The God Key, Book I: Chapters 3 &4

TGK FRONT Cover FINAL

Hi, all,

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

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

 

TGK I: Return of the Nephilim

Chapters 3 & 4

 

Chapter 3

 

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

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

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

Only one way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

David Connors would not survive tomorrow.

 

Chapter 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . or sucked out. By mouth.

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

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

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

And that was David Connors.

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

Along with two agents of the Mossad.

And no one was more persuasive than they.

***

Well, almost no one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What it did to the animal next was an abomination.

 

@

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

(Cont’d from yesterday’s post)…

Image

Chapter 2

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

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

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

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

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

Again, strange.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, not just “missing,” he realized.

But stolen.

***

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

And that smell . . .

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

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

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

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

It scared the living hell out of him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Explain.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, sir.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sgt. Weiss blinked. “Sir?”

“Nothing.”

“Yes, sir.”

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

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

“Anything else?” Schriever said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes sir. The very one.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, sir,” both sergeants replied.

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

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

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

“Sir?” Weiss asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“But—”

“I said now, Sergeant.”

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

Yes. Schriever could feel it.

The villa was much closer now.

End of Chapter 2.

See Chapter 3 tomorrow

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

Hi, all:

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

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

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

Until then,

I am

Your increasingly ‘umble narrator,

John R. Fogarty

Your Umble Narrator

This space for rent FREE

Book begins below, as published:

The God Key

Book I: Return of the Nephilim

John R. Fogarty

Copyright © 2012 John R. Fogarty

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1475066996

ISBN-13: 9781475066999

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012907428

CreateSpace, North Charleston, SC

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


Acknowledgments

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

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

 


Dedication

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

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

 

Author’s Note:

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

Altogether, they barely scratch the surface of the mystery.

 

PART ONE – WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS

Prologue

“Now as I looked at the living creatures,

I saw a wheel…one for each…

Their appearance and their work was

As it were a wheel within a wheel…

And when the living creatures went,

The wheels went with them…”

— Ezekiel 1:16-19

***

Dateline: Friday, 30 November, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You mean—” Globus began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In fact, they resembled no human alphabet at all.

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

“Of what?” asked Dr. Mills.

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

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

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

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

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

Called Roswell.

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think it’s ‘flaky.’”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good,” he said. “Thanks, Shimon.”

“One question, though.”

“Ask away.”

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ditto,” David said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The army?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So you admit they are similar?”

“Oh, very.”

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

Dr. Oded’s eyes crinkled at the corners.

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

…which meant Shimon would probably appreciate a few copies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He unlocked the door and stumbled inside.

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

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

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

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

Yes, it was good to be home.

***

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

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

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

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

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

Or something else?

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

Some even said it was Yahweh himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Connors’s days were numbered.