Kostadino Paleologos is a descendant of Byzantine emperors and lives with honour, duty and sacrifice. He returns to Istanbul to send trapped souls to their deserved rest. The final soul sends him on a quest to the mythic, ancient Library of Alexandria. There he finds a unique book which convinces him to abduct the infant Antichrist and raise him as his own.
Volume I is chapters 1-4 of Mad Gods. Download Vol II (chapters 5-8)
Istanbul conjured images of ancient history. Medieval Christian sculptures and mosaics stood among electric streetlights and movie posters. As he walked the city's streets, Kosta Paleologos saw the past amidst the modern hustle and bustle and felt grief, called monaxia - a longing for home and the familiar, which deepened in Istanbul. Everywhere, he saw faded glory, and turned Istanbul to Kostadinoupoli. Greeks to Byzantines.
Every year, he returned to the city on May 29th. It was a duty, which had been handed down through generations of this family with brown eyes, monaxia and brown hair. They were successors to Athens, Sparta, Macedonia and Rome. Pericles, Leonidas, Alexander and Caesars, from Julius to Constantine, evolved into Byzantine’s Emperor. He was Christ’s Caesar and ruled by divine decree, undreamt of by later pretenders. France’s Louis and Napoleon, England’s Henry and Charles, paled in comparison to Justinian and the First Constantine the Great. They were history. They were gone in every way, but in memory. Nothing remained as it was. No amount of prayer, hope or monaxia could change that.
Kosta knew this and came to Istanbul, because there were souls, still clinging to the history of their memories. Just as people prayed to God, Greeks felt monaxia and souls roamed Kostadinoupoli. To them, it was still 1453, and they fought desperately to keep their city. These unfortunate souls were unable to leave. They wandered and died in their memory. Over and over, they suffered lesser pain, than the total agony of death. They were terrified to face this absolute split from life. They were unable to accept the fact that they lived in history, because giving into its finality would utterly destroy them.
They were right. It was total destruction they feared - death. In order to stave it off, they existed in the past. Their frantic grasp of the belief that they would vanish kept them in Kostadinoupoli, when it was Istanbul.
Kosta and his family held no such illusions. They pitied the Byzantine ghosts, wandering their ancient, stone streets, but knew that history and Kostadinoupoli were gone forever. They were fabricated memory. They were similar, but not the past. A photograph isn’t the representation of reality we’ve come to believe it to be. God isn’t either. Our prayers make Him what we want Him to be. We’ve been told that history and God were and are, real, therefore, we believe.
Most in the Paleologos family believed. Even the extended families they married into believed in the Byzantine, Orthodox Theos: God. The Agelopoulos, Kazatzakis, Galanis, Gatzoyiannis and the rest believed like good, Greek Orthodox. Many envied that Kosta came to Kostadinoupoli every year - they didn’t call it Istanbul. Kosta rejected his uncles' and cousins' appeals to accompany him. This was something only he could do.
He looked up Yrebatan Caddesi and saw Hagia Sophia in the distance. The grand church was still distinguishable, between the later minarets and near the Ottoman, Blue Mosque. All about her, Turks, Greeks, Italians and too many others to list, walked on their individual ways. Some didn’t see the racial distinctions that Kosta noticed, but most didn’t care. They were that close to being racist and that far away from caring.
He ran a critical eye over them, trying to locate who didn’t belong, looking for someone who stood out from the living. Eventually, he did find her. She didn't see cars or any of the modern details, which through the centuries, eroded a remembered life.
Someone who walked with a shuffle to her confused step, as the world around her seeped into the past, clothing her senses. He approached the woman who saw no one. She didn’t see the modern slacks, blue jeans and neckties worn by the living. Her face and clothes were pale and colorless. Her dress, centuries old, fell on her in a shabby mess, beneath the kerchief covering her head. She didn’t speak when she noticed Kosta, but stopped abruptly, struck motionless. Her eyes were shocked wide and her mouth fell open in silence.