Deep Sea One

By: P.W. Child

Order of the Back Sun - Book 2





Preston Child






Chapter 1



It had been years since Purdue visited the monastery. He had promised to make it there much sooner, but unforeseen adventure had ensnared him and on return home he found himself lacking a few choice things never before depleted in his home. Coming home. It was a phrase he thought he would not experience again. For a while. It had been months since the treacherous trek and near-fatal adventure he undertook with a team of unlikely colleagues to find out if the fabled Wolfenstein Ice Station actually existed. The discovery of the lost subterranean Nazi compound in Antarctica had only fueled the grandeur of his recorded profile, especially the media attention he received after journalist Sam Cleave utilized his extraordinary writing skills to publicize it—just about when Professor Frank Matlock's book on the expedition hit the shelves.

After the outbursts about conspiracy theories and naysayers pitting scholar against scholar in the halls of academia, Dave Purdue felt the rather rare need to put his feet up for a bit and embarked on a brisk journey to Ireland to collect some of his favorite wines. He was a refined alcoholic, scandalously easy to appease with the presentation of proper cultivars or even the slightest promise of a hundred-proof alcohol. For once he felt like taking time for himself for a night, not bothering with any of his technological dreams and gadgets. Inventions could wait, he thought. His normally restless demeanor took a temporary cessation to make way for some introspection, something he usually shoved to the back of his needs to accommodate his flamboyancy. Such was the life of an obnoxious billionaire.

In the late hour of the day he ceremoniously opened his cellar door, craving instinctively for something so sinful that it had to be produced with a rosary around its barrel to contain its iniquitous thrall. Rows of scalloped wooden racks awaited in dramatic form, bearing their dusty bottles under a web of mustiness. It smelled like the Edinburgh catacombs in Scotland and was equally antique. Wrichtishousis held within its ancient walls the whispers of history, practically oozing from its grey stone crevices when the wind turned just right and Purdue, even for his exceptional aptitude for technology, basked in history and its treasures, its mysteries irresistible to his probing.

His eyes combed the respective corks and colored glass for the sheen of his new batch, undoubtedly noticeable among the thick grey residue prevalent on the rest of the stored pleasures he kept here. After passing the third row from the entrance to the cellar, Purdue passed a stack of wooden crates roughly piled against the wall. They contained exotic concoctions he had acquired while in Argentina and Peru, some drinkable, some turned to nothing short of a substitute for arsenic if he wished to up the challenge of his inebriation. A pale little bulb was suspended from the ceiling, dangling from a modest electrical cord, and it illuminated the back part of the room just enough to help Purdue read the labels.

Whistling something that had had not yet been written, the thirsty billionaire picked the flavor of the evening, a robust Armagnac he had been saving for weeks.

"Hello, darling," he purred, as he gently laid the smooth glass bottle's length in one of his palms, running his other hand caringly over the purple and tan label, envisioning the night ahead under the care of the liquid within. A shadow stirred ever so slightly to his right, there where the impotent light could not reach. Purdue looked up at the hanging bulb, imagining that perhaps the wind coming down the staircase from the landing might have disturbed it and caused the play of light and shadow. But it was still, unmoving.

Purdue frowned. Not a nervous man by nature he did have to admit to feeling a shiver of ice momentarily trickling down his back. Perhaps I'm just tired, he thought, and maybe I am drunk on account already. He smiled at his own wit and held the bottle up to the light. From the corner on the right, now his left as he moved under the light, an almost imperceptible shuffle sounded that made him jump. His heart jolted, but by pure instinct his hands held the bottle firmly. Mice, he reassured himself. In a mansion aged several centuries, rodents and scavengers were part and parcel of the décor and charm of the place.

In the back of his mind Purdue wished that his loyal Rottweiler bodyguard was still guarding his trail. The blame was squarely on him, as it was his own fault that he had not yet replaced the late Ziv Blomstein as his very capable and deadly sidearm, after the self-sacrifice of the man facilitated his salvation along with other members of the Wolfenstein expedition. Now he would have appreciated an imposing hand to sweep the area. Purdue had a remarkable instinct within him, surprisingly not only for sniffing out lucrative prospects and deadly pursuits to stroke his ego. At this moment his instinct told him that he was not alone and he heeded it immediately.

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