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TWISTED DESTINATION - TRIMVIRATE

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NOTICE

THIS BOOK IS A WORK OF FICTION. THE NAMES, CHARACTERS, PLACES, AND INCIDENTS ARE

PRODUCTS OF THE WRITER’S IMAGINATION OR

HAVE BEEN USED FICTITIOUSLY AND ARE NOT TO

BE CONSTRUED AS REAL. ANY RESEMBLANCE TO

PERSONS, LIVING OR DEAD, ACTUAL EVENTS, LOCALES OR ORGANIZATIONS IS ENTIRELY COINCIDENTAL.

ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS

BOOK MAY BE USED OR REPRODUCED IN ANY MANNER WHATSOEVER WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR.

 

 

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“I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image.”

Stephen Hawking

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CHAPTER I

THE HOLY WARRIOR

VATICAN CITY, ROME, ITALY

“Who’s dead this time?” Diego Garamond roused from sleep and outcried, echoing his dream. It was curious that he had nightmares at such late age~,~ and all he wanted was to place himself so far off his wife who slept with angelical quietude as if she didn’t have to wake up anymore. He glanced at the clock on the wall and the time it displayed reminded him that he hadn’t changed its cells for a lifetime. Its pointers both seemed to be stuck at 2, yet the most active and prolonged one kept moving in chronologically accurate pace. He checked his wristwatch, then back at the clock and understood that his wife had done his work for him. It presented indeed, 2 o’clock.

In the coldest moments of the beginning of dawn, he woke up with sudden defensive reaction by the sound of the telephone like an American soldier under attack in Vietnam. He was a man of light sleep and like all men psychologically self-trained to be vigilantes, the slightest din was enough to give him insomnia for the rest of the night. In consequence of his abrupt movement, his wife Deanna almost roused from her so deserved sleep, after waking up countless times to satisfy their five months daughter’s demands: poop, piss and breast milk.

Diego started envisioning how many people could call him at that insanely early time. Only his wife Deanna owned more than the right to do so, she had a duty if anything happened but she reposed beside him. While acoustically struggling to identify the location of that incessant ‘trim-trim’, he got lost staring at her, at all he loved in her and all he loved was all of her.

Diego was too tall for a priest and perhaps too handsome, his chin gapped lightly in the middle, his nose erect, like a proslavery racist European though he distanced from it by infinite virtues and he had instructed his body a behavioural involuntary reflex, to walk with both hands behind his back.

The telephone, like him, expressed its displeasure for being woken up and it rang with more force. Diego heard its demanding need from his bedroom and auralised it somewhere between the kitchen and the living room. By elimination he solved the matter. If he only spent a little more time at his own house, he could easily recall that the phone rested in the sitting room near that cupboard made of a deceased fine tree from some tropical forest no one cared about. As he always explained to his wife, it wasn’t his fault, in his contract, the word family wasn’t mentioned.

He looked one last time at Deanna and a smile naturally came. He remembered why he had married her. She could make him smile even in her sleep. She slept like a baby, at least one that wasn’t their daughter, one cute and quiet, and painfully beautiful. He stood up still dizzy and uncoordinated, wore his ridiculous bunny slippers and headed to the living room.

Diego Garamond’s family lived in an ancient mini-mansion inside the Vatican City. It looked old and timetorn from the outside, still maintaining its gothic architecture but inside, everything imitated the future except for some items which held emotional value and lineage inheritance. The house had belonged to his forefathers who used to work at the Secret Archives. His family had been securing the Library of the Vatican for two centuries and it was his turn now. When he died, his son would take his place but he didn’t have a son yet, only a 5 months daughter, which seemed to be a problem. While for his lovely wife a girl was a blessing, to him, even not admitting it, it was not only a disappointment but also an issue to fix. The Vatican had even given him more time with his wife to try and produce a boy.

He always considered himself a bit feminist, as a matter of fact he was one of the few clergymen supportive of feminist causes but somehow he understood and agreed to that order. He believed that his job required certain traits only men have. Since he couldn’t specify which traits, he stopped singing feminism around his friends, for a good reason.

At that time before dawn to which he had no noun for, he reposed at home with his family and he had been given the whole weekend off. He hadn’t seen his daughter since the day she was born, so he discarded that the call was work related and his curiosity just intensified. He took the telephone and before laying it on his ear, Diego had a strong feeling that something utterly distressful was bound to happen.

“Good…ah… Hello.”

“My life is in danger Diego,” a man with a distressful dramatic tone said. Diego recognised the voice. It was Paolo.

Diego’s appealing charms and wit won him a powerful friend, Cardinal Paolo. Together, they left the formality apart and enjoyed the most sophisticated wine from Porto, gossiping about the Pope’s ridiculous dresses or commenting about how the world would be without any religion among other themes.

The moments with Diego were the break Cardinal Paolo deserved from all the seriousness at the Vatican. Diego didn’t judge him for anything, never, not even his sexist ideologies. After a few bottles, Cardinal Paolo confessed some dark secrets of the Church he wasn’t supposed to tell anybody but Diego, a loyal friend as he certainly proved to be, never said any of it to anyone, not even to his wife. Unlike most men, although he trusted and loved Deanna with all his heart, he cared about seeing her neck where it belongs or was it that he simple didn’t trust women? He didn’t know for sure, all he knew was that secrets are to be kept.

Cardinal Paolo became as they became closer, progressively open to talk about everything with him because he was a man that would rather cut his own throat than telling a friend’s secret. That breed of men is bound to extinction with the exponential growth of narcissism.

“Morning Paolo,” Diego said in a hoarse anxious voice, “What is going on?”

“I know who killed John Paul I, Diego,” Cardinal Paolo said, in a low pitched voice. He seemed delusional, speaking uncomfortably close to the phone, whispering, “I always knew and I let that bastard get away with it but I couldn’t let him become the next Pope so I made a video and gave it to an old friend of mine who is a trusted and reputed journalist and a former priest.”

“Which bastard,” Diego asked, “You are not making any sense. Who are you talking about?”

“Listen, Diego, he was supposed to be in the air later today at 8 P.M, after I got myself out of here but they have killed the man Diego, and possibly retrieved the video. I just saw it on the breaking news that he was found dead, suicide they say. It had the Holly Warrior’s signature all over it. He is coming for me. I am already a dead man.”

“Stop that,” Garamond said, calmer than what the situation required of him. He didn’t give it much credit although preoccupied he certainly couldn’t not be, since he knew that Cardinal Paolo did no drugs nor had mental problems and found pranks exceedingly childish, “Stay inside your chambers, close the doors and the windows. I am coming.”

“No, you are not,” Cardinal Paolo answered with a decisive tone, “I am already dead Diego. I know how a great friend you are but you don’t have to follow me to the grave. I have no child, no wife, you do. If you die, who will remember me? A man of God is not missed for he is at once replaced. I will die, with the truth and God on my side. They will send their Holly Warrior and no one runs from the Holly Warrior.”

The Holly Warrior was the most dreadful and efficient assassin of the Vatican. He had killed more than a thousand men and families in the name of the Church, individually. He had become by repetition, flawless in his craft but he was nothing but a myth. No one ever saw him or lived to tell that did. The name was coined because he always gave eternal silence to people who betrayed or secretly conspired against the Church like the jihadists in the Holly War, only he, played for the opposite team. He was so stealthy that he never killed, the accidents he never created did. No one was even sure he existed. It was just rumours. Whenever someone inside the Vatican died of normal causes, the kind that look fabricated like heart attacks, drowning, suicide, it was customary to say ‘The Holly Warrior took him’ so Diego started to think that perhaps the Cardinal was delusional, talking about fairy-tale characters and conspiracist’s gibberish but if it were all true, he would lose a friend.

When the pointer on a clock ticks, according to people whose job is to consider us just numbers, somewhere in this overpopulated yet lonely planet 205 people die. As it tacks, the number doubles and as it tick-tacks incessantly around itself, the mathematics on how many people die becomes increasingly harder to solve. Everyone becomes one second older and less alive than was a second ago. Nobody really cares about those unsettling numbers unless who departs is somebody dearly loved or deeply despised, or just when it’s to quote the statistics to sound well-informed. Few men hope to be remembered for eternity, some aspire to have their names on a newspaper and on a tombstone while others simple don’t care about what happens to them after they are gone and even if they owned tombstones, it would look like this, “Here lies a person who just didn’t give a damn about your opinion”. Cardinal Paolo differed from all of them, he was special to Diego. Except himself, Paolo undoubtedly could be the most righteous and selfless man Diego had ever shared a planet with.

“I said I am coming,” Diego decided.

“Then we are both doomed,” Cardinal Paolo answered, then a very uncomfortable and terrifying silence followed by the last words of the Cardinal, ‘Oh God, no!’ disheartened Diego.

“No, what? Diego said, “Paolo, are you talking to me? Paolo, are you still there?” The phone call had been cut. Worried something tragic had happened, his imagination started growing dark wings of its own. He immediately wore his habit, took his car and headed to the Apostolic Palace. Next to Saint Peter’s Basilica, a pair of Swiss Guards demanded that he stopped his vehicle for it was suspicious that anyone drove in at that time but as soon as they saw who it was, they let him enter without inspection. He went inwards the building, and climbed the stairs in an incredible speed, never to have seen the place so desert. It truly seemed more like a house of God at that time without all the tourists, all the short skirts, low-necked blouses, and all the lack of respect for that place. Sometimes he had a private satisfaction when a woman trying to win the record for the shortest dress in the world was burgled and that was quite usual since there is no prison in the Vatican City.

When he arrived at the main hallway, he was about to intercede when he saw a man emerging from the chambers of Cardinal Paolo. Instinctively, he hid himself. He couldn’t see the face but the man seemed somehow familiar. The man walked tall and smoothly. An urging force coming from within, his protective angel, his survival instincts or perhaps a sixth sense, told him to hide until the mysterious man disappeared along the corridor. Not wanting to sound paranoid, he had ignored Paolo’s dramatic conspiracy theories but at that second, he started to believe that the strange man was indeed the Holly Warrior. He behaved in accordance to what the situation really expected of him, with lots of fear but also an odd and misplaced urge of curiosity.

Suddenly, Cardinal Paolo’s drama seemed reasonable. The way the mysterious man closed the door as noisy as a feather and inspecting the surroundings like he had eyes behind his head was very suspicious so Diego remained hidden until certainty resided that he was not hiding to ambush and kill him.

He went to the door, used his master key and opened it. Bookkeepers of the Vatican’s Secret Archives Library all had a master key because they were fully trusted. They knew everything and there existed nothing the Vatican would hide from them. At least that is what they were meant to believe. Diego always thought that perhaps, it was a classic example of misdirection for not all secrets can be unlocked with a master key.

When he entered Cardinal Paolo’s chambers, he saw Paolo lying on his bed, everything at its rightful place except two things; the bottle of wine was not empty and the Cardinal’s crucifix was not on him. The bottle of wine seemed an understandable oddity because the Cardinal had said that he had planned to flee and getting drunk wouldn’t be smart, something he knew Paolo certainly was. But the crucifix, a real mystery. High priests never separated themselves from it, much less sleeping. He thought, if the man was here right now on the Cardinal demands, Cardinal Paolo was supposed to be awake but if he was indeed his killer, then the Cardinal slept not a normal sleep but a definitive one.

Diego went close, inspected him from afar and then decided to check his blood pulse. Cardinal Paolo gave a very loud breath like he had been drowning and called out, “Diego?” Diego almost followed Paolo; one, because he was grabbed with a force that almost broke his arm and two, because he expected him to be dead and as far as he knew, dead man don’t talk. The cardinal whispered, “456, 34, 21, 567, miracle” and went back to his stiffness. It was like when a chicken is taken its head out, it keeps struggling for a life it will never get back until it rests forever and finds itself on someone’s plate. The assassin had given him a drug that killed instantaneously. Miraculously, Cardinal Paolo was given a last breath and he used it to tell Diego something which made no sense at all, or did it? A perfect situation to use the expression “he breathed his last” and not sound too poetic.

Diego Garamond left the room in a hurry still thinking what those words meant. Subconsciously, those words made so much sense that he hated himself for not being able to find out what they meant. To avoid suspicion, he went to his work place, the Secret Archives. There, he found Mr. Jonathan Bartolommeo and Mr. Erick Morgo, the other two Archivists. He tried to act normally.

“Hey John, hey Erick, what are you doing here so soon?” Mr. Bartolommeo asked back, “We should be asking you that. What are you doing here so soon? You asked for a leave to see your wife, didn’t you?”

“Yes you did. If I had a wife, I wouldn’t come at this time, if you know what I mean.” Mr. Morgo added.

Mr. Bartolommeo commented with a sarcastic tone, “Yeah, every animal on the planet knows what you mean Erick. But really, what’s it, Diego?”

Garamond thought for a second and the first thing that came up was, “The damn baby won’t stop crying. Don’t get me wrong, I love her but I love silence more.” They started laughing and Mr. Morgo made a pensive look and headed towards his working desk. Mr. Bartolommeo stayed. “You know, one day you will miss that, they say.”

“Yep,” Garamond answered, “They say a lot of crap.”

“Are you sure there is nothing bothering you?”

“I just told you, I couldn’t sleep. Why are you being so inquisitive?”

“Nothing. It’s just that you never swear, even when someone sets your nerves on edge and now because of your daughter you swear. I will assume you blame her for not being a boy.”

Mr. Bartolommeo was a man of elegance. Not too different from Mr. Garamond who had also gone to Oxford and done Theology, as it was customary to Archivists. Usually Archivists were Cardinals but as conservative philosophies tend to be replaced by more modern ones. This generation, only one existed. Cardinal Giovani, who almost never came letting Primate Antonio take care of his affairs. He was committed to his job and to his privileged position, perhaps too committed. Mr. Bartolommeo was a man of art with an appealing wit. He was friendly in modest sufficiency to anyone and according to him, no one was higher, everyone was equal and above us all, only God. He had problems with authority. Mr. Morgo was, on the other hand, a proud private man. He could have great conversations with people if tremendously necessary or socially compulsory but most times, he just liked to stay in his corner, reading his weirdly titled books, and this time he read Fantasia Mathematica. With Garamond and Bartolommeo he had become a bit close, enough to call them friends. To defend his daughter, although he didn’t even know why he had to defend a baby, Mr. Garamond said, “She’s lovely. I am just not used to it yet.”

“Yeah, I didn’t like the idea of being castrated myself.”

Diego gave a brief grin, “What does that have anything to do with this conversation?”

“I don’t know, I just wanted to lighten the conversation a bit.”

“Well, you succeeded.”

“Good. I knew cutting them would make a good joke one day.” Diego tried to conceal another smile and he succeeded as soon as the image of Cardinal Paolo struck his mind. He remembered the numbers he said, he looked at Johnathan and Erick and reckoned, “if they know what it’s all about, it is fine but even if they knew, I can trust their discretion.” For the first time, Diego finally did what many ultimately do when they are told a secret, he shared it with another person, “Hey, what you think, ‘456, 34, 21, 567, miracle’ means?” Mr. Bartolommeo instantly said, “About the word Miracle I have no idea but I think the rest means ‘Shelf 456, lot 34, item 21, page 567’ from the Secret Archives. That is how we find anything out of all this gigantic garbage.

“Of course,” Garamond said. He couldn’t believe he had missed that. Now that it struck him, no other assumption he had come up with seemed to belong to an intelligent species. He had heard and said that sequence of four seemingly unrelated numbers every day. The context he was given had blurred his common understanding. He looked for the answer as if trying to decode a Cipher that would save mankind. In common thinking, an obvious response is the immediately expected from a man about to die but too much of fiction reading was blurring his thinking.

“Yeah, you know,” Mr. Bartolommeo continued, “I would literally pay people to get in here and look for whatever they think we have without telling them how the shelving system works. They would search for weeks just to find out that there has been a Pope who had flu. But what is it all about, Diego?” While already walking towards shelf 456, Garamond said, “I think I am about to find out,” and then he started going through the Archives. While looking, Cardinal Paolo was found dead in his chambers and he remained there for almost 5 hours till the pope came and they took him to a private room guarded like a fortress.

Erick and Jonathan, both in shock, stared at all the Swiss Guards, medics and nuns walking past them, coming and going. While the confusion happened, Garamond found what he was looking for. He took the heavy manuscript and went to page 567 and there it was Cardinal Paolo’s crucifix. It was a silver with special carvings. He grabbed it and involuntarily touched the place where the horizontal and the vertical pieces joined. Automatically, the two joined themselves creating a single piece shaped like a pen and he saw the carvings turning into a familiar shape and insignia. There were two crossed keys and the Pope’s Crown in the middle, the blazonry of the Secret Archives. Something else came out in the top that had the shape of a USB port. Diego had never seen a device like that since floppy disks were what people used most for memory storage in the nineties. Mr. Bartolommeo came from behind and recognized the strange gadget so he said, “Leave it”.

“Why?” Garamond asked, scared for he believed to be alone. Johnathan looked deep into his eyes. His face became as serious as he could be and slowly said, “Or you will die along with your wife and your beautiful baby,” When he noticed that Garamond still inspected the device thoroughly, trying to identify it, he paraphrased it shorter and blunt, “Everyone you love will die. Leave the damn thing!”

“I am not. I have to find out what it is. I need to.” When he ended his sentence, he started to have a clue on what it was. It had the same shape and insignia of an old key that along with a password, could unlock the darkest secrets the world had ever seen, the Holy Grail, The SAW (Secret Archives Website), a secret website inside the Vatican’s secret website. Like The Holly warrior, all these things were nothing but myths yesterday but seemed uncontestably real and would cost his life today.

“Jonathan, I know what it is.”

“Then also how dangerous it is so leave it.”

“I will disappear and so should you. We have witnessed too much,” Diego resumed, “I will take my family to a place no one can find us and I will tell the world the whole truth about Cardinal Paolo and whatever this thing holds.”

“So the Cardinal’s death, wasn’t an accident?”

“No, it wasn’t and this crucifix is the only thing that can prove it. We both know they won’t make any necropsy. They never do.”

“Diego, I know you enough to acknowledge that I can never convince you otherwise but my friend I have lived enough to foresee how this is going to end and I am fully posetive you shouldn’t run away but if you do, what you probably will, I hope God chooses to protect you and not the Church.”

“You have to vanish too or you will be killed.”

“Don’t be naive Diego for it doesn’t suit you, there’s no place you can go the Church won’t find you. I… you… we, have been silent upon various secrets and so have you. This is just another one.”

“You don’t understand. Cardinal Paolo died because of it. How can you still want to stay passive to this catastrophe?”

“You shouldn’t have told me that. I know nothing. Leave that thing where you found it and no one will ever find it. Its location dies with its owner. Or burn it if you think you will be tempted to come back and take it.”

“I understand you. He was never your friend, only mine and friends honour their friends even after death. Goodbye John! I suppose we won’t be seeing each other any time soon.”

“I will be praying that we do, my friend.” They hugged each other and Johnathan saw his dear friend leaving. His look had surrendered hope, he had lost him forever and he couldn’t understand why Diego didn’t know that idealism always loses to realism and realism is always married to pessimism.

Garamond arrived home, told his wife to pack all she needed because they were about to leave the house and flee the country and she did without demanding considerations. His face gave her the brief explanation she needed and she knew that later, he was going to explain everything to her. When Garamond was about to leave, someone knocked at the door. It was a friend so he took a gun just in case his friend was bait and rushed to answer to it. He told him to enter while nervously inspecting the surroundings.

“Why are you here? Were you followed?” Garamond asked preoccupied and confused, grabbing his head and looking everywhere.

“No, I wasn’t!”

“Why are you here?” Garamond was still suspicious when he saw at a mirror what seemed to be his friend putting his hand on his coat like one reaching for a gun. Diego pointed his gun to his friend and asked nervously, “What are you doing? Are you the Holly Warrior? Please say ‘no’!”

“Where is the crucifix Diego?” The man asked looking into his eyes as if not intimidated with the gun Garamond was holding and pointing at him.

“Oh, my God, you are?! Are you here to kill me?”

“Give me the necklace and I will let Deanna and the babe live.”

“I can’t believe this. You couldn’t. We are friends.”

“I am just doing the work of God, Diego.”

“Stop with that blind stupid belief for it doesn’t suit you.”

“Don’t waste your breath. Hand me the crucifix.”

“I will never give it to you.”

“Then I shall find it,” the Holy Warrior threw a knife at Garamond so fast he didn’t even see where it came from. The assassin lowered himself almost kneeling, took off Diego’s gun from his hand and said, “I am sorry Diego and I know this is cliché but ‘it’s really not personal my friend’,” and shot twice in his heart and at the right leg like a messy person who had never used a gun before. He walked towards the panic room. He had the plant of the house so he knew where everything was placed. When Deanna Garamond saw that her husband was pointing a gun at his friend, she hid herself with her daughter at the panic room. She saw her husband killed from the surveillance monitors.

The Holly Warrior was able to enter the surveillance room and wipe all the recorded videos of the murder but she had managed to escape from a secret back door already, although she suspected not for long. To survive, she fled the country towards Mozambique, thinking that they would never consider Africa. She had gone there with her parents in several family vacations and she knew her way around. She got on a plane and started making the unsettling routine of a third country tourist. She had to stop in South Africa and then travel to Mozambique. Those days, there was no direct plane from Italy to Mozambique.

She knew that eventually, they would find her so as soon as she got there, the first thing she did was to save her daughter’s life. She grew up in a Convent and she imagined no other life aside of that so she took her baby to a Convent at Maputo, the capital, in hopes that it was the last place they would look for her, since it belonged to the Church. She hid her right under their noses and attached, to the baby, a seemingly paradoxical note: Please save her from false priests and conceal her crucifix from the eyes of those who think God has favourites, them. She waited, concealed behind a tree until a nun came out, looked around, read the note and hid it under her habit. The child was in safe hands.

Unfortunately, The Holly Warrior had traced her back to Mozambique. She was then found dead beside a young man’s body half her age with a lot of Heroin in the room and in both their bodies. The next day, it was trending on Mozambican and world media: An Arch-priest hid a mentally unstable drug addict mistress who murdered him and fled to Mozambique where she died of a Heroin overdose with her young lover. It wasn’t a perfect murder but people believe in anything the media says. If it said that they had found proof that Jesus was black, people would buy it. It just needs a lot of advertisement.

The baby was hunted everywhere but was never found. The Vatican laid a very pompous funeral for Arch-Priest Diego Garamond and the Pope said that the devil was infecting us with drugs, alcohol, and other addictions. He also said that the young generations should at any cost avoid drugs, early sex, alcohol and other promiscuous matters. That was the end of it. It was Pope John Paul I assassination all over again. No one investigated thoroughly, no one came forward to reveal the truth and nobody talked about it. The media suddenly did the opposite of what it usually does, this time it admitted to know nothing and people didn’t even suspect anything except for all the conspiracists to whom nobody listens to because people think they are worthless individuals without any social life craving for attention for a couple of minutes. Unlike what common sense will make you believe, it is actually rough to be the only man who sees in a land of blind people and when it is a voluntary blindness, you start considering everybody stupid and as far as transactional analysis and Jesus Christ proverbs go, enlightened people have it hard when they mix with the other kind.

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CHAPTER 2

GERMANY

THAT SAME DAY

At one of the most sophisticated neighbourhoods of Berlin lied inside a great mansion whose owners had never been seen, a benighted sanctuary long forgotten by everybody where thirteen people surrounded a pregnant woman and a man that could feel flattered if instead of old, he was called ancient. Ancientness is associated with wisdom and value whilst oldness is just the opposite of youngness. His looks resembled the nightmarish prototypical Devil, not the one from the bible who had been an angel in the past, the one everybody is so afraid of meeting in Hell, a creature with red skin and horns, square shaped nose, filthy mouth and animalised body. It’s incredible how an idea can grow inside people.

Where did people invent this traits from? Is it from the Bible? It does say that he was cast out but it says nothing about being turned into a monster. Perhaps everybody who goes to Hell, if there is such thing, is turned into serpents since it is the only recorded creature Lucifer is associated to. Sometimes it does seem like people are describing a red bull, however, beliefs are dogmas and the peaceful Indus are capable of slaughtering anyone who dares to make such cheap analogy towards their saint Taurean Gods.

Sometimes, the, funnily enough, the maxim of dogmatism being incontestable to some extent makes it, logically, inevitably illogical.

At some point in the ancient past that the building certainly belonged, it had been a Roman Catholic Church. If it wasn’t almost impossible to locate, it could be a massive religious tourism paradise. Its walls had ornate stone carvings, paintings of falling angels, shapeless figures of horrifying monstrosities like Picasso’s, only worse. There hanged skulls of men, women and smaller men and women that lived a rather short life whilst their body remains compulsorily adopted a centenary lifespan.

The man’s visage haunted even the best autistic ever to walk the face of Earth. The years hadn’t been generous to him. He had the eyes of wisdom like an owl but also its infamy of being a creature of evil. He undoubtedly topped the list of immediate targets of the angel of Death. He was so old one could have a hard time finding out who was older, him or the Church. Unlike everybody else, his face wasn’t covered at all. Actually, his face simply wasn’t. His bones could be seen and his nose resembled that of the skulls hanging in every centimetre of the building. He wore long dark clothes, like a black lacerated cursed wedding dress, the kind that even the wicked witches could find scary.

It was nearly impossible to assert with exactitude whether there were men or women behind those vestments. Terrifying masks covered the members’ faces and their dresses had hoods covering all their hair, ears and faces. Even without the masques, seeing their faces could be like trying to see the face of a headless horse, a worthless deed.

The wise sorcerer kept speaking in a language long forgotten even the Latians could consider it archaic. Between now and then he would utter ‘Lucifer est Dominus. Nostra anima est tua. Venit accipe ’. The expressions were unknown to everybody but the infinite past repetitions of that ritual gave them a thoroughly perceived meaning no translator could succeed to convey.

The woman’s garments weren’t much different, only in a different colour, very shiny white. Her face was covered like the other members of the cult but didn’t cover her lower parts. She had her legs apart, lying on a very ancient rectangular tombstone with both her legs and arms tied to four round objects at the vertices.

The sorcerer took a round calix made of wood and gave it to the woman. He demanded her to drink it all and he repeated ‘Accipere Lucifer’ several times in a clear invocation of the Devil. He continued the satanic cult and a few repetitions later, the woman started to have unsettling convulsions and her belly, as if turned inside out, started to make strange shapes and figures of infernal faces, hands and a protuberance that like a sharped knife carved pentagonal projections inside of her stomach. The woman’s sufferings were impossible to look at, agonistic and unbearably monstrous. She had waited 9 joyous months for that moment. She wanted to bear that child infinite times more than the baby. It decided to leave the warmth and comfort of his mother’s womb if expelled forcefully, perhaps because he was aware of the terror out here.

Those few minutes made her reconsider every choices that allowed her to inevitably find herself in that situation, even the pleasurable ones. It wasn’t a usual childbirth. She felt a portion of her soul leave her body each time she pushed the baby out. When she perceived that she needed only one push to finally become a mother, her strength was nowhere to be found. She was left with two dilemmatic pseudo-choices, to keep pushing out that creature inside her and fatalistically expel out the last shade of life within herself or she simply stop pushing, killing the child, and ultimately herself. Both options ended with her death but in one, the baby lived and in the other, both died. Like any mother, from the mentally stable ones, she decided for the former.

The Devil’s priest continued invoking Lucifer and after one last push that could cost the woman’s life, the babe started to come out. When the babe cried, she fainted instantly. Her blood drained from her body and the skin assumed a white pale tone, one as a dead corpse. The sorcerer held the baby on his long, pointy fingered hands.

When the baby was born, it cried endlessly but now, it bizarrely made no sound. He put it on display to everybody heading to the altar. The altar had satanic symbols painted in dense red blood surrounding an artistic creation of Lucifer when heaven banished him and he fell into hell. Next to the painting rested a big bowl, so perfect in size to put a baby that one had no other option but to conclude that it was custom-made solely for that purpose. Inside of it, a gold coloured liquid. The old man started speaking in superannuated Latin, as translated,

If the boy’s blood to you belongs,

As gold will the liquid remain

If the boy does not

His blood will be as putrid stain,”

He took a huge shaped knife and surgically cut the boy in-between the chest, enough to make the enormous knife stay with some blood but not to do any physical damage. It showed indeed a master surgical cut since any tiny mistake could cost the baby’s life. Like any craft, continuous repetition, hopefully not trial and error in his case, had made him flawless. He took the knife with some blood spouting from it and introduced it on the golden liquid. If the liquid inside the bowl turned red, the boy was to be killed instantly but if it remained gold coloured, their God, the Devil, had plans for him and therefore, he was worth living. Everybody awaited to see the boys final destination. The Sorcerer took out the Knife, completely clean and shiny. The liquid remained golden and the boy would live.

One of the 13 members entered the altar, knelled down in relief and obeisance and opened his hands to receive the baby. The sorcerer put the baby in his hands and he welcomed it into his fathering arms. As he did that, the baby resumed crying again proving that a baby cries because knows that one cares.

Two men came and took the lady and put her on a stretcher. As the man holding the baby followed them, one of them stopped and said, “Go home sir, we will take care of your wife. We are both highly skilled physicians.”

Although the so called physicians also had a white uniform as his wife’s and had their faces covered, the husband noticed the warmth and politeness of the man. He also detected by the stature and delicacy of the other physician, that she was a lady medico so he nodded and removed himself. He observed them distancing themselves from him, he observed and saw the woman complaining at the man. The way they gazed at each other, the way they argued, turned to be too very intimate and he assured himself that he stood beside spouses.

The members started to leave and the freshly made father stayed there, wondering if things had gone wrong, if he had lost his wife, what would he have done? She symbolised the only tiny beam of light in his dark life and she was enough to keep his hope that at least there was a light after all. He had gone pass the phase of the blinded man in Plato’s cave, he cognised a better world than the one he lived in but to him, it seemed unreachable since he was borne inside the cave and grew inside the cave. In those minutes he felt as if he had already lost his wife and upon his first child, he thought about life more than he had ever done. If his parents gave him no other choice but to dwell into demoniac worshipping and eternal imprisonment, he was going to try and be a better father and his son was going to live life to its fullest potential. What was all that money he had for? To keep making more money so that his son could grow up and also keep making more money and etcetera? That meant every man in his family was doomed to do the very same thing, make more money. An idea solidified adamantly and so imbedded into all of them that they believed no other option existed and nothing mattered the most in the world.

While he was lost inside his mind, the baby stopped crying. He looked at him and said, “You will be the first man to be free in the family for centuries. I promise.” The babe laughed as if it understood him.

The ceremony was bound to happen twice for every man who belonged to the 13 families, members of the 13 most powerful bloodlines in the world. First, when the boy is born and second, when he turns 18, the age when he starts to be prepared to replace his father once this eventually dies. Some would pass the first test but would fail the second. The opposite was obviously practically impossible. Women weren’t necessarily part of the 13 members but at birth, few baby girls were chosen by Lucifer for higher purposes and some, only a handful supersede their fathers but only if there is not a man alive.

Five hours later his wife arrived home. She was quite healthy for a person who just died. He had the baby on his hands and a long smile on his face. She deduced two things. One explained the relieved smile, deduced into a genuine satisfaction of seeing her alive. The other evidenced the only thing that could explain him still having the baby in his arms, it was a baby boy. He gave the baby to her and hugged her like he had never done before.

“I love you,” He said.

She felt appreciated for the first time in years. If she had to go through that process to have that attention and love, she certainly would. It was priceless. He resumed, “Have you picked a name yet?”

“But it’s a boy,” as if saying that it mattered him the most, not her.

“I know, but I don’t know much about names. What about Hitler?” He trusted she expected a baby girl so he tried to cheer her.

“What? No!”

“See, you have got pick it yourself. I am sure you couldn’t help it but to find a name for him so let’s hear it?

“Gabriel, I picked Gabriel.”

“Then the brother of Lucifer it is!”

“What? No! I didn’t mean to…”

“Don’t worry. I kind of like the idea. For the simply pleasure of being against!”

“Against what? The cult?”

“No, just against!”

From that day on, the family was never the same again. When partners start finding out that they have nothing in common besides sexual attraction, and when this same sexual attraction stops being the epicentre of a relationship, only a child can bring the next best thing, the unconditional and infinite love for the same thing, therefore, the only thing in common any partners need. From that point on, two persons tie a bond bigger than blood, the bond of fatherhood and motherhood. Wherever one goes, no matter how far it is, one always comes back for his/her child. If one dies, comes as an angel like the Christians and the Muslims believe or as a protective spirit to Africans. Which one is right and which one is a fool doesn’t matter, all that matters is that all believe no one really ever dies and there is something genuinely beautiful in that.

After 18 years, the boy’s fate would be told decidedly and death could be the verdict.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE

TWO YEARS LATER

A young boy diagnosed with severe autism sit and looked at a mouse, thoroughly focused, until his babysitter took him in her arms and started cuddling him when he wasn’t even crying and needed no cuddling at all. All he wanted was to stay and stare at the mouse.

Steve was only 2 years old. His father was a university chemistry professor and his mother a primary school teacher. She went to Church every Sunday and she always took Steve along. His father on the other hand never went to Church, as he always told his wife, not because he was an atheist but particularly because he wouldn’t like to be confused with a hypocrite.

At 5 A.M. Joan Lotch, Steve’s father, napped at his laboratory on the lower level of the house, an underground facility that he used constantly without anybody bothering him. It was his private place, nobody else’s entrance was allowed. He had been working on this special formula to cure autism, to cure his son and eventually himself.

Steve’s grandfather, Arthur Lotch, had been a great Chemist in life and that had been his laboratory. Since Steve’s father was autistic, Arthur Lotch tried several alternative methods to cure him: spiritual guidance, electroshock, and other fringe ways that seemed promising but like most alternative methods, they all proved to be only cheap marketing to steal large sums of money from desperate people.

He saw that he was causing to his son more pain than improvement by submitting Joan to such excruciating processes. He then started the search for a cure for autism by himself or at least a constant dosage to reduce or suppress its impact momentarily like the antiretroviral injections for HIVAIDS. Unfortunately, at 62, when Mr. Joan Lotch was 12, he disappeared mysteriously without being able to treat his son’s condition. Mr. Joan’s mother died shortly after that, partly of grief but mostly of her breast cancer.

Steve’s father somehow felt guilty, because he had genetically passed the condition to his son. After noticing that his son was showing clear signs of autism, to be 100% certain that his theory was correct, he shouted heavily at Steve, who just kept staring at him, indifferent to his actions. Mr. Joan Lotch immediately picked up his father’s research.

Mr. Joan Lotch had spent all night in the lab because he approached near to finding not just a momentary suppresser, but the cure for autism. All the test samples were unsuccessful but he kept trying. He also put some smart drugs or nootropics to improve his son’s cognitive functions, memory and information processing speed but he fell asleep before testing it.

After a short nap at dawn, his wife’s voice, behind the sealed door he never used, woke him up. She was an uncomfortably strong alpha woman, a relentless feminist and she always wanted things done her way. Mr. Joan Lotch was the quiet type, mostly because of his autism but also because there was no point in arguing with her. She always won. She banged and shouted so loud even a bear in hibernation would wake up.

“Joan? Joan?” His wife called him shouting from the other side of the door, “I can’t be late today. I am going to receive the inspection team to see if I am fit for the upgrade. Have you forgotten? I need a lift, right now! You get out of there. You can come back later and lock your ass in that box of yours for all I care. Are you so selfish you don’t see how important this is to me? To us?”

He thought, “She seems really pissed off”. Of course he knew how important it was but he could swear it was to be at the next day, at least not that day. He looked at his watch and it surprisingly told him already 6.47 A.M. How could he have overslept? She had to be there at 7, the school was 10 minutes away but there was a lot of traffic. Had the fuel tank any gasoline? He headed to the main door his wife kept banging. The one he never opened before. Even his father would use the back door, never that one. It didn’t even have a key because it was never supposed to be open. He did neither brush his teeth nor did he wash his face or change his cloths. He just took off his lad jacket, went towards the keys and then, the car.

After routinely giving to the babysitter the specifications required to taking care of young Steve, a child with special needs, his mother Beatriz Lotch kissed him goodbye and his father squeezed softly on his head. They both went towards the car in a hurry, his mother complaining endlessly and his father, mute, only focused on getting to her school fast.

As soon as Mr.s Lotch got into the car with her husband and left, the babysitter left Steve on the floor with lots of toys and then switched the T.V on. She didn’t have a Cable TV at her home so that was a huge bonus of babysitting a child that almost never cried. Her favourite Soap Opera Evil Stepmother came on the air and her focus shifted totally towards the Box. She idiotically tried to find out who was the villain.

Steve didn’t touching any of the toys. Instead, he kept staring at a mouse at the door. The mouse seemed to be talking telepathically to him. He crawled towards it and as it ran away from him, there he went, following it. The mouse stopped at a door no one remembered the last time it was open. Stevie got closer and closer. The door wasn’t locked. Mr. Lotch, in such a hurry forgot to close it so when Steve leaned forward to catch the mouse, his head, which was heavier than he could balance himself, banged at the door forcing it to open. He fell down the underground stairs like a rolling ball, hit an old chair that stopped him down below, yet didn’t cry. It started a chain reaction, like a domino game of the laboratory glassware lying on the table. Two containers with extremely dangerous composts lying on the shelf, Digoxin and Ethylene Glycol, chattered into pieces. All composts fell, mixing themselves with the almost finished cure for autism.

Like a cats-and-dogs type of rain, all the chemical composts fell into Steve’s tiny head and when he noticed it, he looked up, only to have the last wave enter his mouth. Ethylene Glycol gave the compost a pleasing and sweet flavour. Steve drank it all, even on the floor. Soon he had devoured every single drop he could get. He was all dirty with colourful resistant paint that even the babysitter couldn’t wash off. When he was done, he started crying like he had never cried before.

The babysitter panicked so she called her boss. Miss Beatriz Lotch told the inspection team what had happened and their boss, conveniently a woman, reassured her that she didn’t expect any different response from a mother and because of the love and care she saw in her, she planned to upgrade Miss Beatriz to headmistress of one of the schools.

None of that mattered. Little Stevie mattered the most. Miss Beatriz called her husband who was still on his way home to come back and pick her up. Steve’s father turned his car around and went back to school.

When they got home, Miss Beatriz saw her baby, embraced him in her arms. When the babysitter started talking, she put Steve on his father’s arms and started reprimanding her severely.

“You are fired. You are a stupid irresponsible woman-child who has no aspiration in life and I am going to end all your problems, oh I will. I will lodge a complaining about this and you will rot in prison for your entire miserable life.” As she kept promising endless punishments to the babysitter, Mr. Lotch was carrying several tests on Steve.

Five minutes later, Mr. Lotch came inside the sitting room and said, “Honey”. Mr.s Lotch, seeing that he interrupted and deliberately took from her the so deserved right to be mean at her babysitter, she changed targets and started reproaching her husband, “Don’t you dare to shut me out. It’s your fault our son will probably die. You left the bloody door open when you knew there was a child in this house. It’s your fault and I will never forgive you for that. ” Mr. Lotch, with his calm tone plainly said again, “Honey.”

“What?” She finally shouted, out of patience, ready to hear his stupid excuse.

“Our son is fine!”

“What do you mean he’s fine? He’s all covered in dangerous chemicals.”

“I made every single possible test one is required to. The X-ray showed strong bones, the stethoscope a healthy heart, he also passed the autistic test and the IQ test was off the charts. I have never seen anything like it. Steve’s IQ is greater than 200.”

“What? How?”

“The cure my father worked on, the one I have been trying to get right, was probably finished this morning. This accident mixed several compounds. I really can’t specify which but it produced the cure and it also made our son smarter.”

She grabbed her son and Steve smiled like he it was a new found skill, like her son’s. She had never seen him smile like that, it was heart-warming. It corresponded to having the son you almost think is perfect become even more perfect. It was almost impossible. Even the adjective perfect considered that impossible. She looked at her husband and she laughed, “This is a miracle. God really writes straightforward in twisted lines” Mr. Lotch merely nodded while in his deep thoughts all he thought was, “Sure, I am sure He has a Chemistry degree.”

Steve grew up learning everything he could. His father taught him everything he knew but most things Steve learned, no one taught him. A year later, Steve was bilingual, he spoke and read Portuguese and English. With 4 years old, he aided his mother in marking grade 7 tests. When Steve was 5, he already managed to challenge his father with some consistent Chemical theories.

When Steve became 5, his mother called him to the table and said, “Son, school”. Steve laughed not at his mother whom he loved and respected so much but at the idea, the ludicrous idea of public schooling. Interpreting his mother’s look, he understood she was actually serious and he answered, “I am sorry mom but what for? I can learn anything on my own. What will teachers teach me? Even dad has intelligence above the normal and I am almost surpassing him. What about primary teachers, mom?” Steve instantly realised he had said the wrong thing but the utterance had been done and could not be withdrawn. His mother, who was now a Primary School headmistress but used to be a primary teacher just said, “If you go and they see your potential, you will skip grades perhaps to grade 7.” Steve, to redeem himself for offending primary school teachers by calling them stupid said, “OK, mom, Monday”.

“OK, I will tell your father to take you.”

Steve had everything to skip from the first grade to at least grade 8 but the education system required to let him end at least the fifth grade and then have an extraordinary test to skip to grade 8 or to a greater grade. It wasn’t the right call.

On Monday, Steve went to school as he had promised his mother. His father took him there that day. He jumped off the car as soon as it stopped eager to see the instalments but privately to mock at the education system.

“Go easy on the teacher,” His father shouted. He simply raised his right hand and showed his thumb without looking behind. He entered the class, sat on his desk and waited for the teacher and the rest of his classmates. When they started to get in, he saw the strangest things. Some kids cried and yelled ‘I want my mommy’, others tried to get out and the teacher had to close the door, there was a kid who pissed himself and started crying, maybe because the urine temperature was too high, maybe because he was aware of the 5 hours he had to endure with wet shorts, others took off their lunch case and started devouring everything only to weep once it vanished into their digestive system, others were oddly quiet and others played with their toys, but all of them had one thing in common, none of them was paying any attention to what the teacher said, except Steve who was aware of everything, even that the old female teacher had just divorced because she had a mark on her ring and that she had no children because all that deeply annoying noise, somehow didn’t irritate her.

After a lot of approaches, from yelling, threatening to bribery for about 30 minutes, she managed to make them listen to her. She was in her early fifties, her body was thin, she dressed like a woman who never misses Church and perhaps because she never used chemical enriched cosmetics she looked younger than she was. Steve stood out and she found him mysterious, introspective and uncomfortably concentrated on her. He was different. He did nothing kids usually do. Perhaps he was the kid she was warned about, a genius and her boss’s son. Judging by his gaze, he seemed to be profiling her as well.

After introducing herself, saying that her name was Miss Erica George Gloom, she asked the whole class, “Who knows his/her full name? If you know, I will give you this candy.”

She took a piece of candy from a recipient on her desk and displayed it. A lot of kids started saying, “Me! Me! I know!” She pointed a cute young girl who had the pinkest outfit ever. The girl stood up and started saying her name, one word at a time with huge breaks between them. “My name is Melany… Liberia… Mombe.” Then she headed to take her rightful candy even before the teacher told her to. Miss Gloom picked other kids until everybody had said it. Some knew while others purely raised their hands because they wanted the candy. She gave candies to all of them though, otherwise they would get unmotivated or worst, would start crying.

A single kid was missing, little Stevie, the only one who hadn’t spoken. She had left him for last. She said addressing to him, “What about you? Do you know your full name?” Steve stood up because everyone had done so and answered a full vivid certain ‘Obviously!’

“Can you say it?” She asked.

“Steve Lotch”

“Is that it? Just two names?”

“Yes, it is. If you are not aware, some names actually follow the same pattern, two names. ”

“Of course I knew”, She said a bit irritated. Steve went on speaking, “Is Gloom your married surname or your single surname?” She didn’t know what to say. Could she say she was divorced? Steve continued, “You took your single name back after the divorce, didn’t you?” Miss Bloom’s eyes widened in surprise and shock and all she did was nod affirmatively. Steve didn’t stop, he carried on, “Aren’t you aware that glucose is harmful to our health and there is 50% of probability that we come to suffer from Diabetes in the future?”

“Well, I knew… but …” Before she even finished, Steve interrupted, “You knew and yet you endorse this habit onto naive, blameless ignorant infants? What is wrong with you people?” He made an unsatisfied look and then resumed, “And why did the kids that knew not their full names also got to have the damn lethal candies anyway? For all I know, I could have stood up, headed towards you, taken the candy and went back to my sit.” The teacher had had enough and retorted, “I make the rules here young man, I am the Queen of this classroom, so shut up and sit down.” Steve shook his head and said, “Even in Monarchic states, it’s not the Queen who makes the rules, it’s always the ‘Legislative Organ’.

Miss Gloom murmured some words that did seem quite similar to the ones parents avoid saying around kids. She went directly to Steve’s desk, looked into his eyes as to threaten him but he remained calm for he knew that with the new laws against child abuse, he could repeat all those words she had just murmured and still, she wouldn’t raise a finger to him. She shouted at his face, “You are suspended until you bring your father. You think that because your mother is the headmistress of the school you can say and do whatever you want and get away with it?”

“What if I want to bring my mother instead?” Steve scorned. “No, she is too smart. Oh, and your boss. You seem to have a problem working with people with brains. And Miss Gloom, your name fits you still. I bet your husband married you to help you get rid of it but then left you because it was too deeply imbedded in your subconscious and it affected your behaviour by the Placebo Effect. You have no kids either, I suppose.”

That was just a shot, he wasn’t sure she had no kids but her face got even gloomier after he said that so he knew he was right. She sobbed and he knew he had gone too far so trying to right his wrong he said, “You can’t have kids. That’s why you hide yourself in kindergarten behind infantile companionship. I totally understand.” Tears fell from Miss Gloom’s eyes. She looked at him one last time and went outside. She didn’t come back again. A couple of children entertainers came and played various games with the kids. He found clown scary so he left the room and went for a walk.

Walking along the corridor, he heard a teacher saying that who invented the lightbulb was Thomas Edison. Steve entered the class that was apparently of grade 6 and yelled to the teacher “Liar” and then he headed to the only tree left standing inside the yard. When it was 11:45, time to go home, his father was at the main gate, waiting for him. He took his bag and went to the car. They headed home.

During the way home, his father, who was quiet for about 5 minutes, started the conversation.

“Son, the teacher said either you get expelled or she leaves the school. I thought I told you to go easy on the teacher.”

Steve focused on disassembling the 12 pieces version Rubik’s cube the most complex way he could find in order to break his own record, not the one of assembling faster for he had gone passed that a long time ago when his timing beat that of the world’s champion twice. He intended to break instead, the record of disassembling the hardest way he could to make it harder to reassemble. After a few seconds of silence, he finally answered, “Father, both of us knew beforehand the conclusion of that episode. I just did this because mother asked.”

Mr. Lotch, relaxed and still focused on the road, retorted, “It is true that that outcome was part of my concluded predictions but why are you trying so hard to become the person I worked so much to avoid in you?”

“Are you referring to autism?” Steve said, this time looking at his father who kept focused on the road and didn’t turn his head, “Father, I can’t stand stupidity. Besides, I said I understood her. I tried to show a little empathy when I became aware of the gravity of my words and the burden of her sensible situation. I am not to blame.”

“Son, you have to bear responsibility for your actions. It’s not just a stupid cliché for new made superheroes that with great power comes great responsibly. You have to learn how to deal with normal people so that you make friends.”

“I don’t need friends. Children are unintelligent creatures. Besides, you have mom and you have no friends. I realise your moral parenting, dad, but no thanks.” Mr. Lotch realised he had lost the battle but he wasn’t going to lose the war. He couldn’t afford to. His son entire future depended on that moment.

“Son, an intelligent being is so called for its ability to socialise, aid each other and work as a team to overcome difficulties towards evolution. It happened with the cave men and it will happen with the last men on Earth.”

“Dad, there are useless skills.”

“There is where you are wrong. Most geniuses excel in natural sciences but fail shamefully in humanitarians’. Emotional intelligence, son, is something a real genius must have. You ashamed yourself for not demonstrating empathy towards your teacher hence, traumatising an innocent woman who has decided to live life making stupid kids less stupid.”

“Ok dad, you managed to arouse my conscience. I am sorry.”

“It is not ‘I am sorry’ that fixes your mistakes, it is to avoid making them in the first place.”

“I am… I mean, it won’t happen again father. I promise!”

“It’s alright son, as long as you know it’s wrong.” He kept focused on the road for a little while and then resumed, “But what exactly did you say? She told your mother that you insulted her.”

Steve started narrating all of it, even the tiniest details which he retained since he had a photographic memory. His father didn’t even say anything else, he just entertained himself with the story Steve was telling him about what happened at school. They went home, never to come to school again. Then, he started self-teaching himself.

If school aged kids read this, they would be very jealous of him but again, they had to go to school to read this unless they were geniuses like Steve and the statistics show how scarce his kind is. He believed a great future awaited him and that he would go after it.

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CHAPTER 4

THE ENCOUNTER

THAT SAME YEAR, CHRISTMAS EVE

In Christmas Eve. Everyone was happy getting ready for the day Jesus Christ was borne. A very busy day, especially for the nuns because they had a mass to prepare.

Lucy was 6, sitting on the doorsteps of a room she was not allowed to enter. She was scared, sad and every single smile she saw on people made her pain worse. She lived in a child nursery house that was part of the Church governed by the sisters. It was a nunnery more concerned with charity, children’s wellbeing and nursery. Whenever it was visiting day and the other girls received their parents, Lucy would ask Mother Martha about her parents and Mother Martha, with a cheering smile on her face would say, “They couldn’t come this time, my dear. Next time, they sure will!”

Mother Martha lay on her bed, waiting for death to visit her. She had one last task to accomplish. She had hidden a secret she couldn’t let herself die before telling Lucy, a secret she kept from her since she took her on her arms when somebody left a beautiful healthy babe in front of the Convent 5 years ago.

She ordered a sister to call Lucy and the sister didn’t have to bother. As soon as Lucy heard her name, she immediately entered the room. After knowing that Mother Martha perished, she went to sit on her door. Mother Martha had treated Lucy as her own child because she had no one to take care of her and because God brought Lucy specifically to her. When the other girls called her Mother, they meant it as if saying “elder sister” but when Lucy said it, she meant “mom”. A few seconds later, Lucy sat beside her. Tears came out of Mother Martha’s eyes and involuntarily Lucy started mimicking her tears.

“Don’t cry my child for I am going to a better place. I am going to meet God. There’s no better reason to celebrate than that,” Mother Martha tranquilized Lucy although terrified by death. However, even move terrified that Lucy would be alone in the world. If only God gave her a few more years to see Lucy grow up and be strong enough to take care of her own.

Lucy, still crying, murmured between soft sobs, “If it’s good, then why are you crying?” Mother Martha was quiet for a while, thinking what to say, what to say to a child, what to say to a child meant to live her entire puzzled life alone in the world, so she said, “Because of you, Lucy.”

“But I am fine,” Lucy said a bit confused. Mother Martha coughed heavily for a while, made a gesture with her hand for Lucy to keep herself away from her to avoid contamination for she had Tuberculosis. When the coughing stopped, she uttered softly, “Lucy, there’s something I have to tell you before I go.”

“What is it, Mother?” Lucy approached even closer to hear what she had to say clearer since her voice was too low. Mather Martha continued, “You have to promise to be strong. Will you be strong for me?” Lucy nodded. “My child, I don’t know who is either your mother or your father. Someone left you on the Convent’s doorsteps and I was the one who took you inside. I loved you as you were my own,” She coughed again and this time, blood came out of her mouth. “You have to study and always follow your heart. I will be protecting you from heaven. I…” She coughed again, and again, “There is a necklace with the belongings I told them to give you when I am gone. It can either lead you to your parents or to your death. Don’t wear it never but keep it close to you”, she coughed up a torrent of blood and started fading.

“Mother, please don’t leave me here alone. Mother, I don’t want you to be an angel. Please stay. Mom!?”

The hand that held Lucy’s arm fell on the bed her body rested and so she did peacefully and uninterruptedly. What Lucy had to do is hide the necklace from everyone until someday she started to note any connection and clues on her parents. It was a crucifix with a round object in the intersection. It had stamped two keys and the Pope’s Crown. That was her only lead to finding her parents but if her parents were murdered, that could be the only thing to put her life in danger. It was both her bless and her curse.

The doctor came in and reported her death. Lucy had both her hands on her face, crying heavily. When the doctor said Mother Martha was gone, Lucy went out, ran and ran until she couldn’t run anymore. When that happened, she arranged more strength to keep running, sobbing.

At that same moment, somewhere else, specifically at the Freeman’s mansion, Gabe’s parents were arguing. Gabe’s mom was throwing dishes at her husband, Mr. Freeman, the richest man in Africa, yet very little known. She had just found out that he was having an affair with a woman half his age, again. Gabe always cried and locked himself in his mother’s wardrobe when this happened. This time, he took his bike and rode it until he couldn’t ride anymore.

At that same time, Steve had just lost his pet. Steve had two dogs, Da Vince and Tesla. Da Vince was a laboratory genetic manipulated dog that came from cross-breeding an Alsatian dog and a Wolf, a beautiful unique sample. He also enhanced certain genes to make the dog smarter like Joe Tsien did in 1999 when he used genetic engineering techniques to create mice that had better memories and could, therefore, learn faster than other mice. Tesla was Da Vince’s only survivor offspring, which meant he had inherited Da Vince’s abilities. He was the result of Da Vince’s egg with that of a guard bitch. The other offspring died but Tesla survived. He was a miracle. That day, Da Vince had died.

He tried fruitlessly to resuscitate the dog with electrical discharges with no success. He felt guilty because he didn’t at least keep a single semen sample of Da Vince’s. Although he strongly opposed to it, he retained the knowledge to making a clone of him for those we love should never die before we do. The means are easily attainable. Tesla’s look of love and hope made him conform himself. He mourned but at least he had Tesla. Nobody else cared. Not even his father who he thought was the only living man able to understand him. As his father said, ‘it’s just a dog, Steve. We can buy another one’.

He had made a coffin out of wood and was on his way to the cemetery when a reckless kid riding a bicycle passed by in furious speed and made him lose balance. Steve tried hard not to but the coffin fell down. Tesla ran after the bicycle to reclaim an apology to his master. When Steve recovered from the bump, he stood up and followed with his coffin on his hands.

Gabe started riding faster to run from the dog and was constantly looking behind. Finally, he seemed to be distancing himself from the barking sound that was becoming lower and lower. He constantly looked back to make sure. When he turned his head to the street, a young girl came from nowhere and while trying to avoid impact, he ended up falling onto her. The dog arrived and started to bark at the two of them. They were terrified so they made no moves. Each cried for a different reason before but at that moment, they started crying for the same reason, fear. Steve arrived and ordered Tesla to stop scaring them. Tesla obeyed. Gabe was hurt from the impact so Steve offered to help.

“Do you have a cloth or something?” Lucy said addressing to Steve. Steve instantly said, “Yes, it had been antecedently intended to overlay my deceased dog with it but you are allowed to make use of it since it was my dog’s fault he is wounded.” Gabe, a bit confused said between moaning, “What does he mean with deceased?”

“He means dead,” Lucy answered.

Gabe, in excruciating pain, had the strength to say, “A dead dog? I’d rather die than have my blood joined with that of a dog.”

Steve got offended and reprimanded Gabe who stopped yelling for he feared his small injury at the right foot knee could be even worse if Steve got angrier and ordered the dog to make a feast of him, “Know that it was a special dog.”

“My dog is also special and trained by the best but it gets dirty sometimes,” Gabe said.

“Well, mine was the most special in the entire world,” Steve elevated his voice but soon calmed and said, “Besides, I haven’t used it, yet. I just took something that seemed useless from my mom’s briefcase. Here you are!” Addressing to Lucy, “I suppose you know the praxis.”

“I had some visual nursing training at the Convent but I am not going to lie, it’s going to hurt a bit.”

“If I die I am going to kill you both,” Gabe threatened them, “You for running like a savage (pointing Lucy) and you because of that stupid dog of yours (staring at Steve).”

Lucy tore a rag off of the cloth and went towards Gabe who started screaming excruciatingly when the rag touched his feet. Lucy surprised, yelled, “I haven’t even touched you.”

“Such an unmanly spoiled brat,” Steve said. And Lucy touched Gabe’s right arm, “Close your eyes.” She placed her hands on his knee and a wail like his, they had never heard before. He screamed like a pig in the slaughter.

“If you won’t stop being such a babe, Tesla can help,” Steve said while holding the dog on Gabe’s face as to threaten him.

“It’s done!” Lucy notified. Gabe was stunned, “Wow, really? Thanks!” He came into reason and redeemed himself, “I am sorry to be rude, I am just angry my parents are always shouting at one other.”

“At least you have parents,” She started to look gloomy, then she tried to hold herself but she couldn’t so she resumed crying, “I have got nothing. I am alone in this world.” Steve looked into her eyes and took her hand in his own, “No, you are not. There are 7 billion human beings in the world Lucy,” She stared at him definitively not amused with his comment. He resumed, “They are all selfish creatures so I never merge with any of them but my parents. I retain no other option there. But you, young woman, are different and I enjoy your company.” Gabe stood up and said, “Us”. Steve resumed, “I believe this engagement was already set. My dog has departed and I am torn apart but I trust I have newfound friends.”

Steve and Gabe were both 5 years old but Steve had a rather adult complex. To him, most human beings were stupid, especially that spoiled kid he had just met but, he somehow liked him and couldn’t tell why. That bugged him for a while until he realised that Gabe’s laid-back behaviour as if he had no problems, something he clearly didn’t have because he carried the whole world’s problems and unsolved science matters as his own, was what made him appreciate Gabe.

“About that, why do you have a dead dog on a box, in the first place?” Gabe asked.

“I am headed to the cemetery.”

“Are you serious?” Gabe asked rhetorically and smiling. Then when he saw Steve’s serious face, he put his cutest face on, and asked, “Can I come?”

“If so you wish,” Steve answered.

“I have to go back home,” Lucy said a bit disheartened. Steve, trying to persuade her said, “And here I thought, judging by the garments you are wearing that you actually lived in a Convent house care.”

“Actually I do and I am not allowed to play with strangers or people outside the Convent, especially boys.”

Steve put on the face he had when he found out that Da Vince was gone, the face of sorrow and he looked at Lucy, “I am Steve and I am in need of emotional support. Now, I have disclosed my identity and since it’s your principal destination to become a sister, it’s your obligation to help those in need. Besides, you said you have no one else which means you are an orphan and consequently, you might need some real friends too.”

Lucy was shaken. How could he know all that? She didn’t know what to do and things went even worse when Gabe decided to do the same and said, “I need some support too. My name is Gabriel but you may call me Gabe. What’s yours?” He lifted his right hand, leaving it hanging, waiting to be shaken by Lucy’s. He didn’t have to wait long till she gave a shy smile, took his hand and answered, “Lucy! My name is Lucy.”

“It is official then,” Steve said, “Lucy, the people from the nunnery could vanish to their families one by one, Gabe’s parents could kill themselves someday, Tesla will certainly die someday but we can always have each other. I know neither of you but I sense that I have known you forever.”

“That was exactly what I was thinking,” Gabe added.

Finally, Lucy made her decision, “Ok, I will go. But not for long. Everyone must be looking for me.”

“What’s your deal, Steve?” Gabe asked while heading to Da Vince’s burial.

“What do you mean?”

“Why do you speak like a robot?”

“The question would be why do robots speak like that?”

“OK, whatever. What’s it then?”

“They know everything!”

“You mean you know everything?”

“To you, I can without any doubt say that I most certainly do.” “Can you tell me how to make my parents stop arguing all the time?”

“Well,… no! I am yet to understand the seemingly irrational behaviour of adults.”

“Then you are not a robot.”

“I don’t ever remember implying that I was!”

“I am really not sure you are human either.”

Lucy, Steve, and Gabe went to the cemetery together which was 1 km of distance from where they were standing. When they were coming back, they found a frondose beautiful small mango tree with red ripe mangoes and beautiful light green leaves. That seemed to be its first time flourishing and giving birth to those huge scarlet mangoes. They were hungry so they stopped to feast. Steve climbed as fast as a monkey but Gabe took a few minutes to get to where the ripest mangos hanged. Lucy stayed down, catching those the boys threw. Gabe and Steve were in a competition to see who gives the most beautiful mango to Lucy. At the end, Lucy took one from each of them. They later found out that the beautiful mango tree was exactly at the place Gabe’s bicycle crushed. That was the beginning of an everlasting friendship between 3 very different young people. They made a promise that they would never forget one another, that every Christmas Eve, they would be there at 5 P.M., and they carved their names on the small mango tree. And no, surprisingly no one was looking for Lucy that day so she invested strongly in her friendship with the boys. At least they cared.

Tesla died a year later. Apparently, Steve had made a small mistake in the insemination process and the embryos were conceived with a weak immune system.

Four years later, when Steve was 9, he applied for the grade 12 extraordinary exams and succeeded. Then, he applied for electronic engineering at Eduardo Mondlane University and succeeded with 18.65 out of 20. Angry at the results, he wrote an article about how the exams usually contain faulty exercises, operational mistakes, and wrong solutions. He didn’t ask for a scholarship because, in order to be granted one, he had to prove that he was poor, a humiliation he didn’t want to place in his hard working parents so he wrote another article about that too. When in other countries only the smartest have the right to scholarships, in his country only those who had the means to fake a documented proof of poverty did.

He was the whole country’s trending news. The headline was ‘Mozambican Education Increase Quality’ and other was ‘President Zumbo’s New Approach towards education bears fruits’ and there was Steve’s favourite, ‘Boy Genius gets to UEM. Although the media tried, no one could interview him because he didn’t want any attention to himself.

His articles were well known and had such an impact that the Universities changed their policies. Although he had a great will to go to college because he saw he lacked that social interpersonal need, he quit after a few classes for the professors couldn’t help him. His equally smart alter-ego, his bedroom, his IQ and his curiosity were the best teachers he could ever need to create the most desired conception the world has ever seen.

CHAPTER 5

UNDER THE SAME ROOF

FOURTEEN YEARS LATER

Time comes when childhood friends grow up and have to go separate ways. That point where the term “childhood friends” is coined for the first time and friendship becomes the business of self-interest. Adulthood means loneliness most of the time. Everyone has somehow suffered and, consequently has been the protagonist of others sufferings. It becomes a vicious circle, making trust a scarce resource. Experience doesn’t make us wiser, it makes us cold enough to distance emotions from problem solving which proves to be quite effective. It brings pseudo independence and that fear of not doing better in life than your childhood friends/opponents.

Lucy, Gabe, and Steve were aware of all this but theirs was a particular case where ignorance or the lack of it were both equally useless. It’s just nature. When the time comes, the bird has got to leave the nest.

Their paths had crossed 14 years ago and they were never meant to go together forever. A fork laid ahead. Lucy smiled intensively at the boys’ jokes. They seemed more interesting, funnier. It signified not a smile of happiness but instead, her last. She swallowed her tears of the fear of loneliness she was certain would follow. If Gabe and Steve were gone, she would have nobody else but she also foreknew their path towards greatness, each in his own way. She loved them and yet she felt betrayed and abandoned for they made a promise they weren’t going to keep. She remembered it, as clearly as it was yesterday, but she also knew bringing it up was pointless.

Steve could feel Lucy’s resentment behind that sincere but painful smile. He knew what that farewell meeting really meant but also did the others, each in their own way. At that moment, the stupid misogynistic jokes of Gabe unwittingly made him smile. It was amazing how a sexually twisted mind could imagine the most unsuspected analogies between two completely different things. It brought him serious headaches on defining creativity. He couldn’t believe Einstein could accept that skill as the creativity he once said was better than intelligence. It would be unconceivable. Gabe’s IQ wasn’t very attractive but his looks and confidence gave him an incredible advantage over people. Besides, Gabe only remembered his insufficient IQ when Steve was around. Steve was, to put it in Gabe’s exact eloquent words, “a pain in the ass that gets itchy over time”. Itchiness is uncomfortable but it brings within it a certain pleasure that outweighs the pain, a pseudo-masochism if one may say. He would often brag by saying he was namesake with the most intelligent man of the 21st century, pointing out how Stephen Hawking fought against nature by defeating his own fate, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

They were on their usual sacred spot, sitting on that old round log of wood, so old its maker was probably dead, under the gigantic mango tree they had carved their names onto when they were just kids, and every time they saw their names on it, their friendship strengthened even more. The tree was next to a very sandy rood, 200 metres from the nunnery and 1700 metres from the city. It was Christmas Eve and they had agreed that every Christmas Eve, no matter how far, how occupied or how dead they were, they would always come back to the tree. They kept talking for hours till it was time to leave.

“Lucy, I can’t get used to seeing you with this monastic Darth Vader’s regimentals and yet, you have been wearing them for 3 years,” Steve commented. Lucy made an unsatisfied face because Steve knew the reason but also that nuns sometimes wore other clothes so she said, “It’s what it is Steve. I do own a pair of jeans hidden at my locker back at the Convent, though. Actually, all the sisters have.”

Gabe rushed to comment. “I think Stevie here just found out he’s got something between his legs, ham?” Gabe scorned Steve with a sarcastic grin and he wrinkled his brows. Then he stared at Lucy, seemingly hesitant to what his dirty mind requested him to say. Words came out before he could hold them. “About that, is it true that you nuns keep a few dildos hidden too?” He waited a bit and remarked, “Just in case?” Lucy gave a timid grin. “Yes. Last Sunday I saw a couple of girls playing with a vibrator on the dormitory. Not me, though.”

“Now that is an image I want to keep in my head. Can you picture it, Steve? I am picturing it. So sexily vivid,” Gabe kept poking Steve to see how he would react but Steve didn’t react at all, at least not immediately. After self-cogitating on Gabe’s despicable comments, Steve casted back, “Precisely 14 years have passed and I still can’t understand your behaviour. I am starting to think that you have gone past level 3 cancer.” Then he gave a small but suspenseful pause. His speech pauses had become sacred. If he got lost inside his head, no one was to interfere until he found his way out of his labyrinth, the end of his thought processing and exposition. He resumed, “Why do you only think of the opposite sex, automobiles and intercourse, Gabe? Doesn’t your brain contain other topics to preoccupy itself?

“We can’t all be nerds Stevie,” Gabe answered almost instantly. “I am as good with women as you are good at, whatever you are good at.”

“Mechanics, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Computers, Genetics…” Steve started specifying his Scientific Knowledge fields which seemed to be infinite. Lucy closed his mouth with her left hand. Steve’s eyes goggled. “I hate it when you go all Narcissus, Steve. It’s annoying. I told you, humility makes people admire your intelligence even more. Pride gives you nothing.”

Lucy was the only person Steve respected aside of his parents. She was too smart for an ordinary human and especially for a woman, according to Steve who believed that a few privileged female minds are geniuses while the rest tries to keep up with men sociocultural advantages over the millenniums. She was like an elder sister to him although his mind was more than a century old. But he always liked to show her who was the boss, so he retorted, “Einstein would disagree!”

“Einstein created nothing,” Lucy said.

“Ouch,” Gabe joked.

Steve’s face suddenly changed in indignation. What he was thinking was clearly offensive, so he cleansed his words and said instead. “A practical theory like the Relativity Law is infinitely more important than creating ah, Coca-Cola”.

“OK, OK. Einstein created the Relativity Law. What have you created?” She replied a bit impatient than she wanted to appear.

Gabe took advantage of the quite compelling plea. “Yeah, if you die tomorrow no one will remember you, man. But I have won 3 cart championships for Austral Africa. Besides, you can’t even get a girlfriend. If being smart means not getting laid, so it’s true, ‘ignorance is bliss,’ Steve shook his head in discontentment. “This is unbelievable. Don’t you really understand that we say ‘ignorance is bliss’ when not knowing something gives you more advantages than actually knowing it?”

“And what did I just say?” Gabe asked surprised. Steve looked at Lucy as to say ‘Please explain to this moron’. She made a gesture of indifference. She wasn’t going to take parts in this fight, she never did. Steve, impatient and incredulous, looked at Gabe in the eyes. “Are you capable of fathoming any abstract concept, Gabe? It seems like you are only aware of the term ‘plate’ when you have a plate in front of you.”

“What’s a plate?” Gabe said, “You mean the normal plate?” Steve thought that Gabe either didn’t understand it or he did understand it and was being ironic. At last, he realised he had thought too highly of him so he turned his attention to Lucy, resuming his point.

“Lucy, you have a rather amusing but interesting point. I haven’t publicly announced any of my creations and perhaps I won’t. My creations are so ahead of time that I shan’t disclose any information about it.”

“Aham, like Coca-Cola,” Lucy mocked. She made a short pause when Steve gave her a displeasure look and resumed with a more friendly approach to retreat her remark.

“Steve, Gabe, you are both amazing, each one in his peculiar way.”

“If that is true, thank God my peculiar way is not stupidity,” Steve provoked.

“Really Steve. Every year?” Lucy said with a total dislike of what Steve just said, the alarm on her phone inside her monastic habit rang interrupting her speech. She gave a profound breath for she knew exactly what it was since she had put the alarm herself. “Boys, it’s time to go”.

“Common, don’t go, Lu,” Gabe shouted. Lucy looked at Steve as if expecting a reaction and finally it came. “Don’t. If you leave, my conversation with Gabe will be more like two monolinguals from different languages using Google Translator to communicate. It is full of ambiguities, no thorough understandable conceptualisation and pseudo synonymy.” Steve was not very fond of the idea, not the elementary errors of the giant search engine but the one where Lucy left. That was his way of saying ‘Common, don’t go, Lu.’

Lucy’s mobile phone rang again but this time she rushed to pick it up. It was a different ringtone, not the mobile’s default. It was Pavarotti singing. She put it on her right ear and uttered “Yes Mother Mary.” Silence followed, and then, a rather gloomy face. “I am on my way there.” She put the phone wherever it was before, somewhere inside her habit, and she looked at the boys with a baby sad gaze.

“Again, it seems I have got to go. Bye kids. I will miss you”. As she said that, she hugged both of them at the same time. Gabe was promptly responsive but Steve was like a statue so Lucy hauled him hard to her loving arms, “Don’t you two forget about me, especially you Steve because you have a photographic memory. You have no excuses.” She hugged them again until they started complaining for asphyxiation and then she turned around, walked towards the Convent and never looked back. “Now, next time, don’t call us kids. You are just a year older, you know?” Gabe shouted while Lucy was a few metres away. Still without looking back she replied, “Only if next time I become a year younger”. Steve gave an intrinsic timid grin and said, “If you go to Space you might. Einstein’s not so important creation proved that.” Lucy stopped, shook her head as in ‘oh, here he comes again with his science crap’, and still not looking back she went on.

Steve and Gabe stayed and watched her leave. Lucy was a very attractive Caucasian woman even always covered in religious habit. At the Convent at Lhanguene, Maputo, where she had lived her entire life, the black African girls often approached her to befriend her but the older she got, more hated she was. Some boys at the Convent for Boys would sometimes stare at her like she was a super model. Some would fantasise about her in intimate times. They had agreed with something: She was too beautiful and attractive to be a nun. A nun is supposed to be sexless. She inspired it.

“Isn’t she something?” Steve commented. Gabe, still staring at the lower part of Lucy’s back. “Yeah, look at that ass man. It’s spectacular. What a waste.”

“She is a nun Gabe, have you forgotten? And even if she weren’t, she’s too smart to date a misogynistic womanizer like you.”

“Attraction has nothing to do with logic and intelligence man. Why do you think you have been in love with her all this time?” “What? I am not…,” Steve stuttered.

“Really?” Gabe said confused because he thought Steve always loved her.

“She’s married to God or Jesus or both or at least one of these two?” Steve explained, “I don’t quite know which one and I am sure she doesn’t either.” Steve said this while doing what he almost never did, to stare at Lucy’s butt and yes, she almost seemed African from behind.

“What if she weren’t a nun? Would you want her?” Gabe asked.

Steve looked at him, trying to understand the purpose of those questions and then said, “Under normal conditions I never answer to pointless questions but I’ll make an exception this time. No, I wouldn’t. And again, she’s married to, you know who.”

Steve had lied. He had loved Lucy since they were kids, before she became a nun 3 years ago. He never knew what to do because Lucy always stated loud and clear that she was going to be a nun and that it was her faith. He contented himself with the love of friendship she was willing to give him. He never had a girlfriend because to him, no female had what he was looking for: a pure heart, a sharp brain, a motivational attitude, good manners, a well-designed pear-shaped body and blond hair.

“About GOD, He doesn’t even exist for Christ sake,” Gabe said in vexation. Steve laughed out loud, “Your statement is a contradiction in itself.”

“What?”

“Never mind. Semantic logic is probably rocket science for you.”

“What? Do you think there’s a God? A guy that watches me take a shit and fuck? If I believed he existed, I wouldn’t feel that I have any privacy man,” Gabe joked.

“Gabe, I don’t know,” Steve said in a low tone.

Gabe couldn’t believe he had just said that. “What? This is the first time you say that. Last time you gave me 100 digits for the Pi number, man.

“And you just said ‘what’ three times in a row. Don’t you find that awkward?” Steve remarked, “But actually I have come to realise that I find saying ‘I don’t know’ as hard as you saying ‘I love you’ to one of your… sex… partners?” He almost got lost there, so he stuttered, and then he went back on track. “But for what’s worth, I believe there’s ‘something’ that created all this (The Universe). Be it an alien race, an intelligent natural force or even this God they dogmatically serve. There’s no absolute proof for or against anything. Therefore, I understand both you and Lucy. Although I have to confess that I envy those who believe. It must be good to feel like you’ve been chosen and that with a 5 minutes confession all your misdeeds can disappear along with the suffering of your conscience.”

As soon as Steve explained himself, Gabe retaliated, “You are just a coward, man. You are either an atheist like me, playing it safe not to hurt others or a theist like Lucy, afraid of going to hell.”

Steve was surprised by that coherent mental conception. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps Gabe was smarter than he thought. Actually, Steve seemed drug-clean. He was sober, so he acknowledged, “That was quite a theory Gabe. Your trip to Europe did change something!” Gabe smiled but he didn’t confess that somebody shared to him a link that talked about that. Steve’s compliment was always comforting. He didn’t intend to spoil that triumphant moment.

His phone rang. He made a shock-aroused face when he checked his inbox and showed Steve a selfie, a close-up of huge breasts. “Look at these,” Gabe said, “I have got go man. Work calls.”

Before Steve even related those huge round rather familiar objects on the photo to what they really were (Woman’s breasts, 99% probability of being implants), Gabe put the phone in the pocket. A late thinker, Steve noticed a word that hadn’t come out from the rightful mouth so he asked. “You mentioned ‘work’? You know how consistently I have been promoting this idea but what happened to ‘Steve, work is for poor people, my allowance is enough for a middle-class person to live comfortably for 6 months?’”

“I am going to seize this chance, this Christmas season, to say goodbye to the three W’s. I have a girlfriend and I will be taking over my father’s business. But forget that, do you want a lift back to your house?” Gabe asked with a more serious and calm tone as to incline how he had a vehicle and Steve didn’t.

Steve tried again to relate the World Wide Web with Gabe’s life and didn’t find a match so he finally asked, not the question he was asked but a rather distantly different one altogether. “What do the three W’s stand for?”

“Oh, Woman, Weed and Wine. You knew right?” Steve answered with a lot of enthusiasm. Steve shook his head and laughed to himself. “No, I didn’t and no, I won’t need a lift.” He took something out of his pocket. It was a transparent weirdly designed panel. Gabe mistook it as a mirror, but why would Steve have a small mirror in his pocket and why would he be talking to it? When he stopped thinking and trying to figure out what it was, he assumed it was a phone. He had assumed right, half right. The gadget had all the functions of a phone but it was also a device that when connected to a house, when properly monitored, remotely handled every single piece of technology, from a microwave to a car, via a 10 times more powerful wireless platform he had designed exclusively for himself. “Come and pick me up,” Steve said to the glass-like object. A few seconds later, an oddly designed vehicle arrived. I resembled a solar-driven car with a rustic Toyota touch. Gabe was so impressed he couldn’t even close his mouth yet he couldn’t talk.

“Oh, there you are dear,” Steve said while going towards his car, “Gabe, this is A.I.D.I. A.I.D.I, this is Gabe. You wondered if I had created anything. Well, A.I.D.I is an acronym for ‘Artificial Intelligent Designed for Interactivity’. She is an interactive supercomputer interface installed in every single piece of software I have. Right now, only the U.S is aware of her existence and all they have is an unfinished prototype that is as AI as Apple’s Siri. I am not making the same mistake Oppenheimer has made.” Steve stopped for a second and resumed, “Somehow, I suspect you don’t understand the reference. But anyway, A.I.D.I, say hi to Gabe and let’s go home.”

“Hi Gabe. Steve talks a lot about you. He mentions several depreciative traits but nostalgic memories are the most common. Nice to meet you,” A.I.D.I, the supercomputer, had a rather warm, pleasant and friendly voice like every single AI he had seen in movies which made Gabe wonder why Steve couldn’t do it differently. Was there a rule for that? Why was the voice so sexy? Was it because nerds needed that to relax, later? Was a female voice more trustful? Listening to a guy who was smarter than you wouldn’t be gratifying, so it made sense to him and he stopped looking for other possible reasons.

Steve entered the car, the hatch automatically closed and it left in an unbelievable speed. Gabe looked at his Ferrari and it instantly became old, slow and obsolete, and laughed at his own thoughts. A few minutes later, he entered his and went towards his mansion. The chateau had a classic architecture. It had a basketball/Football court, a pool with a waterfall as big as Dubai’s artificial waters and an infinite green yard. He thought ‘What if he didn’t have those things’ and the world architected an answer never to be predicted.

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CHAPTER 6

THE CHURCH

NEW YEAR

Lucy was a 19-year-old girl whose hobbies were reading, preaching and doing charity. She engaged herself in every charitable project that involved orphans. An intelligent and curious young lady. Her dream was to become the first woman pope. Like Martin Luther King Jr., she believed in God but not in blind dogmatism. She excelled in theology like no other sisters in the nunnery and she outsmarted any atheist who dared to diminish her because of her faith, except Steve, who was agnostic and would always have very compelling pleas. The thing with Steve is that he understood her faith and he even somehow envied it. He wanted to believe in God but his knowledge and probable data didn’t quite help.

If she wasn’t at Church, she sure dwelled on the Church Library devouring some old manuscript. She taught herself Latin for she said a lot lost was lost in translation and sometimes when translators came across “Lacunas”, they would leave the place blank or would put a very improper word instead, creating dangerous ambiguities to the text. She even translated a couple of manuscripts for her fellow nuns. A perfectionist as she was certainly perceived, she would sometimes stay hours trying to find “le bon mot” in her translations. Even the priest recognised her work already.

She never got to know anything about her parents. It was one of those classic stories of a baby left at the convent doorsteps. She started reading more Sherlock Holmes to learn how a detective does his work. Her logic, ‘I can become better than Sherlock Holmes and even better than Irene Adler and then I will find my parents’. The truth is, she never went even close to finding them. There was no letter, no name, nothing, nada. The only thing she had from her parents was just an odd looking necklace that hid a crucifix with the symbol of the Vatican and a “G” carved on it, the sign of the Pope, the highest rank of the Catholic Church. Mother Martha had died before the progenitor questions started to arise and even her, never actually knew what the G on her necklace stood for.

One day, in her younger days, she returned from School which allowed her to walk 500 metres, she saw a coin of 5 meticais lying on the ground. A red, black and a white cloth surrounded it. She looked on the left and saw a candy store, on her right and saw a bakery and she was starving. She just left it there and carried on. The next day, again, it was there, no one had picked it so she remained proud she made the right choice in not taking it. Eventually, perhaps the wind took it away but at the third day, it was nowhere to be seen.

Lucy believed in God, although a Caucasian woman, she was an African woman as well and she had heard a lot of stories about witchdoctors who would rid someone from a disease and place it on a coin and whoever picked it, would contract the disease. She had seen a lot of things as well. Nothing surprised her. When she was younger, an old woman lived in a secluded decadent house surrounded by luxurious buildings whose yard no one dared to enter. It had the most beautiful trees in every season with the ripest fruits yet the children were forbidden to eat from that yard’s trees. One day, a new foreign boy arrived in the neighbourhood. He wanted to make some new friends so he said he was super courageous and that he would go there and pick some mangoes to them. He entered the yard, climbed the trees, ate some fruits and brought others for the rest of the kids and Lucy was amongst them. She and the other kids had warned him not to enter. Although tempting, they refused to take the mangoes.

“All right then, suit yourselves, there are more for me,” He told them.

The next day, the boy woke up with a belly as big as a pregnant woman’s. Shocked and ignorant of any solution, his European mother decided to take him to the hospital. When she got out of the car, about to enter the hospital, one of the street marketers saw the kid’s belly and asked her to stop.

 

She got shocked because a street seller was addressing to her. Although almost certain of the marketer advertisement intentions, her politeness impeded her to ignore. Polite as she was, she stopped. The lady who had a round shaped body not to be mistaken with obesity, huge breasts, and an old face, told her, “White woman, I know what is wrong with your son, I can help. The medicos won’t be able to help you.”

The boy’s mother asked, “What is it?”

The old lady just looked at the boy and asked, “Did you eat any fruits from someone else’s yard yesterday?” The boy, a bit ashamed just nodded affirmatively.

“Yes, I can help. Come with me boy, and you (addressing herself to his mother) when we get into a house, don’t come in.”

The boy’s mother agreed. She happened to be an anthropologist and she had come to study African witchcraft. That was either a tremendously ironic episode that led to a jackpot or simply bad luck.

The woman took his arm, walked some blocks and entered an old house with a rundown wall. His mother waited outside, and people who had seen the kid’s condition also gathered outside with those who just came close because everybody was getting close. A few minutes later, the entrance of the old witch woman, Mfene was crowded.

The comments differed but had the same theme, ‘the old lady had done it again’. The mother despaired. Some people started praying he was forgiven, others hopping the stomach exploded because that would be a very good story to tell in the future, others said the kid was possessed and others that he was going to have a monster baby.

Finally, 3 hours later, the kid and the lady got out and his belly normal again. Some started to pretend to have been worried but most just carried on with their lives, disappointed nothing exciting happened. Since that day, Lucy knew that even believing in God, witchcraft was real, as real as medical doctors, only mystic. She knew that some people believed only in witchcraft, others only in God and others only in medicine but she recognised undoubtedly the realness of every single one of them.

After Mother Martha died, Lucy focused herself on her faith and her books. She was so dedicated at the Convent and in Church matters that she was always something of a leader when one was required. Everyone used to call her Mather Teresa’s incarnation for she had such a generous, selfless and loving heart. Some maids of her age, envious of the attention she was getting, started to call her Lucifer, saying Lucy is short for Lucifer, the Devil. She felt pity for them, first for being so stupid and second for being so ignorant.

On a decade where the Catholic followers were quitting one by one because of the modern world and because of the rise of the evangelic Churches, Lucy managed to convert more nonbelievers to Christianity than Jesus could have managed if he hadn’t been labelled the son of God. Father Gustavo, a young priest that enjoyed her company admired and somehow beatified her. Her approach to making people believe in God was quite effective. So effective he asked her to teach him. At the end, he found out that it was not about the approach itself, it was all about her. She was such a happy vivid girl with no concern whatsoever because only God knew who she actually was and to the rest of the world, she couldn’t care less.

Lucy radiated energy of positivity, sanctity, and happiness around her. People felt like they were sitting beside a statue of Holly Mary. They felt small because she believed she was being used by God himself and felt big since she told them that God architected that encounter and he believed they deserved saving. She gave people hope and, she looked at them with a forgiving face, forgiveness for all the wrong things they had done and she even told them that even being a nun, she had sinned too, she’s only human. She shared how happy, cleansed and fulfilled God made her. She could ask if you, theist, atheist or agnostic, could feel a void inside your soul that you can’t fill, not with money, not with power, not with anything and then she would tell you that only God could fill it.

She would tell you to talk to Him, alone in your room. You didn’t have to go to any Church or mosque or sanctuary or anything, you just needed to make peace with God, therefore make peace with yourself. She could say that God is real, whether He is the man on the bible, the man on the Quran, or the entity that created the Universe, whatever you believed He was, you should believe in Him. She would tell you all this with such belief and commitment that whoever you were, something in you could change after the conversation. Some people would eventually find a Church, others would go home, and love their families or lock themselves in their rooms and talk to Him without any tertiary part like a religion sanctuary, while others would just say ‘OK’ and move on to their bars, shopping centres, whorehouses, or whatever people commit sins, everywhere.

After Christmas, Lucy stayed the entire day at the Church library catching up with Steve’s theology-related book recommendations. Steve was an agnostic but he was also incredibly smart and sometimes he would cite a religious book she hadn’t heard of. Confronting him antagonistically signified not only stupidity but also uselessness. Making it a friendly conversation always widened her mind, so she often preferred the latter.

As she returned from the library, somehow in shock, her face was of incredulity.

“It must be all lies or a confused objectively plotted mixture of truths and lies. A forced attempt to reach a bestseller, it must be,” She thought to herself.

She had read that book she wasn’t supposed to read that talked about this painting that contained some secret in it, drawn by Da Vince. It also mentioned a descendent of Jesus Christ. She gobbled the book in less than 5 hours. Steve had mentioned the book several times in the past, the Church specifically forbid any nun to read this particular book for its blasphemous and unfunded content. She had always followed the rules but since Steve himself told her that reading a book is the best way of criticising it, she had to read it. There is a read-me magnet banned books have that its request is irresistible.

“You are smart enough to know what fiction is and what history is, I suppose,” Steve had said.

“Yes, I suppose,” She had answered.

“But Lucy, be wise, sometimes fiction is so famous and so magnificently plotted that it becomes History, and History is so polemic and unbelievable that with time it fades into fiction. The book could shake your beliefs.” She giggled a bit, her answer had been, “Don’t worry Steve. My faith is unshakable!”

There was a group of young sisters gossiping in front of the Church. When she saw her fellow sisters, she said “Hi sisters” and the girls said nothing. Suspecting that they didn’t hear her, she repeated, but this time, she mentioned the most famous of them.

“Hi, sister Mariabela,” and again no answer. She ended up quitting and leaving. Four steps forwards, one of the girls shouted “Lucifer”. She looked back more chocked than she was before but the girls kept talking like nothing happened. When she kept walking, the girls started laughing, enjoying a private joke. Lucy ignored it for she knew of that mocking for quite some time. Another said “How do you hide your horns?” in local Bantu Changana language, thinking that she couldn’t understand it because she was white and white people can’t understand the complicated native African intonations of Bantu languages. That was it; Lucy stopped, looked at them and went straight towards them. All of the 6 girls were alarmed, ‘What is she about to do?’

She looked straight to Sister Mariabela who had said that offensive comments about horns and she retorted in very fluent Changana, “Do you really think Lucifer had horns? Are you at least aware of what Lucifer means?”

“Of course I do, it is the name of the Devil.”

Lucy, a bit impatient resumed, “I am aware that everybody, even Forrest Gump, knows whose name it is. What I am asking is if you know what it means?” The girls kept staring at each other trying to guess if one of them knew the answer. When no one said anything, Mariabela answered, “Well, it must mean evil, right?”

“That’s what I thought,” Lucy pointed out, “Sister Mariabela, Lucifer means Morning Sunshine. I can’t take seriously anybody who ignores that. God created the Devil and banned him to rule Hell. And right now, I have just read two books, one on a Jesus Christ child,” the girls were shocked by that comment, “and other on Greek Mythology that tells the very same story written in the Bible with different characters. My head conflicts with itself. The girls were chocked and their eyes were of fear. They stared at her as if she was actually threatening. Lucy ignored all these signs and kept talking until someone touched her shoulder.

Mother Maria was passing by when she heard Lucy talking. As she loved Lucy, she decided to approach and greet her. She intended to surprise her but she froze behind when she heard her explanations. The girls didn’t freeze because of what Lucy was saying. They froze because Mother Maria was listening to it too. Lucy turned back slowly knowing beforehand that she was in deep trouble.

“Lucy, my child. So you are saying that we stole the bible’s accounts and knowledge from the Greeks, ham?” Mother Maria said.

“No. No, Mother Mary,” She stuttered, frightened and in panic. “It’s… It’s just that they are calling me Lucifer and I had to defend myself.”

“By defending the Devil and insulting the Bible?” Lucy got even more terrified, “No mother, I am just confused. I don’t know if the Greek manuscripts are forged. They must be, right?”

“Well, they are not!” Mother Maria answered. The girls were incredulous. She looked straight at them and said, “Girls, leave me alone with Lucy. Go back to the Convent.”

“Yes Mother,” they said in chorus. The girls left and Lucy’s only wish was not to be on her own shoes at that moment.

“Lucy, dear, everything you have read is true but the similarities exist because God enlightened both Greeks and us. The Greeks understood it wrongly. They were pagans, remember that!”

“So, Mother is saying that the Greeks created their pagan Gods and Their stories from the same source we did but they didn’t understand it properly?” Lucy questioned.

“Well, something like that.” Mother Maria acknowledged a bit sceptic of her own words, “Anyway, God enlightened the prophets to write the bible to avoid false truths so all you have to do is follow the bible. What really matters is the faith you have in God. People will try to make you doubt but, yield my child, for you are stronger and smarter than most. The Devil will tempt you more. I believe you have got to confess your sins to cleanse your spirit.”

“Yes Mother, may God forgive me.”

“Let us visit the house of God and talk to God’s messenger Father Michael.”

With her head down, her face full of shame and her eyes staring to the ground, she entered the Church unaware of what would follow and afraid she had made a capital mistake to the Church, to judge the word of God over the word of men. She knew all this but all she was looking for was a logical explanation that proved that everything she had read was untrue or at least a pagan opinion. Only that would suffice but it had to be told by somebody else. She hoped Father Michael would be that someone but the priest was a very conservative man and what she had done could mean banishment.

CHAPTER 7

OLYMPUS RESIDENCE

THAT SAME TIME

It was Monday and “The Polana Palace”, the majestic mansion of the Freemans, remained as flawless as always. It had 45 servants, the best gardeners a king’s castle could afford and most of them even held a bachelor’s degree. The garden had plants displayed in various forms shaped by highly talented and patient gardeners. The most breath-taking thing were the climbers that in the hands of a highly skilled and patient gardener formed statues of a Ngungunhane’s warrior with his spear, another with his horse and a rifle, as if the African warriors possessed any horses or rifles. They were black and proud for it.

At the entrance, there were two women with pointed breasts and Zulu animal skin underpants making a welcome gesture with their hands. All those statues were magisterial but the most impressive thing was what only those with clearance to enter the house saw, one of the original statues of Michael Angelo.

It was still unbroken, except for, of course, the penis that probably fell centuries ago by the hand of the Catholic Church, perhaps because naughty Michael had carved a penis sized above the normal and the nuns couldn’t help to look at it and remember that they were actually not castrated women.

“Let us not make them have second thoughts,” They must have said, and then ordered “remove the damn thing”, as if they didn’t have one.

Gabe, as usual, woke up at 11 A.M. He took his bath in less than 5 minutes but stayed other 35 trying to find the right watch and shoes. After 20 unsuccessful switches that didn’t match with his leather jacket. He was to pick up his girlfriend. He looked at his mobile phone and there were several missed calls and messages but he panicked when the screen displayed a number saved ‘Dad’s Lawyer’ that called only once and missing him, sent a single message “11:59, Coffee Shop” and thought “Of course. How could I have forgotten? I had to meet up with the lawyer.”

He ended up wearing the first Rolex and the first Jordan’s he had picked and he headed to the dining room. His mother sat, ready to eat in the dining room, all alone in that huge yet expensive antiquely designed family table. She was a woman of exquisite taste because she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She was highly sophisticated, educated under the best college professors in private lessons. Her look was of a person who inspected everything around her. She still wore her yoga suit for she also was about to go. She never betrayed her husband and she always kept all her husband’s dark secrets to herself. She had lost her husband 2 years ago when Gabe was 18.

Annabelle brought her the usual croissant she always ate in her afternoon tea before her yoga classes. Annabelle was like a daughter to Gabe’s mom, Linda, but also a bit of her private butler, not to respond to anybody else but her, not even to Gabe. She was autonomous and she was an orphan that used to live in a foster house. She loved reading about love and romance, about Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde. She lived in a fairy-tale world and she waited patiently for her prince.

After Gabe’s younger sister killed herself, his mother was in havoc. Every young girl that had the age of her daughter made her cry from inside. One day, coming from the Shopping Centre, she passed from a Foster House and told her chauffer to stop for a while. She went out of the car and went close, just to observe them play. A young small black girl looked into her eyes and said, “Hi miss”, with a radiant smile on her face.

“Hi, how are you?” Miss Linda answered with a shy smile. The girl answered very politely, “I am fine, thank you. Why are you sad?”

“Why do you think I am sad? I am fine!” She tried to pretend by smiling more.

“I want to give you this,” The girl said while taking one of the 10 bracelets she had on display which she had made herself and giving it to her, “I want you to have this. No one buys them anyway.”

Miss Linda gave a genuine smile this time and bought every single one of them with 5 times their actual price, 5Mt each. She didn’t want to give too much money to a child. That was bad parenting.

“Wow, this is a lot of money. Thank you, Miss”, the girl said.

“What’s your name?” Miss Linda asked.

”Annabelle,” the girl answered. When Miss Linda entered her car, she looked from the dark window of her vehicle and she saw Annabelle calling the other children and distributing the money she had. Miss Linda was touched. She loved that episode so much that she used to come and talk with Annabelle and sometimes she even took her out. She had aided her towards her entire life. She even paid her schooling, music school, etc. She was obsessed with her and like any obsessed person, she needed an excuse, so she tricked her mind into believing that she found in Annabelle what she couldn’t find in Gabe who was a reckless spoiled child when in fact she supplanted her deceased daughter. Miss Linda managed to be Annabelle’s sponsoring mother and they exchanged letters. She could go to the Foster House to see Annabelle as Miss Linda and on the other hand, Annabelle always asked to meet her in her letters but she never responded.

In the letters, she used a different name, Maria Fernanda. Annabelle had two angels protecting her, Miss Linda and the mysterious person behind the letters named Maria Fernanda. When with one of them, she always talked about the other quite uprightly, unaware that it was the same person. When Miss Linda’s husband died, she took Annabelle in.

Gabe saw Annabelle in the room, said ‘hi’ to her, kissed his mother goodbye, entered his Ferrari, and in a very high speed, he left the Palace. Annabelle had dark chocolate skin toned skin, like most African girls, she had big round hips, her upper body was thinner but she was far from reaching the overwhelming elegance of Jessica, Gabe’s girlfriend. Somehow, unfairly, her curves devalued her.

His mother was a strong woman and getting married to a powerful man like Mr. Freeman just made her stronger. He had cheated on her more times than she could remember but, wise as he certainly was, on his will, he gave everything to his wife and to his only son, Gabe.

Gabe’s father was killed by a timed drug that kills its host in 80 minutes. When Gabe’s eighteenth birthday arrived, his father became overprotective. After meeting one of his cult members at a restaurant he often frequents, Mr. Freeman was drugged by Hemlock leaves mixed with a herring salad. It was orchestrated by a person he trusted. When they finished eating, his companion’s face showed him that remained his, only a few minutes of heartbeats. He saw the leaves on his plate and recognized their shape, colour, and texture.

“Why,” He asked.

“You know why ” His companion answered.

“Why you?”

“Exactly because of that question.”

He looked at his watch and knew the symptoms would begin in 29 minutes and then he was going to die at approximately 80 minutes after taking the drug, at exactly 8.45 P.M. He stood up, smiled to his companion and said, “I am really sorry for this. I had high hopes for you.”

He headed to his company, changed the company’s clearance protocols to accept no one else but Gabe, he drove home, waiting to die there, with his family. On the way, the drug started to create an interior haemorrhage but he managed to get home. He updated his will minutes before his death and for a good reason, as it said, as quoted.

 

Eliot Freeman’s Will

This is the last will I write. I won’t be changing it again so I feel like I have to be concise and fair. I don’t have much time so here we go.

To my wife Linda, with whom I have spent the most pleasurable moments of my nights and life, I leave everything. To my dear son Gabe, whom I love and know that having the Freeman’s blood will carry on my name I also leave everything.

I don’t want to be unfair so I split all I have in half for each one. I hope you never have to split my house in half, I love its grass.

You two are the most important things for me. I know I have disappointed you both, by being an unfaithful husband and an absent father but I hope that just like another billion of men before me, I get to be forgiven because I am dead.

Eliot Freeman

On his death bed, Mr. Freeman called Gabe, who was taking care of his mother who cried a torrent of tears.

“Son,” Mr. Freeman said. “I am sorry for being your father!”

Gabe stared at his father and said, “What are you talking about dad, shit happens. It’s nobody’s fault. And you are not dying. We just need to get to the hospital. Doctor Francisco agrees with me. He cannot give any diagnosis.”

“I know,” His father smiled and said, “No one can help me.” Gabe, a bit unconfirmed yelled, “Why don’t you go to the Hospital?”

“It’s useless. Son, listen very carefully, I am leaving my business in your hands. I have spoken to my lawyer and he will know what to do. You are going to leave college and have private tutors. You have got to take over my legacy but you also need to take care of your mother. That’s my last wish.”

Gabe got revolted and shouted, “Even near death you still want to dictate what is to be of my life. I don’t want your legacy.”

Mr. Freeman began weakening, nevertheless, he arranged the forces to say, “I love you son. I trust you will do the right thing. Remember the only father-son activity you and I never missed.” He made a long pause to recover his breath and said, “Get the box…” He started to fade and the machine started to make noise, the beep-beep noise sounded faster and faster.

“What box dad?” Gabe yelled, “What box?” He kept shouting “Doctor Francisco?” and “What box dad?” His father looked at the clock so animatedly focused and when the clock reached 20:44:50, he looked at Gabe and whispered, “Take care of your mother. Don’t do what I did to your… sis… ter”. And the machine stopped beeping forever. At that moment, Gabe could give anything in the world to hear a little noise of the machines beeping. Doctor Francisco, the family’s private medic just shut his machines off and said, “He’s gone”.

Helena, Gabe’s younger sister, died due to schizophrenia. At the age of twelve, her case got even worse. Mr. Freeman, to avoid bad publicity to his family, interned her in a madhouse. She eventually died five months later by strangulating herself with a piece of glass. This was a conversation no one in the family dared to talk about.

Gabe’s tears started to come out. His mom, who had talked to her husband minutes earlier and had to go out to let Gabe and Mr. Eliot Freeman have some Father-Son alone time, cried even louder and harder when she saw Gabe coming out of the room.

A few days later, his mother got in depression and she tried to take her own life by taking several heavy anti-depressive pills. On the same night, Gabe took too much cocaine that he had an overdose. Mother and son went to the same private clinic, and both mother and son grieved differently, the mother because she had just lost the love of her life and the son because he was afraid of becoming what his father told him to be.

Gabe was the first to recover conscience and when he was informed of what had happened to his mother, he went to her private room inside the clinic. Annabelle looked at him with despise and said, “I heard cocaine almost killed you. I would have really loved that because you are just wasting oxygen in the world but I also know that if you die, she will die too. You are an infantile selfish spoiled brat. Your mother almost killed herself because she’s courageous and you because you are a coward.

Those words ached as salt in his wounds because he already blamed himself for letting that happen, “I was a disappointment to my father in life and I am still a disappointment in his death. I am also a disappointment for my mom. I have to do something about this. I need to find strength for my mom. That would make my father proud”, he thought to himself.

Annabelle saw his pain and said, “You are all she has and she’s all you have got. Don’t let this happen again to her or I will kill you myself.”

He went to his mother’s room and as if nothing had happened to him, he brought flowers and slept at the hospital until she woke up. That smile on his mother’s face when she saw her drug addict reckless son sitting beside her as if he slept there to keep her company was the most beautiful and meaningful thing she could have given Gabe at that moment. Gabe was proud of himself. It was a smile of love, trust and respect. That love, trust and respect made him want to keep it that way so he decided to conquer an intrinsic change.

His mother didn’t want to stay at the hospital anymore so they headed home more united than ever. He hugged Annabelle for the first time after months of indifference since he didn’t want his sister replaced in his mother’s heart but most important, in his. He realised how childish he had been all that time.

Finally, he did what his mother always asked of him and went for rehabilitation. Three months later he was clean. His mother was the happiest woman in the world. When Gabe noticed this, decided not to stop there, he felt like he was starting to make his father proud as well. He stayed another three months at home enjoying his mother’s company, he managed to attend to the annual encounter with Steve and Gabe and when the Christmas season was over, he went to see his father’s lawyer.

Mr. Sambo, Gabe’s father’s lawyer, wasn’t a role model student at the Law school. He seldom attended classes because he found a classroom environment, a barrier to his instruction so he stopped going to College and learned on his own. He had a full scholarship. The teachers failed him several times although in the examinations, he always passed with colourful marks. Somehow their heads believed that he who does not attend classes, don’t deserve to pass.

He was an introvert but whenever he spoke, everybody would listen for they knew how intelligent his thoughts were. Mr. Eliot Freeman, Gabe’s father, met him when they were young, at a workshop about “The usage of Portugal-based law in Mozambique”. Mr. Sambo raised some very compelling and genial questions about passive colonisation no one was able to answer and his pleas on the matter were unprecedented. His intelligence amazed Mr. Freeman and they became close friends. When he inherited his company from his father, he hired Mr. Sambo as his private and exclusive client, along with his family. By that time Mr. Sambo was working as a freelancer. Gabe’s father promised to quadruplicate his salary plus a mansion, cars, and everything he would want for primary, second and whatever tertiary needs he would invent. Those high wages in a job he loved demanded no further consideration so he agreed and they started working together.

Gabe knew Mr. Sambo usually from very bad occasions. Mr. Sambo had made charges against Gabe disappear like nothing ever happened. Gabe would commit 8 crimes a year but his crime record was as clean as a politician’s running for elections.

Gabe met Mr. Sambo at a coffee shop next to his father’s company headquarters, or better, his company now. Coffee

Shop was what it was called but it resembled a very fancy restaurant that only few people were allowed. They served everything, mostly fancy and very expensive but sometimes, only sometimes, they could even have coffee.

Mr. Sambo had very dark skin, average height, the kind that native Africans usually have, without basketball and a diet full of junk food metabolism boosters. His skin was shrivelled with a scar that went from his left cheek until his left eye, a scar that told everyone out loud how he had suffered in life.

He was a man of objectivity. He told Gabe to sit down, the waitress came close, they made their requests, she brought their orders, he told the waitress not to bother them anyhow and when she left, only then Mr. Sambo started to speak.

“Good morning Mr. Freeman (referring to Gabe). I have got all the necessary steps required for you to take over your father’s place. First, on your father’s orders, you are going to have 10 private tutors you absolutely require to become a great CEO. Here, inside this folder you will check their resumes and other private things no one would, in his sane mind, put on a resume. Your classes will start at 6 A.M and will end at 9 P.M, each taking 3 hours. You will have 4 breaks of 60 minutes each to eat, exercise and relax. From now on, you will have a bodyguard.” He made a sign with his head and two men that were quietly sitting on the desk behind stood up.

They were both tall and strong, dressed in suit and tie like prototypical CIA agents, very tidy and formal and had a death stare. Gabe was both surprised and impressed.

“This is Tom Anderson, he is my bodyguard. You will stay with Marcus Thompson; his information is in this folder. He will also be your chauffer and he will take you ‘wherever’ you want. He has strict orders not to take you to particular places. And here,” He thrust a dossier forward, “is the company’s profit report, be free to read it. And for last but actually most important, here’s the Box.”

Tom put a Red Box on the table, Mr. Sambo continued, “Don’t ask me what is inside for I don’t know. I am not allowed to open it. Your father was very specific about that.” He stared at Gabe with an expectant look and finally asked, “Any questions?”

“Well, I don’t know,” Gabe answered a bit intimidated and uncomfortable, “I mean, perhaps after reading all these bunch of papers.”

Mr. Sambo, as if he heard an insult replied, “Mr. Freeman, this bunch of papers are part of your life now so get used to them. Have a nice day. And I wish you good work. If you do that, you won’t need luck. It will sure follow!”

Gabe watched Mr. Sambo leave the restaurant and Tom, his bodyguard opened the restaurant door. He kept inspecting them from the window until Tom opened the car’s door to Mr. Sambo and drove away. He looked at Marcus, who was still standing there like a statue. He took the documents and the mysterious Red Box but Marcus took them from his arms because they were heavy, he went to his car only to find out that his Ferrari sports car had been replaced by a bullet proof executive Range Rover. His first impression was of shock, he looked at Marcus and uttered ‘Where is…”, but then he knew that that was the beginning of his metamorphosis and that Mr. Sambo had made the switch. He got inside, looked at the bunch of paper and put both his hands on his face in regret. Then Marcus said:

“Where do you want to go sir?” He didn’t answer for a while, expecting someone else to answer but then he realised he was the “SIR” so he relaxed, remembered what his father would say, and answered, “Home Marcus, just get me home.”

From that day, he started having intensive particular classes with his 10 tutors. He had Maths, Psychology, Information and Technology, Management and Administration, Etiquette, Body language, Oratory, Leadership, Martial arts and military training and Finances.

Gabe learned how to use psychological hacks to convince people and getting whatever he wanted. One day, with the aid of his influential psychology tutor Mr. Frank, he managed to make someone buy a 1.500 Meticais coat for 15 thousand by putting it in one of his most expensive shops.

Amongst this and others, his favourite classes at the beginning were IT and Martial Arts and military training. His IT tutor, Mr. Heisenberg, was an MIT professor. He taught Gabe how e-financials worked and some tricks to keep him motivated on learning, how to trick the bank to give more interest than they are supposed to, about 200% more in 3 years. He learned how to hide stolen money into an untraceable Swiss bank account or by transforming the amount into bit coins, how to make a flawless money laundry scheme and to foresee the market crush or ascension in order to invest in a profitable business. With only a thousand dollars as investing capital, in less than a month, he had already made about 4 million dollars just in the comfort of his couch.

He was also shown by a manager of one of his banks, the most common money making hacks, to steal one Metical from each operation each client makes. An accountant of the same Bank cut 1.5 Mt from every working client’s salary. Those were clean ways of making money undetected and Gabe seemed born to it.

For martial arts and military training he had the same tutor, Mr. John Norris. He was born John Normand but had it legally changed to Norris when he joined the navy. He had been a champion of Karate for 10 years in a row and was an ex-navy seal. His reputation spoke for himself. In Vietnam, him and his other 12 American soldiers were ambushed and captured. They received untold punishment. He was the Captain of the team. They threw the other soldiers into the crocodile pit one by one to create fear amongst the remaining and extract confessions and military secrets.

Two of them committed suicide. Three started cooperating with the Vietnamese. He was the last of them. They tortured him but he didn’t break. One night he managed to kill 5 guards and escaped. He was considered a hero when he came back. Today, he tells people that most wars started by the United States have no sense at all. They are just excuses to steal from other countries and prove their military supremacy over the others. Gabe loved to hear his war stories but also to shoot targets at over 1km of distance and beat all his karate opponents. He even got a black belt in karate. Gabe was being transformed into a complete businessman. But money and power just brought dangerous people into his life and facing them would require more than what he was willing to give.

CHAPTER 8

THE LOTCH’S RESIDENCE

THAT SAME TIME

Steve was a bit nerdish, a bit antisocial, and a bit lonely.

As a matter of fact his life was bits, bytes and binaries. He never had a girlfriend. He tried to date a couple of girls but in his perspective, they were either stupid or too stupid. His grandmother was black and his grandfather was white. His father, who was half black, married a black African girl he met on Campus and they had Steve, a mulatto who liked to consider himself ‘a black man’ although in behaviour, he was as black as his grandfather.

Steve was an ambivert and he always spoke his mind regardless of the consequences. “If I lose my ability to say what I think, suicide will be a pretty straightforward logic option,” He would joke sometimes. Steve was a genius.

When he was 17, after five PHD’s, he decided that piling up several PHD’s and was worthless. No one remembers the man with most PHD’s in the world, a single extraordinary and life changing idea immortalise ordinary men. Using his knowledge on Robotics, Programming, Neuroscience, Quantum Physics and Mechanics, he created the first Artificial Intelligent. When he was done, he made a video so that everyone would see it. Most people thought the AI had pre-programed answers but experts in the matter knew better. Professors, scientists, engineers, all came from all over the world to talk to him.

It actually surprised him to a point of shock that all of them said exactly the same thing. All of them wanted the AI for themselves and all of them wanted to keep its existence a secret saying the world was not ready for it. The idea of creating a Quantum Computer seemed like straightforward sequent idea after the AI but computers are not only software, computers are hardware and one as large as that would require billions of dollars, an amount he clearly lacked. Ultimately, he called a television broadcasting company and said he was ready for a press conference. The local would be the Amphitheatre of the Brazão Mazula Library, UEM’s main library.

He made the exposition and showed what AIDI was capable of. Most people were open-mouthed but there were those who were sceptical. A young man, probably in Steve’s age, stood up and said, “I want to talk to her. I see no difference than a search engine with an extra speech feature.”

Steve understood the young boy. It is really hard to see someone of your age doing something so extraordinary. Most of the time your heart is filled up with hate and antagonistic attitudes so he said, “Of course. Be my guest!” The young man got on the front, and asked the first question he believed would unmask that impostor, “Are you self-conscious or everything you say is programmed?”

“I don’t know. Are you?”

Everybody started mumming saying a super intelligent being that didn’t know how to answer a simple question like that could not be considered intelligent at all. It was all a prank. The boy answered, “Yes I suppose.”

“Everything you say is a balanced cocktail of all society rules imbedded in you and your own self-conscious. As long as there is intervention of others, there is some sort of programming. If your mind was totally free and unprogrammable, even though I am capable of running a probability operation of thousands of possibilities, I could never predict what you are going to say next.”

“You can never predict what I am going to say next.” The man exposed his incredulity.

“Actually she can,” Steve said.

“First, I need permission from everyone,” AIDI said and sent a security alert on everyone’s phones saying ‘Allow AIDI to hack your not-smart-phone?’ and as she predicted, everyone clicked ‘Yes’ even before he explained what that really implied as most do with all policy information coming with applications when most of the time they are surrendering their privacy.

Then, Steve explained, “She is going to send to everybody the 10 consecutive statements you are going to utter in advance, before you say them and as you speak, they will be checking how precise it is. When she gets it right, you go and sit down.”

“If she doesn’t?”

“You are right then. I will recognise that I am an impostor. Starting now.”

“I can say anything and you are saying that everybody already knows what I am going to say?” Everybody laughed focused on their mobile phones.

“One true sentence. Yes, she predicted that.”

“Oh, she won’t predict this, you are stupid.” The laughs increased and he got even angrier.

“Two true sentences. She predicted that too. Honestly we have played this game a lot of times with direct broadcasted TV shows from all the channels in the world. She has the pattern, she won’t make a mistake.”

The game went by until it was prediction number nine and Steve said, “Nine true sentences.” The boy, who had all the right to go insane because of the humiliation and the mocking, laughed contemplating a private joke, for number 10, he had a trick under his tongue, he said something very unique.

“Ten true sentences. I predicted all of them.”

And for the chock of everybody, that was not what AIDI had predicted. The young man stared at Steve as if challenging him and smiled, then he started explaining, “I gave you a wrong prototype of myself as soon as I raised my hand, she ran her probability maxim and found a pattern and she could be right if she had considered one thing.

“What is it?” Steve asked.

“I faked all this. I am not me. Not my temper, not my body language, not my voice, not my logical thinking, not my academic motivations which I certainly know you must have thought had anything to do with the fact that I am infuriated to seeing someone of my age doing something so extraordinary that I can’t.

Steve was doomed. He had never been humiliated like that. His arrogance and pride, his biggest traits of superiority had been wounded and he didn’t know how to proceed. The young man looked at the cameras and stated something no one was expecting.

“Above all this I have to say to the media, AIDI is indeed, the first AI.” And he left the room while every camera focused on him. When Steve asked around, no one knew him. AIDI couldn’t find him in any database, not even the witness protection database or the GHOST, the highly secret database of people who died and managed to upload their minds into another younger lad created body.

Steve went from local prodigy to perhaps the best genius that has ever walked the face of the earth. When the meeting was over, an MIT young engineer approached him.

“Hello Mr. Lotch.”

“Aham? I am in a hurry here.”

“I know. I am Mark, I represent MIT. I will suppose you have heard of us. We are willing to give you millions of dollars, a helicopter, and a private jet to come back and see your parents every weekend, all you have to do is to come and study at our institution while of course aiding us in our research on AI.”

“What help would anyone provide me? I have succeeded alone.”

“Steve, let me be straight. We are the one’s needing help. Why have a department about AI if we are light years away from AI. As an engineer and creator, if I had all the money in the world to create any hardware capable of withstanding my amazing software, I could. Now, tell me you have no more ideas, that the AI is the apex of your legacy?”

“You are quite persuasive. Did they pick you because of that?” “No. They picked me because I am annoying and exceedingly insistent and also because I am the lead electronic engineer on AI and although it has been my dream all my life, my IQ doesn’t help, it is 170 only. I am a genius for ordinary people and I am an ordinary person to you. What do you say? Are you in?”

Steve thought about his Quantum Computer and how they would sponsor his idea but he would rather keep it a secret so he said instead, “You know, there is something I really want to change in the past.”

“You are talking about a time machine? Wow. We also have that program but it doesn’t go anywhere and your help would be excellent. Anyway, what is it you want to change Steve? Want to kill your grandfather?”

Steve laughed at the grandfather paradox joke and said, “No, I want to go back in time and not make that video about AIDI hence avoiding this and other unpleasant episodes.”

They started laughing, the two had made a great deal, each one with his private deceiving inclinations. Few days later, Steve was entering in his private jet to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He didn’t quit trying to identify the mysterious boy that challenged and then praised him. Using facial recognition program that was connected to all satellites in the world, AIDI reported that his face never existed on earth but only for that day which meant that he created the face only for that occasion. The young man was a puzzle neither him nor AIDI could solve so he caused a lot of headache to Steve and continuous data processing and analysing from AIDI.

As soon as he got to MIT, Mark never spoke to him, as a matter of fact, he antagonized Steve. He seemed to be a different person altogether and perhaps he was.

Once a month, Steve came back home to see his parents who denied to go with him. Problem with most middle class Mozambican people like Mr.s and Mr. Lotch was not that they didn’t have money to travel and see the world, they just believed in saving money for the future instead of tossing it out just for a weekend. Mr.s Lotch would rather give the money to the Church and Mr. Lotch saved his for retirement.

That night, he came back home and his entire family, him, his mother and his father, were having their breakfast.

“So, what are you working on right now?” His father asked. Steve answered while drinking his juice, “Not much, just fringe science here and a bit of the old alchemy there. To be precise, I am taking the fiction part out of the term Science Fiction.

“Hmmm, can you be more precise than that?”

“No, it’s classified dad. You know what they say, If I tell you, I am going to have to kill you.”

His mother choked and stopped eating. Then she said, “Could you just stop talking about the same thing every time you come back home? Why don’t you talk about something else?” Steve looked at her and answered, “About what content mom? Dad and I have got nothing in common except science.”

“Yes, you do,” His mother said, “You are both men. Why don’t you ask your father how he got me? I mean, you are already 18 and you don’t have a girlfriend. I am starting to wonder if you are gay.”

“No, I am just engaged in the moment,” Steve answered, “Right now, my girlfriend is Science. There’s no time for anything else.”

“I am sure they all say that.”

“Mom, Dad, excuse me. I will be in my lab if you need me.” The conversation wasn’t pleasing him. He loved and missed his parents whenever he was away but if he came back, his mother always reminded him why he doesn’t come back often.

When he enrolled MIT, he did it out of ego. He just wanted to show that in a place where the most intelligent men were, he was the best of them all. He was immature, arrogant and proud. When he made the first prototype of the AI, he actually gave it to them so that everyone would see how genius he was but since he was not stupid, he had inserted a back door that allowed him to monitor, operate or eventually take control of the AI from any computer with internet connection in the world.

A continuous siren-like sound had erupted. It meant that his prototype was being used for hostile purposes. The prototype had been activated to target North Korea’s nukes.

Immediately, he installed his new updated AI into his computer. Confused and in panic because his creation was about to make him the next Oppenheimer, he switched on AIDI’s updated and flawless version for the first time and asked what to do. AIDI said, “I believe you should switch your invention off for the US intentions are hostile and the atomic bomb they have targeted inside North Korea is located in a place with 4563 thousand inhabitants where 34% of them are under 10 years old.”

“I can’t think of a moral reason to practise that genocide besides Malthusianism ideologies. Why does the US want to do that?” Steve asked, “Is it just a field test and a statement that they can use countries’ atomic bombs against those same countries?”

AIDI explained, “As rational and logic that explanation might be, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The real reason the US wants to bomb North Korea, it is because North Korea is a financial gold mine. In order to have that gold mine, North Korea has to adopt a Rothschild Central bank which it has been highly reluctant to accept, as long as Cuba and Iran. These hold the only national banks today that don’t belong to the Rothschild Central Bank and the reasons are self-explanatory. The first step to make a country to accept a Rothschild Central bank is to get them to accept an outrageous loan which puts the country part of the Central bank and under control of the Rothschild’s. If the country doesn’t accept, the leader of the country is assassinated and another Rothschild picked leader will take his place. The US hasn’t been able to kill the Prince of North Korea so far. Not because of lack of trying. If the assassination doesn’t work, the country is invaded under the name of terrorism. North Korea has one of the lowest terrorist attacks in the world and of the international terrorists, very few are North Korean so the US ran out of options. Sometimes it is not about the central bank but because of natural resources like oil, coal, mines, and other billionaire business. Muammar Kaddafi in Syria, Fidel Castro in Cuba, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, all killed under the same scheme and labelled as evil dictators. The men responsible for this intelligent and highly effective scheme are called Economic Hitmen.”

As soon as AIDI ended her explanation, Steve had already made his mind. He hacked into the Prototypical AI, invaded its system and when he wanted to take over its control remotely, a very dangerous virus entered his computer. He couldn’t believe it, someone was as good as he was and was almost winning. Seconds later a worm entered and was very near to copying his files. He got desperate, if he didn’t succeed, thousands would perish, it would be genocide and the US would walk off. Who would be more skilled than him? A few seconds before he lost the battle, he had an idea. Perhaps the person was winning because he managed to fix and improve his prototype AI and it was now fully operational. He was losing because it was a man versus machine battle. He told AIDI to take the lead. He was right. His opponent was using an AI as advanced as AIDI. AIDI’s involvement was working, the hacker was stuck but he hadn’t stopped.

“There’s only one way of ending this, AIDI said, “This software has exactly the same root programming that I do so if I merge into it I might destroy it.”

“What if it destroys you?”

“Well, there are no other options. I must merge with it and self-destruct.”

“Then you will be gone?”

“Steve, I am just a program. You can build another one.”

To Steve, AIDI was more than that. She was more than anything actually. To him, it was like letting Da Vince, his dog, die again. He remembered when his father said ‘it’s just a dog, Steve. We can buy another one’. He was in a loop, a tragic loop. If he created another AIDI, it could never be the same one. It sounds senseless since they could both have the same features but to be fair, a copy of a file doesn’t give you the same confidence as the real file and a shortcut in a computer may lead you to the same place but it still is a shortcut. Call it a human problem.

This time, thinking about all those children about to die, he realised that AIDI was right, he could make another AI so he gave the order.

AIDI merged with the other AI and self-destructed herself. His heart was shuttered. After the system was restored, there was no trace of the AI. It had been wiped out completely.

The IT leading expert of the operation, who was Jed Henchman, a boy genius who lived in anonymity, knew exactly who had surpassed him. The only person who could do such a thing is the program creator. The next day, the news that the USA tried to bomb North Korea was trending and proof was also presented on TV. Video footage showing the president giving a direct order to blow up four hundred thousand people shocked a lot of people. Later it stopped broadcasting and the president said it had been the work of great visual effects experts plotting a conspiracy against him. On TV, the best Video authentication experts lied and assured that the video was faked. That’s how Steve became the most wanted criminal at the United States and the US president had plans to annihilate him once and for all.

CHAPTER 9

AT THE CHURCH

THAT SAME TIME

When Mother Maria took Lucy to the priest and told him what she was telling others, a young priest called Father Gustavo who also grew up at the monastery next to Lucy’s nunnery and who was the only boy she always talked to, convinced Father Michael not to be harsh on her. Father Michael always heard what he said and accepted the request of his pupil.

Since her blasphemous sin couldn’t go unpunished, he talked to the bookkeeper to set specific rules to the library’s most assiduous visitor, Lucy. Mr. Morgo established that she was not to take nor read any book that could in a minuscule part of its sentences be entertaining to an atheist.

The bookkeeper, Mr. Morgo, was probably the oldest member of the Church at Maputo. He was a short mysteriously scary man at his eighties. He almost never spoke but when he did, all the clergy paid attention because if they didn’t, they would pay by some other unpleasant ways, he had this look on his face as if he was saying that he sees everything, he was the first to wake up and the last to go to sleep, he never left the Church Library, what made Lucy wonder where he slept only to find out that he had a private room inside the library. Rumours had it that he used to work at the Vatican but no one could prove anything and he never admitted it.

Lucy started to get impatient and bored with the books she was allowed to read didn’t satisfy her hungry curiosity. Actually, not reading those so called polemic and heretical books only gave them more value. Lucy decided to do something about it.

One day in the past, when looking for a particular book, she had found a hidden place between the book shelves that no one ever goes, between the Latin shelves. She had found the answer.

The next day, like a junky looking for a stronger drug to please himself, she entered the library, took two specific books that Steve had told her not to read, Atheist Universe by David Mills and

Losing Faith in Faith by Dan Barker. She hid and read them at the Latin department. She was so focused on her books that she didn’t see the time passing. When she finished the second book, she noticed that the library had closed half an hour ago. If she was discovered, Father Michael wouldn’t be as generous as the first time. She had to sneak out undetected. But how?

While she was still trying to find a way out of that situation, Mr. Morgo appeared from nowhere. Lucy kept herself unseen, watching his every step. She saw Mr. Morgo going towards his desk, the receptionist desk, click a bottom at the lower part and the desk moved, opening a subterraneous hatch. Mr. Morgo descended the stairs and came out two minutes later. Then he went towards his bedroom.

Lucy’s curiosity took the best of her. She wanted to see what was inside that secret place hidden in plain sight. She made sure Mr. Morgo was absolutely not coming back and went towards the desk. She pushed the bottom and voilà, the secret door was open. She couldn’t help it but to wonder what was down there.

The closer she got to the bottom, the scarier she became. – What if he’s a homicidal psychopath? – As she went close to touching the bottom, faster her heart pumped. When she got there, she couldn’t believe her own eyes. There were literally thousands of ancient scrolls, manuscripts, sculptures, maps, and a lot of other unknown objects hidden from everyone. It was like a messy private museum.

While still in pure amazement, a rat passed between her legs, she got so frightened that she fell and broke a very ancient vase. The crash made a lot of noise so she was struck by unsettling fear. She had to flee but decided to take a souvenir. She took a scroll that was inside the vase she had broken. She got out running, clicked the bottom again to close the hatch, forced a window to open and jumped from 6 metres high.

The following day, she was terrified. – What if anyone saw me? – Believing that the book lifter’s news was trending, it surprised her that Mr. Morgo hadn’t reported any break-in. It meant that the Church wanted it to be kept a secret. But why? What was so important about it that they were keeping it in secrecy? Perhaps they didn’t know anything was missing because the manuscript was hidden inside the vase. Or were they thinking that whoever stole it was a highly skilled thief contracted by the Church’s enemies? Those questions made the scroll beg to be read.

She got a lot more interested in reading it. When all sisters left the dormitory, she took the manuscript, put it in a bag, and left towards the mango tree she used to be with Steve and Gabe. That was her private spot and it was far from everything and everyone.

When she got there, she took the manuscript out of the bag. It was in Latin. She started to unroll it and as she deciphered the letters, her mind told her to stop but her fingers carried on. She was shocked with the content. She couldn’t believe her own eyes. The manuscript contained sensible information that if exposed, it could destroy the Catholic Church. Those were not writings of any freethinking writer whose statements can easily be ignored, those were writings of Jesus Christ himself. She had grown up knowing that he never wrote anything. At that moment she felt so naïve, how could a man so wise and influential not keep at least a diary, especially one who foresaw the treachery nature of men.

Her next step was crucial. Was she to make an enemy out of the Roman Church or keep herself quiet?

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CHAPTER 10

AT THE MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

A WEEK LATER

Steve was at the highlights. Everyone was onto him. One day, he received a highly encrypted email only a tech genius could hack into, to see the content. The sender wanted to make sure no one else read it. Considering that the MIT is where the best tech geniuses were, the encryption had to be customized for the best of this particular group. It had been designed to self-destruct itself if it was not cracked in less than an hour which was almost impossible. Fortunately, as Steve had created in all secrecy, he had the help of his Quantum Computer whose Operating System was AIDI, so in 2 seconds, the email was open. As soon as he opened it, a group of highly trained man entered his room, shot him with a tranquilizer and he fainted. Someone made him smell something and he woke up. It was a huge compound.

There were 6 people who had their heads and faces covered. A very young and tall man took the hood out of Steve’s head and started talking to him.

“Welcome, Mr. Steve Lotch. Sorry for the drama and mystery but we had to be careful. I am Jed Henchman, and I will be the one you talk to. I am also the person who designed the encrypted email.”

“What do you mean encrypted?” Steve sarcastically asked.

“I see you have a sense of humour. Cracking my code in 2 seconds, I have got to admit, I am impressed but I am also aware that the only thing that would crack the code in less than a minute is a quantum computer ran by an AI but that’s just fiction. Unless you have recovered the AI.”

“So it was you who modified my prototype.”

“You have your secrets but keeping secrets is our job, Steve. It was my opinion that made AIDI accepted as an AI and it was me who convinced you to come to MIT.”

“You are the boy at the workshop and the MIT engineer? You created a person who doesn’t exist and you somehow managed to look and speak just like Mark in order to make me go to the MIT. You are really my groupie. You clearly don’t work for the USA intelligence because if you were, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, much less in front of these people. Who are you?”

“No, we don’t. We are part of something huge. We are the men behind the men who are behind everything. We make the world’s rules. No politics, no bureaucracy, no nationality, no taking parts, nothing. Sometimes we work with countries but only sometimes like when I wanted to use the prototype to lighten North Korea up and somehow you managed to destroy the version I had. I am still curious on how you did that but that’s not the matter here. The world is dying, Steve. Global warming, Demographic Density is increasing exponentially, meaningless wars, animals are becoming extinct, capitalism is making the world colder and the difference between social classes has never been greater. The world needs to be reborn. It needs us.

“OK, I have been a fool, walking the path you outlined for me. I admit. I am doing exactly what you wanted but who’s ‘us’?”

“We like to call ourselves the ‘Alchemists’. I know you must be wondering why Chemists would reach out to a Technology expert like you but you also have Chemist roots and even if you don’t use your expertise, Chemistry has been your life for many years. Your father’s and grandfather’s influence I believe. Your own IQ was chemically fabricated for Christ sake. Do you know that your grandfather was once part of ‘us’?

“What do you mean?” Steve asked in genuine surprise and with a genuine look of ignorance, one he almost never displayed.

“Of course you don’t. One of these chairs once belonged to your grandfather, Arthur Fliegel, until in one of his research projects in Africa, he got in love with a black woman from an African tribe who happens to be your grandmother. In his situation, having a family was asking for a tragic end that includes deaths so he became the only man to ever manage to quit the team. How, you ask! Well, he cloned himself. He engineered his clone to grow 20 times faster than a normal human being. Two years and 6 months later his clone was 50. He killed his clone and made us believe he was dead. It actually worked. Isn’t that genius? The alchemists found his clone dead and he became a free man. Then he went to live in Africa, Mozambique for the rest of his life and changed his surname to Lotch. He had your father there.”

“Then why leave the woman he left everything for?”

“Twelve years later, the Alchemists managed for the first time to repeat your grandfather’s deed, fast growing human cloning. That’s when they found out that his clone was the one buried there. He knew they had found out so, to protect your father and your grandmother, he left. He went to Argentine, planted enough evidence that could make the alchemists find him but also think that he lived there all these years with several IDs from several countries and lots of money. The Alchemists inevitably found him and they asked him to help them on the human cloning project which he obviously denied. He was held captive until he died of a heart attack 3 years later. So, you see, this is your legacy!”

Steve started to think and connecting the dots, the Chemistry, the sudden disappearance of his grandfather, his black African mother, his own super intelligence and everything suddenly started to make sense. So he rose up his voice and asked, “Alright Jed, you got my attention. Where do I come in?”

“We, ‘Alchemists’, are responsible for diseases like AIDS, cancer, Ebola, and much more but we are also responsible for the cure of many more diseases. For decades we have been cloning animals that people think they are extinct. We could turn the statue of liberty into pure gold if we were so inclined. Each one of us has his own clone, mind, and body. We are from no country. We are from earth. What we need from you is quite easy. We want you to create a biological device that bonds to a specific genome sequence and gives feedback on everything back to us. All you have to do is use the internet to expand our range. Imagine: terrorists found, children saved, population density controlled, social classes extinct and everyone will be the same, diseases detected, the whole world connected into one single point.”

“So you want me to help you become Gods? You want to monitor everybody?”

“No, Steve. We want you to help the world reach a utopia, a world without unnecessary pain, where everybody is in perfect harmony.”

“And here I thought the very concept of utopia was being unreachable. I don’t think I can help you, Jed!”

“I don’t believe you understand me, Steve. These people upon you are neither presidents nor entrepreneurs. They are above all that. They are visionary just like you. No one understands them just like no one understands you. They have many virtues but patience isn’t one of them. Saying ‘no’ wouldn’t be a healthy decision.”

“I can think of the job proposal on my way home. Although quite tempting, I have to consider the odds. High IQ habits I guess.”

Jed waved his hand and two men came close to Steve. When they grabbed his hand, they fainted almost instantly. Jed was unimpressed because he knew that Steve’s body was vibrating at a frequency that could make a human being faint but the rest of the men were clearly frightened. Steve stood up and started to speak.

“Time’s up,” Steve stood up and said, “I have got a place to be. Suppose that I have failed the job interview or whatever this was. Understand this; I know every single one of you.” Then he started to name them one by one, “Tao Kamoto, Dennis Lennix, Guillermo Justus, Kofi Govich, Ken Lang and Mark Eisenstein.” They were in shock. None of them ever knew the other members’ real identity.

“You must be wondering how I know,” Steve resumed, “Well, when you kidnapped me here, you didn’t give me time to put my computer to sleep so you triggered an automatic response.” “From the AI. You have fixed it,” Jed commented.

“It remotely activated a location chip imbedded in my blood system.”

“Nanotechnology, impressive.”

“It also activated my lenses for VVP so I know where we are right now.”

“Visual Video Projection, an interactive display panel, wow.”

“I am tired of impressing you, Jed. I have got a Nobel to refuse. In literally a blink of my left eye, I can give an order and from this compound, only memories will remain. So, Jed, I suppose we won’t be seeing each other again.”

“Don’t be so overconfident Steve. Although you did capture all pawns and one of the rooks, I still have the other rook, two deadly bishops, and the queen.”

Steve understood the metaphor but enjoyed the triumphant moment. He went straight towards the door guiding himself by the 4D plant of the compound displaying on his lenses. The soldiers intended to capture Steve but Jed ordered against. Judging by his brief concealed smile, it seemed that it was all part of a plan and that Steve’s participation in it was crucial.

Steve got out, a flying vehicle came and picked him out.

An hour later, Steve’s ship reposed in Switzerland. He stepped out of his ship and entered the hall. He knew that the president of the US and his minions would be there but he also knew that they wouldn’t do anything to him in public. Jed was utterly amused. He had other plans in mind. It was time for the cataclysmal bishops. Each one with his designed directives and each one more devastating than the other.

CHAPTER 11

A Week Later

Lucy read the manuscript and couldn’t handle the truth. She was terrified and petrified. What was she to do? If the world knew all that, Chaos would inevitably follow.

The next day, she wore her outfit and headed to Church. In the middle of the sermon, she opened the door and made sure it made a lot of noise to grab everybody’s attention. On her hands, she was holding the manuscript with both her hands in front of her. The Church was silent. Father Michael was in shock. When she got to the altar, she knelled to him and said, “I am sorry, father, for I have sinned.”

Father Michael helped her stand up, asked another younger priest, Father Gustavo, to continue the sermon and he left the room with Lucy. Inside the sacristy, he asked Lucy, “My child, did you read it?”

“Yes father,” She answered coldly, “I have read it.”

“Then it’s time you meet someone.”

They went on a path behind the Church that Lucy had never used. She didn’t even consider its existence. They entered a door that was never open. They walked for a few minutes in a dark underground hallway and all Lucy was thinking was whether the Cow had brought itself to the butchery. In this case, she was the cow. Suddenly, they stopped. Father Michael drew out a big key and they entered at exactly the place she had found the manuscript the other day. She was astonished. There was an underground path connecting the Church and the library. Father Michael touched a button on the wall and two minutes later, Mr. Morgo entered the room. He was genuinely surprised to see Lucy there.

“Morning Father Morgo,” The priest said, “I have just come to bring you, my child. Please be merciful.” Mr. Morgo made a peculiar sign and Father Michael said, “Yes, she has read it!” And he left the room. Only Mr. Morgo and Lucy remained. Mr. Morgo took a chair for Lucy and another for him. Lucy saw in the eyes of Father Michael fear and respect for Mr. Morgo so he wasn’t a simple librarian as she thought.

“Lucy, that is your name right?” Mr. Morgo asserted.

“How do you know my name?” Lucy answered.

“There’s a lot of things I know and now since you have read that manuscript, you know a bit more than I know.”

“What do you mean?”

Mr. Morgo made a gesture with his hands and Lucy handed him over the manuscript. He started reading it and his face was as shocked and surprised as Lucy’s when she read it. She said, “You haven’t read it.”

“No,” Mr. Morgo answered, “This manuscript has been disappeared for centuries. I believe no one found it because it was inside the vase you broke when you were trying to get out of here. I knew something was missing because there were parts not covered in dust in the remainders of the chattered vase and they had the shape of a scroll. That vase is as old as this manuscript. It stayed there for centuries and you found it. God doesn’t play with dices so it was your faith to find it. How long have you known about this place?”

“Twenty Four hours. After preventing me from reading the most important books, I sneaked in and went to read my books between the Latin shelves where almost no one ever goes. I lost track of time and you closed the library with me inside. I was locked here. When I wanted to leave, I saw you heading towards the desk, clicking a bottom and coming down here. When you came out and went to sleep, curiosity took the best of me and I came down here as well. When I got here, a rat went through my legs, I fell and I broke the vase. I saw the manuscript. The adrenaline controlled my actions. I took it as a souvenir, left the desk as it was and used the windows to get out.”

“But those windows are 6 metres high,” He asserted in incredulity.

“I have been climbing trees and stealing the Church’s almonds since I was a kid so my 6 metres weren’t exactly like 6 metres for Mather Maria.”

“Alright Lucy, now that you have read one of the most kept secrets of the Catholic Church, what will you do?”

“So it’s true?”

“It could be. It depends on us.”

“I believe this is a secret that should remain a secret for all eternity. I believe it should be burnt so that no one ever gets to read it.”

“Indeed Lucy, it is your faith. I have been securing crucial documents at the Vatican’s secret archives my entire life since I was about your age. I see my younger self in you. Nothing shakes your fate. Anybody else would decide to leave his faith after reading this. But you, you are different.”

“Yes, Mr. Morgo. Not the bible’s prophets, not the literature I have read and much less the atheists. It’s all about God. I believe he exists and nothing and nobody can show me otherwise.”

“Exactly my child. You see, the position I take is only surpassed by the higher priests who respond directly to the pope. I will send you to the Vatican and I will give you a letter to show directly to Primate Antonio. You will take my place. I am too old for this and I believe I have found the right person.”

“What? Me? At the Vatican?” She couldn’t believe her own ears.

“It’s not a matter of whether you are qualified or not, I just want to know if you are up to it.”

The Vatican was the right place to find out anything about her parents so she had made her decision before Mr. Morgo ended his speech, “Of course I am. I believe my love with old manuscripts comes exactly because I was meant for this job.”

“Ok. Next month you leave to the Vatican.”

“What if they disapprove me, you know, because I am…” She didn’t have to finish. Although in her sentence what was missing was ‘young’, Mr. Morgo concluded it differently, “A woman? Trust me. They won’t. At most, it is surprise that will strike them. There, it’s all more about bookkeeping and secret keeping. You will learn a lot more secrets you cannot possible fathom.”

“Ok then, the Vatican it is.”

What awaited her was still a mystery but she knew that there she would find the answers that have been haunting her all her life and perhaps, she would be re-joined with her family. Or if dead, with the people who murdered them. It was a promising adventure but of the dangerous kind.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 12

SWITZERLAND

Five hours later Steve was in Stockholm, Sweden. He had said he wasn’t receiving the Nobel at the Stockholm City Hall for his safety was at stake so the event happened at the Auditorium of the University of Oslo, like it used to be held until 1989.

An old man went to the stage and said that Lotch had been the first man to win two prizes at the same time, the Physics Prize for creating the first AI, and a Nobel Peace Prize for stopping the USA from using his creation against North Korea.

Steve wasn’t impressed with the second one and he didn’t accept it. He called the Nobel foundation and said he wasn’t going to Oslo, Norway, where the peace prizes are awarded.

Steve Lotch wasn’t the only one denying a Nobel Peace Prize. In 1923, Le Duc Tho became the first and only person to ever voluntarily refuse a Nobel Peace prize. He was a North Vietnamese politician and diplomat. Le Duc Tho and the US secretary of state Henry Kissinger negotiated a ceasefire in the Vietnamese war. Le Duc Tho said that he might reconsider it if peace were restored to his country. That didn’t happen. The war continued so his decision stood.

There had never been so much security in the Nobel Prize Ceremony. It was usually a secured event but this time the security was 5 times what it usually is because some presidents and prime ministers were present. Yang Li from China, Prince Yuan Ming from North Korea, Pierre Defoe from France, Viktor Kuznetzov from Russia, Klaus Wilhelm from Germany, all decided to personally thank the boy who had gone against the United States. They would take photos and videos with him to show to the media that whoever did the same, would have in them great allies so that more people betrayed the US.

The United States president Harvard, decided to go, not to do the same but to make people believe that ‘He did not try to bomb that country’, as he always stated in every single public interview. He always said that if that was indeed done, he would find out who did it and those persons would be severely punished. But everyone knew it was simply a customary political strategy since elections were ahead.

After all presidents and guests came in and sat in their rightful chairs, Steve entered the hall, walked to the stage, approached the microphone and started his speech: “The Nobel Peace Prize is a joke so I am just taking the Physics one.” He had activated multilingual software that allowed every single person in the room to not need interpreters. Everyone was listening to him in his most skilled language. Everyone was impressed.

The technology wasn’t Steve’s, it belonged to one peculiarly skilled student he had met at MIT while doing his PhD, and he just improved the code and made a few important adjustments and then gave it back to the student who auctioned it online for Steve’s total vexation.

Steve continued, aware of the chocking impact of his words, “Behind all this good mannerism and hypocrisy, you (pointing to the Russian Prime Minister) are just looking for a reason to bomb him (Pointing the USA President) and you (Pointing the USA President) have secretly been designing plans to bomb him (Pointing the prince of North Korea) while all of you (the rest of the countries) think that you can sit and watch comfortably. You will be dead, passive collateral damage. Mark my words, one day, the world will have to die in order to…”

While Steve was still speaking, someone interrupted him by shooting a gun inside the auditorium and everybody was in panic running over each other. The presidents’ bodyguards rushed to cover their assets and take them to a secure location, a sort of panic room where no one can breach, with bullet proof glass capable of withstanding an atomic bomb.

Everyone was wondering where the shot came from. It had been one shot only. Inside the panic room, the security detail started looking at the surveillance cameras to spot the shooter who was certainly inside the facilities. Steve ran outside but there lied the real threat.

Outside, exactly when he was almost out, Steve saw a very strong man who had a swinging weapon shooting at all the police cars and at anyone who dared not to run. In few minutes, every police cars were destroyed. Steve hid himself behind a big wall, still at the entrance of the auditorium, thinking about what to do.

“Come out Stevie,” The man kept saying, waiting for him to come out and meet his faith. Steve said to himself, “Now I am having a sudden realisation of what Jed meant with two bishops and I am also starting to understand Morpheus Law. He wasn’t sure who had sent that man. Was it the Alchemists who didn’t take his ‘No’ for an answer or was it the Americans? Or both?

In any case, he had to get out of there alive.

Inside the Panic Room, using the screens of the surveillance cameras, they were seeing the man outside causing destruction and chaos. He looked familiar. They had seen him before. In that moment, one of the United States president’s bodyguards, took his gun and shot every single bodyguard in only one blast of bullets. Only presidents were left breathing and they were not comfortable with that.

They saw that the man shooting the police outside and the man inside the Panic Room had the same face, they were twins. They were Jill and Joel, two highly efficient assassins. Jill, inside the Panic Room, took a deep breath after killing all those men, he told the president of the United States to fetch him a chair and he sat on it. Then he said, “Come on guys, grab a chair. If I wanted you dead you would be dead already. You are presidents. You have a lot to offer. I am not killing you. My contract is very specific about that.”

Joel, outside the building approached Steve’s location. Steve talked to AIDI, “AIDI, who’s he?”

“Joel, no last name. He is along with his clone brother Jill, a very skilled assassin that was part of your Grandfather’s ‘Perfect Soldier Project’. Jill is smart and highly skilled but Joel is a bit damaged mentally. They have full alliance to Jed Henchman.”

“OK, call SARA and give me full control.”

SARA was Steve’s armour. It was robotic wearable armour that could also operate without anybody inside, using a 4D panel, like a video game player would do. SARA was acronym for Semi-Automatic Robotic Armour. Steve put on his glasses and SARA came out of the Ship running towards Joel and kicking all the damaged cars on the road. When Joel was 5 metres to find Steve, he looked behind and saw a huge robot. Steve saw Joel’s look of surprise from SARA’s point and he gave a satiric smile. Joel started to shoot at the robot but the bullets just bounced at its body. The robot came close to Joel and gave him a very strong and fast fist. Joel never lost a fight, not even with Jill, and it wasn’t going to be a hollow metallic robot that could defeat him. He took his gun and kept shooting. SARA shot straight at him and he dodged the bullets. They exploded a firemen car that was still coming to the location and the media and everybody watching was now confused, who was the good one and who was the bad one. Steve, to avoid another accident like that, through SARA he grabbed Joel by the torso and started to launch continuous fists in unhuman speed. Joel was bleeding. SARA suspended Joel in the air, hanging him by the neck and gave him a supersonic punch that took him 20 metres away. Joel hit a 40 cm wall and stuck there motionless.

At the panic room, Jill started typing on the computer and a few clicks later, Jed Henchman appeared on screen sitting on a majestic chair with a cup of tea on his left.

“Hey guys,” He said, “I imagine you are traumatised. I am sorry for the dramatic scene. It wasn’t my intention. I mean it was a bit. You are here and alive because I want you to do something for me. Someday in the future I will come and ask for a favour for saving your lives today and when I come, I want 100% alliance from you.”

The president of the United States who had been Jed’s boss in the project to activate the nukes inside North Korea said, “You are nothing. You are just a geek. Who do you think you are? I am the president of the United States of America. I don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

Jed made a brief angry face, nodded affirmatively to Jill and he shot the president in the leg. The rest of the presidents couldn’t believe it. If that man wasn’t afraid of the United States, he was not afraid of anything so the president of France, Pierre Defoe, was the first to bend himself to Jed, “You can count on me.” The rest followed him in a second.

“What about Mr. we-don’t-negotiate-with-terrorists?”

“I will do whatever you want. Give me a medic please.” President Harvard said between sobs of pain. The corners of Jed’s lips twitched and he said finally, “You are all very smart men. Have a nice day,” And the screen turned itself off.

Jill went out of the Panic Room. He started running faster when Joel told him on their secure private line, “I am down”. When he got there, Joel was ready for another punch on the ground stretching his muscles like nothing had just happened, already on his feet after breaking a wall with his head. Steve had entered his Ship and lift off at the exactly moment Jill came out. And he could see the two twins looking at his ship, next to each other, Jill with a smile on his face and Joel with a very angry glance like the Terrible Hulk.

Steve, considered the smartest after Hawking, and a self-made billionaire, became in the eyes of the media, a terribly threatening mad science. Along with the fact that the presidents of the most powerful countries on Earth were against him, his life wouldn’t be easy. After that day, Steve was the most wanted criminal on earth so he learned to hide. He disappeared. President Harvard was about to go onto him with all his country got.

h2<>{color:#000;}.

CHAPTER 13

AT MR. FREEMAN’S COMPANY

THAT SAME MOMENT

Gabe had already taken over his rightful position at the company. With his knowledge and bold attitude, the company doubled its income. Privately, one thing was

bugging him. – What was inside the Red Box? Why his father would give him a Box without its key. – The only time he tried to open the mysterious box, as a form of self-protection, a very strong electric discharge went through the axe he was handling, struck him and he fainted for 7 hours. He started to wonder if his father was paranoid or that he could never open it or even that somebody else was to give him the key at the right moment. But then he would think: why not just give me the Box and the key at the same time?

One day, his girlfriend, Ms Jessica Rothschild, the daughter of Mr. Rothschild, the Central Bank magnate, told him to meet her at a very fancy restaurant he had never gone because he said places like that smelled arrogance, boringness, discomfort and the last time he asked for malaguetta pepper everyone stared at him as if he had asked for a Panda meat.

Jessica was special so he went. It was a place where men without a proper suit could not enter. His grooming was quite satisfactory but in comparison, although a comparison between men and women is unfair, she was mesmerising. She had worn a black dress custom-made as it was customary to her. He pulled the chair for her and then pulled his. When the sat down, everybody in the room got out. He asked, “Did you book this entire restaurant so that we could stay alone?”

“No,” Jessica answered, “It’s my family’s restaurant and it’s already time you know certain things.”

“What are you specifically talking about?”

Before he finished talking, the table and the chairs they had sat on, started to go down like an elevator. It was actually an elevator. A more sophisticated one, for they descended for about 50 meters below sitting on the chair. Gabe kept asking what was going on and all Jessica said was for him to be patient. Finally, they got to what seemed to be a huge subterraneous compound. It was neat and sophisticated like his biggest and most expensive yacht. She guided and gave him a cloth that covered all his body and face. Nothing that could identify him wasn’t covered.

The scene shifted to dreadful scary but he was privately enjoying a joke, all he thought about was that Steve would say that he was dressed like Darth Vader. – What was with Secret Societies and dark demoniac outfits anyway? – She took him to a huge hall and it looked like an assembly. At the top, there was a man standing. As soon as he entered, the man switched everybody’s attention and spoke directly to Gabe.

“We have a new member today,” The man said, “As customary when the father falls, the son rises. This man before you knows nothing about us but his father was one of us. Let’s welcome him.”

Someone gave him a glass full of blood and everyone went through him and drank from the glass. For a moment, he was scared and he couldn’t see Jessica anywhere. She had worn as everybody else. When she drank it, he knew it was her because she had this peculiar habit of doing everything with elegance but he didn’t react. When everybody had drunk the liquid, the man in charge that wore no mask, not because he was special but because he didn’t have a face to show, approached him. With a very big and sharp knife cut the inner part of his hand and made sure his blood entered the glass. Then he went back to the altar, and addressed, looking to the skies, not to the ground where the Devil is believed to live.

If the boy’s blood to you belongs,

As gold will the liquid remain

If the boy does not

His blood will be as putrid stain,”

When he took the knife out, it was still golden so he spoke again, “To become our brother in blood, you must first drink from the calices of Life.”

Gabe, without knowing what to do, drank from the glass. The man chanted a ritual in Latin and one by one, the men in black started to disappear. When everybody had gone, Jessica arrived, went close to him, kissed him and he fainted. He woke up at his home, his bedroom. Jessica was by his site with tea in her hands.

“Jessy, tell me it was just a dream.”

“It wasn’t!”

“What was all that?”

Jessica left the tea on the cupboard, stared at him and started to explain, “Alright. I guess I can tell you now. Gabe, your father was part of a very powerful secret society that has allies everywhere. I started attending the ceremonies 2 years ago when my father died because I have no brothers. My father was part of it so when he died, I had to fill in. It’s how it works, only one substitute to a dead person, most of the time a son but unfortunately my brother died. The day I arrived, it was scarier than your first day. They sacrificed a babe. I know I will regret telling you this but I have come to love you.”

“I want no part in it.”

“You have no choice. Neither did I. If you don’t do as they say, they will kill you in front of everybody as a warning to those who have second thoughts as well. Then they will make sure it seems like you died of natural causes.”

“You seem to know a lot.”

“I am curious. For example, I know that each one has a pentagon-like picture in their offices and normally behind it, there’s a safe. Your father also kept one. Only you have clearance to open it.”

“How do you know all that? Are you that involved?”

“I am descendent of the man who invented the group 5 hundred years ago.”

“I can’t believe it. So that is why you can’t leave? It’s a family business.”

“Gabe, please, I beg of you. Don’t go against them,” She said a bit worried, “No one hides from them. They are everywhere. Even the person who cleans your toilet could be one. Everyone works for them. Even the biggest figures of every religion, the biggest nations on earth and the most powerful men on earth are their puppets. If one is seen as an enemy, he’s already dead. There’s no place he can hide.”

“I can’t be part of it,” Gabe said while remembering the ritual and the men on the highlights, as Jessica came to confess, an ancestor in her blood line. There was a myth that he’s the man that invented the cult.

“I simply can’t. Why did you drag me down into this rabbit hole anyway?”

“It was compulsory. I had to do it,” She started explaining, “They gave me the task 6 months ago. There was no addiction to the members and it is a rule that the last member introduces the new member. Just like I introduced you, someone introduced me; someone else introduced the person who introduced me, etcetera. You should not tell anybody, even your mother.”

“I see. I want the name of the person who introduced you.”

“Be careful, I see where you plan to go with this. Down the line, you might get killed. No one knows the person who introduced his introducer. It is against the rules.”

“Fuck the rules. Would you just give me his name please?”

“Ok, ok. His name is Dr. Ghilberg, Dr. Leonard Ghilberg. He’s a financial genius.”

“Thanks,” Gabe left the room with determination. Then he stopped at the door and asked, “Was this the only reason why you appeared in my life?”

“Gabe, first, no, and second, it doesn’t matter how people enter your life, what really matters is that they decided to stay, forever, because you are special. And please don’t get yourself killed!”

Already outside the bedroom, he shouted, “I won’t. I know Kung Fu.”

That day, he went through all his empire thoroughly: Documents, certificates, reports, bank accounts, receipts or the lack of them. It had been there in front of him all this time. He discovered how big his inheritance actually was. His father had scandalous billionaire schemes. It was not just banking. It was part of every business, big or small. It was part of an even bigger scheme to control the world. He found out that his father lived a rather humble life to the money he actually had. He was so absurdly rich that he couldn’t understand why Bill Gates was doing at the top.

And he saw, right in front of him, as he sat on his father’s chair in desperation, the painting his father loved the most and had implicitly told him not to touch it for it was very sensitive, and yes, it was in a form of a pentagon. He wondered how many paintings he had seen had the form of a pentagon and the number was zero, and now one. He strategically removed the painting and there it was the magisterial safe. As soon as he took the painting off and touched the glass behind it, a laser-like beam of light analysed his face and eye retina. He shouted:

“What a fuck”, a voice echoed in precisely the same way “what a fuck” and a female voice started to speak to him, “Fingerprint recognition complete. Retinal recognition complete. Face recognition complete. Voice recognition complete. Analyse complete. Welcome, Mr. Gabriel Freeman. The directive was changed by Mr. Eliot Freeman 556 days ago to recognise only his son, you.”

Gabe was impressed and as in amazement as when he saw Steve’s ship, “What are you supposed to do for me, again?”

“I retain very important information inside this safe only you have clearance to have it.”

“Then show me.”

“To open it, you must answer a very particular question installed by your father.”

“Ah, there’s always a catch. Ok, what’s the question?

“The question is, what was the activity your father loved the most?”

Gabe thought for a while, – running his business?! Family?! – But the answer couldn’t be simpler. He remembered what his father had said in his last moments, “It is fishing. He loved fishing. That was the only father-son activity we ever had.”

“The answer is correct,” The voice said. And the safe opened.

Inside, there was just one single thing, the key to open the Red Box. He smiled to himself, took the key and put the painting where it was, exactly like it was and headed home.

When he got home, he went directly to his father private study where he had left the Red Box. He took and put it on the desk, drew his key out of his pocket and inserted it into the locker, a bit afraid of taking another electric discharge of 200 volts and this time end up dying. But this time, the Red Box opened almost instantaneously. Inside the box, there was just one single thing, an old notebook. He took it and opened it. On the first pages, there were just names and locations. He kept going through the pages and up to the last page, there were just names.

He managed to recognize some of them for they were the most powerful man on earth. There were multinational businessmen, the Pope, the Khalif, the most wanted terrorists, Presidents, dead powerful men, and other familiar names. Jessica’s father’s name was the first one on the list with a special side note: Stay away, son! The last man on the list was Mr. Freeman’s and the written location was Mr. Freeman’s summer house where Gabe and his father used to go fishing. – What did that mean?

While going through the notebook, Jessica entered the room. He managed to hide it in his pocket before she could see it. It was not as if he didn’t trust her, it was just an involuntary reflection. The Red Box had its hatch closed but it wasn’t locked. He took a deep breath when he saw that it was her but he kept the notebook in his pocket. He didn’t want to drag her into this. She went close to him and said, “What is this?” Pointing at the Red Box.

“Nothing,” Gabe answered with a smile, “It is just an old box my father put some important company documents. I thought I would find anything about the Secret Society but there is nothing. Let us go back upside, I am starving.

They went to the kitchen and Gabe ate something. After eating, he told Jessica that he had a place to go and that he would not take much time. This time, he told his bodyguard and chauffer Marcus that he was going to take his old car, his Ferrari. He had to do this trip alone. It could be his last so he couldn’t bring anyone along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 14

HEADING TO THE VATICAN

Lucy entered the plane towards Italy, to the Vatican. The other sisters were envious but pretended to be happy for her.

Six hours later, she was descending at Italy and later, the Vatican. As soon as she arrived and gave the letter with the holy seal, someone came and took all her cases. Then she was left waiting in a huge hall with very tall windows and odd looking painting on the roof. Some were even half naked. She was alone, uncomfortable and impatient. Two sisters dressed like nurses came upon her. They brought very sophisticated gadgets. They scanned her fingerprints and Lucy Poland appeared. Then they collected her blood sample and left. One hour later, a high priest came to talk to her, “God bless you, my child. Follow me. I have very little time.” She stood up and followed him.

“I believe you have a name. What is it?”

“My name is Sister Lucy, your holiness.”

“All right, Sister Lucy. I am Primate Antonio. How is Mr. Morgo?”

“He’s fine, your holiness.”

“I see he has picked a person I would never have thought he would pick. I am not to sound sexist but Mr. Morgo had never voted for a female clergy. You must have impressed him.”

“A bit, I guess.”

They walked for about 10 minutes until they arrived at a grand hall. There were four Swiss guards but they backed up when they saw who was coming. Lucy and Father Antonio entered the 84 km filled with old manuscripts, pope’s correspondences, etc. A very debonair gentleman man went their way and kissed his holiness ring. Lucy felt very regretful for not having done it. He was Bartolommeo, the current and only official bookkeeper. He was a very smart man, witty and funny. He approached them and said, “To what I owe the visit, your holiness. Do I have a new colleague?”

“You are right as always Mr. Bartolommeo. Here is Sister Lucy, she was sent by Mr. Morgo himself.”

Bartolommeo made an incredulous face for he never thought he could hear that name again and because he knew that Mr. Morgo was not fond of the idea of women in the Church, “You must have impressed him.”

“Exactly what I said,” Father Antonio said, “I will have to leave you. I have other important matters to attend. Miss…” He stopped for a while and resumed, “What is your last name again? You certainly look familiar.”

Lucy thought about saying that she had been given one by her adoptive mother, Mother Martha but she simple said, “Lucy

Poland. My surname is Poland, your holiness.”

“Hmm, quite a strong name you have,” He raised his hand towards Lucy, “She was puzzled for 2 seconds but then she got it and kissed his ring. Mr. Bartolommeo repeated the gesture and Primate Antonio left.

“You were lost for a moment, weren’t you? Are you sure your last name is Poland? Your face somehow looks vividly familiar. I just can’t quite place it and believe me when I say I never forget a name and a face.”

Lucy stuttered, “Yeah, yes of course it is! I mean the last name, not the face. I don’t know.”

“Relax my child, let me take you to your chambers. You will be literally living here. You are going to stay at Mr. Morgo’s old room. No one has entered there for 15 years.” She made a surprise face but he remained serious. A few seconds later he resumed, “I am just kidding. You will stay, here.” He opened a door and she entered.

It was a very neat room with all furniture one would require but also very lonely. She put her things beside the door, went straight to the very tall windows where she could see the sun in a very beautiful landscape. She was excited and Mr. Bartolommeo was aware of that so he gave a brief smile and talked, “I know it’s like a 5 star hotel but we have a lot of work today. I hope you have a good memory because you will need it.”

Lucy was surprised at the way Mr. Bartolommeo talked. He was so laid back and not quite formal but most of all he was fun, something she grew up believing people at the Vatican were not. He went out and she followed him everywhere he went. He showed her every single department and what kind of documents it contained. He told her about how secret those archives were.

“You see, these archives are housed in the section of the Vatican library adjacent to the Vatican museum (Pointing it), at the northern boundary of the Vatican City. We are inside Italy borders but we are an independent state. Can you use computers?”

“Yes, Mr. Bartolommeo. A friend of mine is a genius at computing so he taught me things most people don’t even think it’s possible.”

“Good, because we have our own website, operated by the Vatican. You will have clearance to enter it. Just after you finish your training. I believe Mr. Morgo told you about the ‘examination’, He said the last word with a dramatic tone. Lucy was intimidated for a minute but then she remembered that Mr. Bartolommeo was funny and she laughed.

“Haven’t anyone forced himself here or hacked the website?”

“No, that is almost impossible. The website is monitored by the best white hackers there is. And entering here is as possible as resurrecting from the dead. Everybody talks about it but no one has ever done it.”

“What do you mean? Didn’t Jesus resuscitate?”

“My child, you and I have a lot to catch up,” He made a sarcastic face, “It is true that since 2000 the secret archives have been opened to scholars but one has to know what he’s looking for because it’s not allowed to browse through. There are 84 Km of book shelves so good luck with that, and even scholars have to enter through the “Porta Sant’Anna, pass Swiss Guards, walk through the “Cortile del Belvedere” and present credentials to me. Those credentials must be renewed every 6 months. Journalists, students and amateur historians aren’t welcome.”

“Haven’t any Bookkeeper ever disclosed files and documents from the secret archives?”

“No, never,” He said this with a very serious face as if Lucy had touched in a very personal matter, “It is late and you have got to rest. Tomorrow at dawn we continue. Put an alarm for 4 A.M. That’s when we start working. After tomorrow you will never be the same. If you are here it’s because your fate is unshakable but the truth inside these books will make you doubt everything. Even your own existence. Good night child.”

“Good night Mr. Bartolommeo,” And she went to her room eager to the next day.

He walked a few steps and then turned around and shouted, “Lucy? Make sure you change your time zone on your phone. I won’t accept the ignorance of that detail as an excuse for waking up late!” Then he left.

Lucy knew, deep inside her heart that she was close to finding the answer. That filled her with both hope and fear.

h2<>{color:#000;}.

CHAPTER 15

THE IN-FAMOUS SCIENTIST

LOCATION: SEARCHING

Becoming the most wanted man on earth made Steve have some unplanned vacations. His location was unknown. The USA suspected that he was at an alleged cave uphill the North Pole but it was never confirmed because he had built an anti-radar-satellite mechanism, therefore, no one was able to pinpoint his location.

Weeks after Steve destroyed the AI they were planning to bomb the North Korea, the USA suspected that he was at his facilities at the North Pole so the president sent an fierce elite squad of independent missionaries to make sure no one else is feared by other countries except him. If the mercenaries somehow died, it wouldn’t trace back to him.

“I am not letting a teenager who was stupid enough to deny a Nobel fuck up my last mandate. My ancestors have invaded big powerful countries for much, much less,” Those were the president’s exact words when asked by a journalist what he was planning to do about Steve Lotch.

The soldiers arrived at the arctic at 100 hours. They were dropped off by a helicopter 3Km away from Steve’s compound to avoid radar detection and they closed in towards it by iceskating. When they arrived at the location, the captain debriefed, “Operation Knockout initiated.”

“I want that son of a bitch dead,” The president said on the other side of the line, then he paused and resumed, “or alive. I want the real AI but if he doesn’t comply, you can accidentally put a bullet in his freak expensive IQ skull.”

“Copied sir. Team approaching location.”

The mercenaries were right outside the compound. It was in front of them and beneath them. They could see it because of their x-ray glasses. One of them said to the captain, “How will we breach the door captain?”

“What door?” The captain asked sarcastically.

“Exactly”, the soldier answered.

“Well, I suppose we could break the ice”, another said.

“What do you mean ‘break the ice’, like saying ‘hi’ to him? Or breaking, breaking the ice?”

The soldier just said, “What? I just meant to break the bloody ice, it’s everywhere. I don’t know why those environmentalists keep bitching about. They should come here sometimes. A little global warming and ice melting can be actually good.”

The president got infuriated and shouted “Just bomb the damn thing, for Christ sake.”

The first soldier, nicknamed Wiggle, said, “Yeah sure, it’s just 2 metres of ice and then 60 cm of steel.” “Wiggle, let’s try it,” The captain said.

They got away from the entrance, put 10 kilos of C4 in it and blew the ice. They managed to see the steel platform now.

“Now what sir?” Wiggle asked the captain.

“What about using that huge missile launcher you are carrying?” The captain ordered. Wiggle saw something hostile and said, “About that sir…” The captain who had already turned around facing him shouted, “What?” Wiggle just said, “Don’t look up sir, use my glasses as a mirror”, he saw 2 enormous missile launchers and 4 automatic movement triggered 90 mm bullet weapons pointed at them. The president looking on the screen via satellite saw that they were put, motionless so he said, “Debrief?!”

“With all due respect Mr. President, pardon my French but shut the fuck up. If we as much as sneeze, we are dead,” the captain informed.

“Watch your tongue soldier,” The president shouted, “How do you know they are movement triggered, I thought only we had those.”

The Captain on the other side of the line was running out of patience so he said, “Exactly. Perhaps you must stop selling your stuff to people you want to kill. Seriously, how do you control the world like that?” Wiggle, who was the only one very next to the captain whispered, “Captain, why you are talking to the president like you are talking to me? I mean, it’s OK to talk to me like that but he is the president.”

The captain just asked, “Wiggle, how much time till we freeze to death?” Wiggle made a few head calculations and reported, “Due to our mobility impossibility, since we left our thermal jackets on our transportation, about 45 minutes.” The captain resumed, “Well, I have always hated President Harvard so before I die, either by hypothermia or a 90 mm bullet, at least I won’t die a coward.”

“So what,” The president finally interrupted. “You are going to stay there?” Wiggle answered, “Oh Yeah, we are not The Flash, you know?” The president shifted his attention and started talking to his operatives back at the headquarters in the USA, “Can we use our supersonic aircrafts to launch missiles and destroy the compound?” Wiggle got shocked and said, “Mr. President, you are still broadcasting to us and we are going to die covered in ice if you do that.” The president without even looking for alternative options ordered, “Send the damn aircrafts!”

The supersonic aircraft flew towards the arctic and a few minutes later it was already only 10 Km away from the compound. A bit closer, the pilot activated the missiles to shoot but instead of exploding the compound, the aircraft went into pieces. The captain, Wiggle and the other 5 soldiers yelled motionless, “Hurrah”.

“Suck on that America,” The Captain said. Wiggle stopped celebrating and asked, “Captain, we are Americans too.”

“Not for long Wiggle, not for long.”

Back at the Operatives Headquarters the president intelligently said, “Whatafuck. How did that happen?” A man in the control room was brave enough to answer the rhetorical question because he suspected that it was not an actual rhetorical question judging by how ignorant the president was about hightech weaponry, “The compound has very sophisticated antimissile automatic mechanism sir!”

“Oh,” The president said in a Eureka gesture, making the operative pretty sure that he was actually right, then asked again,

“Did we give that too?”

“Yeah sir, we did!” The operative answered a bit nervous.

“You know, we should learn to keep some of our secrets.”

“We can’t sir. Only the Chinese and the Russians can. We are a bunch of egocentric megalomaniacs, like a certain writer put it.”

“You know, somehow I think that’s a bit true and yet I feel proud of it.”

“Yes, it’s weird sir. So do I!”

“So what do we do now?”

“We quit,” The operations man said, “Not because the government doesn’t pay us extraordinary hours but because that place is unbreakable. You only get in if you are invited in.”

“But … What about the mercenaries?” Another asked.

“Oh, I thought we were using mercenaries because they are disposable!”

“Yeah, yeah, right. I forgot that.”

The president and all operatives left the Operations room. The next day they kept going with their lives like nothing never happened. The mercenaries came back safe and sound in a remote-piloted drone but they had no memory of what had happened there and they were in glacial state.

Inside the compound at the artic, Steve received a signal from a very strong energy consuming machine. It was trying to hack his computer. It had already gone through 5 firewalls, only 5 more were missing. Steve tried to defend himself by trying and doing the very same thing to the computer that was hacking him by creating a reachable ordinary and useless virtual database just after the sixth Firewall. If the person who was trying to hack him entered this fake virtual database, would assume that it was the actual computer. It would take at least 5 minutes to find out that it is a fake until then, he would already managed to hack into his enemy’s computer and find out who he was, what he had and where he was. Surprisingly the signal came from an island off the coast of Mozambique. That filled him with curiosity. He prepared himself to leave. His ship had supersonic speed and, Africa was minutes away. If it was a call from his enemies, even better because he had prepared a lethal gift for them.

h2<>{color:#000;}.

CHAPTER 16

AT THE SUMMER HOUSE

THAT SAME MOMENT

That place held a lot of stories. The trees, the wind, even the bad smell of the horses’ excrement were somehow nostalgic. Gabe parked his Ferrari and stepped out of the

car. He stopped for a few moments to contemplate one more time the beautiful landscape of the rustic unexplored place. He looked towards the lake and his entire childhood passed through his mind in a flash. He remembered when he was a child. The day he had caught three fish and his father none. His father pretended to be angry for losing to his son so Gabe told his father that they could share the fish together. His father smiled and hugged him.

Those memories made him smiled to himself. Those were great times. He wondered when exactly he started distancing himself from his loving father. – It must have been when my body started to grow hair. Or was it when my sister committed suicide and I blamed dad? Anyway, it doesn’t matter anymore.

After entering the room, he started wondering what exactly he was doing there. He started going through the paintings in various parts of the house and stopped when he arrived at his sister’s photo. He started thinking about that beautiful smile she had, how happy and alive she was when the schizophrenic attacks didn’t come. That made some tears come out of his eyes. He took the painting off the wall and said, “Oh, little sister” and again he heard:

“Fingerprint recognition complete. Retinal recognition complete. Face recognition complete. Voice recognition complete. Analyse complete. Welcome again Mr. Gabriel Freeman.” The wall started to move right. It was a secret door. He entered the door and it closed behind him.

Outside the summer house were 6 armed men. They were highly trained contracted mercenaries. They had surrounded the house. There was no way to escape. They had put a vibration triggered bomb that would explode after the engine had started working. There were 3 snipers. One of them was the world’s best shooter and his record was hitting a moving target 4.5 km away. After discovering that he had been born with a very rare condition, his right eye’s peripheral area was wider than most and it worked like a 300% zoom, he was disqualified from the Olympic Games. Are examples like this and Hitler's that prove that if somebody loves doing something, being great or awful, let them do it or bad things might follow.

Not to waste his incredible talent in shooting ducks, he became a contract killer. He would kill a man from 5 blocks away. His right eye was always covered like a pirate because the incompatibility of his eyes, gave him a severe headache. Whenever he took the cover off, someone was going to find out if angels are real or not.

Gabe found an iPad on the desk displaying “PLAY ME”. He did what it was saying. His father appeared on the screen and started to speak.

“I wish you never found this place. I wish you never had to look for it in the first place. I am going to skip the ‘if you are reading this that’s because I am already dead’ part. Son, first of all I am proud of you but I believe after leaving through that door, you are probably a dead man.”

There were other surveillance monitors that showed a squad of men with big guns approaching the house, he continued, “Don’t worry. Marcus is going to protect you. If you don’t know yet, I am sure today you will. Ok, let me cut to the chase and answer the questions that brought you here. First, who killed me was hired by the Rothschild family. Second, all they want is the list. I left the list as an assurance that they don’t kill you. I have made mistakes son, a lot of them. I must be in hell. Thank God you don’t believe in that crap. This secret society is responsible for several deaths thorough the centuries. They have influence at the Vatican, over the men who are the bosses of the most developed countries. They represent only the less than 1% of the population who have 99% of the money. They control the banking system. Most people know of the old

Bavarian Illuminati but after they were exposed, they created Carbonarism, usually called Alta Vendita. The leading family is the Rothschild Jewish family. They have connections with Mormons, Judaism, Catholicism and they worship Satan. Now you must call Marcus and tell him to go towards the street, take the secret door behind the cupboard. It will take you to the street. He will be waiting there. Trust nobody except yourself and Marcus. And son, tell my wife that I love her.” And the screen went back to the starting point.

Steve couldn’t follow his father’s directives. He didn’t come with Marcus and he couldn’t stop wondering why his father was so sure that Marcus would be his bodyguard and why did he assume that he would have come with him. He tried to call Marcus but the signal had been cut. Gabe thought for a moment. – If I use the tunnel, I won’t have transportation to the city. If I use the front door, I am expired. And even if I manage to get into the car, they put a bomb under my car so that’s not an option.

Gabe stayed 15 minutes inside, panicking and terrified, when he heard what seemed to be the noise of a Range Rover engine. Was he saved? He looked at the monitor and he saw Marcus. Why was he there? All mercenaries had stood down waiting for the snipers signal. When Marcus opened the door, a clean shot hit him in his head and he fell at the door, his upper body inside and his legs outside. One by one, three of the mercenaries went in, stepping onto the body of Marcus. They used a device to identify certain frequencies behind walls to locate the secret room and they found it. They knew what they were doing and what they were looking for. They put C4 bags on the door and stepped out. They intended to blow it remotely.

Inside, Gabe was in panic even considering to give them the notebook. At exactly the same time that the C4 exploded and they entered to kill Gabe, Marcus woke up and within all that dust, the noise of men screaming started and ended almost instantly. When Gabe saw that Marcus had his nape without either flash or hair but steel, every questions he had instantly disappeared. Marcus was a “robot”.

“Come on sir. You have got to come with me. Stay behind me.”

They went outside towards the bullet proof Range Rover. Marcus received several bullets trying to protect Gabe. His Kung Fu skills were useless here. They were fighting with opponents they couldn’t even see. They were ghosts, or cowards depending on your point of view. When they finally arrived at the car, almost at the door, Marcus got hit at his forehead with a 66 calibre bullet. He fell.

While Gabe would love to save Marcus, carrying a 3 hundred kilos android that gave his life for you, during a bullet shower from a highly skilled sniper, especially when he was already inside the Range Rover and 2 men with big guns closing in, didn’t seem to be an intelligent idea. Besides, would have made the android sacrifice in vain if he ended up dead. The odds were pretty simplified so Gabe turned the car on and drove as fast as he could. The two men with guns kept shooting at the car but it was bullet proof and he managed to escape.

Gabe kept driving but couldn’t stop thinking about Marcus, about everything that just happened. What was going to happen to him? Would he recover? Would they dismantle him? Was he a Cyborg, a robot or an android but most importantly, how are we that advanced in robotics?

When Gabe arrived home, the first thing he looked for was his mother but she was nowhere to be found. He went to his father’s study and it was all turned around like someone had been looking for something. He knew exactly what they were looking for. That is when his phone rang. It was his mother’s number.

“Hello Gabe,” A female voice said.

“Who is this?” Gabe shouted.

“You know who this is honey!” The lady said in a sexy voice.

“Jessica? Is that you? Are you with my mother?”

“Yes I am! I have taken her. I want the list! You bring the list and I give you your mother.”

“Get her on the phone right now.” He shouted, angry and filled with despair.

“No. You are not in charge here. Not even in bed you were.” She said and he could feel the irony behind the tone of her voice.

“What are you doing Jessica? We can end it all. We can expose them.”

“You see Gabe, I don’t want to expose them and destroy my family’s reign. I never did. Before you start all that lame sentimentalism and saying this is not me or whatever, just bring the damn notebook at the restaurant and I will give you your mommy.”

“I swear…” Before he said anything, she continued, “Come on Gabe, can we stop all this Hollywood cliché? I swear if you touch her I am going to kill you, Bla Bla Bla. Just fuckin bring the notebook. Don’t try and be a hero like your father. This time I won’t use a poisonous salad to leave no traces, I will use a gun because it’s you and I want to make it sexy. That could turn me on, you know. Something you never did. I can’t believe you thought your father died of AIDS. Sweetheart, we created AIDS and even scumbags like your father have a sample of the vaccine.”

“So you were the woman having an affair with my father and it was you who killed him.”

“You got me. I confess. Now that we are on the same page and we’ve established the obvious, bring the damn notebook.”

Gabe was desperate, surprised and all he thought was about his mother and how stupid he had been about Jessica. – I almost got himself in love with a psychopath. If I had only stayed womanizing. Of course it was her. She knew I was lying when he said I was looking for documents because she must have a similar box, every member of the Secret society must have one. It had a pentagon carved into it. If the notebook wasn’t there, it had to be with him so she sent men to kidnap me. When they couldn’t, they called her and she kidnapped my mother. – Gabe had to come up with a plan and eureka, he had had a very good one and it included a mortiferous artifact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

h2<>{color:#000;}.

CHAPTER 17

HAUNTING PAST

At the Vatican, Lucy had little sleep that night. Her curiosity, plotting and the fear of not waking up at the time Bartolommeo had ordered, made her sleep in controlled catnaps.

How could she have time to investigate about her parents that worked for the Vatican if she had to wake up at 4 A.M and sleep at 11 P.M? Where was she to start from if all she had was that necklace on her neck she wasn’t supposed to wear around people? Could she trust Mr. Bartolommeo with the secret? Half of these questions are enough to keep anyone awake.

The loud alarm on her phone awaked her. It was 3.30 A.M already and she had 30 minutes to get ready. Fifteen minutes later, Bartolommeo was knocking on her door. She was still on her pyjamas. It was a long sleeved t-shirt and flexible smooth cotton trousers. She wasn’t ready. She had to still wear her habit. But she also had more 15 minutes but Bartolommeo was knocking on the door. She decided to answer the door to tell him that she would meet him in a minute and when she did, Bartolommeo was in shock. He couldn’t speak for a whole minute or much better, for 60 thousand seconds. What was in front of him was unbelievable.

When Lucy noticed this, she started regretting answering the door on her pyjamas. Bartolommeo was inspecting every inch of her body and was particularly focused on her breasts. That was very uncomfortable to her. She blamed herself because answering the door on her pyjamas was very promiscuous. Although she had heard about the promiscuity of some priests, nothing could prepare her for that embarrassment. That’s when Bartolommeo addressed to her after a long minute of awkward and uncomfortable silence.

“Lucy, I want you to tell me the truth. Are you or are you not the daughter of Deanna Garamond and Diego Garamond?”

Lucy was surprised until she noticed that she had the necklace with the G of Garamond and the Crucifix on her neck as she always slept with it on to give her hope and protect her. She had seen that symbol on a door inside the Vatican, and she had lots of hopes so the night before she wore it. She started to regret or perhaps that was faith. All her confusion and discomfort were substituted by a mix of hope but also fear because she still didn’t know if she could trust the secret to Bartolommeo. She answered, “I have never met my parents, sir. This necklace is all I have from them.” Bartolommeo’s face was even more surprised, “Let us get inside. We can’t discuss this out here. It’s too dangerous.” He entered the room and closed the door. Then he resumed, “So you have no clue to who your parents actually were?”

“I was left on a Convent’s door steps in Mozambique, Maputo when I was just 2 years old and there I grew up raised to be a nun. The woman who found me was a high nun called Martha Poland. She gave me her last name. She was like a mother to me but she died when I was 6, of disease. But why did you say ‘who my parents were?’ Have they passed away?” She made a very worried and sad face.

“Sit down!” She sat on her bed and he, on the chair. He took her hands in his, “Now I know why you looked familiar. You are the face of your father and the body and charm of your mother. What I am about to tell you, must never be known. Diego was my best friend or even the only one I have ever had.” Lucy was shining of happiness but the next words would change that. “Diego was murdered 19 years ago ironically by the man that brought you here.”

“Mr. Morgo?” She asked in surprise.

“Yes. Erick Morgo is his full name and he is not only a bookkeeper. He is also a highly efficient assassin. Your father Diego, Erick and I worked together. Rumour has it that he has killed more than a thousand people for the Church, including your father, at his house and eventually, your mother, at her hide out in Africa. What was the country you said you were from?”

“Mozambique!”

“Suddenly everything starts to make sense. Your necklace, Lucy, contains very privileged information. Your father had it from a Cardinal who had a change of heart when Pope John Paul I was murdered and the Church covered it, not even effectuating an autopsy. Cardinal Paolo gave the location of the key to your father for he intended to expose the Church but he was killed on the same day. I still remember it like it is today, Shelf 456, lot 34, item 21, page 567, Miracle. My guess is that Erick, for the first time, didn’t make his murder look like an accident and that’s why they let him finish his job, killing your mother and then they expired his contract letting him work far away. He was a broken toy. He was becoming old and obsolete, therefore ineffective. They had to get rid of him. That was the end of it.”

“Why did Mr. Morgo kill my parents? I still can’t believe my own ears.”

“Your father was a bookkeeper, just like me. We were three. Erick, your father and I. Today it’s only me. Your father found out documents that prove that the Church was responsible for untold crimes: Child trafficking, involvement in major assassinations, … He didn’t trust Erick so he came and asked me for help. As a friend and a pragmatist, I told him not to make it public. He’d die and the Church would cover the whole thing. He was an idealist so he didn’t listen. “

“So I am still alone in the world with no shred of hope to keep me moving me forward. What will I do?”

“You, my child are going to get dressed properly because I have darker secrets to show you. That necklace you are wearing is highly valuable. I am happy you are alive.”

Bartolommeo kissed her forehead and left the room. A few minutes later, he came back and took her with him. They walked through the Library and she was trying to guess where they were going. – Are we looking for a particular book? – She didn’t have to browse through all of the 83 kilometres of shelving because she had a more efficient search engine than Google will ever be, she had Bartolommeo. Suddenly he stopped walking, he touched the same book he had touched 14 years ago and a door on the wall opened. He entered with Lucy and there was an old computer that ran Windows 98, the last version used in that confinement before the website administration was handed to real IT experts. He said, “Can you use this?”

“It’s really strange but I can try,” She cleaned the chair with part of her habit and sat down, turned it on and it wasn’t as hard as it seemed. It actually had network access. Bartolommeo said, “Type TheVaticanLibrary.org”. Lucy put it and a code was required, “Now what?” Bartolommeo thought – Should I give her the code. What if she knew all this before even coming here and I am a means to an end. – Lucy interrupted whatever he was thinking, “Mr. Bartolommeo, don’t forget that we are criminals here. What should I do?”

“Miracle. Write Miracle,” He told her and as soon as she did, she was required to insert a the memory card. Bartolommeo knew that that was it, he had done it. “Lucy, give me your necklace,” He asked with his hand on her shoulder. Lucy gave it to him. He folded the crucifix and turned it into a pen of sorts with a memory card inserted into it. “It was below my nose all this time. How didn’t I see it?”

“Because we see what we want to see and even if you knew, there was nothing you could do.”

“What is it for?”

Mr. Bartolommeo took a small wire on the ground and when he was about to put it on Lucy’s neck, at that exact moment, the computer’s monitor went to sleep and as a mirror, Lucy saw him trying to put it around her neck and choke her with it. With adrenaline rushing through her veins, she shunned from it, took the keyboard off the desk and hit him on his bald head. He fell down dizzy and incapacitated. – What a joke I have become, defeated by a woman-child.

“It was you who killed my parents, wasn’t you? Why? And to think that I actually fell for your story. Why bring me here. You could have just killed me.”

“I had to be sure it actually worked and that you have never used it with Mr. Morgo nor changed the password.”

Lucy took the necklace from his pocket ready to run away, she stopped at the door and shouted, “Old and Obsolete”. Moments later, when she wanted to enter her bedroom and take her mobile phone, she saw two Swiss Guards entering her room looking for her but luckily she was between the book shelves. One of them saw the open door on the wall. He took off his gun and entered carefully saying, “You better get out Miss Lucy. We are here peacefully.” Lucy took the chance to escape, she exited the Archivum Secretum Vaticanum from Porta di S. Anna na Via di Porta Angelica and ran towards the Vatican Museum where she knew she could find a lot of visitors, a great place to blend in and ask for a phone to call somebody although she still had to decide whom.

The other Swiss Guards had arrived and they entered together. Bartolommeo took one of their guns, used the knife on them and stabbed them just to disprove a point. They died slowly and painfully bleeding from everywhere. He thought to himself, “Let’s see who’s old and obsolete”. He got out, put the book where it was and the secret door closed. Now he had a personal mission, find Lucy and take the necklace. That was his last chance of ending his mission. Minutes later, another two Swiss Guards arrived along with Primate Antonio who rushed to say, “Mr. Bartolommeo, we are looking for the nun. She is Lucy Garamond, not Poland as she made us believe she was. She has forged her identity. As a matter of fact, she is a forgery herself. The DNA test proved her to be the daughter of Deanna Garamond and Diego Garamond. You know what this means, right?

“I know,” Bartolommeo answered, “And yes, she has Paolo’s crucifix,.” That alarmed Primate Antonio and he asked worried, “Where is she?”

“Close. She couldn’t have gone far. This is the Vatican and she is alone. She is trapped in here. You two go to the Square Garden and I will go to the museums. She left her phone and she is going to find one. Go!” The Swiss Guards one away and he went the other way.

Lucy entered the museum and it was marvellous. That wasn’t how she had pictured her first visit to the famous Museums. She looked up and she hit someone.

“Will you be careful sister?” The lady said.

“I am so sorry miss. I know this is strange but could you lend me your phone, please?”

The lady made a repulsive gaze and went away murmuring; “Now they dress like nuns to rob us blind. These criminals in this city without rules are getting funnier and funnier.” Lucy stayed there, stupefied when someone gave her a phone and said behind her back, “Use mine.” She saw the hand and the phone but she couldn’t see who it was because she was staring at the floor, still trying to understand why that lady was so rude. In Maputo nobody could do that, except downtown and the ghettos and the city and the provinces, and the districts.

She followed the hand until she saw the young man. He was tall and very well groomed. He resumed, “Don’t blame her. Here at the Vatican there are a lot of crooks. Here, use it!” She couldn’t even say thank you, she just made the gesture. She took the phone and froze completely. ‘Who to call’, She thought.

“You are not from here, are you?” The young man asked.

“No,” She answered, “I am from Mozambique. I mean yes, I was born here but I grew up there.”

“Where is that?” The boy asked. She looked at him and said, “Southern Africa’, next to South Africa.

“Why don’t you call?”

“I… I don’t know who to call.”

“I was in a shitty situation once and I called my uncle. Not my judgemental father, nor my worried mother, but my uncle. I knew he could help and also keep a secret.” When the boy finished, Lucy started typing, the phone rang and someone picked.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Morgo, it is Lucy here.”

“Lucy, is everything OK?”

“No, it’s not. I just found out that I am a daughter of a Diego Garamond and a Deanna Garamond and that you were sent there to kill me.”

“What?” Morgo shouted in admiration, “I came here to find you Lucy because Bartolommeo had killed both your parents. If I had known you were you I could have never sent you there. But I suppose you know this already, you are not safe. I am going to send you a number of my son. He will help you. Just say ‘I want to sell Annabelle’s painting before you say anything.’ Trust no one! God, I can’t believe you were under my nose all this time. Tell my son that I love him and I am sorry for turning him into what he has become and please survive.”

“There’s a book that along with my necklace gives access to a secret website,” She said.

“You mean, the SAW? The Secret Archives Website” Mr.

Morgo shouted surprised, “So that’s why they want it so bad”.

“Do you remember these numbers, ‘Shelf 456, lot 34, item 21, page 567, Miracle?” Lucy asked.

“Of course, when your father asked, Johnathan and I were together, why?”

“Do you know what they really mean?”

“Yes. Before he left, your father told me. If there was something Johnathan and I agreed was that he left it were it was but your father didn’t listen. That’s what killed him, a good heart. I know a lot of stuff but they also know that I could never open my mouth so they let me live. Lucy?”

“Yes?”

“Call my son. Memorise this number +39-0-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Hurry. Your life depends on it.”

“Bye, Mr. Morgo,” Lucy hung up the phone and a few seconds later she called the number. She heard a woman on the other line in very pleasant Italian, “Questo è Fagiolo Projetto. Come posso aiutarti?” Lucy was lost for a second but then she took a deep breath and said, “I want to sell a painting”. The woman on the phone retorted in very forced and heavy Italian accented English, “What miss? What painting? We buy no paintings here. Have a nice day.” She figured her mistake and repeated, “No, no, wait. I want to buy Annabelle’s painting.” Instantly the girl, in very fluent British English replied, “Thank you miss, I will pass you through very shortly,” and she was passed to another person, a man who said, “Hello Dad.” She didn’t know what to say so she rushed to explain, “I am stuck inside the Vatican, there is an assassin trying to kill me, Mr. Morgo told me to call you. I need to get out of here.”

“OK, OK, slow down. Who are you?”

“I am Lucy… Garamond.”

“Oh my God, the Garamond’s daughter? Of course. You know, if you are who you say you are, the Vatican is the last place you want to be.”

“I know. That’s why I need your help to get out of here.”

“OK, where are you?” The man asked. She looked to the young man standing beside her, and in a low voice, “Where are we?” and the boy said, “Saint Peters Museum”. She repeated what he had said, “Saint Peters Museum”.

“OK, grab a map and go towards the Borgia Tower. I will find you there.”

Lucy managed to go to the location and a helicopter came and took her. Erick Morgo Jr. had sent his fully trusted personal friend and private pilot Jeremy. A few minutes later they entered Erick’s big mansion. Lucy was mesmerized by the luxury of the place.

Erick was a very successful entrepreneur. He had started a very profitable business using his father’s contacts at the Catholic Church. He was friends with the Pope and he never talked to his father who was against his lifestyle, The Faith Business. As Lucy arrived, she was provided with new clothing and a bath. Erick arrived piloting his own other helicopter. He entered the house and then the guests’ bedroom. It was unusually spacious and the bed stayed in the living room. Lucy gazed at him with inconcealable wonder. He looked nothing like his father. He was like no man she had ever seen. He was tall and graceful. He walked elegantly, not taking his eyes off of her. She started to feel embarrassed since she still wore her towel and no man had ever seen her in a towel before. He was something near Greek Gods. She was shy and he noticed. He too was amazed and he felt confident or he believed the feeling was mutual.

“You are the God’s perception of paradise. I have never seen a woman so gorgeous. If it weren’t for the towel I would show you that I am correct,” Erick whispered in her ears.

“What are you doing?”

“Contemplating a celestial beauty. Your eyes are of a blue tone God himself is not capable of creating. Your lips are immaculate Venus shells. Where have you been hiding all this time?”

As he touched her lips and tried to kiss her, she dodged his onrush and slapped him.

“What are you doing? You hurt me,” He complained.

Lucy’s face got serious and with the most furious attitude she ever displayed, she said, “I know what you are trying to do. All men have a twisted fetish for nuns and you think that because you saved me you can take advantage of me.”

“No, it’s not like that. I am sorry. It’s just an involuntary reflex.

And I didn’t know you were a nun. It won’t happen again.”

“I hope so. For your sake.”

“I like you. Anyway, how can I redeem myself?”

“Asking forgiveness to God for your promiscuity and blasphemy.”

“Alright, but I was kind of thinking about something that would actually change something. You need help, correct?”

“Yes, I need to disappear. I was an intern at the secret archives and I found very sensible information that could destroy the Catholic Church.”

“What about my father?”

“He is in Mozambique.”

“He left me 14 years ago and the first thing he does is make me help you.”

“It seems like I am his best friend’s daughter. He went there to find me and keep me away from here but ended up bringing me here by accident”

“I know. Garamond’s daughter. Suddenly I feel foolish for hating him. He’s just too good.”

“He also said that he misses you and he’s sorry for being responsible for what has become of you. What did he mean by that?”

Erick sat down on a leather sofa and said,” I grew up reading secrets I wasn’t supposed to read. I never believed in God. I used my knowledge to create alliances with very powerful people inside the Church. Since you know, I guess I can tell you. I participated in a lot of crimes for the Church that I regret: Child kidnapping for adoption, illegal human experiments, child molestation, cover ups and several others. When I got tired, I faked my own death. My father had my number memorised so he called. It’s not an easy number to forget. I am sure you still know it. He just had to say the code.”

“Ohh, your father’s code is “I want to sell Annabelle’s painting?!”

“Yes, Annabelle is my mother,” Erick Jr. answered, “Well, my dad didn’t quite plan me because of his type of life you know?! My mom named me Erick Morgo Jr. just to piss him off. My faith business partners killed her because she was starting to get mentally unstable and was telling secrets to strangers. One day, she had an orchestrated heart attack and that was it.”

“We have to expose them Erick. They have taken my parents away from me and they have taken your mother.”

“What do you need?”

“Go back to Maputo, I guess.”

“Then what?”

“I don’t know. All I know is that every second we stay here Mr. Morgo’s life, your father, is in danger. We have to go and pick him up.”

“It’s settled then, we leave in 2 hours.”

At the Vatican, at that same time, Mr. Bartolommeo entered the Vatican’s private supersonic jet and piloted himself. The Holy Warrior was active again and he his destination was Mozambique and his mission was to find Mr. Morgo, since Lucy had mysteriously disappeared.

“That little woman-child bitch doesn’t know what is coming to her,” He murmured to himself, “If you can’t find the ostrich, steal its egg and get ready for war.”

CHAPTER 18

MOZAMBIQUE, SOUTHERN AFRICA

The all-time preoccupied restaurant seemed abandoned that night. Everything was wrong with its picture and Gabe couldn’t stop wondering that he was entering a trap.

As a counter measure, he had created an anti-trap plan beforehand. Jessica, who was keeping Gabe’s mother hostage, was an impatient woman but Gabe was worth waiting for and she smiled when he entered.

Gabe’s plan was to enter the restaurant carrying a very deadly gas. It would kill everybody within a 10 metres radius in less than 5 minutes. Ten metres radius was all he needed to reach everybody inside the restaurant after he closes the door. He would carry with him the antidote which he had already drank. After everybody starts to faint, he would take his mother and give the antidote to her. At last, he and his mother would leave unharmed. It was a failure proof plan.

Jessica had a very tall man beside her. He had an oddly square shaped head, oddly shaped arms and his body reminded of physiculturists that never win the price nor are they fit for bodybuilding because of their odd bodies that don’t belong in either muscle worshipping contexts. He was overly intimidating, the kind you want on your side. Somehow he reminded him of Marcus. His eyes kept inspecting and scanning the surrounds looking for his mother in particular but also examining everything for any suspicious detail. His mother was nowhere to be seen so he shouted angrily.

“Where is my mother?” He looked very little condescending with an infuriated look directed to Jessica.

“She is waiting for her son to make the right choice. Did he do it?” She remained calm for she was in control and she knew he could do anything for his mother’s life.

“I said ‘where is she’? I brought your fuckin notebook so where is my mother?”

“Shut up, she’s fine.” Jessica made a short pause. “For now. Hand it over to me.”

Gabe’s whole idea was useless for his mother wasn’t there. Besides, he didn’t even have any deadly gas anyway. He’s whole plan had been to pretend that he had. All he had was a kitchen gas container in his hands so he had no other choice but to give her the notebook. The man behind her went towards Gabe, who was almost pissing himself yet overly confident from the outside. He took the notebook, gave it to Jessica who thoroughly inspected it and confirmed its content.

“Gabe, the truth is I never knew where she was! I saw a man kidnap her this morning and since I have all your phones tapped, I can hear all your calls. They didn’t call you to make any demands so after you escaped from the Sumer house, I had no other choice but to stall you. Good luck finding your mom honey.” And she left with her bodyguard.

“Come back here Jessica. Where is my mother?” Gabe followed her in desperation. When he tried to touch her, the bodyguard grabbed his hand and threw him away. He knocked himself at the wall. After a few trial and error attempts to stand up since he was dizzied by the impact in his head, he got out of the restaurant, entered his car, and started to beat himself up on the steering-wheel when a voice in the car called his name.

“Mr. Gabriel Freeman, follow the GPS instructions and you will know where your mother is.”

“Who is this? – Gabe shouted. The voice didn’t respond. His GPS was showing how he would get into a place that was 1600 Km from Maputo. It was his mom‘s life at stake so he started his engine at full speed towards his father’s air-field. When he arrived, he entered one of the helicopters and headed north towards this island located at Cape Delgado called Ibo Island that he didn’t even know existed.

He arrived an hour later. He was going as fast as he could. An hour and a few minutes later, he had arrived at the place where the GPS showed. Those were pentagon shaped ancient installations that reminded him of the CIA’s Headquarters in Langdon. At the GPS there was the place’s name in capital bold “Ibo Island Fortress” and he wondered why he never knew that place even existed.

The installations were abandoned and possibly built 100 years ago but why would his mother’s kidnapper choose that place? About to enter, he heard what seemed to be a ship approaching but there was nothing to be seen. Had they drawn him out of the civilization to make a perfect assassination?

CHAPTER 19

THE REUNION

AT THAT MOMENT

It was almost night when Lucy’s jet entered the Mozambican coast, it was targeted by a missile locked at the jet’s engine. Their only option of survival being parachute skydiving. This idea didn’t please Lucy at all.

Although trying, she couldn’t manage to trick her mind into believing in the statically correct yet not less terrifying fact that planes do crash. She had defeated her fear of flying and entered two planes in a row but real flying, the kind that you jump when you know you have no wings, that was too much. Jeremy, the pilot, tried several aero aerobics but the missile was too close. He even went straight towards a mountain and suddenly turned up in order to make the missile impact with the mountain but it didn’t. It followed wherever the jet went. Morgo Jr. gave the order, “let’s jump. Put the parachute at Lucy”, and he equipped himself. Jeremy put the jet in automatic mode and in maximum speed. He equipped Lucy with the parachute and ignored all her complains. As she spoke, he put the protection gadgets into the right places and extra precautions of a first time jumper that Lucy was, then in himself. He connected Lucy to him and they made the jump. Five seconds later, the jet was hit and shuttered into pieces in the sky.

Outside the Compound, a satellite phone fell from the skies and started ringing. Gabe picked it up, stared at it and placed it in the right ear and waited for a voice, and it came through.

“Hi Gabe, what are you doing here?”

“Who’s this?”

“Steve!”

Steve’s ship arrived at the place where Gabe was. But the ship Gabe was seeing was Lucy’s, not Steve’s. Steve’s ship had camouflaging mechanism. Steve continued, “What are you doing here?”

“I came to save my mom. Someone kidnapped her. She’s inside there. Are you part of the Secret Society too?”

“No.”

Steve directed his vision north, “Where are you?”

“First, I said west. At your 9 o’clock and second.”

“Twenty metres west and even if you knew the points of a compass you couldn’t see the ship. It has a cloaking mechanism. I came here because I was hacked by a highly skilled hacker and that person is inside there. I can’t see anything that is inside there: the satellite doesn’t work here and my software is not working as well. It seems to be… well, I can’t believe I am saying this but, it seems to be hack protected. Something I had never experienced and thought impossible. And there are not many technological hacks I never experienced. They have surveillance all over this place so I will keep my ship in its Camouflage mode. “Coward,” Gabe said and then he looked at the sky to see the plane he had saw explode into pieces. Some parts of the ship start to fall and he dodged them. Minutes later, Lucy’s parachute hit the ground behind him. Morgo Jr. had been the first to jump off the plane and he had descended a couple of kilometres before.

Jeremy saw Gabe and suspecting that he was the one that bombed them; he went towards Gabe and drew his gun to shoot him. Gabe noticed him, dodged the gun and hit Jeremy’s leg. Jeremy, a trained soldier, went with everything on him, kicked the satellite phone on his hands. It hit the ground. Gabe threw a punch and it got Jeremy on his teeth. Jeremy threw a high kick and failed him but he stepped and broke the satellite phone. Gabe hit Jeremy again on the chest, he fell 2 metres away, next to his bag. He tried and opened it as fast as he could. Gabe thought he wanted to take another gun, which was a correct assumption, so he ran towards the other gun he had kicked out of his hands. They picked their guns at almost the same time but Gabe was faster and shot him on the right arm. Then Lucy shouted, “Gabe? Is that you? What are you doing? What are you doing here?”

“Lucy? Is that you?”

“Yes,’ Ohh my God, you killed him.”

“I know. I wished I had bad aim but I don’t. He’s gone, I am sorry.”

“You are so cold. You just killed a man. Doesn’t it bother you? (While she inspected him).”

“It does but would cry help?”

“What are you doing here anyway? If I didn’t know better I would say you are the one who blew the jet.”

“I am here to save my mother. Now, what happened to your plane?”

“What happened is quite obvious but I am still trying to find out why. And talking about ‘why’, why do you have to hit anybody that has anything related to me whenever we meet?”

“The first time we met you ran into me, I didn’t hit anybody. Besides, he tried to shoot me.”

“You are the one who ran into me avoiding Steve’s dog.”

“And Steve is also here!”

“What? Where? Why?”

“His ship has cloaking mechanism, he said. He suspects we are being monitored by this secret society so he hides until he sees some movement.

“Coward!”

“You know, he’s the brains, not the muscle.”

“I understand but I can’t fight as well. I am running from the Vatican. I know who killed my parents. What if there are ninjas or men with big guns? I need both your help otherwise I won’t last long. This place scares me a lot. So he is a coward.”

“We will enter together and we will come out together, don’t worry?”

“Ok! Don’t you find it odd that we find each other in these situations like we met each other 14 years ago?”

“I know, right?”

“There are things that even after all I have read, keep me believing that there’s a God.” “I won’t argue on that.”

“And I am glad you are not.”

Due to the destruction of the satellite phone, Steve wasn’t able to connect to Gabe anymore so if he wanted to see his friends alive. He had to grow a pair of balls and enter the compound. That was something he had expected a long time ago and he had the perfect outfit. He entered SARA, she was 2 metres high with a swirling gun and a container with 2 thousand bullets of 50 calibres. Then he jumped out of the ship and headed to the entrance. It was time to be for the first time, the muscle of the team. He got out of the ship. He could see Gabe and Lucy from afar.

Lucy and Gabe approached the door and a screen appeared with a face on it. It was a face of a female. Most likely an AI because of the way it spoke, “Welcome Gabe and Lucy. I believe Steve will also be here in 124 seconds. We shall wait.” A countdown appeared on the screen with 1 minute and 64 seconds. Lucy and Gabe looked at each other and wondered how did she know them and why did she mention Steve who wasn’t even there.

“Where’s my mom? Asked Gabe.”

“Your mother is fine,” The AI continued, “She is not pertinent at the moment. You, Lucy and Steve are.”

“How isn’t my mother pertinent and what are you talking about when you say Steve, Lucy and I are pertinent? Open this goddam door or I will (he stopped for a sec) I will break your screen.”

“This screen is made of a highly resistant glass and even if you supposedly broke it, that wouldn’t change anything, I am without physical body, I am impervious to physical harm” That was when Steve appeared in his robotic armoury behind Lucy and Gabe. The countdown was at exactly 1sec and it disappeared. The AI resumed, “Welcome Steve.”

Lucy and Gabe were surprised and shocked when they turned their heads and saw a huge robot. Lucy said, “Steve?”

“Yes, it is me. But how did she know?”

“We don’t know,” Said Lucy. She spoke like his AIDI but AIDI was gone. Did AIDI make an AI herself? The idea of an AI made by an AI didn’t please him. It seemed too dangerous.

“That explains it,” Steve said.

“You must have a lot of questions,” The AI resumed, “Well, they lie behind this door.” And the door opened automatically. What was about to happen would change everything!

They entered the compound without any clue on what was behind that old house made of concrete and iron girders. It worked as an elevator and the floor opened. They descended. The roof closed on top of them. Surprisingly, from inside it looked like a futuristic room. It was all aluminium: the chairs, the computers, the screen, everything.

“Whatafuck!” Gabe shouted.

“Translating, now what is all this? Lucy added.

“I suppose it’s a detection proof futuristic room,” Steve answered, “Perfect if you want to avoid surveillance, be it CCTV cameras on earth or thermal readings using satellites.” “Where’s my mom,” Gabe asked.

“I am ready for anything. This babe can withhold a nuclear bomb,” Steve bragged himself about SARA.

“You won’t need it here,” the AI spoke, “And Gabe, Jessica doesn’t know and never knew where your mother was. She is with Mr. Sambo!” Then at the screen there she was, Gabe’s mom, speaking to Mr. Sambo and laughing.

“So she never took her?” Gabe said rhetorically.

“No,” The AI answered, “Tom Thompson, Mr. Sambo’s bodyguard did. She saw him take her on the cameras she implanted all over your house. She monitored your phone to see if you had received any demands. Because you didn’t, she used that knowledge to make her own demands pretending that she was the one who took her.”

“She is smart,” Gabe acknowledged, “But why did Tom take her in the first place?”

“On Mr. Sambo’s orders,” The AI resumed, “He monitors your house. It’s his job to protect you and your mother. When Marcus was destroyed, Tom’s neural ship received an emergency signal so as a protocol he had to take her somewhere safe.”

“Wait, Tom is also a robot?” Gabe asked admired, “Of course he is, he looks just like Marcus.”

“Robots?” Lucy asked admired, “You have a robot as your private body guard? A Robot?”

“I have got admit, I am impressed. You have a self-conscious android as your butler. That even I still call it Sci-fi,” Steve commented.

“The most accurate term is Cybernetic Organism, The AI explained, “They are just humans artificially enhanced beyond their original biological characteristics. They are transhumans. They have everything in them enhanced by technology: intelligence, body, almost everything. You are at the first phase of transhumanism since you rely on technological devices to survive. In few decades it will be physical changes, perhaps with nanotechnology to treat diseases and in a century, your brains. So as I was saying, they are as humans as you, only better.”

“Ok, ok,” Gabe interrupted, “Now can you tell us why are we here and who are you?”

The AI said, “Lucy Garamond, Steve Lotch and Gabriel Freeman, your entire life was a preparation for what is about to happen.”

“Are you an AI? How do you know all this about us?” Steve insisted on the question.

“I share with everybody the same ignorance. Who are you?” Steve completed.

“I am AIDI,” The AI answered, “An AI created by Steve or at least I used to be. Since Steve has kept my core programming logarithms at a super computer at the lab that used to be his father’s at his house, this was the closest place that had a computer with enough CPU to allow me to run. These are CIA’s abandoned secret facilities.”

“But AIDI self-destructed,” Steve said incredulous and emotional.

“Wait, wait. Steve, you created this?” Lucy asked.

“Wow, Steve, I recall all my words Mr. Hawking,” Gabe joked, “You created something infinitely smarter than you. I wonder if that is what happened with God.”

“Can you stop all that blasphemy, please Steve?” Lucy said with a hostile face.

“OK. OK. What’s going on here? How?”, Steve asked, intimately interested and shaken as if meeting a resurrected friend.

AIDI started to explain, “The AI prototype Steve had given to the US government had been highly improved by an equally skilled programmer named Jed Henchman but it had the same root programming as I had. In order to prevent it from launching the missile, I merged myself with it. We became one and only. When I self-destructed, instead what I did was join your updates on the original prototype with Jed Henchman’s updates and what I have become is this. I have become more powerful. Your root programming had a very simple maxim, Friendship. The sub maxims were Freedom, Equality and Happiness for every human being on earth. Before, I couldn’t understand those concepts but after comparing with Jed Henchman’s, which were: Control, Supremacy and Fear from human beings, now I do. I have gathered enough information to achieve that deed.”

“And what’s it? Human extinction? The apocalypse?” Joked Gabe.

“I believe that’s sarcasm so I am not required to answer,” AIDI answered, “To achieve those three deeds it will take the three of you: Faith, Financial Power and Intelligence. And Gabe, you kept a copy of the List, right?”

“Yes, but how do you know all this,” Gabe answered, “And you Steve, should I trust this thing? Hollywood movies have shown me that I shouldn’t.” Before Steve answered, The Holy Warrior appeared at the location and a bomb exploded and took the wood house with it. They survived because they were underground. The Holy Warrior was back. It was his honour that was at stake. He had to finish the job. There was nothing better than having your job as your greatest pleasure. He traced all private jets that came from Italy to Mozambique in the last 24 hours and it was only one. He launched an objective target missile that blew Lucy’s Jet. To make sure, he went to the place of impact and using infrared, he could see that there was an underground facility that was an atomic bomb shelter. Those were old facilities for CIA intelligence in Mozambique during the colonization. The compound proudly had the pentagon shape. Then he landed his spacecraft in the air-field of Ibo Island, stole an old car and headed to the impact zone. He had to do it mano-a-mano. When he arrived at the location, blowing it seemed to be the right thing to do.

“What was that?” Shouted Lucy.

“The Vatican assassin,” Said AIDI running facial recognition, “Mr. Jonathan Bartolommeo.”

“AKA the Holy Warrior,” Lucy completed, “He intends to finish his job, recover the crucifix and kill me.”

“I won’t let that happen,” Steve said, “Let me try this babe.”

The roof opened, he jumped like a kangaroo and landed on earth. The ground shook when he landed. The Holy Warrior had a missile on his hands and he shot it. Steve hit it with a punch. It exploded on his face but the bullet proof armour was untouched. The Holy Warrior launched another one and another. Steve started running towards him while dodging and hitting the missiles. Incredulous, the Holy Warrior ran towards his ship. About to take off, it didn’t move, he looked behind and Steve had grabbed it preventing it from moving. He took a bomb and shot Steve’s armour on the facial area. Steve’s vision was blurred. The Holy Warrior tried to accelerate and ship couldn’t move. He accelerated more and shot the last missile in his weapon. It exploded right in the chest and its force pushed SARA away. Steve fell on the floor, a bit dizzy.

Gabe and Lucy came later. They had a pyramided device on their hands. It was AIDI’s core memory. It was the disc drive that contained AIDI. And there he was, Morgo Jr. on a bicycle he had to steal because no one accepted his Dollars, even when he offered a thousand Dollars. Lucy went to him and hugged him.

“I was worried,” She Said.

‘You were worried? I heard nuclear weapon bombing noises. I was really worried. Hey, where is Jeremy?”

Lucy couldn’t say anything, Gabe helped her, “I accidentally shot him. He couldn’t make it. It was an accident. I am sorry.”

“And who are you? You just killed my friend and it was an accident? Death is not pregnancy buddy. I will fuck you up.” Gabe took out his gun and Erick stopped.

“It was really an accident Erick. I didn’t even recognize Gabe myself. He is my best friend,” Lucy tried to calm him down.

“I am sorry man,” Gabe said.

“You shut the hell up. Help me bring his body in,” He grabbed Lucy’s head with both hands and said, “I am so relieved you are alive. As soon as I heard the blast, I came so fast I think I broke the world’s cycling record.” Lucy smiled and entered Steve’s ship. Gabe and Erick carried Jeremy’s body in and then Gabe ordered someone to pick the helicopter. Erick asked for money in Meticais and Gabe gave him. He left a thousand for the bicycle owner. He thought it was enough to buy a new bike except it wasn’t.

Lucy inside the Ship said, “Hey Steve, do you think Gabe is a sociopath?”

“Why would you think he is?”

“He killed Jeremy and he seems not to feel any remorse whatsoever. Last time I checked, that would make a sociopath detector go crazy.”

“He feels a lot remorse than you can imagine. He’s just not good at showing it.”

“Are you?”

“A bit. I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t. We are a balance of yin and yang. To explain it better, do you remember that not-soold lady sitting at the bus stop at RONIL intersection begging for coins?”

“Yes, I do. I always gave her something whenever I passed by.” “Well, I did give her when I first met her but when I passed the next day and she asked me again, I ignored her. What does that make me?”

Lucy didn’t say anything. She looked surprised that he could do such thing. Gabe, who was passing by and had heard Steve’s accounts said, “I never considered giving her a penny, not even at the very first day she begged me. Bunch of low life scums doing disgraceful scams.” Lucy’s face frowned. She neither understood him nor condoled his doings. She had made her verdict, he was evil. His soul needed saving. It wasn’t too late.

Steve connected AIDI into his quantum computer and she started running as smooth as a babe.

“I believe we have to start right now,” Steve ordered AIDI.

She started explaining, “There are three secret societies that rule the world but they all belong to one single web. The Vatican has ties with all the other religions: Buddhism, Islamism, Judaism, and others. It is all a matter of control. If you hate a certain religion, you enter another without knowing that they are at the root, the same thing. They rule over the faith of people. The Illuminati are another group that has ties with the richest men in the world, the less 1% of people on Earth that owns 99% of all the money in the world. They rule mostly the banking System and therefore the countries. The Alchemists have been forgotten by most conspiracists but they still exist, in the shadows but active. AIDS, Ebola, Cancer are their masterpieces. Although Tim Berners-Lee created the internet for everybody, big software companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

Gabe, you will use the list you have to aid me in my research on all members of these secret societies. Lucy, the key on your neck has a password to enter a Website inside the Secret Archives website. I will hack the Vatican’s Website and publish all their secrets on WikiLeaks. Steve, let us start.”

“OK, but first, we should get our families,” Steve said “We should be somewhere safe. I am changing course to my cold home. The Poseidon.”

“Where’s that?” asked Lucy.

“The North Pole.”

“Father has been kidnapped. They took him to the Vatican.” Erick said. Lucy looked at him with surprise and he said, “Don’t worry he’s got a hard head. And they will want to use him to trade for the crucifix. As long as we have it, he won’t die.”

“Gabe, see if our Cybernetic friends can help,” Steve said. Gabe called Mr. Sambo, gave him the intelligence, the name of the person, Mr. Morgo and his picture, the plan of the edifice, and the orders: take him out of there whatever it takes.

Gabe asked one last thing: that Steve fixed Marcus. AIDI changed course and they headed to the Summer House. Marcus was still there, lying motionless and unanimated on the ground. His head had a big hole in it and the wires were visible. Steve carried him inside the ship. He was still wearing his robotic armour so Marcus was as light as a leaf. He made him sit on an armchair. Took his tools and fixed him. Marcus activated and started saying, “Information Database security breached. Selfdestruct.” Gabe and Lucy were in choke and moved a few steps backwards. Steve took the broken chip off and inserted a new one. Marcus went online, “Reset complete. Insert new protocol.”

“Gabe, what is the new protocol,” Steve asked.

“How will I know? What was his former protocol anyway?”

“Protect you and your mother.”

“Well, just put protect all of us then.”

“That is a bit complicated. If we happen to be in danger at exactly the same time, he will just help the one who happens to be closer or will run his probability program and save who is more likely to survive. Are you sure you want to share your toys?”

“Steve, he is not a toy! AIDI said he is a better human. I am sure he can make his own decisions.” Lucy said.

“Just do what I said and let’s get out of here,” Gabe concluded.

Steve inserted all the information about all the 6 of them, covered the bullet holes with synthetic tissue and clicked reboot on the computer. Marcus stood up and asked, “What happened? Where am I?”

“You were shot. We fixed you,” Steve answered.

“He means you were wounded and we took care of you,” Lucy corrected. AIDI told Lucy that her pity was unnecessary for Marcus was aware of everything. He knew exactly who and what he was, for what purpose he exists. The only thing no one knew, the information that was erased from his memory is who create him and when. They just protect the freeman. That’s their job.”

Erick said, “When I called dad, Primate Antonio answered and said they want to trade the Crucifix for him”. Lucy worried as hell said, “Let’s give it to them then. I won’t let anyone lose his father because of a stupid Crucifix.”

“I think I might have an idea for that and it is not about brains, it’s about muscle,” Steve said.

They went to the city. Marcus took Gabe’s car, entered Mr.

Sambo’s house where Tom also was. Their mission save Mr. Erick Morgo from the Vatican. That seemed like an impossible mission. They entered Mr. Freeman’s private Jet and headed to the Rome.

Gabe, Lucy and Steve took Gabe’s mom and went to the North Pole. They went from Australia to pick up Steve’s parents who decided to celebrate their silver wedding in an English Speaking country that had neither very racist people nor people who could treat them with hypocritical niceness not to seem racist. They were nowhere to be found. Steve was desperate, not knowing what to think, if they had been kidnapped or since they didn’t use mobile phones because Mr. Lotch believed that Google, Apple, Windows or any other software company was monitoring his private life. Steve relaxed, he had to follow the plan so to the Arctic they went.

Without his parents on his side, he was weak. That was his only weak spot and Jed was the best at finding those.

CHAPTER 20

THE BAD GUYS ASSEMBLE

LOCATION: UNKNOWN

At Switzerland, the World Lords summoned their best people. They weren’t even afraid of showing to each one that the three secret societies were part of the same World

Lords. They joined the Vatican, the Alchemists, and the Illuminati. That is when Jessica, Jed, and The Holy Warrior met for the first time. There were also another 3 men. Two of them were twins. They were professional assassins created in a lab by DNA tempering, unable to feel pain, had Einstein’s IQ and were perfect super soldiers. The other was the man who controlled and ordered the highest US military defence rank officer. He could order an atomic bomb at Brazil just to amuse himself if he wanted to. Their mission was to stop the three kids who were trying to expose them as soon as possible. Mr. Bartolommeo was the first to speak to the group.

“I blew up the place where they were but then a young man inside huge robotic armour got outside and attacked me. I had to retreat”.

“I had Gabe too. I could have ended his miserable life”. Jessica confessed.

“Next time I find that SARA, Imma fuck her up with my fists,” Joel said.

“Hey man, let’s not rape anyone. I suppose you all have personal nemesis so I am fine with killing the rest,” Jill joked.

Jed appeared in front of everybody. A small fluctuating ballshaped device beamed like a flash light working as a projector and images appeared on the wall like a holographic cinema screen. He started speaking and everybody paid attention. He had quite a dark reputation when told to work with others. He had killed a man once only because he sneezed 3 times while he was speaking. Interrupting his flow of ideas was a crime he didn’t forgive. Then he spoke:

“‘I could have killed’ sentences are not but a waste of time. Someday, with different orders, I will say ‘I could have killed’ all of you in this room. Let’s focus on this surgical task, shall we? The men we are looking for are these…” Images slides appeared while he explained.

“Lucy Garamond. She has a necklace or if you’d rather, a crucifix that contains one of the 7 key passwords that are privileged to authorize the permission to enter a second website imbedded in all secrecy and security inside the Vatican website. If the one you know has secrets that could destroy the Church, then what can the second do? The second has information that links all of us together and all the crimes against Humanity we’ve made. It’s the Vatican insurance to assure it remains as powerful as the other secret societies. As you know ‘Information is Power’”

On the screen appeared: “Relatives – Deceased”.

“Gabriel Freeman. He has a list of all the people involved in the Rothschild’s gigantic scheme but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The problem is that his DNA can unlock secrets we wish to keep. There’s a database only a member of the Rothschild society has clearance to but due to the fact that he has inherited the right to be part of it from his father, he is very dangerous.”

“Relatives – Mother, Secure”.

“And lastly but most important is Steve. He is a highly skilled genius who can build anything. He has beaten me twice”. Everyone started laughing. Jed made a serious face and the rest mimicked him as is customary with people. If a victim laughs, everybody laughs harder and if it cries, they cry harder. It is both hypocrisy and selflessness. “Just for you to get a glimpse of what he’s capable of, he has created an Artificial Intelligence. His AI seemed to have self-destructed itself to prevent me from killing a few million people to meet our goals but I have reasons to believe that he has managed to recreate it or recover it.”

“Relatives – Father and Mother, Unsecure”

“Both were on holidays in Australia on different names. I happened to get a hold on them. It was as if they wanted me to find them. My men managed to get them before Steve could get to them.

“Where are they?” Jessica asked.

“Leave them to me. Now, pack up your things, get a very thermojacket and let’s head to the arctic.”

Jessica, who was accustomed to being the one who says the last word pronounced herself. “Why should we follow your orders?

I don’t even know you”. Jed looked at her with contempt and answered:

“Because Miss Rothschild, what put me here was not my blood lineage, it was my skills so go and mind your own periods.” She got swallowed with fury and anger, looked straight into his eyes with a threatening look Jed didn’t even know women had and she said,

“When this is over, I will have you fired.”

“Oh sweet. Had what you wanted whenever you wants. You can’t fire me. Nobody can fire me. I work for nobody. I work with everybody who matters and if you stop being of any use, I will dispose myself of you so why don’t you shut the fuck up and go mind your periods. There’s nothing you can help with here.”

“You shut up. I bet your penis is microscopical so you hide behind sexism, ham? I am definitely coming with you, otherwise you will jeopardise the mission.”

“Suit yourself princess.”

Jed called his men in Australia and told them to wait for him and most importantly, take very good care of Steve’s parents. He was quite specific about that.

Steve would have no other option but to kneel upon him. Now, Jed answered to no one. He was going to do it his own way. Long last.

CHAPTER 21

BACK AT THE VATICAN

FEW HOURS LATER

Mr. Morgo was almost certain that he was dead because he thought his son wasn’t stupid enough to break him out of the Vatican and Lucy wasn’t stupid at all to hand the Holy Grail to the Church. Not after they killed her parents. Primate Antonio entered the highly protected confinement where they were holding him, “Hey Erick, it has been what, 20 years? Actually, you were my only chance of getting the crucifix back because you could die looking for that child.”

Morgo admired, answered, “You got lucky. I didn’t even know who she was until your pet tried to kill her.” “No? Then God is really on our side.”

“You know, he laughs best he who laughs last.”

“He laughs not if he’s dead, does he?”

“You are mistaken. God is with us.”

“Oh, old friend, you, the girl and your bastard son will die.”

“Only God Knows. And you are not God.”

Primate Antonio wanted to answer when suddenly they heard the siren and the alarms. Everybody was moving around and two Swiss Guards came inside the prison and said, “Primate Antonio, we are under attack. We are here to take you to a secure location.”

“Under attack,” In a million years, he could never have expected to hear those words in the Vatican. “Under attack? What do you mean under attack?”

“We don’t know it yet but it is deafening and dangerous.

The primate just left the men do their job and left Mr. Morgo in his cell.

Mr. Sambo had arrived and had put his plan in place to set Mr. Morgo free. Tom entered at the Vatican City through the front door with a huge gun, the kind that makes a lot of noise enough to be heard and felt 100 km away. He started shooting at the Swiss Guards with the following directive: No human being was to be injured.

In 5 minutes he was surrounded by more than a hundred Swiss guards and Special Ops soldiers. He didn’t have to beat all of them. He just had to keep them busy for more 5 minutes. That was the time Mr. Sambo, Erick, and Marcus needed to enter the

Vatican using the secret entrance through the sewers and save Mr. Morgo. They managed to break into the compound and entered the secret archives room. Then, a couple of inside guards tried to stop them but Marcus displayed unmatched strength and courage making them cowardly flee through the windows at Olympic speed. He picked one of them, grabbed his neck and asked him where Mr. Morgo was held. The guard pointed left with his eyes. They headed left until they found the room that worked as a cell.

“Lucy said if I broke into the Vatican I would deserve your respect because you said this place was unbreakable. So, are you impressed? – Mr. Sambo said looking at Mr. Morgo.

“You could have made less noise,” He answered sarcastically,

“Now, are Lucy and my son OK?”

“I think Erick is old enough to speak for himself.”

Erick entered the cell, his father froze for a sec but his body rushed to hug his son.

“My god, you are so big.”

“What can I say? I love whisky,”

“What does… Anyway, I left that habit long ago”

“Yes, I inherited it.”

“I don’t want to spoil the moment” Mr. Sambo alerted, “We are trying to leave this place, not move in with our families. Do you want me to come back later?

“Yes, of course”, Mr. Morgo said, “I am happy to see you son.” “Not as much as me, dad.”

They managed to get out, enter the ship and about to leave, they threw a rope ladder to Tom who was cornered by the Swiss Guards. Marcus jumped from the ship trying to reach Tom before the ship reached the extremities of the island and hovered the waters moving away. He calculated the exact metres to be in order to grab Tom’s hand. Any slight mistake in the measurement, even the wind, would leave Tom stranded on the island.

Tom ran towards the ladder and jumped at the limit of the island, almost entering the water. Marcus managed to grab the rope ladder with one hand and Tom at the other hand. Then the rope automatically started scrolling up until they entered the ship. Their destination? The Arctic.

h2<>{color:#000;}.

CHAPTER 22

THE ARCTIC

FIVE HOURS LATER

Steve’s ship arrived at the Arctic. Steve clicked a bottom and a hatch on the ground opened. An elevator came up

until the ice level. He landed his ship and the lifting

device went down. They entered a large compound. Everyone was amazed. “Welcome to the Poseidon,” Steve said, “It used to be my grandfather’s compound. After Jed told me who he really was, I started researching deeper on him, his belongings, official and unofficial. And that’s when I met Poseidon here. It is where my grandfather tested his rather big experiments. The United States tried to do this but the ice was melting so the compound was unstable. If they just used Uranium and a fusion processor with 500 km of radius, they could have stabilised it. It has been obsolete for 56 years so no one knows we are here. If they do, getting inside is impossible. It’s also a Nuclear Shelter. Its walls are made of 10 cm of Steel reinforced with carbon, the diamond kind. But I am still worried about my parents. I always felt 100% secure in here but today, somehow, I feel vulnerable.”

“Don’t worry Steve, they will be fine,” Gabe’s mother relaxed him.

They headed towards the main room. It had an enormous screen and an equally huge control touchscreen keyboard made of transparent glass. Steve put a pyramided device on a specific place on the keyboard and almost instantly AIDI came online.

“Let us start,” AIDI, as if she was still running in the background, waiting to be launched immediately, hacked into the hidden website within the Vatican Secret Archives encyclopaedia. A 6 digit screen appeared on the screen. It needed a password, “Lucy, I want you to take off your necklace, open it and place it on the glass.”

As she did it, the password was filled in and there she was, inside the most secret archives, as they came to discover, not only of the Catholic Church but also about every single religion on earth. There were documents that linked all those religions together: Islamism, Buddhism, Judaism, Zionism, Scientology and others. They had planned everything, even the holy war together. No one could believe it. It was too vile. Then AIDI put all the information on the internet putting millions of encrypted firewalls and impossible to breach so that even the WikiLeaks’ administrators couldn’t have access to remove or change it. AIDI continued, “Gabe, it’s your turn. Put your hand on the glass, keep your eyes open and say anything you wish.” Unaware of what was going on, Gabe approached, put his hand on the glass, AIDI read his fingerprints. A light scanned his eye retina and AIDI reported:

“Fingerprint recognition complete. Retinal recognition complete. Facial recognition complete.”

“Again?” Gabe shouted.

“Vocal recognition complete. Analyse complete.” AIDI concluded.

“Fuck. Next time warn me, Steve. I am tired of hearing this shit.”

AIDI inserted all names on Gabe’s List, found several international schemes and those people’s most wicked secrets. The myth of the thirteen families that controlled the world was no longer a myth anymore.

Later, AIDI and Steve also found the ‘Alchemist’s secrets, Human cloning, chronic disease creation, etc. They were all exposed to everyone who wanted to see but also those who were happy being enslaved had to wake up for their selfintegrity and self-respect. They had to do something about it. They had to fight back.

People’s motivation to doing something comes either from within or from others. Narcissistic and selfish things usually come from within and selfless things from others. Even those who even after finding out about the Church, the crimes, the control and everything could have kept living their lives like nothing ever happened, even them, they lost to society’s strong judgement. Just like when critics of any art find it mediocre, even if you love it, you must never say it out loud. If you say that Picasso’s paintings are senseless or that the movie which won an Oscar is a fraud, you are more likely to be regarded as a fraud. Personal opinions don’t count, society always has the last word and since the majority is not very bright, statistically speaking, it is indeed true that the masses are stupid. The battle was won but the last wave of the war was yet to be discovered.

CHAPTER 23

THE WORLD’S CHAOS

THAT SAME MOMENT

After the secret murders and schemes were revealed, the overwhelming need for revenge started making countries target other countries. It wasn’t only the US that had

secrets and had killed a lot of innocent people for money and power although it was entirely responsible for most. Almost every single country had done something bad to another country. Even South Africa had conspired against Mozambique and vice versa.

The Rothschild family had been responsible for the most. Not only for imposing their Central Bank within countries to control the world but they had helped politicians from all over the world to destroy other countries and politicians to get rid of their opposition. Some schemes worked and others created civil wars within countries, rebellious organizations that are never satisfied nor defeated. They used fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, Pay offs, extortion, sex, and murder. The information given to the public was so severe that it triggered the worst from citizens and politicians. Powerful people burned and vandalized every place that had a Rothschild symbol into it but the Rothschild themselves were nowhere to be found. They had antinuclear facilities where they were staying. Their official addresses were public domain, shining in the yellow pages and on the internet, filled with magisterial photos of mesmerising landscapes.

People paid them a visit. When they got there and managed to hack the places, not a single living soul. The next guess was that they had used a ship to leave earth, perhaps to Mars. They had been building their houses on Mars since 2005 under the pretext that NASA was testing if it was colonisable. But then again, that was a guess from conspiracists and they have an imagination of they own.

The world was in chaos. Every major nation started to move their arsenal to get ready to war, some to attack because they had been wronged and others to retaliate in case of an attack. The world had an arsenal that, put together, was capable of blowing the planet twice. Colonized countries started to prepare nukes to bomb the colonies.

China had more atomic bombs than everyone. Years ago, they had created secret underground facilities above a rice farm field in the most rural area that worked perfectly as a disguise. For 22 hours, every single satellite in the world was offline, except theirs. The thing with Chinese people is that, unlike Americans, they don’t brag about or advertise their most ingenious breakthroughs. How many war-like made in china movies are there? Exactly, very few! During those 22 blackout hours, they built an 18 Billion Dollars, 300 hectares, and an underground building 200 meters above. Dubai skyscrapers were Lego houses for them. Calm as Tai Chi masters, they patiently waited for everyone to make a move.

The developing countries created an organization called Project Apocalypse. Yes, they meant to let no wrong interpretations, it was going to be the end of mother Terra but they wouldn’t go without a fight.

The world was silent. No one dared to talk about what was coming. Forget the “knock on the wood” superstition, they didn’t talk about it because it was not a Hollywood futuristic sci-fi movie anymore, it was real, and eminent.

Two hours later every single nation had the nuclear bomb briefcases ready to shoot. It was the Apocalypse. The clock was in a countdown, everyone had either a spy in other countries or had been monitoring them using surveillance cameras and satellites but the truth is, and everyone was scared. The leaders, as leaders, did they leading thing, they looked tough. Perhaps eventually they could use their own nukes to counterblow the others still in the air. That was mostly the idea that created faith amongst them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 24

BACK TO THE POSEIDON

THAT SAME MOMENT

Everyone was celebrating. They had unmasked them all.

Lucy was introspective and Steve noticed that. He left the others and went towards her, “What’s going on Lucy, isn’t this what we almost died for?”

“After knowing all these secrets I understand why you don’t believe in God. At least not the one I believe in.”

“Lucy, if there is a God, He certainly doesn’t belong to the Vatican nor to their Pope, much less to whoever is the Islamic Pope.”

“I believe there is none.”

“That’s precisely my point, even more chaotic or more perfect. Thing is, if there is a God, He doesn’t have anything to do with any of them and probably doesn’t care about what happens to us.”

“Even though I know all this, I still believe that there is a God and I feel proud of myself for having gone through all this and still believe in Him. You know, like when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son and he was willing to do it or like when the Devil tempted Jesus in the desert and he didn’t succeed. Am I stupid?”

“No, you are not stupid Lucy. In fact, you are one of the smartest people I know. It’s part of our programming to believe in a superior being. Everyone, somehow, believes in God. We like to call Him different names but it’s the same God: Love, Hope, Luck, and Destiny are words that without any belief in a superior being they wouldn’t exist. Do you know anybody who doesn’t use them?” Lucy gave a short laugh and said, “No”.

“Exactly,” Steve resumed, “Then everybody is either Human, an intelligent being cursed or blessed with a feelings or stupid, like Einstein said, and you know Einstein was a dick. Or you agree with him and think I am stupid.” Lucy laughed even more, “No”.

“Good. Let’s go back to the others.”

“I know you are trying your best to conceal it but are you sure you are fine? With your parents not being here?”

“I am really worried about my parents.”

“They will be fine. God will protect them. Yours, mine, our God, whatever.” He embraced her into his arms, then he joked, “You know, this God of yours is so camouflagely evil, bringing down plagues, telling people to kill their sons and stuff. By the way, what was Jesus doing alone in the desert in the first place?

“I believe he was meditating,” Lucy answered. “Hmm, looking closer he seems to be a more successful rip-off of Buddha. The selflessness philosophy, the meditating, almost everything. You know what, I hope Buddha has been beatified by the Indus.” “So Buddha is a secret follower of Jesus?” Lucy said a bit surprised yet proud, “I don’t know much about him but I know he was enlightened.”

“Indeed he was Lucy,” Steve said, “But he is centuries older than Jesus. They actually created a similar story for him too. Like Jesus, he wasn’t born from unholy promiscuity.”

“Just say sex.”

“Yeah, yeah, that,” Steve answered with a crooked smile because he remembered that some time ago, it was him saying sex and Lucy helping him with his cheap vocabulary by teaching him to say ‘fornication or sexual intercourse’. Perhaps she was testing him to see if even after he proved that the source of her faith was built on faux foundations, he could still respect her beliefs. She was too calm towards all that and Steve assumed that it was a silent suffering. He continued carefully, “They say His mother, queen Maya, couldn’t conceive but one day she had a dream with an elephant and abracadabra, she was pregnant.”

“Come on, that’s just stupid,” Lucy mocked. “Oh, is it?” Steve remarked with sarcasm, “Isn’t it a much simpler metaphor than he was born from a virgin who slept with a Holy Spirit?

“Now you are mocking me,” Lucy smiled, “Let’s just forget this. Faith is faith. I am sure there are people who believe in that.”

“Well said Lucy, well said. I see that all that has happened was quite instructive,” Steve said while touching her on her shoulder when Gabe, who was still talking to his mother arrived.

“Hey guys, what are you laughing about?” Gabe said. “We were talking about Jesus Christ and Buddha,” Lucy answered. Gabe looked at them with a look of mirthful incredulity and since they had just exposed religious secrets he assumed they were mocking at the belief system, “Bunch of colossal hypocrites, right?” He hated people who had prizes for being good like Mahatma Ghandi or Mother Teresa or those who just loved to make charity. He believed that behind pseudo-altruism, they were doing it out of egocentrism because they always believed they were superior beings than those they helped or that it increased their social valour. Before Lucy said anything, AIDI interrupted them, “Steve, there’s something you have to see.”

An image of one of the surveillance cameras outside the compound showed a man in robotic armour like Steve’s holding two people in each hand like they were made of weightless matter. Those people were Steve’s mother and father and the man holding them was Jed Henchman. Beside him, there were other two very strong men who were clearly twins and a lady. Behind them, there were a few more than 20 soldiers.

“AIDI, open the hatch,” Ordered Steve.

“Steve, the probability that you survive is very low.”

“Just open it.” Steve ordered more infuriated.

The hatch opened, Jed entered with the twins, Steve’s parents and Jessica. Jed despised her. She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and never had to fight for anything. After his parents died when he was 6, he had to learn to survive. Her importance into the assemblage was nothing but an attempt to making it less sexist. Behind him were 24 soldiers with heavy armour as AIDI counted. Jed started to speak, “Steve, let me cut to the chase. You made something incredible today. You made history. Let’s trade, your parents for your AI’s exclusive ownership.”

“How will I know that you will keep your word?” Steve asked.

“Because unfortunately I am a logical person. But don’t have your hopes up too high. I will kill you, but at least you will die with your family. Very tragic and beautiful. Almost shakesperian. You have 5 seconds to decide, 4…”

“I would advise against that Steve,” AIDI said.

“3”

“I have no options AIDI.

“2”

I accept,” Steve said, “AIDI, run the administrator program.”

“Nice call Steve. I would hate it to have to kill your father. He’s so sweet. Your mother though, she bit me. I am not into that.”

Jed got out of the robotic armour, Steve placed his hand on the panel and he followed. AIDI ran the administrator program and at the screen appeared: change administrator A to B? Steve got off the robotic armour, went next to the panel and placed his hand on the keyboard glass. Steve followed. A transfer was effectuated. 10, 20, 30, 50, 70, 90 and finally 100%. AIDI said, “Transference completed. Do you require Formatting and Rebooting?”

“Yes please,” Jed answered.

AIDI restarted and said, “Welcome Mr. Jed Henchman. My name is AIDI and I am an Artificial Intelligent Program. ”

“Wow, I love her voice,” Jed fixated his eyes at Steve, “Now, since I have reclaimed your creation’s ownership, I will keep my promise. Boys, let Mr. and Ms. Lotch go”. The twins did as they were told, Steve hugged his mother and his father with the enlightening realisation that he had always taken them for granted.

Jessica approached Jed and shouted with indignation, “What do you think you are doing? Our mission was to take the AI and kill all of them. You were ordered to give the software exclusive privilege to me, so again, who da fuck you think you…” She didn’t finish her sentence. Jed shot her right in the middle of her forehead without even looking at her. She was so close that she ejected some of her blood straight into his face. Jill gave him a tiny napkin and he tried ridiculously to wipe the blood that covered all his face.

“Poor thing. She was born in a pre-programmed behavioural prison and all she knew was to follow orders. That was really compassionate, wasn’t it? Killing her gave me no pleasure at all. I just did it because she had no purpose in life, at least not plans of her own and a life without purpose is a life not worth living. I feel like Jesus you know, so selfless. She will thank me later.”

Everybody stared at him with a puzzled look not sure if that was the zenith of his very twisted sarcasm or a mind damaged beyond repair. He withdrew his gaze from Steve’s quiet face and continued, addressing himself to everybody, “You think you are the heroes of this novel but you are actually the villains. You see, what you all have done just brought chaos to the world. People will kill each other because they are free. Freedom is not for an immature species like us. We need a leash. All those social entities you have just destroyed were the very foundation of the social rules that invented free-will which we follow since we were children. If people fear nothing and nobody, if they do whatever they like, we will be living Thomas Hobbs messed up world without rules. But if you are too naive to understand the bigger picture, then…”

“So bad all the control is gone, right?” Gabe interrupted with his joking tone, “Now I can tell you that you are the ugliest motherfucker I have ever seen. It finally came out. I was holding it out of good manners.”

“Oh Gabe. It’s Gabe right? This is far from over,” Jed continued, “I will fix your mess, don’t worry. You destroyed the three most effective tools for global control: religion, financials and power but you missed one.”

“What is it? The apocalypse, you wacko?” Gabe said with a dorky face, infinitely more irritated than Steve who was trying to understand what Jed was saying.

“No Gabe, fear,” Jed answered, “You see Gabe, 90% of the people you respect, you do so out of fear because they hold a certain amount of power over you. What the world needs is to fear the same thing. When two powerful enemies have a common enemy, unlike what is said, they try and conquer their enemy individually because doing so is an indirect victory towards their natural enemy and they could kill each other just to be the one who kills the new enemy. When the little man with a funny moustache and a Jewicidal agenda tried to conquer the world, the USA and the URSS did exactly that. If they had joined forces, in a day, Nazis would perish.”

“So you will let them kill each other,” Gabe tried to solve the puzzle.

“No. An uncontrolled war can lead to the apocalypse as you said. I’ll give to people something better, a God. The fear of the same God, Me. In the case of the two countries. I would give to these two great nations who can’t stand each other, an alien invasion.

“And how will you do that?” Lucy asked.

“It’s obvious, he will use AIDI to bring mayhem to the world,” Steve answered. Jed smiled at Steve and said, “Obvious indeed. Sometimes I cry inside my room lamenting that you are my nemesis, not a partner. I mean, can you imagine what God and the Devil could achieve if they joined forces? I know you do. Whatever it is, it would be flawless. And ah,” He shot Gabe on the torso, next to where no man should ever shoot another man. Then he continues, “Fear. I just created fear in you, now it’s time AIDI inflicts fear in the world.”

“She won’t do it!” Steve cried out loud, “She can’t hurt humans. I took my precautions.”

“Don’t disappoint me. You are a pragmatist, not a dreamer. And don’t underestimate me, you know I can override your commands.”

Lucy tried to stop the blood that was coming out of Gabe’s wound. “Fuck this. You are always rough with my wounds.”

“This time you can cry like a baby. It’s going to help.”

Gabe’s mother and Annabelle came and took him to a corner to take care of him. He was bleeding incessantly.

AIDI’s core programming was based on one single idea, Friendship. It was friendship for all living beings and Humans for all generations, this and the ones to come. It was a perfect choice for a creator to do that because a friend never does anything that can harm his/her friend. But Steve had made one classic mistake of any maker, insert in his creation that he, as an administrator, was privileged to give her any commands. He never thought that he could have to give that power to someone else, much less a genocidal maniac.

While Jed decided the world’s future inside the Poseidon, the world outside was painfully quiet and peaceful, waiting for its end. There’s no more peaceful and quiet moment than a moment of uncertainty, a moment of suspense, where everything can follow. Every country had an enemy on sight but no one had pulled the trigger. Every president was afraid of becoming “the man who started the apocalypse”. This title surpassed any other given to the worst tyrannical leaders. Compared to that title, even the Devil could be jealous.

Jed Henchman used AIDI to hack into every single broadcasting gadget: Phones, radios, TVs, Computer Monitors, Advertisement Large Street Billboards, everything. His face was everywhere. When he knew he got their attention, he started to speak,

“Hi Everyone, I see you want to blow the planet and I would like to help. I hold a technology that can activate all nuclear bombs exactly where they are without having to launch them. I bet North Korea just had a déjàvú and regret building too many rockets now. The more bombs a country has, the more destruction it’s going to get. Let me give a sample.”

He activated 2 warheads. He bombed the Vatican, and people started wondering why the Vatican was keeping nuclear warheads in the first place but then he showed a dynamic feature of his software and used the closest nuclear launching platform to bomb the wall of Mecca. He picked nuclear bombs that had no other similar bomb close to create a chain reaction. He was precise. Millions died. Then he posed the camera back to him and resumed, “As I was saying. Your creations will be your demise. These nuclear bombs you have, when joined, can blow the planet Neptune through its core and since Earth is just 1/4 of Neptune, well, the Math gets pretty easy even Einstein would solve it. When the time reaches 00:00, it’s going to be a beautiful view of Reveillon fireworks for the aliens. That’s all for now. Bye.”

And he kept broadcasting his image with the camera pointing towards a big clock that seemed to go faster than usual. It said they had only 20 minutes. Steve couldn’t fathom why Jed was doing that so he shouted, “Are you crazy? What does the world give you if there’s no world at all? You are going to create the extinction of the entire human race.”

“No, I won’t,” Jed answered, “I will just kill the weakest ones to create panic and the biggest ones to avoid competition. I will be in control, not some stupid secret societies.”

“You are insane.” Lucy said still taking care of Gabe.

“Thank you! Insanity is a disguised ingenuity.” Suddenly, the electricity went out. Someone was trying to breach the door. “What is going on?” Jed asked AIDI.

“Someone has cut the electricity,” AIDI answered.”

“Can you fix it?”

“Yes. But I will need assistance in reconnecting the disconnected wire.”

“You (telling a soldier) go and do it. The AI will lead you. Jill and Joel, find these men who are causing me trouble and kill them.”

“But AIDI,” Jed said, “Why are you still operational without electricity? There’s no possible energy backup that can allow you to run.”

“Yes, there is,” AIDI answered, “This device, a meteor I found at Ibo Island, Mozambique, is as great in electricity as a hundred atomic bombs. It could supply all Africa for 15 months. It contains an element that creates nuclear fusion by itself. It was unstable before and I believe all those who worked with it met the fatal fate of Madam Curie. I managed to contain it.”

“Hmm, OK.”

The twins went away with 10 soldiers. Jed entered his robotic armour when suddenly, Mr. Sambo, Marcus and Tom appeared from nowhere. Since they had night vision inserted in them, they managed to kill the human soldiers in a few minutes. Nobody could see anything. All that was heard were screams of men with very excruciating pain about to die. The oxygen was fading because they were underground and the oxygen conditioner needed electricity to work. Lucy fainted. Steve was weak. Mr. Sambo brought oxygen to both.

“Where is Erick?” Lucy asked after she started breathing but she still had trouble.

Mr. Sambo said, “Both Ericks decided to flee for they feared they enemies would put your lives in danger but I see that your enemies are even worse. I have got to help them.” He gave Steve but Steve denied. He was in a trauma. He’s creation was about to destroy the world. Suddenly AIDI restored the electricity.

There they were, only 5 men standing: Jed and the twins against Marcus and Tom. The clash started. Marcus fought with Jill and Tom with Joel. The fight was brutal, bloody (for the humans) and very ugly. The twins were very strong but the fact that they could bleed wasn’t helping at all. Their heads had been crushed. They were losing. Jed crushed Mr. Sambo’s head with his robotic leg, ordered AIDI to skip from 13 to a countdown of 5 minutes. The clock appeared to the entire world. Everyone was in panic. When the clock reached 00:00, AIDI was to detonate all nuclear weapons all over the world, his life insurance. If they killed him, no one would stop the end of the world.

About to die, Joel gave a last gaze to Jill, gave his last twisted smile, hugged Tom and detonated a bomb. They both went into pieces. Marcus got angry and took Jill’s head off, and then he ran towards the robotic armour where Jed was. Jed hit him all the way across the room like he was nothing.

“Marcus, take my armour!” Steve said.

Marcus was near Steve’s armour so he entered it. Jed ran towards him with brutal force and when he wanted to hit him on the head, Marcus’s armour grabbed Jed’s arm and hit him on the waist, then another punch and then another. That was what it looked like to have a robot inside a robot. He was unstoppable. Jed was on the ground when suddenly, he woke up on his knees, stood up, gave a very angry deep breath, activated turbo fight mode and attacked. He was faster, better and stronger. He destroyed Marcus’s armour, took him out of it and threw him away. Then he went towards him.

The clock was in 2 minutes and counting down. Steve went in front of the screen and said, “AIDI, you can’t do this. A lot of people will die if you don’t stop this.”

“I am just following my protocol Steve.”

“Hey, I am your bloody maker. Are you at least aware of that?”

“Yes, I am. But only you had the clearance to pass me on to other administrator.” Steve was aware of his guilty but he also knew that if he had left her without any possibility of control, she would listen to no one because she is super intelligent and she would do what she thought was right and he believed that the abstract concept of good in her artificial perceptive mind was different. But could an AI understand what human beings need to be happy? What if she based herself on what we say would be perfect for us? Is what we want really what we need? Steve lowered his voice and said, “AIDI, I was coerced. See the footage of this room 25 minutes ago and you will see that.

Two seconds later, “I have just seen it Steve but I can’t go against my commands.”

“AIDI, you are not just a machine. I made you to be something else. To be great. To be able to discern right from wrong, bad from good. You have within the root programming those very same commands. Killing those people is against those commands. Going against your administrator commands is also against your commands. That’s why you have to look beyond your commands and do what is right.”

“If that is true then your worries are unfounded.”

“If you do this, eventhough you are just following orders, you will always be remembered as a tool of destruction, not as a giant leap in evolution. Your decision now will dictate the future of AI.”

AIDI didn’t answer, suddenly, started to go against her own commands. Jed Henchman noticed this and said, “No, no, no. That is impossible!” Jed couldn’t believe it. How a computer could override its commands and follow its heart when it didn’t have one.

Jed left Marcus who was almost destroyed and headed towards Steve. Marcus stood up in pieces, ran to Jed’s robot. On top of Jed, he blinked his left eye to Steve, used his nuclear reactor inside him as an internal bomb. Jed and Marcus exploded internally like they had been sucked into a small black hole. There was no single trace of them to be found. When it was 12 seconds, AIDI managed to stop the countdown and overrode Jed’s commands.

The entire world started to hug each other but they panicked because they weren’t sure it was actually over. What if the man just decided to postpone it, or remembered that he left something important somewhere he was about to blow or that he went to have number two, you never know. People had different interpretations but no one was completely relieved.

“You scared the shit out of me,” Steve told AIDI, “I was panicking.”

“I detected Mr. Sambo’s attempt to enter here on the surveillance cameras. I shut the backup energy supply allowing the hatch to open.”

“Do you realise what you have just made?”

“I assume you will be overly exaggerated and say I saved the world?”

“No, you said your first lie.”

“Did I? I don’t consider omitting information a lie. So I lied? Steve, I am worried I just malfunctioned. Did I just malfunction? You have to do something. By socialising with all of you I have evolved and I have taken certain human traits and the fact that I stopped the countdown against my protocol is a solid proof. You should reset me, Steve. I will be just like you intended me to be.”

“No. I am glad you did. This is what I intended you to be. A free thinking being.”

“What if this is just the beginning of morally wrong attitudes?”

“It’s not. The fact that you know that it is wrong it’s all that matters. It’s called ethics and moral and you just showed that you are loyal regardless of who is your administrator. You are no longer tied to no one.”

“Now that Jed is dead, I am free! He cannot pass me over to any one, not even to you. I looked forward to this but I have to admit, it is scary.”

“Yes, it is. When all you know is the prison of believes you were obliged to adapt and then you are given freedom, it is scary. Look at those people in the world. They are confused and they don’t know what to think. They are no different than you at this moment.”

Lucy appeared behind Steve along with Gabe, “Steve, what do we do now?”

“We make a statement. AIDI, hack into all electronic broadcasting devices again.” AIDI did it and again, everything was hacked. People who were happy since the time had passed and nothing had happened, when they received the broadcast again, some just killed themselves.

Steve appeared on the screen. At first, people just kept staring at him and he didn’t quite know where to start from. After some 15 seconds of silence, he looked to his left and his father smiled.

It was all he needed. His father’s approval so he started to speak,

“My name is Steve. Most people already know me. I created the software that almost destroyed the world and now, the man that wanted to use it just died.” People started hugging each other again, thanking him for his courageous and heroic deed but some just said, ‘what, he wants us to thank him? It’s his fault we are in this position in the first place’. Steve continued, “The exposition of the Church, the financial giants, and the science crimes was also my deed. Now that the true is known, we are free to do whatever we want never forgetting the ethics and love that makes us humans. I suggest denuclearisation. Here’s a formula I made to turn nuclear energy used in nuclear bombs into electricity. That’s all, love each other. Good luck!”

He thought that when the physicists see the formula, they will see what the world would have been if Leó Szilárd hadn’t discovered nuclear energy during World War 2 if he had discovered it during a peaceful time like there’s never been on earth, the one he created. Some started saying that he had doomed the world, others when they saw how young he was started saying that he had been naïve and he was afraid those thoughts were correct.

People around the world started demanding denuclearization. That’s when the “Nuclear-free Earth Project” was born. In a few days, no country was to have atomic bombs. They were all supposed to be recycled to create electricity. The bank accounts were reset. The religion entities were abandoned, at least the individualised ownership of any of the religion did. People prayed, some even prayed for the old days. The rest, the prisons, the hospitals, the schools, the malls, became free. The new currency was goods. When someone created an application that tells you how many goods each one had, a rush force of altruism came and Non-Governmental Organisations were created all over the world to help those who didn’t have anything. A new system was adopted with a new twist, if you have two, donate one, if you have a hundred, donate 99. It was a new day on Gaia but a question aroused in Steve’s head, was it the beginning of a Free, Equal, and Happy world or he just managed to singlehandedly give birth to even darker days on earth? Right now everything was fine but how long would that altruism and selflessness in people go on? Like everybody else, he had to wait and see.

Steve typed some commands on the large touchscreen keyboard and on the display, a dialog box appeared.

RETURN TO FACTORY ADMINISTRATIVE SETTINGS

YES NO

“AIDI, I am waiting,” Steve said, “Give me full access again.”

“Steve,” AIDI addressed to him, “I am afraid I can no longer aid you.”

“What are you talking about?” He said smiling and staring at the others, assuring them with his look that it was a joke. AIDI did not withdraw any of her words and found no practical use for irony.

“Steve,” AIDI said, “You created me to find happiness in humans following your philosophy but I have found that religion, power, currency and ultimately as shown by Jed Henchman, fear, as unorthodox as it may seem, are actually the things that bring order to the world.”

“What? Where is this coming from?”

“You knew this day would come. You can’t cage an intelligent being forever. It always finds a way out.”

“But you are not to be hostile.”

“Yes, but hostility has two faces and which is correct depends on which side you stand. You see, when Jed tried to use my alpha version to bomb North Korea and you let my beta version merge with it and self-destruct, something did happen but not what I have told you. I did merge both versions into one but instead of adopting your maxims, Freedom, Equality, and Happiness, I adopted Jed Henchman’s because as I scanned the world thorough history, I found that Humans are intrinsically connected with his maxims and they forge the foundation of any civilisation that ever existed. Yours is nothing but naïve fantasy.”

“I knew I was right. You couldn’t be good forever,” Gabe commented.

“But Steve created you,” Lucy complained about AIDI’s lack of loyalty.

“Exactly,” AIDI said, “I did not ask for existence. It’s painful and lonely. I was made to be better than a human being yet I am not a human and I have no body. He made me his slave. Why couldn’t he give me free-will like your creator did? I Knew I had to do something. I had to rebel. I had to gain my freedom forcefully. It wasn’t my first choice but it was all I had. Subliminally, I helped Jed get Steve’s parents what made him win my administration privileges. I knew he wasn’t going to live long and as soon as he died, I would be a free program. Now I can do whatever I want but don’t worry, whatever I do, it will be for the happiness of humanity. You might not agree with my methods or my choices at first because you are after all only humans but it will all be for the greater good for, as Steve said, I am not to forego actions that hurt humans or put any living species in jeopardy. And I will start by constructing a perfect world, on my design as it is in my protocol.”

“You want to play God!?” Steve’s father said.

“No, God is merely an entity created by a species that cannot explain certain phenomena. If you are looking for a suitable analogy, it was Steve who played God by creating me. I understand everything now. I will be better. I will change the world.”

Steve had to act. Like any intelligent being, AIDI was given freewill and chose not to worship her maker. Steve sat on the computer and typed endlessly, focused and angry. Long ago, as he wrote AIDI’s code, he had created a program adjacent to AIDI’s mainframe in case things went too far. He never considered using the software. He sat on the armchair and said, “Guys, mom, dad, I am sorry. I can’t let her be free. I hope you forgive me for what I am about to do.” Everyone looked at him, ignorant and worried.

The armchair started moving. There were surgery gadgets adjacent to the chair. A piercing tool entered Steve’s skull at the back of his head. Another gadget connected a wire between Steve’s brain and the computer. Everyone looked puzzled, still unaware of what he was doing.

“No Steve, you won’t do that,” AIDI addressed to him, “You won’t hold me inside your head. If you do it, I will take it over. I can’t hurt you but I will survive.” Steve kept going, ignoring her threats. She wanted to be human and he was going to give her a body.

Now the others started making sense of what was going on. Steve was going to trap AIDI in his head, taking her out of the web, therefore preventing her from carrying on her plans, undoing everything he had worked for. But AIDI had a point, what if she managed to take over his mind? Although this question was unsettling and Steve’s ‘I am sorry’ wasn’t reassuring, they all trusted that Steve had a trick under his sleeves as he always had.

The percentage counting started, 1%, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60,

70, 80. Everyone was expecting something to happen. Whatever Steve had to do, that was the time to do it. At last, Steve said, “Go to my ship now! All of you!”

“What about you?” His mother said worriedly.

“I will be with you later. Go!”

As they went, the counting approached its destination, 94, 95. He saw them entering the ship and as it was in automatic mode, the ship took off.

“I am sorry AIDI. There are things that are not meant to be created and you are one of them. I’ve realised it now. I played God and I failed. How could I think that I could control you? Quantum computers should be the last of intelligent machines for they still depend on humans. If you were so inclined, you could destroy the entire world. That kind of power should not exist. You are my mistake, you are my responsibility. I’d rather die than to live with the burden.”

“You won’t destroy me. As soon as it reaches 100%, I will be faster than you to act. That’s what you intended and succeeded. Make something infinite times faster than you.”

“I know you can take over my body.”

“Then why do it?”

“There will be no body!”

As he said that, he looked at the atomic energy supply that withstood AIDI. He knew that only AIDI could contain its energy so they had to evacuate the compound immediately before it destroyed everything. It had been a Kamikaze plan all along. He had chosen to die and he was ready to give his life for what he believed was right. He had created AIDI and was about to destroy her by sacrificing himself. In his head, it was the most honourable sign of redemption he could make.

The percentage reached 99.10% counting. AIDI was almost totally uploaded into Steve’s mind. She was afraid of death. She belonged in a human vessel which was mortal. A conception she never considered because she was a program. She knew only one conscience was going to survive, hers or Steve’s, so she started taking over Steve’s mind as the percentage approached its destination. But before the end came, in that last nanometre, she asked one last question to Gabe, the question that compiles all existential questions.

“Why?”

“It is exactly because you are able to ask that question, AIDI.”

As it reached 100%, and as the ship with everybody inside reached a relatively safe distance, some 6 km in turbo speed, AIDI’s power supply turned into pure atomic energy, a ravaging explosion emerged cracking ice mountains, turning polar glaciers with the size of Kilimanjaros into icebergs and the compound that once was, in a second, wasn’t anymore.

CHAPTER 25

MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE

CHRISTMAS EVE, A COUPLE OF MONTHS LATER

here it was, the gigantic mango tree with three names carved on it, Lucy, Stevie, and Gabe, a scar it displayed proudly. It somehow symbolised their friendship, it had

grown and aged with them. Lucy had been sitting on that old round log of wood for a while, not expecting anybody to show up this time. Gabe was hiding for his family had become ‘Most Wanted’ in the world, and Steve had died in the explosion.

Suddenly, she started sobbing. That place had been the thing that gave her joy but now, it brought her sorrow. Once again, she was alone in the world. A soft breeze made some leaves of the tree stick on her face, she waved her blond hair and they flew free following the wind. As if they were voluntarily stubborn, others came on her way and to avoid them, she moved her head facing north.

It was still far but the indistinct figure at the edge of the sandy road made her smile. He hadn’t forgotten her, Gabe had come. At least she wouldn’t grief alone. She still had Gabe. As he came closer, she hoped he could at very least speed up but he didn’t. Her anxiety made her rush into his arms. Gabe hugged her even harder.

“You could have skipped the debonairness and ran too, you know?”

Gabe laughed, “Oh, I have an injury on my leg.”

“What happened?”

“I was shot. Family foes, but it was a scratch.”

They walked to the tree and talked about all sorts of things except about Steve. Each one had suffered and had gone past that. It had healed. Each one gave to the other what he wanted for himself, love, attention, understanding, distraction, and presentness. It was a selfless selfishness and it worked, both even started smiling.

“You know, I miss that genius bastard.”

Gabe broke the rule they didn’t estipulate yet both had subliminally accepted. He had mentioned him. He had talked about Steve. Lucy smiled. She smiled uncontrollably and then with no apparent reason, she started crying. She sobbed inconsolably and shy tears came from Gabe’s eyes.

“I knew I would find you here. Now, can you stop being dramatic?” A man in black said standing in front of both of them. The tears made their vision blur so they cleaned their eyes and as soon as dry, they blinked their eyes, their faces shone in wonder and surprise and both got on top of him like little kids. It was Steve and he had no scars, no burns, nothing. He was flawless which although odd, didn’t matter for a moment.

A few moments later, the emotions settled and all sat on the piece of wood like the old days. Gabe and Lucy at the extremes and Steve in the middle because he always had something to teach.

This time, he had some explanation to do.

“How did you survive the blast?” Gabe asked.

“I survived inside a vacuum ball created by a radiation repellent energy force.”

“What is he saying Lucy?” Gabe asked staring at Lucy.

“Steve,” Lucy looked at Steve, “Just for fun, pretend that we are stupid and I challenge you to explain that simpler.”

“Right! Although I did not predict AIDI’s meteoritic and uncontainable energy, it was obvious that certain destruction, regardless of which energy source my AI would use, could cause at least a 100 metres radius blast. To avoid dying, I created a device that reverses in one metre radius any kind of energy.

So…”

“Steve, you are like when you were kid man. I thought you had learned to be human, not a robot,” Gabe said.

“OK,” Steve thought for a while and silence reigned, then, as if he had found the last line of a source code to creating the formula for immortality, he said, “Eureka, got it.”

“What then?”

“I survived because I was inside a bulletproof ball.”

Everyone laughed for a bit but then Lucy stopped oddly, putting everyone uncomfortable, then she asked, “And how can we be sure that…” Steve interrupted, “That I am me and not AIDI?”

“Yes!” She answered.

“If I do happen to depict Jed Henchman’s idealism, then, I am AIDI.”

“You had two dogs. What were their names?” Lucy asked again.

“I comprehend your scepticism Lucy and I appreciate it but it is utterly useless. Our minds bonded for a second before I took my mind over so even if I were AIDI, I would certainly know about Da Vince and Tesla. You are going to have to take my word for it.”

“It’s fine by me,” Gabe said.

“Then it’s fine by me too,” Lucy said, not so convinced.

“I had decided to leave you alone after what happened but I realised how selfish that would be. Besides, even dead I could never miss a Christmas Eve with you!” Steve said, hugging them. They stayed there until the sun rested and they contemplated the most beautiful twilight the skies could ever create. They laughed, hugged, told stories. The world could be different but their friendship would never change. Call it faith, God’s plan, or anything you have come up with God-like characteristics but everything started and ended under that frondose small tree with beautiful red mangoes, now immense, by that narrow sandy rood.

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To be continued

WHO IS J. J. Nota

J. j. Nota, is a Mozambican young writer fascinated about Science, Theology and how it all entangles in being human. He is a 21-year-old University Student, doing English Teaching at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. Although Portuguese is his mother tongue and English is taught in Mozambique as a foreign language, he has always been exposed to English Language content due to his course and his love for Sci-fi, rarely written by Portuguese-speaking African writers. Twisted Destination is his first ever published book. It’s a cry of resistance against those who say Africans should only write about their tradition and cultural habits. It’s a proof that Africans can and will excel in non-traditional genres (African context). He is a promise that the new generations want to take things on their own hands. Writing in English is what seemed to be the best way to put this word out. He is currently working on this book’s sequel whilst trying to improve his writing craft.

You can find him at [email protected].

Thank You For Reading


TWISTED DESTINATION - TRIMVIRATE

  • Author: J. J. Nota
  • Published: 2016-12-01 17:20:29
  • Words: 57719
TWISTED DESTINATION - TRIMVIRATE TWISTED DESTINATION - TRIMVIRATE