Excerpt from Future Hope ITP Book One

XV. LOST SURVIVOR

MAJOR SANDERS FELT SOMETHING STANDING OVER HIM and sensed he was being examined. He lay still, hoping not to arouse any suspicion. He felt some soft hairs brush against his face and body. His examiner finished, Major Sanders heard him run away quietly. He opened his eyes just in time to see a huge male lion disappear into the foliage. “I guess I’m not good enough for lunch,” he said to himself. He tried to pull himself up, but intense, searing pain shot through his legs. He had a terrible headache and it hurt to take a breath. He could hear water running in a stream to his right. He realized how thirsty he was and started to crawl toward the stream. He attempted to stand but the pain in his legs was too great. Gradually, he reached the stream. He put a drop of water into his portable analyzer. 99.99 percent pure water came the reading, no hazards. He reached his hands down into the stream and brought out a cupful of the water and drank it down. He took some more and splashed his face and he began to feel better. Overhead was a tree laden with what looked to be oranges. That would really hit the spot, he thought. There was a fallen branch next to him by the stream. He hoisted it up and struck the branch several times and several oranges fell, one striking him on the head.

“Sir Isaac Newton all over again,” he said out loud. He looked at the orange; he sniffed it and poked it. Looks real enough to me, he thought. He peeled off the skin and took a bite. Seems OK, he thought and he devoured the orange, and then another and another. He felt a little better, but was so weak he couldn’t move.

He heard some rustling in the bushes and a man and a woman emerged. They were both naked, with deep olive complexions and perfectly proportioned bodies. The woman was elderly, but strikingly beautiful with long dark brown, with a hint of gray, not only on her head but also in areas that the major was used to seeing hairless. The Future Hope | 61 man had white hair, nearly shoulder length, with a neat beard and moustache. “Be careful,” said the man. “He is badly injured. We are asked to take him to a safe place and care for him. Both his legs are broken and he has an injury to his left lung. It will be difficult to heal him.”

“Won’t the Creator come and heal him as he would us?” asked the woman.

“We have been asked to treat him as we would one of our other inhabitants. The Creator is unable to help him.”

“But he is a man, similar to us. Why won’t the Creator help him?”

“Enough, Sarah, we will talk of this later. We must get him to safety now.”

With great speed they built a stretcher from two branches and some long leaves and, with surprising ease, gently lifted him and placed him on it. As they were carrying him, he passed out again.

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Excerpt from Joshua and Aaron, ITP Book Two

Gideon woke with the rising sun, rolled out of bed into his waiting hygiene center which provided a hot shower, shave and every other necessity, after which he sat down at the table in his kitchen for breakfast; fresh strawberries with cream, hot tea and a toasted bagel with butter. The day’s itinerary projected over his food, MEETING WITH AARON DIBLONSKI  3:00 pm in bold red letters; otherwise the day was free. Gideon knew that although nothing was scheduled he wasn’t free. The morning would be spent reviewing every scrap of information available on Aaron Diblonski, Diblonski Ltd. and anything connected with either entity.

As soon as he finished he turned on the music of Gillespie and sat down at his monitor and began studying everything he could find on Diblonski. There was a wealth of data on the financial aspects of the company, founded in 2089, astounding growth averaging twenty five per cent annually, development of the government/ industry model, philanthropic ventures and corporate structure. Aaron Diblonski had been at the helm since the beginning, starting it as a manufacturer of personal entertainment systems, pioneering holographic imaging on a wide scale. From this beginning he had grown the company into everything: manufacturing, entertainment, media, mining, financial and personal health services until he had reached the behemoth status it now enjoyed. Truly a ten thousand kilo gorilla, he thought as he turned to the available personal data on Aaron Diblonski.

This was much sketchier. His birth was presumed to be in 2070, location not known, education was listed as MBA University of Pennsylvania granted in 2086. He had never married, had no children and no known family. He currently resided in Washington DC, but also maintained homes in New York City, Chicago, Honolulu, Beijing, Moscow, London and Jerusalem. He had a pet cat named Lucipher, presumably named for the cat featured in an animated production of Cinderella from years past. He was rarely seen in public, but when he did appear he was invariably surrounded by three or four beautiful young women, a bevy of bodyguards and personal secretaries shielding him from all prying by the media. The only images available were those supplied by his official photographer and these always showed him as a tall, thin, tanned man, clean shaven usually dressed in a dark suit, wearing dark glasses.

Nothing much here, Gideon thought. There was more in the shadows, Gideon knew. His encounter with Richard Cosby suggested that Diblonski was more than a fabulously successful entrepreneur; there was a sinister side that perhaps crossed over into a supernatural realm. This made Diblonski much more dangerous, but perhaps more predictable. Years before, after his encounter with Richard Cosby he studied the characteristics of demons and devils. He was sure that there was something Satanic about Diblonski and that this man’s ultimate purpose was the eventual conversion of every living soul to the side of Satan. Gideon wasn’t entirely sure what was to be believed, but he couldn’t deny the events surrounding the destruction of Richard Cosby and there was no explanation for what he had seen except for the hand of Satan reaching out of Hell, trying to swat him away like an annoying gnat.

After finishing his study of Diblonski he quickly scanned through all the available data on the Diblonski Ltd. corporate structure. He paid particular attention to the executive board and the second in command Abraham Masur. He made mental notes of the unusual background and experience Masur brought to his job and his mercurial rise from obscurity to number two man. Gideon finished his preparation and lay back to relax. Fireworks were sure to come and he needed to be well rested.

At 2:00 Brian Sivestre walked through the front door and rode the elevator to Gideon’s apartment. He was met at the door before he had a chance to ring the bell. Sivestre was medium height, a little heavy set, particularly for the times, sporting a dark brown moustache and a conspicuous Green Dot.

“Hello, Mr. Sivestre”, Gideon greeted the reporter. “I’m glad you could come.”

“The pleasure’s all mine, Mr. Jones. Thank you for this opportunity; I’m sure that you had hundreds of requests.”

Gideon ignored that comment and the two sat down. A wet bar popped out of the coffee table. “Would either of you care for a bit of refreshment?” the bar asked with an impeccable British accent.

“Scotch, single blend”, Sivestre said.

“Ice water”, Gideon added. The drinks appeared and the two men started with some idle chatter about nothing before Sivestre began more serious questioning.

“You tossed propriety to the wind with your little speech yesterday; either you have a desire to be out of public service or you have designs on climbing to a higher level within the government.”

“Wrong on both counts, Mr. Sivestre. That’s what I like about you media types. Quick to make inappropriate assumptions with little regard for the truth. I hope you are different, because you are about to get much more than you bargained for.”

How’s that?”

“You’ll know in about ten seconds.” A call came through announcing that his transportation to the Diblonski residence had arrived. “We are adding another party to this little get together. “One Aaron Diblonski; you are about to get the exclusive of the year, that is if you wish to go with me.”

“Of course!” he exclaimed with proper enthusiasm. “Any opportunity to get close to Diblonski is a chance at the Pulitzer. Let’s go.”

The two men quickly left the apartment, the security system automatically activating as they walked out the door. Gideon hit a switch inside his jacket as they left, activating a second layer of security, just in case. They entered a long black limousine and were whisked away to the appointed rendezvous. As soon as the limousine pulled away a white sports car pulled up and a woman got out and casually walked into the building and up to Gideon’s apartment. She stood outside the door, ran a quick scan, made note of the number and quickly left.

The ride to Diblonski’s midtown apartment was quiet and uneventful. The two men said very little, both a little fearful that they were being monitored; a point on which they were correct. The limo pulled up in front of a tall glass and concrete building and they were instructed to take elevator #1. They weren’t told which floor, but they soon realized that this elevator only had one destination, the top floor penthouse apartment, on the 78th floor. They exited and were immediately ushered into a grand foyer where they were greeted by Abe Masur.

“Welcome Mr. Jones, we are delighted that you could come on such short notice”, he said as he eyed both men up and down. “and you are…?” he questioned staring at Sivestre.

“Brian Sivestre, ABS Media services. Mr. Jones was kind enough to ask me to join him.”

“Are you a friend of Mr. Jones?”

“Oh yes, we’ve known each other for years. I just happened to be in town and Gideon didn’t feel right leaving me alone, since I’m here for such a short visit. You don’t mind, do you? Because if it’s a problem I can wait in the limo.”

“Oh no, it’s no problem. Follow me, Mr. Diblonski is expecting you in the study.”

The three men walked down a short hallway to a tall, very solid double door, deep mahogany color with gold trim. The “apartment” was huge with tall ceilings, gold crown molding and fixtures, with paintings and sculptures adorning the walls. The art collection reminded Gideon of Adrian Leavitt and he shook his head briefly as if to shake that unpleasant memory from his consciousness. The double doors opened automatically as they approached and they were greeted by an impeccably dressed man who appeared about forty, with jet black hair, tanned, clean shaven and thin. Mr. Diblonski extended his hand and shook Gideon’s hand. Gideon felt a cold shiver run up his back as he took the thin long fingers into his own strong hand.

“Hello, Mr. Jones”, Diblonski said as they shook hands and “Mr. Sivestre, I didn’t know that you were acquainted with Mr. Jones”, he said as he shook Sivestre’s hand.

“Yes, we’re very old friends.”

“I’m so glad you could join us. Won’t you sit down? Can I offer either of you some refreshment?”

“Nothing for me”, Gideon replied. He noticed a striking watch on Diblonski’s wrist, completely black with bright red markers.

“Single blend Scotch, if it’s not too much trouble”, Sivestre answered. The drink appeared as they both sank into the most luxurious, comfortable chairs either had ever seen.

“That’s an impressive antique watch your wearing”, Gideon remarked. “Are you a connoisseur of antique mechanical watches?”

“How kind of you to notice. Yes, I have a soft spot for true marvels of human ingenuity, unique items that demonstrate the human ability to rise above mediocrity; such a rare trait these days. The complicated mechanical wristwatch is truly the epitome of such ingenuity; it is a pity that they have mostly disappeared into antique shops and journals of technical history.”

“You and I have one thing in common, then.” Gideon held out his wrist displaying his blue and silver watch with the name DeBethune on the dial. This is an antique I found a few years ago; I reconditioned it myself.”

“Very nice indeed”, Diblonski said. “Mine is an Hublot; an Hublot Big Bang Red Devil to be exact.  It is one of several dozen fine antique watches I have in my collection. Let me show you one of my favorites. He opened a wooden case and removed a shiny gray watch with a black dial and gold hands.

“This is a very rare minute repeater. Listen.” He pushed button and Joshua heard a song, specifically ‘the Dance Macabre’.”

“Very unusual choice of music for such a watch.”

“Yes, I had it reconditioned to my own specifications. Such mechanical marvels truly demonstrate the creativity of the human mind, don’t you think, Mr. Jones?”

“I think that such genius as creates these ‘mechanical marvels’ as you so aptly call them is a gift from God.” Joshua glanced at Masur and saw a brief wince at the mention of deity, a response he wholly expected. Mr. Diblonski, he noted, remained composed.

“From what I know of God, He would have been content to keep humanity naked and ignorant. The serpent did Adam and Eve a favor; freeing them from such servitude and allowing mankind to flourish and surpass their keeper.”

“Do you truly believe that we are better off today, struggling for a few brief moments of happiness before we leave this forlorn world?”

“This world is all we have and mankind has rightly learned that it’s best to make the most of what we have here and now, because, Mr. Jones, as I said, what we have today is all there is.”

Gideon decided not to argue the point and responded, “Enough of philosophy; as enjoyable as it is, I’m sure that you did not invite me to this wonderful home to debate God and his influence on humanity. I must say that you have quite an impressive home.”

“You are very observant, Mr. Jones. Truly inspired creations of human genius are my great passion. Besides my unique watches, I also have a very extensive collection of rare paintings I’m sure you noticed and some very rare, one of a kind flowers that I developed myself; including some that are here”, he pointed to a very striking plant with the brightest red and orange flowers Gideon had ever seen, “and some more that are in the greenhouse at my home in Washington. You might say that I have a fondness for rare things of beauty and grace. This particular plant is unique, only two exist in the solar system; this one here and its sister which is at my home outside Washington. But, enough of such idle conversation. We could talk about such a fascinating topic for days, but then we would miss the primary purpose of this meeting.”

“Of course; now, what can I do for you, Mr. Diblonski?” Gideon asked, as he bent to sniff the sweet aroma emanating from the beautiful plant. He looked up and wiped some white pollen from his nose and shirt as he turned and faced Mr. Diblonski.

“You have made quite a name for yourself, Mr. Jones, in a very short time. Your resume is very impressive, although I must disagree with some of the comments you made in your speech the other day.”

“I thought that you might, otherwise I wouldn’t be here enjoying your gracious hospitality. I do, however, stand by every word.”

“As you should, Mr. Jones, or else there would have been no point in uttering them. I believe that you have done my company a bit of an injustice, however. Our goal has always been to help the downtrodden of society; to lift people out of the gutter, so to speak, and bring them to loftier levels within our society. Do you find this to be an unworthy pursuit, Mr. Jones?”

Gideon sat silently for a moment. “I will have a drink, after all; a glass of ice water”, he said, before answering  Diblonski’s question. “I don’t deny that the charitable work you have performed has been admirable and as a whole has been a boon to many of the less fortunate people on this great planet. I was merely saying that our government and its many partners, such as you, do not necessarily have all the answers. If you did, there would be no social outcasts.”

It was Diblonski’s turn to pause, but he continued to look directly into Gideon’s eyes. Finally, he responded, “Mr. Jones, your own words particularly singled out Diblonski Ltd as the entity perpetrating a vast ruse upon our great society as a means to maintain control of the population by instilling a fear that you say is unfounded. Do you at this time stand by these words or are you willing to recant this slander.” Mr. Diblonski maintained an outward appearance of calm that belied the force of his words.

Gideon tried to present just as calm a demeanor, but there was a slight wavering of his voice. He had definitely struck a nerve, but he also realized that he had entered treacherous waters and he needed to be very careful. He replied, “I am more than willing to recant, as you call it, if I can be convinced that I was in any way in error. Thus far I have heard only semi-righteous outrage without substance. If you are able to prove to me that my own observations are mere false apparitions I will gladly tell Mr. Sivestre here that I am wrong and then, I am sure, he will tell the world. I would then cheerfully leave this brief foray into public life behind and return to the private social work that I truly love.”

Diblonski sat silently for what seemed to be hours before he spoke, “I can see that our discussion is finished. I am disappointed, Mr. Jones. Mr. Masur will show you out. Good day.” Diblonski  disappeared through a second door as Masur showed Gideon and Sivestre to the waiting limousine. When he returned Diblonski was waiting.

Diblonski was pruning the leaves from one of his rare plants and without looking up addressed his underling, “This Gideon Jones is trouble; I think he should be invited to a party.”

Masur smiled, nodded his head and responded, “Yes sir. I suspected a party would be in Mr. Jones’ future, so I took the liberty of sending one of our people to his apartment to do some preliminary fact finding. Unfortunately, this Jones has some supplementary security and she wasn’t able to get in. We will however continue our surveillance at the party and afterwards.”

Diblonski nodded his head slightly, then put the plant down, sat down by the huge fire and opened a book as Mr. Masur quickly departed.

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