Excerpt for Pilate’s Demon – a novel

Copyright@Anthony Michael Villanueva – All rights reserved


The first winds sounded like infants and children calling for their mothers. The trailing gales wailed like anguished women.

The leading edge of the storm crossed the Judean coast early. Its ashen shadow crept over the coastal city of Caesarea at dawn. By noon, it had raced inland across wasteland and desert. It was evening when it surged through the Valley of Gehenna, a place of tormented souls, just outside Jerusalem.

The tempest dipped into the gorge and howled like a wounded animal. Long fingers of icy gusts snaked around trees and rocks along the valley’s walls. The shrieking blasts of air mixed with the valley’s own blustery currents that moaned and whispered, moans and whispers claimed to be vestiges of human sacrifice, children offered up to an evil deity. There was no reason to be in the haunted Valley of Gehenna except to look for a lost goat; and that goat better be worth it.

The coursing winds blew past hidden caves along the valley walls and screeched as they whipped by. Something stirred in one of the caves. Scorpions, spiders, and snakes scrambled from the depths of the black hole and scurried into the storm for safety. That something clawed forward out of the dark. It poked its head beyond the cave’s mouth and sniffed the gray sky. It looked to the on-coming storm as if the squall had a message imbedded in its turbulence. It hesitated for a handful of seconds and then, like an escaping shadow, flashed into a blur, heading east for Caesarea.

The storm screamed loud and continued on to breach the walls of Jerusalem.

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