FREE – Chapters 27 – 29, from THE GOD KEY, BOOK I: Return of the Nephilim

Baalbek Columns

PART THREE

THE STREAM
FROM HEAVEN

“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…”

—Plato

Timaeus and Critias

***


Chapter 27

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!”

Cyndi?!

“Wake up, David!”

—yes, this was Cyndi, slapping him awake and

—dammit!!

knocking him out again.

***

Hours later, when he awoke, he saw all.


Chapter 28

He saw that he was at Cyndi’s place on her sofa, of course. As he had been, all along.

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

They were.

Only this time, when Dave Connors came to, he really did wake up.

And he was definitely not at Cyndi’s.


Chapter 29

David Connors awoke that night to find himself kidnapped, cuffed, beaten and jailed in Jerusalem, prisoner of one Jacob Schriever, Chief Inspector of the Israeli Police Department.

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.

 

#

3 FREE Chapters: 20, 21 & 22, from The God Key, Book I

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:

Demon Nephil Face

Chapter 20

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.

And wait.

Chapter 21

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.

Chapter 22

The gauntlet of doorways, stairs and tunnels was worse here than at Washington U., back home. Ditto for Dr. Dincke’s office—or, rather, his subterranean lair.

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.

#

FREE – Chapter 18, The God Key, Book I

- Visitors? Ancient Aliens? Or just "imaginary?"

– Visitors? Ancient Aliens? Or just “imaginary?”

Chapter 18

What Dave had assumed was a standard digital projector came on with an animated audio/video splash. This was not the doctor’s color slides or home movies, or even Death-By-Power-Point, but a full-blown, multi-media presentation. Fortunately, the projector’s special effects capabilities were limited, which was encouraging: otherwise, Dave would be suspicious of any giants or monsters presented onscreen.

Following a number of jump-cuts, fades and text, the film settled into a series of still-shots, which Dr. Galilei accompanied with his own narration. So . . . it was to be the doctor’s slide-show after all.

The projector paused on a grainy, black-and-white photo of a desert scene, with a number of Arab laborers standing around a huge trench in the foreground. Above the trench was an elaborate scaffolding, with ropes, pulleys and winches. Inside the trench was what appeared to be a dinosaur skeleton, except the arrangement of the bones was all wrong.

The size looked about right, but the layout was like no dinosaur he’d ever seen. As he studied the photo, Dave realized there was something hideously human about the skeleton, combined with a vague, yet terrible suggestion of the reptilian.

“The Grigori,” said Dr. Galilei. “Better known as ‘The Watchers.’”

“And what were they? Giant grave-diggers?”

At the word “giant,” Dr. Galilei’s hand twitched so violently, he knocked the projector sideways.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. He slid the projector back into position. “Many believe the Grigori, or Watchers, are the creatures referred to in Sumerian myth as the ‘Anunnaki,’ and in the bible as ‘the Fallen.’ Highly advanced beings who came here to survey, mine, and colonize earth.”

At the word “colonize,” a pair of photos came up, side by side. On the left was a tiny carving of what looked like a 1960s astronaut, complete with backpack and space helmet, climbing a stone pillar in the Natural History Museum of Tula, Mexico. The photo on the right was the infamous carving of the Mayan god-king Pakal on the lid of his sarcophagus, apparently operating controls from the cockpit of some interstellar craft. Both photos often appeared in books dealing with Ancient Astronauts, as proof of aliens on the earth in distant epochs.

“That’s the ‘Little Guy’ of Tula,” Galilei explained. “And, of course, the sarcophagus lid of King Pakal, the Mayan ruler of Palenque, Mexico. He was said to be nearly eight feet tall,” he added.

The next scene was no photograph or video still, but a painting any Sunday school student would recognize: David and Goliath.

“Speaking of giants, note the proportions here,” Dr. G continued. “See how huge Goliath is, by comparison?”

“Someone got a little carried away,” Dave said. “He’s three times David’s size.”

“Actually, the scale here is much more accurate than the usual rendering. Remember that David was only a boy of sixteen or so, while Goliath was a mature, bearded adult—and a descendent of the Anakim.”

“Anakim?”

“One of several tribes of giants native to Canaan, dating back to before the Flood.”

“What, as in Noah’s Ark?” Not this nonsense again . . .

“Correct. Now, from the biblical account—and other, more recent evidence which we’ll get to in a moment—we know that Goliath was “six cubits and a span” in height. At 20.4 inches to the Hebrew cubit, and about nine cubits to the span, that’s nearly eleven feet tall, not the seven or eight feet typically depicted.”

“So, what does this—”

“Goliath was one of the smaller members of his tribe. Genetic dilution, you see, from generations of mixed human ancestry. His pureblooded forebears were much larger.”

“The Anakim?”

“Indeed. Originally, they stood well over twenty feet tall—triple our size.”

“Impressive,” Dave said. “If it were true . . .”

“‘There were giants in the earth in those days,’” the professor quoted, “‘and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.’”

Dave stared at the screen, trying not to laugh; it was the same bible verse Cyndi had quoted him. Instead, he tried to focus on the pain in his hip, but couldn’t help grinning—a scientist quoting the bible? Ludicrous.

“So, what’s up, Doc? You and Cyndi belong to the same church? You trying to convert me?”

“I do not attend church. Besides, this has less to do with religion than with—”

“Because she quoted the bible to me, too.”

“—than with archaeological fact,” Dr. Galilei finished.

“Excuse me?”

“Archaeological fact, Mr. Connors. Not faith. I’m a scientist, not a priest.”

“So, you’re saying David and Goliath were real.”

“The bible, the Torah and the Koran all say so. Anytime you can get all three of those books to agree on anything, I’d say it’s a safe bet.”

“What about the Anakim?”

“Same thing,” said Dr. Galilei. “And they weren’t the only giants mentioned. The bible lists over half a dozen different tribes, all of them descendants of the Watchers.”

“So who were these Watchers, then? Cyndi said they were fallen angels.”

“They were the Fallen. The Abandoned.”

“Or the Fallen Ones, correct?” Dave said. “That’s what Cyndi called them.”

“Correct. Angelic beings that assumed human shape and came down to earth, or fell, in order to mate with human women. The result was . . .”

“Mutants,” Dave said. “Hybrid giants. Or so I’m told.”

“Exactly. Twelve fingers, twelve toes. Two rows of teeth, in some tribes. This genetic admixture gave them phenomenal size, legendary strength, and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.”

“You mean cannibals? As in all the old fairy tales and myths?”

Galilei nodded. “At the heart of every myth, you know, lies a kernel of truth. Same for religion.”

Again, Galilei advanced the film one frame, to another still shot. This one, however, was more recent and detailed. It was a photo of an Australian archaeologist kneeling beside a skull the size of a truck tire. The jawbone was as big as a man’s leg, while the teeth were larger than the Aussie’s fingers.

“Rephaim, discovered in northern Iraq, 2005.”

“Rephaim?”

“One of the first, and most bloodthirsty, tribes of giants.”

“And these photos are for real? These are actual skeletons?”

“Without a doubt. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many sites never before seen by Western eyes have been uncovered. And there’s more than skeletons over there.”

“What, you mean . . . ?”

“Living remnants. Descendants of the Neph—the Fallen—still, to this day,” Galilei said. “One was reported killed by U.S. servicemen in northern Iraq, in 2006. He was said to be over nine feet tall, with two rows of teeth on each jaw and six fingers on each hand.”

Dave reeled in his seat: it was a dead-on description of the intern he’d seen at the hospital the night of his accident. But what was the name Galilei had begun to say? Nef?

“You are kidding, right? I mean—”

“I only wish to God I were,” Galilei replied. “This is the truth as I heard it from a former student of mine, a medic embedded in the 354th Armored Cavalry, based in Kabul. He took the photo.”

“So, why tell me this stuff?” Dave asked. “What’s the significance?”

“Can’t you guess?” Dr. Galilei asked. “Why would so many of these sightings––UFOs, aliens, freaks––suddenly start increasing as we got closer to December 21st, along with the worsening interference with global communications? Coincidence?”

“Probably,” Dave replied, sounding uncertain even to himself. “But what’s all this have to do with the Commandments and the Roswell symbols?”

Dr. Galilei looked nonplussed. “Everything. I believe this link of yours points to something far more serious than aliens visiting earth over the millennia, or Jehovah God returning to Israel. Something infinitely darker and more evil.”

Dave shrugged. “Like what?”

“Like the return of the Fallen in force” said Dr. G. “To finish their feud with God and destroy His creation.”

“You mean . . . ”

“Yes,” Galilei said, nodding. “I mean they’re coming back to have it out with the being known as Jehovah, or Yahweh, and end it once and for all. And then . . .”

“They will turn on us.”

Galilei nodded. The room fell entirely silent.

“Yes,” he said at last. “They will feed.”

***

“However,” Galilei continued, turning from the screen, “I also believe the old legends of the ‘God Key’ may be true.”

“And what legends are those?” Dave asked, trying to keep the skepticism out of his voice.

“Namely, that clues as to the return of the Fallen are hidden in a linked chain of ruins in the Holy Land, one leading to the next. Once deciphered, they might give us a way to defeat them—or at least give us the proof we need.”

“Proof?” Dave said. “For who? Dr. Phil? Oprah?”

“For Mankind,” Dr. Galilei replied. “To open the eyes of the world at last. To bring all the races and nations of earth together before it’s too late, before the Neph—er, time runs out. To unite us all as one people: Earthers.”

“Well, kumbaya.”

An embarrassing pause ensued. Dave could have kicked himself. He nodded at the screen and said: “Sorry, Doc, I meant no disrespect.”

“Oh, I quite understand. It’s a bit much to swallow.”

“Exactly. I mean, if any of this is true, isn’t someone going after the story?”

“Not anyone in his right mind,” Dr. G replied. “Not since Alexander the Great tried, just before his death. It was his only failure, you know,” the Doc added. “Besides, there are other, much more recent, cases to investigate. Encounters with the advance scouts, so to speak.”

“Recent encounters? In the Holy Land?”

“In the Holy Land.”

“Like—where, for instance?”

“Take the sightings of 2009, in the Golan Heights, near the Gilgal Rephaim. Dozens of eyewitnesses reported odd, cigar-shaped objects in the sky—similar to sightings in this country, I might add, at the turn of the last century, and in the Glasser woodcutting.”

“I’m sorry, Gilgal . . . ?”

Galilei smiled. “Gil-gal Reph-a-im. An ancient, circular stone edifice, built by those beings we discussed earlier. Best not to say their name. You’ve no idea . . . Anyway, Gilgal is the Stonehenge of the Middle East. Buried somewhere inside it, supposedly, is a clue as to who and what came here—and what’s coming back for us.”

“And there’ve been UFO sightings there recently?” Dave asked.

“Oh, yes. Or take the temple ruins at Baalbek, in Lebanon. They’ve—”

“—Whoa, now there’s one I actually know about, from reading Sitchin. In the Bekka Valley, Lebanon. Supposedly built before the Flood, according to ancient Akkadian sources.”

“Correct,” Dr. G agreed. “But built by whom?”

A postcard photo of the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek came onscreen. It was a three-quarter shot of the northwestern wall, showing the six remaining Roman columns and the three gigantic stone slabs at its base. Dave knew where the good doctor was heading: Baalbek’s famed “Trilithon”—the three most massive objects ever quarried and used as building blocks—over 6,000 years ago. Now Dr. G wanted to know who had put them there.

“Giants,” Dave answered. “Or so local legends have it.”

“Precisely. Of the same species that built Gilgal Rephaim. Here, too, is another clue as to who and what the Fallen were—an astronomical clue, at that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Many of these sites are astronomically aligned to certain stars and constellations. Finding the correct ones, according to their alignment, could help you solve the world’s oldest mystery.”

“Yeah? How.”

“By tracing their aeronautical approach and landing vectors. If you focus on those sites that line up with Draco and their first landing zone at Mt. Hermon, you could pinpoint exactly where these beings came and went, and what clues they left behind. Clues as to their identity, and their eventual return. Again, according to legend.”

“Legends . . . myths,” Dave said, sighing. “But no proof.”

“On the contrary, the proof is there,” Galilei stated. “It’s been hidden in the Holy Land for untold thousands of years. And, more recently, in some of the finest portraits, sculptures and frescoes of the Renaissance. These are the places and things you must see, David. These hide both the proof and the clues to the Grand Puzzle: who or what is God, and when is He, She or It coming back for us? Or will the Fallen prevail? This is what you must find and publish, while you still can.”

“Why do you keep saying ‘While you still can,’ and ‘Before time runs out?’”

Galilei’s gaze darted about the room. Then he nodded and said, “You know about the Great Alignment of earth and sun with the center of the galaxy, on December 21st?”

“Sure, everyone does. Occurs once every 26,000 years, only this time it marks the end of both the Mayan and Aztec Calendars, supposedly meaning the end of the world.”

“Heh, if only,” Galilei replied. “I fear much more will happen first. You see, the Maya believed something would come from that Rift. They believed it would be the return of their god, Kukulkan or Quetzalcoatl.” He glanced up at Dave again, his heavy brows crashing together like a freight train collision. “No less a prophet than Nostradamus himself predicted it.”

“Seriously? You’re going to drag Nostradumbass into this, too?”

“Don’t mock what you don’t understand, young man,” Galilei fired back. “Don’t you know? Haven’t you read? Quetzalcoatl’s return? The great, feathered serpent, who stretches from the opening of Genesis to the very ends of the Dark Rift? He and his kind are what will happen, Mr. Connors. The Reptilians, the Grigori, first of the Watchers. Would to God it were merely the end of the world.”

“So it all comes back to the Fallen?”

Again, Galilei’s gaze darted about the room, as if the creatures themselves were about to storm his office “Please, it’s best not to mention them,” he said, at last. “They aren’t entirely unaware of what we do or say, you know.”

“Excuse me?”

“They can do things,” Dr. Galilei added, a wild look in his eye. “To our flesh. Things no damned Renaissance Man ever put to canvas, I guarantee you that, boy.”

“OK, Doc, I guess that about wraps this up,” Dave said, trying to sound polite. “It’s been great talking with you, but . . .” then he paused and looked more closely at the professor. “You don’t sound real hopeful about our chances.”

“I’m not,” Galilei said. “However, there is one man I know who’s more sanguine. He’s an academic like me, but far more up to speed on biblical trace evidence.”

“Really? Would you mind if I called him?” (Maybe he’s not so freaked out . . .)

“You should. Alien beings in the bible are his specialty. He’s not local, though; he teaches at Baltimore University, in Maryland. This isn’t exactly a topic one shares with one’s peers on campus. Not if one wishes to retain tenure.”

“No, I suppose one doesn’t.”

“Here’s his card,” Galilei said, fishing one from his desk. “Dr. Richard Dincke, Astronomical Sciences, University of Baltimore. There’s his number.”

“Thanks, Doc,” Dave said as he pocketed the card. He thought he’d reached the end of his search for information here, with Dr. G. Apparently not. Now there was a Dr. D. He hoped Dincke was the goods; his hip wouldn’t take much more driving and gimping.

“So, you really think they’re coming back? These Reptilians?”

“Oh, yes. And in a way no bible-thumper can possibly imagine,” Galilei replied. “They’ll think it’s the Rapture, you see. Or the Second Coming. But it’ll be the greatest deception of all time: Our ‘Space-Brothers’ Return,’ you see. But it’ll be a Bar-B-Q, son. Mass extinction.”

“Uh huh. Well, I—”

“Do you think it’s mere coincidence that descriptions of the alien ‘grays’ and the reptilian Grigori are so similar? Or that their behavior when in contact with humans is so characteristically demonic? Read the accounts, son. Alien abduction? Demonic posses­sion? They’re one and the same! The Neph—”

Just then, Dave thought he heard a muffled *thump* from the rear of the classroom.

A book falling over, probably. Dr. G heard it, too: his eyes registered stark, staring terror, but he was too ramped up now to stop for any soft, uncertain noises.

“Remember Genesis, chapter six?” he continued, sounding slightly hysterical. “What these beings did with human women? ‘They took them wives of all which they chose?’ Took, mind you. Abducted. Beginning to sink in yet?”

“Look, I didn’t mean to—”

“Don’t believe the biblical account?” Galilei continued, his voice rising higher, as if in challenge. “Fine! How about Enoch? He tells how the Fallen planned it! Once they’d decided to come to earth and take human females, they swore an oath by ‘mutual imprecations’ to go and ‘do this thing,’ i.e., rape human females. They bound themselves, you see, by oaths—that’s how Mount Hermon got its name! It means ‘bound by oaths.’”

“You know, Doc,” Dave said, “next time we get together for one of these little chin-wags, try cutting the Prozacs in half, OK?”

But Dr. Galilei plowed on, like a freight train careening out of control:

“And just who was that serpent in the Garden of Eden? Or Quetzalcoatl? Hmn? Or Leviathan? Don’t you see? Reptilians? Grays? Grigori? Neph—er—whatevers? They’re all the same.”

Neph—er—whatevers?

Dave thought he heard another thumping sound, following by a louder bumping noise, somewhere in the classroom. They were distinct, physical sounds, nothing supernatural or “paranormal.” Yet, Dr. Galilei’s eyes took on a fanatic glare, as if he had to finish what he’d begun—now, before he could be silenced.

“Nostradamus himself foretold these days, when he spoke of ‘strange portents’ in the skies, men fighting for control of the clouds, and the return of ‘those who were banished,’ the very same Neph—things, we were discussing.”

“There you go again—‘Neph.’ What’s a ‘Neph?’”

“Nothing, nothing,” Dr. G said, smiling. “Slip of the tongue. Or take the—”

“Were you about to say Nephilim?” Dave asked. “The return of the Nephilim?” he pressed. “That’s what this is all about? So what are they going to do, these Neph—”

“Please don’t—heh, heh—don’t keep saying that name.” The doctor glanced at the door, then the projector. “You’ve no idea . . .”

“Huh?”

But Dr. Galilei appeared not to have heard him, too busy glancing around the room, toward the door, the windows—even though the blinds were down—then back to the door. He turned off the projector, stumbled to the light switch and turned on the overheads again.

“Doc, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing, nothing. Just . . . heh heh, just realized I’m running over. I’ve a . . . yes, a class to miss—I mean—a class I can’t miss. Yes.”

“Look, Dr. Galilei, I apologize if I’ve said anything to—”

“Oh, no, no, no. Think nothing of it. I actually—hah hah—got a laugh out of your ‘kumbaya’ remark earlier. Quite droll, yes. Quite . . .” His eyes were darting in every direction as he shut off his computer, tossed his notebook and folder into a desk drawer and locked it—all in about 2.4 seconds.

“Doctor, I don’t—” Dave tried, but it was useless.

“Sorry, must go! Must run! Ha! Yes, run . . .” The doctor cackled, as if he’d just uttered a private—and very sick—joke. “Well, nice meeting you, Mr . . . eh, Dave, and please feel free to call on me anytime. But I must. Yes, be going.”

He practically galloped to the door with his briefcase, his lab coat flying. Dave had to gather up his drawing of the Ten Commandments in record time just to keep up with him.

And, like that, they were outside. Dr. Galilei waved distractedly at him, gave a strangled “farewell,” and then stumbled down the hill in the general direction of the administrative buildings, leaving David to gape after him.

The brilliant autumn sunshine, a beautiful, blazing bronze only moments ago, now seemed oddly dimmed, somehow, as if a great shadow had fallen over the earth. The wind kicked up and a slight, drizzling rain began to patter about him. Yet, as Dave walked away from the building, still clutching his 5×7 card, he felt sure of one thing:

That the Nephilim were the crux of the matter. The reason Oded had been so evasive with him. The reason three members of the expedition had been murdered, the reason he had been run down by a car, the reason Sgt. Lacy had died. The reason he was feeling watched, being followed . . . growing paranoid.

One thing he didn’t know was that a black sports sedan had just sped away from its place of vigil only moments earlier. If Dave hadn’t indulged Galilei’s projector show, he would have run right into Sgt. Heim and Friends.

 

As it was, they’d finally despaired of catching him here: too much security. And too much time out in the open; they’d be made before long—by campus security, if no one else. There would be uncomfortable questions, possibly even a call to Jerusalem—sparking the wrath of Inspector Schriever. And that would not do. No, better to brace Connors on his way to work in the morning. It was much simpler, much more discreet and far more likely to succeed.

But not if M-12 could help it.

They were still there, still watching David Connors and the lately departed Israelis. They knew the same: this was far too public. And, despite the government plates, they couldn’t take him out here; campus police, security, cameras, etc. They’d have to pick their time more wisely, as well. Like the Israelis, they slipped away in their dark sports car, not defeated exactly, merely put off for the moment. There would be another time. Another place.

***

Dave withdrew his cell phone with his left hand, while balancing himself on the cane with his right. Suddenly, all the pain and throbbing in his head, back, hip and thigh were gone. All he could see or think of were the three photos he’d taken in Galilei’s office a few minutes earlier.

At first, he didn’t see anything—the crappy little cell phone had failed yet again. His heart skipped a beat as he punched it up again. And then, in the next beat, there it was: the sketch came through in bold relief. It was an excellent pencil rendering of the Roswell symbols. In perfect definition.

When he saw the symbols onscreen, and compared them with his lone remaining photo of the Command­ments inscriptions, a rush of energy—pure adrenaline—raced up his spine, his neck and into his scalp. Finally, he knew. Even though all he had were photos and sketches, he knew.

The clouds above let loose at last, and the storm broke over him in all its fury as he stuffed everything back into his pockets. And, as he hobbled to the cabstand, he couldn’t tell the rain from his tears as both poured down his face.

 

FREE – Chapter 17 from The God Key, Book I

Ezekiels Wheels

 

Chapter 17

 

Six thousand miles away, the fat little wizard sat hunched over a telephone.

“What do you mean, he’s still alive?” the Kabbalist barked. “You imbeciles . . .”

He was on the old, long-distance trunk line, which had lain across the floor of the Atlantic for over a century. Although it was antiquated “brown wire,” not fiber-optic, it was now the most reliable means of long-distance communication on earth, thanks to the solar storms.

“He is gravely injured,” came the American voice, with its broad, flat delivery. Probably from Kansas or Oklahoma, the Kabbalist thought; a hayseed; a hick.

“And the detective?” he demanded.

“In pieces,” came the reply.

“Good,” the Kabbalist said. “Then you’ve not been a complete waste.”

The M-12 colonel, Stansfield, didn’t rise to the bait, instead waiting for the old bastard to finish. Which he did, but in a way Col. Stansfield did not care for. Not one bit.

“You will kill Connors within the week,” said the old wizard. “Before the Israelis take him. Otherwise . . . your flesh will run like water.”

The M-12 agent waited for more, but heard only a click as the Kabbalist hung up on the other end, 6,200 miles away. It was nowhere near far enough. But the muscular, crew-cut military man had his marching orders, and he would obey.

He would kill David Connors within the week. Everything depended on it. He certainly didn’t want to test the Kabbalist’s resolve, especially when it came to Those others. They—those Things—could, and would, make his flesh to run like water; he’d seen it happen. In the desert, near Groom Lake, NV. Col. Stansfield had no wish to join in such festivities.

He and his driver, along with their nameless, shadowy go-between, would have another nondescript, black sports car within the hour.

And the hunt for Connors would resume.

***

Just then, Dr. Ross Galilei was resuming his comparison of David’s Command­ments photo with his own sketch of the Roswell symbols. His dark, beady eyes darted back and forth like a hawk’s, as he inspected them one last time.

“Thirty-five hundred years apart, and yet they’re nearly identical,” Dr. Galilei said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years of study,” he added. “You do realize you’re sitting on a time bomb, don’t you?”

“How so?” David asked.

“This link you’ve found will upset a lot of very powerful people. People you’ve never heard of—or even dreamed existed—in the government, the Church, the media . . . among other entities.”

“That’s some time bomb.”

“And when it goes off, there’s no telling what may happen to you. Your life could be in danger. You do realize that, of course?”

“I dunno, Doc. I mean, there’ve only been a few million UFO sightings since Roswell. And all kinds of people have written books claiming God was an alien or an aardvark, or whatever. What makes me so special?”

“None of those other authors ever supplied such tangible proof.” Dr. Galilei said. “Not even von Däniken.” He nodded at David’s Commandments photo. “This shows a real, physical link between the God of the Old Testament and an extraterrestrial origin.”

Dave smiled. The good doctor might be right, after all: he couldn’t recall ever hearing about such physical evidence before. A shame that only one of the two pieces of evidence was an actual photograph. True, any photo could be altered; only he knew for certain it was real.

“So, what should I do?” he asked. “Hide it? Destroy it? Drop the story altogether?”

Dr. Galilei peered at him from beneath his beetling brows before replying.

“In a word, yes. I would hide your photograph in the cellar, take it out at night and gloat over it under the full moon. And never tell another soul.”

Dave frowned. “In that case, would you mind if I took a photo of your sketch?”

“Well, I don’t know . . .” the doctor began. “I’m not sure I––”

“I won’t publish it,” Dave said. “After all, it’s not the actual debris, just a sketch. Still, I’d sure like to have a print. You know, for when I gloat over it at night.”

“Well . . .” said Dr. Galilei, “I suppose so. If it’s for your own viewing.”

Dave took his cell phone and snapped three photos of the sketch from three different angles. The only expression on his face was one of relief, not triumph.

“Thanks, Doctor,” he said. “I’ll stand by my word; I won’t publish this—even though it goes against everything I’ve ever believed as a journalist.”

“And what is that, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“To report the story—the truth—and let the chips fall . . . wherever.”

“And what if they fall on your head?” Doctor Galilei asked.

“My editor says I have a thick skull.” He nodded at his drawing. “Seriously, though, it would be one helluva story. If I could replace my Roswell photos, I’d have a slam dunk. No evidence like it on earth, as you said.”

“Well . . . I wouldn’t go that far.”

Now it was Dave’s turn to look confused. “But, you just said . . .”

“I said I’ve never seen anything like it before, in terms of physical trace evidence. However, I believe there may be more substantiation like this—proof of ancient aliens, gods and monsters in the remote past. And what they did here with humans.”

“Where?” Dave asked. “Area 51? Roswell? Wright-Patterson?”

One more time, the professor peered at Dave from beneath his dark, ledge-like brows, as if uncertain whether to continue at all. At last he shook his head and said: “In the bible, David. The Word of God . . .

“. . . It’s full of UFOs.”

***

At first, Dave wasn’t sure he’d heard right. He almost did the Swimmer’s Shake, except that tilting his head caused a tidal wave of dizziness.

Dr. Galilei held out both hands to steady him. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah, sure,” David replied. “For a second there, I thought you said ‘The bible.’”

“I did.”

“The bible contains accounts of UFOs.”

“Absolutely. It’s full of UFO encounters, alien beings—even alien abductions, like Enoch and Elijah, for instance. The Scriptures are loaded with them.”

“And you’re saying the evidence is still there? In the Holy Land?”

“I’m sure of it,” said Galilei. “But UFOs and ancient aliens are only the surface story. The full tale—the forgotten saga—is what’s so devastating. Because it’s all true.”

“What’s all true?” Dave asked. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the origin of human life on earth. I’m talking about who and what really created us, and when. And about what’s coming back for us, at the end.”

“So, this isn’t just about UFOs in the bible. Or Roswell and the Commandments.”

“Oh, it’s much more. But most of us—and I mean scientists, now—haven’t a clue. The records are lost to time and the ages. You see, Mankind is a race with amnesia. We’ve forgotten more about our origins, past civilizations, wars, glories and gods than you can possibly imagine.”

“Such as?”

“Such as our, shall we say, intimate relation to the beings that have been visiting earth since Man was a monkey. And the skills, science, art and technology they gave us. We once knew who and what these beings were, but we’ve long since forgotten. All that remains are legends . . . myths . . . religions.”

“Yet, they were here,” Dave said.

“And they’re due to return. En masse. The evidence is irrefutable. The God of the ancient Hebrews is no myth. Neither is Quetzalcoatl, the Mayan serpent god. Same for the pantheon of deities, devils, angels and demons who’ve been visiting this planet over the millennia. The Sumerians called them ‘Anunnaki;’ the Hebrews, ‘Elohim;’ the Greeks, ‘Titans’ and ‘Olympians.’ Whatever the names, whatever the culture, the stories are always the same: superior beings came down from the heavens, created man, taught him everything—mining, mineralogy, astronomy, agriculture—for man to work for them. Indeed, the Hebrew word for ‘worship’ comes from an older word meaning ‘to work for.’ Man worshipped the gods—he worked for them. Then they left, promising to return.”

“OK. So, they came here, played ‘God,’ left us this mess and just . . . flew away?”

“Oh, no, they remained for thousands of years,” Galilei said. “Perhaps too long.”

“Say again?”

“Many world myths claim that, soon after creating Man, the gods grew bored and began performing certain . . . other experiments.”

“What does that mean, ‘other experiments?’”

Galilei rolled the word in his mouth as if it were especially tasty: “Transgenics.”

“You mean, humans and—”

“Quite,” Galilei said. “H.G. Wells’ ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ is a delicious allegory, you know. Far more science than fiction.”

“You’re saying the gods bred ‘manimals?’ For what . . . fun? Sport?”

“Of course. What do you suppose the Manticore was? Or the Sphinx? Or Pan? What price Anubis? Why would so many ancient cultures create statues, reliefs and paintings of such creatures alongside their human kings, unless they’d actually seen them at some point? And . . . who knows? Perhaps some remain? After all, what better explanation for Bigfoot? Or the Yeti? Werewolves? Mothman?”

“If any of this is true, how the hell could we have forgotten it all?”

Dr. Galilei shrugged. “Wars, natural disasters, religions, time. All potent erasers. Yet, all the while, just beneath the surface of the slate, the faintest traces of the olden truths lay like a palimpsest—traces we today call ‘out of place artifacts.’” Galilei paused to stroke his massive eyebrows, as if that was where he kept his secrets. “And now this.”

“You mean—?”

“This link you’ve uncovered, between the Ten Commandments and the Roswell symbols. Marvelous, true, but it’s only the popcorn. Care to see the whole movie?”

Dave thought about it for a moment. He thought about Cyndi and their tour of the museum Monday night. He thought about the hit-and-run later that night, and the dead Detective Lacy. And the three corpses in Israel . . . and who, or what, was hunting them.

“I’m not sure I do,” Dave admitted.

“And I’m not sure I blame you,” said Galilei. “But if you’re serious about getting to the bottom of this, then you should be warned.”

“‘Warned?’ A bit melodramatic, don’t you think?”

“Then let’s say ‘briefed.’ Either way, you should know as much as you can before you go back there. To the Holy Land.”

David rolled his eyes. “Why does everyone seem to think I have to go back to Israel?”

“Because that’s where all the puzzle pieces are. This isn’t something you can solve in an armchair, with a book and some maps, young man. This is something you’ll have to see with your own eyes, dig with your own hands, and that right soon. You’ll have to be an archaeologist and a sleuth at the same time—along with a dose of the exorcist . . .”

“Say what?”

Dr. Galilei smiled and walked around the side of his desk to a blackboard hung on the back wall. He reached up, grabbed a string and pulled down a silver projection screen. As he reached toward the light switch, he glanced at David.

“May I?” he asked.

Dave sighed. How could he say no? The doc was obviously dying to show him his home movies or slides or whatever. Again, probably Death-By-PowerPoint . . .

“Sure, go ahead,” Dave said.

Dr. G. killed the overheads. Dave helped him lower the blinds on all three of the huge windows. And, like that, the sun-drenched office was dark as twilight.

“This won’t take long.” The good doctor was already in the zone, fiddling with the projector, clicking the mouse and talking simultaneously. “Little display I’ve prepared for you,” he added, glancing over one shoulder at the door.

“Well, thanks, Doc . . . I’m honored,” Dave said.

“You might not think so later.”

“Why’s that?”

Dr. G. took another glance at the door, then at one of the windows.

“What I’m about to show you cannot leave this room, agreed?”

“Agreed, but . . . what’s the big mystery, Doc? You about to divulge national defense secrets or something?”

“If only. No, this is . . . this is much worse than national defense, my God in . . . ” his voice trailed off into unintelligible mumbling.

Dave decided not to ask any more questions. Galilei obviously had an agenda, including a program prepared just for him. Best to just let him get on with it. If nothing else, he’d be getting a PhD-level presentation gratis, so . . . what the hell.

***

As Dave took a seat in Galilei’s office, lights off and project­or on, the three men in the black sedan outside grew restless. Moshe and Aaron, the Mossad agents, wanted to go in, find the American and Taser him into submission. Then pop him into the car, race to the airport and—zip—back to Jerusalem.

But Sgt. Heim knew better, which secretly pleased him: that he was more informed, and thus more circumspect, than even the vaunted Mossad? He smiled to himself, gloating.

“We can’t go in and make a scene. You know why.”

“No, why,” Moshe, the tougher-looking one, demanded. It was not a question.

“Because we cannot risk notice by American authorities—of any level. Not even campus security,” Heim added. “So, we will wait.”

“I’m sick of waiting. It’s time to—”

“It’s time to remember who is in charge of this unit,” Heim interrupted him. “And that is not you, is it, Captain?”

No response.

“Is it?” Heim repeated.

“No, it is not me,” Moshe growled. “But a time is coming, Sergeant, when we will all be called to account—and not by Chief Inspectors or politicians. But by the Fallen. By Those who were here before.”

“Keep your lunatic beliefs to yourself,” Heim growled. “Angels and demons and all that Kabbalah rubbish. Save it for temple, Moshe, I’ve no time for it here.”

“More’s the pity,” Moshe muttered.

“And save your pity for Mr. Connors,” Heim said.

The two Mossad agents gazed at each other, then glanced out their respective windows. Although the other one, Aaron, did not hold with the ancient mysteries of the Kabbalah, he sympathized with his Mossad brother. Moshe was a full captain in the service. Yet, for this mission, the police Sergeant outranked them both. And for what? All this sitting and waiting like a clutch of hens. Galling as it was, they had no choice: they would wait.

And, waiting thus, they failed to notice the other black sports car creeping up the street behind them. The one with the crumpled front fender.

***

The word “wait,” however, was not in the Kabbalist’s lexicon.

The time for action—wet, dripping, gushing action—was near. Soon, it would be time to raise his deformed friend once more and go forth to do the Brotherhood’s business. The holy Brotherhood, whose worship of, and sacrifice for, the bene ha-Elohim stretched back over 2,700 years, to the shores of mystery Babylon, the Tower, to Nimrod and his blood-drunk, reptilian mother, sister and queen, Semiramus, called Ashtarte (from which the word “Easter” derived). Now, it was time.

Time as counted by the Brotherhood . . . the Fallen . . . the Betrayed. Not only the Maya, but also the Babylonians, Egyptians, Celts and the Aztecs—all looked to this time, prophesied its coming and the end of the old world. The end, above all, of the interloper, HWHY, “God” of Israel. He too would pay, and dearly. The thought of so much history, so much time, blood, suffering and toil in secret—all for the sake of Their return, was humbling. Now, at last, it was nigh.

Even as these long-familiar thoughts and musings ran like holy, golden rivulets through his mind, the Chief Rabbi of the Order, the Kabbalist, was already preparing for the final assassinations—including that of David Connors, last of the eyewitnesses.

He, like all the others, would be dead before long, and the assassin’s usefulness at an end. A shame about that, the Kabbalist thought. He had grown attached to this assassin, this servant of the Fallen. But there would be others, and this one must return to his rest, eventually.

But not, the Kabbalist knew, before Dave Connors had been sent to his.

He glanced at his Israeli wristwatch, a Cabala he’d received fifty years ago from a grateful Prime Minster Ben-Gurion, for similar services rendered. It read 11:20 a.m., Eastern Standard Time. Less than 24 hours now, until it was done—one final victim, one last meal for his friend, yes.

And the American would know no more.

 

***

FREE – CHAPTER 16, THE GOD KEY, Book I: Return of the Nephilim

TGK Front Cover and Spine

PART TWO: A Race With Amnesia

“Mankind is a race with amnesia

Clinging to a planet pocked by

Long-forgotten horrors…recalled only

In our most ancient myths and legends…

As if nothing more than dreams.

But dreams can as well be nightmares,

And amnesia is often caused by trauma.”

— Avis Schumacher

The Past is Not Passed

***

CHAPTER 16

Dateline: Wednesday, 5 December, 2012
Outside Falls Church, VA

When Dave came to, Cyndi was gone, along with her car. She was right: he wasn’t driving anywhere today.

So, instead, he called Yellow Cab.

Twenty minutes later, slightly wobbly and leaning on a cane the hospital had given him, he climbed into a cab and was on his way at last. He was going to see a sketch of the Roswell symbols and compare his lone Commandments photo with them, thanks to Ross Galilei, Ph.D., Professor of Astrophysics at George Washington University, and specialist in physical trace evidence (of the little green man variety).

Dave went over his notes, refined his questions, and within minutes they were entering the outskirts of Alexandria. He thought about running by his apartment, for clothes, cat food, and so forth, but . . . no. Cyndi had warned against going anywhere near his usual haunts. Besides, he was in no condition to climb three flights of stairs.

So, it was on to Washington University, and his interview with Dr. Galilei.

And not once did he notice the little black sedan, two cars behind him.

Sgt. Heim and his men followed the cab as it left the Malach woman’s house. They’d been watching the residence since following her home from Connors’s apartment the previous night. This really was a no-brainer, Heim thought. Having the Mossad along was utterly unnecessary, as he’d known it would be. He could handle this; it was child’s play. The two Mossad agents were nothing but baggage. Until now.

Because, now, they would take Connors . . . the moment that cab stopped. They would have to be careful of traffic cops, security officers, and the like: they hadn’t come all this way to blow it at the last moment. They’d come for only one purpose—to capture or kill David Connors. And they would.

They would have him today, one way or another—dead, alive or some other condition in between.

***

The cab arrived at GWU’s grad school, on Ballenger Ave., about twenty minutes later. The campus was only half a mile from David’s apartment—an eight-minute stroll, at most. But there would be no strolling for Dave Connors . . . not from his apartment, anyway; it was permanently off-limits.

Fortunately for David’s hip and thigh, traffic was light that morning, and for good reason: autumn had finally given way to winter, and the weather had gone all to hell. Mother Nature was serving notice that the little joke about “Indian Summer” was over, and the real nastiness was about to begin.

As the cab approached the visitor parking garage, Dave was dismayed to find the entire campus bristling with security: squads of armed guards, city police, and other uniformed personnel were swaggering all over the grounds—as if patrolling a top-secret govern­ment installation. Some were even wearing brown shirts. Over a decade after 9/11 and the after­shocks were, if anything, increasing.

But if Dave was dismayed, the passengers in the black sedan were nonplussed: Heim and Co., already blocked from action at the Malach woman’s house, were to be stymied here, as well. Because they were armed to the eyebrows, they couldn’t risk scrutiny by even campus security, let alone uniformed police. They had no choice, then, but to drive past the garage and park on the street. And wait.

And even though the display of campus Gestapo irked the hell out of Dave, he owed his life to it, just then. He would remain unaware of this until after his meeting with Dr. Galilei, when “Life-in-the-Big-City,” as he called it, would throw him a little curve.

***

He paid the cabbie, then gimp-walked on his cane across campus to the Science building. At least the rain had ceased, and the sun was actually beginning to peak through the clouds—albeit sullenly, as if it had simply grown tired of playing hide-and-go-screw-yourself.

Dave’s path took him up a gradual slope that wound its way beneath a thickening grove of elms, oaks and maples. The autumn leaves were brilliant, and as the sun shot through the clouds in all its glory at last, Dave saw a golden beam shine through the trees, as if lighting his way.

The hilltop came into view, crowned by the science and engineering building. David entered it and saw a bald man in his forties, wearing a white lab coat, walking toward him. He had dark eyes set beneath a thick, beetling brow. He glanced first at the cane, then at his visitor.

“Mr. Connors?” he asked.

“Guilty,” Dave said, extending his right hand. “Please, call me Dave.”

The professor shook his hand and smiled in return. “Ross Galilei. I was led to understand you wouldn’t make it today. Our mutual friend, Cyndi, phoned and told me you’d got the worst of it in a tangle with a car, is that right, Mr. Connors?”

“More or less. But I’m good to go, Doctor. And, please, just call me Dave.”

“Sorry. Call me Ross, or Doctor, if you prefer. Anything but Galileo; it makes me feel like a star. Get it?”

Dave smiled. What’s this? Geek humor?

“Are you all right to walk?” asked Dr. G.

“Well, my break-dancing career’s over, but I guess I can still walk, yes.”

Galilei smiled. “Good. Then follow me, please.”

Dr. G led him toward a hallway on the left. Dave gimped along behind him to a large, wood-paneled door, which Galilei unlocked with a card key (security being a byword on campus). When they stepped inside, Dave couldn’t help feeling awed and dwarfed by the sheer size of the office.

It was gargantuan, bigger than any classroom, and illuminated by three tall, rectangular windows—the old-fashioned kind, with hand cranks. The view was stunning.

The hilltop presided over the entire campus from here, the trees, the quad, the main administrative buildings—even Duke Avenue, crowded with its fraternity and sorority houses, restaurants and coffee shops. Dave could follow the avenue all the way along its course into the heart of Old Town.

“Doc, you must have kissed some serious posteriors to get this view,” he said.

Dr. Galilei seemed taken aback by this, but managed a slight smile.

“Eh, yes, well,” he began, “I understand you’ve some interest in my work on trace evidence analysis.” He nodded at a projector aimed at the back wall.

Great. Dr. G had a presentation all ready to go for him. No doubt a dose of “Death-By-PowerPoint.”

“Later, perhaps,” Dave said. “What I’d really like to see is your sketch of the Roswell debris.”

Dr. G arched an eyebrow. “You certainly don’t mince words.”

“My word-mincer’s broken, Doc,” Dave said. “Besides, you’re a busy man.”

Galilei gave the projector a rueful glance, then turned toward his desk.

From a central drawer, he withdrew a thin manila envelope. Inside it was an old-fashioned, spiral notebook. The covers were bent and wrinkled, and all the pages appeared yellow with age, yet the edges were still sharp and crisp.

Galilei lay it on his desk with reverence, as if it were a treasure map. He opened it halfway, removed two pieces of onion-skin paper and revealed the sketch at last: the Roswell debris.

It was a surprisingly good pencil drawing of what appeared to be part of a kite, with a balsa wood frame and a light, silvery skin (indicated by pencil shadowing and the word “silver.”) Dr. Galilei had even included the torn and ragged edges of the debris, just as David remembered them. Then, along one side of the frame, on some sort of I-beam, were the symbols. Dave whistled and nodded.

“Disco,” he whispered.

“I drew this in July of 1987,” the doctor said, “during a field study I conducted in Roswell that summer. Fortieth anniversary, that sort of thing. I met the woman who owned the debris, a Rosalind Something. She let me sketch it in her kitchen.”

“Rosalind Brazille,” Dave said. “I met her, too, five years ago. Neat lady.”

“Yes,” Dr. Galilei replied. “How is she these days? It’s been ages.”

“Can’t tell you. She . . . disappeared.”

“Oh,” said Galilei. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“You’re tellin’ me.”

“In any event,” Galilei continued, “I read the article you wrote at the time, for World News Weekly,” he added. “Good piece, really. Objective, informative—almost scientific.”

“Well, thanks . . . I think.”

“As you can see from the sketch, I’m no artist. My primary aim was to capture the symbols on the debris as closely as possible, with little concern for size, proportion, or other aesthetics.”

Dave thought it looked pretty good to him. The symbols, so achingly familiar, stared back at him from the paper like a spurned lover. You lost me once, genius, don’t lose me again . . .

“May I?” Dave asked.

“Of course. But please be careful; it’s only in pencil. Easy to smudge, even now.”

Dave picked up the notebook, careful not to touch the 25-year-old drawing. It showed the debris just as he remembered it: a small, angular piece of some impossible plastic-liquid-metal, the I-beam inscribed with purple, pictographic symbols—a cross between computer machine language, Egyptian hieroglyphs and primitive cuneiforms.

“As I said, I’m no artist,” Galilei offered. “Just a feeble scientist doing his best.”

“Well, your best is pretty darn good, from what I can see,” Dave said.

“Thank you. Our friend Cyndi said you had some . . . similar photos?”

“Had being the operant verb, Doc. My Roswell shots are all missing. But I do have one similar photograph, taken recently.”

Galilei blinked, confused. “Rendlesham Forest, 1980?”

“Guess again.”

Dave withdrew a single 5×7 photograph from his jacket pocket and placed it on the desk next to the notebook. It was a plain, black-and-white photo of what looked like chunks of hand-carved stone tablets, covered in strange pictographic symbols. Galilei blinked.

“The . . . Ten Commandments?”

“Give that man a ceegar,” Dave said.

“I don’t smoke,” the professor said. “But I may start today. This is incredible.” He held the lone surviving photo of the Commandments next to his sketch and compared the images. At a glance he could see that many of the symbols were indeed the same. “Simply incredible,” he repeated.

“No artist here, either,” Dave said. “Just a feeble journalist doing his best.”

“And I’d say that was ‘pretty darn good,’ too.”

“So,” Dave said. “What do you make of it?”

The professor paused a moment, glanced down at his sketch and David’s enlarged photograph, then looked up again. “I don’t know what to make of it. Save the obvious.”

“Which is?”

Galilei shrugged. “That the God of the ancient Hebrews was an extraterrestrial. Of the same species that crash-landed outside Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.”

*  *  *

FREE – Chapter 15, THE GOD KEY, BOOK I

TGK Front Cover and Spine

Chapter 15

Dave wouldn’t hear about the detective’s death until the following day, by which time he would have other, more urgent concerns—namely, his head injury. The full extent of the damage was only now beginning to reveal itself.

It started with a series of dreams—extremely vivid dreams—of the silhouette he’d seen outside the museum. Now, here it was again: standing at the mouth of the recovery room hallway, watching him. No features or details of any kind, only a nacreous, pearlescent outline, like the absence of matter; a blank; a hole. The same one he’d seen watching them from Fayette Alley, just before the . . .

. . . then it was gone, as abruptly as it had appeared.

That was when the intern returned.

 

The giant, who’d been grinning at him from the hall earlier, was now leaning into the doorway of the recovery room, and—this time—leering at him.

Dave didn’t know whether to leer back at him, say something, or prepare to defend himself—but with a concussion? Against a Goliath? Not likely. He’d have to find a weapon of some kind, try to disable or at least stun the guy before he—

—crossed the room in two long strides, wrapped his gigantic, six-fingered hands around Dave’s throat and began throttling the life out of him, choking him to death right there in the recovery room. As he squeezed, the giant bent down and exhaled the most noxious, sickening breath Dave had ever smelled, right in his face.

“Goddammit,” Dave gagged, but all that came out was a wet, glottal sound.

Worse, he couldn’t budge the man’s hands. They were huge: the wrists were like small tree trunks, while the hands themselves looked like Virginia hams—only bigger. All the SEAL training in the world wouldn’t make a dent in this guy.

Then, the monster leaned even closer and spit something at him—into his face. His mouth, to be exact. The creature spit something hard and metallic into his . . .

( . . . key?)

. . . mouth, and he knew without looking, the way one does in dreams, that it was an old-fashioned skeleton key, with a skull at one end. Dave tried to spit the thing back out but couldn’t. He was going to choke to death on a damned key.

Panic shot into his chest just as the giant stopped throttling him, smiled and . . . began vomiting on him.

Only it wasn’t really vomit. It was a mouthful of  . . .

. . . photographs?

Yes: 35mm color photos.

The missing Roswell photographs.

Dave watched in numb disbelief as the long-lost photos poured from the giant’s mouth. His revulsion peaked when the giant released him, picked up the soggy, puke-spattered photos and began stuffing them back into his mouth.

“My Glh . . . God . . .” Dave choked.

“God?” the giant managed, still munching on the photos. He chewed the last of them up, swallowed them down, and added, “Huh, God’s dead.”

Dave was incapable of a rational response. He lashed out with both fists, hammering at the giant’s Adam’s apple, hoping to crush the larynx or break the hyoid bone, but missing every time. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t connect. It was like being in a bad dream. He needed a weapon, something to hit him with—

The phone!

Dave glanced at the bedside table. Holding his breath, he rolled over on his side, reached for the phone, and . . .

. . . woke up.

And glanced around the room.

He wasn’t in the E.R., or Recovery or anywhere near the hospital. He was at some strange house way out in the sticks, and he remembered: Cyndi’s country home, which she almost never used. And he was on the living room sofa . . . with Cyndi?!

She lay curled up nice and snug beside him, fast asleep.

***

“Hey, Cyn, wake up.” Dave shook her shoulder. “C’mon, Cyndi . . .” He tried to lean over and shake her harder, but the dizziness whacked him again; he felt as if he were swooning. And maybe he was: this woman still had that effect on him . . . she was so beautiful, so perfect. And she was lying next to him. On her sofa. Just the two of them . . .

Maybe there was a God after all.

She awoke and stretched languorously, luxuriously, like a cat.

“C’mon, Cyn, get up,” David urged. “It’s eight o’clock.”

“Mmmh? Eight?”

“Yeah, we gotta roll or we’ll be late for work.”

“Work?” Cyndi finally came to and sat up beside him. “What time is it?”

“Eight.”

“In the morning?”

“I think so,” Dave said, sounding unsure; all he could see was the wall clock.

Cyndi leaned over the edge of the couch and glanced out her living room window. The woods and fields beyond lay blanketed in blackness.

“It’s eight at night, Nimrod,” she said, with a sigh. “Besides, you’re on leave.”

“Vacation?”

She turned her face to him and instead of the wry grin or smile he was expecting, she gave him only a blank stare.

“Hardly that,” she said, finally. “You must return to Israel as soon as possible.”

He blinked. The wheels within began turning—or tried to. “Did we . . . eh?”

“Eh, no, we didn’t. I merely kept an eye on you so you wouldn’t die. Once I saw you would survive, I must have nodded off here.”

“What about Attila?”

“We picked him up from your apartment on the way home,” she answered. “Don’t you remember?”

David shrugged one shoulder. “I can’t remember anything.”

“He’s sleeping right next to you, on the floor.” She pointed to a spot next to the sofa. Dave glanced to his right and saw the raggedy old Siamese curled up below him. Attila was lying as close to him as possible, without actually being on him.

“Little bugger,” Dave said, surprised at the lump in his throat; probably indigestion.

“Oh, I fear you won’t be seeing Detective Lacy again.”

“Huh?”

“He was run over in the hospital parking lot last night. Cut in half, they say.”

“What?”

“Hit-and-run,” she said. “So? Are you?”

“Am I what?” He was conscious of a swimming sensation between his eyes.

“Going back to Israel?”

Dave paused to gather what was left of his mind. His brain simply did not want to function: the wheels within felt gummed up, clogged. The pain medication, probably.

“What does that have to do with Detective Lacy?” he asked.

“So you avoid the same fate,” she replied. “That car is still out there.”

“Uh . . . not right away, no. I’ll worry about God Keys and Doomsdays later, OK? I’ve got an appointment to keep on Wednesday. With your friend, Galileo.”

“But you can’t move,” she insisted. “Your head—”

“—Is made of stone. Or so my editor tells me. A few bumps here or there won’t matter. Here, help me up.”

“You can’t see Dr. Galilei today.”

He turned toward her, swaying a bit and blinking, as if hungover.

“That’s right, it’s only Tuesday, isn’t it?”

“It’s Wednesday, all right. But you can’t drive anywhere. You’ve got to can—”

“I’ve lost a full day? Without a single drink?” He touched his forehead.

“You’re staying here, on the sofa.”

“But Attila needs his food,” he replied. “And I need my car and clothes and—”

“Forget it,” she said. “They’re probably watching your apartment, the observatory, all the places you usually go. Until we can get a fix on these people, and what they want, you’re not leaving this house.”

“Yeah, but—”

“I’ll take care of things, you stay put on that couch. I’ve got to get us some food, too. There’s nothing here to eat. Oh, one more thing . . .” She rummaged in her purse.

“Yeah?”

“Your doctor found this on the floor of the Recovery Room, by your gurney. Is it yours?” she asked, as she handed him the object.

It was a slightly damp, but thoroughly solid, skeleton key.

With just a trace of his saliva on it.

“OK, look, I don’t . . . think I’m feeling . . . all that well, just now. Maybe I should just go back to my place, crash for a few hours and—”

“Just lie still and do as I say,” she said.

And with that, she took his head in both her hands, planted an incredibly juicy kiss on his mouth and gave his skull a slight twist.

And he was out. Cold.

She pocketed the key and left.

 

#

End, Part One

THE GOD KEY, Book I: Chapters 12 – 14 FREE

TGK FRONT Cover FINAL

Tonight we get THREE chapters all at once, 12 – 14, as they are short, brief and to the point.

 

Chapter 12

Six thousand miles away, Inspector Jacob Schriever stood at his kitchen window, gazing into Jerusalem’s pre-dawn darkness. Although it was barely five o’clock, he had already finished breakfast. His wife Yakira, on the other hand, hadn’t touched hers. She was still standing at the balcony door as usual, watching the stars.
But he couldn’t worry about that now; he had other things on his mind. The Eilat Hilton murders for one, and Dr. Globus’s death. The IPD/Mossad unit he’d sent to the U.S. (code-named “Whale”) would achieve their mission (“Operation Jonah,” natu-rally), so no worries there. They would have the American in custody soon. That wasn’t the problem.
He just wished he hadn’t granted permission to kill the young man—that was the problem. Schriever really did want to question the American. He was particularly in-terested in how Connors would account for his fingerprints in poor old Globus’s room the night of his disappearance.
Above all, Inspector Schriever wanted to know why.
Why the American had gone to such lengths to murder two total strangers. Why he had kidnapped a third victim—an old man in his 70s—only to butcher him in the de-sert. Why he had torn all the victims’ spinal cords out the back of their necks, and . . .
No, he would not think about that. It was too sick, too depraved. Too American.
Yet, he had to know. He had to know why.
It was now just past five; he had to report by 6:00 a.m., regardless of his rank. The Israeli Police Department was a crack paramilitary force—more like a commando squad than a police agency. Even Chief Inspectors had rules, regulations and superiors to obey.
Chief Inspectors were also human, however, with all the personal problems and crises that entailed. And Inspector Schriever’s personal crisis was at that moment standing across the kitchen from him, gazing out the balcony door at the stars, as she had been all night. And not for the first time, either.
Yakira was really starting to scare him. She was no longer merely “eccentric” or a concern, but a full-fledged crisis. He longed for their early days together, when they were young and content, and she called him “husband” as a term of affection, as in “You look handsome today, husband.” And he would reply, “And you are beautiful as always, wife.” Like the good, solid, Israeli married couple they were. But those days were long, long gone. The loss of their adopted child hadn’t helped.
“Come along, dear,” he said. “You need your sleep.” He touched her elbow and tried to guide her away from the balcony, but she wouldn’t budge.
“They’re coming,” she whispered, still staring into the sky. Her reflection in the glass was so pale, she looked like a ghost.
“Who’s coming, my dear?”
“They are,” she said.
“And who are ‘they?’”
She turned to face him at last, her eyes deeply circled and hollow.
“Yes, they. Are coming. Back.”
“But who are ‘they?’” he repeated.
“And this time they’re angry, Jacob . . .
“. . . they’re very, very angry. . .”
***
Another entity feeling a bit of anger just then was Dr. Levi Schwartz, administrator of the ICRC/Segré Observatory, atop Mt. Hermon in northern Israel. His anger was directed not at any individual, but at the incomprehensible objects his telescopes were picking up from the Dark Rift.
Properly known as the Israeli Cosmic Ray Center/Emilio Segré Observatory, the joint Israeli-Swedish-Italian facility had squatted atop the mountain for over 30 years in a single trailer and a pair of Quonset Huts.
Initially a cooperative venture for young Swedish, Italian and Israeli astrono-mers to study cosmic ray contamination in Earth’s atmosphere, the observatory had literally exploded in size between December, 2011 and November, 2012.
Its mission and brief, likewise, had blown up. Cosmic rays were the least of the staff’s concerns. Like Cyndi and David’s tiny observatory back in Virginia, the ICRC now studied the Dark Rift—and only the Dark Rift—and the objects feared to emerge from it. Now, it seemed, they were here.
Or, on their way, at least: 13 of them.
These were Apollo-class asteroids, as opposed to Atens or Amors, middling in size, but moving at tremendous speed. As their classification as Apollos indicated, they were on an interior trajectory that would bring them in very, very close contact to earth.
That alone was enough to set Dr. Schwartz’s teeth on edge. But it was what he’d learned that morning, before the damned space rocks had shown themselves, that really got under his hide.
And that was the Israeli Air Force: they were commandeering his observatory and cosmic ray center, all its equipment, staff, lasers, scopes, collimeters, everything—in much the same way as the Department of Defense had commandeered Cyndi Malach’s observatory on Mt. Nebo, in Alexandria, VA.
Fuming, Schwartz secretly hoped the damned asteroids would impact the earth. Right on top of the Air Force vehicles that were even now streaming up the mountain-side to take over his observatory—like a massive load of cosmic crap dumped on their heads.
Serve them right. Let them see what it was like, to run such a place and have the cosmos take a giant dump on your head. The thought made Schwartz smile. But only momentarily.
The Air Force had arrived.

 

Chapter 13

So this is what it’s like to die . . .

Strange. He didn’t know there would be pain in the afterlife. And where was the tunnel of light? The deceased loved ones? The angels and harps and—

“—Unhhh,” he groaned. “What the . . . ?”
“Ssssh, don’t try to speak.” Cyndi was leaning over him, her long, black hair fram-ing her face, a bright, white light shining behind her, making her look just like . . .
“ . . . an angel . . .” he whispered.
“Sssshhh . . .”
“Attila . . . my cat . . . What about—”
“He’s fine. You fed him before you left, remember?”
“Uhhh . . .”
He tried to nod but only succeeded in passing out again.
***
“Head injuries can be tricky,” a male voice was saying. “We won’t know anything definitive until . . .”
“I walk . . . the flock . . . outta here.”
“David!” Cyndi was there again, bending over him. “Please lay still, try not to speak. The doctor says you’ve got a bad concussion.”
“But I ordered . . . a good one.”
“Crazy American,” she said, stroking his face now. Her fingertips felt like feath-ers; and her perfume . . . Here he was, with his brains scrambled in the busted eggshell of his skull, and all he could think about was her perfume, the night breeze, the car . . .
“Wh-what the hell hap—? Are you—”
“I’m fine,” she said. “Thanks to you. The police say you saved my life. Pulling me out of the way like that, taking the impact yourself.”
“S’what . . . any gennulman . . . would do.”
“That’s twice you’ve rescued me now.”
“Hmnh . . . S’what . . . any . . . gen . . .”
He didn’t sound good. Or look good, either: he was terribly pale and drawn, as if the life force was withering within.
“You stupid, crazy redneck.” Her eyes grew moist.
“Yuppie . . .”
“Don’t die on me, David,” she said. “Please don’t die . . .”
“Tuesday,” he murmured, as if it were perfectly sensible.
And passed out again.
***
It would be six hours before they could keep him conscious, more or less. Long enough for the ER physician to upgrade his condition from “Critical” to “Satisfactory” (though Dave didn’t think there was anything at all “Satisfactory” about the way he felt).
“You’re one lucky man,” the doctor told him.
“Lucky . . .”
“As in, no broken bones or skull fractures. Just a nasty concussion, a deep thigh bruise and a hip-pointer on your left side. Other than that, you’re fine.”
“Nothing . . . dislocated?”
“Nope,” said the medical man. “Radiology, CTs, MRIs, everything looks OK. With any luck, you’ll be out of here this afternoon.”
“That’s . . . good. Thanks, Doc.”
“Your prognosis looks good, too, though that hip’s going to hurt like hell for the next few weeks. I’ve prescribed a pain reliever for you, and I recommend you use a walker or a cane for the first week or so.”
Dave recalled one of his old unit’s slogans, and repeated it to himself with each throb of his head and hip: (SEALs don’t feel pain . . . SEALs don’t feel pain . . .)
Which was a good thing, since the doctor didn’t seem in a hurry to actually give him any pain medication just then.
“We’ve had you under observation for the past fourteen hours,” he said, “so I doubt there’s any permanent head injury. However, I do want someone watching you for the next ten to twelve hours, just to be safe.”
“I’ll stay with him.” Cyndi appeared by his side.
“Good. Keep him awake until midnight or so—no naps, no alcohol. Watch TV or something. A little coffee or tea wouldn’t hurt.”
Dave tried to smile. “But dodging cars is off the menu, eh?”
“Just for tonight,” the doctor said. “Oh, I almost forgot: there’s a detective waiting to see you. I can tell him to come back later, if you’d prefer.”
Dave tried to shake his head, but only went dizzy again. He put a hand to his tem-ple and winced. “Nah, that’s OK, bring ‘im on.”
Cyndi squeezed his hand. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, let’s get this over with. Then . . .”
“Back to your place,” she said. “And Attila.”
“Yeah . . . he’ll be furious.”
The doctor smiled and left, allowing Dave to see into the outer hallway.
At first, he couldn’t spot anyone waiting for him. No uniformed officers, no plain-clothed detectives, nothing. Then, like an extra from central casting, a gigantic intern strode past—a Goliath in scrubs. He had to be 7½ to 8 feet tall, maybe 400 pounds, and looked vaguely Greek or Arabic—dark, swarthy, with thick, curly black hair. As Dave watched him lumber by, he noticed that the man had six fingers on one hand.
Which was crazy, of course. A hallucination. He must’ve hit his head harder than he’d realized.
“Hey, Cyn,” he said, still staring into the hallway, “don’t let me forget: I have an interview with your friend Galilei, Wednesday at noon. OK?”
“David, what’s wrong?” Cyndi asked. “You look—”
“Nothing, nothing,” he said, eyes still fixed on the hallucination. “No biggie.”
“All right,” Cyndi said. “Just don’t mention the D.O.D., understood?”
“Sure, yeah. Understood.” As he said this, the hallucination stopped in mid-stride, turned and stared right at him. And grinned, showing two rows of teeth on each jaw. Then continued on his way.
No one else seemed to notice him, or appeared to care if they did. Dave blinked several times, but said nothing. Definitely a hallucination.
The detective, however, was not.
He appeared at the door, a burly, balding, red-faced man in a rumpled suit, who looked like he might have played football at one time—a long time ago. Now, he looked like he’d just eaten one. As he approached, Dave felt Cyndi step close beside him, as if shielding him.
“David Connors?” the detective asked.
“Guilty.”
The man smiled and held out his right hand, which boasted a huge, high school class ring (T.C. Williams H.S., Class of ’83). That explained his size: the cop was a former Titan. Dave shook hands with him and waited.
“I’m Detective Sergeant Lacy,” he said, as he withdrew a small notebook and pencil from his jacket. “I won’t keep you, just a few quick questions. Have to ask ‘em now before too much time passes. You know, head injury and all.”
“Gotcha.”
“So, let’s start at the top: who would want to kill you?”
“It wasn’t an accident?”
The detective glanced at Cyndi, then shook his head.
“Not likely. Based on your girlfriend’s statement—”
“—Just friend’s,” she corrected him.
“Sorry. Based on your friend’s statement, it was intentional. Car came flying up the street in the wrong lane, no headlights, even went up on the sidewalk to hit you. Didn’t stop or slow down, just creamed you, turned up an alley and . . . disappeared.”
“Witnesses?” Dave asked.
Detective Lacy shook his head. “Just you and your girlfr—your friend.”
“I am actually his employer,” Cyndi said, giving Sgt. Lacy the hard eye. “We also happen to be . . . good friends. There is no romantic involvement.”
“Uh huh,” said the Det. “Whatever. Still no witnesses.”
“Huh,” David muttered. “That’s strange.”
“What is?”
“North Union’s usually crawling with tourists. In fact, I thought I saw one watch-ing us from an alley just before—”
“Not last night, you didn’t. You two were the only pedestrians on the block at the time.” Sgt. Lacy paused and asked, “Did you see the license plate, by any chance?”
“No,” David said. Cyndi shook her head.
“Make or model of the car?” Lacy pressed.
“Small and dark,” David told him. “And low to the ground, like a sports car. But it wasn’t American: sounded more like a rice-burner—a Nissan, maybe, or a Mazda.”
Sgt. Lacy scribbled in his notepad, nodding his head. Then he glanced up and asked, “How about the driver? You see the face?”
“No,” David said.
“It happened so fast,” Cyndi added. “I barely even saw the car.”
“You sure, Miss?” he asked her. “You told the officer who responded, ‘That jerk nearly killed us,’ which sounds to me like you saw a male driver.”
“Figure of speech,” Cyndi replied. “I’d just nearly been run over, Sergeant. I may have said ‘jerk,’ but I don’t know what sex the driver was.”
“How about it, David?” Lacy asked. “Think hard. Maybe you saw a face or—”
“No,” David repeated. “Nothing.”
“Male, female? Young? Old? Middle—”
“I told you, nothing. All I saw was the front bumper and then . . . I was flying.”
“OK, OK, take it easy,” Lacy said, scribbling a final note. “Just doin’ my job.”
“Sorry,” David said. “Didn’t mean to snap, I just . . . I’m really tired.”
“I’ll bet,” Lacy said. “But, just in case—”
“Detective, I think this interview is over,” Cyndi said, a hint of steel in her voice.
Sgt. Lacy smiled. “I was only going to give you my card,” he said. “In case you remember something, or have any questions. All right?”
“Very well,” she said. She took the card and stuck it into her purse.
“OK, then, I’ll let you two go. Again, if you remember seeing—”
—“We’ll be sure to call you, yes. Thank you, Detective.” Cyndi turned her back on Sgt. Lacy and began helping David to his feet.
“Thanks, Sergeant,” David said. “And I will. Call, that is. If I remember.”
The cop stared at him a good, long moment, then said: “For your sake, young man, I hope you do.” Then he turned and walked away.
As he left the E.R. area and entered the parking lot, Sgt. Lacy thought about the last note he’d made in his notebook. True, it was part intuition, but it was more than just a hunch; it was based on personal observation—what poker players call “tells.” And, although brief, it could prove the most telling observation of the entire case.
The girlfr. knows something, he’d jotted.
And he couldn’t wait to find out what that something was.

 

Chapter 14

Which was why, as Sgt. Lacy left the E.R., stepped over the curb and into the parking lot, he wasn’t exactly surprised when he heard the grinding, high-pitched whine of a foreign sports car (more like a rice-burner) racing up behind him. He spun around as fast as his bulk would spin, but it was already too late.
The little (Mazda? Nissan?) slammed into him, smashing him against the grill of his own car, crushing his spine. The driver floored it, and the rice-burner whined, grinding Lacy’s body against the grill, severing the detective’s spine at the waist. If not for his bulk, he would have been cut in half. As it was, his upper body swung nearly 1800 to the left, then flopped onto the parking lot, eyes still open, lips still moving, but emitting only gouts of dark, thick, syrupy blood.
The little car backed up over the curb, turned and sped from the lot unnoticed.

 

#

THE GOD KEY, Book I: Chapters 10 & 11 — FREE

TGK FRONT Cover FINAL

 

Chapter 10

David glanced about but, thankfully, no one had seen them.

Devour me?” he asked.

“Oh, yes. Probably while you’re still alive and kicking,” she added.

At first, he wanted to laugh. But for some reason he found it impossible.

“Look, do we really have time for this?” he asked, waving a hand at the museum around them. “Aren’t we just sitting ducks in here?”

“No, no,” she replied, smiling. “No one will find us here. Besides,” she added, taking him by the arm again, “there are some things I have to show you.”

As they entered the wide, arched doorway to the Ancient & Prehistoric Gallery, Dave tried to smile.

“Another of their dining preferences,” Cyndi continued, “is to suck your eyeballs right out of their sockets and slurp them down like oysters.” She said this while smiling. “Then, they’ll bite your tongue and rip it out by the roots—all while you’re still breathing. Or trying to.”

“Uh huh. Nice. But, Cyn—”

“—Then, they’ll rip off your head and suck out all the goop, like a big cherry cordial. With any luck, you’ll be dead before they start in on your genitals.”

Dave stared back at her.

“Hey,” she said, shrugging, “you asked.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“As a heart attack, with cancer, on rye,” she answered.

“Well, why stop now?” he said, and gulped. “Then what will they do?”

“Simple. Go on about their business—preparing the way for their Master’s return, December 21st.”

“Their . . . Master?”

“The Shining One, the great Sun God himself: Apollo.”

“Whoa, back up a sec,” Dave said. “Aren’t we mixing cultures here? You said the Nephi . . . whatevers are in the bible, which is Hebrew. Apollo was a Greek god, wasn’t he? Of the sun, music, poetry, divination . . .”

“Indeed,” she said. “Apollo was one of the original Fallen. Even the bible speaks of him. In Revelations 9, he is called ‘Abaddon.’”

“You’ve lost me. How can the Greek Apollo and the Hebrew Abaddon be one and the same?”

“Come along now, David. Can’t you guess?” she asked. “They’re all the same. All the demi-gods, giants and heroes of old—the Sumerian Anunnaki, the Greek Olympians, even the Mayan gods—all the same. Same stories, same creatures. All Fallen . . . all damned. But the only one whose name was the same in Greek and Roman myth was Apollo. Oh! Look!” she cried, her voice echoing off the walls.

At first, Dave was sure he’d see a giant Nef-il-thing, or Anunnaki. Some batrachian monstrosity straight out of Lovecraft. Instead, Cyndi pointed toward a row of fetishes, or statuettes, from Ancient Egypt.

“What the hell, Cyn?” he said. “You trying to give me a heart attack?”

Now she was giggling at the ancient figures, which were lined along an Egyptian wall, all in a row. There was the jackal-headed Anubis, then Ma’at, Thet, Osiris, even a depiction of Egypt’s premier goddess, Isis. It was toward the latter of these that Cyndi was pointing.

“Look how thin they made her! Ridiculous. Isis wasn’t some hipless, flat-chested papyrus reed. She was buxom, beautiful and proud—the Queen of her sex. The Egyptians could be such prudes at times.”

“You still haven’t told me why these things would want to ‘devour’ me and suck my brains out like a big cherry cordial.”

She looked back to him and sighed, her big hoop earrings jiggling slightly.

“All right, then: the Executive Summary. Ready, Caveman?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be. Yuppie,” he added.

“Very well,” she replied. “The Neph—I mean, the Fallen—were angels created by the Elohim hundreds of thousands of years ago, to serve as early man’s Watchers.”

“And why did early man need ‘Watchers?’”

“Well, he’d already shown himself to be, um . . . somewhat wayward,” she said. “That little episode with the apple and the serpent, in the Garden of Eden?”

“Oh, yeah,” Dave said. “That.”

“The Elohim saw that not only did man need a Savior, to redeem him from his original folly—his Fall—he would need a band of Watchers, as well. To keep an eye on things while the Elohim were busy elsewhere.”

Then Dave remembered: Sitchin . . . the Sumerians . . . the Anunnaki.

“Hey, didn’t the Sumerians refer to their Garden as ‘E.DIN’? Isn’t that where—”

“Exactly,” she answered. “All the myths and religions begin in Sumer—which the Egyptians later called Ta Neter, meaning ‘Land of the Watchers.’ Moses merely copied down a tale that was already thousands of years old, and E.DIN became Eden, while the serpent became Satan.”

“So . . . what became of these Watchers? And E.DIN?”

“The Elohim declared that man’s Savior had to descend from the original line of Adam—his bloodline. But Lucifer, the Resistor, immediately set about ruining that goal.”

“How?”

“As I said, the sons of God began to notice the daughters of men,” she explained. “Gradually, over many generations, the Watchers became . . . very attracted to human women.”

“Right, right. I remember.”

“Lucifer came up with a bold and original plan: to destroy the Adamic bloodline and prevent a savior from ever being born.”

“Again, how?”

“How do you think, Nimrod?” she asked. “By pissing in the gene pool.”

“Huh?”

“By contaminating human DNA with inhuman, angelic DNA, so that no savior could ever come from the pure line of Adam.”

“Ahh. And he did this by—”

“By using the Watchers’ greatest weakness against them. Magnifying the itch until it was insatiable. At first, the Watchers resisted the temptation—it was, after all, unnatural. For heavenly beings to even think of joining themselves in that way to mortals was repugnant—like bestiality. They agreed never to think of it or discuss it again.”

“But then . . .” he said, leaning closer; and from here, he caught a whiff of the sweet, yet piquant perfume she wore. It was an exotic, sexy blend, a musky, spicy fragrance that hinted of incense and the rarest oils of ancient Araby: hyssop, cinnamon and cassia. Her eyes were so erotic, hypnotic, and her lips just whispered kisses.

“But then, over the course of many centuries,” she continued, “the immortal could no longer refuse the mortal. Year after year, lifetime upon lifetime, watching human beauty age, wither and die—ineluctably, irresist­ibly, until they simply could no longer resist. And, so, finally, they . . . fell.”

“Fell?”

She nodded. “The Grigori—the Watchers—left their first estate, fell to earth and mated with mortal women. ‘…And they took them wives of all which they chose.’”

“There’s that phrase again.”

“Genesis, chapter six: ‘And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.’”

“‘Sons of God?’”

Bene ha Elohim in Hebrew, and they were assuredly not sons of man, but of the Elohim—literally, the gods. Sons of the gods.”

“Gods plural?”

“‘Let us create man in our own image? . . .’”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Any idea what happens next?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Didn’t like Sunday School.”

“‘There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.’”

Dave nodded. “OK, that does sound familiar. Not from Sunday School, but from Sitchin. He spoke of the ‘men of renown,’ that the word ‘renown’ is a mistranslation of the Sumerian word ‘shem,’ meaning ‘flying ship.’”

Another nod. “And the word ‘giant’ here is . . . that other name, which stems from the Hebrew word ‘naphal,’ meaning ‘to fall.’ Because that’s just what they did—they fell to earth in order to mate and live among their human women, coming to ground at Mt. Hermon, in Northern Israel. The Sumerians—the first known human civilization—called them ‘Anunnaki,’ meaning ‘Those Who From Heaven To Earth Came.’”

“And you’re saying they’re the same as the biblical Nefil-whatevers?”

“Some would argue the point, but I think so,” she said. “If you trace these beings through all the different mythos of all the ancient cultures, you’ll find the same stories—same wars, same intrigues, even the same love affairs. But whatever they are called—Anunnaki, Fallen Ones, Watchers—one truth comes through loud and clear, from every ancient culture: they spawned a race of mutants, giants—half angel, half human—whom early man worshipped as demigods and heroes.”

“Like the Olympians of ancient Greece? Apollo, Mercury and so on?”

“Exactly like Apollo, Mercury and so on. And before them, the Titans,” she said. “Only the names vary from one culture to the next.”

“Except for Apollo.”

“Correct again. Only, in John’s Revelation, he is called ‘Abaddon.’ But in the very next line he adds, ‘In the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon,’ which was indeed the Grecian form of the name Apollo.”

“Wow. So . . . even the bible confirms it.”

“Yes,” she said. “And he is definitely the son of Satan. Remember what the Spirit says to the Church of Pergamos in Revelations Four: ‘I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is . . .’”

“What’s that mean?” Dave asked.

“Satan’s seat? The only one of these cities that had anything like a throne or altar to other gods was Pergamos. Have you ever seen the magnificent altar in the Deutches Museum, in Berlin?”

“Oh, hell’s bells, you’re right: The Altar of Zeus! From Pergamos! So, you’re saying Zeus was . . . Satan?”

She nodded. “The original Fallen angel, and the father of all the Nephilim who followed. Yes. The very same. And his greatest son was? . . .”

“Ap—Apollo?”

“The same. The gorgeous, golden god of the sun, the same one who flayed the Satyr Marsyus alive for challenging him in music. Ripped his skin off him and hung it from a tree—all while poor Marsyus was still breathing. He begged Apollo to spare him, but as Ovid wrote:

 “‘ . . . as he cried the skin cracked from his body / In one wound, blood streaming over muscles,/ Veins stripped naked, pulse beating; entrails could be / Counted as they moved; even the heart shone red / Within his breast.’” 

“Pretty,” said David. “So, you’re saying . . . what are you saying?”

“He is what’s coming through the Dark Rift on December 21st.”

David could only blink at her. Twice.

“Read Revelations, Chapter 9,” she continued. “He will come to earth and release all the imprisoned Fallen Ones that Yahweh banished there hundreds of millennia ago. They will be loosed upon the earth at the End of Days, to inaugurate the Time of Tribulation—seven years of hell on earth. Which gives you . . .” and here she glanced at her wristwatch “. . . about three weeks.”

“To what? Stop the Apocalypse? Right, like—”

“Or at least delay it, David. Yahweh doesn’t want it to happen, you know. It’s up to mankind to fight these things, at the end. But you can only do this if you return to Israel. That’s where all the answers are. And it all begins with finding the key to God, to unravel the mystery. Do that, and everything else will follow.”

“The . . . key to God.”

A nod.

“OK, I’ll bite. What is this . . . God Key?”

“For that, you will have to speak with Dr. Galilei. I gave you his card for a reason, Nimrod. Go call him.”

“What, now? Tonight?”

“Yes, now. Tonight. But hurry, he’ll be turning in soon.”

“How would you—” but Dave wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer to that question. He excused himself and went in search of a payphone; his cell was practically useless anymore, since the sunspots began—and the asteroids he’d been reading about in the newspapers. Which were apparently coming through the Mayan “Dark Rift,” or “Black Road,” the central axis of the Milky Way, the subject of the “Great Alignment” on December 21, 2012. In other words, the day the world ended. In three weeks.

According to a bunch of dead Indians in Mexico.

Dismissing these thoughts, he stalked toward the rear of the first floor, still trying to absorb this fresh nonsense (Nef-il-things? Watchers? God Key?) Bizarre. He had no idea Cyndi was this far gone. Why did the great-looking ones always have to be so crazy? But what the hell, she’d hired him when no one else would, so . . .

He glanced around the giant room he was in, looking for strange eyes upon them, watching for watchers. Nothing but Nefil- statues. Demons, apparently. He finally found a payphone and called the number on the card Cyndi had given him. He caught Dr. Galilei at home, just turning in for the night—just as Cyndi had predicted.

They set an interview time for noon Wednesday, on campus. Which gave him 1½ days to formulate his questions, narrow them down and be ready. The physicist sounded sober, serious and seriously geeky. Which seemed just right to him.

Satisfied he’d done all he could in pursuit of Cyndi’s “God Key,” David returned to where she stood giggling at the other Egyptian funerary fetishes.

To Dave, this seemed disrespectful somehow, at least discourteous. But . . . that was Cyndi: always irreverent. She pointed out statuettes of a few of the Nefil-whatsits, including the Egyptian gods Seth, Ra and Osiris, brother and consort to Egypt’s premier goddess, Isis. Then, at 11:00 pm, they wound their way toward the exit.

And all the while, David’s mind was totally preoccupied—not with any of the absurdities Cyndi had told him. What he couldn’t stop thinking about was just what the hell had happened last Friday night, in Israel.

The Washington Post headline haunted him. Two people murdered in their hotel room, a third kidnapped and killed in the desert, while he, Dave Connors, had been allowed to escape? It made no sense. Maybe he would have to go back to Israel after all.

Nah. That was crazy thinking.

They headed for the door.

 

Chapter 11

Still no one watching.

He checked all around them. Again. And even though he was with the sexiest, most beautiful woman he’d ever known, whose prisoner he still was (at least in his own heart), all he could think about was seeing Dr. Galilei on Wednesday—the one person with a sketch of the Roswell symbols.

True, it wasn’t a photograph, but if he could compare the two sets of symbols side-by-side, he’d see for himself. And if they were even remotely similar, then . . .

“Come along, David, they’re closing,” Cyndi called. She was already heading for the door. He’d been so absorbed in his Roswell reverie he hadn’t noticed where she was going. He followed her to the main double doors, pushed one of them open for her with his left hip and stepped into the night.

An Indian Summer night, at that: the weather was velvety wet, with just a hint of winter in the wind. With the river and sea only a few blocks away, and the old, Colonial gardens filled with foxglove and hemlock, the night air carried a whiff of what the 18th Century must have smelled like: a dusty, musky, antique scent, combined with a briny sea breeze. Northern Virginia nights in late November were magical, no doubt of that. As was the woman walking with him—the one he was trying so hard not to fall for again. Not after that first time. No, it was over, done with, they were friends and that was that. No falling head over heels again—not for her, not for anyone. Ever again.

As they reached the corner of North Union and turned south, headed for the parking lot, Dave thought he saw someone standing in the mouth of Fayette Alley, watching them. He couldn’t pick out any features, merely a pearl-gray, motionless silhouette. Before he could remark on it, Cyndi reached over and squeezed his biceps.

“Cyndi, I wish to hell you wouldn’t do that.”

“Mmm . . . a strapping youth, like Apollo. Just the kind Isis would gobble up . . .”

“Yeah? I’ll gobble you up,” he started to say, before the screech of tires pierced the night and the car with no headlights came rocketing out of the blackness at them.

David tried to yell “Look out!” but it was too late: the black, mashed-in rice-burner jumped the curb as he yanked Cyndi by the collar and threw her out of the way, then took the hit on his left hip.

Then felt himself go flying, head over heels in the dark, as if in love with the night.

 

#

Author John Fogarty__MAIN

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.

 

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