Working on my novel for some months and have completed about three quarters so far. I am hoping to finish it before I start my Degree in October. Here is the first chapter draft for free , enjoy the read.
You Shall Not Murder
The minister animated with fire and brimstone exhorting the congregation at a small church hall. His veins swelled with passion, shouting to the flock with a scathing message of hatred against the heathens in the world. The sweat poured down off his face at the climax of the sermon with the audience in fear of his piercing eyes looking for his next scapegoat in the congregation.
“The blood of Jesus dripped down on the ground of Golgotha for all of you miserable sinners. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai as a divine revelation… You Shall Not Murder.”
After he said these words, he smashed his fist down on the podium. The children in the audience moved closer to their parents in fear of the minister’s retribution of anguish. Young Maria was in awe of her tyrannical father. It intoxicated her soul, watching with his fury leashed against the congregation. Young Maria’s ears fixated. Every word bellowed out in the ghostly atmosphere, with dark shadows. The imagination of Maria’s mind transcended to the crucifixion of Jesus hanging in the scorching sun. The sky was a dazzling blue, cloaked in stillness with serenity. Scorching sun blazed on thirteen bodies randomly pitched on the hillside left to die slowly. Maria watched the victims hanging, gasping for breath. The sweat, blood and tears slowly dripping from their swollen bodies. Maria walks towards Christ in her imaginary world and looked up, gazing into his eyes. Her hero bravery fascinated her, and she examined his scars and punctures wounds on his body. She touched her masters’ legs, stroking them, feeling the heat of sun on the skin. She heard a voice behind and turned around and looked up at an old man hanging on a torture stake. He whispered in a soft voice gasping for air,” He is dead, my child, go home”.
Maria awakes from her imagination with a nudge from her mother.” Listen to your father Maria, people are watching you”. Maria looked around the audience with her eyes wide opened. She noticed a young girl in a seat watching her and she gave a friendly smiled. Maria noticed the warm invitation of the girl. The sweet child was sitting next to her father with no one nearby. Maria focused her attention on her father again being drawn to his theatrical performance preaching from the stage.
Maria’s father continues his sermon “Jesus said, you shall not murder and whoever murders shall be liable to judgement…. You will go to the fire of hell.” He paused and shook his head in disgust. “Our men died in Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, Bosnia, and for what?”.
The audience, many of the families, felt the minister’s pain because they also lost close family members during the many wars. Over the decades, many never returned home, leaving an empty place in the family’s hearts. Suffering didn’t stop for some in the community after the war when the battered solders returned to their families. Bloody nightmares haunted a few young veterans night and day. The release of anguish disturbed the sanity of the young men and their loved ones. A tsunami of emotions ripped open the hearts with the call of duty lead many of the soldiers to suicide to escape the unending battle.
The minister composed himself, clearing his throat, shook his body and dried his eyes with his handkerchief that had the pattern of the American Flag. The American flag triggered the minister into a frenzy of emotional again elaborating him into a childlike state. He launched into another character of a pure patriot lighting up his body with his voice echoing the last verse of the nation’s anthem.
“Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven have rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
Over the land of the free and the home of the brave! ”
He continued in his sermon, “God bless America and all its citizens who can go to bed at night because our boys fought for our freedom. The freedom of Christ gives each one of you dear sheep the privilege of seeing your boys in heaven.”
Patriotism filled the church atmosphere of the small suburban town. The rain persisted shadows of cascading torrents lashing against the creaky wooden windows. A tear slowly drips from Maria’s mother’s face on to her lap. Katya remembers the pain of her first husband’s death while listening to the new husband’s sermon. Maria couldn’t understand why her mother was sad, because her stepfather had the congregation in the palm of his hand.
Katya’s mind reflected to a time before Maria was born. She was fleeing her hometown during her country’s civil war. Remembering the days living in Serbia with her first husband. He was a loyal Balkan soldier who fought in the Bosnia and Herzegovina war. Katya recalls the time of them both fighting together and watching the thousands die in their homeland. They both knew about the execution of local people who worked and lived in the community for decades. The pain in her heart congealed to bitter anger of frequent sour, stagnant outburst through her life. When the pain in her present life escalated, she would spew out prejudice and hatred, blaming the Bosniaks having to flee her homeland.
The Patriotism Katya felt in the small American church touched her inner spirit as memories of the past flooded her body of stench of death and torture running through her veins. Her daughter Maria never heard her mother’s truth. Young Maria never understands her mother’s inner pain because of the walls of her mother’s heart were solid, never allowing the daylight of love in. Maria knew very little of her mother’s inner world of reality because her mother was distant and unforgiving to her. The young child’s connection to her mother’s world was through pain and anger.
The adrenaline of the audience peaked again as the minister retold the story in the bible of Judas, one of Jesus’ trusted friends who betrayed him.
“Judas, during the moonlight, came with an army and the crowds followed Judas, filled with hatred and violence. Judas went up to his master Jesus as the stars above witnessed the passion of the devil’s accomplice, Judas embrace the Lord.”
The minister cried in an ecclesial fashion as the passion of Christ filled his heart with animation of heavenly aura. Maria, spellbound again by the incantations of her father. She became bewitched by the supernatural charisma her father displayed. Maria’s stepfather took a long deep breath and looked straight at Mari’s eyes and said” Jesus said to Judas… my beloved friend, why did you do this to me after all what I have done for you… you will burn in hell my friend for your betrayal”
Mara went into a religious trance again, seeing Judas in a transfiguration, her entire world transmigrated 2000 years in an instance. She imagined watching justice being served in front of her, watching Judas’s body roasting in a fiery bonfire with fireworks colouring the darkness of hell. Her mother noticed her daughter in a lucid state.
“Maria, you are going to be punished for not listening to your father and Jesus is not happy with your behaviour.”
Maria quickly came back to reality as her pupils opening wider with her breathing slowly increasing back to normal. Her face muscles relaxed. Her eyes shined radiantly, displaying an angelic personal appearance in serenity resembling a little angel waiting at the gates of heaven.
The minister looked up at the celling with his arms stretching out and said” God we are all sinners, and we deserve to be punished for our errors, PLEASE forgive us”…. There was a stillness in the congregation of awe and fear, with a minute of silence. “Now we will praise the lord with our hearts full of conviction singing Christian warriors fight for Peace on earth”.
When the service finished, two war widows walked casually towards the minister. Their eyes filled with tears and sorrow, but their lips and breast revealed another story. The sparkle of their jewellery wrapped around their necks revealing the voluptuous energy illuminating from the women. They were seeking validation with rapture of intimate consolation from the messenger of God in their presence. The minister’s passion consecrated his ambience, looking for his next conquest to release his sexual tension of suppressed frustration.
“Oh, minister Barrington, we connected to your spirit during your service. For the love of God and country we praise you for a passionately delivery.”
The minister cleared his throat and held his arms out like a shepherd rescuing two little lambs.
“Your men were brave, and the Lord is taking care of them. Know you are safe with me” As he embraced them both, he pulled them tight to his chest with their breasts being lifted in unison against his body. He looked into their eyes, full of lust and desire. His mouth salivated, and he cleared his throat and whispered into their ears, “God told me to look after you two beautiful girls”
One woman said,” Minister Barrington, we would love you to come over for dinner”
The minister said, “Please call me Michael, after all I am only human, like you lovely girls. May the grace of God bless you both, as he works in mysterious ways. I wondered who is going to cook tomorrow evening because Katya has to work the late shift. So, what time shall I come over my darlings?”
The younger woman was eager to please the minister even more and gave him a kiss on the cheek and said seductively,” About 8pm honey, we will see you then”.
Maria watched her father from a distance, and was familiar with his masquerade of pleasing the different women in the church. Maria always wanted her father’s attention but never received the warmth and attention he showed to other women, especially in church. He was a false reincarnated Christ in church, but he reverted to the ways of the devil in his miserable dungeon at home.
Katya noticed her daughter Maria watching her father and grabbed her hand.
“Stop staring, you know its rude, come.”
The delegated Katya had to collect the tithings from the church collections after each service because her husband was always busy. He said it was church business, but Katya knew his schemes of conniving with the flock for his earthly sensual pleasures. Katya walked towards Dante, a tall, slim, dark, handsome man with olive skin with a youthful look. He was always polite to her at every church service. His gentle voice interesting lured many women to listen because of his Italian American accent. He was an immigrant from Europe who came with his family to America twenty years ago. When his parents arrived in America, he was a young boy growing up. His parents mixed with Italian communities, speaking little English only when necessary. He had a little girl with dark brown hair and brown eyes standing next to him quietly.
Dante said “Hello Katya, you are here to collect the collections. Please give me one moment, my dear friend.”
He walked towards a small room near the main auditorium. Inside this room was a safe with the church valuables. Dante carried a leather bag that contained all the collections from the service.
“Katya, here is the collection for you. I neatly wrapped it for your husband to take to the bank. I have put the money into different amounts of dollars so it will be easier to count.”
Katya thanked Dante for his kindness as she took the bag off him.
Dante said,” My daughter Kate would love to spend some time with Maria. You have a beautiful daughter. Maybe we can organise one day for both of them to play together” Young Kate looked at her father with excitement and smiled at Maria.
Katya replied,” I will check with my husband first, and Maria always has so much to do at home. I can’t stop now. Please forgive me Dante; I need to go”
Dante said as Katya was walking away,” no problem, we can talk about it again. I beg the master love and happiness for you both”.
Katya walked to the safe room, with Maria quickly glancing around to see where her husband was. She noticed he was busy talking to one of the church members, who was a local police officer. Recently, the police officer caught the minister speeding. Mr Barrington’s charm and audacity was trying to convince the police officer of his innocent by a little white lie.
Katya went into the safe room with her daughter, closing the door shut behind. She opened the bag and took some money out. Mrs Barrington hid some cash inside her bra, concealed from any suspecting individual.
Katya said to her daughter “We need to keep this money because one day we are going to leave this corrupt town and be free of your wicked stepfather” Maria knew it wasn’t safe to answer back because she learnt in the past not to question. The anger of her parents unleashed on Maria when she questioned them, causing her pain and shame. She loved her stepfather strangely, because she always got what she wanted from him, apart from his affection. When he was drunk, he taught her how to control and manipulate people and encouraged and trained her to try it out at school.
“Wait her please Maria. I need to use the bathroom. Keep tight hold of the money and don’t move or else.” Katya rushed out of the room, leaving Maria all alone with the money. Maria locked the door and opened the bag, and noticed all the coins and notes in the bag. She noticed a few loose dollars bills so took them out and hid them underneath her clothes like her mother’s example. She quickly zipped the bag and unlocked the door, waiting patiently for her mother.
Katya came back and said to Maria,” Hurry, we need to go before your father gets in the car waiting. Katya pulled her along by her arm as they both hurried outside the church into the dark night in the pouring rain. The rain washed away some of the gravel path in the church cemetery next to the church building. The flags that were tied around a few gravestones flapping in the wind. The noise sounded like a bird’s wing injured escaping a fierce predator. Both of them ran towards the car in the carpark that was crowded by the parishioners vehicles.
Maria sat in the dark, damp shadow, all alone in the back seat. She was watching the rain bounce off the windscreen from her seat. Katya was in the front seat in complete silence, with the sound of heavy rain hitting the roof of the car piercing her ears. It caused a flashback, reminding her of the bullets bouncing off the cars during the Bosnian war. She could hear screams of innocent prisoners begging for shelter from the bullets as the heavy rain cascade off the metal roof in the old secluded garage in Serbia. Katya faced filled with rage with her blood pumping fiercely like a boxer in round one full of energy. She clenched her fist that became a pounding instrument of death with a shiver through her spine, causing pent up pressure of anger and fear. Then suddenly Katya screamed out like a force of lightening in Serbian,” Shut Up, be quiet or I’ll muzzle you like a dog”.
Maria sat still, holding her breath, knowing her mother could explode at any minute into anger hurled towards her. This was her safety strategy in a confined space, trying to disappear from the mother bear. Young Maria never reacted to her mother’s words because this was one of many episodes of flashbacks.