Monday, July 5, 2010

Excerpt Monday

Today's Excerpt is from The Ezekiel Code - Chapter 32
by BookTown Member
 Gary Val Tenuta

Kline rounded the top of the third-floor stairs and stopped short, just in time to see the priest, Montabeau, closing the door behind him with the 
box under his arm. Kline quickly ducked back around the corner. 

Montabeau locked the door and started down the hall, heading away from Kline, toward the elevator. Kline watched for a moment and when Montabeau was far enough down the hall he advanced a few paces. Then a little further. Quietly. Slowly. In a moment he was able to see the number on the door that Montabeau had just locked. It was room 306. Kline realized he wouldn’t be able to get into the room but he had a feeling he didn’t need to. It was just a hunch but something told him the objects of his intention were walking down the hall in front of him. He didn’t really know why he thought that. Maybe the gods were speaking to him. It’s about time, he thought to himself. Then it suddenly occurred to him. That priest doesn’t know me from Adam. He’s never seen me before. I could be just another professor as far as he’s concerned. There were several non-Jesuit instructors employed at the university so it was a perfectly reasonable idea. 

Montabeau stopped at the elevator, pushed the button and waited for the doors to open. 

Kline swallowed hard, gripped his briefcase and began walking quickly down the hall in Montabeau’s direction. He had no idea how he was going to handle the situation if, indeed, his 
instincts were correct about what was in the box under the priest’s arm. Kline was operating on autopilot without a flight plan. There was nothing to do but improvise. I’m not cut out for this, he thought as he hurried down the hall a little faster with every step. 

The elevator doors slid open. Montabeau entered without hesitation and the doors began to close. 

Kline rushed forward, thrusting his briefcase between the two doors just in time to keep them from closing. He stepped inside. “Sorry,” he said, feigning a complete lack of interest in either the priest or the box under his arm. “Too tired to take the stairs.” 

Montabeau said nothing but stared straight ahead. The elevator doors closed. Kline felt trapped and still had no idea what to do next. A string of thoughts raced through his mind. Okay, what now? What floor is he going to? Probably the first floor and then he’ll leave the building. Shit, I’m just standing here. He’s expecting me to punch a floor button. I better do something... 

At that moment, Montabeau leaned forward and reached toward the panel. Kline thought it looked like he was about to press the button for the first floor. Good, he thought. I’ll just say thanks, that’s my floor too. But Montabeau’s hand reached lower and pressed the button with an X on it. Kline was puzzled. What? What the hell is the X Floor? 

The elevator clunked and began to descend. 

“Thanks,” Kline tried to smile. “That’s my floor, too”. 

That comment caught Montabeau’s attention and he immediately became suspicious. Why would this guy be going to the basement? Something was wrong. Montabeau could feel it. Out of the corner of his eye he glanced over and lowered his gaze toward the briefcase in the stranger’s hand. What he saw shocked him. The name A. KLINE was clearly engraved on a small brass nameplate on the top edge of the briefcase. 

Without hesitation Montabeau reached out and hit the EMERGENCY STOP button. The elevator jerked to a sudden halt. Montabeau dropped the box and lunged at Kline, knocking the poor 
professor backward against the side of the elevator. Kline dropped to his knees, shocked and disoriented by the sudden burst of violence. The contents of the box spilled out onto the floor. Kline, still on his knees, eyed the goods with a look of desperation. The computer disk rattled off into the corner. The leather document folder containing the parchment lay just inches from his hand. 

Montabeau looked down. “Don’t even think about it!” he warned Kline. “Your business here is finished!” 

Montabeau, thinking he’d intimidated Kline into staying put, kneeled down to recover the items. Kline took advantage of the moment. He jumped to his feet and swung his briefcase with all his might, striking a brutal blow to the side of Montabeau’s head. Montabeau fell backward, dazed and bleeding but he managed to get to his feet. Kline staggered sideways preparing to swing his weapon once again but Montabeau suddenly stopped and stood motionless with an odd look on his face. In the next moment he stumbled backward against the wall. He moaned as his knees buckled under. With a look of confusion in his eyes, he collapsed completely, striking his head on the steel handrail as he fell to the floor. 

Kline was in a state of shock. The adrenaline was still surging through his body. He couldn’t stop shaking. Got to get the hell out of here! He pressed the button for the main floor. The elevator jerked once and began to move. Suddenly he realized the items he came for were still scattered at his feet. He got down on his hands and knees and began gathering up the materials. He put the last item into his briefcase and closed it up when the elevator stopped and the doors slid open. Before he could even get to his feet he looked up in disbelief. 

Standing at the opened door were the three priests. His option of fight or flight had run out. He didn’t have enough energy left to do either one. He simply lowered his head and sighed. 

“Well,” Romano exclaimed, genuinely surprised. “Look who’s here!” 

Kline’s ploy had worked and yet backfired at the same time. He’d fooled the priests into thinking they’d been outrun and that he had left the campus. Now they realized they’d been duped and the tables were turned. 

“Grab him!” Romano ordered. 

Beck and Salvo took Kline by the arms, pulled him to his feet and dragged him out into the hall. Romano stepped into the elevator to check on Montabeau. 

“He’s dead,” Romano said, looking up at the others. 

Kline was shocked. “What!” he cried. “He can’t be dead! I only hit him with the briefcase! I just knocked him out!” 

Romano checked Montabeau’s body again. “He’s not breathing and he has no pulse.” Then he added, sarcastically, “That usually means you’re dead.” Examining the body, he turned Montabeau’s 
head to the side, revealing a deep gash at the temple. 

“I didn’t do that!” Kline protested. “I couldn’t have done that!” 

Romano dragged Montabeau’s body out into the hall and instructed Beck and Salvo to bring Kline back into the elevator. 

“Where are you taking me?” Kline demanded. 

“A nice cool place where you can rest,” Romano replied. He left Montabeau’s body laying on the floor and joined the others in the elevator. He pressed the X button and they began their descent.

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