Read 69 INCHES AND RISING Online

Authors: Rebecca Steinbeck

69 INCHES AND RISING (5 page)

The angel stepped back and another of the soldiers rushed toward him. He turned to the soldier, cocked his elbow, and struck him a powerful blow to the jaw. The soldier fell to the ground holding his face and he writhed in pain. Blood flowed freely from his mouth and it ran between his fingers toward his neck. The angel looked at the blood and smiled. She went to the soldier and wiped his mouth with her hand which was smeared now with his blood. She wiped it over her arm and her body tingled with delight. She licked her fingers, tasting the soldier’s blood as it passed over the back of her mouth and down her throat. She laughed out loud and raised her hand in the air, drawing a lightning bolt into it then driving it into the soldier’s heart, cooking it like a piece of steak. She reached into his chest and pulled out his heart. It was cooked through and the angel bit into, its meaty goodness filling her body with sweet delight. She turned to Jonathon and offered him some. He shook his head. “No thank you,” he said. She smiled and took another bite. He watched her as she began to dance which she did with natural aplomb, gliding across the charred earth as if she was floating on air. She smiled at Jonathon in a way that suggested to him that she wanted to take his cock out of his pants and suck it until he came in her mouth then turned to the soldier behind her and opened her mouth wide to reveal the fangs of a vampire then sunk them deep into his neck. She drank his blood until she was full then let his body go and it collapsed in a heap on the ground. She turned back to Jonathon. “You thought you’d left it all behind, didn’t you?” she said. “But you haven’t. No man ever really does, especially not the world-famous Jonathon Steel who in death is much more powerful with his hands than he ever was in life with his words. You see Jonathon, while words have the power to change the world, they can only do so if the reader
wants
to be changed. A man’s hands, however, can kill another against the other’s will. And their own, come to think of it. All the money in the world can’t buy you that kind of power.”

“Maybe not,” Jonathon replied, “but it can buy you fear, and when someone fears you, you own them.”

The angel dropped what was left of the soldier’s heart and stepped forward. She looked into his eyes. “Do you fear me, Jonathon?” She searched his heart and soul for any sign of the fear that would give him to her all over again. It was a fear she had seen in the eyes of hundreds of young girls as she ripped the flesh from their bones and drank their blood and as their lives were about to come to an end. “Are you hiding it from me? Hmmm?” 

“I don’t fear you, Elizabeth,” Jonathon said. Elizabeth Bathory. The most fearsome woman that ever lived and one that fascinated Jonathon for many years. And one that fuelled the imagination of the man whose books about blood and horror and fear scared the hell out of readers all over the world and they sat on best-sellers lists for weeks and months on end. His love of the Universe was only ever matched by his love of everything bad and Elizabeth Bathory was as bad as they came. But Jonathon had found a new love, and it changed him forever. “I don’t fear you and I don’t want you. Not now.”

“But you did,” she said. “I know you did.”

“Not anymore. It’s time for me to let you go and move on with my life.”

She smiled. “But there
is
no life, Jonathon. There is only death.”

Jonathon leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. He could taste the blood of a thousand dead girls and their tears too, and their deaths gave him the courage to go further and faster and harder than he ever had before. Before he could go anywhere though, one of the other soldiers attacked him from behind, hitting him over the head with his shield. Jonathon collapsed to the ground at the angel’s feet and she began to weep. The soldier turned to the angel and stabbed her in the heart with his sword. She saw beyond her tears that his heart was good, but there were too many layers around it that weren’t and she knew he was destined to burn in Hell because of what he had done to her, but what had been done
needed
to be done, and she knew it, for what had been done was part of God’s plan to help Jonathon become what he needed to be to save his mother. “May God have mercy on your soul,” the angel  said to the soldier. The angel faded into the darkness, leaving Jonathon by himself to fend off an army of soldiers, each of them armed with shields and swords and the know-how to use them. But none of them had the one thing that had seen Jonathon through to where he was - a determination to succeed beyond his or anyone else’s wildest imagination. It was cased in a suit of armour and was ready to fight any time. Having risen to the top of the literary world, and conquered it, it was time for that determination to prove itself yet again.

He climbed to his feet, picked up the sword and shield belonging to the soldier that had fallen earlier, and turned to the rest of the soldiers who were coming toward him. They looked at him without fear because in life after death there is no money, and where there is no money there is no way to buy the fear you want from those around you. He had to find another way. He looked around him and saw nothing he could use and then he realized that all the power in the world was not outside himself but within, and all he had to do was let it out. But first, he had to acknowledge it. He looked up and opened his heart to a power that was higher than him. The man who in life had ruled the literary world and who bowed to no one, became, in life after death, a servant of the field of energy known by some as God and others as Jehovah and Allah and even the Universe. But in that one moment, as men armed with swords and shields approached him on the run, it didn’t matter what it was called. It only mattered that he surrendered to it, and he did. He felt the power of all the stars and planets in all the galaxies of the Universe combine like a bolt of lightning more powerful than anything man could ever dream of. It surged through his veins like a tidal wave of adrenalin and it propelled him without fear toward the soldiers running toward him. He was unaware in that one moment that his greatest lesson had been learned, that greatness is not caused by creating fear in others. It is created by leading others without fear of what lays ahead. It’s what made him different from the man in black. And it’s what made him different from his father.

Just then a
bright light exploded into existence and Jonathon was blinded by it. He stopped running and raised his hands to his eyes and covered them. A voice called out to him and he turned his head to it. “By the greatest power of God Almighty, I call upon thee to serve Him and all He stands for.” Jonathon lowered his hands, opened his heart, and let in the voice. His many hundreds of thousands of words about blood and darkness and horror slipped away from his heart and they were replaced with the words of God. They filled him to the brim and he rejoiced in them. He found it in himself to forgive the man that pulled the trigger that caused the bullet to be fired at his mother. It hit her in the chest and blood flowed from the wound. She staggered across the front porch as the heat from the bullet tore shreds from her soul. She fell to her hands and knees and looked at the man who had shot her. He was smiling. The heat from the bullet was ferocious now, burning her inside like she was on fire. Tears rolled down the sides of her face and the man in black smiled some more. Her dress was soaked in blood and she crawled to the top step. She hoped to get someone’s attention, praying to God they could help her. But she didn’t get it and even if she did they couldn’t help her because the bullet had done the damage the man in black hoped it would, and it made him happy to see that.

Her body was close to giving up now and the tears flowed hard and fast. She looked around, not for help anymore but for comfort, because she had accepted in her heart that by then it was too late. She looked around because she wanted the last thing she saw before she died to be the thing that had given her the most happiness - her home town that kept chugg-chugg-chugging along during the day, and its sordid little secrets to itself at night. But night had not yet come and one member of the population of a small town blowing the hell out of another could not be kept a secret for very long.

Jonathon closed his eyes and he saw his mother’s blood flowing freely from the hole in her chest. He looked closer at her and saw her tears too. They fell from her eyes and they landed on the scorched earth. The fire would not go out even with the tears falling on it. It burned her skin because the fire was hot and she was cooking like a Thanksgiving turkey. She looked up at him. The pain in her eyes cut him deep and hard like a rusty razor. It tormented his soul, playing with it like a child would play with his dog, but this dog was dead. Jonathon reached out to touch her but he didn’t touch her because he couldn’t. He could only hope and pray that he would reach her before the Devil swallowed her whole. “I’m coming, Mom,” he said, and he set off in the hope he could bring her back from the depths of Hell, and he was armed with a sword, a shield, and the love of a God that for so long he didn’t believe in. Little did he know that his time on Earth, during which he had suffered time and again and about which he had written any number of horror stories for which he had become rich and famous, had been practice for the real thing, the ultimate test of his strength and depth as a man who, according to God’s wishes, would one day be king.

 

 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

 

J
onathon walked along a dirt road that wound its way around hills and trees. Plumes of smoke rose into the darkness and they watched over him like a hawk watches over its prey. Black bats flew overhead. They screeched as they searched for food and they found it in the form of a slab of roasted meat that looked like a horse but Jonathon couldn’t tell for sure. All he knew was that the animal was now dead. The bats tore at the roasted meat, pulling it away from the bones and Jonathon watched them closely as he walked by. One of the bats looked back at him. They were kindred spirits, Jonathon and the bat, both surviving at night on whatever they could get their hands on. For the bat, it was food for its body. And for Jonathon, it was food for thought for his novels. But now the novels didn’t matter, and the food for thought that once fuelled them was fuelling something else - the survival of the woman who gave him life.

Soon Jonathon was tired and he stopped by the side of the road to rest. He saw a skull on the other side of the road and he wondered whose it might be. Were they young or old? Were they in love with another, or were they a single soul in a single body? He stopped his train of thought because he knew it had but one destination, Novel Central, and he knew the computer he wrote his words on no longer existed, and Novel Central was a destination that could no longer be reached. Instead of thinking about what the skull
might
represent, and writing a story about it, he accepted its true meaning, which was death, and death stood still for no one. He climbed to his feet and carried on down the road in search of his mother. The road was hard and hot, and it was hurting his feet, but still he carried on. And while the road hurt his feet, the darkness around him burned his heart because within it was a fire breathed by the Devil and fanned by his demons. But still he carried on, and he carried on because of the love he had for his mother. He wanted to reach her and save her. He wanted to bring her back to a better place, one that had been burned to the ground but would surely be rebuilt on a foundation of true love that he shared with Serena, and one that a woman who raised him to become who he was would be safe because she would be protected there by the man who, in life, was her son, but in death, and with every step forward, would become her guardian angel.

 

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN

 

J
onathon’s mother pulled her knees hard to her chest, and the tears that were falling cut her face and blood dripped from the wounds. A demon peered at her from the darkness and it licked its lips in anticipation at the meal that lay ahead. It circled her, its black heart pumping fury around its dead body and hatred across its soul. It ran its bony hand up and down the spear it was carrying then touched its tongue to the sharp end and its tongue began to bleed. It drank its own blood and smiled. Its razor sharp teeth that were poisoned by the souls of a thousand dead men were ready to plunge into the heart of the woman, to tear it apart so the demon could feast upon it with greater ease. The demon moved closer now. It could taste her blood and it was sweet like the nectar dripping from the fruit in God’s great Garden of Eden. It came to the edge of the darkness and peered into the blood red light from the fires that burned in the heart of the Devil. Jonathon’s mother had her back to the demon and she didn’t move except to rock back and forth like a baby in its mother’s arms. All hope had been drained from her body and she no longer cared for her heart and soul. She welcomed death for she had no reason to live. But she had
every
reason to live, and as the demon came even closer the angels in Heaven looked down on her and prayed that her son was ready to fight for her and to win her back from the bowels of Hell. As Jonathon wandered further down the road, he saw into the heart of the Devil, and there he saw his father, and his girlfriend’s father, and they were drowning in the Devil’s blood. The time had come to avenge the loss of not just a loved one, but of one too many. He turned to God and said, “Please give me the strength to give my mother back to you.” God looked down at him and smiled, for He knew at long last that Jonathon was ready. “The final layer has been removed,” God said. “You now want for someone more than yourself. That is all the strength you need.” Jonathon heard his words and believed. His heart believed too and it drove him toward his mother, and it drove him toward the demon that was readying its spear to pierce his mother’s heart. Jonathon felt her pain and he began to run, and while the road was hard and hot, and while it hurt his feet, he carried on.

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