On The SevenTh Day – Preview. Chapter 19

In chapter 19 of On The SevenTh Day, we join Nick (Satan) and Beth (a human), in Hell. They visit two new arrivals named Garry Crawford (a Lanarkshire man) and Chris Pillans (a Premiership footballer). Both have arrived in the afterlife after being disembodied by the spirits of Jesus and Moses respectively.

The following excerpt contains strong language, and religious satire some may find offensive. It is unedited or proofed and comes from On The SevenTh Day, by Mark Wilson. Copyright Mark Wilson and Paddy’s Daddy Publishing, 2015.

On The SevenTh Day

19

Beth never saw him move. He was on her in an instant, wrapping his arms around her. He changed again, this time into the tall being with the blackened wings. Beth screamed as felt her body come apart. Just like that, every cell in her ceased to be matter and was converted to…something else.

Aware that she was, someplace else, Beth stopped screaming. She felt her face, whatever that meant now, pressed against his chest. No heartbeat comforted her. No warmth emanated from him. Nick.

He released her from his arms, holding her at arms-length to look into her face. She had expected to be panicked, shaking uncontrollably, all reason lost. None of these things happened. She did in fact feel a peacefulness she’d never known. All hunger was satisfied, every desire fulfilled. She just was and felt joy for the gift of its simplicity. Looking to Nick she asked,

“Am I dead?”

He shook his head.

“No, your soul has been separated from the flesh of your body. It will be returned when we are done here…if that is what you wish.”

Beth took a step away from him and moved her eyes over the place she found herself in. They stood in a very modern-looking office complex. Pods with neck-high separator panels stood all around, separated by wide corridors and open areas. In each of the large pods various people worked at computers and on telephones. Some played videogames at a fifty inch screen in the centre of the office which seemed to be a communal area. Others milled around the coffee lounge, chatting…laughing. The office had a lively feel, a productive vibe.

Music played in the background and the workers dressed casually. The office and its occupants, looked like one might expect the people and complexes of Google or Facebook to. Meg scanned their faces, her eyes widening and the steel rod her spine had fused into relaxing a little.

Nick smiled at her, humour shining in his eyes.

“What did you expect, Bethany? The Big Fire?”

The words struck her.

The Big Fire. Uncle Harry.

He had called Hell exactly that. Told her she that would go there. Beth fought back a rising panic attack. Taking a deep breath she held it and the threat of unleashed emotion back, refusing it, or either Nick or uncle Harry that power over her. She felt Nick watching her, gauging her response. It made her angry and doused the fear under cold intent.

“You’re a bastard, Nick,” She said flatly.

Nick gave a single curt nod in the affirmative.

“Yes. But not enough of one to take you to the lower levels,” he said.

His eyes darted away from her face to a person who was approaching from behind her. Beth turned to face the being. Dressing in denims, long-sleeve-T and with Cons on her feet, a blonde woman, very pretty, but with concerned features approached carrying an iPad.

She handed the device to Nick, who gave her a warm smile, completely at odds with his Hellish appearance, greeting her.

“What do we have here, Meg?”

An apologetic look creased her face, “Bit of an anomaly, sir,” she said. “To be honest, we’re glad you’re here, we were about to call you anyway.”

Beth stood with her arms folded in a hug around her body wondering what constituted an anomaly serious enough in Hell that its ruler would need summoned. Nick’s eyebrows knitted together as he scanned the information Meg had presented to him.

“They’ve been here since, when?” he asked.

“Four days now, Sir.” Meg replied, subconsciously worrying at a scar on her neck with the nail of her right index finger. Despite her obviously good relationship with Nick, she looked faintly terrified at his prospective reaction.

Beth could relate.

“And they’ve been in that same room, together since, no contact with any other souls?”

“That is correct, sir, although they did spend twenty four hours in as re-education booth.”

Nick raised his eyebrows.

“Ah well, that can’t be helped now. Thanks for bringing this to me, Meg, you did the right thing in calling me.”

Meg relaxed visibly, nodded her thanks and scurried off, disappearing into a throng of workers gathered in the coffee lounge.

Nick tucked the tablet under his arm and returned his attention to Beth.

“C’mon,” he told her, flicking his head towards a door to their right, “I have a little problem to deal with before we can continue the tour.”

∞∞∞

A few paces behind Nick, Beth moved her head from side to side, taking in as much of her surroundings as she could process whilst they walked towards the elevator. The clacking of keyboards, sounds of laughter, chatting and general productiveness comforted Beth, reassured her this was just another busy office.

Following Nick into the elevator, she flicked her eyes towards the control panel. They according to the little electronic panel above the buttons, the elevator currently sat on Level Two. Scanning the buttons, of which there was easily two-hundred, Beth scanned though to Level seventy-five, before Nick broke her concentration.

“Push, Level Seven, please, Bethany,” he said.

Finger hovering over the panel, Beth’s eyes flicked to the button designated Level One, which had a key slot inserted.

“That what I think it is?” she asked Nick.

“Just push seven,” he said, without looking at her.

Beth poked at the button sending the lift he opposite way she’d expected. As the lift descending, Beth gave a sardonic laugh at having expected an elevator in Hell to do anything other than descend.

Nick stood impassive, watching the numbers rise, chewing at the inside of his lip.

After a few moments, the elevator binged, its doors sliding open to reveal a much grimmer-looking level than the one they’d left above. Following Nick out into the corridor, Beth noted the change in colour scheme, dimensions and general atmosphere. Stark white tiles lined the floors and walls, lit by an off-ultra-violet coloured strip of light that lined the walls the length of the corridor. No music played, no workers busied themselves; no one was present at all.

As she followed Nick along the corridor, she could feel his mood darken as they passed a series of doors, labelled with people’s names and a year. The doors did not have handles. Nick came to a stop at a door labelled;

Crawford and Pillans, July 2015.

Reaching for a small panel, Nick paused. Retracting his hand, he turned to face Bethany.

“Beth,” he said quietly, “Please don’t be afraid. I will not allow anything to harm you here in this place, but you may see things you do not…approve of.”

Nick searched her eyes for a moment. Beth did not react.

“If you can, just trust me. Once I’ve dealt with this, we’ll proceed with your tour.”

Beth nodded her agreement.

Nick offered her a half-smile and pressed his hand to the door’s panel. Instantly the door slid open and an angry Scotsman appeared at its threshold.

“Whit in the name ay fuck are you guys offering us now? A hydrochloric acid-enema?”

The guy, dark of hair, over six feet in height, clearly used to getting his way, attempted to push past Nick into the corridor. He may as well have been shoving against a marble statue. Fear filled his eyes momentarily, sending him backing up into the room to join another man inside.

The other guy wore his hair in a top-knot, tall also, with a beard; very handsome and extremely familiar-looking. Top-knot placed a hand on the Scotsman’s shoulder.

“Calm down, mate. This is the gaffer ‘ere. It’ll get sorted now.” He spoke with a cockney accent.

The big Scotsman did not calm down.

“Sorted?” he demanded, eyes filled with disbelief and anger. “You think these cunts can make up for what’s been done tae us here?”

He drilled his eyes into the cockney, daring him to argue. Nick and Beth entered the room, nick standing with his back and one foot up against the wall, clearly entertained by the Scotsman.

“Well, I’ll fuckin’ tell ye this, son,” he continued talking to the cockney, but was pacing and scanning the room with angry eyes as he spoke.

“Waking up in a shitehole, the likes ay which even a Lanarkshire-man wouldn’t enter-fuckin’-tain, tae be set about by two scabby looking basturds in hooded robes, scalpels and dildos in hand, might be your idea of satisfactory accommodation, Mr Premiership, wank-face, but where ah come fae,” He searched for the words to express his outrage.

“…well…it just insae on. Ma hole’s in basturdin’ tatters here.”

His eyes bulged and moved from Nick to Beth and back to the cockney who stepped forward to placate him once again.

“Mate, you’re right, I ain’t arguing wiv ya, I’m just saying, they admitted they made a mistake, innit? The guvnor’s here now. Let’s hear him out, Gaz.”

Shoulders hunched, fists clenched, Gaz clearly wanted to hurt someone, but having already failed to budge Nick, he simply stood inert, snorting through his nose, trying to calm himself.

“Aye, right,” he said, flicking his eyes back to Nick. “But if one mair ay your workers comes near ma erse again…”

Nick laughed loudly, making Beth jump. The laugh was humourless.

He stalked over to Gaz and the cockney, towering above them.

“You’re in my hands now,” he said, his voice a sadistic lover’s caress. “Let’s get to the bottom of this,” He turned to Gaz, “No pun intended, son.”

Gaz shuffled uncomfortably alongside the cockney, still furious, but quiet for a change.

Nick made a gesture and a panel opened in the wall of the unfurnished room. A sofa slid through the open panel, banging into the back of the men’s legs, causing them to fall softly onto the cushions. Both men grimaced a little as they landed but stayed silent, eyes on Nick who stood over them, arms crossed across his chest.

“So you two came here a few days ago, went straight to…” Nick fished the tablet from under his arm. “Level twenty-eight?” he made a whooshing sound through pursed lips.

“You pair must’ve right lively little bastards before you died to deserve Twenty-eight.”

Gaz’s eyes lit up again. “Look, mate, I done a lot ay shite things in ma life, but fuck all tae deserve what’s been done tae me here.”

Nick pressed his face close to Gaz’s.

“That is not for you to judge, Mr Crawford. We do not make mistakes with the placement of a soul. The treatments you’ve received in Hell since you arrived are exactly what is required upon your death if you are to be redeemed, and precisely what you have to look forward to upon your actual death.” Nick growled the words. His black wings ruffled behind him, sending a spasm of fear through the human inhabitants of the room.

“However,” Nick said,” It does seem as though neither of you gentlemen were scheduled to depart the material world just yet.”

The cockney fought his fear to speak up. “You mean we ain’t dead?” he asked.

“No, Mr Pillans, you are in fact not dead, but are in fact the first two souls in history to have entered my domain without dying first or at my invitation.”

Beth shuffled her feet nervously.

“It seems that your souls were displaced, to allow other entities to inhabit them.” Nick said. “It has happened before, the disembodiment of souls, normally by one of the many ancient, malevolent souls, who want to return to the flesh. Humans call them demonic possessions.”

Nick searched the faces of Gaz Crawford and Chris Pillans.

“The disembodied spirit, however does not enter Hell, instead remaining earthbound, until its body is vacated. In your case, entities powerful enough to eradicate your bond to the material universe have shunted you from your bod…”

Nick’s eyes narrowed as something occurred to him. Sweeping around, he spoke with urgency, “Beth, come with me, we’re leaving.”

Gaz was on his feet in a heartbeat.

“C’mon tae fuck, chief. Whit about us? Ye cannae just leave us here, we’ve done fuck-all.”

Nick’s eyes glinted, reflecting the violet light of the corridor.

“I’m afraid you’re here to stay, chaps.”

The door slid closed, Gaz Crawford’s voice roaring through,

“Ya fuckin durty, basturd!”

Nick sighed and reopened the door, moving with the purpose of a living statue, he shoved Gaz back into the room, then pulled the big man into him bringing them nose to nose.

“You have entirely too much to say for yourself, Mr Crawford.”

Caught in Nick’s grip, physically and mentally, Gaz did his best to glare back defiantly. His eyes misted, but he spat out the words, “Get tae fuck.”

Serenely, Nick pressed a single finger gently to Gaz’s lips.

Beth felt something shift in the air as Nick touched the Scotsman. Nothing physical, but something…

Moving around Nick, who had placed one foot against the wall and was leaning back, surveying Gaz’s face, Beth’s eyes widened in shock, then narrowed in curiosity as she took in the change in the man.

Where his mouth had been, a wrinkled, badly torn anus now protruded. Several damaged haemorrhoids dangled, weeping onto his chin. Gaz’s eyes darted from Nick to Beth. All arrogance had left them and been replaced by undiluted fear as his hands moved to where his mouth previously sat.

As his fingers confirmed what his mind already knew, they recoiled in revulsion from the orifice. A muffled voice came from Gaz’s trousers.

“Whit…Whit the fuck, man?”

Gaz’s bluster was all but gone, his voice muffled as much by panic as by the fabric of his underwear and trousers.

Nick spoke into a cell phone. “Meg, my dear, could you send Mr Michael Clarke-Duncan to pay a visit to Mr Crawford on Level Seven?”

Nick smiled warmly at Gaz whose eyes had begun to fill with tears. Holding a finger up in a quiet for now gesture, Nick responded to Meg, “Yes, that’s correct, standard sexual torture for both Pillans and Crawford.”

Nick stole a glance at Gaz’s face. A grin tugged at the corners of Nick’s mouth.

“Tell Mike to start with a blowjob from Crawford.”

Nick disconnected his call. Taking Beth gently by the arm, he left the room, closing the door behind him, the beating of fists and a watery-flatulent chorus came from its inhabitants causing Beth to startle.

Nick did not look back.

Tugging at his arm, Bethany asked him, “Nick, you look worried, what’s happening?” Nick’s face was stoic; lacking all humour.

“Remember I told you that something big was going to happen?” he nodded back at the door to Gaz and Chris’s cell. “Those two clowns are the start of it. I needed to see them in person to be sure, but only God could’ve sent their souls straight to Sheol without death occurring.”

“Why would he want to? Why them?” Beth asked.

“A better question is, who did he send to take their place?” Nick said.

Headed back to the elevator, Nick called over his shoulder, “Come along, Bethany. We’ve work to do.”

End of Excerpt

On The SevenTh Day is due for release by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing early October, 2015.

Mark Wilson is the Amazon-bestselling author of seven fiction novels and one non-fiction memoir. You can find Mark  and his books at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing and at Amazon US and UK.

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy– Review

Depression Trigger warning:

This is my first Cormac McCarthy novel and in all honesty it’ll probably be my last. At present I have no desire or intention of ever reading McCarthy’s work again. This isn’t a reflection of the quality of his writing, which is in fact, wonderfully creative. Staggeringly so.

McCarthy employs a very simple, but wholly immersive narrative style in this book. His characters are nameless. Cormac gives them a gender and a rough age, but that’s about it. His sentence structure is stripped down to the bare bones, in that he discards conventional use of punctuation and grammar, in favour of a flowing, short structure, cut with the occasional longer, more poetic monologue from the narrator’s point of view.

This approach is hugely effective. The short, sparse structure reflects and amplifies the bleakness of the world he has placed his poor characters into. The longer monologues are beautiful, insightful and heart-breaking at times; these moments shine a bright light onto the broken structure between, making the shadows they cast and struggles described in them all the more dark…. inescapable.

Aside from the skill in the rudimentary narrative and prose, Cormac employs some of the most immersive, descriptive settings and conveyance of the complexities of emotions his characters suffer through I’ve ever experienced.

This book is so wonderfully written, it is simply beautiful, the use of language to convey such hardship, such stark, stripped back humanity and beauty, but by God, it is bleak as fuck, and the most emotionally-draining piece of literature I’ve encountered.

The world of The Road is so very bleak, so lacking in joy or comfort or hope. Reading this book was a trial for me, I didn’t want to continue, but its beauty and humanity and raw splendour dragged me along despite myself.

If you are in any way prone to depression or periods of low moods, I would recommend avoiding this book, at least until happier times. It is a marvel, it is simply one of the most staggeringly gorgeous and horrifically desperate pieces of fiction I’ve read. I’ll never read this book again, but the gap it let in me will remain forever.

Daydreams and Devils by Robert Cowan– Review

With his second offering, Robert Cowan has avoided any treading of water and built on the best of his debut, The Search for Ethan, developing his skillset substantially. With shifting narrative, complex and engaging characters, and an entertaining plot peppered with occasionally acerbic humour, Cowan’s sophomore offering shows none of the signs of that difficult second album. Instead Cowan’s lovely writing simply entertains and immerses the reader into a very real-feeling setting and into the lives of his very relatable characters.

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In Daydreams and Devils, we see a more confident Cowan, gaining his stride and stretching his literary legs, culminating in a novel that significantly betters his first novel, which itself was a very good book. Cowan deserves a larger readership and with offerings such as this book, he’s well on his way to producing an excellent body of work for new readers to discover and binge on.

You can find Robert Cowan and his books at Amazon US and UK.

Daydreams and Devils is available for 99p/99c at Amazon now.

Wannabes by Michael Logan – Review

Wannabes by Michael Logan – Review

Wannabes is a wonderfully nasty, unexpectedly warm, funny, insightful, and clever satire that should feel like a fusion of John Niven’s Kill Your Friends and Second Coming, except that Logan’s Wannabes is much funnier, infinitely more skilfully-written and wholly more relatable than Niven’s work.

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Logan’s writing in invigorating, inventive, wholly engaging and oozes satirical insights throughout. This is a writer unhampered by over-editing or expectations who simply writes the very best stories he has to tell. Logan’s passion for his work screams from the page. By the book’s end he has managed to pull the reader into the murky, classy, imaginatively filthy worlds of the music business, Heaven and Hell, and the psyche of a predatory serial killer.

Logan writes these characters extremely vividly and engages his reader so skilfully, that he or she comes to care about even the filthiest, most depraved of them, simply due to his passionate writing and his skill in presenting many-layered characters, whom Logan makes you empathise with and invest in, despite their flaws and sometimes crass behaviours.

With Wannabes Logan is an exciting new voice and joins a new breed of Indie and Hybrid authors, such Ryan Bracha, Gerard Brennan, Keith Nixon and Craig Furchtenicht, in producing quality, engaging, hugely imaginative and original, modern-feeling literature that oozes skill and creativity.

For me, Logan is my literary find of 2015 so far.

You can find Michael Logan and his books at Amazon UK and US, as well as at http://www.freelancelogan.com/logan/.

Wannabes is available at a special price of 99p/99c