Having reached the 30K word mark on my new novel, I’ve reached that point where the characters have begun to do their own thing and the story has taken a shift that I hadn’t anticipated. At this point it generally becomes clear how the story is going to pan out and I can begin the process of placing the book in a genre and also the marketing process.
With this particular book, I’m not entirely sure how or who to market it to.
With a religious satire, riddled with (what some will find) vulgar language, the notion that God is a total bastard, the imminent destruction of humans at the hands of said bastard, Satan as the good guy and Jesus and Moses returned to save the humans they love, I’m not going to win many friends.
My long-term dEaDINBURGH readers will not be impressed by this book, I suspect. But in the words of Stewart, our Lord God.
‘Fuck thum. Fuck the lot of thum.’
In structuring the novel, I’ve chosen to alternate chapters between, Nick (Satan’s) telling of his history, and our own evolution, to a barmaid; and Jay and Mo’s adventures on earth. The friends have been placed into the bodies of adult humans, instead of being born on earth this time, and have one week to save our souls before God scrubs the entire universe and begins form scratch. Interludes featuring the head of a global charity foundation, Named Mr Saluzar, will break every other chapter, forming the subplot.
I’ve included two chapters for you.
The following (unedited, un-proofed) excerpt is from Mark Wilson’s upcoming novel, On The Seventh Day and is copyright of Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing 2015.
Graphic language and sex, as well as plenty of religious irreverence to follow. You’ve been warned:
Jay and Mo
Blinking hard, Jay tried for the third time to focus his eyes, finding once again that the murky fluid of the world wouldn’t shift. He closed his eyes tightly and rubbed at the lids with the middle knuckle of his index fingers, kneading the soreness behind them. Hair tickled his eyelids. The first sign that he had displaced another soul and taken its body. Jay sighed heavily. Part of him had hoped that his Father may have reconsidered the method by which he and Mo would re-enter the human world. Jay didn’t like to cuss, dad did plenty of that for the whole of Heaven, but several expletives escaped regardless in sympathy for the poor soul he’d disembodied upon arrival in the material universe. Earth to be more specific.
Cricking his neck to the left and right, Jay prepared himself mentally for the imminent discovery of who and where and what he now was. A week, seven days, was not a great deal of time on earth to bring about a change cataclysmic enough to delay God’s decision to obliterate, the universe and begin his grand experiment anew. It was all he had, though. Needs must.
Jay opened his eyes and observed the ceiling of the room he lay in. Think. Observe. Examine. He told himself as the ceiling came into view. The murkiness struck him once again, but part of his subconscious whispered that this was the haze through which human eyes perceived the world. His new body’s eyes were working fine. This was all they saw.
Closing his eyes once more, Jay decided to let his other senses feed him the information he needed for a moment. He remembered from his time in Palestine, two thousand years previously, how very important smells and sound were. Jay regretted the decision immediately as the unmistakable aromas of cold Chinese takeaway, stale farts and crusted spunk-from far too nearby- filled his senses.
Choking back on the suddenly all too familiar sensation of a gag reflex, Jay focused the sounds of the room. Traffic passing, nobody else at home and the gorgeous melodies of The Police wafting through the apartment? House? Thank Dad he has some good music in the house, whoever he is.
Rising from the comfortable bed, Jay found a long, full-length mirror propped against the magnolia wall. He closed his eyes for a moment, bracing himself for the disappointment, he half expected and then took in his new face and body.
He was a tall lad in his thirties, much taller than Jay had been in his ‘God Incarnate’ body in Nazareth. His new face was…okay. Just okay. Nothing remarkable, a bit dull looking if anything, but he had all his hair and teeth which Jay supposed was something at least.
A powerful cramp suddenly surged through his intestines, doubling Jay over. On porcelain in seconds, grimacing and sweating as his bowels emptied in a torrent, Jay eyed the stack of takeaway containers littered on the floor in the next room.
What the hell’s this guy been eating?
Jay’s new body finished purging itself. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, Jay took off the T-shirt the guy had been sleeping in. His slightly flabby body was covered in thick, wiry hair and hadn’t seen much sunlight from the pastiness of his skin, but really wasn’t in bad condition at all.
Suddenly aware of the smells of someone else, Jay decided that a long hot shower was due. The feel of hot water against his skin, was pure bliss. Nothing as pleasurable as a simple shower existed the on his last visit to earth. His short life in the Middle-East had been one of heat and hunger and sand. One never felt truly clean in those days. In Heaven of course no matter existed, so showers were not required.
Stepping reluctantly from the steam-filled bathroom, Jay dressed himself in a Pink Floyd T-shirt and denims, which were the cleanest-smelling clothes from the pile laying in the bedroom.
The guy’s house is a pig-sty, but at least he has taste, Jay thought, absent-mindedly shuffling through some letters on the dresser. Noting the name on a Scottish Gas bill, he made, a not too bad face. Garry Crawford, that’ll do. Plain, ordinary, nowt flashy. Yeah. It fits the unremarkable face and flabby body nicely.
Scanning down the little window of the envelope Jay’s heart sank as he read Garry’s address.
Motherwell…Bloody Lanarkshire. Dad you are entirely sadistic at times.
Jay sighed and tried out his voice.
“Awright? Big Gaz here, how ye daen, mucker?” Jay closed his eyes and took a moment to compose himself before trying again.
“Hiya. Ahm Gaz. Good tae meet ye.”
Better. Obviously dad has stuck me with the accent, but at least I can smarten the dialogue up a bit.
Jay noticed a bass guitar resting on a black stands and rolled his eyes. Couldn’t even get a real guitarist, he groaned. Returning his eyes to the mirror he spent the next few minutes staring into his new face, wondering how to paint an expression on it that would make millions, billions of people trust him, despite the Lanarkshire accent. Arranging his new features into a state somewhere between kindness and constipation, Jay shrugged.
Best it’s going to get. Time to find, Mo. As he began searching for a phone another cramp racked through his guts, sending him racing back to the little bathroom.
Got to get this guy on the salads.
A spasm of pleasure ran along his groin, almost doubling him over. Leaning forward slightly, Mo rested his hand onto the lower back of a woman he’d just orgasmed with. She slid back along the length of his cock, tilting her hips a little to tease some life back into it. She needn’t have worried, it had lost perhaps five percent, changing form rock hard to merely stiff and rubbery.
It’d still do the job.
Mo closed his eyes again, enjoying the sensation of bareback shagging. It’d been so long since he’d been on earth, he’d forgotten the simple ecstasy of flesh and fluids connected and mingled. Turning his partner over-he wanted to look into her eyes- Mo fought back the distraction of her unfamiliar body. She was much thinner than the women of his era. She would almost seem fragile if she wasn’t at that moment forcing him onto his back and positioning herself to ride him. Supposing her appearance was simply fashionable now, Mo shifted his awareness back to where they were connected and to her face, which was simply beautiful, and oddly familiar.
Once again, the rush of orgasm came.
“Fackin’ hell, Chris. You gone and spunked again?” She didn’t sound angry, just surprised.
“That ain’t like you, love,” She said, reaching up to his face, to stroke his beard.
“Yeah,” Mo replied, noting his cockney accent. “Sorry about that, darlin’.”
She smiled, illuminating the room.
“Not to worry, got to get a move on now anyway, Chrissy,” She said. Rising from his weakening cock she placed a gentle kiss on his forehead before slipping off the bed and into the en-suite, the noise of a shower followed soon after.
Mo stretched back onto the bed, reaching his hands behind his head. Enjoying a long, feline-like stretch he smiled to himself. Rising from the mattress, Mo found a mirror and approached. His first look at his new body and face, brought a wide smile to his face as it dawned on him why the woman’s- his wife’s- face was so familiar. Scanning along the tanned, slim and toned torso of his new body, Mo moved his eyes up to the bearded face, and top-knot crowned hair.
In his mid-twenties and handsome; his generations’ most gifted footballer- spoken in the same vein as Maradonna, Ronaldinho and Messi- the broad, bankable smile of Man United’s goal-scoring machine, Chris Pillans smiled back at Mo.
Mo stood grinning at himself in the mirror for a full minute. The moment was broken by the chorus of Uptown Funk, issued from an iPhone on the bedside table.
Retrieving the phone, Mo glanced at the screen.
Clicking connect, Mo rubbed at his beard as the call connected. The blue screen was replaced by the unfamiliar face of an angry looking man in his forties with dark hair and very familiar blue eyes; his best friend’s eyes. They took in Mo’s new face, recognising it immediately. His brow creased.
“You fuckin’ jammy bastard,” Jay said with a thick Lanarkshire accent.
Mo managed to keep a straight face, for a moment. “You sound just like your daddy,” he said.
Obscured by the sound of Mo’s laughter, Jay barked, “Just gies yer address, bawbag.”
Beth reached over the bar, placing a hand on top of Nick’s. “Is it painful? Telling me your history?” She asked.
Nick narrowed his eyes, thinking about the question. Finally he said,” no. It’s not, but it’s hardly the first time I’ve vented to a stranger.”
“Why me?” asked Beth.
Nick shrugged. Mostly timing and circumstance. Right place, right time,” he said.
“Mostly?” She asked.
“We’ll get to that later, Bethany,” Nick said softly. “I have a story to tell first.”
Beth’s eyes flashed fear, but she hid it quickly behind a sip of her vodka and a smile.
“Where was I?” Nick asked.
Beth drained her drink before answering. She felt like she’d been drinking for days. Exhaustion crept on her.
“Water,” she said, “Water and life.”
Nick nodded once in thanks.
“Yes. Water and Life. The moment when everything in Heaven and in the material universe was irretrievable altered.”
Nick smiled warmly at her before continuing.
“Water, lightning and some chemicals, that’s all it took.”
“It was random?” Beth asked.
“Yes and no,” Nick replied.
“The lightning, the spark was intentional. He meant to begin the process. What came after, He left to chance…no not chance, nature.” A shadow of sadness passed over Nick’s face as he spoke.
“God made the atoms and molecules form into nucleic acid, DNA. Proteins formed, membranes, organelles. Cells combined, proliferated. Others went extinct. This simple snuffing of a cell shocked Angels whose lives were unlimited by time, or health or predatory chance. That a spark of life, even one so small, could be snuffed out was abhorrent to us in our eternal lifespans. God reassured us that it was all in nature. Part of life.
Billions upon billions of identical cells emerged from one common ancestor. Some adapted, some disappeared from the gene pool forever. Groups of cells formed bonds or fused together, forming tissues, or other structures. The single-celled inhabitants of a pool of water adapted into a myriad of multicellular creatures. Simple organisms. Some photosynthesised food. Some didn’t. Some hunted. Most perished.
All who survived adapted in some way. Muscle, teeth, fins, gills. Some became simple worm-like creatures, or fish-like organisms. Others adapted to become plants. Hundreds of millions of years passed. Billions of organisms, whole species lived short lives and died.
Angels wept for their brief existence.
Adaptations, evolution continued. Rudimentary life found a way to survive, to adapt, to become complex life. Animals with eyes and mouths…faces emerged. Simple things, who fed and bred and not much else, but they had faces.”
Nick looked deep into Beth’s eyes, causing her to shrink back a little.
“You cannot fathom the clamour that this simple development-a creature with a face- sparked in Heaven. Angels flocked to God. ‘What does it mean? They have faces? Is it blasphemy? Does the existence of creatures with faces mock you my lord?’
It seems an absurd reaction I’m sure, Beth but consider this. We were God’s only creations, made in His own likeness by His own hand. We looked like Him. We had faces.
That nature, evolution had created an organisms with a structure so closely resembling one of our own, by random chance, seemed a heresy.”
“Yes,” Nick said. “Seems ridiculous to you, I agree, but you were born into a world where a face was the first thing you saw. In all of Heaven and God’s good universe until that moment, only God’s creations, His Angels, had faces. That these random mutations of nature had produced a creature with such a structure was truly terrifying to us.”
“Yeah, I suppose I can get that. Faces…terrifying,” Beth said, sarcasm lacing her tone.
Nick rolled his eyes.
“God- calm as he’d been since our creation- spoke to us, His Angels, gently, reassuring us that all was as he intended, part of nature. ‘Observe, my Angels. See what nature does next. Trust in me.’ Of course, we did trust in God and followed his advice. We witnessed the development of brains, simple but entirely functional. Ears, limbs skeletons, nervous systems, kidneys, hearts, livers pulsed and beat their way into existence. The rate of development was astonishing to us. You must understand, Beth, time is…different in Heaven. We existed for many millions, perhaps billions of years, before God created the universe. Time passed for us, but didn’t. Things changed, adapted I suppose, but nothing was diminished, only magnified by its passing.
Change occurred in Heaven but only as we willed it, not at the mercy of nature and not on the scale that life was adapting in the Universe. It seemed to us that time passing in the material universe simply meant death. Once an unnoticed companion to us in Heaven, time now seemed to stalk the material world. To us, the evolution present in the universe and the death that drove it was truly shocking.
I’ve been talking about evolution of creatures on earth, but this was happening on countless planets, throughout the universe.” Nick had spread his arms in a broad gesture.
“The unrelenting speed; the efficiency of nature in stimulating these frighteningly effective adaptations in animals and plants, shook us. We returned to God once more, in greater numbers than before. ‘Lord. Look what matter, what nature has done. Fish have grown legs and lungs and crawl the earth. Faces look to the skies. When will it stop?’
God’s patience with us in our ignorance seemed eternal at that time. He merely smiled kindly and allayed our fears.
As his first Creation, his closest companion, I was hurt in another manner by what unfolded in nature, so I asked God. ‘There is a spark of life in them, a light, not unlike our own ethereal light. When they die, does it come home to you, my Lord?’
I had witnessed God create matter and I had witnessed it change and evolve from basic chemicals, to the first cells and into a myriad of living animals and plants. The light inside each of the billions of cells was so familiar to me that it may as well have been part of my own self. I was in conflict. Where did this light go upon their deaths? Did their consciousness reside in the spiritual part of themselves and if so how can God suffer them to die and this light to just dissipate? If that’s what truly happened.
I didn’t really believe that He would allow these organisms to suffer such brief lives and their light to dissipate. That would be cruel. God was not cruel, He was the source of all love and warmth in Heaven and the universe. He was the Creator. But the questions remained as thorns in my subconscious.
Did God in creating this abundance of life, share his own light amongst them? He hadn’t seemed diminished in any way by the act of Creation. If anything he’d seemed magnified. Was he receiving the light of these creatures back into himself upon their death? I knew for a fact that he wasn’t, we would have witnessed the entry of such light in Heaven. Despite this knowledge, I was also certain that he must have a plan, a destiny for this light of life; otherwise the whole experiment of the universe, life, was the cruellest punishment imaginable.
Consider a brief life in the material universe followed by just… nothing? I couldn’t abide the thought. In hindsight, that moment was when I began to lose my trust in God and became his Accuser.
I recall Him looking into my eyes. ‘You must trust in me, my Angel. There is a plan.’ I nodded and prayed and made all the right noises, Beth, but something crucial and irreparable had broken inside me. Despite this, it would take many years, uncountable trillions of deaths and the evolution of humankind to set me firmly on my course.
God, of course, reassured time and again that all was in nature. All was intended. Many Angels made a choice to trust God and merely observe. Other turned away from watching nature’s progress altogether, returning to those concerns in Heaven that had busied them before God had created the universe. I resolved to be and remain The Watcher.
End of Excerpt
On The Seventh Day will be published in August, 2015 by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing