The ancient ceremony had been performed for hundreds of years deep in the harsh jungles of South America.
Until the conquering priests came and converted them to Christianity.
A ceremony so shocking they decided it must be kept secret. Decided it must be told to no one.
Malcolm Scoffield, a quite, shy, conservative churchgoer. Living a normal life, hoping for something a little bit more.
After a chance meeting with an interesting and charismatic gentleman, he joins an interesting cultural group, and participates in a seemingly innocent weekend retreat.
Then the inexplicable happens.
Soon after, he finds himself changed.
Powerful. Seductive. Irresistible.
Men are intimidated by him. Women drawn to him. Within just a few moments of conversation, they will follow him anywhere.
Even when it means their certain death.
These same women are found murdered in a horrific ritual, according to a ceremony thought long forgotten.
When Dave Traxton, leading Homicide Detective for the LAPD sees the face of the first victim, he is forced to confront a painful past he thought was long erased from his mind.
When he is forced to confront this demon before solving this complex and horrible murder case, he begins to doubt his own sanity.
His world begins to unravel.
All of this is being closely monitored by a mysterious Shaman, who may know all the secrets.
Some so horrible they cannot be spoken of…
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His name was Pedro. At least that was what the people had been calling him recently. He had once believed that his life would turn out OK, that he had a chance. He had had a decent job, no kids, had an ex-wife, and no debt. And a drinking habit that he believed was under control. He had come to the United States when he was thirteen, back near the end of the '60s when US policy was more favorable to Mexican immigrants. He had gotten work easy enough as a day laborer, working in fields, mostly in California's central farming area, usually working strawberries or melons.
He had joined the labor movements of Caesar Chavez, demanding equal rights for farmhands. There had been protests, police a few times, but mostly, he just did his job.
Then he had met Rebecca and thought that the American dream was within his reach. He had married Rebecca, but she couldn't produce any children for him. They had fought, his drinking had become more prevalent, more often and more alcohol. She had left him, come back, left him, come back, then left him for good.
The last he heard from her was when he received a summons, or when a summons delivery
was attempted, and he tried to fight with the server. The police had become involved again, and his citizenship had been challenged. He lost his job after that and had floated from odd job to odd job. He was getting old, and he couldn't spend all day in the fields like he used to. He had shared a roof over his head, although the place required that he stay sober, or they wouldn't let him in, and he would have to sleep out on the street. Which wasn't too bad during the summer and spring months.
Like now. He had a spot, a secret spot, or so he thought. He had scraped together enough change to buy a small bottle of gin that he was working on, sipping while sitting in the shade near a small park off . . . well, he didn't remember exactly where he was. Private. Unnoticed. Or so he thought.
Then he saw him. A wiry-looking young guy, with an odd look in his eyes. He looked like he was . . . sad? Worried? Maybe lost? The tactic that worked best when Pedro wanted to be left alone was to just be quiet, not make any eye contact, and hope they went away. Who would want to mess with a bum? He had no money, and this guy certainly wasn't a cop. Sometimes the cops did come around, but this kid wasn't one. The kid approached him, although he hadn't made any eye contact or shown any overt knowledge of his existence.
Suddenly the kid switched direction, just slightly, coming directly toward him. He had been walking in his general direction, but now he was walking directly toward him, not at an angle where he might pass him.
And then Pedro saw him. Really saw him. The kid made eye contact with him, his eyes boring directly into him. Pedro trembled. There was something in this kid's eyes that he had never seen before. An alarming sense of purpose and determination. Almost, but not quite as reckless as
rage or fury. Whatever it was, it chased all lingering cobwebs from Pedro's mind. His heart, which had been weakened by years of substance abuse, began to beat rapidly and erratically. What was absolutely and completely absent from this kid's eyes immediately began to swell within Pedro with inexorable savagery.
Primal, animal, instinctive fear.
"What . . . wh.." was all he managed to sputter out. The blade came out quickly and efficiently, the kid not breaking stride, only slowing slightly as he approached Pedro. The kid made no defensive moves, no signs of anticipation or hesitation. The knife was drawn back and began to lunge in an arc of barbaric intensity. Just before all went to black, just before his body slumped into a pile of quickly dying tissue, he thought he saw the expression change in the kid's eyes. From an expression of fearless, heartless, animalistic savagery and hatred to one altogether different, but
altogether more horrifying: one of complete and indistinguishable delight.