Beyond the Precipice marks the journey of young Bret Killeen, a musical genius who reluctantly discovers his life’s true calling. It is a story of building strength through adversity, of finding love in unexpected places, and of triumph over one’s own shortcomings.
There are no dragons to slay, or maidens to rescue. Rather, the real dangers live in Bret’s own mind; and, sometimes, it is the maiden who must rescue him.
In a time where the only certainty is uncertainty Beyond the Precipice salutes lionhearted goal-getters everywhere, and offers inspiration to any who would live rather than merely exist.
About the authors
EVA A. BLASKOVIC | Writer, Editor, Teacher
Eva Blaskovic is a writer, editor and educator. A native of the Czech Republic, she grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where she raised four children. Blaskovic has worked in science labs and has taught literacy, writing, math and science. She is both an accomplished writer and editor of non-fiction articles on business, education, how-to, parenting and travel, as well as an author of short fiction. When she hasn’t buried herself in writing or editing, Blaskovic may be found taking her teenagers to Taekwondo, exploring the farmers’ market, listening to Celtic music, or sipping a latte.
Excerpt: Beyond the Precipice (by (author) Eva Blaskovic; illustrated by Jody Bronson; edited by Tom Hyman; consultant editor Louise Harnby; designed by Mary Dunford)
A SPEECHLESS PLEA
I don’t like this ice,” Bret said.
“Relax. You sound like my mother,” Emil said. “Hey, we've got lots of time. Who wants to hit Hub Mall for some food?”
“We just ate! How can you waste so much money in a day?”
“It’s not wasting,” Emil said with a grimace. “It’s all put to good use.” He patted his lean stomach with a smile. “Look, if it’s an issue, you know I’ll buy yours.”
“It’s not an issue,” Bret retorted. “And I’ll buy my own.”
“Watch out!” Nicole pointed ahead.
“I see it!” Emil veered the truck to the right, his tire catching a part of the shoulder and causing him to swerve before he regained control.
He’d barely missed the other vehicle as it spun out of its lane and slid nearly sideways down the center of the road.
From behind came the sound of tires skidding, metal scraping, and something large smacking the pavement—once, twice, thrice.
Emil checked his rearview, and when it looked like nobody would hit him, pulled over onto the side of the road.
Not waiting for Emil to stop fully, Bret popped his seat-belt, flung open the passenger door,and looked back, standing on the step over the sloping shoulder. Other cars pulled over around them.
Behind them, a car with a mashed roof straddled the lanes, hit on several sides by other vehicles.
When all was still, Emil started backing the truck along the shoulder. “Get in.”
Bret fell into his seat as the truck started moving, and pulled the door shut behind him. Nicole had turned completely around and was trying to view the scene through the truck’s rear window.
They got as close as they could. She was already dialing 9-1-1.
Emil reached across Bret’s lap to open the glove compartment and pulled out a package of latex gloves.
Outside, people gathered—talking, screaming. Some were on their phones.
The battered vehicle’s door was ajar, the glass smashed in. The middle-aged man’s head was at an impossible angle. Blood dripped onto the road.
“Jesus,” Emil said under his breath, and then called out, “Who’s got first aid?”
There were voices—questions,commands. Bret’s head spun and he could no longer follow the words. It became noise, commotion.
Emil and Nicole had left his side.
It was such an impossible angle. The spine went straight up. The head didn't seem to be on it.
The man’s eyes were open, blinking a speechless plea—Emil seized Bret’s shoulders from behind and threw him aside. “If you can’t help, get out of the way!”
Sirens punctuated the air, getting closer.
A speechless plea of pain.
Bret stumbled back to the truck.
As his boots slipped on the snow, he grabbed the handle of the truck door, opened it. He sat on the step, facing out over the white field. A stream of watery vomit shot between his knees and sloshed onto the churned gravel at his feet. He broke into a sweat and shook all over, his head lolling against the frame of the door.He held on so he wouldn't roll out into the ditch.
He didn't know how much time had passed when Emil and Nicole found him. Lights flashed from emergency vehicles, police, and tow trucks.
“Oh, God, Bret,” Emil said.
Nicole crouched by his knee, trying to see his face.
“It’s nothing. It’ll pass,” he said weakly.
“Get into the truck,” Emil went on. “I’ll turn the heat on.”
When he didn't respond, Emil bent down and tried to help him up. “Hey, come on.”
He attempted to stand on legs that were about to buckle, but pushed Emil away.
A couple of dry heaves seized him.
“It’s okay,” Emil said, coming to his side as if he were some feeble old man.
The concern on their faces was more than he could bear. There was nothing wrong with him.
When Emil tried to touch him again, he shoved him back roughly. “Leave me the fuck alone! I said it’ll pass!”
Emil backed up. “Get in the goddamntruck,” he said without raising his voice.
Nicole touched Bret’s arm but he didn't shake her off. He motioned for her to climb into the middle, and pulled himself in after her.
Behind the wheel, Emil adjusted the controls and started the heater, which blew cool air in the beginning.
“W-what’s happening—with him—with—?”
“I don’t know,” Emil said, his head bowed.
“He’ll be paralyzed,” Nicole whispered.
“He might not live,” Emil said.
Bret’s throat constricted. “Others?”
“There were a few other injuries,” Emil went on. “Not too serious.”
As the heater warmed the air, Bret started to shiver.
“You were half frozen out there,” Emil said.
Nicole brought her cell phone to her ear. “Hi, Mom. There’s been a bad accident on St. Albert Trail.” The phone shook in her hand.
Dana’s voice came through the earpiece but the words were indistinct.
“If you hear about it, it wasn't us.We’re fine. Yeah. We’ll tell you about it later.” She wiped a tear away hastily. “We had to give a statement and leave our names. Yep. Love you too. Bye.”
Bret put his arm around her, and she put her head against his shoulder.
“You’re okay if we drive?” Emil asked him.
Emil’s hands shook as he put the truck into gear.
They continued toward the university.Whatever it took, they’d have to get through their exams.
That was the part he was used to.
Emil didn't speak the whole way and drove more cautiously than usual, not that he was ever reckless. He parked the truck in the underground parkade, but didn't get out immediately.
“Is this why you don’t want to be a doctor?”
Bret unlatched his door, letting in warm air that smelled of exhaust.
“I’m not making fun of you for puking,” Emil said.
Bret sat back, leaning his head against the headrest. “Many reasons.”
“It’s different when you’re in a position where you can help. When you have the knowledge.”
Bret stared out at the pitted concrete wall, not really seeing it at all. “Except sometimes people die anyway.”
“Yeah,” Emil said. “I know. Like—”
He waited, but Emil didn't finish.
Nicole closed her eyes and reached for his hand.
Saying the word brought back that surreal feeling when he and Drake reached the body, trying to convince himself what it really was. He still smelled the rocky dust.
One action, one word had led to another,which led to another—until one event unraveled all their lives. Drake had a right to be angry.
Bret struggled to keep from squeezing Nicole’s hand too hard as it threatened to well up inside him. He forced his mind to suppress it, as he had done for six years.
“Let’s go,” he said, pushing the door wide.
"Reality, high emotions, and trying to get by in the world … Beyond the Precipice is well worth the wait.” ~ Scott Hayes | Award-Winning Journalist, St. Albert Gazette
"Outstanding! It would make a hell of a movie."~ Tom Hyman | Kirkus Reviews editor, former magazine and book editor, is the author of Jupiter's Daughter and five other novels, and has written screenplays for Paramount.
"Storytelling mastery ... Compelling tale ... A must read!"~ Patty Wiseman | Award winning author, The Velvet Shoe Collection.
"Exquisite!"~Louise Harnby | Proofreader, 666 Park Avenue, The Stepford Wives, and A Visit from the Goon Squad.
“Many an author would be happy to achieve such a level of writing.” ~ Alzbeta Reynolds, Doctor of Philology and Doctor of Philosophy (Prague and Amsterdam).