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Authors: James Byron Huggins

Cain

BOOK: Cain
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Cain

 

James Byron Huggins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cain

C
opyright © 1997 by James Byron Huggins

http://jamesbyronhuggins.com/

 

This eBook is licensed for personal use only. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

 

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between characters or events in this story and
with any other person or creature, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

Wind roared with the wrath of a wounded god as the granite gateway of the grave shattered. Ancient air, hot with subterranean strength, flowed from the broken portal, and age-old volcanic dust rose around them like a vengeful, resurrected ghost.

Raising a hand against the heated blast of the tomb, the priest glared into a darkness that seemed to absorb their torches with Stygian solidity. He glared as the world around them accepted the roaring blackness, a roaring blackness that continued for a long haunting moment rushing, releasing, breathing. Until ... silence.

Stillness.

Holding a torch tight in a sweating fist, Father Marcelle faintly heard hushed, frightened words behind him and felt his own arms and legs trembling.

"
Ayya
!" an Israeli digger shouted as he pointed to a massive column inside the portal.

Marcelle saw Hebrew letters chiseled hatefully into stone and raised the torch high to read the cryptic inscription. He saw that it was from the hard and warlike Davidic period, a period consistent with this sealed, five-thousand-year-old demonic Temple of Dagon recently unearthed by a sandstorm in the white dunes of Megiddo.

"What says it, Father?"

Marcelle concentrated to decipher the words as the stench of ancient death and decay invaded his breath. And after a moment he was certain that, yes, it was an archaic form of Hebrew not written in five millennia, its true meaning lost to a chaotic and forgotten age.

"Father! What says it!"

With a severe act of will Father Marcelle braced himself and walked forward to enter the tomb, a place grown inexplicably cold despite the volcanic breath that had swept over
them but moments before. Struggling to contain a strange anxiety, Marcelle whispered, "It is from the Davidic period. It is a warning."

"A warning! What says this warning?"

"It is ... obscure," Marcelle replied, trembling despite his control. "But it is very clearly a warning. It says in Hebrew, 'Let no man disturb the ... the Neshamah, finally slain within these walls by the sword of David, Warrior-King of the Hebrews, a servant of Yahweh.'"

"
Ayya
!
Ayya
!
Ayya
!" was all Marcelle heard behind him and he fought to control his fierce excitement, staring into the blackness of the long corridor. In the distance, just beyond a crumbled arch of huge dimensions that was probably the original entrance of the tomb, he saw a burial chamber that held an even deeper gloom.

Slowly following the torch's too-small circle of light, Marcelle walked
toward the soundless dark. He barely noticed those who moved, almost staggering, behind him.

"
Neshamah? What is it, Father? What is Neshamah?"

Marcelle heard himself as if from a distance. "It was used to describe a man that is not man," he said as he neared the secretive entrance of the
burial tomb. "It describes a man without a soul. A man who lives but does not truly live ... because he had no soul."

Marcelle dimly heard the stampede of retreating footsteps but their
panic didn't prevent him from moving closer to the burial chamber. Then he realized there was a single presence stepping beside him in almost utter silence. He glanced down to see that it was the chief digger, trembling violently, holding a shovel in tight fists.

Without expression Marcelle turned to the entrance to behold what
lay within. And he stared for a wild and uncanny moment before his mind could accept the reality of it. He didn't move as he heard the Israeli blessing himself. Before them, it was there. A gigantic skeleton lay bone-white upon a massive stone slab. Lordly it was, and nobly proportioned. But the skull had been severed to be spiked upon a lance, hatefully impaled in the floor. Marcelle stared at the severed skull and in the firelight the depthless eyes glimmered, burning with a bestial essence that could have held its own in the nethermost hell.

Still wearing proud armor of iron and brass, armor blackened by flame and savagely scarred by the sword of some unconquerable opponent, the skeleton was haunting and horrific in the torch. Struck to silence, Marcelle walked slowly forward, cautiously circling the enormous form.

Immense in stature, perhaps eight feet tall and of tremendous bone-strength, the man had obviously been a powerful warrior. A long iron sword, heavily notched by battle, lay coldly at his side. And a broad, double-edged dagger was clutched tight in a skeletal fist as if the hate that commanded those bones in life could not release the blade even in death.

Shaking his head, Marcelle turned slowly to the skull and instantly saw something engraved in the broad forehead. Amazed and breathless, he raised the torch high and close over the flickering black eyes.

It was a single word:

GOLEM.

Carved deeply, the word was scarred by a savage dagger slash struck with kingly force across the thick white bone as if to forever erase the power of the word from the world.

The digger whispered, "What is it, Father? What is it?"

"It is the same as Neshamah," Marcelle said, turning with a strange fear to the headless warrior, so heavily armed. "It was once used to name a dead man that lives."

* * *

 

CHAPTER 1

 

White heat smoldered on the dunes of Death Valley as he ran with white sand burning his bare feet beneath the sun. And a vast white wasteland stretched before him to the horizon as distant sand dusted white air, dancing in the heat.

Here he had come so long ago, to rebuild himself. And as he ran, with his feet churning white on the dune, he knew that he had. He had rebuilt himself piece by piece with discipline, and heat, and desert, and sun.

Now, he knew, he was strong.

On and on he climbed, fiercely resisting the desert, holding his form as he fought the smothering air almost too hot to breathe.

Black glasses concealed his eyes and he was almost naked. His body, lean and muscular, was burned dark. His hair, brown and flecked with white to mark his age, was shorn almost to the scalp.

Without mercy he climbed, for mercy was something he would never show himself again. No, neither mercy nor rest because peace, if he should find it, would not come from either of these. No, peace could come only from embracing what he knew in his heart day by day with the haunting and silence and dreams, the faces, and the memories.

Death in heat raged over him and Soloman savagely rose against it, fighting and embracing, challenging until the sand and desert and sun finally surrendered to his strength once more as he reached the crest.

Standing alone he swayed, cold

cold
now in the heat of the day. But he had won again. And for a long moment more he stood before he fell, hot sand scalding his hands.

Butcher
... they had called him.

But he was no butcher. He had done only what he had to do, for vengeance. So that only this remained. This death.

But death, he knew, had to die hard.

* * *

It had been three millennium since he had seen light through human eyes.

Light
!

At last
!

The fools succeeded
!

His eyes opening from the heart of hell he arose, and his dark, dark gaze fell over the living. Cries of terror heralded his arrival as they stared over him, and he beheld their horror.

And laughed.

He began to climb from the shadowed table, found that he could not. And with a frown he bent his head to see thick steel brackets holding both wrists to the metal slab, imprisoning him. It was something he had known already, and should have remembered.

Mortal fools
.

His burning gaze swept over them, be
holding the world as he had forever seen it, yet never with such . . . such limitation. And he realized that he had been correct: He would be limited in this form, yes, limited in sight and limited in knowledge. But it did not matter, he knew. Nothing mattered because even in this limited form he could destroy all of them.

Yes, all of them.

The portion of his cosmic mind that had survived the terrible merging with this flesh came to him slowly. And with the return of that first faint ghost of consciousness he saw again this hateful world as he had first beheld it. He remembered the roar and clash of battle as, wounded, he rose up only to be struck down again by that unwounded might; how, exhausted, he grappled with that eternal strength that could know no exhaustion, to be hurled headlong—

Like lightning . . .

Teeth clenched like the fangs of an angry lion, he growled as the black essence that was
Him
flooded through the commandeered form, instantly commanding the magnificent strength. And in seconds he held complete bioelectrical and mechanical control of the body as if he'd forever held it, for it was only flesh.

He tensed to feel the titanic power in his arms, chest, legs, and back. He sensed the limitless strength in his hands, strength that could crush steel like clay. Then he drew a deep breath as he felt his heart pumping the super
-oxygenated blood; blood rich with chemicals that strengthened his fantastic body even more. Frowning, he knew that this was the power he had coveted for so long; the pure physical power to conquer this world, to rule this world.

Or destroy what he could not rule.

Memories of distant days when he stalked the corridors of this world like a colossus risen from its monstrous throne of granite, feasting upon the weak, flooded through him. And he smiled at them before he re-membered the painful defeat delivered to him in that bitter end. He frowned, glaring into shadow.

No
...

Never again.

He would never be defeated again.

Nor did he fear the bat
tle because he had nothing to lose.

And he had learned from his mistake, knowing at last that he could never defeat that hated, omnipotent might with might alone. So he had long ago established a new plan, a plan where he could use the children ... to destroy the father. Movement to his side.

He smiled.

It is time
.

Turning his lordly head he watched as the shocked, sweating scientist staggered closer, frightfully holding the large syringe in a trembling hand like a weapon.

Yes: Come to me …

Calm, he narrowed blood-red eyes and waited until the scientist was close, and he moved. Moved so quickly that the move was no move at all and the steel manacle holding his left wrist was sundered like paper as he gripped the man by the throat.

Immediately the scientist sought to escape. But there was no escape. At the first touch, as the remorseless iron fingers dug into his neck with the cold force of a vise, he knew he was dead.

Yet
... the man hesitated.

His eyes focused, studying the face.

Humans ...

S
o frail ...

Curious despite his vast knowledge of all things past and present, the man held the scientist in his implacable grip, examining all that was in the face. His vision was limited in this form, he realized, but also . . . fascinating. He drew the scientist closer, slowly turning the head in his hand to study the horrible fear that had always burned in the faces of these beings. And as he studied the fear he realized that although he had always seen this fear he had never seen it so ... so pure.

Yes, he could use this fear.

With a flick of his wrist he coldly snapped the scientist's neck and effor
tlessly shattered the steel brackets holding his ankles. Then without resistance he sundered the manacle holding his right wrist and rose gigantically among them as they ran screaming, screaming for someone to save them as they always screamed for someone to save them.

But no one could save them. For he was among them, now. And what was done could not be undone.

Towering dark and princely and immense in the gloom, he gazed at the fleeing forms of the humans as they ran from the room, seeking to escape his ageless wrath.

A steel vault shut, imprisoning him.

He laughed.

"Mortals ... such a feast."

* * *

Soloman
sensed it before he heard it.

Sweating in the windless heat he paused atop the dune. Eyes narrowing, he turned to the horizon, attempting to still the sound of the blood rushing in his head. With his eyes protected from the sun by small black
glasses, he looked for a long moment and saw nothing. Then, faintly, the sound came to him—the subdued whirring of helicopter blades.

Sweat and heat were smothering but
Soloman ignored it, listening and watching. And after a moment spent to discern the helicopter's direction of travel, he was certain.

Yes. They're coming.

He did not know why they were coming. It had been almost seven years and they had never come to him before, nor had he wanted them to. But now they were coming and he knew he would be ready when they arrived. He didn't fear them because fear had been burned from him during the disciplined dark of the long desert nights.

Distant blades whispered in waving air.

Without expression Soloman ran down the dune, feeling the hard strength of thirty-nine years in his legs; strength forged by the hard force of his will; strength that gave him comfort, for he had wisely used the years to build strength on strength—strength of body on mind on soul. And he knew he was stronger than he had ever been before.

He didn't look up as he ran down the dune.

Strength on strength.

* * *

The giant stood, wearing the military BDUs taken from a soldier on the Army Pathfinder team. And the dead men sprawled across the rolling gypsum dunes of sand-blasted desert were too few, he felt, for he was accustomed to far, far more.

All he could remember was death; a universe, a galaxy of death. And for a moment he thought that in this limited form he could never kill enough of them, though he knew he could.

It was fortunate that the black BDUs of the slain soldier, a member of the Army's most elite tracking battalion, were large enough to accommodate his titanic form. Blackened by blood, the clothes strained against his flesh, still swelled from the exertion of slaying all of them with his hands.

Together they lay at his feet: thirty-three men.

The sight made him remember all the lives he'd taken during his short tenure in this world. The blood was delicious to him, yes, but there were also the weeping wives and fatherless children to dream about, such delicious dreams of death upon death, of pain upon pain delivered to the world by the strength that was his and his alone.

The bodies were scattered over an area of low gray dune broken only by knee-high sedge that erupted at the base and crest of sand. And a few narrow crevices marked paths where rain rolled to pool in a tiny lake, now a shallow plain of dry bones. Every
living thing had burrowed far beneath the crust, seeking shelter from the sun, which destroyed so completely.

He gazed up, listening to a flying search formation of helicopters as it
passed close. Yes, they would be searching to find him but he knew their methods, how to defeat them. He had been certain to remember that much, to know the means of consummating his plan.

He would move behind the helicopters
as they flew west or north, using his almost endless physical strength to carefully stay ahead of the ground teams that would be following close. He would stay between them, not moving at all through open terrain but using the dunes for cover until he reached the high cliffs bordering the northern edge of White Sands Military Reservation, where the fools created this magnificent body.

Within a day, he knew, he could reach the base of the San Andres Mountains, moving west and unhindered through the mesas and tower-ing red cliffs with the speed and strength of a lion.

When he reached Albuquerque he would easily steal transportation and move further into Cortez, Colorado, avoiding the cold mountain roads where he could be too easily trapped. He was certain he would not be caught, for his plan had just begun.

He smiled as he felt blood raining from his hands; such sweet blood.

No, he could never have enough.

***

Soloman wordlessly handed a glass of Glenlivet to General Benjamin

Hawken and the general instantly threw back a sobering swallow, as if he
fully intended to have another.

In front of
Soloman’s desert home a fast-flight Loach with two slicks—unarmed choppers used for troop transport—rested on the ground, blades churning a cloud of man-made wind. And a platoon of Delta Force commandos had positioned themselves over the grounds, securing a close perimeter.

Against what, exactly,
Soloman didn't know. Sensing the seriousness of a situation he didn't understand, Soloman dropped two ice cubes in his glass, pouring himself a measure of Scotch.

"So tell me, Ben, what do you want? You didn't hop all the way from
White Sands without a good reason."

There was no immediate reply as Hawken grunted and threw down
another mouthful, turning wearily to gaze at Soloman's enclosed courtyard.

Heavy slabs of weights were scattered over the chalky white cement, as if they were used regularly. And a heavy
bag reinforced with silver duct tape hung from a chain, combat boots and bag gloves beside it. The bag had been hit by so many murderous blows from hand and foot that the coarse canvas seemed smooth as silk.

"Keeping in shape, Sol?"

"A little."

"Still running? What? Ten miles a day?"

"Yeah," Soloman answered. "More or less."

Hawken laughed and
Soloman waited in silence as the general took a heavier sip, warming to it. And as they stood so close a comparison was too obvious to overlook. Hawken was beefy with a thick truck-tire gut, his face pudgy around the edges. He had the body of a professional wrestler gone soft, the body of a man who possessed obvious physical strength but who'd forgone conditioning for too long. It was a dramatic physical contrast to Soloman, who'd been burned down and rebuilt by seven hard years of severe conditioning.

BOOK: Cain
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