Saturday, July 28, 2012

So you want to take the Bible literally, eh? To justify Creationism and bans on gay marriage. You might be denying Christ and accusing God of having sex with a sea monster by doing so...

So, you want to interpret the Bible literally? Perhaps you want to use this to justify a ban on gay marriage or to teach creationism in schools. But have you really considered the full ramifications of a literal interpretation of the Bible?

I am not a Christian. I do hold a doctoral degree in myth and comparative religion though, with a fairly major focus on the religions of the ancient near east. Some of what I am about to say may surprise you, but ironically just about every biblical scholar, whether he or she be an atheist, agnostic, Jewish Rabbinical scholar or Christian seminarian would agree with me, except maybe a few far right wing groups who don’t even study inside the normal seminarian system. Scholarship does not develop in a vacuum, and, in fact, a great deal of what I am going to say here is only possible because of the work of predecessors and peers, many of whom are people of faith.

Most people do not take the Bible literally. Most Christians don’t even take the Bible literally. This might surprise you. And it’s not a symptom of sheep straying from the flock. Outside of America, few Christians believe in biblical literalism. They can be staunchly, even conservatively Christian, but the key ingredients in their faith have to do with Yahweh, Jesus, the church, the community, and the fate of their own soul, with the Bible understood as a traditional text, written by their fellow Christians, albeit in times past, which can help illuminate the faith. Jews and Muslims have referred to their holy books as “thickets of reeds” which will “tear at your skin” and only become things of value with a human mind to interpret them. This is actually pretty common in most of the world, and actually, even for most of the history of American Christianity.

Biblical literalism is pretty recent actually. The theory of evolution, which actually goes back before Charles Darwin, is ironically older than Biblical literalism (Of course not older than creation myth itself, but older than literal understanding of Genesis as a sequential description of historical events)

The earliest Christians were not literalists. They had a clear understanding of parable and metaphor. In fact most of the ancients, pagan, Christian, or otherwise understood myth as a story that was true even though it didn’t happen. They believed in the gods and angels the story contained, and believed in the truth of story, even if the narrative didn’t occur.

For example, the story Jesus tells in the New Testament of the Good Samaritan. The apostles knew there wasn’t really a Samaritan who came to the aid a man who had been robbed. Was Jesus lying to them? Jesus never wanted them to literally believe in the Samaritan as a person who actually lived X years before their time, Y miles away. He was open about the fact that this was a parable, but, the teaching in it is what he wanted them to understand as truth, granted there is some theological debate as to what that truth is.
In addition to faith, this actually does show Jesus assumed the apostles also had some basic intellectual processing to discern metaphor from the literal. And the canonical gospels of Matthew and Mark, along with the gnostic gospel of Thomas, which collectively are considered the three most ancient and historically plausible Christian texts, all contain multiple instances of Jesus using parables.

This tells us something profound. Among the few things that can be generally agreed on about the historical Jesus, such as the crucifixion and Jesus’s affiliation with John the Baptist, is Jesus’s continual use of parables. The historical record attests to this in the sources cited above, sources which are accepted as reliable, by the way, even by scholars such as myself who believe in nothing supernatural about Jesus.

This tells us Jesus taught to people who he assumed has some rudimentary understanding of critical thinking and literary versus metaphorical discernement. I won’t say this is a historical fact, but, pretty much a reasonable and ‘more than likely’ historical assumption and extrapolation.

But let’s talk about the theological Jesus for a moment, and not necessarily the historical one. Let’s discuss the theological Jesus who dies on the cross to make the perfect sacrifice to cleanse man of original sin so he can be redeemed, since no man can ever expect to follow the Law perfectly. We’re all familiar with this idea whether we believe it or not.

We’ll get back to Jesus in a minute, but, let’s talk about some Christians being anti-gay and literalism and the old Jewish law. The famous quote condemning homosexuality from Leviticus is often read in English as “A man shall not lie with a man as he does a woman. It is an abomination” - the actual text reads “You shall not lie with a male [on] the beds of a woman (or wife), it is a despising.”

Now, this was written by a figure known as the Priestly Author. The Priestly Author lived during the time of the Babylonian exile, when the Israelites were forced to live in Babylon as part of Babylon’s program of relocating conquered peoples from their homelands. This is history. It’s hard to say if he was condemning homosexuality as we understand it today.

The ancients certainly had a wide array of sexual appetites and practices just as we do today. In some societies some things were accepted, and in others they were condemned. But the ancients did not divide the spectrum of sexual tastes quite the way we did.. gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, bicurious, etc.

For example, in the Rome of Augustus, a man was ‘heterosexual’ even if he had male and female lovers, provided he was the one penetrating, and not being penetrated. Having sex with a woman was even frowned on in Rome if she was on top and worked her hips in a certain way that got her too much clitoral stimulation.

So the author of Leviticus is condemning something similar to homosexuality even if not quite the way we think of it today. He also condemns eating pork or shellfish, wearing clothing of two different types of thread, and shaving on the wrong days.


Because the Israelites were trying to preserve their culture in exile. The Babylonians of the time loved pork as a sacred meat of the Goddess Inanna, embraced bisexuality, and had developed composite fabric threads. Forget the stuff you heard about pork being dangerous to eat in ancient times.

These things all say “Be a Jew. Do not be Babylonian. You have your own culture, and one day we’ll get out of here”.

It’s perfectly understandable why the Priestly Author wrote this stuff. You might too in his shoes.

Now there are alot of other parts of the Jewish law too written in other times and places. It’s a pretty big law code all told.

It starts with Adam being told not to eat from the tree, then Noah being given seven simple commandments after the flood, and by the end of the Old Testament, there are hundreds, if not thousands of laws.

Each new set of law codes augments and adds to the old covenants before it. It does not replace the old ones.

But the question for Christians is, when they accept what for them is the final covenant, the perfect sacrifice of Christ, do they follow the Jewish law and accept Jesus as their personal savior, or, does the acceptance of Jesus liberate them from the old Jewish law?

There are Christians on both sides of this. Always have been. St. Paul tried to mediate debates about whether Christians needed to be circumcised or not.

But the problem lies herein... Like eating shellfish... homosexuality is only ever condemned in the Old Testament. We’re taking the Bible literally now remember.

So, you could say being gay is a sin, and you also don’t work on the Sabbath, you don’t eat pork, you stone your children to death when they act up, you sell your daughter into slavery, and the like. If you were a Christian who followed all these laws, I would honestly think you were an awful person, but I wouldn’t accuse you of hypocrisy.

But... you happily eat shrimp cocktail. You shave daily. You’re a woman who wears pants. But it’s okay to do these things, because you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior and you fall into the camp that thinks Jesus is the new covenant and liberates you from the old law.

Okay. No problemo... Well, you have to say being gay isn’t a sin anymore either than.

It’s either no man-love and no-shrimp cocktail or man-lovin’ and shrimp cocktail til the cows come home.

If you pick and choose, you aren’t being literal. You’re not accepting the Bible as literal truth. Or maybe you’ve never read it. A survey recently suggested that more Christians have read Harry Potter cover to cover than the Bible cover to cover. If you thought this book was the literal word of God, wouldn’t you want to read it? Hell, I’ve read it and I am as heathen and unsaved as it gets.

Or... maybe you’re just a hypocrite if you say being gay is a sin but then you ignore the other laws...

The only other possibility is you don’t so much think Jesus endured infinite suffering and completed the perfect sacrifice to save all the world, but, you think the Jesus of theology failed. He came close, but, no cigar. He endured pretty-bad suffering and made a decent sacrifice for a reasonable portion of the worlds sins.

So... if you are a Biblical literalist who says homosexuality is a sin but you ignore the rest of the law, either you’re a hypocrite and not a true Christian, or, you believe Jesus just... well... fucked up when he was so close to finishing his mission.

Sure you still want to be literal? We haven’t even gotten to Creationism yet.

The book of Genesis is a recording of a creation myth. It’s important to remember that lots of cultures had creation myths or epcs, and, the people did believe them at some points in time going back to the middle Bronze age. The ancient near east is full of stories of gods making people out of clay.

Now earlier I told you Biblical literalism is a relatively new thing, and, here, when I tell you people did once believe the contents of creation myths as narratives of what happened to explain the origin of the world, I seem to be contradicting myself.

Let me explain the difference;
i) Most ancient people did not have an ‘official’ version of what happened. There were many versions of the creation myths.
ii) Even with written accounts, such as the Hebrew Genesis or the Sumerian Enuma Elish, were not subject to an official heterodox versus orthodox interpretation, the deviation from which was deemed heresy.
iii) There were no models of a ‘scientific’ origin of the world available for people to contrast this to until about 200 BC when the Indian and Greek civilizations first conceived of ideas of natural law.

These stories were oral traditions that someone recorded. To understand a little bit more, let’s establish some things.

Judaism as we understand it today did not exist at the beginning of the Bronze age. Across the ancient near east, there were common themes in the creation myths. A self created male god who begins making everything, sometimes preceded by and other times followed by, an era of chaos where a primal female deity is sometimes subdued representing the taming of nature, the coming of man, man separating from the gods and getting farther from them, a time of great heroic people, a flood, and then the time of normal ‘history starting’.

This might sound like myths you’ve read like other places, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, and you probably see some pieces of Genesis in it. If you’re wondering where the subduing of the primal female entity is in Genesis, it’s reduced down to the part about God striking order into the waters.

Now, let’s get back to the Israelites. Remember those enemies of the Israelites from the Bible, the Philistines? Well, long ago, they were one people. I know this is a very different origin for the Israelites than the one you read in the Bible, but, this is history. If you don’t trust me, you can check with all the top archaeologists in Israel today. They, many if not most of them practicing Jews, but who are not literalists, would also state some similar view of this narrative which follows.

A people we call the Ugarits had a pantheon of gods headed by a god called El. El had lots of sons and daughters, among them two brothers named Yahweh and Ba’al (or Hadad). Each of these gods had a core group of worshippers. Each set of worshippers imagined a scenario where El passed the Kingship of Heaven on to one of his sons.

The Ba’al cult imagined that Yahweh temporarily got this kingship by kidnapping the Goddess Asherah, until Ba’al, after a series of adventures, defeated and killed Yahweh and took the kingship. Yahweh was reduced to a defeated, angry judgmental being called Judge Nahar, and largely marginalized.

The cult of Yahweh on the other hand took another path. A group of folks called the Hyskos lived in Egypt. Like the Ugarits, they were Semites. The Hyskos lived in Egypt during a very special time. Under the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who created the first, but very short lived, monotheistic religion when he reduced the worship of Egypt’s multitude of gods to one god called the Aten.

The Hyskos left Egypt (This is the historical event behind the Exodus) and brought the idea of monotheism to the Yahwist portion of the Ugarits. Slowly, Yahweh and El were merged into one God, and the rest of the Elohim, or gods, became subservient. The Bible even tells us in Psalms Yahweh has no equal among the Gods.

Eventually it was thought there were other gods, but they should not be worshipped. Then finally other gods either became angels or were just empty idols.

Now, the Bible tells us different stories that come from all portions and stages of this time. That’s why we are told Yahweh is first among gods sometimes, the only one to be worshipped at others, and the only one period at others. And this change isn’t in order of the books. It’s all mishmashed. Genesis is not the oldest book of the Bible, actually, even though it accounts the beginning of the world. That honor goes to the book of Job. Remember that the original authors of both the New and Old Testament books never knew nor intended that centuries later their works would be put together with other books by other authors with other agendas. Like me writing this piece right now, they hoped their work could stand on it’s own merit.

Now, go get your Bible. Look at Genesis 1 and 2. In Genesis 1, God is called God. In Genesis 2, the Lord.

This is the respective common English translations for El and Yahweh, respectively.

In Genesis 1, El creates the world, then Man and Woman together, then the animals. In Genesis 2, Yahweh creates the world, then animals, then Man by himself, then woman from man’s rib. It’s two different creation accounts that simply can’t be compatible.

But even if you accept the justifications apologists have come up with over the years to try to reconcile this problem, and you ignore the facts of evolution, because you insist the Bible is the perfect word of God, you create some real problems for yourself when you need to take the rest of the Bible literally.

Do you want to assume that rain comes when Yahweh opens the sluice gate windows to his castle on the top of the seventh heaven mountain and waters from the firmament (the second ocean above the sky) pour through onto the Earth? And that the Earth is flat?

The Bible says so. Maybe you’re okay with that.

How about the book of Judges, when, after years of war, the Moabites and Israelites loom on the eve of another conflict. The Moabites have mountain lands, where the god Chemosh was thought to have power. The Israelites open lands, which favored Yahweh. The Israelites propose to the Moabites “Shouldn't you take possession of what your god Chemosh took for you? Shouldn't we take everything the Yahweh took for us?” Judges 11:24.

God can give you anything, unless another God has promised it to someone else, in other words. Watch out for Chemosh. He’s Yahweh’s equal, apparently.

Remember, Judges 11:24 must be literally true like everything else.

But here is the kicker.

Psalm 104:26.

“There go the ships. There goes Levithan who made, O Lord, to sport in the sea”.

Nothing big, right?

The literal translation is this.

“There go the ships. There goes Levithan (A sea serpent) who you (Yahweh) made to have recreational sex with in the deep waters”.

Or an accurate modern English translation.

“There go the ships. There goes the sea monster Yahweh made to be his sexual playmate”. (see W. Hargrove - Mythologies Last Gods for the full translation).

Why does the Psalmist have God have sex with a sea serpent? What could be more blasphemous?

It makes sense if you consider something.

See, there used to be these powerful female creation goddesses in one form or another worshipped across the ancient near east. As a cultural shift occurred toward male deities, these once divine female chaos serpents became seen as monsters that threatened kingship and civilization. So, stories were told of male sky gods slaying these beasts of old. Marduk slew Tiamat. Ra slew Apep. Ba’al slew Lotan (the same being as Levithan).

But the Psalmist wanted Yahweh to do better than the other male gods did. Now, the Psalmist (this is what this author is referred to as since his personal name has been lost to time) lived during a period when Yahweh was first among the gods, but no one was ready to say there weren’t other gods yet.

So the Psalmist is telling us, unlike Ba’al who came after Lotan, Yahweh comes before Levithan. Ba’al had to fight Lotan. Yahweh is so much more powerful than Ba’al, he does not have battle Levithan, in fact, he created her. For his own pleasure. The fierce sea goddess is just his plaything. She would never dream of battling him. She knows her place because Yahweh has kingship of the Universe.

The Psalmist does not live at a time yet when he can say there is no other god and no Levithan, so, he glorifies Yahweh as so much greater than Levithan, and so much greater than his counterparts who struggle against their equivalents of Levithan. Yahweh makes her and for his own benefit.

He is not being sacrilegious at all. He is singing (literally psalms are songs) the power, glory, authority, and absoluteness of Yahweh, in a way that was understood in his day.

Thousands of Christians and Jews who study these texts but don’t take the Bible literally understand this, and understand this as part of the forces that one day gave birth to the faith that informs their lives. They don’t feel threatened at all.

But as a literalist, you don’t have this option.

You’re left with a God who fucks sea serpents, along with either your own hypocrisy and your insult to the theological version of Jesus and his mission.

So if you want to keep using your literal interpretation of the Bible to teach creationism and oppress gays... go ahead... and enjoy all the baggage that comes with it.

If you want to join the majority of the faithful and rational society as a whole... you know where to find us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Did you follow the brave little bunny here?

The writer:

Look to your right.

The illustrator :

Monday, May 3, 2010


Author’s note: While eating dinner after work at Reuben’s Empanada’s on First Avenue in the East Village, I notice a young man and woman having a fairly intimate conversation, but speaking quite loudly. I’m not trying to listen in on them, but, I can’t help but overhear snippets of what they are saying due to the decibel level they’re speaking at.

Man: (playfully) So you wouldn’t sleep with me under any circumstances?

Woman: No!

Man: What if I was going to die unless we had sex?

Woman: (sheepishly) Well, then, I guess. Yeah, I would then.

I’ve heard people ask questions like this to platonic friends before. A woman I knew even asked me something similar once.

But it’s ludicrous. How exactly would a circumstance like this arise? It’s a ridiculous concept that one person could die unless another would reluctantly agree to intercourse with them. Still, if this situation would exist, how would human beings react? It violates so many of the taboos of our current Zeitgeist.

I start walking home, and pass the Tile Bar, once my frequent haunt. No one I know goes there anymore. My mind wanders to the many little cliques and circles of friends I’ve seen float around over the years, and circulated near, and the interplays between the members of each. I become intellectually curious about the strange parallel world the man at Rueben’s proposed to his friend, and a strange tale begins to be borne in my head. I find the story writing itself, and even then, in a strange first person present tense dialogue like an old hardboiled detective story:

While my non-fiction work is being edited, and Ophelia book III comes along in dribs and drabs, ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you a short short story to explore a subject we so often avoid. Let fantastical characters pull back the veneer of our collective unconscious. Dedicated to all my dear friends in Newcastle, England area…. I give you this humble submission:



It‘s definitely a headache. I remember them well, but, how could I be experiencing pain? I open my eyes, and see I’m strapped to a gurney, still fully dressed, and an IV is in my arm.

Soma. The only thing that will give a vampire a headache is a massive dose of Soma. The last time I was in a place like this was right after I was turned. Fuck… I must’ve gone berserk. But how did I?

Now I remember. Andy. He put human blood in my drink. If you drink human blood it will block the effects of Soma. And then I remember why he did it. He wanted me to go crazy, so that I would bite him, and turn him. He thought being a vampire would be a fate better than the one which was coming for him.

Did I turn him, or hurt him? Or Hurt Lisa? Shit… right before I lost my rational mind Andy had Lisa tied to that chair. And if I didn’t hurt Andy, what if that thing got to him?

I think I remember someone else in the room, tackling Andy after it threw me out of a window, while Lisa was still tied in that chair.

Supposedly, Succubae and Incubi were even stronger than vampires. If my half lucid memory of being thrown six stories down onto East Sixth Street like a rag doll was correct, then they were definitely stronger than us. A lot stronger.

If that thing had its way with Andy, the first thing he would have done after he transformed would be to mark the first female he found. And that would’ve been Lisa. Then he would’ve come back for her three days later.

Wait. She must’ve gotten unmarked by now. I mean, she’s Lisa after all. How hard could it be for her to get unmarked if her life depended on it?

Unless…. I remember being thrown back against a wall by that thing, before it picked me up again and tossed me out the window. I think it threw me into Lisa. If she wasn’t up and around, then she couldn’t get unmarked.

I snap back to the present. I tug at the restraints, and clearly whoever put these on me hadn’t counted on me waking up so soon. Vampires are usually out for days with a heavy Soma dose. I’m able to break them with ease.

I run through a few corridors, and find a stairwell, and run out the back through the emergency exit. The damn sun is still out, albeit low in the sky. Not enough to kill me, but enough to hurt like a bitch. Twice in one day I get to experience pain. A rarity for a vampire.

I find an alley to dart into, and some shade.

I realize I need a phone, and some metrosexual douche happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I hit him with a good sucker punch, which with my enhanced strength easily knocks him out.

I search through the dude’s pockets, and find one of those touch screen phones.

“Sorry fella”, I say to him. He’ll be out cold for awhile, but he’ll be all right.

The phone tells me it’s the 23rd. I’ve been out for three days. If Andy is an Incubus now, and marked Lisa, he’ll becoming for her tonight.

I dial Lisa, and a Verizon recording tells me her number is temporarily disconnected. Same thing with Andy. I try Kate next.

She answers.

“Hello?”, she says.

“Kate, it’s Owen”, I say.

“What number are you calling me from?”, she asks.

“I stole some guy’s phone”, I reply.

“You stole someone’s phone?”, she asks.

“Where’s Lisa?”, I interrupt her emphatically.

“You and Andy have both been missing for three days, and Lisa is hospitalized with head trauma after they found her in his apartment, and you think I should just tell you where she is”, Kate says flabbergasted.

“You just told me where she is”, I reply, “Just tell me which hospital now”.

“I’m calling the cops”, she says.

“I didn’t hurt either of them. A Succubus came for Andy”, I tell her.

“What?”, she asks

“He was marked Katie”, I tell her.

“Nolan was marked”, she says.

“I know”, I say, “And you slept with him to unmark him. But Andy got marked too, the same night as Nolan. He went to Lisa to get unmarked, and she wouldn’t do it. He had me over to his house to ask me to turn him. He thought being a vampire would be better than that thing coming for him. He put human blood in my drink to try to block my Soma treatment, but it didn’t totally berserk me. I think the Succubus got him, and if it got him, after he came to, he would’ve marked Lisa. It’s three days. If he’s an Incubus, he’ll come for her tonight. And the hospital wouldn’t have checked if she was marked”.

“I’m still calling the cops”, she said.

“Kate, the cops don’t try to fight those things, they don’t have the resources. All they’ll do is put Lisa out in the street so there’s no property damage”, I say.

She knows I’m right.

“They say nothing can stop them, not even vampires”, she says.

“You have a better idea?”, I ask.

“Lisa’s in Pelham General, room 214”, she concedes.

I hang up the phone, not knowing what to say next.

I probably can’t stop him, this thing that was Andy, from hurting Lisa. If she gets turned, she can’t mark me. Vampires are immune. And if I try to get in Andy’s way, it’s not like he’s going to have a stake, or even still retain enough of his rational mind to use it if he does. But they say there is a way to kill vampires besides stakes through the heart or direct sunlight. Supposedly the government did tests and found that incredibly extreme physical trauma all over the whole body can kill a vampire. And a pummeling from an Incubus that a vampire got by being in the way of it and its mark might just do the trick.

If I’m going to get to Pelham in time, I’m going to have to fly. I was never good at flying, and there’s still a tinge of daylight in the air. I bump into buildings, and look like a drunken goth Superman stumbling over the rooftops.

How the hell did I get here?

I started going to that damn bar for one. Back when I was human, I needed a drink or two after work sometimes. I started to know the regulars, and then I made the acquaintance of the Fab Five, as I called them.

Three woman and two men. There was Nolan, a sort of relaxed Alpha mail, sophisticated and sarcastic. I had a lot of good conversations with him over the years about pop culture. Then there was Kate, a spunky little wise ass whose ethnicity you could never place. Everyone thought she and Nolan were an item, but, they insisted they weren’t. There was Gina, who seemed to have a new man every week. Rounding it out were Andy, a kind hearted but meek little dude doing his best to fight the middle age spread, and Lisa. Lisa was an incredibly beautiful woman, but there seemed to almost be nothing sexual about her. Everybody at the bar knew Andy was in love with her. She was oblivious, but, probably would have rejected him if she knew.

I never breeched their inner circle, but, I did become friends with them all. More than any of the other regulars at the bar. After I changed, they were among the few who accepted me as if I was still… well…. A human.

That’s the other part of how I got here. When monsters that belonged in movies started coming out of the shadows and into the real world. Nobody knows how it started.

Werewolves started showing up in the Midwest. They were the first supernatural creatures the government confirmed the existence of. They never made it to the city.

Vampires did though. I found that out the hard way when I got thrilled by some girl at a club. I thought I was going to get laid. Instead, I got bitten. Luckily for me, I was one of the later victims to be turned vampiric. By then, the government had found Soma.

If you took your Soma injections, your bloodlust would go away, and you would retain your human mind. I missed sex, and food, and the sun. Pleasure was only an intellectual concept to me now. I eventually started going back to the bar. Of course, three shots of whisky in ten minutes would only buy me a fifteen minute buzz. The vampire physiology sobered me up to fast. But I liked going to the bar, and talking to the five almost made me feel…. Human. Eventually, the bartenders even got used to me shooting up Soma at the bar. One sort of questioned me once, but, I pointed her to the mirror and when she saw I had no reflection, she knew immediately what I was doing.

But the most fearsome creatures were the Succubae and the Incubi. Like the first vampires or werewolves, nobody knew where they came from. They too, had been human once, but no more. They retained no rational intelligence. They were sexual monsters. The Succubus was the female, and the incubus was the male. They were incredibly powerful. The army couldn’t stop them. The government didn’t bother to do anything about them anymore. They couldn’t be hurt by material weapons.

The only thing Uncle Sam did was a public awareness campaign that if someone you knew got marked, you should unmark them. Even if you weren’t attracted to the person, or even if you were in a relationship. The government never made it a law mind you.

That was how the Incubus and the Succubus worked. They scratched you and placed a mark on you. Then, like a venomous snake, they left you alone for three days. After that, they would come back for you, and force themselves on you, draining the very humanity from you in the process. You yourself would then become a Succubus or Incubus.

There was a way out though. There was a way to remove the mark. You had to have sex with someone you truly loved. That was the catch though. You couldn’t hire a hooker, unless you loved the hooker. Lots of people who got marked were married or in relationships. For them, it was no big deal. Their significant other just did the nasty with them, the mark was gone, and the creature would never come for them. Other people convinced people they loved who didn’t love them back to have sex with them, as a matter of life or death.

But then, there were the Unwrecked. I don’t know where the word came from. I guess it referred to those who had Unrequited love for another, and then got marked. There were some people who wouldn’t do it for others, even if it meant the other person would die. It happened more often than you’d think it would. Hell, that’s why the Succubae and Incubi could reproduce at all. And the rules were specific, while the person didn’t have to love you back, you needed to love them, and you couldn’t force yourself on them. It was the only way to remove the mark. So, for those unlucky few who couldn’t find anyone to pity fuck them even if it meant there life depended on it, the creature that marked them would get them and ‘wreck’ them. Only you didn’t die. You became one of the creatures.

Unrequited. Wrecked. The unlucky men and women in this category who could only wait three days for their doom became known as Unwrecked.

Nolan got marked by one. But he guilted Kate into sleeping with him, and so he got unmarked. The whole Succubus and Incubus thing wasn’t really big on my radar. As a dead creature, the Succubae and Incubi were not interested in vampires. We were already nonhuman. And we couldn’t unmark humans even if we wanted to since the dead can’t have sex.

There was some gossip at the bar about what happened to Nolan.

One night I got a desperate call from Andy. The sun wasn’t quite down, but he insisted I stick to the shade and come to his apartment immediately.

When I arrived there I found him agitated.

“Do you want a drink?”, he asked.

“Sure”, I said.

He handed me a Powers Rocks. I drank it out of habit, mostly, as it’s effect on me would be minimal.

It tasted off, but, he continued.

“I was marked”, he said.

“Oh my god”, I replied.

“The same night as Nolan”, he said.

“Andy, that means, that thing will be coming for you tonight!”, I said.

He began to tear up.

“I asked Lisa to help me, like Kate did for Nolan, but, she wouldn’t”, he said both sad and angrily, “My life means that little to her that one awkward moment is worse than me dying to her”.

“I’m sorry”, I said.

“I didn’t ask you here for pity I need your help”, he said.

“Andy, I’m not gay and vampires can’t have sex. I couldn’t unmark you if I wanted to”, I replied.

I tried to get up, but, I felt woozy.

“No”, he said, “You can put humans in a trance. Put Lisa in a trance. Make her help me”

“I won’t do that”, I said, “Besides, I can’t put a human in a trance on Soma, and I wouldn’t do that anyway”.

“Then turn me!”, he said.

“What?”, I asked.

“That thing will be back for me tonight!”, he said, “But they aren’t interested in vampires! I’ll go on Soma, like you!”.

“Soma doesn’t work on everybody, I’m so sorry but… if I changed you… and you killed people…. I’d be responsible”, I said through a fog.

I knew at this point I knew something was wrong. He opened the door to his bedroom, and there was Lisa. He had her duct taped to a chair and her mouth gagged so she couldn’t speak.

“I brought her here in case you’d agree to the trance. But I knew you wouldn’t”, he said.

He now held up his bandaged hand. I knew why I felt wrong. He had put his own blood in my drink. Blood could interfere with Soma. Even as I looked at him and Lisa, the desire to feed began to assert itself.

“You idiot”, I said, “You have two monsters to contend with now”.

But before I could do anything else, through his picture window burst a caricature of a woman. It was grotesque, with slimy skin and no mouth. It had large black eyes, and huge clawed hands. And angry red opening gaped between it’s legs.

This was a Succubus.

I had heard they were stronger than vampires. I put myself between the thing and Andy, but it threw me hard, and into Lisa. I heard something crack as I hit her. It picked me up again, and threw me ut the window I had come in.

It wouldn’t have been interested in Lisa. Or me after it got me out of the way. It had come for Andy. But after it changed him into an Incubus, he would mark Lisa and come back for her three days later.

Lisa was vivacious, bubbly, and gorgeous. Getting unmarked would normally have not been an issue for her, but, if she was out cold in a hospital bed, that was another story. I must’ve wandered around and been taken to a Soma Treatment Facility by the Vampire Control Agents after I was thrown out that window.

It’s dark when I get to Pelham. I find Lisa in her room. I need to pull her covers off and examine her. Her body is gorgeous, but to me only appreciable in an artistic sense now. On her upper shoulder, I find the mark.

She seems to rouse slightly for a moment, then sinks back into slumber from the pain meds.

I couldn’t unmark her of course, being dead. The only thing I can do is try to physically fight the Incubus that had been Andy when it comes.

I don’t have to wait long. He is even more hideous than the Succubus that changed him. I remember the rumors I’ve heard incredible physical trauma can kill a vampire. I realize I’ll probably find this out in a few seconds.

I place myself between the thing and it’s mark.

“Hello Andy”, I say with both sadness and fear.

As it grabs me all the thing that was Andy can do is roar a scream of inhuman rage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If you've just listened to Nightwatch, here are the coupon codes for the books. You'll need to get them directly from the publisher. For Hades Ascendant and Others, use coupon code R2439MPQ for $4.00 off and get it here:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

His Own Game

Luther Bastian Devereux kicked the tourist one more time. Devereux still held the switchblade with which he had cut the man’s Achilles tendons in one hand as the toe of his tan cowboy boot collided with two of the man’s ribs.
The tourist crawled in pain on the hot desert beneath him, spinning around in circles unable to stand because of his injuries or even see due to the twice rapped pillowcase Devereux had placed over his head.
“Spinning in circles cause you can’t see, Kimosabe?”, asked Devereux.
Devereux bent down and grabbed the man by the shoulders.
“Hold still and I’ll get this off you”, he said removing the pillowcase forcefully.
The man fell on his side, “Please”, he muttered through parched lips, “Please”.
“Please isn’t a sentence”, Devereux mocked, “Please what?”
“Please let me go. You said you’d let me go if I told you what hotel I was staying at”, he cried, the man’s face still covered with cuts from a full day of Devereux’s tortures.
Devereux kicked the man in the side again, and this time cracking ribs.
“Why are we recapping the day’s events, Kimosabe?”, said Devereux, “You told me you are staying at the Motel 7 on route 454, in room 28, where your girlfriend waits for me. Or should I say waits for you? See I used your cellphone to text her back and forth. She’s supposed to wait for you in somethin’ sexy she’s got saved for a special occasion, and you’re supposed to come in, with the lights off, and ravage her. Don’t worry, bud. It’s all gonna go down as planned. I’m gonna stand in for you though. And after I’m gonna drive your girl out here, to meet up with you. Now as far as letting you go, I have already done that. You, Kimosabe, are not held down, tied up, or handcuffed. You are a free man”.
“YOU SWORE YOU WOULDN’T KILL ME!”, the man cried.
“I’m not”, said Devereux, “I have laid my final hand on you already, and will visit you with no more of my weapons or implements. I shall molest you no further, Kimosabe. You are a free bird…. Oh… I mean… if your wounds kill you… If the hear or the desert kill you… then that’s between you and them… Not that it matters, but, we’re about a good three miles in from the highway… Good luck walkin’ it , or crawlin’… personally, I’ll be driving outta here. I gotta go meet your girl, uh, Daisy was it? Yeah, Daisy, so, I’m gonna need to motor Kimosabe”.
Devereux made for the car. In a sense, what he had said was true. Though his direct actions had ended 17 lives, Luther Bastian Devereux had never felt the life drain out of a man or woman as he strangled them to death, nor had he slit a throat, or shot someone with a gun. His weapon of choice, aside from the knick-knacks used in the preliminary preparation of his prey, was the desert. He could honestly say that everyone of his victims was alive the last time he saw them.
Devereux removed the black sport coat he wore over his black tank top , that went with his black jeans and was contrasted only by his oddly tan cowboy boots. He threw the coat in the back seat, and with his raised his sinewy arm to wipe his red mussed hair from his cool steel blue eyes. He regarded himself in the mirror, and gritted his perfectly aligned but badly yellowed teeth. He threw the a/c on full blast in the car and swigged down half the 2 liter of bottled water the man had had with him when he had accepted a ride from Devereux. Devereux thought pouring the water out into the sand in front of the man would be a nice finishing touch, so he got back out of the car and was even beginning to form his first quip to the man, when he could hardly believe what he saw. The man was crawling on his knees, leaning his upper body into the largest prairie wolf anyone had ever seen. The thing was closer in size to a pony than a normal coyote. The creature was taking careful, calculated steps, so the weakened man would not lose its balance on its back, and was leading the man in the correct direction of the highway.
“Get”, said Devereux throwing the bottle at the prairie wolf. The bottle landed near the thing and it paid no regard. The creature kept pulling his weakened passenger. Devereux knew that even the strongest man was no match for an animal, and so he went to the glovebox where he kept the revolver which was usually used only for intimidation.
He fired a shot at the creature. It didn’t even react. Devereux got within a few feet of it and fired once more, twice more, point blank into the thing’s skull. It stared at him for a moment, and if it was possible for a canine to convey disgust with its face, that’s what would have been seen in the creature’s gaze.
Finally, if he couldn’t stop the train, he’d ruin the cargo. He aimed straight for the head of the man the coyote was carrying, and fired. In an instant the man’s brains were splattered onto the desert floor and the fur on the giant prairie wolf’s back. The animal let the man go, and circled around to him. It opened its mouth, and slobbered a huge ball of spittle onto the dead man, then, it began to push sand onto him with its front paw.
Now it regarded Devereux. It charged at him and Devereux fired at it again. As before, there was no effect. The animal lept at Devereux and pinned him to the ground. It put its muzzle to his throat, and to his surprise, only sniffed him. Now he watched in horror as it adopted a posture he had only ever before seen in a dog that was about to hump something, and, as the midday sun blocked out Devereux’s vision, the thing was turned into a silhouette.
Then it did something which was not what he was expecting. It peed on him. Soaked him with its urine as if he’d been out in a downpour. And as soon as it seemed convinced Devereux was wet enough, it leapt of him and charged off to the horizon.
Devereux sat there for a moment, bewildered. Then reality set in and he knew he’d best be making his way out of here. This was now most definitely a crime scene.
Devereux kicked the car door before he got in. He liked being in total control of these situations, and the animal had caused him to lose all control.
“This is my goddamned desert, you stupid fuckin’ coyote!”, he said with rage.
He was so angry, that he failed to notice the rather salient fact that he was bone dry, and didn’t stink to high heavens. He was dry even too quickly for the desert heat and aridness to account for.
His mind went back to Daisy, in room 28 who would be waiting for him at the Motel 7 on route 454. He checked that he still had the man’s hotel room key, and he did. He made his way back to the highway via the landmarks that he knew, and in twenty miles time he had connected to 454. His stomach growled at him and reminded him even serial killers needed to eat, and along with their twisted bloodlusts, were still subject to all the other hungers which the rest of humanity was.
The only option between here and the hotel would be Tessie’s. It was a combination diner, rest stop, and gas station, and it was the only place for 50 miles in either direction. Its only neighbors closer than that were a series of abandoned strip mines and an abandoned Creationism theme park which was abandoned after its proprietor was arrested for fraud before he could even get it off the ground.
Devereux had time. He needed a few hours before daisy would be ready for him. He had sent her a few more texts on the drive, which consisted of concocted reasons he couldn’t speak to her and could only text, as well as a few well placed reminders to ensure the plan he had in mind to ensnare his next victim went off without a hitch.
Devereux didn’t want any more surprises today.
He entered Tessie’s and ignored the “Please wait for hostess to seat you “ sign and plopped down in a booth whose seats were lined with red cracked vinyl.
In a few moments an old man, who was most definitely not Tessie, came up to him.
“Do you need to see a menu?’, the old man asked.
“Western Omelet’, said Devereux.
“We don’t have a Western Omelet”, said the old man.
“New plan… New plan”, said Devereux, “Creamed chipped beef and grits then. Side a’ melted butter and black coffee”.
Devereux watched the old man retreat back to the lunch counter and was not even aware another figure had strided up to his table.
“Wow, grits! I knew I smelled something in here that was for me”, said a nasal voice, ‘How desert-y. Or are grits southern?”.
Devereux looked up and saw a skinny man, skinny save for a still somehow having a remarkably dangling beer gut, who stood about 6’-2”. The man had thick lensed Buddy Holly glasses, a big nose and buck teeth. He wore badly worn white converse sneakers, and black t-shirt with a logo of a man climbing a mountain in the desert which was emblazoned with the words “The Desert Rocks!’, and crisp blue jeans that looked like they were from the 1980’s but were probably still so fresh because the man had only worn jeans a few times in his life since them. He had graying hair that had receded back over the dome of his head, and was pressed by sweat and grease into a half comb over. The look was completed by a fanny pack, which despite its name the man wore at his crotch, with the outline of a coyote and rainbow cursive letters which spelled the word “Coyote!”, with a superfluous exclamation point at the end. The man couldn’t have had tourist written all over him better if it was tattooed on his forehead. He had obviously picked up the fanny pack and T-shirt somewhere within the last day.
Devereux was already repelling the man with a death scowl, and one of his inner impulses was already preparing some rather nasty words, when it was restrained on its trip to his larynx by a rather cooler impulse.
‘Wait’, it said inside his head, ‘wait, wait wait. This man is the most perfect pawn in our game yet. We can play with him, and still get to daisy on time! But we gotta put on the friendly face to real him in. Friendly face will work on him like a dream”
“Grits are about everywhere except back North”, Devereux replied to the man’s earlier comment now beaming a smile with his yellow teeth, “Why don’t you sit down, and I’ll show you the proper way to eat grits”.
The man took a seat across from Devereux.
“Gosh, that sure is nice of you, Mister…”, said tourist.
“Devereux”, said the killer extending his hand, “Luther Bastian Devereux. And you are?”
“The Trickster”, said the man, “You’re Luther and I’m the Trickster. Maybe we should go team up against Batman and Superman”. He excitedly accented his horrible pun by raising his fists in the air.
“Heh”, Devereux tried to smile at the man’s joke, “I’m pretty sure Batman fights the Joker, not the Trickster, and Superman’s rival is Lex Luthor, not Luther. Just call me Devereux”.
“You can call me Bob”, said the man.
“What are you doing out here, Bob?”, asked Devereux.
“Looking for a ride out of here at the moment, Mr. Devereux”, said Bob.
“Well”, said Devereux, “I’ll tell you what, Bob. You seem like you can make interesting conversation. And everybody knows interesting conversation makes a drive go faster. Where you headed?”.
“Gosh, you mean you could give me a ride. Well, Mr. Devereux, I gotta make it to Maitland County Hospital by the end of the night, down the other end of 454”.
“I’m headed down that way myself? You gotta friend there? Family? Nothing serious I hope”, said Devereux.
“Oh, I got a buddy there, but, he’s gonna be just fine, Mr. Devereux. If you gave me a lift that’d be swell! Tell you what, I’ll pay for the grits then”, Bob beamed.
“I knew I liked you Bob, from the moment I set eyes on you”.
Devereux and Bob ate their grits, and Devereux made several comments about the proper Texan way to eat them versus the Louisiana way, and complimented Bob on what a great Texan style grits eater he was for a first timer.
“You sure you never ate grits Texas style before?”, asked Devereux jokingly, “You seem like a Texas style champ. Are you fibbing to me?”.
“Oh, I‘d never lie to you, Mr. Devereux”, said Bob.
He even laughed at Bob’s butchered pop culture jokes, one of which involved referring to Britney Spears as Cathy Speer, and another entailing the Fonz mistakenly being called Funzee.
When they got in the car Devereux was relieved that Bob asked to fiddle with the radio, and sang along, horribly he might add, to things he found which he liked. This spared Devereux from having to make further small talk with Bob, until they could get further away from Tessie’s and Devereux could find an excuse to pull onto one of the side roads that weaved in and out of the old strip mines. As Bob managed to actually rape music, despite it not being a tangible thing, Devereux looked ahead spying for the perfect entry point to the old service roads.
Devereux started pumping the gas with irregular surges to make the car lurch.
“Damn it!”, Devereux feigned.
Bob turned the radio down.
“Oh no”, said Bob, “Is the car okay?”.
“I’m sure it’s nothing”, said Devereux, “We better pull off the main road though while I check her out. Trucks can come up here so fast, and being that there is no shoulder, it could be real trouble for us if we got hit from behind”.
“Gosh”, said Bob.
They were now headed down the old service road, brush and desert on the driver’s side of them and the terraced ridges of the old strip mine on their left. Devereux let the car run naturally for a moment.
“Well”, said Devereux pretending to be surprised, “She seems to be running fine now. Let me take her up to speed for a sec’ so we can make sure we past any trouble before we get back on the highway”.
This was all of course a rouse to get them farther away from the main highway.
When he felt they had reached sufficient distance in, Devereux stopped the car.
“Is the car okay, Mr. Devereux?”, asked Bob.
“She’s just fine. You shouldn’t be worried about her”, said Devereux.
Devereux leaned over the glovebox, his head near Bob’s lap.
“Pardon me”, said Devereux, “I’m not trying to get friendly with you. Just need something outta here”.
He stealthily removed the gun from the glovebox and when he was seated back on his side of the car, aimed it at Bob, who seemed bewildered.
“Get outta the car!”, Devereux growled.
“Gosh”, said Bob, “It’s hot out there. I don’t know if I want too”.
Devereux looked at him with surprise. Did this man think this was a game? Was he impaired in some way.
“Get outta the car, Bob, or I’m gonna blow your fucking brains out”, said Devereux.
“Like I said”, repeated Bob still quite calm, “It’s hot out there. In here it’s nice and air conditioned”.
Devereux knew he couldn’t shoot the man, or the game would end prematurely and there would be a mess in his car that the cleaning supplies he kept in the trunk wouldn’t be able to take care of. He decided to switch weapons to the switchblade he had cut his earlier victim’s heels with.
A good flesh wound from his trusty knife should send a message even into Bob’s thick skull.
Devereux was a wiry but powerful man. With full force he pushed the blade down into the meat of Bob’s thigh. In an instant Devereux pulled back his own bloodied wrist and hand. Bob was unharmed. His jeans weren’t even ripped. The blade had pushed its way out of Devereux’s hand and cut him badly. Bob may as well have been made of granite.
“Gosh, Mr. Devereux”, said Bob. Maybe we both need some air. Maybe we should step out of the car”.
Bob got out of the car and strode to the edge of the strip mine.
“Wow”, said Bob, “Quite a view!”, shouting back to the still seated Devereux who was tending to his wound.
Devereux regained his strength and flew out of the driver side and ran around the car toward Bob. With his unwounded hand he aimed a solid fist for the back of Bob’s head, and broke several bones as it was again like hitting granite.
He fell backward with pain. Devereux clenched his eyes tightly shut, and when he opened them it seemed Bob had moved so that he was not standing facing the precipce into the old terraced mine, but had his back to the flat desert side of the road and was looking at Devereux.
“Jeez, Mr. Devereux, you look hurt!”, said Bob.
“You son of a bitch!”, said Devereux.
Devereux charged at the man full force, intending to tackle Bob to the ground and beat the life from him. But instead he went through Bob…
…and tumbling down the angled slope of the open strip mine which should have been on the other side of the road.
When Devereux came too, he felt more pain than he thought was possible. He tried to move his neck, and heard a crunchy, cracking sound like the breaking of a boiled lobster’s outer shell before a seafood lover devours it.
Luther Bastian Devereux beheld his own body, or what was left of it. His black sport coat and t-shirt had been bleached gray by several days in the sun, and, where his t-shirt ripped, the skin over his rib cage was like thin white leather. In several places his ribcage plainly showed through. He could not see most of his legs, as his badly mangled body was twisted into a shape that did not permit it. He did spy on a lower ledge an upright standing black cowboy boot with a human tibia and fibula poking out of it which were cracked and bleach white. The pain was matched only by the thirst. Devereux was drier and thirstier than he thought possible.
Bob was standing there.
“Wow, Mr. Devereux”, said Bob, “You look terrible”.
Devereux tried to speak, but only a wheezing whistle came from somewhere below his Adam’s apple.
“Oh, sorry”, said Bob, “Try to talk now. You’ll be able to. At least, for a few minutes”.
“You bastard!”, said Devereux, “What did you do to me?”.
“Me?”, said Bob innocently, “I didn’t do anything to you Mr. Devereux. You did this all to yourself. Well, and the desert. It did some of this to you too. And the evaporation, and the vultures and maggots. Like you always told your victims. The only thing I did is keep you from dying, in spite of it all. Like I kept that fellow from dying the day we met. Daisy’s boyfriend? He was the one I went to visit in the hospital. Oh, he’s fine now. He was released weeks ago. It’s been weeks since your fall Mr. Devereux”.
“No, no, no”, said Devereux, “He’s dead. I blew his brains out. And I’m alive. He’s dead and I’m alive”,
“Oh, gosh, no. I let you see his brains get blown out. It was, well, I guess you’d call it a mirage. But I carried him outta that desert. And I got him to the hospital. But you are right that you’re alive Mr. Devereux. Unnaturally alive, but you are and will always be alive”, said Bob.
“WHHYYYY?”, cried Devereux.
“Well, sheesh, I mean, that one’s as plain as the nose on your face… or the nose that was on your face. You should be glad we don’t have a mirror. You’re an evil son of a bitch who tortured people for pleasure, Mr. Devereux. And despite the bad rap I get, I love people. Hell, I stole fire from the Gods and gave it to people, and so Zeus chained me to a rock and I had my liver pecked out by a bird every day. Only since I’m immortal it would grow right back. That’s how I know how much pain you’re in. I’ve been through it myself. Of course, Hercules freed me eventually”, chuckled Bob, “And sadly for you, Mr. Devereux, no one is ever going to free you from this”.
“W-H-H-AT ARE YOU?”, cried Devereux.
“I told you what I am when we sat down for grits”, smiled Bob.
“You fucking said you’re name was Bob”, said a hysterical Devereux.
“I said you could call me Bob. I never said my name was Bob”, said Bob, “I told you I’d never lie to you. And I never did. My name was Bob in that diner to you, it was Prometheus in ancient Greece, Loki in Norse country, Anansi in Africa, Raven way up north, and around here…. You grew up in Texas, so I know you know the Native Americans called me Coyote. Heck, my fanny pack even had a picture of a Coyote and my the word written on it. And if that wasn’t plain enough for you, I introduced myself to you plain as day. I told you you were Luther, which you are. And I told you I am the Trickster. I never lied to you Mr. Devereux, I showed you lots of illusions, but I never lied to you”.
“Just kill me”, said Devereux.
“Oh, Heavens no”, said Bob, “Never, ever, ever, ever, will I kill you. The desert will try, as will the vultures and will of course time…. Time will want you dead. And it may torture you, but… Time owes me a favor… so of all the things it might do to you…. I’ll make sure you never die”.
Bob undid whatever he did that let Devereux speak. And now the Trickster god adopted the shape Devereux first saw him in and that was the form he was known as in these lands. The great Coyote once again urinated on the serial killer, but this moisture brought the living shriveled cadaver no release from the intense dryness.
“Oh, and by the way”, said Bob’s voice through the Coyote form which still lifted its leg to mark Devereux’s remains, “You were wrong, Mr. Devereux my Kimosbe. This is my desert’.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First Swine Flu Case in NYC's Lower East Side

Gouverneur Hospital confirms at least one case on Tuesday, May 5.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Serpent's Walk: Serial Part 1

Lieutenant Hasat Aten awoke with a desperate feeling of emptiness in his lungs and opened his mouth to draw air. He had been revived once again from his long sleeping vigil. He moved to sit up, but hit his head on the lid of the suspension pod he had been in.

“Damn it”, he cried, “Computer, open hatch!”

The computer replied in its synthetic voice, “Unable to open hatch. Hatch motor inoperable”.

Hasat pushed his claws firmly against the lid and pushed with all his might. He heard one of the clamps give way, then another, and finally the lid of the suspension pod gave way to his efforts. Each one of these revivications seemed to be worse than the last.

Thankfully, the automated water dispenser was working, and he greedily lapped water into his dry mouth, as he probably hadn’t had a drink in… how many years was it?

“Computer, what is elapsed time since my last waking interval”, Hasat asked.

“62.4 Million Years”, the computer relplied.

“What?”, he said, “Impossible. Computer, recalibrate and restate”.

“Calculation is correct. 62.4 million years since last waking period”, the computer replied.

He fell to his knees and planted his face in his claws. His pod and station were to be revived at only 25,000 year intervals along with several hundred other Saurian scientists , civilians, and military officers simultaneously who were stationed at various places around the Earth. They would then jointly make the assessment if the environment had recovered sufficiently from the meteor impact to begin recolonization of the surface. Each time, they had found the planet still inhospitable, and had returned to their slumber.

His thoughts went immediately to the possibility that he was the sole survivor of the Saurian race.

“How?”, he said through grief.

“Restate Query”, said the computer.

“How was it that I was revived sixty million years late?”, he asked.

“Insufficient Power to perform revivication at prior timed interval”, replied the machine.

“Then why am I not just dead?”, he asked.

“Power was sufficient to maintain stasis”, the machine replied.

“Then how did you wake me up now?”, Hasat asked.

“Power from probe interlink provided enough energy for revivication”, the computer replied.
“Probe?”, he asked, “From where?”.

“Unknown. An autonomous ground based probe interfaced with this facility’s surface hatch 40 hours ago”, the computer stated.

He exited the status chamber and went to the main computer room.

“Surface visual”, he stated.

“Unable to comply. External sensors are non-functional”, the computer replied.

“What about the probe sensors?”, he asked.

“Accessing”, replied the computer.

As the screen came to life, he saw that the environment had changed greatly. Mountains were one-third of their prior size, and a savannah covered by alien looking tall grasses stretched all around him.

“What in the name of Mother Egg?”, he asked.

“Sheol Military Compound 4”, a voice came over the loudspeaker, “This is Iden Biomedical Facility Do you copy?”.

The voice was organic, Saurian, and not from a machine.

“Computer, begin reply”, said Hasat.

“Yes, this is Sheol 4”, he replied, “Lt. Hasat Aten here. I can hear you. Do you copy me?”.

No reply came.

“Repeat. I received your transmission. Do you copy me?”, Hasat repeated.

“Yes”, came an elated voice, “Yes, Lieutenant, I can hear you just fine. I’m sorry it took me a moment. I haven’t heard another Saurian voice in 60 million years. This is Dr. Yah Hawah. I sent my last probe to your site for a power uplink and was beginning to think it wouldn’t have any more success than the prior probes had at the other sites”.

“Doctor”, said the lieutenant, “How did all this time go by?”

“I disagreed with the government, Lieutenant, about how long the planet would take to recover. I prepared my facility for much longer dormant periods than the rest, and, unfortunately, I seem to have been right. I’ve been awake for about five years”, said the Doctor, “but you are the first success I’ve had powering up another facility”.

Hasat was still silent, overwhelmed by all this a bit.

“Lieutenant Aten”, said the Doctor over the comlink, “My probe can’t power your facility much longer, and your supplies other than your water and air will be unusable by now. We have enough supplies for you here”.

“We?”, questioned Hasat. Each facility was to have only one stasis pod with one Saurian in it.

“Yes”, said Doctor Hawah, “It’s a long story, but, the probe is losing power as we speak. I am about 300 kilometers west of you. My probe is also a vehicle and can get you within about 15 miles of Idan. After that she’ll die I’m afraid. You think you can re-enact one of those hikes from your training days to make it the rest of the way on foot, Lieutenant?”.

Hasat desperately wanted to see another of his own kind and get some answers. And he wanted to see how many other survivors were with Dr. Hawah.

“You’d have to nail my tail down to stop me sir”, Hasat replied.

“Excellent”, said the Doctor, “and you’ll want to take Enviroarmor, “I’m afraid the oxygen levels aren’t what they were in our day”.

“On my way, Doctor”, Hasat replied.

“Excellent”, said Hawah, “We’ll see you in time for dinner tomorrow”.

Lieutenant Hasat Aten grabbed some weapons and supplies, boarded the ground probe, and began his trek across the Savannah. He rode in the probe vehicle until it gave out of power, and then set out to reach the Idan facility on foot just as night fell.