Thursday, November 03, 2016

An Excerpt from The Sand Dweller by Molly Neely

Omnimystery News: An Excerpt courtesy of Molly Neely

We are delighted to welcome back author Molly Neely to Omnimystery News today.

Last week we discussed Molly's new paranormal thriller, The Sand Dweller (Black Opal Books; September 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats), and today we're pleased that she has agreed to share an excerpt from it with us, the first two chapters.

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WELL, I THINK THAT'S ENOUGH FOR today," Father Caleb said. "I think you have a lot to meditate on, Bob. Let's schedule another session for two weeks, and see how you're doing, okay?"
  Bob wrung his hands nervously. "You really think I need to come back?"
  Caleb smiled. "You have been struggling with alcoholism for many years, Bob. You can't expect to be totally cured after one session with a priest."
  "Yeah, b — but —" Bob stammered.
  "No buts," Caleb said. "You've developed a destructive habit over the years. It's going to take more than an hour to break it."
  Father Caleb scooted his chair closer to his charge and extended his hands.
  "Come on. Let's pray," he said.
  Bob gave a slight nod and took Caleb's hands in his. For several moments, the room was silent, save the quiet ticking from a wall clock that hung over the door.
  Caleb took in several deep breaths, waiting for the right words to come to mind. But there was nothing. Panic began to set in. Why was his mind a complete blank? Caleb's breathing grew shallow as he tried to pick his brain for a word, a psalm, anything to offer in prayer, but, he found himself to be at a complete loss.
  He opened his eyes and scanned the walls of the office for some visual inspiration. As his eyes fell on the large bookcase behind Bob, a scratching sound grabbed his attention. Caleb let go of Bob's hands and stood up. Cautiously, he walked to the bookcase, peering into the small, dark spaces between the books.
  A high-pitched shriek pierced the air, as a small winged creature jumped out from behind a row of dusty pew Bibles, clawing Caleb's face.
  "Son of a —" Caleb cursed, clutching his cheek. He pulled his hand away and looked. Blood.
  The creature perched itself on the sill of an open window and hissed, releasing a cloud of sulfuric stench into the room.
  "What in God's name are you?" Caleb whispered, crossing himself.
  Repelled by the gesture, the creature turned its head, moaning as if in pain. Then it leapt from the sill, knocking over a small potted fern, and flew straight at Caleb.
  As the creature darted past Caleb's head, he swung his arms wildly, trying to swat the beast out of the air.
  Like a buzzing fly, the creature U-turned in mid-air and took one more pass at Caleb, before bee-lining for the open window. It hovered there for a moment, cocking its dog-like head to one side, as if sizing up Caleb for another attack.
  Caleb stood motionless in the center of the room, his hand clutching the edge of his desk. Looking down, he spied his letter opener. Quickly he grabbed it then pointed it at the creature.
  "Be gone, devil." His voice trembled.
  The creature let out another ear piercing shriek then darted out the window.
  Bob's eyes remained closed, pressed together with desperate resolve, waiting to hear God's words of encouragement flow from the lips of his priest. A small bead of sweat formed on his temple and slowly traced a thin line down the side of his face. Distracted by the feeling, Bob brushed the perspiration away with his shoulder. Then he frowned.
  "Are you waiting for something, Father?" Bob asked.
  Father Caleb opened his eyes. Still seated across from his charge, he looked around the room in confusion. Everything was in its proper place, even the fern was resting comfortably on the window ledge.
  "Uh … no," Caleb said finally, "We're sitting in quiet meditation. Focus all of your attention on the Lord, Bob. When He gives you inspiration, go ahead and just speak out."
  Bob nodded, gripping Caleb's hands tighter.
  "Holy Lord," Bob called out. "Help me with this burden. I feel so weak against the desire to fill myself with booze. Because of it, I am failing as a husband, I'm failing at my job, and my kids are afraid of me. Lord, send down Your Holy Spirit, to reinforce my soul. To give me the power and authority to banish this sin from my life, once and for all. In Jesus Name, Amen."
  "Amen," Father Caleb echoed. "It's good that you took the lead. Christ wants you to reach out to Him. How do you feel?"
  Bob stood up and stretched. "Pretty good, actually."
  Caleb glanced around nervously as he rose and shook Bob's hand. "I want you to offer prayers to God every day," he said, "No matter how busy you are. Check in with Him, even if you're feeling strong, and don't forget to call that eight-hundred number I gave you. Alcoholics Anonymous will provide you with tons of support. I'll see you in two weeks."
  Bob grabbed up his jacket from the back of his chair and started for the door. He reached for the knob then turned back around. "Thank you, Father," he said, "Oh, and you might want to close that window. There's a bad smell coming in from outside."
  Caleb quickly went to the open window, his eyes darting back and forth, searching for the creature. Satisfied that it was nowhere in sight, he closed the window. "There," he said with a weak smile. "I'll have to ask my secretary to bring me an air freshener. See you in two weeks?"
  "Yes, you will," Bob answered with a chuckle. "And thank you again, Father Caleb."
  When Bob was gone, Caleb's ran his hand across his cheek. He could still feel the sting of the creatures claws, yet somehow the wound had vanished. He walked back over to the window one last time and looked out. The blue sky peeked shyly through the trees that bordered the courtyard outside his office.
  "Lord, what just happened?" he asked.
  The only answer he got was the steady ticking from the wall clock.
  
  
CHAPTER 2
  
Scorching winds whipped through the plains, spreading clouds of dust and soul debris across the landscape of Hell. She stared silently out the window, listening to the maddening screams of the damned. There was almost a melody in their cries, a haunting symphony of agony and despair.
  She often wondered what would have happened if her children were the one's walking the Earth instead of the Sons of Eve. A sudden pang of jealousy ripped through her stomach. How she hated that weak-willed woman and her squandering offspring. A speck of soul dust found its way into her eye. Instantly a tear squeezed its way from her ducts, only to evaporate in the dense heat. She grew weary of the torrid fires and constant hopelessness. The Most High had given her paradise then took it all away. As punishment for refusing to be Adam's wife, the Lord had banished her to Hell.
  Turning away from the window, she wandered around her chamber, gazing upon its gray stone walls. Walking past her small bedside table, she lovingly caressed the one treasure she had — a small ornately carved black box, made from charred human bone. A trophy won in secret, she had stolen it right out from under the demon's nose. She considered it payment, after all, she was not content to be Hell's plaything for free.
  An ear-piercing shriek from the ground below grabbed her attention. Walking back to the window, she looked down just in time to see one of Lucifer's nephilim devour the guts from a soul. Once the children of angels, these horribly deformed creatures scoured the plains searching for the damned to prey on. The way they tore at the soul's flesh, ripping at the remains of a fallen man, was enough to reduce the bravest warrior to the yellowest of cowards. The descent into Hell was equally tragic. Some souls were so badly destroyed that, by the time they landed, there was almost nothing left.
  "So pitiful," she murmured to herself in disgust. "the Sons of Eve are weak!" she shouted out the window. The gorging nephilim paused to look up at her for a moment then bit the head off the soul. "You are all pathetic!" she called out.
  "Such passion," a voice groaned from behind her. "You must have forgotten our appointment."
  She cringed at the sound of the voice. She knew all too well what day it was. Azazael never missed his appointments with her. He was the demon she most hated — and most feared. Azazael was well renowned as the first demon to denounce the humans. It didn't matter to Azazael that she wasn't really mortal anymore. Whenever he came to her chambers, she knew it meant hours of suffering. Not because he beat her or used her for sexual perversion as some did. Azazael was one of the few demons who didn't. No, it was his endless mind games she hated.
  She turned and faced her unwelcome guest. Without hiding her disgust, she bowed and replied, "What is your bidding today?"
  "Oh, Lilith, my precious toy," he hissed seductively. "Why do you always assume I want something?" Azazael paused, licking his lips. "Is it so hard to believe that I simply desire to be in your presence?" He smiled as he walked around her, sizing up his prey. "I am beginning to think, perhaps, you do not like it when I visit."
  Facing her, Azazael hunched down so his eyes were level with Lilith's. He grabbed her by the shoulders and pressed her to his chest. The bony armor he wore cut into her cheek.
  "Lilith, can you not feel the desperate beating of my heart?" Laughing, he shoved her down hard onto the stone floor.
  "You have no heart, demon!" she growled through clenched teeth. "Why do you plague me with torment? Are there not enough humans for you to pester on the surface?"
  "Precious toy," Azazael replied, "this is why I enjoy your company. You always give the most flattering compliments."
  Walking over to a large stone chair, he sat down. Then leaning forward onto his knees, Azazael smiled. "Today is going to be a special day for you," he said. "Your soul is crying, and I desire to ease your pain."
  "You know nothing of me," Lilith said, standing up. "much less, my soul."
  "What if I told you that you could leave Hell, tonight?" Azazael said evenly. "If I could make that happen, how grateful would you be?"
  The delight was hard for Lilith to hide. But she was nobody's fool. Cautiously, she took a few steps toward the demon. "What do you mean, leave?" she asked. "What is in it for you?"
  "Do you not trust me?" he asked "Is it so hard to believe that I simply want to give you a gift —" Azazael paused. " — for centuries of loyal service." His eyes glimmered red, waiting for her to respond.
  "So my gift from you is freedom?" Lilith asked, frowning.
  "Freedom is part of it," Azazael winked. "and I want to give you a child."
  Lilith threw her head back and burst into laughter. "You must be joking! I would never allow you to sire a child in my womb!"
  In a flash, Azazael stood, marched across the room and grabbed her by the throat. "Proud, selfish human," he snarled, "after all these centuries, you still think you are superior to me? The Most High tossed you from Eden like a useless pile of refuse! Compared to me, you are as weak as a lamb. Do you think you could prevent me from tearing your body to shreds if it pleased me to do so?"
  Sulfuric smoke blasted from his nostrils. Azazael released his hold on her for a moment then pulled Lilith close, draping his arms around her like a lover. "I am proposing a wager," he whispered, stroking her long black hair. "Let us each go and breathe life into a child."
  Lilith pulled away and glared at Azazael. "I am listening," she said.
  "Our offspring will test their merit against one another on the field of battle," he said, slowly. "If your child is the victor, neither I nor any other demon will ever darken your door again."
  Lilith nervously twisted a piece of her hair around her finger. "And?" she demanded.
  "And," Azazael replied, "if my child is found victorious, you will submit to me, body and soul, forever."
  Lilith shook her head. "No. Lucifer would never allow me to leave Hell. And The Most High, what of Him? It is forbidden for me to walk the Earth!"
  Azazael began to retreat toward the chamber door. "Have you not heard? The Most High has granted mankind free will."
  Lilith's heart began to quicken. A wave of hope flooded her veins. Her eyes scanned the chambers she had occupied for so long. She shuttered at the thought of the endless atrocities she had been a party to in those rooms. Freedom. It was too hard to resist. Looking down at the floor, Lilith contemplated all that Azazael had said. "What are the odds," she said quietly, "that Lucifer would just let me go?"
  "Precious toy," Azazael said smiling, "let us go and ask him."

— ♦ —

Molly Neely
Photo provided courtesy of
Molly Neely

Molly Neely is a life-long reader of everything, from history, theology, and politics, to vampires. No longer settling for being just a reader, she decided to make the transition to writer! She has an eclectic style and a wide range of tastes, including (but not limited to) pre-code classic movies, punk music, and anything with bacon in it.

When she's not putting in 40 hours at her regular job, she's busy reading, writing, and preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. She lives in the heart of the San Joaquin valley in California, with her super awesome husband, and her Whippet named Devo.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at website and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Sand Dweller by Molly Neely

The Sand Dweller by Molly Neely

A Paranormal Thriller

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

In the ancient mountains of the Sinai desert, a child is born. The half-demon son of the devil's greatest general, Malachi grows up with one foot in the human world and one in the darkest pits of Hell itself. Soon, a power struggle will force him to choose. Will he claim the dark heritage promised to him by Lucifer? Or will he learn firsthand just how far evil will go to destroy mankind?

Caleb Glass is a young priest with a flourishing flock and a successful church. Plagued by strange visions and a tragic past, he's also beginning to question his faith. When he's suddenly thrust into an ancient feud, Caleb must decide whether wearing the collar is a part of God's plan, or an excuse to hide from his pain.

Is it possible for a broken priest and a sand dweller to achieve redemption, or are they both doomed by circumstance beyond their control?

The Sand Dweller by Molly Neely

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