Make It Rain

The screech was ear splitting. The anguished scream of the goddess. It tore the sky into ragged black shreds of woe. Isis had thrown back her white hair, her naked breasts heaving with exertion. She shuddered in sobbing gasps of breath. The remnants of her shredded clothes hung like carrion on her body. Mad with grief and frustration she turned to Nephthys/Aleesha. Her eyes dangerous vivid emeralds.
“Make it rain” she demanded. “I know you can do it”
Her skin glowed as her power regathered.
“Make it rain!” she roared. “Now!”
The demand came as a piercing spear. Aleesha felt the sting as it struck.

Nephthys raised her hands to the sky. She focused her thoughts on her mother. Called the clouds to them. Projecting her spirit among them, she felt the dampness in the air high above.
Slowly, steadily, she curled her fingers into fists. The temperature dropped as ice crystals formed overhead. With the same slow method she opened her fingers until her hands were flat.
“Yes!” hissed Isis as the first drops fell. The clouds burst into life, delivering in a torrent.
Isis looked down at him. Her eyes blazed with anticipation. This would work. It must work. This was all she had left to try.
Around her body, a ripple of blue static began to build. It crackled like a fire all over her. Aleesha could feel it’s’ intensity building. Pulsing. Growing.
And through Nephthys she knew what Isis was attempting. It may have been a mystical spell with an appropriately romantic name but it simply came to Aleesha as two words. Lightning rod.
With an enormous crack, a massive single bolt struck.
Isis and Osiris vanished in a blinding sheet of white. Nephthys was knocked off her feet by the blast, landing twenty feet from where she stood. The vegetation all around was dead and blackened by the heat.
Picking herself up from the ground, Nephthys ran to where Osiris lay. As she approached there was no sign of Isis. The blast had thrown her clear of the area. Nephthys put her hand to her mouth at the stench of burnt hair and flesh. But the sight of him was almost too much to bear.
The king of all men lay on the mud soaked ground. His severed limbs had been meticulously reattached. Amongst the sutures, written incantations protected the wounds from further detrition. Around his throat, spells proclaimed his desire to see again. To look upon his love and know her. On his legs, to come to her. On his arms, to hold her. And on his penis, to consummate their love.
But there was also more. Parts of his face and body were charred from the lightning strike. Flesh had bubbled and sagged. Steam rose from his fiery wounds as the rain cooled them.
And on his thigh.
Oh dear sister.
Dozens of slits, many overlapping into crosses and stars. Fresh and raw. Part of no ritual for his resurrection. In her insane rage she had used her small jewelled dagger. The one he had given her.
She had stabbed until the knife had disintegrated. The broken blade was still in his leg.
Nephthys tried to pull it out but the fury of the blow made it impossible.

Despite his condition, she could not contain her desperate love for Osiris. This beautiful man had opened her heart. And taken it forever captive. As her tears spilt the rain intensified.
She leant over his face, handsome despite everything.
And longed to see him open his eyes.
To look upon his love and know her.

For love.

Once for love.

She spoke the name of Ra.
And held her breath.

“Get away from him!” screamed Isis. She conjured a blast of energy which thundered into Nephthys’ body. Her right arm took the brunt of it, the bones splintering into fragments. Most of her ribs broke, puncturing both lungs as she flew twisting like rag through the air. She landed contorted and broken. Her eyes filled red with blood.
“Stay away from him!” Isis stood over his body as a lioness over its kill.
“Not you” she cried.
“Not you” she waned.

She knew.

Nephthys tried to breathe, gurgling blood and mud and wet air.

Then Isis gasped.

“It worked!” she shrieked. “Dear Ra it worked. His eyes are open!” She pecked him with kisses, muttering thanks and praising her forefathers.
Through a crimson veil Nephthys watched their dark silhouette against the magenta sky. Her sisters’ hand grasped his penis, working him to arousal. Isis mounted him quickly, holding him in place as she rose and fell. Osiris moaned as her pace increased furiously.
Nephthys shut her eyes and prayed for an end to everything.

Finally the sounds stopped. The downpour drew to an end. Several minutes passed.
Nephthys opened her painful eyes to see Isis above her. Her face a raging mask of hatred. The panther of black magic. Her hair rippling deep purple.

“He thought it was you” she seethed.

She pressed her foot into her sister’s stomach. Blood bubbled out of her nose and mouth.

“He called me by your name”

She held up the head of Osiris. The magical stitches had held. No knife.
She had torn it off.

With a thud she dropped it onto Nephthys’s chest.
And walked away.

(from the novel “Last Goddess”)

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Kir-eleyne

There was a pause in the heartbeat of the earth.

The god of the sun exhaled for the last time and for a moment everything stopped. Reason ceased. A small flock of belling birds, the last thirty or so left in Etelenty, forgot how to fly. More than half of them simply fell out of the sky, their small bodies landing with muffled thumps on the dead leaf carpet.
Spreading in a concentric pattern from Ra’s body, any plant still clinging to life lost its fight, the ground blackening as though burnt. The ring spread rapidly, and in moments everything to the horizon had darkened.
At the same time, the air diluted, losing its freshness, its vibrancy. Its life.
Above the head of Nephthys, maniacal violet thunderheads surged across the sky. The hue of the world changed to a sickening vermillion in the challenging rise of the winds. Magenta explosions raged inside the swirling clouds, threatening a monsoon of blood.
A storm unlike any other. A cataclysmic storm.
Her mother had begun to grieve. Her mother the sky.

Below her pretty bare feet, she felt her father’s protest.
A rapidly intensifying tremor rumbled through the sanctity of Aedom, tumbling her backwards across the charred and brittle turf. The sudden imbalance in all things was personified by an enormous crack, the loudest sound Nephthys would ever hear. An angry jagged fissure opened up in the earth, splitting the great Acacia in half. The fountain of truth disintegrated into thousands of obsidian chips, which whistled in all directions like tiny missiles. The psychotic fissure screamed through the ground, splitting Etelenty from one coast to the other, releasing choking sulphur. Nephthys gasped for air as the great trees began to be consumed by the quake, spilling like toys into the growing abyss. Deep below, the ravenous magma began its hungry climb, preceded by the fiery glow of warning
As her beautiful Mother Sycamore plummeted into the chasm, she actually did stop breathing, the air at the epicentre too thin to maintain respiration. She slumped forward crazily, the pricked balloon of a dying goddess. As she came to rest on the ground her wavering vision tried to focus on something. Anything to give her hope.
A familiar face swam through the haze.
An important, familiar face.
Green catatonic eyes staring.
I…..know………..you.
Sister.

With the last of her strength, Nephthys gave her voice to the hellish sky. A desperate call to the one who had always come. Without hesitation or judgement.
The magnificent Kir-eleyne punctured the armies of warring clouds, hurtling towards them.
My dear friend.
Thank you.
She felt a lopsided, palsied smile on her face.
Thank you.
The mighty raptor snatched up the two sisters like mice.

The charred bodies of the remaining belling birds dropped like stones into the molten mouth.

Kir-eleyne thundered its massive wings to get to safety, but the poison in Isis climbed rapidly though its talons and into its body. It dipped in the air as this strange sensation coursed through it. Kir-eleyne had never suffered weakness. Never been afraid. It would have dropped Isis but for the call of the girl with eyes the colour of sky.
Help us.

The great bird drew upon the essence of Belleren, using it to limit the spread of poison to the blue eyed girl. Knowing that it must do this.
It struggled ahead, crashing though the now brittle trees of Aedom, trying to gain height. Magma spewed out of the ground, bringing forth deadly cannon balls of fiery subterranean rocks. Kir-elyne’s wings were punctured, leaving smoky holes.
It had never felt pain either.
Somehow it lifted the sisters over a ridge, but it flew drunkenly as blood loss weakened it more.
A little further.
A little further.

Help us.

Get them safe.

As the poison reached Kir-eleyne mighty heart, it recognised the touch of the pale man.

You will not have them.

One giant push of its wings was all it had left. It pulled the two girls in close to its body. With the help of Belleren it encircled them with its golden wings, locking itself into a ball around their bodies.
Kir-eleyne said farewell to the sky and died while still in the air.
It crashed to the earth, protecting them as it tumbled and broke.
It was far enough to be safe from the earthquake. But not the rain of molten rock. They peppered the great bird’s body, and its feathers and flesh burnt with a stench lost in the madness of the apocalypse.
The ka of Kir-eleyne passed to Isis and Nephthys, giving them the essence of its being and the remnants of Belleren. It was just enough. It would allow them to survive.

They were safe.

from the novel “Last Goddess”

Tuccia

Rome, 31 A.D.

Tuccia pulled her veil firmly around her head. She didn’t want to attract any more attention than necessary. She prayed for the respect of the citizens as she descended the steep steps of the Atrium Vestiae.
At the edge of the square she strained to see through the crowd of onlookers. Their attention was focused on the column of condemned, meaning for the moment she stayed unnoticed. The parade of tragic souls moved slowly past, harassed and beaten by the ruthless Praetorian Guards. One by one Tuccia studied the manacled prisoners, hoping beyond hope her information was wrong.
She gasped when she saw that it was not. In the middle of the thirty men, she recognised Gallius, her childhood friend. It was obvious he had been treated as poorly as the others, his blonde curls and body caked in blood. The crowd remained eerily silent. None wanted to incur the displeasure of the guards. Established by Augustus, they once symbolised the strength and mercy of the emperor. But under the rule of Tiberius, they had become much feared. Led by the cruel Sejanus, the guards had become manipulators of the city, the state, and therefore the empire itself. A network of spies and informants fuelled their zealous drive. Few were safe from their growing dark reach. On their authority alone, without trial or even discussion, nearly anyone could be marched away to their death. While Tiberius led a life of debauchery in Capri, he grew steadily more ignorant of their activities.
The prisoners were minutes away from the end of their lives. Sweet Gallius, the only pure hearted man she had ever met, was going to die. For nothing. The time had come for Tuccia to act. She wormed her way through the crowd.
A gap presented itself when two guards focused their attention on a stumbling man. Within earshot, Tuccia called her friends name.
Gallius reacted to her familiar voice, but did not look at her. Brave, noble Gallius. Despite her position, despite his fate, he would not risk endangering her. He only had to look upon her to be free.
He would not.
She had no choice. Rushing forward, she threw her arms around him.
“No Tuccia!” he pleaded.
A blow from the hilt of a sword knocked her to the ground. As she fell her cloak parted enough for the guard to see the red and white bands of the goddess. Shamefaced, he ushered her to her feet. The line of condemned men halted as other guards came to the scene.
Regaining her composure, she addressed the forlorn soldier who had struck her.
“I have touched this man. He is pardoned.”
He, and the other guards who had gathered, bowed their heads in respect. This law was beyond all statutes and arguments. Her order predated the Praetorian Guard by seven centuries.
Gallius held his place, his shock visible. The nearest guard produced a ring of keys, stepping forward to free the man.
“Wait!” came a booming command from the rear of the column.
Tuccia felt a cool shiver as she recognised the voice.
The voice of Lucius Aelius Sejanus. Personally responsible for twelve thousand elite soldiers. The man whose power exceeded even the emperor himself. Why was he here today?
His troops parted like obedient children as he strode toward her. His deep bronze shield, breastplate and helmet contrasted with his cold pale complexion. In his hand, a silver lance with an intricately decorated grip. He fixed her in his proud amber gaze.
She stank of the goddess.
“Who are you, bitch?” he demanded.
“My lord,” began the guard who had knocked her down.
Like a striking snake, Sejanus spun the deadly lance in an arc. As he did, the tapering end flared into a narrow blade. Tuccia saw this clearly although it moved at such incredible speed. With a whoosh it was back at the side of Sejanus. The soldier’s severed head slid noiselessly down the angle of the cut. Like an overripe tomato it splotched to the ground.
“I was talking to her” he continued, casually kicking the severed head into the throng.
Tuccia stepped next to Gallius. She loosened her veil to reveal more of her face.
“I am a Virgin of Vestia” she announced boldly but not loudly. “And by my touch I free this man of all false charges against him.”
Sejanus looked over her with obvious contempt.
“The only falsehood before me is that of your chastity” he sneered.
Her mouth fell open in disbelief.
“The pontifex maximus will confirm it” she stammered.
He spat on the ground at her feet. He strode to her, tearing away her veil to reveal her shorn hair. Then her cloak, uncovering the palla pinned over her left shoulder. Roughly he tore away this shawl of dignity, leaving her bare breasted in the centre of all. The red and white ribbons of Vestia fluttered around her. She made no effort to cover herself.
“I see the Virgin!” shouted one of the prisoners. Like wild fire, the cry spread amongst the condemned. They all knew that even the sight of a maiden from the temple, while en route to execution, meant their freedom. Their voices grew in number and volume along the line.
“Silence!” bellowed Sejanus. “I see only a whore. For who but a fornicator would throw themselves upon this pig.”
He turned with malice to the shocked Tuccia.
“I offer you the chance to prove yourself. A challenge. For is it not true that your goddess empowers you?” Her knees trembled, threatening to give way, but she held her ground and his terrible gaze.
“My goddess walks with me always” she said bravely.
“Good” He took a metal pot from the kit of one of his men. “Then this will be simple for you. You will take this to the Tiber. Fill it with water and return it to me. If it is still full when you get here, I will release every prisoner. If it is not, you will take loaf and wine to Campus Scelerus. Do you agree?”
“I agree” replied a defiant Tucci quickly. The prefect of the city had given her an easy task, apparently upon realising the impropriety of his actions. She was proud to have stood firm against this arrogant bully. The threat of Campus Scelerus, the evil field, was empty. She would not be joining the skeletons in the underground chamber of death. The food and drink were traditionally provided so that the victim was not killed, which was sacrilege, but rather died “by their own choice.”
He stood, holding it aloft so all could see. He turned slowly, scanning the sea of faces for the real target of his actions. She was here somewhere. He smelled her.
“The Virgin of Vestia has agreed to the challenge. Her word is binding. If she fails in this task, she is deemed unsuitable to maintain the flame. She will end her days in Scelerus.”
Sejanus dropped to his haunches. He pulled a jewelled dagger from his belt. Aggressively, he punctured the inverted pot with numerous holes, turning it into a sieve.
He threw it to her. She was too stunned to catch it and it clattered noisily to the ground.
“I will wait on the steps of your temple” he laughed. He walked away, resheathing his knife.
“Wait!” she called to him. Sejanus spun on his heels.
“You have changed the conditions of the trial. I demand the same right.”
His chest heaved in anger and his hand instinctively went to his sword. Still she would not cower beneath his cruel eyes, as so many had before. He cursed the obvious influence of the goddess.
Tuccia had pulled her garments around her and held the battered pot in one hand.
“I will bring you your water, but surely the Tiber is too far away. On such a warm day, you must be very thirsty. The fountain of our temple is just over there. You can watch me, to ensure there is no trickery. For surely water is water my lord. And this business can be ended much sooner.”
His fingers played eagerly upon the hilt of his lance. How easy it would be. But the hundreds gathered round would not tolerate the murder of a Vestal Virgin under any condition. His gold eyes flittered amongst them. Where are you?
He bowed with exaggerated grace to accept her condition. He still held the upper hand.
Tuccia turned to the people. This time she held the pot aloft. She raised her proud voice to the masses.
“The Prefect of Rome has given his word. It is as binding as my own.”
Sejanus bristled at her mockery.
The crowd parted to form a corridor from the steps to the fountain. She walked purposefully over and knelt before it.
She was no fool. The task was impossible. Her training had given her courage and conviction. But not the ability to perform miracles.
Trembling, Tuccia dipped the bowl beneath the surface, reluctant to raise it.
Her genuine devotion to Vestia had brought out her brave demand to draw water from the temple fountain. She had known nothing else since the age of eight.
Now, twenty years on, she would have her faith tested at the risk of forfeiting her life. She prayed it would be enough.
Her goddess answered.
On the temple steps, Sejanus tensed as he felt the influence of his sister.
Tuccia felt another pair of hands cup her own, giving her strength.
She raised the pot, trickles of water dripping off the outside. She watched the surface, for surely it must drop.
It did not. None escaped from the holes Sejanus had made.
She carefully got to her feet and carried it back to him.
He did not look in the least surprised.
Tuccia gently dropped to one knee and offered him the pot.
He smashed it away with the back of his hand.
He stepped past her, calling his troops to follow.
The prisoners were left, dazed in the middle of the square. Families and friends rushed to their loved ones, weeping with joy.
Some remained around the figure of Tuccia. She had fallen onto the steps and lay without movement. They longed to help her but none could touch one such as her. Several called to the temple for help. Finally two other maidens of Vestia came down to aid their fallen sister.

Within days, Sejanus’ reign of terror had ended. Statues of him were torn down. Any mention of him removed from public records. His broken body was left, ironically on steps. The Germoin Stairs. He had been strangled. A crowd descended upon the body, tearing it to pieces.
In their rage, few noticed the fierce amber of his eyes gone. In their place, the kind blue ones he was born with.
As though his spirit had flown, leaving only the shell of his battered corpse.

from the novel “Last Goddess”

Emma

London, October 2004

“Emma! What the hell is this?”
Martin Windsor held the photograph in front of her face, his fingers as red and bloated as his round, jowly head. She looked at her boss over the top of her glasses, not at the picture. She didn’t have to or want to. Emma was the one who had put it on his desk after having it enlarged as much as the office copier could.
The photo showed a set of rusty iron manacles, set into a rendered stone wall. The edges of the cuffs were cruelly burred to deter attempts to slip out of them. Caked dry blood showed someone had tried anyway.
Cally Frost had tried. Ten year old Cally.
She had bled to death trying to free herself. What he was doing to her was worse than severing her own hands to escape.
She took the picture and turned it back to face him.
“The rust Marty. The rust. Those cuffs had been there a long time. Probably used before” said Emma.
“But no evidence was found of other victims” argued Martin.
“He altered them by hand. Customised them. Liked them. Liked how they worked. The cuffs were the only constant.”
She wanted to slap Marty’s smug face.
“The guy is smart” she said exasperatedly. “What about the drugs he used? Those doses had to be incredibly accurate to achieve what he wanted. And he used plastic. Acids. Bleaches.”
“O.K. Emma, keep your voice down. You did your job. The court did theirs. You know how it is. On to the next one.”
She shook her head wistfully. “Martin, I interviewed him over a four day period. Thirteen hours in all. He was a textbook case. Broken, low income home. Promiscuous mother. Violent stepfather. Began harming animals, other children. Textbook. He poured his heart out to me and I could barely keep my composure at the incredible sadness in him.”
“It would certainly help explain how he turned out the way he did” reasoned Martin. He rubbed his hand over his oil slicked hair.
“You don’t listen very well for someone in our line of work do you? Textbook Marty. He made it up. He was acting.”
Martin seemed offended by this.
“Well your case notes helped win him an insanity verdict Emma. He’s in the best of care now.”
“No Marty your testimony won him that verdict. I was kept off the stand because of my age and sex. You presented my notes, but not my summary. You and that defence lawyer twisted it. That’s what saved him from a life sentence. He’ll do five years at Wellingsgate. They’ll review his progress. He’ll act his way through the whole process. There’ll be remorse, remarkable improvement. The doctors at the ‘Gate will be still slapping each other on the back when he finds the next one. He’ll be back raping and torturing little girls about the same time your Lucy is turning ten. The same age as Cally Frost.”
The photo of Martin’s freckle faced five year old beamed at them from its proud place in his office. The use of her name in Emma’s argument was boiling his blood.
“How dare you!”
Emma ignored him. “On his way out of court he winked at me Marty. He knew exactly how it would play out. I got a P.I. to check out the details of his story, and a few other things as well. He got a few smacks as a kid, sure, but he was never beaten. He added countless embellishments to his saga. His poor mum worked her butt off to provide for him. Only the parts about his own cruelty were true.”
“This man is not mentally ill, at least not by the definition which spared him from prison. He’s smart. Very, very smart. He didn’t do it because he was sick. He did it because it was fun.”
A single line of perspiration ran down Martin’s temple.
Her boss went to the door and closed it.
“Emma..” he began.
“We have to go to the courts and resubmit Marty. Admit our part in this miscarriage of justice.”
“Listen to yourself Emma! That would make a mockery of this firm’s reputation. More than half our work is legal. Think of what it would do to us!”
“Are you telling me that’s more important than another Cally Frost turning up?”
He hesitated a moment too long.
“To the senior partners, yes”
“It could be Lucy next time!”
He leant towards her.
“You’re one of our best and brightest Emma Stone. You let this go right now. Keep your mouth shut and the sky’s the limit for you.” He withdrew to the plush chair, stroking a stray hair back into the fold.
Emma looked across at the man who until recently, she had admired greatly.
“Sadly, I knew you’d say that Marty. That’s why I’ve written a revision of the case study, highlighting the real relevance in it. Included with it are statements from private investigators and family services. There is a summary of faults and omissions from the trial, the biased defence questioning and our firms’ ties to that of the lawyers.”
Martin Windsor’s eyes widened as much as his fleshy cheeks would allow.
“Emma, where is this document?” He sounded like a schoolboy who’d lost his lunch money.
“In the hands of the Frosts’ lawyer. Along with a cheque for fifteen thousand pounds to fund the preparation for a mistrial.”
“Oh sweet Jesus, what have you done?”
“You really don’t listen that well at all do you? I just told you exactly what I’ve done.”
Emma began gathering personal belongings from her desk as Marty sat like a bullfrog in shock.
“It’s the designer defence. We are constantly building back stories for criminals. Pitying them because of their poor mistreated pasts. Their crimes are forgotten as the catalogue of woe is poured out. Our opinions are taken like the word of God in a courtroom. Think of the horrors we have helped excuse in the name of mental illness.”
She slammed her hand down on the photograph.
“Enough!” she yelled in his face.
She tossed the last of her things in her bag and stood.
Martin opened his mouth, his eyes suddenly menacing.
“Don’t bother threatening me Marty. You’ll never work in this town again. See you in court. Cement boots. Or any other crap you’re contemplating. You can’t scare me.”
She took off her jacket and began pulling up her blouse to expose her side.
“Not everyone who’s had it tough becomes a serial killer.”
From her hip to her collar bone, a litany of horrific scars covered her. The marks continued down her thigh and around her chest and back. She ran her finger over them, listing the implements that had been used on her.
“Belt buckle. Poker. Cigarettes.”
She touched her oddly angled upper arm, which had been broken and not set properly.
“Hammer”
She pulled down her blouse and reached for her jacket.
“I was thirteen before I found out not all daddies showed they love their daughters this way.”
Emma picked up her bag and opened the office door.

“No one can scare me anymore.”

(from the novel “Last Goddess”)

Nephthys

14 B.C. The Sea of Galilee.

I have been discovered. Without the ability to take to the air, I run, stumbling from the assassins working for my brother. They are so close behind I hear the exertion of their breathing, the thunder of their chasing feet. Through dusty alleyways I run, looking for a way to shake them off. Finding none.
But wait. Of course there is a way out. Where the likes of these brutes could not follow. I turn east.
In the moment it took to decide this, I had paused long enough for a rough hand to rip at my shoulder, spinning me off balance. The tendons in my ankle strain to breaking point and only barely hold.
I scramble over a low wall, landing on rocks. The man who had just slid past now vaults the wall, inches behind.
“There is no way I can make it” I think. Not like this anyway. The body I inhabit is now so weak I barely have any coordination. I back away as he closes in, both our chests heaving. His eyes full of hatred. A string of curses pour from him as he threatens a multitude of cruel fates for me. More men appear behind him. The same threat in their eyes.
Across the rocks I edge. The men are not bothered of course. For at my back lays a great expanse. I am almost completely out of energy. The flight is at an end.
This will have to do.

Strong hands reach out for me as my eyes roll back in their sockets. With my mind I reach out far beyond this time and place. To a kindly old man in a beautiful garden. I call for my grandfather to aid me.
“Ra take me”

And all the assassin felt was the dampness on his outstretched fingers.

As liquid I run between the rocks and stones, dispersing and reforming. Before trickling into the soothing welcome of Lake Galilee.
The water comforts me though I struggle to keep my spiritual form intact. I drift in body and mind across the broad lake.
Is this to be the end of me? It surely cannot be. For I know there is much to be done. But my purpose is diluting and dissolving.
My thoughts reach out. Seeking my sister. My friends. Nothing returns to me. It was futile to try anyhow. My sister is lost to me. Friends long gone.
I am so, so tired.
I am alone.

On the rocky shore, the man who had nearly caught her stands in shock. His comrades search in vain for a trace of the woman. What will the pale man do to them if they come back empty handed? They shake the stunned man, who doesn’t react.
He is looking at the shapes of the clouds. The blue of the sky. The shimmer of light across the lake. He sees it as a blind man cured. It is marvellous and new. His broad knife clatters to the rocks at his feet. Nicoli is going home to Chorazin. To see his wife and son. It has been three years.

For an indeterminate time I drift in the silken lustre of the lake.

Lightly, the stroke of a downy feather, I am aware of an attraction at work. I am gently being pulled back toward the western shore. Something waits for me there.

There is an old saying “Left in the lap of the gods.”

For better or worse, I am truly there.


(from the novel “Last Goddess”-available on amazon)

Petrov

Serpukhav-15 Bunker, Russia September 26th 1983.

Shortly after midnight the unthinkable happened. The button that must never light up flashed red. The alarm that must never be heard cried out loud and shrill as a screaming child.
Lieutenant Colonel Stanislov Petrov stared non-believing at the blinking light. The room burst into a cacophony of voices.
“They’ve launched! The Americans have launched” “Call Moscow!” “ We must counter attack” “American pigs!”” My family!”” My wife! My children!”
Petrov tried to focus among the crescendo of panic and anger. Surely they would not release a single missile. It made no sense. Why would they risk a retaliatory strike? Perhaps there was a glitch in the system.
“Sir, our orders are clear!” A phone was thrust towards him
Trust your instincts.
Despite the pandemonium around him, Petrov heard the voice clearly. A woman’s voice, little more than a cool whisper.
Trust your instincts.
“We will wait” he announced calmly.
The soldier next to him lowered the offered phone in shock.
“But sir!”
“What does the computer analysis say?” asked Petrov.
The piercing alarm was silenced at last.
“Not static sir. The evaluation is…” The last of the panicked voices dwindled away to hear the answer.
“Well? The evaluation is what?”
“That it’s a real launch.”
Stay calm Stanislov, she cooed. He glanced around the busy room.
Was his conscience female?
Stay calm.
“Sir, we must report this!”
“For the moment we shall wait, is that understood?”
No one answered. Petrov scratched the scalp through his short hair. On a double shift he didn’t want, he felt twice his forty four years. As commander of the facility, it was his call as to what action to take, though the other men were adamant that there was only one course of response. Report immediately. Launch the counter attack.
But just one missile?
Petrov dropped into his chair. The red glow of the button taunting him from the display panel. But only one.
No.
Not only one.

A second satellite report triggered another button to flash red.
Then another.
And another.
And another.

Five.

“Sir. Computer analysis predicts the launch of five minute man missiles.”
Only five, said the woman.
True, thought Petrov. They would not send five when they could send a hundred and five. A thousand and five.
It is a mistake. There are no missiles.
“Sir, the phone.”
“I didn’t ask for the phone.”
“It’s Moscow sir. They have been automatically notified of a multiple launch. The phone was extended towards him until he reluctantly accepted it.
“Petrov. Are you there?” The voice sounded metallic and distant.
“This is Petrov.”
“Do we have inbound warheads Lieutenant Colonel? Are we being launched upon?”
Be brave. Tell him what you think, said the cool whisper.
“I doubt it sir” answered Petrov. “I believe the system is compromised. It is a mistake.”
“You believe? What does the equipment tell you?” rattled the distant voice.
“The equipment is indicating five incoming missiles.”
“But you don’t think so?”
“No sir, I doubt it very much.”
“Lieutenant Colonel, you realise that we have very little time to launch a counter strike. Your judgement as a soldier, and a scientist, must be correct.”
“Yes sir.”
“Then your recommendation is what exactly?”
Nothing.
“My recommendation is that we do nothing.”
Silence filled the phone line. Then Petrov heard muffled voices. His name mentioned. The murmur of discussion. The metallic voice returned.
“Nothing?”
Trust your instincts.
Only five missiles?
“Nothing” Petrov heard himself say.

At that point the world had less than two minutes to find out whether his instincts were right. If he was wrong, five cities would soon be reduced to ashes.
There was no greater agony than watching the seconds tick by. One man placed a hand on his shoulder. The only silent support he received. One slumped to the floor. One went to the lavatory to cry. One went to vomit. Others stared transfixed at the display screen forecasting their impending destruction or on phones talking to loved ones.
A minute passed.
Petrov gripped the arms of the chair, tapping a finger for each second. Prickling beads of sweat gathered on his high forehead.
Two minutes.
At three minutes he allowed his grip to relax. He wiped his brow.
Four minutes.
They were safe.
He was right.
Wherever she was, whoever she was, he silently thanked the calm voiced woman.
Further analysis showed the satellite had picked up a group of reflections on the cloud tops. Petrov never heard her voice again.
But they had averted nuclear war.

They were right.

(from the novel “Last Goddess”)

Paris

Paris

The elegant pale man wiped his mouth with a napkin and calmly pushed his chair back.
Sitting opposite him, the girl wondered where he was going. They’d just started their meal.
“Is everything O.K?” she asked.
Lindy hoped it was. Up until now, it had been like a dream. The way he picked her out of the crowd at the nightclub, with his intense eyes. How he’d flattered and wooed her. But respected her. They hadn’t even made love yet. A romance novel hero, with her the leading lady. A chance meeting she knew would change everything about her life. Give her a future. And erase her terrible past.
The way he listened to her, and looked at her without the obvious lust that all other men couldn’t conceal. He saw beyond the pretty face that had been more of a burden than a blessing.
But he wasn’t listening now. He was distracted. Perhaps a business matter. Lindy had no idea what he did, but money was not in short supply. She fingered the gold chain around her neck, one of several expensive gifts he’d given her. The dress she was wearing had cost more than the last car she owned. It was the beautiful salmon pink gown of a princess. The look on the waiter’s face told her it was something special.
“I need to take care of something” he said simply as he stood. “I’ll be gone for a couple of days.”
Lindy tried not to look worried, but she had no idea what she would do while he was gone. She had put herself totally in his hands. She had no money of her own and nowhere to stay in Paris. But her guardian angel put his hand in his pocket and extracted some reassurance.
On the table he placed a room key to the hotel they were dining at, and a thick roll of money.
“Stay out of trouble” he smiled, kissing her gently on her hand. Lindy was aching for his return before he had even left the table. She had the nice feeling, the warm feeling. They were going to have so much sex when he got back.
She placed the key and the money inside the designer hand bag he had also brought for her. A quick flick of the roll made her gasp. He had left her with over a hundred thousand Euros.
Lindy returned to her entrée. She would take her time over dinner, even though he was gone. The other people in the restaurant would look at her in her beautiful dress, with her beautiful things. They would admire her. Envy her. She would go up to her room-their room, and bathe in a rose petal strewn bath. And she would drink champagne looking at the lights of the city of love. Princess Lindy.
She sneaked a peek around. They were already looking at her. Staring.
But they didn’t look with envy. Their faces had strange expressions.
She suddenly felt itchy all over. She looked down and saw something surreal. Impossible.
She wasn’t wearing the beautiful pink dress.
Her outfit was brown sack cloth.
She couldn’t feel the gold chain against her skin.
Her hand reached for her sequinned purse.
Her fingers crinkled the brown paper bag that had replaced it.
She tore it open, fighting her rising hysteria.
It contained no key. No money.
It contained cockroaches.

from the novel “Last Goddess”

Then she burns

He loves the smell of burning meat. It fills his lungs alongside the choking smoke. The fire races through the building, climbing and consuming. As it reaches the top floor the screaming intensifies.
A little girl, no more than five or six, appears at a window. She yells down to him to help. He sips from his wine goblet. One by one the other voices fall silent beneath the crackling flames. The girl pleads. Then she begs.
Then she burns. She is the last one.
She jumps from the window in desperation, breaking a leg and an ankle on the cobblestones. Her nightdress is aflame. Her hair is quickly gone. Her skin bubbles and blisters as she screams in an agony beyond comprehension.
He finishes his wine. It is a nice accompaniment to the meat.
The wonderful burning meat.

He is considering eating some of the girl when he notices he is not the only onlooker. A tall, incredibly attractive woman is looking at the burnt girl from beneath a stair. Her hair is a similar colour to his. Her face is serene. She had enjoyed it as well.
Smoke among smoke he appeared at her side. She did not respond. Which he feared and liked. She had some power to her, but not like his. A demi-god. Offspring of one who is mortal and one who is not. There were many of them, the sexual appetites of some of his family were formidable.
She stared until the blackened girl smouldered.
Then she turned to him. Her beauty is such that any mortal would be putty in her hands.
“Who are you, who would do such a thing to a village?”
“I am Chaos” he replied with a smile. “And who are you that watches with such interest, and does nothing to save any of them?”
“I am Hell” she says in a honeyed whisper.
“I like that name”
She flashes a grin, revealing her yellowed teeth. They are filed to points.
Chaos and Hell.
A match made in heaven.

They leave together. There is no sport left here. She has a criticism that amuses him.
“They died too quickly”

They won’t next time.

(from the novel “Last Goddess”)

Belleren

The sisters faced each other, holding hands. A tremble ran between them.
“Calm down” demanded Isis. “If you cannot control yourself, you will not be able to control the outcome”
“I’m sorry” replied Nephthys humbly. It was not nerves that made her shake. It was excitement. She rarely saw her sister. Now, for the first time, she was learning projection spells with her. It was hard not to be overawed.
“Stop it!” snapped Isis. She was always so serious. Always. Nephthys wondered if she ever relaxed, ever had fun.
She wrinkled her nose in the way that even Ra could not resist.
The emerald eyes of Isis narrowed frighteningly. Nephthys felt the vicious slap of nothing but air across her face. Her cheekbones sang in pain. A rivulet of blood escaped her nose and ran to her mouth. She had never tasted it before.
The mistress of magic did not play childish games.
Nephthys felt sorry for her.
The slap came from the other side this time. Harder.
“Save your pity. And focus! There will be things you can do by touch as we all can. But not everything can be done directly. A time may well come when your life, and the lives of others, will rely on what you learn here. Will you behave like a child then? Or will you behave as the daughter of earth and sky?”
Nephthys nodded, working her jaw. Thankfully it was not broken.
Isis resumed the lesson.
“Behind me is Sandar-akh. Do you see it?”
Nephthys couldn’t help but see it. The towering pine was one of the biggest trees in the garden. Sky reaching and proud, it was the one that made her think of Osiris. Their beautiful brother. She tried to keep the thought from Isis, who looked at her suspiciously. Nephthys braced for a blow. It didn’t come.
“You know of Belleren?”
“Yes.” The unbreakable shield of Sekhmet was one of the two magical items created by Ptah for the warrior goddess. The other was the lance of Ra, Verinor. Belleren was an incredible item, able to change shape and size to defend the user. Light to carry but impenetrable, Ptah had imbued this piece of living metal with part of his own soul.
“The idea is simple. Imagine Belleren covering Sandar-akh, disguising it from view. And it is simple. It must be kept so. What is difficult to master is the transference of the energy. The maintaining of it. It is a glamour to deceive the eye, and if doubt enters it cannot work. Through my hands you will be able to feel the course I take. Ready?”
Their grip tightened momentarily before relaxing again.
Nephthys felt Isis concentrate her energy at Belleren. Into it. Her spirit swimming through the amazing shield, becoming part of it. Feeling the cool touch of the metal inside and around her. Then seeking out the mighty cypress of the sacred garden. Holding it in her spreading golden arms. Wooing it. Willing it to be still. Silent. The breath of the goddess upon it. Seeking its ills and soothing them. She felt the powerful drain on Isis. The price to be paid for casting the deception.
It was done.
She looked over her sister’s shoulder.
Sandar-akh was gone.
Isis looked at her shocked sister’s face. Her eyes were glittering green gems of challenge.
“Your turn”

(from the novel “Last Goddess”)