When Shmack Happens: The Making of a Spiritual Champion by Amber Neben

When Shmack Happens coverTitle:  When Shmack Happens: The Making of a Spiritual Champion
Author: Amber Neben
Genre: Christian nonfiction/inspirational stories/sports autobiography
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Neben Px4 (March 18, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0991303008
ISBN-13: 978-0991303007

Purchase at:

Amazon USA:   http://www.amazon.com/When-Shmack-Happens-Spiritual-Champion/dp/0991303008/

Book website: www.whenshmackhappens.com

Amazon UK and Amazon EU

About the book:

Have you ever been through a hard time in life? Ever wondered why bad things happen? Amber Neben has you covered. The 2x Olympic cyclist for Team USA knows a thing or two about shmack- her word for describing adversity that comes our way in life. Follow Amber’s journey as she overcomes major obstacles both on and off the bike-and encourages you to join her in developing the perseverance, patience, perspective, and power than only Christ can give us. Very few people may know or understand what road cycling is, but everyone knows what it means to be an Olympian. The champion road cyclist chronicles her disappointments and failures, as well as amazing comebacks and victories-while thrilling audiences along the way with gripping stories of faith and hope. After reading When Shmack Happens, you’ll feel equipped and encouraged to face life’s tough moments, and find yourself cheering for Amber to get back on the bike…one more time. Learn what it means to be a spiritual champion in God’s eyes.

Excerpt:

From Chapter 10

Fear gripped me as I skidded to a stop against the guardrail and looked up at the entire peloton riding toward my head. Another rider had just slid into my front wheel, causing it to turn violently sideways, ripping the handlebars out of my hands, and instantly halting the bike’s forward momentum. Since my body was still carrying the 30-plus mph speed and energy, I launched with my arms out like superman until I hit the pavement. Hard. The combination of the friction of my body on the road followed by the impact with the guardrail spun me around, so I could see what was coming at me. For a few seconds more, I was terrified of being run over until the peloton had passed.

After this immediate danger was gone, I realized my finger was screaming at me. I hadn’t initially noticed it, but now it hurt like nothing I had ever felt. Fear grabbed me again as I connected the pain with the blood and the massive gash on it. I thought for sure I was going to lose the tip of it if I didn’t get help fast.

I had no idea what had just occurred. We had crested a climb and started an easy downhill. I was still up front on the outside of the group. The corner was sweeping to the left, and I was looking far down the road…when suddenly I was tossed. It wasn’t until later that night that the rider who was behind me explained what had happened, and why I had no chance to react or had any sense that it was coming.

I was in the middle of the 2009 racing season, coming off of the World Championship win the previous year. Only two days prior, I had won the time trial stage in this race, the women’s Giro d’Italia. The win had catapulted me into the General Classification (GC) lead, and although I had cramped the next day and lost it, I was still close enough to fight back. There were enough hill-top finishes remaining, and I wasn’t planning on giving up the race so easily. However, in an instant, everything changed. I went from being in contention, to being bloodied on the side of an Italian road in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the race ambulance and a doctor.Amber Neben photo

About the author: 

Amber Neben is a decorated international road cyclist with victories in 11 countries and multiple UCI Category 1 stage race wins. She is a 2x Olympian, 2x World Champion, 2x Pan American Champion and 2x National Champion. She holds a B.S. from The University of Nebraska and an M.S. from UC Irvine. Amber and her husband, Jason, reside in Lake Forest, CA. For information on speaking engagements or coaching visit amberneben.com.

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Book Spotlight: Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy by Jermaine Gadson

TTand T of the Enemy 3D coverTitle:  Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy
Author: Jermaine Gadson
Genre: Spiritual
Publisher:Crossbooks – Division of LifeWay(June 2014)
ISBN:  9781462736362—Hard Cover
ISBN: 9781462736355—Soft Cover
ISBN: 9781462736348—eBook

Pre-order at: http://www.amazon.com/PRE-ORDER-Tactics-Trends-Equipping-Believer/dp/1462736351/

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy by author Jermaine Gadson is a must have resource for believers who want to be well equipped to be victorious against the strategies of the devil. The devil is cunning and deceptive, and he will stop at nothing to keep God’s people from reaching their potential in Christ. In this book, Pastor Gadson discusses how the enemy uses temptation, seduction, fear, isolation, guilt, shame, and other such things in order to steal and destroy a person’s life. Satan works tirelessly through various means and mechanisms to keep sinners from hearing and being receptive of the Word of God, in order to prevent them from being saved. If you have family or friends who are not born-again, this resource will help you to identify schemes that the enemy may be using to keep your loved ones from being saved. This book is intended to equip the Body of Christ to wage a good warfare against the strategies of the enemy. It is not God’s will for His people to be taken advantage of by the enemy because of ignorance. This book exposes who the enemy is, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will try to do in the future, as an enemy of God’s people. This book is written for the everyday believer to be able to understand and use. However, it is also a helpful tool for Christian leaders to be able to identify specific ways in which the enemy desires to attack them in order to steal their influence, kill their destiny, and destroy their reputation and ministries. In this regard, it is an encouragement to the Body of Christ to guard and protect their spiritual leaders.

BOOK EXCERPT:

Chapter One
Know Your Enemy
Before engaging in battle of any kind, it is very important to be familiar with the opposition. The more you know about your enemy, the greater you will be equipped to fight against them and be victorious. Knowing your enemy includes being knowledgeable of their strengths, weaknesses, habits, origin, and the like. When you are knowledgeable about your adversary, you become empowered to develop a plan of action or strategy to adequately defend against their opposition, overcome their threats and defensive mechanisms, and ultimately defeat them.
Athletes and those who follow sports are familiar and acquainted with this principle. Coaches and players spend hours upon hours viewing video recordings of not only their own team, but of their upcoming opponents as well. They view recordings to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses as revealed by previous games, and they do the same to identify strengths and weaknesses of the next team they have to face.
This principle is certainly pertinent in the area of the military as well. No military general, or top ranking official who has authority over military personnel will in their right mind authorize the use of military force without adequate information concerning the enemy to be attacked. Right decisions require right information. This is especially true if you want to come out victorious and on top.
Now that we can see the importance of this principle from a natural standpoint, it makes sense that this would also apply spiritually in relation to how we are to do battle with our spiritual enemy. As you read this book, I hope that you will be able to see the importance of this material in helping you towards this very end. The reason this book is so important is because the person reading it is like a ballplayer looking at tape of his or her opponent or a military general gathering intelligence on a terrorist organization. When you know where your enemy came from, what your enemy has done in the past, and what your enemy is presently capable of, you are more readily prepared to wage a good warfare and defeat him in any present or future encounters you may have.
The Origin of SatanSince we are dealing with the concept of knowing your enemy, it is important to understand the origin of where the enemy discussed in this book, Satan, also known as the devil, comes from. Here is what is considered to be the biblical account of Satan’s demise, in Isaiah 14:12-15:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.”The story of Satan originates in the heaven. In his beginning, he was created as an angel of God, who was called by the name of Lucifer. Lucifer was one of God’s chief angels, and as a consequence was given much power and authority. However, because of pride and jealousy towards God, his creator, he rebelled against God, wanting to be worshipped as a god himself. Through his rebellion, he lead one third of the angelic host to follow suit (Revelation 12:4). Today, Lucifer and the one third of angels who rebelled with him are now known as Satan and demons. The devil along with all the other demons, are simply fallen angels. They are angels who rebelled against God, and as a result were cast out of heaven, and striped of their original responsibilities and places of angelic authority (Jude 1:6).
The Point of No ReturnAngels have a special and unique role in the plan and purposes of God. Often in the Scriptures, as well as in other literature, angelic beings are referred to as the “sons” of God. This references the fact that the origin of all angels is God, the One who created them.
Adam, the first human being, is called the “son” of God in Scripture as well, simply because he originated from God who created him (Luke 3:38). Adam did not have an earthly father because he was the first human being. God was his father by mere fact of his creation. In the same way, angels are “sons” or children of God. Angels are spirit beings, and human beings are spirit beings at their core, and God is the Father of spirits. Therefore, God, who is a Spirit Himself, is the Father of all spirit beings (Hebrews 12:9). God has created all beings, angels and humanity, for His own glory and purpose.
Nonetheless, there are distinct differences between the angelic and human races that are vitally important to understand. The angelic race was primarily created to serve the purposes of God and His creation. The human race was primarily created for the pleasure of God, to be the glory of His creation. From this we see a difference in the distinct beings in how they were created in relation to God. Though all beings were created to praise and worship God, angels were created to serve God, and human beings were created to love God.
Without going any further into a deep discussion of angelology, demonology, or anthropology, the study of angels, demons, and human beings respectively, for the purposes of this discussion, there is one fact that is paramount. This fact is rooted in what I have stated above in connection with the purposes and differences in why angles and humanity were created. All angels, as far as we know, were created to serve God, and to stand in His presence. In this sense, they are primarily servants, because they were created to serve and do the biding of the Father. Therefore, sense their primary relationship with God is based upon their service to God, the moment that they choose to disobey God; they forfeit their privilege of being able to perpetually stand in God’s presence and to be called in His service. In other words, an angel who sins cannot be forgiven. Someone might say that this is not fair, how can God not forgive an angel who sins. The reality is not so much that God will not forgive, but rather that the angel has become so corrupt that they have no room in their heart for repentance. For example, do you literally think that Satan has, is, or is going to repent and turn from his wickedness? No way! Consider this; the angels get to experience the very presence of Almighty God, continually. God has invested in them powers, abilities, and responsibilities to govern and care for heaven, earth, the galaxies, and the universe. They enjoy the lavish luxury of heaven eternally. Is a person who is willing to give all this and much more up worthy of reconciliation?
Human beings on the other hand have the ability to repent. Therefore, a human being’s eternal destiny is not eternally lost because of sin. We have hope because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
This whole concept of Satan being our enemy, is not so much that Satan is concerned about us on our own account; rather, Satan is jealous of our relationship with God, and the position of authority that God has given to us as a race of spiritual beings. Our fight against the enemy is not just about us. The enemy attacks us because he knows that we are the glory of God’s creation. The devil’s attack on us is really an attack against God. The enemy cannot do anything to hurt God directly because God is God. However, instead of coming against God, whom he knows he cannot defeat, he comes against the ones that God loves.
Think of it this way, the devil is a criminal master mind. If you have ever watched TV shows or movies, where crime was involved, you would notice that whenever a criminal mind wanted to cause harm to an individual or manipulate the individual to do what they wanted, they would either kidnap, threaten to do harm, and actually do harm to someone of whom the individual loved. This is not a concept that originated in the entertainment industry to keep us on the edges of our seats. This is a tactic that originated with Satan, which he is still using today, and will continue to use until his ultimate demise.
The Outcome of SatanSatan is a sore loser. He lost the battle against Michael and the angels of God in heaven when he rebelled, so he is trying to do as much damage as he possibly can against humanity, and desires to take as many people to hell with him as possible (Revelation 12:7- 12).
When Satan led the rebellion against God, he had to fight against Michael the archangel and the army of angels who remained faithful to God. Satan and his forces lost, of course. As a result, they were cast down to the earth. By God creating mankind to rule the earth, God was in essence creating man from the very beginning to exercise dominion and authority over Satan and his demons. Satan seizing the opportunity to deceive Adam and Eve through tempting them to disobey God was his way of salvaging what little spiritual power he had left, in order to seek vengeance against the God who had created him and banished him for his corruption. And so, the saga continues. However, we already know what happens in the end. Lucifer, now known as Satan, and all those who followed him, will ultimately be defeated and sentenced to eternal punishment and damnation.
So, for us, we must understand that the fight against the enemy is a fixed fight. We have already won, for the battle is not ours, it’s the Lord’s. Our God has, is, and will forever be, victorious!
Names of the Devil Throughout the BibleI want to conclude this chapter by giving you a list of the names of the enemy, as they appear in the Scriptures. In a Hebraic and biblical perspective names are very important.
Names denote the character and destiny of the named. In the listing below you will see that the various names of Satan that are used are a description of his nature, character, and being.
1. Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12)
2. Satan (Zechariah 3:1; Revelation 12:9)
3. Tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5)
4. Enemy (Matthew 13:39)
5. Devil (Luke 4:2, 13; Revelation 12:9)
6. Beelzebub (Luke 11:15)
7. Ruler of demons (Luke 11:15)
8. Liar (John 8:44)
9. Thief (John 10:10)
10. The prince of this world (John 12:31)
11. The evil one (John 17:15; 1 John 5:18)
12. The god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)
13. Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15)
14. Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
15. The spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2)
16. Adversary (1 Peter 5:8)
17. Abaddon (Revelation 9:11)
18. Apollyon (Revelation 9:11)
19. Angel of the Bottomless Pit (Revelation 9:11)
20. Dragon (Revelation 12:7)
21. The serpent of old (Revelation 12:9)
22. Accuser (Revelation 12:10)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jermaine Gadson headshot

 

Jermaine Gadson is the Senior Pastor of Faith Ministries, Inc., a non-traditional church located in Birmingham, AL. Prior to starting Faith Ministries, he served as an associate minister, youth minister, and pastor for local churches and ministries in the greater Birmingham area. While, growing up in the Baptist church, he gave his life to Christ at an early age, and is a third generation minister of the Gospel.

He holds a B.A. in Religion with a Concentration in Congregational Studies and a Minor in Classics from Samford University, and a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School of Samford University. He is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Beeson Divinity School.

Gadson enjoys reading, writing, sports, outdoors, movies, and spending time with his family. He is happily married to his wife Kristy and they have one beautiful daughter, Khloe.

Visit Pastor Gadson online at www.JermaineGadson.com.

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Shopping for a Lighter Cross by Dr. C Book Feature

 

ABOUT SHOPPING FOR A LIGHTER CROSS

 


9781475996821_COVER_FQA.inddTitle:
 Shopping for a Lighter Cross
Genre: Biography
Author: Dr. C
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 64
Language: English
ISBN – 978-1-47599-682-1

Everyone has life’s challenges and can face them with fear or with trust. I choose to look at them as experiences where God blessed me with His curve balls thrown in. These curve balls are not the negative, painful or abusive life experiences that I have lived through, but rather the unexpected, blessings, gifts, and graces God threw in to help me through the experiences. I believe that these curve balls were given so that I can witness to His great and awesome presence in and through the experiences, the people in those experiences and in myself as living through and surviving the experiences as a better, not bitter human being.

Purchase your copy:

iuniverse


ABOUT DR. C

The author lives in Aston, Pennsylvania with her husband John, their golden retriever Clover and their two cats: Duchess and Graygray. Dr. C is a Pastoral Associate/Spiritual Director for a Catholic parish in Delaware County and John works for the Federal Government. Dr. C graduated with her Doctorate in Ministry degree in May 2013.

Book Spotlight: Darklight by Leonard H. Roller

Dark Light 7Title: Darklight
Author: Leonard H. Roller
Publisher: Friesen Press
Pages: 119
Genre: Poetry
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

From ancient Greece to the 21st century, poets have gazed at the heavens, trying to unlock the mystery and beauty of the cosmos in verse. In his charming new collection, DARKLIGHT, Leonard H. Roller, one of those poetic seekers, leavens his fascination with the cosmos and love of writing poetry with a gentle humor that will leave readers chuckling while they ponder the great celestial questions and What It All Means.

In the 77 poems in DARKLIGHT, Roller employs a range of poetic styles – from classical sonnets to free verse – to present his unique vision of such astronomical concepts as black holes, dark energy, the “Big Bang” theory, white dwarf stars , multiverses, the possible beginning and end of our universe and the existence of God.

Book Excerpt:

MULTIVERSE

A single universe is not enough
For God—behold the multiverse!
Many cosmos, made mostly of dark stuff,
Coexisting for better or for worse.
Unnumbered worlds, procession of dimensions,
Uncounted hosts of heavens and hells
All held in thrall by divine intentions,
Vibrating throughout time in parallels,
Endless firmaments, endless myriads
All generated by the single Word.
Infinity of strings both good and bad
That the Almighty tunes to chords.
Extensions of the touch of divine might,
The Lord keeps strumming ’til He gets it right.

Shopping for a Lighter Cross by Dr. C

ABOUT SHOPPING FOR A LIGHTER CROSS

9781475996821_COVER_FQA.inddTitle: Shopping for a Lighter Cross
Genre: Biography
Author: Dr. C
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 64
Language: English
ISBN – 978-1-47599-682-1

Everyone has life’s challenges and can face them with fear or with trust. I choose to look at them as experiences where God blessed me with His curve balls thrown in. These curve balls are not the negative, painful or abusive life experiences that I have lived through, but rather the unexpected, blessings, gifts, and graces God threw in to help me through the experiences. I believe that these curve balls were given so that I can witness to His great and awesome presence in and through the experiences, the people in those experiences and in myself as living through and surviving the experiences as a better, not bitter human being.

Purchase your copy:

iuniverse

 

ABOUT DR. C

The author lives in Aston, Pennsylvania with her husband John, their golden retriever Clover and their two cats: Duchess and Graygray. Dr. C is a Pastoral Associate/Spiritual Director for a Catholic parish in Delaware County and John works for the Federal Government. Dr. C graduated with her Doctorate in Ministry degree in May 2013.

In the Spotlight: External Forces by Deborah Rix

External Forces 7Title: External Forces
Author: Deborah Rix
Publisher: Dime Store Books
Pages: 268
Language: English
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Format: eBook

Purchase at AMAZON

Treason, betrayal, and heartbreak.

A lot can happen to a girl between her first kiss and her first kill.

It’s 100 years since the Genetic Integrity Act was passed and America closed its borders to prevent genetic contamination. Now only the enemy, dysgenic Deviants, remain beyond the heavily guarded border. The Department of Evolution carefully guides the creation of each generation and deviations from the divine plan are not permitted.

When 16-year-old Jess begins to show signs of deviance she enlists in the Special Forces, with her best friend Jay, in a desperate bid to evade detection by the Devotees. Jess is good with data, not so good with a knife. So when the handsome and secretive Sergeant Matt Anderson selects her for his Black Ops squad, Jess is determined to figure out why.

As her deviance continues to change her, Jess is forced to decide who to trust with her deadly secret. Jess needs to know what’s really out there, in the Deviant wasteland over the border, if she has any hope of making it to her 17th birthday. Because if the enemy doesn’t kill her first, the Department of Evolution probably will.

Prologue:

I haven’t slept in forty-eight hours.

It’s part of the Special Operations Assessment and Selection course, twenty-eight days of grueling work. The two days of no sleep are meant to disorient us, part of discarding our former selves. There are three hundred of us trying to figure out how to do what we’re told, when we’re told to, and how to do it correctly. Jay and I weren’t assigned to the same platoon, which was unexpected. I’m in the “civilian” platoon; we’re the ones with skills that don’t generally require brute force. I think Jay is in some kind of elite group because I haven’t seen him, I’ve only seen the G-men platoon. They are all about brute force; they’re the ones that opted for genetic enhancement at age thirteen without the supervision of the Devotees. But Special Forces is, well, special, so they have to prove they’ve got more than muscle and I’ve gotta prove I’ve got more than a quick mind.

If I don’t make it to Special Forces, my life expectancy in the regular army could be pretty short. And if I’m a complete washout, I’ll have to go to my assessment with the Devotees and they’ll find out about me, making my life expectancy even shorter. I seriously need to pass.

Zero dark thirty is when I have to haul myself out of bed in the so-called morning. My drill sergeant has been yelling at me for most of the past two days. The word “why” has been surgically removed from everyone’s vocabulary. Any individual hesitation in following orders means at least one private is getting smoked, if not the whole platoon, which usually means push-ups. We’ve done a lot of push-ups. I stare straight ahead as the drill sergeant walks by me and continues down the row of privates. I made the mistake of “eyeballing” him yesterday.

Never. Eyeball. A drill sergeant.

First Chapter:

Three weeks earlier – May, 2125

My mother thinks I’m a Deviant.

It’s the kind of thing that can really throw a girl for a loop.

The Devotees missed it when I was born, she said, but one day they would come for me. That was a few years ago, she didn’t know I was home when I overheard her; I got out of there lickety-split.

And it’s not as if I haven’t noticed the way my mother looks at me sometimes. If they had taken me when they had the chance, maybe her other baby would still be with her. I’m pretty sure that’s what goes through her head when she looks at me.

So the early assessment notice wasn’t entirely unexpected. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Lots of kids are called for early assessments and nothing happens; they show up at school the next day. Some of them are all excited because they got called to become a Devotee.

But some of them, well, they don’t come back.

I’m in the parking lot of my high school, West Liberty. It’s prom night, and I came with my best friend, Jay. He’s still inside; he likes this sort of thing. I haven’t told him the early assessment notice came this afternoon. I didn’t want to ruin tonight for him. The humidity has made my dress even more uncomfortable than it was inside. Jay owes me. At least he won’t mind if I go home; it’s not that kind of date.

A car door slams shut. There aren’t a lot of kids who can afford the fuel to drive their own car to the prom.

Uh-oh. Blake.

I take a step back. Blake is a popular kid, with the right look, the right home, the right pedigree.

Right.

Despite my attempts to blend in and stay in the background, Blake noticed me this year. When I didn’t respond like all the other girls do, I became his target.

His car keys jangle as he drops them in his jacket pocket. I stand still; maybe he hasn’t seen me.

“Hey, freak,” he calls as he comes around the blue pickup I was hoping would shield me. “Not leaving, are you?”

I smell alcohol as Blake backs me up against the truck.

His slicked-back hair smells slightly astringent, and his tongue slides over his upper lip as he looks me over from top to bottom. A shiver of revulsion goes through me. I can’t imagine what girls like about him. I can hear some voices, but they’re at the other end of the parking lot. It’s just me and Blake.

“I’ve got an early graduation present for you,” he says quietly. His face is close to mine, and I can see beads of perspiration on his forehead. Slick from the humidity, his hand glides down my bare shoulder, as if he’s entitled to touch me.

I don’t think I want a present from Blake.

I’m surprised when my hand moves. There is a wet sound as Blake’s head snaps back.

Blood spurts, and it seems as if time has gone into slow motion. The blood sprays toward me. I move my head to the side to avoid it, and watch it slowly drift by, suspended in the air.

I turn back to Blake and a thrill zips through me. Thick, glossy blood creeps down his chin from his mashed nose. His mouth is open in shock; blood colors his teeth and gums. He moves sluggishly, and each blink seems to take effort.

Drip by slow drip, the blood falls from his chin onto his shirt. Fascinated, I watch each droplet burst on his crisp white collar.

A wet plonk hits my forehead as a sudden coldness envelops me. The grin I’m shocked to find on my face sags. Fat droplets of rain release the pressure in the air and mix with the blood on Blake’s shiny shoes.

Hands to his face, he doubles over as time suddenly speeds up again. The rain pelts down now. I take two steps to the side and run. I hear a sob and realize it’s me.

What just happened?

It’s the morning after prom, and Jay saunters along beside me as we walk back to my house. I met him half way, as per my usual. His t-shirt is a bit wrinkled, but that’s on purpose, to go with jeans that are a little baggy in back. He’s over six feet and gets asked if he’s a model, which he laughs at, but I know he’s pleased. He could be quite popular if he wanted, but he hangs out with me instead.

Jay and me are Fifth Generation. We’re the ones born between 2100 and 2120. We found each other in the seventh grade. We were the last two kids left when we all paired up for gym class. He asked me why I wasn’t moving when we were supposed to be heading out to the field. I explained that I was trying to activate my special powers so that I could use them to transport me far away. Usually that kind of talk would send kids running, and they’d whisper that I must be a Deviant. But not Jay. He blinked at me, then asked if I would take him with me, should my special powers ever actually work. We’ve been best friends since, and tell each other pretty much everything.

“So, can you come to the thing?”

Uh oh.

I think I’m supposed to know what he’s talking about.

“Uh, when is it again?” I stall for time. What thing?

I push my hair behind my ears to help me think. It doesn’t always work. I have shoulder-length brown hair, parted on the side. My no-nonsense look is how I think of it. I still don’t know what the thing is.

“Wait. Jess. You’re joking, right?” Jay says with a laugh that’s on the edge of anger.

“I’m sorry.” I do my best pleading cringe. “I’m a little distracted.”

The early assessment and whatever that was with Blake last night are the distractions. I can’t quite believe I punched him, broke his nose by the look of it. He’s probably going to have two black eyes. But more than that punch, as surprising as it was, is the way time seemed to slow down around me. I want to say it was shock, or some kind of temporary fugue state, but that’s not what it was. Something happened.

“My mother’s thing, remember?” Jay practically yells at me.

“Oh, that,” I say with relief. Jay’s mother is hosting a party to celebrate his seventeenth birthday. That’s what the thing is. It’s going to be awful.

“We met up, what? Five minutes ago? And you’re already trying to drive me crazy?” He pinches my butt. Hard. He’s pretty worked up about this party.

I yelp and dance around. “No way. You are not blaming your crazy on me.” I give him a solid punch in the gut. “You had years of exposure to your mother before we even met.”

I go rock climbing, so my arms are strong. I’ve never needed to go to the gym to work out and “stay in shape” like some of the other girls do. I’m five feet ten and a half inches and the coach at school said I have an athletic body; he tried to get me to go out for track and field. I don’t like the idea of people watching me like that.

But hitting Jay is like hitting concrete. He doesn’t even notice my punch.

“And of course I’m coming, I already told you. That’s why I didn’t know what thing you were talking about. I thought you meant some other thing.”

“You didn’t actually confirm with my mother,” he complains, “and I know how you feel about people, in general.”

“I don’t have a problem with people, in general. Just the idiots,” I say. “And your mother.”

It’s kind of a toss-up, I suppose. A mother like mine, who actively avoids you and has already decided you’re not worth the effort, or one who pays too much attention and has too many expectations.

Jay nudges me as an unfamiliar dark-haired boy, a bit younger than we are, walks toward us. He doesn’t look right at us, but he flashes us two crossed fingers with his right hand.

I look up ahead and see them coming our way. Three Devotees. Jay and I mumble the greeting in unison, “Blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, soul of our soul,” and we look down as they brush past us in their crisp white lab coats. It’s best not to be noticed.

The Devotees work for the Department of Evolution —everyone just calls it Devo— and they do the work of Creation in partnership with God. The Department of Evolution is under the direction of Secretary Galton. Basically, she’s God’s voice here on Earth. In the midst of the genetic revolution a hundred years ago, when the Genetic Integrity Act closed America’s borders, strict protocols for border biosecurity were instituted to stop genetic contamination. But we were still in danger of being overrun by the Deviants on the other side. Galton took control, ordered the fortification of our borders and gave the military the authority to do what they needed to do. Most people agree; she did what was necessary for our survival by relinquishing certain powers to the military to ensure our protection. Including the ability to create proprietary, genetically enhanced soldiers. The G-men. Since then, Galton has been leading us through the current stage of evolution, Regenesis, removing unwanted traits and improving and enhancing our best traits with the guidance of God.

In Social Biology class, Devotee Theresa taught us that we must all work for the common good, whether we like it or not. The less intelligent are more fertile and must be discouraged from breeding. Only those with desirable traits are allowed to produce the next generation.

There’s this section, practically a whole semester of tenth grade, where we studied pedigree charts, and DNA, RNA, proteins, and ribosomes. DNA is a double helix that carries the genetic information for all life. If only one part of one gene is wrong, it can create a whole generation of imbeciles, and that is not in God’s plan. Or in Devo’s plan. All Devotees have that DNA double helix tattooed on their forearm, as a constant reminder of their purpose in life.

That’s what the crossed fingers warning represents, the double helix tattoo.

We come up to the old Palace Theater. It’s been shut down for a long time, and the large sign that hangs out front lost its first A, so it says PLACE. Someone found a way in down the side alley, and now kids hang out there. They say, “Meet me at the place.” If they’re overheard or an adult sees a message, it only says “the place.” So far it’s stayed secret. I’ve heard they have illegal sim-seats in there, ones that can scramble the biometrics and mask what you’re doing.

“Jess,” Jay says as he slows right down, “something’s wrong.”

“It’s time to wake up!” a skinny boy with curly red hair yells. He’s standing on a wooden crate, and people are hesitantly milling about. “People are dying! Out there, children are starving, and you send them poison. People are sick, and you send them plagues. The blood of our blood is on your hands!”

There are gasps at his blasphemy, but a few people cautiously move toward him in morbid fascination. His eyes are wild, there’s spittle on his lips. Jay grabs my arm to tug me backward.

When the bullet enters the boy’s left temple, it’s as if he doesn’t know it’s there for a moment.

He’s about to yell, his mouth opens, his lips form a word he will never say. Then he topples backward, and I hear the terrible thud as his head hits the ground. The people closest to him quickly step back. No one screams, no one looks up to see the Guardian with the rifle on the roof across the street. Everyone wants to blend in.

Another Guardian comes toward the Palace. The Guardians work for Devo and protect us from Deviants. The stiff collar somehow makes his slightly rumpled, brown uniform shirt look crisp. The yellow double helix is on the front of his cap, and above his left shirt pocket.

“Move along,” he says. “It was just a Deviant.”

We all know that the plain fact of his yelling out crazy stuff in the street like that is proof of his deviance. It’s what happens sometimes, but it’s most prevalent during adolescence. The deviance manifests and people become dangerous, psychotic Deviants, intent on our destruction.

The Guardian rests his hand on the butt of the holstered pistol hanging from his belt and waits for the brown panel truck with the whooping siren we can hear approaching.

Jay swears at him under his breath and keeps hold of my arm. We hurry off with the rest of the crowd, wanting to move as far away as possible. I look back in time to see somebody dart in behind the Guardian, dip a hand in the boy’s blood, and leave an angry red handprint on the front of the Palace Theater. A red hand. I’ve heard the whispers but never thought it was true. As I stare at it, I bumble into Mrs. Yamoto, one of my neighbors. She walks fast, gripping her daughter’s hand tightly. Last year, I saw the brown truck with the double helix on the side parked in front of her house. The Guardians had come to take her son.

Wes.

That was his name.

Book Blast! Ghost Sanctuary by Becky J – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

ABOUT GHOST SANCTUARY

Title: Ghost Sanctuary

Genre: Non-fiction paranormal/occult

Author: Becky J

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Pages: 166

Language: English

ISBN – 978-1-49180-336-3

 

Ghost Sanctuary is a factual accounting of a family’s struggle with ghosts living in their home. The book explains in detail the happenings faced by the family and their reaction to the invasion of the spirit realm into their own. The book contains fascinating photo and video evidence of what the family has and continues to experience. The author identifies how her own belief in God and the afterlife has helped her to overcome and understand the trials and tribulations of her family’s ordeal.

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ABOUT BECKY J

Becky J. is an equestrian lover and spends her days in Western activities, teaching, riding, training, and breeding horses. For more information about her unusual nonfiction tale, please visit www.GhostSanctuary.com.

Pump Up Your Book and Becky J are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins December 11 and ends on December 25.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, December 26, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
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