What happens to us when we die?
Is there really an afterlife?
Do we possess a soul?
Does God exist?
For Michael Gabriel, the answers to these questions lie in another dimension, a realm of eternity where there is no concept of time, only pure life force . . . pure existence.
And pure evil.
Five hundred years ago, the Mayan Popul Vuh prophesized the birth of powerful twins--the sons of Michael Gabriel. White-haired, azure-eyed Jacob, blessed with inhuman physical prowess, intelligence, and insight into the cosmos, knows from birth that he is meant for more. His dark-haired brother, Immanuel, refuses his genetic calling, desiring a normal life. But only the combined powers of the Gabriel twins can resurrect their savior father and save the human race from an eternity of repeating its own self-destruction.
There is a third great power upon the earth, born the same day as the twins. Exposed to the uglier side of existence, empowered by her post-human genetics, the beautiful, schizophrenic Lilith will travel down a darker path that leads to Xibalba---the Mayan version of hell. An epic battle of good versus evil will begin . . . and the final fate of the human race will be revealed.
"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.
Steve Alten is the best-selling author of the Meg series, including Meg: Hell's Aquarium. A native of Philadelphia, he earned a Bachelor's degree from Penn State, a Masters from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate from Temple University. He is the founder and director of Adopt-An-Author, a free nationwide teen reading program used in thousands of secondary school classrooms across the country to excite reluctant readers.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
JANUARY 21, 2013
30 DAYS A.N.D.E.
(AFTER NEAR-DOOMSDAY EVENT)
The Dojo is sixty feet long and thirty feet wide, its walls covered in mirrors, its floor made of polished wood. Master Gustafu Pope, fifth-degree black belt and former karate champion of Argentina, turns to his "Bushi" warriors, all seated along one wall in a lotus position. "Richard Rappaport. Andrea Smith."
Hearing her alias, thirty-one-year-old Dominique Vazquez jumps to her feet. Like the rest of Master Pope's students, the ebony-haired, Hispanic beauty is dressed in full Bogu--protective armor. Her chest and stomach is covered by the Do, her waist in the Tare, her hands and wrists by the Kote gloves. She slips the headpiece known as the Men over her long ponytail, the heavily padded base protecting her face, throat, and the sides of her skull.
In her hand is the Shinai, a sword consisting of four staves of bamboo, joined together at the handle and tip by leather straps. Designed to flex as it strikes an object, the Shinai, though infinitely safer than its predecessors, the Fukurojinai and Bokuto, is still a weapon that can kill.
She takes her place across from her opponent. Rich Rappaport is bigger, stronger, and more experienced than Dominique, but lacks her tenacity.
Master Pope calls out, Rei."
The two student combatants face each other and bow.
"On your marks."
Bracing their bamboo swords, each moves into a crouching posture.
Dominique attacks, shouting out, " Men!" as she launches an overhead blow to her opponent's head. Rappaport blocks the strike, but the woman's furious barrage continues, her Shinai a blur as it lashes out at the man's forearms and chest. Dominique calls out body part names before each strike, her brown eyes focused intently on her fellow Kendo student through the bars of her headpiece.
"Oosh!" Master Pope awards Dominique a point for a strike to the top of the head.
The two students return to their spots.
"One to zero. On your marks…begin!"
" Kote!" Dominique prances ahead, her Shinai raised to strike Rappaport's forearms--
" Men!" as the tip of her opponent's sword strikes her in the throat.
Dominique drops to one knee, swallowing hard against the throbbing pain.
Master Pope bends to her. "Can you continue, Ms. Smith?"
"One to one. Back to your marks."
She hustles back to her place, her blood pressure seething.
Dominique is an erupting volcano, her anger raging, her arm and shoulder muscles bulging beneath her armor as she whirls the Shinai at the retreating Rappaport--
--who deftly blocks each of her strikes, then slices her across the midsection.
"Oosh!" Master Pope signals to Rappaport. "Two to one, point and match. Rei to me, to each other…and shake hands."
Rappaport offers his hand, his face expressionless in victory.
Dominique shakes his hand, averting the eyes of the senior student.
* * *
"Ms. Smith, may I see you?"
Dominique tucks her headpiece into her gym bag and joins Master Pope in his office. "Yes, sir?"
"How's your throat?"
Master Pope smiles. "It's good you were wearing Bogu or you'd be speaking out of a second mouth."
She nods politely, her cheeks flushing beneath her Hispanic complexion.
"Andrea, you're an excellent student, truthfully, I've never met anyone who trains so hard as you. But in battle, technique is not everything. Kendo teaches us to observe our opponent and devise the appropriate strategy in order to achieve victory. You fight with anger, you fight to kill, and in doing so, you reveal your weaknesses to your opponent."
"The Way of the Sword is the moral teaching of the Samurai. The art of Zen must go hand in hand with the art of war. Enlightenment is the realization of the nature of ordinary life."
Ordinary life? Ha. I'd give my right tit to have an ordinary life…
Master Pope stares at her as if reading her mind. "The teaching of Ai Uchi is to cut your opponent just as he cuts you, to train without anger, to abandon your life or throw away your fear."
"Do I seem afraid to you?"
"What I perceive is not important. Each of us has his demons, Andrea. I hope Kendo will help you to one day face yours."
* * *
Dominique changes into an old Florida State tee shirt, shorts, and her cross-training shoes, then stuffs her equipment bag into a locker and heads for the weight room.
Chris Adair, her personal trainer, is waiting for her by the rack of dumbbells, his dreaded clipboard in hand. "How was Kendo?"
"Good," she lies.
"Then it's time for a little pain." He sets the bench press at an incline, then hands her the two thirty-five-pound dumbbells. "I want twenty reps out of you, then we jump to the forty-fives."
* * *
Dominique emerges from the gym two hours later, her freshly showered and massaged body still trembling with fatigue. The gym bag filled with wet clothes and equipment causes her right shoulder to ache, and she leans on the heavy bamboo cane for support.
The older woman with the burnt orange hair pulled into a bun is standing by her Jeep, the grin of a cultist pasted on her face. Her eyes are shielded behind the wide wraparound sunglasses preferred by seniors.
Dominique approaches warily, gripping the handle of the bamboo cane tightly in her right hand. Concealed within its false bamboo outer casing is a Katana, the double-edged carbon steel blade of the Japanese sword deadly sharp.
"I'm sorry, you must have me confused with someone else."
"Relax, my dear, I'm not going to hurt you."
Dominique remains at sword-striking distance from the older woman. "Is there something you want?"
"Simply to talk, but not here. Perhaps you could follow me to my home in St. Augustine."
"St. Augustine? Lady, I don't even know you. Now if you'll excuse me--"
"I'm not a reporter, Dominique. I'm more of a messenger."
"Okay, I'll bite. Who's the message from?"
"Maria Gabriel. Michael's mother."
In her peripheral vision, Dominique notices the two Homeland Security agents approaching, one from each end of the parking lot. "Sorry, I don't know anyone named Michael, now I have to go." She turns and walks away.
"Maria knows you carry her unborn grandsons in your womb."
Dominique freezes, the blood draining from her face.
"Maria's energy force reaches out across the spiritual world to contact you. You are in grave danger, my dear. Let us help."
"Who are you?" she whispers. "Why should I trust you?"
"My name is Evelyn Strongin." The older woman removes her sunglasses, revealing bright azure blue irises. "Maria Rosen-Gabriel was my sister."
The three-thousand-seat arena is standing room only, as it has been every evening over the last four weeks. The television cameras and Internet videocams are manned and ready, the studio audience prepped.
Houselights dim, igniting a fresh buzz of energy.
The candy-apple red curtains flutter, then part, revealing center stage and a charred, seven-foot-high cross.
Mirroring the symbol, his arms outstretched, is the televangelist.
Peter Mabus is a heavyset Caucasian in his early fifties. His Alabama accent is thick, his thinning black hair slicked back and combed over. His pasty pale complexion matches his suit and tie and shoes.
The flock grows silent as he raises his head to speak.
"I'm going to tell you a story, ladies and gentlemen, a story about a man whose existence was riddled with disease, a disease that affects the mind and the body and the spirit. A disease that contaminates the soul. A disease that nearly destroyed society. Yes, my friends, I'm talk'n 'bout that disease known as Greed. This man had all the symptoms. Selfishness. Dishonesty. Malice. Jealousy. Envy. He was a liar and a cheat, and he was corrupt as corrupt can be. He was CEO of one of the largest defense contractors in the world, and he was heavily invested in oil. He was a man who treated women as objects, and bathed in the nectar of their sex until their flower withered and died. And then one day, ladies and gentlemen, as this despicable wretch of a human being lay in his mahogany four-poster bed in his fourteen-thousand-square-foot mansion, an Angel appeared before him. And the Angel brought with it a vision. And the man saw this vision, and in it was the Rapture. And he saw devastation and pestilence and death. And he saw the end of humanity, charred and ruined, buried beneath smoldering rubble. And then he saw the Lord."
Peter Mabus looks up as an overhead light casts its heavenly beam upon his face.
"And the Lord said to the man, 'My son, see what your sinful ways have brought? My children have forsaken me, allowing the serpent to take root in their garden.' And the man became frightened, and he dropped to his knees and repented. And the Lord said, 'Because you have asked my forgiveness, I will spare humanity, but only if you rise to lead the flock.' And the man bowed his head, and the Lord touched his heart.
"Gone were the greed and hatred that had corrupted the man for so long. Gone were the lies and the deceit. And the man rose from his knees and was embraced by the light, and the convenant was made."
Mabus steps away from the crucifix.
"I was that man, ladies and gentlemen, and that vision came to me four months ago, ninety days before the winter solstice of 2012. From that day forward, I have served the Lord as his humble servant, carrying His word to the flock. And when the Rapture arrived, and the bombs fell, the Lord kept His word to me, and spared our people."
A chorus of Amens.
"And when the serpent showed his face, that wily Devil, the Lord smote him with His light and saved us again."
"Divine intervention, children, it was divine intervention. And now, as I stand before you, a changed man, a servant of the Lord, I ask for your sup...
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