Excerpt – All the Gates of Hell

This is from a novel with the working title Kuan Yin in Hell. (Edited to note–the final title is All the Gates of Hell. Inviting, no?) The premise is that the Buddhist bodhisattva of Mercy, Kuan Shi Yin, is undergoing a mortal incarnation as Jin Hannigan for reasons she can’t remember, and those who know, refuse to say. While she’s trying to figure that bit out, she still has to fulfill her function as the “Goddess of Mercy,” which is to release suffering souls from hell. She’s just met the first of her divine helpers–who she also doesn’t remember–currently a mortal called “Frank” because his real name takes too long to say. She’s about to meet the second.

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Jin sighed. “I think before now I’ve really been more pointed and led than called,” she said, “but if I understand your meaning, then yes — I think I have definitely been called.”

The only questions remaining so far as Jin could tell were “where” and “who.” She already knew why. If she didn’t yet know “where,” she did know which direction to go, and for the moment that was enough, though she did wonder why she also felt an extreme sense of urgency.

“What’s the hurry?” she asked aloud.

“You’re setting the pace,” Frank said. “Or was that question rhetorical?”

“Not exactly. I feel we need to hurry.”

“Then I suggest we do so,” Frank said, maddeningly calm as usual.

Jin gave up her brisk walk and broke into a run. Continue reading