Monday, April 22, 2013

Sample of "S(a)TAN" (OUT NOW)

"S(a)TAN" coverPart of the Crimson Shadow series, "S(a)TAN"--available now on Amazon andSmashWords for only $0.99--provides the back story to the iconic character in the first novel, Stan, and how he (1) obtained his god-like powers and (2) knew far more about the series' protagonist, Xander Stryker, than one would expect him to. The piece itself is a symbolic retelling of the biblical fall of Lucifer (look for subtle nods to the original text) and offers a new perspective on the infamous tale:

Despite all of his dedications and efforts, however, Stanley had begun to notice that the previously tight-knit relationship between him and his priest was becoming unraveled. The once joyful and entertaining man that he had grown up with had become distant and quiet. At first, Stanley assumed that his mentor was giving him his space in order to study, but as time progressed he began to notice the aging priest showing a greater enthusiasm than he had ever offered him.

These newcomers were hardly motivated by the teachings and were only seen on Sundays. And though they were lazy and obviously uncaring about the church—interested only in the services it could provide for them—Father Hover would listen to their sins each week as they begged for forgiveness. Of course, they were granted pardon and Stanley would watch them walk out the doors, seemingly renewed; only to return the next week and confess the same sins all over again. The corruption of these newcomers was sickening, and Father Hover still seemed to love them more. He worked on making their lives better and focusing on their happiness when his most loyal and faithful follower for more than two decades sat in the back of the church trying to learn all he could to be as righteous a man as Father Hover.

Or at least as righteous as he had once been.

Each time the old priest called for him, Stanley’s hope at being brought back to his original status would send his soul soaring, only to find out that Hover wanted a cup of tea or needed him to go buy bourbon from the liquor store. Over time, the once melodic voice turned sour, and it got to the point where Stanley would shudder every time he heard it call for him.

Meanwhile, each passing day that Stanley felt himself further distanced from Hover, he felt his faith leave him as well. He came to realize that he didn’t actually believe the stories, but instead had embraced them as wonderful fairytales read to him by someone he’d once loved. He took them to heart as good stories with important lessons to take out into the real world, but no longer felt like pretending.

He realized one day, as he rose from his desk, that the newcomers he’d come to hate so much were simply more interested in the joys to be had in the real world, and he began to admire them for adhering more to themselves than blind faith. With his newfound views and a world that he’d ignored for so long right outside the church’s doors, Stanley decided it was time to leave.

He stepped out of his study and into the front of the church, squinting against the colorful glare of light that passed through the stained-glass windows. He’d looked out across the large room and the rows upon rows of empty pews and frowned; without the large crowd and energy that emanated from them, it all seemed so dull and lifeless. The confession booths stood in the back and, as Stanley walked by them, he heard a sound.

He stopped, trying to decipher the sound’s source. It didn’t seem to be the right sort of noise to be overheard from someone during confession. Then he heard it again, more agitated than before and followed soon after by a soft whimper.

Stanley frowned. It wasn’t right, and as he stood, looking at the booth as if it would suddenly have voice and scream its secret to him, the door opened and Hover herded out a young lady—blonde, budding, beautiful. . .

And bruised.

Hover looked up at that moment and seen Stanley standing a short distance away, frowning and clearly confused by what he was seeing. Hover’s face blushed and contorted in embarrassment; his eyes darting away from Stanley's own and refusing to return.

The girl—Sasha, Stanley believed her name was—shifted uncomfortably and kept fidgeting with her wrinkled blouse and chewing her lip, not daring a glance at Stanley or the priest. Hover roughly patted her on the back as a sign to leave. She quickly and quietly did so, seeming relieved to be free of the situation.
The squeaky old wooden doors sounded the young lady's exit and Hover, clearly relieved to have her out of the picture, straightened himself and tried to take on a demeanor that would be more suited for his title.
The damage had already been done, however, and Stanley’s lip curled in hatred as he stepped towards the priest, clenching his fist with a rage that he’d never felt before.

His trusted mentor.

His role model.

His close friend.

An adulterer!

“You bastard!” Stanley growled as he raised his arm for the first time to do somebody harm.
Hover held his hands out to stop him, “Stanley, I—”

“NO! DON’T SAY MY NAME!” Stanley yelled, which seem to hit Hover harder than his fists could have. “You’re a pervert! A filthy, disgusting pervert!” he shook his head, tears welling in his eyes, "Has it always been this way? How long have you been sinning under the roof of this house of lies?"

The first and last punch was thrown and Stanley fell to the floor. Hover stood over him, his fist still balled. “'House of lies', Stanley? You call our beliefs a LIE now?”

“Your beliefs,” Stanley growled, wiping a spot of blood from his lip as he rose to his feet, “not mine… not anymore.”

“Then it is your mind that is filled with perversions!” Hover spat.

Stanley was back on his feet, “We’ll see what the town has to say about that!” he said as he pushed past Hover and towards the door.

The old priest grabbed his shoulder with a firm grip and spun him around to face him. “Listen to me, boy!” he growled. “I am a hero in this town. Nearly a legend. Have been for 40 years. A foul word against me would hurt only you. So go, Stanley, and tell those fools that Father John Hover is anything less-than saint-worthy. See how that turns out.”

Stanley frowned, he didn’t want to admit it, but the bastard was right. Hover was a big name in the town. Nobody would believe him capable of something so horrible. They would only look down on Stanley for fabricating such a ridiculous and disgusting rumor. He looked at the priest with hatred burning in his eyes.

“Your day will come, John! Count on that.”

And with that, Stanley left.

Stan’s anger drove him forward for three solid days behind the wheel of his ratty Cadillac, the back seat clogged like a dying artery with the over-stuffed trash bags that held all of his clothes and other essentials. The sign on the interstate on-ramp had said “North”, and, to Stan, there was no better direction to go.

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