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You can read the first 20% of this story for free; if you like it, you can read the rest for $.99 (payable by paypal or credit card.)

[ Read more about author Edward Carmien ]

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In this contemporary fantasy, learn what happens when a street missionary accosts a man who turns out to be more than she can imagine.... "Sons of Thunder" first appeared in the DAW Books anthology _Earth, Air, Fire, Water_, edited by Margaret Weis (ISBN 0886778573, Nov 1999).

Sons of Thunder

by Edward Carmien

Sons of Thunder

Sons of Thunder


                  "Let Jesus be your savior."

                  The line, crisp, clean, professionally delivered, struck like a lance. A citified wind-devil erupted on the quiet street, throwing hot dog wrappers and bits of dirty cellophane into a mad dance. The missionary blinked in the sudden gust, her skirt spiraling tight against her trim legs.

                  "Jehua Mashiah," I said with a flat and hollow voice, "killed my brother and many others, and nearly killed me." How easily my anger returned, boosting detritus round and round in a miniature tornado. I turned my back on her and walked into traffic. Horns blared, and the sound was like a certain horn--


                  --which blared from a middle distance, difficult to tell how far in the desert heat.

                  "They who once wandered in Kadesh," said my brother, "are stirring now in Nazareth."

                  "What stirs the Jews?"

                  "A man, a teacher they say."

                  "I am not fond of the man places," I said, whisking my brother down a dune and stirring sand as we went. The horn-blower deserved bedeviling for troubling our quiet afternoon in the sky. Blown sand could sting. "And I do not like taking the form of a man, even for an hour."

                  "A day, grant me a day," laughed my brother, and we topped a rise and rushed down it, to a boy with a shell horn out in the sun for no good reason.

                  After we left the boy blinking and sneezing, my brother cajoled me again. "Come. We'll play at being fishermen, stand in the crowd, smell the cooking food and listen to the teacher's speech. It is too long since we have played at being men."

                  I allowed myself to be convinced. And when the teacher pointed us out in the crowd? Said "Look, here are the Sons of Thunder come to join me in my journey?" What arrow wounded me then, that a mere man knew me for what I was?

                  "He picked us out of the crowd" I said--


                  --"That isn't what's written," the missionary stated.

                  I blinked, and found myself almost two thousand years from that time. Memory took me like that. I would discover myself in some random place, alone or in chance-met company. Darkness cloaked the windows, making them a blank wall. We sat in a coffee house, one of the new big ones with plastic made to look like intimate wood and not a furnishing out of place.

                  Had she pursued me across the street? How did she come to be here now? Time left me, time came back. I often found one or more following me, caught up in some eddy, walking, a bit dazed, in my wake.

                  "Why are you here?" I asked. My employees awaited my arrival at the studio. Today they would have to wait a bit longer for me to arrive. My manager, the thief, no doubt sweated the most. I meant to replace him, abruptly and finally.

                  She shifted, and I saw her for the first time as separate and individual from all the busy millions that hived in and about the concrete towers. Asian, tall, with black hair and a wide, friendly face. What was beneath her clothing would sell well.

                  "Because you were so angry," she said patiently, as if repeating herself. She probably was. "And..." her voice edged to silence.

                  I had that effect at times. Hypnotic was the word they would use. Sometimes they came after me because they could do nothing else, caught as blown flotsam in the sucking lee of a tornado. Eventually they came to rest, always some distance from where I'd picked them up.

                  "Will you finish the story? Please?"

                  I shrugged. "Jehua pointed to us in the crowd, named us Sons of Thunder. He knew us with a look, and that was enough to make us follow him, we who scarcely knew ourselves. He named us James and John, after fishermen he'd known in Galilee..." she gasped, and I slipped back into memory--




Copyright © by Edward Carmien . All rights reserved unless specified otherwise above.

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