The God Key, Book I — Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

 

“Why are you taking me here, Yuppie?” David asked.

“You’ll see. Redneck.”

But all David could see were the last few stragglers leaving the museum; it was already past ten o’clock; closing time was 11:00 pm during the week. Perfect, he thought, it’s probably some yuppie wine-tasting, complete with brie and cardboard crackers.

As they entered, Dave couldn’t help feeling dwarfed by the massive granite columns and floors, the dizzyingly high ceilings and gorgeous marble staircases. And the awesome, solemn silence that seemed the province of all cathedrals and museums.

Dave tried to recall what they’d been talking about back at the observatory, before the tiny black sports car had entered their lives. But the somber nature of their surroundings and the odd, dreamlike feeling he’d had since the run from the rice-burner, stole all speech from him. Once inside, Cyndi brought him back to earth.

“We were talking of the Fallen,” she said, looking up at him with those big, olive-brown eyes. All he could hear inside his head was Oh boy . . . here we go again . . . moth to the flame . . . I’m outta my depth, in over my head and head over heels . . . Suddenly, an old Tears For Fears song started playing in his head. Something to do with being “head over heels,” and never finding out till he’s . . .

“Head over heels,” he blurted. “Jeeze.”

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing. Just thinking how . . . uh . . . head over heels I was about that article. Anyway, what about these Falling Ones?”

“Fallen Ones,” she corrected him, touching his forearm. “Angels who fell to earth in order to have sex with human females.” Now she gave his elbow a squeeze.

“Oh, yeah. What was that other name? Neph-something?” he asked, the skin along his forearm rising to her magnetic touch. The word ‘sex’ coming from those lush lips was riveting. Especially to a young man of 29. Hell, 69. Plus, that damned Tears for Fears song would not stop playing in his head. Something about keeping her distance with a system of touch? . . . Too apt.

“That other name shouldn’t be repeated. Trust me,” she said. “These beings are incredibly powerful. And Yahweh trusted them in the beginning, appointed them to be Man’s guardians, hence their other name, Grigori, Greek for ‘The Watchers.’”

“What does this have to do with that black car? Or the Roswell symbols?”

“You wanted to know what these creatures are, and I’m showing you,” she added, nodding toward the furthest exhibit: the Ancient & Prehistoric Gallery. “They are the reason for the Commandments and the Roswell debris.”

“Huh?”

“These are the beings who descended to earth thousands of years ago, the ones the Sumerians called the Anunnaki. But they didn’t merely mate with human women—they abducted them against their will—mated with them by force.”

“You mean, raped them,” Dave said.

“Exactly. And they spawned a race of mutants—hybrids. Giants,” she added, glancing away from him now. “Bloodthirsty, savage creatures also called Neph—by that other name. Yahweh was so furious, he damned them all—and warped their beauty, made them deformed . . . hideous . . . twisted beyond all recognition, their once glorious faces and forms made monstrous mockeries, and then . . . He abandoned Them. In the Abyss.”

“You know I don’t believe any of this, right? Religion is a fairy tale for children and a crutch for weaklings.”

“But you do believe in Sitchin, yes? And von Däniken?”

“Well . . . sort of. I mean, they make more sense than—”

“Than religion, I know. Just humor me while we head to the prehistoric exhibits.”

“So, you’re saying these mythical Watchers or Fallen things will—what? Try to stop me? Destroy my evidence? Or rape me?”

Cyndi glanced around the mostly empty museum before continuing—whether for caution or effect, Dave couldn’t tell.

“Nothing so mundane,” she replied. “Handsome, strapping lad like you? No, they’ll just reach out and touch you here,” she whispered, as she reached over and, incredibly, touched his zipper. “And here,” she added, with a light tap on his clavicle with her other hand. “They’ll slip their thumbnails in, rip you open, paddle about in your innards a bit, and then . . .” Still touching him, she leaned forward, smiled and said:

“ . . . they will devour you.”

 

Next up — Chapter 10

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THE GOD KEY, BOOK I: Return of the Nephilim — Chps. 7 & 8

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Chapter 7

Tamara Schnurr, teaching assistant and laboratory technician at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, died that evening during a botched robbery—or ritual slaughter, one of the two.

The crime scene looked more like a butcher’s shambles. In hell. The deceased was 28 years of age, an assistant professor of forensic archeology, at the Mt. Scopus Campus. It was she who’d run the carbon-14 tests on the bronze filings from the first two Eilat Hilton victims. She’d been scheduled to run the same tests on the purported Ten Command­ments later that week. Which was no longer possible, now.

Because now Tamara Schnurr was missing most of her neck, the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae, and a four-inch segment of her spinal cord. Autopsy would later reveal that she was also missing all of her cerebrospinal fluid—not just a little or even a lot, but all of it. It had apparently been drained from her by syringe or . . . something else.

The dead woman was also the only person outside the Oded Expedition to have actually handled the Ten Commandments tablets—which were now missing from the lab. Her death left only three other people who’d actually set eyes on the ancient engravings: 1) the magazine editor Durant; 2) the aging Dr. Oded and 3) the luckless Dave Connors, of Alexandria, VA.

Who, the Kabbalist mused, would never have to worry about aging.

***

But at that moment, 6,200 miles away in Alexandria, VA, Dave Connors didn’t see himself as luckless at all. How could he, when he was going to dinner with the sexiest star-jockey on earth?

Cyndi was beyond beautiful tonight: she looked like a dream, or a wish from Aladdin’s lantern. Not a genie, exactly—those were fictional characters based on the Djinn, terrible and hideous creatures; he’d seen enough “Wishmaster” films to know. And who was their god? Ahura-Mazda? Sounded like a sports car, or an exotic skin disease. He would look into it another time.

For now, all he could look into was Cyndi’s smoky, mysterious eyes . . . the eyes of an Arabian princess; an enchantress; a genie.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, breaking the spell.

“Hmph? Oh, nothing.” When Dave looked away from her, he spotted the black sports car with government plates, still parked in front of the observatory.

“Bastards,” he said, nodding. “Don’t look, but I think they’re watching us.”

“See?” she whispered. “I told you.”

“Oh, please,” he said, fully expecting her to crack a smile, or wink or do any of a million other things than what she actually did.

“Quick!” she yelled. “Get in my car. Don’t look back.”

He didn’t need to be asked twice.

He sprinted for the Mazda but she beat him to it, unlocked the driver’s side door, then his. Even before they got into the car and started it, they could hear the black rice-burner’s engine kick over and wind out like a four-cylinder demon. Then its lights came on like Klieg lights, or police spotlights, blinding them.

Cyndi mashed the accelerator to the floor, backed out over the embankment onto the grass median and fishtailed out of the parking lot, away down Mt. Nebo Road, lights off and flying.

The rice-burner stayed right behind them.

 

Chapter 8

At first, David thought they’d lost them. He glanced out the rear window, but saw nothing. Pure country blackness.

Then the spotlights exploded over the hill behind them, blinding him again.

“Who,” he asked, rubbing an eye, “are those guys?”

“Government,” was all she said.

“D.O.D.? Come on, Cyn . . .”

“I don’t know,” she returned. “All I know is we must lose them.”

“Then . . . lose ‘em.”

She kicked the RX9 into overdrive and spun around a tree-lined lane that branched in two directions: the larger road on the left went downhill through woods and into town, while the smaller lane to the right meandered into even deeper woods. Cyndi hit the brakes, made a quick right-left feint with her turn signal, then released the brakes—shutting off her tail lights and allowing her to jerk the wheel to the right at the last possible second. The rice-burner whizzed by on the left, into the forest. A moment later, they heard the crash of a tiny, foreign sports car meeting an American tree.

“Nice move,” Dave said, keeping his voice steady.

“Oh, I have plenty of those,” she said, patting his knee, her fingers lingering there.And drove on.

***

They disappeared deep into the countryside west and south of town. Since the rice-burner had been heading due south, the gap between the two cars widened with every mile. Better still, the goons in the sports car had just become intimately acquainted with a sizable oak, from the sound of it. By the time they crawled from the wreckage and called for help, David and Cyndi would be long gone.

Until they returned to work in the morning.

Dave mentioned this as Cyndi turned south and headed back toward town. She’d driven in a wide arc around the ruined rice-burner, leaving it and its occupants several miles behind them.

“Don’t worry about them,” she said. She pulled into traffic, and in seconds they were in Old Town, Dave’s neighborhood. She headed east, toward the waterfront, away from his apartment. Apparently, she wasn’t taking him home. “By the time they get bandaged up and find a new car,” she continued, “we’ll be long gone.”

When they reached the Alexandria Museum, on Union Street, she pulled into the parking lot, shut off the Mazda’s engine and lights, and climbed out of the car. Her skirt accidentally rode up her right thigh, which Dave tried to ignore. Then she closed the door and locked it by remote, eliciting a double-chirp.

Puzzled, David came around the back of the car to join her. “But . . . won’t they simply go back to the observatory and wait for us? I mean, we have to go there eventually; it’s where we work.”

“Worked,” she corrected him. “You are now officially on vacation. As am I,” she added, taking his arm in hers and leading him up the walkway to the museum’s front doors. Dave walked beside her, feeling confused and disoriented, as if caught in a dream.

This feeling intensified when he saw a newspaper rack with the Washington Post’s headline: THREE DEAD AFTER COMMANDMENTS DISCOVERY.

“What the . . .” He stopped cold. Like a sleepwalker, he dropped coins into the news rack, took the first copy and, with an expression of mounting horror, read the piece. After all the usual hysteria revolving around the “Great Alignment” with the “Dark Rift” on the 21st , was the story from Eilat. The Massacre there.

This was what he’d left behind him in Israel: the savage deaths of Dr. Sarah Mills and her assistant, Amir el-Bara, along with the disappearance and murder of Dr. Globus. Dave’s name was not mentioned, though the article claimed Israeli Police were pursuing a “subject of interest” who’d left the morning after the slaughter. He stood rooted to the spot until he’d finished the entire piece.

This thing was not over—not by a long shot. Missing photos were one thing . . . but dead professors? Slaughtered archaeologists? He shook his head, relieved he’d at least mailed three copies of the Commandments photos to his editor, Will Durant, in New York. Otherwise, there would be no proof of what he’d seen—and discovered.

***

But if Dave Connors was feeling off-balance and slightly surreal, his editor was feeling as if he’d just stepped into a horror film . . . or had one step into him.

Will Durant had been lounging on his living room divan, dressed in his new, fuchsia lounging suit (which matched the divan’s trim perfectly), smoking a Doral and reading a second article from another freelancer on the Oded Find. It was a solid piece of journalism, if a bit dry. It lacked flavor—despite the ashes he kept sprinkling on it.

He loved flavor, did Will Durant. Above all, he prized description—vivid, florid adjectives in abundance, adverbs tripping over each other, all painting a perfect portrait for the reader. He puffed away contentedly, thinking how he might run the piece as a sidebar to Dave Connors’s priceless Commandments photos, when he heard it:

A noise in the kitchen, just down the hall.

The backdoor? Was someone? . . . no, all quiet again. Just the house settling.

Then he heard it again: a furtive thumping, bumping sound. Definitely from the kitchen’s backdoor. He butted his cigarette and sat up on the divan.

From the sound, it was someone big. And clumsy. He was banging into everything, making a hell of a racket. It couldn’t be a burglar, then . . . could it?

He set down the Commandments photos and stood up from the divan. Paused. Listened. And heard something he didn’t like at all, something horrible beyond words. He couldn’t describe what it sounded like precisely; there simply were no adjectives for this. It was so foul, so . . . repulsive. Wet, sick, sticky and thick.

And the stench—like rotting meat and feces, mixed with urine, sperm, dirt and —and was that gasoline? In his house? The combined odors were growing stronger by the moment, wafting up the hall as if in search of him.

Will Durant, who’d once dated a policeman named Marc, grabbed his Glock Model 17 from under the divan. It was birthday present from Marc, before the boy had met a rich sugar daddy from L.A. and gone to California with him. It was all Will had left of the affair, and he kept it loaded and oiled at all times. Not because he lived in a bad neighborhood, but when one was a closet queen, one could never be too careful. Now, he cocked the slide, chambered a .45 round and stepped to the edge of the hallway.

And listened again.

It was coming. Whoever or whatever it was, it was coming. It sounded big, dumb and clumsy, and smelled like rotting garbage in a seafood dumpster, or a plugged septic tank. It had to be a homeless person or a wino, no one dangerous.

Then the intruder stepped partially into the hallway.

Will looked and saw that it was . . .

(oh dear God, what the h—?)

. . . just a deformity, he realized. A deformed man. He could just make out a misshapen silhouette at the end of the hall. That’s all: a poor cripple seeking help—a street person. Will tried to smile as it . . .

                                        (sweet Jesus what the hell is that?)

. . . stepped into view.

“God in heaven . . .” he whimpered, his voice high and whiney in his throat. In that moment of insane terror, he knew somehow that the Oded piece was connected to this, and that he, William Durant, would not be coming out of this alive. “No, not that please dear God not that . . . ”

But it was that.

And it was hungry.

The creature allowed the human to empty the gun into its chest and “face,” then set to work on the man’s neck, where the life-giving fluid awaited.

And Will Durant, editor of World News Weekly—who simply could not abide stories without flavor, teeming with juicy adjectives and adverbs—was getting the full flavor of his own death just then, in pitiless, juicy detail.

The thing reached out a hand the size of a catcher’s mitt, and grabbed Durant’s throat, lifting him off the floor as if he were a paper sack. Eyeless, it pushed its blind, idiot “face” into Will’s and lapped at his mouth with a sandpaper tongue as it squeezed harder and tighter, crushing and crunching the glottis. Durant was fully aware of every snap and crackle, able to see his own blood spurt from his mouth like black ink in the shadowy darkness. It spattered over his new fuchsia lounge suit, followed by a trail of slimy blue tendrils, some smaller gray cords and other stringy stuff that shimmered in the light as they plopped onto his collar. Still conscious, he watched as the creature emitted a sloppy, blue tendril of its own—but far larger and more solid than anything spilling from his own throat, like a section of intestine or bowel. The tubular obscenity slipped slick and dripping from the thing’s mouth and began winding itself around Durant’s neck, the dark blue, bowel-like tube emitting a noxious odor like human feces and death. At last, overcome with horror, Will heard his own death rattle gurgling from his throat, felt the back of his neck being ripped open—even heard the horrible !pop! as the thing poked its blade and proboscis inside Will’s neck, probing and digging about until it sucked the spinal cord out of the vertebrae and began draining it before all feeling ceased and everything went gray, then black, then to merciful, if somewhat flavorless, nothingness.

The Kabbalist followed his assassin into the house, ignoring the feast at hand, and scooped up the Command­ments photos. He glanced at them briefly, then tore them to pieces and poured gasoline on them. Then he poured more on the floor, the divan, the computer, telephone and filing cabinet. He splashed five gallons of gasoline all over the ground floor, then struck a match and held it.

“Working with you is such a gas,” he said. And held the match overhead.

The thing beside him squealed with delight—a curiously high, chirring, insectile sound. It began bobbing up and down on its pseudo-feet, like some giant, grotesque child. The Kabbalist beamed upon his creation with pride.

“Come.” He flipped the match onto Durant’s corpse and it burst into flame.

The fire consumed William Durant’s house and all his belongings—including his body. Warped and charred from the inferno, it would betray no trace of the cause of death. Since he smoked, it would be put down to that:

Falling asleep with a cigarette.

#

THE GOD KEY, BOOK I: Return of the Nephilim – FREE READ – Chapters 5 & 6

TGK FRONT Cover FINAL

Chapter 5:

Dave parked at the back of the observatory lot, which was usually empty by 5:00 p.m., save for the all-nighters—mostly grad school students working on their doctorates. At 29, Connors was the oldest employee on staff without an advanced degree, and the only part-timer. He earned slightly above minimum wage. Mortifying, yes, but it was his own fault and he knew it. Sometimes, Life in The Big City simply sucked, that’s all.
It sucked even worse when one beat up the son of the local District Attorney.
Which, of course, was the identity of the giant, slobbering drunk who’d manhandled Cyndi Malach that long ago night at Rockitt’s Pub.
Certainly, Dave didn’t know it at the time, had no idea who the man was. All he knew was that a drooling, leering Goliath was groping his Bathsheba. And, like the biblical David, he went to war—all testosterone, honor and righteous indignation. He was convicted of Assault & Battery and sentenced to two years in state prison (de-ferred in favor of two years probation, including “anger management” classes).
No matter that Cyndi had emerged with scratches, bruises and torn clothing from the giant, David was toast. The SEALs booted him, the Navy gave him a dishonorable, and left him to scramble like a busted egg. All he had left to show for his three years service was a mean left hook, cannonball deltoids and a thick set of trapezius muscles that bunched up on either side of his neck like a pair of cobras—the result of hoisting heavy anchor chain. The effect made him look pissed off and vaguely dangerous. Which didn’t exactly help with the ladies. Thanks SEALs! Still, Cyndi knew he was gentler than he appeared, and immediately offered him the part-time gig at her obser-vatory.
But . . . he declined. He had to go it on his own.
Then irony, never far from human affairs, stepped in: he hired on as a bouncer at Rockitt’s—the very club where he’d lost his SEAL career. Seemed the owner had seen him take care of “the Groper” and was impressed. Within six months, David had saved up enough to enroll in UVA’s archeology program. What the hell, he’d always been intrigued by fossils, and burying himself in the deep, dark dirt sounded about right to him, just then.
Things started looking up. He won the Fulbright Scholarship for two years study in Israel under Dr. Oded, who actually took him in to live with him, his wife Sophie and disabled brother, Mawet, a hydroencephalus patient, who was consigned to a bed in a dimly lit back room. The Fulbright money eventually ran out, however, and he re-turned home flat broke. And finally accepted Cyndi’s offer.
That she’d actually hired him, sans experience, was a miracle. He abandoned his studies for a paycheck, and counted himself lucky.
Yeah, lucky, he often told himself, staying positive. High-tech. Cutting-edge.
The laser-geeking was a dead-end, part-time job; hence, the freelancing. And still he usually had too much month left at the end of each paycheck. In truth, he only had two reasons for actually coming in to work anymore, and one of them wasn’t the “pay.”
The first reason, of course, was to look at Cyndi, to be near Cyndi . . . to watch her move, hear her voice. He wasn’t a stalker, he was simply infatuated—and trying not to be. Still, Cyndi made the nightly grind much more tolerable than it would’ve been oth-erwise. (It didn’t help that she’d turned him on to Stevie Wonder, whose velvet, heart-wringing melodies only made him that much more moonstruck).
The second reason was the bug-zapping.
Though hired to beam artificial “guide-stars” into space via lasers, for focusing the huge optical telescopes, Dave soon found other uses for his toys. During down time, he often amused himself by unleashing the smaller laser on local insects—mosquitoes, flies, wasps, moths, etc. Over the years, he’d become a surprisingly good shot.
If there were a doctorate for frying bugs on the fly, he would’ve won it long ago. Naturally, he kept his pastime a secret: using the observatory’s lasers on the local fau-na and flora could get him fired, especially now that the D.O.D. had taken over the facility.
As he walked from the parking lot toward the great, dome-shaped building, Dave noticed the new, metallic-blue, 2013 Mazda RX9 in the corner space. Cyndi Malach, the Assistant Director was still there, putting in the midnight oil on that Mayan Doomsday nonsense for the D.O.D. Though he didn’t envy her that particu-lar chore, Dave did like her Mazda. No, scratch that: he loved it.
The car was a rocket on wheels: an 800cc x 2 engine, goosed by an electric super-charger. Though it only cranked 300 horses, it also harbored a twin-clutched, six-speed, manual tranny with two floor pedals. The little bugger would explode off the line.
He was picturing himself at the wheel of such a beast when he noticed another car parked in front of the observatory. This one looked like a scorcher, too, though he couldn’t determine year, make or model. It was one of those generic, foreign sports-utility-rice-burners built off-shore somewhere.
Whatever it was, the car was midnight black and built for speed. Maybe a Nissan or Mitsubishi, he didn’t know. He knew it would hit 60 mph before he did on foot, that was certain (though why he thought of running from it wasn’t so certain).
At that moment, it wasn’t hitting anything: it was parked—in a no-parking zone, baring signs warning violators they would be towed at the owner’s expense. Weird.
When he saw the plates, Dave realized why it was flouting the law: it was a government car, of course—all animals being equal, only some being more equal than others . . . (Probably D.O.D; bastards couldn’t stay away from Mt. Nebo).
Weird, too, was the odd stillness he noticed on entering the observatory . . .
as if the whole building were holding its breath, waiting for something—but what? The dreaded Dark Rift to gape open? More solar flares? Maybe the Mayan Doomsday was nigh, after all.
Connors scanned his I.D. card in the security turnstile and strolled into the observatory, his senses on alert, though he couldn’t say why. It was then 5:02 p.m., and he couldn’t shake the feeling—the certainty—that something was indeed about to happen.
***

As it turned out, he was right—though it was happening 12 miles away at Ronald Reagan International Airport.
At 5:05 p.m. that evening, El Al flight #911, an L1011 jumbo jet out of Tel Aviv, taxied to a stop at the end of runway 3A and began disgorging its 276 passengers. Three of them, Israeli nationals traveling together, went through the usual security pro-cedures like all the other passengers, waited for their luggage like everyone else, and blended in as much as possible. No special treatment, no favors, no notice.
They stopped at the Alamo car rental desk and hired a late-model, black foreign sports sedan—modest enough to blend in, yet fast enough for their purposes. They would only need it for a few days—three, at most. Then, their cargo would be in hand, their mission at an end. Child’s play, really, for the two Mossad agents, Moshe and Aaron.
Something more for their IPD escort, Sgt. Heim.
For Mordecai Heim, it was the chance of a lifetime—to make his name in the po-lice force, cement his position at Jerusalem HQ and even move up a grade to Lieuten-ant, with a concomitant rise in pay—and he only 33 years of age. And when Inspector Schriever finally retired, there Lt. Heim would be, perched over the position, poised to fill the void—the successor insessorial. At 35, say—36 at most.
True, he had to make sure he and his Mossad friends played by the rules. The unit, ridiculously code-name “Whale” (as part of Schriever’s “Operation Jonah”), had to stay under the radar at all times—no contact with American security or police agencies whatsoever—especially not the FBI. Jerusalem HQ had made this an imperative, and would not tolerate any deviance from the course.
Certainly, he could kill the American if it came down to it, but he hoped it wouldn’t. Far better, the treats in store for Connors in Israel.
And to make it happen, Heim had to first observe—then capture—the suspect. Play by the rules. Then get him back to Israel, preferably in one piece. For questioning, yes. Ah, the questioning. How he looked forward to that.
Now, he was in the suspect’s hometown. Connors’s capture—and Heim’s career elevation—was only days, perhaps hours, away.
The good sergeant couldn’t have known it yet, but he would have competition.
Deadly competition.

Chapter 6

Col. Whit Stansfield, USAF and ad hoc Majestic-12 agent, was in the black sports sedan on Mt. Nebo Road, going through his pre-sanction routine: checking the slide of his Sig Sauer .40, making sure the pre-ban clip (with 14 rounds) was properly seated in the firing chamber, and double-checking his line-of-sight to the target. There would be no room for error.
No attempt at kidnapping him, no chance for talk, bargaining, or explanation. The Kabbalist’s orders had been clear. And the old Jewish Wizard was one of the Big Boys, one of the Inner Sanctum of failed CIA agents, FBI clods and others who served M-12. Indeed, the Kabbalist served as The Voice of God, as far as M-12 agents were concerned. He Who Must Be Obeyed.
And he wasn’t even remotely American . . . but a babbling, half-whacked, old Jew-ish wizard in Jerusalem—a cultist. A man of fearsome reputation, however, known only to a handful of the M-12 faithful as “The Kabbalist.”
Bizarre. That it had all come this: assassinating a part-time, minimum-wage laser dweeb. Oh, how the agency had fallen—and from what lofty heights. Who would have thought, 60 years ago during the early days of Operation Grudge, that within two gen-erations they would be charging about Northern Virginia killing meaningless little bugs like Connors at the whim of some antiquated Hebrew Mumbo-Jumbo Man. It was beyond bizarre, it was ludicrous . . . humiliating . . . heartbreaking, even.
Col. Stansfield was a proud American. Had fought and bled for his country. Knew nu-clear holocaust was inevitable, as was the return of . . . Them. The original colonists. And to think the Agency had once thought of them as harmless little “Greys,” or EBEs (Extraterres-trial Biologic Entities). Patently absurd, all of it. Now this.
But, orders were orders, and Col. Whit (“Ruff-n-Ready”) Stansfield followed his orders like a good soldier. So, he would follow these, as well, along with his half-witted Army driver and the faceless, nameless being in the backseat who seemed more like a shadow than an M-12 agent . . . or a human, for that matter.
Besides, Stansfield had nothing better to do of a cold, blustery, Monday night in late-November.
And he hadn’t killed anyone in months.
***

As Sgt. Heim & Co. were piling into their black sports car at the airport, and the M-12 agents parked out front were preparing for his assassination, David Connors was navigating the “beehive.” This was his nickname for the honeycomb of computer sta-tions and telescope monitors that filled the front of Mt. Nebo Observatory. Even as he neared his own “cell,” a few of the drones were already buzzing with the usual ribbing:
“Oooh, here comes Moses, fresh from the Mount.”
“Hey, Moses, you bring back any manna?”
“Yo, Moze, how was that burning bush?”
Even though WNW hadn’t published his Ten Commandments piece yet, his fans knew about his recent travels. Dave acknowledged them with a deep bow, straightened up and said: “I just want to thank all the little people here who made it possible.”
A few catcalls and groans met this. Dave smiled, waved them quiet, and said: “Honestly, folks, if you don’t keep it down you’re gonna get me promoted.”
This sparked a burst of jeering: no one was ever promoted from the student em-ployee pool. Ever since the Department of Defense had commandeered Mt. Nebo last fall, for “government service” (due to the coming “Great Alignment” on Dec. 21st), observatory staff had become little more than hourly hirelings—among the lowest-paid PhDs and MAs on earth. (“But good enough for government work!” as they often re-minded each other).
No more exploration of the stars, no more study of distant galaxies, only what the D.O.D. told them to observe—and that was “The Dark Rift,” the gaping void at the center of their own galaxy. As a result, the initials D.O.D. were anathema at Mt. Nebo, and the word “government” was always uttered with a certain glottal sound.
Connors saluted his fellow hirelings and continued down the hall to his cell, mut-tering “Work, work, work . . .”
“Is for jerk, jerk, jerks,” the Assistant Director, Cyndi Malach, said as he entered the laser cubicle. She’d been waiting for him.
“Oh, Cyndi,” he said, taken aback. “I mean, Doctor Malach.”
“Save it, Rock Em.” It was her favorite nickname for him, from the 1960s toy. She’d bestowed it on him the night he rescued her from The Groper at Rockitt’s. The only other name she had for him was “redneck,” which, at least, was accurate. “We’re long past formalities, don’t you think?” she added.
“Sure,” he said. “I mean, it’s not like we’re strangers or anything. Yuppie.”
“Caveman,” she returned. “I haven’t forgotten,” she added, with just the hint of a grin flirting with one corner of her mouth. “I still say, for a redneck laser-geek, you’re the best kisser I’ve ever met.”
Oh boy . . . Why bring that up now? Yeah, so they’d kissed—once—five years ago. His reward for rescuing her from The Groper. But she’d told him then it could never be, that she was too old for him, from too different a background. So he’d em-braced archeology, gone to Israel for two years to forget about her and that was that. Now this?
“Yes, well, er,” he said, with his usual eloquence. “That’s . . . very nice.”
She gave him a coolly appraising glance—which only made her look more Arabic or In-dian, or Whatever, more sultry than any observatory A.D. had a right to be.
“Your heart seems bowed down,” she said, sounding oddly like a fortune-teller. “As if you’d just lost your best friend.”
“Bingo,” he said. “If your best friend happens to be photos of space debris.”
“I see,” she said, though David couldn’t imagine how.
“Well, it’s probably time for me to get to—”
“Work?” she scoffed. “You? That’s a laugh. You do nothing but zap insects all night. I know: I’ve seen you.”
David’s stomach plummeted. She’d seen him? He had no clue anyone even knew about it—let alone seen him doing it.
“Hey, someone’s gotta keep the mosquitoes at bay,” he tried.
“There are no mosquitoes here in December.”
“OK, wasps then.”
No reply.
“Moths?” he tried. “Dung beetles? D.O.D. Inspectors? Look, it’s my one eccen-tricity,” he said. “Don’t fire me, Cyn. Not yet.”
“Oh, you have something bigger in mind?” she teased. “Zapping an asteroid, per-haps, or space aliens? What are you, the Buck Rodgers of Northern Virginia?”
“Well. That would be good enough for government work,” he replied.
“You have a point,” she allowed. “But if you wear a hat, maybe no one will notice. Now, how about making some guide stars for me? Or is that asking too much?”
“You know, I resemble this whole line of questioning,” Dave said. “I don’t work here, dammit, I just work here.”
“Please.” She turned away, produced an actual clipboard and began recording in-strument readings from the monitors in David’s cell. “You’re too busy target-practicing to find time for work.”
“Hey, I only zap—er, eliminate pests—during down time,” he replied. “Between lasering your guide stars. Besides,” he continued, “do you really think of this as work? Sitting on your can all night in an air-conditioned office, fiddle-farting around on la-sers? That’s not work, that’s play.”
“Yeah, right. I’ll bet you don’t even know what LASER stands for.”
“You mean, Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation?”
“Oooh, you are Buck Rogers. Company Man.”
“Damn straight I’m Company Man,” Dave said. “I’d volunteer to work here.”
“Brown-noser.”
“I’d pay to work here.”
“Bull. You just like my legs.”
“Guilty!” he admitted, with a laugh. OK, so he still liked Cyndi. A lot. And, al-though they had shared one kiss that night at Rockitt’s, there hadn’t been anything but chemistry between them since. Not just because of the age difference, but the cultural divide; her parents were Old School Hindus or Whatever, and would vapor-lock.
Still, for the 40-year-old daughter of same, Cyndi was . . . pretty hot. And sharp. And while many of their co-workers found her aloof and vaguely spooky, to Dave’s mind the world could use more Cyndi Malachs—a lot more. She was an angel.
“So, the prisoner admits his guilt,” she said, her gaze never leaving the monitor. “Your sentence is . . . one drink after work. Avec moi. But only one.”
“I’d love to, Cyn, but—”
“Silence! The prisoner refuses to comply. Punishment: remove what’s left of his manhood.”
“You’ll have to get ‘em back from the D.O.D. first.”
“Ha! He admits the government has his yarbles. Confession!”
“Confession,” he agreed.
“Very well. Enough of this gay banter,” she said. “Make me some guide stars.”
“Zen ze zappingk of inzects,” he said. “Hey, how’s that for alliteration? Zen ze zappingk of inzects?”
“You certainly are alliterate,” she said. “No, after that, the Azziztant Director goes home. To bed.”
David, still in the swing of things, almost blurted out “Alone?” but thought better. Instead, he returned to his work, aware of a squeezing sensation in his chest. Just the jail cell of his heart, keeping him prisoner. Still. He hadn’t been close to anyone else since.
In the years since their brief kiss, Dave and Cyndi had forged a professional, yet friendly, bond. He counted on her to find even the most obscure objects in the night’s sky, and she relied on him for multiple guide stars, at varying elevations, from the dif-ferent lasers on hand.
They worked extremely well together, like a two-person volleyball team, though their “net” was now only The Dark Rift. Uncle Sam seemed to be expecting something to come out of it, so . . . they were doomed to watch it. Ridiculous.
And, yes, dammit, she did have nice legs. Scratch that, she had great legs—and a figure to match: curves that just didn’t quit, busty yet toned, with a trim, hourglass waist; long, silky, black hair; big, brown, bedroom eyes and—
—and who-o-o-oa, David, knock it off. Way off. What the hell was he thinking about? He was a laser-geek; she was a full-fledged PhD and Assistant Director of the observatory. And drop-dead gorgeous. Besides, there were plenty of other women who seemed to enjoy his company of a cold winter’s night. If only he could say the same for them . . .
But none of them were Cyndi. Every time he looked at her, he heard Stevie Won-der’s “That Girl.” The sandy, soulful voice against the backdrop of those deep, rich keyboards nearly knocked his moorings loose whenever he heard it—or saw Cyndi.
She looked like a Middle Eastern belly dancer, or a gypsy fortune-teller, with her coal-black hair and flashing eyes, her dark complexion and lush, seductive figure. She always wore tasteful, yet tight-fitting clothes and big hoop earrings, which only em-phasized the gypsy effect. It didn’t help that her background was so mysterious.
Rumor had it she’d escaped an abusive marriage in some Muslim country, and was being hunted by a jealous sheik. Others claimed she was an operative for the Israeli Mossad, and that her real name wasn’t “Cyndi Malach” at all. And still others insisted she was the daughter of a wealthy Romanian family (gypsies!), who’d run away as a teen.
Whatever the truth might be, she was unquestionably dangerous. Dave knew that spending even one night with her could spell disaster for him, so . . . maybe it was for the best they were just friends. Besides, he wasn’t a walking teenaged hor-mone anymore; he was almost 30 now. Not exactly old, certainly, but . . . time was catching up to him. Testosterone’s tyranny would soon be a memory, as the big head finally took command.
“Oh, speaking of commands . . .” he said.
Cyndi, still jotting down notes, leaned toward him. “Yeh-h-hs?”
“You’ll never guess what I saw in the Sinai last week.”
“Hmm, let’s see,” she replied. “Something vaguely Commandment-ish?”
“Yeah, but—”
“I’ll even bet there were . . . oh, I dunno . . . ten of them?”
“Yeah, yeah, so you’ve seen the news.” He turned from his monitor and pushed his chair closer to her. “I meant what I noticed. Personally.”
Cyndi stopped jotting notes and turned to look him in the eye. “What do you mean, what you noticed? Personally?”
“About the Commandments themselves,” he whispered. “The symbols used.”
Cyndi blinked. “Ancient Hebrew, aren’t they?”
David smiled and shook his head. “Guess again.”
“OK . . . Polish? Rastafarian?”
“Nice try. No, what I noticed,” he said, glancing at the cubicle entrance behind them, “is that the Commandments symbols look just like the ones on the Roswell de-bris.”
“The what debris?”
“Roswell, Roswell. You know. UFO crashes in 1947, debris found by local ranch-er, Army confirms they’ve found part of a ‘flying disc,’ then covers it up next day with a ‘weather balloon’ story.”
“Oh,” Cyndi said. “That Roswell.”
“And it made me wonder: if the Ten Commandments and the Roswell symbols are in the same language, wouldn’t that mean God was a . . .” He shrugged.
“A what?” Cyndi asked, as she resumed writing. “A weather balloon?”
“Hey, good enough for government work,” he said. “But, really, wouldn’t you con-sider proof of God’s true identity just a tad mind-blowing?”
“Of course not. He made the place, right? Bound to have left His fingerprints around here somewhere. Besides,” she added, “I don’t need proof.”
“Well, that certainly makes one of us.” This wasn’t going at all the way he’d hoped. He’d wanted to impress Cyndi, for some reason, but was failing miserably. Probably best to just get back to work and—
“So, you don’t believe in God?” she asked, turning to face him again.
“Not since I turned twelve and sprouted a brain. Don’t tell me you do.”
No reply, save a subtle arching of an eyebrow.
“Oh, come on, Cyn . . . The Invisible Man in the Sky? Watching everything we do? I’d sooner believe Von Däniken or Sitchin. At least their theories offer comic re-lief.”
“Theories?” she said. “Oh, you mean like the ones in ‘Chariots of the Gods?’ Or ‘The Twelfth Planet?’ Ancient Aliens? The Anunnaki?”
“Hey, highly advanced aliens bumping into Stone Age man and playing ‘god’ isn’t all that far-fetched. I mean, we can’t be the only sentient life-form in the universe.”
“You mean intelligent life-form.”
“Mmm-no, I wouldn’t go that far,” Dave said. “But think for a sec: the universe is, what, fourteen billion years old? And the earth is maybe four or five billion? It only stands to reason there are other planets much older than ours.”
“So?”
“So, their civilizations would also be older—perhaps billions of years ahead of ours. To us, their technology would certainly seem godlike. Think about the cargo cults of the South Pacific after World War II. Or any primitive tribe when visited by so-called ‘modern technology.’ What do they invariably do? They worship it . . . or try to eat it.”
“‘Take, eat; this is my body,’” she quoted, “‘this do in remembrance of me.’”
“Exactly. And what about those descriptions of ‘God’ in Genesis or Exodus? Sure sound like UFO encounters to me. At least, they did the last time I read them.”
“At twelve, you mean? When you were sprouting your alleged brain?”
“Yeah, I read everything back then. When I was still looking for answers.”
“Answers? To what?”
Dave shrugged. “You know. Why life for most people is so brutal, brief and mean-ingless. Why man is so stupid, suicidal and full of crap. That sort of thing.”
“Bet you’re fun at parties.”
“And such sanctimonious crap, too,” he continued. “What did Mark Twain say? ‘Man is the only creature with the ability to blush—or the need to.’”
“And you think the notion of God-as-Alien explains all that?”
“Makes more sense than religion. Just look at the world we live in. Is this really the crowning achievement of a Supreme Being? Seems more like the work of a cranky of-fice temp. No, it’s clearly an accident—a biological mishap in some backwater of the cosmos, with Man as evolutionary detour. Nothing more.”
“Perfect,” she replied. “An Existentialist poet with just enough hope left to com-plain. A Nietzsche with hemorrhoids.”
“Hey, I resemble that remark. But at least the ‘Ancient Aliens’ theory makes some sense. And there are plenty of out-of-place artifacts to back it up.”
“Oh, no, not OOPArts,” Cyndi groaned. “OK, then, let’s have it: your favorites. But make it quick; we’ve got work to do.”
“OK, how about Baalbek and its Trilithon stones? Three perfectly cut, 1000-ton blocks—stones so huge even modern cranes can’t move them. Yet we’re supposed to believe ancient Man quarried, carried, and set them perfectly into place 6,000 years ago? Yeah, right. Or what about the Abydos Hieroglyphs—3,000-year-old Egyptian tomb carvings of a helicopter, a submarine, a modern jet and a flying sau-cer? I mean, how do you account for that?”
“Crypto-archeology . . .” She shook her head. “David, you surprise me. It’s just plain bad archeology, you should know that. Shoddy scholarship and shaky conclu-sions all wrapped up in a conspiracy-theory play set. Please . . . tell me you know bet-ter.”
“But I don’t know better,” he said. “The world’s loaded with such artifacts—but because mainstream science can’t explain them, they’re dismissed as ‘bad archeol-ogy?’”
“So, God’s still not good enough for you?” she asked. “You have to go in for this crypto-babble?”
“No, I just don’t believe any all-powerful, all-knowing ‘god’ is watching over us. The idea’s childish, like believing in a Super-Santa on steroids. But at least Mr. Claus wasn’t a hypocrite—a psalm-singing, serial-killing psychopath.”
Cyndi shook her head, her long, raven-black hair swinging over her hoop earrings, yet her laugh was light and silvery as the moon.
“Oh, my. Why not tell us how you really feel,” she said. “David, you of all people should have at least some faith,” Cyndi replied. “You covered the Oded Expedition; you saw them find the Ten Commandments—the original tablets—the ones carved by God. And still you don’t believe?”
“All I believe,” he said, “is that the Commandments symbols are extremely similar to those on the Roswell debris, that’s all. Dr. Oded himself agreed with me.”
“He was probably just humoring you.” Cyndi took a seat in the room’s only other chair, then leaned back and crossed her (very) shapely legs. She was wearing a skirt under her white lab coat, along with heels and black hose, which Dave tried not to notice. “So, let me get this straight: you can believe in little green men from space but not in God, right? Or you believe God’s an alien?”
“Well . . . yeah. That’s what I wanted to reveal in my article—that the similarity between those two sets of symbols indicates that God is, in all probability, a—”
“A weather-balloon, yes, I know,” she said. “And your proof?”
Dave felt the floor of his stomach drop away, and his heart fall right through it.
“I . . . lost my proof,” he said. “My debris photos. Someone stole them.”
“Uh huh. And the ‘debris’ itself?”
Dave was actually blushing now. “The owner is . . . also missing. Vanished.”
“I see,” she said. “So, what you’ve got are a few photographs of the Ten Com-mandments, along with some missing photos of ‘extremely similar’ symbols on this Roswell debris. But you can’t prove any of this because the owner of said debris is also missing. Is that about right?”
Dave didn’t reply; he thought she’d summed it up pretty well. Then drove home the final nail: “So, what you believe in is Chariots of the Gods meets The Twelfth Planet in Nietzsche’s bidet, right?”
“Exactly. No—I mean, yes. I mean . . . ah, hell, I don’t know.”
Just then, some Navy brass strutted past the door of their cubicle: one Lt. Commander and two Captains, followed by a retinue of Mt. Nebo geeks. Which ended any further conversation with Cyndi: she left the laser room and followed them down the hall while Dave turned back to his monitor, thoroughly pissed at himself.
He shouldn’t have slammed Cyndi’s beliefs like that; it was uncalled for. But he couldn’t help it. Intelligent people—people he admired—clinging to such childish nonsense always brought out the skeptic in him, the Voice of Reason. The Man of Logic.
Logic my crypto-babble ass, he thought. He would have to make it up to her. Dave prized Cyndi’s friendship and didn’t want to lose it quibbling over the existence of “God.” He was about to slap himself when her voice, soft as an angel’s wing, floated back through the open door: “Oh, by the way . . .”
“Yeah?” He leaned back in his chair and turned to face her.
“I think I know someone who can help you. With the Roswell end.”
“Say what?” He scooted his chair forward.
“The Roswell debris,” she added. “I have a friend who told me he once saw it, too, many years ago. I think he even sketched it.”
Dave tried to smile. “You know, there are better ways to tease me . . .”
“No tease, Rock Em. He’s an old friend of mine, a physics professor at Washing-ton U. His secret hobby is UFO trace evidence. I’ve got his card here somewhere.” She produced a purse, rummaged in it, then pulled a winner from her wallet. “Here.”
It was this she’d left his office for, not the geeks. She’d gone all the way down the hall to her office for this card. And a weird-looking thing it was, too: a black business card with a silver etching of a telescope and stars, along with the name “Ross Galilei, PhD,” an Alexandria address and phone number.
“Thanks, Cyn.” (UFO trace evidence?) Flaky to be sure, but since when did that ever stop him? Besides, if this Galilei had a sketch of the Roswell symbols, he might still salvage the Ten Commandments/Roswell angle. And the Pulitzer.
“Oh, one last thing,” Cyndi said.
“Yeah?”
“If this evidence of yours is for real . . .”
“It is,” he stated.
“Then you could become . . . a target.”
“Oh, c’mon, Cyn,” he said. “Please. Be mellow or dramatic, but not both.”
“I’m serious. You’ll be in enough danger here, in the States. But once you return to Israel, you’ll be in their backyard.”
“Whoa. Who says I’m returning to Israel?” he asked.
“You have to. You have no choice.”
Dave smiled and leaned toward her, like a parent explaining something to a child.
“I don’t know if you’re aware of this, Cyn, but my boss is notoriously tight-fisted. Gorgeous, yes; brilliant, absolutely, but she can squeeze a penny till it screams. What makes you think she’ll cut me more time off?”
“Oh, I think she’ll manage,” she said. “Call it an early vacation—with pay. Be-sides,” Cyndi added, “she really has no choice, either.”
Dave grinned. “Quite the fatalist, aren’t you? No choice for anyone, huh?”
“None. And when you do go back, you’ll be in their sandbox. I’m not talking about the Israelis or the Palestinians or even Muslim terrorists. I’m talking about . . . the Neph—I mean, the Fallen Ones.”
The room seemed to fall a shade darker and the atmosphere hushed to a whisper. David felt the skin crawl up his back. “The which?”
“The Fallen Ones,” Cyndi repeated. “Former angels who fell from grace because of their lust for human women.”
“Say again?”
Cyndi sighed and glanced at her wristwatch. “What time do you take dinner?”
“Take dinner? You mean, what time do I eat supper?”
“I would say ‘don’t be smart,’ but we don’t have to worry about that, do we?”
“Hilarious,” Dave said. “I ‘take dinner’ or whatever about nine, nine-thirty.”
“Then join me,” she said, stepping even closer to where he sat, her hips only inch-es from his face. “My treat. There’s much you have to learn, and very little time.”
“Really?” Dave replied, and that was all he replied. He swallowed hard, the lump in his throat matching the one in his pants. Any witty ripostes or repartee fell right through the hole in his brain: Cyndi Malach wants to take me to dinner or supper or whatever? My boss? In black stockings!?
Sometimes, Life In The Big City could be good, he reflected. It could be very good.
It could also be very over.

#

The God Key, Book I: Chapters 3 &4

TGK FRONT Cover FINAL

Hi, all,

We’re going to pump two (2) chapters of the book onsite today, Chaps. 3 & 4. I missed on Sunday, being too determinedly under the weather to do much of anything. Seems some sneaky, slithering flu bug is assailing us here at the Ancient Astronaut Petting Zoo, so a double helping is what’s called for.

Thursday: Chapter 5, in which Maggie gets her oats.

 

TGK I: Return of the Nephilim

Chapters 3 & 4

 

Chapter 3

 

By Sunday night, time was running out and Dave knew it.

He tried not to think about the (break-in after all), theft of his Roswell photos, tried instead to think of ways to replace them. But with Rosalind Brazille erased from the face of the earth, that hope was stolen, as well. And now it was time for work. The back-burner was filling up fast. Not with hot stew, but tepid leftovers.

And he still had to call his old friend with the news. But how? How could he tell Dr. Oded he’d loused it up on this end? LOST the Roswell debris photos—the proof? Even though he’d emailed three shots of the Commandments symbols to Will Durant, in New York, they meant diddly without the Roswell pics. And now he had to break the news to the most important, influential figure in his life. But how?

Only one way.

He picked up the phone and called him. In Israel. It would cost a fortune, but such was life. Salt in the wound, he guessed.

The connection sucked, as usual, thanks to those damned sunspots or solar storms or whatever the hell was going on up there, 93 million miles away. Still, he was at least able to re-establish contact with the good doctor, confess his loss of the crucial debris photos and communicate the one salve in his wound: at least his editor, Mr. Durant, got the shots of the Ten Commandments slabs. Which was something.

“Well, we mustn’t lost hope,” Oded told him, over the crackling, time-lagged connection. “His having the Commandments photos is a blessing, my son. We can replace the . . .” (static, snap-crackle-pop! phone crispies . . . ) “ . . . -well photos. Thanks to today’s high-tech, cutting-edge digital equipment, why, we might just pull it off yet. Try to be more positive.”

Dave assured him he would, that he’d continue digging on his end. Until he found replacements, though, this was as far as his Scoop of the Century! would go. He was about to ask Oded when his lecture tour would begin, when the phone sizzled with gamma rays or cosmic pixie dust and finally crapped out, dropping the connection.

“Hi-tech,” He said to the phone. “Cutting-edge.”

Later, as he pulled out of his parking lot, Dave thought he’d try to call work, to make sure local connections were still a possibility, and to see if it was OK to come in so early. In a normal job, of course, this wouldn’t be a problem: most employers were only too happy to see the peons show up early. But his was no “normal” job, and with the Department of Defense, well . . . you never knew.

Once more, his cell phone failed (damn sunspots were getting worse by the hour), so he drove to a gas station on Van Dorn and the last public phone booth in Old Town.

And all the way, as he parked, made his call, then resumed his drive to work, he couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was following him, watching him. Clocking his every move.

Old Town Alexandria was a cramped, rabbit-warren of pre-Colonial cobblestone streets, with alleys and cul de sacs older than America itself. Dave had toured its antique lanes many times. Yet, despite his visits to the inner sanctums of Old Town, despite having lived and worked in the area most of his life, he still didn’t know all the side streets and cubbyholes of his adopted home town.

But someone sure did. And that someone was following him, watching him. He could feel it. His father’s Irish blood had given him a half-mad Celtic intuition that occasionally gibbered in his ear—and often proved right. This vaguely paranoiac sense stayed with him the rest of the night, like a distant warning bell tolling in his head.

***

The car that had been shadowing him, a small, black sports car with government plates, was sitting outside Mt. Nebo Observatory that night. The driver and his two passengers—a big, blond military type with a crew-cut, and a silent, faceless silhouette in the backseat—seemed only mildly interested in their surroundings, or their quarry.

They knew Connors was working away in there, knew the layout of his workplace and his apartment, of course. Knew how to get in and out without being seen. Even knew where he’d hidden his Roswell photos, in his bedroom, though he’d never find them now. They also knew one other thing.

David Connors would not survive tomorrow.

 

Chapter 4

While, for others, tomorrow would never come at all.

Early the following morning, Israeli Police finally found the scattered remains of the missing Yitzhak Globus, PhD, in the Sinai Desert. The smaller bits—the hands, feet and genitals—had been devoured by various animals. The largest chunks, however—the head and upper torso—were recovered from a shallow grave just east of the Sinai border, only five miles north of Eilat, site of the recent Hilton murders.

Partially mummified from the desert sand and heat, the mangled corpse revealed several signs that were becoming familiar to IPD detectives of late. Like the bodies of Dr. Sarah Mills and her assistant, Amir, Dr. Globus had been stabbed repeatedly at the base of his skull and neck, leaving the flesh flayed in a series of meaty, triangular strips. And, as with the Eilat Hilton victims, Globus’s wounds contained particles of ancient bronze.

Autopsy revealed the familiar ripping of the spinal cord from the vertebral sheath. Same wounds, M.O., and signature as the previous attacks, though the level of savagery had increased—typical in serial killings. Even the reek of rotting meat was the same.

What was different in this case was the Medical Examiner. Since Dr. Globus’s remains were found outside Eilat city limits, a different M.E. performed the autopsy, a new pair of eyes. And they saw a new, and far more disturbing, clue that the first M.E. had missed: the reason for the exposure of the spinal cord.

It appeared the murderer was removing spinal fluid from the victims. It had either been drawn out by needle or . . .

. . . or sucked out. By mouth.

Which, even for the Middle East, was pretty sick.

And the capital of sickness in the world, in terms of serial murder? None other than Israel’s longtime friend and ally, the U.S. of A., which seemed to manufacture serial killers (and particularly depraved ones, at that) as plentifully as the desert sand.

Inspector Schriever was now keener than ever to talk with his prime
suspect—the American who had fled the Eilat Hilton last Saturday morning, following the first two murders and the kidnapping/murder of Dr. Globus.

And that was David Connors.

He would send Heim to the U.S. immediately. No way he’d waste time with extradition. And no way he’d allow the Americans to bungle it. No, an IPD man would handle this. A competent, capable and, yes, persuasive IPD man: Sgt. Heim.

Along with two agents of the Mossad.

And no one was more persuasive than they.

***

Well, almost no one.

One man on the planet would have argued the point: the Kabbalist. As a lifelong practitioner of the obscure and forbidden Babylonian Kabbalah, the old necromancer was acquainted with many dark and influential entities. Indeed, he person­ally knew of one far more persuasive than even the most ruthless Mossad.

He nodded at his assassin as he allowed him into the cellars of Bene Ha-Elohim Museum, in Jerusalem’s Old City. These underground vaults—some many centuries old—served as the museum’s long-term storage. They were ideal: vast, cavernous, gloomy rooms packed with antiquit­ies, crates, pallets and shadows. It was toward the latter that the Kabbalist directed his servant. His assassin. His killer.

Killer of all those who would divulge the Nephilim’s secrets: all those who had seen the Ten Commandments. All those who might learn of their likeness to other, more recent symbols scattered about the globe. If anyone ever put them together and drew the inevitable conclusion, then all was lost.

Their return would be hindered, perhaps stopped. Man would be warned and all his weapons of war trained on the Abandoned, the Betrayed . . . the Fallen. And the Kab­balist would rather die first. Indeed, it would probably come to that one day, he knew.

For now, though, Fortune was with him: he was down to four. After the two at the Eilat Hilton and poor old Globus, only four people remained who’d actually seen the Command­­ments: 1) Dr. Oded, of course; 2) Tamara Schnurr, the Hebrew U. lab tech who would be testing the slabs that week; 3) Will Durant, editor of the execrable World News Weekly; and 4) his erstwhile scribbler, David Connors. Though 6,000 miles away, Connors and Durant wouldn’t pose a problem; the Kabbalist knew just where to find them. After that, no witnesses, no warning. And no more inconvenient photographs.

No fear of warnings or witnesses tonight, though. Even if passersby did see the Kabbalist with his friend, they would assume he was simply an old rabbi helping a poor, deformed, homeless man find sanctuary. Nothing more.

The goat he’d brought in earlier had made a terrible mess on the floor, and was now cowering in a corner, bleating. The old wizard frowned at the animal, though he knew it would soon trouble him no more. His assassin must dine, after all; it must have sustenance—daily. Nightly. Whenever it could.

He allowed his companion in, then showed it to the goat, whose stupid, slit-pupil eyes were now darting and rolling as its bleating reached fever pitch.

And when the thing laid its “hands” on the goat’s neck and chopped, and sucked, the Kabbalist felt his stomach lurch and he turned his face away. He could never bring himself to watch this part.

What it did to the animal next was an abomination.

 

@

THE GOD KEY, BOOK I: Return of the Nephilim . . . FREE — Chapter 2

(Cont’d from yesterday’s post)…

Image

Chapter 2

First thing Sunday morning, Dave raced into the dining room for his photos of the Roswell debris. He’d been too whipped to look for them last night (and he’d really had to have that bath; damned sand was perfectly insolent). Now, awake and refreshed on a crisp autumn morning, he couldn’t wait to dig out his old Roswell pics and compare them with his shots of the Ten Command­­ments. To see if he was right—that the two sets of symbols matched. Which meant . . .

. . . well, he still wasn’t sure what it meant (God as E.T.? The First Astronaut?) but he had a ticklish feeling at the base of his neck that he was about to find out. Once he confirmed that the symbols did indeed match, he’d be on the phone to Oded ASAP. He’d missed his old friend the morning he’d left, hadn’t seen him since the dig. Now he’d do a little digging of his own: the Roswell pics.

He rifled through his desk, looking for an old, blue file folder labeled “Roswell” in black magic marker; he could see it in his mind’s eye. He found some of his old notes in one of the drawers—but no blue folder. As puzzlement rose to concern, he began emptying every drawer he had, dumping all his CDs, floppies and flash drives onto the desk. Zilch.

He dumped all his other envelopes, folders and drawers, before he realized the unthinkable: the blue folder was missing. Strange.

He tried to call Rosalind Brazille, the woman he’d interviewed five years ago, hoping she’d mail him an extra photo or two. He still had her number, but . . . no answer. And no message, not even “The number you have reached is no longer in service . . .” Nothing.

Again, strange.

At the time, she’d warned him never to tell anyone of the debris she’d shown him. Yes, he could take photos, but he wasn’t to breathe a word about where he’d taken them or who owned the item. Now, with a jolt of memory, he recalled her saying something about “Majestic-12” and the “Men in Black,” which had struck him as funny at the time. Not so funny now.

Because now, when he phoned Information, he learned there was no one named Rosalind Brazille living anywhere near Roswell, NM—and never had been. It was as if she’d never existed . . . or, more aptly, as if she’d been erased.

Which erased any hope he had of salvaging the Ten Commandments/Roswell connection. It would be pointless to fly out there; she was gone. Besides, he had to return to work that evening—the night job: laser technician at the Mt. Nebo Observatory. Although it beat floating around the world unlocking code for the Navy, it still sucked like a Hoover gone haywire.

If he could just sell one big story—like the Roswell/Command­ments connection —then he could finish school, get his degree in archeology and leave the laser-geeking behind. But that meant finding those Roswell photos, and that didn’t look likely now. The hell of it was, he knew those symbols matched, and that now they were . . . missing.

First his photos, now the Roswell woman . . . What the hell was going on?

He returned to his desk but still had no luck. Maybe he’d hidden them someplace else, or the cat had. They’d turn up eventually; they had to. Otherwise . . .

. . . he’d lose the biggest story of his life.

He stood there a moment longer, thinking. Knowing the photos had to be in his apartment somewhere. He walked back into his bedroom and glanced around: bed, headboard, dresser, end table, lamp, blue note—

Blue notebook. Right there on top of the end table. He picked it up and instantly remembered the familiar feel and heft of it. It was indeed the missing notebook, labeled “Roswell” in felt tip. It had been sitting there the whole time, on top of his bedside table.

On top of it, not inside it, which was where he’d always kept it. That was why he hadn’t noticed it before. He wasn’t expecting to see it out like that. And not only out, but . . . empty. All his photos of the Roswell debris were missing.

No, not just “missing,” he realized.

But stolen.

***

IPD detectives working the Eilat Murders, likewise, wished their case could be stolen, or simply disappear. Ditto for the two corpses. And the Globus kidnapping.

And that smell . . .

That was the one thing none of them could forget: the stench in that hotel room. And the blood. And the spinal cords torn open and . . . leaking.

Of the three detectives assigned to the case, Inspector Jacob Schriever was the most senior. A 20-year veteran of the IPD—and a former Mossad agent—Schriever was, at 61, already eying retirement. He and his wife, Yakira, had saved almost enough to buy a tiny vacation villa in Haifa, on the Mediterranean coast.

True, he was still a few years away from actually retiring there, but the sooner he did, the better: Yakira had been behaving strangely of late. Seeing things. “UFOs,” she claimed. And sometimes even their “pilots.”

Gibberish, of course. Yakira had never recovered from the loss of their only child, Sidney, eleven years earlier. Ever since, she had been what their friends politely termed “eccentric.” But this new development, with the aliens and flying saucers, well . . . it went beyond merely “eccentric.”

It scared the living hell out of him.

If he could only close this double murder/kidnapping case quietly, and spare the depart­ment any undue publicity, the villa would be that much closer. Inspector Schriever knew early retirement wasn’t entirely out of the question, even in these times of Mayan “doomsdays” and various Armageddon scenarios.

If only . . . he thought. If only he could retire to the little villa in Haifa. Then he could take Yakira to the finest doctors in the country, get her the help she needed, and spend the rest of his days caring for her in their home by the sea. He rubbed his eyes, leaned over his desk and sighed.

“So, what do we know about this man? This . . . Connors?”

The younger of his two subordinates, Sgt. Weiss, held a printout in one hand. He consulted the paper, then replied: “Twenty-nine years of age, resident of Alexandria, Virginia. He joined the U.S. Navy after high school, and served three years: mid­shipman, cipher clerk, then cryptog­rapher. In 2004, he qualified for the . . .” Weiss peered at his printout more closely. “The . . . training of seals?”

“SEAL training,” Schriever said. “Sea, Air and Land Forces, a com­mando unit of the U.S. Navy. Underwater demolitions, counter-terrorism and so on. Tough outfit,” he added. “But didn’t he once live in Israel? Studied here, I believe. What of that?”

“Yes, sir,” Weiss responded. “After the Navy, he enrolled at the University of Virginia and majored in archeology. He won a two-year Fulbright Scholarship to study at Hebrew University, here in Jerusalem. On his return to the U.S., he left the archeology program, and took a job in a local observatory. Operating lasers of some kind. They are called here ‘Assisted Optics’ for use in ‘guide star imaging.’”

Schriever did not look impressed. “How does he pull three years in the U.S. Navy, SEALs at that, only to wind up here, in Jerusalem, studying archeology?”

“A dishonorable discharge, sir. From the Navy.”

“Explain.”

“Yes, sir,” Weiss answered, returning to his printout. “He completed training and joined SEAL Team Two, in Little Creek, Virginia. Then, he appears to have . . . snapped. Nearly beat a man to death with his bare hands, in a barroom incident. There was a woman involved.”

“Naturally,” Schriever muttered. “And alcohol, of course. He is Irish, isn’t he?”

“Yes, sir. Though it appears there were mitigating circumstances.”

“Explain,” Schriever repeated; it was his standard prompt.

“Apparently, the other man was . . . eh . . .” Again, Weiss raised the printout closer to his face, struggling to interpret the clumsy American English. “Eh . . . forcing his attentions upon the woman. Connors . . . acted in honour of her . . .
eh . . . defense.”

“You mean, he acted to defend her honour.”

“Yes, sir.”

Schriever nodded. “A quaint notion of chivalry once common to the American south. Outmoded today, of course. Go on.”

“According to court transcripts,” Weiss continued, “he was convicted of Assault and Battery and received two years probation. He was kicked out of the SEAL program and given a dishonorable discharge in 2007. He studied archeology here for two years, actually boarding with his professor and family. Then he returned home to Virginia, dropped out of school and began work as a laser technician. He also became a freelance journalist, which is how he came to be in Israel last week.”

“But how does he go from the SEALs to archeology to operating lasers in an observatory?” Schriever asked. “I’m familiar with SEAL training, and none of it involves star-gazing or lasers. I doubt archeology does, either.”

“Ehhh . . .” again Weiss scanned his printout, clutching it as if it were a lifeline—which, in many ways, it was. “Ah, here. Yes. The woman he saved in the bar . . . whose defense he honoured? . . .”

Inspector Schriever didn’t bother to correct him. “Yes?”

“She is the Assistant Director of the observatory. She hired him. Apparently, he wanted to try archeology, first.”

“Stand on his own hind legs, you mean,” said Schriever.

“Ehhh . . . ?” Weiss had no clue what he was talking about. First seals, now hind legs? “Ehhh . . . then he returned from Israel and accepted her offer at the observatory.”

“I see,” Schriever said, with a nod. “Quid pro quo.”

Sgt. Weiss blinked. “Sir?”

“Nothing.”

“Yes, sir.”

“So,” Schriever said, warming to the subject, “it seems our man has a violent streak. Irish and Southern. And his background is certainly checkered, to say the least.”

“Yes, sir,” Sgt. Weiss replied, with no better idea what checkered meant than the stuff about seal training or hind legs.

“Anything else?” Schriever said.

The older subordinate, a Sgt. Heim, finally spoke up. “We interviewed Dr. Oded, the expedition leader, yesterday. He was Connors’s archeology professor and sponsor the two years he studied here. Oded said that Connors was unusually . . . eager for the story. Claimed it would ‘make his career.’ Oded also—”

“Yes, well,” Schriever interrupted, “American journalists are an . . . eager bunch.”

“Yes, sir,” said Heim. He knew Schriever loathed Americans, and blamed them for the loss of his only child, Sidney, eleven years ago. The Inspector usually referred to the U.S. as “The Great Cesspool,” or “That Sewer.” Heim exchanged a glance with his younger companion, then continued: “Dr. Oded also claimed that Connors was an excellent student, adding that he was quite ‘brilliant if somewhat naïve.’”

Schriever’s eyes closed halfway, the lids becoming hooded, as he settled back in his chair. For a moment, he looked to the younger men like an aged Mandarin, about to bestow some timeless wisdom upon them. Instead, he winced, as if choking back bile.

“Brilliant, perhaps—but naïve?” He shook his head. “No. The fingerprint evidence alone warrants his extradition. If he is guilty, he will pay. If not, he will go back to his cesspool in America. As to the—”

“Sir?” Heim interrupted him—usually, not a wise thing to do.

Schriever narrowed his hooded eyes at his subordinate, looking less like a Mandarin and more like a cobra. “What?”

“Extradition along normal channels may prove . . . difficult.”

The Inspector delivered his usual, one-word command: “Explain.”

“Sir, you may recall the Mossad operative arrested in Washington after the 9-11 attacks?”

“Yes, yes,” Schriever growled. “Didn’t we exchange some American flim-flam artist for her? Wall Street type, came here seeking asylum as an Israeli citizen?”

“Yes sir. The very one.”

Schriever said nothing, his eyes clouding over with disdain. He abhorred harboring American fugitives of any religion—Jewish or no. When it came to criminals, the Inspector had no prejudice: he was an equal-opportunity hater. “Well? What of it?”

“Well, sir, it seems the . . . operative . . . returned to the U.S. the next week. Without permission.”

“Oh, yes. I recall.” His manner was perfectly frosty now. “She’s still over there I presume? Without diplomatic sanction?”

“Correct, sir,” Heim answered. “Which might make standard extradition proceedings somewhat—”

“Yes, yes, Sergeant, point taken,” said the Inspector. “Well, then? We will have to obtain Mr. Connors by some other method. An ‘extradition by stealth,’ perhaps.”

“Yes, sir,” both sergeants replied.

“As for logistics, I fear budgetary restrictions limit me to sending only one of you over to bring him in. For questioning,” he added. “Whoever I select, however, will have two govern­ment agents at his disposal.”

“Yes, sir,” said his subordinates. They both knew he meant Mossad; the old Mandarin still had contacts there. And they had no budgetary restrictions.

“One other thing,” said Schriever, steepling his fingers beneath his hooded, half-closed eyes. “This American has probably murdered an Israeli citizen—in Israel. Should he prove difficult, you are authorized to use whatever force necessary to terminate this inquiry.”

“Sir?” Weiss asked.

“Only if absolutely necessary, you understand. We would like to question him.”

Heim grinned. “Understood, sir,” he said. And won the job on the spot.

“Good,” Schriever replied, facing him now. “If it should come to that, just make it look accidental, yes? We don’t want an international incident over this.”

“But, sir,” Weiss protested. “We can’t—”

Schriever silenced him with a wave of his hand. “You may go now, Sergeant.”

“But—”

“I said now, Sergeant.”

The younger man rose from his seat and left the room. The two older detectives waited a moment, then gathered up their case files and also left the office, discussing the final details of the upcoming kidnapping and/or death of one David Connors.

Yes. Schriever could feel it.

The villa was much closer now.

End of Chapter 2.

See Chapter 3 tomorrow

The God Key, Book I: Return of the Nephilim….Chapter 1 — FREE

Hi, all:

Since Book II of the series is nearly ready for the publisher, I thought I’d give anyone interested in the story one final inducement to get in now, by offering Book I at the discount rate of $0.00 per copy.

Why? Because I am so very, very damaged. Also, because I’m really not in this for the money. If I were, I’d be barfing up soft-pore corn about horny, teenage vampires sucking each other and their friends, neighbors, relatives, dogs, etc. Instead, I’m writing about ancient aliens monkeying with our DNA, the true nature of the “Fallen Ones” mentioned in Genesis, and about who and what angels and demons might really be, as we enter the End Times. I mean, that kind of novel should be available without cost. So . . . here it is.

Help yourselves to the first dose, the Prologue and Chapter I, to be followed more or less daily by the ensuing chapters until they’re all gone or the world ends or the Nephilim come and chew my face off. 

Until then,

I am

Your increasingly ‘umble narrator,

John R. Fogarty

Your Umble Narrator

This space for rent FREE

Book begins below, as published:

The God Key

Book I: Return of the Nephilim

John R. Fogarty

Copyright © 2012 John R. Fogarty

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1475066996

ISBN-13: 9781475066999

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012907428

CreateSpace, North Charleston, SC

Do not copy, download or distribute without the express written consent of CreateSpace


Acknowledgments

First, I must acknowledge all the researchers and writers in the field of alternate history (or, as it is known today, “Ancient Aliens” theory) who have gone before me. This includes, but isn’t limited to, such notables as Charles Fort, H. P. Lovecraft, Henri Lhote, W. Raymond Drake, Charles Berlitz, Zechariah Sitchin, Robert K.G. Temple, David Childress, Graham Hancock, Michael Cremo, Robert Bauvel, Giorgio Tsoukalos and many more, all of whom have contributed vitally to the field.

Most importantly, we all owe a debt to the godfather of Ancient Alien study, Erich Von Däniken, whose seminal work “Chariots of the Gods?” is still the vade mecum for anyone serious about the subject. It was he and those mentioned above who inspired this author. Without their bold spadework, digging and tilling, I never could have planted such strange vines.

 


Dedication

To my daughter Cara, for her love, faith and patience,

And to Sherry, for never giving up. Semper fidelis.

 

Author’s Note:

All of the sites, structures and places described in this book are real. All dates and events mentioned are also as real and as accurate as I could ascertain them.

Altogether, they barely scratch the surface of the mystery.

 

PART ONE – WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS

Prologue

“Now as I looked at the living creatures,

I saw a wheel…one for each…

Their appearance and their work was

As it were a wheel within a wheel…

And when the living creatures went,

The wheels went with them…”

— Ezekiel 1:16-19

***

Dateline: Friday, 30 November, 2012

Mt. Sinai (Har El-Paran), Sinai Desert

God’s handwriting poked through the desert sand that evening, on a 3,500-year-old piece of carved stone.

Night was just creeping over the Sinai when diggers hit the first chunk. A hush fell over the site as archaeologists and laborers rushed to the spot. There, in the blazing glare of the 500-watt over­heads, they saw the rounded top of an apparently man-made object protruding from the sand. Dr. Shimon Oded, project leader, leaned over the find and squinted.

“Is that . . . what I think it is?” he asked.

“Can’t tell,” said his assistant, Dr. Sarah Mills. “Let’s get a better look.”

Out came the toothbrushes and picks, which Oded and Mills used with surgical care to brush away the debris that had covered the tablet and its secrets for over 3,500 years.

“M-my God,” Dr. Oded stammered. He knelt over the stone and traced a trembling fingertip across its surface. Dr. Yitzhak Globus, long-time friend and colleague, knelt with him. “The last person to touch this was . . . Moses,” Oded said, his eyes shining with tears.

“You mean—” Globus began.

But Dr. Oded could only nod, too overcome with emotion to speak: he’d found it. He’d finally found it, after all these years.

Thirty-eight, in fact. Thirty-eight years of hunting, searching, and researching. Thirty-eight years of begging for funds, always embroiled in the politics of academe and the vagaries of international relations. Now, at long last, he’d found it.

“The Ten Commandments,” he said, his voice a tremulous whisper now. “The original Ten Commandments—the ones Moses destroyed.”

Dr. Mills knelt beside them. “Which means . . .”

Again, Oded nodded. “We are looking at the very handwriting of . . . God himself.” He pointed at the cuneiforms as Dr. Mills retrieved a video-cam from her aid, Amir, and began filming.

The engravings were unlike any Middle Eastern petroglyph, hieroglyph or other writing system Oded had encountered in his career as an archaeologist. Indeed, they resembled no Sumerian, Akkadian or Phoenician cuneiform he’d ever seen.

In fact, they resembled no human alphabet at all.

“Strange,” Oded whispered, tracing the glyphics carved there 3,500 years ago, during the Exodus, when God gave Moses the Law. “They remind me of . . .” his voice trailed off and his eyes bulged.

“Of what?” asked Dr. Mills.

“N-nothing,” Oded said. “Stop filming now, please. And no more photographs.”

But one person among the team understood what Dr. Oded had forbidden himself to say. One person within the circle, privileged to be there, really, as a freelance journalist and not an academic, knew what they were. The symbols. Carved on that piece of stone.

And if he was right, David Connors realized he was witnessing the greatest, most profound discovery in all of human history. One that would rock the foundations of archaeology, religion, politics—everything.

Because, like Oded, he knew where he’d seen those symbols before.

As a freelance journalist, Dave Connors traveled a good deal. A very good deal, indeed, for a 29-year-old failed Navy SEAL, former archaeologist and part-time laser tech. Cur­rently, he was stringing for World News Weekly, a glossy tabloid out of New York. And on one of his travels for WNW five years ago, he’d seen these same symbols, inscribed by the same race that had carved these Ten Command­ments. It was in a remote corner of New Mexico, a flyspeck on the map, really.

Called Roswell.

On a piece of decidedly strange debris pulled from the alleged UFO wreckage of 1947 and kept hidden all those years by the granddaughter of the rancher who’d found it, now a little old lady who still lived there, at the site of the incident. The Roswell Incident.

The symbols there, on that debris, were identical to the symbols here, on the Ten Commandments. David was sure of it.

“Jesus, Mary n’ Joseph,” he whispered, as his eyes too began to shine.

***

Dave snapped a dozen photos of the Commandments and their discoverer, his old friend and mentor, Dr. Shimon Oded. Despite the doctor’s ban on photographs, David was allowed to take a few, being teacher’s pet. Still. The good doctor’s loyalties ran deep, his memory long, and his affection for his former student as strong as ever.

But Dave was no longer his student at Hebrew U; he was now a freelance reporter, from WNW. Indeed, he was the only reporter allowed to cover the dig (being a former protégé of Oded’s had its perks). As such, David was the only person on earth at that moment with photo­graphs of the Ten Command­ments. He had what every news reporter dreamt of: an exclusive. On the biggest discovery in the history of mankind, he, David S. Connors, had an exclusive. The stew was cooking and heating up fast.

And when I stir in the Roswell evidence, he thought, it’s gonna boil over.

He tried to email his editor, Will Durant, in New York, but the wireless modem failed—along with his cell phone. Damned sunspots again. No matter, he would file it later from his hotel room, in Eilat. Only one question, but it was a monster:

Should he include the reference to Roswell in this first article? Sure, he knew the symbols were the same—he could see them in his mind’s eye—but what would his editor think? Durant wouldn’t think; he would spew. Copiously. Still, Dave trusted that inner eye. Though not exactly photographic, his memory was highly visual: anything he saw, and committed to memory, he could usually “see” again.

Better than memory, he had physical proof—actual photos of the debris—at home. The operant phrase being “at home.” As in, six thousand miles away. Until he could examine both sets of photos side-by-side, he couldn’t be 100% sure. Besides, a reference to the “Roswell Incident” in a  straight news story on the Ten Commandments? Not smart. Brave, maybe, but . . . not real smart.

So, he would focus on substance, instead of sizzle. Because after all the excitement died down, it would be the calm, cool professional article that won the day—maybe even the Pulitzer. The Roswell revelations could come later, once he had definitive proof. Then he would serve the stew. Piping hot.

And so it began: the interviews, the questions. As always, Dr. Oded was generous with his former pupil. While the bus bumped and bounced through the bible-black desert night, he gave Dave 38 years’ worth of background on his search. It was the interview of a lifetime, on the story of the century, and he owed it all to Dr. Oded.

Yet, when he asked Oded about the cuneiforms themselves, the old professor fell strangely silent. A hint of fear, in fact, seemed to creep into his demeanor. Worried he might have spooked his old friend, Connors backed off. All Oded would admit was that the Command­ments petroglyphs were unlike any human alphabet he’d ever seen.

Dave’s heart leapt like a salmon—unlike any human alphabet?

But that was as far as Oded would go. He would not speculate as to the tablets’ origin or anything else about them.

“I’m sorry, David, I can’t,” he said. “The repercussions . . . you’ve no idea.” He paused, as if he couldn’t—or shouldn’t—say more. Finally, he added, “At the very least, it would tarnish my academic standing and kill any funding for future expeditions.”

“I understand, Doc,” Connors replied. “But I think I’ve seen those symbols before, too. Little place called Roswell,” he added. “Ever hear of it?”

Oded stared back at him, his eyes bulging again. David couldn’t tell if this was because the professor was shocked and trying to hide it, or because he was old and bloated. Possibly both.

“My heart keeps telling me to include it,” Dave continued. “The reference to Roswell, I mean. But my brain keeps telling me suicide’s bad for my health. Besides, I don’t have any photos of the debris with me for comparison; they’re all back home.”

The older man was gaping at him now, his eyes as wide as fried eggs.

“My boy, are you mad?” Oded cried. “Photographs or no, your editor will think you are—what’s the word—fluky?”

“I think it’s ‘flaky.’”

“Yes, flaky! He will laugh at you, perhaps even fire you.”

“Then he fires me,” Dave said. “If I know it’s true, Doc, I have to report it.”

“But how can you know?” Oded asked. “You don’t have the photos with you, as you have said. David, my son, as your former professor—and, I’d like to think, your friend—forget all this Roswell meshugas and simply write a straight news story.”

“Can’t, Shimon,” Dave said. “The symbols on those tablets are just like the ones I saw in Roswell. What’s more, I think you know it, too, old friend. I saw it in your eyes.”

“Nonsense,” Oded replied. “I know nothing of the sort.”

Connors grinned. “OK, Doc, whatever you say. I have all the proof I need back home, in my Roswell photos. And if I’m right, the implications are—”

“—Zero!” Oded cried. “The implications are nothing! Wild speculation! All you will do is link the Lord God of Israel with that . . . that Roswell lunacy. You would make God a UFO-alien, a tabloid headline. And that could be very dangerous for you.”

Before Dave could reply, Oded plowed ahead: “Besides, even if you could prove a connection, is it really worth your li—your career?”

David’s smile vanished. “Were you about to say ‘life?’ Doc, are you thr—”

“No, no, of course not,” said Oded. “I was about to say ‘livelihood.’ I am only concerned for your reputation, my son. I’d never threaten you, for God’s sake.”

“Sure hope not, Skippy,” Dave said. “You’d find yourself in one helluva line.”

Oded smiled and fell silent. David did likewise, ashamed and somewhat shocked that he’d actually called his old friend “Skippy.” What the hell, was he really that thin-skinned? He shook his head and gazed out his window.

The dirt path they were bouncing along was invisible in the darkness—much like the journalistic path he had chosen: no telling how or where it would end, and nothing to guide him but guts and instinct. One thing was certain: he’d need all the friends he could find—and Dr. Oded was the only friend he had in Israel. He’d have to apologize to the old fellow and try to smooth things over. Otherwise, he could probably hang up the story at this point, along with his gig at World News Weekly. And his friendship with Dr. Oded.

And that would be worse than losing any “gig.”

Dave smiled and leaned forward so Oded could hear him above the bus noise. But before he could open his mouth to apologize, Oded beat him to it.

“Please forgive me, David,” the archaeologist said. “You must excuse an old pedant for his over caution. Too many years of academic politicking have left me . . . how do you say? . . . anally receptive?”

“I think you mean ‘retentive,’” said Dave. “And the apologies are mine, Shimon. I had no right to take offense at what you said. You were only trying to help.”

“True,” said Oded, nodding, looking much relieved—a dramatic improvement over his terrified expression of only a moment ago. What the hell had gotten into the old geezer? For a moment there, he looked like he was about to leap out of his skin. “Sometimes, I think the—ehhh—language gets in the way, yes?” he continued. “Perhaps my English isn’t as good as I thought.”

“Your English is fine, Doc, as always. It’s my comprehension that sucks.”

“Sucks?” The doctor began blinking as he struggled to understand. “Sucks?”

“A figure of speech,” Dave said. “It means my comprehension’s not so good.”

“Ah? Well, no offense intended, and none taken, I assure you.”

“Good,” he said. “Thanks, Shimon.”

“One question, though.”

“Ask away.”

The doctor leaned forward and said: “Who is this ‘Skippy?’”

***

Once Dave explained that “Skippy” was merely an American term of endearment, he and Oded began chattering away like the old friends they were. And the aged profes­sor finally fessed up: he had indeed seen those symbols before—in Roswell, New Mexico.

“It was in the autumn of 1963,” Oded said. “But you cannot print this, son, do you understand? Strictly off the record.”

“Agreed.” And David meant it. He wouldn’t write a word of it.

“That’s my boy,” Oded replied, with a smile. “In the fall of ‘Sixty-three, I was a visiting Fellow at Hebrew Union College in Ohio. Several of us ‘grave-robbers’ in the Archaeology Department joined the University of New Mexico on a field expedi­tion. Ostensibly, to study anomalous substrata levels in the American southwest. It was purely by chance that we wound up in Roswell.”

“How did you see the debris?” Dave asked. “Did the Brazilles show it to you?”

“Indeed, yes. A very lovely young woman—the granddaughter of the man who originally found the item—let me see it.”

“Ditto,” David said.

Once more, the elderly professor began blinking: “Dit—?”

“Ditto. It means, ‘same thing,’” he said. “The same woman showed me the debris. Rosalind Brazille. She’s much older now, of course. A grandmother several times over.”

“Oh?” The old man blinked again, several times. “Ah, yes, the years,” he added, his voice suddenly thin and dry. “How they fly.” A dreamy, faraway look came into his eye, as if he’d just recalled a fond but faded memory from the fast receding past. To David’s dismay, he realized that the cause of Oded’s reverie was the withered crone he’d interviewed in the Roswell desert five years before—Rosalind Brazille.

“She must have been quite a beauty in her day,” he ventured.

“Oh, indeed she was,” said Oded. “As was I, as was I. Oh, yes. Very handsome in those days. I say this without conceit,” he added. “And the debris she showed me was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. Its properties were unlike anything else on this earth.”

“A kind of liquid metal, right?” Dave prompted.

“Exactly. Like mercury, or molten aluminum, only stronger. Much stronger.”

Dave nodded. “I couldn’t cut it with a knife. And when I crunched it into a ball, it simply . . . unfolded itself . . . and lay perfectly flat, without the slightest wrinkle.”

“Yes, yes,” Oded replied. “To this day I am still not sure which was the more astounding—the material itself or the symbols it bore. I was, as you say, stunned.”

“You weren’t the only one,” said Connors. “The army was beside itself.”

“The army?”

“Yep. That’s what makes Roswell unique in UFO history—it’s the only sighting the U.S. military ever officially acknowledged. At first, anyway.”

“But, didn’t your military claim the craft was one of its own?”

“Not at first: initial reports were that they’d recovered parts of a ‘flying disc.’ The next day, though, the army pulled an about-face and announced that the wreckage was only scrap from a weather balloon. Years later, they changed their story yet again, saying it was really debris from a top-secret spy balloon project—‘Operation Mogul.’ As for the odd symbols eyewitnesses reported, why, those were merely ‘holiday designs’ from the cellophane tape they used.”

Oded nodded. “I received the same explanation. And it is plausible, I suppose.”

“But . . . tape? Common household tape on such sensitive, top-secret equipment?” Dave said. “So, I guess they held the Space Shuttle together with what—dental floss?”

“Well, when you put it that way . . .”

“And this horse plop about ‘holiday designs’ transferring from the tape . . .” Dave shook his head and snorted. “Damnedest tape I’ve ever heard of.”

“I agree,” said Oded. “And I agree those symbols are very like the petro­glyphs on the Commandments slabs—which I believe are the original Ten Commandments.”

“So you admit they are similar?”

“Oh, very.”

David nodded. “Doc, I knew it the minute you found the first tablet.”

Dr. Oded’s eyes crinkled at the corners.

“Ditto,” he said. And the two shared a smile.

***

Dave finished the article at 1:30 a.m., Israeli Time, and filed it along with three photos of the Commandments to New York, via his room’s modem line. He was tempted to mention “a similarity” to only one other set of symbols like the Command­ments known to exist, but resisted. There would be no whiff of Roswell. Yet.

The only additions to the article were the ones he hated making most: the florid, adjectival and adverbial details, or “flavor,” his editor insisted on. Will Durant not only held a PhD in English Lit (though why anyone but a college professor would need a doctorate in English was beyond him), he was also his boss. And He. Loved. Details.

Description. Adjectives. Adjectival nouns, adverbial phrases . . . all the sins Dave had been taught to avoid in college English. Even his archaeology professor, Dr. Oded, demanded crisp, clean, noun-verb sentences. NO adjectives, NO adverbs. So now, of course, he worked for a man who reveled in both.

Aside from that, Durant was an excellent journalist and a keen-eyed editor. David also suspected Durant was gay, but what of it? He was sharp, he was honest and he paid on time. Dave didn’t care who or what the man’s sexual partners were—he could be banging goats and wombats for all he cared. It didn’t affect him, so . . . no biggie.

By the time he was finished ruining the piece with “flavor,” Dave was too jazzed to sleep. He printed three blow-ups of the Command­ments symbols on his portable inkjet and laid them on his bed. No matter how hard he examined them, or from what angle, he only grew more convinced: they were identical. Absolute duplicates of the Roswell debris symbols he’d seen, and photographed, five years ago. Which meant…

…which meant Shimon would probably appreciate a few copies.

He headed up to the third floor, hoping it wasn’t too late: Dr. Oded had an upcoming lecture tour in the U.S. on the Sinai Expedition, so he’d have little time for visiting. (Oded also planned to present another recent discovery, one he’d made earlier that year at the Mt. Hermon Ski Resort, in northern Israel. Dubbed the “Hermon Slate,” it was a rock slab covered with equally perplexing petroglyphs, so ancient and strange-looking, the media christened them “Angel-speak,” which infuriated Oded.)

Sure enough, when Dave reached Oded’s room and knocked, no one answered. He was already asleep. No worries, he’d see him in the morning before everyone left.

David was about to return to his room with the photos when he thought of Oded’s old friend, Dr. Globus, down the hall. What the hell, if the top dog was asleep, maybe his old digging buddy would appreciate the printouts.

And he did. Globus was so pleased with the photos, he insisted Dave join him in a nightcap or two . . . or three. Or four. David, never a big boozer, stumbled back to his room an hour later, sloshed on scotch, and passed out around 2:30 a.m. His last conscious thoughts were of how fast the Command­ments story might break and just where the hell he’d stashed those Roswell photos back home.

In the morning, he caught a cab to Eilat’s Hozman Airport, brutally hungover, his head throbbing like a rotten tooth, his mouth like the Night of a Thousand Camels. Worse, by the time he reached the airport, he saw that the Commandments story had already broken.

Or, more accurately, burst wide open: the headlines were tripping over each other in Hebrew, English, Arabic and French. The story was everywhere: in newspapers, on the radio and all over TV.

Dave bought copies of every English language newspaper he could find and devoured them on the 16-hour flight home, to Alexandria, VA. This story was not finished—not by any means. He had a phone call to make. To a rancher’s granddaughter, in Roswell, New Mexico.

Did she still have the debris? Were the symbols still legible? Yes, he’d taken photos of the object five years ago, but could she send another one or two (or ten), just in case, to run alongside his shots of the Command­ments? Readers would want to see that.

And see it, they would. He couldn’t wait to get home, dig out his old Roswell pics and compare the two sets of photos for himself, side-by-side. If they did indeed match, he’d have the biggest story of the decade—hell, the century! He’d make enough money to finish his Masters in archeology, quit the laser-geek job and do some actual field work, like his idol, Dr. Oded. Or even write full-time, who knew? His head was filled with such thoughts, dreams, ambitions . . . great expectations, indeed. One thing was certain:

Success, so elusive thus far, would finally be his. Fame and fortune awaited him, and all was well with the world.

 

Chapter 1

The first murders linked to Dr. Oded’s discovery occurred in the early hours of Saturday, 1 December, 2012, at the Eilat Hilton. The victims were a Dr. Sarah Mills, Professor of Middle Eastern Archaeology at the University of Colorado, and her assistant, Amir el-Bara, an archaeological linguistics student at Hebrew Univers­ity, Israel.

Robbery wasn’t a motive, as the victims’ wallets, cash and credit cards were found on the bodies. Nothing else seemed to have been touched, save a small video-camera, which lay smashed to pieces near the bed. Other than that, nothing special.

Except for the extreme mutilation of the corpses, and that was special—very special: both victims had been stabbed repeatedly at the base of the skull and neck, leaving the flesh flayed in a series of long, meaty strips, like petals on a bloody blossom.

When forensics experts peered inside the wounds, they noticed trace particles of bronze filings. They also found a shard of that metal under one of the beds. Police sent the items to Hebrew University for carbon-14 testing, and were stunned to learn that they dated from the Late Bronze Age, or about 1500 B.C.E.—the same age as the partial Ten Command­­ments tablets. They also noticed something else in the room.

A foul, sickening odor—like raw sewage, or rotting meat.

Advanced decomposition, or so the forensics people said. The heat, after all.

David Connors, home again in Alexandria, VA, after two layovers and 16 hours in transit, wouldn’t hear about the murders for another 24 hours, by which time he would have more pressing matters to attend to.

Like finding those photos of the Roswell debris. And calling Dr. Oded. Pronto.

But, first, a bath. Half the Sinai, it seemed, was still stuck to him under his clothes. Besides, he was too jet-lagged to look for old photos now. They weren’t going anywhere and neither was he. Once inside, he would fix himself a sandwich, have a good, long soak and finally wash the Sinai from between his toes, ears and other crevices (damned sand got everywhere). Yes, that would be good. Good to be home.

He unlocked the door and stumbled inside.

The place looked even messier than usual. Had he left it like this? He was dimly aware of couch cushions on the floor, books and envelopes spilled from an end table, a coffee cup lying on its side. He wasn’t the neatest little homemaker, true, but this looked worse than usual—almost like a . . . well . . . like a break-in.

He set his luggage down, closed the door and searched the apartment, looking for any sign of burglars. Nothing torn or broken, but everything was knocked askew, in disarray. When he stepped into the kitchen and saw the Friskies all over the floor, he knew instantly what had struck: the real head of the house—his Siamese, Attila.

Whenever he was away for more than a day or two, the cat got angry and let him know about it—in no uncertain terms. He had an attitude, this Attila. True, Dave had an ex-girlfriend (odd that everything was already -exes, at 29) who played kitty-sitter when he was out of town, but it looked as if she hadn’t turned up; the litter box was full and fragrant. Great. More sand.

After cleaning the mess and making up with Attila, Dave ran his bath at last. Then, a glass of cognac (screw the sandwich) and to bed—his own bed—for the first night in a week. No strange rooms and even stranger, camel-scented blankets; no sand or scorpions or mad, Arabic babble, just soothing silence as he nestled into his own, cool sheets and blankets. He would find his Roswell pics tomorrow, and all would be well. Yes.

Yes, it was good to be home.

***

But 6,200 miles away, in Jerusalem, detectives of the Israeli Police Department were not so glad David Connors was home. They wanted to talk with him. About the bodies in that hotel room, at the Eilat Hilton, late Friday night.

It wasn’t merely the murder of an American citizen, Dr. Sarah Mills, that kept the detectives working late that Saturday night (post-Shabbat). Nor was it the possible connec­tion to the Ten Commandments find at Har El-Paran. Not even the disappearance—reported only an hour ago—of Dr. Yitzhak Globus, another member of Oded’s team, was to blame. All these were mere footnotes compared to the most troubling issue.

And that was the murder weapon itself: a 3,500-year-old, Bronze Age, Hebrew ceremonial dagger—an authentic museum piece and a damned rare one, at that.

Who would use such a weapon to commit such gruesome murders? The victims hadn’t merely been stabbed at the base of their skulls, they’d also had their spinal cords pried out of their bony sheaths and left dangling. Who would do such a thing? And why?

A deranged curator? A crazed collector? A mummy risen from the desert sands?

Or something else?

That was the current scuttlebutt: that the killer was a thing, a golem, a dybbuk or worse. Some nameless, shambling horror come back from an unmarked desert grave to exact vengeance on all those who dared defile HWHY’s sacred mountain, Mount Sinai.

Some even said it was Yahweh himself.

The IPD detectives, however, did not subscribe to such beliefs. These were hard-nosed professionals, men who had served their three years in the Israeli Defense Force before joining the police. Men who had seen the bloodiest, most nightmarish atrocities imaginable. All three of them knew what man was capable of doing to his fellow man. No angels, demons or golems needed, thank you very much (or mummies, for that matter). Man’s own depravity was sufficient—oh, yes. More than sufficient.

They would find their depraved man, in time. Next to the Mossad, Israel’s Secret Service, the IPD was the ablest intelligence-gathering agency in the Middle East. The reason was simple enough: they went by the book. And one of their favorite chapters in that book was Surveilling Suspects, no matter who, what or where they were.

Currently, their number one suspect for surveillance was a man who’d fled the Eilat Hilton the morning of the double murders. Yes, any number of innocent reasons could explain his abrupt departure (family, health, business, etc.), but detectives thought something more ominous was involved. No, his fingerprints hadn’t been found in the murder room; no one’s had. No hair, fiber, DNA, or any other evidence, for that matter.

All that had been found in Dr. Globus’ room.

It was the icing on their cake or, rather, the honey on their lekach. Better still, their suspect’s prints turned up a hit in the FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), from an assault & battery arrest several years ago. Detectives were now convinced that the murderer of the two in the Eilat Hilton, and the kidnapper of poor old Dr. Globus, was indeed their prime suspect—now their only suspect. And that was an American journalist named David Sean Connors, of Alexandria, VA.

Three highly trained IPD detectives versus one American pencil-pusher? No contest. They would apprehend him in due course. And question him, oh yes. In Israel. Away from the prying eyes of the Red Cross, Amnesty International and all those other do-good, busybody agencies. All of which meant one thing:

Dave Connors’s days were numbered.