Authors: Adam Lance Garcia
The Green Lama is © 2014 by Kendra Crossen Burroughs.
All Rights Reserved.
The Green Lama™ is used by permission of Kendra Crossen Burroughs
Published by Moonstone Entertainment Publishing, Inc.
1128 S. State Street, Lockport, IL 60441.
With the exception of review purposes, no reprinting of this publication, in print or digital form, is allowed without express written consent of Moonstone.
For my father, because it’s pretty much all his fault.
When I first sat down to write
The Green Lama: Horror in Clay
back in 2009—was it that long ago?—I swore to myself it was going to be a one-off. Just one stand-alone adventure with the Lama, a love letter to the character and, more importantly, my father, before I moved on to other characters and other tales.
But something happened that I never could have anticipated—I fell in love with Jethro and with Jean (the latter in both fiction and reality, but that’s a story for another place, another time). Midway through writing this story I found myself plotting the Lama’s next adventure, and the adventure after that, and after that, and after that. I wanted to live with these characters, I wanted to see them fight, see them win, see them lose, see them grow. I wanted to tell Jethro’s life story, from beginning to end—in completely the wrong order—so that you would eventually come to fully understand the man beneath the hood, that you would come to fall in love with Jean as I had, and come to realize that hope survives despite the darkness.
The Green Lama Legacy
—all started here, within these pages.
Or at least, a version of it.
There are those of you, those card-carrying members of the Green Lama Club, who may say that we’ve been here before, and in some sense we have. Many words will feel the same, the characters familiar, but there will be something different, something deeper and new. This was my first published work; it was novice and naïve, filled with enough grammatical errors that my old English teacher Mr. Ed Demeo—my first real critic—would have burned the book on sight. More importantly, so much has changed since that February morning when I first began putting words to page; my intentions with the characters changed, my style changed,
changed. Some of these edits and expansions are subtle—improved grammar, better sentence structure—while other edits deepen the characters, correct continuity errors, or help sync the story with the more than half-dozen stories I’ve written since then. It’s so rare that an author has the chance to revisit and improve their work and I have to thank Joe, Tommy, and Kendra for the ability to do so.
But, don’t worry, Caraway still shoots first.
For those new readers who might have come here from
The Green Lama
, consider this a prequel or a companion piece, even though it technically isn’t. And for those who simply picked up the book off the shelf thanks to the amazing Mike Fyles cover containing these pages, this is the lynchpin, the story that sets everything in motion. You’ll see where relationships start, when discoveries are made, and how everything starts to fit together.
I never expected my tenure with the Lama to become what it’s become, could never have anticipated the near blinding amount of words I’d dedicate to Jethro’s journey, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And couldn’t be happier to share the beginning with you again, for the first time.
Adam Lance Garcia
THE JADE TABLET, 1924
He sat cross-legged on the floor, chanting “
Om! Ma-ni Pad-me Hum!
” his maroon and saffron robes pooling out around him. The butter candles filled the room with small puddles of ginger light. The shadows were deep, hiding golden statues, their pupil-less eyes staring down at him. He was young then, barely over twenty and alone in a country halfway around the world. Not really alone, not with so many others filling the lamasery. His name was Jethro Dumont, but here they only called him
, as if he had somehow earned the right to be called such.
It had been less than a month since he had arrived in Lhasa, less than six since his parents had died. A car accident, they told him. The roads were slick with ice, his father more than a little tipsy after yet another gala. They swerved left instead of right and Jethro’s bank account was instantly ten million dollars richer. But he had left that all behind on that snowy night, walking off into the dark until his toes and fingers screamed from the cold. He boarded a train to New York and stared out the window while the rivers and trees blurred past in purples and blacks. As the sun was rising he purchased tickets for the
S. S. Heki;
he didn’t care to ask where it was going. They traveled down the eastern seaboard, through the Caribbean and across the Panama Canal. They touched the Pacific coast before darting to the Hawaiian Islands, bounced off Japan before rounding to their final destination in India. Jethro wandered through the country, with little more than a backpack of essentials to his name, working his way up toward the town of Kalimpong, a gateway between India and Tibet. There he heard tales of the lamaseries that dotted the mountains of Tibet and, with a little help from the locals, made his way to the “place of gods,” Lhasa. He met with the King Regent, who pointed him toward a monastery in the higher reaches of the mountains. The name was still unpronounceable by Jethro’s foreign tongue, but he understood the loose translation: Temple of the Clouds.
It was there that everything had gone wrong.
Jethro raised his right hand and examined the rainbow ring of hair wrapped around his middle finger, the multicolored threads glinting in the dim light of the butter candles. The memories of that day were still fresh, still turned his heart to ice. Even now his finger stung from the thread piercing his skin, latching itself into the bone and flesh. He remembered his screams echoing back to him. Blood was caked beneath his nails after several failed attempts to remove the ring. He would keep trying, out of stubbornness if nothing else. The Tulku of the Temple said it was called the Jade Tablet, a rough translation, never revealing the power within, much in the way “
Om! Ma-ni Pad-me Hum!
” translated as “Hail, the jewel in the lotus flower!” No one knew the true origins of the Jade Tablet, only that it had always been, passed down from generation to generation since time beyond memory. Some even believed Buddha himself wore the Tablet for a time. The Jade Tablet was power. He could feel it coursing through his veins, almost intoxicating in its way. His eyes rolled shut, imaging what he could do with it…
But that was never what he had wanted, wasn’t what he had been searching for; he needed purpose, something beyond himself. And though he had come here, to the place of gods, he had never hungered to play their games. Yet here he was, a pawn placed on the board, with dynamite strapped to his finger: a gift and a burden. As with all things, there would be a price to pay; his father had taught him that very well. Whatever powers the Tablet had, Jethro knew others would come looking for it. They would seek it out and hunt it down, hoping to exploit it for their own goals. He couldn’t let that happen. If he couldn’t protect the Jade Tablet, he would destroy it, thanking the gods pushing him across the field that there was only one.
An International Incident, 1938
Three hundred and sixty five. As many bullet holes as days in the year.
Lieutenant John Caraway took a step back from the ever expanding pool of blood, the smell of iron tinting the air. He couldn’t help but be reminded of the flag hanging limply outside the partially destroyed entrance of the consulate, a hooked cross and a field of red. He glanced up at the portrait that gazed out over the entryway, beady eyes and a Chaplin mustache, pockmarked by bullets.
Seventy two dead Nazis strewn across the building like toys the day after Christmas. Not a single one with a bullet wound, all of them bludgeoned, crushed, or—in many cases—ripped apart. He wanted to say he’d never seen something this big before, but that would be a lie. He’d been in charge of the Special Crimes Squad for almost three years now, ever since that mess with the Crimson Hand, and this sort of stuff had grown increasingly commonplace.
He sighed. Just another night in New York City.
Caraway stroked the corners of his mustache as he looked over the crime scene. Something was off, though he couldn’t pinpoint what. This wasn’t another Murder Corporation, or even some gangland execution. He had been on the front lines before, had seen what grenades and land mines could do to a person’s body and while some of the corpses looked like they had swallowed a bag of grenades, others appeared to have been crushed like a mouse beneath a boot heel. And aside from the bullet holes, there wasn’t a single scorch mark throughout the entire building.
“He talking yet?” Caraway asked, when he heard Sergeant Evan Wayland’s belly wobble up next to him. Wayland was another lifer; lived through more riots and mob shoot-outs than most anyone else. Rumor was you could tell how many years Wayland’s been on the force by the size of his belt.
“Had to change his pants more than a couple of times, but they’re sayin’ he’s ready to talk. He’s up on the top floor, what’s left of it at least.” Wayland rubbed at the grizzled gelatin of his chin. “Commissioner Wood’s up there too and he’s right pissed that this happened on our watch. Said Roosevelt’s been calling him up, talking about an ‘international incident.’”
“‘On our watch,’” Caraway snarled. “You see that goose stepper over there? Folded up like a dollar bill.” He spun on his heels and marched into the elevator. “Tell Roosevelt to come down here and take a look around. Ask him if he could’ve stopped something that could do that.” The elevator doors slid shut on Wayland’s befuddled expression, and Caraway jabbed angrily at the button for the top floor, ignoring the slight sting it gave him. “‘International incident,’” he grumbled after the lift doors closed. Rubbing his eyes as the elevator took him up to the penthouse, he realized, not for the first time, that he was painfully exhausted. His friend Jethro Dumont told him he needed to get more sleep, going so far as to give him some Tibetan herbs to help him relax. Caraway had looked at them with suspicion. “How can I sleep when the city is constantly falling into madness?” he had asked Jethro.
“Even madmen need sleep,” Jethro had replied, as if millionaire playboys knew what it took to defend a city.
The package remained unopened, buried at the bottom of his closet beneath wrinkled uniforms and bloodstained shirts. Perhaps that was why Francesca had left him—again—this morning. There was a time when she used to leave notes; now she just dissolved into the air like a wisp of smoke, the smell lingering like a half-remembered dream.
His throat tightened at the thought of her, and he glanced down at the floor of the lift, covered in footprints. Goddamn rookies, walking around a crime scene in muddy shoes. No wonder this city was practically infested with costumed vigilantes; half the cops were as dumb as the criminals. Even then, he didn’t trust all those nut cases running around in their pajamas and skivvies trying to act the hero.
Except for one.
The elevator doors shot open and Caraway found himself in a room crawling with blue uniforms, golden shields, and pistols. Like every other floor in the building, the walls were laced with bullet holes. And while there were fewer bodies up here, there were definitely more pieces. There were small pops and flashes of crime scene photographers documenting every possible grain of evidence, though Caraway doubted they would be of any use. A crime like this took a little more effort.