I am no dream

(Another brief excerpt from the upcoming Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche , the sequel to the award-winning Martuk … the Holy )

“So many lies.”

I knew this voice.  Though I didn’t turn, my eyes stubbornly shut as I pretended sleep, my arms hugging my chest and my back turned, the cloak drawn close against the night, I knew who spoke.

And I knew it to be impossible.

“I am no dream,” the voice then said in answer to my next thought.  “And what are you?  What did you think you would be?  At your end, what did you think awaited you?

“Turn and look upon me,” he then said.

I turned.

Judas killed the Messiah …

He kneeled next to me in the sand, the familiar dark eyes watching me.

And then he killed himself …

But he was not real, this Judas who now leaned forward.  He could not be.

Hanged by the neck from a tree …

Unless the words truly were lies and Judas still walked.  I reached for him, my hand almost on his arm.

He no longer kneeled within reach.  In a breath, he had moved, this Judas, this one who could not be real, now standing many paces away.  It had been too quick, this small journey of his.

It had been too quick.

I was going mad.

The money from the Priests at his feet …

“Tell me,” I said to this man who could not be Judas.  “Is that true?  Was their money at your feet?  From the Priests?  From the Temple?”

My voice, though but a whisper, sounded so alone in the desert, the words lost in the emptiness of this sun-parched world and the endless blue of the too big sky.

And I was alone now, the lie that disguised himself as Judas gone with the breeze.

I closed my eyes.

Yes, I was alone, so alone, and I was going mad.

sleep without dreams

There were screams.  A frightening din unlike anything he’d ever heard.

He lay on the altar.

The Elder, a priest, an old priest, an old man, the red and gold of his robes familiar and strange, stood over him.

Another dream, yes, the young priest turning to push his face into the pillow, the sheets clenched in his fists, the sunlight of a Paris day blocked by the heavy curtains, his desperation for rest, for escape, having chased him from the dark of night into the light of day as he fought for sleep.

The Darkness was here.  In the dream.  The Darkness was coming near.  In the dream.   The Darkness would rob him of his humanity. Would make him a monster.  One trapped by time.  Like a mist, a fog, it was, the Darkness.  A black cloud sprouting fingers and toes and teeth, it slid along the blood-drenched floor of the altar, the crowd bellowing for his death below, their appetite endless.

In the wine was salvation.  The wine the Elder, this skeletal man with the dead eyes who loomed over him, was holding, was offering.  In the wine was the poison that would offer relief.

The warmth was around him now, in the dream.  The steamy heat of the Darkness.  The priest, in the here and now of Paris, trapped in sleep sitting up in his bed, falling from the mattress to the floor, dragging the sheets behind him as he crawled to escape.  The Darkness in the dream wound ’round his ankles, his calves blushing red, the sickening steam slithering up his legs to his torso, this ancient evil drawn back like a snake, ready to strike and force its way down his screaming throat.

And that’s how he was discovered, this young priest, his neighbors breaking down the door to find him asleep and screaming at the window, his face pressed against the glass, the sheets wound ’round his legs.

“You need to rest,” the neighbor, an older woman with a kind face, had insisted as he sat later, sipping water and ignoring the remnants of this new nightmare still echoing in his mind.

“Take a vacation,” the second neighbor, a younger man, fashionable, handsome, professionally patient, had urged in accented English, his strong hand resting on his arm.  “You will be no good to anyone if you do not have the sleep, no?”

He shook his head.  No, no vacation.  He needed to be at the church.  Needed to be there when the stranger would return.  He needed …

He didn’t know what he needed.  Answers, probably.  Answers he may never get.

And he needed sleep.  Yes.  Sleep without dreams.

No, he assured them, a smile on his face as he politely ushered them to the door.  He was fine.  It was stress.  Lack of sleep.  He was fine, he then said again, closing the door and clicking the lock.

The bed waited, calling his exhaustion, the dreams waiting.

He ignored it, his body stretched on the floor, no pillow, the sheets left by the window.

The stranger would come, he told himself, a tumble of images rumbling near as the Darkness pulled him back to the world of altars and priests and a screaming that felt as if it would never stop.

He would come.

(excerpt from the upcoming Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche)

silent and still no more

Another quick peek at the upcoming Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche

 

I washed away my sins with the sand.

His body I’d left on the road, the Samaritan.  Naked and unrecognizable, his face sunken, his eyes dangling on his cheeks, the nose no more, the skull crushed.  I had taken the robe and the mantle, discovered the hidden coin, and taken this, too, and then slid the sandals from his feet.

Then, leaving him to the birds and the blistering sun and those animals that would soon come to sniff and paw and shred and feast, I left the path and turned, the desert a half-day’s walk.

With the setting of the sun, I found myself alone in a sea of shifting sand.

I stopped.

There was nothing but silence.

I was alone.

This was when I fell to my knees.  This was when I plunged my hands into the heated, soft earth.  When I rubbed my flesh with the pale soil.  Massaged the fingers, my wrists, even my forearms, the red of this kind stranger’s blood pulled from my skin by the persistent sand.

Only when the day died in the deep shadow of a desert night had I wiped the stain of the Samaritan clean.

And then I laid back and looked at the stars.

The thoughts of this, my life, and what waited with the rising of the sun tomorrow and what I would do, then, here in the desert, all of this I pushed far away, my eyes on the black of the sky and the light of the stars, my mind focused on stilling my fears and finding blessed peace.

I inhaled, deep, and exhaled, deep, and listened to the silence.

They spoke.

From cities far away, I heard them.  From rocky shores slapped by white capped waves, there was talk.  From dark valleys glowing with quiet fires that crackled and spit tiny tongues of fire, the voices came.  Plucked from the chaos of noisy tabernaes, the arguments and debates stole into my mind like thieves.

And the desert was silent and still no more.

A sudden, shocking silence

A quick excerpt from the upcoming Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche

In my desperation for peace, for a rest with gentle dreams, I focused my thoughts on pleasant memories, leaving the ghosts behind as I drifted into sleep.

And I dreamt.

Jesus was speaking.  And Mary stood near.  She watched me.  And, still, He was speaking.  But the words were hushed, and tumbled off His tongue.  They were too quick.  Mary glanced over her shoulder into the dark that surrounded us.  And He continued to speak.  She had done that before, Mary.  Glanced over her shoulder.

In this dream, she had done that, though when, I couldn’t tell you.

Her brow was furrowed.  Her heart was worried.  Her hand rested on her breast over her heart.  And Jesus’ hands were on me now.  He held me by the shoulders, His voice rising.

He yelled now.  Jesus was yelling at me, the spit flying from His lips as His face contorted in rage.  But His words were lost.  I could see them leave His mouth.  Could see the lips open and the words come forth, but in that small space between the words spoken and the words heard, they were lost.

Mary looked over her shoulder.  She stopped. This was not a glance.  This was a look, the hand from her heart rising to her throat and then her mouth, as if silencing a scream.  And then she reached to Jesus, her head still turned, still watching.  He continued to hold me.  His hands gripped me.  He shook me.  He screamed now, the tears falling, His nose running, His face blushing red, the spit rolling from His lips and staining His chin, His eyes wide and desperate and afraid.

I feared He would strike me in His rage.

Her hand was on His shoulder.  She clutched the thick fabric of His mantle in her fist, pulling Him away from me.

But His words!  I couldn’t hear them.  I so desperately wanted to hear them.  But even though screamed and shouted in a panicked rage, I heard nothing.

Behind her, the dark thickened.  Grew darker, deeper.  Inched forward.

She pulled at Him still.  She was desperate.  She was frightened.  She screamed at Him as He screamed at me.  I could feel His fingers dig into my flesh.  Those long fingers bruising my flesh.  And her fingers gripped and dug into Him.  Pulled and pulled.

His hand raised now, the palm up as it faced me.

He had grown silent.  A sudden, shocking silence.  A sudden, shocking stillness. His words, His rage, dying a sudden death.  And she had grown still and silent as well, Mary, her head bowed, her eyes closed.  Her hands rested on Him, but no longer pulled.

They had both stopped.

They both watched me, silently, as the shadows drew close and fell first on her, on her head, her shoulders, darkening her brow and then her nose, and then the hand that rested on His shoulder, the darkness then moving to Him, taking Him, both of them soon lost.

It swallowed them.

His hand, the palm facing me, came from the dark then and, with a movement that was gentle and slow and calm, He placed this open palm on my face, over my eyes.

All Eyes on Martuk

So, with Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche, the sequel to Martuk … the Holy, almost finished, I’m doing a bit of marketing via a great, big two week Blog Tour.

Try not to get too excited, guys.

Baltimore concert

If you haven’t had enough of me by now, no doubt you’ll most certainly have your fill by the 15th of October.  ;-)

That being said, check out the tour dates:

 

October 1
Interview with Fang-tastic Books
http://www.fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com

October 2
Interview with BookwormBridgette’s World

http://bookwormbridgette.blogspot.com/

October 2
A Guest Blog for Rose & Beps Blog -

http://rosebeps.blogspot.it/

October 3
A Spotlight over at Eclipse Reviews

http://totaleclipsereviews.blogspot.com

October 4
Interview with Dalene’s Book Reviews

http://dalenesbookreviews.blogspot.com/

October 7
Interview with Pembroke Sinclair
http://www.pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com

October 7
A Spotlight and a review from Deb Sanders

http://debsanders.com

October 8
Interview with Author Karen Swart

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com

October 9
A Guest Blog for So Much TO Write So Little Time

http://somuchtowritesolittletime.com

October 9
A Spotlight on Mommasez…blog

http://ccclubbs.com/

October 10
A Guest Blog and a review from Roxanne’s REalm
http://www.roxannesrealm.blogspot.com

October 11
A Spotlight over at Fae Books
http://www.FaeBooks.co.uk

October 14
A Guest Blog for Simply Infatuated

http://www.simplyinfatuated.com/

October 15
A Guest Blog for Cloey’s Book Reviews and Other Stuff

http://cloeyk.blogspot.com

October 15
A review from Bookworm Babblings –

http://inspirationsbysimone.blogspot.com

It begins with a whisper …

From the blood drenched depravity of The Wounded King and the ancient curses of The Elder, we now follow a young man in his journey to the coveted red and gold robes of a Priest in Red and Gold, the third installment in The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn’s ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by his award-winning novel Martuk … the Holy.

It begins with a whisper.

The words a warning, silently spoken to the heart of this innocent kneeling in the mighty Temple of Uruk one thousand years before the birth of Christ. A young one who dreams of being wrapped in the red and gold robes of a priest.

But this warning whispered by a mysterious Magi leads to doubt. And then to fear. This stranger who wields magic from the anonymity of shadow forcing this initiate to look beyond the power of the Temple into the frightening black hearts of those who rule.

Haunted by the cries of those Bones in the Stones, his kindness stumbling under the weight of a young boy he leads to slaughter, all while trapped in this life he’s chosen and now can never escape, this is the story of how horrible truths and bloody betrayals destroy the dreams of innocent hearts.

This is … Red and Gold.

– available now –

the names that killed me

a small excerpt from Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche  (Nov 2013) the sequel to Martuk … the Holy

Son of Mary.  Messiah.  King of the Jews.

I was all of these and none of these.

Jesus bar Joseph was forgotten.  As was Jesus, their friend, their brother, their son.  Perhaps even Jesus, the man who was loved and kissed and held close.

They forgot the man I was so Son of Mary, Messiah, King of the Jews could live.  And die.  These are the names that dragged me onto Gol’gotha, that put the lash to my back, the nails in my hands, the spear in my side.

These are the names that killed me.

These are the lies.

Proseuche_Ebook-1-rough

the air thick with secrets

Doing a final polish on Red and Gold, the latest installment in The Martuk Series, and should have it Live on Amazon, etc. in a day or two.  :)

Until then, here’s the cover.

Red & Gold Final-cover

 

Tip of a grateful cap to my cover artist, Timothy Burch.  He’s kinda awesome.  :)

And, yeah, why the hell not?  Here’s a brief excerpt:

 

Listen well …

The voice, the whisper, came again.

I listened.

The Elder was passing me.  He moved by, calm and quick.  I did not exist to him.  I was no one.  A stranger to ignore.  An initiate who had yet to earn the priesthood, my thick hair damning me to ignominy on sight.

Ah, but this stranger, the one with the cloak ringed with the dull white of bone, he was not one to ignore.  I could sense fear in the old man, The Elder.  I could feel the air thick with secrets and shame and an utter sense of powerlessness.

The Elder stopped.

I glanced at his bare feet.

They were covered in blood.  And bits of flesh?   Yes, that’s what it looked like, his long toes smeared in discarded shards of torn flesh.  And the hem of his red and gold robe, it, too, was covered in blood.  It was dripping, small drops of blood staining the stone beneath his feet.

Dripping.

The blood was fresh.

And they, the two of them, The Elder and this stranger who could whisper to the darkest depths of my soul, both smelled of smoke and raging fire and torn flesh.

But The Elder had stopped.  Could he hear my thoughts?  Could he read my soul?  Did he know I had linked his name, his greatness, with words like shame and powerlessness?

If so, I would incur his wrath.

No …

The stranger grew close.  Looked at me.  He, too, was covered in blood.  His robe dripping fresh blood.  His feet stained red.  More so than The Elder’s.  As if this stranger, whose toes almost squished with fresh blood, had waded through an ocean of red to stand before me.

Yes …

I raised my eyes, slowly, so, so slowly.

His chest was bare.  It was covered in blood.

His head was shaved smooth.  It was covered in blood.

His eyes, peering from beneath a layer of red, were looking at mine.

A small smile grew on his thin lips.

Young priest …

came the whisper.

Listen well and I will give you the world.

 

 

new look for The Elder

In the run-up to the release of Red and Gold, the third installment in The Martuk Series, I’m sharing the NEW cover to The Elder.

The Elder Final-cover

 

Once again, cover artist Timothy Burch knocks it outta the park.  Don’t you agree?  :)