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Rated: E · Book · Mystery · #1349977
Global Corporation tries to rebuild an ancient viking city with haunting consequences
#550252 added November 19, 2007 at 7:59pm
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Chapter II -Becoming Part of the Plan-
         Douglas woke up early and was walking around his kitchen in nothing more than his boxer shorts and tan leather slippers. Not an attractive sight, no, but seeing as there was no one to criticize, he went about his business of making a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich and brewing a full pot of coffee which he usually had finished by noon.
         Walking out to his living room, he went over to his computer and, setting down his beverage and sandwich, he turned it on. Taking his seat, he picked up his tobacco pouch from where he had left it the night before and began rolling a cigarette.
         Typing in his password at the prompt, he began looking over the days e-mail deliveries. He was about to open up that days copy of the daily news when something further down the list caught his eye. It was simply titled, Tell-Devonshire. Odd. Since his last meeting with William Kierken and his cohorts, he, Richard and Winton had all been out of sorts with only the loose promises and a vague contract with the Tell Corporation to keep them on an even keel.
         He did have to admit, it did seem like the Tell Corporation would remain true to their word. The floor of the Church of Statesmorrow University had been removed but the rest of the church had remained untouched. Even the ceiling, which had been removed in sections to facilitate the removal of the large marble slabs, had been replaced in a meticulous fashion and they had hired only the best engineers and architects to do the work. He had even taken note during one of his nosy but harmless visits to the church that the engineers were using the original eighteenth century blueprints.
         But on the other hand, it had been four months and no other word had come through. The three men were beginning to settle into the notion of not knowing what was going on and Douglas was contemplating taking steps to find a new teaching position.
         Devonshire? Douglas recognized this name. Of the original quintet of men which had come to examine the church floor, William Devonshire was the one who was confined to a wheelchair... and if Douglas' memory served him correctly, he was the one who, through his slip of the tongue at Richard's original meeting, had cued their trio into the true intent of the Tell Corporation. Douglas moved the cursor to the title Tell-Devonshire and clicked to open it.
         “An engineer, eh?” William Devonshire asked him in a rather thick English accent. “That surprises me, I do not see too many railroad tracks around.” He followed this with a chuckle, which, although did not match the perfect cobalt blue of his suit, did match his personality. Douglas smiled at this as well knowing that William knew full well of his Masters in civil engineering.
         Although he had been leery of William upon meeting him at the Statesmorrow Church, he had quite grown on Douglas, even though this was only their third meeting and their first on a somewhat social basis. In the beginning, he had not known how to act toward William, mainly due to his being confined to a wheelchair, but William’s humor about the matter had eased his nerves. “I’m a pretty nice fellow if you meet me on a hard wood floor, but don’t invite me on any nature hikes.” From there, things had gone along rather smoothly, no pun intended.
         Douglas and William had both agreed to meet at Daisy’s, a rather comfortable and quiet restaurant near Statesmorrow university, although Douglas did not know the full details of the meeting. He remembered their discussion on the previous Sunday morning and had decided to bring along one of Winton's notebooks detailing the history of Statesmorrow church which had been “mysteriously lost” previous to the Tell Corporation's by out. It was also the one containing most of the information pertaining to the Nazi's dealings. This would come in quite handy as it turns out.
         “As I was saying on Sunday, we have found some records which have led us to believe that the floor of the church was not the original.” Although Douglas seemed ashamed upon the mention of this, William simply smiled.
         “Yes,” said Douglas, sounding like a little wind had been taken out of his sails, “it was in nineteen thirty four, four years before the Nazis attacked Poland.”
         “Yes, yes,” said William, cutting him to the quick, “but what you are forgetting is that the history of Europe did not begin with World War two, and it certainly did not end there. War and economics make very good bedfellows, remember this. By keeping this in mind is how Switzerland made most of it’s money. ” Douglas was a little confused.
         “By staying out of it?” Again William shook his head.
         “No, by getting in the middle of it. Not the physical war, mind you. We are much too small a nation to make that error.” As an aside William added, “Thank God for the Alps. They have helped us before and I’m sure they will again. No, the economic war. Do you know how difficult it is to sit between the British and the Nazis, holding every penny both of them own and watch them both try to wipe each other off the map? It’s like being painted in gravy and thrown into a lion’s cage.” Douglas laughed at William’s analogy but this did not slow him down. “The trick is to know how long they will lick you before they try to take a bite.” They both sat and laughed at this for a second, sipping their beer and coffee respectively.
         “But this is all in the past. As of now, we have a new puzzle to solve. Nothing to do with war, mind you, but about… hmmm.” Here, William paused and went quiet.
         “What is it?” asked Douglas, having not yet set down his coffee mug.
         “Well, it’s a touchy subject. Eyes only. That kind of thing. Oh… what do they call it in America? Top Secret?” Douglas wasn’t at all sure about where this was going but he made his own mental association.
         “I understand. Just like the floor, some things you have to respect for what they are now and not where they came from.”
         William looked at him over his pint, letting him know that he was on the wrong track. “No, it’s nothing like that, but I really can’t say anymore.” Then there was a pause in which neither man knew what to say. William calmly leafed through the pages of the notebook Douglas had brought him while Douglas glanced around at the few other patrons of the restaurant and picked up a few details from the baseball game that was playing on the television over the bar just across the room.     
         Then, in an outstanding coincidence, as if it had been written to happen, two events occurred simultaneously as if they were one. First, William’s face seemed to light up. As he was looking through the notebook. He had come across the original receipt for the donation of the church’s floor, signed by one Herr Von Braun. He looked up stunned, like a child on Christmas morning.
         “This is it.”
         Before Douglas could ask which paper it was or even to see it, William’s cellular phone rang. Realizing who would be calling him, he was even more amazed. So much so that he began to laugh slightly. “I’m sorry. I have to take this. Shouldn’t be a second.” Douglas only heard one side of the conversation, but the side he heard was interesting enough.
         “Yes?” “Who else would it be?” There was a long pause. “Well, what were the results?” “Ninety percent sure, huh? Well, what if I told you that I had one hundred percent proof in my hands?” “Our curious Mister Howe. That’s how.”
         Listening for another second, William looked up at Douglas and smiled that grin that let him know he was missing something good. Douglas could do nothing but sit quietly and wait until he could ask. “I’m sitting here holding the original paperwork signed by Von Braun.” “Yes. That’s exactly what I said.” “Well how was I to know he had it. Just call it luck we found it at all.” “You were on the payroll so I don’t want to hear it.” There was another long pause. “I figure I can be on the plane by six o’clock.” Yet another pause. “I know. I was thinking the same thing and before you even ask, no, I haven’t said anything.” William grinned at Douglas. “Well, he’s got a Masters in engineering and some friends in high places. Who knows? I will get in touch with the Corporation and see what they think. Maybe a stateside resource, maybe a field operative. Listen, I’ve got to go. I’ll be at the hotel within the hour.” With this, William hung up.
         “May I ask?”
         William was already smiling at him as he spoke up. “Hmm…” he said again to himself as he posed his thoughts carefully. “I can’t tell you the why’s, but the what’s shouldn’t be a problem. The floor of the church was, as you know, a gift from the German Heinrick Von Braun.”
         Douglas nodded. “Yes. Something we are not proud of.”
         William stopped him quickly. “Don’t let this bother you. Some of the most wonderful relics in history have passed through some of the most vile hands. We had the records that the floor was reclaimed from our possession in the nineteen twenties. We also had the other side of the paperwork which named, not only Von Braun, but the Dean of Statesmorrow at the time. What we didn't have was the other side of the deal. The confirmation of receipt. We knew it was, without a doubt, the Vineta church floor we were searching for. We just didn't have all of the pieces of the puzzle. ”
         “Vineta?” Douglas asked quickly. William's face went blank.
         “Did I say Vineta? I didn't just say that. Forget I said that. What was I saying? Oh yes. We did not have this piece of paper.” With this, William held up the yellowing receipt that Douglas had had in his notebook. “We had our own methods but, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Von Braun is not only one of the biggest pieces of our puzzle, but one of the biggest thorns in our side.” William returned the paper to the notebook and closed it neatly before picking up his pint glass and taking a long sip.
         “Hmm.” He said after he had taken his drink. “You may have heard the old phrase “loose lips sink ships”, yes? Well, mine may have done just that, but since this has come as far as it has....now, we must get to the business part of our enterprise.” 

         “This is the painting that influenced the entire Vineta project.” Douglas and Richard did not know what to expect but they waited for the wall sized computer screen to light up and display an image of the dark ages city of Vineta. When Henri Relinki walked over to the door, opening it and two men wearing the same cobalt blue suit which Henri was, walked in carrying a covered piece of art measuring at least six foot per side, Douglas and Richard both looked at each other in surprise.
         Crossing the room, they set the easel next to Henri's podium and looked over at him expectantly. Henri, using the dimmer switch, lowered the lights in the room to a little less than half strength. Once the lights were dimmed, the two men removed the bed sheet sized cover to reveal an authentic painting which was at least twice as old as the Mona Lisa. Douglas put on an impressed grin while Richard let out a low whistle.
         As Henri once again crossed the room, he spoke up. “Gentlemen, I hope no one minds that I have lowered the lights. It is a very old painting and some of the pigments are rather sensitive.” He was met by nods and comments, all to the positive. “I am sorry about visibility but I think the size of the picture should make up for the lighting.” Once again the people agreed. 
         Upon first seeing the image, it was clear to tell why this had been a major asset in the plans to rebuild this ancient temple. Minus the obvious drawbacks such as the lack of vibrant colors and there having been no understanding of recreating perspective when it was painted, all of the important details were there, from the ornate stained glass windows to the beautifully carved wooden alter. Henri was giving the attendants of the meeting time to take in the details as well as the reasons which they had come as far as they had.
         An Asian fellow from the far side of the table asked if he could stand to get a better view. Henri has no objections and rising with his clipboard and pencil, he walked up to the painting and looked carefully at the brickwork design. After scrawling a few notes, he nodded to Henri.
         “Yes, this will help exponentially.” Henri simply nodded in reply as the fellow took his seat.
         “Would anyone else like to take a closer look? Although I must ask you, only one at a time and keep a respectable distance.”
         But by this point, neither Douglas or Richard were paying any attention to either Henri or the painting. “Douglas, are you thinking what I'm thinking?”
         “Yeah.” Douglas whispered. “That's not our floor. The patterns wrong.”
         “So is the shape.” Until now, Richard had been talking out the side of his mouth but now, he turned his head to Douglas. “That is definitely not our floor. Either that picture is completely wrong or the Swiss have made a huge mistake, and I'm willing to bet that it ain't the picture.” 

         That night, Richard lie in bed with the lamp on, looking through the reports that  Winton had compiled over the past few days. It was all very interesting but it did not follow the chain of events which a normal multinational corporation would seem to have followed. 
         At present, their fingers were spread quite far, each touching some rather diverse investments, but Richard was more looking at their timing as a company. To any observer, it would seem uncanny. The Tell Corporation had been either sleeping out downswings in the market or making money hand over fist whenever possible. In America alone, they had had quite a reasonable sum invested in the Northern shipping fleets just after the Civil War. The irony being that they had pulled all of their investments just prior to the sinking of the SS Freedom in a hurricane, something that cost the United States hundreds of millions of dollars, and that was in eighteen sixty six. It was the same way on Black Tuesday when the stock market crashed, not just locally, but globally. According to reports, they pulled all of their liquid assets out of the field just days prior. All of them. Everything from stocks, bonds (long and short term), everything that they couldn't hold in their hands. These commodities were turned into, not only precious metals, but raw material for the construction of their Swiss headquarters.
         According to all the presses, no sane business would have done anything that foolish. At least that's what the papers said until the bottom fell out of the world's market. On that day, no one said a word. They couldn't afford to. That is with the exception of the Tell Corporation. There were only three companies throughout all of Europe that made money on that day and while the other two made meager percentages, the value of the Tell Corporation tripled. Richard thought about this for a minute. Was it possible that these men did have a phone line to God's stock broker and if so, was it collect? Whatever the explanation, their foresight had certainly paid off in the past.
         There were a few other dates of interest. In nineteen eighty one and two they had  as much of their money invested in IBM as they could without being too obvious. Anymore, the history of the silicon valley is as widely known as that of the American Revolution or electricity and with the advent of the mass produced personal computer and the first widely used computer languages originating from IMB, again, their assets tripled. How had they known?
         Intrigued by their financial prowess, Richard was surprised to find a few of the other places which their money had been spread around. A few of the larger expenditures that they had made, Douglas had put question marks besides. Money to fund the Soviet scientific research of one Nikola Tesla, funding and investment in the work of Stephen Hawking. Both renowned scientists but with apparently no financial gain to the Tell Corporation. Odd.
         Richard looked over the reports one last time. Anymore, it seemed like they were holding up until their next great opportunity. The only real place that they were spending money as of now was in the field of Psi research, which Richard breathed a hearty amen to. Since the advent of Psi, no cure had been found and the mark it was leaving on society was being compared to that of the black plague. If they didn't find a cure soon, the number of crazies out there might rise to a level that would even worry the politicians.
         There was also the Statesmorrow University spending with which Richard was already all too familiar. The only other thing that caught his eye before he turned out the light was a rather large investment which they had simply labeled the “Mother's Day” account. What was that all about?
         Closing the report, he laid it on the bedside stand and flipped the light to darkness. He lie there for quite some time with the number rolling around in his head. What was the significance of Mother's Day? Even as he was passing into slumber, it rolled around his head, searching out of the mysterious place where dreams make residence. Mother's day. Mother's day. It echoed in his subconscious until he was completely asleep. What was the significance of Mother's day?
© Copyright 2007 Jonny Prophet (UN: jonnyprophet at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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