A Zealot's Destiny - Sample
Prince Gregory raised his nose in the air and sniffed. He furrowed his brow at the odor and summoned his Chief of Staff from across the room.
“Is that gas I smell? The rest of the family will be arriving shortly.”
Gregory turned 56 that day and the extended family now began to assemble to celebrate. Some of them had already arrived, and the last thing he needed was to evacuate his home because of some minor gas leak.
The aide sniffed the air as well and shook his head. “I don’t believe so, sir. The exterminators were out this morning while you were in the city. They assured me there would be no residual odors but I’m
afraid they were in error.”
The prince looked at his watch and then back toward his assistant. “Are you quite sure? I’ve never smelled bug spray like this.”
The man smiled and looked at his employer. “Sir, can you tell me when you’ve ever smelled bug spray?”
The prince cocked his head, looked askance, and then smiled. “Right, Geoffrey. Now that you say that, I’m not sure I have. Well, at least since boarding school.”
Geoffrey was correct. The Royal Family never had to put up with certain occurrences of daily life. Services such as exterminators, plumbers, and the like worked whatever hours were necessary to avoid inconvenience to the family.
Besides, The Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, a 30-room mansion on the Grade II list of royal residences, was in tip-top shape. The prince had spent £7.5 million to fully restore the grand building, its grounds with eight additional staff buildings, and the private chapel. The buildings underwent inspection routinely, and maintenance was scheduled and proactive. The odds of a gas leak were nil.
He walked about the room, sniffing. The odor was indeed faint but seemed strongest near the front hallway.
“My older brother should be here momentarily. His youngest son is escorting the Queen and they’re running late. Please inform security.” He reflected on the still present odor. “And, please have someone check the gas lines.”
The aide nodded. “Yes, sir. In fact, I will check the basement area myself, for expediency. It might take time to get one of the maintenance workers here, being supper time and all.”
“Thank you, Geoffrey.”
Geoffrey Hand had been Prince Gregory’s Chief of Staff for over 15 years and adored the Royal Family. As a boy, he had daydreamed of being a rugged prince and finding a beautiful princess to take as his bride. Of course, that would never be, but the idea had led him to work hard at school, excel at sports, and join the military for a brief stint.
And yet, it was the one sport he failed to master that caught royal notice. Polo. He nearly fell off the horse with every swing of his mallet. After one disastrous practice match, where he did indeed fall from his mount, he rose from the ground to find the prince offering him a hand up, while calling him the worst polo player he’d ever seen. From there, the friendship grew and this position had been offered him. How could he refuse? Now, he and his wife of 30 years lived on the grounds and they hobnobbed with royalty . . . within limits. He would do anything for the family.
Geoffrey walked through the kitchen and found the staff scurrying about. They didn’t cater to the Queen frequently, so he knew they were seeking perfection. Besides, the entire, immediate Royal Family would be attending. They sought to please more than just Her Majesty.
“Are any of the maintenance fellows still about?”
Simultaneously, half the heads in the room shook negatively.
“Do you smell gas?”
The head cook looked at him askance. “Seriously? We’re in the kitchen. Look about. How many gas burners do you see working at the moment? Do we smell gas? When don’t we smell gas in here?”
Geoffrey chuckled. “Sorry. The prince is smelling gas and I’m to investigate.”
Another cook pointed with her thumb over her right shoulder. “That way to the basement.”
He nodded. He knew how to get there. Walking down the hall, he came to the door leading to the basement and stopped. He looked around for other staff members to question about what he had found but saw no one. Of course, it was late and only the kitchen staff remained to prepare for the birthday party and to feed the drivers who would be missing their own meals while carting the family members from place to place.
Again, he turned toward the door and stared at it. Someone had sealed the door with clear tape, like that used for packages. Someone walking past would be unlikely to notice it in the dim evening light. In fact, he had not noted it until grabbing the doorknob and feeling resistance.
Curious, he thought. Was there some reason for this?
He began to peel away the tape, taking care not to damage the paint, if possible. Soon, he freed the door and opened it. Gas! Prince Gregory’s nose had been correct. He had to warn them and clear the building.
He turned and found himself facing a member of the security team.
“You there. There’s a gas leak. We must evacuate the building immediately. I’ll go alert the prince.”
The man’s hand flew up toward Geoffrey and a piercing pain shot through his chest toward his back. He looked down to see a narrow blade thrust upward into his chest from just below his sternum. He knew it to be a fatal injury.
The man made two quick, additional movements and Geoffrey could feel the warmth of his life’s blood filling his chest, his breathing becoming difficult. His death would be quick, but he feared for the Royal Family. Were they about to die in a fiery explosion?
His thoughts turned toward his wife and children. He longed to see them one more time, to hold his wife, to tell his kids how proud he was of them. To tell them all how much he loved them.
He could no longer talk, to ask “Why?” Yet, in a flash he understood why. He . . .
“Allahu akbar,” whispered the man.
The man opened the door and Geoffrey felt strong hands grab him. The last thing he remembered as he toppled down the stairs was the smell of gas and the door closing behind him.
Prince Gregory paced in the foyer as his extended family gathered in the drawing room. His daughters had been excited to see their cousins. His younger brother and his family had arrived first, followed by his sister and her family. The latest to arrive was his older brother, Peter, the Prince of Wales and next in line to the throne, with his wife. Peter’s youngest son, Prince Alexander, was escorting the Queen.
The smell hadn’t changed and Geoffrey had not returned. Gregory had not forgotten the plot to assassinate his mother that had led to a drone strike killing two British citizens who had joined ISIS in the Middle East.
He turned to find one of his security men extending his hand with a note.
“Have you seen Geoffrey?”
“No, sir. Do you wish for me to chase him down?”
The prince took the note. His mother had just left Windsor Castle and would be there in minutes. The note also mentioned that Prince Arthur, the Duke of Cambridge, Peter’s eldest son and second in line to the throne, and his family would be delayed. No explanation was provided.
He walked into the drawing room and approached Peter.
“Mum is on her way. She should be here within minutes. I just received this note.” He handed it to his brother.
After reading the message, his brother nodded. “Morning sickness. This third pregnancy has gotten to Helen more than the first two. Arthur must have anticipated something like this. He had us bring a small gift for you in our car.” He looked about for someone on the staff. “Do you know if our drivers are still outside? I’ll have James bring it in.”
“I believe they’ve all gone to eat,” said his wife.
“Very well. Then, I’ll be just a minute. I’ll retrieve it and greet Mum at the same time.”
The two men walked together toward the front door.
“Tell me, Peter, do you smell anything? Gas, perhaps.”
The Prince of Wales stopped and sniffed. “Can’t say as I do, but the sniffer isn’t what it used to be. Mum’s the one to ask. Her nose still seems to pick up everything.” The security man opened the door and the Prince of Wales walked out into the evening chill.
Gregory stood in the doorway and watched his brother. He could see headlights in the distance. A car, presumed to be their mother’s, had come through the front gate.
At that moment, he felt a grumble in the floor that preceded a deafening roar behind him. He turned in time to see his home collapse around him and a fireball racing toward him. Unlike in the cinema, he had no time to escape.
Karolus Karling sat on the balcony overlooking the courtyard of his palazzo on the outskirts of Rome. As Director of The Assembly, as well as the new Secretary General of the United Nations, he had the most advanced intelligence network in the world. Few things caught him by surprise, with the biggest in past months being the surge of the new American Party in the United States’ 2016 election. Bradley Graham’s resilience, as well as his uncanny knack at escaping their attempts to bring him down, caused Karolus concern. And if it caused him concern, he could only imagine the thinking of those in the Executive Council.
Francois, his aide, stepped onto the balcony.
“Sir, the latest from Britain.” He handed Karolus a three-page report.
Karolus breezed through the brief and frowned. Why couldn’t these people get it right? Like the attempt on candidate Graham’s life months earlier, the original operatives assigned to the task of eliminating the Queen had failed. This time, progress had been made, even if he had fallen short. Not every plan was foolproof and sometimes these tasks had to be done in stages to escape deeper scrutiny.
The command to eliminate the Royal Family had come from the highest authority, the one man that even the Executive Council answered to. The master plan had been 50 years in the making. Their time of global control was on the horizon. When that man claimed his position of power, Karolus would be there, as his spokesman. And at that time, the man wished to claim the Throne of David, the Throne of Promise, to prove to the world that he was the man destined to fulfill that ancient prophecy of a Messiah who held the right to reign in judgment. Karolus, himself, held little stock in a bunch of 2,000-year-old letters called the Bible, but he understood the need to satisfy those who still believed in fables.
The Assembly had spent over a decade infiltrating the Metropolitan Police’s Special Operations 14 group, also known as the Royal Protective Service. Abdul Aziz ben-Hadad, going by a well-crafted and deeply entrenched alias, had been a loyal guard for the Royal Family for almost a decade now. Karolus had called his sleeper cell into action the previous week.
Upon completing the report, Karolus walked into his study, turned on the television, and tuned into the BBC news. The famous door to 10 Downing Street appeared behind the reporter.
“We are awaiting comments by the Prime Minister’s office. The country is aghast at the news floating through social media that an attack on the Royal Family has been successful. What we do know for sure is that the family was attending a family party for the Duke of York’s 56th birthday at his residence, The Royal Lodge. We also . . .” The reporter stopped and turned.
Karolus watched the door behind the reporter as it opened and the Prime Minister himself stepped out and approached the podium holding a dozen or more microphones. It seemed that no one wanted to depend on a single, press-pool relay of the words about to be spoken.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I . . . I am saddened, and angered, to report that an explosion at The Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park has claimed the lives of many members of the Royal Family, who had gathered to celebrate the birthday of the Duke of York. The Duke and his entire family . . . the Earl of Wessex and his entire family . . . the Princess Royal and her family . . . and the Duchess of Cornwall were killed in the blast. The Prince of Wales had stepped outside and the explosion threw him more than two dozen meters into a row of hedges surrounding the private entrance to the home. He is comatose and hospitalized in critical condition. His prognosis is unknown at this time.”
The Prime Minister paused and wiped an eye. His distress appeared obvious.
“The Queen, accompanied by her husband and her grandson, was riding up to the residence and witnessed the explosion. Fortunately, she had been delayed at Windsor Castle. Her . . . her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge and possibly the heir apparent to the throne. . .” He paused and cleared his throat. “. . . along with his wife and children had been prevented from . . . from attending due to issues of the Duchess’ third pregnancy.”
Karolus sat there, intrigued by the man’s emotions. He had never seen the Prime Minister so distraught. One would think the man’s own family had been murdered.
“A full and extensive investigation into this tragedy has already started. Although there have been social media reports of the odor of gas, it is premature to believe this was caused by a gas leak. My administration will be fully transparent with the findings of our investigation.” He appeared to be regaining his resolve.
“In the meantime, we ask, and the Royal Family asks, that you lift up a prayer for them tonight and keep them in your prayers in the coming weeks. The Queen has canceled all royal activities for the next two weeks, and the family has moved to secure quarters for added protection. We hope to have more information for you tomorrow. Thank you.”
With that, he took no questions and turned to reenter his residence. The reporter turned back to the camera and began her drivel.
Karolus muted the television but kept it tuned to the BBC. He smiled. He loved the word “transparent.” So open, with such promise, and yet when used by most politicians, a most deceptive word.
A truly transparent report would have confirmed the fact that the Prince of Wales was one step from death, not in critical condition with no mention of prognosis. And that the Queen had to be sedated secondary to her emotional distress. Her doctors feared she might have a stroke otherwise.
He pressed a button on his desk and Francois appeared within a moment.
“Please see to it that our man is rewarded and reassigned to the Duke of Cambridge’s security detail.”
Thank you for reading a sample of
A Zealot’s Destiny
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A Zealot’s Destiny – Copyright © 2016 by Braxton DeGarmo. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Braxton DeGarmo.
Paperback and eBook Edition Publication Date: February 2016
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-943509-20-1
EBook ISBN (mobi): 978-1-943509-21-8
EBook ISBN (epub): 978-1-943509-22-5
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogs are products of the author’s imagination and are not construed to be real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The use of real places and companies is done to add a sense of reality, but the circumstances surrounding such use is also fictional. The employees of such companies, their actions, and their comments are fiction and should not be construed as implied or explicit endorsements by or the beliefs of said companies. The use of public figures, such as politicians, is also done for the purpose of realism. Actions or comments attributed to them may be fiction but may also come from public records, such as their own writings.
Cover design by Rocking Book Covers.
While this story talks of kings, past and present,
there is only one King of kings. I dedicate this story to my King—my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The list of acknowledgments for this book is shorter than usual, largely because the story required more historical research than my previous books. That, in itself, was interesting, as I delved into books from the 19th Century, and even earlier literature.
First, I’d like to thank my friend, Mike Hodge, for getting me interested in the throne of David. He has produced his own book looking at the subject from a different, non-fictional perspective—Where is the United States in Bible Prophecy? I recommend it to anyone looking for more information on the topic.
I also wish to thank Dr. James Williams of the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, MO for information regarding the museum and campus on which it sits, Westminster College. When we first visited the campus, I suspected there might be tunnels for the utilities and, for the sake of my story, I really wanted there to be tunnels. He confirmed that, albeit reluctantly, without revealing their actual locations. I hope he doesn’t get too upset with all the damage I inflicted on his beautiful church and museum . . . in the book, of course.
My thanks once again go to my editor, Patrick LoBrutto, whose suggestions always improve the final result, and to Lenda Selph for her valuable proofreading.
I’d like to thank the members of my “street team”—you know who you are. These folks always provide helpful feedback that improves my books, allowing them to become what you have today.
And last but never least, I want to acknowledge and thank my loving and talented wife, Paula, for her valuable assistance, whether it be proofreading skills, general help, feeding me when I’m wrapped up in writing, or all-around encouragement.
A friend of mine piqued my interest when he asked, “Who sits on the Throne of David?” My answer was one of rote, Jesus Christ. After all, that’s what most theologians today would say. And yet, my friend challenged me to investigate his question further. So, I did. And what I found led to this book.
For those of you scratching your heads, God had promised King David, of ancient Judea, that his earthly throne would be established forever—2 Samuel 7:1316—and that someone would sit upon that throne throughout eternity. And yet, in 585 B.C., King Zedekiah, the last of David’s royal descendants, was captured and taken to Babylon, where all of his sons were killed in front of him and he, then, later died. Other descendants of David carried his blood line forward. Indeed, Christ was born of that blood line, also as promised. But what of David’s throne? Who sat upon it during the 400+ years between Zedekiah and Jesus’ time of ministry? Even then, Jesus never sat upon the throne and won’t sit upon an earthly throne again until He returns. None of David’s descendants sat upon a throne of any kind after Zedekiah. Or did they?
More in my Afterword. . .