Resurrecting Jack (part 3)
It turned out to be child’s play, though Alan waited for Neil and Karick to return before doing it. The three of them sat around the table in the suite’s living room, and Neil and Karick watched with baited breath as Alan fit the ring in the groove on bottom wall of the box, rested the blank parchment over it, and then sealed the box. A low hum came forth, followed by a mandala of light, brilliant colors, shapes moving about to and fro in no particular fashion, filling the room with its brightness.
“It’s happening,” Karick said in wonder.
The glow grew to the extent that the three in the room had to avert their eyes, but after a few moments it began to flag, and they waited for it to disappear completely, fidgety in their places. Neil was the first to move, taking the box in his hands, almost cradling it like a baby and holding it out to Alan. He used his powers to open the lid, and the three of them gasped at what was before them. In neat printed text on the center of the creamy parchment stood two lines of text.
Alan spoke first. “So, how’s your Hebrew?” he asked handing the page to the archaeologist.
Neil grinned proudly, “I won a prize, at Cambridge,” taking the offered sheet. He looked befuddled. Each line had a four letter word followed by four two lettered words, but the problem was that Neil only recognized the first (four letter word) on each line. “Tzaphon, Mizrach,” he repeated a few times, thinking to himself all the while.
“What does it mean?” Karick asked, impatience clear in his voice. “Tzaphon? Mizrach?”
“The first word on each line is a direction. Tzaphon is north. Mizrach, east.”
“And the other words?” Alan put in.
“That’s the thing. They’re not words. See those apostrophe looking things? The diacritic marks over the second and third words on each line? That usually indicates some sort of abbreviation, but not any I’m readily familiar with. I wish I had some references with me, an Alcaly or a Jastrow,” he sighed, then explained that the these were dictionaries, the former a modern Hebrew unabridged dictionary, and the latter a two-volume glossary of rabbinic literature.
Neil began to get is jacket in preparation to go out and find a Jewish bookstore when Karick had a masterful flash.
“You know,” he said slowly, gathering his thoughts, “It seems to me that the words on the parchment are coordinates. You know, so and so far east, so and so far north. Usually that sort of data is expressed with numbers, though.”
Neil’s jaw almost hit the floor. “Idiot!”
“Hey, I might not know much about these things,” Karick protested, but Neil cut him off.
“No, Tadeusz, you’re not the idiot. I am. You see, Hebrew doesn’t really have numbers, as we recognize them. They use letters for numbers. For example, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, had a value of one, the second letter, Bet, had a value of two, and so on. The tenth letter, Yod, had a value of ten, and the eleventh letter, Kaf, has a value of twenty, etc. The letter Qoof is one hundred, followed by Resh, which is two hundred. See! The letters are numbers, and the first apostrophe, a single apostrophe indicates minutes, and the second indicates seconds. The last one is obviously fractions of seconds.”
Karick reached in his bag and yanked out a palmtop computer and a GPS snap-in module. He had acquired many gadgets and gizmos since coming to work for Alan, and was thrilled that this set would be useful.
Neil deciphered the letters into coordinate numbers, and Karick entered them into his machine with his stylus.
“North 48 degrees, 15 minutes...” He paused. “East 16 degrees, 22 minutes...”
The three of them gathered around the mini-computer and waited for the map to be drawn. Once it appeared Alan picked up the phone and called Cyaxares HQ in Rome. The secretary put him on hold after he instructed her as to what he needed. She came back on after a few minutes. Alan thanked her and hung up.
“Our flight to Vienna leaves in three hours. Call the front desk,” he added to Karick, “And tell them we’re checking out.”
On the way to the airport they stopped at a computer store and bought a CD-ROM atlas. The palmtop was fine for some things, but they needed something which could be shown on a larger display (Neil’s laptop, in their case) to see their coordinates with the accuracy required to carry out the mission.
Though the coordinates from the parchment told them where to go, once they got there they didn’t know what to do. There were no more clues, it seemed to them. They were standing on the tree-lined Margaretenstraße, not far from the Bacherplatz. Karick lit a cigarette and looked around. The stone buildings looked all alike to him on this pleasant and leafy block. The three of them decided to split up and lap the street a few times.
About ten minutes later Alan spotted it. There was a small apartment building at the bend in the street, and it had two entrances, one for the upstairs apartments, and a separate entrance for one of the three ground floor homes. The second door was painted red with an ornate lacquered black symbol about four inches square centered upon it, cut into the wood of the door in relief. Neil’s circuit of the neighborhood caught up with his after a few moments, and when he saw what Alan was staring at he smiled.
“Is it?” Alan asked. Neil nodded. The black symbol sort of looked like a Hebrew letter, but wasn’t. Alan didn’t have his notebook computer loaded with all of Massimo’s notes and journals with him, but from studying it religiously the past year he had no more doubt, after Neil confirmed it, that he had found what he was looking for. The black symbol was unmistakably the representation of the Seal of Cyaxares. Neil pulled a small camera from his pocket and snapped a photo of it. Karick joined them presently as they waited.
With sweaty palms Alan opened the gate and stepped up to the red door, the others behind them. He knocked.
Alan and Neil crossed the street while Karick fetched their rented car. He pulled up and the three settled in for a day of surveillance. The sun was high in the sky, the afternoon uncomfortably warm. Karick had turned off the motor, not wanting to waste gas in case they had to follow someone with the car, and they all missed the comfort of air conditioning.
The Czech, a trained and experienced espionage agent, long-used to the vigor of stakeout work, was the only among the three of them not to doze off as the hour meandered from mid-day to early evening.
He nudged Alan with an elbow, and the younger man came awake with a start; the small commotion roused Swindon-Smythe in the backseat. Together they watched a plump matronly-looking woman pass through the gate and unlock the red door. In seconds it was shut behind her, and seconds after that Alan, Karick, and Neil were out of the car and crossing the street. Alan knocked; as they waited for he woman to open the door they heard shuffling feet from behind the door. Alan closed his eyes and quickly scanned the mind of the occupant. After only a second his eyes popped open in shock, though thinking about it later, he realized his sense of shock was misplaced at the time. The only two people he had met with minds had been altered by another were Wilkins and his secretary, Harriet; they had been people Massimo had dealt with in the past, so he was not surprised to find their heads messed with. As the door opened a fraction of an inch he realized he was about to meet a third.
“Hallo?” the woman greeted them. Up close Alan could see that she was very pretty, for a woman of her age, which he guessed to be somewhat closer to sixty than fifty. Alan asked her if she spoke English, and she nodded. Karick spoke German, but he was glad not to have to use him as a translator.
“I was wondering about the glyph on your door. It’s very pretty, can you tell me about it?”
The woman smiled, “Ja, ja, come in, please, I am Greta,” she said brightly, beckoning them with her arm. Though Alan couldn’t tell it, because of the block on her mind, this was her programmed response. Whenever someone asked about the symbol on her door, a symbol carved and painted by her lover of many years, the late Dr. Jean-Pierre Massimo, she was to invite them in.
As they made to the sitting room Alan scanned her more closely, and to his amazement he realized he couldn’t fully see her mind. There were places in her memory that simply did not exist. As she returned from the kitchen with a tray of tea and pastry Alan took control of her.
“You have something for me, don’t you, Greta?” He couldn’t order her to give the next clue over, and was hoping she would volunteer it.
“Ja.” She was following her programming. Anyone who came calling and asked about the glyph would also expect the steel box, she knew.
“May I have it?”
She shuffled off again, returning quickly. In her hand was another steel box, almost identical to the first. All the eyes in the room were on it as she handed it to Alan. He looked up to thank her, and was faced with the business end of a rather nasty looking revolver. His mind screaming a mile a minute Alan took control of her more forcefully, at a merely physical level using his TK powers, and she lowered the pistol to her side, the barrel pointing to the rug. Karick came up to her and with a great deal of effort pried the gun away from her. Neil helped her to the settee, and she sat placidly. With the danger passed Alan released his hold on her, and she burst into tears.
“Very sorry, very sorry,” she cried. “I was just following instructions, but you are like him, like he was,” she moaned. Alan understood now, the dark parts of her mind suddenly lit up. Massimo had left a clue with her, with instructions to kill anyone who asked after it, knowing that Alan would be able to handle it like no one else could. After she brought her emotions under control she leaned over to the side table and pulled her small leather phone book from it, flipping the pages. The others watched questioningly as she did this except for Alan. She had two numbers to call, one in case she needed bodies removed from her house, the scene cleaned, and another for this eventuality. Both numbers stood alone on one page, neither attached to a corresponding name. She had noticed them in the past, but before this moment she hadn’t known why they were recorded there, despite the fact they were written in her own hand. She dialed then handed Alan the receiver as the call was being put through.
“What do I say?” Alan asked the shaken woman.
“’The ring of Cyaxares seeks its owner.’” she quoted, seemingly from a trance.
“Greta?” the voice on the other end asked. “Greta?”
“’The ring of Cyaxares seeks its owner.”
“Ach! I understand. Who is this?” the man asked.
“I’d rather not say over the phone. Can we meet?”
“Ja. Are you staying at Greta’s? I can be there in less than an hour.”
Alan had the man hold on for a minute while he consulted the other guys, then asked the man on the other end of the phone to meet them at their hotel, which was closer to the center of town. The man told Alan how he could be identified (a yellow flower in the lapel of his jacket), and disconnected. As they said their goodbyes to Greta tears began flowing down her cheeks. “I miss him so,” she sniffled. Alan would have liked to have told her that Massimo would soon be back, but he did not, for two reasons. First, he had no idea if that was indeed to be the case, and second, it was unsafe to tell anyone what he and his fellows were attempting.
“Please, call me Wally,” Walter Von Hoff told them as the hostess led them to a table in the hotel’s formal bar.
“Nice to meet you, Wally,” Alan said as he gestured for the man to have a seat. Alan and the two others arrayed themselves around him. With his mind Alan sensed the changes Massimo had made to this man, and he guessed that the small cloth satchel Wally carried held a box identical to the one recently received from Greta.
Alan and Neil had huddled in the back seat of the car as Karick drove them back to the hotel. A few seconds after the car had been put in drive Alan had popped the top off of the box, and another piece of parchment had fluttered out of it. This time the printing was already visible (an address in London), though he and Neil had agreed that it couldn’t hurt to peel out the lining and look for another ring groove. If found, they would repeat the earlier process, however, after arriving at the hotel they sequestered themselves in their suite, and had found no depression similar to the one in the box they had received from Claude Massimo.
“So,” Wally asked, an eyebrow arched, “You were friends with Jean-Pierre?”
“Yes,” Alan assured him, “We had a very special bond.”
“Hmm,” Wally said, disinterestedly. “He never mentioned you, though he was almost notorious for his secretiveness.” He paused, his expression turning darker. “How can I know this is true.”
Alan attempted to take his mind by force, but was unable. Something that Massimo had done to him had made him immune, perhaps to all mind control, or perhaps to all mind control not emanating from the mind of Massimo himself. Alan had to think fast.
“The box. Did you bring a box?”
“It can’t be opened,” he answered haughtily, though taken aback that the boy knew that he was carrying one in his banker’s briefcase, and cursed himself for revealing that he was indeed bearing one.
“The box is for me,” Alan assured him.
“So says you, but how can I know that?”
“I can open it.”
“Show me,” he challenged, placing the steel container on the table. Alan pressed his hand to the lid and closed his eyes. In an instant, the lid slid off. Wally was impressed, and at that point noticed Alan’s rings.
“Ja,” he said, his voice deeper than its usual bass, “Ja, it does belong to you. Jean-Pierre told me that whomever could open the box should receive it.”
After dissuading Wally from having a peek inside, they watched him drain his glass of beer and leave, then returned to the room. Once the box had opened, controlling Wally had been child’s play, his mental shield peeled away as had Greta’s. Alan peeled off the felt liner, and placed both his rings into their allotted grooves on the inside hull of the case. He covered them with the parchment and sealed the box. Nothing happened. He reopened the box and reversed the positions of the rings. The light show returned, and all three of them were chomping at the bit waiting for it to end. They each had a feeling, unspoken as it was, that their quest was nearing an end. The address in London, coupled with whatever information from this new box, they hoped, would lead them to Jack.
“What does it say,” both Karick and Swindon-Smythe asked, anxious for a response.
Alan held it up, to better see it in the light. “Theodore Dickinson.”
The name meant nothing to any of them, but they were looking forward to meeting him. Neil plugged his laptop into the hotel jack and entered the name through a number of search engines, cross referencing the name with Massimo’s, but without satisfaction. London is where Massimo was last, and London was where they were headed. Dickinson might be the last station on a very long trip.
“Please check your records again,” Alan almost begged. “Are you sure, no patient, or staff member named Dickinson, Theodore Dickinson?” The woman tapped a few more keys, trying her best to be helpful. The address on Greta’s parchment had turned out, to their surprise, to be a hospital
“Let me check one more time. I’ll widen the search.” She tapped again at the keyboard. The machine hummed, the server in the corner of the room spinning internally. “Ah,” she said, triumph in her voice, “Yes, indeed. Mr. Dickinson was in hospital from June prior until October. He was transferred to a nursing home.” She pulled a small pad to her, a pen from her hair, and scribbled an address, then tore off the sheet and handed it to Neil, who was closest. With the thanks of three men in her ears she closed the door behind her, and settled back to her workaday routine. She glanced out her window in time to see her recent visitors hail a cab.
The street was filled with school kids as they crossed the street heading to the long-term care center at the far corner. Alan and the two others could still hear the dismissal bell ringing from inside the school opposite. The center was a gray building, wide and squat, five stories tall from the looks of it. A guard in the foyer directed them to a small office off the main hall. They had come to a hospital, and it seemed they had come for naught.
“Are you a friend of Mr. Dickinson’s?” the desk nurse asked, her suspicion evident. Mr. Dickinson had been in residence at the center for more than six months, and today was the first time anyone had appeared to see him.
Alan sent a probe through her mind, implanting commands for her to trust and believe what he said. “He is a friend of my father’s,” the young man assured her.
“Well, that makes some sense,” she thought, reaching under the desk to depress the button which released the gate. She double-checked her patient roster before directing the trio to the third floor.
“This place is creepy,” Neil shivered as they waited at the lift. Neil had made a cell phone call from the cab and had learned, to their supreme disappointment, that the center was a resident care facility for comatose and vegetative patients, a hospice really, but one meant for people with chronic conditions, not just for end-of-life care. The loudest sounds in the building were the clicking and the beeping of the various machines and readouts attached to its inhabitants. The charge nurse on Dickinson’s floor led them to his room.
First things first they closed the door and had a look around; Alan sent out a broadcast command for the staff to keep away. There were three patients in the room and one empty bed. Dickinson’s bed was the closest to the door, and they checked under his bed and in his closet for a box, but found none. If Massimo, before he had died had left something in his care they were seriously out of luck. They had a private investigator looking into the man’s background, but, if as the nurse had told them, the man had no family, then there was no one to seek out to learn about their next clue. As Neil and Karick continued to look about the room Alan peered into Dickinson’s mind. It was as if it was blank, wiped of all thought process and memory. Alan stepped out into the hall and flagged down a passing nurse. After asking after Mr. Dickinson’s condition she went back to the main station at the end of the hall and paged the doctor. It took just a few minutes for her to arrive.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Kellin, may I help you?” The doctor was a graying woman of slightly less than average height. She wore thick lensed glasses, a chain resting against her white coat.
“Yes, nice to meet you. I’m Alan Marshall, and Mr. Dickinson was a friend of my father’s. Business associates, actually. What can you tell me about his condition?”
The doctor was going to give him the short-shrift answer, after all it wasn’t as if this young man was a family member, or anything, but to her very mild amazement she went into great detail, most of it too scientific and jargon-filled for Alan to understand. Alan dismissed her, mentally, and returned to the room to see if Swindon-Smythe had come up with anything.
“Nothing, boss,” Karick said, his hands out, palm up, at his sides. Neil nodded.
“What happened to him?” Neil asked, hoping against hope that their trail had not just been cut off.
“Brain tumor, benign. The doctor said that it wont kill him, but it is interfering with the centers of his brain which allow him to speak, or even understand the words of others. His motor skills are also affected. He’s forty-six years old, and could live another forty years like this. I scanned his mind, but there was nothing.” He took a seat next to the patient and closed his eyes, sighing. “Just our goddamned luck, the guy we’re looking for in a coma. And worse, no living family.” His eyes snapped open, and the other two stared at him, but he shushed them. Closing his eyes again he peered into Dickinson’s mind again exploring the depths, unlike his first, perfunctory, scan. He was still for many minutes. Karick and Neil watched with interest as Alan stood and stretched his back, twisting to and fro.
This was maddening to them. Clearly, Massimo had entrusted a part of the secret to this man, and when he had done so Dickinson was already hospitalized. “Why would he do that?” Alan thought bitterly. “Why would he leave a clue, one of a chain of clues, to a man with a brain tumor, someone who would not be able to communicate it at the proper time?” Karick and Swindon-Smythe were suffering similarly dreary thoughts.
“Well, boss, what now?” Karick asked, somewhat despondent.
“I’m thinking, I’m thinking,” Alan assured them, settling back into the chair and closing his eyes once more. Dead ends. Every time he tried to access the memories of the patient he came upon dead ends. His back was becoming stiff again in the uncomfortable chair, and instead of standing again and stretching out he merely used his powers to relax the muscles.
It hit him.
Slowly he entered Dickinson’s mind again, this time not concentrating on the mental aspects, but rather the physical ones. The tumor was large, closer to small orange than golf ball sized. Alan concentrated harder, and it began to shrink. It was slow work, but got easier as the mass reduced. At some point Alan realized his eyes were open, and he watched the patient’s breathing accelerate as his condition improved. Suddenly something was wrong. Dickinson looked as if he was having a seizure, his arms and legs jerking, his mouth frothing with saliva. Alan stopped what he was doing and concentrated instead on calming the man, and after a short while he was at peace. With more care, more attention to both reducing the tumor and keeping Dickinson from seizing, Alan continued his work, all the while hoping that if the patient regained consciousness they would be one step closer to Massimo. One by one Alan severed the blood vessels feeding the tumor, sealing them up after they were disconnected, then obliterating the bad tissue itself.
Dickinson groaned, the first response they had seen outside the seizure, and Alan stopped. Neil and Tadeusz stiffened in fright at the sound of the man making noise. Neil wanted to get the nurse, but Alan vetoed the idea. It was nearing sunset when Dickinson stirred again; he tried to sit up, but his atrophied muscles would not allow it. Alan nodded to Neil, who was standing on the other side of the bed, and the two of them helped him up. With great effort the man turned his head, first to Neil, then to Alan.
“Alan,” he hissed, his voice raspy, both from a dry mouth, and underused vocal cords. Chills ran up the spines of the three.
“Do I know you, Mr. Dickinson?”
The middle-aged man smiled, but was unable to speak, though he let loose a raspy laugh, and weak as it was, Alan and the others could hear the triumphant character of it.. He nodded. Karick came over and propped the pillows behind him and Alan and Neil let go. Alan came about to the foot of the bed so he could face Dickinson. The withered man looked at him, a steely concentration on his face. The ring on Alan’s left hand, Massimo’s ring began to glow. Neil and Karick couldn’t see that, but they could read the expression on Alan’s face. Alan smiled even wider, and took the ring from his left middle finger and cupped it in his hand. As he walked closer to Dickinson it glowed brighter. Alan took Dickinson’s left hand with his right and placed the ring in the center of the sick man’s palm. Slowly Dickinson moved as he brought the ring to his right middle finger. Alan averted his eyes as there was some sort of flashover effect only he and the resting man could see.
“The ring of Cyaxares has found its owner.”
After receiving the ring Massimo’s powers had returned, though he was still weak as a kitten, both his vessel and his Seed very fragile. The powers were coming back, slowly. He had explained to Alan what was happening, and it reminded the teen of the first days and weeks after he himself had had that strange encounter in his grandfather’s hospital room.
He wasn’t even Ted Dickinson anymore. Two days after Alan wiped the minds and records at the care center he took Dickinson back to the hotel. Once there, over coffees a recovering Massimo instructed on what he needed done to reestablish himself.
“If you please,” Massimo asked after settling into one of the rooms of Alan’s suite, “The boxes.” Alan and Neil gathered the three boxes, the one from Claude Massimo, and the two from Vienna, and set them before Jack, or Ted, whatever. Alan had noticed that each successive box was slightly smaller than previous one, but hadn’t paid it much attention. Massimo took the middle box, Greta’s, and placed it inside the largest, Claude’s, then nestled Wally’s, the smallest, inside. He placed the three lids on, smallest to largest, and sealed them. Resting his hand on the lid of the box he closed his eyes and meditated for a few seconds before making a fist and tapping his ring on the lid three times, then removed his paw and allowed the largest lid to slip off. Alan stood at his shoulder and watched as he revealed the contents; the inner two boxes and parchments were gone, replaced by a passport, British, unlaminated and without photo, ready to conform with whatever identity Massimo was to choose, a driver’s license, similarly blank, a small leather-bound notebook, and two Zip 100 disks.
“Cool,” Alan breathed.
The notebook held all the information Massimo needed to start his life anew. He excused himself to the bedroom and emerged in just a few minutes. “My man from the passport office will be here in an hour. I need a name for him to inscribe on the document and enter in the ministry’s system. Help me think one up,” he said excitedly. He thought for a few seconds. “Lazarus. How about Lazarus?” he asked the room.
“Jesus Christ,” Neil guffawed.
“No, Dr. Swindon-Smythe, ‘Jesus Christ’ is too gaudy, even for an egoist such that I am. I may have lost many inhibitions over the years—due to my powers, and now my resurrection—but my sense of shame has yet survived my rebirth. Perhaps as a small tribute to my new vessel form I’ll fashion myself Theodore. No, I still want to be a Jack, always liked that name. How about John? Hmmmm. Jacob, that’s it Jacob Theodore Lazarus! With a name like that I’ll be able to join a synagogue,” he laughed.
“You’re not Jewish, are you sir?” Neil asked. Though he never had the chance to study with Massimo, having been schooled at Cambridge, with Massimo at rival Oxford, he knew quite a bit about the professor, him being one of the giant’s in Neil’s chosen field of study.
“No, my grandparents were Christian, but my parents were more,” he paused feeling his way about his new mind for the right word, “more cosmopolitan. My late wife was Roman Catholic, devout, as is my son and his family.”
“I’m surprised,” Alan interjected, “that you had any religion at all, I mean, after becoming a Seed Vessel. Doesn’t our mere existence sort of disprove Christianity? All Western religions?”
“Not really,” Lazarus replied, a cocky grin on his face. “Tell me, Alan, what faith is yours?”
“Now? Nothing. I know, or more likely, I am, the living manifestation of the truth of the words and deeds of Hyrcanus. Before? Nothing really.”
“Really? Your parents gave you no religion?”
“Well, my dad’s side is Society of Friends, you know, Quaker, but he really doesn’t do much with them. Once a year he writes a check to the American Friends Service Committee, but that’s about all.”
“And Mrs. Marshall?” Jack asked.
“Jewish, but not religious. How do they put it? ‘Unobservant.’ She was raised in a secular home, and hasn’t been to services in years. Besides family events I have never been to a house of worship. I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve been to synagogue or a church.”
“Hmm, what about the Quakers? Have you spent any time in their churches?”
“Quakers don’t have churches, the have meeting houses, and if you’d ever been to one you’d know in an instant they’re not churches. I went to my dad’s uncle’s funeral down in Bucks County, and there was no way to tell you were in a Christian building. There isn’t even a cross on the wall. So I guess you could say I’m half-Jewish.”
“No such thing, Alan,” Neil put in. “You’re Jewish.”
“What do you mean?” Alan asked, curious.
“Yes,” Lazarus said, “As young Neil put it, you are Jewish. Any issue of a Jewish woman is Jewish, simple as that.”
“Yeah, but I wasn’t raised that way, so I considered myself secular.”
“Have you read the Bible?” Lazarus asked, sort of changing the subject.
“Not much,” Alan admitted. “Just the parts needed to work through the documents I read.”
“Well then, you know that it is written in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah that the Jews were released from their captivity. The Babylonians, who had exiled them, were defeated by the Persians.”
“Yeah,” Alan put in, “I know the history, mostly from reading your notes and stuff.”
Lazarus was pleased, and it showed on his face, happy that Alan had done his “homework” so diligently. “And the Persian Emperor, the one who conquered Babylon, you know his name?”
With the power of the Seed Alan had instant recall. “Cyrus.”
“Cyrus, yes, ‘Cyrus the Anointed.’ Tell me, young Neil, what is the Hebrew word for anointed?”
“Mashiach,” Neil answered, delighted and honored to be witness to a lecture by the legendary Massimo. “Messiah.”
“And so,” Lazarus continued, pacing the room as was his habit when he lectured at the world’s great seats of learning, “Cyrus the Messiah, was succeeded by Darius, Devaryesh, for our purposes. Darius, though not the Messiah, granted permission to the returned Jews in Jerusalem to reconstruct their Temple, so one can assume,” he rolled his eyes indicating his sarcasm, though only Alan caught the gesture, “That he too was dear to the God of the Hebrews. Therefore, we can postulate, though not with out a great deal of intellectual acrobatics, that when Hyrcanus forged the Great Seeds of Heaven, he was in a way in service to the Jewish faith, for by making them, then using them to restore Darius, he was in assistance to the Hebrews.”
Neil didn’t buy it. “That is very convoluted, sir. The jumps are enormous!”
“Well, it’s just a suggestion, really. I’m not saying it happened.”
They all laughed.
Karick left the next day for Geneva, calling from the bank office for further instruction. Lazarus had his accounts moved to an account already prepared in the Turks and Caicos.
Mr. Wilkins in New York was similarly busy; he was being dragged around town looking for a place for Massimo to live, not his favorite use of his time. Massimo had decided that for reasons of safety he was relocating to New York, at least until his Seed abilities had returned to a point of his liking. By his own evaluation he was too weak to travel, and would be for a month or so.
“I need to assemble a staff,” Lazarus told the trio the night before Alan was to fly home. “First, a personal assistant, preferably one who knows a thing or two about security.” Karick would be staying at Jack’s side until he arrived in New York, but Neil was headed for Rome to work on Cyaxares company business.
Alan thought he knew of the perfect candidate. “Jack, would it bother you if your assistant slash security person was a woman?”
“No, not at all,” he said, an eyebrow arched. “A pretty one, I hope.”
His parents were thrilled to see him. He had been gone for almost six weeks, and he let his mom fuss over him for a few days before heading out again. He wasn’t going far, so they weren’t too disappointed, and he promised not to be gone for more than one night. Kate was still up in Maine, so his time was all his own. She would be returning in a week, the thought of which brightened his spirits; he really missed her.
He gunned the car down the New Jersey Turnpike, a rented BMW, and he enjoyed testing the engine; of course, he wasn’t afraid of a ticket. The cell phone, resting on the leather seat next to him trilled, and he slowed to the speed limit before reaching it.
“Mr. Marshall, it’s Harriet. I have a call for Carl Sutherland, on the Sutherland Consulting line. It’s Anne-Marie Nicoletti. She says she’s returning Mr. Sutherland’s call. Shall I put her through?”
“Yes, thank you, Harriet.”
“Carl, is that you? I got your message.”
“Hey Anne-Marie, what’s up?”
“Same old, same old. Are you coming here?”
“Are you free?”
“For you baby, anytime!”
Alan chose a different hotel this time, and not ten minutes after checking in Anne-Marie knocked on his door. He appraised her, though not really knowing why because he had no idea of Jack’s taste in women. Still, he liked what he saw. She was taller than he remembered her, about 5′ 7″, plus heals, though he realized immediately that she was wearing taller shoes this time, and his eyes were playing trick on him. Her sandy brown hair was cut short, a pretty cut nonetheless, and the color worked well with her very pale skin tone. Her breasts were small, but as he remembered, nice and pointy, and she had a beautiful figure, lithe, willowy, and somehow powerful all at once. As they kissed Alan did a mental mining of her, an ability he had yet to develop when they had first met. What he learned pleased him.
Anne-Marie was twenty-seven years old. She had dropped out of college, Rutgers, after her second year. Her father, a Trenton cop, had died of a heart attack while on duty. Unable to continue her education because of financial reasons she had entered the state police academy in Sea Girt, and spent two years on the force. She was then recruited by the casino, the combination of her good looks and law enforcement experience making her irresistible to the hotel management, which was in dire need of undercover casino security personal, especially of the feminine variety; her black-belt in karate didn’t hurt either. She had a keen tactical sense, and a vast amount of the security knowledge needed to keep Jack out of danger. By the time the kiss was broken, Alan’s mind mining expedition completed, it was settled, at least for him, and he knew he had a surefire way of convincing her.
“So,” she half-moaned, a shit eating grin on her face, “Are we staying in, or going out?”
Alan and Anne-Marie took the elevator to the lobby and walked briskly to the cashier. The cashier’s eyes widened considerably, first when Alan requested a quarter of million dollars in chips, all in $5,000 denomination, and then when he passed over his credit card. It had been a long time since she had seen one like it; usually they were green, or maybe even gold or platinum. This one was black; she knew what that signified. She counted out the chips, but not before pressing a button under her desk, summoning the pit boss. He came in short order, leading them to the V.I.P. room. Alan and Anne-Marie settled at a blackjack table.
Anne-Marie was pleased that Alan had chosen a different hotel this trip, especially after watching him clear slightly more than a million dollars in just under three hours.
“You never did get around to telling me the secret of your success,” she joked at dinner, taking another big sip from her wineglass.
“That’s not how I remember it,” he laughed, and laughed again watching her turn bright red, the shift evident even under the dim restaurant lights. Her temporary crimson complexion matched well with her dress, a short green number, glittery and backless. When the plates had been cleared after the main course Anne-Marie scooted around, taking the seat next to him in the booth. As they ordered coffee and dessert she slowly ran her hand up his thigh, stroking it through the fabric. The waiter retreated and she rested her head against his shoulder. Alan moved his arm so he could touch her. His hand stole under the hem of her mini-dress, the backs of his fingers flat to her pussy, rubbing it slowly through the increasingly saturated fabric. Anne-Marie hummed in rhythm to his light strokes, her arousal accelerating as her whole body reddened. They shared a crème brûlée though he had ordered it for himself. She had eschewed dessert, wanting to watch her figure, but couldn’t resist him as he held the spoon to her mouth. As he fed her with his left hand he continued touching her moist panties with his right; more often than not her mouth was already open as the spoon approached, silently panting from sexual excitement. The dish, it seemed to her, was taking forever to finish. She was startled out of her reverie by the clanking of the spoon against the plate as Alan fed her the last of it.
Anne-Marie flagged down a passing waiter. “Check, please,” she ordered, shifting her thighs, feeling the moisture pool in her panties. Alan signed for it and led her out, to the elevator bank; she was panting lightly. The doors opened and they entered.
Alan moved closer and held her, but she demurred as he leaned into her to kiss
“Cameras in the elevator,” she gasped, taking a step back, knowing that like the at the casino where she worked, all public spaces were monitored.
Once in the room she hugged him to her tightly, her hands slipping under his jacket, rubbing his back. Alan reciprocated, and she purred at the feel of his hands against her bare flesh. He pulled her as he walked to the bedroom, and she followed eagerly. They faced each other, Alan folding his suit coat over the chair, Anne-Marie releasing the catch at the rear of her neck, the dress slipping off her, pooling at her feet. Alan inhaled, for she was without a bra, her proud breasts high on her chest, hard ruby nipples pointy and upturned. Clad in only her heels and panties she approached him, then helped him out of the rest of his clothing. As they kissed Alan’s hand slipped under the elastic waistband of her panties, exploring her. He slowly fed her pussy his middle finger, enjoying her moans. His thumb twiddled her clit as he continued to finger fuck her, and he was rewarded with an almost animal franticness her part, her tongue a frenzy in his mouth. She came mightily, and he had to hold her up, one arm around her back, the other hand remaining at her drenched crotch.
Down only to his briefs he carried her two steps to the bed and laid her down on it, settling in beside her. Her hands searched under the fabric of his shorts, his slipping under her sodden panties, green, like her dress, darker in the center due to her female sections, the scent of which was highly arousing to him.
Her mouth at his ear, “Take me, Carl, take me, please,” she huffed, his fingers driving her to a fever pitch. “Oh GOD,” she screamed, coming as two fingers slipped up her wet pussy, his thumb pressed against her clitoris as he slowly finger fucked her. “Please,” she begged, “I need you in me, NOW!”
Soft tears ran down her cheek as she felt the head of his cock tease her gates. Slowly, ever slowly, Alan entered her, her pussy walls spasming gently as he fed her length to her hungry opening. “Yessssss,” she hissed as he seated himself fully within her, pausing for a short second before withdrawing slightly before probing deeply again. Alan kept his pace deliberate for a long time, it felt to her, but in fact was just a couple of minutes. She felt her orgasm rising, but knew she would not be able to peak if he didn’t up his pace. “Harder,” she groaned, “Faster, please, faster.” She bucked her hip at him, her ass rising from the surface of the bed as he increased the speed of his fucking. “Yes,” she chanted, “Yes, yes Yes, YES!” Suddenly she screamed, the force of her orgasm startling. The walls of her pussy clenched his dick, and her body seized, every muscle stiff. As he came inside her she moaned again, small tremors ripping through her essence.
As she lay panting and gasping for air after he removed himself from her and got next to her on the bed, holding her, she could feel the sweat drip off of her, her own heartbeat, and his as well. Nothing else existed for her at that moment. She slept.
Alan awoke to a most pleasing sensation. Opening his eyes slowly he was greeted by the sight of Anne-Marie, or at least the top of her head. She continued to bob her mouth up and down his cock, unaware as yet that her attentions had roused him (in more ways than one) from his slumber.
“Morning,” he said, half groaning at the pleasure she was giving him.
She released him with a pop, and grinned up at him. “Good morning,” she replied with a giggle, then recaptured him between her lips. She hummed as she sucked him, and he found himself aping her, humming along. Alan came quickly. He could have held out indefinitely, but the pleasure was intense, and he didn’t want to overdo it.
An hour later, at the breakfast buffet Alan broached the subject of Anne-Marie working for Jack.
“I have a client who is looking for someone with your qualifications. He’s from England, and he’s moving to New York within the month,” he explained, going on to tell her that the man was semi-retired, a former import-export executive who would be doing some work here and there. The job would be to insure his personal security and manage his affairs.
She was hesitant; she liked her job, but Alan painted a very glamorous picture, and she agreed to consider it. Jack would be arriving in a couple of weeks, and “Carl” told her he would call to arrange an interview.