12.08.2014

Scenes from The Last Supper -- Part 4: The Hand of God and a Very Special Treat

In this eight-part series, I will be discussing the world and the characters of my upcoming book, THE LAST SUPPER, due out on 12/13/14. Original artwork by Justin Wasson. Pre-order paperbacks and Kindle now!

When these folks come after you . . . run.
The very first draft of The Last Supper I wrote was an 11,000 word short story with the working title of "Justification." Completed in July, 2008, it was up to that point the longest work of fiction I had ever completed, and in terms of the writing, was pretty rough. It was also pretty cut and dry. While it followed more or less the same trajectory about an embittered widower who rebels against a totalitarian authority and eventually escapes his town, the story had none of the fantastical elements that eventually became part of the novel. It didn't even have the serpent weeds or much detail about the Blight, or anything else that defines the novel it currently is.

Anyway, I have decided to make those 11,000 words available to any who would like to read them out of a sense of morbid, masochistic curiosity. Mind the disclaimer, won't you? In terms of whether you should read this before you read the novel, that's up to you. Or maybe you'd rather not read it at all. That's okay too.

Download the PDF

One particular element added in the second edition of this story, one that went on to become the novel you're hopefully buying in a few days, was the Hand of God, which is the creepy enforcer squad working for the Divine Rite to round up Nils, or seditious people who post a direct threat to the authority of the Rite, and deliver them to prison camps called Cradles. Much of what the Hand of God does is shrouded in mystery, as most people in God's Hope have never actually encountered them (or if they did, they didn't stick around to talk about it). They wear dark robes and gas masks. The only thing on them not black is one white glove on their left hands. They carry sticks that wield electricity to subdue their prisoners, and they have some other surprises in their arsenal of tricks.

Their most important asset is the Sentinel, which is a special person the Hand of God forces carry with them wherever they go, in the belief that he or she has a direct line of contact with God, and can protect them in the terrifying landscape. Take out the Sentinel, and the Hand of God scatters, or so that's the theory. Those were John's orders. Shoot the Sentinel . . . Only it's never so simple.

The Hand of God seemed to have lost track of me as I lay among the fallen, and I gazed at the source of the light coming from the center of their now decimated phalanx. Although my legs tingled with pins and needles, I began to crawl toward that pulsing beam, hoping the darkness and the chaos would shield me long enough to have a clear shot at what was in the center of it all. The three HOG agents still guarding their guide shifted again, and I finally saw the supposed direct lifeline to God. My breath stopped cold in my chest.
The Sentinel was just a boy.
I lowered my gun as Genevieve cried out from behind me, “Shoot him, John! We can’t hold out much longer!” The boy was on his knees in a praying stance, his shaven head bent in stern consternation. He seemed completely unaware that he was exposed, or of the fight surging around him. White robes draped a body too emaciated for walking, and the white light gave his skin a near transparent pallor.
“Goddamn it, John! Kill it! Kill the Sentinel!” Genevieve screamed. This time she sounded closer, but struggling. I looked back over my shoulder and saw the side of her face bleeding freely.
“He’s just a little boy,” I said. “I can’t do it.”
“DADDY!” Kaya’s screams dissolved into shaky gibberish as an agent took her down with his electric stick. She lay on her stomach, immobilized as one towering brute held her down beneath his foot. I screamed to the sky and shot at them, but one missed, and I knew in my heart that I only had one shot left. In that moment, there was no other choice. It was either kill the kid or save Kaya. I then realized that killing him would accomplish just that. I leveled the shotgun at the praying little boy, and prepared to squeeze the trigger, hoping like hell the ancient gun wouldn’t pick that moment to
seize up or misfire.
“Please forgive me,” I whispered and closed my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see him die.
In tomorrow's entry, we will journey a little further along the path John and his friends take as they seek refuge in this alien world. Things get a lot more dangerous. In the meantime, visit the official Last Supper page to catch up on all the other entries!

No comments:

Post a Comment