In the remote Péten jungle of Guatemala, famous Dutch archeologist Dr. Jana deVries discovers a strange and powerful glowing artifact. Her associate, Canadian medical archeologist Dr. Greg Fallows, fears she will take sole credit for the find; in a fit of insanity brought on by contact with the relic, he kills her.
The move causes Greg's life to implode. The esoteric knowledge he discovered in the relic-and killed for-once belonged to the medieval Knights Templar. He becomes trapped in a scheme by senior international government officials and business scions-very influential people who believe the artifact has the power to change history.
Greg's life becomes caught in a modern battle of good versus evil. In addition to government officials, a shadowy terrorist group wants the relic to engineer a coup and seize control of international monetary markets. The roiling conflict makes it increasingly difficult for Greg to separate external reality from his profoundly deteriorating internal world. With circumstances spiraling out of control and the net of justice closing in on him, Greg must choose between the dark or the light if he wants to survive.
Full of suspense, Only the Moon Rages weaves a spellbinding tale of religious conspiracy and political intrigue.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)|
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Only the Moon Rages
By Rushton Beech
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Rushton Beech
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the sweltering heat of the jungle the excavation team worked feverishly. Dr. Greg Fallows, along with senior team leader, Dr. Jana deVries, set out to reach a ridge near the Belize border early in the morning. Jana was on faculty of the Allard Pierson Archeology Institute in the Netherlands, and a first rate hands-on digger. She had a typical Dutch sensibility about her, straightforward and quietly competent. She had shoulder length blonde hair brilliant blue eyes and an easy-going personality that friends would later describe as open, honest and perhaps overly trusting. She loved fieldwork. And now as a newly minted full professor, she was in charge of the evolving Meso-American exhibit at the Museum.
On this morning, one of their guides spotted a shiny object reflected in the brilliant sun near a Temple designated simply as Number 8 on the map of Guatemala.
When they arrived at the site some three hours after leaving the base camp they found a relatively small clump of earth covered with jungle foliage. From the next nearest hill, it looked like all the other mounds. Without the aid of their guide, they surely would have missed it. As luck would have it they trekked to the pyramid just in time to set-up a campsite before sunset.
Over the next few hours they settled in for the night. The Howler monkeys, aptly named, swung from the treetops waking Greg early. When he got up, Jana was already busy at work making her notes. It didn't strike Greg as unusual at all. In fact it made a great deal of sense to dig in the morning before it got too hot.
Greg walked over to where she was sitting on the ground; he startled her when he walked up behind her.
"Morning Jana. What's happening?"
"Greg, you nearly scared the shit out of me!" She took a deep breath. "We should be looking over here." She pointed to several partially dug mounds they surveyed the day before.
After breakfast they began the meticulous work of excavating. Inch by inch they made their way down, and back in time. After long hours of teamwork they reached an entrance to what looked to Jana like a tomb. With a little effort they were able to force their way in. Greg and Jana's eyes met locked in a tractor beam of anticipation.
What followed was one of the most remarkable events in Greg Fallows' life. And what he saw would change him and alter his life—forever. From the dark crevice their flashlights fell upon a sarcophagus. Jana dug furiously with a small trowel, careful as always, to put the precious layers of dirt aside for analysis later. Opening the tomb they found two perfectly preserved and mummified bodies.
As a medical archeologist, Greg couldn't have hoped for a more important discovery. He was ecstatic. But what lay beside one of the mummies was to prove even more important. Jana and Greg both sighted the object simultaneously. It was a life size perfectly preserved crystalloid skull. And it glowed like the radiant jewel it was. They stared at each other in disbelief.
"What is it?" Jana cried, barely able to speak.
"It has to be worth millions," Greg sat down beside her to get a better view.
From behind, one of their Guatemalan companions, Tomas muttered something under his breath.
"Tomas says it is the Maya skull of doom." Jana simply stared at the eerie glowing object. Greg, transfixed by the beauty of it couldn't take his eyes off the pulsating jewel. Finally he reached out to touch the skull.
"No!" Jana cried, grabbing him by the shoulders.
His hands tingled slightly, not in an unpleasant way but in an almost drug-induced anesthetic way, as he lifted it out of the burial chamber. It was a most magnificent piece of craftsmanship, a perfect tiny replica of a human skull. It was amazingly accurate in every detail, including a full sized jaw, eye sockets and foramina for the trigeminal nerves to exit the skull above the eye, cheekbones and lower jaw. Clearly it was extremely rare, and probably priceless.
"We'll need to take all necessary security precautions," Jana fell back onto the ground smiling at Greg. "This is going to be big, really big."
Tomas stood watching a safe distance from the hole in the ground. His dark skin was pale and his deep brown eyes dilated wildly with fear.
"Holy Father pray for us," he repeated softly under his breath.
"What's Tomas muttering about?" Greg grew increasingly irritated looking over his shoulder at Tomas.
"According to local legend The Pearl was the embodiment of evil in the world, and whoever possessed The Pearl could use its power for good, or evil. The local Indians say the skull or pearl was used when an old man was dying. The old man would lie next to the skull and opposite to him a young man would lay down. As the old man died, his knowledge would be acquired by the young man; in this way the ancient knowledge of the past was handed to future generations."
A strange bubbling cauldron of emotions rose deep inside Greg.
He was hot, nauseated, alienated from his surroundings and violently uncomfortable holding this thing that increasingly disgusted him as he held it in his hand. In a flash an overwhelming sense of regret, a fear of repeating past mistakes, a dark existential cloud washed over him. Everything he did up to this point seemed wrong, misguided, stained like a bloody curtain before his eyes. The more he struggled to shake this feeling, the more it seemed to tighten its grip around him, constricting his very soul to a meanness no man, or woman could escape. He was going to explode.
What's happening to me? He tried to wrestle himself back from the dread that was squeezing the life out of him.
What should I have done? He would ask himself a million times.
Like someone had speed dialed the meanest moments of his existence, catalogued and paraded them before his eyes, exposed, a cinematic nightmare only he could see was about to unfold before his eyes as he watched himself.
Jana is going to cheat me—take all the credit and leave me with nothing, nothing but the smoldering regret of fortune lost. This fear consumed every fiber of his being.
At that moment he was certain Jana would cheat him out of this important discovery. It rightly belonged to him too! It was his work that brought them here. He wasn't about to now share it with anyone. It was increasingly clear to him that it was his destiny to possess, to have, to own the thing. This was his treasure. He wanted the artifact for myself. He would not play second fiddle to Jana, whose pride in the discovery was already visible. He could see her reveling in the beauty of the craftsmanship as she held it in her hands. He believed she would attribute the glow of the artifact to a natural phenomenon such as radioactive energy and give no credence to the idea that there was a hidden power undetectable by science.
The sun seemed to energize the iridescent crystalloid skull by the minute like a solar circuit now exposed to the light of day. Greg knew instinctively their find transcended mere academic archeological interest. It wasn't something to be put on a pedestal and left there for swarms of school children to gawk at, as Jana would have done at the Allard Pierson Museum. Here was something of true historical significance. Who knows, it could even have medical applications. He'd heard of the power of ancient charms and he'd always been open to alternative medicine when he was in practice. What if it was a cure for cancer? Should he simply leave it to glow in a museum in Amsterdam? No, it deserved a thorough scientific study. It required someone with a medical background to take charge of it. He needed that skull—for his own purposes. And if Jana wouldn't share it he would have to take it by forces, if necessary. It was just too valuable.
"I need to chill." Greg headed out alone to clear his head.
When he returned to base camp he was in a terrible frenzy. He related a story of how they had been attacked by armed guerrillas. He described how the poor unfortunate Dr. deVries and the guides were killed in their sleep. As he related the horror, he told how he escaped by running through the jungle like a wild animal. Yes, he had been lucky, very lucky. And no, he couldn't identify the killers. It was dark. Yes, perhaps the expedition should return home. Yes, all agreed this was the only thing to do. He packed his bags and headed for the seclusion of the west coast of Mexico. He needed time to think. Confusion pumped agonizing images though his mind. What have I done?
Chapter TwoThe Philadelphia airport was crowded with travelers waiting to catch flights or make connections. Some were happy and anxious to get where they were going—to close business deals, to interview for new jobs, to see family or old friends; others were modern day refugees fleeing wars in familiar and unfamiliar places. But if you look carefully into their eyes you could see a void. Some are branded with a secret. Dark and painful family secrets in some cases, like rape and abuse at the hands of dirty men who smelled of slivovitz and stumbled in the ruins of a Sarajevo neighborhood. Other secrets were as deep as a broad keloid scar across the face punctuated by eyes that gave reason to pause and think twice about the suffering that was well and truly laid upon the soul therein. There are some things too painful for words. Some secrets are icy cold and send spasmodic shivers down one's spine. And some secrets decay with age into a fine rusty mold, stinking up the psyche, infecting everyone and everything they contact.
Christie Hammond Fallows wore a secret brand but it was not yet ripe. She stood outside the Discovery store tapping her foot nervously. It was early morning. She seemed to be waiting anxiously for relief. She looked at her watch and eyed with envy those lucky enough to have snagged one of the few rocking chairs that lined the vast Philadelphia airport hallway. Alas, there were none available, so she paced in front of the Discovery storefront window.
Christie was a strong, good-looking woman in her thirties. Her face was kind and trusting, framed by straight blond shoulder length hair. Her nose was small with wide nostrils that seem to hover over thick intriguing triangular shaped lips. Her eyes were a brilliant Australian sky blue. She was tall with strong muscular thighs and firm erect breasts.
Yes, she was an attractive and physically fit woman. And she believed in the basic goodness of people. She believed in Christian charity, but she was not what could be called a religious person; she believed in something outside herself. She was intuitive and very intelligent with a nurse's street smarts evident in her eyes.
In her most secret heart she desperately wanted children but had been told by an emotionally repressed reproductive specialist at the university that she couldn't. She filled the grieving void with her music. Her search for deeper meaning was expressed through her hands in her cello's moody voice. She was thinking about music at this moment, as she looked up at the TV monitor permanently tuned to the too familiar American all news cable network.
She didn't see the security camera behind her, or the one down the hall, or even the one at the security checkpoint scrutinizing her.
In airports, in homes, on highways, and on the Internet, the camera's red eye is always looking at us. Beyond Reality TV, The Truman Show, Edtv, Survivor or whatever television series is au courant, there are no dress rehearsals. Live is the only game in town. We're all survivors of something—at least we hope, or pray we can survive. But the question is for what? Why?
"Stephen! Thanks for coming so fast." She kissed him on the cheeks three times the way Belgians do.
"No worries," Parmata's Australian drawl a welcome familiarity
"I need your help Stephen. Something is happening to Greg. I don't think he's telling me the truth."
He raised a friendly eyebrow, "no news there, is there Christie?"
"We can't talk here; let's get a coffee."
"Okay, but not here. Let's go to my place, it's private. There are too many cameras here," Parmata led her by the arm toward the exit.
Parmata and Christie disappeared down the escalator heading toward his car. Above on the TV suspended from the ceiling where Christie was standing moments before, the female CNN news anchor announced: "We interrupt the regular newscast to bring you breaking news: Senate hearings into allegations of influence peddling and corruption in the office of the United Nations Information Department continue to raise more questions. Investigations into the mysterious death of White House Chief of Staff Sam Paterson in Amsterdam last week have revealed little, but have raised many questions.
We take you live to Room 419 of the Dirkson Senate Office Building in Washington."
With few notable exceptions Senate hearings are deliberately orchestrated to put everyone to sleep—especially the ill-prepared Committee members. Expert witnesses usually speak in muffled voices guaranteed to bore everyone. But this speaker was different. Dr. Gregory Winston Fallows was arrested at the scene of Paterson's death. He was now testifying for the first time before the Senate Sub-committee in full public hearings.
Greg's face has appeared on every magazine and tabloid television show over the past week. He has been called everything from a techno-terrorist to an unwitting victim. Sitting in the witness box in Room 419 he looked more like a lost child. His clean-shaven innocent face with languid lazy blue eyes stirred the hearts of some in the television audience, and a few of those still awake in the room. One late night talk show caller opined he doubted Greg Fallows would have received half the press attention he has if he were not so good looking. A sign of the times the commentator replied cynically.
Greg had stopped in mid-sentence. He looked more like a teenager in trouble than a terrorist. Turning to the audience he spoke with look of the damned through misty eyes.
"I remember now ... a cab dropped me just off Dam Square near the Red Light district. One of those small black European taxis. It might have been a Mercedes, I think. It was very late, even for Amsterdam. A blue VW van sped past us, me I mean, almost knocking me down as I stepped out of the cab. There were a few people mulling about as there always are in Amsterdam: addicts, aging hippies, Japanese tourists, burnt out American transvestites. I heard a loud thud and turned just in time to see a blue van knock down a sick elderly man—probably an alcoholic, I really don't know. He was a fat ruddy-faced fellow dressed like a priest. Strange, I remember thinking; he had the look of a defrocked priest—whatever that means. I don't know why that came to mind, or why I remember it now. He looked up and cursed after the car. He shook his fist as he stumbled to his feet. It was getting dark. I think he was very drunk. Anyway, the van didn't stop. It just disappeared over a bridge. Yes, then I remember ... It's all like a dream now ... I was trying to read the address on the business card in the dim light of a vestibule. I reached out to knock on the door but something between my hand and my brain stopped me. "I'm sorry," he rubbed his temples. "I have a splitting headache ..."
"Please, go on, Dr. Fallows," the Committee Chair prompted.
"I don't know why, but everything has so much more meaning for me. Jesus Christ!" Greg stood suddenly. A wave of whispering swept over the room.
"Order! Order! Please sit down Dr. Fallows, or we'll have to take appropriate security measures."
"Yes, sir. Yes, it was Jesus on the cross, the crucifixion ... a cluster of hanging grapes ... a heretical motif cast in bronze, mounted on a nameless plaque on the door. I mean ... I recognized the symbol from my study of groups like the Société de Zion, long since eradicated in the evangelical fervor of past purges of secret societies. My heart raced in anticipation of meeting a Master of the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon."
Stephen Francis Parmata was born in Brisbane, Australia fifty-five years ago. He went to a Christian Brothers boarding school, but escaped the polymorphous perversity that in recent years has branded the Christian Brothers in Australia and Canada as "buggers for the faith." Probably because of his childhood he became a Jesuit priest, but he soon found the work unsuited to his temperament and his colleagues insufferably dull. He left the Jesuits after 3 years. He floundered for some time traveling the world picking up the occasional job reporting the news in trouble spots, and then for a while he worked with Reuter's news service in Frankfurt before settling on his calling as a world-class con man under the respectable guise of art dealer. An Interpol file outlines his connections with foreign currency scams, and amateur art collectors, possibly some stolen from recently opened east block borders via his connection with military intelligence during the Bulgarian communist regime. Parmata believes the world owes him something. His goal is to be very rich, so wealthy that he'd never have to work again, if you can call what he does work. So, when Christie told him on the phone about the thing Greg found in Guatemala he became very interested in Greg, Christie and the discovery.
Excerpted from Only the Moon Rages by Rushton Beech Copyright © 2012 by Rushton Beech. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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