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Radiax Press

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The Minion Protocols

Co-authored by Terry James & Gary W. Ritter

Inter-dimensional Beings – Deep State collusion – World at Risk

Will the dark, shadowy forces of evil win their perpetual war with the One who created them?

Through a chance encounter, Clark Lansing learns of a fearsome Dimensional entity named Selaphiel. This leads Clark to pursue the most dangerous story of his journalistic career.

From a trip to Israel where he observes advanced technologies, to the Pentagon where demonic spiritual powers assist a secret military project, to a research facility in Colorado which the next world ruler inhabits, Clark’s life grows increasingly at risk.

In the meantime, an elitist Deep State group conspires to thwart Clark’s plan to expose its wicked objectives. Aligned with Selaphiel, the G7 plots its rise to planetary dominance, all the while engaged in sexual trafficking for the pleasure of its members.

As the human and spiritual evil closes in on Clark bringing danger to his loved ones, he receives unexpected help from a mysterious person in government named Q. Plans and counterplans climax in this dramatic final book of Terry James’ epic Second Coming Chronicles.

Read Excerpt

Prologue

The members of Seal Team Six boarded the MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Its blades spun while the men readied themselves for flight. Major Jordan Fuller steeled himself for the hours ahead. Tonight, history and revenge would unite. The target for the mission: Osama bin Laden.

Fuller rode on one of two Black Hawks specially modified for the incursion into Pakistan. Rotor noise had been reduced, and radar visibility minimized. The Pakistani military had prying eyes and ears. Despite the U.S. having trained and equipped them, trust was another matter.

The ground crew pulled away and whispered their final prayers for the safety of the men and the mission’s success. Their part in preparation was as crucial as that of the warriors. They prided themselves on flawless execution of their assigned duties. The lives of their friends and colleagues depended on it.

The assault squadron of sixteen Seals was part of the larger operation consisting of seventy-nine men from three disciplines: CIA—Central Intelligence Agency; JSOC—Joint Special Operations Command; and Seal Team Six. A Belgian Malinois accompanied them as watchdog to alert of any nearby Pakistani forces.

Major Jordan Fuller fingered the video headgear he wore, hoping it would work as he’d been told. Two other men had been assigned to record the raid, but Jordan’s camera was unlike the others. He wasn’t completely sure what the difference was, but he’d been sworn to secrecy by the CIA operative who’d supplied it. He had a top-secret task inside this very clandestine operation.

The ninety-minute flight to Osama bin Laden’s armed compound in Abottabad, Pakistan from the base at the Afghani-Pakistani border went quickly. The birds flew low to the ground, following the terrain as it rose and fell. The prying senses of the enemy’s radar detected nothing. Fuller checked his gear one final time along with the rest of the men. He activated his night vision goggles and the video camera.

***

The White House had been a cauldron of activity leading up to the raid, as key individuals coordinated with the men on the ground, and among those on President Obama’s national security team with a need to know. Among those individuals at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, only Vice President Joe Biden opposed the operation, arguing that they hadn’t gathered enough intelligence.

Officially, three groups had assembled in Washington, DC to watch the proceedings that began at 3:00 PM Eastern Time, May 1, 2011, which was 1:00 AM May 2 in the operational theater. Obama’s officials monitored everything on a large screen from the Situation Room. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, sat among them. The Brigadier General overseeing the military activities observed the video feed on a laptop computer in an adjacent office. Leon Panetta, CIA Director, connected into the system from CIA headquarters and provided a play-by-play description to the observers as the action unfolded.

Unbeknownst to any of these officials, another group had covertly arranged to watch. The seven men sat in plush leather chairs in an ornately appointed room. Their massive, extremely high definition TV wouldn’t be available on the market for another five years. It showed every exposed pore on a man’s skin, any minor wrinkle in a soldier’s uniform, and even the revolutions of a bullet fired from high caliber weapons in its 3D mode. Money could buy many things, and the funds these men had were virtually unlimited. They tolerated only the finest amenities and latest technological tools.

The special camera that Major Jordan Fuller wore was one such item, although it came from a different source. His recording during the action supposedly transmitted only to the CIA operative who’d commissioned him. The videos projected from the other two men went to all official locations. In deceit upon deceit, however, a subchannel split off from Fuller’s film. Its feed showed in this room on the monitor as a 3D holographic image. What this clandestine group of men saw was as close to actually being beside Major Fuller as he engaged the enemy as was technologically conceivable.

Without warning, Fuller’s video activated on the screen. Abruptly, the inside of the helicopter, seen through a night vision lens, came alive. It cast an eerie green glow with strange whitish outlines around each man. One of the viewers started in surprise at the scene, obviously not prepared for the ghostly clarity and seeming proximity of the soldiers projected into their room. Nor was he ready for what he would soon see that would change his life.

***

The plan was for the first helicopter to come up fast over the compound and hover to enable the Seals to shimmy down a rope into the courtyard. A high, barbed-wire-topped fence surrounded the three-story whitewashed house. The second helicopter secured this perimeter.

As the first Black Hawk flew over the compound, unusual airflow disrupted the pilot’s plans. The bird’s tail clipped an inner wall, impairing the rotor blade. Seeing the danger, the pilot quickly dumped the chopper, making it angle at forty-five degrees into the ground.

Fuller joined Team Leader Robert O’Neill and the others as they scrambled from their awkward position in the craft and into the house. A flurry of AK-47 rounds met their entry. The team from the second helicopter breached walls and doors with explosives and cut the electrical power. Returning the fire with their powerful HK-416s, O’Neill took down the man shooting at them from his partially hidden position. The enemy combatant threw out his arms as the lethal bullets struck and pounded him to the ground. Lieutenant John Vincent kicked the man’s rifle to the side. He clicked the all-clear signal on his tactical communication device.

O’Neill motioned for the squad to advance, and they stepped over the lifeless body. More shots. Dirt pinged on Fuller’s boots from missed bullets. Lieutenant John Vincent took out a man with a burst of rounds to his chest. O’Neill shot another when he appeared on a landing.

On the second floor, the team found a number of unarmed women and children. They cleared the rooms. One of their men guarded the confused and frightened people.

A moment before they entered the stairs for the third floor, an assailant charged down the steps. He screamed at the top of his voice and began wildly firing his AK-47. Surging through the door, he lit up the area with gunfire. Fuller crouched behind cover. He let loose with a volley that stopped the enemy in mid-stride. The man went down hard as a stream of oaths flowed from his lips and died along with him.

In the dark house, the Seals had the advantage with night vision. A woman materialized with a rifle and began firing. Lt. Vincent took her out. Her shriek pierced the air as she perished.

O’Neill and Fuller took the lead. With Vincent right behind, they made it to the third floor without further action. Suddenly, the familiar face of Osama bin Laden peered around a door. O’Neill fired, and he disappeared.

Fingers ready at the triggers of their heavy-duty rifles, the three lead men pushed their way into the room where bin Laden had vanished.

A number of women cowered by the walls. One motioned with a weapon as though about to shoot. Fuller raised his rifle. His bullets hit her in the leg. The woman’s gun clattered to the wooden floor. Behind her, braced against the wall and wounded, bin Laden fired at the invaders. O’Neill wasted no effort. His shot hit the target first. Fuller’s and Vincent’s array of bullets immediately followed.

Osama bin Laden died as violently as he’d lived.

One of the women of bin Laden’s entourage made a sound. O’Neill’s head snapped toward her. In that instant, Major Jordan Fuller witnessed something unusual.

From the bleeding body of bin Laden, a shadowy figure emerged. The terrorist lay dead, but this was something else. It rose wraith-like, unencumbered by the bonds of cooling flesh.

Fuller gaped at the image. Human form, but different. Large head. Black, teardrop eyes. Spindly limbs.

The moment seemed to linger. Time appeared to slow. The being turned its head toward Fuller. What could have been a smirk crossed the thin line of its mouth. It raised a long thin finger and touched the spot where a human would have a nose, except this apparition had none. A filmy veil dropped over one eye—a wink.

Before Fuller could take another breath, the being darted toward him. Fuller’s mouth opened in astonishment. The thing entered between the gap in his teeth and hit the back of his throat. He staggered and coughed as the presence momentarily strangled him. It left him as quickly as it had appeared, and dissipated like the snuffing out of a candle’s flame. All that was left was a hazy mist, then nothing.

Major Jordan Fuller performed his duties without fail during the remainder of the thirty-eight minutes it took to conduct the raid and leave. The Seals recovered rifles, pistols, computer drives, numerous USB thumb drives, cell phones, plus other electronic equipment. They also found a plentiful supply of opium.

To keep classified technologies out of the hands of the enemy, the one ill-fated Black Hawk was destroyed. After smashing the control panels and other electronic fixtures, the Seals stuffed explosives inside the bird and blew it up.

The men jammed into the second helicopter along with bin Laden’s body and departed, leaving the women and children from the household behind for Pakistani forces to find. Later, the military flew bin Laden’s body to an aircraft carrier where it was buried at sea.

After he settled into the Black Hawk for the ride back to the Jalalabad base, Major Jordan Fuller switched off the video and night vision goggles. Upon his next breath, he fell into a deep sleep. When he awoke, Fuller had no recollection of the emergence of the being from bin Laden’s body he’d witnessed, nor did he remember its brief transit into his own body.

***

The seven men secluded within their exclusive quarters in a custom renovated brownstone in Georgetown, located in northwest Washington, DC, had seen both the official video feed and the special one coming from Major Jordan Fuller’s camera. They saw what he saw. In the greenish glow of bodies, the thing that arose from Osama bin Laden hadn’t surprised them. What did stun them were its next actions.

They didn’t anticipate its smirk and wink. Was it signaling to Fuller or to them? When it force-fed itself into Fuller and exited, two of the men present visibly blanched.

George Duncan, the leader of their group because of his governmental connections and military oversight, saw their reaction and cursed. He stubbed out his cigar. “Selaphiel believes it can maintain the upper hand. Look at its arrogance! We cannot allow it to think it can outsmart us. We will control it and its cohort. The future of the world is at stake, and I for one will not tolerate any rogue players on our team, human or non-human.”

Benjamin Griffiths and JT Pittman, the two men who had flinched, both swallowed hard as their eyes met.

A sneer crossed the face of Nathan Martin. “You two recoiled at Selaphiel possessing Fuller. What do you think? That it’s a harmless little spirit? Casper the Friendly Ghost come to visit the most wanted terrorist in the world? Buck up. Our little cabal can’t operate with timid mice at the helm.”

“We have the means to do whatever we need to do,” said Terrence Blackman, the head of the most powerful information technology company in the world.

“And so many on our side,” declared Cole Gavin, a prominent figure in the arts and entertainment fields.

With a glance at the men Martin had excoriated, Matthew Stone, the leading family advocate in America, added one final word. “We have come together with one mind. Let’s not bicker. We must stick together. Look at how we hijacked this video feed from the opposition. Our power is immense. Its source is without limits. The plans we’ve made aren’t fantasies. We’re about to see their fruition. Our time has come.”

George Duncan reached for the button to summon their evening’s entertainment. Within minutes the door to their lair opened. The man they trusted to arrange such things ushered in seven young girls who’d recently become teenagers. Although frightened and hesitant, they’d been sedated and coached. They appeared even younger from the artfully applied makeup.

“Welcome, girls, we’re so glad you’re here. I promise you a fascinating time tonight. Pick your poison,” Duncan chuckled, and each girl dutifully went to one of the seven men.

Fourteen glasses with a golden liquid prepared for this special occasion appeared at the hand of their trusted servant. When all was set, he left.

The men gave each of their dates a glass and ensured they drank it all. With the seven men all smiling at their good fortune, they raised their own glasses and drank deeply.  

Within minutes, the visions began.

Chapter 1

A good night’s sleep had eluded Jordan Fuller for nine long years. It had taken its toll and aged him. Now only forty-one, with his hair turned completely white, he appeared twenty years older. Yet he’d pushed through these restless, challenging years where, as tired as he’d been, he excelled. He resented that his peers called him Old Man, but none could outshoot, outthink, or out-strategize him. His drive had overcome the obstacle of sleep deprivation, and he’d graduated in nine years from major to lieutenant colonel. He’d risen through the ranks and now worked in a top-secret position within the Pentagon, planning for the newest warfare technologies. With Lt. Colonel Fuller’s ambitions, it was a dream job.

Jordan Fuller remembered the single last time he’d slept deeply. It had been a brief ninety minutes on the flight following Seal Team Six’s raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, where they’d successfully eliminated the renowned terrorist. As the Black Hawk landed, Fuller awoke with a full memory of everything that had transpired, except for the moments following bin Laden’s death. Team Leader Robert O’Neill later told him that it was like a switch had been thrown. Lights out on the bird for Fuller. A total blackout sleep. Like he’d drunk himself under the table and through the basement. They’d laughed about it. He’d felt great at the time.

This night was like every other one since then. His head hit the pillow. Within seconds he was out cold…for ninety minutes. His body cooled, then heated up. His legs grew restless—too hot. With a sigh, he threw off the cover from his feet. He glanced at the digital clock. 0030 hours. A long night ahead.

Thoughts began bombarding his weary brain. Things to do. Plans to accomplish. Minor tasks. Personnel issues. Problems to overcome. Endless.

He tossed and turned, little snippets of sleep coming unawares. Dreams intruded into the waking slumber. Some turned dark and violent. Gruesome nightmares. Whispers of apparitions. Ghosts he could grasp.

Then, something changed. Tonight, it was different.

In his semiconscious state, he twisted onto his back. His body grew heavy, his arms like lead. Dark objects whizzed by his head. He tried to protect himself; attempted to throw up an arm as a shield. Neither one would move.

Faster and faster the objects flying at him came from nowhere. In his mind, he ducked and barely avoided them, but they came at him in an endless stream. Then they changed form.

Rather than being inanimate, lifeless things as at first, they shifted into winged specters and fork-tailed phantoms that had substance. Each a menacing presence with claws and teeth.

They came at him directly. Unable to ward them off, they struck his face, ripping, tearing, shredding him. He wanted to cry out, but his mouth wouldn’t open. The life force began to drain from him. In that one desperate moment, he knew this was hell and his fate forever.

As his brain began shutting down, another change came upon him. A light glowed from the distance. It was all he could do to focus on it, to grasp its possibilities.

It grew brighter. In its blinding glow a being emerged. It had the form of a man, but different. The head was larger and oddly shaped. Its eyes black, shaped like teardrops. If its body had an ounce of muscle, it was imperceptible because of how skinny every part of it was. There was something oddly familiar about him.

As the being approached, the flying, destroying gargoyles faded away. Oh, what relief! What a savior this entity was! It banished them. Saved him. How he loved it for the life he felt flooding back into his soul!

Somehow, he found himself no longer tethered to the bed; no longer in his bedroom. Instead, both he and the glowing, saving entity were in a throne room. The being sat upon a golden seat, and Jordan Fuller lay prostrate before it. He worshiped until compelled to rise to his knees, where he continued to bow and give adoration.

He rested his eyes upon the being, and without a word spoken, he knew its name was Selaphiel. Fuller mouthed the name reverently, and in that moment declared, “I will do whatever you command, my lord.”

Selaphiel lifted a spindly finger and beckoned Fuller to arise. He did.

“You have been chosen, little man.” Although not audible, the words flooded the chamber. “I have a task for you.”

“Anything, lord. Whatever you desire. You have saved me. I’m yours. Just name my mission.”

What Selaphiel communicated next put fear in Fuller’s heart, but he knew he would do whatever it took to fulfill what the being had directed him to do.

***

Despite the money that he’d contributed to the cause and the fervor he’d originally possessed, doubts had lately consumed Benjamin Griffiths. Doubts he couldn’t understand.

Griffiths was a television and media mogul, a man of exceeding wealth and power. His news network had surged in recent years to hold the number one rating among all competing formats. His network didn’t just report the news, it shaped it. Upon his word, the network executives and their underlings would do whatever he commanded. Griffiths’ influence in America and in the world was unprecedented. The culture was his to make in whatever image he desired. He drank his supremacy like a sweet elixir.

Much of what he’d gained he could only attribute to his association with the other mighty men in his cabal and to their practices. They had tapped into a source that Griffiths knew was ancient and without peer. Powerful was a poor description for the depth of wisdom and ability of that entity which they’d contacted, and which acted upon their behest, in their various spheres of influence.

At least they all assumed it did what they wanted.

Griffiths had come to question that notion, and it scared him.

He knew that creating a new world order had its risks. A whole segment of society resisted the idea. But when Selaphiel had brought the group together and the men had become of one mind to move the concept forward into reality, Griffiths had bought into it completely. How much more treasure would each of them gain! How much more supremacy in their respective domains! How much more dominance in their respective spheres! Truly intoxicating.

Why then did Benjamin Griffiths worry that Selaphiel wasn’t actually subservient to him, George Duncan, Nathan Martin, Matthew Stone, Terrence Blackman, Cole Gavin, or the seventh member of their little team, JT Pittman? In fact, Griffiths sensed that Pittman also had his reservations. After all, as he thought back to that night they watched the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and witnessed Selaphiel’s sarcastic gestures, each of them had given a fearful glance at the other, and then been excoriated for their reactions.

Regardless, he and Pittman remained team players and had profited. Unfortunately, the benefits came at a cost. Having witnessed how these two men in their group had recoiled at the sight of Selaphiel, George Duncan required an extra demonstration of loyalty from them. The CIA agent who’d given Major Fuller the special video camera—whose feed they’d hacked—was deeply covert in the enemy’s camp. Through a series of events, Duncan’s people determined his identity. Then they’d required Griffiths and Pittman to arrange his death. That had cemented their allegiance to the G7, as the small band called itself.

When Benjamin Griffiths received a call referencing that fateful night from Lt. Colonel Jordan Fuller, he could have pleaded complete ignorance and hung up on the man.

But he didn’t.

***

They found each other in the Washington Mall as they’d arranged. Spring was in full bloom with cherry blossoms abounding. People had come out in force with joggers, walkers, lovers, children, and sightseers enjoying the weather and the vistas. The massive stretches of grass, the Reflecting Pool, and the impressive monuments at either end of the Mall were reminders of the greatness of America. As Benjamin Griffiths reflected, an America he and his friends intended to take down.

Lt. Colonel Jordan Fuller surprised Griffiths, his appearance much different from what he remembered. He walked with the step of a younger man, but his head of white hair puzzled him. When they shook hands, Griffiths noted with his iron grip and up-close look at his features that Fuller probably wasn’t any older than early forties. That tracked with his recollection of the man. No telling what the military did to someone.

When Fuller had called Griffiths to remind him that he’d been integral to the bin Laden raid and also knew of the secret G7 group, Griffiths wanted to deny it. But Fuller whispered a name that changed everything. “Selaphiel.” With a dry mouth, Griffiths had acceded to Fuller’s request to meet.

After exchanging pleasantries, Fuller wasted no further time. “We have a mutual friend.”

Griffiths’ heart beat harder. “Yes. You said his name on the phone.”

“I recently met him, and he asked me to do him a favor.”

“Only recently?” Griffiths knew from watching the secret video that Fuller had previously interacted with Selaphiel in a terrifying way.

The question seemed to throw Fuller for a loop. “You think I’ve known him longer?”

Sitting on a park bench, cocooned in the midst of the activity around them, Griffiths wondered if Selaphiel had somehow arranged for this sense of privacy despite the many people. Who knew what capabilities the entity had?

“You don’t remember?”

Fuller frowned. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You wore the special camera that night, right? And a covert CIA agent gave it to you, telling you it was part of a special assignment. You recall that?”

“Sure, although I haven’t thought of it in years. Actually, not since then.” Fuller gave Griffiths a queer look. “How do you know about the CIA involvement?”

Griffiths shook his head. “I can’t tell you other than to say he was a rogue agent, not operating under command of his superiors.”

“What do you mean?”

“Sorry.” Griffiths clamped his mouth shut.

Perplexed and fuming, Fuller tapped his fingers on his thigh.

“Let’s go back to that night,” Griffiths said. “When bin Laden died, what did you see?”

Fuller pondered it a moment and shrugged. “Nothing. He died a cowardly death. We cleaned up and hightailed it out there. Mission accomplished.”

“Okay.” It didn’t make sense to Griffiths that Fuller had no recollection of the thing that frightened the snot out of him and JT Pittman at the time. “So, Selaphiel somehow gets your attention now, and…what? Why are we meeting?”

“He told me you have the video I transmitted that night. How did that happen? It went to my CIA guy who you now say wasn’t operating officially as CIA.”

“Listen, I can’t go into this with you. Besides, I only know so much. What I will say is that your CIA contact was a subversive—an enemy of the people.”

Shock from the disclosure caused Fuller to lean backward, his face registering unbelief. “That’s not possible.”

“It’s true. Have you heard from him since that night?”

“No.”

“CIA learned about his seditious activities and took him out,” Griffiths lied.

“I don’t get it.” Fuller focused for several moments on a group of kids kicking a soccer ball. “Now this Selaphiel has me contact you because of security concerns. He wants you to give the video to me.”

Griffiths had the sneaking suspicion that either he or Pittman might be the security concerns mentioned, but let that thought go. “There are multiple copies.”

“Selaphiel wants them all.”

“Why should I bother with this? It seems pointless.” A teenage boy and girl walked by; his long green ponytail and her spiky blue hair caught Griffith’s attention. He turned his eyes back to the old-young man beside him.

“He said you might be resistant.” Fuller leaned toward Griffiths, coming well into his personal space. “Selaphiel said that he made you, and he can unmake you. I don’t know what that all means, but he indicated that you would.”

Suddenly it was hard for Griffiths to swallow. At the point that he finally could, he let out a sigh. “Right. I’ll see what I can do to get you all the copies.”

Fuller pulled back. Somewhat apologetically, he said, “Sorry to come down so hard on you. I don’t want to disappoint Selaphiel. He scares me.”

“Yeah,” Griffiths said, “I get it. By the way, just so you’re fully informed, let me tell you how you previously met him.”

***

Jordan Fuller wasn’t the only member of Seal Team Six who had suffered from sleep deprivation in the years following the momentous killing of Osama bin Laden. There had been three Seals in the room when they’d taken down their target. Lieutenant John Vincent had been an integral part of the operation. In fact, he had extra motivation.

Ten years earlier when the Muslim terrorists hijacked the three planes and destroyed the two World Trade Center towers, one of Vincent’s sisters had been working in one of the buildings. She had perished, and her remains were never found. The grief Vincent felt at her death motivated him to become an active part of the military that would ultimately seek out and destroy the strategic head of al-Qaeda.

In the room that night, although he wasn’t tasked with video recording the action, he’d witnessed an incident that had altered his life for the worse. It was something he’d never spoken of to anyone, but it had plagued him. More than that, it had ruined his very existence.

Night after night, he re-lived what he’d seen. He couldn’t shake it. The experience led to an early end to his military career and a downward spiral ever since.

When he closed his eyes during the day, Vincent also saw the image he couldn’t shake. To purge it, to try to eradicate the waking vision, he began drinking immediately in the afterglow of their mission’s success. President Obama invited them to meet with him at Fort Campbell, Kentucky to commemorate the members of Seal Team Six for their extraordinary service. Because his troubles began right away, Vincent showed up for the ceremony still intoxicated from the previous night’s heavy drinking. Not a fan of the president in the first place, Vincent made some remarks while the men were all assembled that didn’t go over well. That led to a severe reprimand, and everything deteriorated from there.

Now homeless and nothing but a derelict drunk who wandered the streets of Chicago, John Vincent holed up on Lower Wacker Drive during inclement weather with a gut that hurt something terrible. A spring storm had moved into the area, and Vincent went underground with an expensive new pint of Jim Beam that he’d managed to secure with panhandling money. He dragged a piece of cardboard with him and finally found a dry spot in the darkness. He had a lot of competition these days locating a good place. The homeless population had spiked, and everybody vied for temporary shelter.

Vincent had never quite gotten his act together to make a permanent home among the tent city dwellers. That required friends to help protect his claim, the ability to think straight for several days, and the capability of remembering the location of his home. He had none of these virtues at this point in his life.

The weakness in his legs caused him to stagger and almost fall as he arranged his cardboard seat. He lurched against the cold stone wall and cried out in pain, the burning in his stomach too much to bear. Panting, he lowered himself to the protective layer that kept the cold of the concrete from immediately seeping into his body.

An anguished sigh escaped his lips. He closed his eyes momentarily, but regretted the mistake. Immediately the horrific scenes flooded upon him. “No!” His raspy breath caught in his throat. How he hated his life! With desperate, trembling hands he twisted open the top of his bottle.

The bourbon burned his throat. He would have it no other way. Anything to distract from that which plagued him. The only problem was that it made the agony in his stomach worse. He couldn’t win. The only hope he had was to reach oblivion.

A woman approached calling out, “Drug Store Mary here. Come get yo choice of med-sins.”

Skinny, wrapped in multiple layers of clothing to ward off the chill of Lower Wacker, and with dreadlocked hair that stuck out in wild tufts, Mary was one of several local pharmaceutical reps for the down and out.

Somebody rasped, “What good you, Mary? We can get us legal weed that new store on Franklin.”

Mary retorted, “Sho, if like paying da man. Taxes done raise those prices by twunny pe-cent. I give you a deal; save yo bunch of cash. Buy at that place, yo be keeping the guv in Springfield rolling high in dat mansion of his.”

“How righteous be that stuff of yours?” a nearby woman piped in.

“Better’n that regulated crap. I got the goods.”

Mary did a brisk business with several of the people, then came nearer to Vincent. “How ‘bout you, boy? You wanna buy a little heaven today?”

John Vincent desperately wanted some of what Mary was peddling, but he’d spent his last pennies on his bottle. He shook his head.

Mary eyed him and spat out, “Humph.” Several yards further from him she began again, “Drug Store Mary here. Come get yo choice of med-sins.”

John Vincent turned back into himself and drank until blackout, but his stupor didn’t prevent the nightmarish scenes that plagued him.

But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

– 2 Corinthians 3:14

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