A Glimpse Inside

page 1

PROLOGUE

 

1931 Damman. The East Arabian desert.

 

Ali Qadir bin Saud lurched to his feet, his eyes fixed on the upended copper object. Mist rose from it in a languid spiral that flavored the air with the odor of sandalwood and skin. The long exhalation that pressed through the spout was not as he imagined it would be. The sound was hushed, and held doubt and secrets. Ali Qadir’s glance flashed to the closed tent flap. Captain Rais stood sentry just outside and could be summoned with one yell. But Qadir waited. The mist rose further and set into the blur of a hulking figure, greater than the height of two camels, one atop the other.

"Allah, protect me," Ali Qadir called out. He stepped back and raised his hands in resistance, not ready to concede fear.

The image before him, gray and muscular, shimmered in opalescence like the underside of an oyster shell. Arms raised above its angular head in a stretch. The wide gash of a mouth traveled through a drama of emotions. A glint of teeth intimated pleasure tinged with malevolence. A final solemn expression beneath restless eyes was like the impatience of a lover once betrayed.

Bluish skin blushed yellow against the air. Black orbs showed no iris, no white globes, until a slow, purposeful blinking constricted the black to a center pupil and infused the eyes with the golden color of dunes after sunset. Dark coils of hair formed a tight wreath against its head, so black that it reminded Ali Qadir of the utter void of a starless sky. And like the silvery etchings of distant constellations, strange symbols and lines carved illuminated scars into the being’s forehead. At first, the marks appeared raised and angry, but gradually faded to an opaque tattoo that revealed itself in bits as the hair swirled and fell across its brow.

The apparition’s countenance twisted between a smile and a sneer. "Your God is my God."

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