Big Cranky: Fall Into Darkness by James Pyne Genre: Dark Mythological Fantasy, Action
Forget everything you think you know about myths and legends, James Pyne’s Big Cranky connects them all in an epic web of deceitful betrayal, love, and loyalty. A capricious tale of gods, showing human quirks are not only wasted on the mortals. A tale of many deities treading lightly around a superior as the world begins.
Lucifer and Lilith sat against a tree; its huge gnarled roots stretched into the Lake of Souls. The souls didn’t make noises, silently moving among each other, sometimes in the shape of their previous incarnations, swirling around the trees growing out of the water and along the bank. Sometimes they would pass through them, sending chills through Lucifer, humbling him into deeper thought about his immortality.
Questions like if an angel died, would they end up here? The belief was once an immortal was dead, it was a done deal, no coming back. Adding to the doom and gloom was the fact his father wouldn’t give a straight answer. He didn’t smile when asked if angels were recycled after death, instead, a sullen look clouded his face, like he was remembering something devastating from his past, something he wanted buried forever there. It was the same look his father gave him hours ago.
“We call them mortals,” Lucifer said of the spirits swirling around each other in playful abandonment. “Yet if we’re slain, apparently we don’t come back while they’re recycled into another lifeform somewhere in the universe. I don’t feel very immortal knowing that.”
“No angel has killed another angel in our time,” Lilith said. “It will never happen. The consequences are too risky, you know this. One kills, then the killer will be killed for breaking the commandment, two in a snap of finger gone from existence. The death seed then planted, sprouts two more leaves, their names Hate and Revenge. More angels are killed. Revenge and Hate multiply in a tangled mess of vines choking off each other into extinction. No one will risk that chain of events. There’d be no coming back from it. Besides, you have nothing to worry about. You’re of his blood and can’t be killed unless by him.”
“But you can be.”
“Stating the obvious.”
“Which means a part of me can be killed, too.”
Her eyes watered to that; her head rested on his shoulder now. She was the one for him, he always knew, for she took no guff from anyone, especially the male kind, always making it clear she was equal or better and would prove it through sharp words or in combat. And if anybody crossed him behind his back, she made quick work of them for all to see. Never letting him get lazy in the mind. Always at his side and always wanting good for the Order, like a true Queen.
“I sense the day is coming soon when one of our kind is slain. It feels like it will be somebody close. It feels like I’m screaming from the future to me now over something so unspeakable.”
“What has brought this mood, Lucifer? The planet’s suddenly devoid of life? Come now, your father did it. You know this in your heart. No one else could.”
“If you’re right, then that is cause for concern.”
“They’re just mortals. They go back here. Then back out there somewhere. Many times, you have been sent out to wipe out armies all over the universe. Now suddenly you care about them? What’s of more concern is our missing brethren.”
“Yes, they come here to be recycled, but first they all experience Purification,” something Lucifer never shared with anyone, a sight he was shown when still a youngling. He was never sure if it was just an invented vison by his father, but it looked and felt real. “Their flesh and bone burned from them . . . I have been there, a nightmarish place. It is between this reality and another, a portal opened by my father is the only way there. The virtuous get a quick exit to the Lake, with their flesh burned away by intense fire, painful, but mercifully quicker compared to the others. Some fuel a hellish train like coal, a skull face as its locomotive, flames exhale its nostrils with every soul forced into it, over and over, until their sins burned away.
The most wretched are chained to walls, slowly dismembered, aware to the very end, their head always last to be thrown into the furnace. It’s not something anyone would be in hurry to experience . . . and so many just have.”
“Something I didn’t know.”
“It makes you pause with deep thought, yes?”
She stared at the souls, one passed through her. The expression on her face, like she just experienced mortality for the first time.
“It makes me think how sick your father can be.”
“He says it’s for their own good, allowing them a clean slate.”
“What point is there in burning their past lives away, how will they
evolve, learn from past mistakes? Why not just make them immortal like us?”
“Maybe they were us . . . or we were them at some point.”
“Quite the statement.”
“There are many things I’ve not shared with anyone, but that stops tonight. No more secrets between us. We’ll need to be our strongest and most connected for what I sense is coming. If my father has truly gone mad, then what stops him from killing angels next?”
“I feel he has already started.”
She cuddled into him as the morning star rose over the Rainbow Ridge, brightening the colorful glow of the blinking mountains, a signal of the illumination that was coming. She held him tight, the morning star grew its brightest, next to come were the two rising suns, the whole effect created by his mother to mark Lucifer and Calliope’s births. One of the few things he knew of her.
James Pyne hails from Nova Scotia, Canada, and has been a scribe for the Universe much of his life. He's a firm believer in being able to write in every genre, to make his world building and characters hopefuly come out genuine. No matter what he writes it will have some form of darkness, nothing is pure light in any worlds James creates and rumor has it, his surviving characters are plotting his demise. When it comes to his past time, much of it is spent learning the craft, but he does enjoy gardening and playfully tormenting those he loves. When he's not writing, or working his day job, he's traveling. The Andalusia region of Spain the last place that tolerated him.
Favorite authors: John Gardner (Grendel, Sunlight Dialogues). Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov). Clive Barker (Imajica, Weaveworld, Books of Blood). Terry Pratchett (Good Omens, Bad Omens). J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings). And all the scribes who carried on the tradition of myths throughout the ages.
What is about Lucifer that makes him an automatic favorite? Really, there isn’t much known about him, unless you combine him with Satan and other similar characters, he really doesn’t have many stories attributed to him in the Bible, but the ones that are . . . are legendary. The one that comes to mind, that stands out, is when he stands up to God with his own army and is cast to Hell for doing so. I always got a son defying his dad’s old ways kind of vibe from that story. At some point, many of us sons will do the same thing, challenge our fathers.
It’s like we relate to him. In a way, he’s our champion against an apparent unfair God who ends up in Hell for his troubles. Some might argue he went to Hell for us. Yes, I am propping up Lucifer to be the good guy in this situation. Remember, the winners write the history books. ?
But still, I can’t help asking myself why is Lucifer the fan favorite when it comes to Big Cranky: Fall into Darkness? I mean, I knew he would be a favorite for some of my readers. I didn’t expect him to be number one for everyone. Even the most religious. I was hoping for some strong love for Cthulhu, Santa Muerte, Gabriel, El (Big Cranky), Michael, Athena, etc . . . Nope. Always Lucifer. And believe me the other characters are getting dangerously jealous. After all, Lucifer isn’t the main character of Book 1 . . . or to better out it, he is, but so is everybody else and they want some attention, too. To quote my publisher and brother from another mother, Franklin E. Wales:
“After reading Big Cranky for the umpteenth time, I finally figured out what the framework reminded me of: When I was a little kid my grandmother bought me a wooden puzzle of a farm from a church rummage sale. The frame of grass and sky was straight edged of course, but the rest of the pieces looked like what they were. The barn was one piece shaped like a barn. As was the cow, the farmer etc. Big Cranky has the outside frame of a book, but the inside is all standalone pieces.“
Now as the trilogy rolls along, many new characters will be introduced from the mythos of every continent, so maybe Lucifer won’t remain everybody’s favorite . . . or will his top spot be solidified? And if so, does that mean I failed the other characters . . . and does that mean they are plotting my end?