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4464Re: [Shazam Earth S Lives on] Times Past: The Shepherd Part 6

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  • Frank Murdock
    Dec 22, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      Unexpected cliff-hanger. Nice.

      On 12/22/13, drivtaan@... <drivtaan@...> wrote:
      >
      > Part 6
      >
      >
      > The next couple days and nights were uneventful, yet Joel, once again
      > transformed, remained vigilant. He reasoned within himself that were
      > anything else to happen, it would have to be soon. On the third day of
      > travel, half way between Jericho and Bethlehem, Joel’s instincts proved
      > true.
      >
      >
      > Joel, holding his staff out beside him, kept to the clouds as he kept watch
      > over his charges. One moment, he was enjoying the warmth of the sun on his
      > face, and the in next moment, he felt the shock of something slamming into
      > his back. He was so unprepared for such an attack that he lost his grip on
      > his staff and began to plummet towards the ground below. When he hit the
      > ground, less than a mile from where the couple had stopped to rest, rocks
      > were pulverized instantly into dust and the earth beneath him gave way
      > beneath him, not finding the strength to regain its firmness until he was
      > four feet down. He barely had time to recover his wits and realize that,
      > despite everything, he wasn’t badly hurt when a hand reached down and jerked
      > him from the hole.
      >
      >
      > “Get up, boy.”
      >
      >
      > The voice was guttural, and Joel could smell the stench of brimstone with
      > every word. The shape of the being was not human, but with the sun behind
      > his attacker, he wasn’t able to clearly see the creature until it tossed him
      > aside.
      >
      >
      > No nightmare he had ever experienced could have prepared him for the
      > monstrosity standing before him. The face bore some vague resemblance to
      > that of a man, though one distorted by rage and maliciousness. Lidless eyes
      > watched his every move. Joel could almost see the blood pulsing through the
      > many veins, rushing towards black irises and plunging into crimson pupils.
      > Two slits where its nose should have been opened and closed, though he
      > suspected the creature didn’t need to breathe. An oversized mouth filled
      > with rows of teeth opened and spittle dripped off its bottom lip, puffs of
      > steam sizzled when it hit the ground. The face seemed to cover invisible
      > bone like some horrible mask, ending where the monsters ears should be. As
      > large as the neck of a gourd, two deathly white maggots writhed and
      > squirmed, eternally burrowing into the thing’s temples.
      >
      >
      > The creature had no true neck for the headless face to rest upon. It was
      > connected to the rest of the body by a thorny spine that extended two feet
      > above its shoulders. At the apex, it curved downward where it attached to
      > the face in the center of its forehead. Its body was muscular and covered,
      > mostly, in what appeared to be ashen-gray petrified tree bark. The few areas
      > of the body not covered revealed the corded muscle beneath. Faster than any
      > animal Joel had ever see, the monster’s hand shot out and grabbed his head.
      > Long six-jointed fingers burned where they made contact with his skin and
      > thick claws of petrified thorns dug into the back of his neck.
      >
      >
      > “We are well away from those you seek to protect,” the thing said. “I shall
      > make your death loud and excruciating, and then I shall kill your charges.
      > Even in death you will hear their screams. I shall slice the whelp from her
      > belly and dine upon its tender flesh.”
      >
      >
      > Joel knew the fiend was trying to goad him into doing something foolish, so
      > he decided, against the wisdom of Mordecai, to do just that.
      >
      >
      > “Shazam!”
      >
      >
      > The lightning struck, transforming him back into a boy and knocking the
      > demon to the ground. Suddenly smaller, Joel slipped from his foe’s grasp as
      > it was thrown back. In the briefest of instances, the boy saw the monsters
      > wings of rotted, poison leaves smoldering. Taking advantage of the
      > creature’s predicament, Joel dove at him, shouting the old man’s name once
      > again.
      >
      >
      > “Shazam!”
      >
      >
      > The monster was climbing to its root-like feet when the transformed
      > shepherd hit him. Driving his shoulder into the demon’s chest, the
      > combatants were once again on the ground, this time locked in a battle to
      > the death. There was a snap as one of the thing’s wings broke and hung
      > dangling from its back. Fueled more by outrage than injury, the demon
      > brought a knee up and drove it into Joel’s gut. In addition to the impact,
      > he also felt the bite of a thorn being drove into his stomach. The wisdom of
      > Mordecai recommended he withdraw and check his wound, but the strength of
      > Samson demanded he hit harder; youth chose strength and Joel struck as hard
      > as he could. There was a crunch of bone being shattered in the demon’s face
      > and several teeth fell out, each one biting into his flesh as they touched
      > him.
      >
      >
      > “You will pay for that, boy!” the creature roared.
      >
      >
      > The two rolled away from each other and stood. The fiend grabbed his chin
      > and pulled it back into place, while a few feet away, Joel began pulling the
      > teeth from his arms and chest.
      >
      >
      > “I am not afraid of you,” Joel said, noticing that his words seemed to
      > irritate the maggots almost as much as they did the demon.
      >
      >
      > “You fear me, boy. You are just too stupid to realize it.”
      >
      >
      > Joel ignored the taunt. “I pity you,” he said. “All you have is your
      > hatred.”
      >
      >
      > The demon roared and attacked. “And that hatred is now inside of you,” it
      > said, throwing everything it had at its enemy.
      >
      >
      > Joel sensed the truth in its words. He grabbed one of the demon’s
      > outstretched arms and stepped to the opposite side.
      >
      >
      > With his balance thrown off so unexpectedly, the demon tried to shift his
      > weight to keep from falling again. Too late, he realized that his move would
      > put the shepherd behind him.
      >
      >
      > It must have been the thorn, Joel thought. It must have been how he spread
      > his hatred into me.
      >
      >
      > Before the demon could slow his momentum, Joel grabbed the section of spine
      > that connected the face to the rest of the body. Pushed by the hatred now
      > filling his mind, he strained with all the strength he could muster, but the
      > spine would not snap.
      >
      >
      > Using his good wing, the demon tried to swat Joel away. His efforts were as
      > useless as Joel’s.
      >
      >
      > “No.”
      >
      >
      > The voice was barely louder than a whisper, and the demon seemed to take no
      > notice of it. Joel, on the other hand, ceased trying to break his foe’s neck
      > though he did not relinquish his hold.
      >
      >
      > “Remember what the old man said.”
      >
      >
      > Joel tried to focus on the voice. It sounded strange hearing it because it
      > sounded unlike the one he heard when he spoke in this form, but he could not
      > deny knowing its origin. It was that of his younger self.
      >
      >
      > “What words?” he whispered.
      >
      >
      > The demon struggled to break free. Too late, he realized that the hatred he
      > had infected his foe with was preventing him from attaining victory.
      >
      >
      > “The sources of your power,” Joel’s younger self said. “They are the key to
      > the demon’s defeat.”
      >
      >
      > The shepherd began to think on these things. Samson’s strength was helping
      > him fight the demon, and though he was holding him, he was far from beating
      > him. He had remained faithful to his mission as the prophet Zechariah had
      > done centuries before. Asa’s dedication to seeing Israel return to God was
      > no greater than his dedication to see the couple safely to their
      > destination. Mordecai’s wisdom had guided him on his journey from the start.
      > Had he shown the generosity of Araunah, the forgiveness of Hosea ? At the
      > mention of the final two, he realized that they were among the most powerful
      > of his gifts. He knew what he had to do to win this fight.
      >
      >
      > With a speed that surprised even himself, Joel released the demon’s neck
      > and grabbed the maggots. Pushing his strength to its limits, he pulled with
      > everything in him. “You put this hatred in me,” he said, through gritted
      > teeth. “You tried to take my joy and cause me to fail in my task. You tried
      > to kill me.”
      >
      >
      > The demon struggled even more to break free, its own voice screaming out in
      > pain.
      >
      >
      > With one final burst of strength, the shepherd pulled the maggots free, and
      > with a shout, exclaimed, “But, I forgive you!”
      >
      >
      >


      --
      sincerely,

      Frank G. Murdock
      Acadiana Area Council of the Blind President and founder
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