Aicha Zoubair

Jessica Bell

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Book of Paul by Richard Long (Excerpt)

Pretty

Birds were chirping, dogs were barking. It was a bright, bright beautiful cool crisp day in the neighborhood. Junkies were up with their crackhead cousins, prowling the lanes of Tompkins Square Park, looking for a not quite empty vial to suck on or maybe a john so they could buy one. The gentry joggers were up already, circling the park in huffy, puffy laps, their pounding hoofbeats echoing the clang-whirl-shwoop-crunch of the mob- owned garbage trucks.

Ho-hum. Rose slowly fingered the ring on her nipple and wondered why she couldn’t get back to sleep. The garbage trucks were the obvious reason. The booms and bangs down below sounded like artillery fire. Still, she usually slept like a pile of cannonballs at Gettysburg. When she went down, she stayed down. At least until noon. She worked nights at the tat- too parlor, happily infecting all the ink-crazed kids with HIV and hepatitis C (if they were lucky). She didn’t realize she was doing that. She’d been following the sterilization techniques handed down by her creepy boss. Unfortunately, they weren’t any more effective than the jar of clear blue liquid that the barbershop used to sterilize combs. In the time she’d been working, she had already been responsible for the possibly fatal infection of eleven pierced and tattooed members of the “tribal community.”

So Rose, blissfully unaware of her crimes against humanity, lay wide awake at nine-fifteen in the morning, twisting and turning her nipple ring. She wasn’t sure why she was awake, but now that she was, she knew what she wanted to do about it. As she rubbed the two silver rings that held her clit hostage, she wondered again why she was up so early and why she felt so…horny? Hungry? What?

She knocked off a quick O like she was popping a wine cork, light and charming but nothing special. That’s when she realized it wasn’t a sex thing. So what was it?

She gripped the rings on both nipples and stretched them upward as far as she could, dragging her small twin mounds along like a pair of stub- born mules. She pulled and pulled until her nipples ached, then held the rings at the Maximum Stretching Point, feeling the pain course through her, then settle back down again. She didn’t back off even a millimeter, just took some deep slow breaths for a moment or two and tried to pull them out even farther.

She thought of a dancer doing hamstring stretches, and she figured the technique and level of pain must be fairly equivalent. After slowly yanking them out again, she thought, I’m in training, and started giggling so hard she had to let go. Thwack. Her tiny tits and sore, swollen nipples bounced back against her chest like a pair of hard rubber balls. Boing. Giggle. Ho- hum. Hmmm. So it wasn’t the sex and it wasn’t the pain or the sexpain or the painsex. So what was it? She looked out the window at the blue morn- ing sky and the green bushy trees and the squirrel tightrope-walking on the fire escape and the cling-clang of the garbage truck and…

She was happy. She was unreasonably, deliriously happy! But why? The “why” brought a tiny frown to her tiny face, but the “happy” was so much stronger that it brushed away the “why” with a single gust of cool fresh air that came blowing through her curtains.

She threw the covers off the bed and let the breeze wash over her until her skin was a textured roadmap of goose bumps, pits, posts, rings and colored ink. She breathed and the ink breathed with her. She sat on the edge of the bed and jingled like Donner and Blitzen. She smiled and she looked out the window and knew something good was coming her way.

Rose stood up and stretched and took a deep breath and yawned and padded into the hallway where her yoga mat was waiting. She spent the next half hour going through her routine, a rare carryover of the training and discipline that dominated her preadolescent life as a competitive gym- nast. She could do headstands and handstands and downward-facing dogs like nobody’s business. In fact, it took some fairly severe contortions for her to even break a sweat, but by the final lotus pose, a slippery sheen of perspiration coated her arms and chest.

She sniffed her armpits, bowed to the altar at the end of the hall and lit three candles. The candles were nestled between a variety of crystals and minerals, some so brightly colored she often wondered how something that vibrant and wondrous could actually be growing like a plant on the walls of caves in total darkness. Or like her amethyst geode, actually growing inside a rock, like an egg hatching a million-year-old purple crystal baby. Her favorite gemstone was one her mom gave her, a brilliant red crystal she called a bloodstone. Its smooth, squarish surface was easily five inches across and three inches thick, one of the largest of its kind, she’d been told. She rubbed it for good luck like she did almost every day, then pranced into the bathroom for a very long, very hot shower.

She hummed a happy song while she soaped and scrubbed and rubbed and shaved and shaved and shaved. She wasn’t sure what the song was or where she’d heard it before. After three more humming choruses, it suddenly came to her and she could see Natalie Wood dancing in that dress shop, looking in the mirror while the other girls scolded her for being so silly. Rose looked in her defogging shower mirror, liked what she saw and sang out right along with them, “I feel pretty…oh, so pretty…”

“Everything you’ve ever believed about yourself…about the description of reality you’ve clung to so stubbornly all your life…all of it…every bit of it…is an illusion.”

In the rubble-strewn wasteland of Alphabet City, a squalid tenement conceals a treasure “beyond all imagining”– an immaculately preserved, fifth century codex. The sole repository of ancient Hermetic lore, it contains the alchemical rituals for transforming thought into substance, transmuting matter at will…and attaining eternal life.

When Rose, a sex and pain addicted East Village tattoo artist has a torrid encounter with Martin, a battle-hardened loner, they discover they are unwitting pawns on opposing sides of a battle that has shaped the course of human history. At the center of the conflict is Paul, the villainous overlord of an underground feudal society, who guards the book’s occult secrets in preparation for the fulfillment of an apocalyptic prophecy.

The action is relentless as Rose and Martin fight to escape Paul’s clutches and Martin’s destiny as the chosen recipient of Paul’s sinister legacy.  Science and magic, mythology and technology converge in a monumental battle where the stakes couldn’t be higher: control of the ultimate power in the universe–the Maelstrom.

The Book of Paul is the first of seven volumes in a sweeping mythological narrative tracing the mystical connections between Hermes Trismegistus in ancient Egypt, Sophia, the female counterpart of Christ, and the Celtic druids of Clan Kelly.

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Genre – Paranormal Thriller / Dark Fantasy

Rating – R

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Website http://www.thebookofpaul.com/