The Forgotten War: a serial thriller Chapters 18-24

18

Arch-Bishop Pitt, as soon as he had gotten off the phone with Mrs. Campbell, began to worry about his good friend and started formulating a preposterous idea.
What if Cardinal McConnell had something to do with this?
He couldn’t believe the words that he had uttered. Why would the cardinal have anything to do with Brian Campbell’s disappearance? There was the person the young man on the phone had said he had gotten. Impossible! The cardinal was a bad apple to the Church, but he would never do anything like that. Or could he?
Pitt was confused.
There had to be a simple explanation as to why Campbell was nowhere to be found. Someone must have seen him at some point in the evening.
But though the bishop continued to reason against everything he was thinking, he found himself in front of the cardinal’s laptop that he kept under his bed in a carrying bag. Of all the fathers of the Church, Cardinal McConnell was the only computer savvy clergyman the bishop had ever known in his life. He himself was not very good with computers and wondered why he was even venturing this far.
You shouldn’t be doing this, he told himself. He could be back any minute now. But a voice inside told him that the cardinal wasn’t coming back anytime soon and his apprehension dropped away. I trust you, Lord, to guide me in my reasoning.
He turned the laptop on and waited for it to boot up. He had heard some of the parishioners after mass talk of how slow their devices were, but the cardinal’s laptop seemed to be running very quickly.
As soon as he was in he accessed the internet and pulled up the favorites window. In it he found many different sites labeled. One was called Sacred Texts and was subtitled. Freemasonry Texts Home. He clicked the page and the computer instantly displayed a website with the figure of a Greek deity pulling a veil over its head. On the left side of the page was a list of other pages. He skimmed down the list: Alchemy, Gnosticism, Paganism, Hinduism, Freemasonry, Wicca. In the middle of the page there was a list of what appeared to be a number of online texts, or books, on Freemasonry. They all seemed to pertain to the symbolism, morals, and dogma of the brotherhood as well as some books called rituals and monitors.
He clicked through a couple of these books and found them all to be rather benevolent. It seemed that the ideals of the brotherhood was just as chivalrous as the Church was, only the Masons wished to keep most of it secret if not all of it so. There was no doubt that which was heretical to the Church, beliefs and rituals that were utterly anit-Christian, but there didn’t seem to be any malevolence present. This struck Pitt as odd, but he remembered that it could possibly be a cover for their true intents.
He went back to the favorites menu and scrolled down, finding what he was initially looking for: My E-mail. He clicked it and was taken to a new page were there were two text boxes, one of which was filled with the cardinal’s username: janusman.mcconnell. Janus, as in the Roman god with two faces known as being mischievous and malicious. The bishop found this to be very fitting.
The box below the cardinal’s username was the box where there would be the password for entry into his account. At this point Pitt was stumped. This was what he was looking for and hoped he would find what he thought was in there.
He sat there on the bed of the guest room, the laptop next to him on the blankets. The machine had a slight, high-pitched, mechanical drone that annoyed him. How could anyone sit through that noise?
In the password box the typing cursor blinked ominously, waiting, demanding that the bishop dare to try and enter. A verse from the Bible entered Pitt’s head: Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further. Job 38:11, a classic.
He thought for awhile about what the password could be and then started trying out some of his ideas.
Mason.
Freemason.
Hiram Abiff.
Boaz; Aboz.
Janchin.
He paused for a moment. None of these were working. He needed to think on it more, but had to do it fast for he still had no idea when the cardinal was getting back, assuming he’s get back at all.
Perhaps he was at one of his special meetings with his brethren. It was feasible, but not likely. The cardinal would not risk blowing his cover. Maybe he never attended a meeting ever since he had been instituted into the clergy. That could be the cause of his plausible low rank. The fact was that Pitt didn’t no for sure whether the cardinal had a high rank at all. It was possible, but not likely. Either that or he was of the highest rank and knew of the secret purpose of the brotherhood; to eradicate religion and replace it with reason.
It was with that thought that got some more ideas for passwords and as soon as they came to him he typed as fast as he could.
Revolution.
Revelation.
Mission.
Secrets.
He took another pause. None of these were working. He needed to think more clearly, remember all that he had read with Campbell. There must have been something. He remembered reading one book that only mentioned the Freemasons slightly. The book had been about the plot of Socialism to destroy civilization. World Revolution it was called and was written by Nesta Helen Webster. That book was very popular during the years of World War II and the rise of Communist China and had even met the eyes of Winston Churchill. Pitt could remember the first chapter, titled Illuminism. It had spoken of the group known as the Illuminati of which was based in Bavaria, the southern and largest state of Germany near the Alps.
The group had been led by a man named Weishaupt who initiated a large group of nobles and other men into his cause which was exactly what the current goal of Freemasonry was at the moment. This purpose was, as Webster said, initially that of the Illuminati first, of the Masons second. According to the book it was Weishaupt who had infiltrated the Masons and set up his adepts into the top ranks, most of them becoming master masons in almost every lodge in Europe.
It was with the remembrance of that book that gave Pitt one last idea.
Weishaupt.
The page then changed to the dashboard of the cardinal’s e-mail account.
Now to get down to business.
He looked through the list of e-mails received and noticed many from different men who called themselves masters and fellow-craft, both of which Pitt knew to relate to Masonry. Most of them were just for the sole purpose of acquaintance, but there were some that seemed to be utterly more important.
“Dear Master McConnell,” read one. So, he is a master of a lodge? “I would like to acknowledge the importance of what it is you are partaking in over in the little city of Altoona, PA. I am happy that we are finally going to set forth in our quest that was originally set by our fathers and by Hiram Abiff. May you succeed in your quest and let us know when you wish for us to start into it as well. May the stars shine on the battlefields of our enemies?”
What battle?
“My friend,” said another. “I am reverent to your cause for it is the same for all Masons of every degree, whether they know of the Purpose or not. At least something is finally being done about the poisonous religions of the world and I find it extremely important and appropriate that the first of the targets will be Christianity for it is a very powerful and enduring faith. I wish you good luck and am looking forward to your return to the Lodge here in Harrisburg. The governor is especially interested and enthralled by your actions and speaks constantly about bringing you to see the President.”
The President is involved in whatever this is? It wasn’t really any surprise to the bishop. He and Campbell had believed the country’s commander and chief to be of the brotherhood, but what was this battle that was being referred to? Did the President decide to go ahead with it, whatever it is? The nest e-mail concurred to this theory.
“Dear Cardinal,” said another. “I hope you aren’t reveling in that crimson cassock. I hope it chafes and that you are soon to rid yourself of it, if only temporarily for the governor still wished you make public appearances as the State Cardinal so that no one suspects us. However, I must inform you that there are some who think lowly of you and suspect you are of our brotherhood. I would advise you to come up with a solution to this. Just to let you know he had contacted me earlier today and said that the President has asked us to go through with the plan. He says that it is vital that it begin with the small towns, but he wishes that it not be executed throughout the country. The President wants it to remain in Altoona to see if the success is grand enough for us to continue on to more and more towns and cities. I plan to begin shortly this month. If you have any suggestions as to when we make our move I would love to hear from you. Also, it might be a good idea that you make yourself present when we do go ahead with the plot.”
That explains why he came for the anniversary. They’re planning something for tomorrow. I need to tell Brian, wherever he is.
He continued to sift through all the contents of the inbox, but the rest of them were not really that important. On the left of the screen was a list of location in the cardinal’s account. One read Sent, but it said that there were none that had been sent. He must have deleted every one he did send. Did he know that someone might eavesdrop on him? Who knew?
He kept going down the list of e-mails and noticed that the cardinal liked to organize them with the oldest first, newer second. When he got to the bottom he found one that startled him the most.
Good heavens! He knows. Go help us, he knows! I need to get to the police right now!

19

Cardinal McConnell stood in the room where two chairs were positioned opposite one another. There was another empty chair that would house the third victim. He marveled at the master’s efficiency and the symbolism that each one of these people would represent.
He stood solemnly near the man he knew as Brian Campbell. Before he had come to Altoona he had read up on him. Bishop Pitt certainly had not known that. The information had come to him directly through e-mail, courtesy of the master of the Jaffa lodge. The only thing that was missing from the info was Campbell’s history, notably his family history. The cardinal knew that Campbell’s father had been a Freemason, but he never found out what the father’s name was.
He’s getting just what he deserves, thought the cardinal.
He had known ever since it was confirmed the master was to carry out the atrocities of the night before them that Campbell and the bishop were meeting, discussing and elaborating together on the intents of the Freemasons. He knew they had discovered that he was of the brotherhood, but they didn’t have the solid evidence. There was no way to prove his affiliation, but, nevertheless, they had been correct in their assumption.
There were many Masons infiltrating the ranks of the clergy all the way to the Papacy and the College of Cardinals – of which McConnell was not apart of. If he weren’t then he would not have been here in Altoona, preparing the first of many assaults on the Church.
It was the Church that was to suffer first, but not yet on such a large scale. He had learned that the President of the United States was in on all this, he being a Masons himself. However, the President didn’t want it to start on the national scale until it could be confirmed that they would receive success through such drastic actions. He wanted it to be tested first in a single town and it had been Altoona which was chosen. If all went well tonight and tomorrow morning then the full-scale attack would continue on throughout the country. Other lodges would soon notice the victory in America and would then make preparations for an all-out conquest of the world. Once Christianity was out of the picture other religions would soon follow until there were none left at all. Then the brotherhood would establish science as the ultimate religion, not that it was.
The master of the Jaffa lodge was fully aware of the implications and seemed not to take the cardinal’s presence in the city as comforting. To McConnell it appeared that the master was rather annoyed at the fact that the cardinal had come to see that everything went smoothly. However, the master did not openly show it, McConnell was sure of that and had been able to detect it in the way the master’s kindness was toward him.
The bastard won’t be master for long.
McConnell knew that he was not there to be in charge of anything. He was an observer only, the one to report back whether all was victory. He hoped that this was all worth it. Certainly there was an advantage to all of this, but he wasn’t sure that the measures being taken were the best ones. Though he wanted to see blood spilled on the side of the Church he didn’t think that it was best. There are other ways to resolve the conflict. But no one listened to him. Perhaps I will take control of this by force.
He knew that his selfish and arrogant nature was taking over his reasoning, but he relished in it like a lizard bathing in the sunlight.
Though he did not like the exact method that was being preformed he would let it play out however it would. The end justifies the means.
Suddenly he felt a vibration in his pocket and knew it was his phone. He pulled it out of his jacket and looked at the caller ID.
It’s about time.

Campbell’s roommate, Chris Stanworth, stood off to the side of the dormitory’s parking lot where he patiently watched as Campbell and his girlfriend, Kate, and her brother come out of the building. He followed them with his gaze, cellular up to his ear, waiting for someone to answer.
Campbell and Kate got into a car and drove out of the parking lot.
Shit!
“Hello,” said a voice from the phone.
“Master McConnell,” said Chris as he ran across the parking lot to his own car. He shuffled his free hand into his pocket and retrieved his keys, putting them into the car and unlocking it. “Campbell has no doubt found out that his father is missing. He’s on his way right now, I assume, to Altoona.”
“Are you sure?”
Chris got into his car and fumbled to put the key in the ignition. “Yes, master, I’m sure.”
“Then I want you to follow them. Keep me updated on their location throughout the night until our friends here in Altoona finish what it is they are doing.” The cardinal paused. “You are doing your father great honor.”
“Thank you, master.” Chris then hung up and sped out of the parking lot and in the direction Campbell had gone. He knew which route his roommate was going to take, John had talked about it a lot whenever he came back from visiting his parents which wasn’t that often. The route led through Port Matilda and Tyrone and was composed of nothing more than a two lane road nearly the whole way there, until it branched out onto I-99 from Tyrone to Altoona. They would be there in less than forty-five minutes.
He had gotten out of the parking lot in time to see the taillights of Campbell’s red 95 Dodge Neon.

Cardinal McConnell put the phone back into his jacket pocket and turned to leave the room, having satisfied his thirst of curiosity.
He had met Chris Stanworth through the young man’s father, who was a member of the lodge the cardinal was secretly the master of. Mr. Stanworth’s son had driven home to Harrisburg for the holidays and his father had him initiated into the First Degree Apprentice rank. It had been a good day for the Stanworth family and the cardinal knew that he could use the young man to his advantage.
McConnell had been aware of Brian Campbell’s and Bishop Pitt’s inquiries into the cardinal’s secret membership with the Masons and had taken precautions. Chris Stanworth had proven himself a viable source and told the young man to keep an eye on Campbell’s son, just in case the son decided to make his own inquiries. McConnell was sure that the young Campbell was about to ask a load of questions once he reached Altoona and found that his father was the victim of a horrific attack on the Catholic Church.
A chill went up his spine just thinking about the fate of Mr. Campbell. How amusing.
As he walked through the curved hallway of the Jaffa Shrine he ran into the master of the lodge, a man whose name had surprised him when he heard who it was that was going to carry out the first attack.
“Cardinal,” the master said. “Might I have a word with you?”
“What is it?” the cardinal replied.
Their voices echoed all around them, as if they were truly in a temple of old.
“It is regarding the third victim. We find that the prowess of the Arch-Bishop has far exceeded our intended spot for him as the third, but he is anything but the lesser. Might we consider someone else for the third victim, someone who has less influence than the Bishop?”
The cardinal took this into consideration, stroking his chin in deep thought. This slimy bastard is right. The Bishop is certainly influential to the Catholic community here in Altoona, but who could there be that could replace him?
The master seemed to perceive the cardinal’s deep pondering. The snake doesn’t suspect a thing, does he? What an ignorant buffoon. He can’t focus on anything but the ring on his finger. “There are a few suggestions that we have in black and white,” said the master. “Might I ask you to come into my office and take a look at them?”
“I will. Thank you.”
The master lead the cardinal down the hallway to the office that was up a flight of stairs and bordered the stands that rose on the opposite side toward the stage that was framed by Arabic characters. Through a passageway the cardinal could see a round chandelier hanging below a mural of a starry sky, no doubt a symbol of the sun.
The master opened his office door and ushered the cardinal into it. Before the master stepped in behind McConnell the door closed in front of him, cutting the cardinal off from any escape. There was the sound of a scuffle and a yelp as McConnell realized he had been tricked.
Inside the office the young man sat waiting, a syringe of sedative in his hand. Once the cardinal entered the office he would inject him in the neck like he had been told to do to the elderly Mrs. Campbell. Then he would be bonded and have a black bag pulled over his head at which point he would join the other two victims – who no doubt were beginning to become conscious.
The door opened and the master beheld the flaccid figure of Cardinal McConnell. He had made sure that he had explained the circumstances of the change-up to the President and the head of all Masonic lodges agreed to it. When he looked closely at the body of the false cardinal he noticed that the syringe was hanging from his neck. Next to the cardinal was the young man, looking down at McConnell with disgust.
“Good work, my apprentice,” said the master.
“Thank you,” he replied.
Now they could proceed on to the main event, one that would certainly baffle the world in the long run.

20

The City of Altoona loomed ominously over the tree tops along the side of I-99, the main highway out of the valley the city was situated in. John Campbell could just barely make out the dome of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the residence of Arch-Bishop Nathaniel Pitt, whom his father was very good friends with.
The city had been founded in the late 1840s by the Pennsylvania Railroad, who hade made it a site for a shopping complex. Eventually it was legislated as a borough in 1854. Since then it had boomed in population very rapidly over the various decades and is now considered one of the largest populated cities in the state. In fact, it was known as a Metropolitan area. There was a dark history regarding the naming of the city. Some said that it was named using the Latin word altus, meaning high, but there were other modern historical theories. Some claimed that it was named after a town near Hamburg, Germany and that the word Altoona came from a Low German phrase given to the specific distance between the town and Hamburg. All to na. All to near, in English. However, there was another theory that had a little more credence than the other two.
It was suggested that it was named after the Cherokee word allatoona, meaning high, lofty place.
Wherever the name came from, Campbell didn’t really care. The thought didn’t even occur to him. As he drove along the highway, occasionally looking over the trees at the city at night, he constantly had thoughts about his childhood there.
Originally, his family was from Virginia, near the boarder of Maryland. It was a small town, nothing spectacular about it. One day his father received a job request in some city up north. His father took the job when John was six and soon they were packing.
The trip had been long. John could remember how hot it was that day and noticing how the warm air became considerably cooler the farther up north they went.
We’re heading up into the mountains, his father said. Be prepared for very cold winters.
John had had the impression that his father had been to Altoona before. He had asked him when they had made a short rest stop at a Sbarros.
I grew up there, his father explained, but never said anything else. You should finish your pizza. He wouldn’t say any more.
Ever since that day, John had wondered about his family origins, and was constantly talked down to by his father about it. “I never want you looking into it again,” he screamed one day. It was the twentieth time John had tried looking. He had been only thirteen at the time. “There is nothing spectacular to know about our family. There’s nothing to look for. There are no famous relatives, no celebrities. Nothing!” That day John was grounded for a week.
Moving to Altoona had been such a good thing for his family, he thought. He met new friends, they went to a beautiful church every Sunday, and became friends with the head of the diocese.
John remembered the first day he met Grant Simmons.
It was a hot summer day, school had let out only weeks ago, and John was looking for something to do with himself. They didn’t own a pool and were too far away from one for John to be able to walk there. The water that came from the hose was never cool. What was there to do? He tried reading in his room with the fan blowing into his face, but there was nothing he could do to ease his exhaustion.
“Why don’t you go outside,” his mother suggested and John reluctantly obeyed.
For a place in the mountains, this city got extremely hot in the summer.
The swing set relieved some of the heat exhaustion as he swung back and forth, letting the thick, and moist air flow past him. He tried riding his bike, but because he had left it out the night before, it had sat in the sun all day up to that point and when he went to sit on it he burnt his legs as he straddled it.
He had not met anyone in the neighborhood yet, and was shy whenever the old ladies on the block commented on how handsome he was. He didn’t want to be handsome, and then there would be girls and kooties. He hadn’t noticed any boys on the block yet and wondered if he was the only one.
Thankfully, his luck changed when he went out onto the sidewalk and saw that someone else was moving into the neighborhood. It was a family of four; two parents and two children – a boy and a girl. It was the first time that Campbell had laid eyes on any girl that he thought was pretty, but what struck his attention was the young man helping unload some of the boxes from the trunk of the car.
John leisurely strode over from across the street and introduced himself. The boy said that he was Grant Simmons and that they were moving in from Washington – the state. After a few visits since the Simmons moved in, the boys hit it off big time, becoming very close and good friends. Later on John had started striking a chord with the sister, Kate, while puberty set in and the hormones were raging in him.
It had been a good life in Altoona, but now it was starting to turn sour. With the news that his father had gone missing the mystery of his family origins came back, despite the numerous attempts by his father to brainwash any hint of curiosity in him. Why would he disappear? This was the most important of any of the inquiries he had so far. There was simply no sound explanation for his father’s absence. He plainly wasn’t one of those kinds of men. John should know, he had lived with the man for practically his whole life up to this point.
He sifted through all the logic that he had gone through many times before back in State College.
He is certainly not a drunk. There is nowhere else he would be besides the Cathedral with the Bishop.
Through his conclusions, Campbell came to believe that someone had taken him, kidnapped him, or even killed him. But he had been in martial arts once as did John; they even went to the same class together many times. John knew that his father was capable of defending himself. This ruled out the possibility of him being mugged and killed. His father was always alert when roaming about the city on errands. The only time he was vulnerable would be when he was distracted, or was taken unawares, like if someone tricked him, someone who seemed innocent enough to be discredited as a danger. John knew this was a possibility because it had been he himself who had done as such during class at the Dojo.
The only reasonable conclusion was that his father had enemies. But who would want to be an enemy with my father? As far as Campbell knew, his father was a well liked person throughout the city and struck a chord with all he met. He was easy to like, too. He had a calm nature and was much unbiased, even though he did express his own opinions. He was careful in that regard, but he held to his beliefs strongly and would defend them if they were threatened.
Perhaps it had something to do with his family’s history. His father constantly didn’t want him discovering anything about them, so John could only assume that it was someone related to his father, and, in consequence, himself. But he hadn’t any clue as to his family history. Nothing hinting at a dark past. His father had always been a successful man in the past; John never knew a moment when he ever failed, if he failed at all. There was nothing that seemed to point toward any family turmoil.
Without any foothold in his logic he could only assume that his father had simply gone missing, but there had to be emotional implications on his father’s part, something mental that had made him snap, or realize something.
Campbell couldn’t imagine what it could have been if that were the case.
He looked to the seat next to him and found Kate still fast asleep. Through the rear view mirror he could see Grant dosing a little, trying to stay awake.
“You should have gotten some sleep,” John said.
“I didn’t want you to be lonely.”
“I was fine, Grant…,”
“No, you weren’t.”
There was a silence and then Grant said, “You obviously worried about your dad.”
“Why shouldn’t I be, Grant? Tell me.” There was a tone of displeasure in his voice and it seemed to take Grant unwary.
“I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be, John,” Grant said. “Whatever happened to your father I can tell its hitting you hard.”
“Well, it is. My dad isn’t one of those kinds of men.”
“I know.”
Grant hated to see his best friend act in this way. It really hurt him to have to let John dishevel himself. He knew he couldn’t do much and that it would be best if he was left to grieve. Once he was over it then everything would be fine and everyone would be able to think more clearly.
The enigma of Mr. Campbell’s disappearance was certainly perplexing and unexplainable. There really was no precedent as to why this would have happened. John was one-hundred percent correct. Brian Campbell simply wasn’t the kind of man to go off willy-nilly. The man was of reason, smart, and common sensed. What possible reasons could he have come up with to justify his leaving unannounced? There just weren’t any logical grounds to base this on. Therefore, something must have happened to him that was unexpected and unforeseeable. There had to be another party involved. There had to be someone else with a grudge against John’s father.
“So what do you think?” he asked his friend.
“I don’t know,” replied John. “Nothing seems to make any sense. The only reason why he would have left home would be to visit with the Bishop, but the Bishop said that he wasn’t there.”
“Do you think the Bishop might have done something?” Grant knew it was a far-fetched enquiry, but everything needed to be weighed equally.
“Bishop Pitt would be busy getting ready for tomorrow because it’s the diocese’s anniversary.”
Grant leaned forward in the back seat so that his head was between the two in the front.
“Okay, so that rules out the Bishop, but there must be something else. I know that he isn’t a drunkard. He’s too smart for that kind of thing. Perhaps he went to the store or something.”
“Maybe,” John said. “But you know that my father and I took Tae Kwon Do, right?” Grant nodded. “Well, he would have been able to defend himself.”
“He could have been taken off guard by someone.”
“I know that’s what I thought. But someone would have to know how to get to my father. I found out how to do it once at one of our classes together. We were sparing each other and I made it look like I had to tighten by padded gear. He fell for it and I kicked him right in the gut with a reverse side kick.”
Grant laughed. “You outdid your dad? I’m impressed.” His tone then went back to being serious. “So you think that it would have to have been someone who new your father’s weaknesses?”
“It could be, Grant. I don’t know.”
There was a pause.
Grant asked, “Do you think it could have been someone in your family?”
John couldn’t answer. He hadn’t the knowledge to make such a conclusion, but there was a chance that this was the case. But did it necessarily mean that his father was in danger? It could simply be that he went to visit with his relatives, but it seemed odd that he would because he never talked about them to anyone and never said once in John’s childhood that he would be going anywhere of the sort.
If at all his father’s family was involved it might not be good.

21

Brian Campbell awoke from whatever deep sleep he had previously been in. The first thing he noticed was that he couldn’t see a thing. His first thought was that he had gone blind, but then he felt the accumulation of moisture in front of his mouth and knew that a bag had been placed over his head. Second, when he tried to move his hands to remove the bag from off his head he felt rough hemp ropes tight around his wrists, his wrists being sore from chaffing.
There was an aching pain in his chest from where he had seen the young man put the taser’s metallic knobs.
Who was that kid?
Campbell knew that he couldn’t do anything at the moment to escape and that it would be smarter to just sit tight until he heard someone enter the room. But there was a soft breathing that came from the opposite side from where he was. He couldn’t recognize the rhythm of the breath but hoped that it wasn’t anyone hostile.
He should have seen it coming when he noticed there had been no cart full of compost as the young man had claimed. He had been duped and it had cost him dearly. It was a weakness he knew he possessed. His son had played that trick on him many times before.
How would someone else know how to con me?
Usually Campbell was a very vigilant individual. He never let anything deter him from what he sought and constantly kept a wide eye on those that he seemed suspicious. He especially kept an eye on those who wore the stereotypical attire of the black community; baggy pants of varying material, extra large shirt, a necklace or a chain hanging from their trousers. Those were the ones that he was wary of. However, the irony was that he had been taken by someone who resembled his own son.
Someone must have known my weakness. That kid didn’t just do that by himself. Someone hired him or solicited him into doing it.
Perhaps he was right, but he wouldn’t know unless someone from outside this room came in.
Just then the door opened and the sound of two men scuffling into the room strummed off of Brian’s eardrum. It sounded like they were carrying something.
Or someone.
A chair was dragged across the floor and set somewhere near Campbell. He assumed they were putting someone into the chair, but it didn’t sound like that person was conscious. There was the sound of tape being pulled off the roll. It was torn and then they wrapped it around the joints, or so Brain assumed. It was likely and he was probably perfectly right.
There was no sound of turmoil or struggle. The new captive was certainly unconscious.
When it sounded like they were done one of them moved over to the opposite side of the room.
“Her pulse is quickening,” said a young voice. Brian recognized it as the young man’s from the parking lot at the grocery store.
“Then give her another dose of the sedative,” said another voice, aged and weathered from the years. Somehow, Campbell could recognize it but couldn’t place it, like a long lost memory from so years past.
“I’ll go get the syringe,” said the young man as he exited the room.
Campbell assumed that the elder man was still there and took this moment to get some answer he knew might not be given.
“Who’s there,” he said.
“Good evening, Mr. Campbell,” said the elder man.
“Why am I here?”
“Don’t you already know? Isn’t it simple enough?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know it is not polite to answer a question with a question, Brian…,”
“How do you know my name?”
“Don’t you remember who I am?”
“Do I?”
“I’m sorry, but I cannot entertain all of your questions. Either you know or you do not. If you don’t let that be sufficient for now. Your ignorance is all that is keeping you from being the first to go.”
“You mean to kill me?”
“Of course I do. We’ve all been waiting for this moment since the days of Weishaupt.”
“Who?”
“I assume you recognize the name. I can hear it in your voice. You know of whom I speak.”
At that moment, Brian Campbell knew why he was there…, and he didn’t like it one bit. He had never intended on being a victim of the atrocity that was about to commence and feared for the fate of the country.

22

Arch-Bishop Nathaniel Pitt entered the Altoona Police Department building on 11th Avenue and 16th Street in downtown. Outside in the parking lot there were numerous municipal vehicles, all adorned with siren lights.
He went through the front entrance and walked up to the front desk where there was a chubby looking officer there, eating away at a sandwich.
Pitt approached the desk and placed both his hands onto the surface, saying, “Excuse me.”
The officer didn’t look up. “Can I help you, sir?”
“Yes you can. I’m here to report a missing person.”
“Did you try to do it over the phone? Did you dial 911?”
“No, but this is utterly important. If you could I would like to speak with an inspector as soon as possible…,”
The officer finally looked up at the bishop and noticed who he was. “I’m sorry, Bishop Pitt. I didn’t realize it was…,”
“That’s quite alright.”
The officer pulled out a paper from one of the drawers on the other side of the desk and placed it in front of the bishop.
“Here you are. And you said you wanted to speak with an inspector?”
“Yes.”
“Can I ask specifically why?”
“We’re dealing with a missing person, officer. I’m sure you would want to speak with someone of that rank as well.”
“Yes, but I…,” the officer stammered. He looked at the name the bishop was entering onto the blank space where the form asked for the name of the missing person.
Brian Campbell.
“Are you an acquaintance of Mr. Campbell?” asked the officer.
“I am,” replied the bishop.
“I don’t mean to interrupt your signing in on the sheet there, but someone already called in to report him missing.”
“Can I ask…,”
“I’m sorry, Bishop, but that information is confidential.”
“Of course.” Pitt put the pen onto of the paper and slid it over toward the officer.
“If you have any information,” said the officer, “I would be glad to phone in Inspector Lestraude.”
“I would like that very much, thank you.”
The officer pulled a phone off of the receiver and placed a call. “Inspector Lestraude? This is Harry from the front desk. I have a gentleman here to see you. He has information on a missing person… Brian Campbell.” There was a pause. Then the officer put the phone back on the receiver and said, “The inspector will see you in his office. Follow me, please.”

23

John Campbell pulled his car into the driveway right behind his mother’s car. This was the spot where his father always parked and was always picking about when someone was in it. At the moment Campbell knew that his father wouldn’t mind. He wouldn’t even know.
Kate had woken in the car as soon as they turned off of the highway and headed down toward their old neighborhood. Grant had fallen asleep.
Campbell killed the engine and him and Kate both climbed out of the car, leaving Grant to sleep. John looked at his watch. It was ten after eleven and all looked quiet. Nothing and no one stirred anywhere. He had never seen the neighborhood so quiet in his life. It felt to him that with his father’s absence came unsettling calm. It was unusual and out of place.
Though he tried to reason it out of his mind, Campbell knew that something terrible was going to happen.
“Are you sure we should leave him here?” asked Kate.
“He’ll be fine.” Campbell wasn’t worried about his friend. Grant was a strong guy and could take care of himself. If ever he woke up from his deep slumber he would simply come into the house.
“Okay,” said Kate.
They walked up the concrete stairs to the front door of the house and knocked three times. The door was answered automatically and the tear filled eyes of his mother greeted them.
Grace gave her son and Kate a tight squeeze of a hug and then wiped away her tears with a tissue he was holding in her one hand. She expressed her gratefulness for John and Kate being there and ushered them inside.
In the living room there was a police officer who was holding a notepad and scribbling some notes down. He looked up as they entered.
“Johnny, this is Officer Kent,” said his mother, motioning to the officer. “Officer, this is my son and his girlfriend, Kate Simmons.”
“We brought my brother along,” Kate said. “He’s in the car at the moment, sleeping.”
The officer made a note of it. “I’m sure your mother is happy to have you hear Mr. Campbell.”
Grace asked them all to have a seat, but the Kent kindly refused.
“I’m more comfortable standing, thank you.”
To John, Grace said, “There was another gentleman here with Officer Kent earlier, but went off to his office to speak with someone who knows something about your father.”
“Can I ask who it is?” Campbell said addressing Kent.
“Inspector Lestraude did not tell me specifically who it was. All I know is that this individual might know where your father had gone. Do you have anything to add to our investigation that might be helpful to us?”
John considered a moment what he would reveal to the officer. His reasoning would not sit well with his mother and he wondered if it would be wise to reveal that part of his worries.
“I might, officer,” he eventually said. “I’m going to have to think about some things first.”
“I understand,” said Kent.
There was a long silence in the room and no one said anything for a long while.

24

Inspector Francis Lestraude parked his Oldsmobile next to the plethora of police vehicles, his car the only one without lights mounted on top of it. He had just got a call not too long ago from the front desk. He was told there was someone who wanted to speak with him about the current investigation: the whereabouts of Brian Campbell.
He killed the engine and got out, walking toward to front entrance he checked his watch: 10:23 pm. I should be home in bed, he thought, but he knew that he was doing some good in the world. As long as he could help others the way he couldn’t help himself he’d be happy.
When he walked through the door he was greeted by the front desk attendant.
“Good,” he said. “You’re here. The old man is sitting in your office.”
“Old?” asked Lestraude.
“He’s some bishop from around here. You’d do yourself good if you’d be respectful.”
Lestraude knew what the officer meant and headed toward the back of the building, past cubicles of busy officers typing away and a myriad of other things, till he came to his office, enclosed behind a windowless wall and door.
He opened it and stepped inside.
Sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk was the old man. Lestraude recognized him on the spot.
Archbishop Nathaniel Pitt.
Lestraude was taken aback.
The bishop stood up from his chair and extended his hand toward him. He took it. When their hands met Lestraude noticed something in the bishop’s grip, something familiar to him. He tightened his hand around the bishop’s in turn.
They had just preformed a Masonic handshake.
“Please,” said the inspector, “take back your seat.” He went behind his desk and sat in his own chair. “I must tell you,” he said. “I’m in the middle of an investigation and need to get this information quickly.”
“You were at the Campbell residence?” asked the bishop.
“Yes, I was.”
“I didn’t think that an investigation would ensue until it was certain that the man was missing. I assume that there is a waiting period before such actions are taken?”
“You are correct, bishop.”
“But you went on ahead and decided to start immediately. Why?”
Lestraude noticed something in the bishop’s tone. It sounded knowing, knowledgeable, and suspicious. He thought for a moment whether he should answer the question. It was a deeply personal endeavor. However, he had the distinct feeling that the bishop knew.
“Why don’t you tell me?”
“Something must have happened to you before; something much like the predicament the Campbell family is now in.”
“You could tell?”
“It wasn’t hard to discern, really. You looked like that kind of man. Benevolent and kind. I appreciate that in an individual.”
Lestraude decided to change the direction in the conversation.
He said, “I was told that you had information as to the whereabouts of Mr. Campbell.”
“Not necessarily of his whereabouts.” Pitt paused a moment, recollecting his thoughts and his balance upon the thin thread his sanity was treading on. “The information that I have concerns the nature of the situation.”
“The situation being?”
“Brian Campbell is in great danger. Whoever took him will eventually kill him. He had been taken to be murdered…”
“Hold on a minute, bishop. You just said that Mr. Campbell is going to be murdered? How did you get this information?”
Bishop Pitt took a moment to think what would be wise to reveal to this man. He knew the inspector was a freemason, but he wasn’t even close to knowing the truth about his masters. Judging by their handshake Lestraude was an Entered Apprentice. What should I tell him?
“Inspector,” he said. “I’m going to be frank with you. I found this information in an email account belonging to Cardinal McConnell.”
“Isn’t he the head honcho of all dioceses in the state?”
“He is, sir.”
“You do know that hacking is a federal crime?”
“I saw that the circumstances of the situation required drastic measures, considering the state Brian Campbell is in at the moment.”
“And why would the Cardinal have anything to do about this?”
There it was, the question that Pitt was dreading the whole time he was there sitting in the office. What could he tell the man? He was a Freemason himself. Though he may have been low in rank there was still the threat of McConnell finding out what the bishop was up to. Should I risk it?
“I promised you I’d be frank,” Pitt said. “And so I will keep my word. But you must promise me that you will not reveal any of this to anyone without my consent.”
“If I were to do that it would be against the law, bishop.”
“Then I shall tell you.” He paused and took a deep breath. “Brian Campbell and I had always thought that the cardinal was a Freemason. We looked into it as much as we could. It wasn’t till tonight that I found out the truth when I hacked, as you say, into his email address. Within it there were many emails dealing in very Masonic subjects, one of them being a battle and a war.”
“A war against whom?”
“Against religion, Mr. Lestraude; and they wish to start with mine.”
Lestraude did not seem to be impressed. “Bishop Pitt,” he said. “I have heard all of the conspiracy theories and have been told by very many knowledgeable men that this is something the Masons wouldn’t do, and I do not wish to entertain your fantasies…”
“Fantasies!” the bishop cried. “How could you say that? I am a humble man; a man of the Catholic Church. I vowed into chastity and many other things. I have been robed of my material things and look at them as insufficient. I make it my task to preserve the truth and present it to the masses. I’m a preacher, Mr. Lestraude! It would be a sin on my part to lie and lead others astray. I vowed that I wouldn’t do that! I do not want to think of you as biased, but you are being so right now.”
“Bishop, please…”
“We do not have the time! Brain Campbell is in danger. He could be killed! I simply do not joke about these things. I doubt I even have a sense of humor. You are nothing more than a lowly rank in your brotherhood; the first if I’m not mistaken. I wouldn’t expect you understand the aims of your superiors.”
“Bishop,” said Lestraude, calmly, “I was under the impression that you were of the brotherhood…”
“I’m sorry to disappoint.”
“You’re saying that Brian Campbell is going to be killed by members of my brotherhood. That is a grand accusation. I’m going to need more proof of that, but I will not disregard the possibility that he could be murdered. He may well be and you may be right. Other than to send a message – which would be the Masons’ intent – can you think of any other motive? Did he have any enemies? What could have caused him to be a target?”
“The only thing that Brian ever did was come up to the rectory. We’d study and do research together on the Freemasons. We never went public with anything we found (if we found anything at all). No one knew what we were doing. As for enemies, he had a grudge against your brotherhood, but I could never understand why. I mean, he hated them with unusual fervor. To me, it looked like it was personal. I never asked him about it, so I wouldn’t know.”
There was a moment of silence while Lestraude pondered this.
The bishop added, “I could only assume, inspector, that he knew something that they didn’t want anyone to know. But that’s not all.”
“What else could there possibly be?” asked Lestraude.
“Brian Campbell is not the only one to be murdered tonight.”
“Tonight? When?”
“In the emails it said that they should occur from midnight till six in the morning and that there would be a surprise sometime at nine.”
Lestraude looked at his watch again.
10:51 pm.
“Then we’d better get a move on, bishop. We’ve only got an hour and ten before he dies.”

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. bob
    May 10, 2010 @ 12:28:39

    great beginnings … keep up the good work

    Reply

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