He has been given a second chance at life. A second chance at revenge. He is the bridge between the Quick and the Dead. He is…THE SCYTHE!
Out of the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, a two-fisted hero rises from the grave!
Inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, a tale of action, adventure, thrills and chills await fans of Dieselpunk, die-hard pulp fans and readers who just love a gritty story that packs a mean punch.
Enter a world in which Gangsters, Flappers, vampires, robots and the Ku Klux Klan all roam the same dark back streets; a world of grit, grime and grease; a world of hardboiled gumshoe detectives and mad scientists; a world where magic and technology compete for rule over the world.
Dieselfunk has emerged in The Scythe…and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!
Excerpt from “The Scythe”
“He who sleeps with an itching anus wakes up with smelly fingers.”
Ikukulu opened his eyes. Anesusu stood over him smiling. A horde of Agu stood behind him.
“Only a madman would go to sleep with his roof on fire,” Ikukulu replied, hopping to his feet.
“This is the sigil, then?” Anesusu inquired, pointing at the carving on the kuka tree.
Ikukulu nodded. “It is. It will require all of our blood to activate it.”
“Let’s get to it, then,” Anesusu said, drawing his knife.
Anesusu held his obsidian blade high above his head.
Hundreds of similar obsidian knives, with gazelle antler handles, were thrust into the air.
Ikukulu drew his coral knife. He slid the blade across his palm, rending his flesh and then pressed the leaking gash to the sigil for a few moments.
Anesusu followed him and then each warrior from amongst the Agu did the same until the sigil was covered in gore.
“The sigil is now activated and well-fed,” Anesusu said to his brethren. “The Jugu will be upon us in a few hours and we will send them to their doom. So drink; make love – preferably not with your own wife or husband, for you married warriors – and rest up…for at midday, we usher in a new era…a new world!”
A cheer erupted from the army of Agu.
Ikukulu turned away and sauntered toward the river. The ways of the Agu disgusted him, but the refusal of his own brothers and sisters to work with the Agu had forced him to ally with them alone – a dangerous undertaking, indeed, but one most necessary. He prayed that his punishment would not be too harsh and that the Abo would one day come to realize his level of sacrifice.
Ikukulu and Anesusu stood at the edge of the Ogun River with three hundred armored Agu behind them.
The dawn air was cool; crisp; and carried the scent of sulfur and putrid flesh.
“The Jugu are close,” Ikukulu shouted, drawing his knife.
“Swords!” Anesusu commanded.
The Agu drew their knives and pointed them skyward. A white energy, like a bolt of lightning, coursed through the obsidian blades, from base to point. A moment later, the knives expanded into broadswords.
Ikukulu knelt, slamming the pommel of his knife into the soft earth. The knife twisted; shifted; stretched. Ikukulu stood, a razor sharp, coral scythe now gripped tightly between his fists.
A muddy, marsh- green mass thundered toward them.
Ikukulu charged toward the mass, his scythe, held low, cutting a swath in the red dirt behind him.
“Forward!” Anesusu ordered, pointing his sword toward the fast approaching mass.
The army of Agu followed their leader, keeping pace with his loping gait.
As Ikukulu came closer to the mass, the monstrous forms of the Jugu became clear. Their brawny, grey-green bodies stood upon seven foot tall frames and their thick skin was scaled and ridged like that of a crocodile. Their facial features were human, but their mouths were extended, tapering into a ‘v’, like the maw of a crocodile.
The creatures roared in unison, exposing their dagger-like teeth. They raised their arms shoulder-high, baring their razor-sharp claws.
The Jugu had no one leading them, for their Mistress, Kielgek, commanded her warriors – with whom she was psychically linked – from the Abysmal Plane.
Ikukulu leapt into the fray, his scythe slashing furiously. The coral blade met scale-armored flesh and Jugu fell.
With each death of a Jugu, Kielgek cried out in agony upon her dark throne.
However, with each death of an Agu, of which there were many, she roared in ecstasy. Her warriors fighting on the Terrestrial Plane roared with her.
“Fall back!” Anesusu bellowed, turning on his heels.
The army of Agu about-faced and retreated from the battle, sprinting along the edge of the Ogun River.
Ikukulu whirled about and took off, running closely behind Anesusu.
Ikukulu could hear the Jugu galloping behind him, hot on his heels. He felt their foul breath on the back of his neck.
The Agu ran a few yards past the tree bearing the sigil and then turned to face their enemy.
Ikukulu dived forward, rolling past the tree.
The Jugu stampeded toward Ikukulu and the Agu.
Suddenly, as if the air had devoured them, the Jugu vanished.
Ikukulu turned toward the Agu. “The Jugu have been sucked back into their abhorrent world. You have done well, warriors! Now, quickly, we must fell the tree to seal the portal forever. Anesusu and I will beat back any Jugu who try to pass through until you bring the tree down.”
“Work swiftly, my brothers and sisters!” Anesusu ordered.
Ikukulu stood a few feet in front of the tree. Anesusu stood beside him.
A vertical sliver of darkness rent the air. A scaly, grey-green head emerged from it, roaring.
Ikukulu severed the Jugu’s head with an upward slash of his scythe.
Something slammed into Ikukulu’s back with the force of a battering ram. He stumbled forward, his left arm, which held his scythe, disappearing into the black sliver. Something on the other side of the sliver grabbed a hold of him, piercing the skin of his forearm in several places.
“They have my arm,” Ikukulu gasped. Cut it off, Anesusu!”
“I promised you that no harm would come to the Abo from the Agu, my friend,” Anesusu said. “I must honor the truce.”
“If you don’t sever my arm, the Jugu will pull me into their world!” Ikukulu shouted.
“I keep my promises, Ikukulu,” Anesusu replied. “I will not do you any harm.”
A strong yank pulled Ikukulu’s shoulder and half of his face into the darkness.
“You have betrayed me!” Ikukulu spat.
“To betray, you must first belong,” Anesusu snickered. “You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Goodbye, Ikukulu.”
Ikukulu vanished from the Terrestrial World and the foul world of the Jugu welcomed him.
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About Balogun Ojetade
Balogun Ojetade is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link and Rite of Passage: Initiation.
He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at Chronicles of Harriet.
He is author of six novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, two Fight Fiction, Action-Adventure novellas – A Single Link and Fist of Afrika and the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk.
Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis.
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