Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Here are the first 2 Chapters of A Story Told, the first novel I wrote that I collaborated with John Santarsiero and Herbert Olivera on. If you like what you read please visit this link http://www.wix.com/astorytold/store which will guide you to all the places where you can purchase A Story told in either Paperback or eBook format, including Amazon and Barnes &Noble.
Thanks and Let the Story be Told.
Dong, dong, dong. The ominous toll pierced the ears of the dead. The night was calm, yet this had not been the case a few moments earlier. A man lay on the floor in a pool of his own blood, and the bells rang louder. Another figure, like a man, cloaked in a dark flowing cape with a hood to cover his face from prowling eyes, approached the seemingly dead body. The toll was now reduced to a whisper, for the figure realized that there would be no funeral. The man was not dead. The man could not die. The figure had been through this many times during his years of collection. As usual, he was unable to collect this one. The blood on the floor began to disintegrate. The wounds of the man were miraculously healed, and he slowly rose from the ground and disappeared among the shadows with a malicious laugh. The figure turned around and vanished. All was quiet.
Once again, that cunning monster has slipped away from my grasp. It has been almost two thousand years that I have been chasing him. This millennium will end soon, and a new one will begin. If I do not end the reign of that horrible beast, the Earth will suffer another century of pain; and the next millennium will be filled with nothing but more torture, destruction, and pure evil. I have been searching for a way to defeat him, but the fact is that he cannot die. If he does not pass through to the world of the dead, then I cannot soothe my pain. The longer he lives, the longer I hunger, for I am the one who collects the souls at the time of passing, longing for the death of all things. My sole purpose is to make sure that all the souls of the universe are brought into the other world after passing. I yearn for death, which is my bondage to life. I am Death, in name and being.
Since my creation, I have existed in a place separate from time: a world that has no feeling, no love, no hate, no happiness — nothing but the grim image of death. My existence is empty and one-dimensional, controlled by the fates of those living. Their death is my life. Because of this I am forever alone. The only true contact I have with the mortal world is with the dead. I have never spoken to a living being for they cannot see nor hear me. I curiously look out at them, wondering what it would be like to live among them. Sometimes, I will see someone come and run toward me. Ah, but it is not me they are running to, it is the cold lifeless body on the floor. I cannot escape my prison of solitude until all have crossed over into the next stage. Once there is no need for death, I will be complete, and my services will be needed no longer. But as long as mortal life exists so will I.
Mostly, I stay trapped in my own dimension: a plane forgotten by man — a world separate within itself. My world lies between what humans call Heaven and Hell, yet it touches neither. These worlds (Heaven, Hell, and my own) are not physical, therefore, they do not honor man’s theories. Think of them more as states of being. I stare blankly down these halls that fill this plane — this Limbo. The entire place is a maze that has no beginning and no end — just dark, gloomy corridors.
It is difficult for mortal man to understand how I collect the souls of all who die; for someone dies every second, practically, and the universe is infinitely large. The laws that govern the mortal world do not govern mine. Being of a metaphysical nature, I have the ability to travel in and out of space and time, allowing me to be in all places at all times. Because of this I can collect each and every soul, even if two beings perished on separate worlds at the same time. Once a mortal dies, I become aware of it, and know exactly where to go to collect the spiritual energy. The energy is collected in a mystical box that was given to me at the beginning of my existence. This box is the key to my existence and the power that I hold, and it can only be accessed by me.
I wonder as I sit alone, what would it feel like to love or be loved? Feelings are dead to me. Who is there for me to love or to love me? I have no one, not even God it seems. I know about as much of God as mortals do. All my interactions with the Highest of all Powers are through His glorious angels (or so they call them), and Kepha, known to most as St. Peter. After Peter’s death and transcendence, he was placed in charge of the Gates of Heaven. He took over for one of God’s elite, the angel Janus. This was the first time a mortal was given a position of power in Heaven. I hand the souls of the dead over to Peter after collecting them. He, then, places them in the judging Fire of the Spirit, which determines what fate is in store for that soul.
Though I may not know God, the Damned One I do know. The fallen Morningstar whose countless faces, all disguises, I have seen — all but his real visage. This I hear to be quite frightening, even more than my own ghoulish guise. To think, at one time he was the most beautiful of all creatures created by God. But he abused his powers and paid the consequences.
Now that devil makes everyone pay for his own disaster, trying to deceive the mortal plane to fall into the darkness that he fell into long ago. Many planets have fallen already. Earth, though, has passed the test of time well — but it is still young. Things can change, and Earth will fall like the others if Radix succeeds. Satan couldn’t do it on his own. He couldn’t make the Earth fall, and so he created the most evil mortal to walk the face of the Earth; a mortal that defies his mortality — a mortal who cannot die.
That beast escaped me tonight, just like before. I wonder who he has to kill now. It’s hopeless though, because you never know who Satan wants dead. Radix has killed many unknowns before, plus countless bystanders, just for the sake of doing it. He has to reach his quota soon, for it is the year of the Lord, anno Domini, 2000 according to the standard Earth calendar, and the millennium will shift in the year of the Lord 2001. I believe he has put an end to 665 lives already. All he needs is one more. It is about time I took matters into my own hands. I must go to Heaven and for once demand to seek counsel with God. I do long for death, but I gain no nourishment from a planet falling into darkness. That void is worse than the one that Radix has created inside of me.
With a flash of intense light, Death vanished from his plane of Limbo. His destination was a place too glorious for mortal eyes, where the souls of saved men and women waited for the new creation, and angels sang up high. An infinite paradise, Heaven was God’s first creation, the center stage where it all began. The trip to this Holy plane was not easy, and could not be done by just anyone. It involved being in full control of your spiritual energy. Energy that exists in all who live, even demons. To travel to and from dimensional planes, one must be able to access the proper frequency of that plane. That was why most demons were trapped in the bottomless pits of hell; they did not possess the ability to achieve these frequencies. The only demon with the ability to freely travel through the planes of existence was Satan, for he was the first to fall into the black pit of nothingness. But even with his years of mastering his dark powers and his ability to travel to and from all worlds, his power is nothing compared to that of the Almighty, whose Will is greatest of all.
Death appeared with another flash of light and stood before a sight most beautiful, the Gates of Heaven. The structure was actually not a gate at all, but rather a portal to the many levels of this infinite plane. Death approached the immense crystal formation, which was surrounded on all sides by a pure white fire that was strangely both hot and cold to the touch. The walls of this formation were made of no earthly crystal. They were denser and more solid than diamond, and as clear as glass with light passing through all sides — this made for quite a sparkling display. Stepping through the strange fire, Death entered the crystal realm. A ring of the very same fire surrounded him and then vanished. He searched the room with his empty eyes, taking in its beauty. This was not his first time here; but no matter how many times you visit, the crystals always seem to sparkle with more brilliance than the last time. The walls and floor that surrounded him were made of the same crystal that formed the outside. Portals of pure white fire were fitted into the walls. Death gazed upon the magnificent ceiling, which was made up of the stars of the sky. Beautifully colored supernovas and bright flashing lightning created a feeling of unlimited space, yet clearly from the outside one could see that a ceiling stood there. Before Death stood a man, or so he still appeared, in good health but well matured. He had a thick beard, and thick curly hair. His robe was as white as the fire, and he shined with a brilliance of an angel. It was indeed St. Peter, and beside him stood two great angels, like pillars of great fire, strong and stern. These three guarded something special, something grand — the Gates of Heaven. Behind them, in the center of the room, stood a ring of fiery crystal, which went up to the ceiling. There was an opening in the front of the structure acting as a doorway. Inside was housed the Pure Fire of God, the Heart of the Holy Spirit. All the souls that Death collected were brought here and placed into the Fire to be judged. The Fire determined their fate, and where they would go. Death approached St. Peter.
“Why have you come, Death?” Peter asked. “You have no souls to hand over.”
“Well, to speak honestly, I am here to seek counsel with God. You see, I have a slight problem, and I was wondering if—,” implored Death, as he was cut off by the words of the Gatekeeper.
“If God could solve it? Why not just pray like we all do.”
“I don’t pray.” Death stated. “If I pray, I cannot know if God is listening, or if He even cares to listen. My problem is much too important to leave to chance. Prayer is out of the question, I need to speak with God.”
Just as Death spoke those words, another portal opened right in front of him. A great fire beamed light from this portal, which illuminated with such great brilliance and was shrouded by such an aura of pure love that it made the fire outside seem dimmed and dulled. At this the angels, those great pillars of fire, bowed in reverence, as did Peter. From the portal came a voice unlike any on Earth.
“Be still!” the voice thundered from all around them. “Death, I know why you have come.”
“God, is it truly You, the Creator of all?” Death asked.
“Yes, it is I, YHWH,” The same voice spoke, but this time as soft as a lamb. “Are you surprised to hear My voice?”
“I have never heard a word from You all my life, and now I am speaking with You,” Death spoke back. “I figured at best You would have sent Metatron to speak Your Word, as You have been known to do.”
“Your faith has opened your ears to My voice. Anyone who wishes to hear it must just listen, as I deny none of My children the opportunity to be in My presence and My Grace,” God’s voice filled the air with love and peace.
“Will You help me then, oh Lord?”
“It depends on your definition of the word ‘help’. I am always helping everyone and everything, for I am Creator of all things. But My ways are not the ways of all.”
“Lord, I am confused by Your words. Will You help me by ending the life of Radix, and save Your people from death and darkness?”
“Since when have you been concerned with the deaths of mortals?” the Most High asked. “You know in your heart that I will not just wave My mighty hand and smite Radix.”
“You do not have to smite him. He has a contract with Satan.” Death interjected. “Can’t you just have one of your mighty angels protect his next kill, so Radix misses his quota and therefore forfeits his life.”
“That is not My way. Man will bring an end to Radix. I will be of help. But I will help as I help, and no other way.”
“So, what is Your way? Is it to let Radix keep slaughtering Your people and bring forth destruction to the entire planet, while we wait for some superhuman to do the impossible?” Death snapped back. “You are abandoning Your people when they need You the most, when I need You the most. The longer Radix lives, the longer I pain. And if the world falls then my pain will be unquenchable, as I still feel the sting of other planets lost in generations past.”
“Blasphemer — show some respect when speaking to the Lord of all,” St. Peter cut in.
“Kepha, let him speak. I understand his pain, as should you,” the Almighty rebutted. “Death, you must understand that I do not take pleasure in treating my children as puppets or slaves. It is right for My children to live in My ways, but they must choose how they live, and therefore they must face challenges and gain the right to My power. What kind of Father would I be to them if I did not respect them as my sons and daughters. I love My children with an undying love and give them all they need — for as long as they call upon Me, will I bless them.”
Pausing again, Death spoke, “I was right. You don’t really care. You speak in circles, talking about love and giving your children what they need. Well, what they need is salvation.” Then, Death turned and said, “I’ll just have to find help somewhere else.”
“You speak of salvation. This I have already given all of My children, no matter where they are scattered, by the only means through which they could be saved — My own blood.” the Almighty answered. “Go, if you must. But know that he will be of no help to you. He will only try to use you, as he has used others in the past.”
“I have no where else to turn. It’s not like You are doing anything, as usual,” at this final comment Death emitted a great shining light from his body and vanished.
“Their suffering will not last forever,” the sound was faint as the words rolled off of the most powerful lips in all creation. “But without suffering there will never be peace.” At this the portal closed.
EVIL IS UPON US
The year was 2000 AD, and after almost two millennia from the time of our being saved from sin, evil still flourished. But this had been the case since before the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah, before the time of the great flood, before the slaying of Abel by his own brother Cain, and even before Adam ate the “forbidden fruit.” It all began with a falling star, who dragged a third of Heaven along with it to the depths of Hell. Since then Satan has made it his mission to corrupt all of God’s creation, turning the hearts of God’s children dark like his. We are pitted against each other, when we should band together to defeat our common foe. God has done His part by sending us men and women to lead us in His ways. Though time and again we have rejected those who bring the message of peace and love from the Most High, including the greatest of all — God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. Christ died so that we might live, for with His resurrection were we truly set free from sin and evil. We may continue to walk in darkness, but there is a light. We must just look for it and follow.
Evil Lurks Around Every Corner
It was a cool night in New York. A dark man stood atop one of the city’s sky piercing structures, resisting the strong wind as if it was a calm spring breeze. His long black coat flowed behind him, and the air ran through his short jet-black hair, which contrasted his pale white skin. The silk shirt that he wore was as red as the blood that flowed from his victims. This man’s name was Radix and many had fallen by his hand. The streets below seemed still and calm from where he stood. Radix looked down at the city — its millions of people, all cattle waiting for the slaughter. To kill all of them would be sheer pleasure to the man, a task he could easily complete. But for some reason he did not. He told himself that if he killed them all, then what would he do. He would have no purpose. But that was not the true reason. Deep down inside, Radix did not know why he held back from annihilating the entire human race. That was because Radix did not realize that he was not the master of his own destiny, not since he signed his deal. But it was not Satan, either, holding him back. A powerful force of evil held back the hand of Radix, an evil that needed the people to live in order to have what it desired. From the distance approached a gentleman, who walked on the currents of the air. His skin was nicely tanned, and he had thick black hair and a well-trimmed beard. He wore a white suit with a red tie that matched Radix’s shirt. Still looking down at the city, Radix paid no attention to the man who approached him. When he looked up, the red eyes of the gentleman in white met his own, and the two began to talk.
“So, Old Scratch, how’s the weather down there?” Radix asked.
“We’re keeping it warm for you,” Old Scratch replied.
“And what brings you here?”
“Just checking up on my favorite boy. I heard that you nixed number 665, only one more to go. Don’t mess it up or you’ll be spending your days getting a tan with me. But something tells me that you won’t take to the heat like I do.”
“Always a clown, huh, Scratch. Well, I’ll finish off the next one quick. So who is it, this time? A world leader, the pope perhaps, or just another pacifist?”
“Actually none of the above. The next lucky contestant is a Caucasian male, twenty-five years of age, and about five-feet-six-inches tall. His name is Nathaniel Salvatore, and from what I hear he’s not too far from here. Good luck hunting,” Scratch grinned, his teeth whiter than his suit and sharp like a lion’s.
“I’ll do just fine; I still have plenty of time. But what I want to know is why that name sounds so familiar,” Radix contemplated, rubbing his head. “Nathaniel Salvatore, hmm.”
“Well, that’s none of my concern. I just wouldn’t be so smug about how much time you have to kill this one. Death is looking to put an end to you. He can’t afford to lose another planet, and your not dying is leaving a nice gaping hole inside of him. He has already spoken with His Highness. Even though the Almighty gave his usual shtick, the feeling is that He won’t be as passive as He has been in the past. It could mean your end if you don’t stay focused. It’s a good thing you found the Necronomicon. I have put it nicely and neatly back in its place of honor. It is yours to use whenever you need to. Just call upon it like you have in the past.”
“I only like to use that book as a last resort. I’ve done fine without it for a good many years. I’m sure my next victim will not cause me too much trouble, despite your concern,” Radix answered.
“Never underestimate your enemies, for at any time someone can take you down. That book that you do not like to use was the source of the power you have today. Remember its magic is what makes you live and breathe. So you might think differently, to use it as much as you can. Better to stay on top of the game, and survive, than to let your guard down and be overcome. Do as you please. I must be going now. Farewell.”
The gentleman vanished, leaving Radix all alone with the cold night air.
A loud knock at the door startled Lyles as he sat in his bed. It was four o’clock in the morning, and he had been woken up only moments earlier by the sound of a gunshot from across the street. The young black man of twenty-six years of age was accustomed to the sound of gunfire in his neighborhood, it had been the case his whole life. But he was more confused by the knock at the door, and it continued even louder.
“Who’s there?” Lyles asked harshly with his shoulder pressed up against the door.
“It’s me, Rashan, and the guys,” a voice answered from the other side of the door.
Lyles opened the door and let Rashan and his friends in. The three thirteen year old boys walked in with a swagger, each of them had a gun tucked into his jeans. Lyles looked at them with a disapproving glare.
“Was that you three causing the rucous out there tonight? What the hell were you thinking?” Lyles scolded.
“Yo, Lyles, cut us some slack,” Rashan jumped in. “That wasn’t us. But it’s why we’re here. You see, Old Man Reynolds was shot by some white fool,” Rashan said and walked over to the window and pointed across the street. “See, his body is still there.”
“Oh God, no!” Lyles cried. “I’d say we should call the cops, but I’m certain they are on their way already. To be honest, you boys bettter ditch those pieces, unless you want to get tied into this.”
“It don’t matter, ‘cause we already are,” Rashan spoke again. “You see we tracked that white freak to an alley, and shot that cracker with about every bullet we had.”
“What’s wrong with you three? I thought I taught you better than this,” Lyles responded.
“What’s wrong is some white punk comin’ into our turf and shootin’ one of ours. That’s what’s wrong. You think we’re gonna let that slide?”
“Rashan, you’re crazy. The cops are on their way, and once they start investigating this, you are all screwed. That man you shot is full of bullets from guns with your prints all over them.”
“We thought you would help us — hide us, hide the guns, anything. We know if the cops get to us, we are as good as dead. Those pigs got no love for us, just like we got no love for them.”
“This is ridiculous. You are staying here. But when the cops come, you are gonna tell them everything. It’ll be better for you to come clean. Lying will only make it worse,” Lyles lectured the teens, who were like younger brothers to him.
“I ain’t waiting around for no pigs. I’m out, and you guys best be comin’ along. I know I don’t want to go back to no juvi, let alone jail.”
The three boys got up and bolted out the door before Lyles could stop them. They ran outside and headed south. Lyles heard the sound of sirens approaching, and he went out to the street below, not sure what to do.
Three Little Pigs
It was about five in the morning, and the sun had not yet risen. The sky was still mostly dark with a hint of red coming from the horizon. Three shadows could be seen dashing through the streets, trying to escape. Not running from anyone in particular, but instead running from reality. They had just killed a man. To them, they did the right thing — a life for a life. But that was not the law of society. Sure, they feared being caught by the cops, but they feared what they had done even more. The band of fugitives ran about sixty blocks south until they finally stopped. Sitting on the cold concrete sidewalk, they took a rest.
“Let’s relax for a li’l while, guys,” Rashan panted. “We’ve been runnin’ for at least an hour, and I’m—”
“You ain’t the only one who’s beat, Rashan. Me an’ Josh are about to drop, too,” interrupted Kenny.
The three boys just sat on the strange street corner, and watched the people go by. They had rarely been outside of their neighborhood before, never knowing how big the city really was and all the different types of people that made it up. Things would be different now — new and scary. They would have no one except for each other. All of their friends were back in the neighborhood, a place that these boys would never see again.
“Yo, Rashan! Josh! Wake up! It’s ten o’clock, and we best be out.”
“Where we gonna go, fool? We ain’t got no homes no more,” Josh sniveled back.
“Well, all I know is I want to go somewhere other than here,” replied Kenny.
“Kenny’s right. And anyway we gotta’ get as far away from home as possible. Let’s head downtown and then go out of state. Maybe Jersey.”
“Rashan, you crazy? You think we can just go somewhere else, just like that. Where you plan on stayin’. It’s not like the Ritz is offerin’ rooms to homeless black kids. We gonna have to sleep on the street!” Josh shouted. “We gotta find a way to get some dough.”
“You guys, just chill’. All we should be worryin’ about is hidin’ from the pigs. So let’s get up and out,” Kenny stated calmly in order to relax the others. At this the boys got up and began to walk the cold, cluttered streets of the city.
As the day dragged on, they got tired and very hungry, but they had nothing to quench their thirst or starvation. Just then, deliverance came their way. A young African-American woman in a Salvation Army uniform approached the boys. She had a welcoming smile, and the most honest eyes they had ever seen.
“Are you boys all right? You look lost. Do you have homes?” she inquired.
“Not any more ma’am,” replied Rashan. He always seemed to be the mediator of the group. “You see we kinda ran away, and now we got nowhere to go, and nothin’ to eat. Can you help us?”
“Sure I can, young man. You see, I’m from the Salvation Army. It’s our duty to help those in need. Come with me, and I’ll feed you boys, and give you a place to rest tonight,” the woman said in a comforting voice.
The three boys, in their joy, followed the woman down the street to a soup kitchen. Their eyes opened in shock as they saw how many other people had similar problems to theirs. Growing up, they saw the bums on the street corners, drinking whiskey from bottles in paper bags. They never understood why, until now. They were just like those bums with no place to go; no place, that was, but the streets.
Where are those boys, Lyles thought to himself as he told the police about last night’s incident.
“You said that a white male, indefinite on the description, shot Mr. Reynolds at his front door at about a quarter to four in the morning?” questioned the portly red-haired officer.
“Yes,” Lyles replied in a worried, yet calm tone.
“I see. Now, you yourself did not get a view of the criminal suspect, but rather were told this information by three boys? Correct?” the officer asked, while writing down what Lyles told him.
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Well, where are these boys, and do you have any clue to where the suspect went off to?” inquired the officer.
“The boys ran off and haven’t been heard from all day. As for the suspect, well, I’m really not sure where he is. All I know is what the boys told me,” Lyles replied almost stuttering due to his nervousness.
“And the boys didn’t tell you where the guy ran off to, or what he looks like? All you know is that he’s white? This all sounds shady to me, boy. Now don’t withhold any information! If you know something, tell me. Or I’ll see to it that all this gets pinned on your head!” the officer roared at Lyles.
“Officer, I’m telling you everything I know. All that the boys said was that they saw a white guy shoot Mr. Reynolds, and run off. I haven’t seen the boys since. So why don’t you do your job, find those boys, ask them what happened, and leave me alone!” Lyles shouted back at the officer.
“Okay, boys,” the officer called over some of his fellow policemen. “Let’s search the area and find these kids, I have names and photographs, so you know who you’re looking for. Let’s go!” Before he left he turned to Lyles and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back for you later, boy.”
Who does this guy think he is calling me “boy,” Lyles thought to himself as the officer walked off showing the photographs of the three teenagers to the other cops in the search party.
A Caucasian man in his later forties draped in a gray trench coat with a cigarette dangling from his mouth and a pair of shades covering his eyes walked out of Mr. Reynolds apartment and went over to the remaining officers. He whispered something to a woman, and walked over to Lyles.
“I appologize for Officer Roger’s lack of manners. I’m Detective Johnson, and I’ll be working this case. Thank you for all of your help,” the detective said and shook Lyles’ hand.
“You’re welcome, detective.”
“I’ll be keeping in contact with you as further information comes up in the case. Here’s my card. Call me if anything happens, or if you have any questions,” the detective paused as he gave Lyles the card. “And if those boys return, please have them contact me as well. I would love to hear their side of the story. Hope to hear from you soon,” he said and moved off.
Later that night, Lyles decided to take a look around Mr. Reynolds’ apartment. He had a spare set of keys that the old man had given to him, just in case anything happened. Lyles crept into the small one-bedroom apartment, and quietly closed the door behind him. Lyles started to look around the living room, but he was drawn to the bedroom, as if something was calling him from inside there. There was a large cross hanging over the bed, and in the corner was a desk piled with books, including various translations of the Holy Bible. Next to the stack of Bibles was a beaten-up leather-bound journal. Something told Lyles to take it, and so he tucked it under his shirt and sneaked back out.
That same night, downtown in the village, the three teens were lying down in a resting house for the homeless. They tried to sleep, but their little minds were cluttered with confusion.
“Hey, pst, Rashan. Yo Rashan,” whispered Josh as he shook Rashan to get his attention. “Yo, I can’t sleep. I can’t stop wonderin’ about what’s gonna happen. I mean we’re gonna get caught for sure.”
“Josh, don’t worry. We’re gonna be just fine. I mean now we got a place to stay,” Rashan replied.
“Ya’ll gotta be trippin’. We ain’t got no place to stay. This is only for tonight. Who says we can crash here forever. Eventually, we gotta go. And we don’t have many options, so we gotta start huntin’. Maybe we can walk around tomorrow, and see what’s up,” Kenny said, trying to set the situation straight.
“What are we s’pose to look for anyway, huh?” Josh threw in.
“I say we leave things be ‘til tomorrow. Okay, guys.” Once again Rashan took charge.
That next day the boys went off on their journey and roamed the vast streets of the city. Before they knew it, it was nightfall, and they had no idea where they were. The streets were no longer numbered, and they did not recognize any of the names, for it was their first time venturing this far south. Even though they did not want to admit it, they were scared. Rashan thought that he knew how to get back to the shelter. He led the boys into an alley that he was sure was a shortcut. The boys followed their leader blindly. But unfortunately it was a dead end, even deadlier than the boys knew. They moved in close together as the walls seemed to close in on them, darkness all around.
Lyles sat down once he got home, and decided to look at the journal that he found. He opened the old dusty leather cover, and flipped through the yellowed pages that had countless rips and tears. It was Mr. Reynolds’ personal diary. Lyles read the first entry. It was from 1930:
Today is my 10th birthday, and ma gave me this diary. She says that I should write in it everyday. She wants me to learn to read and write good, cause it’ll help me succeed. I ain’t had much schooling cept by poppy. That’s grandpa. He’s a very smart man. I just wish that I could grow up to be like him—
The book went on to point out the major events of the man’s life, and Lyles kept on reading:
June 29th, 1945
Today was the greatest day of my life, for today I was ordained a minister of God. Now I can preach His Word to all the world, just like Christ instructed His apostles. This is the greatest accomplishment of my life. I thank my mother and grandfather for all that they taught me. I am glad that the Lord has provided me with such success—
Lyles drifted off as he read the book. He slept very peacefully.
The boys were trapped at the end of the dark alley. They huddled close together, as they heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Fearing for their very lives, the boys climbed quickly into an adjacent dumpster. The putrid smell and filthy vermin that were contained inside were no concern to them at this point. All that they cared about was staying alive. They held their breath and hoped that whoever was there would just pass by. But they did not get their wish. The footsteps got louder and stopped. A dark man stood outside the dumpster for he knew the boys were inside, the same man that they saw kill Mr. Reynolds, the very one that they thought they had killed. But this man could not be killed. Radix pounded on the side of the dumpster.
“Hey boys, come out, come out, wherever you are. I know you’re in there. I saw you, and I can hear you breathing. Now come out like nice boys, before I have to pull you out myself,” he said, his voice evil in every way.
The three runaways remained quiet, hoping that he would leave. But he did not.
“Okay boys, I’ve had enough! I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your dumpster down.” At that he lifted the dumpster off of the ground and flung it into a wall. This was no ordinary man — he was the Devil’s right-hand, and the boys knew it.
The crash knocked all three of them from the dumpster. They lay on the ground unable to move from the impact. Helpless, the three gazed into the man’s empty eyes. Their own eyes were full of fear, for they knew that their lives were coming to an end.
“You, you were dead. We killed you!” Rashan shouted.
“Sorry to inform you, but you didn’t do such a good job. But since you had so much fun shooting me, I’m going to have some fun of my own.”
Bang, bang, bang! At the sound of someone pounding on his door, Lyles fell out of the chair that he had slept in. The happenings of last night were vague in his mind. So far, the mysterious diary had shown him nothing, except for a few highlighted moments in the preacher’s life. But Lyles forgot about the book as he got up to answer the door.
“Who, is it?” Lyles shouted.
“It’s me, Detective Johnson. I have to speak with you for a moment.”
“Who let you in the building? I never buzzed you in,” Lyles said, not wanting to be bothered by the Detective.
“The super let me in. I showed him my badge. So open up.”
Lyles did not feel like arguing, it being so early in the morning, so he undid the chains and locks and let the detective in.
“What is it that you have to tell me?”
“My visit here is of the utmost urgency. But before I tell you anything, I just want to give you one more chance to release any information you might still be holding concerning the case.”
“I told you everything that I know! I don’t really feel like having you come up in here and play games. I don’t like playing games!” Rage consumed Lyles as he spoke.
“I’m behind you kid. But if we don’t have a murderer your statement falls, and you become a likely suspect.”
“Well, I told you — once you find the boys, they can describe him to you. I don’t know anything else!”
“That’s the problem. You see, we did find the boys.”
“Really! Are they all right?” asked Lyles with a feeling of relief.
“No,” Detective Johnson said and lowered his head. “They’re dead.”
“No-o!” Lyles screamed in agony.
A half hour later in an alleyway in Manhattan, Lyles looked up at three little bodies. They looked so innocent. A tear flowed down his cheek as he thought about what kind of monster could do such a horrid thing to mere children. Fear crept into his heart for he now knew the true evils of mankind. How unlike any other creature, man would not only kill one of his own for no other reason than sheer pleasure, but also in such a painful and unnatural way.
These boys had suffered much torture as they died. All three were crucified on the alley wall, held up by pieces of their own ribs that were driven through their wrists and feet. No one could figure out how anyone could drive bone through a brick wall. It had to be done with great power and precision that no man could perform. The boys’ chests had been ripped open; on each boy’s stomach was carved a six; and above all of this horrible slaughter was a pentagram with a diameter of ten feet, scrawled in blood. The only thing Lyles could think about was how these boys suffered, and he knew why. See, it was no accident that these boys were killed in such a manner. It was the man who they shot. He was alive, and sought his revenge. Lyles knew that some greater force was behind this, and he was going to find out what it was — even if it would cost him his life.