excerpt from


I have this scene scheduled for my next reading. My last reading, the first few pages of this novel, is available at https://studio.youtube.com/video/MXmvcpHRjMc/edit and it’s pretty dramatic, if you watch to the end.

This next scene is the scene that the cover is derived from. Hope you enjoy it! I am prepping “Journal of an Undead: Of Gods & Friends” to be the next in the series to publish. Hoping to find a publisher.


Love not a Dream

As newly undead Mikos saw reliving his memories had no impact on changing this destiny. He took one final chance — find a way to keep from falling in love with Althea. He had to revisit that painfully exotic event. In 1503, when Mikos was about 30, he lead an entourage of Dhimmi hired by the Venetians to sheer their sheep on Crete. The Ottoman Turks honored a peace agreement on labor exchange, as long as they remained within site of the Venetian fortress. The ship sailed from the Greek port of Coron, controlled by Venice in lower Morea, where this cortege of Ottoman traders had been stationed.

Mikos no longer gave much thought to escaping, except at dream time. This had become the way of life Mikos knew, and he was proud of his role in training others to sheer sheep wherever the army went. Anger could still on occasion awaken him from nightmares, as could the strange man hanging in the tree who seemed closer yet without moving. There was much to admire in Islam, such as their treatment of the natural world and their preservation of his ancient Greek heritage. No political or religious system was better than any other — all is perspective, he told his inner Vito. Instead he directed his anger at his unrelenting nightmares, lingering symbols of cowardice, and at that voice that at times seemed to come from nowhere. You are not a coward. Embrace this destiny and seek no other. He decided the man hanging in the tree must be his brother Myla, watching over him.

Because he was lead trainer, he spent his days in the fort training others to be cautious so they do not mar the animal’s skin. A ruined skin did not regrow quality wool. On one meal break he sought quiet away from the imbibing of the Venetians and their wine. He took a walk down to the rocky shoreline, where the Aegean Sea waves splashed against the heavy black rocks on this turbulent windy day. Stay and drink, be merry. From the fort above him, they could call when they needed him again. If he wanted to escape, he would do it here. But he could not escape because he felt content.

Had Mikos listened to that voice inside him, the one he would know as instinct, he would not be telling these stories to us today.

He followed the rocks down to where he could sit and feel the sea spray around him, and pondered the eternity of the waves. “Ah, life, a fickle mistress, to keep me in chains until all desire is gone.”

The splashing waves grabbed at his feet as though to pull him into the depths, the sea spray a pleasing chill up his sun-warmed skin. Jutting islands of black rock leading back to the shore held the sea in place, like a stairway to the ocean floor and beyond. Those jutting islands of black rock, like the very sea itself, existed in one spot for so long that he felt his life reduced to a mere trickle. As he watched the waters vibrate with the winds over the sea, a soft, lilting voice reached his ears.  

Listen not. Do not turn! Walk away.

He turned and then stood to better see.  A young woman stood on the rock a few meters away. Dark-haired and olive-skinned, wearing a flowing white gown, she was the vision of a goddess. Mikos gasped. He feared she was only a ghostly image of desire conjured by a lonely mind.

When she stopped singing and looked at him, he slid, startled, to his knees, saved from a wet and painful dunking only by grabbing the rock’s jagged surface.

She laughed. “Greetings, soldier. Do you not agree that each day that passes is more beautiful than the one before?”

He righted himself again with a tug on his tunic. “But let us not forget the beauty of the day that passes and we make ready to welcome the next.” He wore only the simple garb of a Venetian sheep sheerer, so how could she see him as a soldier? Was she a goddess of ancient Greece come to claim his disloyal soul?

“Wise words, Mikos.”

Startled, he met her eyes again. “You know me?”

“I am Althea. We met as children.” She traversed the slippery rock with sure feet, not concerned about tripping over her dress. “I warned you of the blood-drinking deities.”

“The gypsy girl! How lovely you’ve grown.” Mikos held out his hand to guide her to sit on his rock. He shuddered when she took his hand, feeling the chill of death and the approach of unbeckoned love as one and the same. “How did you find me?”

Althea laughed, a soft sound with depth as she sat with him. “The universe is a mysterious playground.” Her eyes were captivating — both playful and sad. Mikos could not look away.

“Your mother would not let you help us fix the wheel.”

“She meant no harm.”

“She meant every harm, as people do to us gypsies.” Althea looked out over the sea. “Papa beat Mama because he could not fix the wagon. I alone cared for my sick baby brother.” She crossed her hands over her chest and tears dripped onto the imaginary child in her arms. “If only he had died. Finally, I gave him to Gamma to raise, so that I was free to seek my own destiny.”

Mikos wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “Forgive me. I was a child.”

“Are you not still? Aren’t all men?” She forced a smile at his puzzled look. “Do not fear, Mikos. All is as is meant to be.”

“How did you learn my name?”

“How was I able to follow you here?”

He chuckled but then felt captivated by her brown eyes. “You talked of a destination, a journey that would never end. What is this bhuta that your family sought?” He glanced at the fort behind them. No sounds yet calling him. They need you. Go. She is trouble.  

“An answer to life’s many riddles. Do you never search for anything?”

“I have become more accepting of what life gives me, but if I could, I would be someone else, anew.”

“Oh, no, be only you! When I recognized you some days past, I followed you. I saw you as someone who has more will and determination inside than he has allowed himself to feel.”

“You followed me?” He slid a free hand across her leg, delighted by the feel of her cool skin against his sweating hand. “I am glad to have a goddess guide my destiny.” She lightly touched his cheek. “Tell me more about that journey of your ancestors.”

“We seek an understanding of evil. A journey without end, perhaps.”

“There is no understanding of evil. Only avoidance.”

“Are you superstitious? Quick, find the wood to knock the Minoan demons back underground!”

“Sorry. I do not mean to be disagreeable.”

“The oldest of civilizations here. Minoans. You must learn your history.” She laughed at his expression of doubt. “Women ruled here, like nowhere else. Do you know karma?”

He shook his head, preferring the sound of her voice. He felt at home on Crete, where the Venetians had free worship of Christianity. But even more he felt willing to learn whatever she wanted to teach him. If only they could escape right now into those mountains together where they say Zeus was born, their love to rekindle his spirit, of living life as a daily challenge, rather than one cushioned in rules.

As though reading his thoughts, she continued. “Once, long ago, there was a people who said that time never ends, the life is cyclical, and our souls thus return, time and again. My family comes from India, a land far away, and though I have been told I am too superstitious, I am always respectful of the gods below and above. They neither love nor hate us but offer paths that we choose in each lifetime, because we make the choices that take us there. Look over there.” She stood, using his shoulder as a brace, and pointed across the waters. “What do you see?” She held her hand down, and Mikos felt her firm grasp as he stood precariously on the wet rock next to her.

He peered out over the waters. “Uhhh, waves. Ripples?”

“The water appears to be a single path leading into forever. But if you look with your inner eye, you will see that the waters divide. There is not just one, but many paths that lead to our future. You have the ability to choose which one to take. But you must choose wisely, with all of your eyes open.”

Puzzled, he stared out across the water. After a moment his eyes opened wide. Startled, he moved a foot backward and nearly slipped off the rock. “It appears to be a series of lines moving in all sorts of directions!”

“We may seek favors of the gods, but our free choice enables us to move backward or forward in any direction in each lifetime.”

“You speak of past lives?”

“And future ones.” Sadness returned to her eyes as she stared into his. “Mikos, your destiny and mine are intertwined.”

Mikos wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “I wish to feel this intertwining.” He coaxed her to sit again and held her gracious form tightly against his solid muscular one, finding them a perfect fit. “Unless you are only here to tease me and nothing more.”

She seemed to enjoy his warmth. “To be with me, you first must be with yourself.”

“I give little thought to myself.” He shrugged. “I was taught that to show obedience would earn us a place in heaven. So I follow orders.” But you do not listen to your inner voice.

“Obedience to other than the self? Your existence would mean nothing. Mikos, do you enjoy being a soldier?” She pushed his arms down and stood, jumping to another rock as though in sudden revulsion.

He dropped his hands to his lap. “There are worse things to be. Worse things to do.”

“Than killing?” She did not look at him.

“That is not how we define the Janissary Turk army. We are protectors. We protect what belongs to the Sultan, against his brother, who challenges his rule.” Mikos stared at her in defiance but she returned his gaze every bit as hard. Finally he looked out over the water again. “If I could choose to live my life over again, it would not be as a soldier.”

“Does not the sea appear different every day, yet is still the sea? So are we. Our bodies may change but underneath, ah, we are that same soul, always. Can your soul desire freedom from this life?”

He concentrated on the waves. “I once desired escape with every beat of my heart.”

He stood and reached over to take her hand. She reached back.

I flew into this memory, a burning ray of underworld desire to tear them apart.

They touched fingers and pulled back, as though burned.

“Did you feel?”

“Yes, what was that?”

I cannot change what has been!

She kissed her fingertips and reached back. “I don’t know, but I wish to feel it again.”

Mikos grabbed her hand and stood next to her, wishing to stay in this moment forever. “Is this why you’re here? To help me find myself? Are you the personification of a lifetime of desire?”

She pressed her hands against his chest and drew her face alarmingly close to his. “Are you deserving of me?”

He closed his eyes but could find only one answer. “I am not.”

She looked off over the water. “Why have you not escaped?”

He fought not to control the unforgiving surge of cowardice. “To keep my family safe. I put their happiness over mine, as I would do for you.”

“What if I wish your happiness over mine?”

“I don’t understand.”

She leaped like a gazelle to another rock. “Would you do as I ask because I want to please you? Even if what I ask ends in my death?”

“What you ask is a riddle without an answer.” He looked over his shoulder again, as though feeling the Venetians coming for him.

“You still have a chance to change your future. And mine.” He shook his head, the pain like a spear to the stomach. “To make hard choices takes freedom and courage. Without these, you remain a child. A child has no control over the lives of others. If you fear for your parents, then go protect them.”

Mikos realized his life was the ultimate expression of his cowardice. But he could not admit that he would never allow her to be killed, even though she sought those very words.

Althea held a hand to him, and he willingly went to her. She wrapped her arms around him. “Mikos, love this life you have or choose another. This is the true meaning of freedom.”

“I would choose to have you in my life.”

“And I you.” She drew her face close and their noses touched. Her breath mingled with his as her tongue gently protruded between her lips.

“Does not the wind blow in the rain where before the sky was blue? For I now believe something I never did, that love can rise out of a void!” His voice lowered. “You make me feel as though I am a baby wrapped in the ecstasy of birth, or a youth who has just felt the first stirrings of adult desire.”

“You are both.” She pressed her head against his chest and listened with rapture to the sound of his beating heart. They held close and tight as though hoping to merge into one.

With a sigh, Mikos placed his hands on either side of her face and brought her sparkling violet eyes up to meet his. “I was told that to be in love is hard. Now I am sure that to be without love is harder. You are the one my soul has longed for.”

“Not harder, Mikos. Impossible. For when I give my soul to you, and you to me, then to be apart is to lose the reason for existence.”

Their eyes captured each other’s and held firm. “But I must go. I hear them call.”

She looked up at the sky, her voice teasing. “I hear nothing.”

“I will find a way to escape! You have given me new desire, even after I felt reason to accept this destiny.”

“We are fate. And fate is unavoidable.”

“When can I see you again?” He touched his lips to hers, a promise yet unfulfilled.

“Did I not tell you we are destiny?” She laughed as she pushed away and leaped to the next rock with the ease of a gazelle. “Patience, Mikos. I will see you again.”

She leaped across the rocks for a far distant shore without looking back and disappeared.

Mikos wondered, as he turned away, if she was ever there at all.





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