Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider is hopping all over the globe and readers demand a sequel! I am excited to inform you that the sequel, Rabbit Legacy is nearly done...and I absolutely LOVE it. This is an excerpt that is currently Chapter Three. Of course, it may be edited, moved or deleted altogether depending on how the final edit goes, but please enjoy reading about what happens when you transform from earthbound diety to lowly mortal and then are charged with apostasy by your former brethren...oooooo... check it out and leave me a comment! ~~ ellen
(Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider spoiler warning...but read it anyway!)
(Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider spoiler warning...but read it anyway!)
Oct. 31st, 9:00 pm
The Rakum were on the hunt, Father Damien was their prey, and he’d let them in the house. Damien considered his options.
He’d let them in. Why not? It was Halloween and they said the proper phrase. He’d been hearing it all night from the neighborhood children: Trick or Treat! But once these two burst in, they chased him to the stairwell of the tidy two-story colonial that he called home. Now on the second floor, he considered the three bedrooms and the toilet on the hall. Where could he hide? Could he hide at all?
Damien tracked hastily toward the furthest room and paused.
“Damien? Father? This pursuit is trying my patience.” The taunt wafted up to meet him from the first floor. They were coming up the stairs, the picture of wicked nonchalance.
The intruders were Brethren. Underlings. But which two? He hadn’t gotten a good look at them when they burst in. In his day he knew them all by name but without seeing a face he could only guess. He had been god to them, for two millennia. One hundred thousand Rakum bent their knee to the Ten Fathers. It had been a glorious life. But now? He was an outcast. A traitor. An apostate.
And now, these two subordinates, barely old enough to wipe their noses, had come to serve up justice of their own making. Or the justice of their new leader.
The oldest living Elder. Seven hundred and fifty years old with a heart as black as coal. Damien knew him well; had overseen his discipling under Jack Dawn. Had personally taught the youth the more complicated feats of telekinesis and apparent teleportation. It was ironic that the skills of self-preservation he taught the young Rakum centuries ago were now coming back to bite him. Literally.
“Just surrender. We can do this the easy way if you just surrender.”
The same voice. They were coming up the stairs calmly, side-by-side. Damien looked around, eyes wide, and then up to the ceiling. The attic access door was directly above him. With no express plan in mind, he yanked the cord and pulled down the mechanical step ladder. His knuckles rapped against his pocketed cell phone and he thought of calling for help. One name came to mind right away.
Canaan. A Rakum Elder on the fence. Not guaranteed to help but neither was he a sure enemy. Living in seclusion with a mortal female, the Rakum Elder escaped the wrath of God that night at Assembly. And now, years later, only Damien knew of his location. He knew because he was a Father; very little got past him when he was among the Rakum.
He’d contacted Canaan once, telepathically, six months after the debacle at the Cave. Damien was taking stock, counting allies and foes, when he stumbled across the Elder’s thoughts very close by. In a desperate attempt to keep her with him forever, the reclusive Elder from Britain was contemplating feeding his mate his blood. To keep her young. To keep her virile. To keep her period. Such an act would transform her into a Rabbit and such intentions carried much weight. With Damien only miles away, he picked up Canaan’s accidental transmission easily.
In response to what he’d overheard, Damien made one simple telepathic relay to the Elder: “I’m watching you.”
The Elder had sent back, “And who’s watching you?” Canaan’s response was hard to comprehend then, but he thought he understood now.
They never spoke again. Damien’s telepathic abilities diminished over the first two years until just before his Change, he could only overhear the thoughts of those in his sight. Because of this, he found it easy to avoid contact with the remaining Brethren—Rakum and Apostate. Yet somehow, tonight, they had found him.
They’d been watching him.
The notion occurred to Damien and he pursed his lips. Why not? The humans swore by it. Damien fumbled for his phone and dialed the three tones with his thumb without removing it from his pocket. He left the line open and said nothing. Sometimes in the movies, it worked…
“We have other things to do tonight, Father. Plans. Come on.”
This voice was different; higher and more sarcastic than the first. Damien narrowed his eyes. The respect he garnered as a leader of his people was hard to live without. Since that fateful night seven years ago when the Rabbit demoralized Abroghia, the High Father, Damien had been on the run. At the time, he did not understand the woman’s entreaty regarding her God, but he understood the end result. Those who refused to at least listen to her words would perish where they stood. So Damien attended, stood on the stage, right behind Beth Rider, standing abreast the leaders of their Kind. Nine Fathers stood broken and sullen on the platform that night; Johann, Theophilus, Umbarto, Amos, Yuri, Wornal, Kin, Duris and himself. Where were they now? Damien did not know. They went their separate ways that night, never to look back, lest an unseen force rip them apart. And Damien was the one unanimously chosen to protect Isaac…
“Father, you’ll give yourself a heart attack trying to outrun us. Don’t be a fool…”
Damien grimaced at the hateful words and sought an escape route. He was helpless; as helpless as that night on the stage. Standing behind the Rabbit as she prayed for their redemption. If he’d only known then what he eventually figured out seven years later. His mind went to her Rakum supporters who stood by her that night; Dawn’s Lieutenant Michael Stone, Tomás’ errant youngster David Walker, a competent Elder named Roman and Damien’s own blood son, Javier d’Millier. All but Stone had been transformed by then. The odor of human flesh filled the Main Hall that evening and nearly drove Damien mad.
When the Rabbit gave them an option to save themselves by opening their minds to her words, he did so and was spared. Half of his Brethren consented to her offer of redemption and began a slow walk toward humanity. Twenty thousand transformed to fully mortal in the first twenty-four months. But there were those who rejected her words entirely and slithered off into the night. Damien was one of these. He took little Isaac and fled. The Rakum were destitute and vulnerable for the first time in their lives. When Abroghia deserted them, he took with him the spiritual protection that carried them as a Race since the Great Flood.
“I can hear your bones creaking old man. What a sorry state. What a pitiful end to a great long life.”
Damien scowled at the derisive comments; wounded by them. He scooted up the attic ladder carefully and covered the distance to the far window. The brute was right—his entire body ached.
In the Cave’s Main Hall seven years ago, he listened to the Rabbit and afterwards went on the run. Running from God and running from the truth the Rabbit so innocently deposited in every listening ear.
A short seven days ago by a hasty confession of faith, like Michael Stone and the others, he was transformed into a mortal man.
Ironically, if the two apostate hunters had come for him a week earlier, he could have defended himself. As a Rakum Father, he possessed powers beyond the imagination. He could burst a Rakum’s heart with a thought. With a glance he could incapacitate any assailant. But now? He was as helpless as a babe. He was human and more than that, an old man. When he sloughed off his Rakum spirit, he was left a wiry and bent seventy- year-old heart patient, taking diuretics and in need of a hearing aid. Damien had never been so frightened in his long life.
“Oh my god, Damien! The attic? Where’re you going next? The roof?” The first Rakum taunted him as they climbed the ladder to the landing.
Damien took in the entire attic in a glance and crossed to a small decorative window in the peak. On the lawn below, children played in the moonlight enjoying the clearest Halloween night in a decade. Tiny ghosts and witches crisscrossed the sidewalks, their miniature bodies glowing with chemically enhanced bracelets and necklaces that resembled fireflies in flight. One of the cherubs, probably nine or ten, glanced up then and Damien reflexively squint his eyes to focus on the features. For an instant, a split second really, the boy resembled Isaac. Damien scoffed and looked away, hidden from sight by the lack of light in the attic. Isaac was no longer a child as he was no longer innocent. He had grown into the image of his father and that was bothersome enough.
In the Semitic tongues, the name roughly translated He Laughs Last. Damien smirked inwardly. Indeed, the boy was their creator’s last laugh. The last Rakum ever born; High Father Abroghia’s final effort to reproduce himself.
Isaac. The boy everyone secretly feared and openly abhorred.
Isaac; who was foretelling the future before he could walk.
Isaac; who was moved to the Chamber of Fathers at age thirteen to be trained up in private. What an experiment. It had never been done—take a young Rakum out of Group-Lair to be proselytized in the Cave by the oldest of their kind.
But there had never been a Rakum quite like Isaac. Where was he? Was he safe?
Damien grunted at his memory’s flights of fancy and looked around the attic. There was no time to reminisce nor mourn lost sons. He was on the run for his life and the Rakum below were heading up.
The two-foot in diameter window opened out.
He could fit his body through there. He could go onto the roof. But what then? He couldn’t jump down. His arthritic knees ached at the thought.
The Rakum were in the attic now only fifty feet away. Damien backed up to the window and faced them. Would he see daybreak? He’d waited two millennia to see the last seven sunrises; was that all he was to have? Damien was loathe to admit it, but he wished to see Javier; the last of his natural-born offspring. And little Isaac, whom now he considered a son. Rakum never developed parental bonds but he was human now. His heart ached to know them once more and see them in the light of God and His kingdom…
“Rufus wants to see you Damien. For real. No tricks.”
Tyson and Gage. Their names came to him now as he studied their faces in the moonlight that seeped in around him. Yet these two had been hitting the Dead Buzz; eating the flesh of corpses. The tale-tell signs were evident in the unnaturally bulging eyes, the drooping jowls and dripping saliva. They’d been at it a few months at least and Damien knew that if they did not stop soon, they’d lose all skin tone and upright posture. They were morphing into the dead.
You are what you eat, after all.
A thousand years ago, he’d seen it often, but the practice was outlawed in the 16th Century. Yet who remained to enforce the code of the Rakum now?
Tyson, shorter, greasy and rapacious nudged Gage roughly to get him moving. Gage gestured with a fat finger and spoke slowly as if addressing an errant child
“We got Theophilus already. See—you won’t be alone. You guys can rehash old times.”
Damien fumbled with the window latch behind him. Tyson inclined his head and bumped his fellow with an elbow. They were on to him.
“Seriously.” Tyson hissed; a thread of black drool hanging from his slack lips. He lurched forward and Damien held up his hand.
“Stop.” His eyes flitted between the Rakum he once called servants. Damien took a deep breath. He was in terrible danger. And he was all alone.
Or was he?
“You are a pitiful old man, Damien. You can no more control us than you can your own bladder.” Gage chuckled and hurled a few more insults as he crept forward.
Damien looked to the ceiling. The rafters were old and dusty; blue light danced on cobwebs set high for eternity.
He was not alone. His confession a week ago proved it when he spoke to the God of the humans and was changed.
Damien closed his eyes and lowered his upraised arm.
“Into your hands, Master.” He muttered and dropped to his knees.
Then everything happened at once.
One uniformed officer cleared the attic opening and trained his gun on the two Rakum. Damien’s eyes came open in time to see Gage charge straight for him and then shove past to wiggle out the small window, the odor of decay trailing behind.
“Freeze or I’ll shoot!” The officer called again as another armed cop entered the attic behind his fellow. Damien scooted to the side and fell clumsily onto his rump, his old heart beating painfully.
“You better start runnin’ old man.” Tyson whispered as he too soared past Damien on the floor and shot out the window head first. Both policemen jogged after them in pursuit. Damien inched toward the window to peek out but instead of trick-or-treaters, staccato-lit patrol cars dotted the landscape.
“You okay, sir?” A third police officer crawled into the space and headed for him. It was a woman, short but intimidating with her service pistol at half mast.
Damien nodded his head and put out his hand.
“Nice and easy, sir.”
With her strong feminine fingers in his, Damien was helped to his feet and then supported on her shoulder to the exit. Another officer helped him down with gentle care and before long; he was tucked onto a gurney and pushed into a waiting ambulance.
The humans rescued him. The mortals saved him from certain death…or worse.
Damien received the care of the frantic but professional medics and stared at the red lights flashing in his vision. Rufus wanted him alive and he was holding Theophilus captive. Something evil was afoot. Damien glanced at the technician on his right who gave him a huge smile and swabbed his brow.
“You’re going to be fine, sir. Just taking you to the hospital for a once over, but you look great. Vitals are great.”
Damien smiled behind the oxygen mask. He was rescued in the nick of time. But this wasn’t the first time he’d been saved from death. He was saved the first time by God Himself. A week ago in his car on the way home from the store. The first time he spoke aloud to the Creator of the universe.
Damien sighed and closed his eyes.
He served a new Father now.
And this one had only his best interest at heart.