The Forgotten War: Chapters 36 – 40

36
Just as they all agreed to Lestraude’s course of action, the phone in Campbell’s pocket erupted with vibration. He took it out and read the screen: Grant.
Why would he need to call me on my phone when he could just come right in?
He answered it, pressing the answering button and putting it up to his ear. “Grant?” he said.
“John,” said Grant, “there’s some guy outside here waiting in his car…”
“Grant, why are you whispering?”
“I don’t want him to hear me, he could be listening intently and might catch me. The tires to the cars are on one side are completely flat and I think this guy is the one who did it…”
“Slow down,” cried Campbell. Everyone in the room paused in their motions and looked his way, wondering what was going on. Lestraude especially took notice of this.
“What’s wrong,” the inspector asked.
“Grant just woke up and says there’s someone outside. He thinks whoever it may be is waiting for us to go outside. He also says the tires are out on both the cars.”
“What?”
“That’s just what I said.”
Lestraude thought for a moment.
“Is this person dangerous, do you think, Inspector?” asked Grace.
Lestraude said, “There is a possibility that whoever it is could be related to the ones responsible for kidnapping Mr. Campbell, but I don’t want to rule out any other possibilities.” Then to John he said, “Ask Mr. Simmons if he can see what the man is doing. Is he smoking anything? Does he look intoxicated?”
John relayed the questions over to Grant who answered, “He looks like he wants to get a move on. I don’t think he’s on anything right now.”
After hearing what Grant said, Pitt came over to Lestraude and said, “We can’t take any risks. Grant is going to have to stay there. We have to get a move on.”
“We can’t just leave my brother there with some freak who might be a mass murderer or whatnot!” cried Kate.
“The bishop is right,” said Lestraude. “He needs to stay there, but we’ll get him out, cause a distraction for the man in the other car. If he’s waiting for us then he will want to move in on his prey. But we have to let him see us.”
“So what do we do,” asked John.
The bishop came in with a suggestion.
“Inspector,” he said, “you should deal with this man. When he sees your badge he’ll be a little disoriented and have to rethink his strategy. Not only that, but you’re the one with a gun. The rest of us are unarmed. We can go out to the garage and get into Sister Clement’s car.”
“But the Inspector Lestraude has to come with us, Bishop,” said Campbell.
Lestraude said, “How fast can you do a drive-by?”
“What?” exclaimed Campbell. “First off, we don’t even know whether this guy is even affiliated with the Masons. He could be there waiting for someone else.”
“Right now,” said Lestraude, “we don’t anything for certain. This whole night has started with theories and it is all we’ve ever been able to act on at this point. I say we go ahead with the bishop’s suggestion. You take the wheel, I’ll come out and ask for the man’s license while Grant gets out of the Dodge, then you come by with the car, Grant and I get in with you and we drive away.”
“Hey,” came Grant’s voice from the phone. “What’s going on? Make up you’re minds. He’s had enough and is coming in right now!”
The room went silent in an instant. Then there was a sound coming from the lobby…
A door was opening….
The front door.
37
Stanworth opened the door to the rectory as quietly as he could. He couldn’t wait any longer. If he did he knew that he would eventually miss his chance to deal with the rising problem. Plus he didn’t want to get the heat from the Cardinal or whoever else was behind the curtains, pulling the strings.
There was a short hallway that led past a closet set into the wall. The lights in the room at the end of this hall were on, and he glimpsed a shadow moving along the floor.
There was someone in that room, but he had to remind himself that there were others, including a cop…
Who would more than likely be caring a gun in a holster, hand at the ready. Who knew, the cop could have a killer quick draw. Stanworth didn’t want to risk it.
He hated to have to do anything against the police, but he also was a bit reluctant to have to kill Campbell too. They were roommates, but that didn’t mean that they were necessarily friends. On the contrary, they were rivals forced to stay in a room together where one force betted against another, cancelling each other our, producing chaos. They had only fought once, but the tensions that were boiling back at Penn State weren’t going to get anyone anywhere as long as they were side by side.
This was his chance to rid himself of that stress, even if it meant to kill an innocent person.
But was he really innocent? After all, he was working with the police to try to stop his masters will, the will of the Grand Architect, God.
No! He had to preserve his rank and his Brethren. Campbell and the others had to die. There was no other way.
Gun out in front of him, aiming down the narrow hall, Stanworth progressed through it and headed into the room.
Quickly he turned the corner that opened up into  a drawing room and scanned for anything that may have been seen upon entry, but there was nothing there.
Someone made that shadow, he thought. And they’re still here, I know it.
Across the room there was another small hall. The room it lead to was dark, no lights shone. A perfect place for anyone to hide.
He made his way across the room and towards what looked like it might be a kitchen. As he made his way over towards the other hall he noticed that there was a door against the wall. He may not have known where it lead, but he did see that it was cracked open a little.
As soon as he was right in front of this door he realized that he had made a mistake for he had a gut feeling that there was someone on the other side.
With the light from the room he was in he could see the outline of half a face present, waiting, and keen.
Stanworth went wide-eyed…
Grant had watched as the mysterious man entered the rectory and decided that this was his chance to finally get out of the car.
Quickly he bolted out and rushed in; there was no telling if any of the others were going to need his help.
He dashed across the sidewalk, came up to the door, opened it, and entered into the lobby.
As soon as they had gotten the update from Grant that the man was coming inside the building, Lestraude had taken the initiative and forced everyone to get to Sister Clement’s car as fast as they could, while at the same time he went into the darkened dinning room, cracked the door open so that he could see, and waited for the man to come into the drawing room.
He had listened as the man made creaks in the old, hardwood floor of the rectory. Whoever it was wanted to get his task done now.
And apparently, now that he saw that the man had a gun, that task was to kill everyone in the building while it was quiet.
Right now it didn’t matter one way or the other whether the Masons had sent this man or not. He was here… and he was armed. A threat, a hindrance, in Lestraude’s search for Brian Campbell.
When he waited for the brief few minutes before the man appeared in the drawing room, Lestraude had glanced at his watch: 11: 48 pm.
Too close a call, far too close.
There wasn’t any time left for them to even start a search and he hadn’t brought any radio into the rectory with him. The only radio was in his car, now immobile thanks to the man now looking at him through the gap in the door.
It was time to make a move for the man was starting to level the gun for a shot.
38
Campbell, the bishop and the rest of the group, minus Lestraude, made their way down to the garage where Pitt said the car was parked.
When the garage light came on via an old set of switches along the inner wall at the entrance, they saw an old ‘92 Subaru Loyale, dark blue, with faded paint and no hubcaps.
“Get in,” said the bishop. “Quickly now.”
Kate and Grace went into the back seats first. Pitt handed Campbell the keys.
“No,” he said. “I’m going up to help Lestraude.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” cried Kate from the car.
Bishop Pitt gave him a deep glare into his eyes, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from doing what he thought was right.
“If there’s more than one of us it will be easier to take him down.” And he left the garage, up the stairs to the first floor.
Lestraude burst from the behind the dinning room door as Stanford’s gun came level with the inspector’s head. The door flung outwards, striking Stanford in the arm just as he was about to fire, the shot going through the wood with less velocity than before and missing Lestraude’s shoulder as he cleared the door and tackled Stanford onto the ground.
There was a struggle, Lestraude knocking the gun out of Stanford’s hand, sending it flying across the carpeted floor. Lestraude gave a quick uppercut to the abdomen.
The wind left Stanford and he scrambled to lay on his side and recuperate, but Lestraude still came at him, this time with a knee to side. He didn’t break Stanford’s ribs, but the pain was still blinding.
In the heat of the moment instinct took over Stanford and he made a blind strike that Lestraude didn’t see coming. The blow made contact right against Lestraude’s left temple, and he fell to the ground, unable to endure through the stunning shock.
Stanford lazily got onto his knees and tried to focus his gaze on Lestraude, then, making a chance estimation, began an elbow strike, sending it on its way to Lestraude’s exposed neck.
Grant had just entered the lobby when he heard the sound of a gunshot go off in a room down a short hall, then there were sounds of struggling, a few good hits, and the moaning and hisses of men in pain.
Immediately following the registering of these noises, Grant looked to his right and found a standing coat rack where a single hat hung.
Without giving much thought about the size, shape, or possible weight, he threw the hat off its hook and grabbed the rack, running through the hall into what was the drawing room.
Campbell came to the tops of a set of stairs that lead to the garage, entering the kitchen. As he was coming up after leaving the others he heard a gunshot ring through the rectory. He had felt it gutter within him for he couldn’t tell if it was from the inspector’s or the unknown man’s.
As the deafening sound instantly faded, easing into the air throughout the building, Campbell rushed into the drawing room where he knew Lestraude would either be dead or alive. When he came in he saw two men fighting on the floor.
The man from outside was in mid-strike, sending an elbow toward Lestraude’s neck, aiming to crush his trachea.
All of a sudden, Grant came rushing into the room, wielding an upright coat rack, swinging it at the man and making contact with the man’s head and sending him rolling off of Lestraude and into the opposite corner of the room.
“Christ!” exclaimed Grant. “That certainly woke me up.”
Lestraude, out of breath and still disoriented from the short fight, was helped up by Campbell and Grant. They set him down on the couch.
“Thank you,” he said.
“Not a problem,” Campbell replied.
Campbell turned around to look at the mysterious man lying on the floor, out cold, splayed like a rubber dummy from a crash test. The face that he saw sent shivers down his spine. He couldn’t comprehend it at all. It did seem to make any sense!
The man before him on the floor was none other than his own roommate: Chris Stanworth.
39
It was a bother not having any help in carrying dead weight around a large building such as the Jaffa Shrine. The young man had to fend for himself as he carried the limp figure of Marge Campbell in his arms, as if he were a hero saving a damsel in distress.
He certainly wasn’t saving her, but she was a damsel in every sense of the word.
His silver Solara was parked at the bottom of the lower loading ramp and he pressed the button on his keychain that opened the trunk.
With a hiss of hydraulics, the trunk ascended and he put Marge into it, slamming it afterwards with enthusiasm, but he was still at odds at the moment with his master.
How could a knowledgeable man of his stature descend to such ignorance. There was a reason why Brian Campbell was to go first, he symbolized something and would have foreshadowed what was to come for the other three victims.
But now that the master had taken Campbell into the office there was no telling what was going to transpire against the previous plan. In the young man’s eyes the master was becoming emotionally attached to the conflict he was starting. What was he going to accomplish by saving Campbell for the time being?
And why was he shoving his pomp in Campbell’s face?
The first thing that came to mind was that the master had a grudge against Campbell. He was probably right, but he wasn’t going to assume anything. The first thing he had learned since joining the Masons was that there was more to the world that met the eye. Secrets were abound in this world and he was determined that he was going to discover them no matter what.
That was his drive, what kept him going, what made him commit these acts of violence. He had hoped when he first joined that it wouldn’t have to resort to that, but he should have known better; after all, the Masons kept secrets and because they had secrets they needed to be defended at all costs (which he said when he took the many oaths required).
He climbed into the car and started the engine, put it into reverse, and backed off of the ramp, did a reverse 180, then shot down toward the entrance to the parking lot. Once onto Broad Ave, he made his way to the first destination.
40
Bishop Pitt drove Sister Clement’s Subaru down the alleyway, before they were past the second block they thought they heard the sound of a muffled gunshot go off. It was getting too close to midnight for them to turn back and help now.
“We have to keep going forward,” Pitt had said. “They can take care of themselves. Besides there’s more than one of them. They’ll handle whoever that man was easily.”
They had decided to head to the police station and let them know that there was going to be a murder. They didn’t know how the department was going to take the news, but they were certain that there would be suspicion on their shoulders because they would have opened their mouths. They agreed that they were going to have to wing it.
Kate was a mess of tension. She was so afraid of what was going to happen to Grant and John that she never said a word to anyone the whole time they were on their way. What if one of them were to die? How would she be able to handle it?
Grace was no better than Kate. Her own son was risking his life to save another and hopefully find out more about what the hell was going on. She respected the bishop immensely for he had always been so kind to the family, but she wasn’t so trusting with his theory that her husband was taken because of a secret organization.
Between the two of them, there was no hint of hope in them at all. In their mind they pretended that they did, but in their subconscious it wasn’t so.
Pitt was calm, confident that young John, Grant, and Lestraude would be alright. They outnumbered the perpetrator three to one. The odds were on their side. But he believed that with the Freemasons one could never be sure of anything. They may have been predictable with the general conspiracy but their methods were well beyond knowing. With the Masons there was no telling how they might do something, but everyone had so many ideas of what it could be and how they would do it.
At the moment he was pondering the meaning of the number of victims. There were said to be six, as he had read in the email on McConnell’s account. Why six? In many religions it was considered to be an imperfect number, in Catholicism it was used to identify the number of the beast (666). God had created the universe is six days though, but rested on the seventh. It was why there were seven days in a week according to the Gregorian calendar.
Even among the Masons seven was considered sacred because it was an odd number. In Masonry all odd numbers were considered to be sacred. What was the purpose behind six victims? Technically there should have been a seventh.
Perhaps, thought Pitt, there was going to be a seventh victim, one yet unnamed or described in written word. There was no way, however, to be sure.
He turned the car onto Eleventh Ave and shot towards the police station as fast as he could. At the moment there was no time for obeying the speed limit.
There were only five minutes left until midnight.
Pitt knew that there was a possibility that they may be too late. They had spent too much time and he regretted having been so keen on speaking about his hobby.
He knew that’s what it had always been, and he even knew that it was taking it too far by tapping the phone McConnell was using earlier. It was a temptation that he hadn’t been able to overcome and wondered if it would be right to ask God for forgiveness. But the thing was, if he hadn’t eavesdropped on the phone conversation between McConnell and whoever was on the other end of the line then he wouldn’t have found out that the Masons were planning on taking violent action tonight.
Even if they didn’t save Brian they could still save the other victims and stop the Masons from continuing on with their plot, thereby saving religion and future conflicts around the world.
There was always a question that popped into his mind, which probably had happened to grace the thoughts of everyone else with him, from himself to Lestraude, as to why the Masons would have chosen to carry out such a plot in a small city like Altoona. What would they gain by attacking this worthless city?
Pitt had been wondering about it the whole time since reading the email and believed he had now come to an answer.
They were seeing if they could succeed, an experiment, a test. They needed to know that they could continue the war that had begun centuries ago in the modern say and age. He knew that if they did win here that it would inspire others around the world to do the same. A new world war would erupt, one deeper than any that had ever transpired n history.
Pitt couldn’t let that happen, knew that Brian would feel the same way, and that John would follow suit if his father was constantly in danger. And if Brian died Pitt knew that John would continue to fight the Masons until he thwarted their plans.
He hoped that it wouldn’t come to that, but if they didn’t hurry there would be no chance of saving Campbell. In fact, he was sure that they would fail in saving Brian, but would be able to save the others.
Just don’t die on us yet!

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