Friday, October 15, 2021

Blog Tour: Primeval Waters



Date Published: 08-04-2021

Publisher: Severed Press

Planetary geologist Dr. Micah Clarke, his nine-year-old daughter Faye and his assistant Catalina Abril are abducted at gunpoint; forced to join a megalomaniac’s paramilitary expedition down an Amazon tributary ruled by murderous pirates and cannibal tribes. The goal—recover a meteorite capable of providing clean energy for the world. But prehistoric terrors lurk around every bend in the river. Swarms of six-inch titan ants and a seventy-foot Titanoboa tear a bloody swath through the flotilla. Micah is convinced that some unknown intelligence is manifesting these primeval horrors to protect the meteorite’s secrets. To defend his daughter, Micah must battle monsters, pirates and cannibals, all leading to his ultimate confrontation with an ancient force possessing the power of creation, or total destruction… and the doomsday clock is chiming midnight.

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Chapter Eight


After his shower, Micah hung up his hammock and stretched out. He heard Catalina snoring peacefully a few feet away, amazed at how quickly fear and adrenaline gave way to physical exhaustion. Faye was fast asleep on the cot to his right. Micah pushed the evening’s terrors out of his mind, focusing instead on the rain rhythmically pounding at the deck and the engines rumbling beneath him. He quickly drifted off.

Something bumped against the hull, jarring him awake. He sat up, unsure how long he’d been out. The rain had slackened, though lightning was still flashing through the porthole. He was about to roll over when another flash of lightning lit up the cabin.

The cot beside him was empty.

Micah jumped out of the hammock, scanning the cabin, shouting, “Faye!”

Catalina bolted awake, asking, “What’s wrong?”

“Faye’s gone.”

“Gone? Where would she go?”

Something slammed against the hull, jostling the boat.

Micah’s mind reeled until he recalled one of Faye’s incessant questions. “Dad, can monkeys swim?

Grabbing his boots he shouted, “Come on!” and scrambled out the door to the exterior passageway.

Catalina yelled, “Where’re we going?”

“The front deck.”

One of the gunboats roared past the Valentina followed by a second, their searchlight beams trained on the water.

Catalina said, “Something’s up.”

Micah rounded the corner, almost slipping on the rain-soaked gangway leading down. Once at the bottom he dashed toward the front deck. Something wet and furry hit him in the face, almost sending him over the railing. He pried a squealing monkey off his head, tossed it aside, and kept running. The passageway opened onto the fifty-foot-long, uncovered front deck.

Faye was already releasing her second crate of monkeys, shouting, “Go, swim away!”

But the monkeys were content to scramble around the deck, snatching fruit from the hanging baskets.

In frustration, Faye shouted, “You’re not listening, run away!”

Something slammed hard against the Valentina. The boat listed right sharply, a wave splashing across the deck.

After catching her balance, Catalina looked over the side. In a flash of lightning she saw what looked like a whale swim past the boat—but it was thinner and longer.

One of the gunboats let loose a burst of automatic weapons fire, followed by a second. A moment later, Catalina watched flares rocketing up from one of the gunboats.

Micah ran towards Faye, only to be rammed by a frantic donkey. He tumbled onto the deck, muttering, “You had to let him loose too?”

The flares reached their apex then popped open, releasing parachutes. The river lit up in the flickering red light of the aerial flares.

The loose monkeys all froze in place then leapt into the water—like rats abandoning a ship.

Micah muttered, “That can’t be good,” then got back on his feet shouting, “Faye! Get over here! Now!”

The little girl froze, knowing she was busted.

The boat listed again and something rose from the water on the port side—a huge serpentine shape, towering twenty feet over the deck. Gray skin and brownish spots glistened in the flickering light. The head was arrow shaped, with emerald-green eyes reflecting the burning flares. A huge, forked tongue darted out, tasting the air.

Micah was staring up at an impossibly huge snake. It stared right back at him.

A gunboat came alongside, its machine guns firing erratically. A few bullets must have struck the target. The snake twisted in the water, slamming its body against the Valentina. The entire boat listed starboard, sending crates and animals over the side.

Micah ran towards Faye, only to be struck by a crate full of chickens. He watched in horror as his daughter slid across the deck.

Faye screamed, “Daddy!” then vanished over the side.

Micah bellowed, “No!” And without hesitation he dove overboard.


The snake twisted around, hammering its head down onto the gunboat like a club. The impact sent two men over the side. The machine gunner swiveled his turret trying to draw a bead. The snake snatched him up in its jaws, biting him in half then spitting the upper portion into the river. The gunboat listed sharply, water flooding into the pilot’s cabin, until it was on its side, half submerged.

The snake vanished beneath the water.

Catalina ran to the edge of the deck, scanning the churning river.  She spotted Faye about forty feet out, barely staying afloat. She could also see Micah splashing around, desperate to locate her.

Catalina yelled, “Three o’clock,” while training her flashlight on Faye.

Thankfully, Micah heard her and swam toward his daughter.

The Valentina lurched again, sending two more men overboard. A braying donkey kicked aside some loose crates then leapt over the side. Catalina clung on to the deck rail, desperate to help rescue Faye. A sailor rolled across the deck, flailing at the air. Catalina grabbed his arm just before he went over the side. The desperate man’s other arm latched on to the deck rail, hanging on for dear life.

The snake’s head rose from the water, looming over Catalina, its open mouth a midnight-black void. Its head slammed down, jaws locking around the cowering sailor and the railing he clung to. It rose, the railing and man dangling from its jaws. It shook its head three times then spat both out.

Catalina rolled for cover, barely avoiding the steel rail crashing onto the deck. The sailor’s pulverized body was entwined in the metal. She crawled to the port side, hoping to gain some distance.

Another aerial flare shot upward, illuminating a new horror—clusters of black caimans swimming in from the riverbank. The lead caiman clamped down on a drowning sailor, dragging him under.

Catalina shouted, “Shit!” knowing that Faye and Micah were doomed unless she did something. She saw the gunboat, partially submerged and sinking fast. But its front-mounted machine guns were still above the waterline. The Valentina was passing the crippled gunboat, so it was now or never.

Yelling, “Screw it!” Catalina took ten steps back and charged. She leapt across the gap, splashing down a few feet short of the foundering gunboat. Swimming frantically, she managed to grab the partially submerged railing and haul herself up. A caiman lurched from the water behind her, its snapping jaws barely missing her leg. After failing to get a foothold it slid back into the water to search for easier prey.

The close call barely even registered with Catalina, now totally focused on reaching the machine guns. By gripping the mooring tie-downs she managed to climb the tilted deck. She was able to grab the edge of the gun turret, pull herself up, and peer inside.

The good news was a pair of belt-fed machine guns mounted to a dual tripod. The bad news—the snake had bitten the gunner in half, leaving his lower body wedged in the turret. His entrails were wound around the guns. Catalina ignored the sickening tableau.

The twin guns were Russian made belt-fed machine guns. Catalina stared at them for a moment, cursing under her breath. Then she realized that, like many Russian designs, they were knockoffs of American models.

“I can do this!”

They were copies of M240 Bravo, Medium Machine guns—a weapon she’d trained on during her army hitch. The barrel of one gun was hopelessly twisted, but its sister weapon looked intact. The problem was that the turret was hopelessly locked, and, given the listing boat, she could only shoot straight up.

She muttered, “No choice,” while reaching under the gun’s mount, fishing through the human entrails wound around it. After a few seconds of blind groping she found the cotter pin and yanked. The functional machine gun came free of the mount, allowing her to hold it and fire—Rambo style.


Micah saw Faye struggling to stay afloat and swam toward her. A black shape slid past him, bearing down on the little girl.

Recognizing the caiman, Micah yelled, “Faye! Stop kicking, just float. You hear me? Float!”

Amazingly, she followed his instructions. But a nearby deckhand failed to heed the warning, splashing frantically. The caiman changed course, making for the drowning man. He only screamed once before vanishing beneath the water. Micah knew the caiman would hold him under until he drowned.

A twenty-foot tender boat zipped across the water, making a beeline for a cluster of drowning men. Its presence offered Micah a ray of hope.

The monstrous snake rose directly into the boat’s path. The tender tried to veer off, but the snake’s head hammered down. The impact capsized the boat, sending its crew into the river. The snake snapped one man up in its jaws, spat him out, then went for the other.

Micah swam harder, desperate to reach Faye. Glancing left, he saw a pair of caimans coming straight for him. There was no way he was outfighting the Amazon’s apex predator. He heard the chatter of an automatic weapon, and a line of bullets stitched the water. One of the caimans lurched, twisting wildly. A second burst of machine gun fire tore into the other caiman.


Catalina shouted, “Yeah!” and loosed another burst.

By now she was ankle deep in water with expended shells floating around her. Within minutes she’d sink enough to be caiman bait, but all that mattered was saving Faye. Aiming was a challenge, but, thankfully, the 7.62 ammo belt was interspersed with tracer rounds. The tracers acted like a laser pointer, guiding her aim.

She saw a cluster of caimans approaching Faye and fired another burst, careful to keep the little girl out of the line of fire. It appeared that Faye and Micah were in the clear, at least for the moment.

Catalina saw a pair of sailors bobbing in the water about fifty feet away. A group of caimans had seen them too. A few carefully aimed bursts killed two of the beasts. Their bleeding bodies sent the others into a cannibalistic frenzy. The men paddled towards an approaching tender boat while waving gratefully to Catalina.

The giant snake’s tail burst from the water lashing out like a whip, capsizing the boat. The snake’s head broke the water, snatching up one of the men.

Catalina felt helpless, unable to fire at the snake without killing the men around it. Then she saw the snake’s tail whipping through the water.

Shouting, “You’re ass is mine!” she opened fire on the tail.

Some rounds struck home, forcing the snake to retreat beneath the surface. The grateful sailors crawled onto the overturned tender.


Micah swam hard until he grabbed on to Faye, yelling, “I got ya!”

 The little girl latched on to him, almost dragging him under.

He yelled, “I got you, but remember what they taught you in swim class.”

After a few seconds of panic, Faye relaxed, cradled under his arm, allowing him to backstroke.

He thought, But where can we go?

The sheer number of caimans meant that the riverbank was suicide. He could see the lights of the Valentina slipping off into the distance, so that was out. Their best option was the gunboat, and thankfully a brilliant stream of red tracer rounds made it easy to locate.

Micah started swimming, saying, “If you want to kick a bit, honey, that’d sure help.”

She did, adding some speed. With each kick, the gunboat grew closer until he could see Catalina standing on the deck holding a huge machine gun.

He muttered, “I’ll be damned,” and, inspired by the sight, kicked even harder.

The only problem was that the closer he got the less boat there was above the water.


The rising water forced Catalina to retreat up onto the coxswain’s flat—the boat’s center-mounted pilot cabin. The climb was a Herculean effort given the combination of water, the machine gun and the extra ammo belt. She reached the top knowing that, within minutes, it too would be underwater. In the distance she saw Micah swimming towards her, Faye in tow.

Looking around she muttered, “Where the hell are those other gunboats?”

Then she caught sight of them orbiting around Batista’s yacht, which was well outside of the fray.  She muttered, “Bastard,” then fired at a pair of approaching caimans, killing one and discouraging the other. The machine gun clicked empty. “Great.”

The fast trawler roared past, creating a wave that only washed Micah out further.

He swam harder, pushing through the trawler’s wave. Catalina knew he was fighting a losing battle. She set the machine gun aside and reached out, but they were too far away. Then she remembered the extra ammo belt and cast it out like a rope. After two tries Micah was able to grab the end.

Gripping it tightly he said, “Faye, grab this and let Catalina haul you in.”

The frightened little girl said, “But—”

“Do as I say!”

She grabbed on to the string of bullets. Catalina hauled her closer until she was able to grab the child’s hand. She yanked Faye up onto the coxswain’s flat then prepared to cast out to Micah.

Faye pointed, shouting, “Look!”

Catalina saw the terrifyingly familiar shape surging through the water—coming straight for them. Suddenly the ammo belt was needed for its original purpose.

She shouted to Micah, “Hold on!” while coiling the ammo belt.

Faye screamed, “It’s coming!”

Catalina said, “I know, I know!” while staring at the machine gun. Firing the weapon was one thing, but reloading it was a trickier affair. Taking a deep breath she struggled to recall her gunnery sergeant’s shouted instructions, hoping they translated to this Russian knockoff. Eyes locked on the weapon she muttered, “Perform the following in proper order. Open feed tray cover, load rounds into the feeding block, pull charging handle to rear, lock bolt in place, charging handle placed in forward position… Now kill something!”

The bolt snapped into position.

She yelled, “Yeah!” while raising the weapon. The snake’s head emerged from the water—so close she was staring directly into its eyes. Its mouth opened wide, poised to strike. 

Catalina fired a long, unbroken burst straight down its open maw. The sheer impact stopped the snake from striking. She kept hammering rounds down its throat. The snake twisted wildly, its tail thrashing against the water. Catalina kept firing, the tracer rounds illuminating the snake’s open mouth. Something warm sprayed across her face. It was snake blood … gallons of it.


Micah tried to swim out of the snake’s path but couldn’t escape its thrashing tail. The sheer force pushed him underwater while washing him further from the sinking gunboat. He tried to surface, but the snake’s whipping tail struck a glancing blow against his head. Despite the adrenaline surging through him, his thoughts became cloudy until he barely registered that he was sinking.


The thrashing snake turned profile, allowing Catalina to unleash a final burst into its emerald-green eye, reducing it to a black-and-crimson void.

The machine gun clicked empty as the last link in the disintegrating belt flew off.

Someone launched another aerial flare, illuminating the snake’s twisting death throes. Its obscenely long body slammed down into the river, sinking beneath brown water that quickly bloomed red.

Catalina threw down the now useless machine gun and embraced Faye.

The crying child tried to pull away, scanning the water, pleading, “Where’s Daddy?”

Catalina looked out at the water but saw nothing. She wanted to comfort Faye, but there was a more urgent problem. The water was up to her waist, and rising fast, and the river was still crawling with caimans drawn by the snake’s blood.

Someone with a bullhorn shouted, “Hang on!”

A thirty-foot tender boat came alongside, its deckhands reaching out to rescue them. Catalina hauled Faye up into their waiting arms then climbed aboard. She sank down inside the boat; ten half-drowned men huddled around her. At least four were badly wounded, including one whose arm had been severed by a caiman. Those who weren’t wounded started shouting excitedly.

Anticipating some new terror Catalina muttered, “What now?” Then she realized they were shouting at her.

It was a chorus of, “Mangusto! Mangusto! Serpente assassina!” followed by cheering and applause.

It took her a moment to translate that to “mongoose,” and “lady snake killer.” Catalina was officially a hero.

But Micah was nowhere to be found.



About the Author

Primeval Waters is William Burke’s third novel, following a long career in film and television. He was the creator and director of the Destination America paranormal series Hauntings and Horrors and the OLN series Creepy Canada, as well as producing the HBO productions Forbidden Science, Lingerie and Sin City Diaries. His work has garnered high praise from network executives and insomniacs watching Cinemax at 3 a.m.

During the 1990’s Burke was a staff producer for the Playboy Entertainment Group, producing eighteen feature films and multiple television series. He’s acted as Line Producer and Assistant Director on dozens of feature films—some great, some bad and some truly terrible.

Aside from novels Burke has written for Fangoria Magazine, Videoscope Magazine and is a regular contributor to

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