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The first novel in the Conspiracy trilogy by Casey Alden Free Chapter Previews Download #1

Chapters 1-10

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Chapters 18-19

Conspiracy will be available for sale April, 2010

Excerpted from Conspiracy by Casey Alden. Copyright Š 2010 Casey Alden/Fehrman Books. Excerpted by permission of Fehrman Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. A free excerpt courtesy of Fehrman Books.

Fehrman Books Fehrman Books 3701 Sacramento Street, #343 San Francisco, CA 94118 This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions hereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Fehrman Books, 3701 Sacramento Street, #343, San Francisco, CA 94118 Copyright Š 2010 by Casey Alden ISBN 978-0-9842001-1-5 First Fehrman Books Edition January, 2010 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Manufactured in the United States of America

Acknowledgements No creative work is ever a lone effort, but rather a collaboration. Even if an author or artist believes a work is the result of a single mind, it is likely that the outcome was influenced by a wide range of experiences and interactions. Sincere thanks to Lorin Horosz for sharing his knowledge and expertise, and to all the other friends who made contributions toward the creation of this venture.


Only the Initiates can see through veil to the truth beneath. –The Man


Fact •This is a work of fiction, however, the historical data are factual. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were involved with the occult and the supernatural to the extent that Hitler sent expeditions searching for an ancient, priceless object. It was believed that whomever possessed this object would be invincible. • Stenonychosaurus was a dinosaur of the Cretaceous period. It was about two metres long, walked on its long, thin, hind legs and had long thin arms with long thin fingers. A carnivore, Stenonychosaurus had four toes, one very short and spur-like similar to a bird’s foot, and three toes used for walking. The middle toe was short and equipped with an articulated claw. The head was quite large with a large brain cavity and large eyes. •In 1982, paleontologist Dale Russell, curator of vertebrate fossils at the National Museum of Canada in Ottawa, speculated on how evolution would have proceeded if the dinosaurs had survived the extinction. Russell speculated that a species like Troodon (stenonychosaurus) would have grown smarter and taken on a human-like appearance. Russell partnered with taxidermist and artist Ron Séguin and together they made a model of what a derived, intelligent Troodon would look like, naming their fantasy creation a “Dinosauroid” (Russell & Séguin, 1982). Some paleontologists, such as David Norman (1985) and Cristiano dal Sasso (2004) have regarded this as a plausible line of reasoning.




Prologue Lost Coast, California The black helicopter trailed the desolate Lost Coast. Hanging from its underside, a black rectangular box dangled from a cable like a coffin waiting to be lowered into a grave. This far up in Humboldt County, the rugged northern California coastline is virtually uninhabited. No other coastline in the continental United States goes so far without a deep water harbor. Rugged coastal mountains extend one hundred fifty miles in from the ocean, creating a barrier to the outside world. This isolated location had been carefully selected for the project. Sometimes hikers ventured into this desolate place and there were a few hardy souls who called it home, but they had chosen it for its remoteness and they avoided contact with others. So far, there had been no problems from outsiders. The pilot swept over the browned terrain. It looked like the pound cakes his aunt used to make, all dry, lumpy and irregular. A choppy surf swirled up against the craggy shoreline. He felt a torquing on the tow line. He knew the winds could be fierce in this area but the weather was clear – bright, beautiful and still. Below him he could see the surf battling its way up the rocky coast. He was worried. He should not be feeling this wrestling coming from below. Could the thing be bouncing around? It was supposed to have been sedated for the trip. Now it seemed to be waking ahead of schedule. He checked his coordinates and headed inland toward the drop spot. He should be right over the facility, but he saw no buildings, only a sparse covering of scrub and a few trees. It looked primordial, the way the earth must have looked before humans began their building.

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He decided to circle and look more closely. He knew the facility had been camouflaged so it could not be seen from the air, but he had no idea they had done such a good job of hiding it. They had picked a well concealed location far enough away from Vandenberg Air Force Base that not even their fly-overs should raise any suspicions. Vandenberg’s Western Range facility is a vast tracking, telemetry and command complex whose boundary begins along Vandenberg’s California coastline and extends westward across the Pacific Ocean. The electronic and optical tracking systems collect and process launch-related data for space lift operations. Vandenberg covers 98,500 acres in Central California but that still left a whole lot of open space for the project facility farther north, closer to the Oregon border. The jerking on the tow line grew more intense. How could such a small thing be so strong? The box was jerking fiercely now. The thing must be flinging itself around in there. It made him very uneasy that the sedation had worn off so quickly. This trip should have been a piece of cake. Transport the box, set down just long enough to disengage the cargo, and take off again. Damn the idiot who didn’t give it enough tranquilizer. He had never seen the thing, but he had heard the men talking about it enough to know he would not want to be alone with one. He felt something then, like a sudden drop in an elevator. His uneasiness grew. He needed to set this thing down now. Where in hell is the lab? It should be right underneath me. Why can’t I see it? He had been given strict instructions not to use radio or phone communication. This was to be a totally discreet mission. But he could not keep circling much longer with the amount of disruption coming from below.



He had to make a decision. He needed to confirm the coordinates but he knew that would result in a reprimand. He might even be fired. They had made such a big thing of keeping total silence. He checked the fuel gauge. It was below the level where he could wait much longer. If he didn’t find the lab within the next few minutes he would not have enough fuel to make the return trip. The box began wildly swinging from side to side, each time reaching a wider arc. This is nuts! This can’t be happening. The pilot made a rapid decision. He would not break radio silence and risk his job. He had just thought of a new option. He could jettison the cargo. His hand hovered over the cargo release. He knew it was risky if the thing escaped, but he needed to keep his job. He could make up some story about the cable release just letting go. Without permitting himself to think about it any longer, he pushed the release. The black box became smaller as he watched it drop toward the ground. He said a silent prayer that the fall had killed the thing. Then he turned the helicopter and headed back down the coast.

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1. The old man shuffled toward the elevator, leaning heavily on his cane. The thick hallway carpet made it hard to walk. Its fibers caught in the crepe soles of his shoes and tugged at the cane’s rubber tip. But he persevered, head bent forward, able only to study the dirt-hiding pattern in the carpet. Marcus Church could no longer look people in the eye when he walked. His gaze greeted them at waist level and only with obvious difficulty could he shift his body to one side to allow him to view an approaching face. Age does that to people. Makes them all bent and twisted, Marcus thought. Marcus felt the difficulty of being old. He felt it in his joints, in his muscles, in the way people treated him. Useless. Ineffective. A waste of time. He knew that’s what people thought of him. He leaned heavily on the elevator call button, wondering how long it would take the elevator to reach his floor this time. It was a very large building complex housing hundreds of apartments, condos and town houses with the unlikely name of The Cottages. Perhaps the name was supposed to make people feel befriended within the anonymity of San Francisco’s large population, but Marcus Church craved the anonymity. He had lived there for four years, did not know any of his neighbors, and that was just the way he liked it. He did not need any prying eyes or pitying casseroles delivered to his door. I can manage very well without anyone’s help. Always have. Always will. There was an inherent pride in Marcus. He came from a time when people took responsibility for themselves. Not the whining welfare grabbers of today. We worked for a living. We took care of ourselves. We made it through the Depression. We made it through wars. We are survivors. No matter how twisted his body became, no matter how long it took him to shuffle through the large, impersonal lobby, or stop and rest for a moment beside one of the



large potted pampas grass plants that flanked the entrance, Marcus Church was a survivor from a time of survivors and that knowledge gave him the strength to continue. He hailed one of the cabs that were always available at the door. That was one of the things he liked about living at The Cottages, the great convenience, all amenities within walking distance. As he manipulated himself into the cab he noticed the young Asian man again. He always seemed to be there. Watching. Belt Buckle, Marcus had nicknamed him because he always wore a silver belt buckle inlaid with an elaborate mother of pearl pattern. With Marcus’s bent frame he could identify people a lot easier by their belt buckles than their faces these days. The young man lunged forward offering to help Marcus get into the cab, but Marcus irritably waved him away with his cane. “Land’s End,” he commanded the cab driver. Twenty minutes later, the cab pulled up in front of the memorial to the warship U.S.S. San Francisco housed at Land’s End. The twisted metal flag bridge now was a permanent fixture on the windswept bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Marcus Church liked going there from time to time. When he stood looking toward the water he could imagine himself back in the days of Guadalcanal, or when enemy Japanese bombers destroyed the fleet at Pearl Harbor. He could feel the danger, the fear. He could almost hear the Big Band sounds of the era, feel the heat and spray, and think of the long-dead lost lives. This was his favorite time of day. Twilight. The time when all things began drifting into shadows and the world lost the certainty of sunlight. The thunder of surf on the jagged rocks below was a soft murmur as it drifted up to him. It was so soothing to lose himself in its steady rhythm. He often stayed for a long time just drifting in and out of thoughts with the ebb and flow of the tide. The annoying sound of a Honda motor scooter interrupted his thoughts. He turned at the sound and saw

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the young Asian man parking his bike. He began walking toward Marcus. Damn. What does he want? Marcus wanted to be alone with his thoughts. The young Asian approached. Marcus turned away from him, looking out over the steep cliff at the choppy surf below. In this light he could see the rip tides forming twisted patterns in the water. Practically every year someone ignored the danger signs and drowned out there. “Hello,” the Asian said. “I’m Kama. We met before. Remember?” “I’m not senile,” Marcus barked. “I remember you. What do you want?” “I know you come out here sometimes.” “And what does that have to do with you?” “It’s dangerous.” “And again I ask what does that have to do with you?” “I don’t want you to do it.” “Do what? What is it you want young man?” Marcus practically spat the words at him. “Kama,” the Asian reminded. “My name is Kama. Sometimes I know things about people. I can feel what they feel.” Marcus rolled his eyes. “Is there some point to this?” “I got the strong feeling you’re planning to kill yourself.” Marcus choked off the laugh swelling in his throat. “Ridiculous! If that’s all you want then you can leave. It’s the farthest thing from my mind.” “But I feel it. Strongly. Everything looks dangerous here,” Kama said feeling fearful in the waning light. The blackening branches of the twisted cypress trees looked ominous, barely discernible, like threatening claws reaching out toward him. The ocean was a waiting deathtrap below.



“Then I’d suggest you get some psychiatric help, or do whatever it takes to calm your obviously overactive imagination.” Kama was becoming agitated. His voice raised in pitch as his agitation grew. “I can’t. I can’t get it out of my mind. I’ve tried. You’re so alone. Inside. I know it.” Marcus was beginning to realize that Kama may be more than just a nuisance. His sarcastic suggestion that Kama get psychiatric help may have more significance that he had first realized. Marcus softened. “Look young...Kama...I’m grateful for your offer of help. But I really don’t need it. I am just fine. So please go on about your business and leave me to mine.” Kama looked confused. Marcus could just barely make out his expression in the fading light. “Please Mr. Church, please come away from this place,” Kama begged. “It’s not safe for you here.” Marcus ignored him and turned back to stare at the waves glittering, now in moonlight. He always felt a little sad at as day turned into night, as if witnessing the death of the day. He drifted back to this thoughts. The U.S.S. San Francisco was 588 feet in length; 11,585 tons, carrying 1125 Marine and Navy personnel then. She had 17 battle citations and a Presidential Unit Citation. She had served her country well at the battle of Guadalcanal from November 12-13, 1942. One hundred and seven crew were killed. And now she’s just a flag bridge ripped apart by gaping holes that tourists come to see. Marcus had completely obliterated Kama from his consciousness until he felt Kama’s hands on him. “What are you doing?” Marcus tried to turn around, but his twisted body found it very difficult. Still, he managed to push past Kama, descend the few steps leading away from the monument and move as quickly as he could toward open space. He traveled the path carefully. There were bits of twigs and cypress branches

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that littered the path along with discarded Coke cans and food wrappers from visitors. He always had to be careful navigating the obstacles in daylight. But now it was night. No street lamps here. Just the darkness. He was in the open now and took a moment’s breather against the huge, rusty chain-link that served as a barrier between visitors and the cliffs below. Marcus assumed he would be able to hear Kama’s approaching footsteps if he followed. He was wrong. Suddenly and silently Kama had taken his arm in a fierce grip. “Get away from me,” Marcus demanded. “But you don’t understand. I want to help you,” Kama pleaded. Marcus tried to twist his already twisted frame further to wrestle free of Kama’s grip, but the young man was very strong. Marcus was shocked as he felt himself lifting up into the air. It just couldn’t be. He pushed back, resisting Kama, trying to regain his balance, but the twist of his body threw him off balance. It all happened so fast. One minute he had been standing on the path. The next moment he was being gouged by cypress branches and butterfly bushes as he bounced and rolled down the steep cliff toward the deadly surf below. Kama watched as the old man disappeared into the darkness.



2. Monica Caldwell eyed herself in the full-length cheval mirror. She looked fabulous even if she did say so herself. Her skin was a flawless work of art, made so by painstakingly applied foundation makeup, but even in bright daylight her skin looked like the soft petal of a flower. The rest of her makeup was applied with equal care. Just a touch of eye shadow to bring out the blue of her eyes. A little mascara to darken the naturally long lashes. A hint of blush. She wore her blond hair short enough to be easy-care but with enough length that she could easily change the style whenever she felt like it. Rollers could make it fluffy. Mousse could make it sleek. She added a pair of modest gold hoop earrings. Perfect. Just the right touch of sparkle without being overdone. She surveyed the rest of her image. Slim figure dressed in a midnight blue tailored suit. Soft silk blouse to add a feminine touch. Good legs in mid-height shoes. Just enough height to give the leg a good line but sensible enough to be able to run for the bus. She could be the executive assistant to a CEO. Hell, I could be the CEO. And why not? Women are rising up in the ranks every day. Why not me? She chuckled at the thought of Monica Caldwell being the CEO of a major corporation. Now wouldn’t that just be a huge hoot. Thinking of the nomadic existence of her childhood, it was amazing she had come this far. Always moving. Always on the run. Missing school so often it was a miracle she had learned to read or add, but Monica was very smart. She found ways to compensate. Monica made one final adjustment to her hair then picked up her car keys from the dresser and tossed them into her expensive leather briefcase along with a lipstick, an apple and an energy bar. She did not use a purse, feeling that the Coach briefcase was much more professional

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looking. And, she had picked it up for a song at the flea market. It just screamed successful. Then she locked the front door and headed out to the office. Monica had worked as a temp for more than four years. She liked it much better than a permanent job. She had the freedom to choose when and if she would work, and she could even choose the kind of work she did. With her varied experience, work was seldom boring and on days when it was there was always the internet. Of course, she would rather have had a wealthy spouse with a short life span and be living in the Bahamas, but deep down Monica knew she would probably be supporting herself for the rest of her life. She took the elevator down to the underground garage and maneuvered the Jeep into the outside world then through San Francisco’s streets to the Financial District. Everywhere she turned the streets were being dug up, or tortured in some way, with large slabs of metal covering potentially bottomless holes and orange warning cones turning the streets into obstacle courses. How many times can you dig up the same damn street? Can’t you people get it right the first time? It irritated her that this had been going on for months, years in some areas, and she saw her hard earned tax dollars dribbling away on ineptitude. Nothing new about that though. She parked in the spot assigned to her. Having free parking was a huge perk in a city as crowded as San Francisco where every scrap of land was at a premium. She had been working at this small newspaper for three months now, filling in for an extended maternity leave. It seems the pregnancy had not gone well and the baby had to be delivered early with serious health problems, so Monica’s six week job had been extended. She always arrived early and liked having the opportunity to get settled in with a cup of coffee before plunging in to the workload. There were usually one or two other early birds along with her but this morning they



were all in a staff meeting. Being only a temp she was not required to attend meetings, a fact for which she was very grateful. She got her cup of coffee and turned on the computer. This morning she also indulged in a cinnamon twist. It was another perk of this company, along with the free parking, that they provided really good coffee and pastries in the mornings in an attempt to spike worker punctuality. The computer hummed to life. Where should I go today? Monica loved the internet. It was the key to the universe. All the knowledge that she had missed learning in school was available to her at the touch of a button. She had visited famous museums in Venice, Florence, Paris and London without ever leaving her desk. She had studied the wonders of quantum physics, the sometimes uncannily correct observations of astrologers and psychics, literature, history, and alternative medicine, but her favorite topic was secret societies. Conspiracies were fascinating mysteries that grew with the passage of time. And there were so many of them on the internet UFOs, crop circles, the Kennedy assassination, aliens at Roswell, area 51, military secrecy, government cover-ups - an endless array of tidbits to choose from.

Extreme Hardcore Babes! They’re large and in charge! Lots of lard. These big mamas will smother you and eat you alive!

Monica was startled by the intrusive pop-up that appeared on the screen. She irritably deleted it and went back to reading through a list of possible secrets just waiting to be uncovered. Hot college chicks! XXX Action! 120,000 hardcore pics! Damn! Monica was getting really irritated now. She was so tired of having to deal with pornographic sites that intruded by popping up on her screen. It used to be just

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occasionally, but now it was becoming so intrusive that she felt it was a personal attack on her privacy. She was not a prude. What she objected to was having the stuff shoved in her face. She should have the right to choose it, not just have it appear on the screen. And this one was accompanied by particularly graphic photos. Not what I want to see with my breakfast! Take that, asshole! She slammed her finger down on the delete button, imagining she was landing a punch in the face of the guy who had sent it. She tried to take her thoughts back to the web site she had chosen - The Nazi-UFO Connection. Monica smiled. This ought to be good for a few laughs. She took a bite of her cinnamon twist followed by a swallow of satisfying coffee. Then she set about reading her morning entertainment: “It all began with what was probably one of the most devastating immigrations to America. A German, whose surname is well known to most, arrived in America early in her history and gave rise to a family line that would later finance the Nazi revolution in Germany, even to the degree of merging their ownership of a major oil company with the Nazi owned and operated I. G. Farben chemical company, which provided Zyklon-B cyanide gas for the German death camps during World War II. Following the war, there is more than enough evidence to conclude that these American corporate fascists secreted literally thousands of hard-core Nazis into the USA, shuffling them into the various levels of the military-industrialintelligence fraternity which the German family essentially owned and operated, while at the same time sponsoring U.S. “presidents” who would faithfully remove power from Congress via vetos, executive orders, the appointing rather than electing of executive branch personnel, and the creation of several secret agencies that operated under security classifications that even the most powerful Congressional overseers were forbidden from acquiring.”

Monica chuckled to herself. Wow! What a bunch of



whackos. Where do they come up with this stuff? Her entertainment was cut short by a buzz of conversation indicating that the meeting had broken up as people began filing back to their desks. Monica’s supervisor, Loretta, appeared at her workstation with a stack of files. “Got a minute?” she said. “Sure. Is that my daily torture?” Monica joked pointing to the files. “Afraid so.” Loretta returned her smile. “And I’ve got some good news for you.” “I could use some. What’s up?” “Well, Sheila’s baby is going to need a lot more care than she realized so she won’t be coming back to work. We’re offering you this job permanently. I know we’ve talked about it a bit before. It has great benefits and perks as you know. We’re very happy with your work and I’m sure you’ll soon move up quickly in the company.” Monica sighed involuntarily. She had been halfdreading this moment. She really liked this job, the people were great and the perks, including a three-week paid vacation, were far better than most. But the idea of working permanently for anyone just did not fit into her scheme of things. “I really appreciate your confidence in me. But I’m going to have to say no thanks.” Loretta’s mouth fell open in surprise. “Well, I wasn’t expecting that.” She seemed annoyed, perhaps even a little hurt. “Are you sure? Is there anything we can do to change your mind? Would you like some time to think about it?” Monica shook her head. “No. I know it sounds nuts. I really like it here. You and the staff are just great. It’s just

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that I’m not a permanent worker type.” Loretta looked confused. “Monica, I know it’s none of my business, but I just don’t understand. I mean people are scrambling for jobs in this economy. Maybe I can get you a little more money. Would that make you reconsider?” “It’s not the money. It’s not you, it’s me.” What am I breaking up a relationship? That thought jolted Monica to the realization that that’s exactly what she was doing. This was more than a job. She had formed some friendly ties with Loretta. They often joked they were so alike they could be sisters. “I know I might kick myself later. And I’m really going to miss working with you. But, hey, we can still be friends, right? We can still do our lunches, and shop together and stuff.” God, it is just like breaking up. “Sure,” Loretta lied, knowing it would never happen. “Well, I’m still going to tell Human Resources you want a couple of days to think it over. Just in case you change your mind.” She left the pile of files with Monica and turned to leave. “Think about it, okay?” Monica nodded, knowing that her mind was already made up. Usually she was happy to leave an assignment, but leaving this one wasn’t going to be easy, letting her know she had stayed too long already. She did not want to form emotional ties. She did not want people to get too close, to begin asking questions, to know who the real Monica was. She did not want them learning her secrets. Without allowing herself the luxury of considering the offer for one more second, she picked up the phone and called her temp agency, requesting another assignment immediately. “Bored again, Monica?” the voice on the phone



said. “I was beginning to think you were about to give up the temp lifestyle and go permanent.” “No. Time to try something new.” Monica tried to keep her voice light. “Okay. Well I haven’t got much right now, but there is a personal assistant position open in Pacific Heights. The client is in a wheelchair and needs someone to take care of her personal business items. Write checks, keep the books balanced, do whatever errands she might need. I know it’s not your usual thing but....” Baby-sitting the disabled. Not exactly my thing at all, but it does keep bread on the table. Maybe it’s time I moved up to the tony part of town anyway. “Sounds perfect,” Monica said swallowing hard. She hung up the phone and began tackling the files Loretta had left. This is your last day. This is your last day. All day long Monica tried to ignore the feeling of sadness that would not leave her alone, but she shrugged it off. I’ll get over it. Change is good. What Monica did not realize is that things were about to change in ways she could not even imagine.

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Whenever Mitch Carter walked into a room, heads turned. He exuded an air of authority, like the alpha leader of a dog pack. The Dr. before his name may have increased the effect, and perhaps the Prada or Armani suits did too, but even naked, Dr. Mitchell Carter had a presence that was undeniable. Mid-thirties, slim and fit with the lean, lithe body of a marathon runner, his keen blue eyes held people in the mesmerizing gaze of Australian Shepherd dogs who hypnotize sheep into doing their bidding with their strange blue eyes. As he walked into Noir, the small, trendy restaurant/ bar, he was aware of the eyes turning in his direction. He quickly scanned the patrons and noticed the small Asian man sitting alone at the bar nursing one of the trademark huge martinis. Noir was noted for martini glasses so large they could best be described as bowls on stems, and for its collection of black and white stills from film noir movies that covered the walls. Noir was also noted for its liberal atmosphere. Young gays and straights alike frequented it and it was often hard to tell one from the other. Most people didn’t bother to try. A piano softly played jazz and standard ballads. Piano bars had come full circle from being trendy to passÊ to trendy again. Noir was the kind of place where you expected to find a heavy veil of smoke and a sultry sequin-gowned singer draped across the piano. But, smoking was not allowed by law, and any sultry singer found draped across the piano may or may not have been female. Mitch went over to the bar and took a seat to the left of the Asian, leaving one seat vacant between them.



Kama did not notice. He continued staring intently into the bottom of the martini glass. His head was splitting. It pounded and throbbed, the pain barely dulled by his second martini. “Excuse me,” Mitch said. “Could you pass me that bowl of olives?” Noir was famous for its complimentary bowls of salty olives based on the premise that the more olives you ate, the thirstier you got, the more drinks you would order. It seemed to be working. Kama remained motionless. Mitch touched him on the arm. He jumped as if he’d been shot and turned to look at Mitch with a gasp. Mitch raised his hand as if to fend off a blow. “Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just asking you to pass me the olives,” he said motioning to the bowl. “Oh. Sorry,” Kama said, sheepishly pushing the bowl toward Mitch. “I guess I was just daydreaming.” “Not a problem. I’m Dr. Mitchell Carter.” He liked emphasizing the Dr. “Friends call me Mitch.” He offered a handshake a bit awkwardly to the side. Kama brushed Mitch’s fingers as if too weary to bother with completing the grasp. “I’m Kama Takahasi. Pleased to meet you,” he replied automatically. It was not the type of reaction Mitch was used to. People tended to smile and gush over him, particularly when he used his title of Dr. “Kama isn’t a Japanese name is it?” Mitch asked. “No. It’s Sanskrit. It means ‘the golden one.’” “That’s quite beautiful. It’s not common to run into someone with a Sanskrit name.” Kama gave a little half smile and shrugged. “I’m

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half Japanese. I don’t know what the other half is. I never knew my father. My mother gave me her family’s last name. She said I was special and a Sanskrit name would be special too.” It was much more than Mitch had wanted to know from a one-line opener. “You look kind of familiar. I think I’ve seen you at The Cottages,” Mitch said. “I live there.” Kama showed interest for the first time. “Do you live there too?” Mitch nodded. “Small world,” Kama nodded in agreement. Could this conversation be any more banal? Mitch wondered. “I bought one of the townhouses. Been there about a year.” “Oh.” Kama seemed crestfallen. “I can only afford one of the rental studios. It’s small but it’s okay. I like the neighborhood. It’s nice being able to look out the window and see the water. I’ve got kind of a view if I stand on a chair. I guess if I were taller it would be better...” his voice trailed off. Mitch noticed his hands were trembling as he tried to pick up the glass for a sip. He finally settled on moving his mouth toward the glass rather than attempting to lift it. “Are you all right?” Mitch asked. “You noticed I’ve got the shakes, huh? I guess doctors are trained to notice that stuff.” People always assumed Mitch was a medical doctor. He did nothing to correct Kama’s impression. Kama continued. “I had a bad experience last night. Shook me up pretty good.” “What happened?”



Kama shook his head and curled his lip over the martini glass for another sip. He gradually became aware of his surroundings rather than wandering lost in the chasms of his mind that kept him thinking, thinking. Talking to Mitch was making him feel better. His muscles were starting to relax. He shifted his body on the bar stool so he could face Mitch more directly. Mitch is a good looking guy. A doctor. Probably rich, too. Kama hesitated for a moment then decided to ask. “Say, Mitch, how much do you know about people who have several different personalities?” Mitch raised an eyebrow. “You mean multiplepersonality disorder? Well, it’s not really my field, but I know a little about it.” “Tell me what you know.” Mitch popped a stuffed olive into his mouth and bit down, feeling the pimiento squish between his teeth. “Let’s see,” Mitch mused. “The main causes of multiple personality disorder are abuse and neglect in childhood. Most often, sexual abuse. In some cases, MPD can be induced in adults. It’s even been induced in undercover operations by military intelligence. At least that’s what I’ve heard. Anyway, essentially because of a severe trauma, a person’s personality sort of splits off into several different personalities. It’s a coping mechanism.” Kama nodded, but seemed to want more so Mitch continued. “The different personalities are called ‘alters’ and they can vary from two to more than a hundred.” “A hundred? Wow, it must get pretty crowded in there,” Kama responded. Mitch grinned then continued. “Each alter can have

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its own name and each may have different mannerisms and facial expressions from the others. They each may also dress differently or talk with different accents. Sometimes one will be left handed and another right handed. They may even have different handwriting. Occasionally, a person may even take on the persona of an animal.” “Bizarre,” Kama mumbled. “It’s possible for one personality to be a sloppy drunk alcoholic and in the next instant when a different personality takes over, that sloppy drunk is suddenly stone cold sober - even though the alcohol is still in their system. And if you think that’s odd, it’s even been documented that one alter can have different medical problems from other alters although they share the same body.” Kama’s head jerked in surprise, reminding Mitch momentarily of a pigeon. “Its true. For example, one alter may have a lifethreatening allergy to peanuts, yet another alter that shares the same body can eat peanuts with no problem. One alter might have different vision than another. One might have thyroid problems or diabetes or multiple sclerosis where the others don’t.” “No way! How can that be?” Kama said. “Well if medical science ever figures that out we’ll probably have a whole new take on what disease and recovery are all about. Studies have shown that when individual personalities undergo testing for brain wave patterns, each personality will test differently.” “That’s mind-blowing!” Kama was now showing real interest in Mitch. “How can that be? I mean you’re brain’s your brain.... isn’t it?” Kama did not sound very sure.



“An EEG, electroencephalogram, measures brain activity. Each personality has its own brain wave pattern. At this point I don’t think anyone’s capable of explaining it. But after a patient is cured, the EEG will be completely different from what those of the separate personalities were.” “It’s almost like your fingerprints change in each personality. They don’t do they?” Kama was only half joking. “I don’t think so - but then I’m not sure anyone’s really studied that.” “Hmm. So can people be cured?” “It’s possible. Usually with a few years of therapy. People are very flexible. One of the skills humans learn in early life is to play with many roles. We learn to switch between many roles in a single day. Maybe being a father, a brother, a professional, a lover.” Kama chuckled then realized he had interrupted Mitch. “Go on. Please.” “Our dreams are like a theater where different aspects of being can be tried out and experienced. For most of us there is a continuity of memory between our many daily roles and we can switch between them voluntarily. A person with MPD, on the other hand, doesn’t have that control. Their personality shifts occur randomly without their being in control or even knowing the other personality has taken over. The ability to integrate these different personality states is accomplished before or around puberty.” Kama opened his mouth to comment but Mitch raised his finger to interrupt him. “Let me just finish this train of thought. One of the

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survival mechanisms of children ensures that they become attached to their care givers. So even when their own parents abuse them, they still love them. They grow up with both love and hate for the same person. That becomes very difficult for a young mind to integrate and it can lead into splitting the personality into parts with different alters being able to deal with different aspects of life necessary for survival.” “So people don’t know they have multiple alters?” Kama asked. “Not usually. Sometimes there may be clues though. Like lost time or missing memory. Maybe meeting people who think they know you, but you don’t know who they are because it’s one of your alters who has actually met that person. Or a person might find clothes in their closet that are not to their taste and they have no memory of buying them.” Kama shook his head in disbelief. “It’s totally wild. So how are patients treated? Drugs and stuff?” “Often they need to be separated from their families since their problems are so involved with family relationships. And sometimes they have to go back and relive the childhood traumas that caused the personality to split in the first place. Just remembering them isn’t enough. They actually need to relive it, often through hypnosis. I’ve always been fascinated by it although, as I told you, it’s not my field. And it’s a very complex subject.” “So how come they have to relive it? Why isn’t remembering it enough?” “Because traumatic events were often experienced by only one personality, it’s necessary for the other personalities to share the physical and emotional memories,



as well as the mental image of the memory. That way, as the separate parts begin to take on each other’s memories and experiences, the patient begins the coming-together or integration process. For many multiples, integration is the ultimate goal. But for some, the goal of therapy may simply be teamwork....creating a more functional person.” Kama dropped a couple of olives into his martini, absently swirling them with his finger. He wanted to ask Mitch one more question, but he wanted to be sure it sounded casual. He forced his voice to be light and chatty. “So is there any connection between multiple personality disorder and ESP?” An expression of surprise crossed Mitch’s face. “Funny you should ask. One of the many unusual aspects is the frequency of severe headaches and extrasensory perception. The ESP experiences can include telepathy, clairvoyance, ‘seeing ghosts’ or having poltergeist experiences, or having an out of body experience.” “Clairvoyance. That’s when people can read people’s minds isn’t it?” “My understanding of clairvoyance is that it’s the ability to detect things that are not readily available to the usual senses. Somehow having the ability to know things that other people don’t recognize.” “Knowing stuff. That’s what I thought.” He paused thoughtfully then said, “Have you ever had an out of body experience?” Mitch shook his head. “I had one once,” Kama said. I was really into yoga for a while and I meditated a lot. One time I was lying on the floor in savasana - that’s the Sanskrit name for

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the corpse pose - anyway I was lying there and I’d been meditating for a while I think. You kind of lose track of time so I’m not sure how long I’d been there but suddenly I felt this kind of prickling sensation at the top of my head and I slipped out of my body. The next thing I knew I was on the ceiling of the room looking down at myself lying there. It was pretty scary. I realized that if I wanted to I could go right out the window and into the sky, like flying. I could tell the real me was this kind of milky plasma looking stuff. My body was just the shell where it lived.” Kama paused, giving Mitch a chance to react. Mitch continued to sit silently apparently intrigued with what Kama was saying. Kama continued. “I stayed outside my body for a little while and had an urge to travel further, outside the room. To go outside. But suddenly I thought, “What if I can’t get back into my body?” And I panicked. The next thing I knew my plasma self dived into my body’s chest like a diver going into a swimming pool. And then I was back.” Mitch shifted on his seat and released a held breath. “I’ve never told that to anyone before. Do you think I’m nuts?” Kama asked tentatively. “No. Of course not. In fact, I envy you the experience.” “Really?” Kama brightened. Mitch found himself staring at Humphrey Bogart, who returned his gaze from the back bar. A few frames down, Greta Garbo had succeeded in being alone. Kama was pleased with Mitch’s response. Mitch had not ridiculed him or made him feel strange. Perhaps they could be friends. Perhaps Kama could finally get the



thing he had been seeking for so long. He did not want to push his luck so he thought it best to change to a safer topic. “So do you like old movies?” Kama asked. “Yes. I love the old black and whites. They have a real charisma to them. And the characters seem so much more real and fascinating than they do in films today. Here’s looking at you, kid.” Mitch raised his glass and toasted Bogart. “I mean that great tough guy line from The Maltese Falcon where Bogart says to Peter Lorre, ‘When you’re slapped you’ll take it, and you’ll like it.’ Classic. Pure classic.” “I look at these old photos a lot too. Sometimes when I come here I wish I could just disappear into one of those old pictures and start a brand new life,” Kama said. Mitch studied him but said nothing. Kama had an air of defeat and seemed far too weary for someone in his early twenties. “I’ll bet someone like you can’t even imagine what it’s like to feel like nothing,” Kama said with a trace of bitterness. Then he quickly caught himself and forced a tight smile. “Hey, the Castro Theater is showing a couple of noir films this weekend. Maybe we can catch a movie.” “Sounds good.” Mitch fished in his pocket and pulled out a business card which he offered to Kama “Here’s my number. Just give me a call and we’ll figure out the schedule.” He checked his watch. “Gotta run now. Call me.” Mitch got up to leave. “I will,” Kama replied. “Nice meeting you,” he called after Mitch. Mitch turned and gave a half wave in Kama’s

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direction. As he walked outside, Victorian style street lamps illuminated the moist streets. Wisps of drifting fog softened sounds and blurred the outlines of cars and people. Mitch smiled to himself. The meeting with Kama had gone a lot better than he had expected. It would make it much easier to do what he had to do.




Pacific Heights is one of San Francisco’s wealthiest neighborhoods with astonishing Bay views and equally astonishing real estate price tags. Among the large and impeccably maintained homes looms the occasional mansion, so designated as much by the exquisite detailing and construction materials as by its size. This particular mansion was owned by Gertrude Greenwood, known in social circles as Gigi. The name Gigi seemed much more suitable to the beautiful young woman from rough beginnings who, at the age of twenty, had married one of the richest men in California and settled in this luxurious aerie. Now, decades later, Robert Greenwood was dead, but his money was intact. In fact, it had grown considerably due to Gigi’s deft management. Life had been kind to the external appearance of Gigi’s body but not to its internal workings. In her midsixties, Gigi could still pass for forty, aided by the skills of cosmetic surgeons and hair colorists who managed to retain the subtle, natural highlights of a child in her honey blonde hair. Gigi’s lungs, however, were seriously damaged. A breathing disorder had taken a hold two years earlier, forcing her to now spend most of her time in a wheelchair, depending on oxygen tanks to stay alive. It seemed a cruel irony that a woman still so petite, beautiful and mentally alert should be a prisoner in her own body. Monica stood at the door of the Georgian mansion, taking in the view of San Francisco Bay. A vista of the Marin Headlands’ rolling hills and the Golden Gate Bridge sparkled before her in the brilliant sunshine. Although Monica had been in some grand homes before, this one

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made her feel a bit intimidated. The term imposing came to mind. The house was perfect. Perfect proportions. Perfectly groomed. Some people have it all. She pressed the door bell and a melodious chime sounded. A moment later, the door was opened by Alma Sticke. Alma was huge, a mountain of a woman reined in by black stretch leggings and a too-tight T-shirt. Her short haircut immediately made Monica think of the word jarhead. It was not flattering to her, making her fleshy face seem like a ham. Too large. Too pink. Her eyes were being consumed by her cheeks. Alma Sticke smiled and her eyes disappeared into folds of flesh. Monica extended her hand. “Monica Caldwell. I’m from the agency.” Alma eyed her suspiciously. “And what agency would that be?” Monica checked the house number. “This is 3731 isn’t it?” Alma nodded. “Then I’m to report here for work today. I’m from the temporary agency. I’ve been hired to help Mrs. Greenwood with her clerical work.” “Who hired you?” Alma was sharp. Monica pulled the project slip from her briefcase and searched for the name. “It says here the order was placed by Mr. Johnson.” She offered the paper to Alma. “Hmmpf. Mrs. Greenwood’s lawyer. Well he certainly didn’t tell me.” “Does Mr. Johnson normally discuss Mrs. Greenwood’s business affairs with you?” Monica asked with feigned innocence. Alma glared at her, but she moved her considerable



body to the side to admit Monica. “Well, I supposed you’d better come in then. I’m Alma Sticke. I’m an LVN. I take care of Mrs. Greenwood. “Wait in there,” she said pointing to the large sitting room, “and I’ll let Mrs. Greenwood know you’re here. I just hope she’s up to this,” she added glaring again at Monica. Monica had immediately disliked Alma Sticke, yet she tried to talk herself into being charitable. After all, Alma was an LVN, licensed vocational nurse. It was her job to watch out for Mrs. Greenwood’s health and well-being. She was probably just doing her job trying to protect her from unwanted visitors. Monica took the opportunity to absorb the great beauty of the room in which she wandered. It was far better than anything she had ever seen in Architectural Digest. It had been created with the kind of personal wealth that the magazine would kill to cover, but the opportunity had not been given to them. The sitting room soared at least twenty-five feet to the delicately detailed plaster work ceiling. A pair of huge rosso antico marble columns supported the entry portal and a carved fireplace of the same marble was centered on the opposite wall. Furnishings were an exquisite blend of antiques, luxurious silk damasks, and art. Paintings were hung on silk cords from the picture molding against 18th century salmon silk walls. Degas, Matisse, Chagall, all originals. A large portrait of a beautiful woman with exquisite, delicate features, wearing jewels and a satin ball gown hung over the mantel. Judging from the style of clothing, Monica guessed it was a portrait of Mrs. Greenwood in her prime. Lighting was effective yet unobtrusive. Built-in cabinets filled with rare Oriental porcelains completed the

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scene. Monica’s eye came to rest on a Sung dynasty bowl casually placed on a side table. She had seen its twin in the Asian Art Museum, its soft celadon color immediately capturing her attention. Priceless, no doubt. Why is it that some people have so much while others have nothing? A shuffling behind her announced Alma’s return. Monica realized the sound was Alma’s thighs rubbing together. “She’s ready for you now,” Alma announced. “I’ll show you up. I hope I didn’t sound too snappy earlier. I just have to look out for Mrs. Greenwood. That’s my job.” “Not a problem. I totally understand.” Alma led the way through the enormous foyer. “In the old days they held grand parties here,” Alma said responding to the widening of Monica’s eyes at the size of the space. It was easy to imagine the buzz of conversation and the clinking of champagne glasses. This was a home made for entertaining. Monica assumed they would ascend the stately, curving staircase but Alma ushered her toward the elevator. “No sense walking when you can ride,” she said. Looks like a little walking would do you good. Monica‘s eyes followed Alma’s rolling buttocks across the room. Fitting Alma alone into the elevator would have been difficult enough, but the addition of Monica to the small space was far too much togetherness. Monica recoiled slightly at the smell of Alma’s fishy breath. She noticed crusted egg yolk on the front of Alma’s T-shirt. She was very glad when the elevator reached the second level, and she involuntarily breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped out onto the plush hallway carpet.



“Mrs. Greenwood still tries to keep up with her charities. I suppose that’s what you’ve been hired to do.” “I guess I’ll soon find out,” Monica replied. Alma forged ahead, opening the door to Gigi Greenwood’s room with a flourish. “Mrs. Greenwood, this is Monica Caldwell. From the agency.” “Mrs. Greenwood. It’s very nice to meet you.” Monica said. Alma settled herself in a large leather recliner. Monica continued standing until offered a seat. The frail woman in the wheelchair breathed with the help of oxygen tanks. “I’ll speak to Miss Caldwell alone.” Alma’s face registered surprise at first, then hurt. “Oh. All right then. Just ring if you need me.” She left the door ajar as she exited. “Would you mind closing the door, please?” Gigi Greenwood said to Monica. Monica walked to the door. It swung easily on its bronze hinges. For a split second she could have sworn she saw a movement in the shadowy recess of the hallway. Maybe Alma likes to eavesdrop. “Lock it, please.” Monica turned, looking questioningly at Gigi. “The lock is at the top,” Gigi said. “ I can’t reach it anymore from this damn wheelchair.” As the lock snapped into place, Gigi Greenwood visibly relaxed. “Take a seat,” she motioned to Monica. Monica settled herself across from Gigi in a comfortable leather chair. They were in the library. Walls of hand polished mahogany glass-fronted shelving held

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hundreds of old leather bound books, their spines gleaming with gilt titles and decorative scrolling. “My husband was a rare book collector. Each one of those cabinets is climate controlled. His collection is still intact. I suppose one day it will be auctioned off along with everything else.” She said it matter-of-factly, without seeking sympathy. “What do you think of my home?” “It’s exquisite. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.” Gigi studied Monica closely. “Good. You said that without either a trace of envy or an attempt at ingratiating yourself. I need an honest, intelligent person. And one that can be discreet. My attorney says you come highly recommended. I trust him implicitly. Therefore I trust you - unless and until I discover otherwise. Are we clear on that?” “Yes. Of course, Mrs. Greenwood. I can guarantee you absolute discretion.” “I prefer to be called Gigi. Mrs. Greenwood is old and ill. Gigi is young and vibrant. I still like to delude myself that I’m more of Gigi and less of Mrs. Greenwood.” Her eyes were sharp, alert, and the same brilliant blue as her twelve-carat Kashmir sapphire engagement ring. Monica had a hard time not staring at the ring. One of the accent diamonds alone would make an enviable engagement ring for a wealthy woman. In spite of the large gemstones, the ring design was perfectly scaled to fit Gigi’s petite hand. Like the house, it was exquisite. “Your job will be to help me with my charitable foundation. I have always believed strongly in doing charity work. Giving back to the community. Helping where I can. But in my present condition my work is



essentially limited to signing checks.“ Gigi noticed Monica’s fascination with her ring. “Do you like sapphires? There are people who would kill for this ring. It’s a Kashmir. Mined out in the early nineteenth century. The only way you can get them today is through the secondary market.” “It’s breathtaking!” The moment the word escaped her lips Monica realized her faux pas. “Oh. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean...” Gigi waved her hand. “Don’t apologize. I’ve adapted to my condition. I do sometimes wonder though who will wear it when I’m dead.” Monica felt that anything else she could think of to say would only heighten her embarrassment, so she remained silent. “So, as I was saying, I’ll need help with my foundation, but I also have another project I’m working on which will require your absolute discretion and loyalty to me and only me. I can’t stress that enough. No one must know what we discuss in this room. No one. Not any of the servants. Definitely not Alma. Not even Mr. Johnson, should you ever be contacted by him. Do I have your solemn word on that?” “Yes. Of course.” “Good. You will be provided with a laptop computer. It will require an entry password which only you and I will know. Each day when you get ready to leave, you will lock the laptop in that safe.” She pointed vaguely toward one of the walls. Monica saw nothing that resembled a safe, only bookshelves. “There’s a hidden wall panel. No one knows about it but me. And now you. It will remain strictly between us. Whenever we work together it will

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be in this room and the door will remain locked. Any questions so far?” Only about a million! Like why all the secrecy? Why don’t you trust Alma? Or even your own lawyer. And what am I getting myself into here? “No. Not yet. It all seems quite straightforward,” Monica lied. “Does it, now? Well you must have had some unusual assignments.” Monica smiled. “I’ve had my share. Temp work is rarely dull.” “Is that why you do it?” “For the most part, I suppose.” “From the look of you, I’d say you could do much better.” Monica smiled again. “I tire easily,” Gigi said. “Movement uses up oxygen, but so does talking. Your time will have to be flexible depending on my strength on any given day. Fortunately, this is one of my better days. I’m glad I felt up to meeting you.” The huge sapphire had flopped to one side of her finger and Gigi righted it, taking time to pause and inhale some additional breaths of oxygen, which gave her the strength to continue. “It’s sometimes hard for me to remember that I was once a ballerina, that my body could spin and turn and soar through the air. And now I can’t even walk across the room.” She said it as a matter of fact, without seeking sympathy. “I was prima ballerina for the San Francisco Ballet when I met my husband. I gave up my career to marry him.”



“Have you ever regretted it?” She shrugged slightly. “Perhaps I would have liked a year or two more to dance. But it’s too late for regrets. I’ve had a wonderful, privileged life. The professional life of a dancer is so short anyway.” Gigi fell silent, breathing deeply from her oxygen tanks. Monica was unsure whether to ask if she needed help or just wait it out. She decided on the latter. After a minute that seemed much longer, Gigi spoke again. “I will be extremely generous if you follow my instructions. I will be equally ruthless if you do not. I speak plainly because I don’t have breath to waste. The sum your agency pays you is a pittance. I’m not stupid enough to expect the kind of loyalty I require for that salary. The work you will do for me will be worth one hundred thousand dollars to me. Perhaps more.” Monica’s head jerked involuntarily. Gigi smiled for the first time. “Yes. It is a lot of money for clerical help. But you’re much more than that, aren’t you?” Monica felt Gigi’s eyes boring right through her. She was a rabbit in a trap. She knows. But Monica decided to bluff it out. “I hope I can live up to your expectations,” she said. “Not to worry, my dear. Your secret is safe with me,” Gigi replied. She smiled knowingly at Monica’s astonished expression. “Yes. I know. I’m not a fool. Fools don’t wield the kind of power and wealth I have at my disposal. You will be paid for a regular eight hour day on the record even if we don’t work at all. The bonus will be just between us. We both have something to hide. We both can benefit from each other. I’m getting tired now.

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Take the rest of the day off. Come back tomorrow at ten o’clock.” She waved Monica away. Monica nodded, feeling as though she were in a dream. Just an hour ago her life was in control, now someone knew her secret. Was it really possible? Perhaps Gigi had just been fishing, using it as bait in a power play. Perhaps she didn’t know anything. Perhaps she had just expected Monica to divulge some deep dark secret that she could use against her to control her. But Monica had remained silent. She walked from the library, down the grand staircase and out the front door. Only when she was standing on the porch with the front door closed firmly behind her and the breeze cooling her burning skin, did she realize that her heart was racing.



5. Kama could not control his thoughts. He had tried all night. Even drinking too much had only made his headache worse and had done nothing to block out the image of the old man going over the cliff. He could still hear the scream inside his head as it became fainter, and fainter then disappeared altogether. Maybe the old man isn’t dead. That new thought entered his mind. All night long he had believed he had killed Marcus Church. But perhaps by some miracle he had survived the fall. Perhaps he was lying out there now, waiting for someone to find him. Perhaps he’s dying right this minute. Kama chastised himself for not checking. He knew he should have made sure. But he had panicked and run away. And now, not knowing was a kind of torture he could not bear. He had to know for sure. Was the old man dead? Was he, Kama Takahashi, a murderer? He already knew he was an outcast, but a murderer was something entirely different. From as far back as he could remember, Kama had been different. At school in Japan, his classmates never accepted him as one of them. He was always gaijin, foreigner. In the West, people thought of him as Asian. But in Japan he was only half, and half-breeds were always looked on with suspicion, as though a lower life form. His nose was a little too prominent, his skin was not quite the right tone, his hair was dark brown with red glints rather than black, his eyes a little too round. His face had a definite

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European cast to it that clearly defined him as a mix, and he had suffered for it. Endless teasing, taunting, being excluded. Always made to feel inferior. And when he was small and would run home to tell his mother, he was made even more aware of his difference. There was no father to teach him how to behave like a man. He had met his grandfather once. His mother’s father, Kendo Takahashi. His mother and he had made the trip on the train out into the country to his grandfather’s house. Kama had been about five at the time. He thought the house was beautiful, nestled up in the chilly hills where he thought snow monkeys might live. He was so excited that he might see one playing in the hot springs. But there were no snow monkeys that day. And no warm welcome either. Kendo had greeted them on the doorstep. He had not even admitted them into his house. Kama’s mother had bowed very low to Kendo Takahashi and had presented Kama, nudging him forward toward his grandfather. Kendo had stood as immobile as the mountains around his house, staring straight ahead, looking right through Kama’s mother as though she were not there. Then he turned, went inside, and closed the door, leaving them alone on the snowy path. Kama knew he would never forget the expression of pain and misery on his mother’s face that day. He knew he was the cause of it although, at the age of five, he did not know why. When he closed his eyes he could still clearly see that expression on his mother’s face. It was fixed in his memory forever. It was what Dr. Phil, the TV psychologist, would call a defining moment. A moment that transforms



your life and changes you forever. Kama watched Dr. Phil often, hoping for some insight into the misery that was as much a part of him as his skin. Kama sighed. What should I do? What have I done? His stomach clenched. It felt as though someone had kicked him. I have to know! Not knowing is worse than knowing. He knew his mind was already made up. Somewhere in the dark hours of indecision his mind had formed a plan. Now he must carry it out.

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Kama parked his motor bike behind a clump of bushes. No sense in looking too obvious. For all anyone knew he was just a visitor coming to see the ocean view. Ocean Beach was on the scenic tour of the city. Tourists came looking for the California sea lions that had come to Seal Rock in late summer for decades, much like the swallows coming back to San Juan Capistrano. A few years back, the sea lions had decided to change their location and now preferred the sheltered waters of Pier 39, but many tourists still came to Ocean Beach to see the Seal Rock and Land’s End. Kama wondered if people could tell how much his insides felt like jelly. A kind of tingling sensation prickled at this surface of his skin. He felt sick. The nausea hit him hard. Was it a hangover or sheer panic? He couldn’t decide. It did not matter anyway. His feet crunched on the gravel path, each step sounding like a drum beat. He turned off the path and walked into an area covered with loose underbrush sheltered by century old cypress trees. There he retched and vomited, wishing he could purge his life as easily as the contents of his stomach. How did I get into this mess? He forced himself to get back in control of his body and gradually he stopped shaking. He took a few deep breaths. The salty air felt good. Cool and fresh. He nonchalantly walked toward the spot where he had last seen the old man. He had wanted to run there. To dash to the cliff edge and frantically search the bushes. He



had to keep reminding himself he must remain calm. He must look like a visitor. Someone who was just out for a stroll. Someone with no particular destination in mind. He peered down at the approximate spot where the old man had gone over the side. The underbrush was obviously crushed and broken. He couldn’t see anyone lying there. It was too far away and sloped at such an angle that Kama could not see all the way down to the bottom. He would have to climb down. Then he noticed it. There was a path below the cliff, and then another cliff below that. His heart skipped a beat. Perhaps the old man had only rolled down to the path and not gone all the way down to the surf. He forgot about looking calm and nonchalant, quickly stepping over the large link chain railing and clambering down the cliff face. The loose shale gave way beneath his feet. Dust rose all around him from the dry autumn soil and sent up clouds of dandelion seed pods. They floated away on the breeze. He did not notice. He was focused on the cliff below. He had reached the lower path now. He frantically looked for some sign of the old man. There was nothing. Hundreds of footprints were visible on the dusty path. No sign of anything suggesting a body had rolled there. He ran to the edge of the lower cliff. The bushes are intact! His heart skipped again, but this time it was a joyous arrhythmia. He looked carefully, very carefully, walking several hundred yards in each direction from the point where the old man had gone over. He had to make sure there was

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no error. He could not go through another night like last night. There was no sign of crushed bushes, broken branches or anything else that might indicate a falling body had passed that way. A wave of relief passed over Kama like nothing he had experienced before. He soon realized he was crying. He wiped the tears from his cheeks. He felt like dancing right there on the cliff edge. He took some time to calm himself and then walked back to his bike with a spring in his step. He put on his headphones and tuned to his favorite radio station. He felt like a little music to celebrate. Suddenly the terror was over. He was safe. The old man was still alive. All was right with the world. Things were going to be okay. A news broadcast was on. The usual stuff. Snipings. Terrorism. Some new cloned animal. It all ran into a blur. The thing that had made Kama stop breathing was the tail end of the news story he had just heard. A body had been found, washed up on Ocean Beach.



7. The cursor blinked at Gigi Greenwood from her computer screen. She had hit another dead end. And there was so little time left. She desperately wanted a cigarette, but her lungs would not allow that. Two packs a day for more than a decade. She knew even then that smoking wasn’t good for her body, but it kept her weight down and a ballerina must remain slim. She must look ethereal with long, elegant lines. Gigi felt her body shift automatically into a straighter upright position. Elongate the spine. Flowing, graceful movements. Even the ballet isn’t what it used to be. She had recently seen a televised program of ballet done to Elvis Presley music. She shuddered at the memory. All the same beautiful, classic movements, yet done to a rock beat it had seemed not elegant but sexy, even vulgar. How could the same movements that seemed so magical when accompanied by classical music seem so lascivious with a rock background. She brushed the thought away. It didn’t matter anymore. The only thing that mattered now was reaching her goal before she died. The house was silent, dark except for her computer screen. She had heard Alma slip out on one of her nightly excursions to forage for food. I should have dismissed her long ago. But it no longer mattered if Alma were available in the night. Her fear of dying alone had left her now. Everyone dies alone. The only sound was the soft hiss of her oxygen tank and the even softer hiss coming from her computer. She forced her thoughts back to the task at hand. How many times had she searched? A hundred? A thousand?

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Keying in every possible permutation of the name. Searching by country. Searching through a dozen major search engines. Where is it? It must be here somewhere. She stared at the computer screen. Sometimes it seemed like a cyclops to her, a one-eyed creature all brain and eye, incapable of feeling. How else can I search for it? Perhaps she had been making things too difficult. Perhaps she should try the obvious route. Her fingers crept across the keyboard, typing in the words “secret society” into the browser. The computer dutifully returned a list. 1. Secret Society of Happy People formed to encourage the expression of happiness and discourage parade raining. cached | more results from this site More sites about: Social Organizations 2. The Sassy Secretaries Secret Society THE SASSY SECRETARIES SECRET SOCIETY: Resources and Rants for the Under-appreciated Administrative Babe. Hitchcock Blonde’s Little ... cached | more results from this site 3. SSOLP - Web Site Design & Hosting for the LGBT Community SSOLP (the Secret Society of Lesbian Propellerheads) is an organization dedicated to the advancement, encouragement and overall enjoyment of geeky lesbians ...

Oh, God. What a waste of web space. What a waste of my time! Gigi felt herself growing frantic but forced herself to remain calm. Excitement used up more oxygen.



Gigi scrolled down to the bottom of the list. In the number fifteen spot she read: Cecil John Rhodes : Secret Society A look at Cecil Rhodes’ dream of establishing a secret society to further the interests of the Anglo-Saxon race, and how he and Adolf Hitler both went through ...

The name Adolf Hitler immediately caught her eye and she clicked on the link to the site. A page opened up with a Masonic symbol in the center flanked by two angels with outspread wings. The rest of the page dealt with Cecil Rhodes, founder of the De Beers diamond cartel which has monopolized the global diamond industry since 1880, and founder of the Rhodes Scholarship. It all seemed innocuous until her eyes fell on the words secret society. Gigi continued reading. “Cecil Rhodes’ incredible achievements– one of the richest men in the world, the creator of the De Beers diamond empire, the founder of a new country, and the originator of the Rhodes Scholarships–were motivated by one single thing, his great idea. “At the age of 24 an idea came to him with the force of a religious revelation, just hours after being initiated into the Masonic Order while at Oxford University. He had been somewhat contemptuous of the organization he had just joined, but it appeared to have triggered an epiphany in him. His ambition came full blown to him: to establish a secret society whose objective would be the furtherance of the British Empire and the uniting of the entire Anglo-Saxon race, including America, into one single empire. ”According to Rhodes’ biographer, Sir Lewis Mitchell, one night his friends ‘found him in his room, blue with fright, his door barricaded with a chest of drawers and other furniture; he insisted that he had seen a ghost.’ From then on he was a man with a

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Stupid computer. What does this have to do with Hitler? Gigi wondered irritably. Then, a little further down the page, she saw it. “What exactly happened to Rhodes alone in his room that night? No one will ever know, except that exactly the same thing happened to another man, in the following century, who also went on to become one of the most powerful men the world has ever known–Adolf Hitler.”

The quote piqued Gigi’s interest. She continued reading. “In his book, Hitler Speaks, published in 1939, Hermann

Rauschning writes of an event that took place at the beginning of the 1930s prior to Hitler’s seizure of power and his ascent to fame and infamy. Says Rauschning: ‘My informant described to me in full detail a remarkable scene – I should not have credited the story if it had not come from such a source. “Hitler was standing there in his bedroom, stumbling about, looking around him with a distraught look. He was muttering: ‘It’s him! It’s him! He’s here!’ His lips had turned blue. He was dripping with sweat. Suddenly he uttered some numbers which made no sense, then some words, then bits of sentences. It was frightening. He used terms which were strung together in the strangest way and which were absolutely weird. Then, he again became silent, although his lips continued to move. He was given a massage and something to drink. Then all of a sudden, he screamed: ‘There! Over there! In the corner! Who is it?’ He was jumping up and down, and he was howling.” Then he stood quite still, only his lips moving....gradually he grew calm. After that he lay asleep for many hours.”

Gigi’s forehead wrinkled into a frown. What a bizarre coincidence! She knew many people thought Hitler had been insane and given to visions and forays



into the occult, but she had never realized before that he and the founder of the Rhodes Scholarship had been so aligned. She continued reading. “In 1933, soon after this strange event, Hitler seized power and the rest is history. A clue to exactly what fearsome thing Hitler had witnessed is given by Hitler himself, who said to his circle of intimate friends, of which Rauschning was a part: The new man is among us! He is here! I will tell you a secret. I have seen the vision of the new man – fearless and formidable. I shrank from him! “According to Rauschning, on another occasion Hitler remarked: I will tell you a secret. I am founding an Order.”

Gigi could not discount the remarkable similarity between the visions of Hitler and Rhodes. How strange that Rhodes’ secret society dedicated to ruling the world should have ultimately become a living reality in the next century in Hitler’s SS. She read on. “The German scientist, Oswald Spengler, in his `Decline

and Fall of Civilization in the West’, described the spirit of colonial expansion which possessed Rhodes as something, demonic and immense, which grips, forces into service and uses up mankind.’ And herein lies the clue to the careers of both Rhodes and Hitler, that at a point in their lives, they both encountered something demonic’. “Hitler himself appears to have made only one reference to Rhodes: at a dinner on April 18, 1942, he discussed Britain’s failure to maintain the world position it had held in the Victorian age and commented that the only person who had understood the historical conditions for continuing British supremacy was Cecil Rhodes, whom the British had ignored.”

Gigi recalled from previous research that Rhodes had been a great admirer of ancient Egypt. He loved to

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visit the ancient Egyptian monuments and he loved to discuss Egyptian history. He kept more than fifty books on Egypt in his private library and on the wall right next to his bed were hung two framed photographs of the Egyptian falcon god, Horus. Proof, she believed, of his dedication to mysticism. One of the central tenets of ancient Egyptian belief was the Ka - a guardian and spiritual double which took the form of a falcon and connected the individual to his ancestral realm. In Egyptian mythology, Horus in his human-child form, is conceived by the goddess Isis from the briefly resurrected phallus of her dead husband, Osiris–the Egyptian god of death and resurrection. Just four months before his death, Rhodes visited Egypt for the last time. Is that when he acquired the dagger? Cecil Rhodes had owned two daggers: an ancient Roman bronze, its sheath covered in mystic symbols; and an ancient Egyptian dagger. A few days prior to Rhodes’ death in Cape Town on March 26, 1902, a local artisan was called in to enlarge the window of his bedroom to allow a draft of cool, sea air to help relieve his congested lungs. In gratitude, Rhodes presented him with his Roman dagger. It is believed to be the last gift he ever made and it now resides in a private collection of Rhodes’ memorabilia. The Egyptian dagger had disappeared and so, it seemed, had all references to it. The Egyptian dagger is what Gigi so desperately sought. It contained the key to everything. It was absolutely essential that she locate it before she died. And time was running out.




Michael Cross had been teaching this class for five years, every Wednesday afternoon from three until six p.m. He enjoyed working with students, watching them grow and expand their awareness. It pleased him that each semester the numbers wanting to take his class had grown. He now had a waiting list for his class and that pleased him too. He was very informal. Most of his students called him Mike, except for the couple of senior citizens from the Elder Program who continued to call him Mr. Cross in spite of his assurance that he preferred Mike. Some of his students were drama majors who took his class because it was a requirement. Others, particularly his elder students, wanted to learn more about costumes, stage make-up and props so they could be of more use in the little theaters at which they volunteered. No matter how often he taught the same material he always felt a little nervous before the first class of the semester. Stage fright. A few butterflies in the stomach. Hopes that he wouldn’t screw anything up, appear foolish, or have any unruly students. The university had drummed into his head that if any student got out of line or became violent to not tackle it himself but call security immediately. He picked up the wall phone to be sure there was a dial tone, just in case. There was. He checked his watch. Ten minutes to go before showtime. Well, maybe I can finally get to my mail. Mike had picked up his mail at the college office, as usual, class lists, a huge stack of catalogs, plus pages and pages of repetitious documents from the Department Chair. Each semester it grew. Dick Mills, the new Chair,

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was a stickler for communication, so much so that most faculty tried desperately to avoid him. He tried too hard to create “dynamic, interactive working relationships” that only created more work for people in requiring them to fill out an endless stream of questionnaires and surveys. Mike thought the time would be better spent in giving faculty an opportunity to actually talk to each other. Everyone he had spoken to about it agreed. Mike sat at the front of the classroom eyeing the stack of papers. At the bottom of the mail pile was a thick white envelope, so overly stuffed that it required both staples and tape to seal it. Mike groaned, knowing it was filled with more irritating questionnaires. Still it had to be done. May as well get it over with. He tried to tear open the envelope, but it would not budge. Mike tried again. Still it would not tear. Then he bit the edge with his teeth, trying to make a small enough rip to get the tearing process started. Still nothing. Mike then realized the envelope was made of Tyvek, DuPont’s miracle polyethylene fiber. Virtually indestructible. There was no way it was going to tear. It would have to be cut. Mike checked the desk drawers searching for something sharp. A lot of part-time instructors shared the desk and the classroom. The contents of the desk drawers reflected that anonymity. There were a couple of chewed pencils, a ball-point pen, a few paper clips and rubber bands, some sheets of paper. No personal items. He felt far into the back of the middle drawer. His fingers touched something cold and sharp. “Damn!” He retracted his hand and saw the droplet of blood on his finger. He licked it away then, more carefully this time, reached into the drawer and pulled



out the letter opener. It had been wrapped with duct tape, probably to prevent someone from severing a finger, Mike decided. The students began to file in then and he put the envelope and opener into his duffle bag to deal with later. It was showtime. At the first meeting of class Mike always checked enrollment lists, passed out syllabi, and briefly discussed an overview of what he would cover during the semester: stage makeup and its relationship to stage lighting and costume. He kept the first session short and usually let them go early, giving them an opportunity to buy supplies from the list he distributed. Before dismissing the class, he introduced the students to the most recent book that he had added to his list of references, The Artificial Face: A History of Cosmetics by Fenja Gunn. As a parting shot, he said, “I just want to give you all one piece of information from this book that I think will intrigue you.” He held up his copy. “We’ll be covering the entire history of cosmetics, but one of my favorite periods is the 18th century. People did some pretty bizarre things then in the name of beauty. Now remember, it was an age of smallpox and open sewer drains which took their toll on people’s health. Even the very wealthy had pockmarked skin and rotten, discolored teeth. Small silk or leather patches called mouches became very fashionable to cover pitted skin. But my favorite artifact of the period were mouse skin eyebrows.” The class looked puzzled. A few students giggled. “Fashion became obsessed with elegant artificial eyebrows, so men and women alike quickly adopted the fashion of gluing mouse pelts in place to form eyebrows.

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Unfortunately, these seldom stayed on and it was a familiar sight to see frantic adjustments being made with an air of apparently unconcerned nonchalance. Many a dinner guest at grand functions discovered a mouse pelt floating in their soup. It was considered a social faux pas to draw attention to it.” Mike looked out at the students’ faces. Most looked totally confused, trying to decide whether he was serious or joking. “We’ll discuss the 18th century in detail next week. Pay close attention to the section on wigs and hair styles. Women created elaborate, high hairdos from mountains of false hair held in place with lard. The lard was left in the hair for weeks at a time and often attracted mice.” “Eeewww,” someone said. “Hey, maybe that’s how they got the mouse skins for their eyebrows,” a guy in the back of the room added. Mike grinned. “Could be. But to prevent mice or rats from attacking the larded hair, nightcaps made of wire were sometimes worn at bedtime. Just read the book and you’ll understand. See you all next week.” As the class began to leave, Mike reminded them one more time to put their portfolios on the side table by the door, as he would be grading them later. After the last student had gone, Mike gathered up his mail and his duffle bag of stage supplies which he used for demonstrations. He took one final look around the room to make sure it was neat and tidy, and that all the portfolios were stacked properly. Dick Mills was a stickler for neatness, and he didn’t want to go through another reprimand. He hurried off to his office, knowing that he would have to get back in time to pick up the stack of



portfolios before the next class began. As Mike stepped into the hallway, the echo of student voices was almost unbearable. This floor was a new addition to the building, but they had not added any acoustical tiles to dampen the sound. He made his way to the elevator and was nudged in by students pushing in from behind. The elevator descended and stopped at the first floor. Most of the occupants left. It was just Mike and one of the janitors going down to the basement level. Mike held the door for the janitor then followed him out into the hall. Going down the long corridor, past the costume sewing room, turning left and down a flight of six stairs, then through two double doors and a right turn, Mike came to another stairwell. He went down two more flights and then arrived at a door to his makeshift office. He unlocked the door and pushed it open then heard a crash. Some fool had left a large box of Edwardian costumes behind the door which were now strewn all over the floor. Mike resented the fact that other people used and occupied his lair and office. He considered it his sanctuary. He made his way to the back of the large, windowless room, lit only by glaring fluorescent tubes. His small 1930s chrome and wood desk that he had salvaged from recycling was piled with fabric scraps and sequins. His anger rose once again. Someone had been using his desk as a sewing table. Mike pushed it all aside and tossed his duffle bag and mail onto the desk. There was a large pile of memos, interoffice envelopes, and textbook instructor’s copies. He picked up one of the envelopes. It was dated the previous semester. If it hasn’t been handled by now it never will be. Goodbye.

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He threw it all into the recycling bin. He picked up the new pile of mail, and looked around for an object to continue the process of slitting open the Tyvek envelope. Then he remembered he had put the letter opener into his bag. As he picked up the knife, his fingers stuck to the handle. The tape had not been wrapped evenly and adhesive was oozing out between the layers. He stabbed the envelope and slipped the knife down the side to reveal the contents. A twisted smile crept across his face as he removed the papers from the envelope. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I can’t believe the son of a bitch Chair actually expects us to take this. The godamn test is as inept has he is! The damn thing was never intended as a fucking personality test. It was meant to show which government workers were best suited for the most boring, repetitive jobs imaginable. The man is a total asshole! And there was also a letter from Dick Mills saying how the Myers-Briggs would help the faculty communicate with each other. I hate this crap. Does he think we’re idiots? We already know how to communicate. Why else would we be teachers for Christ’s sake. Anger surged inside him again. Overhead was a costume rack with the geisha garb from last season’s production of Madame Butterfly. It caught his eye. Maybe I should just fall on this damn knife and get it over with. Then they could find me dead here in this overcrowded, miserable space along with the costumes. The image of Dick coming to look for his body among the doublets and kimonos struck him as humorous and dispelled his anger. He returned to the pile of papers



with a softened attitude and dutifully read the directions to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Fishing a red pen out of his duffle bag, he did not bother to read the questions, but merely marked answers randomly. That’s what I think of your MBTI, Dick! There were some 93 questions and when he finished the last one he wrote at the bottom of the page the date and time including hour, minute and second. This is who I am right now. A pissed off, underpaid instructor. But who knows who I’ll be in five minutes? He stuffed the MBTI back into an interoffice envelope and addressed it to the Chair. He would drop it to the office later on his way out. Then he remembered he still had to pick up the portfolios from the classroom before the next class began, but first he needed to check his voicemail. He picked up his desk phone and dialed. A cheery voice came on saying, “This number is no longer in service. Please check your number and make sure you are dialing correctly.” Mike was sure he had dialed the right number, but he tried it again, resulting in the same message. Shit. Now what? He dialed the department office. Janet, the secretary, answered in a monotone voice. “Department of....” Mike cut her off. “Hi Janet. This is Mike. I’ve been trying to retrieve my voicemail but it says the number is no longer in service. Do you know anything about this? And how can we get it fixed?” There was a long pause. “Mike who?” Janet asked. “Mike Cross. The lecturer in the department. The

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one who’s been here for five years. Remember me?” There was another pause, not quite as long this time. “Oh. I thought you were on sabbatical. I had your phone disconnected. Did you know that?” Mike rolled his eyes. Give me strength. “That’s why I’m calling, Janet. Why would you think I’m on sabbatical? I’m a part-time lecturer. I don’t qualify for sabbatical.” “Well that’s what the HRTP Committee told me,” Janet said in a disinterested tone. Mike felt the familiar frustration resurfacing. Why would the HRTP Committee tell her I’m on sabbatical? The Hiring, Retention, Tenure and Promotion Committee did not deal with part-time faculty so they would not have reason to discuss him with Janet at all. He did not bother to ask Janet the question, knowing her response would be her usual “I don’t know.” “No matter what the HRTP Committee might have told you. I am not on sabbatical and I do need my phone so that students can contact me and leave messages. How can we reconnect it?” “I don’t know,” Janet responded. “Then who would know?” “I think it might be Dan.” “And who is Dan?” “He’s the person I think might be able to fix it,” Janet repeated. Dear God, why did they hire this moron? And more to the point, why doesn’t somebody fire her? Mike knew it was a rhetorical question. The entire department wanted to strangle Janet for her incompetency but Janet, like many other inept personnel at the university, had tenure. She



would be a thorn in the department’s side until she decided to leave. Or until she died. “Could you please call Dan and have him reconnect my phone?” “That’s not my job. That’s the tech’s job.” “Is the tech available?” “No.” “Then could you give me Dan’s number and I’ll call him.” “I’ll have to look it up and call you back.” “How can you do that? I can’t receive calls. I can only call out on this line.” Frustrated, he slammed down the phone. Then he glanced at his watch and noted it was time to pick up the portfolios that he had left in the classroom. He grabbed his duffle bag, shoved in a few books from the desk, then turned off the lights and left the room. He went back up the flight of stairs to the long, grey corridor. Some classes had just been dismissed and the sound was unbearable. A group of especially noisy students walked toward him. Mike pitched his voice at a volume louder than theirs. “Excuse me. Could you bring the noise level down please? There’s no acoustical tile in this part of the building and you’re much too loud. It’s disturbing classes that are still in session.” A student with her hair in processed ringlets and two inch yellow polished nails responded with a look that could kill. “It’s not noise! It’s a conversation. And we have a right to have conversations.” “Not at that decibel level,” Mike replied. The students pushed passed him and continued their

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conversation at an even louder volume. Mike gave up, stepped into the elevator and pushed the button to the second floor. He opened the door to the classroom and the motion-sensor lights clicked on. Several people in the room turned to look at the door. “Excuse me. I didn’t know there was a class in session,” Mike said. “This isn’t a class, Professor Cross.” The voice came from the front of the room. It was Dick Mills. “This is a meeting of the College Council.” “Excuse the interruption. I just came in to pick up student portfolios that I’d left here.” “Oh. Were those the cardboard folders that were left on the table near the door?” Dick asked. “I had them thrown out. I assumed they were for recycling. We don’t leave student work in classrooms. I thought I’d been plain about that.” Mike replied, “Didn’t you read the note I left on top? I was only leaving them for a few minutes.” People stirred uneasily as they became aware of the growing tension between the two men. “Where did you have them sent to?” Mike asked. “I think they went to recycling. I’m not sure,” Dick said with disinterest. Mike left the room with a clenched jaw. As he stepped into the hall, his friend Jake, the custodian, took him by the arm. “I put your portfolios on a cart in another classroom. I knew they shouldn’t be thrown out. No matter what Dr. Mills said.” Mike smiled and followed Jake to where the portfolios were. Just another day in the life of a professor –Chairs



that are assholes, obnoxious students, and people at the bottom of the ladder who are the most helpful. Typical. Mike wheeled the cart to the elevator and descended to the lobby. He pushed the heavy cart to the parking garage across the uneven asphalt, almost losing a few portfolios on the way. Mike’s assigned parking spot was on the roof. He resented that he did not have covered parking for his car. But he was only part-time and lucky to get an assigned spot at all. Damn! Do I really want to drive these things home, unload them, reload them and then drive them back? No. I’ll just grade them out here on the tailgate of my car, then bring them back tomorrow. Day was beginning to slip into evening. With the light fading fast, Mike loaded the stack of portfolios into the back of the SUV. He backed up so that he could take advantage of illumination from the low-sodium vapor lamps overhead. They won’t render color well, but so what if all the reds look brown? About forty-five minutes later, Mike had four portfolios left to grade when a soft rain began to fall. Oh shit! I need to finish this up fast or all these pastels will begin to run. Mike hurried through his checklist of criteria for the assignment. By the time he reached the last portfolio, large droplets of rain had begun to fall on the black cardboard binders. He hurriedly pushed the whole stack into the SUV and covered them with a Pendleton blanket. Then he closed the tailgate. Thank God that’s done. I hope no one saw me standing out here grading these. Hardly professional. Who gives a damn though? Mike was growing tired of his job. Ever since Dick

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Mills had come on board things had become increasingly difficult. In less than a month, the job the had enjoyed for five years was rapidly turning into drudgery because of the Chair’s nitpicking attitudes. Why was Dick holding a council meeting anyway? That’s not supposed to happen without notifying the faculty first. What’s he up to? Mike had misplaced his car keys. They weren’t still in the tailgate. They weren’t in the ignition. He patted the front of his pants. Not there. Then he felt in his jacket pocket. Success. His fingers found the keys, then clasped around duct tape. It was the knife from the prop room. He must have put it in his pocket without realizing it. He felt the blade between his fingers and imagined it deftly slitting the Chair’s throat.



9. The sound of the newscaster’s voice kept repeating in Kama’s head.....a body has been washed up on Ocean Beach. He felt as if he had been washed up on the beach too. Battered. Bruised. Exhausted. Was it only yesterday his life had been fine? The day before? He couldn’t remember anymore. The distinction between minutes and days had blurred. His life had been a little boring before, perhaps, but fine. He went through his days doing translations, mostly from Japanese into English lately, but he was also fluent in six other languages. It had been a good life really. He had a wellpaying job, a decent place to live, food on the table, and a large savings account. He lived very frugally, scrimping and saving for the day when he would return to Japan and show his grandfather he was somebody. He lived for that day. But now that dream was as dead as the old man who had washed up on the beach. He envisioned himself in a prison uniform being taken away in shackles, heaping more shame onto his grandfather. He had heard what happened to young men in prison. A shudder than through him. Kama stared at himself in the medicine cabinet mirror. He looked the same. Certainly more tired than usual, but he looked like the same man he had been before the incident. And yet now everything had changed. He had gone back over that night again and again in his mind. It seemed like a decade had passed since the old man had disappeared over the edge of that cliff. He was due to meet Mitch Carter at the Castro Theater in a few minutes. He was in no mood to watch a

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film, yet he clung to the normalcy of that meeting like a lifeline. He had to go about his life as he had before. He had to be sure no one suspected anything. If he could just pull it off maybe things would work out after all. He had to pull this off. He just had to. He couldn’t remember when he had eaten last, or slept, but food was the farthest thing from his mind. He was running on pure adrenalin. Each time his mind replayed the image of the old man going over the cliff, he forced himself to focus on something else. Anything. But the image was too strong and it kept resurfacing. Watashi wa Nikko e ikimasu. Aki o Nikko wa kirei desu yo. Koko ni Tokyo no chizu ga arimasu. Tokyo no sora wa kitana-ku narimashita. I want to go to Nikko. Nikko is beautiful in autumn. Here is a map of Tokyo. The sky has become dirty in Tokyo. Why did those phrases keep running through his head? It was driving him crazy. His mind had become something he could no longer control. Between images of the old man falling into darkness and these insistent, repetitious phrases he felt trapped inside himself. He had to get out of his apartment or he would go insane. He prayed that meeting Mitch would be the anchor back to a normal life that he so desperately needed. Mitch stood outside the Castro Theater. Housed in the heart of the primarily gay Castro District, it was one of the last remaining movie palaces, complete with a Wurlitzer organ that rose up from the orchestra pit and played during intermission. Mitch prayed the old theater would never succumb to the multiplex syndrome that had gobbled up so many other landmark cinemas.



He was growing impatient. The Maltese Falcon was showing and it was one of his favorite noir films. He had seen it dozens of times, and yet each time he watched it, it seemed new and he found himself caught up in the story as if seeing it for the first time. He never grew tired of the hunt for the infamous Black Bird. Few people knew that The Maltese Falcon was a remake of Dangerous Lady which had starred Ricardo Cortez in the role of Sam Spade, but for Mitch there was only one Sam Spade and that was Humphrey Bogart. Bogart had the gift of transcending time. He was as fresh and vital today as he had been fifty years ago. And Mitch had no doubt that he would be just as viable fifty years from now. He was a true original; the perfect blend of tough guy and savior. He was the kind of guy who would kick you in the teeth without giving it a second thought, yet give you the shirt off his back just as readily. Others had tried to play Sam Spade, but Bogart owned the role. We had faces then. Mitch remembered that line from Sunset Boulevard delivered so poignantly by Gloria Swanson. And she had been right. In those days, being a Hollywood star had meant something. It all seemed flat today by comparison. Today’s stars still earned phenomenal salaries, but the mystique had gone. The illusionist had revealed his trick, and it was disappointing in its simplicity. Theater is about magic, the willing suspension of disbelief. When the audience learns too much, the illusion is ruined. Today there’s too much information about everything. Mitch noticed the line of people beginning to enter the Castro which snapped him out of his reverie. Damn. Where is Kama? If he’s not here soon we’ll miss the film.

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The line entering the theater trickled to a few stragglers and, finally, no one. Then the box office attendant put up a closed sign and left the booth. Mitch was just about to go when Kama came walking very quickly down from Market Street. He was out of breath by the time he reached Mitch. “Hey. I’m so sorry I’m late. Thanks for waiting.” “I was just about to leave,” Mitch replied. “We’ve missed the film.” Kama looked at the empty box office with its closed sign. “Oh.” His face fell and his shoulders slumped forward. “I was really looking forward to it.” He sighed heavily. “The day just got away from me.” “Hey. It happens. So what do you want to do now?” Kama looked as though Mitch had asked him how to achieve world peace. The question appeared to completely overwhelm him. He opened and closed his mouth several times without uttering a word. Then he just stood there. He reminded Mitch of an automaton who had wound down and was waiting for someone to wind up the key to regenerate him. “How about getting some dinner? I haven’t eaten yet. Have you?” Mitch said. “No.” “No dinner?” “No, I haven’t eaten yet. Dinner is fine. Sure. Dinner. Why not?” “Fuzio’s just down the street. Is that okay?” “Sure,” Kama agreed. The host seated them at one of the small tables. Mitch ordered linguine a la putanesca. Kama stared at the



menu, unable to make a decision. “Would you like a little more time?” the waiter asked. Yes. I’d like a little more time to go back and change my life. “No. I’ll just have what he’s having.” “Would you like some wine with your meal?” The waiter continued being solicitous. Mitch looked at Kama questioningly. Oh, God. Another decision. I don’t care. Leave me alone! “You decide,” Kama said to Mitch. “Please,” he added. “Is red okay?” Mitch asked. White. Red. My life is in shreds. Who cares? Kama nodded. “Then let’s do a cabernet sauvignon. This one.” Mitch pointed out a brand on the menu to the waiter. “Very good, Sir. I’ll be right back with your order.” Kama was amazed at the speed with which the food arrived. Or perhaps it had been a long time. He had lost the ability to judge anymore. He felt nauseous. Normally, the smell of garlic and tomatoes would have pleased him, but now it just added to his misery. He took a sip of the cabernet. It was dry, tangy, fruity. He realized how thirsty he was and drank the rest of the glass down in one gulp. “So what have you been up to?” Mitch asked. What does he mean by that? Does he know? No, of course he doesn’t know. Get a grip. It’s just an innocent question. “Oh. Just the usual. Work and stuff. How about you?” “Pretty much the same,” Mitch answered. “So what kind of work do you do?”

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“I’m a translator.” “Really? Well that sounds interesting. What languages? “I’m fluent in Japanese, English, French, Italian, German, and Russian. And I have a passing knowledge of a few dead languages.” Mitch chuckled. Why is he laughing? I didn’t say anything funny, Kama thought. “Like what?” “Excuse me?” “You said you know some dead languages. Which ones?” “Oh. A little Sanskrit. Some Latin. Actually more Latin than Sanskrit. Bits of this and that.” “It must be fascinating to know that many languages. Can you actually think in all of them?” Right now I’m having trouble thinking at all. “Yes. I suppose so. I don’t think about it much.” “I guess it’s just second nature to you,” Mitch said. Mitch coiled a forkful of linguine and began eating. Kama couldn’t remember the waiter putting the food in front of him, but he took Mitch’s lead, coiled some of the pasta around his fork and put it in his mouth. He immediately wanted to gag, but forced himself to chew and swallow. He poured himself another glass of wine and took a large gulp. “Are you okay?” Mitch asked. Kama nodded. “It’s just that you seem a little...upset or something.” Mitch looked at Kama with those strange blue eyes



seeming to look right into his soul - at least that’s what it felt like to Kama. I need to tell you. I need to tell someone. I can’t hold this inside anymore. But I can’t tell anyone. I have to keep it to myself. “I’m fine. Just another headache,” Kama lied. Mitch changed the subject. “Could you believe that rain last night? It’s not often we get a storm like that this time of year.” “Yes. It was very heavy. I got soaked.” “Jeez. You were out in that?” “I was at the beach.” It slipped out before Kama realized what he had said. He bit his lip, silently cursing himself. “At the beach?” Kama desperately searched for a way to change the subject, but his mind had gone completely blank. “You’re not one of those surfer dudes are you?” Mitch grinned. Kama shook his head. “No.” God help me find a way to change the subject. But apparently God was not paying attention. Kama reached for his wine glass. “Hey did you get a look at the body?” Mitch asked. Kama choked on the wine, spewing red droplets down the front of his shirt. His heart stalled. He couldn’t breathe. “You know. The body that washed up on the beach,” Mitch continued. Kama had gone rigid. His eyes had that deer-in-theheadlights look. “You must have heard about it,” Mitch said. “It’s been all over the news.”

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Why is he talking about this? Is he trying to torture me? “I’ve been busy.” It was the only thing Kama could think of to say. “They cut off its head,” Mitch continued. Kama looked horrified. “Wh - What?” he stammered. He could feel the vomit rising in his throat, but he willed it to stay in place. “Well it isn’t every day a body like that washes on shore. They cut off the head and some bits of flesh. Took it away for study.” That’s it. I am going insane. He‘s sitting there eating his dinner and talking about this like it’s nothing. Maybe Mitch is insane! No. I’m the one who killed him. I killed the old man. He knows! That must be it. Mitch knows I did it. He’s trying to get me to say something. To implicate myself. But I won’t. I can pull this off. I can do this. “They cut off the head? Why would they do that? Why would they do that?” Kama repeated himself. He had tried to sound nonchalant, but the tone of his voice was one of pure panic. “I told you. To study it,” Mitch replied. “But why not take the whole body? Why just leave it lying out there? It’s sick. It’s disrespectful. ” “Well, that may be true, but it gives people a chance to look at it while.....” “What? What are you talking about? Why should people want to look at it?” “I thought that’s why you’d gone to the beach. I might have gone myself but I had to work,” Mitch said. Kama couldn’t control himself any longer. “Are you insane?” His voice was so shrill and high pitched that people at other tables turned to look in his direction. “You



don’t leave dead people lying around so other people can look at them.” The fork in Mitch’s hand hung suspended halfway between his plate and his mouth. He looked directly at Kama who was a man right on the edge. His eyes were wild and the corner of his mouth had begun to twitch. “People? Dead people? I didn’t say anything about dead people,” Mitch said. “You did. You said a dead body washed up on the beach and they’d taken it’s head away.” “It’s a whale. A dead whale,” Mitch explained. Kama’s heart pounded. He felt like a cleaver had been planted directly in front of his forehead. He was simultaneously sweating and chilled. Inside, he was screaming a whale, a whale, a whale as he ran from the restaurant.

Casey Alden


10. Monica reported for her first day on the job with her usual punctuality. Precisely at ten a.m. she rang Gigi Greenwood’s doorbell. In a repeat of the previous day, Alma opened the door and eyed her suspiciously. “Good morning, Alma,” Monica said brightly. “Morning.” Alma flicked a crumb of croissant from her lip. “I was just taking a coffee break. Can you find your way up?” Alma’s tone suggested that she had been working for hours and needed a break. “Sure. No problem.” Now that she was more familiar with the surroundings, Monica took time to notice details as she made her way to Gigi’s library. She took the elegant, curved stairs and noticed how perfectly balanced the treads and risers were, making her feel as though she floated up the stairs rather than walked. The soft, pale carpet gave the sensation of luxury without being so soft that it made her ankles wobble on her high heels. The hallway walls were upholstered in cream silk damask finished off with finely woven gimp with just a hairline thread of pale coral woven into the perfectly matched cream tint. The library door was ajar. She knocked lightly, and slipped her head around the edge of the door. Gigi sat in her wheelchair staring at the screen of the laptop computer. At the sound of Monica’s knock she looked up. “Ah. Good. You’re punctual. I like that.” She motioned to Monica, “Come in. And don’t forget to lock the door. Now we can really get to work. If you want some coffee, better get it now. I don’t like interruptions.”



“No, thanks. I’m fine.” Monica locked the door. “Come and sit here at the computer.” Monica obeyed, moving the Aeron chair into position and making minor adjustments to suit her posture. “Yes. Feel free to do that,” Gigi said. “I rarely use that chair anymore.” She took a deep inhalation of oxygen then said, “Well, I think you’ve brought me luck. I found something last night. It’s not much but it’s a start. I’ve found a link to the Green Dragon Society.” “I see that obviously pleases you but, umm, could you give me some background on how I’ll be helping you?” “Oh, my dear, I’m so sorry. Of course. I’ve been so focused on this for so long I expect you to read my mind. Let’s begin at the beginning.” Monica settled back in the Aeron. “You’re here to help me locate an artifact. An Egyptian dagger, to be exact.” I guess the rich are different. You’re so sick and yet you’re still out looking to acquire more stuff. Monica wondered what Gigi would think if she said that out loud. She pushed the thought from her mind and focused her attention on what Gigi was saying. “Are you familiar with the Thules?” Monica shook her head. “No, I’m not.” “Well, my dear, essentially The Thule Society were the founders of the Nazi Party. It was begun by three men. Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorf, Professor Karl Haushofer and Dietrick Eckart. Among its most important members were many who later became Nazi leaders. Adolf Hitler

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belonged to the Society as an associate or visiting brother. Sebottendorf bought the newspaper Völkischer Beobachter --which later became the official Nazi Party journal. Dietrich Eckart, for many years Hitler’s mentor, provided the money for the purchase. “Sebottendorf was a Freemason. Just before World War I he made several trips to the Near East. By 1919, he founded the Thule Society, along with Haushofer and Eckart, and elevated himself to the rank of Grand Master. He exerted considerable influence in high German circles. He brought to life the age-old myth of Atlantis, calling it Thule. Occultists believe that Thule, like Atlantis, was the center of a vanished civilization whose members had magic powers. The Thule Gesellschaft was a front for a whole web of secret societies which had similar racist and anti-Semitic occultist roots. “Briefly, I’ll now recount to you the creed of the Thule society inner circle. As I said, they believed Thule was a legendary island in the far north, similar to Atlantis, supposedly the center of a lost, high-level civilization. But not all secrets of that civilization had been completely wiped out. Those that remained were being guarded by ancient, highly intelligent beings. The truly initiated could establish contact with these beings by means of magicmystical rituals. The ‘Masters’ or ‘Ancients’ allegedly would be able to endow the initiated with supernatural strength and energy. With the help of these energies the goal of the initiated was to create a race of Supermen of ‘Aryan’ stock who would exterminate all ‘inferior’ races. This, at least, is the mythology behind the group. Are you with me so far?” “I think so. Although, to be honest, I’m having



trouble understanding how people could have bought into that idea,” Monica said. “Perhaps as I continue you’ll understand more. Now, where was I? Oh yes. Adolf Hitler was a very interesting man - possibly insane of course - but interesting, nevertheless. During World War I, about two months after winning the Iron Cross, Hitler was blinded by mustard gas during a battle. He was taken to the Pasewalk military hospital in northern Germany where he was mistakenly diagnosed as suffering from ‘psychopathic hysteria’. The symptoms were probably caused by the mustard gas. Hitler was consequently placed under the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Edmund Forster. What exactly was done to Hitler while under Dr. Forster’s care is uncertain because years later, in 1933, the Gestapo rounded up all psychiatric records related to Hitler’s treatment and destroyed them. Dr. Forster ‘committed suicide’ in that same year, undoubtedly helped on his way by the Gestapo. “The mystery of what was done to Hitler at Pasewalk is deepened by Hitler’s own statements. According to Hitler, he had experienced a ‘vision from ‘another world’ while at the hospital. In that vision, Hitler was told that he would need to restore his sight so that he could lead Germany back to glory. Hitler’s latent anti-Semitism, which had already been planted by his mystical readings in Vienna, emerged at Pasewalk. In a shrewd piece of detective work published in the journal, History of Childhood Quarterly, psychohistorian Dr. Rudolph Binion suggests that Hitler’s visions may have been deliberately induced by the psychiatrist, Edmund Forster, as a means of helping Hitler recover from his blindness. Dr. Binion cites a book completed in 1939 entitled, Der Augenzeuge, The Eyewitness, written by a

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Jewish doctor named Ernst Weiss who had fled Germany in 1933.” “Is this true?” Monica asked. “Oh yes. It’s quite well documented. As a matter of fact it’s quite possible that Hitler was treated with psychotropic drugs at Pasewalk, perhaps mescaline or something akin to it, which either caused a psychotic break or expanded his consciousness, depending on your point of view. Remember I told you all the records were destroyed on his order, so there is no proof anymore. There is so much more to all of this, but I don’t want to overburden you with too much information all at once. I know it can be a lot to take in. I’ve been researching this for years so it all seems quite commonplace to me. But I can remember how I felt when I first discovered some of this information.” “Like Alice in Wonderland?” Monica inquired. Gigi gave a wan smile. “More like Alice in Hell.” Gigi delivered those words in such an ominous tone that Monica felt chilled. She tried to convince herself it was just a draft from the air conditioning. “Frankly some of what you’ve told me does seem a bit off the wall. I hope you don’t mind me saying that,” Monica added quickly. “Not at all. I value honesty above all else. I know how it sounds. Believe me. But it is fact, nevertheless. The occult was an integral part of the Nazi movement although the average person doesn’t realize just how big a part. Hitler first made contact with occultists in 1909 through a man named Goerg Lanz von Lieberfels and another named Guido von List. Lanz was known for starting a society called the ‘Order of New Templars’ and



later claimed credit for influencing Nazi ideology - a claim which has some merit considering that one of his books was found in Hitler’s personal library now archived in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. As for List, he founded the ‘Armanen’, a Germanic pagan priestly order which apparently accepted Hitler into their Brotherhood. Books by List were found stamped with the insignia of the SS Ahnenerbe, the Nazi Ancestral Research division, indicating that his teachings were studied by SS candidates. Both Lanz and List were obsessed with blood purity, the Jewish threat, and a ‘new world order.’ Both embraced the swastika as a central symbol, borrowing it from Hindu mystics.” “The swastika is a Hindu symbol? I had no idea,” Monica said. “Few people realize that the swastika is an ancient symbol, used long before Nazi Germany ever existed,” Gigi answered. Monica waited for Gigi to continue, but she was silent. Then quite suddenly she began to gasp. A thin, wheezing sound escaped from her nostrils. Her hand reached out toward Monica. With obvious difficulty she squeezed out the words, “Get Alma.” Monica was alarmed. Jesus, don’t die on me!. Monica rushed from the room and ran through the hall calling Alma’s name. The house was silent. Where the hell are the servants? There are supposed to be servants. Monica kicked off her shoes to allow her to tackle the stairs two at a time. She had never totally mastered the art of high heels. She had reached the grand entrance hall. “Alma. Alma, where are you?” Her voice echoed in the cavernous space. Still silence. Shit!

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Leading off the entrance hall were several hallway arteries each leading to a different part of the huge house. She had no idea which one to take. When in doubt follow your instincts. She picked a hallway and dashed down it calling Alma’s name. She passed several closed doors then came to a dead end at another closed door. She hesitated for a second. She was wasting precious time. Maybe I should just call 911. She looked around wondering which door to try. Then, she heard a muffled sound from inside the end room. She turned the doorknob and was shocked at what she saw. Alma sat at the kitchen island with her back to the door, surrounded by food. Several plates were piled high with cold meats and cheeses. There were bowls of ice cream, bags of potato chips, and a large chocolate cake in the middle with a big gouge in its side. Alma turned at the sound of the opening door to face Monica. The lower half of her face was covered in chocolate. My God, she just stuck her whole face into the cake! Monica realized that her expression must be revealing the revulsion she felt, but there was no time to worry about that now. “Gigi needs you right now. She can’t breathe.” “Shit, wouldn’t you know it!” Alma wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, then transferred the chocolate icing onto her jeans. Then she remembered. “Crap, I guess I forgot to change her tank.” Alma looked panicked. Monica was astonished at the speed with which Alma sprang into action. Alma left the counter, knocking over a stool, and ran down the hallway. She stopped at a closet to grab an oxygen tank then took the stairs two at a time, arriving at Gigi’s room barely breathing herself. Gigi’s lips had begun to turn blue. She was clearly



in distress as she panted, trying to take in air. Alma rushed to her and exchanged the spent tank for the new one. Almost instantly, Gigi’s face relaxed as the life sustaining gas entered her lungs. She gorged on the oxygen, taking in huge gasps. Quickly her lips returned to their soft pink, and the panic left her eyes. Within a few moments she had totally regained her composure. “Thank you, Alma,” Gigi said, taking note of Alma’s food stained clothing. “Are you having a problem again?” “No, Mrs. Greenwood. No. I swear. I have it under control.” Gigi’s expression said she didn’t agree with Alma’s assessment. “I can’t go through this again, Alma. This is the last time. Do you understand?” Alma nodded. “All right,” Gigi said. “Monica, please lock the door after Alma and let’s get back to work.” “Are you sure you don’t want to rest for a little while?” Monica asked. “No. There’s too much work to be done. Please lock the door after Alma.” Monica dutifully followed Alma to the door and waited for her to pass through it. As she walked into the hallway, Alma hesitated and turned to face Monica. Alma’s tiny eyes registered an expression of pure hatred. Monica recoiled as if she had been slapped. Then she locked the door behind Alma then returned to Gigi. “Now,“ Gigi said, “I’ll tell you why I’m so excited about what I’ve discovered. For more than two years I’ve been searching for some concrete information about the Green Dragon Society. I have rather bad insomnia so

Casey Alden


rather than just lying there at night plagued with thoughts, I prefer to work on my research. The Green Dragon Society has been mentioned several times in documents pertaining to the dagger, but I’ve never been able to find out anything about them. Until last night. Here. I printed this out for you. I need to rest from talking for a few minutes.” Gigi handed Monica a few sheets of paper. “Go ahead and look this over.” Monica took the pages and began silently reading.

“The Green Dragon Society was, or perhaps is, a Japanese secret society dedicated to the mastery of the human body, and of the Time Organism or the Etheric Body. Mastery allowed access to great power, apparently. They also had powers of prophecy. Other sources suggest that they were able to control the elements within their bodies. Higher level initiates had to prove themselves by forcing a seed to germinate by their willpower. The Japanese order is distinguished from western secret societies by it’s exacting demands - especially the price of failure. Karl Haushofer, Nazi general and Professor of GeoPolitics was one of only three westerners ever, who have become members of the Green Dragon Society. Haushofer was a military attaché in Tokyo when he joined before WW1. Later Haushofer was a Nazi and was influential in forming Nazi racial policy. Haushofer was also a member of the Vril Society or Luminous Lodge. The Vril Society is supposedly one of the sources of the Nazi party with early party members overlapping with the Vril Thule and other secret societies. The Vril Society, and later the Nazis, organized expeditions to Tibet starting in 1926, ending in 1942 trying to contact the Cave Oracles of Tibet. In 1929 some of the Tibetans returned to Germany with the Germans and formed lodges in Berlin,



Munich and Nuremberg, though some sources say that only a lodge in Berlin was formed. The Tibetan monks in Germany were known as the Society of Green Men. It’s foremost adept was known as the Monk of the Green Hands, who was renowned for his clairvoyant abilities and had mastered prophecy. Hitler had audiences with him. The Society of the Green Men were apparently in astral contact with the Green Dragon Society, and had been for several centuries. The Green Dragon Society sent seven members to aid the Society of Green Men in Germany. The Green Men were to help further the Nazi cause and the projected mutation that would turn the Aryans into God-Men. The activities of the Green Men were under heavy Nazi security. The Green Men fell out of favor in 1943/44. This may have been due to the failure of the Tibetans to alter the course of the war, or it may have been due to the involvement of Haushofer’s son in the 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler. Some sources say that they were put on concentration camp rations. It is reported that when the Russians entered Berlin in 1945 they came across numerous bodies of Tibetans. They had all committed suicide by a knife stroke to the stomach. Some sources say the monks were in German uniform without insignia, other sources say they were naked. Because of his failure, Haushofer killed his wife and then committed seppuku himself at the end of the war, as would be expected by the Green Dragon Society. The last remnants of the Society of the Green Men were eliminated in 1959 by the Communists after the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1950.”

Monica finished reading. Her head was spinning. Hitler on mescaline? Secret societies. Mutated humans with super powers. World dominators who believed in

Casey Alden


fairy tales. She was beginning to think perhaps she was on psychotropic drugs herself. Gigi’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “As you’ve read there, Karl Haushofer was one of only three westerners admitted to the Green Dragon Society. It’s the link I’ve been praying for. After Hitler came to power in 1933, Professor Haushofer was instrumental in developing Germany’s alliance with Japan. Most of the meetings between high rank Japanese officials and Nazi leaders took place at his home near Munich. He saw Japan as the brother nation to Germany, the Herrenwolk of the Orient. Haushofer spoke excellent Japanese, and was an expert in the history and traditions of Japan. He was a Professor of Far East Studies at Munich University. Before the war, Karl Haushofer and his son, Albrecht, maintained close contacts with British members of an occult group called the Golden Dawn. When war between Germany and England broke out Haushofer tried to use his influence with Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s secretary, in trying to convince Hitler to make peace with the British.” “Obviously, he failed,” Monica interjected. “Yes. So history has shown. In the Spring of 1941, after having failed to convince Hitler, Haushofer urged Hess to make direct contact with the Duke of Hamilton, a Scottish member of the Golden Dawn. On May 10, 1941, Hess took off for Scotland. Whether Hitler knew his plans or not is still subject of debate among historians. The British government, however, didn’t even want to hear Hess’ peace propositions and put him in jail incommunicado. After Hess’ failure, the Nazis denounced him as mentally disturbed. “Karl Haushofer fell from grace with the Nazis



when his son, Albrecht, conspired in the 1944 coup against Hitler. Also, it was discovered that Karl’s wife was Jewish and this undoubtedly added to his problems. Albrecht was executed and Karl Haushofer was sent to the infamous Dachau concentration camp. Haushofer’s membership in the ultra-secret Green Dragon Society, bound him under oath to commit ritual suicide if faced with dishonor. After the war, Haushofer was among the Nazi members to be put on trial before the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. But Professor Haushofer never went to trial. After killing his wife, Karl committed suicide in the traditional Japanese way, cutting his intestines with a sharp samurai short sword, in a personal, formal ceremony called seppuku sometimes commonly and vulgarly known as hara-kiri.” “This is just amazing. How come they don’t teach us this stuff in history classes? I have to admit I’m having some trouble wrapping my head around some of it,” Monica said. “Ah, my dear, as you grow older you will realize that all the things you really need to learn are not taught in school.” “So why is the Green Dragon Society so important to you?” asked Monica. “I’ve been searching for the link to Japan. And I believe this could be it. Hitler believed whoever had possession of the dagger would have total power. The Thules had adopted a dagger as their symbol, but this Egyptian dagger was very special, indeed – and supposedly endowed with occult powers. It was Haushofer who forged Hitler’s alliance with Japan basing his case, if you can believe this, on astrological predictions. As the Nazi conquest advanced, Haushofer applied his theories

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through prophecies that even overruled the military leadership in directing troop movements. I believe the dagger is in Japan. You are here to help me find it. It has been, and undoubtedly will continue to be, a painstaking process. I’ve managed to assemble one clue at a time, but I don’t have the strength left to tackle this alone anymore. I’ve told you only a very small part of the story. Just what you need to know to help me, but not enough to put you in danger.” “Danger?” Monica’s voice was sharp. “Of course. With an artifact of this importance you don’t expect I’m the only one looking for it, do you? There are others.” “No. I suppose not. I hadn’t thought of that.” “There is some risk involved. Which is another reason I’m paying you a six figure bonus in addition to buying your silence. May I still count on your help - and your discretion?” “Yes,” Monica said without hesitation. As soon as the word was out of her mouth, she wondered why she had agreed so quickly. Is it just for the money? What good will money be if I’m not alive to spend it? And who are the others looking for the dagger? Even as she set to work at the computer trying to trace the Green Dragon Society, a small voice in her head was saying: This is more that you bargained for. Get out now while you still can. Yet, somehow, Monica knew it was already too late.

Conspiracy Chapters 1-10  

Conspiracy, a novel by Casey Alden. Chapters 1-10.

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