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Feb 25

Gods and Monsters

When you are afraid to dream, you value your consciousness. FBI agent Jack Abrahams is afraid to dream. The recurring nightmare that haunts his sleep fills him with fear and dread. When reality starts to twist and turn, playing out a series of bizarre events, Jack is asked to investigate them. A priest, nailed to the side of a log cabin and a homicidal biker are just the beginning of these strange events. Fellow agent, Helen Foster wants to travel to England to investigate a man called Adam Blake. Helen suspects that Blake was responsible for the mock crucifixion of the priest but Jack is reluctant to begin the investigation. He changes his mind when he sees a photo of Blake, the man who lives in his nightmares.
The Last Days of Planet Earth is an amusing and interesting re-working of history, myths and religious icons, with references to popular culture threading neatly throughout.

RETAIL OUTLETS FOR THE LAST DAYS OF PLANET EARTH VOLUME I

Vol I Banner Image

Gods and Monsters Preview - Prologue

PROLOGUE

"The blame for Armageddon lies on man.
And the millennium will come only when the average man exhibits a scientific integrity about all he is and does--instead of half of it.
Many a psychological Archimedes has put signposts on the hard road man must follow if he is to avoid self-destruction and come into his own.
A few very great modern scientists have added to the lore.
Indications of what man may expect of himself are everywhere at hand.
But most men must first be persuaded that the task lies ahead and not behind--that we are infants still, with loaded guns for toys."
PHILIP GORDON WYLIE

GOLGOTHA
33 AD

A solitary figure trudged the dusty road that wound past the small cemetery, leading to the foot of the strangely shaped hill that bore the physical resemblance of a skull and wore bleak, barren foliage. The horsehair crest on his helmet and the mail armour shirt were an indication that this was no ordinary soldier. A long flowing cloak that would have graced any state occasion trailed behind him as the soldier continued his walk, accompanied by his shrill and loud whistling. His sword sat on his left hip and his dagger was sheathed elegantly on his right. He tapped the ground with the strangely crooked and yet ornate stick that occasionally received a baton twirl around his shoulders and head. The caligae on his feet seemed uncannily shiny and new, in complete contrast to any other soldier’s footwear, and for a man who seemed physically fit and abnormally jaunty, he wore a huge amount of phalerae, which if nothing else, at least indicated the huge amount of battles this particular soldier had participated in.
Crows circled the hill in front of him and filled the air with their cries as if mourning the passing of a soul. The skies were dull and grey and although no thunderclouds were in view and there was no sign of rain, the air was filled with static and a vacuum-like quietness, which was only broken by the screeching of the crows. The landscape in front of him was devoid of colour too and the overall sense of grey was not lost on the soldier. He smiled softly and raised an eyebrow as he reached the foot of the hill, for now the soldier could see the tops of the wooden structures that broke the horizon and he could hear the soft moaning of human suffering. Yet there was still a fair distance to walk as the road continued upwards on its spirally route towards inhumanity, desperation and death. The soldier’s eyes lifted towards the skies, displaying his yellow pupils for only a brief second or two before electricity cracked and popped in the air around him. He resumed his whistling, which became increasingly pronounced and progressively discordant and bizarre.
Two soldiers stood either side of the road, guarding the approach and observing the passers-by, making sure that nothing untoward was about to occur. When they observed the man strolling towards them, both guards stood up straight and made sure their weapons were sheaved correctly whilst straightening their armour and cloaks to make themselves look more presentable. They looked at each other, and then walked down the hill towards the whistling soldier.
The soldier looked up and saw the two guards. He laughed quietly to himself and whilst keeping both hands firmly at his sides, he rested the ornate stick against his leg before unfurling both sets of fingers. Electricity crackled between his fingers and the stick. He closed his hands again and the crackling disappeared. He raised his head expectantly, waiting for the men to join him. The guards now stood directly in front of him, raising their hands in salute and addressing the soldier.
“Centurion!” one of the guards said. “My name is Gaius Rustius. How can we help you?”
“Seriously?” asked the centurion.
“I have given you my name. I would have yours and know your intent,” said the guard.
“My name is Lucius Curiatius Priscus. I command one thousand men of the Roman infantry who wait patiently for my return in a camp less than one mile from here. I have come to see the one they call saviour.”
“I would ask what it is you want of him Centurion. We have been told to keep a strict eye on him,” said the guard.
“And yet you elevate him by the side of a road for all to see. On my way here, I have seen soldiers forcing the natives of this place to take this road when there are other routes to use, so that they witness his suffering. Yet you question my right to pass by him despite my rank and standing in Rome?”
The soldier looked nervous and offered an apology.
“Forgive me centurion, but there is much talk of this one. You may pass.”
Lucius nodded at Gaius. Gaius moved aside to allow Lucius to pass.
Lucius started to whistle once more and resumed his walk along the path until he reached the man on the third cross. Lucius knelt in front of the suspended man.
“Forgive me Jesus, for I have sinned,” said Lucius.
Lucius kneeled down and smiled as he spoke. Jesus opened his eyes slowly and gazed upon the Roman in front of him. He smiled gently and addressed the kneeling man.
“I have been on this world for a long time, yet you wait until now to come and see me. Tell me what you call yourself these days,” said Jesus.
“Lucius Curiatius Priscus. It’s very Roman. I was not sure you would want to see me. However, when the mighty civilization of Rome deems it necessary to nail you to a cross, I feel I have little choice but to find you and intervene.”
“Intervene in what way, brother?” asked Jesus.
“I have an army of one thousand men a little over a mile from here. They would burn Rome itself to the ground should I command them to. Let me take you from this place and you can return home, free from this pointless torment,” said Lucius.
“No. This is my choice. I am here to show them that there is no death, only transition. I will die very shortly, be taken from this cross and placed in a garden tomb. After three days, I will rise and leave the tomb proving to the mortals that death is merely a transition. I will spend forty more days reinforcing this message before ascending and returning home. Once they have witnessed this, they will realise their time here is not fleeting and that they will be here long enough to witness the fruit of any actions that will damage the earth, other species or themselves. I do not need rescuing. Joseph will ask for my body from Pilate when the time is right. You understand?”
“Pilate? Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judaea? So Pilate has allowed your crucifixion. Did he give the order? Tell me brother; did he also let them nail you to this wooden cross? Where are your followers now? The ones you treat so well and place so much faith in, where are they? In what world is it right for one man to torture another? They will not understand what you are going to do; they will misinterpret it, like they always do. You cannot even force sentience on these primates. They are not ready. If they believe there’s no death, then what do they have to lose? Carnage, murder, slaughter, rape and genocide, where would it end?”
Lucius stopped his rant, transfixed by the sign that hung over the head of his brother. ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’.
“That is what your crime is? Is this Pilate’s doing? Brother? Answer me was this…”
The earthly figure of Jesus of Nazareth hung lifelessly from the cross; a single tear fell on the kneeling Lucius.
Lucius composed himself and stood up to address his dead brother.
“Give my regards to our father and mother. The voice of forgiveness and understanding has left this world. They nailed it to a cross,” said Lucius.
Lucius turned and shouted to one of the guards at the bottom of the hill.
“GAIUS RUSTIUS!”
The air crackled and warmed as Gaius made his way towards Lucius. He was terrified but knew that the sooner he responded, the better it would be for him.
“Gaius! Inform Pilate that Jesus of Nazareth is dead.”
“Yes, of course, immediately.”
“Who is responsible for the sign above his head?”
“Pontius Pilate.”
“Did no one question it?”
“Yes sir, but he just told them ‘what I have written, I have written’.”
Lucius sighed and reached beneath his cloak. He produced a golden chalice, detailed magnificently with hieroglyphic symbols and inscriptions. He handed the chalice to Gaius.
“Guard this with your life. It is a gift for Pontius Pilate. Tell him that Lucius Curiatius Priscus wishes him to accept this as acknowledgement of the efforts Pilate has made here today. Consider it a tribute so that he will always remember me. I will be gone before he arrives; I have a new purpose now. I have had it personally inscribed for him. Now go, and thank you for your help today,” said Lucius.
“I will guard it with my life Centurion. You have my word,” Gaius replied.
Gaius turned and ran to back to the other guard at the foot of the hill.
Lucius turned to face the lifeless form of Jesus, but reacted quickly when he heard shuffling behind him. Drawing his dagger, he lurched to his left, snarling as he caught the hooded figure by the neck and drew the blade close to his throat.
“Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me!” the figure whimpered.
Lucius pulled back the hood to reveal a young man who was clearly petrified. In his hand, the man carried just a gourd of water, nothing else, no weapon. Lucius relaxed his grip and stood the man in front of him.
“What were you thinking?” asked Lucius.
“Forgive me sir, but I have brought water for Jesus of Nazareth. I have tried to before now but the guards always stopped me,” said the young man.
“You charged up the hill, armed with a gourd of water, to give relief to a man you did not know? You would risk death to do this?” asked Lucius.
“It seemed the right thing to do. I know you are a Centurion sir. But this, this crucifixion is barbaric and unworthy of us all.”
Lucius placed his hands upon the young man’s shoulders and smiled sadly.
“I am afraid you are too late. Our brother has gone. What is your name?” he asked.
“My name is Ben Ezra,” the young man replied.
Lucius smiled and removed his hands from Ben Ezra.
“Of course, what else could it be? I have a gift for you because you have shown compassion today.”
Lucius placed three fingers on the Ben Ezra’s neck.
“This might sting a little,” he said.
Ben Ezra flinched as electricity scorched his neck.
“I don’t understand, what was that?” he asked.
“It is a gift. Call it...protection,” said Lucius. “Now return to your family and give the water to them.”
Ben Ezra turned and ran back down the hill. Although the Centurion had thanked him and he had no reason to fear him, he still moved quickly. He would have been afraid had he been able to see the still glowing three, roughly drawn, circles that now adorned his neck. He turned to look back up the hill but the Centurion had gone. He carried on running.

Gaius Rustius sat on the ground looking, open-mouthed, at the chalice. He was trying to work out how Lucius had managed the impossible. The second guard made his way towards him, seeing that something was wrong.
“Gaius? Gaius? What is it? You have stared at that chalice for ages now. It’s beautiful isn’t it? Pilate will be extremely pleased with it.”
“It’s not that. It is beautiful, but… It’s the inscription.”
“Why? What does it say?”
“It says, ‘That I may always know you.”
“What’s so bad about that? It’s just a short message.”
“But that’s not all. It gets stranger. There is another inscription beneath it. I do not understand how he managed to inscribe this on the chalice so quickly. I told him the words, only seconds before he gave it to me,” said Gaius.
“Well what does it say?” asked the second guard.
“It says, “What I have written, I have written.”

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