The Fire Within is divided into three parts; in the first, the reader is introduced to six characters, all of whom are either living in or headed to New York City. All except one will find that they've won a dream vacation to a tropical paradise, but all is not as it seems; their lives are being manipulated by an enigmatic woman named Maria and by an incredibly old man, both working behind the scenes. The three most central characters in the drama that will be played out are John Goss, an physician who no longer practices medicine, Bertie North, a military career man who is a systems analyst and who is missing his left foot, and John's younger sister, Susan Hallsten, who he had not seen in years. Susan and her husband, David, have made friends with a man who possesses psychic abilities, Danny Hudson--alone among the protagonists in not having received an invitation to the paradise the others are bound for. David Hallsten has been enamoured for a while with a young woman he's seen only at a distance, Kathryn Phillips--and he discovers that she too is coming along on this trip.
In the second part, these characters--and two more, Frank Wasserman and his wife Evelyn--are transported to a village on the coast of Mexico, a village that appears on no map. It does indeed seem to be a paradise, but the Americans who've been brought here all find themselves behaving in very strange ways. The locals seem to practise old ways, ways forgotten since the time of the Conquistadors, and there is an ancient and mysterious church here around which many of these odd behaviors circle. Finally, the Americans are invited to a ceremony, a performance; it turns out to be an ancient ceremony dedicating the growing crops, it becomes wild and orgiastic, and in the course of it, a young local girl is sacrificed by decapitation.
The shocked Americans now want to leave but cannot, and their behavior becomes increasingly strange--especially after the locals hold an "election" to determine the ruler of the place, and visitor John Goss is named that ruler. Knowing well that John is lonely from the absence of his lover Nikki Keeler and jealous of his position, Bertie North sets a plan in motion, a plan to get the very moral John drunk and get him into bed with his sister, Susan. This plan is successful, and John, crushed, commits suicide by hurling himself into a pyre.
Events rapidly begin to run out of control, and soon enough Frank and Evelyn are offering their own lives in sacrifice as well, on a well-used stone beside the old church. The survivors, Danny, David, Susan, and Kathryn, told that John may somehow still be alive, are led into an underground world by the Mexican woman from New York, Maria, who is soon revealed to be none other than John's lover Nikki Keeler; they find themselves in Mictlan, the Land of the Dead from Aztec myth.
In Part three, the characters make their way though the Underworld, encountering unimaginable creatures and finding out more about reality and about themselves than any of them could ever have imagined...
When The Fire Within was published, there was supposed to be a rather extensive appendix included, and it was not. You can read it here. The appendix is included in the e-book edition.
The Fire Within has now been published as an e-book, from Coatl Books, and is available from Amazon.com.