He caught another taxi all the way back to Cyndi’s country house in Falls Church, hoping he’d beat her home. His timing was perfect: he got back inside the house and on the couch again scarcely seconds before Cyndi returned.
When she opened the front door and saw him beaming up at her from the sofa, she couldn’t help melting a little inside. Whatever else he might be, David Connors was, in the end, a good boy; he’d stayed put just as she’d told him.
“Have a shower?” she asked; he was still soaked. “In your clothes?”
“Ah, well, I did step outside,” he admitted. “Afraid I got caught in the rain.”
He didn’t want to do or say anything to spoil that smile of hers. He didn’t say a word about Dr. Galilei or what he’d done all day. That way, he wouldn’t have to lie to her. True, he still had to call Dr. Dincke in Baltimore. But, with any luck he could do the entire interview by phone—no need to sneak out again or go anywhere near his car or his apartment. Or tell a lie to Cyndi. Ever.
“So,” she said, still smiling, “how was your day otherwise?”
To which he replied: “Well, to be perfectly honest, I actually snuck out and took a cab to see your pal Dr. Galilei, at Washington U., interviewed him for over an hour, got caught in the rain there, then snuck back here by cab and flopped onto the couch again so you wouldn’t notice.” All in one gush.
She blinked. Nodded slightly. Said nothing.
“And now I have to call a friend of his, in Baltimore. Probably have to go there for another interview tomorrow. Heh, heh.”
“Honesty’s a bitch, isn’t it?” she said.
“Oh, you’ve no idea.”
“Oh, but I do. “Just don’t stay on the phone too long,” she said, her voice calm and even.
“I’ll pay the charges,” he said.
“It’s not that,” she said. “I’m making you falafel, lamb chops and Arabian tea. Or would you prefer a trip back to hospital, after disregarding all the advice your doctor and I gave you?”
“Falafel,” he said, “Mmm—sounds great, thanks. And tea yet.”
No response. Not even a blink.
“Hey, put a dollop of vodka in it. Stirred, then shaken.”
“No dice, Mr. Bond. You may have sugar.”
“Speaking of which, do you know what 007’s middle name was?” he asked.
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“It was James,” he answered.
“Sure. Didn’t he always say ‘My name is Bond . . . James Bond?’”
Even though he did a passable Sean Connery, she wasn’t having any of it.
“Just drink your tea.” She sounded stiff and cold as new ice on a pond. She handed him his cup and asked, “And your hip, thigh and head don’t hurt?”
“Hail no,” he lied. “I feel finer than a frog hair.”
“You’re impossible,” she said, and disappeared into the kitchen, still stiff as ice but unable to keep her hips from swaying like a bell as she left. Even when angry, she couldn’t quell her innate allure. Or maybe she was putting it on even more, to taunt him.
“I hate to see you leave,” he called, “but I love to watch you go . . .”
Still no response. Well, he’d tried. Tough room tonight. But far from exploding at him, as he’d figured, she’d merely offered to make him dinner . . . Would he ever figure women out? At least he could make that call to Galilei’s pal, Dr. Richard Dincke of Baltimore—expert in all things biblical, alien, and apocalyptic.
It was just pushing on five o’clock when he reached Dincke at the college. The call went straight to his home telephone. Turned out Dr. Dincke only had two telephones—an office number and a home phone. He did not believe in cell phones.
“Too insecure,” he breathed. He sounded old, British, and very cultured, if a bit effete (at least, to Dave’s American ear).
“Right,” said David, with glance into the kitchen. Cyndi was still busy, clattering with cups and saucers and tea (sans scotch). “And they’re practically useless since these sunspots began,” David added.
“Quite,” said Dincke. “So. We both hate cell phones. What else can I tell you, young man? In fine, sir, what do you want from a jaded, old Luddite like me?”
Dave told him, mentioned he’d interviewed Dr. Ross Galilei, who had recommended Dr. Dincke. Could David, in short, interview him as well?
“Only if you ask, dear boy,” said the doctor.
“And I do. Ask, that is,” David added. “Dr. Galilei said you were the expert on ancient aliens in the Holy Land.”
“Well, I don’t know about ‘expert,’” Dincke said. “But I do have a few (ahem) interesting photos to show you. And they’re far from ‘ancient.’”
This got Dave’s attention. Anyone who managed to hold onto photographs was a step ahead of him.
“Of what?” he asked. “Recent evidence?”
“Oh, better than that. I’ve something really special for you—hot off the press, too. Not even our friend Dr. Galilei knows about this yet.”
“You’re familiar with the Shikmona Beach landings last week?” asked Dr. Dincke. “Or the trace evidence found recently at the Gilgal Rephaim?”
“I think Dr. Galilei mentioned the latter, yes.”
“Well, I have snapshots,” he said, stretching it out, “ . . . of one of the pilots. And that’s something I know old Galileo hasn’t seen.”
“Pilots?” Dave asked. “A Nephilim?
“Bloody hell!” cried Dr. D. “Who taught you that word, our friend Galileo?”
“No, no, I’ve heard it before. I understand they’re in the bible or something?”
“Don’t say it again. You know about December 21st, of course? The Dark Rift, the Great Alignment?”
Dave could hear the Capital Letters in the man’s voice.
“Sure,” he replied. “The end of time, the Mayan calendar, all that?”
“Indeed. Well, young man, it has already begun.”
“Surely you’ve noticed the climate changes, the increase in natural disasters, wars and diseases? New diseases, out of nowhere? Pestilence? Global famine? Along with this sudden rash of UFO sightings? Now this: reports of aliens in backyards, freaks in the streets, monsters. Scaley, fish-like things, vaguely reptilian yet unmistakably humanoid. It’s the return of the Fallen, I tell you.”
“All that is connected to them?”
“Just as connected as your Roswell debris and the Ten Commandments—and for the same reason. And that’s not all: worse is coming. And soon.”
“What do you mean?”
“The beginning of sorrows: the Great Tribulation. Daniel’s Seventieth Week. And those . . . things you mentioned, along with their progeny. ‘But as the days of Noah were, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.’”
“What’s that? More bible verses?”
“Jesus Christ, predicting the state of affairs at the time of his return. And, by ‘the days of Noah,’ he wasn’t referring simply to the depravity and wickedness of the times, but also the aberrant DNA experiments of those days—monstrous abominations like the Manticore, Gorgons, Cyclops and others.”
“You mean, manimals?”
“Absolutely. God alone knows the full extent of their depravities back then, but it certainly included manimals—among other nameless things. Those days are back, boy, with all manner of loathsome abominations . . . offspring included.”
He kept saying such words: offspring, abominations, progeny, et cetera, like a broken record on an endless turntable. Finally, he said: “But, no more about these creatures; you’ll learn all about them soon enough. No discussing them over the phone.”
Dave felt both excited and creeped out: something about all this—the 2012 Doomsday prophecies, the Roswell symbols, Galilei’s terror, the unmentionable Nephilim—turned on a switch inside him. This was no mere magazine story, this was something else altogether, and it was growing weirder and more ominous by the day. If even 1% of it were true, he had the story of the century—Roswell symbols or no.
He had to know more, then. A lot more. Even if it meant infuriating Cyndi to the point of firing him.
“So, you will get around to the Roswell symbols, right?” he asked.
“Yes, yes, if you insist. But . . . young man, don’t you know? The whole UFO phenomenon is rubbish, a front. This has nothing to do with aliens or space ships. The return of the Fallen is entirely demonic in nature—everything about it. It’s The Great Deception, and it’s all perfectly timed for Mayan Doomsday, December 21st.”
“Well, what about the Nephil-things, or the R-rephaim? Is that how you s—”
“DON’T say those names,” Dincke said. “You’ve no idea . . .”
“That’s what Dr. Galilei said: ‘You’ve no idea.’” So did Dr. Oded, he thought.
“Trust me, young man, you haven’t. Do not mention those names over the phone, or in email, or in any way connected with me, understood?”
“Only face-to-face,” Dr. D added. “We’ll talk when you get here. With any luck, you’ll be able to connect your Roswell symbols and the Ten Commandments to these new photos I’ve got, all of which point to those . . . creatures . . . you mentioned. And, ultimately, to the Big Boy Himself. Now, not another word until we meet, right?”
Once Dave agreed (the Big Boy Himself?), Dr. D. gave him his address, building and office number. It was located below ground level, just off the Poe Street parking garage, in the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research (LASR) building.
The last thing Dr. Dincke told him was, “Promise me you won’t mention a word of this to anyone—not even our friend Galileo. Promise?”
“Well, sure, if—”
“Not even your editor, hear me? Are you still there?”
“Yeah,” Dave said. “I’m still here.”
“Good,” said Dr. D. “I’ll see you in my office. How’s tomorrow at three?”
David hesitated. The University of Baltimore was over three hours away. And he’d have to make the trip in Cyndi’s tiny Mazda: cabs would bankrupt him. Either way, it meant a six-hour round-trip, with a hip-pointer and a deep-thigh bruise. And a concussion.
But the 21st was only two weeks away. If any of this was true, he had to know. Where there was smoke, etc., and the Roswell/Commandments link was a perfect forest fire.
“Tomorrow’s Thursday, right?” he asked.
“All day, my boy.”
“OK, then,” Dave replied, already feeling the six hours in his hip. “Three o’clock tomorrow.”
“I look forward to meeting you, Doctor,” Dave said, calculating he’d have to hit the road before noon tomorrow—if he could get Cyndi’s permission to drive her car. Or sneak out on the sly again and steal it. He did not like either choice.
“Oh, and, Mr. Connors . . .”
“You won’t be the same after what I show you. That I promise.”
“If you say so.”
“Super. Then I’m off for Fleet Street.” And he hung up.
Dave knew nothing of Fleet Street, or astrophysics or Astroturf, for that matter. He was barely familiar with ancient alien theory or the bible, and he knew next to nothing about the Nephilim, the Rephaim or the Dark Rift. For now, they were just names, just words. And freaking weird ones, at that.
Later, he would pine for this moment, this ignorance . . . this bliss. Only then he would realize how truly innocent he had been.
Another thing he was ignorant of, during his chat with Dr. Dincke, was the pair of eyes watching him from across the street, via the night-vision binoculars. Both the Israeli Police and Mossad favored Alpha-Lens military-issue night binocs—and for good reason: they represented the latest iteration in night-vision gear, true Generation 5 technology, resulting in the brightest, clearest images possible.
They also cost $8,500 a pair. But they were worth every shekel: Sgt. Heim could see perfectly into Cyndi Malach’s country home, through the living room window. Whale Unit had spotted her during their stakeout of Connors’s apartment. Saw her park out front, go in, saw lights appear on the third floor, and watched her emerge again with a suitcase, a shaving kit and one moth-eaten, old Siamese. Then followed her home.
Heim lowered the binoculars and smiled. He was in there; they’d found their quarry, all right. And he had no idea they were closing in. Heim wanted to raid the place that night, but his Mossad friends begged off. They’d spotted some unusually sophisticated security devices around the perimeter—devices they’d rarely seen outside Mossad itself. No problem: they could take him the moment he left the house—and take him any way they wanted, dead or alive. Either way was fine with Heim. Then again . . .
. . . dead was always easier.
That night the old rebel, the outcast, banished forever from his synagogue, last master of the blasphemous Chaldean Kabbalah, finalized his plans for the deaths of three more people. Nothing gaudy; no need for attention. He’d only be gone a few hours with his companion, then back in his hotel room again, alone. and his mission in this accursed country would be finished. All in service to earth’s former gods, its true and rightful rulers, the Nephilim . . . the Betrayed . . . the Abandoned.
Everything he did was for Them. Even sabotaging the Oded Expedition to Mt. Sinai. True, the Kabbalist didn’t mind the surge in his bank account, but it made him slightly ill to think that everything—everything he did—was in service to the Nephilim.
Now, illumined by only the eight candles flickering from his menorah, the odd, pot-bellied figure raised his arms over his suitcase and began chanting in an ancient tongue, one older than Babylon, Assyria—even Sumer. One millions of years old before Man even rose from the desert sands, at Their command. A tongue not heard on Earth in over three millennia, save by certain practitioners of the old, olden rites. Rites that made Voodoo, Satanism—even Santeria, with all its blood fetishes—seem the veriest chanting of Sunday School children by comparison.
He opened the suitcase and gazed upon its contents: dried blood, dirt, semen and sand. He leaned over and then did something most unusual: he began spitting into the suitcase. A slightly nauseous odor arose from the sand, nothing more. He chanted a few more incantations, after which he took an olive branch and began stirring his spit into the sand, semen, blood and dirt, making a muddy glob in the center of the suitcase. And he smiled: yes.
Yes, it would rise again tonight.
And all hell would follow.