Monday, August 13, 2012

"Cursed Days" chapter one

"Cursed Days," Book three of the Trilogy of The Chosen will be released on September 4th, 2012.
In honor of its release, I have decided to post the first few chapters of the book on the blog starting with chapter one.
Enjoy and please let me know what you think. If you like it, tell everyone you know, if you don't, tell me.


Red walked at a brisk pace. Head pointed straight ahead, chin tilted downward. This was neither the time nor place to be looking people in the eye. With purposeful strides he never wavered from his intended destination.

Traditional Palestinian clothing; an ankle length robe, a throbe and a kaffiyeh, a black and white turban adorned his body. He kept his hair covered so not to look out of place. Everyone he passed seemed angry. It didn’t matter which side of this narrow strip of land you were on, all the people wore the same expression. It had been years since he’d been home, since he walked the streets of Khan Younis. The city was now the second largest along the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian stronghold.

His eyes darted back and forth with the urgency of a medic after a suicide bombing. Never relaxed. Always alert to his surroundings. Years of training made these movements instinctive. Though his posture was tense, his mind was free. Free to think how he truly felt.

“Fools,” he mumbled under his breath. Simple minded fools. Whether their messiah is Mohammad, Jesus, or someone else, they are all limited in their thinking. The time has come for all of them to bow to a new messiah.

An evil grin crossed his thin parched lips. Thoughts of grandeur trounced about his head. Red’s pace slowed as he entered the ruins of a once grand structure. Inside al-Qal or the Khan as outsiders called it, his pulse slowed and his sweat cooled. The building, once the centerpiece of a thriving trade route during the Ottoman Empire was now more ceremonial than functional. Much of it was in disrepair.

It was here that Red would meet with Omar. A meeting that would change the world. The lower he descended into the bowels of al-Qal the more anxious he became. He took a deep breath, inhaling centuries of dust. The dust of wars fought. Wars won and wars lost. His chest extended, shoulders back, he walked with a confident air.  His mind always funneling thoughts.

The Khan, this building, it is like the Brotherhood of Gaza. Once it was great, but time and circumstance have not been kind to either. Red’s upper lip rose on the left side in a sly smile as his next thoughts raced through his head. But unlike this building, the Brotherhood has begun its resurrection. In the next few days all the world will know of us and they will bow to our magnitude.

Entering the final passage, he took on a new persona. One of servitude. One that would acquiesce to his superior.

Red stood in the domain of the one who led the Brotherhood. He was silent and looked at the ground. Omar would speak first. He had been his trainer for eleven years, from age seven to eighteen. Red’s head bowed, his eyes rotated upward, glued to the man walking around the room. The feeling was electric.

“Are you sure of your Intel?” Omar asked. He spoke with a coarseness that sounded like his throat had been scarred or he had spent too many years in this dust filled underground grotto.

Once spoken to, Red was free to raise his head and speak to his mentor as an equal. “I stake my life on it,” he answered in a heavy Irish brogue.

Omar stopped—stared. One look from his steel-grey eyes made Red weak. Daggers pierced his soul. It took every bit of fortitude to remain stoic and not cower like a child.  

The old man waited to see how his protégée would react, how he would answer.

“All prophesy is in place,” Red said. “The Brotherhood knows the Ark of the Endowment has been recovered and now ‘The Enlightenment’, the time written by John the Revelator has passed.”

Omar’s bushy brow elevated in response. He paced about the chamber, hands clenched behind his back. In his eighties, he still moved like a young man.  “They say the new Keeper of the Keys—The Ambassador, is a gifted man. A man like David. A man after God’s own heart.”

The left side of Red’s mouth quivered with hate. “He is still a man. All men bleed. . . and die,” he replied.

The old man shook his head.  “This one’s different. He defeated Satan in battle. He is no ordinary man.”

Red licked his cracked lips, biting his lower lip to help him remain calm. He had to choose his words wisely. “I’ve heard him speak, watched him breathe, saw his wounds. He is only flesh and blood.”

Omar ran his branch-like fingers through his scraggly grey beard, nodding in slight agreement.

“How confident are you of our man on the inside?” he asked. “The Brotherhood has waited centuries for this day. We will only get one chance.” He took a step closer to Red. Eyes fixed on his chosen one. The one chosen at the age of seven to one day recover the Ark of the Covenant. He stood so close that Red could smell the Turkish coffee on the old man’s breath. “You know what failure means?” Omar said.

Lip quivering, almost spasmodic in movement, Red inhaled through flared nostrils. Teeth gnashed as the words spilled forth. “Death to me, my team and our destiny.”

“My faith in you is strong,” Omar said, stepping back, “but your emotions run high.”

“I’ve managed to keep them in check for the past five years in that hellhole,” Red shot back.

“Mmm,” Omar groaned. “That hellhole is why we know that the time is right to reunite the Trilogy of the Arks.” He stopped stoking his beard and continued to pace. “This man on the inside, he has been there for a long time.”

“Sixteen years,” Red said.

“You have no doubt of his loyalty?”

“He is loyal to the Brotherhood.”

Omar again responded with a flick of an eyebrow. “Your team, where are they?”

“We know from the scrolls translated by our scribes that the search begins near Jerusalem. They are there. Waiting on me.”

“When will the hunt begin?”

“As soon as the name of the first messenger is revealed,” Red said. Omar opened his mouth to speak, but the younger man didn’t give him a chance. “We believe in the next twenty-four hours.”

Omar returned to his seat. He stared at his desk. The scrolls appeared to stare back at him. “Join them. The time to lift the curse has begun. The time for world domination has arrived.”

Inside Saint Peter’s Basilica a similar conversation was ongoing.

“Has there been any word from The Ambassador?” the pontiff asked.

“Not yet, but Brent will not fail us,” Cardinal Bullini answered.

The Pope rose from his knees and sat back in the pew. “I wish my faith was as great as yours.”

“It’s not faith, your eminence.”


The cardinal blessed himself and he too sat back in the pew. “The scroll of Enlightenment, both of the lost Arks in his possession, the words of Arch-angel Gabriel: this is why I know he will take on the quest.”

The pontiff stood and looked down at his faithful servant. “I only hope he makes his decision soon. Time is not on our side.” Cane in hand, he walked toward the exit without looking back. “Evil finds a way,” he said. His final words echoed about the vast basilica. “Evil finds a way.”

Until next week,

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