A Taste From My New Book
I promised to share Chapter 10 from my new novel today, and here it is.
Christine was horrified. “All of these kids…all of these children are murder victims?”
Pilar nodded. “Yes, the kids here, though, are the worst of the worst- in how they were treated back on Earth, I mean.”
“You know that sweet little girl who won’t let go of God?”
“Irina? The Russian girl?” Christine said. “She’s like a backpack with teeth.”
“Uh-huh, her. She just arrived three months ago. Back on Earth, Irina’s dad tortured her for a week before he gouged out her eyes out and strangled her to death.”
Christine was stunned by Pilar’s explanation, as well as the casual delivery. Her eyes darted to Irina, who had pulled up a chair close to God’s and was trying very hard to act like a big girl, despite being only three or so.
Christine watched the other kids in fascination, realizing that not a single one of them was letting God out of their sight for a moment, even if they pretended to have better things occupying their attention. The spectacle was both uplifting and incredibly sad. Christine forgot her own troubles and turned back to the gypsy girl.
“What about you, Pilar?” Christine said. “What…happened to you?”
Pilar fidgeted for a second with a napkin. “I’m from Thessaloniki in Greece. My parents paid my uncle to drown me for the payout on an insurance policy. That was a couple of years ago. I’m the oldest here, so I help take care of the other kids now. Plus, I do all of the cooking.”
“Don’t you want to be adopted, too?”
“Oh,” Pilar laughed nervously, “it’s not that important. Whatever…you know?”
Christine knew that statement was false. Pilar’s parents had betrayed her trust in such a terrible manner that the teen was probably exactly where she needed to be. Busy at God’s house, taking care of others and healing.
Christine, slowly, was starting to see God’s wheels within wheels.
After Harry, Father God and the kids had stuffed themselves full of bacon; God started swiping laughing children on their butts.
“Up, up, up! Time for school! Has everyone brushed their teeth?”
All of the tiny hands shot up, except one.
God shook His head sadly. “Gustav…really? Every morning? Brushing your teeth…it’s a thing – okay? So they don’t fall out of your head. Do you want your teeth to fall out of your head?”
Apparently, Gustav was perfectly happy to have his teeth fall out of his head as long as he received the extra attention. But he ran back inside to take care of the job anyways.
God turned to Pilar. “There is no way – no way – that you are wearing that top to school.”
“What!” Pilar cried. “What is wrong with my blouse?”
“It shows off too much of your…girl parts. Go change.”
Pilar stomped inside to change.
After the children were loaded up with book-satchels and brownbag lunches, they marched off for school.
The backyard grew noticeably quieter.
God invited Christine and Harry to join Him under an umbrella at a private table facing the ocean. Pilar had thoughtfully set out a carafe of coffee and a box of Cuban cigars before leaving with the kids. Harry helped himself to a stogie, offering one to Christine.
“No thanks. Trying to cut back.”
Father God lit a cigar with an old-fashioned sulphur match and puffed a few times before looking up and smiling at Christine.
“It really is a pleasure to finally meet you, dear. Harry told Me that you’ve already contributed a great deal to JHAD.”
“I guess so.” Christine said. “I’m still a little overwhelmed by everything. Like the fact that God turns out to be a clean-shaven, middle-aged Scandinavian.”
God leaned forward. “A what? A Scandinavian?”
“Yeah. Where are You from? Stockholm?”
“Err…what is she talking about?” God turned to Harry. “Do I look Scandinavian?”
Harry shook his head. “I don’t see it.”
Christine snorted. “And what’s with the clothes?”
“Uh-huh.” Christine said. ”You dress like…Franklin Delano Roosevelt on a yachting holiday.”
Father God sputtered. “That’s outrageous! I dress the same every day, and nobody has ever complained before.”
“I’m not complaining. Are You going to marry Your cousin, too? Like FDR? We could find one of those walking canes if You want. The derby-handle kind with a beech-wood shaft and brass collar? Do You see everything in black and white? Like the old films?”
“What! You impertinent girl. And I already have one of those canes, thank you very much.”
Christine snickered. “Did You use rationing coupons at the store for the eggs and butter? What am I saying? Of course, You did. There’s a war on, after all.”
Harry laughed behind his cigar smoke.
God sat back, clearly aggravated. “You are so not funny, Christine.”
“I have a question.” Christine said. “Have You ever made a mistake?”
“Just three. Mosquitoes and lawyers.”
“That’s only two.”
“Lawyers are so bad I count them twice.”
“Fair enough. What about Hitler?”
“Still not as bad as your average lawyer.”
“And that’s it?”
“Err, no….sorry…I nearly forgot about France.”
Christine raised her eyebrows. “France?”
“The French automatically go to Hell when they die.”
“Are You kidding me?” Christine said. “What in the world do You have against France?”
“I don’t have anything against France. I absolutely adore France. It’s the French that ruin it…they’re so French.”
“All right. What about Italy?”
“They’re okay, I suppose. They gave mankind electricity and the Fiat Panda. But we’re here to discuss you, so let’s do that.”
Christine pursed her lips. “Okay, fine. I’m dead. I was about to get married to Josh Pembroke and live happily ever after, but now I’m dead as a doornail instead. And, to top it off, I’m sitting outside on a clear, beautiful morning with the Lord Almighty - who happens to look like a Swedish diplomat to the UN.”
“For one thing, sweetheart,” God said, “I don’t really care for the ‘Almighty’ crap. Secondly, we need your special skill set to help accomplish our goals for the future. Yes, it is very unfortunate that you are even here. I really wanted you to marry that young man and enjoy a full life, with three kids and a Cocker Spaniel named Buddy. It didn’t work out that way. But now that you are here, we are going to put your mind and skills to full use.”
Christine wasn’t terribly surprised by the speech. She’d pretty much accepted the fact that she was dead and nothing would change that. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail and tied it off. This was the sign that she had given off since childhood when about to face off on a serious problem, which she relished.
“Okay, I’m ready for whatever You can throw at me.”
God grinned broadly. “Excellent, so glad to have you aboard. Sure you don’t want a cigar?”
“Okay, why not?”
Harry lit a cigar for Christine, and after two puffs, she coughed up a lung. “So smooth, should have started smoking these years ago.”
“They are good, aren’t they?” Father God said. “And I see you are starting to understand some of the problems I face each day, Christine.”
Christine nodded politely, coughing. “Yes. These kids are a handf - ”
“I don’t mean that.” God waved a hand. “These kids represent just a tiny fraction of the adolescents that are killed by some loser every hour across Earth.”
“Wait…did You say a fraction?”
“Absolutely, Christine…just a small fraction, actually. I bring home around 1,200 murdered children to Heaven each day.”
Christine stopped short, astounded. “Each…day?”
She hadn’t been expecting the sheer number, never mind the incredibly depressing revelation of it all. She gulped and fought for composure.
Father God went on. “Yes, each day. Few things in life are as intimate as murder…and it will only grow worse in the next few decades.”
“Christine, the statistics never lie.” Harry waved his cigar. “We’ve crunched the numbers. Things are changing rapidly. It seems we may be on the cusp of a historic up-rise in murders.”
Father God nodded. “The Earth’s population has exploded since 1900 – back then I watched over about 1.9 billion people. Today, in 1971, that population has grown to 4.3 billion…and with it the homicide rates have shot off the chart. Harry and I believe that the number of children murdered each day will jump to about 1,700 by 2010. Who knows where we will be at by 2030?”
Harry sipped his coffee. “What you saw last night, Christine, was more of a test run than anything else. We will track murderers of all types, of course, but we are going to concentrate on child killers.”
Father God puffed His cigar, making a smoke ring in the cool morning air. “I want JHAD to evolve into a murder and tracking station that has no equal. Your signal analysts will know where every single body is buried, where every child killer is until their days on Earth end, and most importantly – JHAD will become experts at predicting the future actions of murderers and potential murderers by the signs they give off in the present.”
“Christine,” Harry interjected, “we are going to know what a child killer is thinking before he even thinks it. We are going to develop new strategies for tracking murderers and make use of computer models to predict their behavior. And you are the key.”
“I’m the key?” Christine was surprised, to say the least, and felt like she’d been tag-teamed by the best in the business. “That’s a pretty tall order.”
“I don’t think we can do this without you.” Harry said. “We need target acquisition programs - tons of brand new computer code, new folding optics for the cameras, new dielectric multi-mode radar sets and much, much more.”
Father God nodded. “Yes…all of that gobbly-gook he said. When Harry came home to Heaven, he bugged Me about building this new agency for a month before I relented and let him have his way. I had My doubts about JHAD’s effectiveness. Now that you are here though, Christine, My fears have been put aside. You two are going to make a fine pair.”
Christine cocked her head, stubbing out the cigar.
“Something…is still bothering me.”
“Yes, dear?” God said. “What is it?”
“We track killers at JHAD – I get that. And let’s say we get really good at it…bound to happen with practice, right?”
“But…on Earth…the FBI or the police catch the bad guys and put them away – preferably for good. Lock ‘em up and throw away the key.”
“That’s a good analogy.” Father God nodded. “I like that.”
Christine paused for a moment. “What I’m trying to wrap my head around, I guess….what exactly…Father…do You do with the bad guys?”
Father God grimaced slightly. “You met Pilar?”
“Yes,” Christine smiled, “a nice girl. I like her a lot.”
“A very nice girl, with a good heart.” God agreed. “The pain she suffered during her death was extremely real, Christine. Pilar was once a whole person that had her entire life ahead of her. Her family saw things a little differently, as her life meant no more to them than a payday on an insurance policy. Make no mistake; suffocating in water is neither quick nor painless. Pilar fought hard – so hard her wrists were broken. This all happened in the span of 39 seconds. That’s all it took. From the beginning of the attack against Pilar until the moment I brought her home was a mere 39 seconds.”
Christine didn’t care for the description of her new friend’s death – accurate or not. It was simply too painful to hear.
“I think,” Christine wiped an eye. “That Pilar matters to You…a lot.”
“Yes, indeed.” God replied quietly. “She matters very, very much to Me. Are you aware that I can’t interfere with a person’s free will while they live on Earth?”
“Really?” Christine said. “No, I didn’t know that.”
“Yes.” Father God inspected the glowing tip of His cigar. “Unfortunate, but…necessary. That doesn’t mean matters end there, though.”
“I don’t understand.”
“The man that murdered Pilar – her uncle – is Demetris Anastassaid. He drinks a lot, and not to forget his past deeds, Demetris just likes to drink. He will die of liver disease about a year from now.”
“You know this?”
“Trust Me on this. Demetris Anastassaid will die soon…and not pleasantly.”
“Okay, then what?”
“Then he’s Mine.”
Christine listened to the ominous tone and ice cubes tumbled down her spine. Kind eyes and calm demeanor aside, it seemed Father God was bone-cancer serious concerning the murderer of an innocent child. That was crystal clear.
She was almost too afraid to go on, but she did.
God smiled grimly.
“And then, Christine, I get even.”
That, I'm afraid, is
the end of the free
samples for now.
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Will you read more?