Here we are with the fourth chapter of the short story we’re writing!
This time the great twist is given by the nice and skilful Leslie Moon! You can find her here!
“…some people are willing to kill to get rid of that useless thing…”
Ross and Angie tried not to gaze the reddish glow on the pendant dangling around Forrest’s neck. Forrest excused the warmth of the metal as warmth from his body heat. He knew they were staring…
The desert wind stirred the tent flap causing it to slap against the tent post. Onyx eyes flickered in candlelight. A veiled woman silently slipped behind a man bent in intent study over scrolls. She held the cold steel of a dagger to the trembling man’s throat. “What can you tell me before you die, swine, about this “useless” talisman?”
“I will take the message of its power to my grave,” the man spoke his last words as a bloodied and bent coin was slipped into a small leather bag around her neck.
They neither cared for nor desired stealth; the sound of sandaled feet and swords being unsheathed caused panic for a woman with no place to hide. A woman’s scream pierced a moonless night. The tent flap bore the bloodied stains of treachery. The Decanus, of an elite Roman contubernium, reported to his Centurion. They produced a dead Jew, a lock of curly dark hair, and a bloody coin.
“Too bad about the woman. We really needed the scribe alive in order to decipher the scrolls we were given. What do we do with this worthless Jewish coin?” The Centurion was not pleased. He had the option to punish the contubernium as a unit or send them on a day’s march into the desert to bury the coin. He opted on the latter. His face was hardened like stone as he gave the order. The contubernium never returned.
Words had been spoken in whispers and in shouts over the metal that presently bore little resemblance to the coin that was more than two centuries old. Needless to say it carried a dark history of bloodshed and treachery. None knew the full story but the legend was of a key to an unknown power. Some believed it had aided the priests who escaped the temple as Rome laid siege in 70 AD. Israel had sought the coin when statehood was within her grasp.
“Forrest, your father was part of a special group – he was Mossad.”
“That’s ridiculous. Your daughter is more likely to be Mossad. Did you see how she took you and the gun down?”
“Yes,” a proud smile curled about Ross’ lips. “Not all of Mossad are agents you know. Mossad has… I’m going to get into security breach stuff here. I can say this… your father was most likely working for Mossad doing top-secret research. That “useless” thing was his life work. Someone killed him for it.”
Forrest could not wrap his head about what Ross was saying. There was too much to take in as it was and if he had to be honest, his loyalties were divided.
“Sadly, I bet he destroyed a lot of his life’s work the day he died. He knew they were coming Forrest. He gave you what he knew was important to his country. He may have left something else as a clue if we could get to his personal effects.”
“This attack is about that bent piece of metal?” Angie asked with a smirk.
“That’s my best guess, honey.”
“Why would they have sent me a coded warning?”
“Who sent you the message?” Ross’ question was cut off by a missile that crashed through the concrete wall exploding an SUV. The garage was soon going to be a war zone.
“Come on Forrest, Angie we have to get to out of here. If we get separated, you need to get that piece of metal to my boss. Here’s his number.” Ross scribbled a number on the back of a card.
Forrest eagerly took the card Ross offered. He had no qualms about passing off the thing around his neck as quickly as possible. The thing that was becoming increasingly warm. “Key to death and destruction. Why me?” Forrest wanted to fling the metal out at the armored vehicles below; maybe it would detonate.
What Forrest had not considered was whether Ross really was NSA. As he looked at the scene unfolding on the street below, he felt like he was caught in the shootout at the OK corral with nothing but his cell phone, a cryptic message, a girl and her father, and a bent piece of metal around his neck. “Not even a knife to bring to a missile fight?” Forrest muttered.
*Decanus was a Roman non-commisioned officer who commanded 8 roman soldiers.
**Contubernium: A squad of 8 roman soldiers.