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)

demons, angels, and another 5 star review

The Martuk … the Holy Blog Tour rolls on with an amazing 5 Star Review.

If you enjoy books with a new twist on a familiar plot similar to Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”, then you will most certainly love “Martuk . . . the Holy” by Jonathan Winn.  This intense, gripping tale will keep you turning pages, biting fingernails, and re-evaluating your beliefs until the final sentence.

I’m not sure if Winn’s book can be classified into a single genre . . . or even a sub-genre. It’s multi-faceted and that’s part of the appeal. The fact Martuk . . . the Holy is a debut novel is impressive beyond words.

Martuk is a tormented immortal with roots in ancient history. Before you start thinking Adrian Paul and the TV series, “Highlander”, let me assure the differences are vast. Martuk . . . the Holy is a dark story filled with demons, angels, beastly abominations, …

And that’s just the beginning!  You can read the rest over here.  Plus there’s also a very generous Excerpt.  One of my favorites, actually.

Seriously, guys, this review brought tears to my eyes.  Not that praise should matter, but … hell, sometimes it just does.

This was one of those times.  :)

churning and turning and whipping

An excerpt from The Wounded King, the first book in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by Martuk … the Holy:

 

I ran.

The shadows followed.

It had dropped me, the Darkness, Its strength not yet great enough to hold me.

But I had climbed to my feet, the dark unbelievably dark, my ankles stained by the moist heat as I tripped and then stumbled and, tumbling down the hill, ran.

She was on the ground, Mother, oblivious, the dirt against her cheek, her hands buried in the earth, the shadow rolling and twisting around her as It ate her whispers, her sighs, her tears.

And now I sprinted toward the city under the glare of a bright sun as It chased me, churning and turning and whipping in the dust.

My heart pounded in my ears as the rocks cut my feet, the Darkness’s desire for me inflamed by the blood staining the ground.

The city drew near, the thick walls and heavy gates in sight.

In the quiet calm of morning she had urged me to leave the city with her.  Had insisted on passing through the gate to climb the small hill so we could speak away from those who would see, our secrets unknown to those who would hear.

She had lied, my Mother.

I stumbled and fell.

The heat was on me, the moist fingers wrapped around my ankle, my calf burning in the heat, the flesh raw under Its touch.

I kicked It free as I crawled, my hands pawing at the dirt as I climbed to my feet to run again.

It reared back, the shadow lunging forward like a snake before It followed, the Dark rolling on the ground like a wave.

I was close, so close, to the city.  To safety.

What if the Darkness followed me beyond the gates?, I suddenly thought as my heart beat in my ears.  What’s to stop It were it to slip into the city and torment me there?  Is there anything to keep It from swallowing me while I sleep?

What if this monstrosity were inescapable?

The guards recognized me, the brawny men in a rush to open the gates for the Almost King.

I darted through.

The Darkness followed.

I felt It on my heels, my calves, the back of my thighs, my back, my neck, the fingers around my skull as I ran and ran, the pain a constant sting, the burn excruciating as the Darkness took hold of me.

I had lost.

 

The Wounded King Final - cover

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?  :)

 

a new Wounded King

Sorry, kids, but there ain’t nothing better than getting a brand spanking new cover for one of your books.

And that’s what’s happening with The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction inspired by my award-winning full-length novel Martuk … the Holy.

First up for the face lift was The Wounded King, next will be The Elder, and then Red and Gold, the third in the series, will be making its debut.

But I don’t want to jump the gun and upload the new TWK cover until the one for The Elder is finished, so … here’s a teeny, tiny sneakity peek.

 

The-Wounded-King-Aug13-crop

 

And that’s just a glimpse of the awesomeness to come.  :)

 

… turned the locks that opened the doors …

A sentence I absolutely love from the opening page of Martuk … the Holy:  Proseuche (Nov 2013), the upcoming sequel to Martuk … the Holy:

Weeks ago, the sun waking behind a canopy of slate grey clouds, he had wrestled with the keys that turned the locks that opened the doors to this, his church.

Always nice to lighten the perpetual dark of my Martuk with a little sing-songy rhyme stuff, right?

warriors and Queens

The great thing about writing sequels — my creative mind currently ensconced in Red and Gold — is revisiting earlier work and, pushing all that useless false modesty aside, remembering just how damn good you are.

Ergo, an excerpt from the most recent in The Martuk Series, The Elder:

 

The Child had stopped, her body still, her blood-drenched toes far from the ground, her face stained red as she watched me with bleeding eyes.

The Seer had stopped, the bent body now still, waiting.

The wolves were quiet, their bodies hidden in the dark, waiting.

She spoke, The Child, her words silently on The Seer’s lips.

“Made of ash, of stone, burning from the bones, warriors and Queens, a woman trapped in time, a rival drawing near, hatred, love, pain, hatred, love, pain, hatred … “

The bones crunched and snapped as her head circled, the neck rolling chin to chest and then back, her jaw snapping open and shut.

Then she paused.

Breathed.

And spoke again.

“He will come, the one you seek, with the death, the life, stepping through the light, walking on the bones.”

She then closed her eyes as she bent back, back, back, her bones snapping with a crack as she broke her back, the golden locks of her silken hair touching the delicate heels of her tiny feet.

The body dropped to the ground.

From the shadows, the wolves pounced.

The Seer breathed deep, heavy, thick.

I stretched out and rested my head, the Whispers drowning me as the world spun and throbbed and tilted.

Fiend …

Evil …

She waits …

Who? I asked, my eyes closing.

She comes …

The wolves dragged the broken Child away, jaws around her skull, her arm, even the delicate heel, hungry to rip and shred the succulent flesh and gnaw the tender bones.

Who? I asked again, the cool soil against my face, my forehead.

I opened my eyes, the air too hot, the rank taste of bile on my tongue, and the thick scent of age and rancid sweat and death in my nostrils.  And from the shadows the wet sound of the girl being devoured as the wolves ripped and shredded and tore in my ears while the world heaved and lurched.

The sound of wings.  Great wings.  From behind me they came, the unexpected whoosh, whoosh, whoosh coming closer.

But I was too tired.  Too tired and too sick.  Too sick and too weak and too confused, the ground buckling and spinning too much for me to keep my eyes open, to turn, to see what had wings.  Wings too large and too great.

She comes …

From the mountains? I asked with a sigh as I exhaled and ended the fight, allowing darkness to take me.

From the ash …