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AND THE BEAT GOES ON excerpt

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message 1: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Krauss (tracykrauss) Prologue “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…” Genesis 6:5 KJV Tom-tom . . . tom-tom . . . Pulsing . . . throbbing . . . the earth reverberated. Dancers leapt to the ancient rhythm, their half naked bodies, glistening with sweat in the firelight, twisted and arched, as the primal beat called to the pulse within. Overhead, the display case of heaven sparkled, the diamonds large and brilliant against their black velvet nest. Accompanying this was a symphony of sound; a full choir of heavenly voices carried on the solar winds through the crystalline canopy of heaven to the sons of earth below. The heavy scent of giant orchids which bloomed along the outer perimeter of the temple gardens mingled with the spices and perfumes that were thrown into the fire by the temple priestesses. It had all been set in place for his honor; soon to be absolute ruler and son of the gods himself. High above the ornate alter, around which the dancers poured their carnal worship, a handsome, young, would-be king watched from his seat of honor. His heart beat quickened, for he knew what was coming next. He had once before witnessed the ancient ritual, as a child, when his own father had been crowned king; had become god.
Abruptly, the drum ceased. A hush swept through the crowd of onlookers who circled the stone platform. The dancers and priestesses scattered. From out of the shadows marched twelve beasts. They were human in appearance except for the gigantic wings, leathery like those of a bat, which were folded across their backs and whose tips nearly touched the ground. Each man was tall and well muscled - the finest and bravest in the kingdom. They were the king‟s guard, especially chosen and groomed from boyhood; a privilege for only the strongest and bravest. They would accompany the king wherever he went – even to the grave. As descendants of the Nephilim - the race of giants born from the union of the gods and mortal women - they feared nothing; not even death. The guards lined up on the large platform, facing the king, as the chief among them solemnly ascended the flight of stone steps that led from the platform and alter to the king‟s throne. From here he would have a good view of every spectacle. The guard saluted, turned, and gave the signal to the others. With precision, the guards stepped back to form a corridor. The here to fore silent crowd could not help but murmur. A wave of „oohs‟ rippled through the masses as six burly slaves led the captive forward, shackled, hobbled, and muzzled. Even then, it was a struggle to get the huge beast prostrate upon the altar of sacrifice. Its beady eyes glistened as its leather wings twitched. A priest came forward, gilded knife held high over the creature‟s heart. A slave released
the muzzle that had kept the creature silent and the knife plunged directly into the heart of the animal as a piercing scream echoed through the forest, seeming to rebound from the canopy of the brilliant sky. Other skilled workers moved quickly into place, and with a few precise cuts, the huge leather wings were removed. Next the head was severed, the brains neatly extracted, leaving only the long pointed beak, majestic red crest, and beady eyes intact. Blood dripped from the newly hewn crown as it was placed reverently in the hands of the chief guard. With dignified solemnity, he carried the grisly trophy up the long stairway to the king. The priest followed closely on his heels. The prized headpiece was placed on the king‟s head, even as blood continued to drip from its depths onto his hair and beard. The priest, who had brought with him a goblet of the animal‟s blood rendered from its jugular vein, presented it to the sovereign. He whispered the ancient words of the deity into the king‟s bloody ear; an incantation meant only for the gods, not mortal ears. Slowly the new sovereign raised the goblet to his lips. Without wavering he took a swallow from the cup, letting the blood trickle from the corners of his mouth. Lowering the goblet, his handsome face was suddenly spoiled by a malicious grin. The priest stepped back as four others came bearing the wings, still attached as one piece by the skin of the creatures back. They were strong men, but even they let out a grunt as the heavy cape was settled onto the shoulders of the monarch. He thought for a moment he would not be able to bear the weight of it. Once the wings were properly cleaned and
tanned, they would weight much less and he would be expected to wear them for all public ceremonies. But for this night, he must bear the full weight of the mantle, blood and all. The blood, which the priest had mixed with some special herbs, was giving him new strength, however. And the words...those secret words passed down from the outer world of his ancestors . . . words which no human could hear . . . these also gave him power. He was one of them, now. A god among men. He straightened majestically in his seat, as if the weight on his shoulders was nothing more than an ordinary cloak made of woven material. He smiled his bloody smile again, flashes of white peaking through the glistening red, and raised his hand in salute. A cheer went up from the crowd. The heart beat of the tom-tom was revived. People rushed forward to clap and dance around the flaming torches that skirted the perimeter of the platform, as the dancers resumed their gyrations around the altar of incense. The tempo became frenzied as dancers and spectators alike became more agitated. Some began screaming and wailing; others tore at their clothing, leaving themselves exposed. Just when it seemed the festivities were about to turn into a full fledged orgy, a trumpeting signal brought the writhing crowd to a standstill. The guards remained steadily at their posts, circling the outer edge of the platform. The tom-tom took up another beat, this time methodical and solemn, as a priestess, waving a fragrant branch of flowers before her, led a procession from the darkness of the forest
into the light of the torches and then up into the centre of the platform. With her were twenty-four maidens, all beautiful in their delicately fluttering garments; all virgins, never even setting sight on a member of the male gender before. They had been raised for this purpose; innocent, yet knowing that their lives held great significance. Now was the time for the fulfillment of that purpose. The air was heavy with perspiration and heat. The tension and anticipation of the coming spectacle were almost too much for the crowd to bear. The priestess finished her brief words of blessing. One word from the King now was all it would take. With relish the newly crowned king surveyed the virgins. Beautiful, innocent and ripe, every one. His own lustful desires rose up and he grinned widely. He would also have his pick, but at a later time, in the privacy of his own chambers. Suddenly, a flashing sheet of light swept across the sky to the east, followed by a deep rumbling much like the mighty cascading noise of a waterfall. The crowd gasped in fear. Perhaps it was a sign of approval from the gods, he thought. He hoped. Somewhere deep within he heard another voice. His father had told him once about a man - a lunatic - who had been building a boat from before his grandfather‟s time. He was a self proclaimed prophet and said that the earth was to be destroyed by a flood. It seemed ridiculous then and even more so now. The crazy man had been giving his warning for hundreds of years and nothing had happened yet.
Besides, he was a god himself, now. He was absolute ruler, at least in this part of the world. His own ancestors had left the area where the lunatic lived long ago, partly in search of treasure; partly to get away from his teaching. They had settled far away in a prosperous and fertile land. And here they had been met by the gods. As if in answer to his thoughts, another amazing spectacle lit the sky. This time it was a giant forked bolt of light, followed by an even louder crash. The people gasped again; someone even screamed. He must take control. With a lion like roar, the king lifted his arm, giving the signal. “The gods, my fathers, are pleased! Let the ceremony continue!” The guards, who had previously been standing at attention around the perimeter of the platform, suddenly jumped into action. Without any delicacy or ceremony, they charged at the group of maidens, grabbing their chosen prey and proceeding to rape them with violence and brutality right before the gaping crowd of onlookers. The mob cheered on encouragement as the fetid orgy continued before their eyes on the platform. Potential escapees were thrown back into the arena for more, as each man exercised his rights to the full. Before long, many onlookers joined in the debauchery; some willingly, others not. It did not matter. This was one night when anything and everything was acceptable. The king looked on in sadistic pleasure, hungry lust burning within his own loins. But gods had control over their desires. He must remember that. His time would come later. Another sheet of lightning crashed along the horizon, illuminating the spectacle below. This was followed by a forked bolt, spectacular in its intensity and brilliance. Some of
the people started to scatter in fear; others seemed to be spurred on. The king ignored the uncertainty in his own heart. With another roar, he stood with outstretched arms and shouted his approval. “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6: 12-13 KJV
Chapter One The African sun beat down on his head in the open jeep as Dr. Mark Graham and his companion bumped along what could hardly be called a road. A local man from the Nbedele tribe, hired on as part of the archeological team, drove the jeep along the hazardous path up the mountain. Hair raising switch backs and steep inclines didn‟t seem to faze the driver as he maneuvered the vehicle with one hand. Some pebbles cascaded off the trail‟s edge to the ravine below. Good thing he was used to it, Mark decided, or he might have been tempted to bail. As he braced himself for the next jarring pothole, Mark thought about yesterday‟s meeting with the Zimbabwean government officials. Everything had gone well – on the surface, at least. They had agreed to continue their sponsorship, and renewed their pledge of faith in his abilities as a leader in his field. Yet there was this nagging sense at the back of his mind that something rippled beneath the surface – something hidden either by neglect or design of which he was not aware. It was an uncomfortable feeling. Probably just his general distaste for dealing with administrators. As meticulous as he was himself, it rankled when unnecessary red tape seemed to get in the way of real progress. Added to that, it was not a trip he relished, unless absolutely necessary. His crew had been meticulously digging under the site of an ancient temple – a sacred site stringently protected by the government of Zimbabwe.


message 2: by Thea (new)

Thea Atkinson (theaatkinson) Please don't take this the wrong way, but could you add some paragraph breaks? I'd love to read this excerpt, but the font size and tightness of the prose makes it hard onscreen.


message 3: by Cleveland (new)

Cleveland | 26 comments Question. Why such a long Prologue?

Question: Why add a part of Chapter One after such a long Prologue? Was it necessary to do so when a prologue has a special function of its own in novels? It can be told in a different POV and be sufficient to whet the appetite by sticking to the action and almost leaving out the WHY, the WHO, the WHERE,the WHAT, etc.

But here in this prologue you've employed emotional descriptive scenes and told too much. No thin slice of a delicious cake here to make us want to taste more.

Remember the openings to the James Bond films? It means:a lot less reads as a lot more.
Keep writing.


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