Greetings Tennis Shoes fans!
For Halloween I thought I'd give readers a taste of a small section of a chapter from the latest Tennis Shoes novel, Thorns of Glory. Yup, this is a scene from the battle at Cumorah. Be reminded that this is a rough draft. I'll make many changes myself before the publisher even gets their mits on it. It's also a bit violent. I warned my readers in the last chapter note of Book 11: Sorcerers and Seers that my efforts to describe this event realistically would demand parental guidance. Just know that every time I sit down to write I ask and re-ask myself where to draw the line and when too much is too much. My judgment is not always perfect, but I still think it's important to constantly and prayerfully ask. Feedback is also appreciated!
I wanted to remind fans who wish to purchase any books or audios from me directly that I'll include with every order a free copy of the book or DVD of Passage to Zarahemla, the book A Return to Christmas, or the book Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul--all personally signed to whomever the buyer requests. I'll strive to beat any competitors. Call me at 801-870-2070. If I don't answer, send a text. I'll call back. Visa or MC happily accepted.
Last point: We are looking VERY forward to launching our new podcast, foreverLDS.com. This will be both a podcast AND a blogsite. We hope it will quickly become the new "hub" of all things Tennis Shoes and Heimerdinger. Look to late November/early December.
Stay close to the Lord,
This Tennis Shoes preview is told from the point of view of Brock McConnell (SaKerra McConnell's 14-year-old brother):
I cried his name again, louder. "Gigiddonihah! Commander Gid! Commander Gid!"
Then I felt like an idiot. Gid was fighting three men at once. My shouts could've distracted him; gotten him killed. Instead of yammering like a banshee, I reached behind my shoulder and grabbed my sword. I armed myself without lowering the banner an inch; I felt weirdly proud of that. Nephites were still flocking to me—flocking to the battle standard—scrambling over dead bodies to take on all comers who threatened me or my wooden sculpture of a Scorpion on a pole.
Gid drove the enemy backwards. He was the "point" of the Nephite spear, so to speak; he personally led the effort to halt the Lamanite advance. I glanced at my black blade. I was probably the biggest dufus on this entire hill for arming myself with a weapon I didn't know how to use. I didn't think about that. As I ponder it now, I fell into a trance of sorts. It was as if I'd been doused with courage, like sizzling, liquid metal. Or mettle. I felt a surge of bravery I never knew was inside me.
Instead of screaming at Gid, I followed him. I charged behind him as he cut down all takers who stood in his way. More Scorpion soldiers stood side-by-side with him, many locking shields together in a kind of wall, defending their commander and each other. It wasn't so easy keeping up. Other Scorpions fought to keep pace with Gid, just like me. They followed the banner; followed their general. I felt important. Essential. What a thing! Men were using me as their guide. I was unbreakable. Nothing could hurt me. Nothing could slow me down.
I was right behind Gid; I could have clipped him in the helmet with top of my pole. He still hadn't seen me, and I wasn't about to break his concentration. He was like this mechanized Ninja. Something beautiful struck me about his motions. Something terrifying. It was martial arts, dancing, and death-by-precision. No movement was wasted. Gid chopped an enemy's sword in half—that is, he broke the blade and severed the man's right arm in a brutal swipe. His victim howled raggedly, but he wasn't dead. He just fell back into the sea of faces.
Gid maneuvered his axe into a backhanded swing, slicing a gaping wound in a Lamanite's back, near the base of his spine. Again, the man wasn't dead. Gid didn't care if an opponent lived or died. He seemed to prefer incapacitation. Not out of mercy, just 'cause it was quicker. He chose the swiftest way to make sure that challengers never fought again. The man Gid had slashed in the back knelt before me. He looked up, on the verge, I think, of collapsing sideways so fate could handle the rest. Instead, I decided his fate. I stabbed the point of my obsidian sword in his chest. I don't know why. I just lunged. No forethought. The tip penetrated his flesh below the collarbone. Most Lamanites wore no armor or padding. Just a colorful tunic—orange and blue and white. Soon the cloth got red as it absorbed blood from the wound I'd given him.
Something snapped in me. Not like a snap of fingers; more like the pop of a hundred panes of glass, echoing from every room, above, below, and around. Sound and sight rushed in all at once, like wind and glass and whipping into me, crashing, echoing.
The man fell over. He was dead. His eyes sat open. The pupils lifeless.
I'd killed him. Me! Brock McConnell! I'd ended the life of a breathing, thinking human being—a guy with twenty-five years of memories. Happy memories, evil memories, all memories. It's not like I'd done killed him alone. Gid's injury was probably fatal. My stab had served no real purpose. It was unnecessary. And yet . . . I'd done it. I'd ended a man's life. The thought hammered behind my eyes. I'd done him a favor, right? He'd have surely bled to death, writhed in the sweltering heat. He might've suffered for hours, maybe days. I'd ended his misery. So why did the guilt coil inside me? Why did it feel like a fist in my stomach, squeezing my guts from the inside?
My last meal retched out of me, covering the dead man's tunic. I turned away and barfed again. I slipped and landed on another body—a Nephite this time. The body jerked and twitched. I'd landed on his chest; pushing his last breathe from his lungs. The twitching stopped. It felt as if I'd killed a second man—a comrade-in-arms! No. It wasn't me. I had nothing to do with it. But the timing . . . I felt revolted. I lurched away from the dead man's chest and slipped again. Why couldn't I keep my footing? I glanced around. The ground was covered with gore. Littered with . . . with . . . It was all over my hands. My weapon. The Scorpion banner was stained too.
The air was sick and sour—rotten milk. Rotten something. I blanked out. At least that's the best way I can describe it. There was no particular reason for me to go unconscious. I just don't remember the next few minutes. The sky, the fires, the blood, the bodies—every color smeared like a chalk drawing with water streaming over it. I turned my face into the rising sun, letting the brightness burn holes into my eyes.
The sting must've become too painful. I must've finally pinched 'em shut, but I don't recall. My next real thought was someone dragging at my hands—at my banner pole. Someone was trying to steal it! Steal my Scorpion standard! Something about this snapped me to alertness.
It was a Lamanite. No, not a Lamanite. A Lightning Warrior. One of those elite soldiers from Teotihuacan. He was fully armored. Small, shriveled skulls hung on his shoulders. The heads had either been shrunk or . . . I didn't wanna think about another explanation, like the age of the victims. Tattoos swirled and writhed across every part of his flesh—even his knuckles, stamped with crabs and snakes and stalks of corn, like pictures from an astrology chart. The whites of his eyes stood out against his tattooed face. They look like moons. His pupils looked like blots of black ink. He wore no expression, as if he had no soul. Yet I saw determination. He wanted my banner. He wanted that Scorpion sculpture as much as he'd ever wanted anything in his life. He wanted it as a token of victory.
When I resisted and didn't release the pole, he drew back his lips. I couldn't tell if it was in anger or humor, but his teeth flashed brighter than his eyes. His sword was enormous. The blade was as white as his teeth except for a slick of red along the edge. It was like an ice sword from a fantasy painting—probably a book cover I'd seen once. I couldn't even say what kinda stone it was. Marble? Flint? It was flecked with tiny spots, like vanilla bean ice cream.
He hefted it back. My breath sorta stuck in my lungs, half in and half out. I saw what was coming. I saw it all in my mind's-eye. I knew the exact level and speed of that oncoming strike. I saw my own death. That vanilla-specked blade was gonna whip into my neck, chop through my adam's apple. Then he'd yank it back toward himself, slicing off my head as cleanly as Uncle Drew slaying a chicken for Sunday dinner. I saw it all happen before it happened--before the blow could even arrive. I also imagined how my head would hit the ground and roll in the gore, and my eyes would look back at my own headless torso as the Lightning Warrior pried my dead fingers from the pole with the Scorpion banner. Then he'd leave me there, alone and forgotten among hundreds of others dead and dying bodies on that bloody battlefield. My eyesight would fade to black, the circle getting smaller and smaller, like in an old movie.
But that's not what happened. Something else happened.
@ Copyright, 2015, Chris Heimerdinger