Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lynch by Eric Lanke

A little while ago, I made my novel, Columbia, available for download from this blog.

Columbia is the story of Theodore Lomax, a nineteen-year-old Union solider in the American Civil War, and as committed as any to the ideal of human freedom. After being assigned to the army of William Tecumseh Sherman, shortly after the general’s infamous March to the Sea, he willingly participates in the destruction of civilian property in Columbia, South Carolina, believing his acts are justified by Southern resistance to the Northern cause of emancipation. But when the destruction escalates into violence against the civilians themselves, he becomes disillusioned, and feels compelled to strike out in opposition to his own countrymen.

The novel is told from Lomax's point of view, but there are ten other supporting characters, each with a story of his or her own. "Lynch" is one of these stories, centering on the character of Archibald Lynch, and describing the formative experience of his life that gives him both his calling and his strength.

There was a time when I thought these stories should alternate with the chapters in Columbia, presenting a richer but perhaps more tangled tapestry of the lives that painfully converge in the novel's climactic scenes. But Columbia is clearly a more coherent narrative without them. Still, they were valuable to me as an author, and I hope you find them useful and enjoyable as a reader.

Lynch by Eric Lanke - $3

Clicking the "Add to Cart" button will take you through a short payment process and provide you with a PDF download of the story that you can read on your computer or tablet, or which you can print at your convenience. The story is about 20,600 words and the document is 70 pages long. Given its theme and historical setting, the work reflects the racism of the time, and includes episodes of violence and strong language.

Want a sample? Here's are the first thousand or so words.

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When Archibald Lynch was twelve years old one of his chores was to help his father chop wood for the wood burning stoves that cooked their meals and kept their house warm through the winter. One day he was using an old axe that had been repaired several times and probably should have been abandoned. The axe head struck the log at an irregular angle, broke off from the handle, bounced back off the stump, and struck Lynch square in the face, knocking him unconscious and opening up a deep cut. Lynch felt no pain, neither from the cut nor from the blow he took to the back of the head as he fell and conked it against some additional logs waiting to be split. From Lynch’s perspective, the universe suddenly exploded with blinding light, and he was transported to a place where no one that had previously been part of his world could reach him. But he was not there alone. There was someone else in this place, wherever this new place was, someone whose presence was so overpowering Lynch was unable to see anything else except this being and the brilliant and iridescent light which emanated directly from its body.

It was the archangel Michael. There was a fraction of a second in which Lynch did not know that, and then, suddenly, the knowledge was instantly apparent to him. Lynch knew it was the archangel Michael, and Michael knew that he knew, and Lynch knew that Michael knew he knew, their minds, one mortal and the other divine, linked in some unfathomable way. It was the archangel Michael, with his flowing locks of golden hair, his shimmering gown of radiant gauze hung loosely on his androgynous frame, and his mighty flaming sword of truth and power, the one he had used to drive the original sinners out of paradise, held out before him and before Lynch’s smaller form.

Archibald, the angel’s mellifluous voice called out, soothing and powerful in the same instant, resonating in Lynch’s own head rather than in the air between them. Michael’s lips did not move, Lynch was certain of that, but his eyes blazed with the inner fire of the angel’s immortality, and as he continued to speak it was as if his eyes were doing the talking, sending the words directly into Lynch’s brain on ribbons of fire.

Archibald Lynch. You have been chosen. I have come to mark you so all will know you speak for the Lord.

In the eternity it took the archangel to deliver his message Lynch was paralyzed, not in fear, but simply under the force of the delivery. Bypassing his auditory canals completely and interfacing directly with the electrochemical circuits in his brain, the tremendous energy the words contained shorted out the motor controls for his entire body, leaving Lynch physically little more than a quivering vegetable.

But Lynch was not afraid. Even as his bladder let loose and he soaked himself with its contents, heated practically to the boiling point by the force of the angel’s presence within him, twelve-year-old Archibald Lynch was not afraid. For the moment Lynch and Michael had become one, and Lynch knew everything the angel did, which was everything there was to know, save the last remaining secret that God kept hidden from all his creations and which, in the end, made him God. And on top of all these truths, truths that would take his fellow man millennia to discover and truths he would never understand, there was one that sheltered him, that kept him safe from both fear and insanity. He had been chosen. Chosen by God to fight on His side in the epic contest between good and evil.

And Michael, God’s greatest and most powerful servant, had come to mark him. Mark him so that all who saw him would know he spoke for the Lord.

Michael held his flaming sword out towards Lynch, the tip hovering directly over the boy’s nose and the intensity of its light blotting out all other visual reference points. As Lynch’s vision popped and expanded into an infinite plain of white nothingness, his consciousness did, too, growing out beyond the confines of his own flesh and expanding out evenly across the entire universe. Like Michael and the unknowable entity that created him—created Lynch and the angel both—Lynch felt as though he was everywhere at once, felt as though time and distance no longer had any meaning for him and that he was spread so thinly upon the gossamer filaments that held all matter together he had lost all trace of the individual existence that had just moments before been all he had ever known. He was so absorbed in his new reality and the way he was able to feel the texture of every wrinkle made by every other life form in the fabric of the universe, he did not feel or was even aware of Michael’s sword cutting into the flesh of his face, the lightest possible touch opening a deep and bloodless gash from his forehead, down over his left eye and into his cheek.

Do not fear, Lynch heard Michael’s voice say as he passed peacefully into an unconsciousness he had also never known before, his life force dissipating as though it could no longer sustain itself. Do not fear, Archibald. You have been chosen and you will do great things in the name of the Lord.

And then Lynch slept, not just for the rest of the day or through the following night, but for seven straight months, his mind and body rejecting all attempts to be woken, attempts made not just by his parents but also by some of the best doctors in the United States. He slept like a dead man, not tossing, not turning, not dreaming, not aware of anything, least of all the passage of time. He slept for seven months and three days, and then woke as if it was morning and there were unfinished chores to be done from the day before.

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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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