But there, on the desk in front of him, were his drawings. They seemed like diseased things, the product of a deranged mind or a seriously impaired child, the signed and notarized affidavit of madness. There was writing, but in what language? There were buildings, but they were architecturally impossible. And then there was the last thing he wanted to see: a winged creature. Like a bat, but with gills. An underwater bird of some kind. The same thing that Brewer had seen before … well, before they picked him up and brought him tenderly to his next posting in the Dali-esque landscape of his own fractured mind.

“What did he say?” they demanded, crowding him now. Insistent. Nervous, maybe. Shouting orders. They knew better than this. They knew you didn’t browbeat a viewer who had just come out of a trance. It was like slapping a sleepwalker.

“Do you remember the sounds? The madman in the square. What did he say?”

It was all over for him. He knew that now. There was no escaping his fate. Brewer’s fate. Danforth’s. He could hear the cell door slamming on his future. With a great heave of his shoulders, an intake of breath, and a shudder of his soul, he nodded and surrendered. Time to man up, he said to himself. He tried clearing his throat, but it came out as a death rattle. He tried again.

“It was … it was … it sounded like … ku tu lu …” “What?”

“Say again?”

Kutulu. It sounded like ‘kutulu.’”

A man in uniform with no visible insignia or sign of rank rummaged through the drawings the viewer had made during his session. Most were incomprehensible. Some vaguely Asian architecture, perhaps. Weird, anthropomorphic figures. But along the border of one page he noticed a string of squiggles. Meaningful squiggles. A word in Arabic. A word that the viewer could not possibly have known. And yet had written down. In a trance.

The viewer looked from one officer to another, from one agent to another. He was suddenly small. Helpless. Frightened. In a sickly sheet of perspiration that had spread from his forehead to his face and neck and which was now a stain was spreading across his back. A man who had served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A man who had earned a Bronze Star for bravery under fire in Fallujah.

“What does it mean?” he pleaded in a last bid for clemency. “What did I

see?”

The man in the uniform, the man in the uniform with no insignia of rank or service, left the room and wandered to a secure phone in the inner office of the Remote Viewing Unit. He picked up the phone and was immediately connected to a similar phone a few miles away, in a small office belonging to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“Chatter confirmed,” is all he said.

He hung up, looked at his watch, and knew he had enough time to make the next flight to New York City. Time for the flight, but not much more than that. If the Old Man was right, they had at most weeks—possibly less

—before all Hell would break loose.

It was time to bring Gregory Angell on board. By force, if necessary.

CHAPTER TWO:

CHATTER

“Chatter confirmed.”

On the other end of the line in the small office in Silver Spring, Maryland a quiet man of a certain age hung up the phone and stared into space. Dwight Monroe’s hair had gone prematurely white decades ago. And while he kept himself in shape as best he could, he knew he did not have that many years—or even months—left to him. His doctors had been kind, but frank. Yet age and advancing decrepitude did not disqualify him for the role he had to play in the defense of the country. He had buried stronger men than he. He had gone to their funerals, and had handed their numberless widows numberless American flags and “the gratitude of a grateful nation”. He knew every name behind every star in the lobby of the headquarters of the CIA at Langley, and he knew of many more stars that should be there and weren’t.

He sat motionless in his soft leather chair. The campaign desk in front of him was an antique. It was said that it had once belonged to Ulysses S. Grant, appropriately enough, for there was a bottle of Laphroaig and a single glass on the edge of it, waiting for him to pick it up and dull the blow of what he had just heard.

“Chatter confirmed.”

From the days of the Korean War when he was just a brilliant, twenty- something consultant to the fledgling CIA in matters of psychological warfare and behavior modification, to the Phoenix program in Vietnam when he was in his late thirties running ops against the VC and the Russians, and from there to Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe— there was always this sense that there was another factor in the world, a mysterious force that influenced world events, something just out of sight beyond the horizon. As Monroe grew older, and witnessed the incredible

and the improbable, on the battlefield and off, he became more convinced that they were all—all of them, all of the spooks and the analysts and the official historians and the career politicians—missing something. Something of vital importance.

It all began, for him, that mortal day in Dallas in November, 1963 while working on a deal with Bell Aerospace on behalf of CIA. When Oswald was arrested for the assassination of President Kennedy the tumblers began to fall into place on a safe that was locked away somewhere deep in his unconscious mind. He made the connections because he knew the players. When it was revealed that a woman named Ruth Paine had opened her home in Texas to Lee Oswald and his Russian-born wife, Marina, and their two children the name rang a bell: Bell Aerospace, to be precise.

Ruth Paine’s husband Michael worked as an engineer for Bell Aerospace, a company that had been founded largely on the strength of the revolutionary Bell helicopter. The Bell helicopter had been invented by Arthur Young, a genius engineer and visionary who had left the world of the military-industrial complex to devote himself full-time to the study of the paranormal. Arthur Young’s wealthy socialite wife, also named Ruth, was Michael Paine’s mother and Ruth Paine’s mother-in-law.

Monroe had met Michael Paine and shook his hand during a business meeting only an hour before the assassination.

And there it was: Oswald to Ruth Paine, Ruth Paine to Ruth Young, Ruth Young to Allen Dulles. Dulles, the former head of the CIA until the disastrous Bay of Pigs operation—and a man who despised Jack Kennedy

—was only four handshakes away from Lee Harvey Oswald, through his mistress Mary Bancroft who was Ruth Young’s best friend.

That was the improbable.

When Monroe began, quietly and unobtrusively, to investigate the Dulles-Oswald relationship he gradually became aware of the incredible: that Ruth Young and her husband Arthur Young were members of an elite group that had been formed by the inventor Andrija Puharich back in the 1950s, a group called The Nine. He knew Puharich, who was a captain in the US Army at the time. Had worked with him during the Korean War days at Edgewood Arsenal and had attended one of Puharich’s lectures to the Army on the weaponization of psychic powers, real black box stuff. He lost touch with the eccentric genius after Korea so did not realize that Puharich was deeply involved with some bizarre theory concerning

extraterrestrials and their influence over political and historical events. Puharich had been one of the first to research the psychic potential of hallucinogens back in the 1950s, an area that was of intense interest to CIA. His colleague at the time was Gordon Wasson, the famous discoverer and popularizer of the magic mushroom. Wasson was himself an associate of a mysterious European man with shadowy intel credentials, George de Mohrenschildt. Wasson’s phone number was in de Mohrenschildt’s address book when the latter died under unusual circumstances.

It was de Mohrenschildt who introduced Lee Harvey Oswald to Ruth Paine in Texas. It was Ruth Paine who helped Oswald get his job at the Texas School Book Depository. It was Ruth Paine who was the daughter- in-law of Arthur Young. It was Ruth Paine who visited Arthur Young in Pennsylvania only weeks before the assassination in Dallas. What they discussed in that meeting remains a mystery.

Oswald had been surrounded by members of Puharich’s mystic circle, and he never had a clue. Furthermore, he never had a chance. Neither did Jack Kennedy.

It was then that Monroe started to involve himself in research that went beyond-the-pale. Psychic phenomena. Secret societies. Serial killers. Murderous cults. The UFO phenomenon. As he rose in the hierarchy of the intelligence community—now with CIA, then with DIA, and finally with his own berth at DHS (the Department of Homeland Security)—he made a point of collecting what data he could. Other men would have used his position and authority to advance their careers or, like J. Edgar Hoover, blackmail their enemies. But Monroe was not interested in that. He was a career intelligence officer. His forte was knowledge: the accumulation and analysis of data.

And in the process he acquired two degrees—one in astronomy and another in archaeology—earned during a hiatus after the fall of Saigon in 1975. He already had advanced degrees in psychology and anthropology from his Korean War days, but he needed a vacation from Vietnam and all that he had experienced there as part of Operation Phoenix, which many people thought just referred to the assassination of Viet Cong leaders but which also had a strong psy-war component. His colleagues thought it odd that he would waste his time in pursuit of degrees in such arcane subject matter, but they put it down to a desire to broaden his education in areas

that were not germane to intelligence-gathering. A kind of hobby to break the monotony, maybe. When one of their own, another Phoenix alumnus who was a colonel in military intelligence, retired to become a Satanist and the founder of something called the Temple of Set (the ancient Egyptian god of Evil), the attention was deflected from Monroe’s studies onto the man with the weird eyebrows and his wife, a former fashion model. That was just fine with Monroe. But the fact that another Phoenix operative was now involved in occultism bothered him. It seemed to be a harbinger of what was to come.

What his colleagues did not know was that Dwight Monroe was running his own intelligence network, a spider-web of contacts that spread through most of the agencies now under the DHS umbrella, developed carefully over the past thirty-odd years. Since it was informal, and since there were no official meetings or minutes taken, no one really knew it existed. Not even, in some cases, the participants themselves.

It was run on a “need to know” basis, and so far the only one who needed to know was Dwight Monroe.

He roused himself from his reverie, and reached for the bottle of single malt Scotch.

“Chatter confirmed.”

As he opened the bottle he thought of how those two words had just altered the course of history: his own, and everyone else’s. The chatter that had been coming in from their overseas listening posts and the ELINT (electronic intelligence) and SIGINT (signals intelligence) satellites and computers had been meaningless to most at NSA. None of the search terms had been flagged. Not officially, at any rate. Most of the conversations between known or suspected members of the various terrorist cells were the usual mundane accounts of family matters and the occasional religious or political reference. When one of the search terms did surface, it was noticed only by members of Monroe’s own private network and the data handed over to him personally for analysis. That is the way he had it set up, and so far it was working fine.

But when the chatter intensified and the search terms began jumping out at him in greater intensity, he needed another source for confirmation. The implications were too severe, too outrageous. He couldn’t rely on chatter alone. He needed corroborating data.

That’s when he turned to the remote viewing operation that did not show up on the government’s books but which had been in full flower during the hunt for Bin Laden, a hunt that had taken on new energy with the election of an American president with a Muslim name, Barack Hussein Obama, and his demand that the architect of 9/11 be located and terminated. That was when the remote viewers were put back on-line, the “Manson Family” called out of retirement, and new energy infused into the program after a long hiatus.

He supplied fresh sets of coordinates to the RV team through his contact at the DIA. Ostensibly they were looking for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda cells in Afghanistan. Later, the target had shifted to ISIL and to al- Baghdadi who took over from the dead Bin Laden. But as always the coordinates had been encrypted so that even the officers in charge of the remote viewing teams were unaware of the target locations. The viewers were not allowed to open the envelopes which contained the numerical data points for latitude and longitude—which were, in any case, written in a code invented four hundred years earlier by a Catholic monk, the occult scholar Abbot Trithemius, the father of modern cryptography. Instead, they were to hold the sealed envelopes and begin viewing.

The results were far better—and much worse—than even Monroe had anticipated. The data he had accumulated over decades of research and analysis into the purported existence of a worldwide cult with ties to terrorist cells, drug operations, and human trafficking was not only confirmed, but expanded with much new information showing the degree to which this cult had penetrated foreign governments as well as diverse ethnic and religious communities in the United States of America.

The fact that the Middle East was a hotbed of weird religious cults—the Alawis, the Nosairis, the Druze, and the Yezidis, not to mention the Nestorians, the Assyrians, the Copts and other assorted Christian and quasi-Christian groups—rarely was rarely reported upon by the mass media. Even the Wahabbis—the Sunni group now in charge of Saudi Arabia—was considered heretical by some doctrinaire Muslims. What was going on now in the Middle East was a cult war of enormous proportions

… and enormous implications for the rest of the world.

And beneath the surface of all of these warring factions was another cult, something far more ancient and far more dangerous than Al Qaeda or

Jemaah Islamiyyah, Lashkar-e-Taiba, or even those sadistic poseurs of the Islamic State. Playing one sect against the other, one terrorist group against the other, this nameless cult had managed to build a powerful organization whose power was directly proportional to the degree to which it was unknown. Unlike Al Qaeda or ISIL, whose influence far outweighed their actual ability to conduct sophisticated military operations, this cult’s ability to forever change the balance of power in the Middle East—and by extension the world—was far greater than its reputation.