From Martuk…the Holy
A teeny-tiny peek at the Prologue for Shayateen, the WIP (work in progress) third Martuk…the Holy book.
(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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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