Hi, everybody! (If you read that in the voice of Doctor Nick from The Simpson’s, you’re awesome)
As I announced earlier this week on my Facebook page, I’ve been in the middle of a hard edit on the Reaper Series to fix a few minor errors that made it through the initial editing stages. Like I said on my Facebook page, as an independent author, I don’t have the time, money, nor the team to publish a book the way that a professional publishing firm can. BUT the good thing about it is that if mistakes are made, I can fix them whenever I want. Publishing houses would have to recall thousands of book units if they wanted to fix a printing error in their publication, but not me! I can just click a button.
Anyway, while the hard editing I’m doing is just for those minor little grammatical errors that slipped through, and the story itself doesn’t change at all, I also wrote a new first chapter for Angel of Death. So I’m going to share that with everyone now, so that the people who have already bought and read Angel of Death can enjoy (hopefully) the extra chapter without having to mess around trying to either update their current ebook version or download a new one, and maybe it will even encourage those of you who haven’t read it to go and give it a try. Remember, Angel of Death is free forever, people!
So without any further ramblings, here it is. The brand new first chapter to Angel of Death. If you have feedback you’d like to share with me, please do, I love hearing what my readers have to say. 😀
THE FINAL SUNRISE
The prisoner never raised his head all night, not until he felt the warmth of the sun on the back of his neck. As he sat on the edge of the bed and peered out the barred windows, he saw the sun beginning to rise, the light peeking back through the iron bars at him. He knew it was the last dawn he would ever see.
He never thought before that this was how his life would end. It was 1775, he was still a young man, and his life was to be suddenly cut short, just because of one foolish evening.
When the American colonies decided to go to war with England for independence, he had thought it was only a concern for those who called themselves his owners. But then those same people had “donated” him to the cause, making him a soldier, fighting to defeat the oppressors of his oppressors. So then he had thought his life would end with him lying facedown on some blood soaked battlefield, having died fighting for a cause that was never going to be extended to him.
Darius clenched his fists to stifle his fear as he felt it swelling inside once more. He stared at the irons they had locked around his wrists and slowly counted to ten to calm down. He remembered when they had put the irons on him. He remembered he had never struggled, never argued, just stood there and allowed himself to be imprisoned. As a slave in Boston, he was used to wearing chains. He had worn them his entire life, both literally and metaphorically.
Darius turned his ear to the door of his cell when he suddenly heard footsteps approaching and a tense conversation.
“Do we have to shoot him?” asked a soft, nervous, voice.
“What’s wrong, Thomas?” an older, gruffer, voice replied. “You never shot a colored boy before?”
“Darius took a deep intake of air and slowly exhaled. They were coming for him. It was almost time.
“I just mean,” Thomas began, “that wouldn’t it be better to hang him? Isn’t that more… traditional?”
The older one, who Darius could now identify by he gravelly voice as being named Raymond, snorted with derision.
“Hangings are for thieves and common crooks,” Raymond growled. “Traitors, though, you gotta shoot ‘em. Firing squad. No less than they deserve.”
At that moment, Darius saw Thomas and Raymond appear on the other side of the cell door. They were both dressed plainly, but Darius could see their muskets on their backs and their pistols at their hips. The two militia soldiers glared in at him, both judging him, both condemning him. Though Darius noted that Raymond looked at him with far more contempt than young Thomas did. Thomas had always been one of the nicer ones. Not exactly nice, but nicer, which was always the best Darius could ever hope for.
Raymond unlocked the heavy door and pushed it open, sill glaring at Darius with disdain.
“On your feet, boy,” Raymond barked. “It’s time.”
Without saying a word, Darius slowly rose from the side of the small bed he had been sitting on, his chains jangling at his wrists. Without argument, without struggle, he allowed the two militia soldiers to lead him out of the cell.
Once outside, with Raymond and Thomas standing on either side of him, Darius came face to face with the rest of the small militia squad, all staring at him furiously, looking as though they longed to draw their pistols and shoot him in the head right there and then. Darius almost wished that they would just get on with it already, but his fear of what was to come was close to overwhelming. It was a struggle just to keep his hands from shaking and he felt as though he might be sick. However, he kept himself composed. He didn’t want these men to know his fear. He wouldn’t give them that. They could take everything else, had taken everything else, but they couldn’t take his pride.
“Let’s go,” Raymond grunted to everyone.
They all then began marching out of the small town. Darius refused to look around, but he could feel the eyes of the locals on him. Watching him march away. No one spoke up for him; no one tried to defend him, which Darius had known from the beginning that they wouldn’t. It wasn’t the way the world worked. Not his world, anyway. But the stoic faces of the locals were soon left behind and Darius found himself, all too soon, standing before a small forest just on the outskirts of the town.
“This is it,” Raymond said.
He then grabbed Darius’ shoulders and forced him to turn around and face him, then shoving his back against the nearest tree.
“Any last words, boy?” Raymond growled.
Darius remained silent and looked past Raymond at a point far in the distance. He focused on the sunrise and swallowed his fear, taking in the glowing pink and gold of the sky.
“When you get to Hell,” Raymond sneered, “tell Myles we sent you. I’m sure he’ll be real glad to see you again.”
Raymond stepped back and stood with the other men, spitting on the ground at Darius’ feet.
“Ready!” Raymond shouted.
The other soldiers all drew their muskets.
“Aim!” Raymond boomed.
The soldiers took aim and Darius offered a silent prayer to God, but didn’t hold much hope. He knew Hell awaited him for the things he had done. So instead of more prayer, Darius just set his eyes on the horizon, taking in the colors of the morning, and lifted his chin slightly, almost in defiance of the men about to end his life.
The sunrise was the last thing Darius saw in his life.