Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be bringing to you all an extract from Paternus by Dyrk Ashton.
The gods and monsters of myth have returned. In a breathtaking story that takes place in a single day, two ordinary humans are caught up in the final battle of a war that’s been waged since the dawn of time.
Gods, monsters, angels, devils. Call them what you like. They exist. The epic battles between titans, giants, and gods, heaven and hell, the forces of light and darkness. They happened. And the war isn’t over.
17 year old Fi Patterson lives with her stuffy English uncle and has an internship at a local hospital for the aged. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, misses her dead mother, wonders about the father she never knew. One bright spot is caring for Peter, a dementia-ridden old man whose faraway smile can make her whole day. And there’s her conflicted attraction to Zeke — awkward, brilliant, talented — who plays guitar for the old folks.
Then a group of very strange and frightening men show up for a “visit”…
Fi and Zeke’s worlds are shattered as their typical everyday concerns are suddenly replaced by the immediate need to stay alive — and they try to come to grips with the unimaginable reality of the Firstborn.
“Keep an open mind. And forget everything you know…”
Paternus has been called “American Gods meets The Lord of the Rings,” and claimed to be reminiscent of Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light as well as Clive Barker’s Weaveworld.
Contemporary Fantasy / Mythic-Fiction. New Adult Fiction – as opposed to Teen or YA, though savvy 16 or 17 year olds might survive without permanent damage.
Paternus Book Extract:
Kleron inspects the security booth through the glass, drumming his fingers again, then looks at Shane, who now has his hands on his hips near his mace and nightstick, before turning back to Stan.
“Your dedication to the safety of the patients here is admirable–” he peers at the name on Stan’s security badge, “Mr. Stan.” Kleron’s smile is suddenly gone and his eyes become deathly cold. “But we won’t be needing any identification.” He leans close to the window, his breath forming crystalline frost on the glass. “And we certainly won’t be filling out any fucking forms.” His lips curl menacingly and he emits a shrill, clicking squeak.
Shane is just reaching for his nightstick when Surma, the one-armed fur-coated twin, bolts across the room and slams him into the door with a resounding BANG!
Bob yelps and topples over backward in his chair. Sarah spins around at the commotion. “What the hell, Bob?”
Peter jerks in his wheelchair. Fi and Joe gasp, staring wide-eyed at the screen.
On the monitor, Surma catches Shane as he slumps and tosses him away from the door. The two bearded men, Henri and Didier, pounce on him, snarling like crazed animals.
Stan reaches for the alarm on the security booth counter, lifts the plastic cover that prevents accidental activation–but before he can flip the switch the security glass crumples inward with a booming CRUNCH, a hole punched right through it, and Kleron has him by the wrist.
Fi’s hands go to her mouth. Joe gapes at the monitor. They see Kleron make a quick twist of his hand. Stan’s arm snaps at the forearm and elbow and his shoulder dislocates. He shrieks.
Kleron yanks him and the entire crackled window out over the counter and tosses them both to the floor.
In the lobby, Derek, one of the dark-haired pale young men, rushes at Stan, lifts him and slams him into the security booth door–and goes straight for his neck with his teeth.
The other pale young man, Tod, dives over the counter into the booth. He reaches up under the counter, fishes around and rips out a bundle of cables. All the lights on the panel dim and the monitors go to static.
The screens in Joe’s booth remain in operation. “Jesus Christ,” he mutters under his breath. He flips the alarm guard and hits the switch on his control panel. Nothing happens. He flicks it back and forth, with the same result. He taps a different section of the monitor. “Station Two!”
Bob can be seen in the reception booth, Sarah trying to help him up from his fallen chair. He shoves the chair out of the way and scoots to the panel on his knees, headset askew in his tousled hair.
“Joe!” Bob yells. “What the–!”
“Bob, is your alarm operational?”
Bob fiddles with something below the camera, accompanied by the sound of ineffectual clicks. He shakes his head. “No! What do you–”
Joe taps the lobby screen again, cutting him off. He picks up the handset of a phone on the counter, jabs a few buttons on the receiver, waits… “Dead.” He slams it down, turns to Lisa. “Call 9-1-1,” he shouts. “Tell ‘em we need an ambulance and police, right now!”
Lisa rushes out of the security booth, cursing and stabbing a finger at her mobile phone.
Peter stares at the monitors, still gripping his wheelchair just outside the booth, lips trembling.
Tod bounds back out of the lobby booth. Derek releases Stan’s body, allowing it to flop to the floor. Blood drips from his face, the fine white-on-white embroidery of his designer shirt soaked in red. He wipes his mouth on his sleeve.
“Well done, gentlemen,” Kleron commends them, placing a hand on Derek’s shoulder. He suddenly squeezes and Derek squeals, dropping to his knees. Kleron leans close to his ear. “Even if I am very entertaining, Derek, never, ever, laugh again.”
Kleron helps him up by the arm, pats him on the shoulder. “Good boy.”
Joe and Fi watch in horror as Henri and Didier rise to their feet over Shane’s mauled carcass. Blood runs down their faces and dribbles from their hands. Gobbets of flesh cling to their beards. They raise their faces to the ceiling, and let loose an unearthly howl.
“I can’t get through, no signal!” Lisa calls out, hurrying back into the booth, holding up her useless phone. “Nobody else has one either.”
Fi pulls her phone out of her pocket and Joe retrieves his. She hits a one-button call. Uncle Edgar appears on the screen, then she hears the telltale beep-beep-beep…”
Joe drops his own useless cell on the counter, glances at the view of the lobby.
The men are just standing there, as if waiting for something. Then they see what. More pale men and bearded men filing into the lobby from the street. At least twenty of them pack the room and more are arriving by the minute.
Joe checks readouts on his computer. “The entry doors are disabled but the interior is locked down. That’s reinforced steel, three hinges, double bolted. They won’t get through.”
Lisa points to a different monitor. “What about them?”
Joe taps a view of one of the stairwells. It enlarges, showing two more pale young men coming down the stairs. Unlike Derek and Tod in the lobby, these two are blond.
“Must’ve come from the roof deck,” Joe remarks. “How the hell did they get up there?” Then he adds in reassurance, “Same kind of doors in the stairwells, all secured.”
The pale blond men descend beyond the camera and Joe is about to tap the next lower view of the stairwell when a small figure drops onto the landing, wearing three filthy coats and four pairs of sunglasses. He tosses something down next to him–a body.
“That’s John!” observes Lisa in despair.
Joe curses, “Shit.”
“That’s him,” Fi says, pointing at the little homeless man.
“Who?” Joe asks, then remembers the report Stan gave him earlier. “The guy who grabbed you outside?”
“Yeah. He said his name is Max.”
Peter stares hard at the monitor from behind them, quaking in his chair. His mouth moves silently, as if trying to say something, trying to remember how to speak, trying to recall what speaking is…
On the screen, Max disappears quick as a flash, outside the view of the camera–but he isn’t on the section of the monitor above, which shows a higher view of the stairs, or the one below.
“Where’d he go?” Lisa asks.
Fi, Lisa and Joe all jump as Max’s face appears right in front of the camera, which all of them know is placed in a high inaccessible corner of the stairwell. Max moves his head to inspect the camera through different lenses of his multiple pairs of sunglasses–then his face thrusts forward, mouth open, covering the lens. The stairwell monitor goes to static.
Joe rages in frustration, “God dammit!”
Kleron looks over the group in the lobby. He says something very calmly, in a language that Joe, Fi, and Lisa, who are listening upstairs, have never heard–because it hasn’t been spoken in a thousand years–not by human beings.
Wepwawet, the fur-coated twin with both arms, shoves past Henri and Didier to the door where Shane stood guard. Surma steps aside. Wepwawet jams one hand through the wire reinforced glass of the small window, grabs the handle with the other, and wrenches the massive steel door right out of the frame.
The others duck as he swings back around and flings it across the room at one of the security cameras in the corner.
In reception on the second floor, a section on the lobby monitor erupts in static …
About Dyrk Ashton:
Dyrk Ashton was born in Athens (Ohio, not Greece), on a chilly Halloween morning. He whiled away his adolescent years and teens in cornfields, woods, rivers, ditches and haymows, climbing trees, running along barn beams, riding, wrestling, soccering, fighting BB gun wars, reading Stuart Little, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, everything Verne, London, Kipling, White, Lewis, Doyle, Burroughs, Poe, Howard, Fleming, Lovecraft, Tolkein, Zelazny, and generally ignoring school — though he somehow managed excellent grades (except in Algebra, of course).
Dyrk earned a BFA and masters degree in filmmaking at The Ohio State University, which lead to working in film production in Columbus, OH, where he crawled his way up from production assistant to grip then production manager and producer for commercials, industrial films and low budget features. He then headed west to Los Angeles where he wrote and pitched scripts but fed and clothed himself as a “jack-of-all-trades”: editor, assistant editor, location sound recordist, cinematographer, assistant director, production manager, producer, you name it.
Mostly, however, he made his living as a SAG/AFTRA actor, appearing in nothing you have ever seen. And if you have seen it, he was probably in it so briefly you missed him. It can be done, acting professionally, even if you have no talent but are good at auditioning and have a look that very few actors and no regular folks can pull off. He didn’t earn a lot of money and whatever he did make is long gone (L.A. is expensive), but he did get to travel quite a bit, including an eight week stint in Kandy, Sri Lanka (and it was awesome).
After nearly six years of scraping by in L.A., he realized he probably wouldn’t, in all actuality, die if he never got to make a big Hollywood film, so he moved back to the Midwest and went to Bowling Green State University for a PhD in Film Studies. He wrote a dissertation on The Lord of the Rings movies. And they gave him a diploma. Shocking. Then he got hired as a professor. Even more shocking. Apparently PhDs are tossed out like parade candy these days and just about anyone is allowed to warp the minds of our precious youth.
After four years in a tenure track position he began teaching entirely online, and found he actually had time to read books again — fiction, sci-fi, fantasy — not just academic journals and textbooks. Then he realized he actually had time to write. And so he did, bringing to bear his lifelong fascination with mythology and storytelling and gathering together (some clearly ridiculous) ideas he’d had for years.
The result is Paternus, the first in a trilogy of contemporary mythic fantasy adventures for grown ups. Writing novels is something he’d always wanted to do but never had the time, gumption, or the maturity, more likely, to actually do. He’s found he loves the writing process, actually needs it, and will continue to write even if nobody buys the stuff. Still, he’s been heard to paraphrase the immortal line of Billy Mack (played by the ever fantastic Bill Nighy), from Love Actually: “If you believe in Father Christmas, children, like your Uncle Dyrky does, buy my festering turd of a novel.”
And yes, Dyrk Ashton is his real name. He’s been told many times it sounds like the screen name of a Soap actor or porn star. Cool. Truth is, his father is of (mixed) English decent, and his mother (mixed) Scottish, (a Campbell, no less, though her father always emphasized that they were highland Campbells, not lowland. The highland Scots fought against the English, the lowlands sided with them, you see). Anyway, Dyrk’s mom liked the way the name looked when spelled with a “y” instead of the more common “i”. So there.
Paternus and Author links:
Follow The Tattooed Book Geek on: