The Cauldron By Charles Goodwin Chapter 9

The Founding of Chiron

Chapter 9

The Austrian Headquarters

The soothing drone of the Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR710-48 fanjet engines suddenly quietened.

‘Herr Ravenscroft, this is your pilot speaking.’ The impersonal voice of the female pilot danced out of the intercom. ‘We have commenced our descent and will be landing in approximately 15 minutes. Please ensure that your seatbelt is fastened. I have been informed that you are to complete your journey to headquarters by chopper. I trust you’ve had a comfortable flight and look forward to flying with you again. Thank you.’

Who’s headquarters is she referring too? thought Paul. Certainly not the Ravenscroft Trust’s head offices in Vienna. Paul felt despondent and irate. He sat unimpressed and alone in the cabin of the eight passenger $45 million Gulfstream GV turbojet. The added intrigue relating to his destination served only to fuel his seething anger. He was infuriated - outraged at being horded aboard against his will at the express orders of his father.

And he knew that a confrontation with his father was now inevitable - and long overdue!

The corporate turbojet descended through the rain laden clouds and completed a half circle to line up with the runway.

Paul’s eyes devoured the verdant and distinctive Austrian landscape. The secluded airstrip was situated in a valley protected by the mystery and beauty of the surrounding mountains. Ancient mountains - anxious mountains - waiting to tell of their secrets to his awakening heart. Listen...Listen to the song of the wind and mountains - when we speak, hear what we are telling...

But Paul was contentedly ‘asleep’ in his anger.

Apart from the helicopter that the pilot had mentioned, a second executive jet was parked in front of one of the modern hangers. Paul could see at least six cars parked near the perimeter. Two were black Mercedes and looked as though they might well be Ravenscroft Company vehicles.

His heated antagonism was gradually being overhauled by a fired inquisitiveness.

The plane unceremoniously landed, turned abruptly, taxied back to the awaiting chopper and halted. In a gesture of defiance, Paul disarmed and opened the cabin door and vaulted to the tarmac.

‘Paul Ravenscroft! Good morning,’ shouted the flamboyant copter pilot in perfect, rotten fish under the nose, RAF English, his voice straining over the combined noise of the jet and the chopper. ‘Please come with me. Your father is waiting.’

‘Where are we?’ shouted back Paul, as they paced to the chopper.

‘We’re about 42 kilometres south west of HQ,’ came the cryptic reply.

Paul climbed confidently aboard. After all, he’d often flown in jets. A small chopper in the windy mountains can’t be that much different.

The doors were locked and seatbelts fastened.

‘Who’s HQ were you referring to?’

‘You’ll soon see, Mr Ravenscroft.’ And then he added with a leathery grin, ‘It’s a bit turbulent in the mountains this morning so I suggest you hold on tight.’

And Paul of course did hold on tight. Incredibly and constipatedly tight.

Within a few seconds the British pilot with the toilet brush moustache had Paul aloft. The traumatic experience was like the craziest roller coaster ride imaginable.

The chopper soared upwards - but not too far up.

Paul strained his quadriceps. He forced his feet flat to the cockpit floor in a downward pressure. The chopper hovered - suspended in the air like a giant metallic spider from a sky hook. The nose suddenly dipped and turned. The tail momentarily swung too and throw. Then, at what Paul thought was a precarious low level, hurtled forward at a nauseating breakneck speed.
He was on his way!

The craft weaved and dodged its path between the rugged scenic mountains - and through the violent wind gusts and thermals. Up.. up over the tallest hills and then down...dive bombing like a Stuka, into the valleys.

I feel like I’m in a glass bubble about to be smashed against the rocks, gulped Paul silently, hardly daring to look to the sides.

‘Have you flown in a chopper before, Mr. Ravenscroft?’ hollered the pilot, noticing Paul’s sudden talcum complexion. ‘I say, are you all right?’

‘No and no!’ replied Paul with utter conviction. ‘And just as well I haven’t eaten today. I feel terribly dizzy.’

The pilot’s response was laughter rather than concern. ‘Oh you’ll get used to it after a while.’

‘I hope I won’t have to,’ shouted Paul sardonically, his nervousness only thinly disguised. ‘How much...’ He paused as the chopper buffeted, ‘further is HQ?’

‘We’re about half way. As the mother said to her about to be wed daughter - lay back and relax - hold on - breathe deeply - and think of Austria!’

Paul grimaced and locked his eyes tight.

The sides of the hills and the tops of the trees sped by alarmingly close. He chose to think of Rebecca rather than those threatening bird’s eye views of Austria whirling past him. And the thoughts of Rebecca flooding into his mind increased his despondency. He felt lost and completely alone - and he remembered the warmth and cosines of her embrace.

I must try to phone her as soon as I land. Even to hear her voice would at least make the day bearable. I love you Rebecca.

‘Look! Around this next hill. You’ll see HQ! said the pilot at last pointing enthusiastically with his gloved hand.

Paul opened his eyes and gasped with wonderment. Towering upon the side of a seemingly impenetrable mountain stood the mammoth and intimidating mid- evil stone fortress.

‘It’s like an incredible make believe movie set,’ exclaimed Paul with genuine excitement.

‘The castle is impressive all right. And to answer your earlier question, we’re not far from the Swiss border.’

The chopper drew closer.

Stepped down the mountain for about a kilometer from the castle’s battlements and towers were a maze of terraced gardens. Behind the high outer walls, extensive newly constructed buildings and additions came into view. On the summit of the mountain, Paul noticed that a strategically placed metallic forest of radar, telecommunication and satellite tracking dishes and towers had been installed.

He shook his head incredulously, ‘So this is what you meant by HQ?’

‘Yes, and what you see before you is only a small part of the complex,’ shouted the pilot beaming.

‘What do you mean?’ queried Paul. His curiosity now insisting on instant satisfaction.

‘Most of HQ is either underground or carved into the hill. I’ve only ever seen a fraction of what is here. But I know there’s a labyrinth of rooms under the castle. I’m told the development is like a huge New York City sky scraper, only going downwards rather than into the air. There’s a popular rumor that the whole establishment is protected by anti-aircraft missiles armed and in readiness in underground bunkers.

‘How many people are employed here?’

‘It’s hard to say, so many important people come and go. As a guess, probably one and a half thousand full time academic and professional staff and about the same number of ancillary employees!’

Paul was stunned into momentary silence.

‘There are sealed access roads in from Switzerland and from the airfield where we took off from. But it is much quicker by chopper!’

Paul gulped, his stomach still blatantly queasy, ‘I think I’ll use the road next time.’

‘Suit yourself.’ The pilot grinned and brought the craft smoothly down upon a heliport, a few hundred metres from the castle.

‘The main heliport is being used this week by the construction teams working on the pre-fab buildings,’ explained the pilot. ‘Your father will know by now you are here and will send someone out to pick you up.’

‘Thank you, the flight was a most interesting and stimulating experience,’ quipped Paul, still pale faced.

Paul didn’t waste any time in placing his feet firmly back on to ‘terra firma’ and moving well clear of the whirling rotor blades.

The pilot waved a jolly British salute and lifted the chopper noisily back off the concrete. Paul stood alone as the chopper flew out of view.

‘Total silence and peace at last,’ he whispered thankfully. His giddiness and complexion soothed by the invigorating alpine air that greeted him. He surveyed the magnificent panoramic views. He turned full circle with arms outstretched. And his eyes became riveted to the intoxicating silent mystery before him.

The towering walls of the castle - the valleys and mountains - pine, spruce and beech trees - green grass, alpine flowers... ‘Such beauty. Its majesty is so awe-inspiring. How I wish Rebecca could be here with me to share this.’

And the spirit wind again whispered.

Listen...Listen to the song of the wind and mountains - when we speak, hear what we are telling...

Tears from nowhere appeared in Paul’s eyes.

No, he argued to himself, this profound feeling within is not only attributed to the scenery. These mountains are hauntingly familiar - as if long ago, maybe as a small child, or even as a baby, I have known these same energies in my heart. Such serenity. So peaceful and yet ... an unexplained sadness - of such devastating loss.

Paul’s intuitive grief was etched deep. Wretchedly deep. Memories stirring. Painful, shocking memories desperate to be released from their entombment. Moon in Cancer people encrust their painful experiences behind the shell of the crab. And Paul once again elected to suppress his stirring feelings of anguish and ignore the spirit whispers of the wind.

At least that is, for now!

His meditative state ended prematurely.

An open topped canary yellow electric car puttered its way to the heliport to where Paul stood.
‘Paul my name is Sonia. Climb aboard!’

Paul’s analytical virgoan eyes scanned Sonia.

Her eyes glistened secrets, unyielding. She sat with knees elevated in the small two seater - her short brown leather skirt at crotch level. From her slight accent he deduced she was Swedish. She was Nordic blonde, in her late twenties and wearing a tailored bright red jacket with gold buttons. Her clear unblemished skin radiated good health. A scarf protected her hair and ears from the embracing breeze.

‘Thank you. I presume my father sent you too,’ replied Paul as he jumped in.

‘Yes he did. I’m supposed to show you around the castle and make you feel completely at home.’ Sonia emphasized ‘completely at home’ in a seductive manner. She gleamed, and Paul knew that the innocent gleam in her eyes was mere theatrics.

Paul’s thoughts were of Rebecca.

Not that Sonia looked like Rebecca. In contrast, Rebecca was taller and maternally Amazonian. Sonia in some ways was prettier - but her energy was more the energy of a winsome doting daughter.

But there was still the female presence. And he felt more than a little guilty sitting so close to Sonia.

‘If you don’t mind we’ll skip the grand tour for now. I want to be taken directly to my father. I’m anxious to give him a piece of my mind.’

‘Your wish is my command,’ she said and sighed reluctantly.

Paul’s stomach fluttered nervously.

Confrontation! And to Paul, this was to be the mother of all confrontations. Never before had he questioned his father’s strict authority. But then, never before had he met anyone quite like Rebecca. She was well worth fighting for.

He felt no love for his father - just a fearful heart thumping respect. Paul frantically tried to bolster up the necessary courage. If there were any visible weaknesses in his opaque armor his father was sure to seize upon them.

Sonia drove up to the mammoth portals of the castle. Paul stared up grimly at the sculptured three metre thick archway over the entrance. Mossy mythical gods and demons greeted him with haunting mocking stares. The grotesque faced gargoyles gaped down at him from their leaded placements on the gutters.

She stopped and showed her security ID card to the guards. The steel armor plated gates were reminiscent of heavy doors on bank vaults.

They cranked open. The electric car puttered through. The bank vault was locked behind them.

Another world!

Paul shuddered. The scene that met his disbelieving eyes was somewhere between a mid evil village on market day, and a futuristic military establishment.

Black uniformed guards with laser sighted automatic weapons were strategically placed along the turrets and outside most of the doors of the buildings within the castle walls. Modern multi story offices and ancient stone buildings, stood side by side down narrow cobbled walkways. Glass covered overpasses connected various buildings. On his right, a line of armored cars were parked in a designated parking area. Young civilian employees mingled happily with the military units assigned to the cars.

Yes they mingle happily, yet there was tension in the air.

And the security cameras scanned every move.

‘The heavy security looks as though it’s meant to hold people in, rather than to keep unwelcome visitors out,’ said Paul observably. ‘Is the security always this tight?’

‘Always! And the military presence has been increasing steadily over the entire eighteen months I’ve been here.’

Sonia paused and parked the car outside a modern four story darkened glass office building. She removed the keys and dropped them into her jacket pocket as she continued. ‘The electric fences enclosing the outer perimeters of the grounds are patrolled by hungry guard dogs. And just inside the fences are land mines! Your observation was correct. I certainly wouldn’t attempt to leave this fortress without permission!’

Paul studied Sonia as she spoke. He’d noticed of course, that she wore self supporting stockings. And he was aware that it was taking unfounded strength on his part, to refrain from admiring the white unstockinged part of her enticing thighs - and those lacy inviting knickers that she was wearing.

His mouth drooled. But with the drooling arose his ever present inner resentment for women.

What is it, that motivates women to continually torment men, he asked himself. They are either leaning forward and displaying their breasts or teasing men silly with their legs and bottoms. If a man parades around with his penis hanging out, he’s immediately considered a sexual deviate. How can a man stay loyal to the woman he loves when other women constantly tease him?

He spoke with a hint of sarcasm. ‘What is your role here? Besides making visitors feel completely at home.’

Sonia’s emerald eyes winced penetratingly. ‘I notice you posses a sharp wit too sir. If you must know, I am a scientist. Not a call girl!’

‘A scientist...’ stuttered Paul, unconvinced and still angry.

‘Why the surprise? Don’t you think females have the intelligence?’

‘Well yes, but.....’

Sonia’s scorn turned to a half smile at Paul’s naivety. ‘Here at the castle, there is a balance of male and female staff. I work with a brilliant team of futurists.’


‘Yes sir,’ she replied smugly. ‘For example, we enter all the known statistical data of population trends, world food production, weather patterns, earthquake information and greenhouse gas emissions into computers. From the mass of information the computer program is able to produce regional and global models from which we can predict future cycles and events.’

‘With the aim of making huge profits, no doubt,’ interrupted Paul.

‘This whole project is paid for out of those profits,’ countered Sonia. ‘We can alleviate a lot of the suffering in this world with this knowledge.’

Paul retreated. Suddenly Sonia seemed to be talking like Rebecca. After all, he thought, it wasn’t Sonia’s fault that he’d been dragged from Amsterdam. ‘You sound devoted to your work. It’s refreshing to meet someone that doesn’t only have their own self interest at heart.’

Sonia nodded with modesty. Paul was astounded that he could have made such a statement. After all, the pursuit of self interest had been the only way of life he’d ever known - at least that is, until he’d met Rebecca.

‘Sonia....Sonia who? What is your surname?’ he asked gently.

‘Just Sonia. We don’t have surnames here. I am indeed devoted to this project. I truly believe it’s the planets only hope of survival.’

‘By project, I take it you mean Global Centralized Government.’

Her face showed mystery. ‘Oh much more Paul. You’ll be as excited as I am when you know what is really happening here.’

Paul went silent other than uttering, ‘Maybe.’

In his mind he added prophetically, or just maybe Sonia is a charged idealist deluded into serving some hidden purpose. Or perhaps she’s a brilliant actress planted to win my trust!
Paul understood, that when it came to Syndicate matters, nothing was ever as straightforward as it appeared on the surface.

But how deep would he dare to penetrate the Syndicate’s secrets?


‘Aha, the despicable fly is at last entangled in our web! The black spiders will soon feast from his putrid carcass!’

Heinrich didn’t dare offer a reply.

‘Sonia is the perfect choice. Paul will become tormented by her sharp reptilian mind and her sensual body. The possessive and lustful sides of his lower nature will scream out for wanton satisfaction.’

Heinrich Ravenscroft’s vocal chords felt as if they were seized by an invisible clamp. A quiver coursed down his spine. He sat motionless behind the massive hand rubbed walnut desk in his dimly lit office.

And he knew that the judgment of the all powerful robed master of the black arts, that stood before him with back turned, was always, without a single exception, totally and unmercifully correct.

Marduk’s piercing eyes studied with a sinister relish the security computer monitor. He zoomed a close up in on Paul and Sonia as they talked in the car, parked six stories above in the courtyard.

Marduk turned abruptly to face Heinrich.

Heinrich jumped. His blood pounded at his temples as if he were about to suffer a stroke.
It wasn’t merely the evil craggy and wrinkled face of Marduk that instilled the convulsive fear into the unfortunate (or deserving) souls that attracted his attention - nor those satanic panther eyes that leered out from under his shadowed hood.

No, it was worse - far, far worse.

Worse by a million degrees than the evil psychic equivalent of the commandant of a concentration camp who gleefully oversees the mass butchery of the camp’s inhabitants. Or the insane, astrally pot-holed Hitlers and Stalins of the planet, who offer themselves as agents to the black occult Masters.

No, the wickedness and hatred emitted from a black Master is exactly opposite to the cosmic inter-dimensional love and compassion that flows through a Krishna, a Christ or a Buddha. The exact and equal opposite polarity. Like the blinding light of the Sun compared to total pitch blackness. The existence of one polarity creates the existence of the other.

Thus the saying ‘if there be no sinners, there be no saints!’

And like the Avatars that incarnate from time to time on the planet to guide humankind, so too, do the black Masters take physical form to create havoc in the affairs of man.

A chain hung around Marduk’s neck supporting the heavy silver medallion - the inverted pyramid and panther’s head in a circle. And he spoke fiendishly with unrestricted intensity. Marduk’s rancid words flowed like festering effluent. ‘We are now to begin the final chapter of our relentless struggle. The well deserved victory is in our grasp. We will not - and can not fail!’
Heinrich trembled as the vile Marduk glided closer.

‘Do not fail to administer the herbal preparation to Paul each day. Ensure it is mixed in with his food.’

Heinrich managed to glimpse only momentarily into Marduk’s hypnotic eyes. Eyes that changed color and energy in accordance with the emphasis being transmitted.

He answered with meekness and reverence. ‘It has of course been arranged as you have directed. May I ask what effect is the potion expected to have on Paul?

Marduk sneered. ‘His mind will become more submissive and less discriminating. He will have trouble gauging the physical reality from the etheric and astral planes. And he will be more inclined to do our bidding!’ He paused and his enslaving eyes winced with perfidious exultation before continuing. ‘It will of course send him quite mad. We will then lock him away for ever, while his ‘twin’ takes his place on the world stage!’

Heinrich showed no sign of regret at the necromancer’s words. Paul was only ever a means to an end. Paul wasn’t his son. He’d secretly despised Paul from the moment of adoption. To Heinrich, Paul’s existence had killed his marriage and left him without an heir. Marduk had promised he would soon have a son and heir of his own.

That is, once Paul was out of the way.

‘Will Paul ever get to meet you Marduk?’

‘Paul has already met me. But knew it not,’ came the anomalous reply. Marduk then mumbled under his breath and seethed, ‘He will remain under my influence in a variety of ways.’

Heinrich sat frozen still.

‘And you have assured me that this Rebecca Childs is no longer a distraction?’

‘Yes Marduk. By now the Childs woman has either been taken into custody by Hans Van der Hyde or is dead.’

‘Ah, good. Hans has been one of my most faithful devotees for lifetimes.’ Marduk hissed rather than smiled. Heinrich as always accepted, without understanding, Marduk’s cryptic way of speaking.

‘I will be going into my trance state this evening for several of your hours. Under no circumstances am I to be disturbed.’ He turned and wafted bat-like to the door.

‘There is one other small matter Marduk.’

‘And what might that be?’ he answered without turning.

‘We have applications from eighteen of the junior scientific staff for permission to leave. Their contracts are all expired.’

‘Which section?’

‘C level.’

‘Ah I see. And they won’t consider an extension?’

‘No, we have tried to convince them to stay,’ answered Heinrich.

Heinrich knew that the eighteen employees had not been entrusted with any information relating to the project’s more ‘advanced’ global solutions being formulated. At ‘C’ level, employees worked only upon humanitarian based ‘idealistic’ research and experiments.

But the black Master was not about to take unnecessary risks to the success of the project.

He turned snarling to face Heinrich. ‘What risk factor does Nergal calculate?’

Heinrich’s neck prickled. ‘39%’

‘And Nergal’s recommendation?’

‘All subjects to be negated.’

‘Then force them to write post dated letters to their colleagues here... and then kill them all....’ Marduk paused then grinned savagely. ‘No, better still, are any of them females of child bearing ability?’

‘Yes, at least eight.’

‘Ah yes...Then hand them over to Population Control in ‘F’ section. ‘F’ section is about to conduct an experiment with their sterility serum by adding it to the water supply of an overpopulated third world region. They can administer the serum to these young ladies first. After all rats and test tubes are not a perfect substitute for human subjects, are they Heinrich?’

‘No, I agree,’ he stumbled.

‘And I am sure there are plenty of male volunteers in ‘F’ section to keep these young ladies’ vaginas well serviced. After the guinea pigs have served their purpose you may dispose of them as you see fit.’

Heinrich nodded in embarrassment and strained a spastic grin. ‘And the others?’

‘The remainder can be of use for F section’s virus, bacteria, and genetic experiments.’

Heinrich claimed a deep breath of relief and collapsed back into his high backed swivel chair as Marduk left. He tapped the keys of his computer and scanned for the last time, the files of the eighteen condemned young employees. He felt no remorse as their smiling photographs flashed onto the screen.

‘They are easily replaced,’ he murmured, then huffed, ‘Such a pity, so many intelligent people are such deluded idealists. Brainwashed with ethics and guilt.’

He placed his hand into the scanner and clicked the mouse and exported the files to security section. He entered in the instructions and clicked ‘close file’.

‘So be it,’ he intoned.

With a sudden barrage the speakers crackled into life. Psychotic screams of diabolical terror filled the office. Then a haunting derisive laugh. Images of impressionistic morbidity flashed upon the wide computer screen.

Heinrich sat petrified, his eyes mesmerized by the paralyzing graphics.

‘Congratulations Heinrich,’ the voice bellowed, ‘With these eighteen extra credits you have passed another milestone upon your journey to enlightenment and to immortality! Your security code number now allows access to the ‘Dungeons of Despair.’

‘Thank you Nergal,’ stuttered Heinrich.

‘You are deserving of this high honor,’ answered Nergal. ‘Please place your hand in the scanner for encoding.’

Heinrich obeyed Nergal without hesitation.

‘Heinrich are you prepared to face the initiation test relating to ‘Dungeons of Despair.’

Heinrich’s mind relented. He knew that by answering in the affirmative Nergal could display the instructions for the grizzly initiation at any time. And even for Heinrich - especially for Heinrich at his level - failure to carry out the instructions to the letter would mean certain death.
Yet to answer in the negative - well that would be unthinkable.

His shaking fingers keyed the computer. ‘I am prepared!’


Sonia lifted her legs out of the open car with the adroitness of an actress stepping out of a limousine at the Academy Awards presentation.
And naturally Paul noticed.

Sonia seemed shorter than he’d expected. He towered a good eight inches over her and he felt more than a little protective and paternal in her presence. Her subtle perfume matched her stylish feminine manner.

And his mind again compared her to Rebecca.

She’s definitely a cute little package but it’s Rebecca I love, he affirmed.

Sonia intuitively felt the comparison and looked up at Paul - her sparkling eyes filled with admiration.

‘Well sir, do I pass?’

‘You know you are teasing me, don’t you?’ he remonstrated.

‘Yes sir, you bet.’

‘You’re cute all right,’ said Paul and nodded defensively.

‘Why sir, coming from you I’ll accept that as a compliment...’ She paused and raised one eye brow and then added, ‘At least for now!’

Paul escaped from her gaze by turning away and ambling to the entrance of the four story office building. The first set of sliding doors opened automatically. Paul followed Sonia as she stepped into the small ante-chamber enclosed by the second set of bullet proof glass doors. The entry doors behind them suddenly sealed shut.

Paul looked up at the ominous nozzles in the suspended ceiling. ‘I don’t suppose they have been installed in case of a fire?’

Sonia shook her head. ‘Installed only yesterday. Cyanide gas! If anyone attempts to gain entry without the correct security clearance,’ she drew a finger across her throat, ‘instant extermination!’

‘Oh charming!’ grimaced Paul.

Sonia smiled and swiped her security smart card through the scanner and keyed in her pin number. She placed her left palm in an electronic devise stenciled ‘Electron Scanner’. The surveillance cameras matched the computer records with her facial features.

‘Welcome Sonia. You may now enter,’ said a friendly male computer voice as the second set of doors opened.

‘As you’ll see Paul, these lifts go downward into the mountain. Your father’s office suites are on the sixth sub-floor.’

Paul gulped three deep breaths to allay his nervousness.

‘There are security guards posted to each floor. By now they will be already double checking our clearance.’

Paul remained silent. At that moment his mind was centered squarely upon the imminent confrontation with his father. His pain and inner anguish resulting from being separated from Rebecca served only to heighten his anxiety. He became desperate to hear Rebecca’s voice and his desperation inflamed his wrath towards his father.

‘In case you are wondering,’ added Sonia, as if to read his thoughts, ‘all telephone calls, both incoming and outgoing, are monitored through the security computer. Mobile telephone calls from the castle are outlawed and are immediately intercepted.’

Paul’s face showed extreme displeasure. He cussed angrily to himself. Like hell will I allow a damn security computer to stop me from talking to Rebecca.

And if at that precise moment he would have observed Sonia’s expression, he would have noticed the satisfied glint in her eyes.

Paul’s furor was still at boiling point when he entered his father’s office.

‘Paul my son, come in. It’s so good to see you. How was Amsterdam? I hear the meeting was most successful.’ Heinrich strode to the door with arms outstretched to ritually hug Paul.
Paul grimaced and remained unyielding.

‘Come, take a seat. We have much to talk about.’

Paul sat down unimpressed.

Heinrich motioned to Sonia, ‘Thank you Sonia. That will be all for now. Perhaps later you can show Paul over the castle.’

Sonia politely nodded, almost curtsied and closed the office door behind her.

Paul studied the bald, thick necked ‘stranger’ with the tufted Hitler moustache before him with a vigilant detachment. Father looks his fifty eight years, thought Paul. He has the sternness and bearing of a disciplined Prussian officer. In fact he reminds me of an officer of the SS in Hitler’s Germany. Yet he is extremely successful. Most sons would feel proud to call this man their father.

Since the heart-connection with Rebecca, Paul was feeling more acutely aware of his emotions and of the people and events around him. It was as if he was gradually awakening from a dream like state into a higher reality. Love does indeed crash through barriers, he sardonically mused to himself.

‘To business!’ Heinrich slapped his desk with a flat palm. ‘First I must apologize for summoning you here on such short notice.’

‘No father, first I insist on an explanation rather than an apology,’ interrupted Paul, his restrained fury ready to blow. ‘I wasn’t summoned - I was all but dragged from the Amstel by those bastards. I only requested two extra days in Amsterdam. What the hell, can be so important that it couldn’t wait two days?’

‘Calm down Paul. There is no need to shout at me. At least here me out.’ Heinrich was insistent and unruffled. His eyes emitted a penetrating alien power.

‘I’m waiting,’ snapped Paul impatiently.

‘Paul, while you were in Amsterdam, certain long awaited high level negotiations took place with the other Syndicate chieftains. I am now in a position to inform you that in just six days time, at these headquarters, there will be held an important meeting.’

‘A meeting?’ Paul with arms folded remained unimpressed.

Heinrich leaned forward and his voice now softened, adding mystery to his words. ‘A most auspicious meeting - a meeting which will dramatically change the course of history. The meeting consisting of the Eleven Syndicate heads, of which I am one, will pass the official resolution that a new World Council will be inaugurated to take over and replace the defunct United Nations.

At the conclusion of the meeting the necessary announcements will be made to the world. The mammoth final plans for the new World Council’s establishment will then forthwith be put into operation!’

‘At the risk of sounding cynical, I know that the Syndicate has all but controlled the world economically for sometime. Why will this particular meeting ‘change the course of history’? And for that matter, where do I fit in to these egocentric plans?’

‘The Syndicate will be promoted as the new World Council. You Paul will be the world figurehead. Public Ambassador representing the World Council. You will become the twelve member of the Syndicate. You will be making the initial announcements. It is of course the highest honor.’

Paul was stoned into silence. His senses buckled with non-acceptance. Unanswerable questions gigged through his mind like an overloaded computer at burnout.

‘You are shocked Paul. That is understandable in the circumstances.’

Paul eventually found his tongue. ‘Shocked, would have to be the understatement of the century.... Father it is absurd. It’s patently preposterous. For God’s sake - why me?’

His father shrugged feigning surprise. ‘Why not? The people will need a figure head to look up to. Someone young and with charisma - someone the youth of the new world will trust. You have been schooled for this position since you were a child. You are my son. You will make the perfect choice!’

‘But father, you don’t understand. I don’t want to be a perceived leader of the world. As I said, the whole idea is ridiculous!’

Heinrich responded to Paul’s negativity with thundering Germanic force - his clenched fist now hammered onto the desk. ‘Paul it is your duty! I know you are overwhelmed. But do not fear - every step has been carefully outlined. This project has taken years to evolve. We will prepare and instruct you at each and every stage. For the benefit of mankind Paul, I repeat, it is your duty!’

‘Benefit of mankind!’ Paul was aghast, ‘With respect, since when have you given a damn about mankind. Money and the power money brings has always been your only God!’

The anger began to sieve in Heinrich at Paul’s unexpected outburst. Marduk’s judgment had proved correct yet again, he thought. Rebecca was a huge threat. She had managed against all odds to influence Paul.

Heinrich gasped spasmodically, remained tight lipped and replied, ‘I am your father. Judge me anyway you like. And for the moment I will ignore your lack of respect and gratitude. I ask you to listen to the facts. And to learn the true secrets of the esoteric.’ His voice rose into a higher gear. ‘Discover for yourself why every computer projection and model compiled from the best scientific intellects this planet can offer, all point to one undeniable conclusion. That at best mankind is on a fast track to a long extended dark age of poverty, misery and anarchy - and at worst total annihilation. Total annihilation!’

Paul responded guardedly. ‘These dire projections you speak of. Upon what basis are they formed?’

Heinrich leaned back in his chair. He thought hard for a few moments and then smiled. ‘Paul may I tell you an ancient metaphor or parable?’

‘If it is relevant,’ he replied.

‘Please listen, it is most relevant.’ Heinrich began with measured drama. ‘There was once a king who had a huge impressive fish pond. A small number of attractive lilies grew upon the surface of the water. The king received much pleasure in both the lilies and the fish and did not want to lose either. However, he observed that the lilies were multiplying and spreading - and that if they ever completely covered the pond, all the fish would die.

The king consulted his most learned mathematicians. The advisers soon calculated that the lilies were doubling each twenty four hour period. With the huge size of the pond and the small amount of lilies they assured the King that he would not have to worry about the problem for years. The king was happy and paid them generously for the advice.

Each day the king admired his pond and each day the area the lilies covered, doubled. But there was always still plenty of area of clear water left for the fish.

Years elapsed and one day the king became ill and for just two days. For only two days he was unable to inspect his pond. The day before the illness, the king had observed that approximately only one eighth of the pond was covered - which of course left seven eighths of clear water.

The first day of his illness, the one eighth doubled to a quarter. The second day, one half of the pond was covered. When the king inspected the pond on the third day the lilies had covered the entire surface of the water and the fish were all dead!’ Heinrich stopped abruptly. He gestured with both hands, stared piercingly at Paul and repeated, ‘All dead!’

Paul did not comment straight away. He understood the parable and agreed. Humans had been on the planet for fifty thousand years or more, yet population growth had only accelerated in the last one and a half centuries. He knew the world was overpopulated. The parable was apt. Rather, it was the means to achieve the ideal population level that concerned Paul.

‘Father, I presume you don’t intend to solve the problem by attempting to educate the human race? How do you intend to stop the lilies from doubling that one last time?’

Paul’s last question pleased Heinrich. It showed acceptance and understanding.

‘Not ‘I’, Paul, we!’ Along with the most sophisticated technology combined with the best intellects this planet can offer. We have both the plans and the means to avoid catastrophe. The World Council intends to abolish poverty, ignorance, nationalism, racism and sectarianism from the face of the globe. Can you imagine how many trillions of dollars the world will save in armaments alone?’

Paul could well imagine. Yet the doubts lingered. ‘Of all people father, I have never picked you as an idealist. It’s the irony that I find so amusing.’

‘Paul you are dead wrong there. I am no idealist.’ Heinrich spoke with passion and fire, ‘I am a realist to the core! I firmly believe, along with the eminent scientists, that this civilization is finished if we don’t act. The ozone level is depleting - the green house effect is accelerating - viruses are mutating and crossing from humans to animals and plants and vice a versa. Climatic changes - earthquakes, hurricanes and crop failures... Do you want me to go on?’

Paul nodded. But Heinrich hadn’t intended stopping.

‘The enemy is ignorance. The ignorance of the religious fanatics and their flat earth mentality. The ignorance of the idealists and their stupid unworkable philosophies. Rather than getting of their backsides and taking the hard decisions, they wait for their mythical ‘Gods’ to intervene. You know damn well that once the project works they will say the success was attributed to God’s will!’

Paul was confused. His father’s words rang true. After all, he thought, surely the human race shouldn’t just cower with heads buried and wait for the unstoppable killer super virus to break out. The Armageddon virus that the whole scientific world knows must (probably sooner than later) surface. The intelligent virus that even now is somewhere out there genetically mutating - preparing as if getting ready literally to fight the war to end all wars - the final annihilation of the over populated billions of its hosts on planet Earth.

Only a fool could ignore the signs. The warnings had been prophesied allegorically for centuries. Prophecies of violent calamities, of plagues and of mass global destruction...

Yet there was Rebecca! For some strange and unfathomable reason she appears to be a central pivot to this drama. Why?

Paul’s voice sounded cold and unforgiving. ‘How many people will need to die before the project’s aims are fulfilled? How long will the means need to justify the end?’ he fished, not quite knowing what he hoped to catch.

Heinrich had to strain not to disclose his sneer and loathing. ‘Paul, that is a cliché that your intelligence and logic should be above. You must realize how many people have died in the last fifty years alone from wars, from malnutrition, from violence and from preventable diseases. Hundreds of millions!. And how many gifted minds have never had the opportunity to bear fruit and contribute to man’s future, because of the lack of facilities.’ Heinrich’s voice rose an aggressive octave. His fist crashed once more onto his desk. ‘Yes,’ he fumed, ‘I get hellishly angry - and for damn good reason I might add!’

‘I didn’t mean to offend you. I’ve accepted most of what you’ve said.’ Paul’s apologetic offering disguised his inner feelings of intimidation.

Heinrich calmed significantly. ‘Of course there will be a cost. A huge cost in struggle and sacrifice. But the cost is a pittance in caparison to any alternative. This project will save hundreds of millions of innocent lives!’

‘This project will save hundreds of millions of innocent lives.’ the words echoed through Paul’s mind.

The whole idea sounded so fantastic.

Every question raised a hundred more. Paul needed time to get his thoughts in order - and to discuss his misgivings with Rebecca.

‘I’m rather at a dead loss for words right now. Perhaps if I could rest up for a while and eat, we could continue this discussion later.’

‘Of course Paul. I understand. By then you’ll have many questions that will need to be answered.’ Heinrich leaned forward, ‘I’ll arrange for Sonia to show you to your rooms. I’m sure your stay here will be most comfortable.’

‘Oh and while I think of it - Don Ormsby.’

‘What about Don Ormsby?’ queried Heinrich shrewdly.

‘If I am going to accept this position you speak of, I would like Don Ormsby to be appointed as my right hand man. I don’t trust him completely but it’s ‘the devil you know as against the devil you don’t’ principle.’

Heinrich smirked with relief at Paul’s capitulating request. ‘But of course. Don’s an excellent choice. He’ll be perfect.’

Paul directed his burning stare into the eyes of his father. ‘I know he’s been reporting to you on my every move. Father, if you and I are to have a working relationship, the snooping will have to stop!’

‘He didn’t tell you that?’

‘Don didn’t need to.’

Heinrich wafted into scheming silence for a brief interlude. His mouth twitched and eyes narrowed. ‘You are right, Don was under my instructions to watch your back at all times. It was for your protection. As your father, it would have been irresponsible of me not to watch over you.’

‘Nevertheless, I’m a big boy now and it will have to stop,’ insisted Paul.

‘Ah yes. But circumstances have changed dramatically. You have successfully completed your apprenticeship. You will now be one of us - an equal.’

An equal. It’s strange, Paul thought. The acknowledgment of being an equal to this monstrous un-paternal toad no longer sounded a compliment. And it was at that instant Paul realized he hated his father.

‘If that is understood, fine,’ shrugged Paul, accepting reluctantly his father’s assurance.

Heinrich pressed his intercom and instructed the receptionist to ask Sonia to return.

Paul sat back deep in thought - stunned utterly beyond comprehension!

Copyright 2004 – 2006 © Charles Goodwin. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, copied or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, storage in a retrieval system or otherwise, without the prior express written permission of Charles Goodwin.

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