By Ben Kesp
Part V Dr. Elizabeth Bannon Series Sample Read
Opening her eyes, the low sun light filtering in through the heavy wooden blinds slowly illuminates an unrecognisable room. Jessica studies the room she finds herself in. The walls are white, decorated with pictures and photos. Everything is nondescript and blurry. Her thoughts are confused. Despite the current situation, Jessica remains calm until a shadow flickers to her right, alerting her to a presence in the room with her. Spinning in the direction of the shadow, there is nothing to see. Unsure if her eyes are playing tricks, her whispered name is heard from outside the room. Jessica moves cautiously towards the slightly opened door in the direction of the sound. Her heartbeat quickens, and she forces herself to step through the door to reveal an empty hallway. She calls out and her own voice echoes back. Retracing her eyes to the room behind her, the sight of a man startles her, standing before her within inches from her face. Jessica steps backward.
“Who are you?” she demands.
“Wake up!” the man responds sharply.
Jessica opens her eyes, her body responding by jerking upwards, to find that she is in the room where Dr. Speel’s men had placed her. Taking a moment to compose her thoughts, her breathing relaxes. She stands and surveys the room. Running her fingers through her hair, she questions the presence of the strange man. His presence was so real to her! Standing, she stretches, and Elizabeth appears before her thoughts. She steps quickly towards the desk and flips through the case notes she has been given on Elizabeth, sighting her holding location. Section 6GA1. The need to find her is strong. As she reaches for the door, it unlocks itself. She pauses and stares at the door before her. Reaching for the handle, it surprises her that it is no longer locked. Opening, she glances outside onto the long clinically white empty corridor. With the exception of a low hum, everything is eerily quiet. The place feels deserted. An overpowering feeling pulls her to her right and she quickly steps along the corridor.
Stepping across the cobbled stone courtyard towards the monastery chapel, Abbot Fernando focuses his eyes on the two monks guarding its door. Their message had been brief, not giving much detail, only that it concerned the young Spanish monk by the name of Juan. Nodding at the guards, he pushes the door inwards, allowing it to close slowly behind him. Darkness greets his eyes and soon the low illumination of the early morning filters in through the only large window of the chapel situated behind the altar. Moving cautiously to the centre of the chapel nave, he scans the room for the young monk. Red circles on the tiled floor catch his eyes, and the abbot follows the line to a small alcove to the east side of the altar. Fixing his eyes on the naked body of the monk hanging on the wall, shock roots Abbot Fernando to the floor. He controls the shock of the moment that has overtaken his body and steps closer, casting his eyes on the body of the monk before him. Questions form in his mind. But more than questions, anger rises, running through his body, empowering him to action. Too many incidents have occurred, and he has reacted only as his training has taught him to, calm and stoic. His fists tighten, his body becomes rigid.
The opening of the chapel door interrupts his newly released raging thoughts. Abbot Fernando sights one of the guards entering, accompanied by his own personal assistant. The abbot moves to greet the oncoming monks so not to have the scene made known until he discovers more. He raises his hand for them to stop.
“Have this room sealed and lock down the monastery. No one is to enter or leave. You know the procedure,” the abbot instructs, his voice more stern than usual, laced with an edge of intent. The guard obediently obeys before departing.
Turning to his personal assistant, he waits for the message.
“She is here and waiting for you in your office,” was all Abbot Fernando needed to hear. Her timing could not have been worse, but then again, everything about his situation could not have been any different. He acknowledges with a nod and exits the chapel accompanied by his assistant and waits to hear the door being locked. Sounds of bells penetrate the courtyard from the central tower bell.
The abbot strides into the main monastery building and moves in the direction of his office. On entering, his eyes fall on her body standing by the window overlooking the valley. Her presence eases his anger momentarily. Gently closing the door, he steps towards her. She faces him and they embrace.
“Elsa, how good to see you. It’s been too long!” Abbot Fernando squeezes her shoulders gently directing her to the door. “It’s best we take a walk outside.”
Accompanying the abbot, Elsa remains silent until they pass the garden and take a seat in a small clearing overlooking the valley.
“My dear Fernando, I’ve missed this view, and I’ve certainly missed you! It always did feel a little like the monastery is above everyone else, and not just in the spiritual sense.”
“The founders of the Siarc Monastery knew what they wanted,” he replies facing her. Beauty still lingers in her face, and she has not aged a day since he first met her forty-two years ago.
“My dear Fernando, age has taken hold on you since we last met, but your beauty and your amazing strength still lie within.”
“I’ve not been so fortunate to escape the ageing process,” the abbot chides.
“Do not see what I have as a gift. There are times I see it as a curse for what I did, but I’ve missed seeing you in person for all these years! Tell me, what is the unholy mess you have found yourself in?” she asks changing the subject.
“If only the world knew what we did Elsa!” he sighs, exhaling a long breath to clear out the morning’s events.
“Fernando, your role is not to get involved in what’s happening within the world, but to record it.”
“It’s difficult not to get involved. I’ve stood by and taken each blow that has been dealt to me. I was betrayed by a man I trusted. I have lost a woman who I care fondly for to a man I despise. I’ve had to open the doors of the monastery, doors which had remained shut for over 10 centuries, and now...,” the abbot shakes his head, “I can’t be found guilty of getting involved directly. I helped a woman by the name of Elizabeth Bannon, whom I have become very fond of. She’s an incredible person!”
“What has you so upset, my dear Fernando? I’ve never known you to be so addled.”
“Now is not the time to expel my personal frailties. I’ve acted strong, but weak at the same time, for not taking action. How much do you know of Elizabeth Bannon?”
“I have been following the story; it’s hard not to. I even read the report that was issued to the media regarding Project God Trials and the Azack Programme.”
“I may be guilty of allowing my personal feelings to get in the way concerning a man by the name of Markus, leader of a cult group, or so I thought, called the Order of the Secundo Aurora.”
“And it turns out he works for Dr. Marvin Speel who heads the Azack Programme.”
“You’ve heard of him?”
“Like you, we too have been monitoring Dr. Speel for a long time. The name of Markus has popped up as a connection. None of this may have happened if Dr. Bannon hadn’t started to get involved. But there’s something that I, or my agency, has been unable to answer.”
“What is that?”
“How did Elizabeth Bannon know so much about what Project God Trials were doing at Quesser Creek?”
“I never gave it much thought. Most things have been a blur; fighting to protect, recording and investigating. But that information came from her then patient and now partner, a man by the name of Jacob Fontain.”
“Jacob Fontain. I never heard of him,” Elsa replies, casting her eyes onto the valley in thought.
“You shouldn’t have. He was the park ranger at Quesser Creek. He had in his possession a note book of scribbles and ravings from the previous park ranger who was found dead by Creek Lake. But Jacob knew somehow that the death was not accidental but a murder.”
“Which started the investigation by Elizabeth and Jacob? It still doesn’t answer how did Jacob know that the previous park ranger had been murdered?”
“That’s curious to me too. I believe there’s more to Jacob than I know,” the abbot responds now his curiosity rising concerning Jacob.
“Dr. Speel has Jessica, and we know the reason. I believe she isn’t in any danger at the moment, but there is fear that he knows about me.”
“That may not be the case.”
“Fernando, listen to me,” Elsa faces the abbot, her voice laced with caution. “I don’t have to tell you the importance of all of this. If Dr. Speel and Project God Trials have somehow got their hands on our research and know of what happened forty years ago, they will use it to alter the evolution of mankind as we know it. They’ve already tested the H48-64 virus, and it has proved to be an effective population control measure. Once they eradicate large portions of Earth’s population, they will reengineer our DNA programming and create a new race of life on Earth. This isn’t natural, and we both know it.”
“Do you still regret the results on you?”
Elsa looks away momentarily casting her eyes onto her hands. “I am grateful that my daughter is alive. We would have both died if I hadn’t taken the treatment; however, I don’t see what I’ve been given as a personal gift, and believe me, I’m ready to stand up and do what I need to do in return for the life that has been granted to my daughter.”