The Reading Guru is hosting a snippet today from a supernatural thriller novel, “The Goddess and The Great Beast”.
The Mesopotamian night lay heavy on the land. Anu, the overbearing sky god, pressed down upon recumbent mother Earth, Kishar, in their regular nocturnal coupling. This divine embrace was meant to soothe a tired world and give birth to a brand new day. It should have been a mystical union resulting in a renewed and refreshed offspring infused with hope and vigour. But it was only another unsatisfactory fumble leading to hot, sticky discomfort, inadequate sleep and mental anguish. The world was sick, the gods impotent and I couldn’t take it anymore.
The sickness had a name. It was called World War Two. It was a new strain of a stubborn old virus carried by a parasite Mother Earth just couldn’t quite seem to shake off. In fact, it was beginning to feel like a chronic affliction the unfortunate patient would be plagued with until its dying day, receding for periods before flaring up painfully at the most inopportune moments.
The gods, which so many generations of men had battled desperately to please and appease, seemed to have lost all interest in Mankind. Only shadows of the spiritual remained: a complicit Church, crushed Synagogue, sidelined Mosque and silent Temple.
And then there was me. A reluctant soldier, unexpectedly shipped out to the desert, slowly going mad with insomnia. I couldn’t bear another eight hours of this sleepless, sweaty torment, so I threw on my least crusty uniform and went out to seek enlightenment.
These thick, suffocating nights were the worst thing about being posted to the Middle East. They were exhaustingly languid. You couldn’t sleep. You couldn’t work. You couldn’t rest. You could barely breathe. Even when I finally managed to nod off, my cool northern dreamscapes melted in the heat into perverse desert nightmares. One moment I was being lightly daubed with spring water by diaphanous forest nymphs, the next I was being slathered in oil by angry scorpions. Then seasoned with hot sand and roasted at a hundred and eighty degrees.
Once outside it became clear the dry, hot night was having as bad an effect on the local desert spirits as it was on me. The instant I left the corrugated iron torture chamber which the Army insisted I and twenty-three other sweltering soldiers called home, I was engulfed by a punishing litany of angry, swirling djinn who blew hot wind around me and threw handfuls of sand in my face. They passed me like a human baton from one swirling, scouring whirlwind of desert vengeance to another, alerting the next one in the chain to my approach with a mournful whistling that was as offensive to the ears as the lashes of their sandy whips were to the face. I tried to protect my eyes from the stinging barrage by batting the tiny particles away with my arms. Unfortunately, windmill impressions seemed to really anger the djinn. Nevertheless, I managed to navigate my way out of the dusty barracks and through the dusty streets to the dusty terrace of the dusty bar at the Hotel Zia. The djinn could not defeat my desire for a drink.
Author: Adrian Gross
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
1942: a bored British soldier in Baghdad; a beautiful Babylonian Goddess; a sacred marriage unconsummated.
Five years later, in a dreary post-war London, the Goddess must be satisfied.
Can anyone save her demobbed consort from eternal torment?
Or eternal bliss?
Can he save himself?
Does he even want to be saved?
And what’s it got to do with the ‘wickedest man in the world’?
Adrian Gross is a British writer. Some bits of him used to be Irish and some others were once Hungarian. He lives close to Glastonbury and likes to bang his little heavy metal head whilst drinking chewy real ale!
He has endured many terrible jobs, including adrenaline-junkie motorcycle courier, record shop dude-with-bad-attitude, and air traffic control disaster limitation assistant.
When his aching bones and throbbing hangover allow, he plays football (soccer) and rides bicycles up and down the Mendip Hills.