Book Nerd Excerpt
Jonathan Winn was born in Seattle and raised in a small town in Western Washington State. After graduating high school and then living in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade, he moved to New York City where he lived in Greenwich Village with his two dogs. Â But after almost twenty years, the pull of family led him back to the Northwest where he now lives. Again.
Like most writers, every word Jonathan writes -- whether it be screenplay, play or book -- is accompanied by endless cups of coffee with lots of milk and sugar (the ratio changing depending on whether he slept five hours or six hours the night before). Â He's also regarded as politely relentless by his friends, unbearably annoying by his enemies, and recently discovered he makes a mean fried chicken, often used to placate those aforementioned annoyed ones.
The full-length novel "Martuk ... The Holy" and "The Wounded King", the first in "The Martuk Series", a collection of Short Fiction based on characters introduced in "Martuk ... " are just two books in Jonathan's rapidly expanding bibliography.
Hours ago she had stretched out on fine linen and bright cotton, her form plump under thin fabric, the flesh healthy, the skin shining as the wounded girl trimmed her toenails. She had laughed. She had teased me. She had calmly and wordlessly exerted her power over the hapless slave who cradled her feet.
Now something exerted its power over her.
Under the rays of the rising sun she climbed the gentle slope of the small hill, her steps heavy, Uruk waking to a new day below us, the waterways busy as dawn broke.
Offering my hand, she gripped it and pulled herself close.
The red of her eyes looked painful, though no blood fell to stain her cheeks. And the black of her hair was now dusty and dry, the thin, lifeless strands lifted by the breeze, the patches of bald scalp pale beneath.
She watched me, her face close to mine.
“What do you see?” she asked, her breath rancid, the teeth rotting, the now blackened nubs split in two.
I paused, not sure what to say.
“Tell me,” she urged. “What do you see?”
“Mother …” I began, my heart too kind to share the truth.
“You see a God,” she breathed.
I reluctantly nodded.
“A Dark God.”
“How?” I asked.
“There is no ‘how’,” she answered, her grip tightening. “There is only this.”
“And what is this?”
“The coming of perfection. The body broken and dying under the weight of what’s being born. Under that which will be, of that which is. The Dark God that is who I am, what I’ve become. All that greatness freeing itself from this mortal mediocrity.”
“But how? It was only yesterday, hours ago, you were healthy. You were happy. You were --”
She raised her finger, the digit on my lips, shushing me quiet.
Stopping, she smiled as I fell silent, her fingertip toying with me. She drew closer, easing it into my mouth, the finger rubbing my teeth and the inside of my cheek before it wormed its way past my tongue and down my throat.
I pulled away, gagging.
She laughed, sticking the wet finger in her mouth to suck it.
“You’re not well,” I said as I wiped away the rancid taste of her.
“I am more powerful than the Ancient Gods,” she responded, her smile disappearing.
“You met her, the Old Woman,” she then said. “The one the Elder speaks of.”
“The one he hates?” I asked in return.
“Yes,” she agreed, “the one he hates. You know her?”
“No, I don’t know her. We met in the Temple --”
“In the dark of night,” she interrupted. “I know. What did she say? What, tell me, did she tell you?”
“She spoke of me.”
Her smile had again disappeared, her gaze steady.
“What did she say?”
I hesitated, reluctant to repeat the Old Woman’s words about the flesh.
“What did this dangerous woman, this sorceress, this Priestess of Old have to say about me, the Queen, the God?”
“She’s dangerous?” I asked.
She grew quiet, distracted by the breeze. And then she smiled.
“I eat,” Mother suddenly said.
“The flesh --”
She interrupted me with a nod.
“It’s hungry,” she said, her voice low, the words almost a whisper. “Its stomach desperate for the meat, the muscle, the skin. If I don’t feed It, there’s pain.”
Her hand on her stomach, she continued.
“I am powerless, my son. I don’t want to. I don’t want this. It’s disgusting, it sickens me, it’s something I cannot stop, and it’s destroyed me. The taste, the feel of it in my mouth, the smell on my hands, my fingers --”
She stopped, this brief moment of lucidity gone as quickly as it began.
Closing her eyes, she cocked her head, distracted by something only she could hear.
The morning had grown dark, the sun shadowed by a rare cloud.
I looked up to see a clear blue sky.
The shadows grew.
“A God is being born,” she finally said. “The pain, the anguish I endure, is this body dying so that this God, this Dark God, can be born. And I, as that God, will rule.”
The dark grew darker.
I moved closer to her.
“Mother …” I began, “the shadows, they’re moving.”
A sacrifice. A dying King. Bones in the stone, blood in the wine. A Queen consumed by the Darkness.
From ancient Uruk, The Almost King tells his tale. Of The Elder and his cunning Priests in their robes of red and gold. Of an Old Woman who can call the power of the Dark Gods. Of his mother, the Queen, and his dying brother, the King.
And of the Darkness, an evil from before the Time of the Moon. Inescapable, its hunger never-ending, its shadow fed by the Priests, slowly overwhelming his family.
Drowning in a sea of red and gold, the Almost King battles an unwinnable war as he navigates the wreckage towards his fate as … The Wounded King.
The Wounded King is the first in The Martuk Series, a collection of Short Fiction based on characters from the full-length novel Martuk … The Holy.