July 4, 2015 Leave a comment
This month I bring you an excerpt from Katrina Monroe’s latest novel, Sacrificial Lamb Cake [Okay, I love that title – Darke], from Red Adept Publishing.
When asked why she chose this particular excerpt, Katrina replied…
I chose this bit because I think it showcases two things: this book is meant to be satire, to a degree. Anyone who reads the blurb will know this novel touches on some pretty basic Christian dogma, but it is in no way a soapbox novel. People are people are people, and, as this book (hopefully) shows, have the potential to do good and bad. But this scene is also a pivotal moment in the book, one that gives the reader insight into Jude and Rain without (hopefully) being too spoilery.
Alert the media. Carve it in the record books. Stain it with blood. Lucy had been telling the truth. Judas didn’t have time to analyze her step out of character. Rain stood on the opposite bank of the pond, chatting away like nothing had changed. Only confirmed.
Son of a bitch.
No, son of God.
Anyone else would be elated. Dumbstruck. Much like the robe-clad twit bent over in the muck to slip sandals on Rain’s feet. Judas, however, felt a gnawing combination of betrayal and panic.
“I get it,” he muttered to the cloudy sky. “You work in mysterious ways and do not bend to the plan of a humble traitor. Lesson learned. You can let me in on what’s going on now.”
He waited. A goose, separated from its flock, landed nearby and picked at an abandoned pastry bag.
“You should take lessons from the Greeks.” Judas pointed a finger at the goose. “You’re shit at omens.”
A stream of white dripped from the goose’s backside.
“Fuck you, too.”
Across the pond, one of the group members wrapped a faded white robe around Rain’s shoulders and helped her to adjust the belt. At first, Judas thought they were only trying to warm her, but then the shortest of the group, a woman, led her by the elbow back to the water.
This can’t be good.
Judas dropped her clothes on the damp grass and sprinted around the perimeter of the pond, reaching the group just as Rain waded knee deep.
“What the hell are you doing?” He forced the words through deep breaths. Two-thousand-year-old lungs were worse than a smoker’s.
The woman guiding Rain shot him a nasty look.
“They’re baptizing me,” Rain said.
The one who’d put the sandals on her feet raised his Styrofoam cup. “It is written that John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ. It is a sign that Rain should come to us on the very day that we are to baptize our sister in Christ, Maria.”
Maria, a plain, young thing, waved meekly.
Judas turned to the woman holding Rain. “So you’d be John, then?”
Judas covered his mouth and nose with his hands and pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingertips. He felt a headache brewing. “I really don’t think this is a good idea,” he said into his hands.
“What?” Rain said.
He removed his hands and clapped them together, once, loudly. “Out of the water, Rain.”
Sandal-boy stepped forward. “Who are you to order about the Messiah?”
“My agent,” Rain said, apologetically. “Long story,” she added when they all looked at her like she’d grown a second head.
The fourth of the group, a gray-haired, hook-nosed woman silently watched from a distance. She didn’t seem to care either way. Her face held no expression, and she stood as still as stone. The woman glanced at Judas, and it turned his stomach.
“Jude, it’s cold. The longer we stand here arguing, the closer my legs are to falling off. I’m doing this. It’s right.”
Stacy and sandal-boy nodded triumphantly.
Short of dragging her out of the water, Judas couldn’t stop her, and he was hesitant to manhandle the Messiah in front of her new followers. They’d probably drown him.
Waist-deep, Rain and Stacy turned to face the shore. Rain shivered, and her lips had already taken on a blue tinge.
Stacy held her in one arm and raised the other toward the sky. “Heavenly Father…”
Sandal-boy and Maria bowed their heads. The hook-nosed woman and Judas stared forward.
“With this water, we humbly cleanse your messenger, our Messiah, of all sins. May she emerge a pure child of God. Amen.”
“Amen,” Sandal-boy and Maria echoed.
Stacy dipped Rain backward into the frigid water and slipped, barely catching herself before she too was dunked. When she pulled Rain out, Judas noticed a bright red trickle from her arm.
Rain shivered violently. Stacy anxiously pulled her back to shore where Sandal-boy and Maria waited with a fresh robe, wearing twin looks of horror.
“Y-y-you cut the Messiah!” sandal-boy accused.
Rain shook her head, teeth chattering. “It’s f-fine. I h-hit a r-rock.”
Judas snatched the robe from Maria and tucked Rain’s thin form into it. He helped her slip out of her soaked jeans and wrapped another robe around her legs like a skirt. “I have a bad feeling about this,” he whispered in her ear.
“What are you talking about?”
Judas looked over his shoulder at the hook-nosed woman. She hadn’t moved since Rain entered the water, and her face was vacant. One of Lucy’s scouts would have gone batshit by now, so she obviously wasn’t one of them, but Judas knew the woman didn’t belong there.
Stacy handed Judas a pair of sweatpants, head bowed to Rain. “Apologies, Messiah.”
“Her name’s Rain.” Judas snatched the sweatpants.
“Thank you.” Rain glared at Judas. Her shivering had slowed enough that she was able to dress herself.
The hook-nosed woman began to shudder.
Judas grabbed Rain’s arm. “We have to go.”
“Let us come with you,” Stacy said.
Judas didn’t give Rain the chance to respond. Still gripping her arm, he ran, practically dragging her behind him. After he’d put a few yards of distance between them and the woman, he chanced a look over his shoulder. The woman’s clothes fell off in shreds. Skin bubbled and melted away. The explosive hum of thousands of wings hit Judas’s ears, and he cried out in pain. Engorged, winged insects flew up out of the woman’s insides and separated into swarms like black clouds. One of the clouds separated like a battalion and headed directly toward Judas and Rain.
Judas quickened his pace with Rain struggling to keep up. The robe flapped like a cape behind her. She looked behind them and screamed.
“What the hell are those things?”
“Locusts,” Judas said.
Safely in the car, Judas threw it into reverse and stomped on the gas pedal. He needed to put as much distance between them and the swarm as possible. He needed time to think.
“What the fuck is a locust?” Rain stared gape-mouthed through the windshield.
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