Monday, April 16, 2012

SAECULUM ( A Novel: Part 30) – DILUCULUM I

SOL OCCAXUS (Sunset) Monday, 19 September, 2011

CREPUSCULUM (Evening Twilight)

I. Friday, 23 September, 2011
II. Thursday, 29 September, 2011
III. Thursday, 29 September, 2011
IV. Sunday, 16 October, 2011

VESPER (Evening Dusk)

I. Sunday, 23 October, 2011
II. Sunday, 30 October, 2011
III. Wednesday, 9 November, 2011
IV. Monday, 14 November, 2011
V. Monday, 14 November, 2011

CONCUBIUM (First Sleep – Coitus – Rest)

I. Thursday, 17 November 2011
II. Sunday, 20 November, 2011
III. Friday, 25 November, 2011
IV. Thursday, 1 December, 2011
V. Thursday, 1 December, 2011
VI. Thursday, 8 December, 2011
VII. Sunday, 11 December, 2011


I. Sunday, 1 January, 2012
II. Thursday, 5 January, 2012
III. Saturday, 7 January, 2012
IV. Monday, 16 January, 2012
V. Sunday, 29 January, 2012
VI. Sunday, 29 January, 2012
VII. Friday, 3 February, 2012
VIII. Friday, 3 February, 2012


I. Sunday, 12 February, 2012
II. Saturday, 18 February, 2012
III. Wednesday, 22 February, 2012

MATUTINUM (Dawn Goddess)

I. Monday, 27 February, 2012
II. Sunday, 4 March, 2012
III. Sunday, 4 March, 2012
IV. Friday, 9 March, 2012
V. Friday, 16 March, 2012
VI. Friday, 16 March, 2012
VII. Friday, 16 March, 2012
VIII. Friday, 16 March, 2012
IX. Wednesday, 21 March, 2012
X. Wednesday, 21 March, 2012
XI. Wednesday, 21 March, 2012
XII. Friday, 23 March, 2012
XIII. Friday, 23 March, 2012
XIV. Friday, 23 March, 2012

DILUCULUM (Dawn Twilight)

I. Monday, 16 April, 2012

SOLI ORTUS (Sunrise)

Dawn Twilight


To the east, the first glow of a rising sun was just about visible on the horizon and a warm wind swirled in the charcoal-laden morning twilight. Michael Mara sat in sullen silence on the observation deck and watched the frantic activity across the valley. Multiple butts of half-smoked and discarded cigarettes lay scattered at his feet and he constantly used his shirtsleeve to wipe moist soot particles from his face as he tried to distinguish between the numerous gendarme and fire fighters, from the National Parks service, that swarmed over the charred wreckage of Alexander’s villa. From where he sat he could still hear the roof tiles crackle as they split and every now and then see tongues of spitting, hissing flames erupt. He did not look up as Arnold joined him.
“How are you doing, Michael? You didn’t come back downstairs,” the General asked in a concerned way.
“Ok, Bob . . . I think.” Michael kept staring at the smouldering villa. A facial twitch caused blackened and bloodstained crease lines to distort his otherwise impassive features. “What’s happening over there? Did you find Isabella?”
“No. No sign of a woman’s body with her description yet. There is however, a part of the building where the walls collapsed inwards and it will be a while before they can move the rubble. She might be there.”
“I see. I just need to know, Bob. You understand that don’t you? Caroline, Alonzo, Rod, and now Isabella. All of them are fucking dead. Is all this my fault?” Michael asked despairingly.
“No. Of course not!” Arnold pulled up a chair. He said nothing for a while as he watched what Michael watched. Suddenly there was a crashing noise as something solid hit the decking wood. They both looked down. It was a large rabbit whose life quickly ebbed as they watched. “What the hell. Where did that come from?” Arnold asked.
“Look up there.” Michael pointed upwards. “I wonder if it’s a lammergeyer.” A huge eagle-like bird patrolled the sky above the valley. There was too little light to make out its colouring. Michael thought he could hear a shrill whistle of annoyance. “It’s very weird. There was a lammergeyer in Alonzo’s story of the Voices.”
“What are these voices are you keep talking about, Michael?”
“Oh. Nothing, Bob … just a story Alonzo told me. Like something from the Arabian nights.”
Arnold stood up and kicked the lifeless corpse of the rabbit into the ravine below them. A trail of blood smeared across the decking. He looked back at Michael whose attention was still captured by the majesty of the soaring bird. “Michael there is something else I need to . . . ” he hesitated.
“Go on Bob. You were going to tell me earlier before being called away. What is it?” Michael said without diverting his eyes from the sky above him.
“It’s about Caroline’s death and your partner Rod Mallory.”
Dead partner!” Michael rasped. “What about them, Bob?”
Arnold’s face was a picture of concern and nervousness as he retook his seat. “We . . . we feel reasonably certain that Mallory might have killed Caroline.”
“What . . . Why? I don’t fucking believe you. They were friends, tennis partners for God’s sake.” Michael stood up and glared down at him.
Arnold shifted uncomfortably in his chair and kicked out at the butts on the decking. “It appears that Mallory might be . . . might have been, a major figure in the Mexican drug trade and that Caroline was caught in the crossfire of an internal dispute. He couldn’t afford to have her knowing about his connections. He killed her.”
“How do you know that?” Michael said coldly.
Arnold said nothing for a considerable time. He didn’t look at Michael but instead pretended to be distracted by the activity across the valley. He fingered the collar of his shirt nervously.
“How do you know that, Bob? Answer me!” Michael demanded.
“One of our agents was tailing him.” The army general’s voice was almost inaudible as he spoke.
“What? Why?” Michael shook his head as he began to pace across the balcony.
“Once the results of the field trials on the cocaine virus started coming through so positively, everyone who had anything to do with its development, and that included your colleagues in Hoxygene, were placed under surveillance. These orders came from the very top. We had great concerns over security and safety.”
“Well you certainly made a great fucking job of that, didn’t you, Bob! In case you’ve forgotten, you prize prick, Hertzog, Alexander, Mallory and . . . Caroline are all dead. Some fucking protection! Why did you not protect Caroline? Why the fuck could you not save Caroline, if you were watching her. She knew nothing about my work for the Army on the virus.” Michael’s tone was venomous.
“Listen, Michael. This was all breaking very fast. The order to throw a security blanket over you and the virus work was only issued last Monday, when the first results of the field trials started coming through. We were just getting our surveillance schedules up to speed and could not have suspected that Mallory was such a loose cannon. He was your partner and financial controller in Hoxygene for God’s sake!” Arnold paused then continued, “We knew he had very little access to the scientific work you were doing for us and his initial security screen gave no cause for concern. We considered him low risk and the tail put on him was of minimal intensity. Caroline was already with secret service agents and we were satisfied that we had that ground covered.”
“Were they alerted?” Michael stopped pacing.
Arnold hesitated again and appeared to blush. “No! Not in any specific way. When Mallory flew to Mexico, we thought that they, your wife and Mallory, had arranged to meet there. You know! We wanted to be discreet.”
“You thought that they might be lovers.” Michael said quietly as he remembered that he had thrown the same accusation at Caroline. “Is that why?”
“Yes. It’s not unusual and from what we had heard they were very close. No one could have expected something like that to happen.”
“Why didn’t you pick up the bastard, if you are convinced he might have killed her?”
“Very soon after arriving, Mallory left Mexico again, in a private jet. The agent assigned to tail him only arrived in La Paz as his aircraft took off. He didn’t realize what had gone down in the hotel and was busy trying to determine Mallory’s next movements. The jet’s pilot had filed a flight plan to Miami so another of our agents was quickly assigned to pick him up on arrival there. It was then, and only then, that we first became aware of the drug people he was dealing with. It was also about that time that the agent in Mexico found Caroline. By the time the news was relayed to Miami and we could react, Mallory had disappeared again.”
“How can you be so sure it was Rod Mallory?”
“Somebody saw him stupidly dump a package in an airport hanger garbage can shortly after landing. It was recovered and a gun found. The ballistics matched the crime scene in Mexico!”
“Luckily! That’s a loose fucking description of what’s happened. I thought Caroline’s post-mortem was not done yet.”
“Michael. Please sit down. This is very hard for me.” Beads of sweat began to appear on Arnold’s forehead.
Michael stopped pacing and retook his seat. “I’m sure it is, Bob, but it’s not your wife that’s dead.”
Arnold was visibly stung by the rebuke. “My own wife has ovarian cancer. She’s likely to die in the next two years. Knowing it will happen makes the pain worse.” He was about to get up when Michael put his hand on his arm to stop him.
“I’m very sorry, Bob. I didn’t know. Explain how you know about the ballistics.”
“They come from the body of Diego Rios . . . The man found with Caroline. There is no reason to expect otherwise. It was a clinical kill. Similar modus.”
Michael said nothing. He had all but forgotten about the Mexican, Rios and he suddenly felt his chest tighten. He couldn’t breath and wanted to gag. He needed to scream out. He needed the air. Michael began to cry with an uncontrollable sobbing that jerked his body into spasms of pain. It was all Arnold could do to stop him falling to the ground as he knelt beside Michael’s chair holding him as hard as he could. The spasms continued for what seemed an age until just as suddenly they stopped again and Michael’s muscles relaxed. “Let me go, Bob!” Michael’s voice was hard and clear.
Arnold recoiled at the intensity of it. “Are you OK, Michael?”
“Yes.” Michael stood up and leant against the balcony railing. Across the valley the burning timbers and roof-tiles of Alexander’s villa hissed and jumped as the water cannons sprayed into their flaming embers. He could hear more sirens winding their way up the narrow valley road from Corte. The scorched wind was scented with the aroma of mountain pine. At that instant, Michael Mara’s head suddenly arched back and as he looked up at the sky with wild staring eyes he began to laugh. It was an intense laughter of such visible violence that tears were forced from his eyes and began streaming down his cheeks. Its loudness echoed off the walls and across the valley floor. He turned to Arnold and began wildly shaking the older man’s shoulders. “Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! This is all just a fucking game. Isn’t it, Bob?” he shouted.
The general looked puzzled.
Suddenly, Michael’s grip on Arnold’s jacket eased as quickly as it had begun. The frenzied peels of ghoulish laughter shuddered abruptly to a halt as he glared at the Army man with red raw eyes and streaming cheeks. “Well you can stop it right now, Bob. Enough is enough. Tell Rod Mallory that he’s won!”
“What are you talking about, Michael?” Bob Arnold was suddenly very confused.
The Game! The Silicone Valley game. Rod Mallory set me up for this. I’ll kill him when I see him.”
“What game Michael? Mallory is dead.”
“You’re very convincing, Bob but you can stop it now. You can stop messing with my mind. I give in. The game is over.”
“You’re making no sense, Michael.” Arnold stood up and moved slowly backwards towards the doorway where the telescopes were set up. He picked up a walkie-talkie from where it hung on the side of one of the tripods and after depressing the transmit button whispered urgently into the microphone. Michael was looking at him and began to laugh again.
“Ha. Ha. You were all really bloody good, Bob. Even down to Alonzo calling me the last Magus. Isn’t that the plan? Manipulate the victim. Obscure his tenuous reality with tangible fantasy. I can see it all so clearly now. The happenchance meeting with Isabella and then Alonzo! The story of the Voices and the apparent sex in Isabella’s apartment to suck me in! Alexander’s villa, Caroline’s reported death. I never saw the clues.”
“Michael! Get a hold of yourself. What are you talking about?” Arnold started walking slowly towards where Michael was standing.
“The game, Bob! This shit! All this playacting shit is just part of Bellfiore’s and Allen’s game for bored millionaire nerds. And I’m fucken’ Michael Douglas. It must have cost a fortune! You tell Mallory to stick the obelisk up his arse.”
“What’s going on out here?” Dave shouted as he brushed past the telescopes. He saw Michael laughing hysterically near the balcony with Arnold standing close by.
Suddenly, the general lunged and pinned Michael’s arms behind his back. Mara began to struggle. “He’s flipped, Dave.” Arnold looked very frightened as he shouted. “He’s ranting on about some friggen’ game. I’m afraid he might hurt himself. Get over here!”
“Fuck off, Dave. You and your Zoroastrian shit. Jesus I should have guessed,” Michael spat out at agent.
“Com’on, Mike. Calm down.” The agent walked with his hands extended and palms outstretched towards where the two men struggled. As he got closer, Michael suddenly lifted up his feet and lashed out at him. The sudden movement caught the agent in the chest and he recoiled backwards. “Jesus, Mara!”
“Take him out, Dave! I can’t hold him much longer.” Bob Arnold was losing his lock on Michael’s arms.
“Are you sure?”
“Certain. Do it now!”
“It’s over, Dave. The game is over. I give in. Let me go, you bastards,” Michael screamed, as he lashed out again.
This time the agent was ready and ducking first to one side then surged forward. His fist came up in a fast uppercut that caught Michael full on the chin. Michael’s head flew back to crunch into the bridge of Arnold’s nose before rebounding forward again to follow his collapsing legs to the ground. Arnold and Michael fell together in a heap at Dave’s feet. Bob Arnold slowly disentangled himself and gingerly stood up holding his nose. Blood poured from behind his hand and down onto his shirt. “Jesus H Christ! I think it’s fucking broken.”
“I’m sorry General. Go down stairs, Sir and get it seen to. I’ll look after things here.” Dave stooped down and turned Michael into a recovery position on the decking.
Arnold stared at the prostrate body. “He really lost it, Dave. Didn’t he?”
“Yes, Sir. You never know how someone will react to bad news.”

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