Full Text of My Novel "Prester John" Will Be Available Until the End of May (see links in lower right sidebar)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Prester John: Prologue

* Please note: This work is the intellectual property of Matthew Burden, protected under US copyright law, and is not to be removed, altered, or reproduced in any way.

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“Who is Prester John?”
The old man repeated the teenager’s question, sighing as he settled back into his chair. “That, my boy, is a very good question. A very good question indeed.”

He sat in silent repose for a long moment, a far-off spark in his eyes. He held a pipe in one hand, a cup of tea sitting at rest next to the other.
“First let me ask you this, lad,” he said at last. “Where did you hear the name?”
The teenager scratched nervously at his cheek. “I, um…I was cleaning up the basement, like you asked me to, and I found a box full of old papers.”
“Did you indeed?”
“I…well, I read a little bit of some of them. They sound like stories. Novels. Did you write them?”
The old man smiled. “Those stories? My dear boy, God wrote those stories. But,” he said, chuckling at the young man’s expression, “you’re right—mine was the hand that put them on paper. They are not novels.”
“What…you mean they’re true?”
Two hoary eyebrows matched the boy’s wonder. “Why wouldn’t they be?”
“Well, the parts I read…they sound incredible.”
“Yes, well. Who says real life can’t be incredible? Those stories are all true.”
The young man screwed up his eyes in thought. “Some of them looked like stories from a long time ago; some were more recent. And they’re all about the same guy—Prester John. But he can’t be real—real people don’t live that long.”
“When the very first Prester John walked the earth, there were rumors that he would never die.”
“Right…” said the boy, a smile turning his lips. “But you just said ‘the first Prester John’. So there was more than one.”
“Would you pry all my secrets away in one night?” the old man laughed. “Yes, there have been many.”
“Is there still a Prester John somewhere?”
The old man’s eyes lingered long on the teenager’s face. “I suspect,” he said gravely, “that the line is not yet at an end.”
Silence surrounded them for a long moment, there in the old man’s study, both minds whirling away into unspoken worlds.
Then the young man looked at his watch. “I still have some time before I need to go home. Would you tell me one of the stories?”
The old man smiled. “Of course. But if we start down this road, I think I may end up having to tell you all of the stories. So let’s begin at the beginning: when Prester John ceased to be merely one man, and began to be a legend.”

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