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Djinn
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-062-9
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Fiction/Adventure
eBook Length: 441 Pages
Published: January 2013



From inside the flap

Born of the smokeless flame in the wilderness of prehistoric Arabia, a djinni comes into being. A creature of pure energy, he takes the form of a green-tinged blue flame that feeds off the life forces of human kind, taking pleasure in death and terror. A chance encounter with a shepherd on a mountain alters the course of his existence. The man mistakes him for a god and offers up an act of worship. Amused, Djinn maintains the deception and the god al-Ilah is born.

Over hundreds of years, he bends the tribes of Arabia to his will until another man and another god oust him from his place of pre-eminence. Cast back into the role of demon, Djinn wanders the Islamic world, from Spain to India and beyond, bringing death and despair to those whose lives he touches. Then he encounters a Raksha demon in India and finds himself fighting for survival against the gods themselves.

Djinn (Excerpt)


Prologue

I began with the rushing hydrocarbon wind that ascends through the rock from the shale beds far below, blasting through the sand and erupting in a vast conflagration of fire. I do not remember the act of creation that engendered me and my brothers and sisters of flame, but I have seen it many times since and believe it was the same for me. The ground trembles and a distant thunder draws ever closer; the rocks dancing and the sand thrown upward with the approach of the underground wind. Then the surface of the land lifts into the air, and the rocks and sand grains strike together so violently great currents of electricity form in the dry air. Lightning rips through the swirling mass. The explosion that envelops the desert sands is red, orange and yellow, concentrating into white brilliance in the centre with small pockets of the deepest blue here and there. When the flames that consume the uprushing gas die away, when the intense heat fades and the fused sand glimmers like glass; these cold smokeless blue flames remain and sentience stirs within them.

I have gone by many names over the countless years of my existence, but in the desert lands of my creation, I and my brothers and sisters of the smokeless fire are called djinn and are generally feared by members of that other creation - mankind. In those early days, of course, I had no knowledge of man or of anything else in the world about me, being little more than a blue flame tinged with green that burned in the lonely places. I was aware of self and a vast outer not self, but being new, I was concerned solely with self and for long ages gave little thought to what lay around me. What need had I of what was not me? After a long time, time measured not in days or even years but rather in the slow oscillation of the bright points of light that wheeled slowly in the sky above me. I turned my attention outward. Curiosity drove me, and I wondered that anything could truly exist that was not me.

I saw much and understood little, but gradually I was able to piece together facts, assimilate them into groups and start to make sense of the world. I wandered the land, mountain and valley, desert and plain, venturing into forests and caves and even the rushing streams and restless seas, observing and growing in knowledge. Not mean feats for a smokeless blue flame that can see without eyes, hear without ears and understand without a brain. How was I able to do these things? As well you might ask a man how he stands upright on two legs and walks around. He cannot describe it - he just does it. So it was with me. I could not say how I did such things; I just accepted them as natural and did them. Now, after thousands of years, I have grown in knowledge and understanding. I have my theories of magnetic fields and patterned plasma, but I will not bore you with them. If you are of the djinn, you will know; if you are not, you probably cannot know.

In the early days, I saw the creation of my own kind and saw how I must have come about. I often approached these little dancing flames in the scorched aftermath of the act of genesis, but they never responded to my inquiries. I could feel their introspective sentience, dim and flickering, but nothing more. I have seen this act of creation many times, though less in recent years. I do not know if this is because the creative force has lessened with time, or if it is because the vast pockets of gas that form above the oil-rich shale beds deep underground are now all but exhausted. No doubt many djinn exist, but I seldom see another one now. I think we are solitary beings, having little in common with each other beyond the hot fire of our creation and the cold fire of our being, and even less with the coarse material creation that preceded us.

For a long time, I wandered the earth, crossing continents and seas, watching the pulse of glaciers and the rise and fall of the oceans, but I always found myself drawn back to the place I was created. Each time I returned, I found things had changed - the land grew dryer, animals moved away or died out, the scattered tribes of men fought and died or managed to live in harmony with their neighbours but still died. Man is short-lived, gone almost in the blink of his eye, and I remain for I am something greater than man. How much greater? I did not find out for some time. Some things I found out quickly by observing my surroundings and the creatures that inhabit it. For instance, I live but I do not grow. I sprung fully formed from the earth fires, whereas man grows from an infant to a child to an adult. I do not eat or drink but feed instead from energy. Not just the raw energies of the white light that flashes from the storm-clad heavens to the earth, but also from the energy that binds the life force of man and animal. I can feed on the electrical currents that keep men alive and drain them of life and soul, strengthening my own.

I do not produce others of my kind; djinn arise only from the smokeless fires and have no need of sex. I think, though not with a fleshy brain, and because I have no distractions of the flesh, my intellect is greater than a man�s, my purpose stronger and my will indomitable. Men are governed by their appetites, and I often use their lusts to achieve my own ends. Humans are so easy to control; a word here, a promise there, and they fall over themselves to do my will. There are some, I admit, with greater control of their own intellect. They can govern their own minds, being fixated on higher goals: love, family, the service of a god or goddess; yet even these can be governed and directed, if I just take the time to appear not as I am but rather how they wish to see me.

I have mentioned gods and goddesses, and for a long time in the days after I came to be, I wondered about these beings. No doubt you want to know if they exist. Before I can answer that I suppose I must ask what is a god? I have asked this question of many people down the ages, for you must not suppose that I always exist as a still, blue flame. Sometimes I put on the guise of a man or woman and walk the earth. When I am in the guise of a man, I think and feel more as a man does. I experience lust, anger and pain, but also curiosity and a hunger for knowledge. I seek out the learned men, the priests and scribes, and draw out the contents of their minds, before I shatter the bonds that hold their brains together, feasting on the rich, dark energy of their being as their life force gutters and dies.

I have learned men see god as many things: all-powerful, all-knowing, capricious, loving, merciful, cruel, able to be placated or bribed but also quick to seek vengeance, jealous, proud and beautiful, having the attributes of creator, preserver and destroyer. They have all the worst faults of men but also the best attributes. I know; how can a god be all these things? In short, he cannot. Have I ever met a god? Yes, and he or she was some of these things but never all. I have seen the still blue flames riding the thunderclouds, dancing in the molten rock that spews from the belly of the earth or lifted aloft in the whirlwind. I have conversed with the flames that often sit atop hills, wrapped up in their own existence, thinking their own hill shrine is the centre of creation. These little Baals, as they are called, have a tribe of men to worship them and make the blood offering, burning the flesh of beasts that the god may feed. It is not the burnt meat of an animal�s thigh, the fat that drips and sputters in the consuming flames or the blood pumping from a slit throat that is important to these little gods, but the life force they desire. I should know, for I am a flame myself. That is all a god is, believe me. Every god I have come across, every being happy to take what men offer so freely of their neighbour�s livestock or of their own, is a flame - one of the djinn.

Many flames take names, for men do not like to worship a nameless god. Djinn may take the name of a hill, an attribute or one of the forces of nature. There are thunder gods, rain gods, sea gods, sky gods, and gods of war, of love, of soldiers, of shepherds, of the sun, moon and planets - a deity for any and every purpose. And as long as men need them, you can be sure there will be a flame ready to exploit these gullible creatures. Not all gods are strong, many being limited to a single hill or spring or grove of trees. Others wander the earth and walk about in it, taking life where they will. I have done both in my long existence. For a while, I wandered, and then for an age, I sat in a high place and was content. Then a man came and named me in fear and wonder, and I thought, Why not? I too will become a god.

Yes, a man first named me. Or rather, he thought of my name, and I plucked it from his mind, for the minds of men are open to the djinn. You look uncomfortable. Do you fear that I can see the thoughts in your mind? Why would I bother? Most men think of little beyond their immediate needs and desires. Of course, should I desire to, you probably will not even know I am doing it. You would feel nothing beyond a mild ringing in the ears or a feeling you are being watched. Have you ever felt eyes watching you and turned only to find no one was there? That was me, or one like me, delving into the soft matter of your brain, chasing your thoughts and tapping into your life force. You might have felt tired later, but if the djinn did not drink too deeply you recovered. Despite what the legends say, we are not necessarily ravening monsters, killing indiscriminately. It is much better to taste and move on, returning to sip again from an ever-renewing resource.

Do I taste all life? Do I sip from the wellsprings of animal and human alike? I have done so, but I prefer the taste of men. Their thoughts and emotions are raw and savage, as they exercise choice; whereas animals are largely governed by instinct. I can leave an animal untouched, but sooner or later I will feast on any human I get close to. It is in my nature, perhaps. I am a djinni, after all ... unless I aspire to be more.

I aspired to be more. I took a name and godhead. A name should be more than just an empty sound though; it should mean something. The name I took was a fitting name, for it reflected my nature, my position in creation and the place that was then my favoured abode. It meant high, lofty, sublime, in the tongue of the human inhabitants of the place of my being. Though I was created in the sandy wasteland and am at home in that hot, dry desolation, it is the mountains that call to me, where the air is clear and the rock clean and unspoiled. The wind sweeps between the peaks, and the only sound is the harsh cry of the raptor circling high above in the pale blue dome of the sky. There I sit, the flame of my being motionless in the gale that blows about me, and I contemplate the empty land stretched out before me. I was named Aali of the High Places. I may have stayed Aali of the High Places and been no more than a spirit alone on a mountain, but something changed within me when that first man made an act of worship and I became a god in his eyes. Once I was a god, of course, a simple name like Aali was not enough. I decided to leave my lofty domain and venture into the world again. I found the world much changed with men burgeoning upon the land, but I had ambition. I was no longer content to be a small baal, a nameless djinni. I would become a god, maybe even the God. Yes, I am laughing as I say that, but why not? Who is to stop me? Men cannot and only very powerful djinn could do so, but I do not know of any strong enough.

And so, on a day like countless thousands that had gone before, a man came to me. He was not looking for me, but his coming changed everything.