March 29, 2030
On a cold March evening, high above the lovely French city of Grenoble, three people were planting the seeds for the next World War while in the bedroom of the dying man.
The old man struggled to speak, the two youngsters sitting beside his bed struggled to hear, the world would soon struggle to survive. One of the boys was tall, thin, and more pretty than handsome; the other was pudgy, bald, and reeked of a stench that was clearly offensive to the other two. The old man, Marcel Proust, looked like he had once been fetching, now he wore the mask of imminent death. His skin was shriveled and ashen gray, his hair snow white, and where his teeth should have been there were but pinkish-gray gums. Were either of the boys holding the dying man’s hands, which they weren’t, they would have felt like ice.
“You understand me?” the old man croaked as he pointed his finger at the pretty boy.
Jean De Gaulle nodded, though he had only heard the part where Proust told him he was to become the Pestii’s leader, all the other words he chose to ignore.
Maurice flashed a toothless smile at Jean followed by a closed-mouth grimace in the direction of the porcine and balding boy. He felt disgusted with himself each time he cast his eyes towards his son. Somehow he had made it into his sixties without siring a child, or at least one that hadn’t come with a court order. This one had been court-proven to have come from his loins, the results were definitive, Rene Proust was his son. He tried bribing the raped maid into an abortion but she had turned down all his offers; she loved the child, he despised it then and still did today.
For the first ten years, he did his best to hide his prodigy from the other members, but the truth eventually became established and no one had cared. Maybe because he was their leader, but more likely because he had single-handedly killed the world’s last four Angels. No Pestii could ever again claim such an honor since there were no more left to kill. Many of his brethren said his accomplishments were greater than Judas Iscariot’s killing of Joseph; Maurice concurred. Some had even compared him to Satan but that was going to far, even he knew that. Satan’s seven million Angel kills put the great man in a league of his own.
But now he was dying, and the Pestii had unfinished business, the plans to start World War Three must be assigned to another. Out of that future war his three-thousand-year-old organization would arise from the nuclear ashes and rule what was left of the smoldering planet. To pull off this Herculean task he needed a young and ruthless leader, the fancy lad sitting in front of him was just the one for the job.
Once he had selected Jean he considered having his son murdered but, over the last few weeks, he thought he saw a flicker of man hiding behind all that blubber.
“I said you are going to become the leader of the Pestii, but you must take care of my boy,” grunted out the old man as he gasped for air.
Rene beamed at his father, the sweat pouring down his face like a running faucet. “Thank you, Father. I will do my best to become as good as you and I’m sure Jean and I will become an inseparable team.”
De Gaulle was about to utter a protest but the old man silenced him. “You imbecile, you aren’t a team; you are too stupid to be a leader. Jean will lead like his great-grandfather, you will just be a follower and obey his orders.”
Jean smiled, Rene sulked, while the old man let out a loud gurgling sound while his eyes rolled into the back of his head. Then there was silence, he had left this world to go where all of the other dead murderers and rapists reside.
Hunts Point, WA USA
If you are reading this letter it means that we have never met and I have died. Today is December 12, 1968, tomorrow I will be traveling with your mother to Whidbey Island and am writing in case something should happen to either of us. I have reason to believe there are those who wish us harm.
I write with great sorrow knowing we never had a chance to share our lives, but that is not the only reason for this letter. There is no easy way for me to tell you, so I will just come straight to the point.
You are not human, you were born of a sub-species called Neanderthal Man, though we call ourselves the Angels. I was told this truth when I turned eighteen and did not believe it for many years. I can only imagine your reaction, you must think I’m crazy, but I assure you, Gabriel, I am not. I fought in World War Two to prevent the Nazis from exterminating our species and failed, except for the rescue of your mother. There are only three of us left today, but if you reading my letter than there is just one remaining Angel, you.
You now have in your possession the original volumes of the Keepers Journals. One was found near the Dead Sea, the other came from Mount Sinai. These two books are records of events witnessed by the Keepers over the last fifty-two thousand years. Noah, the last leader of Atlantis, hid three Arks in remote desert locations just before their civilization collapsed.
One was hidden near the Dead Sea, another on Mount Sinai, and the third in Mecca. Each was safeguarded by a Keeper who became the leaders of our people and each kept a written record of the events of their times. You now possess two of those Journals. The third book is called Andrew’s Journal, named for the Apostle.
I cannot tell you the entire story of your people in this letter; you must reconstruct it as I did from the journals. What you will uncover are the world’s greatest secrets.
Because you are the Last Living Angel there is something you must do in your lifetime . Read the Journals; you will learn what that terrible burden is. I am truly sorry that you were bequeathed with this task, but fifty two thousand years of sacrifices were made so you could do what only you, the Last Angel, must achieve. The fate of all of mankind rests in your hands.
Time is running short. I hope you never read this letter, but in case something happens to us, you must know the truth and fulfill our people’s destiny.
Love Father & Mother
He was speechless. The letter was preposterous in so many ways; he had never read anything as bizarre. I am not human, save the planet, Neanderthal Man, he laughed out loud at the ludicrous ideas. Yet something in the back of his mind triggered a wave of memories, strange dreams, growing up and not truly feeling like he belonged, and his appearance was a bit different. His brow was a bit more pronounced, high cheekbones, large head, and big bones. He also had always been considered smart, but he knew plenty of intelligent people. Carbon dating the Journals was the one way to disprove his father, but deep down he already knew what the results would be as he recalled Dr. Gray’s lab report.
March 29, 2030
Dr. Zakim Boaz extended his hand to Khalid Ahmed, the shaggy-haired leader of ISIS, but the Muslim ignored the gesture. Boaz had watched his boat enter the marina, which was just across the street from the Hotel San Remo, and then studied his foe walk the short distance to the hotel. He knew why Khalid hadn’t flown to Cyprus; the Muslim was one of the world’s most wanted men; the boat was the only way he could reach the island.
The fat Frenchman nodded to the two principals then began. “First, I want to thank each of you for agreeing to meet; there is much to discuss so let’s get started.”
The Jew nodded, the Muslim grunted, and the Frenchman continued. “We have a unique opportunity for all of us to achieve our goals if we work together, separately none of us can pull this off. Each of you has received my plan, any questions?”
“Tell me, Khalid, why would you agree to destroy one of Islam’s most holy shrines?” asked Boaz in fluent Arabic.
All eyes were on the Arab as he considered his answer. “Al-Aqsa is tainted and is not holy to a true Muslim; it is Allah’s will that it be destroyed.”
“Does it matter why he wants it destroyed?” Proust’s eyes arched up as he glared at the Jew.
Boaz fought back a returned glare, he couldn’t stand the portly Pestii but knew he was key to Israel reclaiming Temple Mount. “I don’t care what his reasons are, but I must know if he will follow through. I can’t tell you how much risk I am taking by agreeing to this meeting.”
“When will the documentation and bomb suits be ready?” snarled Khalid.
“I’ll need a few weeks to get everything together; I’d say we should tentatively set a date for April 12.” Just the thought of the Third Temple made the Jew smile.
The meeting was over, but before everyone left Proust insisted on a photo. One of the Caliph’s henchmen snapped a shot of the three conspirators on Proust’s cell. Five minutes later Boaz saw Khalid’s speed boat pull out of the dock and race east, back to Lebanon. Proust and Boaz rode together to the airport.
“I must fly to America, we finally have the Angel and the Arks in our grasp, then I will be back in Tel Aviv in a week to go over the details one more time,” explained the Frenchman as the two men bid each other goodbye.
April 1, 2030
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
A middle-aged Muslim and an old ex-Jew struggled to get the crate into the back of the rented van. The Muslim was devout; the ex-Jew didn’t believe in any religion. The devout Muslim was a member of the Bani Shaiba tribe, the non-believing Jew was not even a member of the human tribe, most people called his type the Neanderthals, though they preferred to call themselves Angels. He was the last of his kind, the one who would deliver the Revelation and save the world.
The devout Muslim knew the contents of the crate would destroy Islam; the Angel knew it would destroy all religions and topple every government. They both knew this yet they still loaded the box, it was destiny, the culmination of a prophecy made fifty-two thousand years earlier.
The ex-Jew stood mesmerized, as if in a trance, then embraced his Muslim friend. “Thank you, my brother, your burden is now mine; you have honorably fulfilled your ancestor’s oath to Muhammad.”
Ibn Majid just stared back at Gabriel, his eyes filled with tears which streaked down his weathered cheeks. Finally, he gathered himself and said: “I speak for all of Islam when I say it has been an honor to serve the Angels. Insha’allah, the Revelation will occur soon.”
“Insha’allah, the Revelation will make a difference,” replied Gabriel as he wiped a solitary tear from his face.
Both men climbed into the van and silently began the drive to Jeddah. Majid broke that silence half way there. “We are being followed.”
“Is it the police?” hurriedly asked Gabriel as he glanced into the rear-view mirror.
“Police don’t drive BMWs; the car has been following us since we left Mecca.”
Gabriel had been nervous since landing in Saudi Arabia two weeks earlier; after the House of Saud was overthrown the country became an ISIS haven. Proust had lost the race for the Sinai Ark; he would stop at nothing to capture this one. Perhaps Majid’s phone was tapped, or his Internet monitored? He thought of the emails sent to his friends in Seattle and realized how foolish he had been.
Majid remained calm and kept driving, checking his rearview mirror now and then. They were now along the most remote stretch of the six-lane freeway connecting Mecca and Jeddah when the Muslim reached over to his cell and punched in a few numbers. Gabriel heard the ring, then listened as Majid provided a detailed description of the BMW and a large truck, both which were now visible in the rear view mirror.
Five minutes later two flashes of light streaked overhead, at the same time they felt and heard the explosions. The Angel looked into the mirror and saw the BMW tumbling end over end through the air while the truck exploded in a tower of flames, then came the thump, thump sound of the Apache as it disappeared into the dark desert night.
“We also have friends in our new government,” answered Majid, before Gabriel could ask.
They arrived at the airport before dawn; the truck cruised through the final checkpoint at King Abdulaziz International Airport. Majid backed into the hangar where Abdullah’s private jet was parked while a relieved Gabriel observed the Ark placed into the plane’s belly, seconds later the Muslim was gone. Gabriel boarded, and finding Al Fayez sound asleep, took a seat next to him. In an instant, he was out.
What seemed like just minutes, but after checking his watch, had been over two hours, he heard the sound of an argument coming from outside. He crept to the open door and listened as he heard the king, Al Fayez, and a Saudi having a heated exchange.
“The king’s jet is no different than our embassy and is considered sovereign territory under international law,” declared the Jordanian Defense Minister. The Saudi, whom Al Fayez spoke to, looked like his second job was blowing up schools and mosques. Beside him were three armed soldiers blocking the way to the stairs leading into the jet.
“Perhaps it is, but you should not object to a quick search, a valuable relic is missing from the Grand Mosque and we have reason to believe it is on this jet.” The Saudi was dressed in robes and sandals and carried a holstered sidearm.
“Are you suggesting that I, the King of Jordan, stole a relic from Islam’s most holy shrine?” thundered the king. “I am a direct descendant of Muhammad, and I will not be insulted by the likes of you any longer, we are boarding the plane and leaving Saudi Arabia.”
“I will let you board, but only after you swear to Allah that you have nothing on that plane that came from the Kaaba.”
King Hussein was aghast at being forced to give an oath at the request of this commoner. This low-level Jihadist, pretending to be a government official, would be dead already if the House of Saud still ruled Saudi Arabia, but they didn’t, and the king knew he had to get past this man to leave. Al Fayez stood by his side, not sure what he would do.
“My friend, of course, I will swear an oath, though if you recall from your Koran readings, Muhammad frowned upon oaths to Allah. Muhammad’s advice aside, I swear to Allah the only items on my jet are those that belong to my people and me. Now, get out of our way, I am late already.”
The Saudi smirked, damnation awaited those who lied to Allah, then motioned to the three soldiers to step aside. He watched as the two Jordanians climbed the steps and disappeared inside the A340. In five minutes the plane was airborne, flying due west over the Arabian Sea towards international airspace.
The king took a seat next to Gabriel while Al Fayez sat in the chair opposite them. No one said a word for a few minutes until the defense minister broke the silence. “Your majesty, you just swore an oath knowing it was a lie.”
“Allah is a lie,” replied the king, “Gabriel has shown us the truth, and it was not Allah who created Islam, you and I both now know the Angels started all religions.”
“Then you don’t believe in any god? I accept what he told us is true, but I have not given up my faith and am surprised, no, I am ashamed, you have. Gabriel, is it true the Angels did not believe in any god?”
The Angel felt shocked at hearing the king’s renunciation of Allah. Would all people abandon the gods they have lived and died for after they too learn the truth? What would the world be like if no one believed in a God? His mind was filled with these questions until he realized both were waiting for his reply.
“Sorry, was lost in so many thoughts, something which is happening to me more frequently. No, the Angels never worshiped a god; they worshiped life and the planet. They were certain the universe was full of intelligent life and somewhere lived beings vastly more advanced than themselves. If they were ever to meet up with those creatures they accepted that they might be god-like but, since the distance between the stars was too vast for inter-planetary travel, God became a moot point.”
Al Fayez wore a troubled look. “If there is no supreme being what is to keep people from killing and raping? The concept has kept our planet safe for thousands of years, and if we abandon it now, we are sentencing humanity to chaos.”
The king shook his gray head. “You are mistaken, my brother, it is those very religions which have been the root of all evil. It all became clear to me after Gabriel shared the Angels’ history, how they taught us their ways, but we humans wanted their word to come from a higher authority and applied the notion of God to their lesson.”
“For thousands of years we were surrounded by gods, and it was perhaps a bit naive on the Angels part to think the Curs could abandon the god concept. Now I know it all to be true, every religion was started from the same message and we corrupted all of them. I will do everything in my power to restore their message, including lying to a terrorist.”
Everyone took a breath, the conversation had turned deep, the men were weary. Gabriel knew there was nothing more he could add; the king had said it all. All that was left was for him to do was deliver that very same message to the eight billion people of the world. What would those billions think and what would happen once they learned the truth? That question had haunted him for years; now that day was fast approaching.
Ancient Angel prophecy proclaimed the reunification of the Arks would herald the end of the Age of Angels. On that day, the last Angel would deliver a speech and reveal the truth of humankind’s past and the Angels’ role. That same prophecy also proclaimed the last Angel would die while he gave that Revelation.
The cabin remained silent until Al Fayez changed the subject. “The Pestii, Jewish Defense League, and ISIS have joined forces. I received confirmation earlier today that representatives of all three met in Cyprus last week, but I don’t know what was said or planned. Most likely they now know of Gabriel and will attempt to prevent him from giving his speech.”
The king nodded, he had already been told of the meeting. “The Revelation is a much greater threat to their plans than their mutual hatred of each other. They may have joined forces, but what can they do to stop him?”
Gabriel thought about the violent deaths his family suffered at the hands of the Pestii. “The obvious answer is they intend on killing me. Shoot me, kill the prophecy.”
“Then we must keep you and the Arks safe. I know you planned on returning to Seattle, but I suggest you and the Ark stay in Amman. The Americans cannot protect you; they don’t even know you exist.”
He had wanted to return home, but now it was too dangerous. Though he could not, his friends, Eva and Laszlo, were still there along with the Arks. “I accept your gracious offer but have one stipulation. I cannot leave the other two Arks in America; I need them and my two associates in Amman.”
“Yes, that was my intention. But how do you propose moving them to Amman?” The king looked to both men for an answer.
Gabriel had not thought that far ahead, his primary focus had been on finding the Meccan Ark. “Both Eva and Laszlo have valid passports; they can leave anytime, getting the Arks to Jordan will be the problem. The Pestii are watching the compound waiting for my return, and I cannot take the risk of shipping them.” The last email he received from Eva described a suspicious yacht anchored in front of his Seattle home.
Once again it was Al Fayez who provided the solution. “The king is flying to Washington DC on Wednesday and will spend two days in the Capital meeting with President Clinton. If the Arks can be brought there they could be loaded on the King’s plane, just as we did in Mecca; we could also bring Eva and Laszlo.”
Gabriel knew it would be too risky to put them on a commercial flight; he’d taken that chance twice already. Eva and Laszlo would have no choice but to drive across America with the world’s most valuable treasure in the back of a rental truck. The thought made him shudder.
“Where will you take the Ark once we land? I prefer staying near it throughout my stay,” asked Gabriel, just as the pilot announced they would begin their descent into Amman.
“You will stay in Al-Hashmiya, my mother’s palace. It’s been vacant for the last few years, and is safe,” answered the king.
“Yes, that would be perfect, my home is in Marj Alhamam which is not far; I cannot think of a better place to store them,” agreed Al Fayez.
The palace, which had once been the home of Alia, the king’s deceased mother, was located in the hills to the west of Amman. High walls guarded the garden-filled grounds, it even had a helipad, and it was defended like a fortress.
“I too have one favor to ask.” The king smiled at his guest. “I would like my children and grandchildren to learn the history of the Angels; would you agree to share your past with them?”
“Excellent idea, my family wants to learn as well,” chimed in the Minister of Defense.
“The best way to learn about the Angels’ astonishing history is to read our book, Angel Curs.”
“What is Angel Curs?”
“Eva wrote it after we finished translating the second Ark, it is the history of the Angels, beginning with Adam and ending with the fall of Atlantis. We wanted to prepare the world for the Revelation and thought a novel might help break the ice. The reader believes he is reading fiction but, after the Revelation, he will realize it was history.”
The king nodded. “I would like the last Angel to read Angel Curs to my family; I doubt my grandkids would take the time to read it on their own. How long would it take to finish?”
“It is long; after all, we are talking about sixty thousand years of history. I guess I could finish it in about twenty days if we read each night for a couple of hours.” He paused a second, a dark cloud swept across his face. “Unless Armageddon interrupts the reading.”
All three men grew silent; each considered the horrors of nuclear war. The pilot shattered the silence with his announcement that the plane was landing. The king disembarked first, in front of the media, while Gabriel and Al Fayez exited after the jet was moved to the hangar. They watched the Ark loaded into a military truck and then climbed into a waiting limo and followed it to Al-Hashmiya.
April 1, 2030
They were waved past the guards standing at the driveway’s entrance and followed the truck to the front of the house which, to Gabriel, looked more like a very expensive home one would see on a golf course in Palm Springs than a palace. Four soldiers jumped out while a fifth emerged from the house with a hydraulic dolly. The crate was wheeled through the front doors and into the foyer.
Gabriel saw a dining hall to his right, on the left was a library with a large television, couches, a desk, and a bar. Straight ahead was a long hallway that appeared to lead to the bedrooms.
“What is down there?” Gabriel was looking at Al Fayez, pointing to the hallway, and didn’t notice the woman descending the spiral staircase.
“The kitchen and staff rooms are on the left, the Queen’s bedroom is at the end of the hall, and on the right is her office,” answered the lady. “Greetings, Dr. Mitchell, my name is Myrah Fayyad; I work for the king and am at your service.”
Gabriel’s ears perked up when he heard her last name. He had once been a tenant of a man with the same name during his stay in Kalya while he searched for the Dead Sea Ark. He studied her beautiful face he saw a slight resemblance to his landlord, Salam Fayyad, but the thought was quickly displaced by a surging arousal as he stared at the woman’s alluring body. She wore a short, black skirt with a white blouse that set off her jet black hair and creamy ivory-colored skin. She saw him staring, his mouth wide open, and let a small smile settle on her full red lips.
“I take it you are looking for a place to put that.” She pointed to the large crate that filled the foyer and then smiled at Al Fayez who returned an equally warm smile.
“Yes, sorry for staring, you caught me off guard. I need a secure room; there is something quite valuable inside.”
“The Queen’s bedroom will suit your purposes well. There’s only one way in, and the metal doors have locks which will ensure that your treasure remains safe. Would you mind me asking what is inside?” Myrah’s eyes locked onto Gabriel’s, and both felt the electricity flow between their souls.
“If you like you can help me unpack it once we it’s moved. Please, gentlemen, follow Ms. Fayyad to the Queen’s boudoir.” ….
The soldiers wheeled the crate to the end of the hall while Myrah unlocked the two metal doors. The room stood empty; the air was fresh, but it just felt unused, as if no one had slept there in years. The soldiers placed the crate in the center than were escorted out; Myrah closed the door behind them.
Gabriel just stared at his package, lost in the wonder of finding the third and final Ark.
“Well, professor, are you going to show me what is inside?” She stood, legs apart, in front of the crate and staring back at him.
“Yes, of course, but first I have a question for you. Are you by chance related to a family that lives in Kalya, on the West Bank? I once rented a small cottage from a man named Salam Fayyad. When I heard your name I thought I saw a slight resemblance, though Salam is much older, and not as attractive.”
Myrah gasped, her eyes widened, and her face suggested she was blushing. “Salaam was my oldest brother, but you must already know he died. How did you happen to rent a cottage from him?”
“What? How did he die? I haven’t spoken to him for several years, I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” His worried look belied his concern that somehow he had contributed to the man’s death.
Myrah saw his expression change and sensed his deep compassion, her interest in the American was growing. “I don’t know; they never arrested anyone. His son found his headless body in front of their house.”
“I ‘m sorry, he was a good man, and to die in such a manner; it’s horrible.” Thoughts of the Pestii consumed him; now he knew that indirectly Salaam died because of him. “I also know your other brother, Mahmoud, who lives in the United States. He is a colleague of mine and introduced me to Salaam. I am embarrassed I didn’t know he had died.”
“Then you have met most of my family, what a small world. I also have one other brother, Abid, who lives in Gaza City, but I have not heard from him in years. He has two children, a boy, and a girl, but enough about my family, are you going to show me what is inside the box?”
He went to work removing the wood paneling; then he pulled back the blankets which were protecting his precious treasure. After he pulled back the last one she exclaimed. “Is that an Angel Ark?”
He looked up in surprise. “Yes, it is the third Ark. This one lay beneath the Kaaba for the last fifteen centuries under the close watch of some very special friends of mine, friends I never knew I had. The first one was found with the help of your nephew and brother and is in the USA. We recovered the second from the Sinai desert, and it too is in America. In a few days, all three will be reunited here, for the first time in fifty-two thousand years.”
Gabriel watched her, shocked to see the lady drop to her knees and cry. “Hey, this is a joyous occasion, you are one of just a few people who even know they exist.” He reached down to lift the girl to her feet.
She rose and threw her arms around his neck, still sobbing, her wet tears rolling down his neck. He felt himself growing aroused, again.
“My father told us the story of the Ark and said the last Angel would find it and deliver a speech which would change everything. It is you, isn’t it, you are that last Angel?” She pushed her body into his.
He felt overcome with desire and would have loved to throw her onto the plush Persian carpets but instead he just pushed her away. Neither said a word for a moment; both were surprised, each breathing hard.
Myrah shook her black hair, pulled at her skirt, and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “I am sorry; I don’t know why I did that, please forgive me.” She looked away; he could see the shame on her face.
“Don’t apologize, I can’t explain what just happened, but I felt so attracted to you, it was almost spiritual. Seeing the Ark, hearing of Salaam’s death, your presence here, sorry I’m at a loss for words. Would you still like to see what’s inside?”
She nodded, keeping a safe distance from him, while he knelt down near the center of the Ark and worked its wooden latch until the lid rotated backward revealing a stack of well-worn books.
“Is that all there is?” asked the Arab, not bothering to hide her disappointment. “I thought there would be a treasure or something magical would pop out.”
“What’s inside those books is magical. Tomorrow I will begin translating them.” He thought of the tedious job facing him and shuddered. The first one, the Dead Sea Ark, took almost five years; the second one less than a year because he had Eva and Laszlo.
“I could help you. The king instructed me to assist you in any way, and I would like to learn more about the Angels. I can type over a hundred words a minute, and I’m pretty good with software.”
Gabriel thought for a moment, inclined to turn her down because he was afraid of what he might do if he was near her every day. Though he and Eva were not engaged, they were a couple, albeit in private, and he loved her. But the rush of emotions racing through his body made him tremble. Then he remembered the other two projects, with her help he could finish before the Revelation.
The prophecy was clear; he would die that day on Temple Mount, the day he revealed the truth to the world. Both Adam and Noah saw him die, Adam in his dream one hundred and ten thousand years ago and Noah, also in a dream, sixty thousand years later. Both men’s visions were included in Angel Archives.
It wasn’t his death which worried him, that was inevitable, or so he thought, it was the vow he had made to write the stories of the Angels after the fall of Atlantis. He had decided to add three new sections to Angel Curs. The Age of Teachers would cover from the time of Abram to Jesus; the Book of Salish would explain their role in the modern world beginning with Muhammad and ending right before World War One. The final story, the one he knew intimately, was his family history, starting with his grandfather.
Eva’s book, Angel Curs, took the history of the Angels from Adam and Eve through Noah, but her story did not cover how they introduced their philosophy to humans. Nor did her book share how the world ended up with just one Angel.
The Arks would remain lost to the world if it weren’t for David. It was the letter he had sent to him, forty years after he died, that brought him here. He owed it to the world to write the final chapter in the history of the Angels and knew he had little time. Perhaps with Myrah’s assistance, he could finish it before he died.
“I would love for you to assist me if it doesn’t interfere with your other duties. I have a project I’ll begin tomorrow, the writing of my people’s modern history, and, if you are willing, you can help me. I have all the records scanned; I just need to organize them into a coherent story.”
The Arab’s smile raced across her face as she nodded in agreement. “What time shall we start?”
He looked at his watch, it was four in the afternoon, Amman time, and remembered his promise to read to the king’s children, who would be arriving at seven. “How does six tomorrow morning sound? I know it’s early, but I find my mind is sharpest then.”
“Perfect! I get up at five for my morning run; I will be showered and ready to be your scribe. I know this sounds corny, but I am so honored to be working with you.” She walked a few steps towards the Angel and extended her hand.
“Excellent, now if you will please show me to my bedroom, I desperately need to shower before tonight’s reading, I hope you can join us.”
Myrah just smiled as she led him by the hand out of the Queen’s bedroom and down the hallway leading to the foyer. Before reaching the end, she turned to the left and opened a dark mahogany door which revealed a fully furnished bedroom complete with a king-sized bed and private bath. His unopened suitcase was on the luggage stand.
“Thank you, the room is beautiful, and it is right next to the Ark.” His gaze settled on the bed which seemed to be screaming “nap”. He heard a sound, like a zipper unzipping, and spun around, then froze. Myrah was naked, her clothes were lying in a crumpled heap on the floor, her inviting smile said it all.
“Do not say a word; we’ll shower together and then I am going to make love to the world’s last Angel.”
He gawked in joyous disbelief at her ample breasts, each sporting the largest dark brown nipples he had ever beheld. She slowly undressed him, he just smiled, neither woman nor Angel speaking. Both naked, she smiled slyly and led him by the hand to the shower. Fifteen minutes later, they emerged gasping for breath.
“Dinner will be served at six on the upper west-facing patio. You have enough time for a quick nap before the meal, and now, I must attend to some other business, good bye my sweet Angel,” cooed Myrah as she quickly dressed and left the room.
He threw himself on the bed, not bothering to get under the covers and fell fast asleep.
April 1, 2030
Seattle, WA USA
Both Eva and Laszlo heard the computer chirp; it was Gabriel. She clicked connect.
“Guess where I am,” said their friend, trying hard not to think of Myrah. He just woke up and had a few minutes before dinner.
“Mecca’s only strip club?” jested Laszlo.
Eva dug her elbow into his side. “On a plane coming home, I hope.” For the last two weeks, she could think of nothing but her Angel and how much she loved him.
“I am in Amman staying at King Hussein’s mother’s palace and next to my room is the Ark. It’s so beautiful.”
“What is beautiful, Gabriel? Amman, the palace, or the Ark?”
“All three, but I was referring to the Ark. The Bani Shaiba were good Keepers, but on a more serious note you both need to leave Seattle tonight, I have good reason to believe the Pestii are going to attack soon. The king is flying to DC on Wednesday and returning Friday morning, can you get the Arks there in time?”
Gabriel sounded frantic as he rattled off his thoughts; Eva and Laszlo looked at each other in alarm. He was supposed to return to Seattle; that was the plan.
“Slow down, Professor, let me get this straight, you’re not coming back to Seattle, and you want us to drive to DC with the two Arks?”
“Yes, sorry, I got ahead of myself. We were attacked last night on the road to Jeddah, then the king’s plane was detained. They were looking for the Ark, and I learned the Pestii, JDL, and ISIS have all joined forces. I believe they may attack the compound tonight, is the yacht still out front?”
“Yes, and we saw another boat tie up earlier today, and several men climbed aboard, it looked as if they brought scuba gear with them. Late this afternoon I walked to the end of Hunts Point Drive and did not see any suspicious cars, but am certain they won’t come by land.” Eva’s heart was beating faster as she spoke to her Angel.
“We anticipated the need for a sudden departure; I had a rental truck delivered the day you left. It’s still in the garage; we can depart tonight,” added Laszlo.
“Excellent, remember you must be in DC by Friday morning. You can make it, be safe, leave immediately.” He looked towards the doorway and saw Myrah, hands on her hips, blowing him kisses. “Dinner beckons, send me texts.”
April 1, 2030
That night he dined outdoors while savoring the views of the palace grounds and the fragrances of the many blooming flowers. The outdoor dining area faced west, and in the far distance, he saw the faded outline of the Judean mountains. Just after completing his meal he heard the cars arrive. In a couple of minutes, the serenity of that blissful silence was displaced by the squeal of children.
He counted twelve guests which included the king, his four children, and seven grandchildren. Gabriel was introduced to each member of the royal family: Crown Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma, and Prince Hashem. Al Fayez and his son, Nizar, arrived shortly after the royal entourage.
On the table beside him sat his copy of Angel Curs and after everyone found a place to sit he introduced himself and the story.
“Thank you for joining me, tonight we will begin the history of my people, the Angels, by reading the story of Adam and Eve. Keep in mind; Angel Curs is a literal translation of the books we found in the Arks. The dialog is sparse; that is the way they wrote it. The story of Adam and Eve is a biography compiled by Angel historians sixty thousand years later. We abridged their version to come up with the story you are about to hear.”
“How do you know who wrote it?” asked Nizar. Gabriel had spent two months with the young man in the Sinai searching for that Ark. He noted he had changed; his hair was longer, unkempt, and he was somewhat slovenly dressed. He also detected the faint smell of marijuana emanating from his clothes.
“We don’t, we just know the story came from books that are fifty thousand years old. The last leader of Atlantis, Noah, had the empire’s greatest scholars compile the Archives who finished just before the empire fell. Noah had all of that history created in triplicate, placed in wooden chests he called Arks, and hidden in the desert. Angel Curs is an anthology of the Archives we found inside Noah’s Arks. Most of what you will hear tonight came directly from the history they compiled fifty-two thousand years ago.”
One of the king’s granddaughters waived her hand. “Where did Noah hide his Arks?”
“One was placed in the cliffs overlooking the Dead Sea, another on Mount Sinai, and the last one he put near modern day, Mecca.”
Before the girl could ask another question, Nizar jumped in. “Not to be a skeptic, but I find it highly coincidental that these Arks also happened to be near three of human’s most holiest places.”
Gabriel pondered the boy’s point for a moment. “Fair observation, but perhaps you have it backward. Those three locations became religious centers because of the Arks. For thousands of years, the Angels lived at those locations. Long before the Curs arrived they became centers of learning for the Angels and overtime humans gravitated to the same places and eventually made them central to their religions.”
Nizar had no more questions though the king’s granddaughter, eight-year-old, Jamilla, had another one. “Are Angels Muslim?”
The king suppressed his smile; Gabriel failed, as his grin filled his face. Jamilla’s mother, Princess Iman, shook her head in disbelief at her daughter.
“My dear, we will get to that interesting question when we reach the Age of Teachers. The Angels lived in a time before there were any Muslims, Jews, or Christians. In their age, there were only Angels and Curs. Now the book is long so please hold your questions until we complete a chapter, OK?” Gabriel looked at the parents, who all nodded in agreement.
Firas, Iman’s seven-year-old son, raised his hand and before he could be called upon asked: “Is your book real?”
Everyone looked at Gabriel. When he first heard the tale of the Angels, from his father’s letter, he laughed because it was so preposterous. Since that time he had learned otherwise.
“Yes, nothing is truer than the stories you will hear over the next few weeks. They may sound like fables, but once you complete the book, you too will realize the Angels’ story is the history of humanity. In some ways, it is frightening because everything I once believed to be true turned out to be either a falsehood or an exaggeration.”
Princess Salma looked concerned. “Are the stories appropriate for children?”
Gabriel studied the princess who was an attractive lady of twenty-nine, though she paled in comparison to Myrah, who had just arrived, unacknowledged, and sat by herself.
“Angel Curs is the history of humanity over the last one thousand centuries, and there were some bad people over that time. Though they would have behaved worse if the Angels had not intervened in their lives. Most of what you will hear will not be as bad as what you see and hear on the evening news.”
“Thanks, just warn us if you get to an inappropriate part and we will take the children inside.”
“Allow me first to share some background on tonight’s story. We believe the date for the Adam and Eve chapters to be around one hundred and ten thousand years ago and the location is near Lake Victoria in central Africa. There were two branches of humans living near the lake. One called themselves the Angels and were small in number but more intellectually advanced. Today you would know them as Neanderthal Man. The other branch, which the Angels called the Curs, were larger in number but uncivilized. They had been pushing the Angels north, away from the lake, for thousands of years. The story you will hear tonight describes the events which led the Angels to leave their Curs cousins behind in Africa.”
Firas had another question after reading the book’s title. “Your book spelled curse wrong.”
Gabriel laughed, he couldn’t help himself. They wanted to call the book Angel Curse, but someone had already used that name for their trashy vampire novel. Eva did not want her book tainted by association, so they decided on the current title. “Good catch, young man. The lady who wrote it gave it the name “Angel” in honor of me, because I was the last one. The word Curs is the name the Angels gave to humans. So the title is saying there is just one Angel left and a whole lot of Curs.”
The parents laughed while he paused to see if anyone had any further questions, then began reading the real story of Adam and Eve.
Today was Adam’s eleventh birthday and next year he would become a man, then he could join the hunt, but this year he was expected to stay behind with the women and children. In his estimation that custom was unfair and he had thrown a fit, but his father had held firm. Angel tradition was clear, until you turned twelve you were considered a child and could not participate in adult activities, like the hunts. But Adam was the son of the village chief and believed an exception was warranted.
The Angels lived in central Africa, near Lake Victoria, where their population had never been greater than two hundred thousand. Now it was just half of that; the Curs were to blame. A day did not go by without a raid on Angel villages. Dam, Adam’s father, knew his people were destined for extinction, but no one seemed to have a plan to deal with their enemy.
Adam felt proud his father was the chief and often bragged about it to his best friend, Baal. Elections determined the leader, each adult Angel, male and female, had an equal vote. The leader made decisions like organizing the hunts, and every ten years he attended the Council of Apac which was a gathering of Angels from all the villages in the realm.
For the last thousand years, the Council met at Apac, the largest settlement in the land. Later that year, after the hunt, Adam would join his father and brother, Edam, at the Council, but not as a representative, that was his father’s and uncle Ra’s job. His brother, Edam had a reason for going; he would meet his betrothed, Eve, the daughter of Jus, the Apac chief.
Angels had always arranged marriages from distant villages which assured the dwindling Angel population maintained genetic diversity; the practice also kept the tribes close. Eve was only seven, and could not marry until she was thirteen, but Edam was excited to meet his future wife. Adam was excited to just journey, but first, the tribe must complete the hunt.
He knew the rule, but that did not stop him from trying to change it. After all, Dam was the chief of their tribe, and Adam was bigger and smarter than most of the boys who had already turned twelve. The answer was still no, but a qualified no, his father would allow him to travel with Uncle Ra and the butcher party.
Today was a good day for Adam. He felt pleased about joining the adults and was excited for the birthday feast his mother had prepared. Angels ate well because they were good hunters and even better gatherers, unlike their Cur cousins who feasted on any dead animal they happened to find. The Angel’s balanced diet made them healthy and smart while the rotten and fetid meat the Curs dined upon made them sickly, weak, and mentally unstable.
That night, during the feast, Dam talked of the impending hunt. “The butcher party is as important as the drivers since they dress the slaughtered animals and haul the meat and skins back to camp. The lions would steal the kill if the butchers delayed even a few hours, even hungry Curs have been known to approach an armed Angel hunting party. They will seize any opportunity for free meat; it is the butcher’s job to not feed the Curs.”
Adam absorbed all his father said and relished in his important role even while Edam smirked at him. The drivers were considered to have the more prestigious job, and Edam gloated over being included in that group. Adam ignored his brother.
Evenings were also the time for families to discuss the events of the day. They talked of friends, Curs, dreams, hunting, and sometimes of gods. The Angels had no shared religion though they did agree each had the right to their own beliefs. Tonight Adam wanted the family to discuss the gods because earlier that day Baal had boasted that his family had more gods than Adam’s. His family rarely spoke of gods, and he was not even sure they had any.
“Father, what are gods?” asked Adam. Edam laughed at his brother’s foolish question.
His father loved both his sons but always admired his youngest boy’s inquiring mind and looked disapprovingly at the elder. “Man seeks an answer to everything he does not understand, and when he can’t find one, he brings in a god to fill the void. For example, during a storm we see lightning and hear thunder. I know the storm brings the thunder; others believe lightning and thunder come from angry gods.”
“So gods are not real?” Edam had lost his smile and eagerly awaited his father’s reply.
“Gods are as real as a man’s belief in them. His conviction in a God makes him change his behavior which makes the spirit real to that person. It is the belief in something which makes it real. The created God affects a person’s behavior and then the person attributes his changed behavior to the god and worships the idol ever more fervently.”
He paused to pop some berries in his mouth. “Baal’s father believes in the thunder god and keeps his family in their hut when a storm arrives; his family is not struck by lightning. Karo’s family does not have a thunder god, and they continue to gather berries during the storm; his son is struck dead by lightning. Now both believe in the thunder god.”
“But I know thunder is just the sound caused by lightning striking the ground, and our family does not gather berries in a storm because it’s not safe. We do not have gods because I believe it is my responsibility, not a god’s, to protect my family. Gods don’t solve our problems, they hide them.”
Adam shook his head. “Baal said we anger the gods by ignoring them and bad things are going to happen to our family. Father, would it not be wise to at least acknowledge a few important ones to avoid their wrath?”
Dam realized his son was not going to let this die. He had always encouraged his children to question everything, a challenging mind was a growing mind, and all others were stagnant. The Angels surpassed the Curs because of their intelligence and Dam believed it was their brains which kept them from being slaughtered.
“Adam, I leave it up to you to believe in whatever you please, but I choose not to believe in them and think they are scapegoats for ignorance. Do our choices even matter if gods control our destiny? I believe it is our actions which determine our fate.”
Adam realized all of the people who had gods seemed to blame their misfortunes on those gods, never accepting their own role. He vowed he too would live his life without them.
That night he slept soundly, until the dream. The Angels had vivid dreams and believed some were symbolic of important events about to happen. Village elders interpreted dreams, some of which foretold the future. Adam had often dreamed in his short life, but he had never shared one with the elders because he liked the challenge of interpreting them on his own.
This dream was unlike any he had ever had and beheld consequences which would change history. He awoke in the middle of the night shaking. Angels were trained to recall and retell their dreams to avoid forgetting. He got up from his bed, now just hours before dawn, and walked through the forest recounting its strange details.
He had felt himself roll out of his body and then saw himself sleeping on the grass mat lying on the floor of the hut he shared with his brother. Adam had journeyed out of his body before, as had other Angels. One Angel once recounted how he traveled to a nearby village and overheard a chief speaking to a group of men. Four days later he repeated the conversation to his village elders who then sent a runner to the other village. When the runner returned they learned the dreamer had recounted that chief’s exact words, except for one slight problem, the conversation had taken place the previous day; three days after the Angel had his dream.
Angel dream journeys were natural, forward dreams were not, this was his first. While walking alone through the dark forest, he recounted its details.
I flew from the hut and travelled across the meadows to the hunting fields where thousands of pelos grazed on the lush grasses. I was happy until I saw smoke in the distance, the place where Father would be. In a flash, I hovered above the smoke and on the ground I saw many fallen Angels. The naked Curs danced around the bodies, then I saw them eating both wounded and dead, they tore the limbs from Angels, their faces were covered in Angel blood. I saw my father and brother lying among the dead and watched as they too were eaten.
Terrified, I soared upwards and away from the monsters, but the higher I went the more of them I saw. There were thousands, then tens of thousands, they were everywhere. I watched them pour across the countryside consuming every living thing in their path. They climbed atop each other as if they were trying to get me, in fear I fled to the north, towards the great rver. I had to get away; if I stayed, I would die.
I followed the river as it led me away from the evil Curs; the lands turned from green to brown, I was now in the desert, they were no longer chasing me. I was an explorer, no longer afraid, just inquisitive. After soaring along the river’s meandering path, I saw another great river merge into my river; together they plunged further north through a barren desert. I next heard the waterfall; the noise made a loud roar, and beyond it was paradise. Everywhere I looked animals grazed, trees swayed in a mild breeze, plants of all shapes and sizes bore fruits I’d never before seen; but best of all there were no Curs. I felt like this land was home, that I had been here before, and that this was the place the Angels would one day call home.
I continued to follow the river until it emptied into an endless lake. Below were colored specks darting across its waters in all directions, they looked like tiny flowers dancing on the blue water. As I flew closer, I could see the flowers were rafts with colored clouds chasing them from above, and on the rafts were my Angels. The great lake was ending and in the distance were mountains, the largest I had ever seen. On the land, I saw Angels riding animals while other Angels were in land rafts pulled by those same animals through endless forests of tall trees. Off in the distance, I spied the greatest village of all where I met a young man walking through a meadow, who acknowledged me as I ascended to his side. He had white colored skin, unlike any I had ever seen, and appeared to be in his early twenties. His hair was yellow, like a lion, and he wore it long, almost to his waist.
“Who are you and where am I?” I asked, unafraid and surprisingly calm.
“Adam, it is I, Noah. You are in Jerusalem, your home,” replied the young man with a welcoming smile.
I noticed Noah carrying a long wooden stick with a string attached to each end. On his shoulder was a bag with several smaller sticks with feathers on the ends. The sticks had attached stones.
Adam awoke before he could ask Noah what it was he carried.
April 1, 2030
Gabriel laid the book on the table and looked around at his guests, who all stared back wide-eyed.
Al Fayez indicated he had a question. “To be clear, these Angels are the same people we now know as Neanderthals?”
“Yes, we are what modern humans now call the Neanderthals. They lived near the Curs, but didn’t interbreed, and eventually evolved into a more advanced sub-species.”
Princess Iman looked confused. “When I studied ancient history we were taught that Neanderthal Man was a brutish and hairy hunchbacked cave man. These people sound like they were more advanced than our ancestors.”
“A couple of little-known facts, Iman, that might help explain the misconception. First, Neanderthal Man had much larger brains than the Curs and brain mass goes hand-in-hand with higher intelligence. Second, Neanderthal man settled in Europe and the Middle East thousands of years before the Curs arrived. Finally, and this I find most interesting, every human north of Africa carries Neanderthal genes.”
Iman nodded, still unconvinced, and asked: “I look at you and see a human, a very good-looking human. If they didn’t interbreed, why do you look like us?
Gabriel smiled. “They didn’t interbreed for two hundred thousand years, but eventually they did have babies together. When we get to the Book of Noah, you will learn how that happened. The Curs were very enthusiastic about taking Angel brides, though the feeling wasn’t mutual.”
Nizar had a troubled look on his face which Gabriel noticed. “Thanks for reading about this ancient history, but what I am most interested in is the Angels’ role in establishing modern religions. We talked about it during our days in the Sinai. I hope your book will cover the whole story.”
“Sorry, Angel Curs ends with the fall of Jerusalem in 50,000 BC. I have always wanted the book to include the Age of Teachers, but there wasn’t time to write it, plus we never fully understood their role in the creation of Islam, until now. After recovering the Meccan Ark, we now know the full history of how every religion got their starts. Would you be interested in helping me?”
Gabriel knew he would have his hands full writing his family’s history with Myrah, but the stories of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad were too important to ignore.
Nizar looked over at his father for his blessing, which he received. “I’d be honored to help you, what time shall I start?”
Gabriel glanced at Myrah. “How does noon work for you? In the morning I will be working on their modern history which begins shortly after the death of Jesus.”
The young man nodded, excited for a chance to work alone with the world’s last Angel. In a few minutes, the king’s retinue had left leaving just Gabriel and Myrah alone under the starry night. Once the last car pulled away, she turned to him and said: “It’s time I put my Neanderthal Man to bed, don’t you think?”
Gabriel could feel the blood flowing to his loins as he listened to her sultry voice. “Lead me to my cave, you filthy Cur.”
Minutes later the Cur and Angel bodies were wrapped together in an ecstatic and orgasmic embrace. Afterwards, she lay her head on his chest and fell asleep while he lay awake thinking about the Ark, the Revelation, and Eva.
A few weeks before he flew to Mecca they had become lovers, now he was lying next to naked Myrah and he didn’t feel a shred of guilt. Perhaps it was because he would die during the Revelation and would never be able to marry her, or perhaps it was because all of his life he had loved sex and avoided relationships. His last thought of the night was of Eva and Myrah and their impending meeting. He shuddered, then buried his face between Myrah’s ripe breasts and fell fast asleep.
April 2, 2030
Seattle, United States
Eva watched the Pestii through the binoculars and guessed there were ten men on board the yacht which was anchored on Lake Washington in front of Gabriel’s house. The leader was easy to spot; he sat in the captain’s seat on the upper deck, a short, fat and balding man who appeared to be giving orders to the crew below. “They will attack tonight,” she observed.
“Can I take a look?” Laszlo was in his late forties, of medium height, his thick head of hair flecked with gray as was his bushy mustache. They had first met when both were children in Pécs, Hungary, then again when they did their weapons training in Germany, and once more when the Salvation Army purchased the two homes on either side of the Angel.
“Yes, they will, but not before midnight.” He flashed a sly smile. When the yacht showed up five days earlier, they had made a ritual of keeping all their lights on until just before midnight. If the Pestii attacked it would be after the lights went out.
Gabriel’s house stood near the end of Hunts Point, a two-kilometer long promontory jutting north into the eastern side of Lake Washington. Laszlo owned the home to the north of Gabriel’s, Eva’s to the south. The Salvationists purchased both when they learned he had brought home the Dead Sea Ark.
They were initially assigned to just protect him but their role grew, now they were his collaborators and helped translate the Archives. His call earlier that day had set in motion the plan to flee. Once it was dark the Arks would be moved to the Ryder truck, parked in the garage, and at nine they would depart with the lights blazing away. By the time the Pestii stormed the compound they would be in Portland, Oregon.
Eva admired Laszlo, not only for his good looks, but at how organized he was. The electric dolly delivered a few days earlier easily moved the five hundred pound Arks into the back of the truck. He had even removed the truck’s GPS tracking unit.
“Shall we?” asked Laszlo, both suitcases in hand.
“We shall, my dear,” replied Eva. As they went out the back door, she set the alarm. He backed the truck out of the driveway with the lights off, carefully avoiding the brakes. Once they were safely on the road the headlamps were turned on and each exhaled a sigh of relief.
At the end of the mile-long road the truck merged onto the freeway and in less than a minute, they were speeding across the floating bridge towards Seattle. Eva looked north and could see the yacht lit up like a Christmas tree.
There was no raid that night; the house lights were never turned off. The following day, after seeing no movement, Proust sent a team to investigate. The lights were still on; all three houses were searched and found to be empty. No Angels, no Arks, no Salvationists; Rene Proust had struck out once again.
He was recruited into the Pestii by his father, Maurice, who was the “drunk” that ran Gabriel’s grandparents off of the Lake Washington bridge, drowning both. A year later, he caught up with David and Irena Salish, Gabriel’s parents, on the Deception Pass Bridge. The police found two empty cars blocking traffic and one, David’s, was riddled with bullet holes, the front seat soaked in blood. Maurice was boarding an Air France flight back to Paris about the time the police found the cars.
Rene was short in stature, long in the waist, and his head was void of hair and often glistened from the sweat his body endlessly churned out. Proust’s only major success had been marrying Gisella, who may not have been the most beautiful girl in France, but was in the running for sweetest and most loyal.
The only persons he loved more than Gisella were his two daughters, Celeste and Eugenie. Celeste turned seven a few weeks earlier and Eugenie was five. Eugenie had blond curly hair, a cherub face, and loved her daddy very much while Celeste was blessed more with her father’s looks but equally loved her father.
Rene had not realized as much Angel-killing success as his father. The Pestii thought there might be one left when the American professor showed up in Israel. Dr. Mitchell had arrived under the pretext of searching for new Dead Sea Scrolls and Rene Proust was dispatched to Kalya to observe him. He saw him leave his rented hut every day to search the hills near Qumran, the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, then he disappeared the night before he planned to seize him.
Proust later learned Mitchell had fled the West Bank via Amman and had left with a large crate. The Jordanian Defense Minister, Eid Al Fayez, was of little help the day Proust interviewed him so he flew to Cairo and made the long drive to St Catherine to search for the next Ark. Proust’s suspicions about Mitchell were confirmed when he discovered the professor was there too, but again his prey disappeared, probably with the second Ark.
Mitchell was next seen in Mecca and Proust knew right away he was seeking the third Ark, and that the man was a bona fide Angel, he was most certainly the world’s Last Angel. The Pestii later learned the leader of the Bani Shaiba tribe, Ibn Majid, assisted the Angel and when they left Majid’s home in a rented truck he knew they had him, again. An ISIS assassin team followed with instructions to kill them in the desert, between Mecca and Jeddah, and seize the Ark. Instead, both vehicles were blown up while Mitchell and the Ark got away, again.
That was why Proust was on the yacht in front of Gabriel’s house; he thought he would return to Seattle. After all, that is what he did after finding the first two, but the accursed Angel never showed up, now his two assistants had given him the slip and he had failed, again. He shuddered at the thought of meeting De Gaulle after this latest debacle.
April 2, 2030
President Boris Kiska let out a contented sigh as he relaxed in his private office in the Kremlin’s Senate Building. He was content because he had ruled Russia for over thirty years, in name he was the elected President of the Russian Republic, but in practice he was the Czar. To run against him was to sign your own death warrant as witnessed by the thousands of murdered opposition leaders. Now seventy-seven-years-old, he was as fit today as he was during his KGB days, forty years earlier.
His only signs of age were his completely bald pate, the dentures which he had the habit of removing from his mouth whenever he became agitated, and his increasingly bizarre sexual habits.
Today was a great day to be Russian as the president proudly pinned the Order of St. George on General Luka Ryabov’s chest. “Your service to the Republic will never be forgotten.”
General Ryabov saluted his president. “Thank you, but the Ukraine could never have been conquered without you; this medal is more yours than mine.”
Kiska felt warmed by the kind words and his knowledge that those kind words were true. “I prefer wearing the glory of returning Russia to its rightful place as the leader of the world and reversing the shame of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But enough talk of medals, are the troops ready?”
“Yes, after Kyiv fell we moved all our forces to the border; Poland is already yours, just give me the word.”
“You will get that word soon; our friends in Baghdad have promised me that.” Kiska quickly dismissed the general and prepared for his meeting with Khalid Ahmed, the self-proclaimed Caliph of ISIS.
April 2, 2030
Prime Minister Pickel grinned when he heard the news. “I cannot believe they agreed to blow up their Dome of the Rock, how did you pull that off?”
Dr. Zakim Boaz basked in the praise, convincing ISIS to blow it up was easy, Israel was the only reason the Mosque had remained on Temple Mount. Khalid tried to attack the Dome several times but every effort was thwarted by the Jews until he finally lost all hope, then the Caliph met Proust on Cyprus.
Boaz was a strikingly handsome and wealthy man in his early forties and was once a professor at the University of Tel Aviv, but his zeal for his own vision of Israel’s future had led him to join the Pickel administration. The very first meeting he had with his new boss was focused exclusively on how to remove Al-Aqsa Mosque from Temple Mount.
Pickel was clear, he wanted it gone, Boaz was given the task of making that happen. It was a match made in heaven. He had never married, though dated and bedded many undergrads during his teaching days, yet his one true love had always been Israel. His life mission was to restore Israel to the boundaries it once enjoyed under King David and the first step in that noble goal was to boot the filthy Muslims off of Temple Mount.
Two weeks earlier, he met the Caliph in Cyprus and each agreed ISIS would deliver the assassins while Israel would provide the explosives. Neither party trusted the other, but both had too much to gain not to take the gamble. Boaz wanted to build the Third Temple and Khalid wanted to unite the worlds Sunni Muslims, led by himself. Blowing up the Dome was the ticket to both men’s dreams.
“I saw the opportunity and seized it, Mr. Prime Minister.” Boaz beamed, not only in the prime minister’s recognition, but also by knowing he was doing Jehovah’s work.
April 2, 2030
Gabriel woke up early to an empty bed, though he could still smell the delicious aroma she left on his sheets. After a quick shower, he went straight to the Queen’s bedroom, now the Ark Room, where he saw it sitting atop a marble pedestal. On either side were two identical pedestals waiting for the other two Arks. Just to the left was a ten-foot long table with two chairs, one of which sat the sumptuous Myrah. On the table was a pot of steaming coffee, a plate of fresh fruit, and the dictation equipment.
“Good morning, professor,” greeted the alluring Arab, her warm smile lighting up both the room and the Angel. “I took the liberty of moving in some furniture, I hope that is fine.”
“Of course, it’s perfect.” Gabriel scanned the room but his eyes settled on his new lover. She wore tan slacks and a powder blue silk shirt with only the top button unfastened.
“Before we begin, would you mind telling me how you ended up living here in Amman?”
Myrah blushed and looked down at her feet for a moment, then with a careless toss of her black mane and a deep breath she locked eyes with her beaux and told her story. “I was born in Kalya, the youngest of four children. When I was twelve I was raped by several Jewish soldiers for three consecutive days, then left naked on the shores of the Dead Sea.”
Gabriel started to speak, but she held up her hand and continued her sad tale. “My father disowned me, forever ordering me out of his life. I knew I could never marry a Muslim, after giving my virginity to a Jew, so I chose to become a prostitute. The Muslim market for twelve-year-old whores was good and I moved throughout Arabia for the next seven years servicing kings, princes, some princesses, and countless billionaires until I was sent to Amman where I met my last client, Al Fayez.”
She paused, pulled her hair back, and continued. “He insisted I tell him my story before we made love, learned I was the sister of Salaam Fayyad, and rescued me from my debauched life. Since that day I have spent the last ten years here in Amman, first attending college, then working for the king.”
“Were you and Al Fayez lovers?” asked Gabriel, fighting the pangs of jealousy.
“Yes, I was his mistress for several years, but we haven’t made love for a long time. I think he dropped me for an Egyptian.”
Gabriel thought how pathetic her father had been for throwing out the girl just because she was a victim. “I am sorry for your misfortune, but I’m amazed at how composed you are about it. Most women would be in tears, but you seem to be at peace, I admire that.”
“I have been given a second chance and I will always be grateful for that. Just so you know, I have not made love to anyone since Al Fayez three years ago, until last night. I still don’t know what overcame me, but I’m glad I did.”
“Me too, but no more talk of your past, it is time we start compiling my family’s history. My goal is to finish the Salish family starting just after Jesus died and ending right before World War One. I have all my notes digitized, along with Andrew’s Journal.”
“What is Andrew’s Journal?”
“When Noah hid the Arks he ordered that one Angel guard each Ark, that person became known as the Keeper of the Ark. The Keeper protected the Ark, but also studied the knowledge it contained. Noah instructed the Keepers to maintain a written record of significant events during their lifetimes, that record became the Keeper’s Journal.”
Gabriel retrieved a very old leather-bound book from the Ark. “This is the journal for the Ark of Mecca, inside are fifty-two thousand years of history ranging from the time it left Jerusalem up through Muhammad. The Arks were lost to the Angels until we found all three. The Dead Sea’s Journal was taken from the Ark by Apostle Andrew and given to a tribe of Angels living in Scythia. He also kept his own journal and gave both books to the Scythian Angels. His journal was updated by each Angel who guarded the Keeper’s Journal, and is the basis for most of my family’s history from 50 AD through World War Two.”
Gabriel stopped talking and took out his Digital Interface. He projected Andrew’s Journal in the space above the Ark. The DI was really a laptop computer but instead of a monitor it used hundreds of lasers which rendered 3-D images in space. The technology was developed by Google in the early twenties, but had only recently been perfected. The DI would first do a room scan then shoot the lasers at just the right angles so the beams converged to project the image. He flipped through the first few pages, then opened a few other documents.
“I’m ready, are you?”
Myrah had placed her own DI on the table next to Gabriel and it projected a digital keyboard which she wrapped around her lap. She adjusted its dimensions until she felt comfortable. “Let’s begin.”
Gabriel commenced telling the story of how his family, the Salish’s, came to acquire the first Keeper’s Journal from the Apostle Andrew.
Mary knew Judas Iscariot was in Kalya, the small village on the western shores of the Dead Sea, as she had many friends who told her of the traitor’s wanderings through the mountains. She did not know if he knew the Ark was up there, most likely he was just trying to find where Joseph had traveled each evening. Several months later her neighbors said he had left. She waited a few more weeks, then late in the evening she followed the trail to the cave her husband had trekked to so many times.
The Ark was still in the center of the large room at the end of the cave; the stone floor had been worn smooth by the many Keepers who had spent eternal vigil over their treasure. At the back she found the tomb Joseph had carved for their son. She dropped to her knees and wept bitter tears over the family she had lost. Jesus was murdered on a cross and her husband disemboweled by the same evil Jews. Finally, she forced herself to her feet and returned to the Ark and inside found the Keeper’s Journal.
As she looked down at the old book she recalled his last words to her, before being taken away by the Pestii. “Remove the Journal and keep it in a safe place, some day a friend will arrive, give it to him.”
She never understood how he knew this, but she carefully followed his instructions. Before dawn she left the cave, covered its entrance with some bushes and small stones and returned home. She knew enough Angelese to communicate with her husband, but never learned to read their language. As she flipped through the pages of that ancient journal, she saw that all but the most recent writings were in the old language of the Angels. The last entry, however, was in her husband’s hand and written in Latin. She cried while reading the story of their son, Jesus, beginning with their own marriage and ending with his death on that horrid Jewish cross.
The disciples were forced to hide in Galilee for several years. By then, the Pestii had joined forces with the Romans, and together they hunted down the Apostles. Simon Peter, their leader, realizing Jesus’ message would die if they stayed, instructed each to travel to a distant land.
Simon Peter followed the Pestii to Rome; someone had to counter the lies they were spreading. Before departing on his long and dangerous journey, he asked Andrew, his younger brother, to fulfill his pledge to Jesus to watch over his parents. Simon Peter had been unable to save Joseph but insisted his brother travel to Kalya to see if Mary was still alive and help her in any way possible.
The brothers embraced one final time then departed upon their separate destinies. Peter would reach Rome and minister to the people, ultimately dying in the Coliseum, crucified upside down like Phillip. His work in the capital led to the formation of the Catholic Church.
Andrew traveled a different path, one that would also change the world. When he reached Kalya, he found the widow’s home and inside was Mary, now eighty-years-old. She no longer left her house and would have died of hunger if not for the kindness of her neighbors.
She heard someone knocking and trembled in fear, recalling how the Pestii had murdered both her son and husband.
Andrew, speaking through the closed door, said: “It is Andrew, the Disciple who led you from Jerusalem the day Jesus died.”
Mary sighed in relief and opened the door where she saw a handsome man who looked vaguely familiar.
“Hello, Mary, I have come to take care of you. Before Jesus died he asked my brother to protect you, but now he has been forced to flee, and his obligations are now mine.”
Mary gave the young man a faint smile and just shrugged. “Thank you, but there is nothing you can do for me now. I am old and my only wish is to die.”
They uncomfortably stared at each other for a moment. That awkwardness was interrupted when she suddenly left the room. A moment later Mary handed him an ancient leather-bound book. “My husband said you would come for this; those were his last words. He gave his life for it; please protect it with yours.”
His mind raced back to the stories Jesus had shared about the Angels and the Arks. The book, he was certain, had come from one of those Arks. “I promise to protect this with my life, but what should I do with it when I die?”
“Joseph didn’t say; he just a friend would come for it. If I had the strength, I would seek out a tribe of Angels and give it to them, but I can barely walk to my bed.”
Andrew flipped through the pages, most he couldn’t read, then set it down on the table. “How can I help you, what can I do to ease your suffering?”
Mary smiled, she knew what he could do. “There is only one thing I need, which is for you to take me up that mountain so I can next to my son.”
That night he gently led her up the trail, most of the way she lay passively in his arms. Near a shear wall, she pointed to a pile of rocks and bushes, indicating the cave lay beyond. Andrew lit the torch, and with one hand picked up the frail and tiny lady and carried her to the Ark. She lay her hands upon the cedar chest and cried. Behind her was her son’s tomb.
“My son lies behind that plaster, which is where I wish to die, next to my beloved Jesus for all time.”
Andrew, now also with tears streaming down his cheeks, led her to the tomb and made her as comfortable as possible on that cold stone floor. She weakly smiled back in gratitude. “It is time for you to leave, seal the entrance, so no one will ever find us.”
They embraced one last time, and he departed with the Keeper’s Journal, taking extra effort to hide the entrance. Andrew followed a trail north, away from Mary and the Ark, and kept traveling until he reached the Black Sea.
Wherever he went, he spread the words of Jesus, all the while he sought the Angels. At Odessa, he heard tales of a strange tribe living up north. He followed the great river in that direction for several months until he discovered a strange village. The villagers were like none he had seen before; their homes of a style not like any other in the land. These people, who he realized were the Angels of Scythia, welcomed him and listened to his ministry.
Their leader, a towering Angel named Salish, invited him into his two-story wood-framed home. “You have found an Angel city where we have lived undisturbed for thousands of years. Your message sounds very much like the philosophy of our people. Who taught it to you?”
A few years earlier, Salish had received a letter from the Mecca Keeper who called Jesus the second of Noah’s Teachers; when he heard the man speak he suspected he was sharing the word of that Teacher.
Andrew reached into his satchel and retrieved two books, one which was the Keeper’s Journal and the other his personal diary. Salish did not know what either book was, or why he had given them to him, until he read from the larger of the two, and saw its entries were from the time of Abraham. It then hit him; he held one of the sacred Keeper’s Journals.
“Several years ago, I visited Jesus’ mother in Kalya. She gave me this and asked that I protect it with my life. I nearly lost it to bandits, but now I have grown old and can no longer honor my promise. I long ago made a vow to find the Angels and return their book to them,” explained Andrew.
“That is an amazing story, but what is this second book?” Salish picked up the diary and started scanning its entries.
“That is my personal journal in which I recorded all of the events I witnessed since Kalya. Whoever holds the Keepers Journal should also record the events of their day in my journal which will let future generations learn the history of the Keepers Journal.”
Salish accepted both books and thanked him for his service to the Angels. Andrew would eventually leave Kyiv and minister throughout Scythia, traveling as far as the Baltic Sea. The Keeper’s Journal and Andrew’s Journal, remained in that village until the Curs arrived several hundred years later and forced them to flee to the east. Eventually, they reached the Ural Mountains and joined with another tribe led by an Angel named Magyar.
Every Keeper of the Keepers Journal recorded in Andrew’s Journal the important events which transpired in their lives. Over time Salish’s new tribe, which became known as the Magyars, were also driven out of their homelands, this time by Genghis Khan. As the Mongolian hordes swept westward, they pushed the peoples of the Scythian steppes in front of them. Around 900 CE the Magyars found themselves back in Europe in a land they named Hungary.
Accompanying those emigrants were two books, one almost fifty thousand years old, the other just nine hundred, both comprised the last links the Angels had to Atlantis.
April 2, 2030
Myrah had been typing fast and furious and only a few times did she interrupt him to repeat a sentence or two. She looked relieved when he turned off the DI and announced that was enough for the day.
“Are you related to the Salish from Kyiv?” she asked.
“Yes, I can trace my lineage to him through Andrew’s Journal. I still find it hard to believe, but I now know it is true.” The Angel sighed.
“It was so eerie to hear Joseph describing the Last Angel and how he would discover the Arks; to think he spoke to you two thousand years ago.”
She trembled as he massaged her soft shoulders, then her breathing quickened and became soft moans which aroused him. Seconds later they were naked in bed, Cur and Angel, wrapped in an ecstatic embrace.
It was now mid-afternoon when she dressed. “I will be back tonight for the reading, goodbye sweet lover.” She blew him a kiss and walked out the door.
Gabriel returned to the Ark Room to find Nizar already sitting in Myrah’s chair, ready for his lesson on the Angels’ religion. Like the day before, he reeked of weed.
The young man observed the Angel’s tussled hair and gave him a knowing smile. “It looks as if you have already begun teaching Angel Love without me.” He laughed.
The Angel smiled back realizing it was pointless to deny he had just made love once he realized he had not showered and could smell Myrah on his lips. “Are you ready to begin the story of Abram? But before we get to him we need to set the tone for the reader.”
“What do you mean, I thought everyone knew who Abraham was.”
“You need to remember who the book’s audience is, and where they are at in the story. The book ended with Satan inside Atlantis, fifty-two thousand years, ago. Now we are jumping forty-eight thousand years ahead so the first section gives some general background on what happened during those dark ages.”
Nizar nodded, his bloodshot eyes looked droopy. Gabriel guessed the boy had been out clubbing most of the night. He shrugged, at least he made it here, then began the story of the Angels after the fall of Atlantis.
Noah’s death marked the end of Atlantis, while Satan’s death, thirty years later, marked the beginning of the Age of Curs. The devil died while invading Iberia, killed by a younger devil. By then he would have been in his late eighties, maybe early nineties. No one, Angel or Cur, mourned his passing but the war he started did not end with his death; it ended when Atlantis was no more. The Cur army disbanded, settling in the conquered lands, the lucky ones captured Angel wives and grew to love their fair-skinned brides. The feeling wasn’t mutual, but marrying a Cur was better than being repeatedly raped by hundreds of them.
The memory of Atlantis faded into myths over the next tens of thousands of years, and a few of those myths are still around today. The Koran, Torah, and the Bible all tell stories about Noah’s Ark, the Garden of Eden, Devils, Adam and Eve, and Satan. Aside from those fables, nothing else remained of their empire but the Angel themselves.
Satan had swept into Eden with an army of three hundred thousand and it took him just forty years to destroy the empire. No one ever understood why the Curs didn’t settle in the conquered Angel towns and villages. Some guessed it was their hatred of the inhabitants, spurred on by the plunder of their many cities. But maybe what drove that hatred was the stark contrasts between Curs and Angels. The Curs were uncivilized, mostly naked, ate the living and the dead, but it was the Angel’s way of life which made them realize how inferior they were which only fueled their wrath.
The Angels who escaped hid in remote forests, mountains, and deserts. Over time those they became known to the Curs by many names: trolls, giants, dragons, spirits, and goblins. Cur children were frightened into obeying their parents by stories of stalking Angels. Those children would have been even more frightened had they been taught their ancestor’s history.
The Curs continued to migrate out of Africa and into the new world, and eventually even that vast new world became over-populated. They moved further inland, settling in the lands of those displaced Angels, forcing them to flee deeper into the deserts, higher up the mountains, and many even crossed the land bridge to Zion. Despite all of the hardships, the Angels persevered because they never forgot Atlantis or Noah’s prophecy, the Keepers made sure of that.
The Keepers did more than guard the Arks; they also read the books that were inside. The Angel Archives contained all of the wisdom known to Cur or Angel, and they passed that knowledge on to other Angels, but they waited many years before trying to pass it on to the Curs. Noah had dreamed of a day when Angel and Cur lived side by side, a day when the Curs would become civilized and receptive to the Angels’ message. The Keepers had been waiting forty-eight thousand years for that day.
An interesting evolution took place during those years of waiting: Curs and Angels came to look alike. For the previous two hundred thousand years, their appearances had diverged. The Angels were taller, stronger, and had larger brains while the Cur were short, equally powerful, but with small brains. All that changed after the Devils were born. Hundreds of thousands of Angel women were raped by the invading Cur; many had baby devils, and many of those little devils had the Angel look. The Curs liked the look and selected mates with it. One thousand generations of selective breeding later, the Curs resembled the Angels.
The Angels also evolved to look more Cur-like. Not because they liked the Cur look; it was a matter of survival. The Angels who looked different, who stood out, were easy to find and kill, while those who resembled their cousins survived. One thousand generations of selective breeding later the Angels looked like the Curs. A man by the name of Darwin discovered this principle and called it Selective Adaptation. Without adapting the Angels would have been wiped from the earth.
Their physical similarities led to another development. Angels moved back to the lands of Atlantis, often living alongside the Curs, and they brought with them, and shared, many things like their languages, farming techniques, mathematics, money, governments, the domestication of animals, reading, writing, and most of their sciences.
They started the world’s first caravans which served the dual purpose of trading and communication. They traveled all over the known world and made frequent contact with all the remote Angel tribes, often acting as their mailman by delivering and receiving Angel letters. The Angels also built the first ships to sail the seas since the time of Atlantis.
They came to dominate trade and grew wealthy while the Curs learned many valuable things from their new neighbors. They too began farming, raising animals, reading and writing, and thinking. The Curs thought of gods, lots of gods and built temples to worship those many gods. The Angels studied their Curs cousins and some thought they were ready to be taught the way of Angels. The Age of Teachers was set to begin, though Noah did not have a timetable to introduce their beliefs, he knew the Angels of that future age would recognize when it was time. The Keeper in Mecca thought that time had now arrived.
Abram enjoyed traveling on the camel, sitting behind his father, Terah, the leader of the caravan. As a young boy, afraid he would fall, he would clutch his father’s robe; now he comfortably swayed with the camel’s bouncing gait. He missed the days when his two brothers, Haron and Nahor, traveled with them; both had quit the caravan to raise families of their own.
Children received their educations in faraway places; such was the way of the Angels. Abram’s older brothers chose to remain where they received their education; both married and were now fathers. Haron’s first born, Lot, was one year younger than Abram and whenever the caravan stopped at Ur the boys played together. Abram often wondered where his father would leave him and secretly hoped it would be Damascus, but he would be equally happy with Memphis or Babylon. Tomorrow, he turned thirteen, which was both the day the caravan would reach Mecca and when he would learn his fate.
He associated Mecca with his mother, who had died outside that small village when he was just seven, killed by the lions. He had accompanied her to the spring; while filling their pots with the cool water, they saw the approaching pride. His mother shielded her son and saved his life. He never saw the lions kill her; he had raced back to Mecca, abandoning his mother to her grisly fate. He still wept each time they approached that village because it not only reminded him of his mother’s terrifying death but also of his own cowardice. He often wondered if he had stayed would she have lived?