I’m hard at work on A Pattern of Shadows, the third and final book in the Small Things trilogy, and so I wanted to give you something to whet your appetite. The following is the working prologue for the book, a prologue that takes place approximately 2000 years ago.

So where’s Shawn and Jenny? Where’s Fred Ruskin and his daughter Katy? And what about Ben? They’re in there, I promise, just not in the prologue.

Please excuse any and all typos and errors, as the whole book is most definitely still a work in progress.


Prologue From A Pattern of Shadows

2000 years ago    

The Norse demigod Thor floated among the clouds, miles above the surface of the planet. Others of his kind grouped around him, including the Egyptian gods Anubis and Osiris, the Greek deities Aphrodite, Cronos, and Nike, and the Hindu gods Vishnu and Brahma.  Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec sun god of war, was also there, along with Venus, the Roman goddess of love, Eshu, the African trickster god, and thousands of others, representing every major and minor religion on Earth.

“I don’t see why this is even necessary,” said Vishnu, stroking his long, white beard with his fourth hand, in a language they all under-stood.

“It might not be, for you,” said Giltine, the Baltic goddess of death, “but my believers are dying out. I, for one, want to hear what Odin has to say.”

Laima, the goddess of fortune and pregnancy, echoed her sister’s sentiment.

Odin, the all-knowing father of the Norse deities, sat astride Sleipnir, his eight-legged horse, in the middle of this gathering of gods. He had called them all here because he knew that change was in the air, and, if they ignored it, their power and influence would suffer.

“Hear me, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, brethren one and all,” he said, straightening the huge wide-brimmed hat he wore, “I have seen the future, and it is not ours. The Jewish superstitions have taken a foothold, and we must adapt if we are to survive. Jesus of Nazarene, a human prophet of the Israelites, is leading this change, and we must follow.”

“I’m tired of following the humans,” said Ishtar, the Mesopotamian sky goddess of sex and war, “how much longer will we allow them to run rampant over this world before we reclaim what is rightfully ours?”

Izanagi, the Japanese god of creation, nodded in agreement. “Why must we bend ourselves to appease them?”

“It is what we have always done,” Danu, the Celtic mother goddess, interjected. “Their belief feeds us, gives us energy, and makes us stronger. We must go where that energy leads us. We have done it be-fore, and, I imagine, will do it again.”

Yen-Lo-Wang, the Chinese deity of death, raised a huge bronze sword in the air. “No more changes. I don’t like to remember.”

Odin sighed. “None of us do, Yen-Lo-Wang, but this will be the final change.”

A murmur went through the crowd.

“At last,” shouted Thor, gesturing with his mighty hammer Mjölnir as he spoke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. “But how can this be, all-father?”

“Can it really be true?” asked Tinia, the king of the Etruscan pantheon.

“I don’t want to change,” complained Yen-Lo-Wang again.

Some agreed with the Japanese god, while others shouted him down.

“Enough!” bellowed Odin, and silence filled the skies.

“Those who want to retain their identities will not be forced to change,” he said, “but if you lose too many believers, you will also lose strength and then be unable to change. You know this, for it is as it has always been. We have lost other kin.”

“You said this would be the final change,” prodded Zeus, the leader of the Greek gods, who had up until now had remained quiet.

“Men move on, form new beliefs. We change with them,” added Hades, the Greek god of the underworld and Zeus’ brother. “How can this be the last iteration?”

More murmurs arose from the crowd, and Odin held up a hand to silence them.

“It’s simple,” he said. “When we first came here, before humanity rose, we learned of certain things that had been set in motion, certain objects of power hidden around the globe that preceded even us. Do you remember?”

Mama-Quilla, the Incan moon goddess, tilted her head in thought before finally nodding. “So long ago, but I remember.”

“I also remember,” said Perchta, the Germanic goddess of fertility. “Though even yesterday I did not.”

“I remember as well,” admitted Yen-Lo-Wang, surprise in his eyes. “Though not until you spoke of it.”

“But we can’t use those talismans,” added Manjusri, the Tibetan god of wisdom. “Can we?”

“No, we cannot,” said Odin, “But the humans can, and, through them, we will make use of the objects. It will take many millennia of manipulation, an eternity to them, but just a blink of an eye to us.”

“And when will we set this in motion?” asked Thor, with a gleam in his eye.

“Soon, my son. Patience is the key. Ahpuc,” he said, turning to face the Mayan god of hell, “you will lead one of your priests to the first talisman, which I have already recovered and changed into the tooth of a jaguar. Close your eyes and you will see the location.”

Ahpuc closed his eyes. “It is beneath a Monkey Puzzle tree, close to the priest’s home.”

“Exactly. Lead the priest to that spot, and everything will begin. In a mere four millennia, give or take, we will have the ability to eradicate the humans from this planet and the power of their beliefs will be fully ours. We will no longer need them.”

“And then what?” asked Perchta.

More murmurs, this time silenced by a wave of Odin’s hand.

“We will start over,” Odin said, “and, this time, we’ll get it right.”



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From Joe's writing

Reverend David Allan Dowd (or “Dad”, as many in his brethren liked to call him) sat in a tent on the outskirts of Rector, Arkansas, getting ready to give his sermon, when he felt the Evil. It was as if a hundred – no, a thousand, maybe more – tortured souls suddenly called out, and only he could hear their cries. Only he could witness their screams. He began to tremble, and tears ran freely down his cheeks. Satan had just stepped foot on Earth, and God’s chosen children must rise up against them or forever be doomed to the fiery depths of hell.

— Threads, Chapter 13