Authors: Abby L. Vandiver
Copyright © 2014 Shondra C. Longino
eBook is intended for personal use only, and may not be reproduced,
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is a work of fiction.
Any references or similarities to actual
events, organizations, real people - living, or dead, or to real locales are
intended to give the novel a sense of reality. All other events and
characters portrayed are a product of the author’s imagination or are used
more, visit my website:
me on Twitter: @AbbyVandiver
Design by Shondra C. Longino
copy of the blueprints for the five Stonehenge-like monoliths
across the bed in his hotel room. He had just returned from leaving the
originals and a black Samsonite briefcase stacked full with hundred dollar
bills with a banker at the Granite City Bank.
draped his suit jacket across the back of the desk chair and momentarily
clutched the back of it to steady himself.
This was finally going to happen
, he thought.
The instructions left by ancient people more than ten thousand years ago in
Mesoamerica was going to be unveiled to the world. They were the explicit
instruction of a new world order secreted away more than a millennia ago in an
underground earthen den. Hidden, a fantastic proclamation, one that was
logical, intelligent and reasonable, yet so terrifying that it would
undoubtedly ravage the hearts and souls of the world’s people, cause an
insufferable fear to spread around the globe, and culminate in unfathomable
consequences for millions. And he was set to unleash the shocking edict on the
unsuspecting occupants of this world.
only a little at a time.
walked into the bathroom and looked at his reflection in the mirror. He ran his
fingers over his black goatee. The sliver of white that ran through it told his
put his fist up to his lips and coughed into it. He was a tall thin man, with
dark, deep-set eyes and a bird-like chest that heaved hard with every
struggling breath he took.
Yes, one step at a time
he still had enough time. He hoped.
wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and looked down at his watch. Stage
one was going into production right at that moment.
knew he wouldn’t live as long as his father had. Already the emphysema caused
by years of smoking was making him tire much quicker than he had only a few
months ago. Everything was in capable hands now. Still he wanted to see it
through. He was determined to hang on.
he had one more thing to do.
relieved himself and washed his hands. After drying them on a towel he went
back into the room, found the carton of cigarettes in his suitcase and took out
a pack. He grabbed the large brown envelope off the dresser and sat down at the
desk. Inside the envelope was a pack of white linen, watermarked paper. He
pulled the sheets out of the envelope and laid them on the desk. Looking in the
jacket pocket of the suit coat he had just taken off, he retrieved a fountain
he had first arrived in the room three days ago, he’d taken the television from
atop the dresser and placed it on the floor to clear a space for the scaled
wooden model of the stone structure he wanted built.
Step One: Stone slabs. Check
over at the model, he took a cigarette, tapped the end of it and lit it. Smoke
billowed into the room and set him off on a fit of dry coughing.
he tried to gulp in air to calm his lungs. He took in a long drag on his
cigarette and blew it out through his nostrils to quell the cough.
had picked a grassy, long abandoned cow pasture on Highway 77 to erect the
twenty-foot high granite stones. They would stand upright, topped with a
capstone that would be visible to all who drove down the interstate route.
Step Two: Time Capsule.
his monument he would bury a time capsule. Not to be opened for another seventy
years. He would place the secrets of what he had learned in it. Resting the
cigarette down in the well of an ashtray, he smoothed his hand over the sheets
of paper and uncapped the fountain pen. He began to write:
It was in 1904 that the building of the Panama Canal was taken over by
the United States. My father was just seven years old at the time.
The U.S. formally took control of the canal property on May 4, 1904. It
inherited from the French a field operation that was comprised of an exhausted
and diminished workforce, and a vast jumble of inferior infrastructure and
equipment. So the U.S. hired out geologists, archaeologists, hydrologists,
meteorologists, and oceanographers. They employed the help
of surveyors, Spanish interpreters and entomologists. And of course they hired
My grandfather being one of them.
It was the fortuitous situation, as my father often told me, that my
grandmother, seven months pregnant, was too sick, with no inclination to travel
or look after her rambunctious seven-year old son. It was, he said, because of
her “malaise and melancholy” that his future was set as a great archaeologist.
Great because, he, that seven-year old rambunctious boy, traveling with his
father to Panama would discover the underground tunnels that ran from Panama to
writings filled up the first two pages of watermarked paper. He stopped and
laid the pen down.
thought about his father,
the famed Maya archaeologist, Linton
Satterthwaite Jr., who had passed away just a year earlier in late 1978. He
wanted to be sure to explain that. To explain how it had taken almost that
entire year since to grieve his father’s death and to concoct and construct a
plan that would honor his memory. It had come to him when he had come across
the first printed edition of his father’s book,
The Monuments and
Inscriptions of Caracol
father had never revealed in his writings what he discovered in that system of
tunnels that dead-ended in Panama City. He had told his son that the world
wasn’t ready for what it.
Well world, get ready
lit up another cigarette and thought back to when his father had first told him
about Caracol, Belize. He remembered it like it had happened yesterday.
and papyri, a repository filled with codices of another lifetime and culture.
That’s what he had found.
of course, the edict.
there was danger in knowing the truth of that proclamation, or so his father had
believed. He had only done three “official” excavations at the site and had to
abruptly stop. Or “had been stopped” as his father put it.
first he thought his father just paranoid. But he soon realized how hard it was
to change the beliefs of people – even the men of science. New theories, new
discoveries just weren’t easily accepted. Change was troubling to some, others
it made unhinged. It had made his father secretive.
father had told him that “they” were always one step ahead of him, and he’d
always make his return trips to Belize short, intermittent, and unknown to even
his closest colleagues. In the end his father was constantly nervous, fearing
that his undertakings would be discovered and he’d suffer “dire consequences.”
those had been his words.
puffed on his cigarette and felt good at what he was about to do for his
father. For everyone, including himself. Man’s destiny, unwillingly hidden away
by his father for so long, would now be revealed in the information he would
seal in the time capsule.
curiosity of the four stone slabs, the capstone and its inscriptions would
bring onlookers from around the world. And there, the words would serve as a
guide for what needed to be done in order to survive and continue to live on
And his words inside the time capsule would tell the story
This time he
was one step ahead of whomever it was his father had feared.
would be eight languages that would be on the face of each side of the stone
slabs – English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.
And the four ancient languages for the inscription on the capstone -
Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
on the side of one of the stones would be inscribed the date to open the time
the plan was set, he had his banker swear an oath that he would never reveal
his identity – and that he, the banker, would see the venture to the end. No
had given the banker the name
R. C. Christian
to use when speaking of
him. Christian because he was one, and wanted no one to doubt that. He didn’t
offer a reason for the initials. They did have a meaning though, and that would
be revealed when the time capsule was opened.
The first letter of each word of the two-word mantra that his father had said
to him often while growing up, and again with his last breath on his death bed.
knock at the door broke him from his reverie.
stood up from the chair, glanced around the room, and slowly made his way to
the door. Breathing hard, he opened the door and was rushed by two mean. One
with a leather strap that was wrapped around his neck. He could hardly breathe
and the strap didn’t take long to drain his life.
other grabbed his model and crushed it.
scattered his papers and the contents of his suitcase on the floor. Then they
drained gasoline across the body and lit it on fire.
had temporarily disappeared from the window where the scope had been trained on
her for the last twenty minutes.
his eyes tightly, the assassin spread his legs out in front of him, leaned back
into the straight-back chair and relaxed his muscles.
would take a break until she returned.
his finger off the trigger of his modified single-shot bolt action EXACTO
sniper rifle, a model that was yet to be released by its U.S. manufacturer, he
stretched his hand to release the tension. He felt the bones in his fingers
pop. His metal chair scratched across the wood floor as he pushed it back from
the tripod where the rifle rested. He stood up, rubbed his hands together, and
walked over to the table that sat along the wall.
the metal, 1950’s-style dinette table that was covered with a white plastic
tablecloth, a folding card table and the chair were the only other furniture in
the room. On top of the metal table sat an automatic coffee-maker, Styrofoam
cups, plastic spoons, paper napkins, a box of day-old donuts, and a bowl of
used the card table as his arsenal.
were two handguns – a .45mm Glock and a Beretta 92FS and its silencer - stuffed
into an empty paint can. He had unwrapped the ankle strap that housed his
black, Columbia River AG Russell boot knife when he came in that morning and
threw both alongside a pair of binoculars that set next to a laptop. His scope
on the sniper rifle was linked, via a Wi-Fi network, to the computer. It would
be used to transfer the view from the kill to not only the person who had hired
him, but to the young woman’s father as the bullet pierced her head.
“Live-feed” so to speak.
poured a cup of coffee from the automatic coffee-maker. Spilling sugar off the
spoon as it traveled from the bowl to his cup, he piled in three heaping teaspoons.
His stocking feet slid over the plastic paint tarp that covered the flooring
near the walls as he went to grab the cream that set next to a bottle of
ketchup and leftover Chinese in the otherwise barren refrigerator tucked into a
kitchen corner. Stirring the sweet concoction, he walked over to the window and
stared across to the woman’s apartment.
Armeni was short and stocky. A compact man, who blended in well wherever he
was. He ran his hand across the smooth, bald skin of his head and down the back
of it. Running his fingers across the black stubble of the horseshoe-shaped
ring of hair that still clung around the back of the head, he reached his neck
and firmly rubbed it. He refused to go completely bald. But he did keep what
was left cut low. No comb over, or overt length to what hair was left. Bending
his head from side to side he heard his neck crack.
was practical, methodical, and reliable. He was not one to let the pressures of
life get him down. He, of all people, realized how short life could be.
back down in the chair, he moved the rifle with one hand and peered through the
sniper scope. “There you are.” He spotted her a few windows down from the one
his rifle had been focused on. “You’re in the kitchen,” he said, whispering. He
glanced down at the opal-colored face of his watch. “One-thirty. I didn’t
realize it was so late. You’re hungry aren’t you?” He spoke to her as if she
knew he was there. Taking a sip of his coffee, he watched as she moved
around her kitchen. “I hope you’re making something you’ll enjoy. This might
just be your last meal.”
he lifted the cup to his lips, and blew out of habit on the hot, murky brew
before he took another sip.
apartment stretched across the north side of the high end apartment complex,
giving her the benefit of natural light in every room. And giving him the
ability, sitting in an apartment on the other leg of the U-shaped building, of
being able to take her out wherever she roamed in - so she thought - her high
security, safe, ultra-modern apartment.
the living room had the best view for the kill shot, so he would wait until she
returned to it.
stood up. Holding his coffee in one hand and wrapping the other across his
chest, he began to pace back and forth along the wall of windows and thought
about the task before him.
was young. Beautiful. Innocent. As he watched her over the past two weeks, he
imagined that each day she rose thinking just those things. Her thoughts must
be, he envisaged, that her whole life was ahead of her, delicately unfolding,
with time on her side. Time to grow. To love. Time to live . . .
she thought wrong. She had no time left.
day, from the first day he had arrived, had been a countdown. A countdown to
today. The day when she would probably die.
walked over to the table, he placed the Styrofoam cup down and pickup up the
binoculars. He stood in front of the first window in the apartment he had
confiscated for this task and took in the view from his perch.
apartment, like the one he occupied, was on the fifth floor. The buildings were
separated by a verdant courtyard that ran the length of the two sides. The sun,
set high, filled the bright blue, clear sky with an almost white haze as it
began heating up the mid-day. A warm, gentle breeze floated through the trees
and across the blades of moss-colored grass that covered the grounds. The
sounds of the traffic and the smell from open air cafes and bistros eased their
way into his open window and wafted in brushing against his mouth and up his
nostrils. He could feel the pulse of the streets as it enveloped him.
the binoculars slowly up the side of her building, Castor saw her. She seemed
to float around the kitchen, she was so at ease. Maybe even happy. Watching the
woman making herself lunch, Castor felt a rumble in his stomach and rubbed it.
“I wonder what you’re cooking up in there.” He spoke to her softly. Lowering
the binoculars, he bent down and leaned slightly forward in the window. He
pulled air up through his nostrils as if he could smell what she was cooking.
up for an uninvited lunch guest?” He said out loud and then chuckled at the
thought. Wouldn’t that be a surprise? Him knocking on her door, inviting
himself in. Partaking a meal with the woman he intended to kill. He could, he
mused, anytime he wanted, walk out the door of the apartment he occupied and
follow the hallway, down and around, to hers. But he knew it was across that
200 meter-wide courtyard, out of his window and through hers on the tail of a
.50BMG cartridge that they would finally make contact.
a good lunch, Sweetheart,” Castor said as he stood upright and walked over to
the table. He grabbed a powdered jelly donut from the box and bit into it as he
returned to the window.
up his binoculars, he saw her as she emerged from the kitchen and went into the
dining area. Crossing her leg under her, she sat down and placed a plate in
front of her onto the table. She ran her fingers through her long, straight,
raven-colored hair twisting it she wrapped it into a knot at the top of her
never ate much he had noted when he first started watching her. And she
exercised often. She seemed to take care in living a healthy lifestyle as well
as living a simple one. She stayed in much of the time and not much company to
speak of visited her. There had been times over the past two weeks that he
wanted to urge her to go out. To enjoy living. To try and make the time she had
left more memorable.
worked from home and spent hours at the large ebony wooden desk that stretched
across her living room perpendicular to the wall of windows. The décor in the
room was simple and sleek. White walls. White furniture. Black accents
thoughtfully placed throughout. The only thing of any color was a framed print
by Edvard Munch that hung on the far wall opposite the
remembered the grin that curled up his face when he first viewed the set-up of
her apartment while learning her daily habits. From the first moment he saw her
sitting at that desk, her head lined up evenly with the figure in the Munch
painting, he had fantasized that his bullet, as it passed through her temple
and out the other side, would lodge in the forehead of the man in that painting
holding his head finally giving an obvious reason for that scream.
got up from her table, grabbed her plate and walked back into the kitchen where
she only stayed momentarily. Reappearing into the hallway, he caught glimpses
of her through the windows of each room she passed. As she walked she pulled
the knot of hair down and shook it so it cascaded down her back. She tugged at
the string on her loosely fitted sweatpants, untying and retying it, and headed
across the living room to her desk. As she sat she picked up the phone.
was his cue.
stuffed the last of the doughnut in his mouth. He threw his binoculars on the
card table, grabbed a napkin from the other table, and brushed it over his
mouth and down the front of his grey-colored, sleeveless T-shirt where flecks
of the white powder had landed. He fell back into his seat in front of the
rifle. Shutting his eyes tightly, he drew in a breath and opened his eyes back
up. He bent his head to see underneath the rifle and placed his finger near the
trigger pressing a red button. Righting his head and keeping both eyes opened,
he leaned forward and looked through the scope. He moved the rifle back and
forth, scanning the room. There she was. He zoomed in on her sitting at her
desk and adjusted her in the crosshair of the scope. With her in his site he
pulled his head back and glanced over at the computer screen on the laptop to
make sure the feed from his sniper scope was being picked up.