A security guard was making his rounds through the halls of the San Francisco FBI office when he noticed an older man backing out of the service elevator. Though the man wore the blue uniform of the custodial services, he didn’t look familiar.
“Hey,” the guard said.
The man continued to step backwards, dragging a janitorial cart with an attached trash can and vacuum cleaner. He turned toward the guard and lifted the ID badge hanging from a lanyard.
The security guard recognized the logo on the badge, as it was for the same contracting firm that he worked for. The custodian limped a bit and appeared well past retirement age. The guard felt bad for the old man, who should be home in bed rather than working these late hours. The guard nodded and said, “Right on.”
The custodian gave a curt salute, and the guard disappeared around the corner. Continuing with his labors, the custodian steered the cart down the hall, and at the door marked Special Agent Cal Brock, he unclipped the key ring attached to his belt and unlocked the door to prop it open. After flicking on the lights, he wrestled the cart over the threshold and set to work.
He emptied the trash, vacuumed the floor and the baseboards, then dusted the desk, chairs, bookcases, and the plaques and framed certificates on the walls. He was especially careful to not disturb the papers and notes pinned to a large corkboard beside a whiteboard, itself covered with scribblings and diagrams. His gaze ranged across the photos taped along the top of the whiteboard: pictures of Sally Mund, Gabe Mendoza, Maggie LaClair, Anthony Briscane, Diana Willis, and…the custodian smiled at this last one…of John Herald.
He glanced at the door to make sure he was alone, then withdrew a red leather book embossed with a silver pinecone on its cover tucked among his cleaning supplies. He slid the red book into a white mailing envelope and left it on the center of Brock’s desk. Next, the custodian placed a pinecone beside the envelope. He imagined the FBI agent finding the book and the pinecone, and the thought brought an impish grin.
The custodian dragged his cart to the hall, turned off the light, then closed and locked the door.
What is the greatest secret? The Great One who taught me everything I know a long, long time ago declared that the voyage is already over before it begins. You are already there...
I will meet you there… I am John Herald.
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