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Anu and A life passed the Boat of Ra with the gods, being in arrayed in light and fed upon light, made no appeal to the ordinary folk since Osiris offered them as a reward a life in the Field and the Field of Offerings of the Field of the Grasshoppers, and Food, and everlasting existence in a transmuted and beatified body among the resurrected bodies of father and mother, wife and children, kinsfolk and friends.
The Judgment of Ra was held at sunrise, and the wicked were thrown into deep pits filled with fire, sumed and their bodies, souls, forthwith. Abydos, shadows and hearts were con- The Judgment was passed by him on the damned.
The Judgment of The Osiris. The part contains the following, which was said by the deceased the Hall of Maati, in which Osiris sat in when he entered judgment ": I have not sinned against men.
I have not defrauded the oppressed one "of his. I have not done the things that the gods " abominate. I have not vilified a servant to his master.
I "have not caused pain. I have not let any man hunger. I "have made no one to weep. I have not committed murder. A name of Osiris. I I 23 have not purloined the cakes of the have not stolen the offerings to the I have not committed fornication.
I have " not diminished from the bushel. I have not taken " milk from the mouths of children. I have not driven cattle " from their pastures.
I have not snared the birds of the gods. I " have not caught fish with fish of their kind. I have not stopped water [when it should flow].
I have not cut the dam " of a canal. I have not extinguished a fire when it should burn. I I " " have not turned away the "have not repulsed the god " I am cattle [intended for] offerings.
In the second part of Chapter. I am I pure. When the deceased had repeated the magical names of the doors of the Hall, he entered it and saw these gods arranged in two rows, twenty-one on each side of the Hall.
At the end, near Osiris, were the Great Scales, under the charge of Anpu Anubis , and the assist him. The deceased advanced along the Hall and, addressing each of the Forty-Two gods by his name, declared that he had not committed a certain sin, thus: Neha-hau, comer forth from Re-stau, I have not killed men.
Neba, comer forth in retreating, I have not plundered the property of God. Set-qesu, comer forth from Hensu, I have not lied. Uammti, comer forth from Khebt, I have not defiled any man's wife.
The Set-qesu means ings. He says " Homage to you, O ye gods who dwell in your Hall: Let me not under your slaughtering knives.
Bring not my wickedness god whose followers ye are. Let not the to the notice of the affair [of "'ye the judgment] come under your my Law concerning or truth me jurisdiction.
I live upon testimony? I have performed the behests "of men, and the things that satisfy the gods. I have given bread to the to the thirsty, raiment to the naked, and a boat water hungry, " I have made holy offerings to the to him that needed one.
I have purified myself with washings in water, my " back hath been cleansed with salt, and my inner parts are in "the Pool of Truth. There is not a member of mine that " lacketh truth.
At all events, after questioning him about the performance of certain ceremonies, they invited him to enter the Hall of Maati, but when he was about to do so the porter, and the door-bolts, and the various parts of the door and its frame, and the floor, refused to permit him to enter until he had repeated their magical names.
When he had pronounced these correctly the porter took him in and presented him to Maau? When asked by him why he had come the " I have come that report may be made of deceased answered, " " And me.
Then Thoth said, " I am purified from evil things, I am free the deceased replied, " from the wickedness of those who lived in my days I am not " " Thou shalt be reported.
Wlio is " The deceased having repHed Osiris," Thoth then led him forward to the god Osiris, who received him, and promised that subsistence should be provided for him from the " serpents, he Eye "?
By ; these stands the Great Balance, and on its pillar sits the dog- headed ape Astes, or Astenu, the associate of Thoth.
The pointer of the Balance is in the charge of Anpu. Behind Anpu are Thoth the scribe of the gods, and the monster Amemit, with the head of a crocodile, the forepaws and shoulders of a lion, and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus the duty of the lastnamed was to eat up the hearts that were light in the balance.
Since the heart was considered to be the seat of all will, emotion, feeling, reason and intelligence, Ani's heart, one pan of the Balance, and in the other is O, is seen in the feather, n, symbolic of truth and righteousness.
Thou shalt come forth to my my and strengthening the happiness to which we advance. No wickedness hath been found in him.
He " did not filch offerings from the temples. He did not act "crookedly, and he did not vilify folk when he was on earth.
Let there be given unto him offerings of food and an ' [I. This suggests that " the gods did not expect the heart of the deceased to kick the when beam," but were quite Truth.
His heart is righteous It hath no sin [and] hath come forth from the Balance. Let there be given unto him of the bread and beer which appear Let him be like the Followers of Horus for before Osiris.
I have not uttered a lie know"! Grant that I may be like [I have] no duplicity? The Kingdom of Osiris. He was introduced into the Sekhet islands, his saints.
Heteput or the " a section of the Elysian Fields " Sekhet Aaru, i. Near this spot were moored two boats that were always ready for the use of the " denizens of that region they appear to Jiave been spirit boats," ix,, boats which moved of themselves and carried the beatified wheresoever they wanted to go without any trouble ; or fatigue on their part.
How the beatified passed their time in the Kingdom of Osiris may be seen from the pictures cut on the alabaster sarco- phagus of now preserved in Sir John Soane's Museum in Here we see them occupied in producing food on which they and the god lived.
In the texts that accompany these scenes the " ears of wheat are said to be the members of Osiris," and the wheat plant is called the madt plant.
Osiris was the Wheat-god and also the personification of Madt i. The beatified are " Those who have offered up incense to the gods, described as " and whose kau i.
They have been reckoned up and they are madt i. Take says, of the Great again Osiris " 33 rest because of who as those are in Him whose of " and ye Soul my is what ye have done, becoming even following, and who direct the House Ye holy.
As the live, " land. Thou risest, thou shinest, thou shinest at the dawn. Thou art King of the Gods, and the Maati goddesses embrace thee.
The Company of the Gods praise thee at sunrise and at sunset. Thou sailest over the heights of heaven and thy heart is glad. Thy Morning Boat meeteth thy Evening Boat with fair winds.
Thy father is the Sky-god and thy mother is the Sky-goddess, and thou art Horus of the Eastern and Western skies. O thou Only One, O thou Perfect One, O thou who art eternal, who art never weak, whom no mighty one can abase none hath dominion over the things which appertain to thee.
Homage to thee in thy characters of Horns, Tem, and Khepera, thou Great Hawk, who makest man to rejoice by thy beautiful face. When thou risest men and women live.
Thou renewest thy youth, and dost thou Homage risest ;. Thou didst create the earth, and man, thou didst make the sky and the celestial river Hep ; thou didst make the waters terrestriaJ.
Thou hast knit together the mountains, thou hast made mankind and the beasts of the field to come into being, and hast made the heavens and the earth.
The fiend Nak is overthrown, his arms are cut off. O thou Divine Youth, thou heir of everlastingness, self-begotten and forms and aspects.
Thou art unknowable, thou existest alone. Horus In the welcome which Ra receives from the dwellers in " Hades " is Amentt i. They shout praises of him in his form of Tem Thou didst rise and put on strength, and thou [i.
The gods of settest, a Uving being, and thy glories are in Amentt. Amentt rejoice in thy beauties or beneficence. The hidden ones worship thee, the aged ones bring thee offerings and protect thee.
Their eyes follow thee, they press forward to see thee, and their hearts rejoice at the sight of thy face. Thou hearkenest to ' '!
Thou givest breath to their Thou art greatly feared, thy form is majestic, and very greatly axt thou beloved by those who dwell in the Other World.
The Introductory Hymn Ra to Osiris, in which the deceased says: Thou art the Governor of gods and of men sceptre, the whip, and the rank of thy Divine Let thy heart in Amentt be content, for thy son Horus Thou art Lord of Tetu Busiris and is seated upon thy throne.
Governor of Abtu Abydos. Thy power is widespread, and great is the terror of thy name Thou endurest for all eternity in thy name of Un-Nefer Osiris. Governor of governors, who from the womb of the Sky-goddess hast ruled the World and the Under World.
Thy limbs are as silvergold, thy hand is blue like lapis-lazuli, and the space on either side of and hast received the Fathers. They hold thee bowing low.
They withdraw and retreat upon thee; the [thought] of the frar. I have come unto thee, my hands hold Truth, and there is no falsehood in my Thou hast set Truth before thee I know on what heart.
I have committed no sin in this land, and I have defrauded no man of his possessions. Chapters II-IV are short spells written to give the deceased power to revisit the earth, to join the and to travel about the sky.
VI was cut on figures made of stone, wood, which were placed in the tomb, and wken the deceased recited it these figures became alive and did everything The text of Chapter etc.
Chapter XIV is a entreated to put away aay feeling of may have for the deceased, who says, is Wash away my sins, Lord of Truth wickedness and iniquity, O God of destroy my transgressions, Truth.
May this god be at ; " peace with me. Destroy the things that are obstacles between Give me peace, and remove all dissatisfaction from thy us.
The Jackal-gods and the Hawk-gods hymns of praise to Ra at sunset. I am the Only One. I am Ra, who rose in " of ruler what he had made.
These addresses formed a very powerful spell which was used by Horns, and when he recited it four times all his enemies were overthrown and cut to pieces.
Thoth recited spells over the gods whilst Ptah untied the bandages mouths with an iron? The book has been awarded with , and many others.
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We do not guarantee that these techniques will work for you or not. Some of the techniques listed in The Book of the Dead may require a sound knowledge of Hypnosis, users are advised to either leave those sections or must have a basic understanding of the subject before practicing them.
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It is, with all due respect, an evasion of the most fundamental sort. Which brings us to the third level: At this point, you can no longer detach; the unknown has become tangible and all too real, beyond cheapening on the one hand or denial on the other.
You can see the wet hole and the charred stump, yes; but beyond that—and in vital, visceral conjunction— you can know how it feels to be a part of it.
It is the point at which true illumination becomes possible: There is no sacrifice of one for the other. Such sacrifice is worse than pointless.
To go too far is to come that much closer to having it all; and in dangerous times like these, we need it all if we are to survive. Do you wish to see perceive nothing, or do you want to see things as they really are?
It is not hard to see things as they really are, it is simply a matter of tearing down walls, ridding oneself of defenses and presumption, rendering oneself vulnerable, an idiot, a fool.
To go nine-tenths of the way is to suffer at every moment utter madness. To go all the way is to become sane.
Most people prefer blindness. But most people are a dying race. Pick up the newspaper. Turn on the TV. Look out your window.
Death and mindless brutality have permeated every aspect of our lives to such a degree that there is no escape, no place safe to hide.
And while violence per se is certainly nothing new, it might be safe to assert that during the twentieth century some dark, twisted component of the human spirit has come of age.
And in doing so, given rise to a radical twist in the nature of Absolute Values in relation to life as it is. When the first poison gas blew through the trenches of Belgium and France, something fundamentally twisted.
When the first ovens fired at Auschwitz and the first mushroom clouds bloomed over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, something twisted.
When oppressed peoples rioted in the streets or were led off to slaughter, when it became all too clear that our fearless leaders were more often than not bald-faced businessmen who sold us out in the name of profit, when killer cultists who listened to The Beatles carved up Sharon Tate and her unborn baby, ushering in an era of serial killers and Khmer Rouge, drive-by shooters and day-care rapists, hijackings and knee-cappings, death squads and body dumps… Something twisted.
And it keeps on twisting, in the winds of change. And it never will. The old maps grow frayed at the edges; whole new vistas open up where before there was the fog and the fading to black.
Or better yet, to return to the last place we felt comfortable. The last place we felt we knew. Your Humble Editors would offer that it is better to press on: It is not my job to lull you with a false sense of the rightness of the universe.
This wonderful and terrible occupation of recreating the world in a different way, each time fresh and strange, is an act of revolutionary guerrilla warfare.
I stir the soup. I make your nose run and your eyeballs water. You hold in your hands a world of hurt: You hold in your hands a universe of grisly possibility, replete with all of the hope and humanity supportable by such a place.
Not bad for a book of zombie stories. The contributors responded to our invitation with an enthusiasm that both stunned and delighted us.
We asked for their most intense vision. But we never expected the level of intensity that came pouring in, story after story. Everybody knows something about the world of the walking dead.
This is our way of probing the boundaries, penetrating the unknown, making sense of the nonsensical and the abhorrent. It has been brought to you by a handful of the wildest frontiersmen that this world has to offer, guys who have gone to the edge and have the arrows in their backs to prove it.
Read every goddam thing they write. They are not writing for no reason. Each in their own way, they are pushing us toward understanding: If we are to rise above this nightmare, we must first make peace with the monster inside ourselves: A new dark age beckons on the one side.
A renaissance, on the other. If there is any hope for the future, it surely must rest upon the ability to stare unflinchingly into the heart of darkness.
Then set our sights on a better place. Just as each of us has an aberration, a hidden secret. He was going to answer his own obtuse question, and the answer he had already decided upon was no.
It was the puffery that preceded the crunch—was she going to fuck him tonight, or not? She was positive he had already answered that one in his head as well.
Dinner had run to ninety-five bucks, not counting the wine or the tip. Dessert had been high-priced, higher-caloric, chocolate, elegant. Cabs had been taken and token gifts dispensed.
Older men frequently asked her out. When Quinn invited her to dinner, a weekend date, she had pulled his file, consulted his figures, and said yes.
All the girls in the office did it. He drove a Jaguar XJS and was into condo development. The dinner part had been completed two hours ago.
Now it was his place. When your income hit the high six figures there was no such animal as date rape. It was inactive tonight. Best to stay mum; it was like compensation.
To her certain knowledge she had never bedded bisexuals or intravenous drug users, and in truth she feared contracting AIDS in the same unfocused way she feared getting flattened in a crosswalk by a bus.
There was no way in the world either of them could fit a condom over their mouths, so it was academic. She had disconnected, and felt just fine. She took a deep, languorous breath, keeping him on the far side of her wine glass, and stifled the giggle that welled within her.
Oh my yes, she felt nice, adrift on a cumulus pillow of gasified brain cells. She would look past him, through him, in just this way when he was on top of her, grunting and sweating and believing he had seduced her… just as he now believed she was paying attention.
She rewound back to the last utterance she cared to remember and acted upon it. She added a glowing smile and toyed with a long curl of her copper hair.
His interest came full blast, too eager. She played him like a catfish on a hook. Through the tabletop he watched her legs recross.
The whisper of her stockings flushed his face with blood. His brain was giddy, already jumping forward in time, to the clinch.
His voice was so cultured, his tone so paternal. He was losing control and she could smell it. She kept a childlike killer smile precisely targeted.
So much bitterness, there beneath the manner and cosmetics. There was a tall vase of irises on an antique end table near the fireplace.
He kept his gaze on her. The fire was in his eyes as well. Every inch the coquette, Amelia bit off the delicate chiffon of the iris.
I like the flavor. It became evident that his erection was making him blunder. She had made a point of telling Quinn she liked lots of flowers, and he and his Gold Card had come through in rainbow colors.
All over the penthouse were long-stemmed roses, carnation bouquets, spring bunches, mums, more.
Quinn found the sight of Amelia chewing the flowers throat-closingly erotic. His voice grew husky and repeated her name. It was time for him to lunge.
So far, no big deal. Quinn used silk scarves to secure her wrists and ankles to the mahogany poles of the four-poster bed.
With a long, curved, ebony-handled knife he halved the front of her dress. Into the vanilla highlands of her breasts he mumbled promises of more expensive replacement garments.
His hands lost their sophistication and became thick-fingered, in a big masculine hurry, shredding her hose to the knees and groping to see if she was as moist as his fantasies.
Then he was thrusting. Amelia rocked and pretended to orgasm. This would be done in a hurry. She expected him to go for the knife again, to stroke her nipples with its razor edge or tease her nerve endings with mock danger.
Instead, he reached into a headboard compartment and brought out a rubber mask festooned with sewn leather and buckles and shiny gold zippers.
It almost made her laugh. The contraption engulfed her head like a thick, too-tight glove. She thought of getting stuck in a pullover sweater, only this material was definitely nonporous.
Her lungs felt brief panic until the thing was fully seated and she could gulp air through the nose and mouth slits.
Then Quinn resumed pushing himself into her, his prodding more urgent now. He broke rhythm only to zip the holes in the mask shut. Fear blossomed loud in her chest, becoming a fireball.
She pulled in a final huge draught of air before he zipped the nose shut, and wasted breath making incomprehensible muling noises against the already-sealed mouth hole.
She could not tell him now of her congenital lung problems, that respiration was sometimes a chore. When the weather was wrong, she had to resort to prescription medication just to breathe.
It had never come up, all through dinner. They had been too busy with aberrations and prime moments and eating flowers… All she could feel now was a slow explosion in her chest and the steady pounding down below, in and out.
She began to buck and heave, thrashing. Quinn loved every second of it, battering her lustily despite her abrupt lack of lubrication. The friction vanished when he came inside her.
Panting, he lumbered immediately to the bathroom. When he returned, Amelia had not changed position, and he finally noticed she was no longer breathing.
Sometimes it went down this way, he thought. The price of true passion, however aberrant. But she was still moist and poised at the ready, so he opted to have one more go.
He huffed with surprise when she began to squirm beneath him again. He went aahhh and started stroking rigid and slippery in a fast tempo.
That was it—she had fainted. Sometimes it went down that way as well—orgasm put them in the Zone for a while. She would awaken on high-burn and come her teeny secretary brains right out.
Her jaw wrenched around at a ridiculous angle and bit into the leather muzzle of the mask from within, shredding a hole.
In the brief second before the pain hit, Quinn thought of that crazy shit on the news. Cannibal attacks on the eastern seaboard. Some whackpot scientist had claimed that dead people were reviving and eating live people.
It was all Big Apple ratshit. His throat flooded with the foaming pink backwash of inhaled blood. He made a liquid gargling noise as he tried to recoil, to back out of her, to get the hell away from this fucking lunatic, but she had a deathgrip on him below-decks, as well.
Then Quinn was able to yell, and he did because he could feel the ring of vaginal muscle increasing pressure, locking up beyond the circumference of his cock.
The more he tried to pull out, the harder he got. Blood was a liquid. His panic erection was vised with no options. He shoved wildly against the bed, blood pumping from the cavern in his face.
He began hitting her with both fists, but she was beyond feeling a thing. When he felt the muscle sever his penis like a wire cutter, he began to scream hoarsely.
None of his neighbors would pay any mind. Suddenly freed, he sprawled backward. Blood gushed, ruining the carpet and sputtering from his crotch.
Quinn hit the floor and kept screaming until catatonia blanketed him. It took Amelia about half an hour to gnaw through her bonds.
She spent another hour and a half eating Quinn. During her meal the life left his body, and the queer radiations mentioned on the news did their alien work.
By then there was not enough left of his corpse to rise, or walk, or eat anyone else. The pieces lolled around on the floor, feeling the first pangs of a new hunger, unearthly and unsatisfiable.
Her savaged dress dropped away. Swaying side-to-side she found her way into the room where they had dined when they were alive. Sparks of remembered behavior capered through her dead brain matter, evaporating for the last time.
She began eating the flowers in their vases, in no hurry to begin her nightwalk. The flowers were alive, but dying every moment. Their life might become hers.
When she stopped, all the bouquets had been stripped. Eventually Amelia found her way to a door, and moved into the world to seek others of her newborn kind.
Never again would she be as beautiful. It was her moment, just as Quinn had said. She blended with the shadows, a striking, cream-skinned nude with flower petals drifting down from her mouth, ochre, mauve, bright red.
The first she heard of the man was his voice. She looked up at Paul. His eyes were wide with alarm.
She felt totally helpless and exposed. Not that the guy could see anything. He turned his head toward the man. Jean could feel his heart drumming, his penis shrinking inside her.
And started to get up. Jean jammed her shoes against his buttocks, tightened her arms around his back. Later, she knew it was a shotgun.
She jerked her head sideways to get away from them. Jerked it the wrong way. Saw the clotted wetness on the moonlit trunk of a nearby tree, saw his ear cling to the bark for a moment, then fall.
A torrent of blood blinded her. She started to scream. The man stomped her belly. He scooped her up, swung her over his shoulder, and started to run.
She wheezed, trying to breathe. His foot had smashed her air out and now his shoulder kept ramming into her.
She felt as if she were drowning. Only a dim corner of her mind seemed to work, and she wished it would blink out. Better total darkness, better no awareness at all.
The man stopped running. He bent over, and Jean flopped backward. Beside her was a windshield plated with moonlight. She tried to lift her head.
So she lay there, struggling to suck in air. The man came back. Jean felt as if she had missed a chance to save herself.
He leaned over, clutched both sides of her open blouse, and yanked her into a sitting position. He snapped a handcuff around her right wrist, passed the other bracelet beneath her knee, and cuffed her left hand.
Then he lifted her off the hood. Through the windshield, Jean saw him rush past the front of the car.
She drove her knee up. It bumped her chin, but she managed to slip the handcuff chain down her calf and under the sole of her running shoe.
She grabbed the door handle. She levered it up and threw her shoulder against the door and started to tumble out, but her head jerked back with searing pain as if the hair were being torn from her scalp.
Her cheekbone struck the steering wheel. A hand clasped the top of her head. Another clutched her chin. And he rammed the side of her face again and again on the wheel.
She felt his hand kneading her breast. The car was moving fast. From the engine noise and the hiss of the tires on the pavement, she guessed they were on the Interstate.
He looked down at her and smiled. It had the crewcut right, and the weird crazy eyes, but his nose was a little larger, his lips a lot thicker.
Jean started to lift her head. Did you see how they hit that tree? She gritted her teeth. Just goes to show what a twelve-gauge can do to a fellow.
Just sweet young things like you. It came as no surprise, no shock. Only one body had been found. Everyone talked as if the Reaper had killed the other six, but really they were only missing.
Maybe he takes them someplace and keeps them. But he just now said he kills sweet young things: He killed them all. Jean was tempted to grab his hand and bite it.
If she did that, he would hurt her again. He plans to make me scream. But that was later. Maybe she could get away from him before it came to that.
The best thing, for now, was to give him no trouble. And I know who you are, too. Maybe followed me around on campus, asked someone my name.
Have you read any books like that? The bittersweet story of your brief but passionate relationship with that guy. What was his name?
You were the intended victim, Paul simply an unlucky jerk who got in the way. He got lucky, then he got unlucky.
He got off and got offed. Did he go out with a bang? Air hissed in through her teeth. Of course, some of the notoriety may be a trifle embarrassing for you.
Who was the last person to see you alive. People read that, a lot of them are going to think you were asking for it.
So your demented roommate can listen through the wall and make noises. We can find a place by the stream. I ask you a question, you answer.
It tipped upward a bit, pressing her cheek against his belt buckle. An off-ramp, she thought. The car stopped, then made a sharp turn.
A cold tremor swept through Jean. You were just too horny to care? I hate those sniveling, whiny pouters. Take me, for instance—I never pout.
I make other people lose. His face was a vague blur. There were no more streetlights, Jean realized. Nothing but moonlight, now. I killed a girl once.
It was just two years ago. I was going with this guy, Jim Smith, and… I really loved him. And then all of a sudden he started going with this bitch, Mary Jones.
So one night I snuck into her room in the sorority and smothered her with a pillow. And I enjoyed it. I laughed when she died. I can see some advantages to an arrangement like that.
You could lure the pretty young things into my car, help me subdue them. What do you think? His offer was just what she had wanted to hear—and he knew it.
He knew it, all right. But she went along, just in case. The front of the car tipped upward. Four out of eight. The other one said she pushed her kid sister out of the tree house.
What are the chances of that? His left hand kept jogging the steering wheel from side to side as he maneuvered up the hill.
She could reach up and grab the wheel and maybe make them crash. At this speed, the crash might not hurt him at all.
But the car stopped. He swung the steering wheel way over and started ahead slowly. The car bumped and rocked.
Its tires crunched dirt. Leafy branches whispered and squeaked against its sides. Most of them start about now.
Sometimes they hold off till we get out. He stopped the car and turned off the engine. Sit up slowly and open the door. As she levered the handle, he clutched the collar of her blouse.
He held onto it while she climbed out. Then he was standing, still gripping her collar, knuckles shoving at the back of her neck to guide her around the door.
The door slammed shut. They passed the front of the car and moved toward a clearing in the forest. The clearing was milky with moonlight.
In the center, near a pale dead tree, was a ring of rocks that someone had stacked up to enclose a campfire. A pile of twigs and broken branches stood near the fire ring.
The Reaper steered Jean toward the dead tree. She saw wood already piled inside the wall of rocks, ready for a match. And she felt a quick glimmer of hope.
Someone had laid the fire. He probably did it. He was up here earlier, preparing. She saw a rectangular box at the foot of the tree.
She began to whimper. She tried to stop walking, but he shoved her forward. He took a key from the pocket of his pants and held it in front of her face.
His forearm caught her under the chin, forcing her back as she started to double. Her legs gave out. She slid down the trunk, the barkless wood snagging her blouse and scraping her skin.
A knob of root pounded her rump. She started to tumble forward, but he was there in front of her upthrust knees, blocking her fall. She was hurting and dazed and breathless.
She was folded, back tight against the tree, legs mashing her breasts, arms stretched out over her knees, toes pinned to the ground by his boots.
She knew she had lost. Jean felt as if she were outside herself, observing. It was someone else being grabbed under the armpits, someone else being lifted.
She was watching a movie and the heroine was being prepared for torture. The loose cuff was being passed over the top of a limb.
The Reaper lifted her off her feet and carried her out away from the trunk. Then he let go. The man walked away from his captive. He crouched on the other side of the ring of rocks and struck a match.
Flames climbed the tented sticks. They wrapped thick, broken branches. Pale smoke drifted up. He stood and returned to the girl.
His voice sounded as faint as the snapping of the fire behind him. This is okay, she thought. She stood rigid and stared at the dark blade.
Her heart felt like a hammer trying to smash its way out of her chest. It cut her clothes instead—the straps of her bra, the sleeves of her blouse, the waistband of her skirt.
He took the clothes to the fire. Here in the mess hall. I leave a meal for him and his forest friends, and they do the cleanup for me. No fuss, no bother.
And you, sweet thing, will be spared the embarrassment of returning to campus bare-ass. He took out pliers and a screwdriver. He set the pliers on the flat top of a rock.
He picked up the screwdriver. Its shank was black even before he held it over the fire. Jean saw the flames curl around it. Smiling, he rolled the screwdriver in his hand.
No need to rush. Are you savoring the anticipation? Done it plenty of times before. Scream, twitch, cry, kick, beg, drool… bleed.
Not necessarily in that order, of course. Pliers in one hand, screwdriver in the other, he walked slowly toward Jean.
Wisps of pale smoke rose off the shank of the screwdriver. He stopped in front of her. So many choice areas to choose from. Jean jerked her head aside.
The tip moved closer. She shut her eye. Felt heat against its lid. But the heat faded. After all, half the fun for you will be watching.
He had simply touched her with the nose of the pliers. Jean tried to jerk away, but the handcuffs stopped her. As the edge of her shoe glanced off his hip, he stroked her thigh with the screwdriver.
She twisted away, and he flopped beside her. She gazed down at him, hardly able to believe he was actually sprawled there. She was dreaming and pretty soon she would come to with a burst of pain and… No, she thought.
She looked for the rock thrower. And spotted a dim shape standing beside a tree on the far side of the clearing. It limped toward the glow of the fire.
From the shape, Jean guessed that her savior was a woman. Others began to appear across the clearing.
One stepped out from behind a tree. Another rose behind a clump of bushes. Jean glimpsed movement over to the right, looked and saw a fourth woman.
She heard a growl behind her, twisted around, and gasped at the sight of someone crawling toward her. Toward the Reaper, she hoped. The flesh had been stripped from one side of her back, and Jean glimpsed pale curving ribs before she whirled away.
Now there were five in front of her, closing in and near enough to the fire so she could see them clearly. She stared at them. Came out of herself, became an observer.
The girl cuffed beneath the tree was amazed that a one-eyed girl had been able to throw a rock with such fine aim.
It was even more amazing, since she was obviously dead. How can she walk? How can any of them walk? The troops had really feasted on her.
One arm was missing entirely. The other arm was bone, and gone from the elbow down. Where she still had flesh, it looked black and lumpy. Some of her torso was intact, but mostly hollowed out.
The right-hand side of her rib cage had been broken open. The ribs on the left were still there, and a shriveled lung was visible through the bars.
Her face had no eyes, no nose, no lips. She looked as if she might be grinning. Of course not, dope. How can she see? One of the others still had eyes.
They were wide open and glazed. She had a very peculiar stare. She still had most of her skin. But it looked shiny and slick with a coating of white slime.
Had she been peeled? She was black all over except for the whites of her eyes and teeth—and hundreds of white things as if she had been showered with rice.
But the rice moved. The rice was alive. The last of the five girls approaching from the front was also black. Her body was a crust of char, cracked and leaking fluids that shimmered in the firelight.
She bore only a rough resemblance to a human being. Her crust made papery, crackling sounds as she shuffled past the fire, and pieces flaked off.
A motley crew, thought the girl cuffed to the limb. She wondered if any of them would have enough sense to find the key and unlock the handcuffs.
They were limping and hobbling straight toward the Reaper. Whose shriek now shattered whatever fragile force had allowed Jean to stay outside the cuffed stranger.
She tried to keep her distance. Was sucked back inside the naked, suspended girl. Felt a sudden rush of horror and revulsion… and hope. Whatever else they might be, they were the victims of the Reaper.
He was still shrieking, and Jean looked down at him. He was on his hands and knees. The scalped girl, also on her knees and facing him, had his head caught between her hands.
She was biting the top of his head. Jean heard a wet ripping sound as the girl tore off a patch of hair and flesh. He flopped and skidded backward, dragged by the rock thrower and the one with the slimy skin.
Each had him by a foot. The scalped girl started to crawl after him, then grunted and stopped and tried to pick up the pliers. Her right hand had no fingers.
She pawed at the pliers, whimpering with frustration, then sighed when she succeeded in picking up the tool using the thumb and two remaining fingers of her other hand.
Quickly, she crawled along trying to catch up to her prize. She scurried past Jean. One of her buttocks was gone, eaten away to the bone.
She gained on the screaming Reaper, reached out and clamped the pliers to the ridge of his ear and ripped out a chunk.
Halfway between Jean and the fire, the girls released his feet. All six went at him. He bucked and twisted and writhed, but they turned him onto his back.
While some held him down, others tore at his clothes. Others tore at him. The scalped one took the pliers to his right eyelid and tore it off.
The burnt one snatched up a hand and opened her lipless black mouth and began to chew his fingers off. While this went on, the armless girl capered like a madcap skeleton, her trapped lung bouncing inside her ribcage.
His pants and boxer shorts were bunched around his cowboy boots. The scalped girl had ripped his other eyelid off, and now was stretching his upper lip as he squealed.
The rock thrower, kneeling beside him, clawed at his belly as if trying to get to his guts. Slime-skin bit off one of his nipples, chewed it, and swallowed.
No longer shrieking, he choked and wheezed. The dancing skeleton dropped to her bare kneecaps, bent over him, and clamped her teeth on his penis.
She pulled, stretching it, gnawing. The scalped girl tore his lip off. She gave the pliers a snap, and watched the lip fly. Jean watched it too. Then felt its soft plop against her thigh.
It stuck to her skin like a leech. She stomped her foot on the ground, trying to shake it off. And then she was throwing up. She leaned forward as far as she could, trying not to vomit on herself.
A small part of her mind was amused. And she had watched the corpses do unspeakable things to the Reaper.
At least she was missing herself. Most of it was hitting the ground in front of her shoes, though a little was splashing up and spraying her shins.
Finally the heaving subsided. She gasped for air and blinked tears out of her eyes. And saw the scalped girl staring at her.
The others kept working on the Reaper. The scalped girl stabbed the pliers down. She rammed them deep into his mouth and partway down his throat, left them there, and started to crawl toward Jean.
She stopped at the puddle of vomit and lowered her face into it. Jean heard lapping sounds, and gagged.
The girl raised her head, stared up at Jean, licked her dripping lips, then crawled forward. The head snapped back.
The girl tumbled away. A chill spread through Jean. Her skin prickled with goosebumps. Her heart began to slam. The scalped girl, whose torso was an empty husk, rolled over and started to push herself up.
Her body swept down and backward. As she started forward again, she pumped her legs high. She kicked and swung, making herself a pendulum that strained higher with each sweep.
Her legs hooked over the barkless, dead limb. She drew herself up against its underside and hugged it. Twisting her head sideways, she saw the scalped girl crawling toward her again.
Jean had never seen her stand. But the others could stand. They were still busy with the Reaper. Ripping off flesh with their teeth.
He choked around the pliers and made high squeaky noises. As Jean watched, the charred girl crouched over the fire and put both hands into the flames.
When she straightened up, she had a blazing stick trapped between the fingerless flaps of her hands. The pants, pulled down until they were stopped by his boot tops, wrapped him just below the knees.
In seconds they were ablaze. The Reaper started screaming again. He squirmed and kicked. Jean was surprised he had that much life left in him.
The key, she thought. If I live that long. Jean began to shinny out along the limb. It scraped her thighs and arms, but she kept moving, kept inching her way along.
The limb sagged slightly. She scooted farther, farther. Heard a faint crackling sound. Then was stopped by a bone white branch that blocked her left arm.
She thrust herself forward and rammed her arm against the branch. The impact shook it just a bit. A few twigs near the far end of it clattered and fell.
The branch looked three inches thick where it joined the main limb. The branch barred her way like the arm and hand of a skeleton pleased to keep her treed until its companions finished with the Reaper and came for her.
She clamped it between her teeth, bit down hard on the dry wood, gnashed on it. Her teeth barely seemed to dent it. She lowered her head.
Spat dirt and grit from her mouth. The Reaper was no longer moving or making any sounds. Pale smoke drifted up from the black area where his pants had been burning.
Loved each and every part of this book. I will definitely recommend this book to thriller, mystery lovers. Douglas Preston Original Title: The Book of the Dead Book Format: Hardcover Number Of Pages: Great book, The Book of the Dead pdf is enough to raise the goose bumps alone.
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