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Library: 7th Soul (volume 1 of 3)

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Author: nathanielw
Date:Aug 1 2005

Robert Pulled himself onto the dock.  Water rolled off his soaked clothes. 
His drenched pants clinged to his legs like a freshly laundered sock to a
sweater.  He sprawled out on the worn planks covered with fifty years of
algae. The air stood still, and there was no ambient sound, save for the
dripping as water fell through the cracks of the dock.  Robert just lay there,
partially because he was amazed to be alive, and partially because he was
exhausted from swimming in combat boots.  He had tried to get them off as he
floundered when he first leapt into the water, but gave up quickly realizing
that taking off boots, while a simple task in dry land, is virtually
impossible when trying to stay afloat fully dressed and an iron lockbox in his
leather backpack.  But he had made it, and he had managed to keep the items
that were equally important to him: His life, and that box.  He had almost as
much time invested in the second as he had in the first.  Well, it wasn't so
much the box that was important to him, a s what he had learnt was inside it
just six months earlier.  After twenty six years of searching, it was chance
that finally led him to what he now gripped tightly to his chest.  It was
chance that his job had led him to the Yukon Territory.  Chance and a trail
that led him half way across the world.

* * *

Robert looked over the brim of his glasses -- a squat, oval pair with wire
rims and a fraying hemp string keeping them on his neck.  It was tied in crude
knots in two places, and, from the look of it, it might need a third before
too long.  His sister had been urging him to get a new string for a few years.
 His last birthday, she had bought him a slick black nylon one from a trendy
sports store.  For her sake, he had tried it on, but it just didnt feel right.
 He could feel the line along the back of his neck, and it was cold and
foreign.  Maybe it wasnt the presence of this new string that bugged him. 
Perhaps it was the lack of the one he was so used to.  Either way, the nylon
one was sitting on his desk in Manhattan, and he was there, in Rome.   He
wasnt really sure why he had come, just that an envelope had arrived two days
earlier with a plane ticket, a cashiers check for $100,000 from the
(international Swiss banc), and a note with this address on it and 8:00 AM,
June 3rd written across the bottom.  An hour after he had received it, his
secretary had come into his office, a portly woman named Alice who was a
little high strung but made a great cup of coffee and was commanding on the
phone (a trait that had always been a problem for Robert).  She announced in
her normally shrill voice that the tickets were confirmed, the check had been
cleared, and the address was that of St. (catholic dude)s Cathedral.  

Now there he found himself, pretending to read a Bible in the third pew across
from two old women dressed in black sobbing and lighting candles at the feet
of a life-sized statue of Jesus nailed to the cross, complete with crown of
thorns.  Robert would have normally been quite relaxed.  His business called
for such meetings quite often, but something about the environment just didnt
sit right.  It probably had something to do with his being a Protestant in a
Catholic church (Protestant only to the extent that his parents took him along
with them when he was growing up).  He couldnt really say he was all that
religious.  He tended to believe only what he saw.  He pushed back his sleeve
and checked his watch.  The hands said 8:12 AM.  That was concerning him.  It
was twelve minutes past the hour and he still hadnt seen anyone other than two
boys dressed in white robes, and the crying women.  Its wasnt hat he hadnt
been kept waiting before, but that was his usual clients, ordinary people
looking for some thing.  Whoever had sent the envelope was different.  Whoever
they were, they weren't very forthcoming with information, and what
information they did offer was very specific and yet vague.  Robert knew where
he was supposed to be, and when, but he didn't know why.

The rafters above Robert creaked and some dust fell down past a skylight
emphasizing the beams of light streaming in. Another creak followed, as if it
was a shadow of the first, cast down from above.  This one was the front doors
opening.  Through them came a short man in a brown robe, typical of the many
monks in Rome.  What was different about this one was what he was carrying. 
He had a metal briefcase attached to his wrist by a handcuff.  His eyes darted
around the hall in a nervous manner.  Robert almost wrote him off as being a
little paranoid, except paranoia is usually not grounded in truth.  The bullet
hit the man right below his left breast.  He stopped, still standing in the
isle.  The briefcase dropped out of the mans hand, still attached to his arm
with handcuffs  




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