The Glooming (Wrath of the Old Gods Book 1)

The Glooming

 

Wrath of the Old Gods Book I

 

 

 

By John Triptych

 

Copyright© 2015 by John Triptych

All rights reserved.

 

ISBN (soft cover) 978-621-95332-1-8

 

J Triptych Publishing

 

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and events either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and/or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Cover art by Deranged Doctor Design (
http://www.derangeddoctordesign.com
)

 
For my grandmother. Thanks for always being there for me.

Table of Contents
Author’s note:

Dear reader, I would like to thank you for purchasing this book. As a self-published author, I incur all the costs of producing this novel so your feedback means a lot to me. If you wouldn’t mind, could you please take a few minutes and post a review of this online and let others know what you think of it?

 

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For the Gods we know not of, who give us our daily breath,

We know they are cruel as love or life, and lovely as death.

O Gods dethroned and deceased, cast forth, wiped out in a day

From your wrath is the world released, redeemed from your chains, men say.

New Gods are crowned in the city; their flowers have broken your rods;

They are merciful, clothed with pity, the young compassionate Gods.

But for me their new device is barren, the days are bare;

Things long past over suffice, and men forgotten that were.

Time and the Gods are at strife; ye dwell in the midst thereof,

Draining a little life from the barren breasts of love.

 

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath;

We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.

 

All ye as a wind shall go by, as a fire shall ye pass and be past;

Ye are Gods, and behold, ye shall die, and the waves be upon you at last.

In the darkness of time, in the deeps of the years, in the changes of things,

Ye shall sleep as a slain man sleeps, and the world shall forget you for kings.

Though the feet of thine high priests tread where thy lords and our forefathers trod,

Though these that were Gods are dead, and thou being dead art a God,

Though before thee the throned Cytherean be fallen, and hidden her head,

Yet thy kingdom shall pass, Galilean, thy dead shall go down to thee dead.

 

-Algernon Charles Swinburne, "
Hymn to Proserpine
"

1.Intruders in the Dust

Nineveh Governorate

 

When he finally opened his eyes and sat up, Gyle found himself staring at a glaring, afternoon sun hung in a blood red sky. After stretching his back, Gyle’s bare feet touched the cold tile floor of the bedroom and he stood up, his massive six-foot four-inch frame still sore from last night’s excursions. Gyle kept looking down at the geometric patterns on the floor as he walked gingerly to the bathroom, his sore ankles protesting. He kept thinking there was maybe some sort of hidden message in the way the different colored lines in the tiles bent and curved in and out of themselves. Since Muslim art forbade idolatry, their architects instead focused their skills on intricate geometric patterns of lines, circles, squares and stars, a form of mathematics he could barely understand, but found fascinating.

As the sink started filling up with tepid water, Gyle stared at himself in the mirror. He had just turned forty-two, and the bags around his tired blue eyes were getting deeper and more wrinkly every time he looked at them. He figured it was time to call it quits when his contract ended in a few months. His body was starting to break down and he couldn't stand it anymore. Dipping the disposable razor in the water, Gyle started shaving the top of his head, not too fine but just enough to prevent the itchiness on his scalp every time he needed to wear those bulky ballistic helmets with their night vision goggles. He had a two-inch long, reddish-brown beard that was starting to turn grey, another reason to retire from all this.

Glancing at the side of the bathroom mirror, he noticed there was a half-inch small picture of a young Iraqi girl pasted near the bottom of the frame. When he had come into the house last night, he hadn’t noticed it, but now it was glaringly obvious. It was held in place by a piece of Scotch tape at the back and he peeled the picture out and looked at it closely. The girl in the portrait was well-dressed, it looked like she was posing for some sort of religious ceremony, probably the daughter of the previous owner of this house, a former general in the Iraqi Army, who was now probably dead somewhere out there.

Gyle sighed as he put the picture back in place. Looking at it reminded him of Marie and his twin daughters back home. When he told her he got an offer from the CIA to go back into Iraq four years ago, she just put her head down and cried. She had thought that his last deployment was the end of it and he would be living back in Dallas to be with her and the kids. But the thrill of being back in the front lines, even now as a CIA advisor, was just too enticing. Gyle just couldn’t picture himself working in a nine-to-five job back in Texas, he still had an itch to scratch. But now, with his aches and pains, he figured it was time. After this operation he would finally call it quits.

After putting his gear on, Gyle hefted the M4 carbine from the side of his bed and slung it over his shoulder before going downstairs for breakfast in the afternoon. His full name was Patrick Gyle, but everyone who was familiar with him just called him G, his nickname since his Marine BRC training days. As he walked down the stairs, he noticed his partner Matt was already eating from an MRE packet on the dusty kitchen counter.

Gyle unslung his weapon and placed it on the counter, right beside the Falcon III tactical radio that was still squawking. “What’s the sitrep?”

Matt Walker was a younger guy in his late twenties, thick black hair and beard. He had been recruited by the CIA right out of college because of his language skills. Gyle didn’t really get along with Matt because he never served in the military. He barely knew the kid, they had been assigned to each other just a few days ago. “Same old, same old, they want us to recon ahead to Mosul since there’s been no resistance,” Matt said.

Gyle frowned as he tore open a packet containing maple sausage from the MRE box on the counter and started eating. Mosul was at the heart of the IS insurgency. The Islamic State, used to be nothing more than a fringe terror group that believed in a radical vision of Islam. It was the incompetence and corruption of the Iraqi government combined with American carelessness and naivety that had allowed it to grow into an international movement. The Sunni extremists had joined up with former Iraqi soldiers and cronies of the late dictator Saddam Hussein. Within a span of a few months, they were able to capture huge swaths of the Iraqi countryside as well as parts of Syrian territory because of the civil war occurring over there.

However, there seemed to be a new development within the past two days as a raging sandstorm from an unknown source struck Mosul and the surrounding areas. When Iraqi army troops at the front lines began to report surrendering IS units that were fleeing to the government controlled south, both the Iraqis, the Kurdish Peshmerga in the north, and the US military decided to launch an offensive to ascertain what was happening and to take advantage of the recent turn of events. Only two days into the operation and Gyle’s advance team, which was part of the US 4
th
Infantry Division, had already gone past Al-Shirqat and were now less than forty miles from the outskirts of Mosul. Just last night, the Iraqi army had reported they had already recaptured Hawija to the east without a fight.

Gyle opened a plastic bottle and started sipping the water in it. “Okay, let’s saddle up then, you good to go?”

“Affirmative,” Matt said as he began to pack things up.

Gyle walked out through the front door. There were several sand-colored Humvees and MRAP armored vehicles parked along the side of the dusty street. A few American soldiers were standing around nearby. Bravo Company had hunkered down in this little town on the outskirts of the main highway to Mosul just a few hours ago. The low visibility from the sandstorm made it too dangerous for them to proceed. Even though Gyle could have overridden that order from Captain Ron Kelly, the company commander, he chose not to since he knew everyone needed a break from the almost relentless forty-eight hour push north. He found Kelly and Lieutenant Ed Zwelinski in the adjoining house, they were with a couple of sergeants and were poring over a map spread out on top of a dining room table.

“Any new developments, Captain?” Gyle said as he walked into the room and stood in front of them.

Captain Kelly was clearly exhausted, but he was smiling. “Peshmerga units from the north of Mosul report unmanned IS checkpoints and no enemy patrols whatsoever. We’re coordinating with them and will do a combined assault from two sides into the city sometime this evening. If all goes well, IS in Iraq could cease to exist by tonight.”

Gyle scratched his beard. Something seemed off. IS were normally fanatical fighters, but within the last two days, none of the enemy was putting up a fight. The few prisoners they took had been in hysterics as they were led away to the rear, nothing coherent came from their interrogations. “Any intel from Mosul at all?”

Kelly shook his head. “Still nothing. It’s almost as if every Daesh combatant in the whole region just decided to turn tail and give up. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“What about from the air?” Gyle said.

“No intel either,” Lieutenant Zwelinski said. “The sandstorm means we can’t bring drones or gunships in for a closer look. We have close air support, but we’re gonna need to paint the targets with laser rangefinders because visibility in that sandstorm is close to zero.”

“It’s funny, I’ve never heard of a sandstorm lasting this many days over a city,” Gyle said.

“Whatever it is, I’m just thankful it’s making the enemy surrender. The way IS troops have been acting, it’s almost like a sign from God. It’s as if he somehow told them they’re following the wrong religion,” Kelly said.

Gyle looked at him. “Are you religious, Captain?”

“Evangelical and proud of it,” Kelly said. “This is surely an act of the one true Christian God, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Gyle smiled. “Whatever it is, I’m thankful it’s nearly over. What time do we begin?”

“At twenty-one hundred hours, G,” Kelly said. That made it less than two hours away. “Let’s see how long this miracle can last.”

Gyle walked out of the house and back into the street. He could see Matt on the other side of the road loading his gear into the Humvee as he stared out into the highway to the north. From the corner of his eye, he could see the sun had begun to set and there were wisps of dust devils out ahead of them. A brownish wall of floating sand could be seen miles away, almost like a mythical mountain range made up of swirling dust and dirt, just beckoning at them. He had read some bedtime stories to the girls when he went on leave last year, and this reminded him of one story in which a young prince would make his way to a dark castle to find a princess being guarded by an evil witch. It scared the girls silly when he read it to them one night—they begged to sleep with him and Marie in the master bedroom. Gyle had that sort of feeling his kids had now, even though he was never scared by the enemy combatants, he felt that there was something else out there, something powerful and terrifying. But as to what it was, he just couldn’t figure out.

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