Placing the hairbrush on the stand, the overhead fluorescent light reflects in the mirror highlighting her tired face. She is losing count of how many days she has been cooped up in this underground bunker. Tiredness creeps over her. Doubt has been forming all week edging closer to her spoken words. It has been two years since she walked out of Claremont Hospital, and she discovered that shortly after, Dr. Speel had her deregistered, suspending her licence to practise psychiatric care. Elizabeth imagines how he revelled in his deed. Still, she holds no regret in her decision. Her life had reached a cross road, and she chose to believe and follow her patient Jacob Fontain in investigating what he believes is that something is hiding under the waters at Quesser Creek. In addition, her quest is to seek answers for the injustices carried out by Claremont Hospital on patient treatments and on Jacob.
Picking up the hairbrush once more, Elizabeth runs it through her raven black hair noticing a grey rib. She pauses, pulling it out. I’m getting old. At thirty-nine years, she is going to see much more of them. She is not alone in the crowded space of three little rooms including a kitchenette and wash room. Jacob is with her and three people from a group that call themselves the Order of the Secundo Aurora. The Secundo Aurora are scattered across the country monitoring the movements of government agencies and secret operations. She pauses brushing. Has this become my destiny? Looking for things in the dark?
A knock on the door disturbs her thoughts. Jacob enters smiling gently. As he places his hands around her waist, she feels his kiss on her neck. She has grown to love him over the past year. His girlfriend Nadia whom Elizabeth had interviewed to find out more about Jacob when he was first assigned to her two years earlier, could not handle a life of watching over her shoulder. They separated on good terms, and she continues to work as the Quesser Creek’s local nurse.
Elizabeth’s eyes meet Jacob’s in the mirror’s reflection and reciprocates his handsome smile. Unsure of where the permanency of their relationship stands, she feels safe in his arms, and sex is great. She has not been with another man since the death of her husband, and being in Jacob’s arms has reawakened her sexual urges.
“Do you want to hear the good news, or the good news?” Jacob whispers mockingly.
“Difficult question! Good news.”
“Markus has got word from a fellow member of the Secundo Aurora that we’re going to be picked up tomorrow night at 22:00 and taken to a new location.”
“We’ll exchange one darkened hideout for another,” Elizabeth responds sarcastically facing him. “How long do you plan on staying around Markus? Yes, I’m grateful for all of his help, but his ideologies aren’t what I share.”
“Elizabeth, two years ago you didn’t believe in the power of mediumship. Look what your mind has been opened to since.”
“I agree, but the Order of the Secundo Aurora are preaching about a new age dawn and the coming of the second messiah. We both know Jacob that Project God Trials work which we strive each day to learn more about is more real and is affecting people as we speak right here in this very country. We’ve learned much, and it’s now time to start cumulating the information and get someone to listen to us. We’re not going to look credible if we start shouting out that a secret operation exists which is supporting the rule of a coming messiah bent on destroying mankind by removing our freedom of thought.”
“What do you suggest?”
“Jacob, I need to dig more into the Claremont Hospital. I need to see who’s on the hospital board.”
“You want to connect Dr. Speel.”
“Damn right! He’s connected to this whole thing, and I want him removed, discredited and jailed,” Elizabeth answers brushing past Jacob as she moves towards her wash bag. The image of the man forming in her thoughts angers her. Her stomach twitches. Throwing the hairbrush inside, she zips the bag. I need to get out of here.
Jacob’s hand on her arm calms her.
“Let’s get some sleep on our last night in this underground bunker. Tomorrow we can devise a plan on how we can investigate Claremont,” Jacob gently answers placing a kiss on her right cheek. Smiling, she nods. Tomorrow is a new day.
Elizabeth cannot quite put her finger on why she dislikes Markus. She knows he is a shrewd man with the ability to manipulate situations and people when necessary. Perhaps this is the reason. A man she could never trust; still, she is indebted to him for his help in letting her and Jacob remain off radar by staying with their Order. She believes he is true to her cause, and his word is honest when it comes to helping her. But a man like this has a strong mind, quick and always observing. He would certainly make an interesting case for study.
Elizabeth has been watching him, and without her realising, he has turned to face her.
“All mobile phones and other electronic equipment must be turned off,” Markus states removing his own mobile phone from his jacket pocket. “We’ve arrived at the main entrance gates to the Siarc Monastery. Nothing electronic is allowed within the grounds, and we must hand devices over once we arrive at the main building. Whenever you leave, you’re allowed to take your devices with you again, but only to switch them on once you get outside the main entrance gates.”
Elizabeth nods casting her gaze towards Jacob sitting next to her. The rest of the group are travelling in the car behind. Peering from the back seat, she sees the large wooden covered gates slowly open revealing a narrow roadway ahead brightened by the car headlights.
“There will be little introductions tonight as the monks are now in bed. They rise at 4am, and tomorrow we’ll meet with Abbot Fernando who runs the Massomite Order of Monks,” Markus states returning to his view ahead of him.
“What kind of Order are they?” Elizabeth is curious to know who she will spend the next few weeks or even months with.
“They’re an independent enclosed Order following an eremitical life – well, I use that word loosely. They have their own statutes of law, and have been based in these mountains since the 9th century when their founder first built the monastery. The base has grown over the years to accommodate more members.”
“How do you mean, you use the phrase an eremitical life loosely?”
“Ms. Bannon, you’re a curious one,” Markus replies with a cheeky smile and nods his head as if to say, you should know better for asking. Just answer the question.
Elizabeth could not get Markus to call her just by her name; he insisted on calling her Ms. Bannon. If she was to be referred to in the formal manner, she would prefer to be called Dr. Bannon. It might be the closest thing she can resemble to a doctor in the present situation after considering she has been struck off from practising.
Returning her attention to outside, the car pulls into a small courtyard with dim light illuminating a large stone building with additional buildings connected forming a square around the courtyard. A man is standing by a heavy and large double wooden door. He waves at their car. This must be Markus’s contact.
After quick introductions to the man whose name is Simon, they dispatch their mobiles and tablets to the low sized monk waiting patiently by a small desk inside the large but devoid of furnishings hallway. Simon leads the group up a large stone staircase onto a wide landing with doors on each side. Every person is allocated a room, and Elizabeth accompanies Jacob to the end of the corridor where their rooms await.
“I’m looking forward to exploring this place in the day light,” Jacob whispers with a twinkle in his eye.
“I’m unsure Jacob; I have an uneasy feeling about this whole thing. Are we going to be restricted even more from living in the underground bunker?”
“Markus has guaranteed us we won’t be hampered in our investigations.”
“Hampered! We’ve no access to the outside world!”
“It’s late. We have an early start as I’m sure the bells will be tolling at 4am sharp. Tomorrow we’ll recap on all our material to date and discuss our plan on how to start investigating Claremont Hospital.”
“You are going to help me?!”
“Of course Elizabeth! We’re in this together. You believed in me, and I agree with what you said last night. Dr. Speel and Claremont are somehow involved.”
Elizabeth allows herself to smile.
“Thank you,” she answers, reaching in and kissing his lips.
“Shame about these separate rooms.”
“Do you wish us to live in sin under the roof of a monastery? Be a monk. I’m sure celibacy isn’t too challenging for a short period!” smiling she retreats inside her room, closing the door.
Her room is small with simple furnishings of a single bed, a night stand and narrow dark wooden wardrobe. Dropping her bag on the bed, she moves to the narrow gothic style window pulling open the wooden shutters. The warm night air greets her. The silvery hand of the moon lights up a large tree covered mountain side below her, leading to a valley with the twinkling lights of a small village. Jacob’s right. I also look forward to exploring the grounds in the morning sun.
As she closes the shutters, she returns her gaze to her small room. Tomorrow she will prepare her plans for tackling Dr. Speel.
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