Revelation 21: 1 (RSV)
Holy Bible A faraway place, a distant future...
Beyond the horizon threshold, a note in a Coke bottle floating down the river; how did it get there? Where did it come from?
And the prophetic omen: "Something is wrong, John, very wrong." She was a Renoloi, and the Renoloi possessed a gift.
Pieces of the Puzzle... Part of the Secret.
The adventure begins...
To rescue a Renoloi village from an unnatural predator, Tian, Ames, Reed and their team cross uncharted lands and embark on a treacherous voyage on a mysterious green sea, encountering a ghost ship from the Bermuda Triangle of long ago. With no passengers or crew, the vessel has somehow reappeared in an unnatural circular storm.
To an even more inexplicable island in this volatile, ephemeral world; and whispered words: "Mr. Ames, he is like you." Are they captives within a time warp, a tear in the fabric of time, or something more, much more?
Pursued by the most wicked killers ever unleashed on innocent people in a primitive world, the rescue party's worst fears are realized. Driven by insatiable madness, they are relentless; beyond savage, they are monsters. They are Night Hunters.
Tenaciously, the ultimate evil has followed from the distant past. It has come for them, hell-bent on taking them, killing them... all of them.
Despite unending adversity and the ruthless treachery pursuing them, the team must persevere in its quest for the Secret of the Legends; a race against time on a world destined for change... cataclysmic change.
...Something yet Unfinished.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)|
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Fifteen Billion Years IISecret of the Legends
By Rand McLester
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Rand McLester
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA faraway place, a distant future ...
... "Hey Doc, I'm baaack." Reed rounded the curve on the path, his easy smile in the forefront, the scar across his forehead faded to a white line, his mark of distinction. It had been some time since they were reunited at the crater, time they needed to rest and heal. So few had survived.
All traces of the battle with the Trogs were gone. Dead were buried, defense ramparts dismantled, the jungle renewed reclaiming the scars of war. Probing through the trees, dappled sunlight warmed the village as early morning dew slipped away in shimmering wisps of grey. It was good to be alive in this beautiful place; there was peace in the land of the Renoloi.
Ames and Tian laughed when Seana leaped from the roof of a hut taking Reed to the ground. Reed and Seana were young and in love, and they played like that. Watching them wrestle, Tian leaned into Ames, amused as Seana quickly got him in a full nelson and leg lock. She was an adept student. He was secured.
"Fuck me with a hickory switch, Seana, let me up."
"Not unless you squeal like a pig." It was an expression she had learned from him.
Almost choking, "Not in a million years," grimacing, "you don't even know what a pig is."
"Oh, short-timer," she bantered biting him on the ear and growling lovingly as they began attracting a crowd, she mustering moral support. Reed knew he'd better think of something quick, one of those macho moves that impressed the girls. Face down on his stomach with Seana clamped on his back, he pushed himself up, ducked his head and somersaulted—over—carrying her with him, surprising her when she found herself beneath him, flat on her back.
"Now will you let go?" he gasped, her arms still cinched around his throat.
"Reed, you are squishing my boobs."
Tian looked at Ames. "Where do you suppose she learned something like that?" And the grin.
Innocently, "Beats me."
"Sea—na," Reed sputtered, "you're choking me."
Ames, still straight-faced, "Why're you looking at me?" Tian just sighed. "Oh sure, I get blamed because he's a heathen."
Lovingly she backhanded him on the chest with a twinkling of deviltry in her eye.
Seana grunted, "Reed, you are squishing the air out of me."
"Okay, okay, I'm getting up." He'd squished the air out of her once before. Both winded, they got up brushing one another off, and when he spent a bit too long dusting her breasts, she slapped his hand. "They are not dirty, and I do not want them bruised either."
"Just little bruises perhaps?" She smacked him again.
Tian interrupted, "Meal time."
"What are we having?" Reed asked prefatorily.
Seana swatted him playfully. "The same as yesterday, Chiqua. You know that."
Not quite sarcastically, but almost, "My favorite." Reed thought the small animals resembled a cross between hybrid kangaroo rats and reptilian spring hares, but was never able to explain that to the women, and bowing with a sweeping arm gesture offered royalty, "After you, m'lady," indicating Seana.
Following them, warm and secure within Ames' embrace Tian smiled as they headed for the meeting circle located at the edge of the village on the lower end of the path. Affectionate words: "He never changes does he, John?"
Continuing to pester Seana, Reed overheard. "Tian, are you implying that I sorta grow on you?"
Ames answered. "Yeah—well so do warts."
Tian smiled. Good friends. She had no way of knowing how soon they all would need one another again... to survive in the land of the Renoloi.
* * *
At the meeting circle ...
... Preparations were already underway. Too few had survived the battle with the Trogs to live separately, so Tondra, Denen, Lita and Tian had combined their villages and now led as a council, an evolution of government.
Talking quietly, women sat in small groups while children tended to roasting Chiqua and extracting juice from leafy stalks. It was essential for the young to learn care for themselves as early as possible—survival skills.
This was still a primitive world.
Approaching the circle, seeing Denen and Lita, Tian excused herself without speaking. Ames nodded then ambled off with Reed and Seana.
Entering the crowd a swarm of smaller children promptly began gravitating toward Reed. He was their storyteller and they loved him like an uncle, and even though his tales were oftentimes modified, even unorthodox, the stories were delicious and not one child among them had any doubt they were absolutely true. Kneeling, he scooped an armful of his tyke-admirers hugging and grizzling them; he loved the attention—and he loved the children more.
Seana stood quietly watching the little ones converge upon the man. She didn't understand exactly what it was she felt inside, but it was good, warm. It wasn't the same as watching children with their mothers, the hermaphrodite connection; this feeling was different. Without Seana being aware, as it had occurred, Reed, a stranger, had not replaced the Renoloi, but now fulfilled what had not been there before. It was as though inside her something had been somnolent, something incomplete of which she had never been aware; and this man was the missing part. She still belonged to the Renoloi; but now, she belonged more to this stranger and she didn't know why—but it was good. Seana and the Renoloi did not yet comprehend the father concept; she sensed though that the men knew, something a part of a world far away, a long time ago.
The meals served two purposes, sustenance, and perhaps more importantly, keeping the people a family. It was a time to talk and share; ties that outside distractions could not dismantle allowing them to drift apart. Since their genesis and earliest known records linked to their beginnings, their leaders had insisted the meal ritual be maintained. It had always been and always should be a leisure affair; young and old gathering and interacting, maintaining the constant bond of communication and trust. The meals were unhurried, the experience enriching. Their leaders were wise.
Discussing survival tactics, Tondra and Nitana sat with Kalo, a young Renoloi who absorbed their every word. Kalo was reluctant to interrupt, and Tondra, sensing her confusion at times, would intentionally pause and explain in detail things the young girl seemed unsure of. Tondra was patient, an excellent teacher.
Ames rejoined Tian and Lita; then several others gathered discussing cloud formations. The Renoloi instinctively knew that cumulonimbus were storm clouds, and cirrus, the feathery high-altitude wisps were fair weather; but the women had never given them names. Ames told them of stratus, nimbus, cumulus, cirrus, barometric pressure, deciliters of mercury, and other meteorologic terminology; and in exchange they offered their perspective, they explaining as much to him as he to them. The Renoloi were easygoing, and their lack of inhibition and candor would at times surprise him; but that aspect he accepted simply as part of their charm.
She was watching Reed as he, Denen, Seana and a few others were collectively speaking across the circle from Tian and Ames. Her bright blue eyes blinked with wonder and admiration for this stranger who was not an enemy; and her perception of the man was known only to her. Jade, one of the youngest children, had adopted Reed as her own; and she was so taken with him that it was her attraction that Seana had first observed.
Seana then noticed his connection with other children as well. In some it was very subtle and with others more obvious; but almost without exception the young ones identified with him, thrived on him, loving his time and attention. They cherished it and couldn't get enough, and whenever possible he made a point of spending time with them. Reed knew the children were the future—and besides, they called him 'Uncle Reed'. Were it necessary for him to pick his favorite, he would likely choose Jade.
* * *
The meal finished ...
... Reed looked around furtively, being sure they had completed their chores, free for every detail of his next story. He grinned. The children had instituted a tradition of their own, and they were waiting. They had never heard of bedtime stories. They had aftermeal stories.
"Okay," he said at last, "today it's 'Jack and the Beanstalk'." The children, who had been edging closer in anticipation, swarmed him in earnest, congregating in a compressed group of snugly packed little bodies. And as part of the new tradition he would arrange them just so.
They loved his stories, naturally, because his stories were good.
"Now, once upon a time there was this guy named Jack, and he had these magic beans that he bought at one of the big-box chains for fifty-percent-off from the discontinued items basket, or blue-light special, or some such promotional discount." He paused, had their undivided attention, and went on, "Now Jack planted the magic seeds outside his condo window and watered them copiously with mineral-spring water—'bout a five gallon jug, if I remember correctly."
"The next morning Jack awoke all bright eyed—he could do that 'cause he's fictitious you know. The rest of us wake up like Oscar the Grouch; but that's a different story, so forget that for now. Anyway, Jack looked out the window, and lo and behold there was a humongous beanstalk that grew all the way up into the clouds." His stories were appropriately accented with voice inflections and hand gestures, creating just the right effect.
"So being the adventurous soul he was, Jack popped on his iPod with his tunes and headed out climbing the giant beanstalk, all the way to the sky. About the time Jack got almost to the top of the beanstalk, on the ground far, far below, along comes this gnarly logger named Paul Bunyan and his kick-ass blue ox, Babe. So ole' Pablo says to Babe 'Look at that tree boy. Lots of board feet there,' and Paul Bunyan chopped through the beanstalk with one stupendous swipe of his mighty ax." The children—all ears.
"Of course Jack is unknowingly and raucously dislodged from the beanstalk, plummeting toward certain death below." Quick glance. "For all you non-raconteurs that means he was screamin' like a sissy on the way down. When from out of nowhere, this turbaned dude named Aladdin swoops by on this magic carpet—and Jack plops right onto the rug beside Towelhead. But it's kinda crowded on the carpet now 'cause Aladdin's already got another passenger named Ahab and his trusty camel Clyde who he just snatched from Patina's tent. So the four of 'em go careening through the sky, having fun doin' high left and right banks and such. Howeversobeit unbeknownst to them they're losing altitude." Reed paused, leaving them hanging, suspense builder, wondering what was going to happen next.
"Next thing you know, cruising along they go into a low-level tail spin," he abruptly continued, "but by now they're miles out to sea and ole' Jack is buffeted and tossed overboard and bites a big wave when he goes into the drink. And even more bad luck, Aladdin can't stabilize the rocket rug 'cause by this time Clyde the camel is freaked out and airsick and in such a dither he's sitting on Aladdin's head puking on Ahab, so Carpet Jockey couldn't see where Jack went into the soup. So with heartfelt regret, after several unsuccessful reconnaissance passes they sadly give up on him and the magic carpet zips on out of sight with poor Jack left adrift in the ocean."
"Now for purposes of self-preservation Jack treads water for a couple of hours, but he's getting mighty tired—rhumatiz' and whatnot—when finally he sees a boat coming. So he starts waving his arms and yelling, and the boat changes course to rescue him." He paused again. "Good story, huh?" He needn't have asked because by now his audience was spellbound. "Turns out it wasn't a boat at all, but a giant whale named Moby Dick; and that sucker opens his big-ole' toothy-trimmed mouth and swallows Jack right down whole." From somewhere a muted gasp. Reed grinned.
"Next thing Jack knows he's inside Moby with this little wooden dude named Pinocchio. So he says, 'Sorry, Pinocch' but I need your legs and arms', and he pops them right off Puppetboy. Then he proceeds to rub the arms together vigorously, just like he learned in his 'Boy Scouts of America' handbook—and, poof—" gesturing, "Jack's got a campfire going. A'course Pinocchio will never be the same again—but that's another story too."
He took a breath and continued. "Now as rightly would be expected by some not-to-be-named, pain-in-the-ass environmentalists, the campfire smoke eventually made old Moby Dick sneeze, ker-choo, and he shoots Jack airborne like a 007-supersecret James Bond torpedoman. Goes for miles and miles. Then Jack hits the water and skips along the surface till miraculously he glides gently onto a beautiful beach somewhere in the tropics—most likely Borneo or some such tourist locale."
One of the children raised her hand. "I have to pee."
"Okay." He and the others waited as the little girl ran into the bushes and rustled about. Scanning his audience, "Suspense will do that sometimes," he whispered, "—make you have to pee." Several nodded. They already knew that. A moment later she reappeared at a trot still pulling up her black leather skirt. "Ready?"
"Yes. All done," quickly reclaiming her spot.
"Okay, so now Jack's wandering around on the beach when who do you 'spose comes strolling out of the jungle but this little girl with sparkly red shoes, a cowardly lion, a tin man without a heart, and this ditzy strawberry blonde scarecrow. The five of them engage in casual discourse until unexpectedly, out of the ocean a herd of turtles come plodding along, shells polished to their Sunday best, shiny as herringbone. And then from the jungle, comes a mob of hares, or maybe it was rabbits—well nevermind that. Anyway, without being aware, Jack and Dorothy, along with her friends, have all arrived just in time for the annual race festivities. Of course upon closer examination they do finally notice the lane-marker flags strategically placed along the beach leading off into the jungle."
"It's almost high noon and race time so the turtles and bunnies all line up and—they're off—the race begins. But little do the fuzzy Leporidae lepus realize, these are world famous flipper turtles, and each time a hare tries to pass one, the bugger shoots into the sky and plops down on top of it squishing the unsuspecting rodent—splat!" slapping his hands together. Concentrating, eyes blinking, everybody flinching simultaneously, he startled them. "There are little bunny carcasses smunched into the sand everywhere before they even make the beach- stretch of the first lap. It was certainly a hare-racing experience." Time for a breath.
"What happened next, Uncle Reed?" Jade asked.
Grinning and eyeing his tense little audience he continued, "The race is gonna be perilously close for sure. They're neck-'n-neck coming down the back stretch when all of a sudden the sky is blackened by hundreds of ugly little flying monkey suckers with bat wings—and the Wicked Witch of the West is leading them. So these bad guys start dive- bombing Jack and his friends, trying to rip 'em to pieces and turn them into shredded wheat. I mean to tell ya there's fuzzy furballs flyin' and they're getting in Dorothy's hair and pooping on the tin man—it was just awful! And all seems hopeless until at the very last minute, from out of the sky comes the Millennium Falcon with lasers blasting—and Luke Skywalker and Han Solo rescue Jack and his pals. And they all kick ass on the wicked witch and her flying monkeys then blast off to the Dagobah System to learn the ways of the Jedi Knight and become one with the Force, and live happily ever after ... the end."
The children applauded and cheered for the heroes as Tian shook her head wondering, "Where did Reed ever learn such stories, John?"
Droll, he answered, "That stuff really happened."
Playfully bumping him with her leg, "Sure, like Br'er Rabbit." Tian enjoyed Br'er Rabbit most, the characters were more colorful; but she still had no idea what zip-a-de-do-da meant. She smiled when he finally couldn't help leaking a grin. "We will go for a walk," she said.
* * *
On a winding trail ...
... They ambled quietly, unhurried; time together, special time, synchronous connection, physical contact. Holding hands they followed the path through the jungle, along the cliffs of the escarpment, and eventually arrived on the rimrock. Before them lay the ruins of the Sacred Temple and the collapsed mountain range beyond. The day was clean and beautiful, the jungle rich with saturating deep-green chlorophyll life, the air sweet and pure.
Excerpted from Fifteen Billion Years II by Rand McLester Copyright © 2012 by Rand McLester. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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