Chapter 22 is live!

An emotional rollercoaster of a chapter!  Slide over to to read it.

Here’s a bit to whet the appetitite…

“I don’t know where he is, Jack,” Mason said, much louder than he intended.  “He was here when I left.”  As soon as they entered the room, they knew Bill was gone.  It’s not like there are a lot of places to hide in here, he thought.  The last one to enter the room, Mason closed the door behind him, and threw the keycard on the desk.  He looked over at the nearest bed and pointed, “His gun’s gone, so I don’t think he stepped out for ice.”  He rubbed his chin, “Probably went out for a bite to eat.”

“Without hearing anything from us?”  Jack shook his head.  “That’s nothing like my brother.  He would wait here until he heard something, or you returned with us.”

Dieter had made himself comfortable on the far side of the room, sitting at the round table near the window, his back to the wall.  He placed his hat on the table in front of him, his hands flat on either side.

“Why don’t you have a seat, Jack,” he said, gesturing to the chair across from him.  “We have much to discuss.”  Mason pegged the accent as German right away, but there were hints of something else.

“As long as the discussion includes answers,” Jack said, eyes flashing as he sat across from the old man.

Amber remained just inside the door, her arms crossed, and Mason walked around her to the bed closest to the two men.  He sat next to the nightstand, his back to the headboard, and stretched out his legs.  The old man watched Mason with narrowed eyes, then relaxed and turned back to Jack.

“I think I can give you all the answers you are looking for,” Dieter said with a smile.  “At least,” he pointed to the file in Jack’s hand, “as long as we limit our discussion to that.”

“Why don’t you just start at the beginning,” Jack said, sneering.  He’s handling this better than I would in his position, Mason thought.  Would the need for answers trump my desire for retribution if someone close to me were kidnapped?  He was glad he didn’t have to answer that.

“Which one?” Dieter asked, his head tilted, eyebrows arched.

Jack leaned forward, one arm on the table.  “I have neither the time, nor the patience, for games,” he said in a voice that turned Mason’s blood to ice.

Dieter held Jack’s gaze with steady, liquid eyes, and nodded.  “I only mean do you want me to start with your involvement, or when everything truly began?”

Jack, his face red, took two breaths and then sat back.  “Whatever works for you,” he said.

Dieter frowned, looked at Mason, then Amber.  A spark of invisible static seemed to pass between her and the old man.  Mason watched her shuffle from one foot to the other, lips pursed, brow furrowed, and then she brightened.

“I’m gonna get a shower,” she said as if she had only been awaiting the proper moment to inform them.  “I can’t do much about my clothes,” she said, rubbing unseen stains from her jeans, “but I can at least make myself smell better.”  Smiling at Jack, she turned and entered the bathroom, closing and locking the door.

Now why wouldn’t she be interested in Dieter’s story? Mason mused.  She’s already said she doesn’t know what’s going on.  Where’s her curiosity?  Amber was an anomaly to Mason.  The one piece of the whole puzzle that didn’t belong.

Once the sound of running water reached them, Jack shook himself and turned back to the old man.  “You were saying?”

“There’s a reason I’ve sent you clues to follow, Jack,” Dieter said with a grandfather’s smile.  “You needed to discover much of this for yourself, or you would never believe the larger truth.”

“And that is?” Jack said, crossing his arms.

Dieter sighed, a rustle of desiccated leaves blowing across a fetid forest floor.  “Human history is being shaped—tampered with—and has been for over six thousand years.”


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