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.

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.

 

 

Crimson tears

from my book, The Wounded King:

He took a breath, the words coming, swollen and thick and carried on the stench of impending death.

“Beyond the Veil, they suffer, brother. The King, my mother, the Darkness around them, trapping them. It waits for me. It’s here –”

“No,” I interrupted. “I’m here with you.”

“No, no,” he insisted. “Here in the Temple, in the palace, outside in the city, in the night, in the sky, in the air, the wind, the sun. In the dark.”

“You’re safe,” I assured him, my hand once more on his, the square cloth still on his eyes blinding him. “I’m here and you’re safe.”

He released me, pushing me away. His hands reached to remove the cloth.

He opened his eyes.

They were unseeing globes of wounded white.

He spoke, crimson tears staining his scarred and bloody cheeks as he blinked.

“The Darkness, it’s here with us.”

Behind me, the Old Man bowed, the rustle of his garments distracting me.

“It’s here,” my brother, the King, repeated, the wounded globes now closed.

I turned.

Eyes rimmed red, sallow skin the color of sun-bleached sand, holes where healthy teeth had been only hours ago, each heavy step a great effort, she approached.

Mother.

Oceans of blood

How about an excerpt from my book Martuk … The Holy?

Pen at rest, she sat back, looking at me, her fingers fondling the silk scarf tied beneath her chin.

I had stumbled upon her speaking in a bookstore on Boulevard Saint Germain. An American author and PhD, she had written a slender, earnest tome on ancient religion, a popular work weaving archaic beliefs and myths with those principles we hold in our modern world.

Intrigued, I stopped to listen. Learning of her second life as a psychologist, I requested her card.

And now here I sat, fighting the urge to lunge at her, lift her by her slender neck and slam her against the wall, the back of her skull smashing against the diploma, shards of glass raining to the floor.

Of ripping the expensive cloth protecting her tender flesh, tearing the skin between her breasts, cracking open her rib cage and stealing her heart, that feeble ball of cold, uncaring muscle. Void of compassion. Of understanding. The glistening lump now anemically beating in my monstrous red paw.

My fingers puncturing those delicate sockets above her nose to pluck out the slimy dark nuggets of judgment. Of disapproval. The fantasy of spiriting them from their safe little caves to roll about in my palm now obsessing me.

“I feel your frustration,” she lied, staining the white with more scribbling.

I suppressed the urge to smile.

“But it’s important to understand as much as I can,” she continued, her pen again at rest. “About you. Your experiences. Your life. From there we begin the real work of dealing with this feeling of powerlessness. With these dreams. Your nightmares.

“Your demons.”

The pen began its destruction of a new page, the first tossed aside and lying face down. Exhausted by the scratching, no doubt.

I shifted in my chair.

Demons, she said. I didn’t want to deal with demons. Demons were dangerous. I turned my back on demons long ago. That wasn’t me anymore.

“So, you can’t die,” she suddenly said.

“Yes. I mean, no, I can’t.”

“How so?”

“I just can’t.”

“Okay,” agreed She of the Hyperactive Pen, “you’re invincible.”

“Of course not. I didn’t say that. I’m just like you. Normal. Just normal, you know? Nothing special. I just can’t die.”

“Normal?”

“Yes.”

“Yet you claim immortality. Is that normal?” Her eyes glared at me from beneath a curtain of black bangs.

“How?” she then asked, her tone softening. “How did you achieve this immortality?”

Glimpses of an altar piercing the stars clouded my vision. The chanting of Priests. An unseen crowd cheering far below. Oceans of blood for everlasting life, an Old Woman whispered. Bloody footprints on polished stone. The cloying scent of decaying flesh and the splitting of blistered skin as it roasted under an unforgiving sun.

Lips kissing mine and linen dripping red. Weeping, lying, bleeding, dying, the blade in His hand as He straddled me, both of us lost in the roar of the Darkness.

No.

Best. Sentence. Ever.

From the newly released The Elder, the next installment in The Martuk Series:

“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.”

Creepy? Yes. Maybe sick and twisted? Yep. Too many kinds of awesome to count? Oh yeah.

I. Love. It.

Check out another excerpt over at amschultz’s site

Don’t know that name? You should. He does all my kick-ass covers. 🙂

the power of fear

(An excerpt from one of my WIPs, Martuk … The Holy: Proseuche, the sequel to the full-length novel Martuk … The Holy)

“God forgives,” the voice assured me from the shadows.

No, he wouldn’t comprehend it at all.

I smiled, then, hearing her again, the Waitress. Teasing, flirting, crying, cursing, her voice echoing from hours ago.

“You’re so funny,” she had laughed as we sat knee-to-knee at a famously cramped restaurant on the Rue Saint-André des Artes, the tourists seated in a room to the right, the French locals in a more spacious room to the left.

“You’re so wonderful,” she had slurred, her tongue thick with expensive Bordeaux as she slipped her hand in mine, the streets dark and quiet as we walked.

“You’re so … ,” she had whispered, the thought unfinished as her hand snaked between my thighs, the car speeding along the quay, the scent of her lust in my nose, her breasts warm against my arm, her breath kissing my cheek, the vast, leafy shadow of the Bois de Boulogne rising in the distance.

“I lied,” I finally offered the Priest, committing yet another sin.

Silence.

“You’re human,” came the tentative cinnamon-scented response.

“You’re a monster!” the Waitress had screamed as she ran, her hand clutching its twin to her chest, the blood pump, pump, pumping down her dress as I spat the orphaned finger to the leaves at my feet.

Shall I tell the Priest this? That I can still taste her blood on my tongue? How the crunch of her slender bone between my teeth excited me? Or how she ran and I followed? Should I breathe this between these slender strips of polished wood? How she darted behind a tree before I rushed forward, startling her, trapping her?

No. This sheltered, naive little man would never understand why I let her run again. Or how the chase invigorated me. How hopelessly addictive her terror was. How her tears delighted me. How the Darkness so very much enjoyed the thrill of those last moments of her life. His mind could never wrap itself around the thrill of catching her, trapping her, torturing her, her eyes wide, the snot dripping as she sniffled and sobbed.

He could never know the power of fear.

anguished screams of the stolen innocent

Here you go, guys. The back cover book blurb for The Elder, coming this week:

In The Elder, the latest installment of The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn, author of Martuk … The Holy, digs deeper into the world of ancient Uruk. A world of power and absolute rule. Of magic and superstition. Of Dark Gods and mysterious Ancients, magical Immortals and unseen Seers. Of powerful Priests cloaked in robes of red and gold and a Man from the Mountains who has yet to arrive.

From the innocence and depravity and blood-drenched chaos of The Wounded King, we now follow The Elder, a Priest desperate to rule, blinded by power, afraid to die. A man who climbs deep into caves beneath sun-scorched mountains and sacrifices anonymous flesh in a blood-stained Temple. A desperate soul driven by words whispered from the lips of a doomed Child and haunted by the warnings of an Immortal buried in ash. One who makes an impossible choice for the promise of Life Everlasting and, riddled by doubt, chooses again, this final act of violent desperation opening the way for an ancient curse from a Darkness older than Time.

From the whispered pleas to the Darkest of Gods to the anguished screams of the stolen innocent, this is … The Elder.

***

The Elder is the second book in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction inspired by the full-length novel Martuk … The Holy.

“walking on the bones”

(excerpt from The Elder, the next book in The Martuk Series)

Elder …

I wiped my cheek and lifted my head.

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 quick, chin to chest and then back, her mouth opened and closed, opened and closed.

Then she paused.

Breathed.

And then 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 …