Authors: Phineas Foxx
by Phineas Foxx
Published by Astraea Press
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
LAST OF THE MIGHTY
Copyright Â© 2014 PHINEAS FOXX
Cover Art Designed by Book Beautiful
For my good son, Jakob.
The ugly dog-thing's massive jaws were two feet from my throat when it all went quiet and time finally slowed.
Like everything was suddenly underwater.
Except me. I was still moving at full speed.
A foot away now, the giant cranked open its maw even more, readied for clampdown. His disgusting yellow teeth could taste me already.
I arched back to let the hyena-beast sail by and seized him by the scruff. With my other hand, I struckâa hammerfist, rock-hard, to the middle of the monster's neck. The dog's yelp told me he was not immune to pain. The muffled snap of bone meant he was not made of iron. And when the mongrel's limp body hit the ground and kept rolling, I knew the mutant hellhound was mortal.
Though the animal appeared dead, I had to be sure. Suppose I could've busted out a mirror to make sure his breath didn't fog it. I opted for a double stomp kick to the spine instead.
“Never liked that one anyway.” A craggy voice came from behind me.
I spun to face the speaker, in Cat stance, ready for another attack.
I stumbled back, shocked at the size of the guy. Seven-and-a-half feet tall with broad shoulders and a bull neck. He stood with the challenging stance of an old west gunslingerâfeet spread, beefy hands cocked at the hips. I caught a whiff. Dude was all sweat and tobacco. A shaft of sun grazed across the stubble of his jaw, but the rest of his face was hidden in the shade cast by the upturned hood of a dark cloak. Despite the dim, I caught a glint of an eerie eye peering out from the shadows.
He sparked up a thick, half-smoked cigar, stoked it to life. Between puffs, he croaked, “So. You're Augustine.”
“O-Og.” I tried to sound tough, didn't quite get there. “Why'd ya sic that dog on me? You got aâ”
“Og, huh?” he grunted, then blew out some smoke. “Charming.” He snickered.
That bugged. The snickering and the interrupting. I was raised in a convent with a bunch of nuns, where good manners were expected, demanded.
“Wellâ¦Og,” he grumbled, again with the mocking.
Now I wasn't a violent kid, but come on. First he sends the dog and now this? I thought of how nice it would've felt to let my foot cave in his face. The guy's size was a factor, but I, too, was freakishly large. Fifteen-and-a-half years old and I was already seven feet tall. On top of that, I'd been studying martial arts since I was four.
“You and I have business.” He hit the lung dart again, and held in the smoke for a good ten seconds, studying me.
A school bell clanged in the distance. Could have been The Committee in my head, but I doubted it. Looked like I was going to be late to first period. Again.
“Business?” I asked.
“Yes, Og.” There it was again. Poking fun at my name. “Or as you might say, bid-nit. There. Is that betterâ¦punk?”
My lip twitched at the insult. Though I was a black belt in aikido, wing chun, Kravâ¦you name it, I rarely fought outside the dojo. Mostly because I was a nice guyâlike the gentle giant in a Disney movieâand partly because I'd promised my mother I'd only fight in tournaments and club competitions. But Mom was dead now.
I wanted to reply with something witty and mean, but instead, Mr. Disney giant went with, “You got a problem, pal,” and I tried to wrap that last word with enough taunt to provoke a swing from Jesus.
He just stood there, all cool and quiet, his face still hiding in the shadow of his hood. He took another drag off the cigar, then chirped out a short whistle.
Leaves crackled in the nearby woods.
My eyes slid over to see a pair of mutant canines.
Even bigger than the one I'd just killed.
My fingers clenched as the monstrous dog-things sauntered from the trees. Like the last one, they resembled hyenas with huge jaws, humped backs, and wiry hair that bristled up all over. Welts, bite marks, and open wounds were everywhere. Weirdo proportions and bizarre skeletal angles could've been normal for the breed, but I suspected they were deformities. Or battle scars from years of combat.
They circled me, predatorial, snouts low, weaving around the headstones of the church cemetery that I'd been passing through when this whole thing started. Glaring at them, I half-expected their eyes to be glowing red. Yet they were black. Like a shark's. Hard as marbles and shiny as oil. Deep rumbles purred in their throats as they took in my scent. Eventually, they widened their arc and posted themselves at the hooded man's side.
Enjoying my discomfort, the man flicked some ash from his cigar and said, “Let's get to it. Time to choose up sides, Mighty One.”
My heart tugged. Mighty One had been my mom's pet name for me since the hour I was born. Hadn't heard that phrase now for a hundred and two days. I missed it. The way only she could say it.
I nodded and gawked at the larger of the two hellhounds, a black male. I held my stare as the savage peeled back his lips to show me his brown-and-pink mottled gums and hooked teeth. He whined, anxious to tear out my throat, then gashed at the dirt with his great, thick clawsâa shower of earth ticked across the graves.
Trying to retain what little cool I had left, I bobbed my chin at the guy. “Sides?”
Again with the pull on the cigar and the taking of his own sweet time. Finally, he said, “Forget your friends, Og. They're with us now. And the ones that aren't, well, they've all been”âhe let the cigar butt dropâ“shall we say”âthen crushed it with his bootâ“snuffed out. You're the final name on my list, kid. Last of the Mighty.”
I shot him a quick look then shifted my focus to the female monstrosity with the matted brown coat. Her calm demeanor concerned me no less than her more aggressive brother. This was the cold, calculating strategist, already inspecting me for structural weaknesses and other flaws she could exploit in battle. She glanced at her master and let go a high-pitched, hyena-like chuckle, then wagged her stumpy tail in anticipation of the signal that would allow her to charge, leap, slash, and rip.
The man stroked her head. “Patience, Shaitan. Our Mighty One here,” he tilted his face toward me, “has a decision to make.”
I'd learned years ago that Mighty One was more than a pet name. It was who I was, what I was. Yeah, I know, compared to names like Superman and Iron Man, Mighty One was kind of lame. Difference was that the Mighty were based on truth. Biblical truth.
Though not as popular as David and Goliath or Noah's ark, stories of the Mighty were my bread and butter growing up. Check out the Old Testament book of Chronicles and you'll find the original Mighty Ones were holy soldiers with some mad skills. They “were brave warriors,” it reads. “Swift as gazelles. The least was a match for a hundred and the greatest for a thousand.” The book of Samuel corroborates, telling us a Mighty named Abishai killed three hundred foes with a spear and that a chief of the Mighty “wielded his axe against eight hundred and slew them in a single battle.”
Only makes sense that the supernatural abilities of the Mighty would be inherited by their offspring. That's where I got lucky. Same blood that had run through these heroes of old was coursing through me, which explained my unnaturally large size. Apparently, a lot of the Mighty were rather tall-boned. Handsome too, at least that's what my mom told me.
“My comrades here,” the man gestured to his canines, “have already made chew toys of ninety-six of your Mighty brethren in the past two years.”
My inexperience at brawling outside the dojo was a minor setback. Another was that I was only one-sixteenth Mightyâa watered down legacy passed to me from my mother's grandfather.
“Only a few of your brothers were spared, Og. Just three had the sense to accept my offer.” He held up the correct number of fingers.
Without the clever visual, I would never have been able to unravel the complex concept of “three.”
“What offer?” I asked.
“To join us. To fight on our side.”
“Fight?” I scouted the graveyard and trees for anything I could use as a weapon. “For what?”
“To fight the illusion that mankind is worthy of God!”
The black dog snarled and snapped its jaws, saliva spattering all over.
“To fight with the Tenth Choir of angels. To fight”âhe put a hand to his headâ“on the side of my father, the noble Watcher, Shemja-za.” He pulled back his hood, a shock of black hair falling to cover his face. “And on the side of Chool.” He motioned to himself. “The greatest Nephilim your world has ever seen.”
Then, pushing away the coils of hair that hung to his chin, he exposed his face.
I shrank back. Stomach churning, lungs deflating. Knotted clumps, pitted craters, and gouged-out hollows rose and fell on his face like a lunar hellscape. A patch of warts pulled at his upper lip then strafed across his cheek all the way to a shriveled ear. The larger eyeâwet, puffy, and oozingâsat high on his brow with the bulging stare of a goat in peril while the smaller eye, murky and fogged, sagged at least two inches lower, the size of a withered grape.
Surprisingly, Chool took pride in his circus-freak appearance. He framed his face with his hands, then smiled, opening wide so I could get a better look at his teeth. Four rowsâtwo on top, two on bottom.
“So what'll it be, Mighty One?” he asked.
My mother had been a nun. I used to be an altar boy. If anyone knew the price of hanging with the ungodly, I did. No matter the cost, I would fight.
Heart thrashing, blood vessels dilating, adrenaline dumped into my body. My flesh tingled as the voices in my headâwhat I called The Committeeâwent silent. I moved back into Catâleft leg forward, right leg back, fists ready.
One look at me and Chool knew which side I'd chosen. With a sharp whistle, he loosed the dogs.
As the devil-beasts burst toward me, I caught a glimpse of Chool standing behind them with his arms crossed. A cocky grin contorted his face even more. The bloodthirsty pig couldn't wait for my guts to spill.
The Nephilimâ¦so predictable.
I'd never met a Nephilim prior to Chool. I did, however, know of the ancient race of giants and their crazy history. You can read about them in Genesis, Numbers, Joshua, Daniel, Judeâ¦but the cooler stuff is found in the book of Enoch. Though Enoch didn't make it into most Christian Bibles, it did make it into the Bibles of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian church.
“The Nephilim,” says Genesis, “were on the earth in those daysâand also afterwardsâwhen the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.” Jewish tradition holds that these “sons of God” were divine beings known as the Watchers.
The way I learned it was that when the human race was young, God created two hundred Watchers and sent them to earth to look after Adam and Eve's growing flock. These kind, wingless celestials were the tenth and lowest order of angels, probably closer to super-sized humans than the likes of Michael and Raphael. The Watchers were told to shepherd mankind by teaching them law, the arts, justice, and the finer points of civilization.
Unfortunately, these gentle angels blew it. They ignored God's instructions by taking human wives and having children with them. Their kids went all wrong, becoming ginormous, misshapen half-breedsâthe terrible Nephilim.
Book of Enoch gives a nice summary: "And they became pregnant and bore great giantsâ¦who consumed all the acquisitions of men. When men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds and beasts and reptiles and fish and to devour one another's flesh..."
Now when I first heard the story, it was tough to buy into this whole Nephilim/giant thing. I mean, c'mon, sounds wack. I did some research.
FactâKentucky, 1965: Guy named Kenneth White discovers a perfectly preserved human skeleton measuring eight feet, nine inches.
Louisiana, 1928: Farmer digs up the skeleton of a nine-foot, eleven-inch man.
Sicily, 1812: Italian reporters are on hand when locals excavate the bones of a guy who stretched the tape at ten feet, three inches.
Turkey, 1950: The Euphrates Valley yields the body of a human male over thirteen feet tall.
Minnesota, 1880: Of the seven giants found, each hadâand Chool would have loved thisâdouble dentition. The list goes on.
The archeological record pretty much proves that giants once roamed America, Germany, England, Mexico, Australia, China, Africa, and the Philippines. Blame the Darwinists for the cover up. They can't find a place for our jumbo brethren in their precious evolutionary model.
Eventually, God took care of the Fallen Watchers by sending a band of angels to “seize and bind them in the valleys of the earth.” After that, God threw down the Great Flood to wipe out the Nephilim.
But some survived.
Or there wouldn't've been all those giants, like Goliath and crew, alive and breathing thirteen hundred years after Noah's Flood.
And what about Chool? He was proof enough to me that some form of the Nephilim was still around today.
And those two, furry Fidosteins? Remember that thing about the Nephilim sinning “â¦against birds, and beastsâ¦”?
Could that mean those two mutant hyenas were Chool's actual childreâ
Definite family resemblance, though.