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About the author:
I’m a Baltimore, Maryland native with a degree in biochemistry and a background in clinical research. I decided to write this novel to break out of the mold of a typical office worker and fulfill a life-long dream of publishing my very own novel. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it.
What inspired you to write your book?
I have always had a deep love for the fascinating stories of mythology. There is simply an incredible amount of potential to retell these legends in new and unique ways. The Fires of War takes the retreaded concept of 'Heaven vs Hell' and mixes it in with the lore and characters of ancient mythologies to create an afterlife more complex than we could have ever envisioned.
Here is a short sample from the book:
“Age 29: Death via skydiving: Parachute malfunction?"
"Yes, that end would have been messy."
"Age 32: Death via woodchipper: Bungee cord malfunction?"
"That one would also have been quite painful."
Edward flipped through the heavy golden book which outlined the details of his life. Off to the left, several pedestals down, he could see his wife, Susan, flipping through a similar book.
"I always tell the new arrivals they do not have to read any of this. Most of it is irrelevant, even if your findings are particularly intense."
The book mesmerized Edward. Every detail of his life, every possibility, every outcome, every seemingly meaningless statistic. He took a moment to look up to the angel who was standing in front of him. They were not quite as he imagined. They were nearly identical to humans, except there was an odd faint glow surrounding them, almost as if they had an aura. The few Edward could see all wore bright, white, plain clothing. All of them were well groomed and clean shaven. They appeared to be in their early twenties at the most. Beyond the glow and bright white outfit choices, though, he found them quite underwhelming.
"I just don't understand… how could have I died in so many ways? I was a fairly boring guy….and how the hell….I’m sorry,” briefly forgetting he was in the presence of an angel, “I mean heck did I manage to live to 38?"
The angel smiled. "My friend. Nothing is certain. We're not omnipotent contrary to what you have been taught. Mortals always have that detail wrong. We can take a mortal’s personality, physical attributes, company kept, activities enjoyed, and we can determine all the potential outcomes that could occur. For example, a mortal addicted to pleasurable toxins of the flesh may have a higher amount of death possibilities than the average mortal. Truth be told, most mortals average maybe a few hundred probable final outcomes. Risk takers like your wife over there quite often come in higher, but you…well you're an anomaly."
Susan was a risk taker. That was probably the reason they were here. Edward remembered driving through the night with Susan. He remembered being excited to bring her to his work conference. His company landed him a week-long stay in one of the finest hotels in Chicago. Being middle class and from the Midwest, they did not have a lot of opportunity to experience the lap of luxury, but every once and a while, Edward’s job perks allowed them to travel and enjoy a life that seemed out of their reach. Edward wanted to leave early, but Susan had to work late that night. He wanted to pull over when the storm began, but Susan insisted they power through the drive. She always hated staying in motels, so against his better judgement, he kept driving. The combination of bad weather and bad luck caused one of their tires to blow-out. He remembered the loud crash, the screech of his tires on the pavement, the sound of glass shattering around him, the final screams of his wife, what felt like a thousand pounds crushing against him, and finally, darkness. The next thing he knew he was standing here, at this bronze pedestal with a friendly man in white greeting him.
The angel in front of him confirmed his suspicions, “Mr. Ignis, you have passed on from your mortal body.” he said, in an almost clinical manner.
It took Ed a few minutes to move past the shock of being dead. The angel pointed Edward to the book on the pedestal. The book was plain, coated in a gold plating that was warm to the touch. He noticed that the cover had quite a bit of weight to it as he turned to the first page. When he opened it, it was nothing but blank pages. Confused, Edward looked up at the angel.
“It takes a moment” the angel said. Edward looked down and saw the pages begin to fill with details of his birth, childhood, college years, favorite foods, and of his death. He was drawn to the section of the book that outlined every conceivable way he could have died. Edward was shocked to see what seemed like thousands upon thousands of potential deaths.
"Mr. Ignis….some mortals are simply unique.”
Edward looked at the very beginning of this section and noticed the bullet point stating: “~Age -210 Mortal days, Sandra Ignis Terminates”
"Uh….WHAT?!" Edward shouted as he pointed it out to the angel.
"A detail most mortals would reasonably leave out when raising a child. Your mother clearly had some thoughts go through her mind when she was pregnant with you. It could be the reason your number of possible outcomes were so high. Perhaps you were meant to join the Kingdom of Heaven sooner than you did.” the angel said with a seemingly sincere smile. “As soon as you were born, your probabilities were different than most mortals. We had scribes trying to keep up for many years of your life. Keeping up became such a burden that we were forced to give up. Truth be told, I'm not quite sure how you made it to 38 mortal years.”
“How much more is in this book?” he asked.
The angel looked at Edward and smiled again. “The book is just a book. Mortals can spend an eternity sifting through the pages, obsessing over what could have been or what they could have done differently. Do not worry yourself so much. The book is simply meant to answer any questions about your life before you enter the Kingdom. The only outcome that mattered was the one that happened. You lived a good life, worshiped regularly, and helped those in need when you could afford to. This is what matters.”
Still confused, Edward pried his eyes away from the book and over to his wife, “So, did we both get into heaven?”
“Of course, Mr. Ignis.”
“Is this it?”
The angel laughed, “Not quite. The pathway in front of us will take you directly through the forest of Eden. At the end of the pathway are the golden gates into our Kingdom. When you and your wife are ready, you may proceed.”
Taking the angels advice, Ed decided to step away from the book of his life, after-all, his blissful eternity in paradise was awaiting him and Susan. Why waste any more time reflecting on his mortal days? He was surprised that he was not bitter in the least about the violent way he died. He was simply relieved that Susan was here with him to take this next step.
“Oh, and one more thing, Mr. Ignis.” the angel said grabbing Edward’s attention, “Make sure you and your wife stay on the path. Do not stray. There is no telling what can be waiting off the path, and we want to see you safely make it to your eternity.”
“Yeah…no problem…stay on the path…I got it.” Ed responded thinking that was an oddly ominous warning. Edward began making his way towards the path leading through the forest. Susan saw him starting to head in that direction and decided to join him.
"Well, this is quite unexpected," she said. “What was your angel talking to you about?”
"Oh, nothing worth worrying about! I can’t believe we’re actually going to heaven! How lucky are we?!"
"Ha, very lucky!" she said with a seemingly nervous smile.
Edward and Susan met when they were teenagers. They had an instantaneous connection from the moment they locked eyes in third period English Literature. Their friends and family said they were meant to be together. They both eloped after they graduated high school and never looked back. They shared an intense bond. Edward could tell when something was not quite right with his wife.
“Everything ok?” Edward asked.
“Nothing worth worrying about, honey.”
They began heading up the path as the angel instructed. The forest around them grew thicker and darker as they continued. They continued up the winding path through the dark forest for what seemed like miles to Edward. He was beginning to have an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. Maybe there was no gate to be found? Maybe this was all some ruse?
“Hah, kind of gloomy for heaven.” Ed nervously quipped Susan did not respond. Ed looked to his wife who seemed to be growing increasingly uncomfortable. “Hey….Are you ok?” Ed asked.
“Are you sur-“
Just as Ed was about to finish his sentence they came to the top of a hill on the path. From their vantage point, they could finally see the gates. Beautiful golden gates and beyond it, massive golden and platinum cathedrals larger than any building Edward had ever laid eyes on. He was awestruck by the enormity and beauty of it all. There was at least a dozen more angels outside the gate waiting to greet them into their new kingdom. “Susan……are you seeing this….?”
Susan suddenly grabbed him and pulled him towards an opening into the forest. "Listen to me, there isn't much time!" she said placing her hand over his mouth.
He reached to pull her hand off his mouth, "Susan…what the fu…"
She covered his mouth again. "We do not have time! This is not your idea of heaven, and these are not the angels you think they are. They have been after your soul for a very long time. You are more important than you know. There is a hidden path through the trees here. GO NOW! I have people waiting for you."
Startled and confused, he looked at his wife of 20 years, "I don't….understand."
"I don't have time to explain! You need to move now. There is a lot that rests on your safety. We had to delay your mortal death for as long as it took to plan an escape for you. This is it….RUN….I'll hold them off."
Edward looked off to the gates again and saw the angels now rushing towards them. With fear and confusion gripping him, He took one last look at his beautiful wife. A pitiful "ok" was all he could muster. He turned his back on her and began running. Edward would never forget the sounds of chaos that ensued. The sound of screams, the sound of blades whirling, and the screeches that played out behind him.
All he could do now was run.
Run until he saw her people.