This is the first bit of a story I may turn into a novel entitled "The Tale of the Make Believe Man". It's a dark, modern fantasy (except the beginning, which takes place a few hundred years in the past!) that has a similar tone to Hellblazer (the Constantine comics). Don't worry, it's not fan fiction, I'm simply trying to capture the same atmospheric feel and effect. Let me know what you think! _____________________________________________________________________________________ Fortune In the shadows of the stone pillars of a grand temple, a little boy stood over his mother who lay on the ground in a pool of her own blood, a dull rusted blade run through her abdomen. The darkness of night spilled in through the large windows, fighting against the dull light of the oil lanterns for supremacy. He stared into her milky pale eyes, devoid of life as they had been for years before her recent death. The boy looked around, hoping for witnesses to know what he had done. His brown cloth shirt and pants flapped as he spun about quickly, eyes scanned the stone room before he looked down upon his mother once more. This was for you, mother, for your own good, he thought, pulling his sword from out of her corpse with a sliding noise. He admired the blood, the way it slid down the sword as he held it up to the dim light. The blood had no agenda, no desires. Its motives were dictated by none but gravity. It could not hurt him, lie to him or tell him he was worthless. It would never abandon him; it would give him life and take nothing in return. The boy supposed he should feel bad about killing his mother. It was after all a tenant of her faith, to be respectable of one’s elders and abide by their advice for they had been living long before their kin and thus were imbibed with all sorts of knowledge that children like he should gleefully swallow. Then again, it was her faith, not his. In the twelve short years of his life, the boy had only spent two of them with the Source, a cult of worshippers who spent their days sacrificing children. The sacrificed them to their bloody altar which consisted of little more than a silver basin about three feet wide, adorned with a gold ribbon pattern along its rim. His mother had been a high level priestess living in this very temple, but had kept the boy hidden for eight years before he was discovered in a small closet in her chambers. The boy often wondered how and why this broken woman, who seemed to care about him so little, had hidden him from a very important part of her life especially since her will was shattered by the brainwashing magic and techniques of the Temple Druids. However, their techniques were not working on him. The boy was not sure why himself, but every time the strange men in their green robes appeared in his room with their silver wand device, they tried pointing it to his head and nothing would happen. The robed men would curse under their breath and talk amongst each other. The silver wand made his head feel funny, like someone was massaging his brain with calloused fingers. The boy didn’t like this feeling, so he willed it away and this was highly aggravating to the Druids who were trying to wipe his mind. The lanterns in the large room flickered; some even went out as a wind blew through the room, strong enough to push some of the blood off the blade like raindrops. The blood made little plopping noises as it dripped onto his mother’s pale white face. The boy lowered the sword and stared around for the cause of the wind. The large windows shaped like diamonds remained shut and the massive oak doors at least four times his height also remained sealed. The wind was coming from inside. Jacob . . . A ghostly voice echoed into the room, just silent enough to not be heard outside the church walls, but just loud enough to send icy rivers through the boy’s veins. It was feminine and soft but the concept of spirits had always frightened Jacob. Jacob . . . you have committed a terrible crime . . . Jacob had never believed in the religious teachings of his elders for the two years he had spent in their care, but he was beginning to wonder how else to explain the voice. He held the short sword with both hands and lifted it up in an attack position, gripping the handle as its withering leather straps hung out from between Jacob’s fingers. “What is this? Who’s there?” Jacob shouted. We are coming to visit you now, the voice spoke. With those very words, the last of the lanterns were extinguished and the room went dark. Jacob swallowed hard and had to fight the urge to scream as three wisps of bright blue light entered through the windows as if the glass weren’t even there. The three orbs congregated in front of him in a line only a few yards away and began to take form. The orb on the left seemed to make a splash and pop as its light burst softly like an ember crackling at the bottom of a dying fire and became an elderly man wearing a long robe. His blue spectral form was clear to the eye but his face was barely noticeable as it appeared blurry aside from his foot long beard. However, the crown on his head showed so bright that Jacob had to squint to see him. The orb on the right became another blue man, without a beard, but its aura suggested he was much younger. He was taller and wore what appeared to be metal plate armor and held a large axe with one hand over his left shoulder. The orb in the middle appeared last and formed slowly into a slender woman whose facial features were also fogged. It was her long curly hair, curved body and elegant dress of cloth clasped together with a belt of thorns that gave her away. “You have committed a terrible deed child,” said a booming voice from the warrior. “Indeed young man, we have seen the black in your heart,” spoke the elderly gentleman, his voice raspy. “Jacob, the events of this night have not gone ignored by the gods,” the woman spoke, Jacob recognizing her voice as the one that spoke moments ago. “Wh-who are you?” Jacob stuttered, his hands slowly becoming like pudding, weak and wobbly as he lowered the sword. “We are the guardians of this world,” the warrior replied. “The echoes of time,” the elderly man said. “The constructers of chaos and calm,” the woman announced. “You are gods,” Jacob trembled at the thought. “So are you . . . the council of Jar’El?” “The council of Jar’El?” The elderly gent repeated with a puzzled voice. “He speaks of the false god these priests in this church worship,” the woman replied turning to the gentleman. “No child, we are no bloodthirsty demons nor do they exist.” “Then why are you here?” Jacob demanded, trying to mask his fear with anger. “Jacob, you’ve slain your mother and for that there is no leniency,” said the warrior. “You shall pay for what you have done.” “She deserved it! She tried to hurt me, to trick me into becoming one of these strange men. She even gave herself to several of them a night like some filthy streetwalker, the same men that ravaged her twelve years ago. She played her life like a puppet,” Jacob explained. “Death was not a just answer, my son,” spoke the gentleman. “Your mother may have been weak of spirit and needing help, but surely taking her life was not a reasonable means of aiding or saving her from this life.” “Then why did none of you help us? If you are the true gods of this world, then why have you forsaken her and left me to a life not fit for vermin? How could you let such things happen?” Jacob yelled once more. “We do not interfere because people must prove themselves. With our help, men and women cannot reveal their true selves,” the woman responded, still as calm as when she arrived despite Jacob’s increasing temper. “When this world was born, there were four gods including myself and the two men you see here. The fourth god became corrupt and tried to seize control of the universe for himself, seeking a world built on obedience and slavery. We wished for a world where people could prove themselves worthy and live the lives they wanted.” “To prevent his potential reign of terror, we combined our powers and slashed him into millions of pieces, separating his being so he could never reappear. However, his will lived on and those fragments attached themselves to the souls of human beings like parasites, ticks sapping blood. Only when someone dies pure of heart is the fragment destroyed. But when a person gives into the darkness of their hearts, they welcome this malignant being into the world. Each person who gives into their dark urges allows the fragments to join together. The more people who live darkened lives, the more fragments join together and grow stronger,” the goddess explained. “So . . . there is a fragment of this evil god within me?” Jacob asked, his hand clutching his chest. Jacob looked down at his mother’s corpse and had his first feelings of regret of the night. “We cannot tell you,” said the warrior. “It is your duty as a human to prove to us that you deserve to ascend to the realm of the gods and live in paradise. To tell you would be to influence you and that goes against our rules.” “We tell you these things so that you will understand what is at stake,” the goddess responded immediately. “Your soul may be tainted, it may not be. Giving into this evil will only place this world closer to its destruction.” “I did what I had to in order to save my mother! She was going to sacrifice herself any day as part of one of their annual rituals! I didn’t want to see her die,” Jacob pleaded. “But,” the gentleman spoke, “You also wanted to kill her yourself and not let the satisfaction belong to someone else.” Jacob had no retort. It was true he wanted to end his mother’s life; he had hated her almost as much as he loved her. Although, he felt the love was superficial, that he had only loved her because she was his mother, a purely biological reason and nothing more. His hatred however, had thrived for years. “For the taking of another’s life Jacob, we do not visit. However, as you have taken your mother’s life, the one who brought you into this world, this is an unforgivable act.” The goddess articulated as she stepped towards Jacob, “We have decided you must live with your sorrow, you must live until you feel her pain, until you know what you have truly done and until you understand what happens when someone gives in to the dark temptations of the deepest pits of their soul.” Jacob tried to move back but his feet felt like they were cemented in place. He yelled and even tried to hold up the sword. The goddess quickly snatched the sword from his shaking arms and gripped it tightly, a blue lightning burst from her hands and coursed into the blade giving it a sapphire vein-like scar. Jacob watched in terror as she pulled the gleaming sword backwards and with incredible speed, thrust it deep into his chest. Expecting excruciating pain and jets of blood, Jacob winced but felt nothing. He looked down, his breaths short and labored as he saw the sword sticking into his body but leaving no mark. It was like a man pushing his arm into a body of water as Jacob’s body felt no resistance or pressure yet he could feel something burning inside. His insides gave a sudden lurch as a surge of energy ran from the goddess’s shoulder, cascaded down her arm, through the blade and into Jacob’s chest. As the swell of energy hit him, he felt a cool rush inside that overtook the burning sensation. His entire body shook with a strange pulse of cold and the goddess withdrew the sword and dropped it to the floor with a loud clang. Jacob peered down at his chest which was clear of any wounds and as he looked up, he caught a fleeting glimpse of the three orbs exiting through the window once more and the lanterns flickering back into life.