Mystery and Crime Fiction posted October 12, 2019 Chapters:  ...6 7 -8- 9... 

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Baner arrives in Afganistan.

A chapter in the book The Deadly Wind

Banner Meets the Voice of God

by Thomas Bowling

Jerry continued his briefing. “It turns out it wasn't The Voice that killed Ian, it was some other fanatic who wanted to stop the meeting we had set up from happening. We put out a new leak that the assassins had gotten the wrong man. A decoy had been killed. Dave Rush was still alive.”

“Let me guess,” Banner interrupted. “I'm the new target.”

“I'm sorry, John, we need you. I suspect that you will be contacted soon.”

“A man was here yesterday.”

Banner told him about the Middle Eastern man. Jerry didn't have a clue who he might have been.

“My guess is he's a paid messenger. He's probably never met His Holiness.”

“Yes,” Banner agreed. “This guy looked like a pro. He's coming back in two days. I'm going with him to meet this Voice of God.”

“Be careful.” Jerry gave Banner a gift. “It's a laptop computer. Good for your cover. It's got some of your past articles on it and several stories you are currently working on. There's also a surprise in there for when you arrive.”

There was always a surprise when Batista was involved.

On the appointed day, promptly at 8:00 a.m., Banner was picked up at his house. No one spoke on the ride to the airport. When they arrived, the Middle Eastern visitor handed Banner his boarding pass and walked away without a word.

When the plane landed, Banner was met by a man wearing a long white robe. He led him to a Mercedes Benz. They rode in silence. Banner asked where they were going, but there was no answer. 

It was about an hour across the desert. Nothing to see outside, but sand. Mile after mile of snow-white sand - it was blinding. Banner wondered if the Beach Doctor knew about this place. Dr. Beach was a guy in Florida. Each year, he put out a list of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world. This place would not make the list, no ocean. A good beach has to have an ocean. This one just had endless white, hot sand. The ocean, that's what made the heat and sand tolerable.

The Mercedes was weighted down by body armor. It must have been a bitch to drive in the sand, but the driver handled it like it was a sports car. Banner would like to see how his driver would do in a NASCAR race against Danica Patric. Banner closed his eyes and pictured himself in a wrestling match with Danica Patric.

Finally, they arrived at a white, polished marble palace. The upper two feet were covered in a mosaic of blue marble tile with yellow accents. It was beautiful. Banner wished he had brought a camera. He thought about it at 
first but then decided against it. His host would probably be camera shy.

His Holiness came out to meet him. He, too, wore a robe but it was of the finest silk. His Holiness was well-weathered with deep lines across his face and a pock-marked complexion. The years had not been kind to him, the years were not kind to anyone in Afghanistan, but he could boast of one thing few of his contemporaries could, he was still alive.

In his late sixties, now, he was the revered spiritual leader of a sect that called themselves The Followers. His holy and austere appearance was only marred by the large, gold Rolex watch on his left wrist. He greeted Banner warmly. He bowed. Banner followed his lead and made sure to bow a little lower. He reached out to shake his hand but was met with a firm slap on the wrist by one of the guards.

“No one touches His Holiness!”

To be continued . . . 

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