Kane threw himself down beside the doorman with the sound of the rifle shot. He felt a burning sensation in his left thigh. “I’ve been shot.” He shouted.
Kane reached down to touch his burning leg. There was no pain and no blood and he could move his legs freely. The burning sensation increased and the throbbing intensified. Kane reached into his pocket and pulled out the hot stone. It immediately cooled but the new color persisted. The stone was red.
Kane pocketed the stone and looked around. Pulsatile blood was rapidly expanding from the doorman’s gelatinous head and spreading toward him but he couldn’t stand up for fear of another rifle shot seeking him out. He heard a door slam as the cab driver ran from the cab and zigzagged across the street avoiding screeching cars. Kane entered the taxi and hugged the passenger side floorboards while reaching for his cell phone. The 911 operator acknowledged that a patrol car had already been dispatched to the scene.
The adrenalin circulation surge in Kane’s brain switched from the fight-or-flight area to the cognitive and processing sections. The snipers bullet was meant for him just like the garbage truck had targeted Colin Smith. And for the same reason–to disallow obtaining any data from him regarding the totally misrepresented report from President Holmes’ last conference defining the Democratic position on terrorism. Who could he call next? He didn’t need help; help was on the way. Kane pressed a speed dial button.
“Hello, you’ve reached Secretary of State Tara Corbet’s private line. I’m not available to take your call, but if this is an emergency press the star button. Now.”
Kane complied and held the cell phone tightly to his left ear.
“Tara Corbet. Please identify yourself and your urgent situation?”
“Tara, this is Morgan Kane. I’m outside my apartment building stuffed in a taxi after being shot at. You’ll probably hear the news within the hour. I’m calling because I’m concerned about your safety.”
“Morgan, oh my God! I was just going to call you about the USDC report. Jesus Christ did you just say you were shot at?”
“Someone tried to kill me but got the doorman at my apartment building instead. I was on my way to see Jane Ames before getting in touch with you. Someone from our conference session is orchestrating Holmes downfall with these misdirection misquotes.”
“Look Morgan, we have to turn this around. Between Colin Smith’s murder and your attempted assassination we’re in a situation that constitutes an act of terrorism. Call your boss at the Times and get your article released as soon as possible. I’ll arrange for you to be at a press conference scheduled for one o’clock. Jane, you and I and the President will profile the actual conference minutes as a disclaimer.”
“I agree. But first I have to get out of this cab and away from the police who will want to interrogate me about what happened here.”
“Do what you can to get the hell out of there and be at the White House by one. I have to go now.”
Kane stared at the disconnected phone. He heard sounds of voices in a crowd beginning to gather and the distant wail of emergency vehicles. He turned on himself to get out of the passenger side door at curbside and mingled with the pedestrians circling the dead doorman. He took off his sportcoat, slung it over his shoulder and moved rapidly around the corner to the adjacent hotel where he jumped into a waiting cab. He gave directions to a well-known and well inhabited coffee shop one block from the White House.
“You fool. How could you miss and shoot the other man?” Dowan ineffectually swatted the assassin on his right shoulder.
“The man of my target bent down at the last second. And what is expected? I arrived from Boston only 2-hours ago and you give me this assignment.” Paja rapidly broke down the rifle, placed it in its case and pocketed the spent rifle cartridge case.
“We must leave this rooftop.” Dowan speed dialed from his cell phone as they moved down the staircase of the apartment building almost a block away from the dead doorman.
The cab driver’s cell phone ringer spat out a Morse code SOS as its ring tone. He had just started the car and was reaching over to activate his taxi meter. He turned to his passenger. “I must answer my phone before to pull into traffic.”
Kane nodded an affirmative response and had long since accepted foreign accents from taxi drivers all over the world, especially the United States. “Okay. Can you turn off the meter please until we get moving?”
The unshaven driver looked quickly over his shoulder. “Yes. Of course.” The driver complied with Kane’s request while pressing the cell phone to his left ear listening intently and staring at his passenger via the center windshield mirror.
“Our bullet killed a different man. Did you see?” Dowan’s rapid telegraphic speech demanded an immediate answer.
“I saw everything,” the driver whispered.
Kane continued to look out the rear taxi window as police cars began arriving.
“You must find our target and follow him. You must tell us exactly where he goes.” Dowan and Paja had reached a car in an apartment garage where cell phone reception began to get choppy.
“I have him in sight. He is in my taxi.” The driver saw Kane still preoccupied with the scene a block away behind them.
Dowan could only hear pieces of the message which were broken up. “You see him. Good. Keep him in sight. I will call again when we are away from here.” Dowan did not receive the taxi driver’s complete transmission.
The driver had only heard the words “… away from here.” He immediately reached over and activated the taxi meter and pulled out into traffic.
Kane turned his vision forward and shouted the coffee shop’s address again to the driver through the perforated Plexiglas divider. He felt the pulsatile throb of the stone in his left front pocket once again. This time however, there was no intense heat sensation. He looked at the stone–the color was green. Kane sat back as the taxi merged into the slow moving DC traffic. He reflected on what happened now that his faculties were collected and he felt relatively safe. The stone had begun feeling hot as he walked from the main entrance of his apartment building to the taxi with the doorman. Had it turned red then? The color red obviously means immediate danger and imminent physical violence or disaster. Now the stone was green. What does green mean? The stone was green in the presence of Crag Quincy. And in the presence of Crag Quincy his predominant feeling was one of intense wariness. It was also green when he talked to his boss, Aaron Crandall. But he was not wary of Aaron Crandall. Was the stone telling him he should be? The stone was green during the plane trip from Boston to Washington, DC and is now green on the trip in the taxi to the White House. I have to keep my guard up and be vigilant with the green warning. I have to act immediately when the stone becomes hot and red.
Kane looked out the passenger side window at the helter-skelter hectic activity around him which was normal for DC. The book had told Martha Sorel that the colors of Stonehenge imparted a direction which could not be questioned and demanded immediate consideration and planning. No, it was not the book, it was Holthar. Holthar is speaking to me from the book, in my dreams, in my mind and via Martha. Martha said I had become the Chosen Templar.And a Chosen Templar is a priestly knight like Holthar. But Holthar possesses mystical and magical powers. What mystical magical powers could I possibly be endowed with? What are the powers of Stonehenge?
Kane focused again on his environment. He was seven streets away from the coffee shop when the taxi had abruptly stopped first in line at a red light. He looked at the taxi driver who had raised his cell phone to his ear again. The driver was nodding agreement to something he was hearing and he was looking at Kane through the rearview mirror. The traffic light changed green and the taxi advanced slowly while the driver was speaking softly on the phone. Kane felt the throbbing heat on his left thigh. The stone was active again. The pulsatile heat was becoming extremely painful and Kane removed the stone from his pocket and stared at it. The fiery lava-red color filled the entire taxi even as its temperature immediately cooled.
“Stop. Stop the taxi. I have to get out. Now. Stop the taxi.” Kane shouted and pounded on the Plexiglas partition with both fists.
The driver threw his cell phone beside him and quickly turned onto a narrow street from the main thoroughfare with screeching tires.
“No.” Kane shouted. “Stop. I said stop the cab.”
The driver ignored him and accelerated rapidly down the barren two-lane Street. It was a small residential area with old brownstones lining both sides packed with parked cars at curbside.
Kane held both palms up to the driver. An intense volcano-like red light emanating from both hands reached flare intensity and Kane shouted. “Stop.”
The taxi stopped immediately with the seatbelt producing intense pressure on Kane’s body while a sharp “bang” came from the driver’s seat. A foul chemical smell permeated the interior of the taxi with the sudden deployment of the driver’s airbag from the center of the steering wheel.
Kane reacted immediately and opened the car door running with an intense speed he never imagined his body capable of. He was back at the main thoroughfare within a few seconds and continued one block. He stopped and entered a Walgreens drugstore. As he was catching his breath he reached into his pocket and looked at the stone. It was no longer red but had returned to its original Stonehenge sapphire blue. Kane sat down at the blood pressure monitoring device at an untrafficked corner of the drugstore and closed his eyes. Holthar immediately appeared.
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