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Excerpt for Darwin: A Galapagos Story by
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Darwin

A Galapagos Story

By

Erik Daniel Shein & Melissa Davis

Though inspired by true events, this book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

World Castle Publishing, LLC

Pensacola, Florida

Copyright © 2017 Arkwatch Holdings, LLC, and Erik Daniel Shein

Coauthor: Melissa Davis

Smashwords Edition

Hardback ISBN: 9781629899657

Paperback ISBN: 9781629899664

eBook ISBN: 9781629899671

LCN: 2017932055

Second Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC, July 06, 2018

http://www.worldcastlepublishing.com

Smashwords Licensing Notes

All rights reserved. Darwin, A Galapagos Story, the Novel™ is a Trademark of Arkwatch Holdings, LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means—electronic, Digital, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for the author or third party’s web sites and their content.

Requests for information should be addressed to:

Arkwatch Holdings, LLC

4766 East Eden drive

Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Cover: Len Simon Animation, LLC

Editor: Maxine Bringenberg


Table of Contents


Chapter 1—Maternal Instincts

Chapter 2—Egg Sitting

Chapter 3—Uncle!

Chapter 4—Wind Sailer

Chapter 5—Let’s Make it a Vacation

Chapter 6—New Friends

Chapter 7— Isabela Island

Chapter 8—Shark!

Chapter 9—Winds of Change

Chapter 10— Admiral Ignatius

Chapter 11— Who is Queen Esmerelda?

Chapter 12— Pray for a miracle

Chapter 13—Plan of Attack

Chapter 14—Bullseye

Chapter 15— Life’s an Adventure



Chapter 1

Maternal Instincts


The crystal waters sparkled as the sun’s rays ricocheted off its surface. The wind seemed to whisper hello as a few birds soared over the waves capturing their food for the day. The small beach of the Santa Cruz was filled with large black lava rocks and a smattering of golden sand. One of several islands in the Galapagos, Santa Cruz was filled with unique animals who had a lifetime of stories to tell.

Today the beach was almost empty, except for one solitary penguin who was sunning himself. Sancho was not like the other penguins in the Galapagos. No matter how hot it seemed to be outside, Sancho was always cold. It was a good thing Sancho was not an arctic penguin. There was no way he would ever be able to survive those frigid temperatures. Sancho was a black and white Galapagos penguin. His face was black with a small white line of feathers that arched from his eyes on each side of his face, then curved back to where his tiny wings jutted from his body. The effect created a white s-shape, which is how he got his name—S, for Sancho. Most of his body was covered in black feathers, except for his white belly that always seemed to be rumbling. He could eat his weight twice over any day of the week and still not gain a pound.

On the rock next to the penguin was a small lava lizard who was also sunning himself. His long thin frame was covered in scales that were colored in hues of gold and brown mixed with black spots. He had a large black diamond shape above his front legs near his neck on both sides of his body. His thin short legs were close to his body, making it easy to propel himself away from predators if the need arose. If he were sitting on the sand, he would have almost disappeared had it not been for the bright reddish orange coloring around his neck and the bottom of his face. While that would have been preferable for most lizards, Paolo wanted the sun to warm up his skin, and perching on the black lava rocks seemed to attract its rays and magnify the heat.

Paolo squeezed his eyes shut as the sun beamed down on him. “Ahhhh…this is the life, Sancho. This is the life.”

“If you say so.” Sancho shivered slightly as the wind touched his wings. If his wings could actually propel him into the sky, he would be enticed by the breeze. Instead, it was just a cruel reminder that he could not fly like the other birds on the island.

“What’s got your goat?”

“Goats? Where?” Sancho’s eyes shot around him as if he were about to be attacked at any moment.

“Relax. It’s just an expression.” Paolo tried not to laugh at his friend. “You know there aren’t any goats here.”

“Sorry. I’m just having a flash back to the time—” Sancho started to go into the account of the long traumatic experience when he had encountered a herd of angry goats.

“When you swam to the other island,” Paolo finished with a slight roll of his eyes. “You don’t even know if they were going to attack you. You ran away, if I remember correctly.”

“Did not!” Sancho crossed his wings in front of him and tapped his foot on the sand.

“Well, Fernando tells a different story,” Paolo interjected.

“Bah!!! You can’t trust that flighty finch!” Sancho’s beak seemed to pout. “Why are you bringing this up again, anyway?”

“Boredom?” suggested Paolo. “What else is there to do?”

“Yes, well….” Sancho had no words to disagree with that. Some days were better than others, but most were pretty lackluster. It was as if the two friends were missing purpose in their lives. They were meant for more, Sancho was sure of it, but every day was the same old thing. It was grating at times. “I think I’ll take a walk.”

“Have fun. I’ll be here if you need me.” Paolo was not moving from his spot any time soon. He closed his eyes and a small humming sound came out of his body.

“What are you doing?”

“Meditating,” Sancho replied without moving a muscle.

Sancho sighed aloud. “Not that again.”

“Ommmmmmmm.” Paolo’s voice was now louder, only because he was trying to blot out the sound of Sancho’s voice.

“Can life get any duller?” Sancho turned away from the lava lizard and started down the beach, mumbling about meditation and how they both needed something more fulfilling in their lives.

As Sancho waddled across the sand, his foot hit what he thought was a sharp rock. He grabbed his foot with his wings and hopped up and down. “Yeooowwwww!”

“Maybe you should watch where you’re going.” Two eyes popped up from the sand, followed by two sets of pinchers that opened and closed menacingly.

“Louie!” Sancho clamped his beak together. “I should have known better.”

By now, the Galapagos crab was fully emerged from the sand. His legs were like a fire, with yellow at the tips bleeding into orange, then red as the eight legs met the electric blue of his belly. His pinchers were the opposite, with deep red at their tips then lightening up as it met the blue that extended to where his pinchers met his body. The top of his shell was a bright yellow that was almost blinding to the eyes. His eyes stood out from his shell just slightly, as the blue and red orbs rotated left and right to view the world around him. Louie was colorful in more ways than one, especially his cantankerous personality.

Louie waved his arms in the air, as if he were prepared to karate chop his foe. “Put ‘em up!”

Sancho let out a loud annoyed sigh. “Louie! Knock it off. I’m walkin’ here.”

Louie side-stepped to the left, then the right, ready to box the penguin who shuffled past him. He lowered his pinchers in disappointment when Sancho did not take up arms. “What’s with you today?”

“I just don’t feel like sparring today, Louie. I just don’t have it in me.”

“Whaaaaaaat?!” Louie’s eyes stood out from his head in shock. “Are you sick?”

“No.”

“Tired?” Louie continued.

“No.”

“Hurt?” The crab’s eyes were looking him up and down as if searching for hidden injuries.

“No.”

“Consti—”

“No, Louie!” Sancho cut him off.

“Then what gives?” Louie’s body angled to the left as if he were trying to figure out what in the world could possibly be wrong with his friend, who spent almost every morning sparring with him.

“Just bored with the same old thing.” Sancho kicked a small rock with his foot.

“Say what now? So you think I’m boring? Hmmpph! I see how you are. Some amigo you are.” Louie swiped his claws in the air and snapped them open and closed with attitude. The crab scampered off with his small legs barely tapping the sand. His claws still made little clicking sounds to indicate his annoyance as he zipped away.

“Wait, Louie! You’re not….” Sancho sighed again. “Ah, who am I kidding? Maybe it’s just me who’s the problem.”

The wind picked up and Sancho shivered against it. Tiny granules of sand flew through the air and slapped him in the face. He spit them out and shook the rest off his head. “Figures.”

As the sand continued to whip past him, Sancho saw an object he did not recognize at first. It looked like a rock, but the white coloring was off for this area. Most of the rocks on the island were dark grey or black. He walked closer to the object and peered down at it, speculating its origins. After a brief perusal, he realized that it was not a rock at all, but an egg.

“Where did you come from, little one?” Sancho knelt down closer to it and started to dig the sand out from around it. “Don’t worry. Uncle Sancho will get you free.”

“Uncle?” Paolo’s voice nearly made the penguin jump ten feet into the air.

“Pao! What are you doing sneaking up on me like that?” Sancho put a wing to where his heart was beating erratically in his chest.

“Not my fault you’re hard of hearing,” teased Paolo.

“Am not!” Sancho raised his voice and then remembered the egg at his feet. “Sorry, little one. We’re not really fighting. Don’t worry. Uncle Paolo likes to push my buttons. You’ll get used to it.”

“Get used to it? You can’t seriously think you’re going to keep that thing.”

Sancho gasped. “Ahhhh! Don’t call it a thing! He’s got feelings, you know.”

“He? You don’t even know what’s in that egg. How do you know it’s a he?” Paolo was looking at Sancho as if he had lost his mind.

“I just do. Maternal instincts, of course.” Sancho tapped his head knowingly.

“But you’re not a mother, Sancho. You can’t lay eggs.” Paolo put his hand over his head and let out a long sigh. “Why do I even bother.”

“Exactly. Don’t bother trying to talk me out of it. You know I’ve always wanted a child of my own. If I had found a mate who understood my complexities, I’d already be a father.” Sancho held up his wing tip and started to list all his good qualities. “I’m kind, punctual, organized, adventurous—”

“And longwinded,” Paolo chuckled. “Fine, you can keep that egg, but keep in mind they are hard to care for. There might not even be anything in it anymore.”

“Don’t worry, Pao. I’ve got this.”

Sancho used the nickname that he had given his friend a long time ago. The lizard had been introducing himself to a potential mate and she had smacked him in the face with her tail mid intro, letting only the first syllable of his name be heard—Pao, which was like a pow right in the face.

Sancho used his feet to pry the egg from the sand. He shuffled it back and forth between his feet as he waddled across the sand back to the home that the two friends had shared for many years. The two of them walked in silence as Sancho dribbled the egg carefully. Little did they know, their lives were about to change forever.



Chapter 2

Egg Sitting


The short walk to their tiny cave took much longer than usual. Considering the effort that Sancho was taking to make sure the egg was moved as safely as possible, it was understandable. He would move forward a step with his left leg, quickly shift the egg to his left foot, then repeat the same action with his right foot. Paolo had already reached home long before Sancho.

“What took you so long?” teased Paolo when Sancho made his way into the cave that they had shared for the past few years.

“Moving Junior around sure is difficult. There’s a delicate nature to it all.” Sancho’s brow was covered in sweat.

“Junior?” Paolo rolled his eyes at his friend. “Sancho, you really need to know that things don’t always go the way you plan.”

“I know you think this egg has expired, but I’m not giving up on him.” Sancho was clearly invested in his venture, for his voice was determined.

“Very well, Sancho. We’ll hatch the egg. First, you need to keep it warm.”

“Warm? That’s easy enough.” Sancho was one of the warmest penguins on the island, after all.

Sancho went to the nest that he had crafted out of hundreds of small sticks. He rolled the egg carefully inside it and started to fluff around it with some of the leaves he used to keep himself warm during the colder nights. He climbed in beside the egg and snuggled it as tight as he could without breaking it. “There. That ought to do it!”

“Try not to crush the poor guy,” warned Paolo.

“See! You think it’s a boy too!” teased Sancho.

Paolo let out a slow breath. “You keep telling yourself that.”

“You might want others to see your rough and tough exterior, but I know you’re just a big softy under all that crank.” Sancho held up his wing and gave him a knowing glance.

“Whatever you say, Sancho. Whatever you say.” Paolo closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Sancho was not far behind him. He snuggled in for the night and stretched one wing at a time, so he always had a wing around the egg. When he was finally comfortable, Sancho shut his eyes and tried to sleep. As much as he tried to slumber in his nest, the next few hours were filled with anxiety as he tried to shift one way or the other without hurting the egg next to him. Finally, realizing he would not sleep a wink so close to the egg, he stepped out of his nest and curled up next to it.

Throughout the night Sancho woke up. He alternated between rubbing the egg and talking to it to soothe the growing animal inside it. He would get as close as he could to it, eying the shell for any movement beneath the surface. One time he thought the egg had shaken slightly when he talked to it, but then he decided that his imagination must be on overtime. By the time he was finally ready to give up for the night, he was more than exhausted.

The next morning, Sancho was half in the nest, half out, and snoring loud enough to wake up the heaviest sleepers. When the sunlight entered the cave through the opening near the front, his right eyelid lifted slowly, stayed up for a few seconds, then closed again. When he opened both of his eyes they were bloodshot, and he had bags under them from sleep deprivation.

Paolo clucked his tongue at the penguin. “Tsk, tsk. He’s not even here yet and you look like you’ve been hit by a charging rhino.”

Sancho glared at his friend and puffed out his chest. “A mother’s work is never done.”

“No, it’s not, but you’re not his mother,” reminded Paolo.

“Fine,” Sancho almost growled. “Don’t worry, little one. Uncle Sancho is here. You happy now?”

“Happy is just a state of mind, my friend. So, what are your plans for the day?”

“Well, I was planning to take Junior on a walk.” He nodded to the egg.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake. How are you going to do that? It doesn’t have legs, after all,” Paolo reminded him.

“Right. So it’s a little tricky, but he needs some sun like the rest of us, so we’ll have to make it work.”

Sancho looked around the cave and saw their surplus of rare things at the back. He crossed his wing around his chest and tapped his head thoughtfully with his right wing.

Sancho gathered some of the sticks, a piece of string, and a small piece of cloth that had washed up on the beach. He spent the next few moments tying the sticks together into a small rectangle, with tiny walls around three of the sides. Turning back to the egg, he climbed into the nest and carefully rolled it out and onto the small rectangle where there was no wall. He swaddled it carefully with the cloth, like a baby in a blanket. Then he tied the left-over string to the front of the rectangle, where he had rolled the egg into place.

“What in the world is that supposed to be?” Paolo tilted his head at his friend and looked at him as if he had lost his mind.

“A baby carriage—well, an egg carriage, since it’s still just an egg.” Sancho’s face was beaming with a smile as he gestured to his invention. “I just step into the ropes here and hold it up. Then I can pull him across the sand faster.”

“That’s actually not a bad idea.” Paolo was slightly impressed.

“Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” Sancho grabbed the rope and tugged it hard to make sure that the carriage would move. He sighed in relief when it moved slowly across the sand.

As they walked to the beach, Sancho whistled a happy tune, something he had not done in quite some time. Just yesterday his life had seemed so dull, and today the world seemed to be filled with possibilities. When he made it to his usual perch, Sancho let go of the rope and turned back to the egg. He slid it carefully off the little sled and placed it on the beach next to the rock where Paolo was already starting to lay out in the sun. Sancho smoothed the sand around it in an attempt to bring more warmth to its thick shell.

“There. That should keep you warm.” Sancho stretched out next to the egg and closed his eyes for what he thought was just a moment. Before long he was in a deep sleep that no one could have woken him from. He crumpled over on the sand with his tongue hanging out as he snored quietly. Sancho was so deep in sleep that drool started to pool near the corners of his beak.

When the tiny click of claws interrupted his sleep, Sancho awoke to Louie, who was standing right before the egg tapping the shell with his claws.

“Whoa there! Step off, Louie! That’s my egg!”

Louie hopped back a step. “Watch it, pally! There’s enough for both of us in there.”

“You are NOT going to EAT him!” Sancho stepped in front of the egg and held his wings up. “You’ll have to get through me first.”

“That’s not hard. You’re a light weight!” Louie held up his claws and opened and shut them quickly like a pair of scissors.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up you two.” Paolo sprang in between them. “We’re all friends here.”

“Yes, but that one is trying to eat my kid!” accused Sancho.

What is he talking about?” Louie was clearly confused.

“I know, he’s gone around the bend a little. But let me explain. Sancho found the egg on the beach yesterday, and suddenly decided it was time to fulfill his dreams of becoming a mom…I mean dad….” Paolo slapped his hand on his head. “See…now you’ve got me confused too! Sancho, tell him please.”

Sancho looked down at the ground. “All I’ve ever wanted was to have offspring of my own. I’m not getting any younger, if you haven’t noticed.”

“Oh, we’ve noticed,” Louie and Paolo answered at the same time.

“Thanks,” grumbled Sancho. “Anyway. This could be the only chance I get to be a parent. Don’t you know what that feels like, Louie?”

Louie looked at Paolo with panic. He had no idea how to answer. “Paolo?”

“I think we should just let Sancho see this through.” Paolo then put a hand up to his mouth and whispered out of the corner, “It might be a rotten egg anyway.”

“You think?” Louie walked around to where the egg sat in the sand. His eyes rotated slightly as he zoomed in on it. He used his claws to lift it up to the sun and look under the bottom while the sun shone down on it.

“Hey, careful there!” Sancho held his wings up in protest.

“Hmmm…well there is a dark shadow inside, but I don’t think it’s moving.” Louie set it back down in the sandy hole. “It’d probably taste like rotten seaweed right now.”

“Hey!” Sancho’s eyebrows furrowed slightly. “He can hear you, you know.”

Paolo walked up to Louie and put his hand on the crab’s shell. “Look, the way I see it, there’s no harm in letting him have this one.”

“That’s true. Because the next time it’s all mine then.” Louie made a swipe through the air. “I can’t remember the last time I had fresh yolk.”

“Not my cup of tea, really,” Paolo added. “I’m more of a fly guy these days.”

“Will you please stop talking about eating eggs? You’re going to give him a complex.” Sancho was getting irritated with his friends.

“Complex? Oh, my goodness…he can’t even hear you!” Paolo hung his head and shook it back and forth.

“I feel bad for him,” Louie whispered to Paolo. The two walked away a few steps and continued to talk in secrecy.

“They don’t believe me. But that’s okay. I’m not going to give up.” Sancho plopped down on the ground and kicked at the sand. “Don’t worry little guy. I’ve got your back.”

A small tapping sound interrupted him. The trio turned around to see the shell moving slightly in the sand.

A soft gasp left Sancho’s mouth. “Look! He’s hatching! I told you so!!”



Chapter 3

Uncle!


From inside the shell, the figure could see shapes moving back and forth. The combination of shadows and light made him extremely curious. When he had heard the small tapping sound on the shell earlier, the tortoise started to tap back. He had no idea that in doing so he would be propelled into a whole new world.

The shell cracked and a small beam of light entered and the tortoise stretched its head towards it. His legs pushed at the shell and it shattered, which caused him to come tumbling out of his safe haven and fall onto his back. His tiny legs kicked back and forth as he tried to right himself.

“Awe! Look at him!” Sancho was bursting with excitement.

“He looks tasty,” Louie whispered to Paolo.

Sancho gave a loud gasp when he heard Louie. “Look here, you! You are not going to eat my—”

Paolo took pity on the struggling tortoise. The lizard nudged him over with his tail and tapped his shell softly. “There you go, little tyke.”

“Mama?” called a little voice.

At this point all three of them turned to look at the baby on the beach. It was Paolo that spoke first. “Hello there.”

“Are you my mama?” he called up to him.

“Oh no, I’m not. You see….” Paolo looked at a loss for words.

Sancho shoved Paolo out of the way. “I’m your—”

Paolo quickly interrupted him. “No need to confuse the poor guy. He’s your uncle.”

The tortoise looked up at Sancho with an adoring smile. “Uncle!”

Sancho took that moment to beam in pride. “Well hello, Junior.”

“Junior? You can’t be serious, Sancho. You can’t call him that. He’ll get a complex.” Louie’s eyes were almost rolling in circles. The crab looked at Sancho like he had lost his mind.

“He’s right, Sancho. You can do better than that,” agreed Paolo.

“Hmmm…what should I call you? You are a bit of a shock…maybe Shell Shock?”

“Shell Shock? What is he, in the military? The poor guy will have to defend himself every day from that one.” Louie was almost chuckling at this point.

“What about Darwin?” suggested Paolo.

“Darwin? Isn’t everyone named that?” Louie pointed out. “It is the Galapagos, after all.”

“I like it!” Sancho clapped his wings together. “Darwin S. Shock.”

“S?” Louie’s eyes narrowed on him.

“Yes, for Shell. He has one, you see.” Sancho pointed to Darwin’s shell.

“Oh, brother.” Louie let out a long sigh. “Good luck with that, kid.”

“Well, I thought he might have been a penguin like me. So, it is kind of a shock that he is a tortoise.”

Darwin looked back and forth between the trio in front of him. He was still trying to understand everything they were saying. The one thing he did understand was his name. “Darwin?”

“That’s right, little one. Your name is Darwin.” Sancho plopped down on the ground next to him and patted his head soothingly.

Darwin leaned against Sancho and cooed. “Uncle.”

“That’s right, kid. I’m your uncle. And that one there, he’s Uncle Paolo.”

Paolo looked as if he was ready to hide behind a rock. “Uncle?”

“Yeah. I think you can handle that.”

Paolo gulped and closed his eyes, then let out a small breath. He looked at the tiny tortoise who was looking up at him adoringly, with eyes as big as the moon, and he caved in faster than an avalanche. “Fine.”

“Uncle!” Darwin’s head bobbed up and down excitedly. He tilted it as he looked at the lava lizard, and then looked at the penguin who was curled up next to him. When he saw the other creature staring at him, Darwin backed up slightly. “What are you?”

“Who, dear boy. I’m a who…not a what.” Louie’s nerves were ruffled slightly.

“Don’t be so crabby. This, Darwin, is our good friend, Louie. He is a Galapagos crab,” explained Sancho.

“Good is a stretch,” muttered Paolo.

“Hush, Pao. We’ve got to bring him up right. To treat everyone with respect, and to show compassion and understanding,” chided Sancho.

“Ooo hooo! That’s hysterical!” Louie slapped his shell with his pinchers as his laughter shook his tiny body. “You two being someone’s moral compass.”


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