Splatterpunk Award nominated author Jackson R. Thomas has leveled you with THE BEAST OF BRENTON WOODS and RISE…Now, he offers the third book in the White Wolf series, AZRAEL.
Wendi has survived werewolf attacks, prevailed in the face of tragedy, and raised her son far away from her horrific past. She’s learning how to trust again, and how to prepare for what comes next.
In the California seaside town of San Bardeen, a cult has waited decades for the arrival of the one beast that will deliver unto them the promise and the true power of the moonlight. Setting their sights on the boy, they believe they’ve found their salvation.
Heroes of the past clash with flesh and bone monsters of the here and now in a battle for the one called…Azrael.
Alien Agenda Publishing presents the next ferocious installment of Splatterpunk Award-nominated author, Jackson R. Thomas’ White Wolf series.
Read on for a PREVIEW of AZRAEL
Jackson R. Thomas
Alien Agenda Publishing October, 2021
AZRAEL © by Jackson R. Thomas 2021
For the wolf sisters and brothers out there howling through the night.
Smoke swept through the thicket of trees hammering her lungs and threatening much worse. The winds here were no joke. Half of the damn counties near San Bernardino were on fire. California was ablaze for the third straight year and the president had told the state they could eat shit. Not in so many words, but pretty fucking much.
Wendi knew danger. She knew hardships and loss and pain and suffering. She no longer feared for herself. She had Azrael and he was her everything.
Out here in the chaos, he was working his way through them all like a chainsaw. Cutting those that stood tall and seemed forever immovable like they were nothing. It was the conflagration that frightened her. As savage and formidable as her son might be, everyone could be incinerated.
Even a werewolf.
The gut-wrenching scream came from deeper in the smoke. A woman.
Wendi closed her eyes and remembered.
Thought of the fear.
Wendi ran forward, like a hero with a death wish. Her baby boy would not perish. Not while she still walked this Earth.
Whoever the woman was lost amongst the flames, she cried out until she could no longer.
And there he stood before her.
White fur drenched in blood and rain reveling in his own private heaven.
“Azrael,” she shouted. “We need to move. Now!”
Grunting, low guttural noises, her baby boy in his beast mode, gazed upon her with yellow eyes and bolted.
She was about to follow when she watched his fur catch fire…
Sitting bolt upright in her bed, Wendi nearly hyperventilated as the dream released her.
“Mama?” Azrael said standing in her doorway. “Are you okay?”
She wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand.
“Yes, baby boy, I’m okay. Just a bad dream.”
She’d been suffering from these nightmares for months. She knew the reason. Her son was not like everyone else. And sooner rather than later, he would discover this. His innocence would be shattered. But would his heart? She hoped not. She vowed to keep him safe, not only from the people he might one day threaten, but also from himself.
“Yeah, I should know better than to watch scary movies, before bed, huh?”
“Do you want some water?” he asked.
Her sweet, sweet boy. Thoughtful, caring… it wasn’t fair.
“That’d be nice, baby boy.
He took off running.
Wendi slid her feet from beneath the damp sheets and to the carpet.
Before Areal returned, she peeled off the sweat-drenched t-shirt and grabbed a fresh green tank top from her bureau.
Azrael reappeared holding out a Snoopy mug of water. “Can we go to the beach today?”
She accepted the ceramic mug and swallowed down its thirst quenching promise. “I can’t think of anything better to do on a Saturday. Let mama take a quick shower. We’ll stop at Krispy Kreme on the way. How’s that sound?”
He hopped up and down as only a boy charged up on too much sugar or at the promise of too much sugar will do.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Woo hoo!” He began running in tiny circles and pumping his fist.
“Okay, okay,” she said walking over to him and taking his head in her hands. Looking into his hazel eyes, she always s got lost at the golden specs within his irises’’ “I still need that shower. Can you go watch cartoons for a bit?”
“Ah-huh, ah-huh,” he said, his eyes smiling the way only his eyes could.
She ruffled is hair, and said, “Go on. I’ll make it quick.”
Bolting out the door, he yelled back, “You’ve got five minutes.”
“Thanks, buddy,” she said, though he was most certainly out of range.
Beneath the steaming water, Wendi let the heat sooth her aches and worries. They’d been here in San Bardeen for two years, more than three thousand miles from Coopers Mills and the horrors of her past. She only wished she could relax, even if just for a week or two. The nightmares never allowed her to forget. She could never even pretend that her Azrael’s lives were normal. She’d buried the memories of his creation deep down where it was no longer a blip on her screen. That part had been surprisingly easy. She had her boy to focus on. In dreams, though… that’s where the evil lurked unbound.
She shut the water off, ran her hand through her hair and squeezed the excess from her long hair. Stepping out, she wiped the fog from the mirror and tried to smile. She’d never taken another lover and often wondered, as she was now, if there could ever be a somebody, a man, in her life.
There’d been a dream of a man, some handsome guy from a TV show she couldn’t
remember… they’d been on the sofa, loud music in the background, kissing…and Azrael or some grown up monstrous version of him smashed through the window unleashing a blood curdling howl…
In the mirror, her lips drooped at the corners.
She sighed and went about getting dressed.
“Don’t go out too far. The waves are getting pretty big.”
“I won’t,” he said. Azrael stopped at the water’s edge as it reached as far as it could before receding back to the Pacific. “Mom?”
“Will you come in with me, just for a little bit?”
“I will, just let me finish my drink and I’ll be right in.”
“Oaky.” He smiled and then bolted after the waves.
She watched him dive headfirst into one the same size as him. She gasped, sitting up prepared to dash after him. She was holding her breath when he popped up and hooted out a loud awoooo!
“Azrael,” she said.
He looked over to her.
“Come back in a little.”
“Mom,” he whined.
“Look out,” she yelled.
Another wave swept over him, taking him under again. She was on her feet as he popped up and howled again as he waded back toward her.
“Are you trying to kill me?” she asked.
“We come here all the time. I know how to swim, mom.”
“Yeah, well, the ocean is powerful. It can take you quicker than you think.”
His chin dropped as kicked the sand.
“Sorry,” he said. “I’ll be more careful.”
“Thank you, baby boy.”
“Mom,” he whispered, looking at her sideways. “Don’t call me that.”
He was growing up too fast.
“Oh, right, you don’t scare the crap out of me by going in over your head,” she leaned to his ear and lowered her voice. “And I won’t embarrass you in public. Deal?”
As he darted for the water, going in almost too deep again, she noticed a man standing down the shore gazing in their direction. He was dressed funny for being at the beach on a day with temps up in the low-90s. Long brown pants, black boots, and a tan long sleeve shirt. His flop of white hair looked like it was dying; wispy strands flopped in the gentle breeze coming off the sea. His leathery face said he’d been under the sun much of his life.
His gaze left hers and fell upon Azrael. A plummeting feeling sunk to the bottom of her stomach.
Hurrying into the water, she placed herself between the strange man and her son.
“What is it, mom?”
When she turned back the man was gone.
Wendi scanned the beach for him and thought she might be losing her mind until she caught a glimpse of his wispy white hair dancing with the wind. He was already beyond the last of the beach goers and heading toward the restrooms.
“Mom? Are you okay?”
“Ye,” she lied.
That night after tucking Azrael in and reading him a few chapters of Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire, Wendi wound down with a glass of Merlot and a couple of melatonin. Lying on the sofa, a box fan doing its best to lessen the heat, she lay sweating and half watching an episode of Criminal Minds.
As her eyes grew heavy, the sleep supplement and the wine working their magic, she prayed that she wouldn’t see that man in her dreams. She never wanted to see him again.
San Bardeen, California was a small beach town. It had been port of interest in the early days of America’s pursuit to tame the West. It was not without its tragedies. Upon its failure of taking over Oregon and the fishing markets up North, Captain Oswald Townsend, a former employee from the Freeman Arks Fishing Company, landed in San Bardeen with his wife Tilda and their children Micha and Ruth Ann. The Natives, a tribe of Chumash, welcomed them, but Townsend never grew comfortable around them after what happened to the Trevor up in Oregon. He never would trust a savage again. Shortly after finishing his family’s home and getting his own business up and running sending word to Jefferson of the new site, Townsend was found drowned washed upon the rocky shore of Kessel Bay. The Americans that began to show up and help build the town and the new port grew angry with Tilda Townsend. Though her husband had never trusted the Natives, she had, and eventually fell in love and married Tahiel a strong hunter from the local Chumash tribe. When the newly arrived men discovered this, it was surmised that Tilda and the Native had fallen in love prior to Oswald Townsend’s death and therefor certainly plotted his murder
Tilda and her children were forced from their home as the men burned it to the ground and forced to live among Tahiel’s family in their dome shaped hut of willow branches. Still, this wasn’t good enough for the self-righteous Americans; they soon managed to kidnap the new husband and wife in the night and hanged them not far from burnt husk that once was the Townsend home.
Over the next decade the tribe and the newcomers fought, until eventually a truce was called. The Americans once again, betrayed the Chumash and forced them from the area altogether.
Samuel Bardeen had been the town’s first mayor. He was discovered dead on the one year anniversary of the exile of the Chumash people. Bardeen was seen the night before foaming at the mouth, acting out violently and nearly killing his own wife in his fit of rage. When his wife found him the next morning he was dead and naked in on the back lawn of their home. The official word was he’d died from rabies. He’d been attacked while out hunting and grew sick soon after returning home.
For one group now residing on the outskirts of San Bardeen, the tale of Samuel Bardeen is not so cut and dry. For Everett Cotton, there’s a much more supernatural explanation behind Bardeen’s death. For years, the disease lie persisted, passed along as gospel. It was Everett’s grandfather who told him the truth and invited him into the coven.
“I want to thank you for being here tonight” Everett said from the pulpit. “I truly do. I mean that. Looking out at all your beautiful faces, I know our strength and our spirits, the love and faith in our hearts continues to grow.” He gripped the side of the wooden podium and grinned. He so cherished these moments among them. “I know how hard the outsiders try to take away your sight.”
The crowd, seated in the series of pews nodded and mmm-hmmed.
“They don’t see. They don’t believe.”
More murmurs of agreement and nodding.
“But we know better, don’t we?”
Everett took in a deep breath and exhaled in dramatic fashion, sweeping his arms out to his sides. “You and I, all of those among us today, we breathe the truth. We live in its knowledge, we don’t hide from it. We are not afraid of it.” His gazed landed upon a pretty redhead in the front row. “Peggy.”
“Yes?” she said, her cheeks reddening.
“Would you come on up here for a minute?”
She stood, quickly touching her hair and smoothing out any bits that might have come undone.
Once she was standing next to Everett, he asked, “How long have you been with us?”
“Oh, gosh, since my mother started bringing me. I was ten then.”
“And how old are you now?”
“And you believe the truth with all your heart, don’t you?”
“And, Peggy, what is that truth?”
Her gaze went dead serious, all traces of nerves gone in a flash. “That the full moon delivers the beast. And one day, we will all join him.”
“Yes, I couldn’t have said it better myself.” He motioned to the seat she’d occupied. “Thank you, Peggy. You may sit back down.”
As soon as she took her seat next to her mother, Everett continued. “The full moon…delivers the beast. Mmm, I like that. In all my years here in San Bardeen, do you know how many times we have seen the beast?”
The room was silent.
“Not since our town’s namesake has there been tangible proof of the beast’s existence…yet, we still believe.”
Uh-huh, mm, hmm, the crowd murmured.
“Over the years, many have tried to divide us. Many have tried to convince us to give it up. Some of us have even wilted and let their seeds of doubt ruin the truth. It has happened, as I’m sure it will again.” His eyes locked ever so briefly with Gunner Ferrero’s. Only those watching closely would have noticed, and those listening would understand. Everett turned and stared upon the massive painting adorning the wall behind him. In it a white haired beast, hulking and powerful, mighty and unbound by society stood over a whimpering man dressed in plain black clothes and clutching a Bible.
“It’s funny, isn’t it? They are allowed to believe a man, whom most of them probably envision as a white man, was the son of God and traded his life so that they could go to Heaven.”
He turned to his congregation. “They believe…what they have never seen. They believe…and they are controlled. They are contained. They are good. Good people. Good people who cheat and lie and steal from one another. Good people that hold their women under thumb. That cling to outdated ideologies and vaguely disguised discrimination of many of their God’s own people. Good people. But you see, it’s not their fault. How do I mean that? Let me tell you. When the foundation you’ve built your house upon is full of cracks and crumbling more and more with every year, with every scientific discovery, you can’t help but deny what you can see and feel is happening. To admit or even give levity to the mere thought that your good book and it’s good word, and your good people might be wrong….well, that would just ruin your security, and rip up you golden ticket to the party train that’s supposed to take you to the glory of His kingdom. Wouldn’t it?”
Everett glanced over Gunner Ferrero again–the man was fidgeting in his seat. When their eyes met, in that instant, Gunner dropped his chin.
“Every month, the moon reveals itself above us. We see it. But it’s more than that, isn’t it. We don’t just see it. We feel it. Just as sure as the hearts beating in our chests.” Everett made a fist and began to pound his chest, mimicking his own heartbeat.
“Yes. Yes, I feel that. Do you feel that? Yes?”
“Yes,” the room echoed.
“Do it with me.”
The congregation began thumping their chests along in unison.
Everett stopped, and said, “Keep it going. Feel the primal power of the moonlight.”
As they did, he stepped from behind his podium and slowly made his way to the right, meeting each of them in the eyes as he passed by.
“This is good. This is real. You feel that? Yes?”
He nodded and continued around the room.
“That’s the true spirit. That’s the real power that walks this Earth. Let me hear you. Let me hear your spirit.”
They began to howl. Every last one of them, even the young ones.
Nearly all of them. Everett’s eyes found one mouth merely moving along with the others.
Amongst the howls filling the room, a chorus of bestial promise, Everett snatched Gunner by the throat. The howls and thumping carried on as he pulled the man from his pew.
Everett was old but still held the strength of his younger self. Gunner stumbled and hit the ground at Everett’s feet. Weeping and begging for mercy……
Secure your copy of AZRAEL by Jackson R. Thomas HERE
Out October 1st, 2021 from Alien Agenda Publishing