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
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.
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.