As promised, here is a second, slightly longer excerpt from my upcoming novel, Children of the Folded Valley. This section introduces Benjamin Smiley, leader of the Folded Valley Fellowship.
From Chapter 2:
On Sundays Smiley wore a white suit, white tie, and white shoes. There were a number of different rings on his fingers; some plain gold, some set with small red or green gems. I don’t know why, but these rings made him seem more powerful, especially as he pointed out across the congregation whilst reading the Bible.
‘This is what Daniel said, after God gave him a vision of the apocalypse in Daniel chapter twelve: I heard but I understand not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.’
Smiley put his large, ancient looking Bible to one side and stared at us. Surveying the congregation keenly, his eyes halted on me. In that moment I was afraid, yet I also experienced a sense of awe.
‘Daniel had a vision but did not understand it. The Lord told him the words were sealed until the end of time.’
Smiley picked up another ancient looking, but much smaller book.
‘This is Daniel’s vision: The second Book of Daniel. Hidden for untold centuries, the Lord himself showed me where I could find it inside the Temple in the Folded Valley. He has revealed this to me now, for the time of the end is indeed at hand. You are obviously familiar with these verses, but they warrant repeating:
‘For the Almighty declares that in the final hour he shall send forth his greatest servant. And this shall be the sign of him: He will lead you to a place of safety to shield you. He shall have the power to heal, and as the world – the Fallen Dimension – burns in fire, so shall he keep the chosen from harm, as a hen with chicks under her wings.’
Benjamin Smiley smiled.
‘Of course, I am nothing more than a humble servant, however great. I did not chose greatness, but God has chosen me. Who am I to argue with him? For me to disobey would result in the damnation of your very souls. Woe to me! And woe to you if I do not do as the Almighty bids! For the temptations and traps of the Fallen Dimension are terrible indeed, and few escape their snares. Yet we, the chosen holy remnant of the human race, shall rule and reign with God himself after the world is purged in the flames. We shall wait here, shielded from the inevitable destruction. And though we do not know the precise day or hour of that destruction, we know it will happen soon.’
Benjamin indicated the Bible.
‘The signs spoken of in detail in these pages are coming to pass. Every day in the outside world there is war, conflict and destruction. Technology is advancing, but the people serve it like a god. The love of material goods that do not satisfy consumes those outside. There is no longer any respect for authority. Law and order is breaking down, as is the family unit itself. There is rampant sexual immorality, and love itself seems to be dying. The economies of the world will collapse and dependence on oil will eventually bring about a global nuclear catastrophe triggered by greed and insanity. Put simply: the earth as we know it is utterly and irretrievably doomed.
‘And yet there is hope. Whilst this happens in the Fallen Dimension, we will wait here. Patiently and diligently we will occupy this beautiful land set apart for us, until the time comes for us to re-enter the world, once the wrath of God has been satisfied.’
Smiley moved away from the pulpit and walked down a few steps, moving closer to the congregation.
‘Now some here have doubts in their hearts. Oh, they will not speak of it openly, for they are ashamed. But it is doubt nevertheless. Some here question whether the Fallen Dimension is indeed worthless, as the second Book of Daniel claims. For this ignorance there is forgiveness, but ignorance must be corrected. Therefore it is good on occasion to be reminded of our many blessings and why the Fallen Dimension and its materials – however desirable they may appear – must be shunned.
‘Here we dwell in a place where there is no disease, no hunger and no war. Where there is food and water in abundance and crops never fail. Where no natural disasters occur. There are no floods, no earthquakes, no volcanoes. It is a place where families flourish. Where children can play outside safely without fear. Where everyone works together for a common good. There is an abundance of joy, love, hope and peace.
‘That is not true of the Fallen Dimension. Though it has many glittering, attractive temptations, they are but empty baubles; trinkets of a lost and dying world utterly empty and void of worth. A world destined for flames that has no part of our future. Therefore the Bible says: Come out from among them and be ye separate. That is why the Eldership – those in whom I have placed my trust – only allow such items of the outside world we deem beneficial and uncorrupting. For there is much that is sinful in the world and if brought here their evil will work in your hearts. It might be a book or an article of clothing, or even a toy…’
Benjamin fixed me with another stare. I could not hold his gaze, so cast my eyes to the ground.
‘Beware the toys of the Fallen Dimension! They are the tools of Satan himself! They will seduce but not satisfy, and soon you will want another and another and another. Before you know it the trinkets of the Fallen Dimension will have corrupted you to the point that you want to leave this paradise that the Almighty in his beneficence has provided. Do not take his warnings lightly. Heed the words of his greatest servant, and be of sober mind, lest you fall and burn with the outside.
Children of the Folded Valley – my first novel aimed at grown-ups – is released on the 20th of July in various downloadable digital formats.
Print copies will be available from the 27th of July.
Here is the text from the back of the novel:
During a journey to visit his estranged sister, James Harper recalls his childhood in a mysterious valley cut off from the outside world, where he grew up as part of a cult called the Folded Valley Fellowship.
In this seemingly idyllic world, the charismatic Benjamin Smiley claimed to be protecting his followers from an impending nuclear apocalypse.
But the valley concealed a terrifying secret.
A secret that would change Smiley’s followers forever.