Trail of the Harbinger

Another excerpt from Harbinger, this particular bit an idea I had for the creature that served as the Big Bad for the story, but because it’s something that would have taken place in the third act, it didn’t really fit anywhere because it would have completely ruined the pace we had going.
But I liked the idea so I wrote it anyway. Kind of a deleted scene, if you will. I also used this in another writing challenge on Forumopolis, the theme being “Danger: Open Info-Dump,” being an exploration of the ways storytellers can use exposition in creative ways…

Bill found Chilton in the back room that served as a library, nose deep in large, leather-bound volumes. He walked up to the table until his shadow fell across the page Chilton was reading.

He didn’t look up. “Yes?”

Bill hooked his thumb back to the door behind him. “Lynda said to come unearth you so we can pack. The plane’ll be waiting for us by five.”

“Mexico isn’t going anywhere,” Chilton said.

“Yeah, but we’re trying to get there ahead of this thing, remember? What’s so riveting, anyway?”

“I think I’ve figured out the reason it’s here,” Chilton said, pointing to an image of a round Mayan calendar stone.

“Because the line that kept it bound was broken…”

“Letting it loose, I know,” Chilton said. “That’s why we’re chasing it, but why is it here in the first place? The fact it was imprisoned and kept at bay means the age it was sent to usher in was supposed to happen long before now.” He turned back to the book. “So I’ve been trying to find when the last cataclysmic event was in Mayan history. Their calendars are cyclical, resetting every several hundred years, and the current Mayan age is ending here in 2012.”

“Is that what all the end-of-the-world nutjobs are going on about?” Bill asked, scratching his head. “I just thought they were mad at Roland Emmerich.”

“They’re morons,” Chilton said. “The Mayan calendar is just resetting. Like us, moving from one century to the next. But in Mayan mythology, there are usually major events that coincide with these resets, like natural disasters, wars, that kind of thing. Well what if this creature was supposed to unleash hell at the end of one of the previous ages?”

“Except it didn’t.”

“It got delayed,” Chilton said. “Until now.”

“2012,” Bill said, catching up. “Does that mean Emmerich was right?”

“No,” Chilton said, turning back to the book. “It means I had to do some math to figure out when the last time something big was supposed to happen, but didn’t. Something that could have prevented a hell on earth.”

Bill took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “You’re making my brain hurt.”

“There have been notable events that have lined up with the last four calendar changes,” Chilton barreled on. “But the important one was five resets ago, at the end of the eighth age.”

“What happened then?” Bill asked.

“That was a little over two thousand years ago,” he said.

When Bill raised his eyebrows, clearly not catching the thread, Chilton clarified. “Christ died.”


Chilton nodded, lips tight. “Seriously.”

“So you think our demon was supposed to bring about the end of the world, only Jesus shot first?”

“Maybe,” Chilton shrugged. “The timeline makes sense, though. I mean Jesus wasn’t just healing the sick and feeding the hungry, here…”

Bill caught it. “He was casting out demons, too.” His brow furrowed. “So he puts our boy in the ground – disaster averted?”

“Not just disaster,” Chilton said. “An Extinction Level Event, something that changes the face of the planet entirely. It happened at the end of the Cretaceous, when the dinosaurs were wiped out. It happened in the ice age, when everything either hibernated or got froze. God himself did it with the flood…”

“Only he said he’d never do it again,” Bill pointed.

“Right, but this one would have been Lucifer’s turn – a flood of fire this time.” Chilton’s expression lost its color. “What if that was what Christ was sent here to prevent, the very reason every soul on earth needed to be saved?”

“This is heavy,” Bill said. Chilton only nodded in grim agreement.

“So, what, we’re finishing something that Jesus started?” Bill asked, all of a sudden breaking into a nervous giggle. “Wow, no pressure there…”

“Yeah, no shit.