was on a mission. He’d driven from his Beverly Hills house before dawn, with one goal in mind: find something from a waitress’s heretofore unknown-to-her and also distant familial history, impress said waitress, and get laid.

George was not, as they liked to say, the greatest mastermind. He’d been born for the barstool, and he took pride in that fact.

But such was the hotness of Nova Clarke, with the sadness in her eyes and the scars on her leg, that George, huffing and puffing, climbed to the second tier. He approached the crate in a zig-zag, too drunk to really walk straight. It took five tries with the crowbar to get the lid up, and the entire time, he imagined what he would find. Jewels. Pieces of gold, doubloons from an old Spanish shipwreck, that he would magnanimously share with Nova, of course. Not all of them—finder’s keepers—but enough that she could quit the bar and focus on him full time.

George’s smile overtook his face as he finally wrenched the last nail from the crate. Eagerly, he dug into the packing material. They’d used so much, this had to be something valuable. He pulled out an oblong object wrapped in musty cloth, thick fingers fumbling as he unwrapped it.

Dreams of glory and gold abruptly died when he removed the last of the cloth. It was just...some kind of dented spear with prongs. It wasn’t even made out of gold or platinum. It was coated with a rusty red material and it smelled awful.

There was no way this would ever impress Nova.

Disgusted, George tossed it over his shoulder, ignoring the echoing clang as the spear-thing hit the concrete floor and slid until the nose bumped into a wall, right below a window. George never saw that. He was too busy digging through the rest of the crate and cursing his luck.

He also never saw the first ominous gunmetal-gray clouds form on the horizon, and if he felt a sudden chill in the wind, he shrugged it off.

Finding nothing in the crate, he shook his head and climbed down. What a waste of an entire morning. He needed a fucking drink. Muttering under his breath, he stalked off to his car and started the engine.

In a warehouse just fifteen miles from the Santa Monica Pier, the Lost Trident of Cloesthitus gleamed golden in a dust mote-filled beam of sunlight.