Authors: Scott Hunter
Tags: #da vinci code, #fastpaced, #thriller, #controversial
Published by Myrtle Villa Publishing
A Myrtle Villa Book
Originally published in Great Britain by Myrtle Villa Publishing
Smashwords edition, License notes
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Copyright © Scott Hunter, Anno Domini 2010
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher
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In this work of fiction, the characters, places and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or they are used entirely fictitiously
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For Claire, Tom and Emily
My grateful thanks to Hilary Johnson for her sound advice and encouragement. Thanks too to my wife, Katherine, for coping with the vacant stares and various absences of which I am surely guilty during the writing of this novel. Lastly, to my good friend Hugh Thresher, a clap on the back and a pint at The Bell for a swift turnaround of early drafts and encouragement beyond the call of duty.
Original cover photograph:
Front cover design:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death’
Smithsonian Institution expedition, March 1920
He placed his hands gently upon the stone, probing and pressing. It would open, given the correct sequence. And he knew the sequence; he’d worked it out. The question was, should he use this knowledge?
“Come on, Theo. Quit stalling.”
He felt a prod in his lower back. Theodore swallowed hard. He had no choice. That had always been the case. No choice.
Let posterity remember that, if nothing else
. He turned his attention to the task, fingers moving over the smooth surface. And then a rolling of tumblers, the wall folding away. He heard the American’s gasp of surprise and a collective intake of breath from those following. Theodore mopped his brow and squinted into the opening. He’d been expecting wonders, but nothing could have prepared him for this.
Before them was a chamber, empty except for a raised platform upon which rested a large sarcophagus, an object of such beauty he could only stare in awe.
“I said move it, Theo. What are you waiting for?”
Theodore advanced reluctantly, his heartbeat a pounding ostinato against his ribs. Torchlight flickered as they jostled him forward.
No choice. I have no choice
. He stumbled and put a hand out to save himself, grasping the corner of the dais. It was cold to his touch and he pulled his hand away with a gasp. It made him feel –
“Okay, let’s get it open.”
He was pushed roughly aside, and stepped back in trepidation.
This is wrong. This is not for us to see...
But the others were heaving at the heavy lid, crowbars grappling for purchase. Slowly it lifted, then fell to the floor with a crash that shook the chamber from top to bottom. Theodore covered his ears and muttered a prayer.
Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing…
An abrupt silence descended. Heads craned, peering into the sarcophagus. Theodore found himself drawn by a terrible fascination. For a moment he saw nothing, a swirl of colour, then his eyes were brought sharply into focus and he fell back with a cry of astonishment, covering his face in anguish.
It’s true. I was right…
With this thought came a renewed conviction.
I can’t let them do this – they don’t understand…
He felt the weight of the revolver in his pocket, then he was pointing it, the muzzle wavering in his sweat-slicked grip. He heard himself call a warning. A hand reached from behind and grabbed his wrist. The gun exploded towards the chamber roof sending a splinter of rock skittering. He lashed out with a kick but a grip of steel encircled him, pinning his arms. He felt the needle slide into his flesh and he was falling, spinning in slow motion towards the floor. There was no pain but he heard a distant groan; with a shock he realized it was his voice.
I must stop them…
He tried to crawl but bizarre shapes zipped and twirled across his peripheral vision, diving and swooping at him like gulls. He covered his eyes with one hand and groped forward like a blind man in a storm. He felt a boot crunch against his ribs and heard sibilant, chattering laughter. He ignored it all. With his remaining strength he reached out towards the sarcophagus, felt its cool surface under his fingertips and was comforted. As darkness descended he thought he saw angels surrounding the dais, enfolding it with their powerful, protective wings.
Simon Dracup’s head ached as he walked briskly along the hotel corridor. Surely it couldn’t be true? Perhaps his grandfather had invented the whole thing. But why do that? It
to be genuine. He tutted with irritation. No point in speculating now – he needed to study the diary in depth before he jumped to any conclusions. The phone was ringing as he swiped the key card over the lock and pushed impatiently into his room. He threw his overcoat onto the bed and made a grab for the beeping instrument.
A woman’s voice said, “Where have you
Dracup felt his hackles rising. His ex-wife’s directness still rankled. “Give me a moment.” He thumbed the phone onto speaker and shrugged off his jacket. The diary was still in his inside pocket. He fished it out and placed it carefully on the bedside cabinet. Unremarkable in appearance, but the contents, if factual, were no less than mind-blowing.
“Are you there?” Yvonne’s voice barked through the speaker. “Are you coming on Saturday? What do I tell Natasha?”
“If you’d let me –”
“She has to have continuity. She’s only eight years old and it’s been difficult enough with –”
“Now listen,” he heard himself shouting; Yvonne never failed to light his touchpaper. “I will be there at 9 a.m. That’s nine in the morning. I will return her at 4 p.m, afternoon, GMT, Okay?”
“There’s no need to shout, Simon. I can hear you perfectly well.” Yvonne’s voice spoke evenly across the miles.
“Tell Natasha I love her. I’ll be there.” He felt his eyes prickle and bit his lip angrily. “How is she?”
“She’s fine. She gets on so well with Malcolm. They’re real buddies.”
“That’s great.” He gritted his teeth. “I’m her buddy too. And I’m also her daddy.”
“Yes, well. You should have thought of that before –”
There was a soft but clear knock on the door. Dracup swore under his breath. “Just a minute; there’s someone at the door.”
The ambiguity in her tone was not lost on him. “For heaven’s sake, Yvonne –”
“I’ll see you at nine on Saturday then.” The line went dead.
The soft tap came again.
“Yes. All right. Just a second.” Dracup strode to the door and yanked it open. A tall man in a dark suit stood on the threshold. His face was sallow, saddened by drooping eyelids and matching downturn of mouth. In the eyes, however, Dracup discerned a keen intelligence.
“Who wants to know?” Dracup asked, more aggressively than he’d intended.
The visitor smiled thinly. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything? I left my card with reception – James Potzner.”
Dracup fished the card out of his trouser pocket. It read:
“Well. What do you want?” Even as he phrased the question he knew the answer. It was in the buff envelope on the bedside table: the diary.