….This is NOT my voice. This is an actual, trained, voice-over talent, not some flea-bitten old novelist. Or me.
I still love this flick. It’s only a minute long, but packs everything in nicely.
….This is NOT my voice. This is an actual, trained, voice-over talent, not some flea-bitten old novelist. Or me.
I still love this flick. It’s only a minute long, but packs everything in nicely.
“There have been, and will be again, many destructions
of mankind…just when you and other nations are
beginning to be provided with letters and the other
requisites of civilized life…the stream from heaven,
like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only
those of you who are destitute of letters and education;
and so you have to begin all over again like children,
and know nothing of what happened in ancient times…”
Timaeus and Critias
Dateline: Friday, 7 December 2012
Israeli Police HQ, Jerusalem
It was the most vivid nightmare he’d ever had: finding Dr. Dincke slaughtered on the floor of his Baltimore office, being questioned by the police, then coming back to Cyndi’s country place, telephoning for pizza only to have the cops show up and—
—hit him harder than he’d ever been hit before—even harder than that damned car had, Monday night, when he’d gone flying head over heels in love with the dark.
Now the dark loved him in return, as a needle entered his arm and he went down, down, dowwwn to a place where only the dead slept so soundly—no dreams, no visions, no giants . . . only the utter nothingness of oblivion.
When Dave awoke this time, he wasn’t on the sofa with the increasingly sexy Cyndi, or even on her living room floor. This time, when he awoke, he was lying next to no one. And he seemed to be moving, somehow. Fast.
He turned to his left and saw what looked like an airplane window (Row L, Seat 13) with a splendid view of the night. Darkness. Stars. He could even hear—or thought he could hear—the high whine of jet engines on either side of the giant L1011.
But it was probably a dream.
Of course. That’s all it was—he was dreaming of his flight from Israel, a week ago, when he’d fled Eilat, leaving those bodies, questions and suspicions behind. And now . . .
. . . well, and now he was having another nightmare—a real one this time, courtesy of his scrambled egg-brain. What had Cyndi called it? A “bad” concussion? How apt. It certainly felt “bad:” busted, pulped and bleeding.
Only now, at last, he was coming to . . . bleary and blinking as the unbearably bright, white light flashed in his eyes, and the man with the long, hard hands slapped and slapped and slapped him . . . The same man who’d cracked him in the jaw with a gun.
And this time, when his vision cleared, Dave saw that he was surrounded by—were those Israeli police uniforms? With the sky-blue tunics and the navy slacks and the—
—no . . . no way, this was the nightmare, this was not real, this was not—
—real enough for government work!—his brain shrieked as the woman beside him (Cyndi?) began slapping him as well, her long, black hair brushing his face as he looked into her deep, blue, Israeli eyes and—
—blue Israeli eyes?—
—no, no way, this was—
“David, wake up!”
“Wake up, David!”
—yes, this was Cyndi, slapping him awake and
knocking him out again.
Hours later, when he awoke, he saw all.
With Cyndi lying naked (!?) beside him, fast asleep. No Israeli police officers, no Mossad agents, no planes. It had all been a dream. A very bad, very realistic dream.
Cyndi had nodded off on the job, simple as that. She was supposed to keep him awake until midnight, but here it was, eight o’clock or thereabouts . . . and they’d both fallen asleep. Well, no harm done. He’d go interview Dr. Galilei in the morning. So, everything he’d just experienced had been a dream . . . But all of it?
What the hell kind of concussion was this? He felt as if he’d had two or three separate nightmares, interspersed with even more nightmarish waking moments—like the bleak, bare interrogation room at Israeli Police HQ, of all places. Man, he’d really done a number on his brain. He felt vaguely numb, stupid, dull and drugged—heavily drugged. Yet, his head still hurt like a broken tooth, and his face—
—his face felt as if—
—as if someone were still slapping him. Hard.
He could even hear it. Too, too weird. No one was there, no one was hitting him or shaking him or slapping him aw—
“—Wake up, American pig . . .”
—oh, but yes, they were . . . hell yes, they—
Only this time, when Dave Connors came to, he really did wake up.
And he was definitely not at Cyndi’s.
Along with two Mossad agents and an IPD detective—the three from Cyndi’s. The latter was the one with the amazingly long, hard hands, like wooden paddles. He was also the one who’d thoughtfully cracked him in the jaw with the pistol. He was the one who’d been slapping him all night, finally bringing him around with the pretty blue-eyed Israeli nurse injecting him with strange concoctions.
“Who the hell are—”
“Yes, who the hell indeed,” said the Inspector. “Your hell, apparently.” He was an older man, with a craggy face and hooded, coal-black eyes. He leaned down and smiled. “If you wish to see your home again, young man, you will not swear in my presence.”
“What do you think you’re—”
Schriever leaned even closer to him and spat: “Doing? To you? We are doing nothing to you, American. We are merely entertaining you, as our guest.” He fixed Dave with his soulless, black eyes—shark’s eyes—and grinned. “And, until you tell us about those murders in Eilat, we will continue . . . entertaining you.”
“But . . . I don’t—”
Schriever nodded and out came the boots. To the ribs, mostly, to avoid leaving any marks. Dave knew from his SEAL training that this punching and kicking to the body was called “dry” interrogation—as opposed to the more tell-tale, “wet” variety.
For now . . . the ribs. And the kidneys.
Kidneys, yes, and the liver. And that really hurt—a deep, all-pervasive, swelling ache that made him want to throw up.
Then the hip.
The bastards hadn’t overlooked that delicate spot. Dave knew they would play on that—and they did. Skillfully. For hours . . .
They saved the testicles for last.
Not merely because it was sound interrogation procedure or because they liked crushing a man’s balls in their fists . . .
. . . well, actually, yes it was: they liked it. And they were damned good at it.
After seven hours of torture, reconciliation, promises, sweet talk and more torture, they realized the American would not break.
“Not because he’s so tough,” Schriever told Sgt. Heim. “He simply doesn’t know anything. If he did, he would have cracked by now.”
Heim glanced at David, who was still strapped backwards over a chair seat, his back arched, wrists and ankles hog-tied beneath him.
“So he’s innocent?” Heim asked.
Schriever shrugged. “Of the Eilat murders, yes. But what man is truly innocent?”
Heim shrugged. “Now what?”
“Dispose of him,” Schriever said.
“But, where? How?”
“In the desert, Sergeant. Burn any I.D. he might have on him. Oh, and be sure to remove the head, hands and feet. Burn those separately.”
Heim nodded. Although he admired the American’s toughness, he would do as ordered: he would dispose of Connors somewhere in the Negev—parts of him, anyway—in a remote, quiet and isolated place. And who knew? Maybe years from now, the young man’s remains might be discovered by an archaeologist—someone like Dr. Oded, perhaps —who would mistake them for an older, more historic find. A prince, even, or a priest. Someone important . . . not just another anonymous corpse.
The Holy Land already had plenty of those.
Only one problem, as Schriever pointed out: the night was nearly spent, and daylight was only an hour away. Not exactly the best time to go careening about Jerusalem with a dead American in one’s car.
“We’ll wait for nightfall,” Schriever told Heim. “Until then, leave him in isolation. Who knows? He might talk, after all.”
But Schriever doubted it. Not that it mattered—either way, the American was dead. Returning him to the U.S. now, in this condition, was out of the question. But at least Connors might help him appreciate the workings of the degenerate American mind—help him to understand why.
Besides, killing him wouldn’t really be murder: Schriever and his one-time brethren of the Mossad weren’t just cops, they were physical extensions of the law. And the law stated that when someone murdered Israeli citizens—in Israel—someone paid with his life. So, he wasn’t breaking the law—he was fulfilling it. Executing a sentence. And he wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep. Never did. Except when he thought of his wife, Yakira, and her mental state.
Then he never slept.
Dave, likewise, could not sleep. Not that it mattered; he was beyond such considerations. Asleep or conscious, life or death, meant nothing to him now: he was adrift on a sea of pain and delirium. The past 12 hours had left him insensible—gasping, trembling and strangely numb; he couldn’t move a muscle. And although he hadn’t talked, he could see in the morning light that he’d wet himself, puked and bled all over.
(The only easy day was yesterday.)
(But SEALS don’t feel pain, SEALS don’t feel pain, SEALS don’t feel . . .)
. . . pain was everywhere: in addition to the hip-pointer, thigh bruise and concussion, he now had a broken rib, shattered left upper molar, cracked cheekbone, bruised kidneys and blood in his urine. And the tendons in his shoulders and elbows would never be the same.
But he was still game. Still good enough for government work.
And he had twelve hours till sundown.
Picking up where we left off last week:
The Baltimore P.D. didn’t believe their story.
David could hardly blame them. Here they were, responding to a 911 call to the college, only to find the sliced and diced remains of the esteemed Dr. Dincke and two total strangers standing over him. Not good.
Worse, Dave’s hip was really singing out now; the thigh and head were throbbing, too, the concussion still rendering him stupid and wobbly as a new-born calf. He was also tired. And outraged.
Not at the cops—they were only doing their job. He was outraged by the savagery done to Dr. Dincke. The old fellow was a harmless, old academic; a nerd; a geek. A bit light in the loafers, but so what? He was no threat to anyone. That he was so genteel made his murder all the more infuriating, to David. It also meant something else:
The killer—the thing that had butchered the three in Israel—was in the U.S. now. And looking for him.
The cops finally cut the two of them loose a few hours later, when their alibis checked. One of them, after all, was the most beautiful, exotic business–woman they’d ever seen, let alone interviewed. And she was Assistant Director of a university observatory, in Alexandria. Which they verified. If David needed a reason to feel grateful for Cyndi’s presence, this was it.
So, shortly before six o’clock that evening, the cops let them go. Cyndi helped Dave gimp-walk his way back up the tunnel to the parking garage and the RX9. Moments later, they were headed back home. With nothing. No confirmation, no additional info, no nothing . . . only the image of poor old Dincke’s mutilated neck and skull.
They began their journey home at the height of Baltimore’s rush-hour—another bonus from their trip northward—which, on the I-395 Expressway, meant a blistering 25-30 miles per hour. In spurts. Without Tylenol, Excedrin, or even aspirin. All the way to D.C., where they managed to hit a pot-hole the size of one of the moon’s smaller craters and completely bottomed out, scraping the Mazda’s undercarriage, leaf springs—even the brake line moldings.
Which dislodged the tiny, jumper-pin-sized transmitter Sgt. Heim & Friends had placed there the previous evening.
Once they lost the signal, it was only a matter of time before they lost the car altogether, in the dark.
Oblivious to it all, Cyndi and Dave flew the rest of the way home, clocking a cool 75-80 mph. Not only did they lose the little black sedan (which David never noticed), they also managed to avoid every state trooper from Annapolis to Arlington. Yet, for the next two hours, all Dave could think of—all he could see in his mind’s merciless semi-photographic memory—was Dr. Dincke’s corpse.
Not merely the butchery done on him; that was sickening enough. What really made Dave urp inside was the look on Dincke’s face. He’d died with an expression of terror—not fear, not horror, but terror—etched into his features. As if the very walls around him had come alive and started stabbing him.
And the back of his head. God, the head . . .
And his neck, with the spinal cord hanging out, and leaking.
. . . and that smell. That gut-churning, vomitous smell . . . like a thousand dead cats left in a closet to rot. And that was a smell Dave never forgot.
He just hoped he’d never smell it again.
They finally got back to Cyndi’s country home just before nine o’clock, a round trip that took nine hours and gave nothing in return. Zilch.
Dave collapsed on the sofa, alone. Cyndi wanted to shower and change, then settle in for a night’s planning.
“Planning?” he asked. “For what, Doomsday?”
“Something like that, yes,” she replied. Amazing: all this running and racing around, dodging homicidal sports cars, hospitals, dead professors and cops, and here she was, looking fresh as a high-school hearth-throb on her first big date. As for David, he had more than enough to occupy his mind for now. (And he certainly didn’t want to think of her showering, naked, just a few feet away . . . dangerous thoughts for dangerous times.) No, he had to keep the big head in the driver’s seat. Such as it was.
For he had new angles to consider, fresh avenues to explore. Because, so far, nothing was panning out for him. Them. He and Cyndi. So easy to think of them as a team, all of a sudden. So natural of him to think of her as his partner in all this . . . whatever “all this” was. One thing was certain:
After all the running around, phone calls and driving, he was back to Square One. No closer to this “God Key” nonsense than when Cyndi first clued him to it, on Monday. Sure, he’d snapped a few photos of Dr. Galilei’s Roswell sketch—but that’s all they were: photos of a sketch. Not proof. For that matter, the magazine didn’t have even have the original Commandments photos to run alongside the Roswell stuff. They’d been lost in the Durant house fire.
His friend and editor, Will Durant was dead; Dave heard about it on Channel 6 news that night. Home burned, papers torched, photos turned to so much ash. Lost and gone for good, this time, and . . .
. . . and, God in Heaven, he was tired. Too tired to sleep.
Yet, he had to find out what this God Key was all about. And how it was supposed to “help” him, as Cyndi suggested. And what it was that Dr. Dincke had wanted so badly to tell him—badly enough to have him drive all the way to Baltimore. Badly enough to die—to be slaughtered—like all the others . . . David Connors felt his forehead slipping askew, and he’d lost balance, as if the earth had shifted slightly on its axis.
Just thinking about Dr. D’s horrific end made David dizzy and pissed all over again. He snapped out his wallet, found Galilei’s card and punched the numbers on his phone. If anyone had a clue as to what Dincke had wanted to tell him, it would be his pal, Galilei. And Dave didn’t give a damn what time it was, he was getting some answers. Now.
Galilei’s office phone rang twice, then forwarded the call to his home phone. A few rings later, the Doc himself came on the line, sounding groggy and put out.
“Hey, Dr. Galilei? This is Dave Connors.”
A pause, then: “Who?”
“Dave Connors. Cyndi’s friend? I met with you yesterday. You showed me your Roswell sketch and your slide show on ancient aliens . . . remember?”
Another pause, this time longer. “Who did you say this was?”
Dave felt the earth shift slightly on its axis.
“Dave Connors,” he said. “Our friend Cyndi sent me to see you yesterday at noon, remember? You referred me to your friend in Baltimore, Dr. Dincke? Well, I went up there to see him today, Doc, but he was in no condition for—”
“You must have me confused with someone else,” Galilei said. “I don’t know any Cindys, or anything about aliens, and I have no friends at all in Baltimore. Please, I’m having dinner and—”
“Listen, you pop-eyed, pencil-necked little geek,” Dave said, “You’re not fobbing me off; I recognize your voice. Now, what do you suppose your dead pal Dr. Dincke wanted to tell me? Huh? More about the Nephilim and the Rephaim—the Gilgal Rephaim? Remember? And the Anak—”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Galilei cried. “You must be a crank—this is a crank call! Don’t ever call here again—whoever you are!”
“C’mon, Doc, the joke’s—”
But Galilei had already hung up on him.
Dave stared at the phone before he, too, finally hung up. Yes, he was sure of it now: the earth had indeed shifted on its axis.
And not just slightly.
Less than half an hour after their phone conversation, at 9:27 p.m., yet another fresh corpse was being poked, prodded and pawed by Alexandria Police detectives, along with a forensics team from the City Medical Examiner’s office. The corpse in question was a lump of meat found floating in a swamp of sticky, coagulating blood and other fluids on its kitchen floor.
The victim, a male in his early forties, balding, and with a prominent brow ridge, was wearing a lab coat that had probably been white at one time. No more. Someone had ripped the back of his neck open, torn out his spinal cord, then severed and . . . drained it. No one there, not even the most hardened homicide detectives, had ever seen anything like it.
The murderer had gained entry by smashing through the man’s kitchen door, literally bursting it off its hinges. Whoever it was, he was big. Very big. And bad. And more than a little demented.
The victim lived alone, and there were no witnesses. A neighbor had heard some dogs barking earlier, but that was all.
The question of the moment was, who? A student? A jilted lover? Both? No one could say. The detectives and forensics people were utterly baffled by the lack of physical evidence: the killer had left nothing behind: no prints, hair, DNA or fiber. Nada—though a small, spiral notebook binder was found on the floor, with all its pages torn out, and parts of some ancient, onion-skin stationary lying nearby. Yet, not a single print. Zilch. Nothing.
Nothing but the sickly sweet stench of death and rotting meat that filled the house.
The forensics people looked dazed; the city detectives, nauseous. All of them looked frightened, as if this were the work of some demon in their midst, and any of them could be next. Like their late friend and colleague, Sgt. Lacy.
Unfortunately, the recent murder of Dr. Richard Dincke, in far away Baltimore, had yet to make the local news or the detectives’ police wire, so they had no inkling of any related crimes.
But that didn’t help the late Dr. Ross Galilei. Like his friend Dr. Dincke, in Baltimore, Dr. G was stone dead. Deader than dead. Eyes wide open and staring.
Frozen in mid-scream.
While city police detectives were bagging the battered, blood-spattered remains of Dr. Galilei, a large, shambling, misshapen man—a deformity, perhaps—appeared among the headstones in the old Alexandria National Cemetery, across from the intersection of South Payne and Wilkes Street. Where Dave Connors lived.
All the dogs along that stretch of Wilkes immediately began barking. Indoors or out, a pampered pet or a wandering stray, they let loose a storm of howling and wailing like nothing the locals had ever heard—especially not at 9:30 on a work night. The dogs did not like this mis-made man, this deformity. He smelled bad. Very bad.
As in dead.
Dead, yes, but moving nonetheless. His size and shape were bewildering to the dogs: a vast, lumpy clump of a man, as if a chunk of the graveyard had suddenly uprooted itself and slouched forward—though it did assume a kind of humanoid shape.
He was like the hated mailman, in that he seemed to wear a sort of uniform. This, along with the rich, ripe reek of death, was what sent the dogs into such an ecstasy of barking. The deformed hobo approached one of the animals, a mean old boxer named Mojo, who was leashed to its back porch railing, about four houses away.
As the deformity drew near, he appeared to study the dog, turning its misshapen “head” this way and that. Then he grabbed the boxer with one huge, ham-like hand, produced a bronze dagger in the other and . . . sliced the back of the dog’s neck open.
Even as poor old Mojo was bleeding out, still kicking slightly, the stinking, hulking brute stuck the tip of his ancient blade into the dog’s cervical vertebrae, dug it in nice and deep and . . .
* plop! *
. . . popped out its spinal cord. And began sucking.
Sucking and slurping.
When it was finished, the deformed man released the dead dog to dangle by its ruined neck from the leash tied to the porch, twitching and twisting in the wind, a slaughtered thing. While the thing that slaughtered it, still reeking, shambled back into the graveyard, where it nestled among a line of trees and tall monuments in the cemetery’s center. There, refreshed and restored, it resumed waiting. For the main course.
It would not have to wait long.
“I’ve got to get back to my apartment,” Dave told her that evening. “My car, the rest of my clothes, and all my old Roswell stuff is back there.”
“No way,” Cyndi said, as if that ended the discussion.
“So, am I to lay around here indefinitely? Talking to professors I’ve interviewed who disavow all knowledge of me? I’ve gotta have a shower at least.”
“I told you when you got here that I’d take care of everything,” she replied. “I’ve retrieved your cat, his food and treats, and brought back some of your things. Are you feeling up to a shower and a change of clothes? At this hour of night?”
“Hell yes. We’ve got places to see, people to do.”
She gazed at him a moment, as if sizing him up. “Well, you seemed to gimp around all right in Baltimore. And you managed to get to and from Dr. Galilei’s office without further damage. Very well, then,” she added. “I’ll run you a shower and lay out some of your clothes. Are you hungry?”
“Actually, yes,” he answered, then frowned. “Though it seems blasphemous after finding Dincke like that. But, yeah, I could eat.”
“Well, then. I’ll phone for delivery.”
“Who delivers at this hour? Out here?”
“Pizza, Nimrod. Don’t you like pizza?”
“Sure. But I’d like solving this insanity first. Namely, who’s killing these professors and why? First Eilat, now Baltimore?” He shook his head. “Over some photographs? Just . . . doesn’t make any sense.”
“No, it doesn’t. But, first, you must eat. Then, in another day or two, when you can put some more weight on that leg, we’re leaving.”
“Where, back to my place? Get my car?”
“No, idiot. To Israel. To solve all this ‘insanity,’ as you put it.”
David’s face flashed red in an instant, though he tried not to betray his anger.
“How many times do I have to tell you, I’m Not. Going. Back. Ever.”
Now she was smiling at him, like an indulgent parent.
“Silly American. Don’t you know when you’re being swept up by history and fate? You are like a man on a raft in a raging river, skimming away. With me,” she added. “Now, I’ll call the pizza place—Rocco’s, I think. Mushroom and pepperoni OK?”
“And extra cheese,” he said. To his embarrassment, his stomach growled like a caged animal. “And some breadsticks, too.”
“You are a caveman, aren’t you?” she said, still smiling at him—at his stomach, to be exact. “I’ll run your shower—if you can stand up in a tub. Maybe I’ll have to prop you up, just in case . . .”
Dave shrugged. “Yeah. Sure. Whatever floats your boat down that raging river.”
She laughed—a magical, silvery sound. “Well said, young Nimrod. Now, you stay put, I’ll be back in a moment.”
First the laugh, now the hips undulating slightly more than necessary, swaying like a bell as she walked away. Why is she doing this to me? he wondered. When I’m helpless to do anything about it?
“By the way,” she called to him from the hallway, “I’ve a bit of a secret to tell you. About my . . . life. Since coming here to America.”
“Really? You’re a secret pizza smuggler?”
“Even tastier. But I should tell you before we leave for Israel. So you’ll know who you’re traveling with, and what to expect.”
“Gee, I can’t wait.” He began running through the most popular rumors at work about her origins. “Don’t tell me: you’re a runaway from some gypsy family in Romania, right?”
“Not even close.”
“OK, then, you’re a former member of a Turkish harem, escaped from some mad Arab?”
“Closer . . .” she allowed.
“Final guess: your name isn’t really Cyndi Malach, you’re actually a deep-cover Mossad agent sent here to . . . smuggle pizza to wounded American rednecks.”
“Bingo,” she said, laughing. That was when the knock came, at her front door.
“Want me to get it?” Dave called. “Probably the secret Israeli pizza police.”
No response: she’d turned on the bath water and couldn’t hear him.
Another knock at the front door. This one more urgent.
“All right, all right,” he called, “I’m coming. Or gimping . . .”
He got to his feet, supporting himself on the cane. Damn things were tricky until you got the hang of them, and he was only now getting it. He cane-walked to the front door, hoping he had enough money in his wallet to cover it.
He opened the door.
Three Middle Eastern men stood staring at him.
“You are David Connors?” The one in front asked. It was more a statement than a question.
“Who wants to know?”
“You are David Connors?” the man repeated, with an odd yet familiar accent.
“Who the hell are—”
The man cracked him across the jaw with a pistol; Dave dropped to the floor like a dead man.
And Operation Jonah was a success.
Sales of my novel, The God Key, Book I: Return of the Nephilim have been picking up a lot lately. Which is weird and wonderful: weird because the book’s been out for over a year now; and wonderful because I can sure use the income. Granted, it’s not much, but it does keep us in dogfood (7 monster dogs at last count, all of them suitable for Nephilimian mating procedures).
But enough about my love life. Let’s get on with the 3 FREE Chapters:
Levi Schwartz, at the ICRC/Segré Observatory, couldn’t remember being so frustrated.
The anomaly. The asteroids. They weren’t behaving normally, or anything like normally. The first cluster had finally split into its separate parts: 13 separate parts, to be precise; 13 separate asteroids. A fairly rare phenomenon, to be sure, but not entirely unheard of in the realm of asteroids. Most importantly, none of them was big enough to pose a threat to Mother Earth, Apollos or no, so . . . all well and good.
Except that, now, the 13 smaller asteroids had split into 20 even smaller chunks.
And that just wasn’t right. Or normal—even for an anomaly.
Dr. Schwartz watched the phenomena unfold over the shoulder of his assistant director, Dr. Avi Krohen. He sat before the observatory’s main monitor, speechless with frustration and exhaustion; ICRC senior staff hadn’t left their posts in nearly 24 hours.
Dr. Krohen’s post was at the observatory’s 64-inch SamNAC LCD flat panel monitor, which boasted 4220 x 2560 resolution, 1080p HD display, and 256-bit True Color—all of which had been customized for use with the observatory’s various telescopes: optical, radio and multi-spectrum.
The SamNAC provided the sharpest pictures possible, plus multi-screen views from all seven of the observatory’s telescopes and cameras simultaneously, along with live feeds from two other observatories and data stream 24/7 from the twin cosmic ray monitors. No other facility on earth could boast such technology. And, yet, for all the expensive, impressive new hardware, the astronomers were stumped.
“Can’t say I’ve ever seen asteroids behave like this,” Dr. Schwartz remarked.
Dr. Krohen glanced at Schwartz and shrugged. “Maybe that’s because they’re not asteroids . . .”
“Then what are they?”
At first, Krohen made no reply. For no reason whatever, a voice—deep, scaly and reptilian—oiled into his brain: Prophesy for me, Cassandra . . . tell me what will be.
He sat frozen yet trembling at the console. How? How could that be? That, 57 years ago his mother had wanted a daughter—had even named the child before birth as “Cassandra,” only to have a boychild, whom she renamed Avi.
So how had that voice in his ear (brain?) known about that? Krohen shook his head and the sound ceased as suddenly as it had started. He still felt dizzy, as if he would pitch forward and go headfirst through his monitor. Finally, he looked back at the giant SamNAC screen and said: “I . . . have no idea.”
“If they’re not asteroids or comets,” said Schwartz, “not sunspots or solar flares or anything else we can name, then what in God’s name are they?”
Dr. Krohen shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe they’re just . . . space-junk.”
“Space-junk,” Schwartz repeated. And he could only nod. And watch.
Thursday morning, December 7th, only 14 days before the end of the world, David Connors got the shock of his life: worse than being booted from the SEALs . . . more stunning that when he’d won the Fulbright for two years in Israel… even more awesome than the night Cyndi had kissed him, fully, on the mouth.
Cyndi offered to drive him to the interview. With Dr. Dincke. In Baltimore.
Perhaps “offered” wasn’t quite the right word: more like “ordered” him to let her drive and escort him. Since he was, as she said, little better than a gibbering idiot on his best days, he was now reduced to near-catatonia by virtue of his concussion and other injuries. He needed a caretaker, a companion.
“Besides,” she added, “it’s the only way I can keep watch over you. Crazy American Redneck,” she added.
Women . . . Yes, he was certain of it now.
He would never figure them out.
They finally got on the road by 12:10 pm. The sun was up and boiling, sending its delightful flares out in gigantic loops to scorch the earth. Yet, the sky was clear, the weather fine, and the drive was surprisingly pleasant. Especially with Cyndi doing the driving. And although the Mazda was more cramped and less comfortable for someone David Connors’s size and injuries, he didn’t mind one bit: Cyndi was wearing one of her shorter, black skirts and charcoal hose. He was getting an eyeful. He was content.
At least, until they hit the I-395 loop around Washington, D.C., the notorious “Beltway,” where they ran into a maze of detours, cut-offs, and mangled “temporary” lanes. Their trip slowed to, if not a crawl, at least a limp.
Fortunately, he’d downloaded a map of the trip in advance, from Cyndi’s laptop. The main route was highlighted in red, roads to the University of Baltimore in yellow, and the route to Dr. Dincke’s office in the Laboratory of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (LASR) building in light purple (like the Roswell debris symbols).
But that part was over: as he told Cyndi, he’d seen Galilei’s symbols, done up nice and proper in pencil, and compared them with his lone surviving photo of the Commandments—and matched them. He didn’t need his old Roswell photos anymore.
Cyndi, despite her best attempt to hide it, was excited.
True, Dave admitted, sketches and mangled old photos weren’t the best proof, and would not bear scientific scrutiny. But he no longer cared about proof; he knew the symbols matched, and that was good enough for him. He’d already walked through that gate; now he wanted to see what lay beyond it.
Now, it was time to find out just what those symbols meant—on the debris and the Commandments. And learn just who and what these Nephilim really were, and what connection they had, if any, with the recent UFO sightings, the murders in Eilat, or this “God Key” business.
By 2:50 p.m., Cyndi was pulling her RX9 into Baltimore University’s Poe Street parking garage, northwest campus, three floors below surface level—sublevel yellow-C, to be exact.
And the little black sports car parked with them.
Albeit one floor below, on sublevel yellow-D.
The Mossad driver, a young man about Dave’s age, named Moshe, had done an admirable job following their target, always keeping at least a mile or more behind him to avoid detection. No miracle, really: they’d placed a transmitter above the Mazda’s brake lines the night before. If they couldn’t raid the house, at least they could monitor its occupants. Still, it took a steady hand to keep the proper distance and stay out of sight.
Now, they had to hang back. Campus security was spot-checking everyone who emerged from the garage, only this security team had it all: magnetic wands, X-rays, metal detector doorways—the works. And, once again, the American murderer/journalist eluded them. For now.
But not, Sgt. Heim swore to himself, for much longer.
Dincke’s environment was the polar opposite of Dr. G’s. Whereas Galilei’s sat perched on a majestic, tree-lined hill, Dr. D’s was tucked away in the basement of the LASR Building—three floors below the surface—at the end of a dark, dank pedestrian tunnel. And while Dr. Galilei’s office shone with sunlight from three tall, cathedral windows, the passage to Dr. D’s office had no windows, no sunlight, at all.
The tunnel’s gloomy atmosphere settled over them like the swollen corpse of a long-dead drowning victim. Dave even thought he smelled the sickly-sweet stench of rotting bodies wafting through the abysmal air toward them, like a warning. He couldn’t help turning around every so often to look behind them, down the long, black tunnel, to make sure (nothing) no one was following them.
Finally, they reached the branch of the pedestrian tunnel that led to Dr. Dincke’s office. And here all security measures seemed to have gone awry. For here, at the frosted, glass-and-wire-mesh window with the man’s name and title stenciled in black ink—Richard Dincke, PhD. , Physics Dept—they found the door slightly ajar.
Dave poked his head into the doorway. “Hello, Dr. Dincke? It’s Dave Connors.”
Nothing. No sound at all, not even the squeak of a chair or the creak of a drawer.
“Hello? Dr. Dincke?”
David and Cyndi opened the door fully and stepped into the room.
It was a scene of utter chaos: books, papers and magazines; boxes, folders and sofa cushions—even old, back issues of Fleet Street After Dark—were scattered all over the office. It was a picture of pandemonium, another preview of hell.
And a reeking preview at that: the stench of rotting meat and death was much stronger inside the office. At the rear, behind a ruined wooden hutch, Cyndi spotted a doorway leading to a second room. The inner sanctum, as it were.
But “sanctum” did not describe what the two of them saw in there.
For there, strewn along the floor before a massive, oaken desk, were the raw, ravaged remains of 189 pounds of rotting hamburger that was “Richard Dincke, PhD.”
Dave’s stomach lurched; he swallowed and took another step closer on his cane.
And saw . . .
. . . the back of his head and neck.
It was ripped and mutilated, the meat flayed and protruding in bloody, triangular chunks, the bone beneath plainly visible. The spinal cord had been popped out of its vertebral sheath and . . . drained. Recently, too.
Because it was still leaking, Dave noted, as he grabbed the phone and dialed 911.