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

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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

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Author John Fogarty__MAIN

The God Key, Book I — Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

 

“Why are you taking me here, Yuppie?” David asked.

“You’ll see. Redneck.”

But all David could see were the last few stragglers leaving the museum; it was already past ten o’clock; closing time was 11:00 pm during the week. Perfect, he thought, it’s probably some yuppie wine-tasting, complete with brie and cardboard crackers.

As they entered, Dave couldn’t help feeling dwarfed by the massive granite columns and floors, the dizzyingly high ceilings and gorgeous marble staircases. And the awesome, solemn silence that seemed the province of all cathedrals and museums.

Dave tried to recall what they’d been talking about back at the observatory, before the tiny black sports car had entered their lives. But the somber nature of their surroundings and the odd, dreamlike feeling he’d had since the run from the rice-burner, stole all speech from him. Once inside, Cyndi brought him back to earth.

“We were talking of the Fallen,” she said, looking up at him with those big, olive-brown eyes. All he could hear inside his head was Oh boy . . . here we go again . . . moth to the flame . . . I’m outta my depth, in over my head and head over heels . . . Suddenly, an old Tears For Fears song started playing in his head. Something to do with being “head over heels,” and never finding out till he’s . . .

“Head over heels,” he blurted. “Jeeze.”

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing. Just thinking how . . . uh . . . head over heels I was about that article. Anyway, what about these Falling Ones?”

“Fallen Ones,” she corrected him, touching his forearm. “Angels who fell to earth in order to have sex with human females.” Now she gave his elbow a squeeze.

“Oh, yeah. What was that other name? Neph-something?” he asked, the skin along his forearm rising to her magnetic touch. The word ‘sex’ coming from those lush lips was riveting. Especially to a young man of 29. Hell, 69. Plus, that damned Tears for Fears song would not stop playing in his head. Something about keeping her distance with a system of touch? . . . Too apt.

“That other name shouldn’t be repeated. Trust me,” she said. “These beings are incredibly powerful. And Yahweh trusted them in the beginning, appointed them to be Man’s guardians, hence their other name, Grigori, Greek for ‘The Watchers.’”

“What does this have to do with that black car? Or the Roswell symbols?”

“You wanted to know what these creatures are, and I’m showing you,” she added, nodding toward the furthest exhibit: the Ancient & Prehistoric Gallery. “They are the reason for the Commandments and the Roswell debris.”

“Huh?”

“These are the beings who descended to earth thousands of years ago, the ones the Sumerians called the Anunnaki. But they didn’t merely mate with human women—they abducted them against their will—mated with them by force.”

“You mean, raped them,” Dave said.

“Exactly. And they spawned a race of mutants—hybrids. Giants,” she added, glancing away from him now. “Bloodthirsty, savage creatures also called Neph—by that other name. Yahweh was so furious, he damned them all—and warped their beauty, made them deformed . . . hideous . . . twisted beyond all recognition, their once glorious faces and forms made monstrous mockeries, and then . . . He abandoned Them. In the Abyss.”

“You know I don’t believe any of this, right? Religion is a fairy tale for children and a crutch for weaklings.”

“But you do believe in Sitchin, yes? And von Däniken?”

“Well . . . sort of. I mean, they make more sense than—”

“Than religion, I know. Just humor me while we head to the prehistoric exhibits.”

“So, you’re saying these mythical Watchers or Fallen things will—what? Try to stop me? Destroy my evidence? Or rape me?”

Cyndi glanced around the mostly empty museum before continuing—whether for caution or effect, Dave couldn’t tell.

“Nothing so mundane,” she replied. “Handsome, strapping lad like you? No, they’ll just reach out and touch you here,” she whispered, as she reached over and, incredibly, touched his zipper. “And here,” she added, with a light tap on his clavicle with her other hand. “They’ll slip their thumbnails in, rip you open, paddle about in your innards a bit, and then . . .” Still touching him, she leaned forward, smiled and said:

“ . . . they will devour you.”

 

Next up — Chapter 10

THE GOD KEY, BOOK I: Return of the Nephilim — Chps. 7 & 8

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Chapter 7

Tamara Schnurr, teaching assistant and laboratory technician at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, died that evening during a botched robbery—or ritual slaughter, one of the two.

The crime scene looked more like a butcher’s shambles. In hell. The deceased was 28 years of age, an assistant professor of forensic archeology, at the Mt. Scopus Campus. It was she who’d run the carbon-14 tests on the bronze filings from the first two Eilat Hilton victims. She’d been scheduled to run the same tests on the purported Ten Command­ments later that week. Which was no longer possible, now.

Because now Tamara Schnurr was missing most of her neck, the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae, and a four-inch segment of her spinal cord. Autopsy would later reveal that she was also missing all of her cerebrospinal fluid—not just a little or even a lot, but all of it. It had apparently been drained from her by syringe or . . . something else.

The dead woman was also the only person outside the Oded Expedition to have actually handled the Ten Commandments tablets—which were now missing from the lab. Her death left only three other people who’d actually set eyes on the ancient engravings: 1) the magazine editor Durant; 2) the aging Dr. Oded and 3) the luckless Dave Connors, of Alexandria, VA.

Who, the Kabbalist mused, would never have to worry about aging.

***

But at that moment, 6,200 miles away in Alexandria, VA, Dave Connors didn’t see himself as luckless at all. How could he, when he was going to dinner with the sexiest star-jockey on earth?

Cyndi was beyond beautiful tonight: she looked like a dream, or a wish from Aladdin’s lantern. Not a genie, exactly—those were fictional characters based on the Djinn, terrible and hideous creatures; he’d seen enough “Wishmaster” films to know. And who was their god? Ahura-Mazda? Sounded like a sports car, or an exotic skin disease. He would look into it another time.

For now, all he could look into was Cyndi’s smoky, mysterious eyes . . . the eyes of an Arabian princess; an enchantress; a genie.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, breaking the spell.

“Hmph? Oh, nothing.” When Dave looked away from her, he spotted the black sports car with government plates, still parked in front of the observatory.

“Bastards,” he said, nodding. “Don’t look, but I think they’re watching us.”

“See?” she whispered. “I told you.”

“Oh, please,” he said, fully expecting her to crack a smile, or wink or do any of a million other things than what she actually did.

“Quick!” she yelled. “Get in my car. Don’t look back.”

He didn’t need to be asked twice.

He sprinted for the Mazda but she beat him to it, unlocked the driver’s side door, then his. Even before they got into the car and started it, they could hear the black rice-burner’s engine kick over and wind out like a four-cylinder demon. Then its lights came on like Klieg lights, or police spotlights, blinding them.

Cyndi mashed the accelerator to the floor, backed out over the embankment onto the grass median and fishtailed out of the parking lot, away down Mt. Nebo Road, lights off and flying.

The rice-burner stayed right behind them.

 

Chapter 8

At first, David thought they’d lost them. He glanced out the rear window, but saw nothing. Pure country blackness.

Then the spotlights exploded over the hill behind them, blinding him again.

“Who,” he asked, rubbing an eye, “are those guys?”

“Government,” was all she said.

“D.O.D.? Come on, Cyn . . .”

“I don’t know,” she returned. “All I know is we must lose them.”

“Then . . . lose ‘em.”

She kicked the RX9 into overdrive and spun around a tree-lined lane that branched in two directions: the larger road on the left went downhill through woods and into town, while the smaller lane to the right meandered into even deeper woods. Cyndi hit the brakes, made a quick right-left feint with her turn signal, then released the brakes—shutting off her tail lights and allowing her to jerk the wheel to the right at the last possible second. The rice-burner whizzed by on the left, into the forest. A moment later, they heard the crash of a tiny, foreign sports car meeting an American tree.

“Nice move,” Dave said, keeping his voice steady.

“Oh, I have plenty of those,” she said, patting his knee, her fingers lingering there.And drove on.

***

They disappeared deep into the countryside west and south of town. Since the rice-burner had been heading due south, the gap between the two cars widened with every mile. Better still, the goons in the sports car had just become intimately acquainted with a sizable oak, from the sound of it. By the time they crawled from the wreckage and called for help, David and Cyndi would be long gone.

Until they returned to work in the morning.

Dave mentioned this as Cyndi turned south and headed back toward town. She’d driven in a wide arc around the ruined rice-burner, leaving it and its occupants several miles behind them.

“Don’t worry about them,” she said. She pulled into traffic, and in seconds they were in Old Town, Dave’s neighborhood. She headed east, toward the waterfront, away from his apartment. Apparently, she wasn’t taking him home. “By the time they get bandaged up and find a new car,” she continued, “we’ll be long gone.”

When they reached the Alexandria Museum, on Union Street, she pulled into the parking lot, shut off the Mazda’s engine and lights, and climbed out of the car. Her skirt accidentally rode up her right thigh, which Dave tried to ignore. Then she closed the door and locked it by remote, eliciting a double-chirp.

Puzzled, David came around the back of the car to join her. “But . . . won’t they simply go back to the observatory and wait for us? I mean, we have to go there eventually; it’s where we work.”

“Worked,” she corrected him. “You are now officially on vacation. As am I,” she added, taking his arm in hers and leading him up the walkway to the museum’s front doors. Dave walked beside her, feeling confused and disoriented, as if caught in a dream.

This feeling intensified when he saw a newspaper rack with the Washington Post’s headline: THREE DEAD AFTER COMMANDMENTS DISCOVERY.

“What the . . .” He stopped cold. Like a sleepwalker, he dropped coins into the news rack, took the first copy and, with an expression of mounting horror, read the piece. After all the usual hysteria revolving around the “Great Alignment” with the “Dark Rift” on the 21st , was the story from Eilat. The Massacre there.

This was what he’d left behind him in Israel: the savage deaths of Dr. Sarah Mills and her assistant, Amir el-Bara, along with the disappearance and murder of Dr. Globus. Dave’s name was not mentioned, though the article claimed Israeli Police were pursuing a “subject of interest” who’d left the morning after the slaughter. He stood rooted to the spot until he’d finished the entire piece.

This thing was not over—not by a long shot. Missing photos were one thing . . . but dead professors? Slaughtered archaeologists? He shook his head, relieved he’d at least mailed three copies of the Commandments photos to his editor, Will Durant, in New York. Otherwise, there would be no proof of what he’d seen—and discovered.

***

But if Dave Connors was feeling off-balance and slightly surreal, his editor was feeling as if he’d just stepped into a horror film . . . or had one step into him.

Will Durant had been lounging on his living room divan, dressed in his new, fuchsia lounging suit (which matched the divan’s trim perfectly), smoking a Doral and reading a second article from another freelancer on the Oded Find. It was a solid piece of journalism, if a bit dry. It lacked flavor—despite the ashes he kept sprinkling on it.

He loved flavor, did Will Durant. Above all, he prized description—vivid, florid adjectives in abundance, adverbs tripping over each other, all painting a perfect portrait for the reader. He puffed away contentedly, thinking how he might run the piece as a sidebar to Dave Connors’s priceless Commandments photos, when he heard it:

A noise in the kitchen, just down the hall.

The backdoor? Was someone? . . . no, all quiet again. Just the house settling.

Then he heard it again: a furtive thumping, bumping sound. Definitely from the kitchen’s backdoor. He butted his cigarette and sat up on the divan.

From the sound, it was someone big. And clumsy. He was banging into everything, making a hell of a racket. It couldn’t be a burglar, then . . . could it?

He set down the Commandments photos and stood up from the divan. Paused. Listened. And heard something he didn’t like at all, something horrible beyond words. He couldn’t describe what it sounded like precisely; there simply were no adjectives for this. It was so foul, so . . . repulsive. Wet, sick, sticky and thick.

And the stench—like rotting meat and feces, mixed with urine, sperm, dirt and —and was that gasoline? In his house? The combined odors were growing stronger by the moment, wafting up the hall as if in search of him.

Will Durant, who’d once dated a policeman named Marc, grabbed his Glock Model 17 from under the divan. It was birthday present from Marc, before the boy had met a rich sugar daddy from L.A. and gone to California with him. It was all Will had left of the affair, and he kept it loaded and oiled at all times. Not because he lived in a bad neighborhood, but when one was a closet queen, one could never be too careful. Now, he cocked the slide, chambered a .45 round and stepped to the edge of the hallway.

And listened again.

It was coming. Whoever or whatever it was, it was coming. It sounded big, dumb and clumsy, and smelled like rotting garbage in a seafood dumpster, or a plugged septic tank. It had to be a homeless person or a wino, no one dangerous.

Then the intruder stepped partially into the hallway.

Will looked and saw that it was . . .

(oh dear God, what the h—?)

. . . just a deformity, he realized. A deformed man. He could just make out a misshapen silhouette at the end of the hall. That’s all: a poor cripple seeking help—a street person. Will tried to smile as it . . .

                                        (sweet Jesus what the hell is that?)

. . . stepped into view.

“God in heaven . . .” he whimpered, his voice high and whiney in his throat. In that moment of insane terror, he knew somehow that the Oded piece was connected to this, and that he, William Durant, would not be coming out of this alive. “No, not that please dear God not that . . . ”

But it was that.

And it was hungry.

The creature allowed the human to empty the gun into its chest and “face,” then set to work on the man’s neck, where the life-giving fluid awaited.

And Will Durant, editor of World News Weekly—who simply could not abide stories without flavor, teeming with juicy adjectives and adverbs—was getting the full flavor of his own death just then, in pitiless, juicy detail.

The thing reached out a hand the size of a catcher’s mitt, and grabbed Durant’s throat, lifting him off the floor as if he were a paper sack. Eyeless, it pushed its blind, idiot “face” into Will’s and lapped at his mouth with a sandpaper tongue as it squeezed harder and tighter, crushing and crunching the glottis. Durant was fully aware of every snap and crackle, able to see his own blood spurt from his mouth like black ink in the shadowy darkness. It spattered over his new fuchsia lounge suit, followed by a trail of slimy blue tendrils, some smaller gray cords and other stringy stuff that shimmered in the light as they plopped onto his collar. Still conscious, he watched as the creature emitted a sloppy, blue tendril of its own—but far larger and more solid than anything spilling from his own throat, like a section of intestine or bowel. The tubular obscenity slipped slick and dripping from the thing’s mouth and began winding itself around Durant’s neck, the dark blue, bowel-like tube emitting a noxious odor like human feces and death. At last, overcome with horror, Will heard his own death rattle gurgling from his throat, felt the back of his neck being ripped open—even heard the horrible !pop! as the thing poked its blade and proboscis inside Will’s neck, probing and digging about until it sucked the spinal cord out of the vertebrae and began draining it before all feeling ceased and everything went gray, then black, then to merciful, if somewhat flavorless, nothingness.

The Kabbalist followed his assassin into the house, ignoring the feast at hand, and scooped up the Command­ments photos. He glanced at them briefly, then tore them to pieces and poured gasoline on them. Then he poured more on the floor, the divan, the computer, telephone and filing cabinet. He splashed five gallons of gasoline all over the ground floor, then struck a match and held it.

“Working with you is such a gas,” he said. And held the match overhead.

The thing beside him squealed with delight—a curiously high, chirring, insectile sound. It began bobbing up and down on its pseudo-feet, like some giant, grotesque child. The Kabbalist beamed upon his creation with pride.

“Come.” He flipped the match onto Durant’s corpse and it burst into flame.

The fire consumed William Durant’s house and all his belongings—including his body. Warped and charred from the inferno, it would betray no trace of the cause of death. Since he smoked, it would be put down to that:

Falling asleep with a cigarette.

#

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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