Like all of my books, it falls in the Supernatural suspense/Urban fantasy genre. And in line with my style, I have taken something most people are familiar with and given it my own personal spin. In the Primal Series, that was the legend of the Riders of the Apocalypse, in this series it’s something potentially a bit more controversial; the afterlife.
Not linked to a specific religion, more a spin on the general idea of an afterlife as you can find in most religions. It is NOT a rant against any religion. It is however a fantasy of how something like the afterlife CAN be misused, with enough fantasy.
Throw in beings from another dimension, soul-kidnapping and a world-wide conspiracy and you’re getting the overall idea.
Here’s a sneak preview at the first chapter (in draft)
‘Leave, all of you.’
The voice came from the dark corner.
A big shadow filled the area. Unruly, long black hair and a full beard hid most of his face. From the length of his torso and his legs pushed to the side of the table, I gauged him to be at least six-foot. His t-shirt under the faded jeans jacket was tight over what was clearly a muscled torso. The rolled up sleeves showed traditional tribal tattoos that covered his large arms. He was a formidable specimen, that was clear. But the defining characteristic was the eyes. Fierce brown-green rimmed black iris’ that shone with the reflection of the bar lights.
‘He’s here for me.’
Those final words had the desired effect. As one, the patrons left their drinks on the tables, hastily made their way to the door and moved out to the relative safety of the street.
I observed the figure in the corner. Still shrouded by the shadow it was abundantly clear this was a big man. Massive even. Not exactly what I expected.
Damn Michael and Rafe. Damn their stupid games. Maybe I should have taken back-up with me.
I turned my attention back to the reason why I was here in this god-forsaken hell-hole. The piercing eyes never left me. He gauged my metal as I did his.
A flash of reflection on a metal surface against the wall next to his chair distracted me momentarily. I focussed on that and only just made out the contours of a double-headed axe. Viking style. Times ten, by the look of it.
I really should have brought back-up.
A glint of white teeth showed from his vicious smile and confirmed he’d noticed my change of focus. His hands stayed on the table, one holding the beer glass, the other flat on the surface. His whole stance portrayed his confidence. He wasn’t nervous or anxious. Stil he knew who I was, or at least what I was and why I was here. Normal humans would be shaking in their boots. Maybe even crying and begging for their pathetic lives.
Not this man.
He looked like the predator.
Not the prey.
Definitely not the prey.
This mission might need more improvisation on my part.
‘Which one are you?’ The voice was deep and full of contempt.
‘Gabriel,’ I answered.
‘Don’t I even merit Michael?’ he taunted.
‘He was busy.’
His laugh was as warm as a blizzard. It echoed in the now empty bar. If I had been a lesser man, it would have intimidated me. As it was, it just enhanced my senses and put me fully in fight mode.
‘You’re here to kill me.’ It wasn’t a question.
‘Not necessarily.’ Even I didn’t believe that anymore. Not now I’d seen him.
He cocked his head.
‘What else did you have in mind as an alternative?’
‘There are several.’
‘So, are you going to hover over me all the time, or are you going to take a seat while I finish my beer.’
He held up the pint glass of yellow liquid. It was almost full. That gave me at least ten minutes.
‘Sit down. I’m not going anywhere,’ he stated as he brought the glass up to his lips and took a sip.
The chair screeched over the stone floor as I pulled it out from under the table. In the silence of the bar, it sounded loud, painfully loud. The air was heavy with the tension between us. My body screamed at me to stay standing, that I would be too vulnerable if I took his suggestion and sat down. In the chair any advantage would be gone. I would make myself a lot more vulnerable. Not a good idea. But my goal was not to kill him. Not yet. Only as a last resort. My mission was to convince him to return to the fold. They guy was a total soul magnet. He had the prospect to become a master recruiter. Something my father didn’t want to pass up on.
The big lug took another sip of his beer. The glass was still more than three-quarters full. I had time.
‘Father Ignatius,’ I started. His glare stopped me mid sentence. The intensity gave me goosebumps. I got the distinct feeling that if I continued I would melt under his scowl. I raised an eyebrow.
‘I am not a priest anymore,’ he stated resolutely, his voice as cold as his stare. Didn’t the guy ever blink?
‘Fair enough,’ I answered. ‘That’s exactly what I want to talk to you about.’
The glare continued.
‘You’re here to change my mind?’ he asked incredulously.
I nodded, a slight smile on my lips.
‘Are you serious?’
Again, I nodded.
‘First your kind tries to kill me. Multiple times.’ He cocked his head in disbelief. ‘Then you want me to come back into the fold?’
I resisted the urge to nod again as he brought the glass up to his lips.
‘We?’ he interrupted my carefully prepared speech.
‘God?’ The venom dripped from the word.
‘I guess you would call him that,’ I answered slowly.
‘I have another name for him.’
‘Okay, Let me rephrase. Humans call him God.’
‘And he’s your father?’
‘Family business, huh?’
This conversation wasn’t going anyway near the way I had intended it to. I planned it down to the last detail based on the information Rafe gave me. Yeah, Rafe. Rafael. My brother. One of many. The same one who told me Father Ignatius was a mousy, weak human. I should have known. Especially after that same Father sent him packing, not once, but twice. Why the hell did I believe him? My own desperation to please my father I guess. Well, thank you Rafe. I’ll get even with you later. Once I get this big lug back in line and myself where I belong in dad’s graces again.
‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘Family business. Isn’t that what the scriptures explained?’
He huffed. Not deeming to answer me. He probably knew the bible better than me anyway. I just memorised the parts I needed for my day-to-day job.
The glass was half full.
We both stared at it.
‘He wants you back,’ I continued. Beating about the bush wouldn’t help here. This guy would see right through the usual lies. He already had. He was on to us. On to the whole scam. A different tactic was needed. One I rarely employed. Truth. Or what passed for it with me anyway. ‘You’re an asset.’
‘An asset?’ He repeated my last words again as a question. This was starting to piss me off. He was seriously getting on my nerves.’
‘People flock to you. They believe you.’ I expected him to repeat that as well, but he didn’t. Just when I thought I had him figured out, he changed his tactics again.
The glass was up to his lips again and he took a small sip. Unlike the other times, he didn’t put it down. Just took another sip as his eyes bore into mine. At least I had his attention.
‘We want you on our team. You have the knack to convince people to believe in the afterlife. That is what we need. We need more humans. Especially the ones you bring in. The young ones.’
‘The strong ones?’ Another question and another sip.
‘The ones who can work? Can make you money? Keep your “family’s” high status.’ He spat out the words. This was not going to be easy. But at least he was still listening.
‘Yes,’ I answered strongly.
He was silent again.
I decided to push the direct approach. He was wasting my time. Irritating me.
‘You know the score. You were initiated in The Establishment. Kind of hypocritical that you’re looking down on me now. You were all too happy to go along with our arrangement as long as you made it to the top in the church.’
‘You know nothing about me.’ The glare was back again. In hindsight, that should have registered more with me. But no, stubborn and over confidant as I am—and irritated by the big lug—I pushed on.
‘I know your kind.’ My turn to laugh and now my tone became derogatory. He took an audible deep breath, his mouth pulled into a thin line behind the glass. He wasn’t drinking. Not anymore. His eyes bore into mine. I returned the stare and the sentiment. I didn’t have time for this shit. I don’t coddle anyone, not even if dad wanted him back in The Establishment.
‘You’re so righteous on the outside. But deep down, you humans all want the same. Your own status. You at the top of the world. You all want to be king. Rule over your minions. Well, we’re giving you a chance to do just that. You can go all the way. Up to the top. You can be the first Cardinal from the islands. You will be king of where you came from. Isn’t that what you want. Deep down. Isn’t that why you chose this vocation? I know what you were. How you lived before you joined the church. I know the resentment you carry.’
The glass was back down on the table. The level of the beer hovered just under the half-full mark.
I hope to finish this book by the end of May. That will bring it to a June 2021 publication date. I’ll keep you all up to date on the progress.
The Hive, the publication of my second short Fantasy horror will be delayed a bit. I know I promised to give you the publication date in this newsletter, but I have decided to push it back a few months. Think more around August or September.
In the meantime: here are some more great books from friends.