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Authors: James F. David

Judgment Day

BOOK: Judgment Day
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ALSO BY JAMES F. DAVID

Footprints of Thunder

Fragments

Ship of the Damned

Before the Cradle Falls

NONFICTION WRITTEN UNDER THE NAME JAMES D. FOSTER

Christians in the Crossfire
(with Mark McMinn)

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.

JUDGMENT DAY

Copyright © 2005 by James F. David

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Book design by Milenda Nan Ok Lee

A Forge Book

Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

175 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10010

www.tor.com

Forge
®
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

David, James F.

Judgment day : a novel / by James F. David.

p. cm.

"A Tom Doherty Associates book"

ISBN 0-765-30915-7

EAN 978-0765-30915-0

1. Life on other planets—Fiction. 2. End of the world—Fiction. 3. Space colonies—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3554.A9155J83 2004

813'. 5 4—dc22                                                                                                                             2004056104

First Edition: April 2005

Printed in the United States of America

0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Chapter 79

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Chapter 83

Chapter 84

Chapter 85

Chapter 86

Chapter 87

Chapter 88

Chapter 89

Chapter 90

Chapter 91

Chapter 92

Chapter 93

Chapter 94

Chapter 95

Chapter 96

Chapter 97

Chapter 98

Chapter 99

Chapter 100

Chapter 101

Chapter 102

Chapter 103

Chapter 104

Chapter 105

Chapter 106

Chapter 107

Chapter 108

Chapter 109

Chapter 110

Chapter 111

Chapter 112

Chapter 113

Chapter 114

Chapter 115

Chapter 116

Chapter 117

Chapter 118

Chapter 119

Chapter 120

Chapter 121

Chapter 122

Chapter 123

Chapter 124

Chapter 125

Chapter 126

Chapter 127

Chapter 128

Chapter 129

Chapter 130

Chapter 131

Chapter 132

Chapter 133

Chapter 134

Chapter 135

Chapter 136

Chapter 137

Chapter 138

Chapter 139

Chapter 140

Chapter 141

Chapter 142

Chapter 143

Chapter 144

Chapter 145

Chapter 146

Chapter 147

Chapter 148

Chapter 149

Chapter 150

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I want to thank my wife, Gale, for being the first to read my manuscripts. Seeing the story through the mess in the first version isn't always an easy task. Thanks to my agent, Carol McCleary, for being even more optimistic than I am. Thanks to my editor, Bob Gleason, who never ceases to surprise me with the breadth and depth of his knowledge. Special thanks to those who read earlier versions of this manuscript, including Glenn Moran, Becky Ankeny (even though you didn't finish it), and Beth Molzahn. Your comments were very helpful. Abby, Katie, and Bethany, by now you know your dad has a very odd imagination. Finally, welcome to the family, Drew.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

SIMON ASH—Trustee of the Crow Foundation, agent of Manuel Crow.

IRA BREITLING—Physical chemist and cofounder of the Fellowship.

RUTH BREITLING—Wife of Ira Breitling, member of the Fellowship since its foundation.

MANUEL CROW—Owner of one of the largest funeral parlor and cemetery companies in the country.

MR. FRY—Part of a CIA splinter group working behind the scenes to secure power.

GRAYSON GOLDWYN—Owner, publisher, editor of the
San Francisco Journal
.

JOHN HENRY—Fellowship pilot, husband of Shelly.

RUSS JACKSON—Assistant editor of the
San Francisco Journal
.

SELMA (GRANDMA) JONES—Resident of Chicago who organizes her community.

WILLIAM LICHTER—Midlevel NASA manager.

COBB McGRIFF—One of George Proctor's army.

REVEREND CHRISTY MAITLAND—Ordained minister, operates a Christian Mediation Service funded by the Crow Foundation.

WYATT POWDER—Cable news anchor.

GEORGE PROCTOR—Advocate of personal freedom, gun rights, defender of the faith.

ROSA QUIGLY—Social worker, specialist in repressed memories.

FLOYD AND EVELYN REMPLE—Managers of the Sandman Motel, members of the Fellowship.

SALLY ROPER—Financial director of the Fellowship.

JANINE SAMPSON—Metro reporter for the
San Francisco Journal
.

MARK SHEPHERD—Cofounder and leader of the Fellowship.

MEAGHAN SLATER—Nationally recognized leader of the National Womyn's Congress.

EDWARD AND CARIN STAFFORD—Foster parents.

TOBIAS STOOP—Founder and leader of Earth's Avengers.

MICAH STRONG—Fellowship pilot.

SYLVIA SWANSON—Congresswoman.

ROLAND SYMES—Reporter for the
San Francisco Journal
.

KENT THORPE—Physical chemist.

JOSH THROWER—Foster parent.

SANDY WALLACE—Fellowship communications director.

RACHEL WATERS—Aide to Manuel Crow.

CINDI WINSLOW—Associate producer for a cable news network.

CONSTANCE WONG—Graduate student in physical chemistry.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my

Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters

will prophesy, your young men will see

visions, your old men will dream dreams.

—ACTS 2:17

CHAPTER 1 CROW

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."

—JOB 1:6-7

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

H
e set the candles in their usual places around the pentagram. That done, he carried the chicken down to the basement—a jet-black rooster, its head darting through the slats of its cage, bright black eyes looking around fearfully. He would sever that head tonight, watching the life fade from its eyes. There was still some joy in that, but sheer repetition had dulled his pleasure.

With ebony hair and eyes to match, a hooked nose and bony frame, Manuel Crow looked like a large featherless raven. Only his voice distinguished him from his avian namesake. Instead of a squawk, it was deep, rich, and melodious. Crow had the voice of a lounge singer but music had never interested him, nothing had, except death.

Growing up in his neighborhood, other boys played Little League or joined Boy Scouts, but not little Manny. He was a loner, shunning the ball games and bike trips to the swimming pool. Instead, he rode his Schwinn along the highways, looking for small animals run over in the night. Opossum were most common, but he also found raccoons, dogs, and cats. Only skunks escaped his attention—his mother would have none of those.

He used a burlap bag to carry his treasures home, the bag bouncing and swinging from his handlebars. Once home he retreated to his "lab," which he had set up in the old woodshed. He opened the animals first, slicing them from sternum to genitals, probing their squashed innards, understanding little of what he saw, but getting a sensual rush from the lifeless graying tissues. Next he skinned them. By puberty he was well practiced at separating the skin from the meat underneath, and like a professional taxidermist, he never cut or tore the fur. With the skin removed, Manny next scraped the muscles—the meat—from the bones. He found little pleasure in that—it was kitchen work. Cleaning the bones was easy compared to the skull, which had many nooks and crannies where the soft brain tissue and fibrous nerves hid. There were eye sockets to be cleaned, too. When he was younger he dug the brains out with a spoon, then used a nut pick to clean the hard-to-reach places. When he was older he used a water pick that he rescued from the trash. Working on his animals absorbed him in the same way putting model cars together did other boys. He spent hours picking out brain tissue, squirting clean the smallest orifices, until the skulls were free of every speck of tissue. Clean skulls were gray, so the final step was bleaching, accomplished by soaking the skulls in buckets of Purex. The finished product was as bright and clean as skulls baked under a desert sun. His best specimens were mounted on boards and by adulthood the walls of his lab were covered with animal skulls. If the skins were in good shape, they were tanned. Bones were stored in shoe boxes.

His parents told their friends their son wanted to be a veterinarian, but it was a face-saving fiction. On the one occasion they brought him an injured bird to heal, he dismembered it while it was still alive. In truth, his parents were afraid of him. They had reason to be.

His fascination with death eventually took him into the mortuary business. It began as an after-school job, his attention to detail and enthusiasm quickly coming to the notice of the owner. Always an energetic employee, he put in extra hours, hanging around, watching others work, and learning the business. The embalming was his favorite and even when he became owner of the mortuary, he kept some of that work for himself. Applying cosmetics to the corpses was difficult for him, since he saw no need to cover the gaping wounds or to putty the crushed skulls. Worst of all was faking compassion for the grieving relatives, but even this he mastered in time. It was a skill that would serve him well later in life.

The death business suited him, but left him with an emptiness—a longing for something more. By young adulthood he began to seek out that something. Sex and pornography bored him but it led him to the darker side of sensuality: sadomasochism. The leather and chains crowd excited him for a time, but when he discovered they too feared death, never willing to fully embrace it, he became disenchanted.

From SM he drifted into satanism, meeting those who worshiped the master of the realm of the dead. Strangely, he found the satanists were mostly women and they welcomed him, eager to teach him their rituals and invite him to their covens. A guest at first, he quickly became a member, then a leader, as he dared to take them to new levels. Before he joined, their worship involved only pentagrams, candles, and ritual. He introduced animal sacrifice.

Now the doorbell announced his guests, and he let them in: ten women and two men. Joking and laughing they made small talk, mostly about jobs and the weather. There was flirtation and contact in anticipation of the sexual free-for-all that would follow the black mass. Donning black hooded robes, they changed mood, solemn now. Crow set the tone, his black eyes and drawn face ready-made for solemn occasions.

The candles were lit, the coven called to worship. The black velvet covering was removed, exposing the statue of the Master. It was a devil, posed on one foot, the other leg held high as if frozen in mid-jump. Its hands reached up as if to catch something falling from the sky. Its head was tilted up,- its eyes were closed. Complete with hooved feet and horned head, it was the classic image of Satan—the Devil—the ruler of the underworld Crow's coven worshiped. He had purchased the ceramic statue at a gas station parking lot, painting it red to make it more "satanic."

Crow led the others in worship, calling on the Master to favor them, to empower them through demons. They pledged to do his bidding and cursed the one who had cast him from glory.

As he led the ceremony, his disgust grew. It was nothing but a game to the worshipers, a useless ritual conducted as an act of rebellion, not unlike the tattooing and body piercing the women practiced. It was trick-or-treat for adults, no more real than Sunday morning worship rituals practiced worldwide. No more effective, no less. He had been disenchanted for a long time, and made up his mind then and there that this was his last night as a satanist—time to move on, to continue his search to give his life meaning.

The chanting began, the worship continuing. Candles splattered shadows of the swaying worshipers across the walls and ceiling. Eerie to those who feared darkness, watching the shadows comforted Crow. He found the shadows seductive, arousing him like few women could. Dark places had always been special to him.

Crow swayed with the others, chanting the ancient words, believing none of them. Then it was time for the sacrifice. He picked up the knife from the center of the pentagram, raising it to the dark deity, pledging loyalty, asking the Lord of the Underworld to accept their humble sacrifice. Crow had sacrificed many chickens, but always thought it was a poor sacrifice. If he were a god, he would be insulted by the offering. That was one reason he knew no deity listened to the nonsense they chanted—no deity would tolerate such an insult.

As Crow released the catch, the chicken retreated into the cage, sensing its doom. Expertly, Crow snagged its neck tight in his fist. The coven's unified voice rose now in anticipation, Crow participating by rote. With the chicken in his right hand, and the knife in his left, he held them high in front of the statue. Then with a last loud supplication he severed the head in one quick stroke. The body flopped to the ground, then was up and running, blood spurting from the stump of its neck—this was the fun part. Then the unexpected happened.

"My time is soon!" a deep voice boomed.

Suddenly silent, the worshipers looked at each other, shaken by the unexpected voice. They turned to Crow, suspecting fakery. He shook his head, denying their silent accusations. The basement room was silent now. Shocked into a few seconds of silence, they began to speak, to explain away what they had clearly heard. Then one of the women pointed in horror. Crow turned to see the devil statue moving. The raised arms came down, the raised leg lowered until the cloven hooves both rested on the pedestal. Crow felt the others back away, leaving him to face the little horror. Then the head turned slowly until it faced Crow. There was a pause—a long moment of terror. Then the eyes popped open, glowing red as if lit by the fires of hell.

"Prepare the way!" a deep voice demanded.

The others ran, but not Crow. There was no fear in him, only joy. It was true—there was an underworld ruled by a deity of death and it had spoken to him. Now falling to his knees, he worshiped the idol, not from ritual, but from conviction.

BOOK: Judgment Day
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