UnderBelly Chapter 1

CHAPTER 1

 

They say your senses heighten when one is lost.  It went pitch black right after Victor threatened to shoot everybody, so maybe fear had something to do with it as well.  Whatever the explanation might be, I heard a symphony of heartbeat and breath, accompanied by the tap and shuffle of dancing feet playing in the darkness.

“Turn on the damn lights,” shouted Victor.

“It is time to leave,” whispered Ch’ing.

Victor blocked the only entrance to the chamber.  Since he was armed with an automatic weapon, it didn’t seem possible we could get past him.  Sifu is like a father to me and I trust him with my life.  If he says it’s time to leave, then he has a way out.  I was ready but wasn’t going anywhere without Ginny.

Victor was once Ginny’s most trusted employee.  The traitor now works for the pharmaceutical giant, Pathogen.  He tracked us across continents and into the belly of the Earth.  Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, not even a secret chamber hidden far below a lost pyramid is enough to keep him at bay.

He plans to kill us and I’m not sure why he didn’t do it when he had the chance.  Instead, he opted to profane this sacred place with gunfire.  He’s a jerk all right, but Victor’s need for a dramatic entrance has cost him the kill…so far.

We dove for cover when he blasted off a round, but other than the cover of darkness, there isn’t much to hide behind.  Council chambers is an eight sided room carved out of stone.  On each face sits a marble throne.  In the center is a pool of clear water that has no bottom the eye can see.

The dancing feet belong to an ancient council.  They are a hodgepodge of the strangest characters you have ever laid eyes upon and they have an even stranger agenda.  Just before Victor made his dramatic appearance, they delivered a powerful new medicine to Ginny and me on the condition we freely spread it across the world.

There’s just one problem.  Victor’s new boss, Wilbur Goth, C.E.O. of Pathogen, wants the medicine for himself and he will do anything to stop us.  It was Goth who ordered Victor to kill us.

My name is Grant Li.  Up until a few days ago, I had a promising legal career ahead of me, but now I’m an unemployed attorney.  In my first big case, I defended Goth against charges that he intentionally deceived the public about the risks of Gutchriem, an acid-reflux medicine that is believed to be killing people.  I won the case, but now there is new evidence that Gutchriem is laced with a deadly virus.

Ginny Bardough is a childhood friend and my one true love.  Up until a few days ago, it had been years since we had last seen each.  Our reunion has not been easy.  So far, we’ve had to overcome huge obstacles, including our present situation with Victor.  If we get out of this alive, I plan to marry her as soon as my divorce is final.

She was lying next to me at the edge of the pool.  Not exactly touching, but close enough I could feel strands of her raven hair tickling my shoulder.  The polished stone floor was just shy of slippery and surprisingly warm.  The scent of gunpowder quickly gave way to a stream of air that smelled as fresh as the blue sky after a summer squall.

Ch’ing is usually relaxed, but I sensed an urgency in his whisper, “Take my hand.”

“I have enough lead to cover every square inch of this God forsaken hole in the Earth,” shouted Victor.  “If you don’t turn the lights back on like I said, then I’m going to start shooting and I won’t stop until every last living thing in here is dead.”

I led a lunatic into this sacred place and I knew I should do something about the danger I put everyone in, but Sifu is right.  It’s time to flee.  We need to get home with the medicine.  Mom is trapped inside a coma and the nursing home is about to evict her.  We also need to stop Pathogen from using a dangerous virus against innocent people.

“Aaawk, bring the babe with you,” squawked Bird in a voice loud enough to wake the dead.

Bird is a Macaw I inherited from Dad.  It turns out he is more than he seems.  He claims his real name is Juan Ponce de León, and I’m starting to believe him since he is one of the mucky-mucks on the council of elders.

Ginny inched a little closer.

“Give me your hand,” I whispered.

She didn’t hesitate.  Once her hand was firmly in mine, we rose together as quietly as we could.  Despite our best efforts, we made enough noise that a stealthy escape was out of the question.

I turned to Ch’ing and whispered, “We’re ready.  Let’s go.”

Whether he heard me is hard to say since the room erupted into a second round of gunfire that sent us back peddling.  When my heel caught on something hard, I instinctively looked down to see what it could be and caught a glimpse of Ginny’s face in the gun flash.

I thought the shadows were playing tricks on me until I smelled blood mixed with the gun smoke.  I’m not sure if the searing pain I felt was from a bullet or the heartache of seeing blood splattered across Ginny’s face.  Either way, it hurt like hell.

As I fell backward I could not help but wonder what might have been had I not spent a lifetime avoiding Ginny.  I tried to let her go, but she had me in a death grip and pulled with all her might.

Her effort was heroic, but it was not enough.  The momentum from the fall, coupled with the dead weight of my body carried us both into the water.  I fought it at first.  I fought like the dickens for the life we could have together, but the powerful current sucked us down into a spiraling whirlpool of liquid death.

When I had nothing left and the fight was lost, fear began to creep into the corners of my mind.  I didn’t like it one bit.  I might not win the fight against the current, but fear is a product of my mind and therefore, it is something I can control.  Instead of fear, I chose to fill my mind with peace.

Once I stopped fighting the whirlpool, I began to notice how it good it felt…like I was wrapped in a liquid cocoon.  It was not warm, nor was it cold.  It was the perfect temperature, like the womb.  It was a weird time to think of the womb.  At first, I thought it was the beginning of a life review, or could just as easily have been my imagination, but somehow I am certain I could remember the time in my mother’s womb.

Every cell felt new and fresh as all that I am began to fall into its proper place.  It was pure bliss until I saw Ginny’s desperate face close to mine.

I reached for her just as everything began to fade out.  The last thing I remember was her lips mashing mine while her tongue forced my mouth open.  It was if she was trying to breathe life into me, or then again, maybe it was just a goodbye kiss.

After that, there was nothing until I awoke alone on a tropical beach that sparkled in the sunlight like a field of tiny diamonds.  Sand usually makes me feel dirty and has an annoying way of creeping into unwanted places, so when I visit the beach I try to minimize contact with it.

I usually carry a beach chair with me rather than sit on a towel, but for some strange reason, I felt an overwhelming urge to roll among these sparkling lights, so that’s exactly what I did, rolling haphazardly like a Texas tumbleweed along water’s edge.

When I finally rolled to a stop and allowed myself to relax into the sand, it felt like a thousand tiny hands massaged away the old and left me tingling fresh, as if I had just shed an old skin and replaced it with a shiny new me.  The diamond beach shredded the false and left a virgin field where a more authentic me could flourish.

There was something special about this place.  It was rich and full of infinite possibilities and I was determined to choose among them with the greatest care.  Inhaling deeply, I filled my lungs with fresh air and allowed it to nourish the seedlings of change.

It was good to be alive.  Allowing the joy to spread into my arms and legs, I stretched them wide and began sweeping sand angels.  A nearby sea turtle paused in her nest making, gave me a long frank assessment and then dismissed me as an amateur.

Sea turtles get big, but this girl looked like she had swallowed enough steroids to compete in a bodybuilding contest.  She was eighteen feet long and more than twice the size of any sea turtle I had ever seen.

The Ancients revered the tortoise and legend has it that Taoist longevity practices evolved from observations of its slow movements.  Energy cultivation begins with conservation.  Chi is not something you should waste.  Given everything I had survived lately, I was starting to feel immortal.

I had survived a knife fight with an ex-special forces war hero, got shot in the back, grappled an anaconda with monstrous teeth and went berserker on a machete carrying psycho intent on doing Ginny harm.  I don’t know how many guns had been pointed in my face before I was flushed down the drain of a lost South American pyramid and landed on this beach.

By all reckoning, I should be dead, and the presence of the sea turtle added to the sense this was part of some personal vision of an afterlife.  In the ultimate battle, the tortoise is the Dark Warrior of the North who emerges from the water and escapes the clutches of the Grim Reaper.

Yet, here I was making sand angels next to the mother of all sea turtles.  Her presence was no accident.  If I had learned nothing else from Ch’ing, the one thing he taught me was to pay attention and never assume events are accidental.  The Universe gladly delivers the message we most need to hear.  All we have to do is pay attention and the way will become clear.

I took a slow deep breath and focused on a pinpoint of light at the still point of my being.  It is from this vantage point that each of us co-creates life with all sentient beings.  The stillness expanded until it filled me with emptiness.  When I couldn’t contain it any longer, peace spilled into the world around me, as it should, since we are all in this together.

When I finally opened my eyes, the sun was overhead and I stared directly into it.  For some odd reason, the light didn’t hurt my eyes.  The teaching that the sun’s light will blind us is supported by a lifetime of pain whenever we get too big of a dose.  For this reason, I was torn between letting the light in or snapping the lids shut.

This light was softer than usual and it cast a coral tint to the skyline.  That would normally mean the day was nearly over, but the sun was straight above so I figured it was high noon.

On the distant horizon, a large bird hitched an updraft to gain elevation.  As it spiraled upward, I caught a glimpse of a long tail.  Maybe it was a trick of the light, but it was not a bird’s tail exactly.  Instead, it looked as if belonged to a monkey, but with a fin at the end molded into the shape of a four-faced spearhead.

The bird’s cry was haunting as if the beast was searching for a lost love.  Then again, perhaps I was projecting my own feelings onto it.  Ginny was still alive.  I could feel it and it was time to find her.

 

Release Your Toxins For Optimal Health

Release Your Toxins For Optimal Health

What you hold in your mind shapes your life. So, it is best to focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want. Despite our best intentions, harmful influences bombard us every day. There are times when the accumulated toxins need to be addressed and simple solutions can have big benefits. Here is a simple practice to help release them:

“Close your eyes, inhale deeply and as you exhale let go. Relax and let go of the tension. Let go of the confusion. Let go of the doubt. Let go of the toxins. That’s right, just release the toxins. Just let them go. See them desperately clinging to the breath as they are expelled from your body and dissolved into the atmosphere. Whatever purpose they once served in your life is now complete. You don’t need them any longer.”

Repeat this simple practice over and over again with the absolute faith that it is working and peace fills your mind and good health is restored.

Once you’ve purged the toxins, try this affirmation to help block them from returning:

“I am surrounded by a protective forcefield that deflects all forms of abuse and returns it to the source.”

Peace out,
Robert

Lightning Strike

I was hit by lightning once. I know it’s not very smart, but I stood on a mountaintop in the middle of a thunderstorm because I wanted to experience it up close and personal. Thor’s energy coursed through my body at the speed of light and was gone in the blink of an eye. All that was left was the metallic taste of cold steel and a completely different view of life and death. I no longer fear death, but more importantly, I no longer fear life.

Peace out,

Robert

New Book Release – UnderBelly

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to announce the release of Robert’s third book, UnderBelly, which completes the story of Grant Li and Ginny Bardough’s epic battle against Big Pharma over a new medicine that grows wild and free in the rainforest.

Order your copy today for a fast-paced summer read that will keep you turning pages as you relax at water’s edge and work on your tan. Sunscreen not included.

Here is a link to Robert’s author page at Amazon where you can order your copy today.

amazon.com/author/robertwgrant

It’s going to be a great summer, my friends!

Peace out,
Robert

Tao’s Simple Message

Tao’s Simple Message

If I had to distil the message of wise men from across time and culture, it would be “Make Your Own Way”.  If the goal is freedom from ignorance and slavery, then the only path that makes sense is a path you blaze for yourself.

Looking to any authority outside of yourself is simply more of the same.  Tao’s simple message is to make your own way.

Peace out,

Robert

If I had to distil the message of wise men from across time and culture, it would be "Make Your Own Way". If the goal is freedom from ignorance and slavery, then the only path that makes sense is a path you blaze for yourself. Looking to any authority outside of yourself is simply more of the same. Tao's simple message is to make your own way.

 

Style & Grace

Style & Grace

A state of grace follows the direction of our thoughts.

Negative fear-filled thoughts carry us away from grace. Likewise, focusing on a positive goal will carry us to the inevitable manifestation of it. We become our thoughts. Every day we reinvent ourselves with our thoughts.

 

Style and grace are a natural result of accepting full responsibility for our thoughts. No one else is responsible for our thoughts or the circumstances of our lives. No one can control our thoughts except us, although many try to persuade us through mechanisms like advertising, party lines, and dogma. Or, worse yet, they try to control our thoughts with guilt, fear, criticism, judgment, hatred, etc.

It is up to each person to choose. We refuse to blame others. We choose style and grace.

What is your choice?

Peace out,
Robert & Rebecca

Porch Sitting

Porch Sitting

Rebecca and I love sitting on a covered porch on a hot summer evening. This picture was taken on the porch of a tiny house built by Rebecca’s parents to provide shelter when their home is overflowing with visitors. The porch is nearly as big as the house.

I have fond memories from my childhood of porch sitting with the old folks. They talked about life and I listened. It was during these times that they gently shaped me into the man I have become.

We enjoy walking through older neighborhoods filled with southern mansions built with big covered porches. These days they build homes without them. Our next house will have a big wraparound porch that we can sit on and watch thunderstorms roll in from the West.

What is your fondest memory of a covered porch?

Peace out,
Robert & Rebecca

LeatherBack Journal

LeatherBack Journal

NT Publishing Company is pleased to announce that we are now accepting submission of short pieces for publication in the LeatherBack Journal.  The author retains all copyright privileges to the work.  This is an opportunity to get exposure as a writer.  Come join the NT Publishing Company family where we expect each and every one of you to succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

Peace out,

Robert & Rebecca

UnderBelly – Upcoming New Book!

Rebecca is working on edits to my new book and my cover designer is hard at work to come up with the perfect book cover.

UnderBelly is the third book in a continuing story. In the first book, Naked Tao, the reader meets Grant Li, a young lawyer with a taste for adventure. When he learns that his big client has developed a dangerous bio-weapon, he sets out to stop them. Along the way, he joins forces with his childhood sweetheart, Ginny Bardough, a total babe. In the second book, Nostrum Conspiracy, Ginny sets out to find her missing father but disappears in the Amazon Rainforest. Grant goes after her. While he is in the forest, he receives an unexpected gift of a rare medicine from a mysterious group of people. In book three, UnderBelly, he and Ginny return home via the underworld with the new medicine. Together, they take on big pharma and a corrupt group of politicians in a high-stakes fight of epic proportions that could shift the balance of power.

I draw on my own adventures and enthusiasm for the unbeaten path to write fast paced novels that take my readers to far off exotic places. It may come as no surprise that I want to be Indiana Jones when I grow up.

Peace out,

Robert

A Gate to Healing Energy

How would you like to learn a simple qigong exercise that will open a gate to healing energy?

Knocking at the Gates of Life – Bamboo Grove Qigong

There is a circle around your waist that is poetically called the Gates of Life.  The term also references an acupuncture point (Ming-Men) located directly opposite of the navel, which was your connection to life in the womb.  This is the center of your body and the location of a sea of healing energy called Dantian (tan t’ien).

Robert Black BackgroundStand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.  Soften all of your joints by allowing them to round slightly.  In other words, don’t lock any of your joints.  Scan your body for tension.  If you find any, relax and let it go.  Tension blocks the flow of energy.  To help release the tension, lift the crown and sink your tail bone.  This will stretch your spine and open the spaces between the spinal discs.

You stand in the center between heaven and earth, relevant and powerful.

Breath deep.  Focus your breath a few inches below your belly button, the “Commander and Chief” of all balanced movement.

Begin to slowly twist at the waist, first to the left and then to the right.  Your feet should remain rooted in the earth, while your upper body moves as a unit, rotating on a central axis around your Dantien.  A classic beginning mistake is to rush your eyes, then your head, ahead of the rest of your upper body.  Relax.  There is no rush.

Imagine your hands are heavy weights dangling from the ends of your arms.  Allow them to swing loosely around your body and alternately tap your kidneys and your belly button.  Let them flop.  Your movement should be effortless.

You will feel energy building in your belly until it finally breaks free like a bursting damn after heavy spring rains.  Allow it to spill out and flow where it will.  Trust your body to send this healing energy where it is needed.

When it is time, you will gradually come to rest.  Stand tall and still for a few more breaths.  Have a moment of gratitude for the healing.

Peace out,

Robert

You can watch a video  of Robert demonstrating Knocking at the Gates of Life by following the link below:

https://youtu.be/p57I6T_PKH4