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Authors: John Farris

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Fury and the Power

BOOK: Fury and the Power
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THE FURY AND THE POWER
 

By
John Farris

 

 

Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press

Copyright
20
12
Penny Dreadful, LLC

 

Copy-edited by:
Kurt M. Criscione

Cover
d
esign
b
y:
David Dodd

LICENSE NOTES
 

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
 
This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
 
If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.
 
If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to the vendor of your choice and purchase your own copy.
 
Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Meet the Author
 

 

John Lee Farris (born 1936) is an American writer, known largely for his work in the southern Gothic genre. He was born 1936 in Jefferson City, Missouri, to parents John Linder Farris (1909–1982) and Eleanor Carter Farris (1905–1984). Raised in Tennessee, he graduated from Central High School in Memphis and attended Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis. His first wife, Kathleen, was the mother of Julie Marie, John, and Jeff Farris; his second wife, Mary Ann Pasante, was the mother of Peter John ("P.J.") Farris.

 

Apart from his vast body of fiction, his work on motion picture screenplays includes adaptations of his own books (i.e., The Fury), original scripts, and adaptations of the works of others (such as Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man). He wrote and directed the film Dear Dead Delilah in 1973. He has had several plays produced off-Broadway, and also paints and writes poetry. At various times he has made his home in New York, southern California and Puerto Rico; he now lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Author's Website – Furies & Fiends

 
 

Other
John Farris books
currently available or coming soon from Crossroad Press:

 

All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By

Catacombs

Dragonfly

Fiends

King Windom

Minotaur

Nightfall

Phantom Nights

Sacrifice

Sharp Practice

Shatter

Solar Eclipse

Son of the Endless Night

Soon She Will Be Gone

The Axeman Cometh

The Captors

The Fury

The Fury and the Power

The Fury and the Terror

The Ransome Women

Unearthly (formerly titled The Unwanted)

When Michael Calls

Wildwood

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For David Schow

Thanks, David

The story of the lion that attacked an elephant and paid for it I've adapted from a similar anecdote in Katy Payne's very good book
Silent Thunder
, recommended not only for its wealth of information about elephant families and social groups, but because it is wonderfully written.

The aphorist Lewis Gruvver is quoting on page 64 is the early Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria.

PART ONE
 

MONTH OF THE BLOOD MOON

 

WHEN ITS TIME HAS ARRIVED,

THE PREY COMES TO THE HUNTER.

 

—PERSIAN PROVERB

 
 
Chapter
1
 

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

OCTOBER
9

8.44 P.M. EDT

 

J
ust before his throat was torn out by a husky teenage boy he had never seen before, the Reverend Pledger Lee Skeldon had been distracted from the task of his lifetime—wresting souls from the wiles of the devil and delivering them to the lamb of God—by the face of a quietly ecstatic, weeping girl in the crowd of mostly young people filling a carpeted space in front of the arena's temporary stage. Waiting, like all of the others, for the touch of the evangelist's hand and, perhaps, a personal message at this time of their rebirth in Christ Jesus.

Fifteen thousand souls. Dating couples, pensioners, drifters off the street, bus loads from tiny communities as far away as Arkansas or the hollows of Appalachia. Admission free.

The arena lights were purposely low. A follow spot channeled Pledger Lee's own presence. There still were streams of people in the aisles above him, coming down to the arena floor in response to his call. He looked up for a few moments, closed his eyes. He had poured himself out to them and now stood emptied to the naive, fevered emotions they returned to him. His pulses tingled. His heart quaked from their heat.

When again he looked down and directly into the face of the girl, he was certain that he was seeing Pearl Lee, his youngest daughter.

That would have been a miracle to reckon with:
 
Pearl Lee had been lost to the family for more than two years. She had drowned while on a kayaking trip with other Teen-Lifers on North Georgia's Ocoee River. Six hours had passed before her body, wedged upside down by the gushing weight of the water and deep between boulders in a narrow chute of the river, could be recovered.

Pearl Lee was buried in the hilltop cemetery beside the Baptist church in Georgia's Blue Ridge country where Pledger, when he was little more than a child, had received his call to preach. Therefore her weeping appearance before him on this night, flesh and blood though she seemed to be, was an illusion, a trick of his wearied mind.

Pledger Lee was finishing a demanding schedule with this final meeting of his Christian Triumph Revival Crusade at Philips Arena, and he was exhausted. Yes—an illusion, an apparition produced by the sharp-edged grief he'd thought was also buried in the density of time behind him. Yet as he reached out to her, oblivious of the young man moving in close to him on his left side, another thought transfixed the evangelist: perhaps this was the work of the Evil One traditional theology identified as Satan, but whom Pledger Lee knew by another name.

The young man who attacked and killed the evangelist was Jimmy Nixon, sixteen, of Stone Mountain, Georgia. Lived there with his divorced mother, a travel agent, and two younger siblings. Jimmy was, as the subsequent police investigation made clear, known for his cheerful disposition and athletic ability. Didn't drink, didn't do drugs. He had never been much of a churchgoer, so it had been something of a surprise to his mom when Jimmy mentioned after dinner that he was going to drive downtown, alone, to take in a revival meeting.

Jimmy was muscular, carrying 220 pounds on a six-foot frame. Pledger Lee was no lightweight, but he was totally unprepared for a maniacal onslaught. Also unprepared was Smith Ballew, the Christian Triumph Revival's Chief of Security, who, in crowd situations, always positioned himself a couple of feet to the evangelist's right, studying the faces of those within arm's reach. Any public figure attracts head cases, some of whom might be dangerous, but Ballew had seldom encountered problems with the faithful: invariably those who came down to the floor of whatever venue they were in to accept Christ's blood as absolution for their trifling sins were either in a subdued, worshipful mood or tearfully rejoicing, floating free as balloons from sinks of despond.

There was nothing about Jimmy Nixon (Ballew would recall, when his short-term memory was restored) that agitated his curiosity or put him on alert. Jimmy's rusty hair was quite short, like a number-two buzz, growing in after a ritual head shaving at his high school's football camp in mid-August. A deep summer's tan was only beginning to fade from his skin this second week in October, leaving a dark scatter of freckles and pink peel spots across his snub nose and forehead. Dry-looking lips were slightly parted over white teeth girded in metal braces. His eyes were pale, almost an incandescent blue, and (Ballew realized he should have made more of this passing observation) they had no more expression than the eyes of a well-mounted trophy head in spite of the intense atmosphere following the evangelist's message. (Only Pledger Lee Skeldon knew that he believed very little of what he had been preaching for the last ten years, the myths of a two-thousand-year-old religion, albeit a religion that still satisfied most hungers of the spirit. That was the reason why he was still in the Gospel Game. If he preached what he
did
know to be the truth about Good and Evil and the potential fate of humanity, he would have been shut up in an asylum long ago. So he had learned to live with his loss of faith and the assumption of a vital duty.)

Pledger Lee was sixty-five years old, still with an eagle's darkling authority. His long legs were tired, and his knees ached. He wore rimless bifocals. His throat was dry after deliverance of hellfire (in that he certainly could believe, amen). There was a hard pulse in his carotid artery, which lay, as it did in all human beings, less than half an inch below the loose skin and thin flesh of his throat. The pulse may have been visible to the boy who killed him, an irresistible beacon to the metaled teeth.

BOOK: Fury and the Power
12.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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