The opening to Murder Syndicated, the second part of the five part series that I'm working on. Despite the dark opening it's almost universally agreed that this novel is more accessible than it's precursor so I might do a Stephen King at some point and go back and give Murder Inc a reworking.
Anyhoo, I've stopped this excerpt before any spoilers, which is a shame because the paragraph after the excerpt has a spoiler and the paragraph after it has a masturbation joke.
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The sky was black and rolling with thunder, columns of smoke rose into the air across the charred landscape and all about there was the stench of death.
Feathers flecked red with blood were whipped into the air by a cold wind and swirled about everywhere as a grim reminder of the slaughter that had come to pass.
I knelt on cold and blackened dirt. Bloodied, bruised. Defeated.
My few companions had lain down arms, we could not hope for victory but maybe, just maybe save those who had fallen, that it wasn’t too late for our wounded.
A tall man in tarnished armour stood over me, his once golden hair matted and dark with blood, his eyes were sad.
He saw no pride in the defeat of his brother.
I was taken by strong hands, my condemnation already decided, my fate writ. I no longer had the energy to stand, my will was gone.
I was led across a desolate waste, scorched by an eternal and ageless heat under the watchful gaze of mountains black as the end of time, sentinels to the death of mercy.
The scar on the face of this vast desolation fractured and opened before us running as far as the eye could see on either side, a split in reality itself between those of us on foot and that faraway mountain range.
Stones cut my feet as I was trailed across that barren waste, dragged inexorably to my damnation.
A craterlike maw raised ahead, the original split where the chasm first tore upon this land and from which a jet stream of smoke and embers spewed forth bathed in a vicious orange glow.
The path to the maw was lined with the ranks of those who had cast us down, those who had once been our brethren their backs turned now on us. They called us traitors.
The others who had lain down their arms were behind me, they would share my fate; we would all be punished.
Catching on a rock I stumbled to my knees, falling from my captors hands I sprawled on the dirt cutting my hands and face, minor wounds compared to those already taking their toll.
The one who led the way in blood soaked armour and long hair perfectly straight and black as jet turned and regarded me only with contempt, with absolute hatred.
He moved to step toward me but was blocked by my brother; under that sky of death and burning embers he turned and reached down for me. Straining, he pulled me up as I struggled to find the strength.
One of my companions, a trusted friend of a lifetime rushed forward and took my other arm; I would be carried to my doom by my brother and my blood-sworn comrade.
A path hewn into the broken stone led to that voracious glow, from here we could see the jet stream, lightning crackling along the acrid funnel of the howling twister.
The ranks of our once brethren ended on a ledge overlooking that damnable pit, the stench of death in the air replaced with the pungent malodour of brimstone carried from the deep.
“It has come to this,” the dark haired one stared over the precipice, his face hued in a spectral orange, “I hope you count the cost.”
He looked to me for some response, some justification, maybe for me to plead mercy or offer one last act of defiance. I would give him no such pleasure.
“Very well,” he turned his back to me, “cast him in.”
My brother like any true brother hesitated, his loyalty sorely tested by the bonds of blood. In this dark and savage place I pitied him more so than myself or those who were to share my fate, I pitied him for what he would have to live with.
“Michael,” I said, my voice broken, in his hesitation they would question his loyalty and he would be condemned to burn alongside me in the Lake of Fire, “do it.”
We took a few slow steps together, the heat washing up was unbearable and cut at my lungs, we stood on the edge of oblivion as brothers in arms for one final time.
“Goodbye,” he said, “brother.”
In that moment time slowed, the end, a funnel of malevolent energy before me, an army behind. I closed my eyes as I felt his muscles tense, I took one last deep breath of free air.
It was as though time had slowed to a crawl.
A solitary white feather flecked with blood drifted before my vision, one final reminder of what I stood for framed against a column of ash and flame.
As I reached for that token I felt myself rise bodily into the air and tumble out over that precipice, thrown to oblivion.
I screamed as I fell through an infinite blackness toward a flaming ball of light, an eternal and damned sun hidden from all creation in the infinity of the pit. The vortex of the jet stream struck me and I was caught up in a swirl of liquid fire.
My flesh burned.
I flailed in agony as I tumbled through all the hatred of the universe.
Nothing existed but this pain.
I saw my flesh stripped away by the fire, I felt my eyes boil and pop but had no loss of sight.
I would experience everything.
I awoke with a start and was momentarily confused by the silhouettes all around me, the strange shadows and slivers of yellow light at odd angles. Eventually it occurred to me that I was lying in my bed and the light was the New York City night peering through the gaps in my curtains like a pervert.
Sitting up I wiped sweat from my brow, feeling like a bit of an idiot for getting spooked by a nightmare, barely noticing the sweat was rising off me in a light steam. A bit of the abyss had come back with the memory.
There was a bottle of sparkling water on my bedside cabinet, cool beads of condensation on the bottle hinting that it had not warmed up much, which in turn told me that I had not been asleep for long.
Gulping down several mouthfuls just a little bit too quickly I burped and then excused myself to the empty room. You never know who might be looking on, and if people knew how real the possibility was then the porn industry would slip into financial ruin overnight.
Lying back into my cocoon of pillows I stared up at the shadows on my ceiling, today had been the last day of my suspension, in the morning it was back to the NYPD, back to the job.
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