When the cruise ship Luke Ganes is working on sinks off the coast of South America, he thinks he has met his watery grave. Regaining consciousness, he finds himself in a different world that defies the laws of both nature and gravity. With the help of his saviour, Girufu, he slowly comes to terms with his new environment and learns to love his new home, Mistela. When he hears about the evil Taronas and their quest to slay the Pescamans, he develops a plan to save his newfound friends from their brutal attacks. As time passes, Girufu proves to Luke he is the lover Luke has always been looking for. But when Girufu pushes Luke to the limits of his sexuality, he panics and begins a desperate journey, seeking a way back to Earth. His arch-rival Janus convinces him he can help. Only love and a cunning plan can save him from certain death.

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Cover Art by Carmen Waters

Luke had died and gone to Heaven. A silver-white planet hung in the mocha-violet sky like Earth’s moon—but this had to be Heaven’s sun, because the blistering light made him squint. Its heat was strong like a man’s touch. Bubbly champagne waves crept up the shore, and a thousand glistening fairies danced their way back to the calming sea where silver angels floated effortlessly on the surface. Luke had to examine the tall arching palm trees that adorned the shoreline more closely. Their leaves! They pointed up, as if the world had been turned upside down. Was that Heaven? Was it a world of opposites, where there was a moon for the sun, champagne for the salty ocean water and leaves that ran from the sand? He closed his eyes to a spinning darkness and it frightened him—as if he’d slipped into a bad dream.

Like smelling salts, gardenia mixed with magnolia filled his nose and his eyes shot wide open again. Nothing had changed. He was still in an upside down world. The waterfall behind him confirmed it. Upon closer inspection he noticed it was travelling upward. As he squinted to focus more closely, he saw a lake floating above the waterfall, seemingly weightless, like a cloud suspended in thin air. Had he been drugged? No. No, he hadn’t. He’d died and gone to Heaven, surely?

He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, reached out to his right and stumbled across a wooden rail. He took a double take. A wooden rail. With wide alert eyes he quickly scanned his surroundings. He found a rectangular wooden hut that was held together with string. A bowed wooden floor greeted his feet and a roof fabricated from palm tree leaves shielded him from the sun.

The greying rail creaked as Luke pulled himself to his feet. Sun-bleached honey-coloured straw chafed the bottom of his feet and toes. Where the hell was he?

Luke clung to his head as if he’d been hit hard with a hammer. Of course—the cruise ship. He’d been on a cruise ship that had sunk. Every hair on Luke’s body stood on end. He could be anywhere.

Life drained from his body. His legs trembled and buckled, causing him to stumble forward. He grabbed hold of the twisted, cracking rail with both hands. Once he regained his balance he breathed in sharply, pushed himself up using what little strength his arms could offer, and turned around.

The rest of the hut resembled a sitting room. In the centre, a rough chunk of mahogany tree trunk twenty inches high served as a coffee table. Surrounding it were four lengths of tree trunk, three feet wide and five feet tall, that had L’s carved into them to provide oversized bucket seats. In the far left hand corner, he could see a counter that was supported by wonky tree branches held together with string.

Luke breathed out sharply and covered his mouth with his hands. All he wanted was the answer to one question. Where was he? The answer he had in his head almost brought tears to his eyes. Based on the landscape and colours, it didn’t look or feel like Earth.

When he heard someone or something moving behind him, Luke jolted forward so violently he fell to his knees.

“Hey, little man, there’s no need to be so nervous. I only wanted to welcome you to Mistela.”

When he turned around and saw what was walking toward him, Luke tried to scramble to his feet, but his under nourished and lethargic body would not let him. The best he could do was shuffle his way to the far end of the room on his hands and knees as fast as his cumbersome body would take him.

He grabbed out with both hands to find something solid, something that would offer him some support, but loose straw just crumpled in his hands. Wild eyed, his gaze darted to his right. He acknowledged a dense forest deprived of light that led to who knew what. Beyond that was a never-ending sea that would surely be his next watery grave.

An eight foot tall hulking giant, wearing what looked like a bronzed wet suit, stomped toward him. The wooden floor groaned beneath him with every footstep.

Luke’s arms and legs lashed out involuntarily trying to find an escape route. But when the Herculean creature stood directly above him, he froze. Desperately, he quickly surveyed his predator. Bulking shoulders that supported a thick bulldog neck craned forward, bringing the narrow almond face, aquiline nose and small elongated nostrils closer into view. Luke let out a sigh of relief. At least it had human-like features. Perhaps it had the mentality and attitude of a human, too.

He breathed in sharply when he saw the flat, pinned backed ears, wavy lips and flaps of folded skin on his neck. Its green eyes and oval yellow pupils mesmerised Luke. He felt like a deer caught in headlights, unable to move despite knowing it was about to be annihilated.

Luke was consumed with helplessness. Even if his drained body was capable of running, he would not have known where to run. He was in a strange place that he did not know. More worrying was the fact he’d no idea what else might be out there. If the creature towering above him was eight feet tall, what other giant monsters or beasts were out there waiting for him?

He had to accept that since he was only five feet eleven inches tall, this being would be able to catch him within a matter of seconds and crush him into pulp if it wanted to.

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