The Kindred Spirits: Life after Death [NOOK Book]

Overview

River Jordan is a restless soul who refuses to surrender to his destiny. A spirit trapped between heaven and hell, he awaits his fate in a black hole ruled by a group called the Gatekeepers and by Ivy, a tortured yet powerful soul who has made it her mission to uphold the laws of the universe. Despite the voices who try to stop him, River manages to escape and follow a dream back in time into his living body-unaware that someone else is following him.

It is 2021 as River arrives...

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The Kindred Spirits: Life after Death

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Overview

River Jordan is a restless soul who refuses to surrender to his destiny. A spirit trapped between heaven and hell, he awaits his fate in a black hole ruled by a group called the Gatekeepers and by Ivy, a tortured yet powerful soul who has made it her mission to uphold the laws of the universe. Despite the voices who try to stop him, River manages to escape and follow a dream back in time into his living body-unaware that someone else is following him.

It is 2021 as River arrives on Earth for a second chance at life-to relive critical turning points and reconnect with those he loves. As he awakens in his old apartment and realizes he is not dead, he promises himself to pay more attention to the world around him. While he goes about his former life and happily reunites with his brother and the beautiful woman who has captured his heart, River attempts to change his past-before it is too late once again.

In this tale set between two parallel worlds, a determined spirit returns to Earth for one last chance to alter a chain of events and bridge the gap between past and present-and, if he is lucky, between life and death.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491709719
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/29/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,270,408
  • File size: 308 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Kindred Spirits

Life after Death


By MELVIN A. TAYLOR

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2013 Melvin A. Taylor
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-0970-2


CHAPTER 1

River, you troublesome soul, do you think I have nothing better to do?

I have work to attend to. The lives of billions upon billions of souls in the whole of the universe are mine to watch, to catalogue and to experience. When you reach the Jubilee Quadrant, I shall finally be able to take my eye off of you.

That is how it has been since the beginning of time, and how it should be now.

But this one restless soul, River Jordan, commands too much of my attention. He has broken every rule, refusing to give in to his destiny. He went back to Earth and altered everything, saving souls fated for death.

He distracts me from the souls I should be watching, embracing their lives and reveling in their sensations and emotions.

I would send him to oblivion, if I could. You may think that would be within my power, but alas it is not. I am an observer that is all. My power is in knowledge: I see everything, feel every emotion, and watch every action and every moment in the life of each soul. I see every being begin, flourish, and end. I witness every birth and death, and their heartaches and triumphs in between.

But River, that maddening spirit, is a constant distraction; he forces my attention away from everyone else.

Who am I? I will not tell you, foolish human. I exposed myself, perhaps too much when River returned. I won't expose myself again. If you are curious go back to the beginning and find out for yourself.

I'll see your family in hell, you bastard!

Who interrupts my thoughts? Who is hissing in the darkness, spewing a steady flow of hate-filled words?

The soul that was River Jordan stands in the vast plain within the black hole in the center of the Jubilee Quadrant. Souls ebb and flow around him like tides, or drifts of leaves, but the hulking forms of the Gatekeepers encircle him, keeping them back.

The crowd of souls is drawn to River. I can feel the waves of their emotion ebb and flow. I can hear their thoughts. Some wish to question him, some to kill him, and others simply wish to be near him or to touch him, as if they could somehow absorb his ability to conquer the force that holds them here.

But that voice ... there it is again, a ceaseless drone of hate and fury. Where is it coming from?

One pale soul slips through the looming circle of Gatekeepers and kneels before River. It is not the voice though. The thoughts emanating from this soul are erratic and disjointed, but the emotion is stark and easy to read: fear.

River's face is grim as he looks at the soul cowering at his feet. "Santos." He spits out the name.

I don't know if River can sense Santos Salazar's emotions, but if he could feel the waves of anger, humiliation, hate and fear, he might back away from him. What is it that he fears? If he hates and fears River so much, why has he approached him?

"River, please, I need your help ..." Santos' voice is thick and unnatural. Begging does not come easily to him, and to ask for River's help is the ultimate humiliation. His mind though, is focused. This is interesting to me, because Santos has always been a coward and a fool.

Here in the black hole, he is neither.

"Why would I help you, you bastard?" River clenches his teeth with rage. "It's because of you that I'm here in the first place. You were supposed to be my friend, my partner, but you got me killed. And then you tried to kill my family." He draws his brows together, making his face look even darker. "What are you even doing here? You should've gone straight to hell."

"I didn't kill you. I wanted you out of the way, but I didn't want you to be killed. It all got fucked up."

"I know you told Desimone where to find me that night. You were with him when he gunned me down. You led Zoey to him, and you knew what he was going to do to her ..."

Santos looks up at River, his expression is bitter and resentful. "Yes, but I'm here now. You know what that means, River. It means I have a chance at redemption. I know I fucked up ... but now I finally understand ... I wanted what you had. I wanted to be you. The money, the cars, Zoey ... why should you have all that and not me? I ignored the things I already had, my wife Carmen and my children ... Angelica and Junior. So many blessings ... I ignored every good thing I had in my own life and focused on what I didn't have. What I thought I wanted. And now ..." Santos casts a fearful glance over his shoulder; he is filled with terror.

What is it he is so afraid of?

The Gatekeepers hesitate to get close to River. But a hostile sound ripples through their ranks, as each tries to convince the others to end this unauthorized discussion.

"Someone should put a stop to this," a tall one growls.

Is Santos afraid of them? No, it's not the Gatekeepers Santos fears. He arrived here only moments before River, and yet he's had plenty of time to acclimate himself. He knows that what he's doing is against the rules that souls are not supposed to talk to each other. The open room is meant to deter this, and to make it easier for the Gatekeepers to keep their eyes on every soul at once.

Yet Santos and River are speaking openly. This must be rectified.

There is that evil, hissing voice again. Still kneeling, Santos lowers his head almost to his knees. He wraps his arms protectively over his ears and head; he is shaking with terror.

This is what he fears.

Santos, you piece of shit. It's your fault I'm here, and I'll make your children pay. I'll drag them down to hell with me, Santos. Then we'll all burn together.

Santos looks up at River, his face taut with terror. With a great effort, he stands up to face River again. Though he is still afraid his eyes are bitter and angry.

Staring at River eye to eye, all Santos' faults are forged into one: pride. Here in the black hole, everything extraneous is stripped away. But this fundamental flaw in his character, the thing that has always tormented him and ultimately drove him here to the black hole, is now what gives him the strength to face his fear and hate and to ask River for help.

"It's Desimone, River ... he's after my family. You can hear him out there, waiting for me. River, please help me. I'll do anything you ask of me. Anything, I swear. Help me protect them. Please. You were able to protect your family. I don't ask for myself; I ask for my wife and children. Please River. We were friends once." His jaw clenches as he says, "Please. I'm sorry, River. I'm so sorry ... please ... please help me."

Santos forces himself to meet River's cold gaze.

River remains bitter and distrustful, but he seems to be considering. What is there to consider, River? You cannot trust him. I can feel how much he still hates you.

Yes, he hates you, but he also loves his children. The strength of his determination to protect his children surprised him. He is willing to sacrifice himself to you to save those he loves. There is a kind of wonderful madness in that. I find myself forgiving Santos, even if River does not.

But no matter how Santos redeems himself, it makes no difference. River is trapped here in the black hole until he unravels his soul's destiny, and either rise into heaven or descend into the darkness of hell.

Or, until my Gatekeepers kill him.

"Carmen is pregnant, River. She told me the night we went to kill Zoey and Xavier."

At this, River takes a step forward, his face full of rage. Santos doesn't flinch. "Yes. I admit it. We were going to kill them. I'm glad we didn't. I'm glad you stopped us." Santos' face grows ugly. "But yes, I still hate you. I hate everything you stand for: your cars and your money and your house in the country; your fucking private airplane, your soft fucking life and the beautiful wife you never deserved. You over-privileged bastard ..."

Santos takes a deep breath before continuing. "Yes, I hate you. I hate everything about you. But I'm asking you for this. I'll beg if I have to. I don't know what Desimone can do from here, but he's insane. If you could hear the things he says to me ..." Santos' eyes widen and his nostrils flare. "I don't know what he's capable of, but I saw what you did ... and if there's the smallest chance he can hurt my kids, I'll do anything to stop him—anything; because I know what you can do. I saw it. I'll do whatever it takes to save them. Even if it means dying again, I'll do it. I love my kids. I may not have been a good father in life, but by God I'll be a good father in death."

River is frowning now. After a long silence he answers. His voice is barely audible, a low fast whisper for Santos' ears only. "I'll help you, Santos, but you'll have to help me. And there'll be no chance for you to betray me this time." Santos hangs his head in shame and anger. "I can tell you still hate me, and I don't care. I hate you too. I hate you more than ever. But I need help, and I can use you. But make no mistake, your soul won't survive."

"It doesn't matter what happens to me." Santos whispers, his fists clenched tightly by his side. He is filled with resentment that River is the only one who can help him.

But his fear of Desimone has retreated a little, and he is allowing himself to hope. Is there no gratitude in him? No, Santos feels only satisfaction that he is getting his way. He is not conflicted. He looks up, glaring at River with eyes full of hate and triumph. "Swear you'll save my children. Swear it."

"I'll only promise to do what I can," River says.

Santos looks deeply into River's eyes then he drops his gaze and nods. His heart is still full of fear, but he is content, knowing he has done all he can. He is about to speak when a sound distracts him.

It is the soul of Desimone. Alfonso Desimone prowls beyond the ring of Gatekeepers like a savage hungry beast. The hateful hissing is now a shouting, screaming presence.

Desimone's soul is hazy and insubstantial, but it shimmers brightly with aggression. He stays just out of the Gatekeepers' reach. He respects their authority, at least for now.

"Santos, you piece of shit ..."

River looks at Santos again, and his expression is more thoughtful. He has not forgiven Santos, has he? He just said that he hates him.

I cannot hear River's thoughts, but Santos' are plain to me. And his emotions are obvious to anyone: a strange mixture of gratitude and resentment. And fear, so much fear.

Santos stares at Alfonso's soul circling the ring of Gatekeepers. Waves of alarm and confusion accompany half of a conversation that is happening in his mind.

He must be connected with River's mind now.

Thank you, River. I don't know why you're doing this, but ...

No, of course not.

Yes, I'll try.

I know. I can see that, but ...

Yes. I'll help you ... anything ...

And what this last thought might signify I can only wonder, because the Gatekeepers have finally moved to separate them. The tallest Gatekeeper marches Santos out of the ring, thrusting him into the hordes of the dead, where Desimone is waiting for him, gnashing his teeth and pouring the venom of his words into Santos' heart. He should not be able to destroy Santos' soul, but perhaps his words could be enough. Fear has always been Desimone's greatest weapon.

The Gatekeepers again close ranks on River, and the ring around him tightens as they find their courage. He stands ready and alert, though his posture is neutral, offering no threat, but he stands his ground.

There is movement behind the crowd. I feel it like a strong current moving through water. Something is stirring, making its way forward.

From far across the emptiness a girl approaches, dressed in black robes, like a Gatekeeper. But she is small, human-sized. Her form is hazy at the edges and her body is thin and wasted. Her hair is shorn close to her scalp, so close it's impossible to tell what color it is. Her face is full of sharp angles and deep shadows, and her eyes are closed. She looks deeply contemplative as she moves forward.

The souls of the dead make way for her, swept aside like leaves in the wind. The Gatekeepers mutter amongst themselves, their moon colored eyes averted, blinking in the gloom. They shuffle back, their massive shoulders hunched. They are afraid and they don't know why.

The girl stops a few yards in front of River, and stands silently, her eyes still closed, her face composed as though in sleep.

"Who are you?" River asks, his voice sounds hollow and rough. His fear must be building.

Ah River. You are finally developing an appropriate level of self-preservation. Excellent.

"I am Ivy," she says. Her voice sounds like rain, quiet and inexorable, and deeper than one might expect. "I am here to restore order. You will be guarded. The portal will be guarded. Harmony will be restored."

The tallest Gatekeeper steps forward. He is impatient, curious. Foolish. "By what authority do you—?"

"By this authority," Ivy says quietly. Her face remains calm and still as she turns toward him. The Gatekeeper recoils in alarm as her arm, now a red-glowing tentacle of smoke and fire, slashes across his body like a whip. A curving diagonal seam appears on the Gatekeeper's body, starting at his right temple and ending at his left hip. His white moon eyes turn sightless and his mouth stretches wide with shock. The Gatekeeper's scream is a high, agonized sound as his body explodes into ash, which spirals slowly up and out of the portal.

"That is my authority," Ivy says, her voice composed and tranquil. "Harmony will be restored. I shall see to it."

Ivy opens her eyes and looks at River. His face tightens in horror and revulsion.

Yes, now you see, River.

Her eyes are not like the moon colored eyes of the other Gatekeepers. But River has seen them before. They are red, hard and burning like the eyes of the dragon demon that nearly annihilated his soul.

Ivy's red eyes drill into him, but her face and voice remain impassive as her words ring through the dead silence of the chamber. "Maximilian ruled over this realm for millennia. I was a Gatekeeper under Maximilian. I never questioned his authority. But Maximilian failed, and the power of ultimate annihilation has come to me." Ivy's voice has an unearthly quality.

"I rested alone, meditating between my duties. Then I felt the death of Maximilian's soul like a knife twisting in my heart. When I opened my eyes, the dragon stood before me. I knew Maximilian was gone forever and it was my destiny to take on his role. The dragon did not speak, but I took him into me, and now we are one. We will create harmony in the universe. And nothing shall stop us."

Her ruby eyes gleam as she casts her gaze over the souls of the dead and the Gatekeepers who tower over her, establishing her dominance. The Gatekeepers cower back, wisely fearing their terrifying new leader. A tremor passes over her tranquil face, an expression too quickly hidden to see.

But I know what it means. I know Ivy's secret. I know all the secrets, but only my power to see is unlimited.

I see everything. I know everything.

She has not shared the whole story. She was meditating when the demon came upon her. The scene is burned into her brain, replaying over and over in her mind.

It is happening to her right now.

She kneels in the darkness, swathed in dark robes, her eyes closed in meditation. Her face is calm and impassive as she tries to reach out to her idol and mentor, Maximilian.

She is disturbed that she cannot connect with him.

Usually in her meditation she can watch Maximilian as he pursues River. The dragon demon, that is both his badge of office and the source of his power, writhes menacingly at his side waiting to become the weapon in his hand.

Ivy moans. She can see him now. She watches as Maximilian is defeated, his soul annihilated and exploded into dust, set adrift in the vastness of the universe. She sighs, feeling his relief as he drifts into nothingness. She also feels the shattering of the dragon cane as if it is her own body being torn asunder.

Ivy opens her eyes. She feels no surprise to see the nebulous form of the dragon demon crouching before her, its red eyes gleaming malevolently in the darkness.

She stares at it for a long time. Then she reaches out her hand to the unearthly beast.

It advances cautiously, long and low, as it billows like smoke and crackles with flame along its sinewy back. It slithers closer, and Ivy touches it, caresses it.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Kindred Spirits by MELVIN A. TAYLOR. Copyright © 2013 Melvin A. Taylor. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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