Monday, February 4, 2013

An Island Interlude excerpt by Anel Viz

The novella “An Island Interlude” by Anel Viz appears in the December, 2012 issue of Wilde Oats online magazine and will run until the next issue comes out in April. “An Island Interlude” is in three parts – Barcarole, Romanza, and Fugue – each divided into three short chapters.  This excerpt is the opening chapter, called “The Shoal.”

Commenting on Wilde Oats, Anel Viz says, "I always submit stories to Wilde Oats, and for many good reasons:  1) Loyalty. I got my start there. The person responsible for my first publication by inviting me to submit something for a vampire anthology he was editing is one of the founders of the zine and asked me for a story to help launch it. (A revised version of that vampire story is now available in my Dark Horror anthology.)  2) The zine publishes gay-themed stories in all genres, so it's good for placing my stories that aren't traditional romances (or aren't romances at all).  3) My editor at Wilde Oats does a terrific job, and we have a wonderful working relationship.  4) Since I don't have an active blog or website, it's the perfect place to put my freebie offerings.  5) They haven't yet turned down anything I've submitted. What's not to like?"

Wilde Oats is a zine focusing on gay- and bi-male oriented short fiction, with approximately ten stories featured in each issue, as well as reviews of longer fiction and nonfiction works of interest to the gay and bi- community.  It is published three times a year, in April, August and December, and features a mix of established writers and new voices.  The editors are an all-volunteer group of writers, most of whom have been published in various online and print media or have long experience editing gay-interest writing.  Wilde Oats accepts submissions throughout the year.  For more information or to contact Wilde Oats, visit

An Island Interlude
Wilde Oats (December, 2012)


I tried to distract myself with work, but the bitter cold at last determined me to take a much needed and long overdue vacation, so I rushed through my end of term corrections to be able to spend the last two weeks of January in the sunshine of the Caribbean.

For the first three days, I luxuriated in doing nothing and let my mind go blank.  I didn’t even explore the small town in which my beachfront hotel was located.  I lay on the sand far from the water line, seldom venturing into the ocean, staying under the trees so as not to burn.  We’d had overcast skies since early fall, and the northern winter had left me very pale.  I spoke to no one.  I read, I slept, returned to the hotel for my meals, and went to bed early.  I needed time to myself, time to do nothing.

On my third morning there, I began to feel restless.  I rented some scuba equipment and a boat and sailed out to a small island I had spotted on the horizon.  I didn’t even ask its name.  I went wearing only my swim trunks, a tee-shirt and a small hat with a visor, and took only a large beach towel, my book, sunscreen, a few pieces of fruit and two liter bottles of water.  It was no doubt rash of me to dive alone, but I meant to hug the shoreline and figured the risk would not be much.  The seabed there is sandy and not very deep.

It did not take long to sail there, no more than twenty minutes, even in what was really not much more than a motorized rowboat.  It reminded me how many little islands there were in addition to the bigger ones.  I had let it slip my mind although I’d seen them from the plane.

I rounded the island, apparently uninhabited, and anchored in an empty cove that looked southwest over an endless expanse of ocean under a cloudless sky.  It was as calm as a lagoon, and may have been one, though I passed no reef on the side from which I entered it.  I took off my tee-shirt, checked my equipment one last time, sat balanced on the side for a moment, and flipped backward into the calm, shimmering water.

The flat, sandy bottom, no more than ten or fifteen feet below the surface, was barren except for the occasional conch.  Jutting out, a rocky promontory dense with vegetation formed the east end of the cove.  If I were to find interesting underwater formations and marine life anywhere on this island, it would be there, and there I headed.

As I approached the promontory the sandy bottom sloped more steeply toward the open water, and its foot was indeed cluttered with rock crusted over with the shells of tiny mollusks, and plenty of crevices to shelter the more timid creatures and hide their lurking predators.  The land on the far side fell straight into the sea, and beyond it the ocean floor plunged sharply down some sixty feet or more, where a few hundred yards ahead of me a dense shoal of silver fish hovered in an immense wall between the bottom sand and the rippling surface.  I swam cautiously to within a few feet of it so as not to disturb the fish in their dance, and held there treading water at a depth of about forty feet.

The school suddenly became agitated and their motions erratic.  Had they sensed a shark?  The wall divided in front of me and vanished in either direction, and I found myself face to face with another diver, a young man who had been watching them from the other side, treading water like myself and wearing nothing but his diving mask.  His dive must have frightened them off.  He could not have been there long without air.

We were maybe six or eight yards apart.  He was beautiful.  Lean and muscular, his long, black hair adrift in the current, his sex wagging handsomely with the in-and-out movements of his arms and legs.  The evenness of his tan showed that he was in the habit of diving nude, but he evidently had not expected to encounter another human being in that isolated spot, for he cast me what looked like a sheepish grin from behind his mask.

He pointed to the surface.  I looked up and saw the white hull of a boat, at least ten times larger than mine.  Then he jerked his head upward with a slight shrug of his shoulders.  An invitation?  I nodded, and he headed toward the surface just as the scattered shoal swirled back into place and reformed between us, closed like a gleaming silver curtain, and blocked him from my view.

I had, as I’ve said, spoken to no one except the hotel clerk, a couple of waiters and the owner of the boat rental since I got there.  I felt more isolated suddenly cut off from him than I had sitting in my boat looking out over the ocean or swimming through the empty water along the sandy bottom of the cove, and for the first time since my arrival I felt the need for human conversation.  I started back up wondering what was in store for me.  A cocktail, a cup of coffee?  Had he come there alone or was his girlfriend also on board?  I imagined he would have slipped into a swimsuit by the time I got there.  I didn’t even know what language he spoke.

Wilde Oats:
An Island Interlude:
Wilde Oats blog:
(When reading An Island Interlude on Wilde Oats, be sure to click on "continue" for the entire story; there's also a review of of Horror, Dark & Lite by Anel Viz in the issue)


Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Just the imagery of what could be occurring has the stiffness budding in me... Have to read the whole thing.

Victor J. Banis said...

Anel's usually lovely (and elegant) prose, sweeps you into the story. Of course, a naked diver helps. Note, fellow writers, with what economy of detail he manages to make that other diver real to you, so that you see him in your mind - with scarcely a word of description. That's good work.

Anonymous said...

I have to say Victor is right. A lovely excerpt, especially on this cold day.
Joe DeMarco

Jon Michaelsen said...

Very nice, poetic, and well-written, Anel. Thanks for sharing. Jon

AlanChinWriter said...

Elegant writing, Anel. You made me feel his isolation, and his loneliness. Well done.

Rick Reed said...

Lovely imagery. I could see everything...and what visions!