The prologue to my second book can stand alone, so I thought I'd post it to my blog for all to see. Enjoy! :)
Mark Johnson didn’t expect death to feel like a change in temperature. He set his briefcase down on the mahogany desk in his spacious office, took one final swig of his pumpkin-spice double latte, and opened up his executive-sized window. Mark was a senior partner at Johnson, Smith & Jones, L.L.P., and though he pulled in over $500,000 annually, he had pushed away his late wife, Linda. Long days at the office and longer nights at Gilt on Madison Ave. had put too much stress on their marriage. She’d left Mark for a chemistry professor named Arnold. For God's sake, the man didn't know a cufflink from a tie clip, and wore a tie with short sleeves.
The divorce was decreed. Even his kids divorced themselves from his surname, as if the whole corporation had dissolved.
Tonight Mark meant to dissolve too. Both his parents had expired long ago in Floridan opulence, after all, and he had no educations of nieces or nephews to fund, no siblings to rival. His children and ex-wife wouldn’t touch his assets, and he hadn’t a need for them, really. What an emptiness I have accumulated, thought Mark as he climbed up on his window’s ledge.
Mark wanted to think wild thoughts and have some profound connection to his time and place of death. He’d chosen 11pm sharp, but he had no real reason for doing so. He’d chosen his office window and the city sidewalk below for his body’s final breath. Why? He didn’t know. It was sad, he thought, that there was no poetry in his life.
As Mark Johnson leaned into the wind, trying to elongate the cusp of his life, he glimpsed his destination, and was disgusted. How had he missed this detail? Below, a wooden awning stretched out across several storefronts. Large, striped pedestrian crosswalk signs directed foot traffic through the narrow tunnel. His place of death was a construction site. Mark tried to back out of the deal, but had no leverage, and fell. His adrenal gland surged, and he was horribly excited. The Earth rushing towards him was magnificent, and nothing had ever felt as real as the air he now penetrated. Tenth floor, ninth floor, eighth floor, he was almost one with the ground. Fourth floor, third floor, second floor, and he merged with the plywood of the construction site, shards of wood impaling him as he liquefied on impact.
Mark felt a temperature change. He knew from the ski trips he used to take with his family that a frigid January sometimes felt like a sweltering July. It was all very confusing, especially the fact that Mark was still thinking. He opened his eyes.
Mark had entered the Haze. A buzzing bright white light was soon replaced with humming purple rays. Mark looked down at his blob of a body from an impossible angle, and shrieked when he realized that his head wasn’t attached. It bobbed up and down in space. He floated aimlessly for a time, watching the shadows and lights shift in the distance, and then a strange suction pulled him along. There was a glowing thread emanating from his solar plexus, and a cat-like creature was tugging on it. His head, though severed from his body, followed the cat as though it were bonded to his flesh. Mark cried out and jiggled his arm, which was still attached to his body. The cat turned around, meowed, and pointed a paw above her.
Mark looked up and felt some part of his being rise and separate from the bulk of his consciousness. The part that had risen felt light and whimsical, like the first flurries of the season. He remembered holding his newborn boys, crying and laughing at once. The bottom part, though, was dark and heavy, slush trampled by too many shoes. He was in a back room, screwing an escort, stomach acid and rum sloshing up in his mouth. The cat was pulling him down, down. And then there was an explosion of noise—the hiss of a cat, the shriek of a wild boar, and then a two-toned voice, saying, “Jeremy Chikalto! Apollyon’s animus!”
Mark Johnson swiveled his mushy head and saw the cat hissing and backing away, whipping its gray and white tail. The nearby shadows began to morph, and a large black shape loomed towards him, polluting the Haze above it with swirls of oil. Mark remembered all the times he had been afraid, and the memories coalesced into a feeling of the deepest dread. His glowing cord was drawn into the creature's terrible gravity, and Mark was being reeled in. Mark howled as he entered the demon’s mouth, and was incinerated in its throat. Everything was charred black. This time, there was no mistaking the temperature.