Sample Chapter For WHEN DARKNESS FELL by J.T. Best
Chapter 1 The End
“The sixth hand—it was I it reached for,” the voice proudly proclaimed in agony. The words
emptied into thin desert air, unheard. His breathing stuttered, his life force struggling to carry on. He could feel his spirit
leaving his body, a heartbeat at a time. With his last bit of anger he managed to point his middle finger in the direction
from which he had come; “Jesus,” he said as his voice disappeared, what the hell am I doing here, continued in
his mind with what would become his final thought, for at the end of the next breath, death answered the question.
The old man had freed himself from the bonds of the devil and fought his way out of hell, only to die from
exposure in friendly territory. It was an unfitting death. There would be no eulogy. Nor was there anyone around to hear his
tale of woe. Yet, its telling had been secretly scrolled, to be found and circulated among his kindred if indeed any remained.
Now his soul-less body lay baking in the suns on the very edge of Flatland, until a passer-by found him. Neither death, nor
heat, nor rain, nor blowing wind could ease the clench of his dominant hand, for held tightly within its grasp was the most
magnificent gemstone ever found. But now the hand that had so courageously snatched it from the grip of Hades would begin
to wither and continue to do so until the prize it coveted was, yet again, discovered by mortal man.
Chapter 2 Games People Play
“Heinz, come take a look at this,” yelled Fax.
“What’s got your voice so up?” Heinz hollered back from nearby, where he was studying a
The two had busied themselves with some amateur prospecting along a remote perimeter line of Flatland Central.
Just beyond where Fax was standing was the forbidden zone, an area proscribed to nearly all Flatlanders.
“Come, Heinz, come quick!” Fax shouted again. “It looks to be a body tanned to leather by
It was a ghastly sight, agony written all over the face of the now mummified corpse. Some strands of its overly
long gray hair lay glued together by the crude neglect of time. Others followed the direction of the wind when it happened
Heinz studied the macabre scene for the longest time. The body appeared to be that of a man and as far as
Heinz could tell, there didn’t seem to have been any struggle associated with his death.
Fax and Heinz looked up at the same time and stood speechless as they stared into each other’s eyes
in wonderment. “Waaah,” Fax finally droned as the final moments of the man’s horrible death slowly sifted
through the mind. Heinz looked back down and noticed the corner of something wedged within the man’s armpit. He carefully
eased the bundle out from where it rested under the lifeless body. It appeared to be a leather rollup whose visible portions
had become so cracked from the suns’ rays as to look like the clay at the bottom of a dried-up creek bed.
With tender care Heinz rolled the bundle open to see what the leather so well protected. Heinz noticed the
initials ‘O.R.’ had been artfully crafted and positioned in the center of the roll-up’s exterior. After
opening the bundle, Heinz discovered several sheets of coarse parchment, each side containing a series of roughly drawn maps.
His youthful crossings not withstanding, Heinz was well on his way to becoming an accomplished explorer, but
even so, he didn’t recognize the topography or any of the territorial landmarks that had been charted. After quickly
scanning the maps their attention was simultaneously drawn to the cadaver’s clasped right hand. On closer examination
Heinz noticed that time and the fierceness of a dying grip had welded the hand shut, so much so it took considerable force
to pry it open. The effort to perform the grisly task was greatly rewarded, for contained therein was a huge, multi-faceted,
blue stone that sparkled magnificently the instant it was exposed to the rays from the Flatland’s dual suns.
The next puzzle lay with the left hand whose middle finger pointed strangely in the direction of an unexplored
region of the forbidden zone. With his last gasp of life what was the old man trying to say to the one who discovered his
death gesture, ‘go that way,’ or ‘do not go that way,’ or did it express his opinion about what lies
in that direction?