Chapter one: ECLISPSING PARADISE
Families came together as the Easter holiday drew near. Summer weather uncharacteristically blanketed the land as warm air shot across the terrain on the Friday before the holiday.
Many had taken time off as beaches filled and playgrounds increased in activity. The warm weather brought many outside as moods changed from the dreary wintry captivity to an uplifting spring fest.
The long weekend ahead had begun as the nation prepared for celebrations across the land.
News channels and internet blogs kicked into high gear as the unique weather, the sudden rise in world popularity of US President H. Tuklam and the upcoming release of Suse J. Rohtua latest novel The Sorcerers Shadow...Eclipsing Paradise took center stage. Reporters traveled North in an attempt to locate cooler temperatures as blogs reported chapter leaks of Rohtua’s latest edition from unfavorable publishers worldwide.
However, the story which overtook the airwaves centered on the eclipse. It had not happened in decades but at midday a full eclipse of the sun on Saturday would blanket the world landscape.
As impromptu picnics arose and book stores scrambled to take advantage of the eclipse phenomenon a group of militants drove their unmarked van into a large warehouse near a port of call.
Undetected, the militants shut the doors to seclude their presence from the public. Once inside three men hustled from the van toward an underground shelter within the warehouse.
One by one the men descended into the shelter. At the base of a ladder the men walked down a long corridor dimly lit by side strips of illumination. None of them uttered a word as they traveled through multiple underground corridors.
At the end of the hallway they walked into a larger room filled with technology and large steel barrels. The barrels were huge and spread throughout the complex. A gigantic digital map of the world spread across the wall. Next to the map twelve plasma screens pictured stages of the eclipse as well as lines of people camped out in front of book stores.
Most of the screens were centered on the bookstores within the heart of cities across the globe except for the center screen. This screen featured a pool of water near an inlet to a winding river in the middle of the Jordan Desert.
The rivers serene and calm appearance provided a contradictory setting for its surrounding terrain of active war and bombing throughout the region.
The men filed into the room and joined the others working on the equipment. One of the men sat down in front of an instrument panel and began to manipulate the eclipse screens in front of him. As he tinkered with the controls stages of eclipse set in motion on the simulated screens.
Stage by stage the moon covered the sun. While the stages unfolded alternate screens depicted the world map as well as varied book store sites throughout the globe.
As the moon traveled in front of the sun the store sites as well as the river in the desert turned to black and simulated chaos erupted within each region. Meteor-like artillery rained on the regions as riots and explosions riddled the land.
After playing with the panel for a few moments of simulated chaos the militant reversed the controls and returned the screens back to their original setting without any chaos occurring.
Satisfied his controls where in working order the militant concentrated on only one screen. The other eleven screens, once again, depicted the early stages of the eclipse as anxious fans waited patiently outside the varied bookstores worldwide.
He focused his attention on the screen to the right of the pool. Underneath each screen a long dark tube snaked its way into the back of each control panel. The tube resembled traditional IV tubing with dark fluid pumped in and out of its core. The screen next to the desert river featured the city of Philadelphia.
* * *
-- Philadelphia --
The line for the cheesesteak stand next to Dante’s Bookstore stretched a block long as the midday crowd hustled to fill their bellies. Eclipse and Sorcerers Shadow fever extended to the city as many ordered their lunches while camped out in front of the store. As the vendor slopped the cheese whiz onto the tender meat hoagie an elderly black man with sunglasses reached into his wallet to pay.
He pulled out his last ten dollars and handed it to the vendor and said, “Keep it, for today is the day.”
The vendor gladly accepted the four dollar tip and turned to his co worker and said, “You see what a little eclipse fever does to these people.”
The old man took his sandwich and walked to the corner near a couple of homeless men. The men watched as the elderly man severed the hoagie in two and handed the two halves to both of them.
They looked at him in disbelief as he smiled and said, “Our time has come. Enjoy!”
He turned and walked away as the homeless men enthusiastically dove into their meals.
Moments later as the elderly man walked past an open for business Dante’s Bookstore. Hoards of fans jammed the entrance as a dark shadow stretched across the city. The man located a park bench near the store and sat down to watch both the chaos in the store as well as the phenomenon in the sky.
As the shadow and clouds grew, the man made the sign of the cross and closed his eyes. Less the thirty yards in front of him meteor-like artillery slammed into the ground as a car crashed into a telephone pole and erupted into flames.
Like a domino effect three more cars barreled into the lead car as flames illuminated the darken city.
Within seconds looters emerged from alleys and explosions rocked the city. The elderly man removed his sunglasses. He did not appear to have eyes but nonetheless could see as the city fell into chaos around him.
As citizens scampered in fear the two homeless men he had helped earlier ran past him without an utterance of gratitude. One of them held Rohtua’s edition of the Sorcerers Shadow...Eclipsing Paradise in his hand. As soon as they past him, the telephone pole the car had hit crashed down upon the park bench sending the elderly man flying into the street.
The two homeless men stopped for a brief moment and without a hint of compassion continued on to join the looters within the chaos. The elderly man watched as the men scampered away. Rain fell from the skies as the elderly man smiled and uncharacteristically laughed like a child.
* * *
-- Campground Near the Other Side --
The flame grew stronger as Will tossed a log into the fire. The air had turned cold as the night sky reached its darkest point.
Cayla and her band of warriors sat with Jimmy about twenty feet away near another fire pit. Siron reached for another log as Will stared into the fire. They both could see the chaos within the city of Philadelphia inside the flames as Will said, “Are you sure this hasn’t happened yet?”
Siron tossed the log into the fire and said, “Not yet, but if it could be seen here, it means it’s been written. It’s only a matter of time.”
“If it hasn’t happen yet, then we have time to stop it.” Will said.
“It’s not as easy as you think. Once it’s written, it’s out of our control.”
“There’s always opportunity Siron.” Will said.
“Not if it’s written.” Siron said.
“That’s where you’re wrong. You’re saying we can’t control our own destiny here, I’m saying it’s our destiny to control! Opportunity is always there...you just need to find it.” Will said.
“I’m saying, when it’s written destinies are predefined.” Siron responded.
Defiant, Will stood up and kicked some dirt on the fire and said, “That’s where my faith comes in...