I’m pleased to announce that my first, self-published book is now available to buy online!
The Communion of Saints: Stories in the Christian Gothic was my final project in my Master of Arts program at Regent College, and it’s now my first publication. Featuring five short stories tied together by a frame narrative, the book explores ideas about sainthood, what it means to be human, and “the intersection of the timeless with time.”
What if saints actually walked among us even now? What if these people could impart grace, work wonders, and bring eternity into time? When an odd loner goes suddenly missing from his apartment, two police detectives cling to their rationality and logic on a case that turns increasingly strange and irrational. A man who was himself searching for evidence of the divine mystery, he has left behind tales of the living saints who have been with us for centuries—and who will apparently be with us for centuries to come.
Below you can check out the cover, find a link to purchase the print book or ebook, and read an excerpt from one of the stories.
(Ebook link coming soon)
From The Kindness of Strangers
It was early afternoon and the sky began to grey. There was no sign of Pa, for which Bethany was thankful. His words could sting as much as fists, and it would offend his pride to learn that she had gotten Tom Shane to fix the pump instead of doing it herself. She snuck into the shed, greased up her hands on an old rag for the sake of appearances, and then headed out with the gizmo and a couple of tools to put the electric water pump back together again. That job done, it was time to reconnect the irrigation system and fortunately this was within her abilities. She rewarded herself with several gulping cups of the filtered and treated water. Studying the sky, she decided there was enough time before the storm to get a start on weeding the front garden. She was doing exactly that when the strangest prairie schooner she’d ever seen came in out of the east, just ahead of the real rain clouds.
The wagon had a rusted metal frame, clearly the salvaged remains of the ancient thing called on Earth a “pickup truck”. Large fenders curved over the two front wheels—which themselves were thick and wooden with wide spokes, jury-rigged sturdily onto the axle. The cab’s windows and windshield had long since vanished and were covered by wooden planks. Over the truck’s flatbed was a canvas-covered frame, broad and tall and covered in dusty grime from travel and the road.
Sitting on the bench that was fixed to the hood, underneath an awning to keep off the weather, was the driver—or perhaps to call him a passenger was more appropriate since he held no reins, but instead lounged in the seat with his nose buried in a book. His clothes were plain, trousers and boots with a waistcoat over his shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat resting on the back of his head. His skin was the colour of burnished copper.
It was the creature pulling the wagon, unsteered, that made Bethany stop her weeding and gape there in the front yard. Its body was large and strong and shaped like a lion. Folded to its side was a pair of eagle’s wings. The face was curiously undefinable; that nose could almost be a snout, but the mouth and eyes were human. From its forehead grew an impressive pair of ox’s horns, and a golden mane swept from the top of the head to cover half the creature’s back. It wore no bit or bridle, but a cleverly contrived harness allowed it to pull its burden.
Bethany knew at once she was looking at an angel. It could have walked straight out of the bedtime fairy tales Pa used to tell her. The angels who guided lost travellers and rescued those in need. The kind she prayed for every time she carried a crate of Pa’s empty bottles to the garbage ditch in back. An angel pulling a wagon was coming towards her from out of the east.
Without a signal, angel and wagon stopped at the gate of the homestead. The man didn’t move or even look up from his book. The angel turned its head back to look at him. “Hold on,” the man murmured. And a moment later he lay the book open and face down on the bench beside him, then hopped to the ground. He adjusted his hat, straightened his waistcoat, and walked through the gate.
“Afternoon,” he called. “Your folks home?”
Before she could answer, Bethany heard the front door and the clunk of Pa’s wooden leg on the porch steps.
Pa was a stocky man, but unsteady in his gait. Missing a limb and being often in drink will do that to a person. His grizzled hair was usually unkempt and his beard seemed to be perpetually only three or four days old, on a face scored by time and other wounds. His eyes were wide in wonder at the sight in front of the house.
“Afternoon,” the man said to him.
“How does, stranger?”
“Does fine. Storm’s coming.” Bethany felt a rain drop hit her cheek. “Wouldn’t be able to put me up for the night, would you?”
Pa stared openly at both the angel and the man. “Where be you going?”
The man seemed to hesitate a moment before replying: “North.”
“I was born up North,” said Pa. “I heard tales of what happens there, of those who commune in the Valley of Elijah.” A long pause. “Is’t true? You be one of the Blessed?”
The stranger gave a long sigh and looked resigned. “Yes. I am one of the saints.”
Pa barked a laugh and slapped his thigh, the one that ended at his knee. “Knew soon as I saw your beast!”
“He’s my friend, and no beast.”
“They say it’s lucky to have a saint under your roof.” Pa turned his head and spat on the ground. “Some say otherwise.”
The man reached into his waistcoat pocket and pulled out some silver coins. “I can pay,” he said. Pa didn’t reach for the money, but he looked hard at it and then at the saintly countenance. He turned to Bethany. “Go get the spare room ready.” To the saint he said: “Your wagon and your…friend can fit in the barn once we push the hay cart to the back.”
The wagon was stowed and the angel bedded down in a stall just before the first thunderclap.
3 thoughts on “The Communion of Saints – Out Now!”
Congratulations, Steven. I am so pleased for you. Let me know when the ebook is available. I love the excerpt.
Thanks so much, Darlene!
I would like to buy a signed copy, Steven. Is that possible? Your IPIAT was amazing. I was honoured to be one of the observers cheering you on. Let me know if it would work for me to purchase a signed copy. Blessings!