Ghost in the Desert sample chapters

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

Here they are, a few samples from the second book in the Pastor Charlie series.  Once again its from my rough draft, so not perfect, but thought you all would like a teaser. 

 

Prologue

 

Palau, Mexico

            People filed into the small parish as Father Sandoval took his place at the altar during the entrance procession.  He looked out among the members to see a decent crowd had arrived this week.  There small church had around a hundred members, most of which had shown up this day.  He stood before them to begin the day’s Mass.

            “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” he said as he crossed himself.

            “Amen,” the congregation responded as they also crossed themselves.

As he began the Rite of Blessing, he sensed a presence.  The presence felt warm and comforting.  It wasn’t the first time he’d felt the presence of God during Mass. It was one of the things he loved about being a priest.  It was a beautiful feeling, a feeling of warmth, love and safety.  It didn’t happen often, but when it did, it was amazing.

He continued the Rite as he looked up and saw a white mist filling the parish.  He could tell the crowd was feeling the same thing as he was.  They all had a look of euphoria on their faces, as if God himself was touching him.  Father Sandoval knew what this was.  It was a physical manifestation of the Holy Ghost.  There were times in scripture when it was referenced, but he’d never experienced it first hand.

The mist filled the church, swirling around them as the feelings of love and peace consumed them.  He stopped the Rite as people began talking and murmuring among themselves.  Some even started laughing or giggling, although it was quietly.  The Father wasn’t sure what to do with this as he’d never experienced it.  He reached out to touch the mist as his hand sailed right through it.  It had no smell or taste as he closed his eyes and inhaled it deeply, taking in the presence of God.  Feeling the Spirit filling him and becoming one with him, it was something he didn’t want to end.

His eyes still closed and arms out to his sides, he snapped out of his trance as he heard a scream.  Opening his eyes someone in the back of the church had collapsed.  Perhaps they’d become overwhelmed with the sensations.  Looking around, he saw no one had moved other than the woman sitting next to the man who’d collapsed.  He walked in back to see if the man was ok.  He recognized the man as Juan Sanchez, a middle aged man who had attended for years.  Juan’s wife Camilla was trying to shake him as she looked up at the priest.

“Father, help him!  I don’t think he’s breathing,” she said.  Father Sandoval knelt down, still feeling as if he were in a trance of sorts and checked for a pulse.  As he did so there was another scream.  He jerked his head around and saw two more people had collapsed.  He stood to assess the situation.  The mist was no longer white, but had turned into a grayish color.  People had snapped out of their euphoric state and were now frantically attending to their fallen loved ones.  Yet one by one, people were going down.

Some headed for the door to get outside, as if the mist was some toxic gas.  None of them made it.  One woman grabbed Father Sandoval’s robe and held his gaze as she fell.

“Father! Please!  Help me…” she said as he helped her to the ground, unable to do anything to save her.  Now terrified, Father Sandoval could do nothing but watch as one by one, his parishioners died in front of him.  He began to pray as the scene unfolded in front of him.

“Hail Mary, full of grace.  Our Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women,” he prayed.  As he continued people around him screamed, died and cried out for help.  The mist had turned black by now and filled the entire church.  The bodies of men, women and children were lying about motionless.  He felt people tugging at him, taking their final breaths.  What was this force that was killing him?  He was sure it was the Holy Ghost himself at first, yet its killing them all.  Was it Satan?  Demons?

As he prayed, his prayer was interrupted by a loud voice in his head. 

“I am the Lord your God.  The day of the Lord is upon you.”  Before he could process what he heard, Father Sandoval took his last breath.

Chapter 1

 

            My name is Charlie Sims, Pastor Charlie to some, though I don’t pastor much anymore.  A couple years ago, I had my own church near San Antonio, Texas, but lots of things went wrong.  I guess they didn’t go totally wrong.  A man many may know as Jesus Christ, but who went by the name Bishop Hoover came to town around then trying to bring about the end of the world.  It was during that ordeal I met Lucifer himself, discovered my ancestors were fallen angels and I had the power to turn people into zombies.  It was an eventful few months. 

            Before all that happened, in addition to pastoring God used to reveal sinners to me, horrible sinners; such as murderers, child molesters, rapists, and I would kill them in brutal fashion.  At least I thought it was God.  After the whole end of the world thing, I hadn’t had a vision since, and so hadn’t killed anyone since that time.  I guess that was a good thing.  In order to stop Jesus, I had to kill around fifty thousand people in the Alamodome.  I guess that would have to get me through for awhile.

However I was somehow able to stop Jesus, who turns out isn’t at all what we learned about in Sunday school, and save the world, for the moment at least.  Since then I’d been working in a funeral home in Del Rio, Texas.  I would assist with bodies when needed, as well as preside over funeral services, help people make arrangements along with whatever else the Salazar family needed. 

Jorge Salazar owned the funeral home, he was semi-retired though.  He still came in for return clients who’ve used the funeral home for generations.  His daughter, Maria did most of the real work.  At twenty-five years old, she was wise way beyond her years.  She had great skill in dealing with grieving families as well as restoring a body no matter how badly damaged they came in.  By looking at her, you’d never guess she was a funeral director.  She stood around five foot two inches and often wore summer dresses when not working in the embalming room.

On this day, I was sitting in my office finishing up paperwork for a pre-arrangement I had just set up.  A local man had just discovered he had cancer.  His prognosis is good, but he decided to pre-arrange his funeral and pay for it now just in case. 

“What are you doing Charlie?” Maria asked from my doorway.

“Just finishing some papers,” I said.  “What’s up?”

“Did you see the news?  I had it on in the break room.  It’s pretty freaky.”

I got up and joined her in the break room.  There on CNN  a reporter was standing outside of a church in Paulau, Mexico.  There were vans and ambulances all around the church. 

“I have family that lives in Paulau.  They said a hundred people died there,” Maria said as she placed her hand over her mouth.

“Do they know what happened?”  There were images of paramedics wheeling out body bags. 

“No, they said someone came to see where their family was and they found them all.  My God.”

I didn’t want to break it to Maria, but either God had nothing to do with it, or he was behind it.  Either way, I couldn’t help but think of what happened two years ago.  I had known after I killed Christ that it wasn’t over.  I had stopped the end of the world as God himself, or the being who calls himself God had planned.  I had upset the natural order of things, no telling what effect this would have on the cosmos.  It was only a matter of time before something happened again.  Part of me feared, this might be that time. 

“You ok Charlie?  You don’t look so good.” Maria asked.  I hadn’t realized it, but I must have been holding my breath, causing my face to change color.  I let out a long exhale.

“Yeah, I’m fine.  Just a sad sight is all.”

“Yes it is.  It’s scary.  That’s not too far from here.  The news thought it might be the cartel.  But I don’t even think they would go defile a church like that.”

“Hard to say.”  We both looked toward the window as we heard a car pull up.  We walked outside to see a black Suburban.  Two men stepped out, both wearing suits, one had on a cowboy hat. 

“Charlie Sims?” The man with the hat asked.

“That’s me.  Can I help you?”

“I’m John O’Brien, Texas Rangers.  This is Special Agent Peter Jenkins, FBI.  We would like to talk to you.”

I felt like my heart had jumped up to my throat.  I’ve had police come to talk to me before, and nothing good came of it. 

Chapter 2

 

            We sat in Maria’s office as Ranger O’Brien and Agent Jenkins asked me their questions.  They told us about the church in Paulau. 

            “You know, Pastor Charlie, the scene at Paulau didn’t look a lot different than the one at the Alamodome a couple years back,” O’Brien asked.

            “I wouldn’t know,” I said.  “The cops asked me about that back then.  But I wasn’t there.”

            “Some of your former church members said you’d been to all of the Bishop’s previous services.  Suddenly you don’t go to that one, and everyone ends up dead and the Bishop disappears.  Lots of coincidences if you ask me.”

            “I guess so.  I was busy that night.  I’ve been over this before.  Do you have a point you’re getting at?”  Jenkins sat leaned against the desk playing with his cell phone while O’Brien asked all the questions.  I had a feeling they were just reaching, questioning usual suspects since the new church case seemed so similar.

            “He had nothing to do with that church in Paulau.  He was here working,” Maria chimed in.

            “Is that so?” O’Brien asked. 

            “It is.  We had a funeral Sunday afternoon.  He was here helping me get ready.” 

            O’Brien looked her up and down as if she were a four course meal. 

            “Well, I’m sure he’s a big help around here for you.”

            “And what is that supposed to mean?” Maria asked, shooting up from her seat.

            “Oh nothing.  Just thinking out loud.”

            “Well why don’t you and your pal go think out loud somewhere else.  Unless you have a warrant, I think we’re done here.”

            “My, my.” O’Brien looked at me.  “She’s sure a feisty one Charlie.”

            “That she is,” I said.  Jenkins finally put his phone down long enough to involve himself in the situation.

            “Look everyone, why don’t we all just calm down, okay?  I apologize for my colleague here.  He comes from a different era of law enforcement.”  He glanced at O’Brien and rolled his eyes.  “We’re just checking all leads, ruling anyone out as suspects and so forth.  You know the drill.  Ms. Salazar here told us you were here, then you were here.  Thank you for your time.”  He got up and walked out. O’Brien followed, tipping his hat to Maria as he left.

            “Well that was interesting,” I said.

            “Shut up Charlie.”

            “What?”

            “Look. When you came here we didn’t ask you a lot of questions.  My dad knew there was something about you and you told us you’d been through a lot.  But you’ve been a big help here and been good to us.  But what was this all about?”

            Maria glared at me with her huge brown eyes.  In my entire life, I’d never had so much as a girlfriend.  Some folks thought I was gay.  I was attracted to women, just never had time for women.  I figured it was safer for everyone that way.  With me running around cutting people up, it didn’t seem like the best way to maintain a relationship.

            “I know Maria.  I’ve appreciated everything you’ve done.  I told you all how I’d met that Bishop fella.  So everyone thought I had something to do with what happened at that big rally of his where all those people died.  I don’t know what they think I might have done, since they ruled it a mass suicide.  They think I was working with the Bishop and chickened out on killing myself or something.”  I was making some of this up as I went along.  No way could she have handled the truth.  “Fact is, most of the members of my church died there.  That’s part of why I came here.  I  needed a change of scenery.”

            Her eyes softened as I explained.  I’d realized I never told any of them too much about myself. I figured the less they knew, the better. 

            “Wow, I had no idea.  I’m really sorry.”  She leaned in and gave me a quick hug.  It was an odd feeling, but she felt good to hold even if just for a second.  For not being human, the last couple years had felt more human than any other time in my life.  This day’s visit made me feel uneasy though.  It was as if it would happen all over again.  I hoped not, but pushed it to the back of my mind.

            “Thank you,” I said.  “It was a hard time, but your family has been a great help.  Treating me like one of your own.  It means a lot.”

            “Well we are happy to have you Charlie.  Maybe one day you can have your own church again.” 

            “Maybe,” I said.  “So what’s the plan for today?”

            Before she could answer, her cell phone rang.  She pressed it to her ear, said “Yeah, ok,” a few times and began writing down some information.  After a minute she hung up.

            “Looks like we got our plan for today gotta go pick up a body.  Come on.  There was a car accident on the freeway.  This should be a good one.”  She grabbed her purse and headed out the door, I followed trying to keep up.

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