A slight change to schedule this week guys, so I've decided to give away a paperback of one of the anthologies I'm featured in, 2013: The Aftermath, from Pill Hill Press.
My story is called After the Revelation and takes place several months after the Revelation has actually happened. All of the innocent have been taken to heaven, leaving a body strewn, scorched earth for the Devil. Those people unworthy of experiencing the Revelation have been left alive.
This is a short story, but ended up being about 15K in length, so wasn't far off a novella. Next year I'd like to develop the idea into a full length novel. My characters had flesh and I think they deserved a proper run.
So if you'd like the chance to win the copy (and hell, I might even signed my story for you!) then just leave me a comment below!
Here's the start for you to enjoy:
After the Revelation
By Marissa Farrar
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison…
A hot wind blew, carrying with it the stench of burning. The ground was blackened and scorched beneath foot. Jez Stephens stood on London’s Primrose Hill, looking down across the city below. The huge curve of the London Eye rose from the skyline, though it would never again turn with tourists, and the huge antennae of the BT tower protruded into the sky like an alien spaceship.
Even the aviary of London Zoo could be seen, though no sound of birdsong rose from beneath its netting, the birds long since dead. Those left had bigger problems than feeding them.
On first glace, most things appeared normal. Only on closer inspection did the silence of the city become deafening, the fires—both those raging below ground, and those above—became painfully obvious.
Death surrounded him. The trees and grass were little more than charcoal. Ash thickened the air, falling like snow on much of the city.
Nature could no longer provide them with what they needed. The soil was charred, the water polluted. Most livestock had been killed. Jez survived by looting and stealing from shops and restaurants. Anything pre-packaged and tinned was still edible. Everything else was ruined.
Jez narrowed his eyes, his body tensed for fight or flight. He watched for movement, for any sign of life. So far, in his experience, finding others alive was not such a good thing.
Unconsciously, he rubbed at the huge twisted scar running from the top of his right shoulder down to his elbow. The scar was the width of his hand and had formed badly, being that there were no surgeons, plastic or otherwise, to put together the arm that had basically been flayed.
Those had been bad times, worse even, than now. He had not believed he would get out of it alive, especially when so many others hadn’t.
With the memory came a pang of guilt and he pushed the memory aside, concentrating on the job at hand.
He hoisted his bag onto his shoulder and started the walk down the hill. The soles of his feet warmed from the heat of the hill, from the fires that raged beneath it. Fire burnt throughout the country now, and, he guessed, the rest of the world. He had heard no stories of anywhere that had escaped. No cool oasis in this scorched earth.
Jez needed supplies. Only a small bottle of water weighted his bag and he needed to restock. If nothing else, he was thankful for the twenty-first century’s obsession with bottled water. Without it he would have been dead a long time ago. Sulphur had poisoned all of the water sources—leaving rivers with dead fish, floating like fallen autumn leaves, clogging the waterways.
He walked down the hill, approaching the road ringing its base. Traffic was at a standstill—permanently so. Cars were smashed into the backs of others, causing mini pile-ups everywhere he looked. As he grew closer he could smell the unmistakable stench of death beneath the acrid reek of burning. It was a smell he could never get used to
In front of him, a blue Ford skewed in the middle of the road. The body of a man slumped over the steering wheel, a woman slouched in the passenger seat beside him. Behind them, a small child was still strapped into its car seat. Each of their faces, black and puffy with decomposition.
Jez couldn’t tell if the child was a boy or a girl, but he wasn’t planning to look hard enough to find out. How strange to think that these were the lucky ones? The ones who experienced the Revelation. The ones who escaped.
It never failed to amaze him how people had just dropped dead where they were. The world had turned into the Mary Celeste, only the people hadn’t disappeared in the middle of what they were doing, they had died. The Revelation had been so instantaneous, people had not even had a chance to run. They were all just living their lives one minute, and gone the next.
Jez had asked himself the same question a hundred times: if he had known the truth, would he have done things differently? If he had known there truly was a God, and what He was capable of, would he have thought before he acted?
Jez doubted it.
Even before God had allowed that perverted psychopath, Mitchell Werner, to rape and murder Jez’s nine-year old daughter, he and God hadn’t been on such good terms. That there had been a God who could have prevented such things from happening just made him all the more furious.
Murdering Mitchell Werner wasn’t something Jez would ever regret. The bastard deserved everything he got.
It had been a big deal at the time. People had known the name ‘Jeremy Stephens.’ He had been all over the news. Many protested on his behalf, saying he shouldn’t be locked up for what he did, but the court had wanted to make sure the rest of the population knew it was not okay to take the law into your own hands and had given him three years. Three years that had almost turned into a life’s sentence.
Now nobody had the use for surnames, and his nickname of Jez almost made him forget the man he used to be. All Jez took comfort in was knowing that Lily was safe, where ever she was now. Judgment day had been real and even a heathen like him knew that the dead were raised before the living. Where ever Lily was now, she was at least in the arms of God.
Jez didn’t like to go into the cities. It had been over nine months now since the Revelation had happened, but London had succumbed to a long and hot summer and the bodies had not fared well in the extended heat. With the now polluted atmosphere acting as cloud cover, the city remained warm and muggy.
Jez negotiated the pile up of cars, trying not to look into the blank, cloudy eyes of the corpses they contained. He was heading towards Camden, knowing there were some small supermarkets there that would have water and other supplies. He wasn’t relishing the idea of going into the store. There would be bodies littering the aisles. Any one who was out shopping when it happened would have simply dropped dead in the aisles. There was no one left who cared enough to attempt to clear them away or bury them. Even if the size of the job had been comprehensible, the people left weren’t the type to care.
He walked along the canal, the red stone wall dividing the pathway from the main road. The route was preferable to the road, but was still not empty. Either side of him, through cracks in the earth, small fires raged. Beside him the canal had long since dried up, leaving the bottom fractured and broken. Jez stepped over an old man, crumpled in the middle of the path, and a young mother toppled, a baby dead in its pram.
Jez clenched his jaw, his lips tight. He would never get used to seeing the children. It was the thing that hurt most of all, despite knowing their souls had gone to a better place.
He kept walking, averting his gaze the best he could. Instead of the bodies, he stared at the tired red brick of the wall running along beside him. Graffiti marked the wall, ‘Denny woz ‘ere’ and ‘FJ LUVS RS’. They were markings of a time before, of a time when people had lived in ignorance of religion, believing it to be no more real than the latest sci-fi flick at the local cinema. Of course, ignorance hadn’t bought them eternal damnation, far from it. Even those who had never so much as uttered the word ‘God’ had still made the cut, as long as they hadn’t committed whatever sins God decided were too great to forgive.
Lost in thought, one marking in particular caught his breath. His heart raced, his muscles tensed. About a foot long and high, the shape of the dragon had been sprayed in white paint. The marking was new, its whiteness not yet sullied by the grey soot of the environment.
Despite the warmth of the day and the heat of the fires burning around him, the sight of it ran a chill through him. He had seen the same graffiti all over, or at least versions of it, but it wasn’t just that. His dreams had been plagued by visions of the dragon, though sometimes it came in the shape of a serpent. Whatever shape it took, Jez knew it pointed towards the same thing.
The Devil walked among them.
Judgment day had happened. Taking the innocent into heaven, God had left only the unworthy to fight it out amongst themselves. Now the devil was among them, calling to the ones who had been left, calling to them to fight. Jez tried to remain strong, tried to keep its power and passion out of his head, but, when times were as hard as this, it was difficult not to turn to something of strength and authority, to give his future into the hands of someone else.
Of something else.