The Sepulcher Outrage
Kenneth Lloyd & John Mosqueda
Genre mystery, thriller
Published date September 1, 2008
Where it can be purchased www.primetimepublisher.com or amazon.com
"Da Vinci had no code, but the discovery of these bones could mean the end of historic, orthodox Christianity."
“MARNEE, WOULD YOU NOTIFY all the major news organizations and tell them we have a very important announcement to make tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.? If you need me, I’ll be in the board room talking with the rest of the gang.”
Dr. Benjamin Grodin rose slowly from his desk and began massaging his furrowed brow. He walked in a methodical, pigeon-toed shuffle back to the board room, staring down at the floor. O’Malley’s story was spellbinding—and dumbfounding. Grodin couldn’t help but loudly blurt, “This all feels like the closing scenes of a John Wayne movie.”
How is this all going to play out? What am I going to say?
He was giving himself time to think as he ambled down the hall. Everyone was all waiting. Then he got to the door and opened it, and the room, which had been pulsating with loud banter, immediately became as silent as a cemetery at midnight. All eyes were on him.
Grodin stood tall, suddenly felt assured now. This sort of thing happened to him often. One minute he’d be pondering a serious problem or issue, troubled by the weight of it all. But then when it came time to talk about it with colleagues, he found himself rising fully to the occasion. His mind would become lucid and his thoughts would flow freely and orderly.
Sometimes he had the distinct feeling that he was not alone. It was almost supernatural.
He made eye contact with everyone in the room and then began: “I’ve just gotten off the phone with a medical doctor from London, a Terence O’Malley, who’s had a close relationship in the past with our two colleagues from Oxford, Holmes and Jude.”
Then he smiled. “Of course, I use the term ‘colleagues’ lightly. Anyway, why don’t you all get a cup of coffee, juice or soft drink and make yourselves comfortable. This may take a while.”
The members of the team got up, and the loud banter started up again. Absorbed with what he had to tell them, Dr. Grodin hardly noticed the dramatic change in the room’s atmosphere. He felt grieved about the turn of events of the last few days, and was embarrassed that the people who worked for him had fallen victim to deception and fraud while under his watch.
This organization, after all, was the Institute for Jewish Antiquities—a group that played a necessary role in affirming Israel’s history and sense of identity. And he was its director—a post that he had never taken for granted. Nor could he ever.
It had the foreboding, distressing feel of a bad dream. He felt it could be the end of his career since he was the one who made the decision to seek the expertise of Holmes and Jude. Crafty as they were, he now thought they had surely devised a way to have become part of the team analyzing the objects. They had found a way to paint themselves into the picture, one brush stroke at a time. It had been too coincidental, and sadly, he had been much too gullible.
As for tomorrow’s press conference, he still didn’t know exactly what he was going to say. He was hoping that today’s briefing would help him construct a viable and worthy statement.
Dr. Grodin waited ten more minutes to speak. Finally he made his way to the front again. The board members, excavation team and invited guests became acutely attentive as he began speaking.
“Before I start, does it seem cold in here or is it just me?” asked Dr. Grodin, looking over at the thermostat on the wall. When no one else complained, he continued, but strangely adjusted the left rear pocket of his pants.
“My dear colleagues, I’m embarrassed to report some information to you that will shed some light on the events of the past few days and weeks.
“Dr. O’Malley called me from London, and we spoke on the phone for close to an hour. In the course of the conversation, he related that he had been close friends with Holmes and Jude while attending Cambridge University about 50 years ago.
“They were all involved in some mysterious secret society whose members vowed never to reveal their activities. Apparently they were very much into their own cultic rituals, dating back hundreds of years, as well as devising diabolically sadistic ways to ‘make people worthy’ of acceptance into their secret society.
“Out of this aberrant mentality, fostered by unfortunate, abusive childhoods, these two men developed a plot to procure some bones from a 2,000- year-old graveyard belonging to the Jude family cemetery.
“They then set about concocting a scheme, a hoax. The origins of this fraud date back almost half a century. Their plan was to deposit phony artifacts and ecofacts under the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, during the extensive excavations and renovations undertaken in 1960.
“O’Malley was never a part of the hoax, but he was given the details in the fall of 1960 when the Cambridge pair returned to England to complete their undergraduate education.
“Apparently, Holmes and Jude, around January of 1960, answered an ad in the paper that sought archeologists who were interested in being part of the excavations. They were hired as foremen on the project that next summer.
“It was during this time, as they worked here in Jerusalem—at the very site where our team has labored—that they planted and buried the various items that we’ve uncovered and now have in our possession. This was an elaborately conceived and executed hoax.
“I’m so very sorry for having subjected you to this terrible waste of your valuable time. The obvious question at this point is: Where do we go from here? So let me open up the meeting to discussion or questions. This will give you a chance to provide input, and will help me formulate my statements for the press tomorrow.”
Father Zacardi spoke first. “In light of these new findings, it would seem at first glance that we no longer need to continue with the project. However, it is my recommendation as Director of the Technical Bureau to continue the present project as originally conceived by Dr. Grodin.
“Simply because a hoax was discovered does not mean that the project should cease. We may find additional evidences of fraud. We may also discover authentic finds—or nothing of value. Dr Grodin identified at least one tunnel that has yet to be explored. It’s much too early to make a definitive assessment.
“What if more objects are uncovered? I would think they’d have to be analyzed with the same care and professionalism that the team has applied to the project so far. So if the Institute is willing, I will submit my proposal to the Bureau’s Board. I see no reason why they would renege on our contract with the Institute. If the Board agrees, we could resume ‘business as usual’ in two days.”
Dr. Grodin asked, “Does anyone have any objection to continuing the project at the Church as previously planned?”
He waited a few seconds. There were no objections. “Are there any other questions or comments?”
Matt responded, “Are there any plans to pursue the two men who’ve caused this ruckus and have them prosecuted for their crimes?”
“That decision will be up to some agency of law,” his father replied. “Obviously, it would not be in our best interests as archeologists to try to find this pair and bring them to justice.”
Then he said, “We’d also have to consider the expense of a search. The Institute has already invested a tremendous amount of resources in the project, and I’m not really interested in spending more, but…”
He paused momentarily, massaging his forehead briskly. He looked as if he wanted to sit for a moment, but then he went on:
“I’m hoping the authorities will want to pursue the matter. Some may argue that there was no real harm done, but I would vehemently disagree. For one thing, their hoax probably precipitated the attempt on my life.
“There may be much more to that story that has not yet come to light. Therefore, I’m hoping that the Jerusalem Police Department and the Israeli government will conduct a world-wide search for these two and have them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law…” Then: “Are you sure no one else is cold?” He adjusted his pants again and glanced nervously, taking one step forward, and then stumbling momentarily as if groping for a chair, looking totally disoriented. Matt had never seen that blank expression on his father’s face. It was as if he was utterly lost and didn’t have the slightest idea what to do.
Suddenly the people in the room let out a gasp of horror as their leader toppled straight down to the floor like a stone-cold statue. He landed directly on his face with a bone-breaking crack. The sound was loud and surreal. The beloved archeologist had made no attempt whatsoever to brace his fall. Someone screamed, “Call the paramedics!!”
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