Read The Secret of the Stones Online

Authors: Ernest Dempsey

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #International Mystery & Crime, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Financial, #Military, #Spies & Politics, #Political, #Thrillers, #Pulp

The Secret of the Stones (2 page)

BOOK: The Secret of the Stones
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“At
ease Charles,” the officer finally replied.
 
He directed the soldier to a small stool in the corner of
the tent.
 
“What is it, Son?”

“Well
Sir, we have been tracking this Indian for three days.
 
I’m not complaining, Sir.
 
Don’t get me wrong.
 
I will follow orders no matter
what.
 
I’m just curious: what is so
special about this one Indian?
 
There must be dozens that escape the relocation caravans, every day, all
over the South.
 
Why bother with
chasing down this one?”

The
old man smiled and looked down at the letter he had been reading, clenching it
a little tighter.
 
He was not annoyed
by the question.
 
In fact, he would
have probably been asking the same thing thirty years ago if the positions
were reversed.
 
It did seem odd.
And Charles’ point was valid.
 
He decided to tell the lieutenant just enough to ease his mind
without spilling the beans altogether.

“Charles,
this is no ordinary Indian.
 
And
our group is no ordinary military platoon.
 
You have been chosen to be part of an elite government
operation.
 
This entire unit of
soldiers was not assigned by random chance.
 
We took the best of the best from the United States Army and
were careful to make sure not a single one of you had any family because of the
dangerous nature of our missions.
 
You’re an orphan, aren’t you, Charles?”

“Yes
sir.”
 
Confusion filled his
face.

“Every
single man in this group has a similar background and did unusually well during
their military training.
 
Each one
of you shoots better, runs faster, and has been found to be far more
intelligent than the rest of your peers.”

Charles
was still listening.
 
With the kind
words from the hard man, pride certainly showed in his youthful grin, but he
was still uncertain where the talk was going.

“This
unit has been put together by the highest office in the land.
 
It was ordered directly by the
president himself.
 
We are to
protect the national security of the Untied States at all costs.
 
That boy holds something that is
considered a threat to the safety of our government and this country’s future.”

The
colonel let the words sink in with the young man.

“I
cannot give you all the details, Charles.
 
It has been deemed ‘for my eyes only.’
 
However, I will tell you one thing, since I believe it
necessary to keep up your morale and to ensure we handle this situation
quickly.”

The
young man leaned forward, his anticipation rising.

“The
Indians have been fighting us for a long time now.
 
Their little wars against the United States have been
desperately futile.
 
We have
greater numbers and much better weapons.
 
They seem to get sick easily and are primitive in many ways when it comes
to battle tactics.
 
Up until now,
their uprisings have been trampled, for the most part.
 
And now the Cherokee and what’s left of
the Creek Nation are being moved west.
 

“Nearly
all our campaigns against them have been successful because their efforts are
scattered and largely independent.
 
However, if the Indians could find a way to unite all the tribes, they
might just have enough to cause problems for us.
 
That is one of the reasons we are separatin’ the
tribes.
 
We must not let them
consort with one another.
 
A united
Indian nation could drag out fighting for a decade.
 
To make matters worse, there is something in existence that
could unite all of the tribes.
 
And
with this thing, they could possibly lure a union with the Spanish, British, or
even the French.”

“And
this Indian we are chasing is carrying something that could do all of
that?”
 
The young officer was still
unsure.

A
nod of the head was his only reply.

“What
is it?”

The
older man paused.
 
He had probably
already told the kid too much as it was.
 
But one more little bit of information would only help intensify their
search.

“Gold,” he said
simply.

It
was difficult for the young man to comprehend for a moment.
 
He leaned back, obviously disappointed
with the answer.
 

“That’s
it?”

“It
is.”

“Please
forgive me sir, but I seriously doubt that one Indian can carry enough gold to
unite all the tribes as well as bring in reinforcements from England, Spain, or
France.”

“It
isn’t the gold he has with him, Charles, though he surely has a sample.
 
No, what he has is the knowledge of
where the rest of it is.
 
That is
what we are after.”

“A
map?”  The young man’s interest was piqued again.

“Exactly.”

Chapter
1

Atlanta,
Georgia

 

Frank
Borringer stared hard at the ancient script.
 
It just didn’t make sense.
 
If what his associate had told him was true about where this
item had come from, the implications would be enormous.
 
He leaned back in his chair, removing
the reading glasses from his face.
 
With the other hand, he wiped his eyes and pinched his nose. 
Inside his staple brown tweed blazer, his body perspired from the mental
labor.  His fingers struggled against the constriction of the light blue
bow tie around his neck.

He
wondered how long he’d been in there.
 
It was easy to lose track of time when your brain was over-clocking the
type of research he was doing.

The
library was dark, save for a few lamps casting spots of illumination here and
there. He usually visited after hours, though he doubted the relic of
information saw any busy time anymore.
 
With the advent of the Internet, it was possible to do nearly all
of one’s research from home. Still, Frank enjoyed the feel of a library;
surrounded by books, works from thousands of years, and all in a material,
concrete presence.
 
With a
computer, sure the information was there, but there was no feeling.
 

He’d
let himself get distracted by the thoughts and shook his head in frustration.

Frank
had been a professor of Global and Ancient History at KSU for fifteen years
now.
 
During that time, he had been
blessed with the opportunity to travel to many different countries as a
special guest of numerous IAA excavations.
 
The IAA, or International Archaeology Agency, traveled the
globe in search of ancient artifacts, most of which modern historians didn‘t believe
existed.
 
Fortunately, for him, the
IAA headquarters was near his home in Atlanta.
 
The proximity and his expertise on so many ancient cultures
and languages lent him as the first choice for many of the research
expeditions.
 

Over
the last decade he had been to the far east, Europe several times, Central and
South America, and the most fascinating of all to him, the Middle East.
 
In recent years, he had turned his
attention from foreign countries to his own.
 
Growing up in Northwest Georgia, he had a special interest
in the history of the country now called the United States.
 
Frank began concentrating most of his
efforts on the history of the Native Americans, where they came from, how they
got there, and what they left behind.
 

Sitting
there at a work table in the Kennesaw State library, he stared at
something that both puzzled him and aroused the childlike wonder inside of him.

Forcing
himself back to task, he propped the spectacles back onto his nose and started
reading again.
 
“ The chambers shall
light your way.”

Borringer
sat alone at the table, staring at a small, circular stone with a script on it
from a time long forgotten, and a place far from the southern United
States.
 
The engraved disc arrived
in his possession a week ago.
 
Frank had promised the friend who’d sent it that he would analyze the
piece as soon as there was a moment to spare.
 
Until yesterday, he had yet to open the box in which it had
been delivered.
 
Frustrated with
himself, now, for not looking at this miraculous piece sooner, a chill went up
his spine at the implications as he turned it over carefully, inspecting the
smooth surface with the greatest of care.
 

Mesmerized,
he could hardly believe what he was reading.
 
Impossible.
 
Could the four chambers really exist?
 
He’d thought them to be a legend from ancient tribes,
something they talked about, much like the stories of a fountain of youth or El
Dorado.
 
But just like with those
famous legends, the golden chambers were never found.
 
Yet, here was a piece of evidence that suggested they were
out there, somewhere.
 
Thinking
back, he remembered the first time that he had heard of the four mystical
rooms.
 
One of his good friends had
told him a story about Indian gold in northern Georgia.
 

There
were several stories, actually.
 
As
kids, he had even witnessed some things that made him believe there might be a
huge repository of the precious metal somewhere nearby.
 
But nothing was ever found, simply
rumors, stories.
 
Notions of an
ancient native treasure had been abandoned long ago.
  

The
stone was shaped like an inch-thick coin, about the size of the average human
palm.
 
On one side of it was an odd
picture of what appeared to be two birds.
 
The opposite face contained some kind of writing
in a very odd script.
 
At first
glance, the inscriptions had been confusing.
 
There were marks that looked like hieroglyphs, but there
were others that appeared to be ancient Hebrew.
 
Still more of the engraved characters appeared to be
cuneiform.

It
had been an astounding epiphany when he realized that what he was looking
at four ancient languages combined into a singular code.
 
Once he had come to that conclusion,
the translation of the phrases had been much easier.
 
But how had these ancient languages come to be on something
so obviously Native American?
 
These writings should only be found in ancient parts of the Middle East
and certainly not together on one piece.
 

Perhaps
even more unsettling was the riddle the words spelled out.
 

He
poured over the two sheets of paper on which he’d written the
translations.
 
One was a letter to
his friend who’d sent the artifact.
 
The other was to a colleague from the IAA.
  

Glancing
down at his watch, Frank realized how late it was getting.
 
He placed a call from his cell phone to
his wife at home so she wouldn’t be worried and started packing up his
things.
 
After storing sheets of
paper, pens, and other items into his laptop case, he returned to his
computer.
 
Better to print the
stuff off, make some copies, and come back to it tomorrow.
 
The thrill of discovery made him want
to stay and work further, but he knew there would already be hell to pay at
home for his tardiness.

He
slid the laptop into its bag with his other research materials
and casually walked over to the librarians’ desk.
 
The library had closed about an hour
ago, but being a professor had its privileges.
 
All of the staff workers were very kind about letting him
lock up for the night.
 
Stepping
around the corner of the front counter, he pulled out the papers onto which he
had just finished the translations of the stone disc.
 
After making copies and a brief notation, he put one set
into envelopes and addressed them.  Slipping the letters into a
special basket for outgoing mail, he then walked hastily around the front
desk and out the door to the sidewalk.
 

A
brisk autumn breeze greeted him as he strode down the promenade toward his
car.
 
There was a renewed feeling
in his mind as he deeply breathed in the crisp air.
 
Maybe it was the weather or the fact that he felt like this
new discovery was going to be something that was talked about for
generations?
 
Perhaps it was
both.
 
Frank smiled and turned the
corner around the library building that led to the parking lot.
 

The
university was situated on the north side of Atlanta in an area outside the
perimeter of the I-285 bypass. It was largely a suburban community.
 
Safety while walking around at night
had never even been a concern.
 
For
some reason, though, tonight he found himself glancing around, uncertain as to
what would make him paranoid.
 
Frank had never had any problems working with the IAA, though he had
heard stories about some of their agents, one in particular.

Shrugging
off the brief moment of caution, he walked over to his car and put the key in
the door.
 
Why should he worry about
anything?
 
No one knew what he was
working on except his friend.
 
Besides, he had only been researching this new find for the last couple
of days.
 

Frank
smiled, thinking about some small amount of accolades.
 
Maybe, after more information came to
light, he would receive an award for his assistance in the unraveling of the
ancient mystery.
 
Opening the back
door of his car, he plopped the laptop case into the back seat.
 
After slamming it shut, he moved
to the front door and started to pull the handle when suddenly, he heard a
footstep behind him followed by a sharp pain in his lower back.
 

His
initial thought was to turn and face his attacker, but there was no feeling or
control in his legs and his body hit the ground a moment later.
 
He tried to move his arms back to feel
the wound, but he couldn’t control them either.  They just laid limply at
his side.
 
Panic set in with the
realization that he was paralyzed.
 

Borringer
saw a pair of black shoes stepping over him and the back door of his sedan being
opened as he stared, helplessly, from the pavement.
 
He struggled to move his head just enough to see the
assailant, but all he could make out was a silhouette in the back of his
car, searching through his laptop case.
 

After
what seemed like an eternity, the shoes and black pants stood over him.
 
Then the attacker’s face came into
view.
 
A blonde man, probably in
his upper twenties or lower thirties, looked down at him angrily.

“Where
is it, old man?”
 
A cold, German
voice demanded.

The
world was spinning now and Frank’s vision had begun to blur.
 
Haze crept into the corners of his
eyes, overshadowing the numbness of his body.

The
voice grew louder, “Tell me where the stone is, Professor.”

“You
will never find what you seek,” Borringer gasped, desperately fighting
unconsciousness.

Grabbing
the professor’s shirt, the blonde man lifted him off the ground a few inches
sending new waves of pain through Frank’s body.
 
           

“I
need the stone.”
 
The attacker
shook him violently, clenching his teeth.
 
“Tell me where it is.” 

“If
you couldn’t find it before now,” he gasped, “you were never meant to have it.”

The
firm grip on the shirt released and Frank’s limp body fell to the ground.
 
Borringer’s head smacked against the
pavement, jarring any coherent thoughts he may have still had.

The
menacing voice sounded distant, “I will find the stone.
 
And when I do, nothing will stand in
our way.”

Frank
barely heard the last words before surrendering to the darkness.

BOOK: The Secret of the Stones
10.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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