Gabe by Nick Shamhart - Read Online
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Gabe is the fourth book in The Balance series - a collection of paranormal thrillers dealing with the unseen world of balancing powers.
Too often life is viewed in terms of good and evil, black or white, and the balance point tipping in either direction is ignored. Why should the afterlife be any different? We are given a choice when we die to move on to the Source, stay on earth and slowly evolve into more of what we were (good people become angels and bad people become demons), or a chosen few can work to keep the Balance between them. The title character Gabe is such a warrior who works to maintain that balance.
Zeus has moved on to the Source and left his friends behind to cope and heal as best they can. Gabe still carries the darkness that Ammit left inside him during her battle with the Balance. The darkness has brought the anger of his passing and the loss of his wife Cassy bubbling to the surface where it boils, threatening to consume him. Harmony requests that Gabe purge himself of his darkness before she loses him as a soldier. Gabe asks his old friend and parolee Lucifer to aid him in his personal quest, while Grey helps the Lone Riders and Dante search for their missing leader Bulldog.
The novel is written in two styles. Each chapter begins in a soliloquy from the title character Gabe, where he tells pieces of his backstory intertwined with philosophical musings on his family, friends, life and dealing with loss, with the following bulk of the chapter told in a third person narrative.
Published: BookBaby on
ISBN: 9781483507828
List price: $2.99
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Gabe - Nick Shamhart

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Chapter 1

Is there life after death? Sure, we’ve all asked ourselves that question from time to time. Mostly late at night when the shadows creep up on you, both figurative and literal if you know what you’re looking at o’course. We like to ask that question a lot, don’t we? Is there life after death? But really, if there is (and I’m walking talking proof of it) then shouldn’t we also ask, was there death before life? It always goes full circle, mates. Everything does. It has to, life, the universe and all that shite. Something has to end before something else can begin. Starts and stops, life and death, so it also goes, stops and starts, death and life, right?

Eh, fuck it! Typically when those deep questions of reality start nagging at me, that’s when I say it’s time for a drink, or a spot of female companionship, or females plural. If more than one is ready and willing then I say why make them wait? But the thing about those bloody deep questions of reality is that they always creep back up. Always. No matter how much you drink or fuck, life and death always seem to push their way back in screaming, What about us? You simply can’t ignore the fuckin’ things no matter how hard you try - take my word for it, mates. I’ve certainly tried, but you have to face them.

I didn’t plan on my death. Not many do, I know, but still murder is a nasty business no matter how you look at it. Those on the receiving end don’t typically get much time to plan things out. There’s not the waiting game of cancer or other long-term illnesses. The murdered typically have a split-second to think, Oh Shite! or What the fuck is that? and boom, bam, bang, or crash and it’s done. My wife Cassy and me ... we ... ah, where the hell are my manners? I haven’t rightly introduced myself, have I? Gabriel Daniel O’Connor at your service! Odd isn’t it? I know so many people who go by different names than what they were born with because they have become something else in the afterlife, something different. They change their name to suit who or what they become. But, I’m still going by my birth name, when, by all accounts, I’ve undergone the most change out of the bunch. Well, in disposition at least. I had to, you see. There was no way a man could go on and not, with what happened to my Cassy. If I didn’t change, if I’d still tried to be the man I was, I’d have gone mad, but who’s to say I haven’t, right? Beat you to it, didn’t I?

There are rules to the afterlife, just like rules of the flesh, or physical world. You walk out in front of a bus as a mortal person and, smack, thud, splat! That’s just one rule of many to having flesh and blood. Being a spirit the rules change, but they’re still there. It seems like there’s always a fuckin’ list of rules, doesn’t it? Don’t do this, don’t do that, and don’t even think about doing the other! ... I hate rules. As a consciousness attached to energy, mind and spirit, you can be destroyed, but not like the body of a jogger playing chicken with a Greyhound. No, as energy you can be absorbed, ingested, or incorporated by a larger, more powerful entity. Gobbled up like a fuckin’ Snickers bar at a fat farm. That’s what happened to my Cassy. That’s why I’ve ... I ... I had to change so much from the Gabriel I was.

She was taken from me ... forever. How could I face eternity knowing she was gone and not change ... for better, or worse?

We had been stirring up the pot a bit, both of us that is. We had our reasons. I’m not going to justify what we done to the likes of you. But, they were the same reasons you see time and again throughout history. Anybody ever wanted to be free of a government they didn’t feel was right knows our reasons. Cassy was as much of a firebrand within the Irish Republican Brotherhood as I was. She’d lost her ma and da to a car bomb. I only wanted to be in charge of myself, my own man with no lousy king or queen telling me what to do ... fuck the rules! Fuck the queen! Fuck the king! Fuck whoever is supposed to be in charge, who gives them the bloody right? I guess I didn’t change completely, eh? But Cassy and me met when the Brotherhood was first forming. We were some of the founding parents I guess you could say. History will throw all sorts of names and dates at you. Everybody wanting some o’the credit or somebody else tossing out a bit o’blame, don’t believe those names, dates, and figures. They’re shite fed to you by the rich fuckers who had folks like me and Cassy killed, and probably millions of others over the course of history. Well with any guerrilla group turned terrorists, want-to-be governmental vigilantes that we were - more names and finger pointing says me - we made our share of enemies. I’m not even sure to this day who it was that played Judas to our little band of renegades, but someone turned on us, letting the blame fall on Cassy and me. Our bodies were disposed of on a wet Dublin night, when we were coming home from the pub. It was our regular place, always a good crowd, ready with a pint and a tune, and only a few nonindents from our flat. Two shots, one to the back of each of our heads and it was over ... but the really scary shite was only about to begin.

I don’t remember falling, but obviously my body toppled forward. Whoever shot us was gone, another coward scared of his own shadow or maybe only a desperate brother trying to feed his family in hard times. I suppose his reasons don’t matter now. I was confused when I stood up. My body was pooling blood around my feet, but I didn’t feel any pain. Looking over at Cassy I saw a fuckin’ nightmare. Remember I was pretty well ar meisce – drunk to those of you without a strong Gaelic heritage – so I hesitated at first, thinking maybe it was the Guinness. But then this nightmare, it had bat-like wings, fangs and ears, think along the lines of the Caped Crusader managing to actually turn into a fuckin’ bat and then dose him up on steroids and you’d have a good picture. It grabbed Cassy by the throat and started to ... well ... it fuckin’ started to eat her! There’s no other way to put it. I now know some demons will just pull the energy in from their prey like evil Hoover vacuums and others like to utilize that leftover mental conditioning from having a body and eat their prey to incorporate their energy. The result is the same however they do it. And, Spring-heeled Jack was a biter and a chewer. That’s the name of the demon that took the only woman I loved away from me ... forever. Spring-heeled fuckin’ Jack!

I was a newborn ghost, just a baby spirit really. I had no idea how to fight with energy, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I ran at the monster that was chewing on my Cassy’s arm. It had already finished her right and was chowing down on her left when I struck it across the face. The bastard was as good as seven feet, or more, tall, so I lacked much in the way of reach, but my fist still landed on its disgustingly mottled flesh covered chin. Green sparks flew everywhere and the demon’s head rocked back. It growled and struck me a good hard one. I flew backward through the night, sailing through a passing car that had no idea we were there. When I landed on my back my head was still spinning. Shaking it to get my bearings I sat up. Looking across the distance Jack had launched me I watched him devour the last bit of Cassy. She had stopped screaming sometime while I was in midair and then the night was silent. In the quiet the demon glared at me. Red pits of hate almost pierced me and pinned me to the concrete like a fuckin’ bug on display. Somehow I managed to find my feet and run.

I ran a few nonindents at random, turning down alleyways and knocking over garbage cans in my wake, hoping physical objects would prove obstacles for the thing chasing me. I know, fuckin’ stupid that, but I’d only just died a minute ago so cut me some slack. I knew it was back there. I didn’t bother to look over my shoulder like some jackoff in a horror movie. The panting, growling, and slobbering sounds were more than enough to let me know it was there. No need to be a tool and lose ground too by glancing back. Pushing my spirit to its limits I sprinted around a corner and ran into a fuckin’ Viking of all things. I bounced off his chest and landed on my arse. He looked a bit confused at first, but he smiled down at me all friendly and happy. Then the demon that was chasing me rounded the same corner and fell back just as I had. I had no idea what kind of trouble I was in. What kind of world had just opened up in front of me, but that Viking leaned forward and said, Boo, to the monster that had changed my world and had been about to end it. I don’t know what I expected, but the demon running away in a damn good imitation of what I had just done certainly wasn’t it.

The big son of a bitch picked me up like I was nothing and dusted me off a bit, asking, You okay there friend?

I told him I didn’t fuckin’ think so and I kept watching for Spring-heeled Jack to come running back at us. I think I asked him what the demon was and what it had done to Cassy, but I can’t remember for sure. If I did, he changed the subject. Thinking back on it, I’m sure he did. That would be just like Zeus. The giant hairball loved to fight, but didn’t like confrontation ... if that makes any bloody sense.

Instead, he asked me to go with him. And with very little in the way of knowing what the fuck was going on, I did. He steered me back around the same corner I had come from and instead of another dark, dreary Dublin street a bright light swallowed us..........

Stop! Whoa! Goddamn it I said stop! Pete screamed into the cloudless desert night. He held on precariously with his left hand to the antenna of the giant insectoid demon’s triangular head. His feet kept slipping out from under him as the demon shot along the abandoned railway tracks. He would regain his feet temporarily, only to topple over and slide down the side of the demon’s head. That pattern kept repeating, accompanied by Pete’s occasional muttered curse or profanity. The stone that had been laid as track ballast over a century ago showered up around Pete’s face when he fell to his knees again. The demon was spilling energy over into the physical world uncontrollably as it attempted to dislodge its unwanted rider. Spitting out cinder and grit, Pete yelled, Damn it! You didn’t even wait to hear what we were going to tell you!

But it did not matter; his voice was drowned out by the screams of the souls trapped within the insectoid demon’s translucent onyx carapace. Their wails were so loud that had a real freight train been using the deserted tracks neither Pete nor the larger demon would have heard it approaching. The demon looked like a combination giant centipede and scorpion, but of a comparable height and length to two school buses. It had spooked and fled the second Pete and his fellow Balance warriors Raven and Dante had approached its cave in southern Utah. Harmony had told them that the demon was a devourer: an insatiable appetite that drove the creature that had once been a man to consume other demons. Harmony instructed them, especially to Pete’s agitation over recent events, Many cultures have created such demons from their own greed. Ammit was merely one of many, and she was prodded on and stoked to the proportions she was by a very tragic past. There are other devourers out there, Peter. Not all of them are as monstrous as she was. Other souls can never be satisfied, no matter the riches, the foods, or the power. It is a tragic mindset. Some cultures even tell of demons that have small mouths but large bellies so that no matter how much they squeeze through their tiny lips, they can never be satiated. The particular devourer Pete had been sent to speak with and had managed to hitch a ride upon was a Wendego (or at least it thought of itself as one). No matter how many souls it consumed it was never satisfied. That was correct and in accordance with the Balance when the Wendego took the energy of the wicked or evil souls, but when it started to devour good and positive spirits it had a shelf life of how long Harmony would allow that to happen. The demon Pete was clinging to had reached that point. Pete had barely cleared his throat to ask if the demon would stop when the enormous monster shot out from its daylight lair as the sun set. It risked a minimal exposure to the fading orange rays of the setting sun to escape detainment, fleeing like any guilty felon when an officer comes to call. Dante and Raven fell back, stumbling, both with some measure of grace. But Pete had had the presence of mind, or lack of he decided upon reflection with his feet dangling over the demon’s shoulder as it raced along faster than any speeding locomotive, to grab ahold and go for a ride.

Nice going, Pete! he had berated himself aloud the second he realized his predicament. "Not look out, Pete! Or jump the hell out of the way, Pete! Oh no, why be rational? Why do what Raven and Dante did? Hey, what’s that antenna thing? It looks like it might be fun to grab hold of and ... Oh shit! Off we go!"

The demon continued to flee along the old abandoned railway track that was close to its lair. Dante and Raven had given chase on Dante’s motorcycle once they had regained their feet, and realized what was happening to Pete. His shouts and screams served as a beacon for them to hone in on. To their ears Pete was screaming louder than the other souls trapped within the demon. Raven rode precariously behind Dante, standing up and hugging the bike’s frame between her thighs as she aimed with her guns. Twin Smith and Wessons forming as mental constructs for her to channel energy, Raven shot repeatedly at the fleeing form of the demon, lighting up the night in a violet wash. Bullets of purple light flew wide to both sides of the demon’s carapace, warning shots meant to slow or stop the demon but not harm the souls trapped within, or graze Pete from his fumbling jockey’s perch. The Wendego had not digested or incorporated its prey like other devourer type demons did. The faces of the incarcerated souls screamed and wailed from within. Features sometimes pressed up against the demon’s chitin-like skin, pushing outward with a nose, mouth, or jaw. Some could be heard over the roar of Dante’s motorcycle, the blast of Raven’s guns, and Pete’s manly warrior yells. Help us! Please, let us go! Others, the negative demons the larger one had ingested were more pugnacious and taunting. Fuck off you cunt! They’re ours now! The monsters inside the demon were fighting as much as those on the outside.

One face oozed up and leaned out of the back of the demon’s head where Pete was busy hanging on and trying not to be shot by a stray purple bullet. The spirit rose up further. Its head and shoulders emerging from the larger creature and yelled, Leave us alone nigger! We don’t like your type! Pete was so distracted at first that he had not noticed that the demon inside the demon was speaking to him. He had gained his feet and was standing, as best he could on the insectoid demon’s head for the first time. It was not until the inner demon rose up to its waist, out of the larger demon’s skull that Pete looked down and yelled, What the fuck?

The demon was human formed, with indistinct features, blurred and waxy to match the colors of the host demon. Its voice held a female timbre and slight western drawl when it hissed, All those within... it spread its hands to encompass the monstrous demon as it still barreled down the tracks, sending up sparks as the rust of decades was displaced with the monster’s velocity, ...chose to follow Smith and Young’s path. You deem them good and that their energy is positive and not ours, but they pledged themselves to Thomas, and so they should stay!

Pete, still holding onto the antenna, and doing a double take, looked back as he barely dodged a purple bullet that missed his ear by centimeters, followed by a loudly yelled, Sorry! from Raven, said, Look lady, I don’t care about your religious beliefs! I don’t care who did what, promised what, married who, or read what off of an Egyptian scroll buried in New England! My boss says your, Tom, he gestured at the giant insectoid demon as she had, is tipping the Balance by taking those that want to leave. If you’re free to believe in your religion then they’re free to leave! It works both ways. So stop!

Other faces and hands had started to rise up and around Pete’s legs. Some were pulling on his pants and shoes, pleading, Help us! Others were cursing and swearing at both Pete and the souls that wanted to leave. They pulled and pushed from within their confinement. One bit down on Pete’s ankle and he screamed, Damn it that’s enough! Pete crouched down and punched the demon that had bit him in its waxy misshapen face, repeatedly. Red light flared from his fist as he struck multiple times to dislodge the demon, turning around he shouted to Raven, Screw it! New plan, shoot at the angry faces! Try not to hit the not angry and bigoted ones asking for help. I’ve had it with this alr-

Pete was interrupted when the giant centipede demon slammed on the brakes, launching him from his precarious perch with another manly warrior yell. When he landed Pete tumbled end over end, sending stones and cinders showering up into the night sky like a meteorite landing. He continued to somersault, digging a long furrow in the scree, past the tall lanky form standing in the middle of the tracks with his arms crossed, glaring at the demon that was nearly fifty times his size. Pete eventually came to a stop and sat up on his hands and knees, spitting out a mouthful of grit and dirt. He shook his head in annoyance as a deep country drawl called from behind him, You’re dead, Pete. You don’t really even have a mouth to spit from. You just can’t shake that mental conditioning, can you?

Continuing to shake his head and spit out small stones, around the occasional pebble Pete said, No, Grey, I can’t, but that doesn’t stop you from Obi-Wan like pointing it out every damn chance you get, does it? Maybe being a know-it-all is mental conditioning too, huh?

Grey laughed and said, Yeah, maybe. He reached down and helped the other man to his feet, slapping him on the back in the process, saying, It’s good to see you, Pete.

Yeah, Grey. You too, Pete reluctantly grinned. Nodding toward the giant demon that had stopped and was wringing its many insect-like hands together in agitation, he asked, What are we going to do about that?

Grey turned to look at the demon. His white tee-shirt seemed to soak in the moonlight, lengthening his torso past his six feet of height. Both men watched as the monster danced about with anxiety, kicking up more gravel. Grey shook his head and yelled, Tom, what have I told you?

The demon wrung its many hands and shifted its many feet, undulating spastically without any rhythm as it said, If my wives and children don’t want to stay with me after they die, they don’t have to.

That’s right, Tom, Grey said. The old cowboy walked a few paces toward the large demon. His faded blue jeans shifted in the dark with his long legs and his worn boots kicked up their own pebbles as he marched. Grey pointed sternly when he was directly under the demon’s now sagging head, and added, And what did I say I would do if you kept it up?

The demon did not respond. It shook its drooping, massive head and continued to wring its hands and legs. It started to edge backward slowly, widening the gap that Grey had so recently closed. Tom stopped when a purple bullet tore through a hind leg, causing hit to scream. The demon abolished all thoughts of a retreat and stopped fussing. Grey waved to where Raven and Dante still sat atop his chopper and said, Thanks darlin’!

Raven waved back, and Grey focused on the demon once more, saying, Let them go, Tom, or I will annihilate you all.

The faces pleaded from within the demon; some were feminine, others were small and childlike. The demon looked over at Grey, its unfathomable insectoid eyes searching for some hint that the old cowboy was lying. Ever the mind and body language reader, Grey held up his right hand and a sphere of blue light pulsed from his fingertips when he said, Try me. I ain’t bluffing.

With a sad lament-like groan the demon shimmered slightly and several forms, nearly a dozen all told, eased out of the larger structure, lessening the total mass. The demon Tom shrunk before their eyes to the size of a single school bus. The angels, people who had lived their lives kindly and had continued to carry their positive ways into the afterlife, cried with joy. They waved to Grey and Pete where they stood nearby. Some remembered to wave at Dante and Raven as well, before they vanished in a bright flash of light, leaving the physical world and returning to