Such brutal destruction.
Everything in splinters. Bamboo and glass. The samples they'd meticulously collected over the course of the last four months were lost, vials shattered, contents contaminated or spilled and mingled hopelessly in the sand. Frantic, scrambling, shards of shattered glass slicing their fingertips, the two men sifted through fragments of roof and wall, salvaging what they could.
"Derrek, look," Victor tried to sound hopeful. "The microscope. I think it's alright."
"And here, Dad. The centrifuge. It doesn't look damaged. Or the generator, either."
What difference did it make? Their time was nearly up. In a couple weeks they'd have to return. Get Cat back to her life. Back to school. Bad enough they'd stolen her summer. It would be irresponsible, unforgivable to ask her to miss half a school year. And that's what it would take to recover what had been lost.
Neither of them was ready to accept the truth, though. So they kept at it, carrying off debris so they wouldn't miss any smaller treasures, like the slides they found intact, and here and there, a bottle of solution that hadn't shattered.
At least they'd managed to save the notebooks when they'd fled to the shelter of the cave as the cyclone hit. All the data was there, even if the material evidence was lost. Maybe the notebooks would be enough to convince UNEP to insist on sending a proper team out.
They were still rummaging when Cat came running.
"Dammit, Cat!" Derrek growled with uncharacteristic heat. "Where's the case you were supposed to be bringing? Don't you get it? This isn't the time for you to get distracted, frolicking around. If we can't restore the samples, we'll lose everything!"
With her usual sang-froid, unsettling in a fifteen-year old, Cat arched an admonishing eyebrow.
"What is it, Kitten?" Victor asked, going pale as he gazed at his daughter.
Panting, shaking she said, "The boat. It's gone."
"Gone?" Derrek gasped.
"I thought maybe in the storm it just broke free of its moorings. I climbed the bluff. Thought I'd see it adrift."
Her shaking, her silence was weighing them both down, sinking them into the sand.
"Kitten, what?" Victor finally asked.
"I saw it. Maybe a hundred yards off the bluffs. Daddy, it sank."
THREE YEARS LATER
His thick cock was a meaty handful, even before it was hard. Derrek liked the warm weight of it in his palm, liked the soft, dusky pink of the head and the smooth texture and the even tan color of the shaft while it rested, limp, across his fingers.
Without even stroking he could make himself hard, rock hard, just thinking things. Watching his cock swell and stiffen, thicken and rise helped, too. Excited him. Now the helmet flushed a deeper pink, like guava meat, and veins stood out along the length of his thickening, hardening shaft.
At first he just ran the pads of his fingers along the underside, barely touching the ridge running the length of his shaft, balls to head. Then his eyes tracked his thumb as it circled the swollen crown, gently teasing the slit at the tip.
Damn, his balls were aching. Enough with the foreplay. Derrek dipped his fingers into the palm oil and smeared the slick liquid over his turgid cock. A hot surge throbbed under his fingers as he gripped himself, squeezed, and pulled his tight fist down, over the plump bulb, down the rigid shaft, until the side of his hand bumped against his thatch of pubes.
Slow, then fast, then slow again he worked his hand up and down the length of his hard cock, images in his head shifting to the urgent rhythm of his fist. Fuck. Yeah. He backed off when he got close. Waited. Breathed. Then pumped into the tight little hole he made with his fist, tugged his balls with his other hand, getting himself so hot, so hard he was panting for it, needing to let go, holding back, even grunting, turned on by the familiar scent of the palm oil he always used when he jacked off, the wet sticky sound of his cock pistoning in his fist, the smell of his body, sex and sweat mingling.
From where she stood at the entrance to the cave, Cat could only see one lean leg, bent to prop him against the shelf of rock he perched on, his broad back, bare and sheened with sweat, and one muscular arm flexing rhythmically. But she knew what her brother was doing. Standing there, still and silent, a hot pulse throbbed in her sex.
She wanted to see.
Quiet as she could she crept forward, her bare feet molding themselves over the rough, uneven surface of the limestone. As she got closer she breathed in the heavy, slightly sharp scent of Derrek's body mingled with palm oil, and she could hear his breath huffing and a sticky chaffing noise and every few seconds a low growl. The achy throb in her cunt thrummed more insistently. She wanted to touch, needed to rub it. But she didn't.
She took another step. Her eyes fixed on Derrek's wrist blurring up and down, she didn't notice the drop in the floor of the cave, misstepped and gasped out loud as she caught her balance.
"Cat! Fuck!" Her brother hopped off the rock, keeping his back to her as he adjusted his shorts.
Now that her prey knew she was there, she hurried forward, hoping to catch a glimpse before it was all tucked away, but Derrek pivoted, keeping his back to her.
"What's wrong with you, Cat? How about a little privacy, huh?" he growled.
She stayed silent. Being called a whiny brat twice as a child had made her strangely quiet by the time she was seven. And she enjoyed it, how her silence unsettled her big bro. Still keeping his back to her, he glared over his shoulder.
"Come on, Cat. Get out of here," he cajoled, now, "I'll be home in ten."
"But I want to see," she said, keeping her voice low.
"See? See what?" Exasperation crinkled his brow, beaded with sweat.
She stepped a little closer.
"What do you mean, 'it'?"
"You know. Is it still hard?"
Of course it was. Why else would he be hunching away from her, cupping his hands over his crotch like that?
"Oh my god, Cat, what's wrong with you?"
"Nothing's wrong with me. I just..." She let a pause hang there for a few seconds before she picked back up. "It's just that I've never seen one before. Not a real one. Not when it was hard."
Still keeping his hands over the goods, he finally turned and faced her, surprise and amusement tugging up the corner of his smile.
"Seriously," she answered. "I'm curious. And...I want to. When else am I gonna get a chance?"
The mirthful glint faded from his aqua eyes. He pulled in a deep breath and let it go with a heavy sigh.
"Maybe never. Right?" she said softly, stepping closer. She touched his wrists with her index fingers. "Please, Derrek? I just want to see."
With just her fingertips she coaxed his hands apart, baring the crotch of his shorts, revealing the long, thick bulge underneath, snaking up toward his hip bone, stretching the faded red fabric tight. A ripple of warm want flooded through her.
"It looks big," she breathed.
A blush spread over his tanned cheeks. Looking back down, it seemed like her stare was making it swell, making it reach higher and higher, trying to poke right through his shorts.
"Please, Derrek. Let me see. Without these."
She brushed a finger against his shorts, just over his hip, but close enough to his hard dick to make him flinch. What was he doing, blushing and cringing like some repressed virgin on her wedding night? He was a scientist, not a goddamned missionary, for fuck's sake. Nothing weird, her being curious. Perfectly natural.
"Fine," Derrek sighed. "Not like it's a big deal. It's just a body. Right?"
Derrek pulled in a deep breath, let it go, and slid the waistband of his shorts down. His swollen cock bobbed free, full and heavy. Cat's eyes went wide and she cupped a hand over her mouth.
"Hey!" Derrek complained. "I'm being nice, here. Chill with the teasing."
She dropped her hand, but her eyes stayed wide.
"Teasing? God, Derrek, it's huge!"
"It's not that big."
She shrugged. "Well, compared to what I saw playing show and tell with Mark and Jason when I was a kid, it is."
"Uh, yeah, well, let's hope so."
Even with all the chit chat, under Cat's stare his cock was getting rock hard again, straining up toward his navel, throbbing for release. As if she were hypnotized her green eyes were locked on the flushed head, following its movements as his cock flexed and swelled. A nervous twinge rippled through Derrek's gut for how much her eager stare was turning him on.
"Touch him," she breathed, turning her gaze up to his. "Do what you were doing, before."
The nervous twinge fluttered through his belly again, and the heavy ache in his balls seemed to swell.
"Please Derrek," she whispered. "I want to know what happens. It's not like I can go watch internet porn."
"I can't. It's embarrassing. It's a sexual thing, doing that with someone watching."
"You've done it before? Like, with Julie or Becca?"
"Well, no, but..."
"Come on. Don't be embarrassed. Seriously, I'm totally creaming right now."
Oh God. That made it even worse. Or better. Fuck, what the hell was going on here?
"If you want, I'll go at the same time," she said, running a fingertip over her taut, tan belly, along the low waist of her skirt, where just an inch of scar peeked over.
"No!" he blurted, blushing again, then reined himself in. "Don't. Just watch."
Not smiling, now, her big green eyes glazed with arousal, Cat nodded, then turned her gaze back down to his cock.
His hand was shaking, and when he dipped his fingers into the fragment of shell with the palm oil he almost knocked it off the rock. When his oil-slick fingertips brushed against the underside of his cock, he ground his teeth over a gasp. Fucking hell he was turned on.
The sound of their hitched breathing and the slurp of sticky friction as his fist slid up and down his erection mingled between them, along with the smell of the palm oil and his musky odor and their warm breath. Every now and then Cat made a little noise, not really a moan, but a tiny, voiced exhale that gave away her arousal, watching Derrek fist his stiff cock.
Rapt, she watched everything—her lips parted, her chest rising and falling with her rapid breathing—how he'd cease the frenzied fisting for a while and lovingly caress the plump, rosy crown with his thumb, how he'd tease a spot at the top of the thick, veined shaft, just behind the ridge of the head, how three fingers of his other hand reached between his thighs to cradle his big, hairy balls, his index finger pressing, forging a valley between them. How, when his breathing got fast, his thighs started to twitch and his balls went tight and his fist blurred up and down, then slowed, then blurred again. Then he stopped.
There was this quiet moment of anticipation. And then he brought his tight fist up that thick, hard length in one long, slow stroke, and a string of white shot from the slit, arcing up, splatting onto his chest and neck. Down and up his fist went again, and another spurt of white launched onto his tan tummy. Squeezing his dick between his thumb and two fingers he coaxed out three more gobs of thick white goo, dribbling onto his fingers and cock, slinking down into his black curls.
His thighs still shuddering, his shoulders and hands trembling, Derrek glanced furtively at Cat, then dodged her gaze, blushing again. She took a small step forward between his quivering thighs, reached out, and with the tip of one finger, scooped up a dollop of the warm, silky semen from his chest. Derrek flinched, startled at the touch, then gasped, seeing a thick drop of his spunk on her fingertip. She brought it to her nose and sniffed. Then her lips parted, the tip of her tongue peeked out, and she lapped up the white cream.
"Jesus, Cat," he breathed.
"I was just curious. What it tastes like," she said quietly.
"Well, I wouldn't add it to the menu at Ginoli's, but it's got a certain...appeal." She grinned and raised one eyebrow in a tease. "Want me to lick you clean?"
He laughed and playfully shoved her back, but a hot little jolt surged through him. Before things got any more out of hand he tugged his shorts up, then smeared his stuff under his palm and rubbed it into his skin. He'd go for a swim in a few minutes.
"Well, did you find your lesson on the physiology and functionality of the male sexual reproductive organ edifying, Miss Golding?"
"Terribly, Dr. Golding."
"Glad to hear it. Next week, we'll be dissecting specimens of the male abalone and examining gonads evolved to accomplish broadcast spawning."
"Hey, we didn't dissect you. Let's have a change of curriculum and just watch the mollusks masturbate."
"That would be an impressive discovery, even worthy of an honorary title, Dr. Golding. Tell your colleagues, please, how the mollusks accomplish sexual release without the aid of limbs?"
"A simple matter of leverage and friction. The muscle merely flexes to achieve advantageous contact with the shell, and rubs until satisfaction is achieved. Having used a similar technique myself, I can assure my skeptical colleague, Dr. Golding, that hands and fingers are not strictly necessary to have a fabulous climax."
Derrek blushed again at the image of his sister rubbing against—what? the arching trunk of a slender young palm? Straddling and humping it, letting the rough trunk drag the loose fabric of her sweats back and forth over her cunt?
"I could give you a demonstration," she said, sounding oddly shy, vulnerable, unlike her usual self.
"Cat." What they'd done already was bad enough. It was bad enough that his dick was getting full, heavy again, thinking of watching her do that. "We're lonely, here. All of us are. But it's no excuse to start acting crazy. You're my sister. I love you. It would be pretty fucked up if I..."
She sounded sad. It made him sad, too. But he didn't know what to say. So he gave her a hug, then ran for the sea before she could say anything about the erection swelling under his shorts again.
"One live birth in the whole population." Looking over Cat's notes, Victor's voice was laced with anger and disappointment. "The steady decline is irrefutable. Year one, twenty six live births. Year two, seventeen. Year three, five. With a commensurate increase in juvenile mortality. You sure you've accounted for all the adults?"
She knew that look. He was blaming himself. Carrying the weight of the slow demise of the whole sifaka population on his own shoulders. His fault they'd stayed an extra week, risked the monsoons, lost the boat, his fault the scientific community hadn't seen their data and brought unanimous consensus to bear on the governments of the world. His fault the world was dying, not slowly, but rapidly. Like the lemurs. In a single generation.
The bundle of damp moss sizzled and popped and a spray of orange sparks burst over the smoldering signal fire when Cat dropped it on the still-glowing embers from that morning. She nestled a few fresh-cut branches into each of the three slow-burning pyres, then re-positioned the rain guards. The green wood snapped and popped behind her as she stood at the edge of the bluff, gazing down at the wreck of their boat, that pale sleeping beauty there under the waves two hundred feet below her. It thrilled her, sent an electric flutter up her body sensing the vast drop just inches past her toes, feeling the wind play with her balance. If it weren't for her dad and Derrek, she'd have tried the jump.
Instead she walked the half mile home. Going downhill, without the burden of fuel for the fires was effortless. She almost preferred the ascent, feeling her calf and thigh muscles burn as she climbed, feeling her heart race and her lungs gulping air as she heaved thirty or forty pounds of wood up the slope.
Back at home, Cat slit open the belly of the tilapia and scooped the guts into a shell to take back to the pool, later. She'd take this stink and gore over the tedium of harvesting and threshing rice, any day. Derrek and her dad had far more patience for that task than she did. And less of a stomach for killing the things they ate. So she'd become the hunter, they the gatherers.
Filleting the meat, she added the bones to the pile of guts, then rinsed her hands and went out to put the fish on the fire. She liked these summer nights, when she could be outside and still watch her dad and Derrek at work in the evening sunshine, bent over the big table that served as both work station and site of the family meals. Even with no other colleagues to whom they could discuss their theories, share their discoveries, present their findings, their discussions were as intense, as passionate as they'd been that first summer, when they'd been racing against each fading day to complete their data set.
At least Derrek didn't work from dawn until dark, anymore. That single-minded relentlessness was now the preserve of Doctor Frankenstein, as Cat sometimes impishly referred to her father, though only in her head, and once or twice with her brother. Victor Frankenstein. Derrek had laughed, too.
It had started to bother her, back in the real world, her dad's monomaniacal focus. Not that she didn't get enough attention; he'd always doted. But it hurt her, a pain deep and physical, watching her dad go through each meal, each day, each week alone. Not one date since her mother had died. All the hours that had been filled with affection and laughter, he'd filled with work. Here, it didn't seem strange. What else was there for him to do?
"Nirina's baby's playing jockey, now," Cat reported on the littlest sifaka's development over dinner. Just the day before he'd been cradled protectively to his mother's belly, his little black and white face, his round yellow eyes peeping out from her reddish brown fur when Cat had sought them out in the morning, and again in the late evening.
"And he's what?" Victor asked.
"Twenty-three days old."
"Right on target, then. A promising sign."
"Here," Cat poured a stream of amber-colored water into their glasses. "I've concocted something vaguely resembling iced tea."
Derrek took a tentative sip of the stuff with his usual look of skepticism at anything untried.
"Heh, not bad, Kit-Cat."
A warmth bloomed in her chest. He hadn't called her that in weeks. Not since the cave.
A Small Earth in the Sea
In the Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles from the nearest populated land mass, there is a small island unique in all the world. Though a mere twenty-five square kilometers in size, the island, which was once part of the supercontinent comprised of what are now Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Australia-New Guinea, New Zealand, Arabia and the Indian subcontinent, is home to nine percent of the world's plant species and seven percent of its animal species, representing a broad spectrum of life indigenous to lands as far-flung as the deserts of Kenya and the jungles of Columbia. A surprisingly varied topography supports this incredible biological diversity; the eastern, windward side of the island is comprised of lush tropical rainforests, while the western and southern sides of the island, which lie in the rain shadow of the central highlands, are home to tropical dry forests, thorn forests, dry deciduous forests, deserts and xeric shrublands. In these characteristics, this petite landmass is a small sister to her neighbor Madagascar, often dubbed "The Eighth Continent." However, the smaller, more remote island is truly unique by virtue of the fact that it is an untouched realm. The island has never been inhabited, fished, hunted or mined.
It therefor provides an ideal site for investigation of the consequences of global climate change. Conflating variables such as deforestation, local pollution, and disruption of ecosystems by human activity are eliminated, and the impact of global warming upon the distinct and diverse ecosystems can be directly observed on this small earth in the sea, which we call Gondwana.