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Hands of God: The Threshold of Salvation

Hands of God: The Threshold of Salvation

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Hands of God: The Threshold of Salvation

Lunghezza:
338 pagine
5 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Aug 8, 2014
ISBN:
9781491742778
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Once upon a time, Seth Alecto was an honest family man with a beautiful wife and son. That life ended in catastrophe when a drunk driverthe rich son of the new mayorslammed into the familys car and ended the lives of Crystal, his wife, and Alex, his son. From that day forward, Seths life has been one of turmoil.

As his pain causes him to spiral downhill, he meets two women, one of whom seems to be an angel; when she touches him, it burns, and he flees. The next day, he finds his arms are covered in strange markingsand he soon learns he can see the sins of other people when he touches them. Seth has been inadvertently drawn into an underground war between heaven and hell. He has been made a hand of God, a warrior among Gods heavenly forcesa title never yet held by a man.

As he learns about his new role and skills, he finds himself fighting the demonic armies of hell. But Lucifer has a new plan, one in which Seth will play a vital part. Seth must fight evil, battle his past, and win the hearts and minds of Gods angelsor die trying.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Aug 8, 2014
ISBN:
9781491742778
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Jacob Diehm graduated from Midlakes High school. He and his wife Teresa, have two children and live in Geneva, New York.

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Anteprima del libro

Hands of God - Jacob Diehm

27

Chapter 1

It’s a late October evening, and an elderly black man sits on a stool behind a register in a liquor store. His hair is mixed gray and white, like salt and pepper, with a matching goatee. He’s reading a magazine. A stack of tabloid magazines and a local newspaper sit next to him behind the counter. The bell on the front door jingles, and the older man’s jaw drops as a white man walks inside. The man wears black shoes, tan khakis, a white T-shirt, and a brown leather jacket. The cashier inspects the individual, whose black hair is wet from sweat.

This individual glares out the window, out of breath, looking for someone or something. He turns his attention to the cashier and walks over. Looking at the old man’s name tag and then at his face, he says, Hey, Marcus, where’s the vodka?

Marcus pulls himself back from the smell of alcohol in the stranger’s breath. Yet the stranger’s eyes look like he’s lost. His scruffy face can’t hide his frown. Marcus instantly feels a sense of pity for him.

Aisle four, he says.

Thanks, says the stranger.

The old-timer puts down his magazine, leans over the glass counter full of cigarettes and lottery tickets, and watches the stranger. He’s curious about this stranger; something looks familiar about him. The man looks like a lost, broken soul.

The stranger scans the brands, debating which one to choose. Fuck it. He reaches for the largest bottle and blows the dust off. Walking back to the old man, he places the bottle on the counter.

Marcus’s curiosity gets the best of him. Don’t I recognize you from somewhere? The television or something? ’Cause we don’t get your type around this part of town very often. If you lived around here, I would know.

Nope. Don’t worry about it, man. Just tell me how much.

The old man points to the sign on the wall behind him. No I.D. No Sale.

Seriously? asks the stranger. He takes out his wallet and pulls out his driver’s license. Lights flickering outside draw his attention. He stares cautiously out the window with worry. Beads of sweat form on his brow.

Seth Alecto, the old man says.

That’s my name, the stranger says.

Why do I know that name?

Seriously, man, don’t worry about it. Just tell me how much.

Twenty dollars, the old man says.

Seth lays a twenty on the counter.

The cashier places the bottle in a brown paper bag.

Not even a split second after the bottle touches the counter, Seth snatches it up and bolts for the door.

Wait, I do know you, the old man says. Your family was killed in that accident. Your story was on the news. The mayor’s boy hit you, says Marcus.

Frozen in the doorway, holding it open, Seth lowers his head.

The old man continues. That was a damn shame, son; you had a beautiful family. That stuff won’t fix your problems. You need to find Jesus, my boy.

Thanks, Dr. Phil. Tell Jesus to come find me, and then we’ll talk. He exits out the door.

Marcus shakes his head in pity.

On the street, Seth moves with a purpose. He removes the bottle from the brown paper bag and throws the bag on the ground. Opening the bottle, he slams down a swig. Strolling along, his attention becomes drawn to some lights down the street—a police vehicle casually moving, looking for someone. The car gives him great concern. Surveying the scene, he discovers an alley nearby and breaks for it.

Inside, the alley is gloomy. The large apartment buildings prohibit most of the light from passing through. The alley cluttered with multiple overflowing dumpsters. Trash bags surround them like a protective barrier. Expired household appliances lie strewn about—a graveyard. Papers dance in the air from the passing wind.

He searches for a place to hide. Police lights bounce off the brick walls. His inebriated state takes its toll. Eyelids become heavy. He jumps between two trash bins, landing on a pile of trash. A blazing light shines into the alley, moving side to side, searching as if it has a mind of its own.

Why did that bouncer have to start shit? I should never have gone to that bar.

Nerves on edge, his heart pounds against his chest as the police searchlight scans the alley. He debates getting up and running. But instead he squeezes himself tighter into the filth surrounding him. Then the light disappears. He exhales a sigh of relief and follows with a celebration of liquor.

For once the city night sky is clear, and the stars shine above. They glow and now have his attention. What time is it? he whispers to himself.

He stares at his watch—11:45 p.m. She got me this watch that night. Our anniversary. What’s today ? The seventh. His eyes start to water, and he takes a sip of vodka. Has it really been a year? How could I have forgotten?

Guilt fills his heart. He has forgotten all about his wife and son. He has forgotten all about that sorrowful night, the night of the accident. His eyes get heavy as the booze tires him. He falls slowly to sleep.

Dad.

Yes, Alex, says Seth.

I dropped my game. Can you reach it?

Seth stretches his arm back behind his seat, trying to reach his son’s game. He searches and searches. Alex starts directing him, but no luck. He can’t find it.

Crystal, can you reach it? asks Seth.

I’ll get it, Mommy, says Alex.

No, Alex, get back in your seat, Crystals scolds.

But it’s too late; Alex has unbuckled his seat belt.

I got it, he says.

Two bright lights catch Seth’s attention in the rear view mirror. The lights are getting closer too fast. Alex, get back in your seat now. The vehicle is suddenly jolted. His son is thrown back into the seat. Seth’s palms tighten on the steering wheel. The car skids sideways, and he fights to regain control. Once the car seems under control, it is hit again. The automobile is thrown toward the concrete median and slams into it.

Tossed forward, Alex’s body crashes through the windshield. The young boy’s body lies on the hood, helpless. His broken body can’t move. His eyes search for help, but his parents lie unconscious in the car. The boy’s heart fills with fear. Then the pain dissipates, his life is ripped away, and his eyes close forever.

Shortly after Seth’s eyes open, his head rings and hurts like hell. His wife lies next to him motionless. Crystal, wake up! he moans. His breath out of control, he tries to gain his bearings. He reaches over and feels for a pulse. Panic sets in. Crystal! Wake up! Then his boy comes to mind. Alex. His eyes go to the backseat. The boy is not there. He turns to the front and finally notices the hole in the windshield. Blood surrounds the opening. Alex lies on the hood. His face is covered in blood, and he’s not moving.

No. No. This can’t be happening. Crystal, wake up! Our son …

Seth tries to unbuckle his seat belt; panic and frustration have him agitated. Finally he’s free. He opens his door and gets out. As he exits, he sees a smashed black Mercedes in the middle of the expressway. A blond-haired man is trying to get out of his car. As Seth stands, dizziness sets in and causes him to vomit. His brain hammers against his skull. Gingerly walking to the front of his car, he runs his fingers through his boy’s bloody hair.

Alex, wake up, buddy. Please wake up. Tears flow from his green eyes. Every non response causes his tears to flow harder. His body shakes, ripe with emotion. He grasps his boy’s hand as his fears appear to be true. The pain inside his skull is getting worse. His vision starts to fade and becomes blurry. Suddenly his body gives in, and he falls to the pavement.

Seth jumps up, awake from a dream. Back in the alley, he looks around. He wipes his tears. To relive that moment again has caused his chest to tighten from anxiety. He takes a sip from his bottle. Again he looks at his watch. He takes it off and looks at the inscription on the back. To my husband, I will always love you. Crystal. He stares at the watch as if he’s staring at his wife.

I’m sorry. I forgot about us. I forgot about you. I forgot about Alex. I don’t deserve you.

I don’t deserve you! he screams. He throws the watch down on the ground. He lies back down on the bed of trash. I don’t deserve you, he whispers. His eyes are still heavy and tired. Again he wipes the tears away. I don’t deserve to be here.

His eyes look back up to the sky. His thoughts become filled with questions. Are they up there? Are they with God? Is there a heaven?"

Seth does something he hasn’t done in a long time. Dear God, even though I don’t go to church and I don’t pray, please answer my prayer. All I ask is that you take my life or rip away this unbearable pain. I’ve lost my will. I’ve lost everything I’ve ever cared about. I have nothing. I am nothing. I leave myself in your hands. I am yours to do your will.

This slightly comforts him. In time, he falls back to sleep.

A few hours roll by. A woman’s voice faintly hits his ear. Is he dead?

Another woman’s voice responds, No, just a drunk.

He feels someone gently touching his hand.

He’s done nothing evil.

His eyes open, and he sees a woman kneeling in front of him. Her hair is black as night, with flowing large curls. Even in this alley’s dim light, her hair shines.

She notices Seth awaken. She wears a Kevlar vest. Strapped over her shoulder is a samurai sword. Under her vest she wears some type of rubber suit. Some strange writing appears tattooed on her inner forearms. She also has black cargo pants and matching combat boots. She has an athletic figure, and two semiautomatic pistols with pink handles are strapped to her hips.

She looks back over her shoulder. I think you need to split.

Why? another voice replies.

Who are you? he asks. Why are you armed with guns, and even a sword for that matter? He pushed himself onto his feet.

That’s why, the woman says

Seth turns to whom she’s looking at, and his eyes widen and freeze. His skin turns white. Another female stands in front of him. She’s covered in glossy metal armor like that of the mythical Greeks’ time. Her armor has masterful engravings of flames and fireballs. Her long hair is golden yellow and flows out from under her helmet. The helmet has red tassels flowing up and down the back. On her back, two large pure-white wings lie tucked into her body.

I … I can’t believe what I’m seeing. He steps closer to verify what he’s witnessing. The first woman blocks him. Are you real? Is this a joke? Are you a real angel? he asks.

Curiosity pushes him past the woman, and he approaches the angel. The angel pushes him back, and he falls over. Why did you do that? I wasn’t going to do anything! he says.

The angel stands in front of him, her wings now spread out wide. It’s for your protection. I’m sorry. She looks young and fragile, yet she barely touched him and knocked him to the ground.

The angel kneels to help him back to his feet. Inadvertently, she places her hand upon his chest. Her palm glows and burns his skin. He screams in agony. She tries to remove her hand, but she can’t.

Please stop! It burns.

Again she tries to pull away but can’t. Her body appears to be weakening.

Whatever I have done, I’m sorry, he pleads.

Finally the angel’s hand releases.

He crawls away from her. His hand feels the watch he threw down. He picks it up and starts backing away down the alley in fear the angel is going to attack him. Okay, I get it. I’m leaving.

Wait! the woman yells.

The angel remains weak on her knees.

The woman helps her up. How is this possible? the woman says.

I don’t know. the angel replies.

As soon as Seth hits the alley entrance, he takes off running. He doesn’t stop or look back. Making his escape, he runs straight into a taxicab. He opens the door and hops inside.

Where to, boss? says the cabbie.

Wincing and grinding his teeth in pain, he gives the cabbie his address. The entire trip home, he fears the angel will return to kill him. The taxi pulls into his driveway, and he runs inside as fast as he can after paying the cabbie. Staring out the windows, he watches the sky, fearing to see a figure with wings land in his front yard.

An hour passes before he finally starts to relax. He inspects his wound. The T-shirt burned into his skin. Too afraid to go to the hospital, he pulls the cloth off his flesh. The pain has him pounding his fists into the bathroom sink. He opens the medicine cabinet and swallows some pain pills. The skin has turned brown and reddish on the outlines of the palm print. He places a washcloth under some cold water and lays it against the burn. He sits down in his large leather recliner, flips the leg rest up, and tries to relax. He keeps his shoes on in case he has to make a quick escape.

Midmorning the next day, he awakens. Looking down, he sees the burn is gone. Either it completely healed or he imagined the entire thing. It doesn’t take him long to realize that last night’s event was truly real. His forearms now have the exact same tattoo-like writing the woman had.

What the fuck?

He tries to rub the markings off, but they don’t smudge or smear. His brain is racing a million miles a minute trying to process things. His first idea is the news. Maybe someone else saw the angel and the woman. He turns on the TV and waits. Then he hears news that he wasn’t expecting to hear.

A reporter stands outside the prison of the man who was high on cocaine and alcohol who slammed into his family car that night, the man who took everything he loved away from him. She announces that Sean Pallus, the man sent to prison on vehicular manslaughter charges, died from a prison accident. Now Seth has forgotten all about the angel. His eyes and ears focus on the reporter.

He thinks back to the trial, how the man arrogantly stared at him as Seth gave his testimony of what happened. The trial brought so much publicity, not because of how Seth’s family died but because of who Sean Pallus was. His father was wealthy and the new mayor, another overly rich man who bought himself a seat in politics. The mayor’s son, in Seth’s eyes, was just another spoiled rich kid. The boy embraced the reporters and cameras. He smiled and played the victim of society. It made Seth sick to his stomach. Any other person would have acted remorseful and received Seth’s forgiveness. Not this boy—twenty-three years old, born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Seth remembers the day of the accident, when the paramedics were taking him and Sean to the hospital, the boy smirked at him, as if it were humorous to see Seth cry over the loss of his family. The memories hurt, but he smiles a little today, because justice was served in his eyes.

The reporter finishes her presentation and then does an interview with the mayor, who seems upset, but Seth doesn’t care. After that, the news goes on, but there’s no mention of angels. He turns off the television and tries to decide what to do next.

After a couple hours, he ponders the idea of visiting his wife’s former church. The priest there presided over the funeral proceedings. Talking to a man of God seems like a good idea to get answers. He throws on his jacket and heads out the front door. He remembers as he stares at his driveway that he doesn’t have his car. So he goes inside and grabs his wife’s car keys. He hops into her minivan, opens the garage door, and heads to her old church.

Inside, the church is enormous, larger than it appears from outside. The ceiling is immensely high, featuring vast amounts of colors, tan with gold, red, and green trim. Golden chandeliers hang down over rows of brown varnished pews, which appear endless. Many huge stained-glass windows extends right to the ceiling. A large statue of Jesus on a cross hangs over a giant white altar in the front. Only a few people sit praying in the front of the church. He walks down the center aisle. The floors are covered in black and white tiles. He sits down near the front, hanging back as if guilt keeps him from getting too close.

He waits for the priest. Sitting there, he contemplates whether he should pray himself. The people stand after praying, draw a cross across their chest with their hands, and kneel before the statue of Christ. As they walk out, he stares at them. They smile and exit. Seth returns his focus back to the statue.

Everything is changed now. To believe God really exists and to know he exists are two completely different things.

Mr. Alecto? says a voice.

Seth turns and stands. You remember who I am? Seth asks.

Of course, and I’m happy to see you in here. I always hoped that one day you would join your family at Mass. But enough of that. What brings you here?

Reluctant to speak, he scratches his head and looks back at the statue as if God were staring at him through it.

The priest notices his hesitation. Is it important? the priest asks.

Yes, very, but it is very awkward for me to speak about it, says Seth.

The priest becomes intrigued by this. Come back to my office; we can speak privately. He leads Seth to the front of the church and off to the right. I don’t usually do this, but I know you aren’t a churchgoing person, and God never turns anyone away.

The office is large. A hefty oak desk sits at the back of the room near the window. Folders and old books are stacked on top. The walls are light blue, covered in religious paintings. A photo on the desk sits facing toward the door—a photo of the priest and the Pope.

So, tell me what’s on your mind. The priest guides Seth to a wooden chair in front of his desk. He sits, and the priest sits behind his desk.

Well, Father … After my family died, I started drinking heavily. Last night while drinking at a bar, I got into a fight. I really hurt the guy, and they called the police. So I ran. Well, I passed out in an alley hiding from the cops. I awoke to voices; a woman was standing above me. The other voice was another woman. I arose, and the other woman was an angel.

You mean you saw a real angel? he asks, confused.

Yes!

Doubt sets in, and he questions Seth’s story. Are you sure? Maybe you imagined it, because of the alcohol? That does happen.

Seth looked up at the ceiling in frustration and then back at the priest. That’s what I thought when I woke up. But last night I freaked out when I saw her. She knocked me down when I got too close. Then she tried to help me up. She placed her hand on my chest and burned me through my shirt and everything. She became weak, and I ran for my life.

Do you have proof of the burn? the priest asks.

When I awoke, the burn was gone, but I have these … He pulls up the sleeves on his navy turtleneck shirt.

The priest puts his glasses on and looks closely at the markings. They look like a symbolical form of writing. I’ve never seen anything like it before. He scribbles the markings on a piece of paper and places it in a manila folder. I’ll send it to someone at the Vatican I know and see what he can tell me.

Thank you, Father.

They shake hands.

The second their hands grip each other, a strange feeling shoots through Seth; his vision goes black, and a white light appears in the distance and shoots toward him. He sees young children standing barely dressed, posing for pictures in some dark basement. He soon realizes he’s looking through the eyes of the priest. He sees the priest opening an office safe and placing these photos inside. Suddenly the vision breaks.

The priest screams out his name. Seth! Are you all right? What happened? You blacked out.

Seth now begins to feel a huge tightening in his chest and drops to his knees. Intense anger and rage come out of nowhere, building inside him. He stands and points his finger at the priest. How could you? You are supposed to be a man of God!

Confused and now frightened, the priest steps backward. What are you talking about? He pleads with Seth to sit and talk.

But Seth can’t; the rage inside him is flowing in his veins and feels like fire. All those poor children—how could you? You are a man of God, not a perverted monster.

Now acting evasive, the priest says, What children? I’m no pervert. Are you all right?

Seth storms to a picture frame and rips it off the wall, exposing the safe.

That’s the church’s safe. Stay away. If you need money, I’ll give you money.

Seth turns away from the safe and stares at the priest with enraged eyes.

The priest grows silent in fear.

Seth turns back to the safe, punches in the combination, and opens it. He grabs the photos and throws them directly in the priest’s face.

Dropping to his knees, the priest begs and pleads for forgiveness. Forgive me. God has chosen you to confess my sins. You have shown me the light. I will repent. I swear.

Forgive you? What about all those poor children’s lives you destroyed? Those children need justice. They need peace of mind. He draws back his arm and strikes the priest in the jaw.

The priest’s head snaps back and falls to the floor. Please, I’m sorry. Please don’t hit me. He moans in pain and struggles to get to his feet.

Seth grabs the wooden chair and smashes the chair over the priest’s back. The priest turns over. Grabbing a broken chair leg, Seth mounts the priest, his heart pounding at a fleeting pace and now in an uncontrollable stasis.

The priest raises his hands to protect himself, his eyes ripe with fear, and watches vengeful ones staring back at him. His eyes widen as Seth’s arm raises to the sky.

Swinging downward, as if God flew down himself from the heavens, Seth strikes the man. On contact, blood sprays in multiple directions. Over and over, Seth’s arm swings God’s wrath upon the priest.

When the priest stops resisting, Seth is out of breath. He crawls off the limp body and storms out of the church. He escapes the scene and returns home, where his rage subsides. In the mirror, he sees his face is covered in blood. Guilt sets in; he killed another human being. He lost all control. He can’t figure out what made him kill this man. He never felt so much anger before, ever!

At home, the tension in his chest is almost gone, along with the anger. In the shower, as the blood flows off his skin, he feels remorse and slides his back down the shower wall. He cries in shame.

I killed another human being. What have I done? Why couldn’t I control my anger? That wasn’t me. He weeps and drinks the rest of the evening, waiting for police to break down his door and arrest him. Arrest him for murder.

Chapter 2

It’s been two weeks since Seth killed the priest. Fear of capture has him trapped in his home. Since the night previous to the murder, he hasn’t been drinking. He feels much better about everything. The memories of his family don’t cripple him as before, and he can’t explain why.

Although he’s still curious about the strange woman and the angel, that event has taken a backseat since killing the priest. But he’s ready now to reestablish his focus and answer those questions about that night. He decides it’s time to get those answers. His best bet would be to start where he first saw them. He heads to that alley.

The alley remains the same, but daytime reveals how bad the alley really is. He searches and searches, until he comes across an abandoned warehouse. The warehouse lies in ruin, destroyed by fire and water. Windows are broken. Some of the red brick walls have toppled over, leaving huge gaps at multiple levels. Even the top floor was destroyed by fire. The entire building is surrounded by police tape. The tape reads CRIME SCENE. DO NOT CROSS.

He steps under the tape and sneaks inside the factory. He notices bloodstains and black slime on the ground. Seth looks for more clues. He moves remnants of building walls, and a silver object catches his eye. Kneeling over, he finds a shell casing. The casing has a remarkable shine, very distinct.

For hours he searches but finds nothing more than debris. The shell casing becomes his only clue. The cold late October wind blows through the broken windows, cutting through his clothes. He releases a huge

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