The Disposable PrefaceJanuary 27, 2012
My Pazuzu Trilogy originally didn’t have a Preface, and I had immediately launched my epic with the imposter-priest Benedict Ishkott wandering the Shur desert alone. The first complaint I heard was the story was complicated – so I added a Preface. This Preface entails the fallout following death of the original priest at Saint Erasmus. Besides other duties, Captain Kanen oversees the parish and must appoint a minister. Captain Kanen is blackmailed and invites his extortionist into the walled city of Capital – yeah, the Chosen call their monument city ‘money.’
The recurring theme in the trilogy is disappointed schemes and exceptions, so Capital illustrates that hypocritical propaganda because the horrible transportation network for the city’s civilians, strict censorship, lack of airports and advanced weaponry, as well as the Middle and Lower castes subjected to a militaristic theocracy. This is the city to which Pazuzu comes and looks for someone the demon can possess because Ben doesn’t “work-out.”
Essentially, what I did with the Preface is remove from Manifestation – the castes, the Chosen’s Church, the drug epidemic, the original Benedict Ishkott – – and included that information at the very beginning. The Preface is primer. As such, readers don’t need to read it and they can skip straight to chapter one, The Wilderness. The Preface is a guide or travel brochure for the godless world of the Shur.
Godless – big deal, like other authors haven’t exploited the idea and if proof isn’t apparent to the unfaithful in the “real world.” Don’t be so judgmental and jump to conclusions – a Godless world is at once a gimmick and crucial for the existence of the Shur desert and all the sinners who dwell within. Because God has abandoned the Shur, alien gods have taken over a pre-Judeo-Christian demon has awoke. Pazuzu hides from the alien gods because they think the demon knows the secret to life in this wasteland. I’m telling readers outright because that’s all back story. The Pazuzu Trilogy concentrates on the unwitting victims in this ethereal game of cat-and-mouse. Those victims represent humankind and how the cosmic war derails their mortal endeavors. Once Abeyance begins, Capital burns and the conflict between Pazuzu and alien gods takes precedence.
Manifestation is the first in the Pazuzu Trilogy. Critics have claimed “nothing happens,” but I disagree. More specifically, all the characters have been introduced and are posed for their roles in the following two books. Events transpire in Manifestation that put these characters into position. Ben, Davey, Margot, the Cortras brothers and their assassin are all fattened for the impending slaughter.
I said readers can skip the Preface, but I’ve got the latest below in case people are anxious for the story or prefer later diving into Chapter 1.
Outrage, because Captain Kanen had become the victim of extortion, or the lack of amphetamine made the priest’s fat hands quiver. Kanen tugged his collarless white shirt and finally removed his uniform’s heavy black jacket. The UnChosen caste called the drug “Ape;” the street name for the stuff that typically turned users into anxious, howling gorillas. Such a consequence could never happen to a priest, the upper echelon of the Chosen caste. All the pomp and dignity granted to Kanen’s position guarded against that base lunacy. The unquiet phases of the chemically grown monkey would not drive Josiah Kanen into madness. The Church had promoted this middle-aged priest to the rank of captain because his genetically endowed discipline gave him immaculate willpower. Captain Josiah Kanen was, after all, born a Chosen. Birthright granted him authority over the Mortal God.
Even so, the responsibility of rank crushed Kanen under stones. The duties the Church pressed on Captain Kanen had driven him to use the damned drug in the first place. The problem with Ape wasn’t the use of the drug, but the lack of using any once addicted. Sobriety-sharpened nails now pressed into his chest and head. From the perspective of his tormented rut, being clean took away the magic of knowing exactly what to do in any situation, and making sense of other people. Nobody listened to Kanen when he went without Ape, they just babbled and interrupted when he spoke. Sobriety compromised his ability to control his god and the forsaken UnChosen that dwelt within his squalid quarter by the Wall.
Reverend Arnett, whom Kanen had assigned the custodianship of the Saint Erasmus parish, had recently been murdered in its church. The crime was unheard within the walled city of Capital, the Promised Land of the Chosen. The Wall protected the city from the ravages of heathen terrorists. No one passed through the Wall without the approval of the Church or its military. The Chosen exercised exclusive entrance into Capital.
The UnChosen permitted behind the Wall lived in forsaken parishes like Saint Erasmus – a suitable batch of hovels for those spineless degenerates. Still, the status of the murdered victim raised the severity of the crime to an act of terrorism. The Church and its military’s censors debated if news of the crime should be made public, but had never made a decision.
One thing Kanen was certain – the presence of pagan tablets on the altar inside Saint Erasmus would never be reported to the public. The Church had immediately confiscated and destroyed the sacrilegious objects. Whatever the dead Reverend Arnett once planned with them was better left unknown. The blasphemous controversy went with him into death. Reverend Arnett had brought the awful fate upon himself.
The phone rang in the midst of Kanen’s cope with his lack of Ape, that and the murder of a priest that had been too curious with an archaic and forbidden religion. Reverend Benedict Ishkott called, again. The Aper was a non-commissioned bastard from the city of Gomorrah. Captain Kanen had just hung-up on the irreverent extortionist.
“Why do you keep calling here?” Kanen shouted into the phone inside his dark and private, casual office at the Church. “Stop calling me.”
“Captain – Kanen,” Reverend Ishkott stuttered with the aggravated squall of an addict. “I know you don’t know me from Adam, but you have something I want.”
“A demotion?” threatened Kanen. “Why, in the name of the Mortal God, do you dare speak to me with such lack of respect?”
The two priests shared an addiction to Ape, with a difference. Ape caused Reverend Ishkott to lose respect for superior officers, sending him out-of-the-way to Gomorrah. The drug gave Ishkott arrogant hopes and ambitions – whereas Kanen had already gladly reached his own pinnacle.
“Listen, I know you’re related to Judah Batheirre, the crime-lord in this city,” Ishkott said, uncovering his hand.
Hopefully, Ishkott didn’t know how complicated the relationship between Captain Kanen and Judah Batheirre had become. The crime-lord used the captain for his connection with the Church, although Judah’s patience had grown thin with Josiah, resulting in Ape becoming difficult to find in Capital and impossible to obtain. Many of Kanen’s brethren in the Church had stopped coming to the offices at headquarters. Those nervous wretches who showed up this morning were useless and hid behind closed doors, like Kanen.
“That is a sad coincidence,” Kanen claimed.
“I know you keep the military away from Gomorrah,” Ishkott stated. “And I know Batheirre is your Ape connection.”
“I know you are a dead man, Ishkott,” Kanen shouted over the phone. “How dare you call me with your crazy accusations.”
“Listen,” Ishkott shouted back. “Military patrols will come to this city, whether you like it or not. Ilu Drystani is in this part of the Shur. Colonel Tacklate himself is coming here.”
Colonel Tacklate’s trip to Gomorrah presented a bigger problem, one Kanen should have anticipated – he knew the colonel swept through the region annually. Captain Kanen reported to the colonel, as would Ishkott when the bishop arrived at Gomorrah. Ishkott, the tattling Aper, may tell their superior officer anything.
“What do you want?” Kanen capitulated.
“An assignment away from Gomorrah and heathens,” Ishkott bartered. “This city will fall to terrorists next, Drystani IS here.”
“Let me think,” Kanen replied. The solution came to him with a staggered breath.
The situation seemed to work itself out – a custodian position had recently opened at Saint Erasmus and a priest materialized who would shut his mouth if invited into Capital. Josiah did not think ahead when he offered the position to Ishkott, because the wretched blackmailer might one day twist Josiah’s arm again. Yet the treacherous possibility failed occurring to him and did not stop Josiah from asking if Reverend Ishkott would bring Ape into Capital.
“No, of course not,” Ishkott denied with a strained snort.
“Please, there’s none here. You won’t find Ape behind the Wall.”
Ishkott thought Captain Kanen could not be trusted with the truth. His supervisor’s plea sounded like a trap. “No,” squeaked Ishkott.
“That’s unfortunate,” answered Kanen before hanging up. Josiah had looked forward toward another batch of Ape for himself.
– END –
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