2018 Interview with Romantic Suspense Author Sharon Kay Connell

His Perfect Love as seen on Amazon

Sharon’s New Interview! 2018

Today I’m ecstatic to interview this wonderful woman again, romantic suspense Christian Author, Sharon K. Connell.  Sharon we’re thrilled to have you join us today. The reason I am so excited is because you have been through a long road rather recently… the dreaded rewrite- which is why I’d love your expertise. I think it’s wonderful to rewrite and your insight can also help aspiring authors. We need to know when an author should rewrite and I’d like to discuss the pleading reviews. I call it “pleading” because all of us seem to be posting memes and little snippets to leave a review yet so many never do or they simply forget. Without further ado, let’s get cracking!

  1. You are a romantic suspense author. And so readers know, I’ve had the privilege of reading one of Sharon’s novels entitled, “His Perfect Love.” It did have me on pins and needles several points in the story. And that Patricia! Doh! Well, let’s just say she was not my favorite person lol. What made you want to write the genre of romantic suspense?

When I started out writing, I had no idea what I was doing, much less that I was writing romantic suspense. My reading choices were mainly historical romance set in the British or Irish realm. I knew I was writing romance, but I wanted it to be more than just boy meets girl, falls in love, someone makes their life miserable because she loves him and can’t have him, etc. There had to be an element of drama in the story, but it also had to be realistic. Little by little, Paths of Righteousness, my very first attempt at writing, evolved. It wound up being my second published book. Scenarios of danger and suspense crept in to add stumbling stones for my characters.

By the time my forth book His Perfect Love came along, I realized that romantic suspense was what I enjoyed writing. And by then, I had actually learned how to write the story in a way that kept the interest of my readers.

 

By the way, you neglected to mention that Patricia wasn’t so bad at the end of His Perfect Love. LOL  Me- Of course! But I didn’t wanna spoil it.

  1. Recently, I noticed you are rewriting some of your earlier works. I’ve seen this done over the last year with many authors. But this is where I’m curious- since I’ve done it myself- tell us what made you decide to rewrite your books?

My first books were written before I knew anything about writing. They were (and There Abideth Hope, my third published novels, still is) full of head-hopping and needless information that tends to slow down the reading. I made a lot of mistakes. After taking classes in writing and with the help of my critiquers and other authors, I’ve learned how to write in a way that’s exciting. My earlier readers all said they loved the stories, but I knew they could be so much better. And to me, that meant they were worth the trouble of rewriting to improve the story and flow.

  1. Is there a specific sign to look out for that will aid author’s and confirm that they too need to rewrite their novels?

I have no idea what that sign would be except that you are not happy with the way your first edition came out. If it’s just minor things that you know you should or shouldn’t have done, I wouldn’t rewrite. I’d go ahead with new stories. But if it’s like my case where you know the story is good but most people probably won’t want to read it because of the tediousness of the writing, then perhaps it should be rewritten.

Many times, an established author said to me, “Don’t bother rewriting. Just go on with a new story. However, those first three stories, A Very Present Help, Paths of Righteousness, and There Abideth Hope, would not leave my mind. A Very Present Help has been republished in a 2nd edition now, and everyone who reads it loves it. That makes it worth the time and trouble. I’m in the middle of the rewrite on Paths of Righteousness, and then There Abideth Hope will be next.

  1. What helped you (if any) with your vision of the new cover you had made?

When I did the covers of my first three novels, again, I didn’t know what I was doing. Since I’m an indie author, and I was under the restrictions of a tight budget, I used cover templates from CreateSpace. They’re okay, but not what I wanted. When I redid the cover for A Very Present Help, I told my artist what I had in mind, gave her some pictures of what I wanted in the cover, and she did the rest. I wanted a scene from the book itself, not the same old covers as everyone else had on romantic suspense. It was important to me that the cover of the book reflected something from the story, not just the genre.

  1. When beginning a new novel, what inspiration do you draw from?

Life in general, I guess. An idea for a problem in the life of a character will come into my head and stick. Then I have to figure out the old who, what, where, when, why, and how? Eventually all the pieces come together, with the help of a lot of prayer.

  1. Now, this is difficult to talk about at times because of the nature of some or misunderstandings of others, what do you do with a bad review?

I ignore it, for the most part.

Since I’ve been published, I really haven’t had any formal bad reviews. But before I actually published my first story, I had a woman who offered to beta read for me tear my writing apart. Everything was wrong. Granted, I realize now that most of my writing was terrible, but she didn’t like anything. I had to sit back and lick my wounds for a while, and then decide what I could learn from what she said. Was what she said true or not? I did a lot of research about writing and found that a lot of it wasn’t true. Mainly, I think she just didn’t like my story, and tried to set herself up as the perfect judge of writing. I doubt if she cared for Christian Romance Suspense at all, now that I look back on her comments.

However, I did learn some things from what she said. And that’s what we need to take away from reviews when they aren’t what we would like to hear. Yes, it hurts. There’s no doubt about that. But is what’s being said true? If it is, then change it. If it’s not, ignore it.

Bottom line for me is this. I don’t put a lot of stock in reviews. I do ask for them, but I don’t seek them. Not everyone is going to like what I write. I accept that.

  1. Have you ever been misquoted in a review?

Not that I know of.

  1. How high do you hold the reviews?

First, let me say this. I will not give a review on a book if I can’t give it at least a 3 star. What is the purpose of discouraging a writer that way? I rarely give a 5 star. I suppose because I’m a writer and when I read, I have a problem separating the reader from the writer. The book has to have kept my interest so well that I can barely put it down to get a 5 star. If I’ve received a book outside of the genre I love to read, it’s hard for me to really get into the story. Having said that, I have given many 5 star reviews in the genre in which I do read.

Reviews are great when they’re from people who truly love what you write. It feels good when people pat you on the back. But I also think that if someone likes what they read in the blurbs written to give a general idea of the story, and they view the sample pages to see how you write, they’ll get a better idea of what they’re getting from that than a review based on readers likes or dislikes.

  1. What encouragement can you give to authors or aspiring authors regarding reviews?

Take the good and let them encourage you to do even better for your readers. Take the bad with a grain of salt, learn from it if you can, and don’t let it discourage you. Remember, not all readers are alike any more than all writers are. They may have picked up your book and find that it’s not written in a style they like to read. There are many other reasons why they might not become engrossed in your story. Shake it off. Eventually you’ll become more thick-skinned about it in the same way actors do when they get bad reviews.

  1. Let’s talk about marketing. For a lot of authors, this is an Achilles heal. Let others know how you approach the marketing process?

After any trials with outside marketing, I’ve recently decided that my time and money is better spent on doing it myself. I set up my own memes with the use of Canva and a GIF maker program. A file keeps all my blurbs organized so that all I have to do is copy and paste into the meme or GIF, and then Tweet or Post. In a separate file, I keep the pictures I use from free picture sources like Pixabay, and I pull them up from there whenever I make a new advertising meme.

Each day, I chose which pages on Facebook I’ll post my ads. Usually about three or four different groups. I post those every day, and tweet three times a day on Twitter.

When I first started advertising, I used one of the programs for scheduling your posts, but I found that they often did not work the way I wanted them to. Now I just set aside the time and do it myself.

This works for me because I’m generally at home all day. I’m a full-time, at home author. It may not work for those who have full-time out of the home jobs. What you have to do is find out what works best for you. Through trial and error, mostly.

  1. Do you use any special marketing company to help get your novels out there?

No. Not anymore.

  1. Where do you enjoy marketing the most?

I like Twitter because of the retweeting process, and I also like Facebook because you can put more information into your ads.

  1. What is the newest thing that you’ve learning in the area of self-publishing?

For me, it’s that no one knows how to present my books the way I can. After all, I am the author. LOL

  1. Where do you like to research when learning new things about writing?

Everywhere. In books, in blogs, Facebook writing forums, new and experienced authors, Twitter tweets. There’s a wealth of information out there.

  1. I know in your work, you have elements of crime including detectives. So where do you like to go to gather some of that info?

For my stories, I’m very fortunate to have acquaintances in those fields. Just like in the medical field. And whenever I find out that someone online has experience or works in an area where I might need technical, professional advice, I write to them and ask if I can put them on a resource list for future reference. I also use the expertise of people in my offline life. People I have known for years.

Then, there’s always the internet. There are official sites for all kinds of things like the FBI, military, etc. I’ve even gone to a medical site where a doctor is available for questions. People are more than happy to give you the information you need if you ask. When I wrote A Very Present Help, there were three Des Plaines Sherriff deputies in my church and many former and current military. With Paths of Righteousness, I was working in a medical office and the doctors and nurses I worked with were more than happy to give me information. When I wrote There Abideth Hope, the Lord provided me with a direct contact to Search and Rescue. And with His Perfect Love, I used contact and information from past stories, along with contacts from new sources. All you have to do is look and ask. The file I keep lists all kinds of professionals with their contact information and expertise.

As far as the scenes and information for the backgrounds, most of that was from experience. But there too, all you have to do is put the help wanted sign out, and you’ll be amazed at how willing people are to supply the information you need.

  1. What is the number one important thing to you when you’re writing the suspenseful parts in your novels?

That the actions, feelings, and emotions are real. I don’t want the story to come off like old drama from TV shows and movies of long ago. No overacting, please. I try to put myself into the situation and feel everything in order to know how the character would feel and respond. (I just wrote a blog on this) I also contact those who know if something actually can be done the way I’ve written it. Mostly with fight scenes, or things like, would someone bleed to death before help came in this scenario.

  1. What is the number one important thing to you when writing romance in your novels?

That would be the same as with the suspense. It has to be real. The emotion has to be right for the action and vice versa.

  1. What genre do you enjoy reading the most?

As I said before, Christian Historical Romance from the area of England, Scotland, and/or Ireland.

  1. Okay, now since you’ve been interviewed by me before, you know this game. It’s called “Tell Your Readers What You Like.” I will give you options and you tell the readers what you like! Simple right? Lol. Alright, here’s the first one. Slurpee, Frozen Yogurt, or Ice cream?

Both of the last two, there’s no difference to me.

  1. Movie first, or the Book first?

I prefer to read the book first, but sometimes I’m not aware there is a book. LOL Or…if you’re asking which I like better, it’s a tie.

  1. Toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or sitting in gum?- yes you must pick one! Lol

Aimee, you should know by now that you cannot make me do anything. But for the enjoyment of your readers, I’d say TP stuck on my shoe would be better.  Me- Yes I know, but it’s so much trying to get you to answer lol.

  1. Reader contacting you by email, Reader contacting you by Direct Message?

Since I only open emails from people I know personally, I guess I would prefer DM. However, the best way is through a comment on any of my links.

  1. Killing of a Main Character or Doing Something Absolutely Shocking?

Shocking!

  1. Killing off the Villain or Having the Villain Make a 360?

Make a 360.

  1. Audio books or Kindles? (Paperback is not an option here girl lol.)

Since I don’t use either, I can’t answer. I guess if I had to choose, it would be audio because I can’t stand reading online after I’ve worked online all day.

  1. Bowl of pasta or a bowl of vegetables?

Pasta, of course.

  1. Chinese food or Pizza?

Chinese.

  1. Pizza or a cheeseburger?

Cheeseburger.

  1. Fries or onion rings?

Onion Rings. Oh yeah!

  1. What do you put on your hamburger? (i.e. ketchup, mustard, mayo.)

Cheese, mayo, ketchup, tomato, lettuce…and sometimes a slice of dill pickle.

  1. Tell readers what is to come with your writing this year?

I’ll complete the rewrite on Paths of Righteousness and then start the rewrite of There Abideth Hope. I also hope to get further into the writing of my fifth novel, tentatively titled Treasures in a Field, before the end of the year.

  1. Tell readers a Bible verse that encourages you to continue pressing on in your writing.

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

  1. What helpful information can you tell the aspiring author who may doubt themselves?

Never doubt yourself. There are too many other people in the world who are willing to do that for you. If you have been called to write, do it. Learn all you can before you publish (although you will never know everything there is to know about writing), and always take everything told to you in the way of criticism with a grain of salt. Glean what you can; pitch the rest.

  1. Where can readers find your new and fabulous novels?

 

His Perfect Love http://amzn.to/2iCMALI

A Very Present Help http://amzn.to/2yuF4eE

Here are my links:

Website: http://sharonkconnell.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sharonkconnell

Author’s book page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/averypresenthelpbook1

Author’s Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristianRomanceSuspense/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonKConnell

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SharonKConnell

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonkconnell 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rosecastle1/

 

Blogging on WordPress: https://sharonkconnell.wordpress.com/

Books:

My book trailers:

His Perfect Love by Sharon K. Connell https://youtu.be/e3tRr6mLzZk

A Very Present Help by SharonKConnell https://youtu.be/3a75HKgSkao music by Ross Bugden

https://youtu.be/wYyoOE5IzS0 Music by Chris Trosclaire

My current work in progress Paths of Righteousness (Book not available at this time. In process of being rewritten)

Current Book trailer: http://youtu.be/w2JkmYqhFyE

And my first edition of There Abideth Hope (Book not available for sale at this time. To be rewritten)

Current Book trailer: http://youtu.be/16G7IZaZB9Y

 

Bio

 

Sharon K. Connell began her writing career shortly after Hurricane Ivan hit Florida in September 2004. After constant encouragement from a dear friend, she started her first story without any training or knowledge of the craft. Since then, she has taken classes through the University of Iowa’s online courses. She holds a certificate in fiction writing from the International Writing Program and is constantly improving her skills through information obtained from reading, online writing groups, organizations, and her fellow authors.

 

As a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers organization, Sharon is active in the Scribes critique group. She is also a member of CyFair Writers and Houston Writers House. She manages her own group forum on Facebook for writers and readers, sends out a monthly online newsletter, and maintains a website.

 

Most of her working career included clerical positions from file clerk to office manager, in a variety of offices from advertising to the medical field. She has traveled to all but six states in the U.S. and has visited Mexico and Canada. Some of the experiences she has had are included in the fiction stories she writes.

Sharon is now a full-time author living in Houston, Texas. Her genre is Christian Romance Suspense, with as much mystery and humor as she can squeeze into a story.

 

I am so thankful you’ve taken the time out of your busy writing schedule to answer these questions, Sharon. I know your expertise and all the Lord has taught you throughout the years is valuable information for all of us.

Y’ all, be sure to follow her around cyber world and stay connected so you know when she releases these novels. Trust me! Christian Romantic Suspense isn’t my usual reading genre, but it’s exciting, nail-biting, thrilling, and has that touch of romance you simply can’t pass up!

AVeryPresentHelp--9x6--FullCover jpeg 4 marketing - Copy - Copy.jpg

 

Be sure to see what God’s doing at my self-publishing house website. Stay connected and follow blog for future author interviews, and posts including book chapters, and devotionals.

http://deadmanwalkingpublications.com/

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Chapter 3 of Possessions of the Human Kind Saga Chapter One

 

 

If you have not yet read the 1st two chapters of this novel free, check in previous blog posts for them and catch up.

Chapter Three

 

Later that evening, Leslie nestles into a warm bubble bath reliving the abnormal events of the day in her mind.  Placing a washcloth over her exhausted eyes, she leans back to relax.  With the feeling of eyes all around watching every move, Leslie quickly rips the cloth away. She glances around her new surroundings, but doesn’t see a soul.

“Ugh!  Calm down, Leslie.  Don’t be so paranoid,” She sensibly tells herself.

Her ears tweak to the sound of arguing.  The noise escalates. It sounds like it’s coming from next door accompanied by things banging around.  Concern and grievance paints her brows.  She tosses on her robe and hurries to the front door tracking wet footprints onto the carpet.  Pressing her ear to the door, she strains to hear more about the argument, in case she may need to call the police or intervene, which she’d rather not do.

“No!  I don’t want to do this.  It’s so dangerous for us to be here!”  A woman’s voice exclaims in a heated dispute.

“NANCY!”  A man hollers, and as Leslie unbolts her front door poking her head out into the hall, the commotion dies down. Do they know she’s listening?

“Hello?”  Leslie calls out but no one answers, not even a neighboring doctor poking a head out which is strange.  Auspicious whispers resound throughout the hall.  Leslie is more on edge yet steps into the hall regardless of the sense of uneasiness she discerns.  She tugs on the collar of her robe.

The hallway lights unexpectedly flicker on and off as they do in Unit 5.   Leslie calls out regardless of the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.  Once more then I’m leaving. She decides.

“Hello?  Is anyone there?”

Just then, the door to her neighbors clicks, then a slow creak.   Leslie swallows as the light from the apartment escapes into the hall.

“Nancy, come out here.  I think it’s the new doctor.”  A man says stepping into the hallway.  Soothing classical music plays from inside his home.

“Hello.  I’m sorry I’m in my bathrobe.  I heard…well, I heard arguing.  And after today, I was a little concerned,” Leslie claws at the collar of her pink bathrobe, her sentiment more than embarrassing she’s without the proper attire.

“No, nonsense.  It’s alright really.  I’m sorry my wife and I we were uh-” The man’s cheeks turn flush.

“We were yelling at each other,” His wife says joining them, in the hall.  “Are you married?  Well if you are you can certainly understand,” The woman wearing all black jests as she holds out her hand to Leslie.

“My name is Dr. Nancy Cartwright.  And this handsome man is my husband Dr. Frank Cartwright.”

“Oh both doctors?  How marvelous.  How long have you been here?”  Leslie shakes her hand.

“About a year or so.  So!  You must be the new doctor.  You mentioned the day you had.  Was it that bad?”  Frank prods with his hands on his hips.

“Unexpected, I would say.  Nothing a good Valium couldn’t cure to help me get a good night’s sleep.”  Leslie humorously snickers.

“We’ve been there.  Oh, you must have visited Unit 5 today?  Yes, Claire is extremely adamant about giving the WHOLE tour.”  Frank says, his goofy tone makes Leslie smirk.

“Yes, it was quite the experience I can tell you that.  Well, I don’t have to if you’ve been here a year.”

“Where did you attend school?  I’m sorry what your name is?”  Frank asks.

“I’m sorry.  Dr. Leslie Johnson, how do you do?”  They politely shake hands.  “I went to Harvard and Oxford for my doctorate. Of course that was well over ten years ago,” She chuckles.  “It was there one of my old professors and mentor lined me up on a phone interview with Claire.  He thought I could be of some help here.  But, oddly enough, I’m not sure how much help I can give when my patient list is in Unit 5.”

“You get what you get.  So, having your entire patient list on the fifth floor?”  Frank blurts out in a less than compassionate tone of voice.

Leslie fidgets and flinches. “Yes?  But how did you…?”

Leslie creases her forehead when Nancy socks her husband slightly on the arm while giving him a stern look, with her deep brown eyes.

“Jeez, Frank!”

“What?”  He meets his wife’s angry, accusing eyes. She crosses her arms.

This dark haired couple have been an item since they were freshman in college.  With many of the same interests, including psychiatry, they both believe it’s a match made in heaven.  She’s a dedicated doctor with classical music taste, while he likes the wild side of rock n’ roll and screamo music.  Her long, black hair and smoky make-up complete her look, along with her dark, doe eyes. His brown eyes can see directly into you, regardless of how preppy he looks in his Brooks Brothers sweaters and khaki pants.  No children, they fight loudly at times yet no one wants to get involved. The Cartwright’s also know every sneaky detail within the facility.

“You can be a little more amiable.  See!  This is exactly what I’m talking about.  You have a kinder manner with your patients than with anyone else.  Why can’t you bring that home with you?”  Nancy uncrosses her arms shunning her head from him.

“I’m just telling her the truth.  Claire doesn’t care what patient list we have.  And that’s the truth!”  He points his finger like a weapon desiring to stir up an argument again.  Then he faces Leslie.

“Well, I can relate, Leslie.  That is exactly what happened to me when I came on board,” Frank explains.  “That’s all I meant,” He lowers his voice.

“Same here.  I’ve been dealing mostly with patients who suffer from severe depression, suicidal tendencies, and insomnia, but Frank definitely had his work cut out for him,” Nancy says pulling her long, straight black hair back twirling it into a tight bun.

“It took me six months of hard work to even get on my patients’ good side so they would view me as a helper and not one who would hurt them.”  Frank states buttoning up his knit sweater.  “Staying late and arriving early. It’s been…”

“Honey, it’s getting late,” Nancy says staring at her wristwatch.

“I’m sorry to keep you,” Leslie backs up a few steps to her front door, ready to go inside.  This particular couple rubs her the wrong way.  Sure, couples fight, but the banging around doesn’t explain only arguing. It explains violence. “It’s late.”

“We will talk more soon.  Maybe tomorrow?”  Frank inquires.

“Sure.  I would like to speak more freely with you both.  Maybe over a cup of coffee?”  She politely mulls she will give them a chance, after all, not every first impression is correct.

“That sounds nice.  I’d love to.  We just need to check our schedules.  Sometimes our patients need us.  Well, you will soon see,” Nancy says heading toward her open apartment door, as the sound of “Fur Elise” plays dimly in the background.

“Pleasure to meet you,” Frank says.  “Again, I’m sorry about the noise.  It’s been one of those days…”

“Not a problem.  Nice to meet you both.”

Leslie treks back into the apartment with mixed feelings about the less than gaudy, black haired couple.  As she heads to the bedroom, to call it a night, there’s a light tap on the door.  Thinking nothing of it, and dripping onto the carpet, she flings the door open, no one is there.  She slams the front door, shakes her head, and giggles. I must be hearing things.  I have to get some sleep.  I’m exhausted.

*KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK*

Leslie flips around facing the front door, as that familiar disturbing sensation develops in the pit of her stomach.  It’s more than knots it’s terror.  She slowly tiptoes toward the door.  With each step, the nausea grows.  This time she runs the chain across.  Cautiously, she peeks through the peephole.  It’s Frank.  She sighs and cracks open the door but no one is there.  Leslie rubs her groggy eyes. An icy breeze blows through the crack chilling her to the bone.  Gasping, she quickly slams the door and runs into her bedroom. She snuggles underneath the covers shaking uncontrollably in fear. Something is near.

“Jesus, please help me.  Why did you send me here? I’m scared to death.”  She prays as the feeling in her stomach flees.  Finally, she’s able to fall asleep.

 

If you love this novel, it is available in every Ebook device for only 99cents! Pick it up on your favorite device in the menu here—> deadmanwalkingpublications.com 

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“The Curse of the Gateway” Part Two of the Gateway Series- Read Chapter One FREE!

THE CURSE OF THE GATEWAY TEASER (2)

This is Part Two. Readers want to begin with “The Gateway” Part One of the Gateway Series!

Here is the first chapter of “The Curse of the Gateway.”

“The Curse of the Gateway”

 

Missing Parts of the Case: Part Two of the Gateway Series

 

 

By: Aimée Marie Bejarano

 

The Curse of the Gateway

(Part Two of the Gateway Series)

Copyright © 2014 Aimée Marie Bejarano

All Rights Reserved

No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission by the copyright owner. IF this novel is given out as a free pdf, it is NOT by permission of author and it’s piracy.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Published August 19, 2016 Released under “Missing Parts of the Case” later redone and released as “The Curse of the Gateway” Missing Parts of the Case (Part Two of the Gateway Series) Both are the same novel and under copyright of the author.

 

Chapter One

Gabriel violently yanks Aiden by his t-shirt, wrenching him across the threshold of Grace’s brick home. Aiden is stunned gaping at Grace, disheveled on the ground hugging herself. Tears streaming down her red face. He briefly questions if Gabriel has finally figured out that he has feelings for her.

“What?! What is it, Grace?” His blue eyes widen.

 

Several months prior.

 

Aiden Jenson nervously sits on the witness stand, having just endured a thorough and detailed testimony. His account of the days leading up to, and the day of his shooting is on display, naked as day.  It was a dark day set up, and meticulously planned out by Detective Phil Linton.

Aiden wipes his sweaty palms on his ironed suit pants, crinkling them. The D.A. settles in her chair at the prosecution table, with her notes strategically laid out.  She waits for the defense attorney, whom she’s gone to bat against before, to question her witness.

Stewing in a new, navy blue suit, calm and cool, appearing like he doesn’t have a care in the world, is the deceptive and cunning, Phil Linton. He carefully studies Aiden, thinking and presuming the color tie his attorney instructed him to wear will give off a wonderful, first impression to the jury.  Linton scowls at Aiden, wishing he was in a pool of blood, and imagining every crooked, menacing thing he’d like to inflict, if only given the chance.

Judge Prodeman, the man with the scar on his face, who was indicted with the attempted murder of Aiden Jenson and bribery, was wise and took a plea deal. He avoided a lengthy trial, but lost his high paying job.  The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the case of Chacho Macho since Judge Prodeman was the judge presiding over his case. It was due to the fact it was not a fair trial from the start. Because of all the evidence admitted, Chacho Macho also took a plea deal for the murder of young girl he brutally raped and murdered.

Justice has been served for everyone. But, not just yet for Phil Linton.  He’s willing to brazenly stand toe to toe with Aiden Jenson. More of a sick, foolish challenge. He despises Aiden.  Always has.  And in his pride and arrogant ways thinks he can get away with attempted murder, not only that day in the bushes, but in the hospital, after the gateway episode. Aiden was recovering from his severe burns and bite to his leg. Linton’s also charged with a slew of minor charges which he’s denied with preposterous claims of being framed. But there’s far too much evidence piled against him.  Amidst wise counsel from his defense attorney to take a deal, knowing the enormous amount of evidence, Phil Linton refused and wants his day in court.

One huge problem stands in his way; the D.A. sitting rather comfortably is Rose Lee, a powerful District Attorney known for tearing people apart on the witness stand.  She has a 98% conviction rate and can’t wait to see if Linton will take the stand. She’s fully prepared and confident in this case regardless that Aiden Jenson was not being truthful in the beginning, about the attempt on his life.  Rose Lee has made it simple to the jury in her opening remarks, how Aiden Jenson must have felt, from nearly being murdered and dumped down a shallow embankment, like a bag of garbage.  Plus, the continued threats from the man in blue, the constant torment, and fear he must have endured.  Linton would have killed Aiden if he loosed his lips.

At the defense table, Linton’s lawyer stands up and straightens his striped tie, he behaves rather smug and pedantic.  He figures he knows precisely how to handle this snot nosed journalist.  Discredit.  His plan is to catch Aiden Jenson in a lie, and bring up past lies, regardless of Aiden’s valid reasons.

“So, Mr. Jenson,”  He clears his throat and swaggers towards the witness stand.  Aiden swallows preparing himself, knowing he’s going to be dragged through the ringer with this man.  The jury eyes Aiden then the defense attorney.

“What you’re saying is you lied? You’re an admitted liar is that what you’re saying?!  You obviously just admitted to all of us, that you lied when you were shot!” The defense attorney motions towards the jury for brownie points.
“Objection your honor!  He’s harassing my witness!”  Ms. Lee stands up and angrily smacks a hand on the table. Reporters and news stations stand piled inside the courtroom, for the most anticipated, broadcasted trial of the year.

The judge bangs the gavel; the courtroom erupts with gasps and echoing whispers. The judge’s deep, brown eyes scowl at the defense attorney. “Counselor, clean it up!  He’s already admitted he was not truthful in the original report.  You need to move on.  Quiet in the courtroom!” The Judge grimaces across the courtroom, his robe more as sackcloth and his presence commands the utmost authority.

Ms. Lee sits back down while the defense attorney nods and carefully eyes the judge.  “Yes, your honor,” The defense attorney takes a different tone then shoots a firm glare at Aiden, with a hand on his chin.  “So, Mr. Jenson, tell us why you lied then?”

Ms. Lee gives a 360 eye roll and sits down.  The defense attorney steps closer to the witness stand.  Linton proudly smiles as he fixes the edges of his mustache with the tips of his calculating fingers.

“I was scared, sir. That’s what I’ve been relaying here, in detail.” Aiden nods, without so much as a smile or his impish grin at the murderer’s attorney who in his mind has a special place in hell.

Scared?” The attorney crosses his arms, and rubs his chin.

Aiden shifts and fidgets on the witness stand.  “Yes, scared,” His ocean, blue eyes pierce at the attorney.  He knows he must remain strong.  All eyes rest upon him, the time is now.

“Look, I frankly don’t care what you think, but a man of the law plotted to have me shot and killed. He dumped me down a hill thinking I was dead.  He paid off Judge Prodeman, and when he found out I was alive, he decided to pay me a little visit in the hospital, and threatened to kill me if I said anything!”  He loudly speaks into the microphone before him. His eyes tell a tale of their own. The jury has no doubt, he’s more than truthful.

“But you admitted to lying when filing your original report,” The defense attorney smirks.  The tone of his voice nettles Aiden, like the continuing sounds of fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.

“If I presumably lied, then why did Detective Harry Jade and two security officers at the hospital testify to the fact that Linton tried to kill me yet again, when I was being treated for severe burns last year?  Are they lying to you as well?”

“Let’s be correct here, Mr. Jenson,” He flings his index finger up in the air. “Only Detective Jade testified that my client allegedly made an attempt on your life. Security officers arrived after the fact. Isn’t that right?”

Aiden clears his throat and scopes the jury. “Yes, sir. That is correct.”

“Let’s return to what we were originally speaking of, shall we? You were about to explain to all of us that you were scared, and that’s why you lied, in the original reports. Is that what you want me and this,” He pauses for impact. “hardworking jury to believe?”  The attorney considers each of the juror’s then looks back at Aiden. Some of the jurors frown.

“He knew exactly where to find me, and could end my life whenever he wanted.  He reminded me of that every chance he had. Usually, and cowardly I might add, when I was alone.”

“Uh huh!  A decorated detective said this to you?  He said he was going to kill you if you said anything?”  He sarcastically states again peering over at the jury, with an arrogant look.

“Yes, Phil Linton did.  And I’d refrain from calling him decorated or a detective. From what I’ve heard, he was suspended and then fired,”  Aiden looks directly at a fuming Linton at the defense table.

Some in the courtroom laugh, while the judge fires a threatening glare across the courtroom hushing all spectators.

“Your honor, I want that last comment stricken from the record.”

The judge clears his throat. “Denied. It’s already been brought into trial through evidence. Move on counselor.”

The defense attorney grinds his teeth.  “He has a medal and a commendation.  He’s a hero cop regardless of your lies!” He points his long, bony finger at Aiden.

“You really believe that crap he’s told you?”

Easy there, Aiden. Ms. Lee thinks hopeful his defensive attitude won’t sway the jury against him.

“Mr. Jenson, please stick to answering the questions,”  The judge politely interjects.

“No, it’s alright your honor.  I’d like to know what he means,”  The defense attorney passively waves his arm challenging Aiden Jenson, apparently not cognizant to who he is, or what he’s dealing with.

Ms. Lee smirks understanding Aiden Jenson and how he plays. And from the countless hours spent grilling him in her office, she knows his sly ways.  She was in fact, counting on this.

“We have history.  There have been several cases I had written about previously, where the person behind bars was proven to be innocent.”

“And what does this have to do with my client?”  The defense attorney crosses his arms. He knows full well that Aiden Jenson had Phil Linton as his source only once, and it ended in a near homicide. Ms. Lee’s heart pounds with excitement.

“Well, sir, he was the arresting officer on all of those cases I had written.”

The courtroom erupts in gasps and low chatters, while camera’s flash. The judge bangs the gavel harder.

“You’re honor, I move to strike that!”  The defense attorney points his long arm at Aiden.

Ms. Lee stands up. “Your honor, defense opened the door,” She gives a child-like grin in the defense attorney’s direction.

“Indeed,” The judge nods his head.  “Sorry, counselor, but you opened the door by asking the witness what he meant.  The objection is overruled.”

Ms. Lee scoots back into her seat, while the courtroom continues whispering and gossiping. The judge grows irate and hot under the collar.

“If you don’t settle down, I’ll clear this courtroom and remove the cameras!  You’re here out of a courtesy.  Don’t make me take it back and send you out!”

The courtroom quiets down.  The defense attorney clears his throat.  “Nothing further your honor,” The attorney straightens his tie.  I shouldn’t have asked him that!  The defense attorney thinks avoiding eye contact with Phil Linton; he can sense his evil inspection in his peripheral vision.

Ms. Lee stands up.  “Uh, your honor, since the defense has made it clear they do not believe Mr. Aiden Jenson, I’d like to now present state’s exhibit Y.  It’s the video tape of the day of the shooting.  Also exhibit Z which has photos of that day as well.”

The defense attorney springs up.  “I object to this, your honor!  It’s a blatant attack against my client, which could only serve to prejudice the jury against him!”

The judge sighs.  “Counselor, you’re objection has been noted and we’ve already discussed this in chambers, in great lengths.  You’ve made your detailed arguments.  You’re objection is again, overruled.  There is no violation here.  This is a recording of a crime, and the jury has every right to see it.  Ms. Lee, you may continue,” The judge courteously motions with his arm.

“Thank you, your honor.  I’ll be redirecting the witness after as well.  If someone could please get the lights and after the video is over I’ll get your response, Mr. Jenson,”  Aiden Jenson nods at Ms. Lee.

Ms. Lee steps up to the television and places a dvd into the player. The courtroom is darkened.  All spectators rest on pins and needles to view the actual crime.

Aiden grins at Ms. Lee as Linton shoots daggers at him from his chair, on the opposite end of the courtroom.  There is no denying the plans and actions of the ex-Detective Phil Linton.  The jury attentively watches the video completely floored.  Some look back and forth between the video and the defendant. The video moves around, but very clearly captures the crime and faces of the perpetrators.  It is still fresh to Aiden and difficult to watch. Aiden clears his throat and turns away.  It’s as if he can feel the pain of that bullet fresh in his abdomen.

Then the gun blares. *Bang!*

Aiden swallows, almost unable to hold back the bile bubbling in his throat.  He breathes deeply in and out, calming down. Ms. Lee notices his demeanor and gives him a look of concern. His nod in return reassures her that he is fine and can hold it together.

Ms. Lee is fully prepared and has blown up several photos of who is holding the gun.  No denying it’s the judge and Phil Linton.

When the video is complete, Aiden explains in greater detail and points at the photos he had taken of the two men dumping his body.  While the men were certain he was dead, Aiden made sure he snapped pictures with his microfilm and hid the video recorded in his van.  It’s clear Linton tried to murder him.  In addition, he bribed a powerful judge who earlier that day testified against Phil Linton as part of his plea deal for a reduced sentence.

“Uh, Mr. Jenson, you mentioned that Detective Phil Linton was the one who was your source that day, correct?”

“Yes ma’am, he was.”

“Did you have any idea he was bribing Judge Prodeman the day of your arrival?”

“None,”  He shakes his head then wipes his sweaty palms on his suit pants again crinkling them.

“What about any of the times previous to that day you were brutally shot?  Did you know about the bribe?”

“No, Ms. Lee.  I was stunned to see what I did, and was thankful I caught it on video and film.”

“And the video we saw, please explain to the jury how you were able to capture that?”

“I had a specially made button that matched my coat. Inside of it holds a little camera. It sends a direct feed into my van. It recorded everything.”

“Impressive, Mr. Jenson.  And did you have that specially made specifically because of your occupation as a journalist, and the possibility that some jobs can be dangerous?”

“Uh, yes, Ms. Lee. That’s exactly why I had it made.”

“And uh, what made Phil Linton become your source that day?”  Ms. Lee paces around the front of the witness stand in her high heels and arms crossed.  Her long, thick, black hair trails down her back.  She looks pristine in her olive colored skirt suit and smells of Jasmine.

“I was merely trying to pry information from police officers, which wasn’t working, I might add,” Aiden’s slight smirk has the jury giggling. Terrific! He has the jury on his side believing him. Ms. Lee ruminates.

“That’s typical I imagine, as a journalist, to try to gain information from law enforcement?”

“Uh yes, Ms. Lee.”

“Alright. Please, continue, Mr. Jenson.”

“Well, that’s when Phil Linton strolled by.  He nudged my arm and pulled me aside. He explained how he overheard how I was trying to gather information, from some of the officers. He told me where to be that day.  I had no idea whatsoever, what I was in for.”

She approaches the witness stand and folds her hands. “So, from what we’ve seen, we can only state that Detective Phil Linton set you up for murder, am I right?”  She turns and plunges her manicured finger directly at the dirty ex-cop who swallows.

“Yes.”

“Objection, your honor!  She’s testifying!”  The defense attorney shoots up from his chair.

“Withdrawn!  Nothing further.  Thank you, Mr. Jenson,”  Ms. Lee gives a nod to the judge then stands back at the prosecution table.  “The people rest, your honor.”

The judge nods then veers at the defense table, as Ms. Lee gracefully sits down along with the opposing attorney. Ms. Lee is beginning to grate on him. The defense knows he has no chance of winning.

The judge politely grins at Aiden. “Mr. Jenson, you are dismissed.”

With a nod, he steps down and sits next to Ms. Lee.

“Counselor, are you ready for your first witness?”

The defense attorney clears his throat then stands again to his shaky legs. “Uh, your honor, we will rest on all of our objections.”

The courtroom is livid this perplexes the jury by the look on their faces.

The judge raises his brows and glances towards the jury.  “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to go to lunch.  When we resume, you will hear the state and the defense’s closing arguments.  See you in an hour. Actually, you have been patient over several weeks of this trial. Jury, please take an hour and a half. I’m told they have a wonderful spread of deli for you, and dessert.”

The jury smile heading out of the courtroom in an orderly line alleviated they are appreciated.

The reporters lurk nearby.  They give updates of the case live while others try catching Aiden Jenson or Phil Linton for a brief interview. They shout their questions at Aiden yet he ignores them.

Aiden stands up and stretches his arms overhead then leans over to the D.A with a disconcerting glare. “What are they pulling, Ms. Lee? I wasn’t expecting this.”

“Aiden, relax this is good news for us.  He has absolutely no defense to his crimes.  We have witnesses and video along with photos.  I believe he knows it’s best not to put up a fight if he’s going to try to appeal this.  Can’t argue you’ve had a lousy defense if he puts up a good defense.  I’m certain that’s what he’s doing, and where he’s headed.”

“Yeah it figures.  I hate the system sometimes,”  He peers down at Ms. Lee.  “No offense.”

She laughs and tucks her hair behind her ears.  “None taken.  It’s not a perfect system, but there’s no way, with the amount of proof we have, that Phil Linton will ever see this world again uh, outside of a prison that is.  Rest assured, Aiden.  I’ve got this under control.  You should trust me,” She brings out more folders from her briefcase for her well prepared closing argument.

He gives a subtle wink.  “You’re not the one I don’t trust.  I can’t wait for this to be over. Perhaps I can get a good night’s sleep.”

“Most victims I speak to find when they testify it’s good medicine. I have a feeling you’ll have a restful sleep tonight, Aiden. It’s almost over.  I do need to speak with you, before the day is over. It’s a rather difficult subject so please, stick around,” Her tone worries Aiden.

When the jury returns from lunch, the powerful, shark Ms. Lee presents her passionate closing statement, to an expectant jury.  She refers to photos again and vastly animated.  She helps them relate, if placed in Aiden Jenson’s shoes.  Many nod in agreement, one juror in particular tears up.  Some of the jurors refuse to glance at Phil Linton, which is a good sign.  And again, photos of Aiden Jenson sit on display when he was in the hospital recovering from his bullet wound.  The particular photo she ends with is the empty syringe which almost seals the nails in Linton’s coffin. Ms. Lee gives the jury thanks for their patience and service as the judge gives a subtle smile. He motions for the defense to make their closing arguments.

Ms. Lee holds her breath, sits, and crosses her legs waiting to hear what these guys have planned.  Aiden gives her a high five underneath the table.

The defense attorney stands, straightens the knot on his tie, and strolls to the jury box. He purposefully glares at each of them dead in the eye.  Some appear uncomfortable while others seem plain old irritated by his demeanor.  The courtroom eagerly awaits wondering what his argument will be.  How can he leave reasonable doubt, and how can he compete with the argument which was just left by Ms. Lee?

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,”  He smirks.  “This whole trial is one, big attempt to smite my client’s good name!  Everything is a sham!  Who have we been talking about this entire trial?  A man named, Aiden Jenson. He’s a popular journalist working for a big newspaper, a top newspaper I might add. He’s only doing this to further his reputation, name, and gain more money!  Especially with his book “The Gateway.” This is all a publicity stunt to sell more books and more newspapers!”

Jeez, this guy’s an idiot. Aiden scrutinizes.

“Phil Linton is innocent! A-hem, thank you.”

The defense attorney nods then sits back down with Phil Linton whom he can feel hot daggers, at his collar.  Linton’s beginning to give him the creeps.

The judge is not impressed and raises both brows.  “Okay.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are not to use this man’s prior reports of misconduct as an officer against him. In other words, the prior investigations from Internal Affairs against him.  They have nothing to do with this case…”

As the judge finishes his statement to the jury, he dismisses them for deliberation.

Aiden takes a deep breath outside the courtroom.  Ms. Lee strolls to him with a sly grin.  “You did very well, Aiden.  There’s no denying what was done to you.  And I believe that every juror was sympathetic. If an officer of the law threatened them, after they survived from a first attempt on their lives by that same officer, well, they would have done the same thing and maybe hesitate come forward.  I expect a quick verdict on both counts of attempted murder, and all the smaller counts included.”

Aiden shakes her hand.  “Thank you.  I appreciate that.  I hope they convict him too.”

“Well, your friend uh, Grace Rodriguez testifying at the beginning of the week was wonderful.  Her account of how he had you pinned up against the wall of her apartment had the courtroom on the edge of their seat.”

“Yes, she said she’d help me and testify.  She knew then something was wrong.  And Harry, well, he saved me from Linton’s last failed attempt. He always has my back.”

“Yes. Harry Jade. Wonderful detective.  His testimony helped as well. Linton really should have taken my plea, but can’t cure stupid.  Why don’t you get some fresh air and relax.  I’ll call you first thing when there’s a verdict. And uh, just ignore the riff-raff of reporters,” She chuckles and gives him a friendly pat on his arm.

“What did you need to speak with-”

“Later, Aiden. I promise I’ll let you know.”

Highly concerned, Aiden heads over to the water fountain, he leans over sipping some cool water. Linton hatefully swaggers up behind him with his hands in his pant pockets.

“This ‘aint over, Aiden.  You’ll pay for this one way or another,”  Linton curtly whispers near the journalist’s ear.

Chills crawl up Aiden’s back. He wipes his mouth and quickly spins around. The look on Linton’s face is sheer evil.

“You’re threatening me again, Linton?”

Aiden raises his voice drawing the reporters’ attention as they step out of the courtroom. Immediately, they rush up to the men who stand toe to toe. Ms. Lee hears the ruckus, pushes through the gathering spectators, and hustles over with a few officers at her side.

“Take this man into custody!”  She points, as they swiftly remove Aiden Jenson, the state’s best witness safely into another room.

Linton’s lawyer wipes his glossy forehead, and yanks his client away from the reporters for a much needed tongue lashing which naturally Linton refuses to heed.

Within the hour, the jury relays a message that they have reached a verdict. They’re brought back into the courtroom.  A record and a shock.  Every officer including Detective Harry Jade waits to hear the anticipated verdict hoping this will be the end of Phil Linton.  The evidence is clear of his guilt however one can never be too certain how a jury will be swayed.

Grace is working at the law office and eagerly awaits by the television set when those red letters fly across the screen saying, VERDICT REACHED.  She’s been praying for a guilty verdict knowing how deceptive Phil Linton is.  The attorneys’ in the office cease from their work, and scurry around the television, for the decision broadcasting all across America, interrupting regularly scheduled programs.

“I have been told that the jury has reached a verdict,”  The judge clears his throat, as cameras roll the live footage.

The jury foreperson stands up, with a piece of paper folded in his grasp.

“Yes, we have your honor.”

“Please, pass it to the bailiff,”  The judge motions with a pleasant smile.

The bailiff brings the verdict slip to the judge who reads it then passes it back to the bailiff.  He hands it to the foreman.

“And what say you?”

“For count one hindering prosecution, we find the defendant guilty,”  The courtroom gasps, as the judge bangs his gavel down.  “For count two of intimidating a witness, we find the defendant guilty.  For count three of staging a crime scene, we find the defendant guilty.”

Ms. Lee confidently folds her hands as her shoulders lower.  All of her hard work is indeed paying off.

“For count four of bribery, we find the defendant guilty.  For count five to the attempted murder of Aiden Jenson, we find the defendant guilty.  To count six of the attempted murder of Aiden Jenson, we find the defendant….guilty.”

“We’ve got him!”  Ms. Lee smiles beams and stares at Aiden, by her side.

Gasps fill the courtroom again, as Aiden sinks in the chair sighing. Ms. Lee slaps him a high five.  Detective Harry Jade approaches Aiden and places a strong hand on his friend’s shoulder.  Aiden peers back at his best friend with a nod of relief.  The gavel bangs down with a stern eye from the judge silencing the courtroom.  Phil Linton curses under his breath snapping a few choice phrases to his idiot attorney who can’t wait to flee the courtroom and get away from his client. He’s already packing up his briefcase.

The judge specifically addresses them.  “Thank you members of the jury.”

Then the jury foreperson stands again and speaks up.  “Your honor, we the jury well, we had one thing we wanted to add to our verdict.”

“Objection, your honor!”  The defense bellows jolting up with sweat dripping off the sides of his temples.

The judge sighs.  “Relax, counselor.  They want to add something, and I’m eager to know what it is.  Foreperson please, continue,”  The judge pleasantly motions.

“We wanted to say that we admire Mr. Aiden Jenson, and how he came forward after all this time.  Fear is a terrible thing,”  Aiden smiles and gives a nod to the jury who has all eyes peering at him.

“Objection!”  The defense attorney bellows again.  The judge ignores him, for only a moment.

“Indeed, fear is a terrible thing,”  The judge nods.  “I thank you for that.  Counselor, sit down. They are merely wishing him well before they leave,”  The defense attorney sits as Ms. Lee smirks.  “Jury, we thank you so much for your service over the past weeks.  You are dismissed.  You are also free to speak to anyone of the press as you see fit.  Or you may keep silent regarding this case.  That is your right and your decision.  Thank you again for the time you have taken away from your jobs, and your families. This court doesn’t take lightly your service and sacrifice. We thank you. You are dismissed.”

The jury is escorted out of the courtroom. Some reporters stagger out incredibly anxious to interview the jury, as the judge speaks up.

“We need to return for sentencing.  I see that we can meet…” the judge looks down studying his calendar.  “…next month at a date to be set.  But, there is another issue I’d like to address,” The courtroom sits on pins and needles, while the white haired judge looks up and tosses his pen down.  “I’m told there was something of a threat that happened over an hour ago.  Sir?  Did you in fact threaten, Aiden Jenson, by the water fountain?”  The judge folds his hands curiously, and intently eyes the untrustworthy ex-cop.

Phil Linton glares at his attorney who gives him a nod that he must answer the judge.  Linton stands up and clears his throat for the obvious lies about to spiel forth.  “Sir, I merely told him he will pay.  But, I meant for the lies he has said.  I certainly did not mean death or injury.”

Aiden makes an obvious noise with his mouth blowing off the bull crap excuse.

The judge glances at Aiden.  “Mr. Jenson, what did you make of this when he stated those words to you?”

Aiden Jenson stands to his feet.  “Your honor, I was simply getting a drink of water when he approached me.  He said, this isn’t over and I would pay one way or another.  If it was as he said, then why on earth did he lower his voice and corner me? Why was his tone less than amiable?”

The judge raises his brows again drawing his attention to the dirty ex-cop.  “That’s a valid question.  Why did you lower your voice and have an unfriendly tone?  And why address, Mr. Jenson, by the water fountain, which is clearly off near a corner of the courthouse?”  The judge’s tone grows more disconcerted, sensing he’s being lied to.

Linton thinks of another lie.  “I uh, don’t know uh, possibly because of the news crews,” He fixes the edges of his mustache.  “They’d make anything news even if innocently said,”  He coolly remarks.

Aiden shakes his head and sits down as the judge places the gavel down.  “I have not seen someone as cunning as you seem to be.  I’m ashamed and completely stunned, that a man of the law is so crooked and was able to stay on the police force, as long as you have done.  I think New York will be a lot safer knowing you no longer patrol the streets.  Now, Aiden Jenson, do you wish to press charges to this threat?”

Aiden quickly converses with Ms. Lee then stands up.  “Your honor, I think Phil Linton is in enough trouble.  I will be glad when the sentence is handed down.  I’d rather just let this go.”

At his words, Detective Harry Jade’s face is unnerving knowing Linton may still attempt something to hurt his friend.

“Phil Linton, I think you have been temporarily reprieved.  You’re bail is still set at two million dollars.”

Ms. Lee swiftly stands.  “Your honor, we would like his bail revoked. The state again would like to remind you of the callous nature of his crimes and would like Phil Linton to be remanded until sentencing. He is now a convicted man. This is highly unorthodox to allow a convicted man out on bail!”

Aiden swallows, Jade swallows as well and crosses his arms, eying the judge peculiarly. Something isn’t sitting right.

Linton’s attorney shoots up. “Uh, your honor, I’d like to remind the court that my client has come for every day of this court case. He hasn’t fled and he’s been out on bond.”

“Ms. Lee, you’ve already stated your objections in great detail.  He has given us his passport and agreed to return for sentencing.  I have the stipulation that he is remain on house arrest being monitored 24/7.  Mr. Linton, you are ordered to be back here for sentencing next month.  That will give your attorney time to get an argument together, as to why you shouldn’t receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.  And at that time, I will hear the victim’s statement.  I’d suggest you get your faculties together, Mr. Linton.  Thank you.  We are adjourned!”

He bangs the gavel down as the reporter’s hustles out to snag Aiden or Linton outside and catch a reaction to the verdict.

Reporters waste no time surrounding Aiden Jenson, the man of the hour, as he steps outside of the courtroom. He has a glow about him, a weight has indeed been lifted, yet something is troubling him greatly. Linton is out on bail for thirty days. He sighs and rubs his sleepy eyes. Sleep may not be possible, after all.

“Sir, did the short verdict time stun you?”  “Aiden, what does your editor, Carlisle, have to say about this case?”  “Mr. Jenson, will you write a book about all of this since “The Gateway” has been an international bestseller for so long?”

Aiden raises his hand and shoots a slight nod at Saline Davis also up front waiting to get the goods from him.  She looks great in a pin striped, skirt suit still trying to make it big as permanent news anchor and leave the world of newspaper articles behind.  George, of course, is holding his camera standing behind her. He wiggles his fingers at Aiden.

“First off, I was extremely shocked at the time the jury was out and I’m certainly thankful, for their service and that they saw the truth.  My editor, Carlisle, is behind me as long as I write an article for the paper,” The reporters laugh as cameras flash. “And as far as another book, I’m not sure about that. I’m just thankful that next month Phil Linton will be behind bars, and know what it’s like to live in fear.  No more questions, please. I’d like to go home.  Read the rest in The Daylight News tomorrow.”

“Come on, Aiden!  Tell us were you at all afraid that the jury would come back with a not guilty?  Late Breaking Channel Nine News wants to know!”  Saline Davis shoves her microphone in his face stopping him from leaving. He frowns; her mic almost pops him in the lip.

“Ms. Davis, you look terrific!”  Aiden sarcastically eyes her up and down then gives a flirtatious wink.  She clears her throat with an embarrassing smile as reporters smirk and giggle knowing the rivalry between the two.

“Saline, anyone in my position of course would be afraid that the jury may not rule in my favor.  But, that’s why there’s a sharp D.A. named Ms. Rose Lee, who has had my back one-hundred percent!”

Aiden points to Ms. Lee just stepping out of the courtroom carrying her thick briefcase.  The reporters surround her and shout their questions, as she looks over at Aiden and sends him a friendly wink. She begins addressing their questions one at a time.

Then Phil Linton steps out of the courtroom also thronged by reporters. It seems with his presence, the temperature in the courthouse changes a few degrees.

“Mr. Linton, why did you threaten Aiden today?”  “Are you angry with the verdict?”  “Is it true you bribed Judge Prodeman?”  Why did you try to kill Aiden Jenson? Twice?” “Is it true you were under investigation for several years by Internal Affairs?” “Why do you think the judge allowed you out on bail, after you’ve been convicted of these crimes?”

Saline Davis also shoves her microphone in Linton’s face, in hopes to squeeze the dirt out of him or twist what she can.

“I’m very disappointed with the accusations against me.  They’re all lies!  I never threatened, Aiden Jenson, and I never bribed anyone,” He gives a slight nod of his head and purses his lips.  “A good cop is now fired and going to do time,” He touches up his mustache with his thumb and forefinger.  “It’s a sad day today that the system has failed the people of New York.”

Phil Linton’s defense attorney escorts him outside down the front steps of the packed courthouse and into a cab fleeing from the mass of reporters.

Aiden Jenson hugs Ms. Lee who joins him outside.  Aiden breathes in the fresh air as relief and redemption embrace him.

“I can’t tell you how hard this was, but you made it much easier. Thank you.”

“Hey, it’s my job, Aiden.  And this case brings my conviction rate up to 99%.” She winks. “Listen, now that we’re alone, uh, there’s a problem. I want you to know, I have the very best people and law enforcement working on it.”

“Does this have something to do with why Linton is out on bail?”

She clears her throat. “Aiden, we suspect the judge has been bribed. Then after this, allowing a convicted man for murder out free on bail, well,”

“Great. This is just great. Are you saying I’ll have to go to court again?”

“Calm down, Aiden.  I’m not saying anything like that. Right now, we only have the judge and his peculiar behavior, buying expensive things and such. He also has been meeting someone late at night, during the trial, and we have no clue who it is. However, we’re now tapping his phone. I’m so sorry, Aiden. I know you wanted this whole charade to be over. I need definite proof before I go around accusing a judge of bribery.”

“That makes a lot of sense, as to why Linton is out.”

“Trust me, Aiden. I’m on top of it. One-hundred percent. I can have a unit detailed to you.”

“No, no. I can’t have that. If he’s going to kill me, I’m fed up. He should get it over with.”

“Well, keep your friends Jade and his partner near you, please. Until this is over. They’re bad for business.”

“Yes they are. Listen, I’m confident we will figure this entire thing out. For now, join me across the street for a steak.  I’m starving. I’d like a big dinner,” Ms. Lee hands her coat to Aiden, who politely lays it around her shoulders.

“You’re absolutely right, Ms. Lee. I’ll focus on the bright side.  Dinner is on me.  For a job well done.  You drink champagne, right?”

“I’m a lawyer, Aiden. I’m not dead,”  He laughs as they walk arm in arm towards the restaurant.  “Plus, I don’t have to go in until Monday.  And uh, call your detective friends to join us. We all need to celebrate.”

“Oh those boys love a good steak.”

 

There’s a brand new review for this novel! You can read it here! Novel now only 99cents! Happy reading! https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3CHJG7RTISMLW/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B01I77DMBG 

 

If you’ve loved this second book of the series, grab part 1 for only 99 cents! http://www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano   TheGatewayjpegwrap

There are other chapters of several of my books, so search the blog and enjoy reading! Give me a follow and have fun! I look forward to connecting!

 

Since I’ve began my Christian publishing house website, I have had over 4800 visitors since April! I’m so thrilled and blessed at what God is doing. Please take a peek and have fun! You can shop any of my novels, learn about my publishing house, myself, shop awesome clothing featuring my book covers, read about special guest author, and see book news! Oh! And you can post a comment or prayer request directly on the site! http://deadmanwalkingpublications.com/  Subscribe, follow me in cyber world. You are a blessing! Thanks for stopping in! Copy of Halloween Haunted Doll Horror Costume Theme Party Event - Made with PosterMyWall

 

Here is my interview with Aimée Marie Bejarano

My newest interview with Fiona! I’m so blessed that she has taken the time out to interview me. Guys, she’s interviewed over 5,000 authors! You must subscribe to her. Thanks so much Fiona!

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Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

 

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Aimée Marie Bejarano and I’m 39

Fiona: Where are you from?

Originally, from California but for the past 26 years I’ve lived in Texas

Fiona: A little about yourself (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

Let’s see here lol. I graduated high school in 1998, did a tiny bit of Bible college but never continued. I knew it wasn’t what the Lord had in store for me. I’m single, and never married with not kids- not unless you want to count my adorable four-legged kids. With that, I have 7.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

Latest news hmm… I’ve been on the road to weight loss and am down now 45 pounds. WOOHOO! So, that’s the latest news lol…

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Sharing- When Your Heart Points to God

This is a wonderful blog post from Bestselling Author Paula Rose Michelson. Just how do we feel or what do we focus upon when things seem to be going into the negative in your life? Her blog post points to God.

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Writing Paula-Rose: When Your Heart Points to God http://writingpaularose.blogspot.com/2018/04/when-your-heart-points-to-god_28.html?  spref=tw

 

I’ll be having new author interviews in the next month to come so don’t forget to subscribe. Also, since I began my new website for my publishing house, Dead Man Walking Publications, there have been over 2,500 visitors in over 3 weeks! I am so thankful to all who have visited. Take a peek, subscribe to my newsletter, shop and learn about my YA novels, read reviews, and shop my exclusive gear (mugs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, leggings, socks, towels, posters, cell phone cases, tank tops etc.) and even send a prayer request directly to me! http://deadmanwalkingpublications.com/

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illustration of set of zombies in different poses on white background

“Angelica, You Have Chosen Well” Part One- Chapter Three

A New Design (1)

 

Chapter Three

 

“A Night of Death”

“My nursemaid, who I saw regularly, became a good friend of mine growing up.  At each visit, she taught me how to cook, clean, and sew.  She was very kind to me and possessed a hidden beauty unseen on the outside.  She was tender and loving as if I was one of her children.  My nursemaid arrived the night after Mary and Joseph departed the following day.  After trading a horse of ours, belonging to my mother with their donkey, they left to find suitable lodgings.  Joseph had said his donkey was a bit on the stubborn side.

“One particular night, when my nurse maid had come, there was a loud bang on the door.  One my father would never forget.  One night would shake him for many years.”

 

~~~

 

*Knock, knock, knock.*

“Sir, shall I get the door?  Your baby is almost finished eating,” The nursemaid calls out from the bedroom.

“No thank you, Deborah.  I shall get it.  Let Angelica finish.”

Phillip opens the door to three heavily armed soldiers standing on his doorstep in battle array.  Their eyes darken with hatred, which bleeds through their metal helmets.

“In the name of King Herod, we are instructed to find any baby boys in this house!”  A soldier proclaims authoritatively. Phillip pauses and noticeably trembles, his body freezes with fear.

“Do you have a baby in the house?”

“Uh, yes I do but…but, it is a girl.  Sir, she is nursing,” Phillip hesitates.

“Stand aside!”

The soldiers parade themselves through the front door, and violently shove Phillip aside demanding to see the baby.  They march in perfect order through the bedroom door. Deborah sits nursing the baby, and suddenly startles by the unwelcome guests.

“In the name of King Herod, we are ordered to find any baby boys in Bethlehem!  Now, give me the child!”

Deborah protectively places her hand over the baby; as the other two soldiers stand behind with hands on their swords preparing to draw them out.

“But, sir, it is a girl!  And she is nursing!”  Deborah covers herself with a blanket.

“Give me the baby!”  The soldier demands a second time growing impatient.

He seizes the infant, and carelessly unravels the blanket wrapped around her.  Ripping off the cloth, which covers her bosom, he then cruelly hands the screaming baby back to Deborah.

“Let us go!  It is as they have said!”

The three soldiers stomp out the front door, mount their horses, and ride off.  They leave a trail of dust blowing down the streets of Bethlehem as they hasten to do evil in the name of the king.

“What do you suppose is happening, sir?”  Deborah asks quieting the baby.

“I do not know, but I have a feeling it has to do with the people who were here before.  They had a Babe…a Son…and now they are gone.  I packed food and water for them as they went on their way.  I traded Beth’s horse for their donkey, and they blessed me for showing them kindness as they departed.  I cannot imagine how a stable is showing kindness to them?  I wish I could have done more.”

“But, sir, you did.  You provided them a place to have their Babe, in safety, and you gave them food and drink.  You did more than I have seen many do here in Bethlehem,” Deborah says.  “And Beth would have given them her horse as well.”

“I guess you are right,” Deborah hands Angelica to her father.  She is fast asleep.

Screams of terror and the wailings of women and children in the distance shake Bethlehem’s peaceful night, and Phillip’s inn nearby.  Babies scream as if being torn away from their mothers.  Phillip embraces Angelica tightly in his arms and close to his face.  He thanks God she is alive, but still fears the possible return of the soldiers.  Just what would they intend to do upon finding a male child?

“It sounds as if death is in the air, sir.  What if they come back?”  Deborah places her hand to her chest.

“Well, they are not looking for girls, only boys.  But, rest assured, you will not be here.  Please, take Angelica home with you and bring her back when she is weaned.  I shall visit daily and bring you your wages.”

Feeling her heart beat faster, Deborah adheres to the observation of Phillip.  “Of course, sir, I would be glad to care for her…did you say they are only in search for boys?  Oh my Lord!  What about Benjamin?  My husband Zebedee is watching him now!  Phillip, I must run home!  He is only six months old!”  Deborah cries.

“Then go, Deborah!  Go!”

Phillip’s heart hammers in terror and alarm as he opens his front door.  Deborah bolts in a state of panic into the darkness of the night.  Dreading…

Soldiers swiftly parade through the streets of Bethlehem on their horses. They carry torches to light their deadly mission:  A mission for one purpose and one purpose alone.

One particular soldier rides upon the King’s chariot.  He oversees the soldiers as they fulfill their duty.  Head of the Praetorian, he is crude and lifeless as if looking into dead, black eyes.  His name is Judasis, but the soldiers who know him call him Death due to his talent for killing. Fearlessly, he stands twice the size of a normal man.  His full dressed armor is the best of all the soldiers.  Judasis is infamous throughout the region where prisoners also know, and fear his name.

Just as Phillip closes the door, horror strikes seeing Death leap from his chariot excitedly. Storming into a nearby home across the street, he snatches a baby boy from his mother’s grasp.  Drawing his sword from his sheath, he swings slicing the screaming infant across the neck, killing him instantly. The mother screams in wretched agony.

Phillip’s knees shake dreadfully buckling beneath him.  He swiftly kicks the door closed.  Blowing out the lantern, he jumps up and scurries to his bedroom hiding himself and Angelica under the bed.  I know who that man is.  I have heard rumors, all the way from Jerusalem, of his evil.  What if he comes for my Angelica?  Phillip scrutinizes. We must stay hidden!

Phillip remains awake all night listening to the continuous, agonizing cries, wailings, and shrieks throughout Bethlehem.

Finally, daybreak, and the sound of horse hooves fade into the distance.  Taking with them, are the lives of dozens of baby boys including Deborah’s precious, infant son, Benjamin.

After the burial of Benjamin, Phillip hands his only daughter, his most precious gift over to Deborah.  She will care for Angelica until the age of two when she is fully weaned.

 

~~~

 

“I grew up knowing that the Son of God, Jesus, was born in our stable.  Father did the best he could raising me without a mother.  I could not have asked for a better father. He taught me many things like; the care of our animals, and counting, and collecting the money from the inn.  I was very happy with my father.  But, when I turned the age of twenty-nine, I began to feel as if something was missing from my life.  I was not married nor did I have that desire.  Instead, I took care of father and enjoyed working in the inn, which is unusual for a woman unless she has a husband.

“At that time, rumors spread throughout Jerusalem of a man who I desperately wanted to meet.  A man I thought, for a brief moment, could be Jesus.  But as it turned out, he pointed the way to Him instead.

“Father wished for me to settle down and marry, which is customary for a woman to do.  But, I desired something more for my life.  I longed to make a difference yearning more than anything in this world to see Jesus. I had only heard stories about Him since I was a child from my father.  I did not want to leave Bethlehem, but the more I heard of Jesus, and the man called John the Baptist, the more my heart longed to find them and hear the things taught.  Jesus was to arrive according to the teachings of John the Baptist.  This was the same Jesus born in Bethlehem on the same night I was born.  I knew I had to find Him.”

 

~~~

 

“Angelica, there is a handsome, young man who lives in the city.  He has asked for your hand in marriage.  I told him I would ponder his request as is customary.  However, I still wanted to ask my beloved daughter,” Phillip says folding a pile of clean, white linens in hopes Angelica may have a change of heart.

Resting her chin on the handle of the broom, Angelica ceases from the day’s chores.  Far from the thoughts of marriage, she daydreams of her heart’s aspirations.

“Father, you know I would do anything to please you,” She gently answers.

“And I would do anything for you as well, Angelica.  But, I do not want to force you into something you do not want to do. Although…I would love to have grandchildren, I see in your eyes it is not something your heart desires.”  Philip chuckles.  “I believe I have always known you had no desire to marry.  Even as a child, while girls pretended to marry, you were still playing in mud holes and kicking the boys in their legs.  I see that you love to be here in Bethlehem, and yet your heart seems so far from this place, is it not?” Angelica smirks. “So, what is it you want my daughter?  I will get it for you,” Phillip sincerely asks pausing just a moment as Angelica bites the side of her lip.

“Father, I have heard some people in the city speaking of a man called John the Baptist.  He is down at the River Jordan baptizing and preaching repentance from sin and the coming of the Lord. Each time I hear the story of the night Jesus and I were born, I remember what you said the physician had told you.  He said, that the shepherd had declared, ‘It is Christ the Lord!’  No one has ever called anyone Lord, until now!  I want to wait for Jesus.  And I want to go and wait with John the Baptist, and hear all he has to teach!”  Angelica passionately exclaims.

Sad by his daughter’s words, Phillip stands to his feet, and places the folded linen on the table. He would give his own life to please her.

“Then daughter, Angelica, that is what you shall have!  Now, we must not delay.  I will pack some clothes for you, with a moneybag.  I want you to make haste and go to the River Jordan.  But, one thing I ask that you must promise me,” He wiggles his index finger at her.  She lifts her head in unexpected amazement her father’s sudden agreement and his change of heart excite her.

“What, Father? Anything!”  She flings her arms to her side and spins around a single time.

“I want you to promise me, that you will write often.  Tell me all that happens and what John the Baptist says about this Jesus.”

Dropping the broom onto the floor, she runs over to her father.  She falls lovingly into Phillip’s outstretched arms.  Resting his head upon her shoulder, he caresses her long, curly hair and cries already missing her.

“Angelica, your mother would be proud of you this day, just as I am proud of you.  You are following your dreams.  She did just that.  Her dream of course, was to have a family. Not just me, Angelica, but you.”

“Oh, Father,” Angelica weeps on his neck as they tenderly hold onto one another.

“Now, you shall leave in the morning,” He grabs her shoulders. “Tonight, I will make preparations, but for today, let us finish our work.”

“Yes, sir, Father!”

Angelica picks up the broom and continues sweeping cheerfully like never before.  Her heart suddenly misses Bethlehem knowing tomorrow she will be gone.

 

~~~

 

“The next day was sunny and hot, for that time of year.  Father packed a few garments of clothing, along with a new pair of brown sandals, a head covering, and a moneybag for me.  He taught me to tie the bag on the inside of my sash, to keep from robbers.  Father put a lot of money in my moneybag and instructed me to write to him if I needed more.  He would send the stable boy, who was now grown to my aide.  Kissing my head and holding me tightly, he cried as if he did not want to let go.  I left that morning.  I looked back at my father standing in front of the inn. He was waving his hand through the air.  With tears in his eyes calling out, “I love you, Angelica!  I love you angel!  Don’t forget to write, my daughter!”

“I left on foot, even though Father wished I took his old and unbridled donkey.  The River Jordan was a day or mores journey away.  On the roadside, I met several people who surprisingly were also traveling to the River Jordan.  So we decided to travel side by side in one accord.

“I stopped and ate when I needed to eat, and stopped when the sun went down and slept.  The friends I made on the road were some of the best I have ever known.

“I chose to make my bed a good distance from the road side, in case of robbers by night while I slept.  I trusted God to keep me safe.  I often fell asleep staring at the many stars in the sky.  How beautiful they all were.  It was at those times I would think of my father, and miss him dearly.

“Since I traveled with only a few people, we would talk about the rumors heard at the River Jordan.  All of us could not wait until we arrived; it was like a new season.  People left their homes from afar bringing their wives and children to see and hear John the Baptist.”

 

~~~

 

Finally, the day comes when Angelica arrives at the River Jordan in Nazareth.  The fragrance of burnt wood and fish fill the air following the sound of rushing water.  A man’s voice echoes off the water up into the many hundreds standing and sitting around as she steps through the thickets of grass.

There is much shade along the River Jordan, many flowers and round rocks which some choose to sit upon.  Along the edge of the water, there is a wide river bend where many gather together eating and breaking bread in peace and harmony.  Their laughter is without a shred of falsity.  Others anxiously stand in the water, with a very pleasant man whose face has a distinctive glow.  Up to his waist in the water, he has a brown beard, which is a bit straggly: his body is thin yet something about him seems strong and powerful.  He wears garments made of camel hair with a leather belt strapping around his waist.  Lovingly, he smiles at everyone by the river.  One woman is in the water beside him.  The man holds onto the woman’s hand while his other supports the back of her neck.  He dips her backwards into the water. His voice carries across the ripples of rushing water to all who gather. They also have that same joyous glow upon their faces.

“In the name of the Father, I baptize you!”

Immersing the woman in water, she emerges. The crowd rejoices praising God and clapping their hands.  The sight brings tears to Angelica’s eyes.

Setting the bag down by her traveling companions, Angelica makes her way through the thick, green grass towards the edge of the river.  She sits down and listens to him speak while warming her hands on a nearby fire.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

“I listened to him and for a brief moment I thought, Could this be Jesus?   Until he spoke again, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loosen.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Through the afternoon, Angelica hears his message and believes in the Messiah even more than the stories she heard from her father in Bethlehem. It is then she decides, and purposes in her heart with all that she is, to follow the Lord for the rest of her life and continue with Him as long as she is physically able.  She knows she must wait with John, for Jesus will come.  In the meantime, she abides by the river alongside hundreds camping in the beds of the grass.

The next day, people from around the river begin lining up near the water with a deep desire of baptism.  Angelica’s desire rises within her heart as was the decision to come to the Jordan, and she eagerly waits for her turn to come.

Finally, John the Baptist reaches his hand for her from the water’s edge.  The cool breeze of the day blows passed the trees.  Angelica reaches her hand out to his, and as she touches his hand, she feels a strange sensation warming her.  Then, she steps into the cool River Jordan.  Carefully, she steps across the smooth stones at the river’s bottom a few paces.  She trembles with joy.  This is the most important decision she has made thus far.

“Do you give your life to the Lord?  Do you want to serve Him all the days of your life, and do you repent from your sins?”

Tenderly she cries out. “I do!”  Tears flow off her eyelashes.

Kindheartedly, he grips her hand tightly.  She feels a strong pulling within her stomach, which she does not understand, but welcomes.  Raising his voice to all the others nearby, she feels a power coming from him, a somewhat emanating power.

“I hereby baptize you in the name of the Lord!  Praise to God in the Highest!”

He submerges her backwards into the water.  For a brief moment, Angelica sees her life flash before her eyes.  She emerges.  Everything she knew she desired in Bethlehem has finally been found in the precious, pure words he has spoken.  The water is cold, but inside her heart tingles like a warm embrace.

Angelica steps out of the River Jordan, dripping wet as others gather around applauding and glorifying God.  The moment she steps onto dry land, dozens of men and women hug and welcome her to the Lord.  Children hang onto her drenched garments and smile up into her blue eyes endearingly. One child, no older than two years hands her a dry tunic.

Continuing on with John the Baptist and the others a great length of days, the date of Angelica’s birth passes.  She is now at the age of 30 as is Jesus who shares the same prophetic day.

During her time, at the River Jordan, she carefully notices many tax collectors and soldiers coming near the riverbank to hear the message John is teaching.  She can see by the look in their eyes, they are out for blood and try to trick him by the questions they ask.  Skeptically, she keeps her eye on them and prays for her friend John the Baptist whom she has come to know.

Rumors spread how John had rebuked King Herod for taking a bride that belongs to his brother.  Her name is Herodias.  Thereafter, she secretly despises him searching for a clever way to demolish the man of God.

Many ponder if perhaps John the Baptist is in fact Jesus the Christ.  But, even in the middle of their idle chit chat, he keeps pointing them to One who is sure to arrive.

 

~~~

 

Loud, quick footsteps, trail down the stony, staircase, accompanied with the angry voices of evil men.  Soldiers approach the cell stopping Angelica from her story.

“Pardon me, sir, but I just follow my instructions.”

The jailer begs forgiveness, from two heavily armed soldiers.  One of them…is Death.  As the soldiers walk passed the other prisoners waiting, they tremble at the sight of this ominous soldier. The soldiers stand angrily in front of Stephen’s cell.

“This one, Stephen, was not even supposed to be jailed!  The counsel is furious he is not up in the synagogue speaking with them.  An hour has past and your orders were to take the other man down to the jail.  Not this man!”  Death raises his gruff voice as he repulsively gazes around the bleak prison.

“It is just disgusting…the stench down here!  It is almost unbearable!  I should not have to come down here to correct your mistakes!”  Death roars as he crosses his thick arms glaring at the puny, miniscule existence of the jailer.

“I am sorry, sir.  If it pleases the counsel, Judasis, I-I could explain how it was my-”

“NO!  No need to do that.  Down here you call me DEATH!  You are lucky you are escaping with your life, and the lives of your family with an error such as this!  I should throw you in a cell of your own!  Or should I just crucify you here?”  Death draws his sword and presses it slightly against the jailer’s neck.  The jailer feels the sharp, cold blade to his skin.  Terror grows in the heart of the jailer as Death places the sword over his Adam’s apple, with sinister thoughts of gutting it out of him.

“No, Death, please, sir!”  The jailer pleads looking up at the mammoth man staring down at him desiring to trample him under foot.

“Open the cell!”  The wicked soldier interrupts.

The loud, locked chamber clicks as the quivering jailer opens the cell, and moves aside.  The other soldier stomps inside, and stares at Stephen who glances up with the parchments in his hands.

Angelica shutters. She stares at the larger soldier in remembrance and familiarity.  I remember stories my father told me of this man.  She thinks. He is surely a wicked fiend.

“We must put these chains back on him!”  The soldier bellows.

Stephen stands to his weary feet perceiving his time has now come, and he shall speak as the Holy Spirit gives him utterance.

Death ducks his head and stomps inside the cell.  He places a set of chains around Stephen’s feet weighing him down, yet he remains strong standing upright.  He is brave, but not without fear.  Stephen slides the pages of the parchments through the metal bars back to Angelica.

“You see, all for God’s glory?  Listen, when they prepare to destroy your life, pray to the Lord.  Pray to Him for strength,” He sternly glares into Angelica’s blue eyes, as she discerns the urgency from Stephen.

Angelica reaches out, but the angry soldier grabs Stephen’s hands.  Once again, the parchments fall to the grimy floor as the soldiers quickly chain Stephen’s hands together.

“Pray to the Lord, huh?  Well, we shall see what will be done with you after the counsel hears you speak.  If I were you, I would worry about your own life and not the life of this woman!”  Death sternly states, with an evil undertone.

The soldiers stand on the left and right leading Stephen out of the cell.  Locking the cell behind them, Angelica stands to her feet and walks toward the door of her cell.  She watches Stephen as he slowly shuffles his feet an inch at a time yieldingly bound and chained.  But, this will be the last time he is ever bound as he is.  And it is a moment he welcomes with all his heart.

Glancing over at her, he speaks one final time.  “Remember what I said.  Your life has made a difference.  Only do not lock it away…share it with anyone who will hear!  Tell your father the same.  I will see you soon, Angelica.  I will see you soon!”  He states while they hard-press and shove him passed the prisoner’s cells by Death’s strong arms.  The weight upon Stephen is heavy, but he is ready.

The soldiers lead Stephen up the staircase as some in the jail clap and rejoice.  Others weep with sadness of heart knowing his most certain fate.  Death is only ending his life here on earth.

Angelica rests her forehead against the metal bars, wrapping a few of her dirt-embedded fingers around them.  Closing her eyes, she begins to pray.

“O my Lord, whom I serve.  Give me strength and my friend, Stephen.  That You may show him a revelation where he will be with You if he is to be put to death today.  Let his words pierce the hearts of all who hear him.”

Tears run off her face and ripple to the cell floor.  John lay on his back staring over at Angelica.  He presses his lips together. It disturbs him to see the young radical crying.  Then, he glances at the cloth Stephen left for him.

“Angelica, please do not cry.  At least you know where you will spend eternity: which is more than I can say about myself,” He crosses his bony arms.

Immediately, she dries the tears with the back of her filthy hand and takes a few steps toward the bars.  She feels a tugging in her heart to speak.

“It is not that I know, but do you?  John, do you really know where you will go when they sentence you to death?  Where you will spend eternity?”

John slowly pulls himself up towards the interesting girl.  He feels weak and sick; his illness clings to him like the skin on his frail frame.

“I am not a good man.  I have been a thief my whole life.  Now, you tell me how is it, that a God as you say, can possibly love someone like me?  And how can He accept him into His heavenly home?  Why will He, a person such as myself?”

“John, I want you to listen to me.  I am going to tell you more about Him; now, just sit back and hear me.  It may help you with the answers you seek.”

Just then, sounds from above boom like a stirring, which shakes the walls and very foundation of the prison.  Dirt falls from the ceiling as some in the prison cough.  People scream and yell troubling the prison.  Finally, a man’s voice authoritative and wise with power quiets the angry mob.  In her heart, Angelica knows Stephen is speaking that very moment to a violent and hateful crowd in the synagogue.

Minutes seem as hours passing when suddenly the crowd becomes irate and wrathful louder than before.  Footsteps clatter from the ceiling rushing across from one side to the next then fade into the distance.  Angelica shuts her eyes tightly as tears fall down her dirty cheeks once more.

“I will see you soon, dear brother.  I will see you soon,” She softly vows.

The crowd seizes Stephen, tosses him outside the city, and mercilessly stones him.  He looks up to the sky at the parting heavens, and sees Jesus. Then he lies down and falls asleep.

The jailer victoriously stomps down the steps and stands in front of a cell door, five cells from where they hold John.  A soldier joins him.  They yank a man out of his cell bound and chained for immediate execution.

“Ah the crowd is relentless today!  More blood to shed!”  One of the soldiers mocks with sarcasm.

“It seems there are four more people now, before I am to be taken,” John says putting his head down by his soon coming fate.  “Can you honestly tell me this is all worth it?  How old are you, Angelica?”

“I am thirty-four years old.  And yes, I can say it is all worth it.  Once you hear what I have seen, and how being near Jesus, and by His side has been worth everything, I can endure it now.  I would never trade one moment spent with Him.”

“Okay then, Angelica.  Go on with your story.  I am listening.”

Leaning his back against the wall, John gazes at the cloth Stephen had given him still sitting between the bars.

Angelica reaches for her parchments and pen, and places them on her lap.  She begins vigilantly writing again.  The words pour forth like sweet honey as she remembers every moment with Jesus.

 

 

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illustration of set of zombies in different poses on white background

 

Freedom

carles-rabada-604632-unsplashHe stood up before them all. He’s not nervous as was the case years ago when he first began to go. Eyes all upon him. Are they judging him? Do they think he’s worthless? Some nod clearly moved. Some fidget while others cry. He cries as well, can’t seem to help it for it is his lifelong testimony. The words begin to come forth unable to be kept within for it bubbles forth. Tragedies, lockup, and now freedom- freedom and living, living as he never thought he would. Hard working, loving, and his head in the book, in the most powerful book ever written and he’s studying. Many of his old friends cannot recognize him by the new way he is and the words he speaks, for they are power. His head shaved bald, his eyes full of belief and conviction of who he is and what he’s emerged from, a nose strong passed down from generation to generation-yes they all look alike, brother to sister, kin to kin. Body with tattoos of a life he’d previously known and now has left, but not left for good, because it is now what he has become that has made him powerful and brought him back to the place he so many years ago was kept within. He’s come back to tell others a powerful Person which he will never keep secret. Walls a dreary and wretched color, violence and sin prevalent as is the musty scent, a cell only so wide, and a life filled with orders and permission. But today, he stands before them all oh yes. Not only with a new step in his walk, but holding in his strong grip, the Bible. He is unashamed of Who he has met and turned to. He’s clung to Him long after the bars are behind, never again to return. He gazes over the packed room with a smile and this time, it’s different. He no longer has to say the phrase which everyone says when it’s their turn to speak. Today, at the beginning of his speech, he says, “Hi. I’m healed from alcoholism and drugs by the power of God.”

-For my beloved Uncle Fred

Romans 1:16 King James Version (KJV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Copyright © Aimée Marie Bejarano

 

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Free Chapters of “The Gateway” Part One of the Gateway Series

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The 1st two chapters of “The Gateway” Part One of the Gateway Series- a supernatural, scifi, and urban fantasy read!

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

“Hello! SOMEONE HELP ME! I need help!” Grace sways back and forth, on the floor, of her kitchen.  She’s pale and trembling with a broken phone tightly pressing against her ear, with a white knuckled grip.  There’s a sense of hopelessness and terror. “I need help!” Her voice trails off.

Ten minutes earlier.

Grace leans over and picks up a toy train from the carpet of her New York apartment. A severe storm is blowing into the city.  The wind fiercely whistles as the raindrops violently beat against the windows like loud pops of pebbles, as surely as if a teenage boy was getting his girlfriend’s attention. That’s when one of the woman’s children calls for her from the back bedroom.

The mother of four sighs while tying her robe around her waist. She tiredly drags her body towards the back room, where her children lively giggle getting ready for bedtime. Grace was hoping they wouldn’t need her, and she can retire for the evening, but with small children, it’s inevitable. But, she was still hopeful.

It’s a chilly and damp night. Grace checks the thermostat then steps into the room for Manny who is still calling her.  The four-year-old jumps into her tired arms.  She sighs, his hugs warm her.

“Momma! I can’t put my shirt on.  It’s stuck.” His voice slightly muffles from being tangled in his shirt. Grace lovingly grabs Manny by the shoulders and sits him on the bed.

“You’re old enough to put this on yourself, aren’t you? Come on buddy?”

Manny shakes his head. She sighs, grabs the wrinkled up pajama shirt, which is over half his head and one arm, and fixes it for the black, curly haired cutie. He smiles clinching onto his mom while she embraces him and lays him into his nice, warm Superman covers.

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“Yes mom.”  They all answer.

Emilio, her eight-year-old son jumps up and down landing on his butt on the top bunk bed.  While José, her six-year-old, snuggles underneath the covers in his own bed near the door. Smiling proudly, she endearingly watches her children settle in for the night. Grace tucks each one in and gives a special kiss on their innocent foreheads.  You definitely have a full load here, Grace.  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just then, the sound upon the windows grows – deafeningly loud.

“What is that, mommy?”

Manny glances toward the window at the startling noises. “Honey, it’s only raindrops. There’s a storm coming.”  Grace brushes her long, black, curly hair off her shoulders and flicks off the bedroom light.  She turns on the hallway light knowing her children need it for comfort, especially during a storm.  Manny looks at her with a disconcerting glare, their bedroom lights up from the lightning outside.

“It’s alright.  Just ignore the storm, honey.  If you watch the lightning, it’s very peaceful. God watches over us.  Remember, I told you the last time that God makes the storms?”

“Yeah, loser!” Emilio heckles his nervy brother. Manny twists his lips shooting Emilio a weird look.

“That’s your brother!” Grace is already irritated from the lack of sleep the night before. She eyes Manny whose countenance drops at the hurtful words of his big brother. Then she eyes Emilio.

“I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice.  He will always be your brother. Don’t make fun of him. Now, please apologize.” She crosses her arms.

Emilio covers his head with a pillow and muffles, “I’m sorry, Manny.”

“It’s okay, Emilio.  I love you,” Little Manny brightly smiles.

Emilio wrinkles his nose at the very thought of his brother always saying he loves him and the others.

“That was sweet of you, Emilio.  Alright, boys. Go to sleep.  I love you. I’ll make some waffles in the morning.  Night.”

The noise of the storm rises over the chime of the mobile, dimly playing above her eight-month-old son Chico, asleep in a crib in her bedroom. Chills creep up her arms. She thinks nothing of it and quickly checks the thermostat again.  Maybe it’s broken. It’s awfully cold in here.  Grace crosses her arms.  I was hoping this wouldn’t happen in a new place.

About two months ago, Grace Rodriguez moved into a two-bedroom apartment in a large New York complex.  It is located on a pleasant street surrounded by tall trees. This is a night like any other, for Grace as a single mother, putting her children to sleep and cleaning up their toys. Yet something about this night is fairly off track in the atmosphere.  Sure it’s raining, but since when does the rain beat so hard against the windows that it sounds like the glass may shatter at any given moment?

Grace rubs the silver cross necklace around her neck, with her middle finger and thumb, and then continues picking up the rest of the toys scattered across the living room.  She quietly places them in a toy box in the corner. The children’s matching short, black locks of curly hair sprawl across their pillows. They lie silent, their eyes slowly closing from the busy day they’ve had.  Only small slits can be seen. Grace yawns and stretches a moment. She heads back down the hall, and peeks in on her kids. She cracks a smile at her children with love and affection. With a sigh, she scans the usual mess of scattered toys. It is just a typical boy’s room which she will have to clean sooner or later.

Grace heads to her room yawning, in the dimly lit hallway, when the children’s eyes open wide, glancing toward the darkened living room at the sound of a loud *clang*.

The long hallway holds the feeling of imminent danger brewing. Grace pauses, and hesitantly calls out while slowly spinning around.

“He-hello?”  Her voice crackles as a cold breeze climbs up her legs then moves through the air chilling her to the bone.

“Momma, what was that noise?” One of her children groggily speaks up.

“Oh nothing, honey,” Her shaky voice is noticeable. “You remember last month when that alley cat jumped onto our stairs outside? And he knocked down mommy’s plants in the window sill?” Grace clears her throat and nervously grins.

The boys laugh, now appearing to be awake due to the noises they hear and the fear consuming them.

“Yeah that was funny, mommy. He jumped all the way up here. And we’re a hundred floors up!”  Manny giggles.

“No we aren’t butthole.  We’re on the fourth floor,” Emilio pokes again.

“Don’t call him that!” Grace faces their room and points her finger now clearly upset. “You are brothers. You should stop all the fighting and name-calling or you’re going to get spanked!  Now I mean it, say you’re so-”

More sounds clank around in the kitchen stopping her from finishing the threats to the arguing children. Grace’s big, brown eyes bulge as she fearfully tip toes backwards against the bedroom door.  It suddenly dawns on her the baby is asleep in the crib, in her room. I can’t leave him alone. What if it’s a burglar? She ponders.

“Boys, I need to get Chico.  He’s in my room. None of you move a muscle, alright? I mean it not one of you,” She whispers to her wide-eyed kids.

Biting the corner of her lip, her face turns flushed.  Her body uncontrollably trembles while trying to remain calm, cool and collected. Jose and Emilio sit up. Manny clutches his blanket close to his chest for comfort and a shield, from the fear he feels.  Jose tosses his covers off, hops out of his bed, and jumps into the bottom bunk snuggling under the covers next to his brother Manny.  Emilio remains on the top bunk, with a sick surge in his stomach.  Being the oldest, he knows something is gravely wrong.

“Okay boys, now sit still and don’t move.  I’m going to get Chico,” She whispers.  Emilio nods.

Grace slowly tiptoes down the hall towards her bedroom. Her stomach akin to riding the elevator up a tall building, making her nerves shoot up in terror from the continuing clanks and bangs in the kitchen. Abruptly, the sounds veer into the living room.  Her heart sinks in her chest, but she can’t see a thing in the living room from where she stands. Grace reaches for the doorknob, her fingers shake. Her pulse races, she may faint. Her forehead is glossy with sweat. She clinches her eyes together a moment and breathes in deeply.  Quickly, she flings open the bedroom door smacking it against the wall and clamors inside.

The noise escalates and all of a sudden stops, as quickly as it began. Putting a pacifier in the baby’s mouth, Grace scoops him out of the crib and cuddles him close in her trembling arms. A dark shadow quickly passes through the hallway, like a ghostly, eerie presence. Then it disappears unnoticed to her.  The necklace hanging around her neck glows with a light, auburn aura. Grabbing the telephone on the nightstand, she hustles back into the boys’ room. Relief hits. The glow of the necklace fades away as she closes the door and locks it while trying to quiet the baby who’s awake, from all the movement.  Grace gasps in a deep breath, thankful she’s back with all her children, but ponders what to do about the intruder. I think there may be a baseball bat in the boys’ closet. If he comes back here, I’ll let him have it!

“Okay boys, alright…isn’t this fun?  Everything’s okay,” Grace gathers another deep breath, and bounces the baby slightly soothing him to sleep.

Grace tries making everything seem like a fun game, as she often does, so her children will not be afraid.  Suddenly, her heart sinks in her chest at the empty top bunk. Emilio is nowhere in sight.  Remnants of a giant, animal, paw print on the sheets is Grace’s only indication something is gravely wrong.

“My God, what’s that smell?” Hesitantly, she touches the print and rubs it within her fingertips. “This is sick!  What is this?” Grace yanks the covers off Manny’s bed.

“Ah! Don’t hurt me!” Jose screams.  Manny tucks his little body in a ball squeezing his eyes shut.

Hurt you?  Where’s Emilio?” Grace waits for an answer. “Look at me!” She grabs his chin forcing him to look at her. “Answer me…where….is Emilio?”

Jose grabs the blankets and throws them back over him and his brother unable to stop his body from quivering.  He’s on the verge of soiling his pajama pants.

Grace places the phone down and lays the fussy baby on the bed. Maybe he’s hiding.  She wonders.

She opens the boys’ closet speedily flinging shoes and toys around the floor, shoving aside clothes and hangers searching for Emilio.  Kneeling on the floor, she keenly glares under the bed, but he is nowhere in the room.  Her heart pounds faster and loudly resonates in her ears. She feels faint again and an urge to sit down, but she can’t! Where is Emilio?

“Emilio?  Oh my God!  Emilio! Boys where did your brother go?  Boys come out from under there! Where did he go?” The worried mother frantically questions again.  Horrified, the children will not move a muscle or come out of hiding. Their quivering bodies are evident to the human eye.

“Alright, listen. Hold Chico with you, and hide him under the covers.” She carefully covers the baby with the blanket, alongside her remaining kids. “I’ll be right back.  Don’t you move!” Grace panics, twiddling her fingers as she thinks what to do.  Chico whimpers then closes his eyes falling back to sleep suckling on his pacifier. Grace grips the phone and dials 9-1-1 as she bites the corner of her lip.

Dreading, she slightly cracks open the squeaky door then jumps. Easy there, Grace.  Don’t make your kids more scared than they already are.

Hesitantly, she closes her children’s bedroom door and heads back into the hallway to find her missing son.

“Hello, what is your emergency?” The emergency responder answers.

Slowly, Grace moves down her dark hallway, keeping a watchful eye on the living room while deliriously creeping back into her bedroom.  How is it he’s gone after those noises? How?

After a short search, she creeps back into the hallway.  Grace wipes her glossy face and attempts to calm down, but her heavy breathing seems to be getting the best of her.  Thoughts of panic prick her mind.  Where did Emilio go in just a short amount of time? I was gone for only a moment.

Carefully, she tiptoes one foot in front of the other, her bare feet quietly press into the beige carpet. She opens the bathroom door. Sneaking up to the bathtub, she’s light headed, dizzy cradling horrible thoughts of what may have happened to her son. Grace quickly flings the shower curtain aside then wipes a tear from her small, pug nose. Taking a sigh, Emilio is not there and the search ensues. Examining the closet in the hall, she flinches, swinging her fists around grabbing into thin air at a small cobweb.  She rummages through the children’s coats and shoes remembering, Emilio likes to hide in the closet while playing hide and seek with his brothers.

Just then, Grace hears muffles. Holding up her hand, she recalls the 9-1-1 call.

“HELLO WHAT IS YOUR EMERGENCY?” The emergency responder repeats.

A very frightened Grace presses the phone to her ear as she glides her fingertips along the wall.  She gasps and heaves in a deep breath, panic rising.

“Uh, yes, um…I heard a noise in my house and-and it could be a burglar and my boys are here, but,” She continues whispering softly, maneuvering down the hallway into the living room; her legs nearly buckle giving way to her trembling.

“But, what?  Ma’am, are you there?”

Grace sets her eyes on the living room. A dim night light barely illuminates the room in disarray.  Her furniture is upside down blocking her pathway to the kitchen.  There’s a clear sign of a struggle.  The beautiful flower pictures, which hang over the couch, are lopsided.  It is dark, but still her son is nowhere in the room.

“Emilio!” Grace whispers.

Surprised by the state of her home, she carefully straddles over the couch, pushing the coffee table out of the way.  A few strands of curls brush against her flush cheeks.  Her mind continues racing.

“Your boys are what?  Ma’am?  Okay ma’am we have your location and we’re sending police assistance.  Do you see a person in your house?  Is someone in the house with you?  Is there an intruder in the home?” Dispatch continues probing the frightened woman to keep her talking prying for more information.

Suddenly, the feeling Emilio has been kidnapped hits Grace like a punch in the gut.  “Okay, please hurry!  My house is a mess like someone was looking for something!  My furniture is all over the place and I still can’t find my son!”

“Okay ma’am so…your son is missing?  We are sending someone right now for you.  Don’t move, okay?  Ma’am?”

Grace pulls the phone away from her ear when something creaks in the house, again.  It’s coming from the kitchen, like footsteps moving around.  Did he get out of bed to check on the noise?

Cautiously and bravely, she pokes her head around the corner expecting to see a prowler. The kitchen appears as she left things. The faint street lights partially stream into her kitchen. Alarmingly, she eyes the room searching for Emilio.  The table, near the window, and stools seem in place. It appears to be the only tidy room in the apartment. Carefully, she steps into the kitchen. She hugs the side of the wall with her rickety body, then out of the blue trips on something in the middle of the floor.  The phone flies out of her hand, and breaks into pieces as the battery pops out and slides across the floor.

“Un!” She falls forward, landing hard onto her stomach nearly smacking her face on the tiled floor.

Propping up on her side, she moans in some pain, but soon realizes the very thing hindering her steps, is her child Emilio.  He lays face-up on the floor in his pajamas unconscious.  Patting the sides of his face, she desperately tries reviving him, but something is not right.  There is an unsafe ambiance cautioning her that something is still amiss in the home.  Grace clenches the child’s pajamas and yanks him onto her lap.

“Oh God!  Emilio…oh Emilio!  Wake up! Come on!  What happened, baby? What happened?”

A cold chill still resonates throughout the apartment.  Is someone here? Who did this to him? I’ll kill him!  She tells herself.

Something warm and wet underneath Emilio startles her. As she lifts her hands, she spots large animal footprints. The prints strangely encircle where her son had been lying.  The very sight of it sends chills up her spine.  The hair on her arms stands erect.  Something is present and near, she detects it.  It’s nearby and it’s utterly palpable.  This is the same thing I saw on their bed. What is this?

Goo sticks to her hands. She frowns and curiously puts it to her nose wondering what it could be.  This light pinkish hue sticks all around her fingers embedding underneath her long fingernails. She continues patting Emilio’s cheeks to wake him regardless.

Suddenly before her, a colossal creature appears standing on all fours like a lion guarding his newly caught prey.  Its appearance is like a beast, a tall tower.  Some of its body almost human-like is scalded head to foot. Wearing tattered pants and a long, red cape draping its burly back sweeping the ground, its powerfully built body is black as ash. Smoke simmers off its skin.  It all seems like a bad dream to Grace. She closes her eyes tightly. Her heart hammers.  Sweat drips off the sides of her face.  She panics, but holds her son tightly. The stench of the intruder is putrid like sulfur.  It is one of the dead which walks, only a much stronger aroma consumes the place. Her eyes rest upon the creature’s bear like feet and razor sharp claws.

Terror hits. Grace alarmingly screams at the top of her lungs. The intruder picks up the unconscious child in his simmering arms. Grace clutches the leg of Emilio’s pajamas, yet the creature gives an earth-shattering growl and wrenches the child from her grasp.  Its cape drapes over Emilio like a blanket.  Its muscles pulsate and its back arches until it stands to its feet like a man.  He growls again at Grace.  The creature towers larger than any human being.  Weakness and fear consumes Grace, she’s unable to make it to her quivering legs almost paralyzed at his presence.

Just then, a blue light flickers as thousands of small molecules gathers behind the creature. It entombs the kitchen like a whirling swimming pool, hovering in mid-air.  A gateway.  Grace’s eyes veer and fixate, mesmerized by the bright blue light illuminating and levitating. The glow and iridescent color is magnificent. The hole swirls and brightly glistens.

The creature jumps into the giant gateway, which vanishes like a flint, along with Emilio who’s still unconscious and unable to fight off his kidnapper.

“Oh God. Oh God!” Grace blinks her eyes. *Sniff, sniff.*

Grace scrapes up one of the broken phone pieces, near her leg. The hysterical woman screams in a blank daze. She’s completely delirious the phone is destroyed and stained with the same, unknown substance. Grace presses it against her ear.

“Hello…please!  Help there is someone here!  There is someone here, and he took Emilio!  Help! Help!  Someone help me! I need help! I need help!”

Grace remains on the floor rocking back and forth white faced, scratching her fingernails on the tiled floor. The baby screams from the bedroom. There’s the faint sound of a police siren in the distance. Grace cries in agony into the telephone while gasping for breath. But no one is on the other end.  Not even a busy tone echoing in the kitchen bouncing off the walls to shout at the distraught woman, No one can hear your cries!

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

At the heart of downtown New York, there are buildings that appear as if they touch the sky.  Lined on every street and corner, lawyers, stock traders, associates and the like, have their offices.  In one of those tall buildings with windows overlooking Manhattan square, is the office of the popular newspaper ‘The Daylight News’.

The leading newspaper columnist in New York is a man named Aiden Jenson. Aiden is an abrupt man, clean-shaven, almost six feet tall, talkative and has little patience for the harangue of people, especially fellow journalists or reporters. He’s a lanky man with deep blue eyes and bleach blonde hair which makes him appear like the “All American” boy.  A sweet, yet calculating man, Aiden’s experience over the years, has perfected his ability interviewing victims. Not being much of a cook, except throwing bread into the toaster, he usually eats cereal for dinner while watching a baseball or football game at night.  He remains a bachelor, living alone in New York, and is disinterested in any advances of a female-most of the time-as he is married to his job, and set in his ways like a turtle in his shell.  Curious and investigative, he is one of the leading journalists cracking stories on violent crimes. The stories, which made a name for him, involve men in prison cells and few on death row, with claims of their innocence. Aiden’s learned over the years, to follow his instincts and the hunches in his gut.  It’s helped him uncover that some of these inmates were in fact doing time for crimes they indeed did not commit. Aiden has cracked open many cases causing reinvestigations in record number, for convicted prisoners. Families of the victims however, do not always share his success.

Lately, however, he is becoming bored with his usual stories about convicts. Aiden is noticing a woman he knows well, Saline Davis, who is part of ‘The New York Chronicle’, is following in his tracks, hot on his tail more than she’s ever been.  Saline Davis is also a popular journalist, but in addition has landed a small slot with Channel 9 Late Breaking News.  Though they work with different newspapers, they’re always competing with one another. It’s been that way since college.  In fact, their newspapers are often toe to toe when it comes to front page stories and sales, only ‘The Daylight News’ remains ahead by a hair due to Aiden Jenson.  Aiden has a well-earned reputation in New York as one who listens to the people and most readers love him in return.  Little does Grace know, her life and Aiden Jenson’s life are about to collide in one of the biggest paranormal adventures New York has ever read.

The boss hollers at Aiden, from his office, for one of his private talks, which usually means he wants to know what the next story is or how the new story is going. Basically, just being a bothersome, nagging boss, picking at him for details of the story before the deadline.  Typical, only Aiden has adjusted to his boss’s tactics and brash personality, developing a way with him, which others wish they possess.  People often fear entering the boss’s office for one reason.  Hearing the words, “You’re fired!” is a tough break for those working in the newspaper business.  In New York, a fired journalist spreads like wild fire.  You either write a great story or get canned for not producing a well-grounded one. What his boss dislikes most is recanting a story; which of course is immediate grounds for dismissal with this line of work in such a competitive field of “he” said “she” said.  Aiden however can care less.  He knows and is proud he’s on top. If he is ever fired, he could have a job by the end of that working day. And his boss knows it only too well.

Aiden saunters through the hubbub of cubicles and journalists on their phones and the clacking of fingers sweeping across the computer keys.  Aiden pauses outside the glass door, of his boss’s office.  The maple desk positioned near the entrance is where the boss’s secretary sits each day, a headset attached to her ears.  She’s a normal gal, not much to look at.  She’s mousy of sorts, with straight brown hair, no make-up on her pale face, and wears thick, bronze framed glasses.  Usually, her passé pantsuits or long plaid dresses are an eye sore making a terrific bull’s eye for others in the office to snicker behind her back.  Even though she’s not blind to the gossip, she’s shy and smitten by Aiden’s good looks and boyish charm. Her name is Elise Reming.

“Oh hi, Aiden. How are you today?”  Elise smiles revealing her shiny, metal braces splayed across her big teeth in a flirtatious, yet shy manner. She is hoping he will take a glance, in her direction.  Nervously, she tugs on her horrendous, royal blue, plaid dress.

“I’m good, Ms. Reming, thanks.” Aiden scratches his strong nose avoiding eye contact with her.  His mind is solely on this meeting with his boss and nothing more.  He opens the door and treks into the office where his boss is impatiently waiting at his desk.

His boss’s name is Kip Carlisle, and he’s typically surrounded by a cloud of smoke, from a cigar clenched in his two front teeth. It’s a soothing calm when in deep thought. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to hear him speak past the stogie.

Aiden slightly coughs, from the smoke in Carlisle’s office, which makes him feel a bit queasy and turn green.  He’s never liked the smell of cigars.

Now Aiden’s boss is also a tall man, clean-shaven, with deep frown lines casting a shadow, between his eyes, accompanied by obvious crow’s feet.  He is an exceedingly headstrong, determined man, in his late forties, with a boxy jaw.  His wardrobe consists of expensive grey suits, without the jacket, and a tie he leaves dangling loosely around his neck.  People in his office think this is a bit peculiar, but they never ridicule the boss.  His athletic build, red hair, and big, auburn eyes are intimidating.  Fast-talking, Kip Carlisle’s known for making swift yet accurate decisions in his deep, raspy voice.  He hates when anyone yells or raises their voice around him, unless he is the one doing the yelling.  Abruptly, he slams down the phone when he sees Aiden pop in.  Finally, he’s here.  Carlisle thinks, having waited only a few minutes.

Carlisle eyes his best journalist. “Okay Aiden, listen you are the best journalist I’ve ever had, maybe ever known in my lifetime. You can be cool, cunning and calculating.  But, strange happenings in New York City? Paranormal? You understand, when you told me this last week, I said we’d discuss it.  But the Ghostbusters thing has already been done!  By the way this isn’t bothering you, is it?”  He points at his cigar, sitting in a glass ashtray, then quickly remarks, “Good,” And swiftly cradles it between his front, squared teeth with a sly grin.

Aiden eases back in the tan chair, in front of his boss’s desk, getting comfortable for what is going to be the beginning of a long debate or lecture. But, he’s fully prepped for a terrific argument.  Aiden has been at this paper long enough to know how to handle the long talks.  He has his ways, well manipulations. He scratches his cleanly shaven, baby face, and fixes the wrinkles in the seams of his pants.

“Listen, I know it’s not what I usually write about, but it’s something I really want to do.  Once you read about it, you’ll be a believer.  I promise you!”  Aiden rubs his sweaty palms on his suit pants, crinkling them up again.  He has an impending urge to fix the wrinkles, a somewhat OCD habit of his.

Carlisle rolls the thick, cigar around his mouth, and stews adjacent from Aiden, in his high back, black chair, which swooshes as he clunks down.  He plops his feet on the corner of his desk and impatiently drums his fingers on a thick stack of papers.  Taking a huge puff of his cigar, he blows circles of smoke into the air then glares at the finest Cuban cigar he can afford cradled between his fingers.

“Alright…I’m listening,” Carlisle waits surrounded by fresh smoke. There’s a cool, odd silence in the office then finally, Aiden contemplates his ice breaker.

“Sir, with all due respect, these criminal articles are washed up! They’re yesterday’s newsAnd the people out there are searching for more than just another presumed killer exonerated!  And to be quite honest, I can’t handle anymore hate mail from the victims’ families, threatening me!” Aiden shakes his head.  “Even in light of new evidence, they think I’m aiding and helping a killer go free.  They place a great deal of blame on this paper too!  Yesterday, an elderly woman on the street confronted me.  She was still convinced one of the convicts set free, who was clearly innocent by the way of DNA evidence, is guilty.  Something about her son being a good boy, and before I could rebut, she slapped me!”

“She slapped you?” Carlisle snickers, with wide eyes, unsympathetic to what his journalists may go through with the public.  As long as the stories in his paper remain number one, it’s all that matters and the heck with anything else!

“Yes, sir.  Right across the face!  I can still feel the sting,” He rubs his cheek.  “I want a new route.  A change of pace!”

Aiden continues shouting, determined to go a different direction.  He flings his hands and arms back and forth.  Looking out of the glass windows, some of his colleagues are peeking over their cubicles wondering what the racket is all about: perhaps wondering if Aiden was just fired.  That certainly would be big news!  Ms. Reming eyeballs him over the newspaper she’s reading, also curious as to what all the hubbub is about.

Carlisle abruptly stands with a stern glare, and strolls over to the chestnut bookshelf behind him.  Grabbing a silver picture frame off one of the shelves, he wipes the glass, with the sleeve of his white shirt, and then places it back.  He quietly sighs under his breath at the pompous, hoity-toity reporter.  Aiden lowers his voice, realizing he’s doing something his boss cannot stand. This of course, is not the first time Aiden’s been jazzed up with his emotions. Definitely not the first time he’s been slapped or cursed at either.  I hate his yelling. But, changing my best journalist from a lead crime writer to a paranormal researcher? Na.  He thinks.

Carlisle squeezes his cigar between two fingers, attempting to keep his calm demeanor.

“I’m receiving letters about the strange and paranormal.  Things people have always questioned beyond death and murder, ‘Is there life on another planet, and are there really ghosts, spirits that are not at rest?’  They…our public, our readers, are asking why I don’t write about this, sir.”

Before he can finish his plea, Carlisle prematurely shakes his head disagreeing with this new, passionate direction Aiden desires to take.  “I don’t think so, Jenson. You dig your heels into rapists and killers in jail. ‘Why fix what’s not broken’, my father used to say?”  He points his cigar at the journalist.

“And regardless the public may hate what we print, the bottom line is, they’re reading it.” Carlisle smugly utters and grins placing the stogie back in his teeth. “And the phone lines light up.  Complaints sure, but again, they’re reading.  You probably despise that small group of haters out there in that popularity of yours.”

Aiden uses that impish grin, while mulling over another way to convince his stubborn boss.

“Well…I suppose Saline Davis will succeed in grabbing these stories…I truly tried.” Aiden’s sad, passive tone carries an underlying mischievous plan as he shrugs his shoulders.  His dazzling blue eyes somewhat dwindles.

Carlisle promptly takes the cigar out of his mouth in shock, and sits up on the edge of his chair. “Davis?” Carlisle twists his lips. “The one at the Chronicle? That woman is a bull.  She’s been competing against you for years.  What does Davis have to do with all of this?”  He squints his right eye at Aiden. “Late Breaking Channel 9 News too, right?  She’ll never become a permanent news anchor the way she works.  Lies, lies, lies.  Didn’t you go to school with that woman?”

Aiden nods. “I did.  Well, sir, it’s true she has been following in my footsteps for years as you know.  Always trying to write a better article about a similar case, or tailing me on every story, with that fat tub of lard of a cameraman…and she knows,” He purposefully eggs on. “She will take whatever she knows on the air, to get the job she wants. No matter the underhanded things she does to make it happen for her.  Being a journalist for the paper, is just a means to her plan.  She can care less about readers, sir.  She only cares about one thing, being a permanent anchor. But, this right here, I’m certain she knows.”

“Knows what?  For crying out loud, Jenson, spit it out!” Carlisle pleads, and knocks a fist on the desk, his maroon tie hanging loosely from his collar.

“She knows what the public is looking for, and I’m sure she’s receiving letters too.  Do you really believe a shrewd woman like that is going to pass up an opportunity to bury me, in the dust?  Or bury this…our newspaper in the dust perhaps?” Aiden raises his voice again. He knows it’s getting under his boss’s skin.  Just a little more push and I have himAiden thinks.

He speaks with unbridled passion, knowing it will make it appear that he’s in it for the newspaper, when in fact he’s only in it for himself.

Carlisle calmly leans back into his leather chair twirling the cigar around in his fingers. Tilting back, he glances around the office chewing over what the arrogant journalist has laid on his plate.  Well, Saline Davis, if she gets her hands on something like this, we just might become number two in our little newspaper battles. I don’t think I can let that happen.  Carlisle calmly figures.  Or, Aiden may just want to leave the paper. I can’t fire him.  He’s too much of an asset regardless of the new talent walking, through these doors.

“Alright, Jenson…tell me more.”

Aiden shoots a sly grin. “Sir, I still listen to my police scanner, and there was one lead six days ago, Thursday.  Last week.  A woman said something came into her home and took her eldest son.  Kidnapped!”

Carlisle kicks his feet up on the edge of his desk clearly interested. “Oh the kidnapping I heard on the news!” Excitedly, and without notice, he bangs a fist on the desk again.  The ashtray jumps then lands akin to the sound of glass breaking. “Well that’s big news, and that’s great! That a boy, Jenson!  Did you follow up on that lead?”

“Yes, sir, but it’s quite an unusual kidnapping.  I took a little stroll to the apartment where the call came from. I uh,” Aiden gives a proud chuckle. “Convinced a police officer outside to speak with me.  They weren’t allowing anyone in that building.  Now, he said the doors were bolted and the chain was locked from the inside.  They had to break it down.  The woman claims some creature took her eldest child.  Now that’s news!  Imagine the headlines,” He holds both palms up imagining a billboard in the sky, bringing his boss on the wild ride of his imagination. “And we would be the only paper in this city…a city full of millions of readers, who possesses the story.  Not even Saline can get her filthy, little, conniving hands on this one!”  His enthusiasm causes Carlisle to sneer thinking of all the sales. “Sir, give me a shot writing this. Give me four weeks.” He holds up four fingers. “If you don’t have a kick butt story, and I mean kick butt, then I’ll hang my head, raise the white flag, and peacefully return to writing about convicts. You have my word on that.  My word is my bond.  You know that.”

Carlisle huffs. “So, you’ll be prepared to go back to one thing you now detest, huh? The one thing that’s made a name for you in this foul talking city?” He tests him with one eye squinting.

Aiden nods. “I will, sir.”

Carlisle insensitively blows circles of smoke into the air while oddly grinning. The smoke permeates strangely releasing that calming effect for the overworked boss.

“Those police officers always talk. They say they can’t disclose anything but most of them sing like a canary,” Carlisle arrogantly raises his brow and boastfully whistles in a sarcastic bird-tone. “Are they still keeping people from the building?”

Aiden shakes his head no. “They sent all units home today, sir. It’s an open sepulcher over there.”

“Heard that on your scanner too, didn’t you?”

Aiden fires that all-American grin again. Carlisle snickers.

“Alright, Jenson. You’ve got your shot.” Aiden sits up straight. “But just four weeks!  It would be sincerely foolish not to allow my best journalist to follow his hunches, which has made himself,” he clears his throat, “and this newspaper number one.  So, Jenson, you’ve got it!  Now, I want something good.  If this is a paranormal instance you want to capture, I don’t want just strange where this woman who lost her kid needs to be institutionalized. They rarely spoke of the details on the news, now that I recall.  And I want that Davis person, well, you just grab the bull by the horns. Understand?  And I swear, Jenson, if you screw this up, it’s back to convicts, crank calls, curses and slaps!  Now get out of here, Jenson, and get to work!” He rants.

Aiden gets up, shakes his boss’s hand and strolls towards the office door. Smiling, he’s pleased his manipulation and bull crap has convinced his boss to change his obstinate mind.

“Uh, just one more thing, Jenson?” Aiden turns around and faces Carlisle. “Did you follow up on the woman? Was she institutionalized for all of this, and does she have other children?”

“Sir, from what the officer said, she has four children and now three. He explained the detective on the case didn’t think her rambling warranted a call to the psychiatric facility. They’re exhausting all leads including an absent father. There was uh, some strange things found in her apartment that made the story, to me, seem all the more horrifying and believable.”

The phone rings, Carlisle curses lewdly snatching up the phone. “This is Carlisle! What do you want that couldn’t wait till I was out of a meeting?” He waves with his hand, motioning for Aiden to leave his office.

“I was just going to call you. What’s going on?” Carlisle gruffly speaks with the stogie hanging out the side of his mouth, holding it in between his back teeth. Covering the telephone, he yells one last repeated order.

“Jenson, remember just four weeks!” He places the phone back up to his ear and raves on. “Well, you better print it by tomorrow or you’re fired!”

Imitating a gun with his fingers, Aiden points at Carlisle to let him know he understands the directions and all that’s on the line for him and the newspaper. Carlisle may keep his word, and force Aiden to continue writing about convicts if this doesn’t pan out, but Aiden knows better. He is certain he’d be fired first.

Elise peeks around the newspaper beaming at Aiden again, longing for him to take just one look in her direction.  Just one simple glance to let her know he knows she’s alive.  Perhaps a smile?  It would surely make her day.

“Bye, Ms. Reming.” Aiden strolls off with long strides swiftly thinking only of the case at hand, and ways to get the story.

She raises her brows watching him pay careful attention to his job and surely not for the unattractive Elise.  Does he even know how rude he’s being? I’m sure he’s just got a lot on his mind, Elise. Just hang in there.  She reasons to herself.

Elise sighs sinking into her chair and frowns as he leaves. She rolls her eyes and plants her nose back into the newspaper. Others in the office, carrying stacks of papers and files, gape at Elise. They jeer and ridicule another hideous dress she has worn to work. They appear stylish and up to date in fashion.  Of course, they think they’re much better than Elise who by her wardrobe, and drab exterior, is an easy target for humiliation even though she’s a terrific secretary.

Elise stands to her feet. Yawning and stretching her arms overhead, she arches her back then places her headset on the desk. She heads into the employee lounge for a cup of coffee to awaken her senses.

One of the mockers puckishly strolls behind Elise carrying something small, within her grip. She’s beautiful styling a light grey, pin striped skirt-suit.  Her delicate blonde hair is pinned up away from her face, bringing focus to her lovely blue eyes.  Every hair is perfectly positioned with Bobby pins.  She has a well-known reputation as the office flirt, dating a list of men and discarding one when another comes along.  She is also known as an average writer, sneaking by solely by her looks, and salacious charms-definitely not by her talent.

Elise pours a cup of hot coffee when she hears heels clacking on the tiled floor, as the office woman approaches. Others quietly sit around some of the oval tables reading, texting and on their cell phones with business calls while on break. They pay little attention to the “plain Jane” woman.

The office woman scans the break room making sure no one is watching. Slyly, she removes the small sugar packets and quickly begins pouring herself a cup of coffee.  She politely clears her throat.

“Hi, Elise. Nice to see you today.”

Elise is somewhat surprised by the welcome of this woman who has never spoken to her before today.  She shyly lifts her eyes at the woman who is grinning in a warm yet calculating manner.  Elise isn’t accustomed to make heads or tails of the woman. Is this perhaps her friendly demeanor?  Normally, she teases her.  Perhaps those days are over.  Is this the beginning of a conversation that will help Elise be accepted and finally have a friend? She’s hopeful.

“Hi, Heather. N-Nice to see you today too.”

Why is she talking to me?  She’s never spoken to me before.  Elise ponders.  “Uh oh,” Elise searches all around the counter. “I guess we’re out of sugar. Oh well, black it is today.”

“Well here, Elise. I have a packet of sugar left. Why don’t you have it? I opened it because I thought I needed it. But, I think my coffee is sweet enough. Go ahead! You take it.”  Heather craftily opens her hand, revealing the opened sugar packet.

“Thank you, Heather,” Elise takes the packet without a thought or concern.

“Have a nice day, Elise.”

“Uh, you too, Heather,” Elise instantly warms at the pleasantries.

Heather smirks at the side of her face as she leaves the lounge, happily sipping her hot coffee.  She purposefully swings her hips from side to side, catching the eye of on looking men.

Elise pours the packet into her coffee slowly, stirring the spoon against the rim.  She heads to her desk, places her headset back on, and plops down. Blowing the steam rising at the top of her coffee, she slurps a sip, but something is terribly wrong. She holds the coffee in her mouth utterly appalled. It is bitter and flat making her sick. She looks to the garbage can, but it’s full. She can’t hold it in anymore. She sprays the coffee all over her desk. Tears gather when she realizes, she soiled the top of important papers she has just finished preparing for Carlisle.  Now, she will have to copy the documents all over again.  Inspecting the leftover granules, on the rim of her cup, she can clearly see it’s not sugar. It’s salt.

Confusion hits as to why the coffee is so awful.  Sounds of laughter ring from down the hall. Elise scoots forward, in her chair, and notices Heather with another office woman chortling like chipmunks, at her expense, from the horrible prank they’ve played.

Elise scurries off into the ladies room in her beige pumps, crying and hiding in one of the stalls.  She doesn’t understand why the women enjoy being so cruel to her.  She stands on top of the toilet seat so she won’t be seen.  Weeping into the palm of her hands she wonders, Why are they at me like this? What have I ever done to them?

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Thank you for reading! You can find this novel and others at http://www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano

 

Follow along for new author interviews coming soon!

1st Two Chapters of “Possessions of the Human Kind”- Saga Chapter One

Copy of Horror Ghost Stories Scary Book Cover Movie Film Template

Author’s Introduction

 

Possessions of the human kind is not solely of the mind but of your very soul-a soul can be sentenced, either to heaven or hell…there is no in between.

 

What you must also know, prior to reading this book, is this: the very things that haunt and torment the characters in this story are capable of overtaking or possessing you. This is possible, if you do not have Jesus Christ in your heart.  It is a possession…a possession of the human kind.

 

Some of this story is based on actual demonic sightings: either from myself, or family members, who have given me sole permission to use them at my discretion.

 

Chapter One

 

It’s November in Humanity Ville and the sun has not peeked its warm embrace for years.  For those living in this wishful, up and coming town think nothing’s peculiar nor the fact not a single soul has graced or moved to that area for years…until now.

A stranger heads up the immaculately paved Main Street of Humanity Ville in her heels and long, flowing dress set. An interview is set at the “Hope Psychiatric Facility” in the heart of town where men, women, and children veer from due to its ashen and ominous appearance regardless of its name.

The nostalgic town is well-built with hand crafted, wooden walkways sprawling throughout the town with coordinating buildings.  Awnings made of light oak shade the walkways and stores giving a friendly feel to the town at first glance.  Everything flows with pristine craftsmanship, as if set back in the 1800’s.  There is a Barber shop, and High school lining Main Street inclusive with many stores, homes, spacious country, and tall trees which almost reach to the heavens.  An unwelcomed addition decades ago, includes an abandoned building, chilling rumors say it is haunted.  No one dares to find out if it’s merely gossip by bored town folk or if those same rumors bear any sustenance. The town is laid out as “up and coming” however, with the amount of people that reside in Humanity Ville, it remains primitive at best.

A palpable feeling lingers that no matter how lovely the town appears, what concerns citizens just may be unseen possibly underlying, beneath the troubling surface.

Shivering, the woman continues up the slippery paved road leading towards a hill, passing the unfriendly spectators wondering why this stunning, blonde haired and green eyed woman carrying a suitcase wants to trek near the very facility they avoid as a plague.

Some think they should warn her and say, “Turn back now!”  But, they’re quiet all the same as is customary with the citizens of Humanity Ville.

There’s an unexpected chilly rainfall pelting onto the woman.  She scurries onto the wooden, walkway under the awning of the nearest corner store dragging her heavy suitcase behind her flight.  The fog slowly thickens through the streets. Those standing around suspiciously glare at her then back away keeping a safe distance.

Smiling, she touches up the pink lipstick on her full lips, with her pinky finger.  “Hello.”  She says in a welcoming tone, sweeping the droplets of rain off her forehead.  She’s unaware of the trail of mascara dripping down her cheeks.  Yet her kindness they merely toss aside like a shattered piece of glass by a window of silence.  This puzzles the woman. She remains under shelter from the storm.  She squeezes the water from her purple dress now sticking to each leg like a Band-Aid.  Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she looks at the time, on her now broken wristwatch, and realizes she may be tardy to this interview.  No matter how the weather conditions are, she must be on time.  Hesitantly, with a deep breath she sighs, and heads back into the rain, as the thunder claps and lightning flashes.  A peculiar fog copiously swells throughout the streets obstructing the woman’s view.  She glances around searching, but cannot seem to spot the facility.  She thinks of an excuse to explain her tardiness. The truth is best.

The rain continues beating down upon the stranger chilling her while she prays under her breath.  Oddly enough, the rain suddenly subsides.  Eerie.

An old man in a red plaid shirt, hobbling with a wooden cane, travels toward the barber shop panics when the young woman smiles widely at him.

In a kind, gentle tone she asks.  “Excuse me, sir?  Do you know how to get to the Hope Psychiatric Facility? I’m running a bit…”

It stuns the old man who glares at the woman wide eyed then expeditiously enters the establishment. He hectically motions to what seems to be the only barber inside. He’s African-American and a little skittish especially of white folks. The barber angrily eyes the newcomer through the plate glass window then steps outside, his nice loafers clack on the walkway.  He sports a cane and waves his ten inch sheers on the curbside corner of the street.

“Now you get on outa here, lady!  This is a town that stays to themselves and this man he uh he aint’ done NOTHIN’ y’ here?  Nothin’!  You aint’ welcome here so get on outa here y’ here?  OUT!  All he want is a doggon’ haircut!”  He bellows.

Storming back into the barber shop, he calms the old man down as the woman remains clueless in the street and furrows her brow perplexed, confused, her mouth gaping.  The sudden outburst draws a small crowd of onlookers, mostly those who own businesses nearby.  They eyeball one another gasping and whispering, “Just another trouble maker.”

It bewilders the woman not knowing what to do or say except smile at the lingering children curiously watching.  She rubs her arms hoping she’s not far from the facility where she can warm the chill.

As the crowds quickly disperse, all except a little boy withdraws from his mother. He scamps off the walkway into the desolate street and gives a hardy tug on the stranger’s wet dress.  She eyes the small child at her feet, who oddly points his tiny forefinger up the road, then dashes back to his mother’s side.  Jerking his arm correctively, his mother stammers off abnormally staring at the tempestuous sky.

Squinting her beautiful, green eyes through the mist and glaze, there lays the ominous facility up the road over a small hill.  Peculiarly, the facility maintains the appearance of a medieval castle, without proper security to the parking lot.  It’s as if the facility overlooks the entire town below.

Speeding up the pace, her suitcase flings open tossing her clothes and books all over the wet road. Huffing, she collects her belongings squeezing out the water thinking, This is going to be a very long day.

Gathering her thoughts, she pops her suitcase closed then drags her body and drenched suitcase up the hill.  A car slowly drives by, the driver abnormally eyes her.  The woman smiles and waves without reciprocation.  Her attention is drawn back to the facility sensing something terribly amiss, including the gargoyles meticulously ingrained into the grey stone.  Why anyone would place those on the outside of a psychiatric facility is beyond her.  Okay, Lord.  This is where You instructed me to come.  She takes a deep breath.  Let’s go.

The woman heads through the double doors of the building with confidence and preparation.  The hair on her arms stand erect as if static electricity is near, but it’s an underlying evil she’s swift to pick up on. That is precisely when her skin senses an icy chill crawl across her forearms then scamper across her entire body like little spiders.

 

“I apologize once again for my appearance.  I found myself caught in the rainstorm, on the way here.  And my suitcase flung open everywhere…anyways, I’m terribly sorry.  I also need to find a hotel in town or some sort of suitable lodgings,” The woman speedily explains as she interviews for the doctor’s position in Dr. Claire Parkerson’s office, the Head of Psychiatrics. Wiping her wet cheeks, she smears the mascara further under her eyes, while attempting to make herself presentable once again.

“Oh, honey, now don’t you worry,” The older woman remarks opening her desk drawer.  She whips out a handkerchief in the air like a bull fighter, and politely hands it to the young woman.  Eccentric.

“Thank you,” The woman sweetly accepts and wipes her face from the make-up and residue of rain.

“Now, my name of course is Dr. Claire Parkerson.  Call me Claire anytime that we are not in the workplace or we’re alone.  In front of the other doctors and colleagues, and naturally in the presence of the patients, I ask you call me Dr. Parkerson.  Now your name again is…oh, let me see…”   Claire says rifling through a stack of paperwork on the corner of her desk.  “Dr. Leslie Johnson.”  Claire says and finally motions to a chair.

As Leslie sits viewing the older woman’s doctorate hanging behind her on the wall, in a thick, golden frame, Dr. Parkerson continues as Leslie politely interjects.

“I’m sorry.  It was you I spoke with on the phone, correct? Or was it another…?”

“No, it was me.  I apologize it’s been a rough week so far.  Since our other doctor resigned unexpectedly it has left me to fill the gaps of what will soon be your patients.  So forgive me.  Today I’m just not up to my game.  Now, we didn’t discuss housing here, but first let me make sure you are a licensed psychiatrist, are you not?”  She folds her hands on her mahogany desk smiling anxiously waiting for a response.  The office is roomy and pleasant with several Cherry wood shelves adjacent to a small seating area.  It smells of fresh coffee and Dr. Parkerson’s pleasant, Imari perfume.

“Yes, Dr. Parkerson…uh, Claire.”

“Fine…fine, and where did you earn your doctorate?” She intensely questions in her flannel skirt and old fashion, beige blouse while fixing the bee hive shaped bun of grey hair upon her head.  Taking a pencil out from inside her bun, she scribbles down some notes.  Dr. Parkerson squints her wrinkly eyes, unaware of the red lipstick smear on her front teeth.

Leslie clears her throat holding back the laughter she nearly belts, yet remains professional remembering her own appearance.  “Oxford. Then shortly thereafter, I returned to Massachusetts.”

“Ah, yes, that’s fine.  I did receive a fax from the hospital you previously worked on Friday, so that I had all of your paperwork prepared by Monday morning.  I see that you’ve been practicing for around ten years, give or take.  Let’s cut to the chase.” The business savvy woman places her pencil down and politely folds her age spotted hands.  “I have read your resume and you have a letter of recommendation, from one of the top schools in the country, who had nothing but wonderful things to say about you. Graduated the top of your class.  In point of fact, your last position, they offered you a raise when you mentioned your departure. Apparently, they didn’t want you to leave. Seems you were a valuable asset at the hospital. Nevertheless, all seemed saddened to see you go.  And their loss is our gain.  I also see that for years while you were an active psychiatrist you took over many duties of the Head of Psychiatry at the hospital.  Tell me more about that,” She scoops up the pencil and taps it on the desk.

A little nervy, Leslie remembers to sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and be confident.  “Uh, yes, well, after receiving my doctorate, I had only been practicing for five years at that time. Sadly, my mentor became ill so he asked me to handle many of his duties.  I was overseeing all the doctors on staff as well as overseeing a long list of patients.  I believe at that time, it was a bit of a test.”

Claire’s eyes widen with intrigue as she makes a tepee with her fingers. “I see.  Well, you could very well take over my job,” Claire drolly states with a slight chuckle. “Well, I won’t waste anymore of your time here today. We want you for this job,” Claire happily flips and closes the flap of the folder, and pleasantly gleams with her pale, blue eyes.

“Oh!”  Leslie gasps.  “Thank you. That’s terrific news.”  She brushes the wet hair off of her shoulders, and tucks the loose strands behind her ears.

“So here is a pamphlet on our facility in case you’d like to know the history of it etcetera.  Most like to read of our hideous gargoyles outside and the history behind those.”

Leslie clears her chalky throat.  “Ah, yes. They’re a little startling at first glance, I must admit.”

“Well, it is all there for you to enjoy. This hospital has been in this town, for many years.  You’d be surprised the things that lurk.”

Leslie furrows her brow wondering just what she means by that remark.

“And this rather compact folder I have just placed before you, I must have filled out no later than this coming Friday. That way the billing department will have no troubles AND so they don’t ring my office all month wondering who Dr. Johnson is,” Claire giggles grabbing a stack of charts in hand preparing to hand over the load-and surely a thrill to do so it seems.

“Now, since I’m just going to throw you into work, in a couple days, and use that wonderful brain of yours, I suggest I show you your downstairs living arrangements. You can freshen up and let’s see…”  Claire glances at the conservative, gold watch round her wrist.  “It’s running around one so, meet me back here around four and I will show you the rest of the facility. It is of course, minimum security.”

Leslie stands to her exhausted feet and follows the mid sixty-year-old woman out of her office, hastily keeping up with her fast and unexpected pace. Leslie struggles to carry her heavy, soaked suitcase.

“Claire, that is a load off of my mind.  I wasn’t aware of any living arrangements provided here. Uh, inside the facility,” She lugs her suitcase down the long, dreary corridors waiting for someone to politely assist her. “It seems a little unorthodox-”

“Oh, yes.  Almost all the doctors here have quarters downstairs.  It is a tad unorthodox, but it is a lot more convenient that way, and it is how the facility was built. Why leave the basement vacant with all those lovely living spaces?  Now, stay close because I have a full load on my plate,” She wiggles her index finger beckoning her to keep up.  “This floor is the first floor.  It is where all of our doctor’s offices are…for safety reasons the cafeteria we use is at the end of the hall back there behind those double doors.  There are also a few session rooms on this floor as well.  Double doors to the parking lot must be unlocked by security, with a button at their stations, or simply slide your I.D. card, which you’ll receive.  That way, no patients may flee the facility.  Follow me.”

Claire hustles in her unfashionable, inch high, taupe heels clarifying to Leslie, with an elderly yet flinty voice. They head for the elevator, passed a vacant security booth.

“Terrific.  Graduated from Harvard, doctorate at Oxford.”  Claire’s proudly repeats aloud hoping other doctors will hear her praising muse.  “Now, uh hem, doctors get a key to their apartments, and a keycard will work for your office and for lock down.”

“Lock down?  Sounds so extreme,” Leslie gasps while sweat slips off the sides of her ivory temples.

“Yes.  Weren’t you aware of lock down at the hospital you worked?”

“Yes, Dr. Parkerson.  Uh, but we never had a need for it.  Things were extremely secured plus, it was maximum security.”

Nodding her head, Claire firmly crosses her arms and faces Leslie. “Well, here is a bit different you will find.  A lot of times, lock down is…let’s just say it’s needed.  Now, seeing as you are fresh off the farm so to speak, see this grey keyhole here by the elevators?”  Claire points her wrinkly fingers at a small pad on the wall with a slot in center, almost resembling a credit card machine. “You slide your staff card in it and turn if there is an emergency with a patient or anything you feel that may be a safety breach. Or you can have security do it.  It locks the facility down by initiating the bar sequence which covers every patient room, bathrooms, offices, and cafeterias.  There are two cafeterias, of course the patients eat in one and doctors in another again, for safety reasons. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that.  Yet we do have break rooms on every floor for the staff.  Come dear, come.”

Claire hurriedly waves her arm beckoning a very jittery, new doctor. Leslie senses something following directly behind her.  It creeps up closer and closer.  Now, within an inch of her body. Breathing near her hair and whispering in her ear.  The presence is tangible.  Her cold, wet dress isn’t helping in terms of getting icy chills. Swinging around, she sees no one then steps into the elevator just as the doors slide close.

“There are five floors.  Floor one as I previously mentioned, offices and a small area for new arrivals or I should say ‘observation’ where we observe the new patients admitted to see what sort of therapy is required.  Floor two through four is patient rooms, recreational room with games and televisions on each of the patients’ floors, bathrooms etc. and the fifth floor is for some of our,” She pauses. “most colorful patients which I believe you will be spending most of your time.  It’s also for treatment such as padded rooms and well, you’ll see more once you get your feet wet,” She’ll soon find out alright. Claire’s thoughts drift for a brief moment.

“Treatment?  I was under the impression the entire psychiatric hospital is a treatment hospital?”

“Of course, but treatment to patients who may harm themselves or others it usually and must always consist of isolation or things of that nature.  Electro-shock of the patients is not practiced here in any way, shape or form.  It’s all in your folder.  Passed the papers you need to fill out explains everything.  Now basement level is housing courters as I have mentioned,” Claire says pushing ‘B’ on the elevator.  “Salary is six figures a year.  I’d say that should help you pay your financial aid for Harvard and Oxford.”

“Actually, uh, Claire, I was blessed to receive a full scholarship,” Leslie politely clears her throat not tooting her own horn, but being forthright as the elevator begins its decent.

Claire nods her head and raises a single brow obviously impressed by the younger recruit.  “I knew there was a reason I liked you.  Ah, here we are,” The elevator dings stopping on the basement level.  “This way you can stop pulling that heavy suitcase of yours.  I apologize, I’d happily assist you, but bad back,” She motions to her lower back.

With a grin from Leslie, the elevator doors slowly and strangely crease several inches, then opens.  Again, she perceives a strange weight and similar presence shadowing her.  Claire escorts Leslie to the end of the hall, passing several apartment doors. The corridor is long and leads in several directions. They turn left and come to the last door on the right numbered 666 alarming Leslie. Especially with police issued yellow crime scene tape drapes the threshold.  It noticeably grates on the older doctor.

“Dang it!”  Claire angrily grunts reaching for her radio inside her outdated skirt pocket. With white knuckles, she grips the radio.

“Tony, dang it! I told you to get rid of the tape!” Her voice spirals.  “Now get down here and remove it before I have you written up!”  Grating her teeth, she isn’t a patient woman, Leslie picks up on it.

“Copy that, Dr. Parkerson.  I’m sorry, I just got in…my son is in the hospital…”  A young man’s voice blares on the other end. His explanation heats Claire, her face turning red. She doesn’t permit mistakes in her facility- nor leaves room for them.  Passing the buck when it suits her or she’s at fault, is a disdaining and well-known trait.

“Okay, alright, Tony, it’s fine.  Just come and do it now, please!  If you have a moment to spare?”  She takes a deep breath cooling off and brushing away the anger.

“Right away, Dr. Parkerson!”

“Excuse all of this Leslie, and forgive the tape.  It’s a long story,” Claire uneasily pardons.  “That was Tony, part of the security which is located at the entrance of every floor.  I don’t think anyone was sitting there when we headed down, come to think of it.  Uh, single men with children,” She murmurs.  “This is where you will be staying, so I hope it doesn’t sit badly with you. It should be quite suitable,” Claire huffs as she rips the tape to the floor.  “Let him pick this up,” She disdainfully treads over the tape while unlocking the door.

“Honestly, I have nowhere else to stay, Claire.  Nothing a nice prayer can’t cure.”  She shrugs her head not concerned.

“Ah, into prayers huh?  So many times a day as the Muslims?”

“Not exactly.”  Leslie grins.

Claire nods her head and gingerly opens the door and motions for Leslie to enter.  Carefully, Leslie takes a few steps inside, Claire flicks on the lights.  Leslie takes a deep breath of relief while glaring around.  There are no windows being a basement, however, it’s rather spacious. Just a bit musty more than likely due to little or no use.

“Oh my…it’s just lovely.  It comes fully furnished?”

“Yes, well, the last tenant had a fondness for the color purple, but I think it adds a nice touch down here.  Don’t you think?  Perfect space for one or two people.  I gather you like the color.  Your lavender dress seems to match.  Almost like you are meant to be here.  That’s what my cynical mind thinks anyway. You have a kitchen, living and bedroom area.  Very nice.”

“Yes.  Oh yes, just wonderful,” Leslie says in astonishment at her new surroundings.  Finally with a thrill, she drops the suitcase to the floor, it clunks.

Claire’s complete attention is drawn to the noise. “My lord!  Seems as if you brought a few bricks in there?”  She leans over giving a hefty pat to the wet suitcase. “Sounds a bit water logged.”

Leslie chortles. “Yes. Well, no bricks but a great deal of books. I tried shoving all of my clothes and shoes into one suitcase. Which accounts for its bulbous size.”

Without so much as a laugh, Claire clears her throat. “Yes, I’ll leave you to get acquainted, with your new home.  Ah, don’t forget our four o’clock.  Oh, and um, in the master bedroom there are a quite a few, well, a closet full actually…of new outfits practically unworn. Many of them with the tags still on them.  You are a size four, right?”  She snobbishly shakes her wet hand at the wrist.

Leslie appears surprised.  “Uh, yes, I am…but how did you know?”

“The clothes are all size four.  I wasn’t always a doctor.  And not everyone could receive a full scholarship,” She responds with some lingering disdain. “Worked every day I was not in class until my graduation then doctorate etcetera,” With a click of her tongue, she subtly winks. “See you at four, Dr. Johnson.  And don’t be late.” She emphasizes again, with a sly yet firm grin.

Claire places the keys in Leslie’s hand, pauses peculiarly then with shaky fingers, finally releases the keys and closes the door behind her rather eccentric exit. Leslie locks the dead bolt bemused chalking up her new boss’s unsettling behavior to old age.  She kicks off her heels settling back into the soft, lavender sofa thanking the Lord for all of His provisions.

Unpacking, she hangs up her soaked clothes and sprawls out her wet books across the floor, from the earlier storm, when an envelope slides underneath the front door.  Leslie curiously opens it.  It reads,

 

Dr. Johnson, let me know if you need anything.  While you are employed here you have use of one of the company cars in the lot space marked by your apartment number.  Keys in the envelope.  We have terrific funding.  Also enclosed is a hundred dollars for you to get yourself some groceries.  Sincerely, Dr. Claire Parkerson.

 

Leslie rejoices washing her face and applies fresh make-up.  She throws on a new dress from the closet to warm her body, it certainly fits. She blow dries her hair just in time to run to the store for a few things, and return for orientation with Dr. Claire Parkerson.

In town, Leslie’s excited by her new job, she comes to grips with something peculiar. A strange, dark cloud ominously nestles over the facility spiraling in the opposing direction of the wind.  It is a sight she has never witnessed.  A familiar icy chill scatters along her spine.

Still, she parks the grey car alongside the curb near the corner store she had taken refuge by earlier that day.

The jingle on the door draws attention to Leslie’s entrance. The only two workers in the cozy, but unconventional “mom and pop” store are mystified at the stranger.  Straight faces, they eye her. She picks up a grocery basket and decisively plucks groceries and toiletries from the shelves gladly filling her basket.

Looking over shoulder, Leslie shudders as the security camera abnormally trails her through the store making her feelings of discomfort unavoidable.  The lump in her throat makes it difficult to swallow.  Quickly, she completes her shopping and steps into the empty, unfriendly checkout aisle. The store clerk efficiently and swiftly begins ringing her up completely averting her eyes. Leslie’s wide smile is an attempt to break the proverbial ice.

“Hi,” The woman purposefully ignores the newcomer, her head wilting.  “Do you have bad weather often?  I haven’t seen a storm as this morning in years!”  Again, no response from the check-out woman.  Leslie senses that everyone in this town is unfriendly.  But why?

The store clerk continues robotically ringing up each item. Then the total chimes, as the other employee standing nearby meticulously bags Leslie’s items.  As Humanity Ville’s two friendliest employees complete their jobs, one of the women finally speaks up just as Leslie heads for the exit.

“Satan dwells where there is hope.”

The paper bags nearly loosen from Leslie’s arms, she awkwardly turns from the exit doors, and peculiarly raises an eyebrow at the woman, with the drab tone of voice.

“Excuse me?”  Her green eyes widen.

“I said, Satan dwells where there is hope.  There is no hope where Satan dwells.  In this small town, people are dead as a doornail. You know, stiff as the wood this place is built upon,” She knocks a fist on the checkout counter.  “Feel it?”

Leslie frowns.  “But, then…”

“But, then why work in a place where Satan dwells?”

“Because it’s what God has called me to do.  It’s my calling,” Leslie sharply answers as the employees’ eyes broaden they go about their business like before.  Confusion unsettles and clouds her by the utterly bizarre encounter, Leslie rushes out the store.

The barber nearby rests on a polished, wooden bench out front, scrupulously shooting daggers at Leslie. She loads the groceries into the back seat of her car while glancing in the barber’s direction. Lewd curses spew from his lips accompanied by a violently wave of his hand, as if to say get out of here.  She swiftly gets into the car and drives back to the facility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Later, at the four o’clock meeting with Dr. Claire Parkerson, Leslie can’t help but probe the older psychiatrist in the hallway of the facility.  Many peculiar behaviors haunt her mind. “May I ask you something, Dr. Parkerson?”

“Yes.  Of course.”

“How long have you lived in this town?”

“All my life,” She proudly states in her white doctor’s coat.

“Is there something…wrong with the people in this town?”

Claire clears her throat with her fist up to her mouth, there’s a lack of surprise by the question.

“Ah, you must have bumped into Barber Joe, as we call him. Don’t worry, he curses at everyone.  And his specialty is men’s hair.  Don’t go in there and ask him to cut your blonde hair, honey.  You’ll depart with a crew cut if you’re not careful.  And he’ll use those giant scissors he likes to swing at everyone.”

Dr. Parkerson passively waves her arm, as another doctor approaches with paperwork to read over and sign.

The halls are plastered in mauve on the doctors’ floor which some don’t care for, but as soon as they head up to the second floor, they’re entombed with ashen walls and cold, dull lighting.  Patients aimlessly wander the halls.  For some it seem the drugs consume them where they can merely lean against the walls. They can barely focus upon them, with dilated, glassy eyes.  Half a dozen orderlies stand guard over the patients while some in the recreational room play cards. The T.V. either blares a game show or soap opera. Some patients can’t contain themselves and crowd the T.V. shouting the answers or discussing, to imaginary people, what may occur on their favorite soap. Many others merely talk to themselves or to fictitious people.  Despair grips Leslie’s heart as an icy chill, but this is something so common to Dr. Leslie Johnson.

“Is it always this dark and gloomy in here?”

It disturbs Dr. Johnson in her spirit, with a heavy and uneasy sensation rumbling in the pit of her stomach.  Something is indeed underlying, but she can’t quite place her finger on it. She’s especially cognizant of the patients, bypassing them with caution nor stepping on those sprawling out on the white, tiled floor.  Again, she senses a cold chill in the air circling her as she saunters. It hovers. Chills prick Leslie’s arm yet she brushes it off to nerves.

“Yes.  We feel that the color in here is not confusing for the patients.  I recall this one particular patient…”  Dr. Parkerson approaches Leslie giggling and reminiscing while buttoning up her white doctor’s coat.  She looks off focusing upon a wall.  “Ahem…when this facility was first built the walls were this odd red,” She glares back into Leslie’s questioning, green eyes.  “And not just red but a bright, apple red, you know?  I have no idea why one would paint the walls that hideous color. I was not Head of Psychiatry at that time.  Just a regular doctor as you, in the middle of a session, when my patient started eyeing the walls.  Then he began to scream, ‘The walls are bleeding!  The walls are bleeding!’”  She grips her collar recalling the event as if fresh.

“Oh, good grief!”  Dr. Leslie Johnson comments, her green eyes bulge with that strange chill now blowing directly in front of her face.  She squints and glances for an air conditioning vent, but it’s nowhere near where they stand.

“Yes, needless to say, he got up, and rammed his head into the wall.  I hit the panic button, which you’ll find underneath your desk and session room tables.  The next day painters came in. The walls have been this color ever since,” Dr. Parkerson explains quickly rumbling her words sounding jittery and hopped up on caffeine.  “I imagine something about that particular color brought a flashback or repressive memory of some sort into his mind.  I can only guess, with certain patients.”

Just then, there’s a tender touch to Dr. Johnson’s shoulder, she turns to face a middle-aged man appearing drained with exhaustion-more than likely due to his medication.  The patient has his hands limp warping strangely to his chin.

“Excuse me? Doctor? Where are my eyes?”  His soft voice seems innocent enough, however in this profession one cannot lower their guard for a single moment.

Dr. Johnson’s body quivers at the question when a sudden peace rushes over her.  An orderly quickly maneuvers toward the patient, as she kindly takes hold of the patient’s hands. She gently directs them onto his face.

“Move your fingers up now,” Her tone is warming.  The man slowly moves his fingertips up his face, passed his mouth, and the bridge of his nose until he feels the lids of his eyes.  His bottom lip quivers.  Tears gather in the corners of his eyes, as if he’s touching them for the first time.  It’s obvious he is harmless.

“Oh.  Thank you doctor!”  The man stammers away aloof.  The orderly gives a pleasant nod at the new doctor then spins around to the patients.

“Very well done, Dr. Johnson.  He likes you.  I’m quite stunned, he never allows anyone to touch his hands or eyes, for that matter, without a violent encounter.  Had some serious injury to his eyes when he was a child.  His parents were drug addicts and quite high well, one night they tried to poke out his eyes, with a flathead screwdriver.  Only scratched the surface of his pupils when luckily a neighbor nearby heard his screams and broke through the door.  He was rescued.  And was blind for three days then fully recovered. Unfortunately, he has never been able to get over it.  He is extremely paranoid and hallucinates as if it is reoccurring all over again.”

Placing her hands on her chest, Dr. Johnson is heartbroken for the young man.  “I would be as well.  I can’t imagine being anything less than that.  My heart goes out to him.  Whose patient is he?”  She speculates rubbing her icy forearms.

“Don’t worry about that.  He is well cared for.  If I were you, I’d worry about the patients I am about to give you because you will have your hands full with them.  Now, Dr. Johnson, they aren’t allowed to have any sharp objects other than pens and pencils, for patients who are not suicidal, sadistic, violent or self-cutters.  I suggest you keep a close watch on your patients…especially YOUR list,” She amuses herself by her droll comment then nonchalantly clears her dry throat.  “I’ll give you three to start and see how you do and then give you more. I realize you’re a practicing Psychiatrist however I do that with every new doctor I hire.  Nothing personal whatsoever.”

Dr. Parkerson slowly leads her new, shaky employee through the long, peculiar corridors of the dreary facility.  She introduces Dr. Johnson to every doctor who passes. She’s particularly proud with Dr. Johnson at her side filling everyone in on her prized education.

“Each room is enclosed by a thick metal door with a single viewing window and a tray slot to place their food through. That is of course if a situation arises where they aren’t in the cafeteria to eat. This should appear similar to where you have worked for the last over ten years,” Claire looks over waiting for a response.

“Yes. Identical in fact.  Only, if this is minimum security it is rather odd to have this-”

“Good,” Claire ignores her comment. “Then I won’t have to worry about you.  No real windows to the outside world, from their rooms.  That only leads to chaos.  And we have learned in the past, that barring the windows in the facility, which they are….well….just doesn’t do anything.  If a person really wants to get out…well, they will!”

“What do you mean if a person really wants to get out they will?  Has someone actually jumped out of the…?”

“Uh…next floor is alike and the fourth as well.  This is minimum security so the only barred gate is up front where the security officers stand post except for the first floor.  Now, let’s see,” She taps the sides of her cheek with her index finger.  “Patients who are well adjusted are allowed into the courtyard to socialize or play basketball. Most just enjoy the fresh air. There is also a recreation room with some games and a television which you’ve seen.  And there’s lovely windows in there which they can glare out of.  Men and women are separated time wise in the courtyard,” Dr. Parkerson interrupts Dr. Johnson who wants to question her further yet keeps silent and only swallows another hard lump in her throat.

“Now, pay close attention to the fifth floor, because if you do not enter your employee serial number correctly, you will not be able to get in. And the security guards are not allowed to let you in.  However, they can let you out if you are already inside of course.” The women step into the rickety elevator then shoot up to the 5th floor.  “Ah, here we are.”

The elevator dings, the doors swing, open and the women step off the elevator into a darkly lit unit. They head toward a security booth encumbered by thick metal bars.  Screams echo throughout startling Dr. Johnson as the fluorescent lights above flicker on and off in a strange, repeating pattern triggering an alarming ache deep in her stomach.  Gravely bothering her, she takes in a deep breath while Dr. Parkerson’s conscience seems to be seared with a hot iron. It’s as if she’s unbothered, unshaken, and oddly accustomed to mentally unsound patients’ rants.

“Ah this must be the new doc?  Pleasure to meet you, my name is Jacky Rite,” The security officer in his booth introduces himself holding out his hand through the metal bars to the pretty, new doctor.

“Oh, sweaty palms?”  He grips Dr. Johnson’s hand. “This one’s a keeper, Dr. Parkerson,” He jests.

“Yes, yes, Jacky.  Serial number is in your packet, Dr. Johnson.  Now let me enter mine and we will continue.”

Dr. Parkerson inconsiderately brushes off whom she views as the obnoxious guard, and keys in her code into a thick, grey pad on the wall of the security booth. A loud buzz, the main gate activates and slides open.

“Now keep in mind, patients will inflict injury to themselves or to others, take off their clothes, speak to themselves and many other abnormal things which is why they are up here.  Separating them from the other patients who are improving is beneficial.”

Dr. Johnson pauses listening to Dr. Parkerson then draws her attention back to Jacky.  “Pleased to meet you, Jacky.  Do the lights always flicker like this?”

“Oh, yes ma’am.”  Jacky rubs his paunchy belly while easing back into his booth chair.  “You really get used to it if you ask me.  I’ve been here for years and doesn’t really bother me now.  But, that first couple months was a-”

“Jacky!”  Dr. Parkerson huffs almost with a growl.  “Dr. Johnson is new and I’m sure she will see you again. Every day I’m certain.  So!  You can give her your chilling tales later, hmmm?”  She sarcastically states using slight animation to the curly hair, tall yet chubby guard.

Jacky Rite has been in Humanity Ville for years now.  The only job worth his interest and salt is as a security officer, which is what he sincerely loves to do.  With no siblings, alive, he devotes his time to his job with a loving and pregnant wife, who adores his quick witted humor, dimples, curly brown hair, and paunchy belly. Many officers’ say “it comes with the job”.

“Ah, that’s code talk around here to shut my pie hole. HA!  I get it.  Don’t worry, Dr. Johnson.  You come and see me and we’ll talk,” Jacky smiles as his cherry pit dimples cutely surface. He knows full well, he’s gouging himself underneath Dr. Parkerson’s frail skin.

“I will.  That’s a promise.  Thank you.  Pleasure again,” She bids as she continues alongside Dr. Parkerson on this eccentric hospital tour.

“Now, the reason I wanted you to see this unit is because you have a couple of patients in here.   Actually, I’ll be frank.  All three are in here.  Okay, up to room six we have Leroy.  African American approximately seventeen years of age.  His family was killed by well there’s no other way to say it…racists.  They thought it be fit to drag them all in the middle of the street at three o’clock in the morning and burn his parents to death.  Rumors of course.  Police have yet to find the culprits I’m afraid.  I was told Leroy was left to watch them burn alive. At the tender age of seven was placed in a foster home until he started playing with matches, and talking to himself or imaginary friends.  Fearing he was succumbing as a pyromaniac, foster parents sent him to therapy.  It was highly recommended to have him committed, before he could inflict injury to anyone or even himself.  He suffers from severe depression, outbursts of wrath, violence along with grief and anxiety.  Possible borderline personality disorder is the latest diagnosis from his previous doctor. I also believe schizophrenia as well. Very sad for Leroy Foster.”

“Is he currently on any medication?”  Dr. Johnson glares through the viewing window and clicks the top of her pen. She jots all she observes of the patient on a spiral notepad.

“Yes, some.  He is on medication for depression, but on the exceeded amount. He is on sedatives for sleep.  I also agree with the diagnosis that he is schizophrenic so, we have him on the proper dose of medication for that. Right here,” She points at some papers in his chart as Dr. Johnson investigates it thoroughly. “Because it seems to work best for him,” Dr. Parkerson scratches her boney fingers through her puffy salt and pepper hair anxious to move on.

“I see.  So, why is he then in this part of the hospital and in a straightjacket?”

Dr. Johnson again glances at Leroy lying in the center of a heavily padded room glaring like a zombie at the ceiling.  The wide nosed teen appears miserable.  He proceeds to roll back and forth crazily, like a beetle on its back complete dissociative behavior.  His hair has grown into puffy ball since he refuses haircuts.

“Well, since he views all white people as members of the KKK, it’s safest to have him remain in these quarters.  Not to mention last Friday, after our phone conversation, he snuck a match into our session and attempted to light my desk on fire.  He apparently thought it was amusing and was eccentrically chuckling. I still haven’t found where he was able to get that matchbook.”

“My goodness!” Dr. Johnson clears her throat.  “I will review his file carefully and see if there is any new therapy we can provide for him.  At least, if anything he should be getting a good night sleep.  I think that will improve his mood.  Has he been shown any sort of stress relievers to deal with his apparent grief?”

“No.  I didn’t see the need for it.  But, he is your patient now,” Without concern or a care at the state of the teen, Dr. Parkerson passively waves her arm.

“I understand.  How is he being monitored?” Dr. Johnson tucks her shiny, blonde hair behind her ears.

“Well, you see the cameras in there?”  Dr. Parkerson proudly points to the corner of the depressing room.  “WE have every patient in this unit under twenty-four-hour surveillance, for their own protection and ours, Dr. Johnson.  By all means, do your homework and see if you can help him.  I want you to be completely candid with me, especially about this patient.  But, be cautious to the fact that he is violent and clever for his age.  If you need anything or have questions, you and all my staff are welcome to see me anytime.”

“Sounds wonderful, Dr. Parkerson,” She seems awfully concerned about him all of the sudden.

“Okay, on with your patient list,” She hands over another chart to the new recruit.  “Um, room ten.”

The women quickly move on down the hall.  Their chatter and footsteps draw the attention of other patients in their rooms. They bolt up and scurry to the window of their door. They scream and yell at the doctors.  Dr. Johnson jolts although she has seen her fair share of this sort of behavior, something about this specific unit unease’s her. These patients seem….different.  Particularly the look they have in their glossy eyes. It’s more than medication, but what?

Orderlies stammer to the patients’ rooms as screams and bellows continue resounding throughout the unit.

“This young lady I believe has a lot of potential.  Her name is Rebecca White.  Another seventeen-year-old. Bright, and smart, in fact a little too smart for her own good.  She’s a pathological liar and prone to violent outbursts and mood swings.  She is also said to be very popular with the boys if you know what I mean?  Pregnant at the age of fifteen, Social Services took her baby in fear she would not be a good mother due to her mental state.  Her mother is caring for the baby now.  It’s a shame.  She’s a pretty girl if she’d try a little harder.  She needs some behavior modification.  I do believe she has borderline personality disorders, but I haven’t spent much time with her.”

“And excuse me, Dr. Parkerson, what state has her previous doctor diagnosed?”  Dr. Johnson senses the pain from the young brown eyed teen, as she quickly scans the patient chart.  In hard to read penmanship, her previous doctor deemed her highly susceptible to hallucinations stating Rebecca White has difficulties deciphering between what is real and the lies she tells.

“She doesn’t sleep.  She barely eats and acts out as a toddler would throwing temper tantrums.  She throws things, bites, and kicks.  I agree with her previous doctor that she needs behavior modification. These teens today,” Dr. Parkerson chuckles however Dr. Johnson doesn’t find it at all amusing.  Dr. Parkerson picks up on Dr. Johnson’s stoic face as she continues.  “Ahem, her mother vouched for that. In addition, the night she was admitted, she was screaming and fought so badly the orderlies had to strap her down to a bed.  I sedated her.  That is why I placed her here. She has been out of control ever since.”

“Well, I hope it’s not due to the fact that her baby was taken away and this is her only outlet,” Dr. Johnson passionately challenges the older, wiser, and more experienced doctor.

“Hmmm.  Look into it, Dr. Johnson.  Remember, these patients I’ve simply been overseeing.  Since their regular doctor abruptly left, I’ve had one session with them.  You are the key to their recovery.  You’re their doctor now.”

Dr. Johnson nods moves with compassion while eying Rebecca stewing on a white linen bed staring at the TV, which all patients have bolted in the corner of their room wall.  She’s fidgets and bites her nails to the nubs spitting each piece onto the floor.  Seeing the guests through the glass, she quickly swings her legs off the bed, and scamps at the viewing window.  She presses her forehead against the cold glass. The dark circles under her big brown eyes, are a clear sign of her lack of sleep. Dr. Johnson is certain she may have been cute with those brown eyes, before being admitted to the facility.  Now, she has given up all hope uncaring in the things of hygiene such as: taking a shower, putting on make-up, or making herself presentable.  Yet her thoughts are always for her son, no matter how miserable she is.

“Hi, Dr. Parkerson,” Rebecca keeps a warm tone.

“Rebecca and how are you today?”  Dr. Parkerson asks.

“I am much better.  Much, much better today.  I don’t feel so down today.  I’ve been doing those uh relaxation exercises to help me sleep…you know the ones you were telling me about last week?  I’ve been sleeping much better now.”

“You have?  Well, then that’s positive news.  This is your new doctor.  Dr. Johnson.  She’s a smart woman who I think can help you, Rebecca,” Dr. Parkerson curls her lip slightly.

Dr. Parkerson moves away and signals for Jacky around the corner, as Rebecca slightly grins at Dr. Johnson.  Dr. Parkerson lowers her tone as Jacky approaches, with his thumbs tucked in his belt.

“Watch out new doctor,” Rebecca whispers to Dr. Johnson.

“What do you mean?”  Dr. Johnson questions raising a single brow.

“Not now.  Soon!”

Dr. Johnson furrows her brow at the eccentric girl having a hunch.  I wonder what she means? Perhaps she has something to say without Dr. Parkerson’s presence.  Dr. Johnson thinks a moment.

“Has Rebecca slept this weekend at all?”  Dr. Parkerson whispers.

“Uh, no, Dr. Parkerson, and I’ve been here all weekend.  I’ve just come off the night shift.”

“Alright, I had a feeling.  Thank you, Jacky.  That’ll be all.”

“Yeah, no prob.”  He says heading back to his security booth.

“Rebecca?”  Dr. Parkerson approaches the window. “The officer on duty saw you this weekend.  Honey, you didn’t sleep at all.  Now, why don’t you tell me the truth and stop with all of these lies?”

Rebecca angrily grits her teeth.  Feeling as if the walls are closing in, she begins violently smacking her head with the palms of her hands, her hair tousles through the air.  Dr. Johnson’s eyes widen.

“I tried!  I tried, I really tried, doctor.  Please, just…just let me OUT OF HERE!”

The door bangs as she proceeds to kick it, with the balls of her bare feet. The doctor’s flinch, stepping back a few feet.

“Rebecca, do you want the boo-boo nurse to come in there?”  Dr. Parkerson sternly wiggles her index finger in the air as a warning.

Rebecca immediately moves away from the door in fright.  She plunks back on the bed and continues to do as she does every day, watch TV. and bite her fingernails nervously to the nubs.  Hopeless. Downtrodden.

“Boo-boo nurse?”  Dr. Johnson frowns peeking through the window a final time.

“I call him the boo-boo nurse.  His name is Ted and in this unit if you hit the panic button or radio for him, he comes in to sedate the patient.  He is one of our larger orderlies but also is a registered nurse, so he is able to administer shots.  Head Orderly is his official title.  He is great at helping throughout the hospital.  I like him because his stature is very intimidating.  Usually, the patient calms down when they know he is coming.  I’ll have you meet him when I see him.  Also, it’s good when you’re in a session to put on your white doctor’s coat.  I had one made for you in your office hanging up.  I want the patients to view us as a friend, a helper, and gain their trust so we can help them.  Do you understand what I have just explained, Dr. Johnson?”

Dr. Johnson quickly skims over Rebecca’s chart. You’d have to be an idiot not to understand.  Especially how she explains things, as if I’m a child.

“Absolutely, patients are the number one concern.”

“Exactly!  And as you can see, Rebecca is a pathological liar.  Do your homework on her as well.  Now, follow me to the last of your patients.  I saved the best for last.  The cream of the crop so to speak,” Dr. Parkerson laughs shielding what she really wants to do, scream.

The clacking of their heels rings throughout the unit looming toward room number twelve.  It’s a female patient who’s already expecting the doctors.  And she’s waiting by the window of her room singing an uncanny song.  Her breath fogs up the window near her craggy, pale mouth. Her breath seeps through the food vent. Putrid.

*Doctors put me in, Doctors put me out.  Doctors put me in and I go crazy all about*

“Ah, Dr. Par-ker-son!”

The woman’s tone alarms the doctors; they simultaneously stop in their tracks.  Hit with a draining surge of weakness scratching and dragging across her body peeling away at her energy, Dr. Johnson grows sluggish and dizzy upon stepping near the woman’s room.   Her green eyes wobble like vertigo.  Strange, distressing, and noticeable.

“Stay away from the window whatever you do, Leslie, alright?”  Dr. Parkerson whispers obviously shaking by the greeting of the patient, while Dr. Johnson holds the wall with her palms.  She breathes deeply in and out questioning what seems to be occurring, and why she’s sensing what she is.

“What do you…?” Dr. Johnson’s voice trails off.

“Ah, Olga, and how are we today?”  Dr. Parkerson says in a cool tone keeping several feet from the viewing window.

Olga peers at them through the fog, her dead, mahogany eyes frightening.  “WEeeeeee, I am fine, Dr. Parkerson.  How are you?  I see you have a new doctor to evaluate me,” Her voice is sinister, shrill with overlapping, disembodying voices not of her own.  The old woman dawns a flowery gown to her knees and always has bare feet.  Toenails appear as talons and pallid.  Her teeth are crooked and a strange, deep set scar from her cheek bone to the corner of her lips on the right side is due to a childhood accident.  Her silver hair is a puffy, stink infested ball of frizz.  Most who gaze upon her detect an overpowering presence lingering. A sheer, malevolent presence.  It cannot be overcome yet you’re physically drawn in by the elderly woman.

Olga oddly glares and mechanically tilts her head back and forth strangely between the doctors.

Dr. Johnson shivers as the goosebumps crawl up her arms drawing more attention from the abnormal patient.  The new doctor nervously clears her throat as her heart drums loudly in her ears.  Leslie gathers herself hoping the patient won’t notice how undone she’s become.  Her eyes can’t seem to focus.

“Hi.  I’m…I’m Dr. Johnson.  Can you-can you tell me how long you’ve been in here?” Nausea hits, bile tickles her throat. She swallows.

Olga fixates her wide eyes upon the blonde woman who cringes inside.  Olga touches the window pressing the glass with her roughhewn fingertips when suddenly shrills at the top of her lungs.  Every wrinkle around her eyes, forehead, and mouth deeply crease changing the overall appearance of her face.

“Olga?  Olga you must calm down.  We can’t help you if you don’t STOP SCREAMIN!” She ignores Dr. Parkerson’s attempts and the screams grow louder resonating against the eerie walls of the unit.  Dr. Johnson gathers a deep breath in her lungs when Dr. Parkerson finally takes notice to how strange her new doctor is reacting.

“Get control, doctor!” Dr. Parkerson correctively jerks Dr. Johnson’s arm.

“AH!  AHHHHHHHHHH!”  Olga continues bellowing.

The veins in her face bulge; it’s as if an eggshell is cracking.  Finally, Olga is silent which is far more evil and quite unexpected.  She hobbles ominously on one leg in a peculiar, robotic manner to the bed.  Without notice, Olga places one foot before the other mechanically against the wall. They stick to it like a spider. She’s able to crawl up the side of the wall bending over on all fours. Her frail bones pop and crack out of place while she creeps up and down the walls and ceiling sticking to it as a bug.  She screams and chants in an innate tone.  Dr. Johnson is livid shaking her head in disbelief.  Olga pushes off the wall, does a backwards somersault and lands onto the bed with her eyes fastening together. She’s breathing heavily and panting like a thirsty dog.  With concern rising, Dr. Johnson reaches for the door regardless of the drainage she feels inside.

“DON’T YOU DARE!”  Dr. Parkerson firmly snatches Dr. Johnson at wrist and jerks her in a state of panic.  “You can’t unlock it without your I.D. tag.  Stay back, Leslie!  She displayed this behavior last week. When Jacky came to my aid he was nearly attacked!”

An insidious crease reveals Olga’s eyes remaining open darting at the viewing window.  Madly, she smiles as stinky saliva trickles down the sides of her mouth onto her pillow.  She giggles.

“Let’s leave her alone,” Dr. Parkerson states having seen enough of this patient for the day.

“Shouldn’t we sedate her, Dr. Parkerson?”

“She already is, doctor. Sometimes it is successful and sometimes….”  She grips Dr. Johnson’s elbow.  “It won’t make a single shred of difference.  The only thing that does help and keep everyone safe is having her locked in here.  Whatever you do…do not open that lock for anything!  You hear me? Anything!”  Frightfully, Dr. Parkerson steps closer to Dr. Johnson’s face driving in her order.  “I’ve tried arranging for her transfer but I can’t find a facility that wants her.  If you want to try speaking to her you must do as we have just done.  Stay far away from the window.  Especially, because of the vents.  And don’t…just don’t go inside!”

“I have never seen anything like that before, Dr. Parkerson!”  Dr. Johnson exclaims placing her hand on her chest.  She backs completely away from the room as she and Dr. Parkerson travel back down the hall to the gate around the corner double time.  Seeing Leslie stammer, Dr. Parkerson takes her new recruit by the arm and leads her.  Dr. Johnson’s hands sweat, the charts nearly slip from her clammy grip.  She continues to swallow and breathe deep until the urge to vomit dissipates.

“Ah, seen Olga today, did we?”  Jacky asks flipping a page in the newspaper with a silly grin.

“Now uh-how would you know that?”  Dr. Johnson questions finally feeling herself, now that she’s away from the patient’s room.

“Oh, come on.  You’re here long enough you begin to know whose screams belong to who…plus the fact she’s crazy,” He places the paper down and eyes the doctors.  “You know, Dr. Parkerson, I was reading about something called demon possession last night on the computer-”

“Now that’s enough, Jacky!  Let us out!  Right this moment!”  Dr. Parkerson shushes pointing her index finger at the gate.

Rolling his eyes, he sighs reaching for the red security button labeled “door.” The gate beeps and opens allowing the shaken up doctors out, to their relief.  The gate slides closed behind their quivering exit.

“Claire, what the…she was practically levitating?  How in the world is she doing-?”

“I DON’T KNOW!”  She faces her then continues clutching Leslie’s arm.  “I-I don’t know, Leslie.  But she scares the living he-”

The elevator beeps, the doors slide open. The shuttering doctors step in as quickly as possible, and head down to the first floor to try and make some sense of the wicked encounter they’ve set their eyes upon.

Walking into the cafeteria, the doctors grab a hot cup of coffee and sit at a secluded table, away from the other doctors taking a break.  The quiet and serine atmosphere can do them good about now.

“Leslie, I can’t imagine what you must be thinking.”  Dr. Parkerson lowers her voice seemingly calming down.  “Certainly second thoughts about this job may be flooding your mind, after seeing something like that.  I know I would.”  She pours cream into her coffee cup, stirs it with a small straw then nervously and shakily cups it and brings it to her mouth for a sip.

“Claire, there is something you should know about me, which is a very real part of who I am.  I do believe in medication as a means to help people cope with things which should be dealt with, in a commitment of therapy.  However, I also believe in the power of God,” Claire’s eyes widen as she swallows.  “I’m a Christian and what I saw back there is nothing like I have ever witnessed in my life.  It scared me to death.”

Dr. Johnson places the employee folder in front of the elderly doctor, she raises her brows.  Claire hesitantly opens it joyful at the signature on Dr. Leslie Johnson’s contract.

She faces Leslie and stares into her green eyes.  “So, with this signed contract, I imagine you are in for at least a year of hell here, Dr. Johnson?”  Dr. Parkerson places her coffee cup down, tidies her bun, and smiles while gasping a deep breath.

Dr. Johnson in turn is unable to stop her quivering hands yet raises her paper cup to Dr. Parkerson.  The older woman sighs then lifts her cup and clinks it.

“Well…welcome, Dr. Johnson.  Welcome.”

“Thank you.”

 

If you’ve enjoyed reading the first 2 chapters, tread to my author page, http://www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano 

 

5-Stars!  “A Must Read about ghosts, the occult and God! Having read and fallen in love with each of Aimeé Marie Bejarano’s fictions, I counted the days before I could get this one. Within the pages, I discovered the depth of the authors desire to gift readers a spine-tingling read that cannot be put down!”
“A MASTERPIECE Revealing the Fight Against Evil. An enthralling story dealing with the dark side of the spiritual world. Yes, it is Christian orientated and as all Christians are aware, “we fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers and rulers in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12).” – 
Crystal Mary Lindsey (Author) 
“With a great story and fantastic characters I as a reader was thoroughly entertained. I look forward to reading the next installment in the series.” – Sharon Lopez

Bestseller “Angelica, You Have Chosen Well” Part One of the Angelica Series- First Two Chapters Read FREE!

A New Desig

Bestselling Kindle now read the first 2 chapters below

Chapter One

 

“Who is the Loner?

 

 

 

 

Jesus has already suffered the ultimate crucifixion.  Rising again causes fear in the heart of the king, jealous of any arrival of a so-called “new king”.

Jerusalem is in utter mayhem, crowded with soldiers and stampeding horses, a complete panic. Those who believe in Jesus are arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced to death by Saul of Tarsus.  He zealously persecutes the church seizing men and women called the ‘followers’ or ‘Christians’ for causing uproar.  The uproar, telling people about Jesus Christ the One many speak of who was dead and His body stolen. The Christians however, faithful to Jesus, know better.

Early one dusky morning, a man saunters down a steep, stony staircase leading into a cold, underground prison where the walls seep of water.  A retched lingering scent reeks of death throughout the dark, damp, and brisk prison.  Its walls hold the memory of those dying having perished inside the grey and black encumbrance.

At the end of the stairs sits a wooden chair and a small, round table where a candle drips of wax and remains lit.  The only light illuminates throughout the dark prison.  The man passes by the cells to the right and left, holding men and women who will soon die for their crimes.  Their only crime is preaching Jesus Christ.  The prisoners sing songs to the Lord while many others pray and fearfully eye the man who passes their cell. Thoughts prick their mind, Am I next?  His armor clinks and his sandals sweep across the hard, stony floor until he finally stops at the last cell of the prison.  Disdainfully, he looks down on one prisoner.

“Woman, I have what you sent for,” Speaking abruptly and callously, there stands the prison guard dressed in red and gold armor. He leers at the young woman through the cell bars.  She lies on a bed of hay; she tucks her legs tightly to her bosom.  She crosses her arms in sleep. Struggling to keep warm, her eyes barely open from sheer exhaustion.

The woman of fair complexion snuggles with a head wrap. She wears an off-white gown with a colored, striped sash.  In an unlit cell lying in a puddle of putrid water, her hair shines like the sun, in long ringlets.  Her sky blue eyes distract from the obvious dirt and grime staining her body and clothing.

Swiftly standing to her feet, she staggers toward the guard who holds in his coarse hands a thick stack of parchments along with a pen.

“Well?  Do not look as if you did not send for them, woman.  Just take them!”  The guard is clearly irate at the woman’s hesitation.

“Given the charges, you are very fortunate to have been allowed these parchments!” He stomps a foot.

“I am sorry, sir. I just-”

“Well, take these parchments and your pen!  I do not see what is so important to write about, since you will be put to death in several days!  Today you were arrested and brought here, along with every other Christian! And you have a request to make?  Well, what should I do about the requests of all the others in here?  Just look around,” He points his thick, dirty finger around the prison.

Her eyes are barely able to make out the silhouettes of dozens of men and women in their cells. Some quietly cry, while others sit chained and shackled to the wall.  Their heads hang to their chests in agony unable to catch a breath.  It is a cruel and drawn out punishment; they suffer gradually until their ultimate doom perhaps days, hours, or minutes later.  Others cough profusely. Many huddle together shivering, and desperate to stay warm.  For everyone down here, this is the only hell on earth they will ever know.  As soon as they close their eyes exhaling their last breath, they will be with Jesus.  That is the only joy that encourages them.

Tears fill the woman’s eyes as the guard bellows a triumphant chuckle mocking the woman, his arms cross vindictively.

“Keep quiet over there!”  He scowls at the others.  Some of them gasp and sniffle frightened by the jailer as they quiet their tears hastily.

“Sir, my body may be dead on this earth, but I will not be dead!”  The woman boldly states.  “I will be in heaven with the Messiah, Jesus Christ!  He has risen!  Soon, I will see Him again, face to face.”

“Yes…we will,” One of the prisoners courageously blurts.

“I will too,” another voice speaks up repeated by many others echoing throughout the prison walls.  The voices resound with faith and conviction.  Their lives full of encouragement, and service to Jesus.

“Yes, I will meet my Lord in heaven.”  “I will be there too!”  “And me!  I saw Him and supped with Him, after He rose!”  The prisoners bellow one at a time.

“Quiet! Or else I will come in there, and beat every last one of you!”  He threatens.

Those in their cells silence their voices.  However, one remains vigilant.

“You may beat this body and take my life, but you will never take my soul!”  The young woman defiantly proclaims, as her blue eyes pierce into the jailers very soul.

The so-called Christians begin clapping their hands rejoicing while others cry out.  The testimony of the followers resonates in the ears of the jailer. He grows irate by their uprising.  His face is glossy and a prickly beard fits his harsh demeanor as he reaches to his side, and draws his sword from its sheath.  The sword sends just the right reflection onto the walls from the lit candle; it frightens the prisoners.  The claps swiftly fade as he purposely runs the sword over the bars of the woman’s cell, one at a time.

*Clink* clink* clink*

The sound rings through the gloomy prison.

Determined not to be afraid, she takes a deep breath.  Her blue eyes innocently gaze into his with conviction.  Pausing, from the outburst of anger, his face softens.  He furrows his brow and purses his lips.

“You really are not crazy, are you?  You really do believe what you have just proclaimed, do you not?”

The woman readily smiles at him as if he is merely a friend.  “Yes I do, sir.  Jesus loves you!  And you can come to heaven with me if you like.  I can tell you all about-”

“Enough of this!”  The jailer hisses, his tongue presses against his front teeth snarling at the woman’s remark.  Inconsiderately, he squeezes the parchments and pen between the thick metal bars, and disdainfully tosses them onto the cell floor covering them with filth, and moisture.  He quickly stomps off leaving the heart of the prison slamming the door at his exit.

“OHhh, you are one of those followers of Jesus, are you not?  Well, did you not know?  He was crucified not long ago?”  An old man asks from a cell next to hers.

Kneeling on one knee, the woman gathers the parchments into her hands, and wipes the grime onto her clothes.

“Yes He was, sir, but did your King also tell you the body is missing?  It is because He is alive.  Resurrected, just as He said.  I saw Him, and ate with Him, and watched as He ascended into heaven. He instructed us all to look up and wait for His return!”  The woman joyfully declares.

“With a story like that, it is no wonder you need the parchments.  It was simply some crazy disciples stealing his body, nothing more, woman,” The man shrugs.

“I heard that rumor as well,” The woman gazes up through the murkiness of the prison catching a glimpse of the old, thin man lying on his side.  Moving his fingers through his thick, white beard, he wheezes and coughs profusely.  It appears the only thing holding him together is the skin on his frail, wrinkly body.  Yet somehow, he has enough strength to speak.

“I believe you….I believe He was a great teacher,” His voice gentle yet raspy, and grows faint from obvious sickness setting into his brittle body.

Picking up the pen, she holds the parchments tightly to her bosom and nestles back onto the scattered hay.  “He was much more than that, sir, oh, much more than that,” She exhales recalling His face.

The old man wraps his fingers around the bars of the cell, and scoots himself forward intrigued by the young woman who seems like a radical in his elderly eyes.  It’s something he is not accustomed to seeing.

“My name is John of Samaria.  I was arrested for stealing a loaf of bread when there was a mad panic in the city.  I fled in fear when the narrow streets were suddenly filled with soldiers. I was certain they were coming for me.  They were armed. When they encircled a group of men and women, I was mistaken as one of them.  A Christian, like you appear to be.  They proclaimed we were under arrest, by order of Saul of Tarsus.  We were seized in chains, and brought down here.  The others arrested are also as you, followers of the Man, Christ.  So, I shall be put to death, with all of you, BUT I am not a follower of Jesus.  I believe I will die in this cell before being stoned by Saul of Tarsus.  Perhaps, death is better than the life of thievery I have led,” Resting his head on the cold, stone floor, the man tells his tale.

“I too was brought here by Saul of Tarsus.  It is the way of the world now.  A mad epidemic of sin, where they believe justice is being served by putting us to death for our beliefs, when they know not the truth.  Their hearts and souls refuse to accept what their eyes have seen, and yet it just happened.  It was not so long ago that He came into this earth as a man, and was crucified.  He…He was so much more than that, as I have said.  He was more than I could be and it appears now…more than I will ever be.”

John shivers from the cold and drafty conditions of the prison, but does not mind speaking with the young woman, who is delightful.

“And what is your name, woman?”  His teeth chatter uncontrollably.

The woman sets the parchments onto the ground.  “My name is Angelica, Angelica of Bethlehem,” She answers and takes the wrap from her head and gives it lovingly to the old man.  “The jailer allowed me to keep this blue wrap out of kindness.”

Kindness?  That jailer does not have an ounce of kindness in his body,” He wheezes. Taking the garment through the bars, he drapes it around his body shaking his head.

“Well, he seemed kind at that moment.  The wrap is special.  It was given to me by a woman.  This woman showed me love, in the midst of her pain: A woman with an issue of blood.”

“An issue of blood?”  John the thief inquisitively questions his new found, cellmate.  “Woman… I mean, Angelica.  What are the parchments for?”

She solemnly glances down at the parchments and pen knowing their divine purpose.  “This bed of hay, the smell is…oh so familiar.  You see, I know I will die here very soon.  They will take me out into the courtyard. And Saul of Tarsus will be there, along with a large, angry mob.  He will ask me once more, if I want to deny Jesus or die.  I will answer, the only thing I can say.  ‘I have lived every day for Jesus, and now I will die for Him.  Saul of Tarsus, I have prayed for you since the day I was arrested and placed in chains.  My prayer is this, that one day as you believe you are doing your service, the Lord Jesus will reveal Himself to you.  I will die now on this earth, but I will not be dead.  I will forever be with Jesus.’  Then I imagine the mob will grow more wrathful for innocent blood, and they will drag me outside the city gates and surround me.  Then one by one, they will stone me until there is no life left in this body.  The parchments, dear sir, are to tell the story of why the blue wrap is so very dear to my heart, and why this hay in my cell has a story of its own.  A story that I pray will ring into the hearts and ears of all who hear it,” Angelica grips her pen firmly as she ponders.

“Angelica, as you write your story, will you read it to me?  Every word while I am here.  I want to know this passion you have that will surely end your life.  The passion for this Man named Jesus.”

Angelica beams from ear to ear as she begins to write onto the first parchment.  She begins reading aloud to John.  With the expectation of falling fast asleep, it engrosses him instead, and listens to her sweet, pleasant voice.  From the very first words she speaks, something begins drawing John in.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

“An Angelic Night”

 

 

 

 

“It was 4 B.C. in Bethlehem of Judea where my father Phillip was a simple inn keeper.  Stout, with a large belly and very strong, he has blue eyes like mine, which is extremely rare for a Jew in Bethlehem.  He kept the inn to provide for my mother Beth who was with child, and unknowingly about to have an early birth.  My mother was a petite woman with long, curly, brown hair, and the face of an angel.  She and my father loved each other very much.  The last time I spoke to him, he still expressed his undying love for her.  Being together as a family was all they had hoped for.

“This night was different from other nights at the inn, because quite unexpectedly, it was full.  Usually, at that time of year, my father said we had rooms available.  But, this night was very peculiar.  People arrived all night in search for a place to stay but, there was no room left in the inn.

“The inn of my father was very large.  There were five extra rooms besides mine, and my mother, and father’s, which adjoined to the inn.  I can still see the large dining area and sitting room. It is where we spent countless hours together.  All were built by my grandfather, who has since been laid to rest.  It was a cozy inn, and the guests who stayed with my mother and father always expressed how much it felt like home, during their stay.

“The guests were served hot bread and cheese with wine and fruit.  I can still smell the freshly baked bread and hear the sweet voice of my father calling me to the dinner table.  Oh the laughs we had together.  My father could make me laugh and laugh.

“My mother and father were very content when the guests were satisfied.  But their happiness ended that night as they continued to send others away, for lack of room.  The only place left was a stable where the animals slept.  And no one wanted to lodge in a stable.

“Sitting on a chair in our kitchen, my mother held her bulging belly knowing full well, something was wrong.  She was in her seventh month and the physician said she was in good health, even after complaining of headaches.

“Father was a bit delirious trying to run the inn, while keeping his eye on my mother.  She slowly moves onto the bed for comfort placing her hands on her belly.  Feeling the weight of the child pressing into her ribs, she quietly prays, ‘Lord if it be your will that I should live, please let me live.  But, if I die, please watch over my child, with Your ever watchful eyes.’

“Beth, it will be okay.  I sent the stable boy to get the physician.  He should be here soon,” The expectant, nervous father calls.

“Something is wrong, Phillip.  I can feel it.  Oh God help me!”  Suddenly, a gush of water pours onto the bed as Phillip rushes to his wife’s side.

Beth begins breathing and gasping trying to cope with the pain of birth.  She grips at her gown.  There is a sudden knock at the door.  Phillip wipes the sweat from his brow, with the cloth in his hand.  He hurriedly places a bowl of water on a small table near the bed of his wife; it will surely cool her down.

“Good!  That must be him, Beth.  Now,-now don’t you worry…it-it will be okay my wife.  You just lay there.”

With a worried pain in his heart sinking deep into his chest, he runs toward the door expecting to see the face of the physician.  Here he is!

It dismays and surprises him as he gazes upon a young man strong in stature, and standing at the door, also seemingly desperate.  Who is this now?  Phillip thinks as he peculiarly eyes the stranger up and down.

“Well?  What is it, sir?!  My wife is with child, and I have no time for this!  The inn is full!”  He exclaims snapping at the young man.

The anxious young man seems to share Phillip’s feelings of worry while catching his breath. “Please, sir, are you the inn keeper?”  Hesitantly, he speaks softly.

“Yes, yes, sir, that is me, and I am sorry if you are here for a room.  I have run out tonight, as I said, and quite unexpectedly.  It seems we are overcrowded as it is!”  Phillip exclaims excitedly.

“Oh, so there is no place here?  Well, I need a place to go, you see, I have a-”

“Sir, I am sorry.  You appear like a nice young man.  I would allow you to stay here, with my wife and myself, but she is about to give birth.  We are waiting for the physician right now!”

“Your wife is about to give birth?  Sir, please, is there not anything?  My wife has been riding on the donkey all day, and she is about to give birth as well!”  The young man fears trying to keep his composure, he wipes the sweat from his eyes with the end of his head wrap.

Phillip furrows his brow skeptical at the young man’s truthfulness. “Well, where is she?”  Phillip asks testing the man.

“Over here, sir!”

The young man grabs onto Phillip’s shirt yanking him out of his house in a panic.  There, an even younger woman sits upon a donkey.  Phillip’s eyes widen gazing at her large belly.  The agony on her face shows the young man is telling the truth.  She is in labor, and the desperate young stranger will take anything the innkeeper can provide.

“Sir, is this your wife?  Are you responsible for this young woman?”  Phillip asks glaring and pointing his finger at the woman.

“She is my wife, sir.  Please!  Is there not a single place we can go, in Bethlehem?  My wife, Mary, needs to lie down. For tonight, she will have our baby!”

Phillip pats the young man on the shoulder, and smiles reassuringly. His heart fills with compassion. “I have only one place and it will have to do.  Wait here, I will return.”

With alarm, Phillip runs back into his house and rifles through his belongings.  The only clothes he can find are white swaddling clothes, which he grasps quickly.

“I will be right back, Bethy!”  Phillip hollers taking hold of a lantern and makes haste outside while some in the inn begin to fall asleep.

“This way!  Please hurry, I must be with my wife!”

As they walk, a large, bright star unexpectedly settles in the sky over the stable.  It is the most beautiful star Phillip has ever seen.

“It seems I do not even need the lantern.  The strange star above is keeping our little town well-lit outside,” Phillip mentions.

Bringing them into the stable, Phillip guides the young man who carries his wife in his arms.  “Now, this is all I have.  I do apologize. But, given the conditions, it will have to do.  I laid out new hay and the stable boy cleaned it today.  If you need anything else I will try to help you.  I can inform the physician when he arrives to check on you.  Is that acceptable?”  Phillip hurriedly questions thinking of his own wife.

The animals in the stable are very restless from the noise and laughter in the inn, but as the young man lays his wife on the bed of hay, the animals instantly and silently sleep in tranquility.

“That is odd.  They have been noisy all night long.  Not able to get to sleep because as I said, tonight is an unusual night, with all the extra guests at the inn.”

“Thank you, sir.  This will be fine,” The young man says kneeling by his wife.

“Thank you, sir.”  The young woman says.  Her glowing face remains joyful in the midst of the pain of labor.

“I will leave this lantern with you, in case you may need it.  My name is Phillip, and I will be next door in the house, by the inn.  Now excuse me.  My wife is in need of not only our physician, but me by her side.”

“I am Joseph.  Thank you, Phillip.  May God bless you for your compassion.”

Phillip sets the lantern on the ground near a wooden manger, and sprints back to the inn.  As he rushes to his house, he notices that the star maneuvers directly over the stable, shining brightly above where the couple lodges.

Phillip steps onto his porch and bumps into the physician holding his medical bag in hand.

“Ah, Phillip, Beth is in labor?”  The physician scratches his chin, through his white beard, as Phillip nods his head.  “Phillip, I must warn you, she is two months early and we must be prepared.  The child may not be born alive.  And your wife well, she may not ma….”  The physician pauses, noticing Phillip’s attention is toward the nearby hills.

“What do you make of that?”

The physician lifts his eyes and wrinkly brows toward the hills.  The unusual, bright, flickering lights in the sky shine brilliantly, up on the hillside.  Suddenly, the lights flash like lightning across the heavens.  A beautiful, angelic sound pierces through the night sky resounding radiantly.

“Glory to God in the highest!”

“Have you ever seen anything so…?”  The incredible sight disappears as the declaration silences. “Bethy!  Come, physician, come!” Phillip shouts.

Phillip calmly catches his breath, and orders the young stable boy home.  Phillip and the physician step into the house.  A long night is ahead of them, perhaps.

“Phillip, let us see how Beth is doing.”

As the people in the inn settle down for the night, a great miracle emanates and two births take place, one prophetic.

“Ugh!”  Anguish fills her face, Beth grunts making one final push.  Her gown soaks with blood and she drips of perspiration.  Her heart beats faintly and weak.

The room is lit by a lantern that sits on the table near the bed.  Phillip rubs her face with a pink stained cloth, and repeatedly dips it into a bowl of cool water.  The cry of a newborn babe fills the room with relief and sudden joy.

“It is a girl, Phillip!  Beth, it is a beautiful girl!  It is a miracle!  She made it!”  The physician bellows to Phillip who lovingly strokes his wife’s exhausted head with the back of his hand.

The physician sits in a chair at the end of the bed as he pulls the crying baby out.  Holding her up by the feet, he wraps her in swaddling clothes and hands her to Phillip. His tears of joy slide down his chubby cheeks.  The naked, precious baby continues to cry in Phillip’s arms.

“Oh, Beth, she has your nose and my eyes.  Do you want to see her?”  The proud new father cradles his daughter close.

“Ah Phillip and Beth, she is beautiful.  Her face is so angelic, like an angel.  She is a couple of pounds shy of what she should be, but nothing nursing could not cure,” The physician proudly states.

Beth smiles, she lifts her head gazing at her baby.  But, her joy soon turns grim and sorrowful as she lies back onto the bed. Her legs still in the birthing position, blood covers.  The blood suddenly seeps through the linen at an alarming rate catching the physician’s immediate attention; a great concern has risen.

“Beth?  Beth!”  The physician horrifically screams at the new mother who unexpectedly loses consciousness.

“She is beginning to hemorrhage at a dreadful rate!”  Beth’s body weakens and is unable to hold her legs up any longer.  Phillip lingers.  He is unable to look away from the sudden, fragile state of his wife.  His smiles turn to concern and fear fills his eyes.

“Physician, what is wrong?”  He hollers frantically over the screaming baby.

“Phillip, wait in the other room,” The physician beckons.

“Tell me what is wrong!”

“Not now, Phillip! In the other room…please!”

The physician tries to save Beth as Phillip steps out of the room and closes the door.  Fear consumes him and fills Phillip’s eyes with tears.  He paces around the room for minutes, which seem like hours.  His heart pounds, and his mind races in a hundred different directions yet he tries to remain calm placing all of his trust in the physician, an old, trusted, family friend.

My Bethy will make it. I just know it. He thinks. But, what if she doesn’t? What is taking the physician so long?  The tears drip from his lashes.

Finally in the doorway stands the physician. He is wiping the blood off his hands and arms with a clean cloth.  His face is grief stricken, heartbroken for the new father and friend who is looking back at him with anticipation.

“Phillip?”  He says with a low and tender voice pushing his glasses up to his eyes.  “Phillip, she was just too weak.  There was nothing I could do…I could not stop the bleeding.  I-I am so sorry, Phillip.”

“Oh Lord, no!  Not my Bethy!”  Handing the baby to the physician, he rushes into the room where his wife lay dead and covered, with a clean blanket.

“Oh, Bethy, you did not even get to hold our baby.” He caresses the side of her soft skin one last time, but it is no use…she is gone.

 

~~~

 

“My father lost my mother and gained a daughter all in one night.  He did not know what to do.  The night I was born, a nurse maid was not to be found at that hour; at least one my father did not think to ask.”

 

~~~

 

Phillip exits the bedroom.  His face red, from the many tears shed.  Taking the sleeping babe in his arms, he holds his new child gazing at her face with gladness of heart.  I will love this baby forever.  Until the day I die.

“At least I have a piece of my wife.  She would have been so proud of our child.”  Phillip says cuddling his new baby as he touches her tiny fingers and hands.

“I am sure she would have, Phillip.  Now, I know this is difficult, but would you like me to make the burial arrangements, and find a nursemaid for your daughter?”

Phillip kisses his daughter’s precious head of brown, curly hair.  “I think that would be fine, sir, and…I thank you for all you have done.”

It dismays the physician who lowers his baldhead.

“The Lord bless you, and your daughter.  Now, Phillip, if there is nothing else, I will go and make the arrangements.  I know it is customary for the family, but given the conditions…”

“I know this, physician, and I appreciate you taking care of them for me.  You are more than family to me…and my wife.  And, physician, I have one more thing to ask.  There was a young couple, with nowhere to go tonight.  I allowed them to stay in my stable.  His young wife is with child.  I fear she might have given birth without help.  Will you go look in on her?  I told her husband, Joseph, that I would ask you to visit, to see if all is well.  They may need your assistance.”

“Yes, of course, Phillip.  I would be pleased to help.  Good night, Phillip,” He pats his shoulder with a saddening sigh.

“Good night physician…” His voice trails off as he glares at his precious child now peacefully sleeping.

The physician leaves the house of Phillip, tears dripping from his face.  As he heads toward the stable down the dirt path, lit by that same star in the east, the physician observes a group of men surrounding its entrance.  Shepherds with staffs in their hands kneel which naturally intrigues the skeptical physician. Scratching his chin through his white, straggly beard with his thin fingers, he ponders.  Who are all of these men?  Why are they here?

The smell of livestock grows stronger as he moves closer.  Suddenly, he stumbles into what are many sheep outside the stable.   Rubbing his exhausted eyes, he views a large flock quietly sleeping.  The physician makes his way through, and approaches the first shepherd who is standing on the tip of his toes trying to peek over a taller shepherd directly in front of him. Patiently, he waits for just a glimpse of what is inside the stable.  But, what is it he is trying to see?

“Excuse me, sir?  Why are they bowing their knees?”  The physician touches one of the man’s shoulders.

As the shepherd faces the physician, his eyes are glassy and welling up with tears.  He is peacefully rejoicing in his heart.

“I am…well, we are all here to see the Child whom the angel spoke of.”

“Angel?  What is this madness you speak about?  I have lived in Bethlehem my whole life and never in all my days have I heard of angels here?”  The physician shrugs in denial.  His white hair blows in the cool breeze of the evening.

“Sir, I tell you it is not madness.  There we were, on a hillside keeping watch over our flocks by night. When suddenly, a bright light brighter than anything I have ever seen, shone down upon us from the night sky.  Then an angel appeared and spoke to us saying, ‘Fear not.  Do not be afraid.  I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’  Then a multitude joined the angel and began to say ‘Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace, good will toward men.’  So we departed to the City of David, Bethlehem.  We saw a star and knew this must be the place. Assuredly, it is what the angel spoke.  See how He sleeps?”

The shepherd points his forefinger as the physician squeezes through the many that gather around. He remembers the distraction Phillip was drawn to on this miraculous night.  Could this be what Phillip had seen, the bright lights and sound?

There a young woman lay peacefully on a bed of hay.  Her husband kneels gently touching the baby asleep in the manger.

The silence of every donkey, sheep, and goat fascinates the physician.  “In all my years, I have never seen a baby such as this until today.  It is a miracle,” The physician whispers as he kneels to one knee near Joseph.

“Is this your Son?”  He whispers.

“He is the Son of the living God, and mine to nurture,” Joseph replies.

“Did your wife have a problem with the birth?”

“No, amazingly enough, once the labor pains came on she gave birth shortly thereafter.  It was hard, but God was watching out for both of us.”

The physician gently reaches his hand and touches the Babe.  He sleeps on the hay in a manger.  White, swaddling clothes, Phillip left earlier, wraps around Him.

“He looks well,” The physician stares at Joseph then back at the Babe.  “Do you mind if I check His health?”

“No, please,” Joseph picks up the new baby Boy, and carefully places Him in the arms of the physician who checks Him thoroughly.

“I see nothing wrong with Him.  He is healthy, and very peaceful.  Hmm…” The physician sniffles. “I have this strange sense of joy as I hold Him,” The physician leans into the Babe and kisses Him on the forehead.  Clearing his throat, he hands the Babe back to Joseph who carefully lays Him inside the manger.

“Actually, He is the most beautiful baby Boy I have ever seen.  This is a night for births.  Earlier, the innkeeper and his wife had their first child.  She is so angelic, quite beautiful in fact.”

“I am pleased everything went well.  How is the inn keeper, Phillip?”  Joseph whispers.

The physician sadly shakes his head. “Oh, Joseph, Phillip will be rejoicing over his new child, but mourning over his wife, in the same night.”

Joseph’s countenance sinks in deep concern.  “How tragic…please send him our deepest regret…and congratulations.  Please, his heartache must be so deep, yet he was the only one willing to give my wife and I solace and shelter.  For that, I pray God bless him,” The young father says sincerely.

“That is very kind, and I will tell him word for word what you have said,” The physician replies.

The physician rises to his feet making certain that Mary is at rest, with no complications. He then leaves the stable in awe and belief at the happenings he has just witnessed.

The physician knocks on Phillip’s door hearing the baby crying.  The door swings wide open to a very shaky, new father standing on the threshold trying to comfort his baby.  Relief hits.

“Oh, physician, thank the Lord it is you!”  Phillip catches his breath.  “I thought I would have to send for you again!  It is the baby!  She is hungry, and I have nothing to feed her!  What do I do?”  Phillip panics.

“First thing, calm down.  You do not want to alarm your new baby,” The physician comes in and places his arm around Phillip sitting him down. “Now, hold the baby like so.  Rock her back and forth, Phillip.  She needs the comfort.”

As he listens to the wise physician, Phillip breathes a sigh of relief. Slowly, the baby quiets down.  But, her tummy still rumbles from hunger.

“Oh, Phillip, you should have seen what just occurred.  The Babe you have in the stable is the Son of the living God!”  The physician softly speaks with enthusiasm and excitement.

The physician pulls out a wooden chair and sits down at the table. He tells Phillip all the events as they occurred.  All the while, the baby girl falls to sleep.

“This is amazing.  It is so unbelievable, yet…I believe it,” Phillip states.  “But, what can be done about my baby, physician?  I do not know if I can get a nursemaid until tomorrow, for all are asleep. I know of no one who has had a child, or may be of help near my house,” Phillip explains the obvious situation.

The physician scratches beneath his beard moving his whiskers around with his boney fingers. Contemplating, he quickly stands to his feet.

“I will be right back, Phillip.  Rest assured, I will return.”

An hour later, the physician returns to the house.

“Phillip, bring the baby.  Come let us go to the stable.”

Phillip picks up the baby, who has now awaken and crying from hunger.  He wraps her in a blanket, and follows the physician to the stable.  As they walk in, the baby stops crying.

“Now, the shepherds have already gone.  The young woman named, Mary, agreed to help you with your baby tonight,” This thrills the physician.

“But…she must rest. She has a child of her own.  I cannot intrude on them.”

“Phillip, all is well, come,” The physician welcomes his unsure friend.

Phillip is nervous, but notices the Babe asleep in the manger.  The lantern he had left shines dimly on the beautiful sight.  Mary is leaning against a mound of fresh hay.

“Sir, I understand you have lost your wife this night and for that, I am exceedingly sorrowful.”  Mary speaks sweetly.

“Yes, thank you, but when the physician told me how you wanted to help, I did not want to intrude seeing you have a Babe of your own,” Phillip says a little apprehensive.

“Sir, for all the kindness you have shown us, and unto the Lord, I would be glad to help you this night,” Mary smiles.

“Oh thank you.  And rest assured, I will have a nursemaid tomorrow for…well, I do not have a name for her it seems.”

Phillip leans over and carefully places his daughter into the loving arms of Mary.  “Oh she is beautiful.  She seems angelic, like an angel.”

Mary holds the baby in her arms, and rocks her sweetly back and forth.  She caresses her face then touches her tiny hands.

“My wife too had the face of an angel.  She was angelic,” Suddenly, the words inspire him.  “Then that is what I shall call her, Angelica.”

“That is a lovely name, Phillip, just lovely,” Joseph says.  “Our baby is to be called Jesus.”

“Yes, that is what the Angel spoke to me.  Jesus is His name,” Mary agrees.

“And one day perhaps, God will bless Joseph and I with a beautiful baby girl such as this.  But, I cannot think about giving birth again, at least for the moment,” Mary chuckles as she cradles Angelica.

Joseph places his hand lovingly on his wife’s shoulder.  “Yes.  Perhaps one day,” He says agreeing with his young wife.

The physician cannot be more pleased as he smiles at the small babes in the stable.

Phillip leaves Angelica with the couple and the physician for several hours.  Mary kindly and gently places Angelica to her bosom and nurses her to sleep for the night.

 

~~~

 

“That night, I was nursed by the mother of Jesus, the Messiah.  It was God who brought them to Bethlehem, and because of the kindness of my father, I am alive today.  It was meant for me to live that night, but now I know my time here is almost finished.  I shall be with Jesus in heaven and see Him once again.”

Angelica continues writing on her parchments, and reading them to John.  A loud noise rumbles from above rattling the prison bars.  Shouts and screams from the multitude gather like a low thunder. Throughout the prison, the hearts of those bound in chains rise in fear.  The prison door opens and a loud ruckus of metal clanging down the staircase precedes several men’s footsteps.

The followers locked in their cells, painfully cry as two soldiers drag a man by his arms down the staircase.  His legs fall limp behind him.  Angelica glances around realizing there is still one empty cell next to hers.  The soldiers shove the man, his wrists and ankles bound with fetters, against the cold, stone floor.  He is thrown toward the empty cell.  They trail passed Angelica and stop.  One of the soldiers holding the set of keys unlocks the cell door.  Unlocking the chains on the man’s feet and wrists, a soldier strikes the man’s back shoving him into the cell.  The man stumbles headfirst, hits the wall, and falls to the floor.  The soldiers mock the injured, defenseless man.

“So…this is the famous Stephen we have been hearing about?”  One of the soldiers loudly and sarcastically proclaims.  “You followers of Jesus are ridiculous!  You will all pay for your crimes…every one of you!  Saul of Tarsus is doing right by ridding us of you Christians!”

Spitting on Stephen and laughing, they both stammer out joyfully reviling on their way up the steep stairs.

“Sir, are you okay?”  Angelica asks while Stephen sits covering his face in the palms of his hands.  After everything, there is still love in his eyes.

“Yes, I am fine, just a little sore in the head.  I knew my time was coming, but nothing will keep me from telling people about Jesus,” He answers wiping the smelly salve onto his tunic.

“That is what happened to me.  My name is, Angelica, and it would please me greatly if you would take half of my hay to lie upon.  The ground is cold and hard.”

“Thank you.  I am Stephen, as you may have guessed, and I will gladly accept your offering.  May the Lord Jesus bless your kindness.”

“I have heard of you, from other followers.  Is it true you are preaching about Jesus?”  John asks.

“Yes, that is why I was arrested.  The Lord has spoken to me and I will speak to the counsel, which may be the end of my journey.”

Angelica stands to her feet; the sandals her father had given her are worn down and filth covers unrecognizable feet.  She lovingly divides the hay on the floor and slides it toward the metal bars.  Stephen draws the hay through the bars, and makes a small pile to sit upon.

“I remember you.  You are Stephen. The man great with miracles, signs, and wonders.  I stole a loaf of bread after you healed a man of blindness,” John states and crosses his arms under his tunic. He struggles to stay warm as he coughs and wheezes.

“Yes,” Stephen answers creasing his brow.  “You look familiar,” He pauses.  “Yes, I saw you there.  You were coughing as you are now, only you seem much worse.  Sir, it is all by the power of Jesus Christ that those healings took place.  I did nothing.”

“You and Angelica seem to share the same faith.  Can you show me Jesus is real?  Can you prove it to me?”  John inquires, with a pure heart.

“Sir, I cannot reach you, and I have nothing to give, riches and gold. But, what I have I will give to you,” Stephen rips a small piece of his sash and places it between Angelica’s cell bars.

“Please, hand this to him.”

Angelica reaches for the torn cloth, and places it between the bars of John’s cell within his reach.

“Sir, if you want to know who Jesus is then reach for that cloth.  By faith you will be healed,” Hesitantly, John reaches for the cloth and touches it with his fingertips.  Suddenly, he resists and pulls away.

“I am not a good man.  Perhaps, I deserve what I get.  I am not worthy to be healed,” John states defiantly.

“John, I am going to pray that before your time comes, you will reach out for this cloth.  When you are healed, you will know the power of Jesus Christ.  You too will meet Him on that day.”

Angelica gently speaks.  “Stephen, how is it that you came to be down here?”

Stephen glares at the candle on the table.  “They gathered together when I was arrested…hoping for another stoning.  I will die soon, but not until I speak to the counsel at the synagogue.  I wonder why I am down here instead of immediately speaking to them.  I pray the Holy Spirit grant me the words when it comes time to speak. That it shakes the hearts, and pierces the ears of all those that gather.”

Angelica snuggles back into the hay and begins to inscribe again.

Stephen glances over.  “If you do not mind, may I ask what you are writing?”

“Oh, I am writing about my life following Christ.  You see, I have always been near Him one way or another.  I want to give it to my father.  I hope one day he will read it and share it with others.”

“You have been around Jesus?  May I read your parchments?  Please, it is all a man can do in a place like this. Either sleep or talk, and since you are writing, I would love to see what you mean,” It fascinates Stephen.

Taking a few pages in her fingers, Angelica hands them to Stephen who is very curious by the statements made.

“I am reading it to John.  As I write you are welcome to listen.”

“Thank you, I will,” Stephen says

Thank you for choosing the read the first couple of chapters. One thing I have always done is written in the present tense. Stay connected for future free chapters of this novel and others! To see all of my novels feel free to go to http://www.amazon.com/author/aimeebejarano – available in Kindle and paperback!

God bless!

Infamous Biblical topics of: faith, supernatural, paranormal, author interviews, and chronic pain all using the word of God, the Bible.