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"I lie under the seen, of all creatures the seed that is change-less. Know only that I exist and one atom of myself sustains the universe - Bhagavad Gita."




By Daniel Forant

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Cverhead, a riotous full moon turned the snarl of woods beside the Castaway River a dreamy silver. Forty yards east, cast in a dim, dreary light, a pitted dirt road snaked its way toward the glittering purlieu of Chapel City, Connecticut.

Insects croaking in the night fell quiet to the unnatural vibratory disturbances in the air. Unaffected, the deep, cold river forged on, leaving the frail naked woman shivering on its bank, her Medusa hair spraying wildly in the crisp fall wind. Her moonlit silver shadow mirrored her tremulous body, unable to replicate her insane plea that God protect her from evil.

From behind, "Say goodbye to her," was whispered into mediamogul Alex Carver's ear, just as a pistol barrel was perched on his shoulder, pointed at the distraught woman's purplish face.

Instincts begged Alex to scream. But the harrowing presence of the two masked men lingering nearby convinced him otherwise. Forced to stand in front of the mysterious woman resembling his wife, Alex sank into her wavering brown eyes. "Who are you?"

Arms limp at her side, the amiable naked woman shook uncontrollably. "I am an emanation from the divine spark of the Cosmos," she mumbled deliriously.

"I think shock has set in," the masked man chuckled to the other.

The woman's pale face was stretched like a carnival mirror, her cheekbones high and obtrusive, her shriveled nipples and purple lips protruding into the night as she quickly prayed. "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee," she grinded out as a deadly gunshot shattered her forehead.

Alex had forgotten the pistol was skillfully steadied on his shoulder when a deafening concussion wave ripped into his eardrum, sending Alex flailing to the frosty ground, clutching the haunting chant of his echoing ear.

Bleeding profusely from her face, the woman's mortal body heaved and twitched for the final time, returning her last, contorted breath of air to Mother Earth.

"Get up," the man ordered, jabbing Alex in the ribs with the pistol barrel.

Stunned, Alex stood on stilted legs, his face splattered with warm blood.

The masked men held out the pistol in his gloved hand. "Take it or I'll kill you."

As Alex reached for the smoking gun he concentrated on not shaking so he could snatch it before his hand veered off in another direction. Armed, he clenched the murder weapon with a vengeance, wishing there was an endless supply of bullets in the chamber. But it was highly unlikely that the killer was foolhardy enough to deliver a loaded weapon.

The masked man referred to the lifeless heap of woman on the ground. "That's what happens when you don't do as we ask. I want the classified information that was smuggled out of Area 51, he ordered, looking quite unhappily at Alex. "Return it or we kill your wife. I'll be in touch." The masked man uncurled his thumb and jerked it into the air. "Drop the pistol and get out of here."

The cool feel of the pistol grip detonated a chill that raced through Alex's spine. He dropped the pistol on the ground and thrashed through the woods, running like a beeline of ignited gasoline toward the car. He climbed into the Jag, slammed the door shut behind him, cranked the window and feverishly locked the doors. He shook violently as he twisted the key in the ignition and brought the silver Jag back to life.


Under a fleecy patch of cirrus clouds drifting over the moon, Alex raced the Jag up the bumpy cobblestone road leading to the estate, eyeing the meticulously manicured landscape for anything alive. The sculptured hands of John the Baptist standing in a marble fountain spewed colorful water into the crisp night air. A granite statue of the handsome Greek Apollo, God of sun, prophecy, music, medicine and poetry, glared at Alex as he drove nervously by. As the garage doors grinded open and the six-car stone garage lit up, it finally occurred to Alex that held been framed (his oily fingerprints ingrained on the pistol), another paranoid weirdo who claims the federal government is out to get him.

The Jag crept into the empty stall closest to the breezeway, Alex's white-knuckled hands tightly gripping the leather steering wheel in case someone was crouching in the shadows. If the killers worked for the C.I.A., he wondered, why didn't they force me into revealing where I'd stashed the videos of high-level U.S. government officials cavorting with aliens?

The Jag door inched open. Capriciously, Alex slipped out of the car, stealing glances over his shoulders. Imaging no one, he quickstepped through the columned breezeway leading to the mansion.

His disenchanted heartbeat reverberated in his head as he punched the security code into the illuminated keyboard beside the large oak door. The locking mechanism clicked, and he slowly rotated the cold handle and cracked the heavy door slightly. Fists curled, he froze in place, like a targeted animal poised for danger.

Leaves chattered in the chilly wind.

Inside, he panned the domed foyer, slowly and deliberately made the sign of the cross, then darted up the twisted staircase.

Alex hurried into the master bedroom, beneath the Bohemian crystal chandelier dawdling luminously overhead. He sliced past the jeweled windows and Italian pink marble fireplace that bore his bronze initials. Spellbound, he stood and stared at his wife Sarah's drained face dancing on the silk curtains rustling in the wind. Wild-eyed and splotched in blood, Alex reached out to finger her threadbare face, but a gust of wind tossed the curtains into the air again and Sarah's dreamy visage vanished.

Fearing for Sarah's life, Alex had convinced her to hideaway until he fabricated a way to save himself and his cherished family. As much as he desperately wanted to end the ordeal, he couldn't. Once he delivered the classified videotapes to the C.I.A., the agency would most likely kill him. The quandary is that Alex is alive only because he possesses those damned tapes.

Wind gone, Alex gently parted the bone-idle curtains and peered into an already telling night. He drew a lengthy breath and held it, eyeing the van's red brake lights glowing in the dark.


The shiny, black surveillance van purred quietly outside the wrought iron gate surrounding Alex's mansion, headlights off. A geo-stationary low orbit satellite hovering in space linked the van to a global positioning system that pinpointed the crew's precise location in the continental United States. Uplinked to a communications satellite, the van relayed audio-visual data to a command and control post located in the C.I.A. headquarters building in Mclean, Virginia, where an array of blinking control panels and a large video screen enabled the assembly of government intelligence agents to stealthily track Alex Carver's every kinetic move.

In the rear of the high-tech van, the silver-haired spy sat in a bolted down swivel chair, hunched in front of six, small surveillance monitors, his face beaming in the murky glow. The mini-monitors, secured to a long, narrow counter bolted to the wall of the van, spied on six rooms in Alex's mansion.

The spy grabbed the cell phone and discriminately keyed in Alex's phone number.


In the master bedroom, the cream and gold French provincial phone pulsed with each repetitive ring. In Alex's perplexed mind, the world had shrunk, everything a disturbing arm's length away.

The slavish spy hung up the phone that rang in Alex's house and answered the red tabletop phone secured to the counter. "We've got Alex Carver in our sight." He watched Alex freak-out in the monitor. "Don't worry. He won't get away, boss," he presumed.

The phone heaved again, sending a wave of shock through Alex's tortured mind. He snatched the file folders off of the sleigh bed and fled the master bedroom, down the stately, red carpeted hallway. His face and bloody shirt were drenched in perspiration. He galloped down the winding staircase, shoes clicking on the smoothly polished marble stairs. Hurrying into the kitchen, he shakily dumped the contents of the file folders into the sink, then struck a match and lit the edges of the pile. Ringlets of black smoke curled into the air as the crackling heap of paper burst into flames.

The answering machine picked up. "What are you burning, Alex?" the hoarse spy asked. "Anything we should know about?"

Alex didn't know there were hidden cameras in the house. He knew now and froze, wondering what to do next. He blew on the fire to hurry it up, sending pieces of glowing black ash sailing into the air.

"You don't look too good, Alex. Is there something wrong?" the sadistic agent asked.

The taunt lingered in Alex's mind as a piece of paper fell from his hand, swaying lazily through the air to the floor. Depending upon where the camera in the kitchen was hidden, the spy in the van might not have seen Alex purposely drop it.

"Run dead man, run. Death be not proud," the voice whispered into the answering machine.

Mission accomplished, Alex left the pile of sooty paper smoldering in the sink and ran through the mansion to the columned breezeway leading to the garage. To prevent another hair-raiser like the one he had tonight, where a masked man popped up in the Jag and stuck a gun to the back of his head (forcing him to drive to the Castaway River), Alex's bulging blue eyes carefully spied the back seat of the Jag.

Squinting, he twisted the car key, hoping the Jag wouldn't blow him to bloody pieces.


The black, government surveillance van peeled away from the curb, rolled to an abrupt stop at the stop sign, flicked its headlights off-and-on twice, then took a sharp left-hand-turn and followed fleeing Alex.

A police cruiser rolled out of the dark parking lot beside the road.

Alex feared the bright, rolling eyes pursuing in the rearview mirror.

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