The first Chapter preview of my net novel ‘Her Moons Denouement’ is now available for you to read below.Â This is the sequel to ‘Angels Bleed’ and takes place a few weeks after the conclusion of that story.
Please let me know your thoughts on this little preview:
You can download a pdf of Chapter 1 on this link http://maxhardy.co.uk/wav/HMD.pdf
Or you can just read it here:
The rusting, squeaky rubber wheels bounced erratically over the uneven shoe-shined cobbles on the narrow, steeply inclined side street leading up towards the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.Â The wheels supported a twelve foot high distressed mahogany cabinet which was agitatedly shaking and rocking as it was being pushed up the incline.Â It was being pushed from behind by a hunched back man, dressed in Jesterâ€™s motley, dull and threadbare, all vivacity faded from the colours.Â Tarnished silver bells jingled on the end of the Fools Hat framing his ruddy, sweating face which was grimacing under the strain of his labour.
Up ahead, streams of people passed the entrance to the alleyway and the vociferous hubbub of the main street in the middle of a Fringe Festival began to pervade the alley, drowning out the jangling bells as with one last huge effort, the Jester rolled the cabinet off the cobbles and onto the flag stoned pavement of the Royal Mile.
The din was infectious, swirling through the open air under a cloudless midday sun streamed blue sky, intoxicating the milling throngs who were devouring the street entertainment.Â A slow meandering wave of people navigated their way around crowds surrounding the jugglers, magicians, living statues, fire-eaters and sword swallowers, bobbing heads trying to catch sight of the wares.Â Up and down the pavements, sandwich boards and posters proclaimed the evening gigs, touts standing next to them shouting out the same message and forcing flyers into the hands of every person that passed by.
The Jester slowly negotiated the cabinet along the pavement, patiently going with the flow, until he came to a small square by St Giles Cathedral, where there was a relatively open space in front of the imposing building. He manoeuvred the cabinet into place in front of steps to the entrance of the Cathedral, the front doors of it facing out onto the street.Â He opened a drawer in the bottom of the cabinet and proceeded to remove half a dozen buckets filled with stones from within and placed them in a semi-circle about five metres in front of it.
A few passers-by stopped to watch as the Jester skipped back to the cabinet and started to unfasten the doors.Â Swinging one of the doors open he turned to the small crowd, smiling broadly.
â€˜Good morrow to you kind Lords and Ladies.Â Today, I have for you revelations of the like you will have never encountered.Â They will truly blow your mind.Â Please, please, avail yourselves of a stone or two from the buckets in front of you while I finish setting up the show.â€™ he encouraged animatedly,Â his hunched body prancing to open the other door, revealing a large white sheet, fully ten foot tall by ten foot wide, covering something within the cabinet.Â At the top of the cabinet three metal rods with clasps on the end held the sheet in place.Â Emblazoned on the sheet in blood red letters, each a foot tall were the words â€˜Even Fallen Angels Have Wingsâ€™.Â The same words were written on the inside of the open doors.
The jester turned back towards the growing, inquisitive crowd with a broad, almost manic grin on his face and skipped towards the throng building behind the buckets.Â From the bottom of the cabinet he had picked up what looked like a metal tube with a bladder on the end, which he proceeded to tap off the heads of the crowd as he jauntily skipped the line.
â€˜Fear and Faith.Â Faith and Fear.Â Fear and Faith.â€™ he started to sing while bopping the bladder off people, who smiled in nervous expectancy.Â He suddenly stopped in front of a young, tall skinny man in the middle of the line and stared into his eyes intently.
â€˜In whose faith is your fear founded?â€™ the Jester started to sing, rattling the bladder and shaking the tarnished bells on his hat in rhythmic accompaniment.Â â€˜Which Godâ€™s atonement do you seek?â€™ he continued, turning to the young woman who was with the man and tapping the bladder off her forehead, chest and shoulders in the sign of a crucifix.Â â€˜Whose penance keeps your soul grounded, when spirits avarice is preached?â€™ he finished, stooping down and grabbing a few stones from the bucket in front of him.Â He skipped back a few steps and took in his ever growing audience.
â€˜Ladies and Lords.Â Would you help me uncover the truth?Â Would you help me tear down the veil of deception?Â I am not without sin, but I am prepared to cast the first stone.â€™ the Jester preached, raising one of the stones above his head in his free hand.Â He smiled broadly as he watched the crowd look down to the stones they held, then turned and threw his towards the clasps holding the sheet in place, tapping from foot to foot as he took a second stone and threw that.Â He turned back to the crowd, grinning and skipping.Â â€˜Help me derail the veil, help me expose the truth.â€™ he encouraged, throwing another stone which pinged off one of the clasps, slightly dislodging the sheet.
A stone shot out from the crowd and smacked into the sheet well below the clasps with a dull thud, causing the blood red words to billow and dance.Â More followed, from the hands of people whose faces were still perplexed, but also enlivened with the temptation of the revelation, joining in the crowd reflex.Â Stones pinged of the woodwork, splatted into the sheet, the odd few making contact with the clasps, shaking them and loosening the cover.
Suddenly, the sheet came away from the clasp on the right side of the cabinet and fell down, partly revealing what lay behind.Â There were panicked gasps and screams from the crowd and as one, the group shuffled back, dropping whatever stones they still had in their hands to the ground.Â A few started to push their way out and away from the scene.Â Many more, the majority, stood transfixed in morbid curiosity, staring intently at an outstretched, blood-stained arm, the hand of which was nailed through the palm to a wooden plank.
The Jester stopped skipping and walked slowly over to the cabinet, his stride imperceptibly lengthening, his shoulders widening as his gait started to unhunch, even though the lump was still on his back.Â He grabbed the flapping corner of the sheet and yanked it forcefully off the remaining two clasps to further screams and gasps of astonishment.
In the cabinet was a crucifix, ten foot tall.Â Nailed to it palm and foot was a scrawny silver haired man, naked apart from a dirt stained loin cloth.Â He was unconscious, head lolling to one side, blood meandering down his brow: from the barbed wire crown that was gouging into it.Â Behind the crucifix, on the back of the cabinet there were pictures.Â Smiling faces.Â Smiling faces of young, vibrant women, the carefree snapshots resonating with the beautiful bright day, but at odds with the macabre scene in front of them.
â€˜Is your fear founded in his faith!â€™ shouted the Jester, turning back to the remaining crowd and pointing his bladder towards the man on the crucifix.Â â€˜Do you want to know the truth of his faith!Â What he does in the name of his faith!â€™Â His voice was rising in volume, simmering with vitriol as he stood up fully from his feigned stoop and pointed the bladder towards one of the pictures.
â€˜Demi Simpson, twenty three, a prostitute, went missing in 2008.â€™ he pointed to the next picture.Â â€˜Josie Richards, nineteen, a lap dancer, went missing in 2010.â€™Â And the next. â€˜Shelley Crabtree, seventeen, seven-fuckin-teen,â€™ he spat, â€˜still in sixth form, went missing three weeks ago.â€™
The crowd were in stunned silence, but through the Jesters rant could be heard the raised tones of someone pushing through them, the bobbing peaked cap of a policeman visible above their heads.
â€˜Come one people, let me through, whatâ€™s all the screaming about.â€™Â PC Simpson started just as he got to the front of the crowd and saw the vista in front of him.Â â€˜Bloody hell mate, whatâ€™s going on here!â€™ he said as he walked into the open area in front of the cabinet, his incredulous gaze moving between the crucifix and the Jester.
Instantly, the Jester pulled the bladder from the end of the tube he was holding and pointed it towards the PC.Â The tube was the barrel of a gun.Â â€˜Please stop there PC?â€™ he asked calmly, holding the gun steadily at the policemanâ€™s chest.
Pandemonium broke out behind them as those in the front of the crowd saw that it was a gun the Jester was holding, panic pulsing in waves as people turned to flee, screaming, while some stood fast in their curiosity and still more on the periphery sought to see.
â€˜Simpson.Â Bill Simpson.Â Now I donâ€™t know what your beef is Sir, but could I ask you to just keep calm and put the gun down please.â€™Â Simpson asked as he stopped suddenly, putting both hands out in front of him in placation.
â€˜You have nothing to fear from me Bill.Â Quite the contrary.Â Today I am here to help you.Â Today I am here to expose the crimes of this man to the world.â€™ the Jester answered, smiling radiantly, the gun not wavering.
â€˜What do you think this man has done?â€™ asked Simpson, his eyes darting from the crucifix, to the Jester, to the frantic crowd and the other peaked caps he saw pushing through it.
â€˜Itâ€™s not what we think Bill, itâ€™s what we can prove.Â In the bottom drawer of the cabinet are folders, each one of which contains conclusive evidence of that manâ€™s, no, that monsters involvement in those seven poor womenâ€™s deaths.â€™
â€˜Okay Sir, so perhaps you could put down the gun and we can talk about that.Â Talk about who this man is and what he has done.â€™Â Simpson suggested, seeing other policeman emerging from the pulsing crowd and gesturing for them to hold back.
â€˜His name is Liam Oâ€™Driscoll.Â Archbishop Liam Oâ€™Driscoll.â€™ he shouted, so that the curious still in the crowd behind the ever expanding line of policeman could hear. â€˜The highest authority of the Catholic Church in Scotland.Â You may have unburdened your sins to him in confessional.Â He may have asked you to do three Hail Maryâ€™s.Â That wasnâ€™t enough of a penance for these women.Â No.Â Their penance was to be bound face down on the alter in the Cathedral behind you as he sodomised them while strangling them to death.Â All in the name of his God.â€™
â€˜Jesus.â€™ stuttered Simpson, losing his composure for a moment at the revelation.Â â€˜Please donâ€™t think about shooting him.Â If you have evidence that can prove he has done those thingsâ€¦â€™ he continued before the Jester interrupted, laughing.
â€˜Bill, Bill, Iâ€™m not going to kill him.Â I am giving him to you so that justice can be exacted, so that the lies and deceit that are spread in the name of his God can be exposed.Â For far too long his seed have committed debauchery under the fear of his faith and we say NO MORE!â€™ he finished the sentence shouting, flexing his shoulders, his eyes alive with fervour.
â€˜We will no longer sit in the shadows of your Gods and let their impotence prevail.Â Even Fallen Angels Have Wings!â€™ he sang, stretching his arms out as he did, still keeping the gun levelled at Simpson.Â There was a rip of Velcro from the hump on his back and out of the Jesters Motley, two giant feathered wings sprouted, fully the length of his arms, shimmering and fluttering in the brilliant sunlight.Â Simpson stepped back in surprise, an astonished shriek escaping his gaping mouth, in tandem with gasps from the rest of the crowd.
â€˜We want justice.Â Justice for Demi, justice for Josie, justice for Shelley.Â We want justice for every Angel that has died.Â Justice for every Angel left to bleed in the fear founded by the disease of their seed.Â We want the world to see the truth.â€™
The Jester quickly turned the gun in his outstretched hand from pointing at Simpson and forced it into the temple of his own head.
â€˜We are the Fallen Angels!â€™ he shouted, smiling wildly at the crowd, and pulled the trigger.