In honor of my upcoming book release (10/15/15), I’m posting a small section of Chapter One, entitled, BEFORE
I walk up the main road, cane in hand, trying to ignore the pain in my hip as I swerve through the witless crowds.
Getting closer, I can feel the shifting forces in my bones; the familiar power of the stones already at work. The earth groans beneath my feet.
Today is important and if I’m not mistaken—which I’m not—three streets over on the corner near the potted Palm trees will be the place.
I hate being here. I don’t want to see him again. I don’t want to remember.
Regret is the most difficult and probably the worst part of getting old. Through all the things I’ve seen, the cyclical mistakes I swore I’d never make again, I’ve come to accept it is my legacy—this regret—for there’s more of it than anything else.
As I come upon the last corner, I spot the potted grouping of Palms. And it’s there. The humming, as familiar as my own hands. Not an audible noise, no, but a slight vibration in the inner ear that I’ve learned to recognize because of those regrets I mentioned. This is numbered among them. It is the sound of the gateway opening.
I move off to a side street and try to disappear behind another pluming cluster of trees.
No one sees him coming. They only see him burst onto the road—hands out in front like he’s been flung from a moving vehicle. He probably was. For them, the ones blessed enough to be ignorant of this man and his secrets, the burst is instantaneous. For me, it’s like a scene from my own life playing out at half speed and I don’t miss a thing.
The energy overflow makes gravel of the pavement. I imagine the pain of pebbles digging into his skin, lodging under a fingernail. It hurts when that happens. It’s petty, but I hope that’s what’s happening to him right now. I hope dozens of pebbles get lodged under his skin so deep, he can’t pry them out. And I hope they swell with infection.
This man who’s flown through unseen portals, seemingly appearing from nowhere—he’s wearing the same tattered trench coat I’ve come to identify him by. I watch his shoulder blades slam together as his body meets the ground, grating bone against bone. The plastic guards strapped to his legs slam against the man-made street. The sound is like shattering glass. Despite his efforts in deflection, the man’s chin hits next. I smile a bit seeing his neck snap back, knowing his mangled beard is no help against impact—only road rash and hiding scars. When you travel this way, one of the first things you learn is how important it is to keep your face away from the impact zone. My teeth sliced straight through my tongue once. After that, I started using a mouth guard. Either this guy was in a hurry or he’s new to the game. He’s not even wearing a helmet. I keep watching the crash as seconds seem to stretch, feeling like minutes, as intemperate energy pitches him into a roll.
This scene is so familiar. Bile rises, coaxing my breakfast into my throat. How I loathe and regret his part in my life. I’m not looking forward to our next meeting and wonder how many collisions he’ll endure before his body breaks down completely. Like mine. We’ve both walked away from things no one has a right to.
This section of road is now a shallow crater—the impact marking his entry into my world. His body limply tumbles another twenty feet before hitting a concrete step in front of what is supposed to be a flower shop. Blood spatters onto the ground as he coughs, turning his head for a look around. I feel the black, like an aura surrounding him as the bearded mans’ face twists into a misplaced grin. He loves a violent landing.
A normal man would be dead, but this one—this Keeper—is like me. We aren’t normal, only men in the classic sense that we were born and one day we will die. But not before I take the thing that keeps him going—those three, precious stones that make him so capable and dangerous.
This man has many names—the one he gave me many years ago was Nahuiollin. As he grew, he began calling himself Serpent and Revenge. His tribe was also called the Keepers, for they were the protectors of the Threestone. His father was Guardian to the Sacred Powers, a title that was supposed to fall to his son when he passed.
To me, this man is Death Incarnate because his purpose is my destruction.
Well ,you heard wrong, Milton, from Office Space. I’m still working on the trailer, but thanks for asking.