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Authors: Graham Masterton

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BOOK: Chaos Theory
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‘I know. Boney M, wasn’t it?’
Jenna smiled. ‘The archaeologists found a silver mirror, and a make-up kit, and a pendant that was very much like this one. You see this crescent-shaped moon? That’s absolutely typical of Babylonian designs, and these small circles are supposed to be pomegranates. The Babylonians made some amazing jewellery. They knew how to weld, how to mix alloys, they even knew how to enamel. If this is genuine, it could be more than two and a half thousand years old.’
‘Jesus! That’s a serious antique.’
Jenna handed the medallion back to him. ‘Like I say, I can’t be absolutely certain. You’ll have to have it properly tested. But it could be worth a heck of a lot of money. I can give you the names of a couple of jewellers in LA who specialize in antiquities.’
‘What about the letters on the back, P R C H A L?’
‘I don’t know – but they were engraved much more recently, in modern times. Do you know what they stand for?’
Noah shook his head. ‘I looked up P R C H A L on the Internet and all I found was an eminent professor of applied physics from the University of Someplace Unpronounceable in Eastern Europe.’
Jenna stood up and swept back her hair with both hands. ‘Is that all you wanted me to look at?’
‘Of course not. I wanted you to admire my suntan.’
‘Would you like a glass of wine? I have some of that Stag’s Leap Chardonnay you always used to drink.’
‘Sure, yes, if you’re offering.’
They sat on a beech-wood bench in the backyard under one of the orange trees. It was almost noon now, and the mountains rippled in the rising heat.
‘You – uh –
anyone?’ asked Noah. Jenna was wearing mirrored sunglasses now and all he could see in her eyes were two curved images of himself.
‘Casually, yes. He’s a lawyer.’
‘A lawyer? I can’t imagine you dating a lawyer.’
‘Why not? He’s a very smart lawyer. He’s also a very handsome lawyer and a very wealthy lawyer. How about you?’
‘I met this three-hundred-pound belly dancer in Morocco – but, no – there’s nobody special. Not at the moment. After you and me, I guess I’m kind of wary about commitment.’
Jenna smiled. ‘You’ll find somebody some day – somebody who doesn’t mind your unpredictable moods and your pesky little habits and the illogical nonsense you talk when you’re drunk.’
‘Hey – I don’t drink these days. Not so much, anyhow. And when did I ever talk illogical nonsense? And moody? I never thought I was
. And what’s so pesky about wanting somebody to squeeze the toothpaste tube at the end instead of the middle?’
‘There you go again, and you’ve only had half a glass of Chardonnay!’
Noah stayed for nearly an hour. He still enjoyed Jenna’s company, and he was still captivated by the way she looked, but he knew there was no point in trying to rekindle their affair. He would never change, and neither would she. In spite of her fairy-book face, she had always been stubborn and wilful and she always spoke her mind. Their relationship had been one long argument, punctuated by long nights of sweaty grappling in bed.
As Noah left, Jenna took off her sunglasses and said, ‘Let me know what you find out about that medallion.’
‘Sure.’ He kissed her on both cheeks, but then she kissed him directly on the lips.
‘Don’t get any ideas,’ she said. ‘That was for old times’ sake.’
He turned his truck around and gave her a wave and a blast on his horn. As he drove away, he glimpsed her in his rear-view mirror, standing by the curb. She lifted her arm once, although she couldn’t have known whether he was watching her or not. He had been aware that he would have mixed feelings about her when he met her again, but he had never realized how conflicting those feelings would be, or how strong.
Just because they were so obviously bad for each other didn’t mean that he didn’t still want her.
He had almost reached the end of the street when he saw a silver Buick sedan draw up outside Jenna’s house and park. He slowed down and pulled over. Maybe this was the lawyer. It would be interesting to see what he looked like, and how old he was. Noah had always been self-conscious about his age, compared to Jenna’s. When they had been together, he had lost count of the times that he had been gushingly greeted with ‘How
to meet you! You must be Jenna’s father!’ He had always tried to convince himself that it was his prematurely grey hair that aged him so much.
He saw Jenna lean over and talk to the passenger. Then he saw the driver get out and walk around the car: a heavily-built black man in a pale grey suit. The passenger got out, too, a blond-haired man with sunglasses. It looked as if they were taking hold of Jenna’s arms and leading her back into the house.
Noah twisted around in his seat. What the hell was all that about? He hadn’t been able to see too clearly, but the way the two men had hurried Jenna through her front door had given him the distinct impression that she had been
inside, against her will.
He backed his Super Duty up the street, very fast, and slewed it around 180 degrees in front of Jenna’s house. He jumped down from the driver’s seat and ran up her path. The door was closed, and when he tried the handle, he found that it was locked. But he hammered on it with his fist and shouted out, ‘Jenna! It’s Noah. Is everything OK?

He hammered again, but there was no answer, so he decided to try around the back. Just as he turned away from the front door, however, another silver sedan came speeding up the road and slid to a halt right behind his truck. Two more men climbed out, both wearing dark glasses and light grey suits. One of them was tall and bulky, and walked with a muscle-bound waddle, like a wrestler. His face was flat and round, maybe Hawaiian, and his hair was knotted at the back of his neck in a tiny pigtail. The other man was short and slight and spidery, with an unusually small head.
‘Who are you?’ Noah demanded. ‘What’s going on here?’
‘Who has the medallion?’ asked the spidery man. ‘Did you give it to your girlfriend, or do you still have it?’
‘What? What the hell are you talking about? What medallion?’
‘Come on, Mr Flynn. You know darned well what medallion.’
‘Who the hell are you? Are you cops or what? Where’s your ID?’
The spidery man came up to him and took off his dark glasses. He had a bony, complicated nose and glittery eyes that were too close together, as if there had scarcely been enough space on his face to crowd in all of his features. He smelled strongly of mentholated chest rub.
‘The medallion doesn’t belong to you, Mr Flynn. I need you to give it to me.’
The Hawaiian-looking man came closer, and stood with his legs apart, interlacing his fingers and flexing them backward and forward. He was such a typecast heavy that Noah couldn’t help shaking his head in derision.
‘Something’s funny?’ asked the spidery man.
‘On the contrary. Something’s very serious. You’re obviously not cops. So – if you don’t get off my girlfriend’s property right now, you and Kwongo here are going to be in very serious trouble.’
‘I don’t think you understand the position you’re in, Mr Flynn.’
‘Oh – I understand all right. I understand that I’ve had more than enough of you for one lifetime, and I’m less-than-politely requesting that you leave. You, and those two guys indoors. I’m guessing by the matching sedans and the matching suits that you all belong to the same scout troupe?’
The front door suddenly opened and the black man appeared. ‘She says she don’t have it.’
‘Do you believe her?’
‘Oh, sure,’ said the black man. ‘I believe her.’
Noah immediately stalked over to him and seized him by the lapels. ‘What are you doing to her? Have you touched her?’
He forced the man backwards and banged his head against the side of the door before losing his balance and lurching sideways. But the spidery man snapped, ‘Mr Flynn! Hold it, Mr Flynn!’
Noah let the black man drop on to one knee, and turned around. The Hawaiian-looking man was holding open one side of his coat to reveal that he was pointing an automatic at him.
‘John here
shoot you if you cause us any trouble, Mr Flynn.’
Noah didn’t say anything, but cautiously raised his hands. He had a deep respect for firearms, especially when they were pointing in
‘Let’s go inside, shall we?’ said the spidery man. ‘Kind of public, out here on the street.’ Across the road, the old woman in the blue saggy dress was standing at her window, watching them. ‘You first, Mr Flynn.’
Noah walked through the narrow hallway that led to the back of the house, and the three men in grey suits followed him. The Shaker-style kitchen was filled with sunshine, and a vase of sunflowers stood on the window ledge.
Jenna was sitting tied to one of the wheel-back chairs, next to the butcher-block table. Arranged on the table in order of size were six or seven knives – carving knives, vegetable knives and boning knives.
‘Noah?’ she said, in a high, frightened voice. ‘Noah – what’s going on? They said they wanted your medallion. They said they’d kill me if I didn’t give it to them!’
oah turned to the spidery man and demanded, ‘What the hell is this? Who are you people?’
‘You really don’t need to know that,’ said the spidery man. ‘You already know far more than is healthy for you, believe me.’
‘I don’t know nothing about anything! This is crazy!’
The spidery man held out his hand. ‘The medallion, Mr Flynn.’
Noah lifted the P R C H A L medallion out of his shirt pocket and held it out. The spidery man snatched it, gave it a quick sideways glance, and dropped it into his own pocket.
‘You see? That wasn’t very difficult, was it? There was no need for anybody to be unpleasant.’
‘So – you’ve got what you came for,’ said Noah. ‘You can go now.’
The spidery man carefully ran his fingers through his black, slicked-back hair, as if he were searching for phrenological bumps to predict his immediate future.
‘Problem is, Mr Flynn, that you and your young lady here both know the significance of this medallion.’
‘What significance? I just told you! I don’t know what the hell it is or what’s written on it or what P R C H A L means or nothing!’
‘You know much more than you think you know. And that is why I have to make sure that this all finishes here. Today. Now.’
The spidery man clicked his fingers, and the black man and the Hawaiian approached Noah from either side and seized his arms. Noah tried to struggle, but the Hawaiian pushed the muzzle of his automatic hard against his right cheekbone.
The spidery man came close to Noah, reeking of menthol.
‘You want it sooner, Mr Flynn, or later? The choice is entirely yours.’
‘What’s this really all about?’ Noah panted. ‘If you’re going to kill us, I think we deserve to know why.’
The spidery man gave a snort of disbelief. ‘You don’t seriously think that I’m going to stand here for ten minutes and give you a detailed explanation of why you have to die? What do you think this is,
Murder, She Wrote
‘At least tell me how you found out that I had the medallion, and how you tracked me down.’
Now the blond-haired man stepped forward. He was the only one who kept his dark glasses on. He was slim, and obviously fit, and he walked rather like a dancer, with an uncanny gliding motion. He went up to the butcher’s block table and examined the knives. Eventually he picked up a poultry knife with a thin, ten-inch blade. He ran the edge of it along the ball of his thumb. A bead of bright red blood appeared, and he sucked it.
Noah struggled even harder to wrench himself free, but his captors were both powerful men and the Hawaiian jammed the gun muzzle even harder into his face. ‘You want it now? You want to say
aloha ‘oe
even before you find out what happens to your girlfriend?’
‘Up your
,’ Noah grunted. He was bursting with fear and adrenaline but also a blazing sense of injustice. Why were he and Jenna going to be killed, just because he had showed her that medallion? It may have been stolen from someone who was prepared to kill to get it back, but it had been lying on the seabed for over sixty years, so it was obvious that Noah himself hadn’t stolen it. And even if it had some political or criminal significance, Noah certainly had no idea what it was.
‘I can tell you just one thing,’ said the spidery man. ‘Everything in life is connected to everything else, and you, you poor idiot – you found out how. Or
find out, if I allow you to live.’
‘Noah – please – don’t let them hurt me!’ Jenna begged. ‘Noah – I’m pregnant!’


‘I’m three months’ pregnant. David – I’m having his baby!’
Noah turned to the spidery man in fury. ‘Do you hear that? She’s pregnant! You can’t kill a pregnant woman! You’d be killing her child as well!’
‘I’m sorry. Maybe you should have thought of that before.’
‘I didn’t
that before! I didn’t know nothing before! I still don’t know nothing! I don’t understand what any of this means and I don’t understand why you want to kill us! I mean, what significance can that medallion possibly have, that you have to kill people before they find out what it is?

The spidery man leaned closer – so close that Noah could feel his breath against his cheek. ‘Chaos,’ he whispered. ‘Chaos and old Night.’
Noah swallowed hard. He felt as if he had a large knot of gristle in his throat, and his eyes were filling with tears of frustration.
BOOK: Chaos Theory
6.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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