So with A Series of Unfortunate Dereks in the bag and out with my lovely Beta readers I've started up on the second book in the loosely affiliated Afterlife trilogy God but Not Forgotten. Work is ongoing but I thought I'd let my loyal readers have a sneak peek of the start so well, here you go. Enjoy!

 

“Look out!” came a cry from behind Father Tait who looked over his shoulder just in time to be buzzed by a rogue sparrow. It flew so close that he could feel the brush of a wing against his bare cheek before it tilted to the right and darted off into the protective embrace of a large fir tree. 

 

“I thought it was going to take your head off for a minute there,” said Brother Jonas sidling up to startled cleric and patting him on the shoulder like the wanted to make sure he was still there. “Are you alright Father?”

 

Father Tait whose heart was still pounding in his chest let out a slow breath and tried to regain his composure. He was a man of few fears but he was not a fan of the birds; a fact he lay squarely at the feet of Alfred Hitchcock and his 1963 movie of the same name. He watched it as a tender twelve year old and had nightmares for a month. Menace Father Tait with a snake and he’d make a belt, an angry bear? He’d make a nice rug for his chambers, but give him one of those flappy, feathery monstrosities and he’d likely make a mess in his vestments. Brother Jonas patted his shoulder again and Father Tait forced a smile onto his face.

 

“I’ll be fine our Lord watches over us always.” He held up his hand counting the fingers on his right hand one by one. “May we always count our blessings, the blessings that he provides every day.” 

 

“High may we count,” intoned Brother Jonas ending the prayer.

 

Father Tait looked around the small clearing, keeping an eye out for flying vermin. Nestled in the slopes of the Stansbury Mountains near Deseret Peak sat the small abbey made of pale grey stone that had been his home for the last five years. The ground floor was completely taken up by the grand chapel of their god Methus while the upper floors held the kitchen, mess hall and the dorms for the his flock of faithful. His own, somewhat more sumptuous rooms were in the small at the front of the abbey just below the bell tower. The only other thing in sight was the rickety old bus with “You Can Count on Me...thus!” emblazoned down the side. His eyes narrowed focusing on the fir tree just beyond the low stone wall but no bird appeared.

 

‘You can hide now little birdies,’ he thought running his hand over the pistol secreted in one of the many hidden pockets of his holy vestments. ‘But you have to come out some time and when you do… pow!’ He pictured himself like some kind of ornithological Jason Bourne popping birds out of the air with his pistol as they came at him out of the trees. That would show them…

 

“Umm… Father Tait… Shall we go?”

 

Father Tait let his hand fall away from the gun and turned back to Brother Jonas. “Apologies brother I was just taken aback by the beauty of this holy place. I had to take a moment to count my blessings as we were taught so long ago by our lord and saviour.” He dipped his head in a solemn bow keeping a careful eye on Brother Jonas. The man smiled and made the count with his right hand over Father Tait’s bowed head.

 

It took a special kind of person to give up all their worldly wealth and move out to a glorified commune in the Utah wilderness to worship a forgotten deity. The majority of his flock were made up of ex-junkies, hookers and damaged goods diddled by daddy.  Losers who’d hit rock bottom and just needed somewhere to feel safe. The good thing about those people was they were easy to pick up, the bad thing was they didn’t have much in the way of liquid assets to contribute to the church.

 

Brother Jonas was different. The millionaire son of an oil baron he’d had everything he always wanted, toys, cars, houses. The only thing he never had was a father who was there for him. That was where Father Tait had come swooping in. He’d met him in Central Park on a fine sunny day in June and had known immediately Jonas was who he’d been searching for. He had a lost puppy look with big wide eyes and an aimless air but more importantly you could practically smell the money on him. Father Tait, or just Darran as he was back then had taken the young man under his wing and they had quickly become firm friends. After a couple of months of chance encounters which turned into organised coffee’s he told him all about his church and how he was just looking to get setup so he could help his fellow man. He’d managed to top up the churches account to the tune of around four million dollars before Jonas’ father had gotten wind of it and cut him off.

 

Cutting him off hadn’t had the effect his father was hoping. Instead of him coming crawling back it had pushed him even closer to Father Tait and now Jonas was the poster boy of the church. Proof that it wasn’t some kind of cult for no-hopers but honest to goodness religion where everyone was welcome. A little celebrity endorsement had worked for Scientology why not Methusology? Father Tait straightened and clapped Brother Jonas on the shoulder. “Shall we away to town to spread the good word my son?”

 

The man grinned showing a wide expanse of pearly white teeth and setting his azure eyes twinkling. Damn but the boy was beautiful, all perfectly tanned muscle and flowing golden hair, the girls in Stansbury Park wouldn’t stand a chance. He almost felt sorry for them, almost.

 

“Go and gather the rest of our flock I will get the bus started.”

 

“You want everyone Father?” replied Brother Jonas. “Shouldn’t we leave someone behind to mind the abbey?”

 

“I’m counting on Methus to protect us, as I always do. Besides we’re going to need all hands today I hear those heathens from the Church of Latter-day Saints are out in force again trying to scoop up our souls.”

 

“Yes Father you’re right of course. I’ll bring them out now.”

 

“That’s my boy,” said Father Tait patting him on the shoulder. He was rewarded with another grin before the young man turned and hurried away into the abbey. When he went inside Father Tait turned and looked at the rickety old bus. It was made in the 1940’s in a small eastern European country that no longer existed, which if their engineering was anything to go by was probably a good thing. It looked more like a child’s drawing of a bus than the real thing. I mean it had all the necessary parts, most of them in the right order but none of them seemed to be quite the right shape or proportion. He’d found it in a junk yard when he had been bumming around in Tampa trying to avoid an ex-girlfriend and while it looked oh so wrong the price was so very right. He’d toyed with the idea of getting a new one several times but when you’re playing the poor little church that can, it didn’t pay to flash your cash around.

 

He did a quick circuit of the bus making sure nothing had fallen off in the night and kicking the tyres to make sure they still had that jelly like give to them that he’d come to expect. All being well he went round to the front and hauled on the handle. The door grudgingly opened with the high pitched scream of metal grinding on metal; he really needed to get some oil for the door. He dropped into the tattered driver’s seat sending a cloud of dust and bits of chair stuffing shooting out the hole in the side. Slipping the key in the ignition he crossed his fingers, closed his eyes and turned the key. The bus shuddered and coughed and Father Tait was blasted with a cacophony of alarms as the dash board lit up all the warning lights bar one flashing urgently. For five seconds, ten seconds the bus stuttered and groaned belching thick black smoke out of the exhaust then finally the engine roared to life.

 

Father Tait let out a whoop and punched the air. “Hell yeah! Thank you the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Ah they made things to last back then I tell you. Now let’s go steal some souls!”

 

There was an uncomfortable cough from the door and Father Tait looked around to see his Brother Jonas looking at him with an uncomfortable look on his face.

 

“From the devil Jonas,” said Father Tait. “Steal them from the devil.”

 

The young man’s face brightened and he climbed up onto the bus taking his usual place just behind the driver’s seat. After a few minutes the rest of the party filled out of the abbey and took up their places on the bus and Father Tait flipped the door closed. As they pulled away from the abbey and started down the road to town Brother Jonas started to sing, the rest of the bus joining in a ragged harmony to his flawless baritone.

 

Need a God to count on?

Then Methus is you guy.

Sober, kind and full of love,

He lives up in the sky.

He sees no faults with anyone,

But counts their virtue true.

And if you come and sing with us,

You’ll count your blessings too.

Ohhhhhhhhhh,

Need a God to count on?

Then Methus is you guy….

 

Father Tait let out a low groan 100 yards down 100 miles to go. It was going to be a long drive.

Add a comment