Wednesday, December 7, 2016

April 19 2019 DAY 1 of The Fall. NEON GODS

April 19, 2019 The day the gods fell.....


Outside, the rain is relentless and bashes against the window. Booms reverberate through the walls of the dingy speakeasy motel. A single twelve inch television broadcasts snow as streams of yellow light spill in from half closed blinds at the window. On the bed, a man lays sleeping. Covered from head to toe in a bedsheet, sweat from his chest and forehead seeps into the cotton. As he gasps, the sheet rises gently off his face. Somewhere in the motel, a couple is arguing. Screams can be heard over angry thunder. The man jolts awake and sits up. “Father?” he grabs the sheet and pulls it off of him. Squinting and shaking his head, he hears the storm outside and it’s so loud. Unbearable. Covering his ears he falls out of bed. He stares in bewilderment at the chaos on television. A large bang outside the door makes him flinch. Father it hurts. Covering his head, he tries to block out the sounds but they consume him. He retreats to the corner of the room while tears stream down his face. A slow, guttural wail echoes through walls. Terrified, he crawls on hands and knees to the door. Clumsily, he turns the knob and on wobbling knees steps outside. A woman is standing outside the next room. She glances over and smirks. “Go put on some clothes bum.” The man blinks sweat out of his eyes. Lip trembling, he looks out in horror at the city street in front of him. As car horns blare and sirens sing past, the man stares at the scars on his wrists. Oh God no. He touches his face as if feeling it for the first time. Shivering, he wraps his arms close to his body and notices his teeth chattering. Father help me. The man notices a light emanating from above the street. Like a beacon, it blinks above as vehicles shoot past underneath. The light. In the light with Father.  The man steps into the road and stumbles in the direction of the lamp. His barefeet on the slick street, he slips and almost falls as a car narrowly misses him. Then he is blinded. Unable to see through tears and the headlights of traffic, he drops to his knees and begins to pray. Hands in front of him, eyes closed to the world, he cries out. “Father!” Suddenly, arms are pulling him out of the street. A beer bottle is thrown from a passing car and shatters in front of him. “Come on!” A woman hisses. “You’re gonna get yourself killed!” Uncomprehending, the man shakes his head. The pain like fire all over his body, he glances down at his feet and hands. Oh God, where am I? The woman shrugs. “I don’t understand your language. You speak English?” The man stares blankly at her. Tears returning, he slumps down to the ground. Sheol. I’m in Sheol. The woman puts a hand on his shoulder and he recoils violently. “Get away from me Shade! You are forbidden!” He lurches back and stumbles. “Hey asshole! I just saved your skinny ass from being road kill.” The man stumbles backward. His eyes wild with fear. “I don’t know what language that is but it sounds Jewish. Are you a tourist?” The man squints as if seeing her for the first time. “Yeshua.” He blurts and looks around him as if expecting something to come out of the darkness and consume him. “Yeshua.” He repeats. The woman nods. “I’m Sarah. Come on, let’s get you inside……..”

Friday, November 25, 2016

Neon Gods Synopsis

Just after midnight on the streets of New Los Angeles, rock star Jesus Christ is murdered. One of the Descended, no one knows just how many gods and goddesses woke up in mortal bodies two years ago. But detective Hank Dolan knows the murder isn't an isolated occurrence. Deep in the bowels of NLA, a serial killer is on the loose and the Descended are the target. 

Meanwhile, twenty three year old Sadie Fuller - mortal witness to the murder, now finds herself hunted by the killer. Setting into motion a devastating series of events where mortal and Descended must work to uncover the killer's identity before he strikes again. 

A story of power and belief and the enduring spirit of catharsis, Neon Gods will put you in the mind of deities after grace is lost. And will ask you: Who mourns for the Gods? 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Chapter Excerpt NEON GODS

Chapter excerpt NEON GODS

At half past ten, Eli and Veronica began the half mile trek into City Walk Park where they were set to meet up with Dionysus. The moon was bright and silvery threads of lights dripped down between tree branches. Although a warm night, Eli had still worn a long sleeve shirt and pants. Veronica seemed more appropriately attired. She had on a white spaghetti strapped sun dress and flip flops. Although she claimed it was comfort, Eli suspected it had more to do with her bare shoulders and catching the eye of the god that was meeting them at the groves.
He had insisted that a group meeting was best due to Dio’s anxiety with more intimate settings. Plus it had made him popular with the Society of Descendent Interactions to have been able to set up a meet and greet with a deity.
As the second and then third car parked next to his Sedan, he wondered whether eight people would be too big a turnout. After all, Dionysus hadn’t seemed exactly eager at the prospect of cajoling with some random person. Who knows how he’d react to being accosted by a group of gawking fans. Is that what they were? The entire business was starting to feel like celebrity stalking. He cringed at the thought of somebody asking the deity for an autograph. But that’s what they were. Stardom coupled with the mystery of grace lost made the Descendents a popular social commodity. And popular they were. The shooting at the Basement only made their status more appealing to those on the outside.
Eli knew horribly better. And he knew Sadie would concur. He wondered if she would have come had he asked her. Probably not. She’d already met Dio and had her fill, he suspected, of the Descendents in general. Besides, she had been joined to Freya at the hip since the attack at her apartment and their relationship was likely more than platonic. Not that that was saying much. The goddess appeared ready to drop panties with anybody at any time. Still the thought clung him to him. If he was gonna lose to anybody he’d thought it would at least be to another man.
He gritted his teeth and watched Veronica skip to other members of the group. Her excitement was shared by all. He heard in their voices the nervous tension. No one knew quite what to expect but all knew ‘something’ was gonna happen. It was in the air. He remembered his first experience with a Descendent and couldn’t blame them. They were right. Something was gonna happen. It could be something great or a goddamn debacle.
He began walking the sidewalk path that led deeper into the park and smiled as the others fell into step behind him. He was officially a tour guide to this weird sideshow. He glanced at Veronica directly behind him. In the approaching dusk, she held up a kerosene lantern she’d brought for the occasion. He caught the fumes and frowned then realized that most had some sort of artificial light source. Some held lanterns, others had flashlights and even candles that had to be relit after every few steps.
Eli began to think this was a stupid idea. Even more than insulting the god, embarrassing him would be worse. The last thing he wanted was to make himself look foolish in front of his friend. Dio had trusted him and now there was a real chance that his trust would be spit back in his face by idle chatter and folly. Even if they meant well, this group seemed on the verge of doing or saying something ridiculous.
He silently wished he hadn’t mentioned anything to Veronica. But lust is a powerful motivator. He’d known she would sleep with him if he produced a god. And so he had. And so they did. Now, he was stuck and had to wait to see this play out.
They came to a clearing and Eli marveled at how well lit the space was by moonlight. It was as if a giant round spotlight was aimed at the ground. The grass was bathed in a luminescent silver glow. It almost had the texture of fog although Eli could see clearly. It reminded him of bioluminescent algae that he’d studied in school. As he took a few steps into the circle, he heard Veronica gasp behind him. Soon, the others were jabbering about the supernatural ‘god light’. He heard flashlights being clicked off and kerosene lanterns being deposited on the ground. From out of the shadows, a figure stepped into the light and Eli knew who it was immediately.
Dionysus stepped forward wearing a laurel wreath and little else. Although naked, the god didn’t appear out of place or strange in his nudity. He simply was. Eli waited for others in the group to comment or smirk or god forbid laugh but none did. Dio’s usual lanky frame and stringy hair was now gorgeous in the billowing moonlight. His lithe arms and legs captured the shadows in just a way as to make it seem like his body was in constant motion. As if every muscle moved and breathed in alternate moon shadow and light. The wreath that rested on his head was a luscious green. To Eli, it shouldn’t be so green yet it was. The god stepped closer and Eli was suddenly afraid. He’d never seen his friend powerful. Dionysus seemed to be secreting the same bioluminescent glow that covered the ground. He was strong and full of vitality. His eyes soaked up the moonlight. A sudden smile and Eli heard Veronica gasp again. She stood aghast and her lip began to quiver. “Are these my groves?” The god asked. Eli narrowed his eyes. “Dio?” The god looked up into the night sky. “I’ve roamed Greece for millenia yet still this place...unrecognized.” Veronica looked from Dionysus to Eli. “Uh-Eli?” “Dio?” he asked. Eli had never seen the always articulate deity look, for lack of a better word, confused. He placed his hand on the god’s shoulder and was met with a bemused smile. “You don’t know where you are?” “Athens.” the god answered. “No, Dio you’re not in Greece.” “You’re in City Walk.” Veronica blurted. He looked at her puzzled. Then slowly, confusion dissolved into recognition. He smiled.”Bit forgetful are we?” Eli asked. “A moment only. Some of the old rites take me home so to speak. They are here then?” “Yeah, they’re excited to meet you.” The god glanced at Veronica. “Meet me or be me.” “Excuse me?” She chimed. “For your renewal of course.” the god’s eyes gleamed in the darkness. “You mean like a baptism?” She asked. “Yes, something like that.” Her mouth open and eyes watery, Veronica appeared unsure as to whether he was real. Reaching out, she ran a finger across his arm and Eli heard her breath catch.
As the god moved, the wind moved with him and was redistributed in fantastic ways. Tree branches blew in opposite directions causing their leaves to funnel as they blew to the ground. The night air was both crisp and moist as if confused of the season. Overhead, the moon wafted in and out of racing clouds. All of City Walk was now divorced from time. Eli shielded his eyes and tried to get a fix on Veronica who had disappeared when the wind picked up.
His toe snagged something and he looked down to find the wreath that had been on Dio’s head. He picked it up and realized that he was virtually alone. The small group that had followed him were now dispersed in other areas of the park. He could make them out in the darkness but a mist had settled in that eschewed his sight after only a few feet. It reminded him of Avalon but he knew that was the wrong fable. Here, an amnesiac god was conjuring a maelstrom and causing people to get naked.
As they danced in circles slowly they came together like a coven. Foggy, Eli glimpsed the first pagans dancing in just the same way. He felt like screaming and could feel their screaming. Then he caught sight of Dionysus and Veronica. The god hooked his thumbs under the spaghetti straps of her dress and pulled it off of her and onto the ground. Naked, she looked up at him in utter abandonment. Dio produced a golden cup that he held to her lips. Eli could smell the sweetness of the wine and heard her gurgling as wine rand down her chin and onto her chest. Her eyes half closed, he smiled down at her as she brought her hands to the cup taking in more and more.
Holding the cup now to Eli, the god handed a thyrsus to Veronica and led her into the open moon lit circle. Eli watched as she began to dance and scream. She appeared in trance. Her milky body bathed in light. She was an animal raving. Soon, all the women that had come were dancing in the circle and howling. Crazed, they spun around the god leaping and crawling. To anybody who might have bore witness, the scene would have been terrifying. To Eli, it was the most erotic moment of his life. His loins on fire, he watched as the women pleasured themselves and each other while dancing. He watched them touch the god and be driven mad. And he felt mad as well. He felt crazy and beautiful and powerful. Somewhere in his mind, he wondered if the exorbitant amount of wine he’d drank had been laced with ecstasy or some other drug. But dismissed the thought as absurd immediately. This was the power of the god of wine. This was Dionysus unleashed and in his glory. Then the maenads with Veronica at the center began laying down with the men that had come. Moans and grunts began to permeate the darkness as multiple couples writhed in the circle. Veronica straddled and bucked furiously on a man she would have had no interest in an hour earlier. Eli felt soft lips on his bare chest and was laid down. Amidst animal groaning and wet moans, he felt himself consumed by the moon until nothing was left but the light and the hunger.   

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Neon Gods (Chapter Excerpt-Rough)

The city became a powder keg. In the few short days after the news leaked of who had been shot backstage at the Basement, the heat rose exponentially in New Los Angeles. With no word yet whether the victim had survived, droves of people began to congregate at the club. The NLAPD realized within minutes that police tape and heightened senses were gonna be needed to keep some semblance of order. Like rival gangs, members of the Church of Man began gnashing their teeth at Christian believers who even after the god descended, still held to faith by a thread. They barked at each other under makeshift hand-painted signs. As officers taped off the club entrance, yelling evolved into pushing and it was apparent that arrests would soon be made. Apollo sifted through the crowd careful not to inadvertently cause a riot. He fought the urge to roll his eyes when a member of the Church exclaimed, “The gods have always been dead!” in his ear. “Perhaps so.” He said quickly and moved on.
As he got closer to the front entrance, he saw a semicircle of people on their knees. They appeared to be in submission to Allah but he knew that wasn’t right,. He knew it was mourning. Bouquets of flowers formed a mosaic of color in the middle. Like a campfire, mourners seemed to gather warmth from the assemblage. Crosses and bibles were strewn almost haphazardly around the shrine. Apollo witnessed terrible wailing. As if all the sorrow and grief bottled up after the gods descended was fully unleashed in an lament for Jesus Christ. Mourners wept openly. Unconcerned at etiquette, some lay down sobbing as if searing their faces against hot pavement was somehow prostrating themselves to god. The suffering was almost unimaginable.
Apollo couldn’t help but empathize. He had known his share of loss. He had also witnessed death. He wondered vaguely if his followers would lament in this way when he passed. He doubted it and couldn’t say why. Sure, there had been a time when social bonds in all forms would have crumpled at the death of Apollo. But not any more. It was clear the Middle East religions, once little more than tribal city gods, had now become profound and almost mystically influential.
He knew he still had a place called home. Greece was always calling. Greece called out to him every moment of every day but it had been in a cold ally in New Los Angeles that he’d awoke. And he’d remained. At least for now. Apollo fidgeted and felt eyes on him. A peculiar sensation as if somebody stood directly in back of him breathing on his neck. He knew he was being watched.
In the corner of his eye, he saw signs and fingers pointed at one another. Time seemed to slow as angry mouths screamed obscenities. Such hatred in a time of grief. He thought absently. Bodies moved around him, swallowing him in their center. He felt hands tugging at him; Smelled sweat and fear in the crowd. Then there were eyes locked onto his. They were expressionless and soft. As if working out a curiosity or mystery.
The man was surprisingly still given the action around him. He simply stood there looking at Apollo. Dumbfounded, Apollo watched the man approach him. He stopped a few feet from him. His eyes traveled up and down the god and he frowned. “ מה אתה רוצה עתיקה” He said. Apollo recognized the language as Hebrew but couldn’t say how he knew it. It just sounded familiar to him. Deciding to make a game of it, he answered in his native Greek tongue. “Δεν καταλαβαίνω.” The man’s eyebrows raised as if he too recognized the language as Greek but had no conception of what was said.
They stood staring at each other until both cracked a smile. “Do you use the common tongue?” The man said with a heavy accent. Apollo nodded. “I do.” The man looked around. His eyes taking in the scene around him. He was an old man. Once perhaps as athletic as Apollo yet not quite as lithe. His brown skin and bushy beard would have made him appear hipster if not for the feral look in his eyes. His head shaven, he hunched over as if carrying a tremendous weight. His heavily lined face had the impression that he’d suffered windburn. He wore rags. They seemed to slough off of him like skin. But his eyes were alert. Birdlike. Apollo wondered which one he was. That accent and dialect was obviously Jewish but he knew it was possible this one was some obscure Canaanite or Jordanian deity he knew nothing about. For all he knew, this one belonged in a pyramid. “El would be so dissatisfied.” The man said. El? Apollo thought quickly. A Canaanite god then. “Where are you from?” He asked nonchalantly. Not willing to give up the game just yet. The man fixed his eyes on Apollo. “I came to my people by way of caravan routes between Canaan and Egypt.” Not Canaanite then. “Look at them clamoring.” The man continued. “The death means nothing to them. Not really. Even those who weep have never sacrificed anything.”
Apollo found it surprisingly difficult to keep eye contact with this deity. He seemed ferocious and stormy. “And the man shot did?” He ventured. His bushy beard twitching, the man hesitated for a second. “Yes. He sacrificed all.” Apollo let his gaze fall on a woman kneeling at the shrine. Her face disfigured with grief, she clutched a rosary to her chest. “Still.” The god said quietly. “They mourn for him. They feel the loss perhaps more viscerally than we do.” There it was. Cards on the table. I know what you are. The man’s face darkened. “They perceive nothing. If they ever did. They fail at every turn. None remember the Shavuot! The Sukkot means nothing to them! And we wander still!” He looked around enraged. Apollo smiled inwardly. Stormy indeed. “And then there’s you.” The man spat. His face contorted into a grimace. The false idols.”
Apollo could feel the anger in him begin to stir. He noticed his palms sweaty. “No less false than you. They just no longer care to see your pillars of cloud and fire. Your miracles.” He said the last word slowly. Letting the insult seep in and fester. “Where are your miracles now?” The man spat in front of him. “The idols with their statues.” He said tauntingly. “Always with their statues. I needed no statue. The Temple had my cherubim and they were the empty throne! I cared not! My people bore witness. Even him.” He nodded towards the Basement. “Even he called out to me in his last moments.” Apollo smirked. “Condemn them if you must. YHWY.” Apollo accentuated his name. Letting every syllable drip off his tongue like milk and honey. He turned and strode off as a string of curses followed in his wake.

Monday, October 10, 2016

NEON GODS. Chapter Excerpt

New Los Angeles breathes with the seasons. As organic as its people, the city is layered with modernism built on the detritus of the past. Like Jerusalem or Rome, NLA’s history is right underneath all who walk its streets.
From above, its symmetry reminds one of an upside down chandelier. Countless lamps and mirrored windows bounce light in all directions. The city sparkles and shines its luster polished in the night sky. NLA’s towering buildings push skyward like fingers. The most popular being the famous Tower of Man. An engorged symbol of man’s achievement over the gods, this two hundred and fifty story colossus serves as a beacon of humanity’s dominion in the universe.
Built by billionaire real estate mogul and Reverend Pious McNally, the Tower was an answer to the god’s loss of grace. In excess of 450,000,000 dollars, the monolith is now the most sprawling and ornate structure in the world. Upon its completion, it was immediately a topic of conversation and compared to the Freedom Tower in New York City and the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia.
In design, the Tower is a marvel of angled mirror panels that twist around giving the impression of a helix. From outside, one gets the impression of movement. As if the Tower is rotating counter-clockwise. It’s base is adorned with a vertical beam and lintel not dissimilar from the Lion Gate in Mycenae. Alongside this are gaudy fountains and floral designs all meant to invite the passerby through its doors.
Stepping inside is like stepping into a Roman Basilica. There is a pronounced temperature change that one feels immediately. The coolness is accented with a silence common in cathedrals. But the crown jewel of the Tower is its 75 meter x 25 m mural called ‘Ascension of Man.’
Painted over a three year period by popular artist Giovelli Cortan, the mosaic depicts mankind in all its glory. A human man stands exalted as the center of the universe. Galaxies with all their suns and planets surround him and cover him like celestial clothing. His head is back and his arms wide and beckoning. His lithe body and delicate features give him a feminine countenance. Blue eyes couple perfectly with brown locks and sensual smile. He gazes outward, at us, as we admire him and his place in the universe.
On either side of are representations of the religions of the past. Jesus Christ, Krsna, Buddha, and Moses all gaze up at him adoringly. Their faces bliss., they’re hands outstretched, deities of the past now worship the ascended man. But behind these relics are demons that are slowly devouring them as they revere mankind. Meant to show that dogma will eventually be their downfall, the gods of yesterday are being eaten, Their eyes plucked out, dismembered, devils clutch their genitals, winged serpents flick tongues in their adoring open mouths. Some are on fire, others being torn to pieces. But always they wear a beautiful adoring smile. The Ascended Man looks outward to all his admirers watching the scene unfold. His piercing gaze the hope for the future.
For the past three years, the Tower of Man has also served as a meeting place and head of operations for Pious’ Church Of Man. A religious order founded by the Reverend and boasting three hundred thousand members, the church places humanity as central role in the creation and maintaining of the universe.
Leaving traditional doctrine behind, the human soul is exchanged for human achievement. All aspects of an afterlife filled with ecstasy and misery are replaced by human life experience. For the church of Man, humanity and only humanity is deserving of worship. A grace once exclusive to the gods now bestowed solely upon mankind.
Discarding all forms of religious text or ritual, the Church as it is commonly called, simply chose to perform ritual that governed Man’s place as creator and arbiter of the cosmos around him. There is no longer a need for deities outside of ourselves because they too are now experiencing the human endeavor. The Church of Man provides a service the gods can no longer perform. With Pious acting as prophet and CEO, he is accompanied by two acolytes that organize weekly sermons and daily activities. The church has become a booming conglomerate of business savvy and media oriented entities all used to further the message of ‘Man’.  

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Chapter Excerpt NEON GODS


When Hank dropped Sadie at her apartment, she was relieved to find Eli sitting on her front steps. She was even more elated when she saw that he’d brought a floppy eared black puppy along with him. Jumping out of the car, she squealed at the lab and danced over giggling. “Who’s this?” Eli picked up the pup and handed it to Sadie. “She’s called Amber. I thought you two would get along.” Sadie buried her face in black fur.. “Where’d she come from?” Eli looked at her then at the dog. “She was a rescue. I just found her and we became friends.” Sadie smiled. “I like her. I think we’ll get on just fine. You coming in?” She stood up and unlocked the apartment.

Eli followed her inside. He hadn’t know what to expect from Sadie’s apartment. Her contamination issues usually meant the place was frighteningly clean. Every other time he’d stopped by, it was dicey whether he would even get through the door. That was the way it was with obsessive compulsive disorder. She described it as a broken record that played nonstop in the back of her mind. She was constantly in a fear of contamination loop. Even him walking through the door was enough to make her double her gloves and get anxious. As he walked in, she fidgeted as she stood in the sparse living room. There wasn’t the typical accessories you’d find in a woman’s place. The room was intentionally dim. As if bright lights would showcase the dirt and she sought to avert driving herself up a wall. Red accent lights provided a dark room experience. There was a record player but no television. Books were meticulously stacked in various places around a living room that had one futon and one lounge chair. He guessed she might sleep there. A picture hanged on the far wall opposite the kitchen. A dusty pic of a young Sadie perhaps twelve years old. Beside her stood a gentleman in his early thirties. Dark complexion and deep-set eyes accompanied a mischievous smile. He had his arm around her as she beamed at the camera. Before the phobias began.  The pic seemed to have been taken in the country. A sea of yellow flowers surrounded the pair.

Eli sat down and watched Amber bound around the room. Her tail wagging and panting, Sadie knelt down and placed a bowl of water in front of her. Eli found it odd that her issues didn’t seem to include a mangy, flea infested mongrel. As if reading his mind, she sat down on the floor. “I’ll probably clean five times after you guys leave. Like for real.” Eli chuckled. “There ya go girl.” She whispered at the pup. “So what happened with the cop?” Eli asked. “Oh, he is just a giant dickhead.” Eli looked up at her while petting the puppy. “Did he try to frisk you naked?” “Oh it’’s not like that.” She said choking back a giggle. “He’s just a typical cop asshole. I think he’ll leave me alone now.” She paused and fixed him with a stare. Eli felt his face get hot. He stared at the bridge of her nose determined not to feel awkward in front of this girl. “Oh, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing here.”

Outside, he could hear the beginnings of a rain shower. Drops trickled down the window and soft staccato tapped on the rain gutters and apartment shingles. Perspiration formed on his brow. “I was just wondering if you’d seen Dionysus? He hasn’t been home in a few days. That’s real strange even for him. He hasn’t been to that dive bar he wants to move into either.” Sadie shrugged. “I haven’t seen him since we were at your place. Do you think he’s in trouble?” Sadie carefully picked out some incense and lit with a small lighter from her oak coffee table. The smoke funneled out from her hand and Eli got a scent of Jasmine. He inhaled deeply. This is what he’d smelled on her the night at the Basement. It had been the incense on her clothes. He closed his eyes. “I don’t know.”

A sudden bang outside the window drew a startled glance from Sadie and a yelp from little Amber. Sadie stood and parted the curtains. Peering outside, her eyes narrowed. “What the hell?” She mumbled. Eli continued. “I don’t know. It’s just strange. He’s usually either at home or at the bar. Not much a social life on that one.” Sadie sighed. “No, it’s probably something the way this week is going. I’m about done with gods and bodies and detectives.” Eli waited. “You know he wasn’t the first one.” Eli knew she referred to Jesus Christ. “There were like two or three before him.” She got up and fetched a small pipe from an end table drawer. Sitting on the floor, she opened a ziplock back and sniffed. “You smoke?” Eli nodded. “Sure. So you’re saying there’s a serial killer hunting descendents.” Sadie took a long pull from the pipe. She held her breath then slowly exhaled through her nose. To Eli, the sight evoked the image of a Chinese dragon. She handed the pipe to him and he cupped his hand over the bowl.

Again, a loud bang outside made Sadie jump. She whirled to the window while Amber ducked underneath the couch. Eli stood up quickly. A little too quickly. Dizziness clouded his vision and he felt his legs go wobbly. Sadie was now at the door peering out. “Just shut the door and lock it.” He said. “It’s probably just a cat.” Sadie turned toward him, her face pale. A strand of hair had come loose from the bun on her head and was resting across her cheek. As she breathed quickly, it fluttered away from her face and back. “It’s ok.” He said. Sadie shook her head. “No.” She whispered almost to herself. “There’s somebody outside...on the sidewalk...staring at the door.” Eli felt the hairs on his arms and neck stand up. Peering outside, he squinted through the rain but noticed nothing out of the ordinary. “You sure? I don’t see anybody.” Sadie looked like she’d seen Bloody Mary staring back at her through a bathroom mirror. Her lip was quivering. “It...was a woman I think. She was wearing a raincoat but her hair was drenched and she was staring at me when I opened the door.” Eli went back to the window. “A woman? Probably just a passerby.” “Staring at my fucking door?” Sadie shot angrily. “Her face. She was looking at me with pure hatred. Her eyes were like demons.” Eli took a deep breath and shook off his chills. “I didn’t see anybody. It’s probably nothing. A crazy bum in the rain.”

Another bang like gunshot jolted Eli and Sadie into near terror. It was louder and sounded like broken glass. “It’s on the other side, Near the bedroom.” Sadie went to the kitchen and pulled out a long carving knife she’d only used once or twice during the holidays. It was heavy in her arms and felt like dead weight. Trembling, she walked to the bedroom to find her window shattered. Shards of glass lay on her pillow and duvet. It’ was as if the window had exploded inward. Looking for a rock or brick that the woman may have thrown from outside, a low hum and rustling from the thick foliage that surrounds her apartment brought her back to the window. “Go away! I’m calling the cops!” She bellowed out into thick darkness. A short giggle answered her almost immediately. Gasping, Sadie grabbed her phone from her pants pocket and realized the card Hank had given her was in a bag she’d dropped in the bathroom.

Making her way there, she slammed the door and stared down at her gloved hands shaking violently. The phone was also a nuisance with her and she dropped it on the linoleum floor.  “Goddammit.” She moaned. As she bent to pick it up, she heard Eli in the living room calling out for the puppy. Recognizing the urgency in his voice, Sadie heard him calling out for her again and again. She began to dial Hank then stopped. As she stared at herself in the mirror, she noticed that her shower curtain was pulled shut. A habit she never adopted, Sadie stared at the curtain she had left open earlier that day. Swallowing hard, she reached out to pull it open.Her mind racing and her legs close to buckling underneath her, she stood in mute horror as she began to hear the whimpering of a puppy coming from the other side of the curtain. Gasping and covering her mouth, she stifled a scream when again she heard its soft cries. Reaching out, she threw back the curtain to reveal the young woman from outside holding Amber by the scruff of her neck.

The woman was drenched and dirty. Soiled teeth jutted out from a large jaw and narrow cheekbones. Gleaming hazel eyes seemed misshapen and too far apart on her face.Her gangly limbs swam in the yellow yellow slick and for a split second Sadie thought the woman looked like an adult infant. The puppy yelped as the woman shook her and held her out in front of Sadie. “Here carcass….” Sadie meant to flee but her mind had retracted and her legs wouldn’t move. As if in the throes of a night terror, she stood paralyzed. Her breath caught in her throat. The woman raised a small dagger and looked down at the puppy struggling and yelping in her hand. Sadie felt something warm running down her leg and realized that she had urinated on herself. The monster in the shower noticed it also and flicked her tongue cackling.

Suddenly, the bathroom door burst open and Eli rushed in diving into the shower stall. Sadie shrieked as the young woman turned and was thrown back against the wall by Eli’s momentum. Chaos ensued as Eli screaming for Amber was stabbed in the arm and shoulder. Dropping the puppy, Sadie watched it flee into the living room as two more women in yellow rain slicks entered the apartment. Sadie slammed the bathroom door and dialed Hank’s number. “Help us!” She shrieked. Dropping the phone in the sink, she jumped in the shower and began stabbing the woman in a frenzy.

Then Sadie saw all red. Filling her mind, an ocean of blood filled her lungs. She was transported to a field covered in corpses. Their bodies sprouted up from the ground like weeds. Arms and legs entwined, Sadie could feel the rotten pulp of their flesh. Then up from her feet seeped blood and bile. She saw the young woman and her sisters cutting down men, women, and children. She witnessed them revel in murder for its own sake. The blood rose past her toes and to her ankles. Still she heard their screams. Or was it her own? The countless screams filled her mind. Under a blood sky, she saw another man. The blood now to her knees. She gazed out on a lake of blood. And still it rose. And still they screamed.

Sadie blinked and realized that blood was spurting all over Eli’s face. Willing herself out of the phantom vision, she brought the knife down again and again. Eli crawled out and threw himself against the door as the other two women began stabbing at the door trying to cut their way in. Panting and Shivering, he wiped blood off his face. “I’ve got to find Amber. I need to find Amber….” Sadie now sobbing grabbed the phone from the sink but couldn’t hold on due to her gloves. Outside the door, they heard more screaming and glass breaking. Sadie flinched as a man’s voice screamed in rage. “He’s here.” Eli gasped while wrapping a towel around his left arm. “Hank’s here.” Then an unnatural silence descended upon the apartment. A sudden stillness like the moments after a car wreck. Dazed, Sadie sat down on the floor and covered her face with her hands.

As Eli and Sadie huddled in the bathroom, a sudden calmness seemed morose and uninviting. Eli inspected the wound on his arms and frowned. “Are you hurt?” Sadie asked. “Not really. She didn’t get me that good. I think the blood has already stopped.” Inspecting his arms, Sadie stood and began dialing 911. Slowly, the bathroom door opened and a stranger stood on the threshold. Eli pushed Sadie behind him. “Get out!” He said through gritted teeth. The man glanced at the blood soaked bathstall and ragdoll lying broken in the tub. His brow furling, he looked past Eli and addressed Sadie. “The others are gone. I’m here to help.” Shivering uncontrollably and teeth chattering, Sadie stared at him vacantly. The man turned to Eli. “Find a blanket. She’s in shock.”He stepped forward and was met with the tip of a blade. “I said...get out.” Eli wildly shoved the knife under the man’s nose. “My name is Apollo. I can help you.” The man’s bright blue eyes surveyed the bathroom. He had a youthful, handsome face. Eli got the impression that he was too handsome. Perhaps the perfect caricature of what masculine beauty should be. Short cropped hair and ebony skin, his long dark lashes complimented the blue of his irises. A blue and yellow track suit covered proportions that relayed perfect symmetry. He smiled warmly and picked a towel from the rack. “Get her covered in this while I find blankets.”

Sadie unable to look at the bathtub rushed out and into the living room. She gasped at the wreckage of her apartment. Water soaked and caked in mud, her carpet revealed where the intruders had stepped as they entered. Broken glass littered the floor like confetti. “It’s so dirty.” She said to no one in particular. As Amber tumbled into the room, Sadie stared absently watching her.

Twenty minutes later, Hank arrived at the doorstep. His analytical instincts on overdrive, he worked out immediately that there had been three assailants; all were small in stature and probably female. His mind flashed to the photograph in his loft. What did this girl get herself into. He scanned the living room and found Sadie on the couch wrapped in a blanket. Her eye makeup smeared and hair disheveled. She rocked back and forth as if pulled by the weight of her necklace. “I got here as it was happening.” Apollo said from the kitchen. Hank’s eyes bore into the god. “Good you were here.” Apollo either ignoring or not catching the dripping sarcasm, nodded his head. “Indeed. I-” “What were you doing here?” Hank interrupted. “I was following the girl.” Apollo shot back. His blue eyes becoming crystalline. “I thought this girl might be hiding something. Clearly, somebody else had the same idea. Both are lucky as hell to be alive.” Eli looked up from petting Amber and fixed Apollo with a cold, hard stare. “You know who they are?” Apollo sat down next to Sadie and put a reassuring hand on her back. Eli’s fierce gaze hardened further. Addressing Hank, the god narrowed his eyes. “They are descended. All three. The fact they killed one is miraculous.” “A triple goddess?” Hank asked. “I’ve heard of the hag, maiden, and mother but I don’t know many crones with that much dexterity.” “No.” Eli chimed in. “All three were young. They were young women.” Apollo nodded. “They were the Androktasia. Sisters of the Phonoi and spirits of murder. They all three preside over killing away from the battlefield. They are murder incarnate. And you killed one.” He turned to Sadie. “You have no idea how lucky you are. And how much danger you’re still in.” Eli pursed his lips. “I can protect her.” “Not from this.” Apollo replied. “Not ever. You killed their sister. They’ll never stop hunting you. And they have millennia experience with murder. They’ll make it slow. They’ll make it hurt. Sadie stirred. Her dark circles giving the impression she’d aged years in just the past hour. “I can’t stay here.” Apollo picked her cell phone up off the floor and handed it to her. “Do you have somewhere you can go?” Sadie nodded. “I think so.” As she dialed Freya’s phone, she wondered how many times she’d have to clean before she’d be able to sleep.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Neon Gods- Chapter Excerpt

Mother what would you have done? You know this world. You understand these humans. What mortal insight could you have given me had you survived the game with Hera? Dionysus stared out the bar window and watched as people scurried past. An empty wine bottle beside him, the god’s trembling lip served as a reminder of his human frailty. He smoothed back his long, stringy mane and tried to shut out the throbbing in his temples. Mother, were you here now I could find hope in this existence. I fear your humanity was lost to me when the Other stitched me to his thigh. What am I to do? I sit terrified. I cannot. I cannot. Beautiful Semele were you here I would persist.

The god cradles his head in his hands and glances around the bar as patrons chatter blissfully unaware of the god that sits just feet away. He had always loved uninhibited behavior in the humans. His Bacchanal in the groves had once been a visceral pleasure. Not even Apollo could claim to the groves as he could. They had been his. Each woody laurel a part of himself. Oh how he missed the raving ones. He missed smelling their heat and loins as they covered their bodies in fawn. Their madness brought on by dance. The howls and screams echoing off mountain peaks. Frenzied were his nurses. Willing to tear asunder King or peasant who dared ban the rites of their holy Bacchus.

And now to be forgotten. Now to bear witness to a humanity that witnessed their precious pantheons fall from Olympus. A humanity that sits on bar stools contemptuously throwing back the gifts that were once sacred. Dionysus averts his eyes. No longer able to make contact with the oblivion that surrounds him. He raps at the bar and clears his throat. “May I have another?” The bartender ambles over grinning. A cigarette hanging loosely from his mouth. “Feeling wild tonight are we?” Dionysus glances up forcing a crooked smile. “Not exactly.” The bartender takes a long drag from this cigarette and eyes him for a second. “Listen, I’ve got a damn fine scotch here that’ll fix you right up. On the house.”

As he places a shot glass in front of Dionysus, light spills into the bar and a loud crash is accompanied by broken beer glasses. A round shaggy man with a long beard plows into the bar riding a donkey. As people sit slack jawed, the beast makes its way to the bar and the old man gruffly scoots off. For a moment, all of time stands still as everybody focuses their attention on the newcomer. Dionysus smiles broadly. “Silenus?!” The old man squares his shoulders and gives the god a stern, paternal scowl. “Do you have any idea how its been trying to track you down?” Dionysus raises an eyebrow. “Well I haven’t exactly been hiding.” Silenus scoffs. ‘You little pissant, I…” Just then the bartender softly clears his throat. “ you mind parking...your ass...outside?” Silenus turns around slowly. “Excuse me?” The bartender now looking squeamish blurts out, “That’s not what I meant. I mean the animal at the bar….eating the pretzels.” Silenus and Dionysus both turn simultaneously to the donkey who happily has a mouthful. “Be thankful he hasn’t decided to water the houseplants.” Silenus replies and grabs him by the collar. Turning to Dionysus, “Come on, we need to have a word.”

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Neon Gods- Chapter Excerpt

Hank had walked the length of the ‘SinEater’ twice before deciding to have a drink. Parched from outside, he gulped down a  beer and took a seat overlooking the entire club. His eyes scanned the room as he found all the exits and made note of anything out of the ordinary.
The place was slower tonight but there was still a few patrons. Middle-aged men and college students gawked at the women on stage. Their dollars raining down like confetti. Laughter reverberated around the room and a few of the dancers were escorting men to private areas where the rest of their clothes would be shed like snakeskin with the appearance of a credit card. A waitress stopped and ran a finger across his left hand. “Need anything?” Hank motioned to his glass. “Can I get a water? And I wonder if you can help me find somebody?” The woman’s plastic smile slipped for a second. “Sorry hun, I don’t provide names or phone numbers. You understand.” Hank took out his wallet and showed her his personalized business card. ‘Hank Latour: Private Investigator’. “Nobody is in any trouble. I was just hoping to talk with Freya. I was told by a mutual friend she may shed some insights into what happened last week at ‘The Basement’.The woman stopped short, her eyes darting around the room. “You can ask soon as she’s off stage. With that she hurried off.
That’s when he saw her.Her hair was the color of sunrise. Golden ringlets cascaded down her back and stopped short just above the waist. Her serpentine body covered in glitter, she began to move in tandem with the music’s penetrating beat. She smiled down at her spectators, fully aware that their adoration bordered on worship.
Her lips like honey, she wetted them with her tongue. She moved slowly, purposefully, commanding every eye toward her. Even men who had come with their girlfriends couldn’t resist her allure. And some of them too were staring up at her with reckless abandon.
Hank noticed a gold body necklace around the woman’s waist and rings on some of her fingers. As she gyrated her hips, she lifted her head to the light and Hank was reminded of the ‘Ecstasy of St. Teresa. She threw her head back in rapture, her mouth open in yearning. Her face was in the light and then it was the light. And the light spilled out past the stage and onto everybody in the room. The light moved and shifted and became brighter, pulsating, devouring all.
Hank watched as if in trance as her hands coiled upward. Somewhere far away, he heard a woman moan and then the dancer called Freya was rising above the stage. Her eyes like fire she gazed down and outstretched her hands. Then opening her mouth, a glorious infinite light rained down. Each drop emanating like stars in the sky.
Suddenly, the light went out and the music stopped. Plunged back into the dim squalor of the club, Hank blinked his eyes and tried to get a hold of his thoughts. From somewhere else, he watched Freya smile and wave then she slowly walked off stage.
In back of him, he heard gasping and panicked mutterings about the performance. His ears ringing, he wetted a napkin and wiped his forehead then grabbed a piece of ice and popped it in his mouth. As he regained his senses, he smelled honey and turned to find Freya staring at him with eyes like topaz. “You wanted to speak with me?” She turned and walked toward the back of the club.
Freya escorted Hank to a booth and sat down across from him. She sat poised, an amused glint in her eye. Fidgeting, he felt absurd. As if he was on the wrong side of the interrogation table. Freya picked up her glass and slurped her margarita. Hank took out his notebook and leaned in. “That was quite a show back there.” She blinked once and leaned back in the booth. “Don’t say that. That’s what they always say. I mean always…” Hank nodded. “Then they probably ask you how you did it right?” Freya fixed her eyes on the stage. “How. Yeah, as if they don’t already know.” She took a sip, her attention elsewhere. Hank got the impression she was millions of years and across time and space away. He said softly, “But it’s a gift isn’t it? Everytime. You impart part of your grace and they treat it like a parlour trick. They treat you like a stupid naked sideshow.” Freya glared at him. “It’d be worse if they all knew what I am. The ones that discern usually leave me alone. Until now.” Hank knew he had to steer this conversation somewhere else or she was gonna get up and leave. “I won’t take much of your time. Thank you incidentally, the show really was radiant.” She cocked her head and arched an eyebrow. “What do you want to know?”
Hank sat up alert. “It’s about the murder last week at the Basement. I met up with Paul Feig and he pointed me in your direction. Freya smirked. “Of course he did. Did you know Apollo was a god of dance? He was always awkward and really needed to loosen up. But whatever, I wasn’t there but I heard some things.”Hank motioned for her to go on. “You know Pious McNally? The reverend of that ‘Church Of Man’. I know you’ve seen the building. Looks like a giant goddamn penis in the middle of the city.” Hank grinned. “I know the one. It’s hard to miss no pun intended.” Freya snorted. “Right? Anyway there’s talk that it’s a cult. I don’t know if they done it. So sad. But it’s no secret that they don’t like my kind.” Hank sat motionless.. His thoughts travelling inward.
Pious was a billionaire. He’d been an ordinary reverend full of piss and vinegar until the fall. Then it seemed he found a new calling. Hank had seen him spouting his intolerant bulshit for the past few months.
Freya cleared her throat then picked up a cat that had wandered close to their booth. “I love these little creatures. Anyway, you should talk to Sadie. She was there when he got shot.” Hank choked on his drink. “What?” Freya laughed and shook her head. “Duh. She was at the show and saw him. She’s here. Do you wanna?” Hank took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Well, hell yeah.” She got up and started waving frantically at a waitress across the room.  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Neon Gods introduces Sadie

There's a certain feeling one gets while at a rock show. More than the anticipation of getting inside. There's an explosive or sulfuric quality combined with the heat of vibrating bodies. The tone is one of electricity and primal need. Stepping into 'The Basement' on this dusky summer night was like entering a religious revival in the middle of a group exorcism. There were screams of "Yes God!" and wild shrieking in tongues. But Jesus never knew what hit him. It was sudden and violent and over so fast that most of us in the crowd had no idea something was awfully wrong until those backstage came flooding out in a panic and the lights came up...


The halls backstage are dusty. Sadie thought as she meandered under blinking neon lights and throngs of drunken groupies and roadies. Sadie had a 'thing' about cleanliness. It wasn't exactly a phobia or maybe it was. When she was little she rarely went outside because coming home meant an hour or more of washing and rewashing to get clean. Maybe it was compulsive and probably even weird but in Sadie's eighteen years being clean was was and will always be on the forefront of her brain. And when her fingers bled and shook raw. Or when she could barely keep from crying when scrubbing yet again after going outside, she always knew to just stay indoors. And always wear gloves-which were presently in her bag that just got stolen twenty minutes ago. That's what I get for taking the metro. She thought. It was never safe full of the unsavory and always unclean. But it was cheap and for somebody with no job and staying at the luxurious local park apartments, the metro was the only option.
Now walking the dank corridors choked with bodies, Sadie felt like a cat in a box. Her long raven hair matted down in places she could feel the sweat bead on her forehead and neck. Her feline green eyes trying not to make contact with anybody who might use a tired pick-up line or slurred innuendo. She knew she was pretty. She had been told so since she was fifteen in sometimes not so subtle ways. Her lithe tan body always brought attention from both sexes. Getting a tattoo last year had only made matters worse.
She had been drinking the night when the tattoo became a part of her temple. Picked up at the park by one who by night's end would be another fling she regrets, it had been raining in the city when the florescent sign of the parlor caught her eye. She loved rain in New Los Angeles. Rain in the city was nothing like rain in the country. It made more noise. There was something about the water echoing off buildings and windows and battering against sidewalks that reminded Sadie of the classical music she used to listen to at the orphanage. More than once she had found herself sitting on a street-curb and humming along with the sounds all around her. There was also the feeling of the water dripping down her back, As erotic as anything Sadie had ever known, there was something about a raindrop running down the center to the small of her back that made Sadie sigh.
It was this feeling that carried her past the florescent sign and into the semi-dark parlor. "Hey darlin." The artist has remarked when she turned and fixed her eyes on him. "Have an idea of what you're looking for?" Sadie smiled. "Not really." As she thumbed through a book of lettering styles and calligraphy, an image of the Grim Reaper holding a scythe caught her eye. "God that's morbid." The artist snickered and said, "It's called 'In Mourning'. Are you mourning my dear?" Sadie glanced quickly at him. "Aren't we all? Besides it looks like a black-light poster in a teenager's bedroom." She turned away and began studying the wall of angels and devils when her back arched and a tiny moan escaped her lips. "What is that?" She pointed to some ornate cursive lettering on the back wall. The artist smiled. "It's called Angel Script." It's supposedly the style of God's Angels." "Which God?" Sadie whispered. She got closer and traced the lettering with her finger. The artist stood behind her and said, "It says 'Love the Angels." Sadie grinned as the artist picked up his his tattoo gun. "We don't often get an angel in mourning here." Sadie took a step closer. Twenty minutes later 'Love The Angel Of Mourning' was inscribed on her ribcage in the language of the angels.
And now months later, Sadie wound her way backstage of 'The Basement' hoping to catch a glimpse of the rock god who was just now finishing a set that from what she could surmise, the crowd had revered....