Wrong Secrets

by Ernest Bywater

Tags: Fiction, Mystery,

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: Old chapels. alien bases, protected ancient secrets - fiction, fantasy, myth, or legend? An ethical investigator travels to Scotland to research if a secret alien base is beneath a curiously decorated chapel. He uncovers centuries old hidden mysteries, and signs a contract not to tell about them, but publishes his findings, anyway.

Table of Contents

Prologue
Awakening
The Contract
Investigation Starts
On Target

A New Investigation
Holidays
Clean Up
Afterwards

The titles in use are a chapter, a sub-chapter, and a section.


Prologue

I’ve never been to Scotland, the UK, or Europe. That’s easy to prove, because there are no airline tickets or accommodation bookings in my name anywhere outside of Australia. I’ve never been issued a passport by the Australian Passport Office, contact them, they can confirm that. Despite his memory of events my cousin George is wrong, he couldn’t have seen me on a Qantas flight to the UK, my name isn’t on the passenger list. He checked after landing, because he was very angry when he thought I’d ignored him, since he’s a very touchy person.

The two electronic transfer deposits of US$100,000 into my bank account from two Swiss banks in late 2005 relate to some general contracting work I did, nothing else.

Awakening

I’m very slow to wake up and in extreme discomfort because my head hurts and I’m very cold. I’m sitting upright and I’m tied to a rough wooden chair in a dank stone walled room with a very bright battery lantern shining in my face. A male voice says, “He’s awake.” There’s movement in the room. I can hear shoes scuffle, clothing rustle, and the clink of metal on metal. I can’t see a thing beyond the light, and it hurts my eyes to have it shining directly into them.

A very deep voice says, in anger, “What are you, a thief, relic hunter, government agent, papist spy?” I laugh. I can’t help it, the situation is so melodramatic and bloody ridiculous; it’s right out of a vintage film. A figure steps forward and slaps my face, hard. I laugh harder. He slaps me again, much harder. I continue to laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, the slaps hurt and I’m no masochist. But I can’t help laughing. The silly old bugger is in medieval clothing; a Knight Templar in armour, no less. The whole situation is seriously ridiculous.

A third male voice says, “The fool is hysterical, out of the way.” I get hit in the face with a bucket full of icy cold water. I stop laughing to start choking on the water that went down my throat. Several minutes later I’m settled down and calm.

A fourth male voice says, in a commanding tone, “Who are you?” I tell him my legal name. He continues, “The author of ‘Living Ethically’ and ‘Hire the Right Investigator’?” I acknowledge my claims to limited fame. He asks, “Why does the ID you’re carrying say Jack Campbell of Australia, born in Glasgow, Scotland?”

I’m very calm when I reply, “It’s a cover identity set up by my client so I won’t be recognised and asked about why I’m here.”

They talk to each other while they all turn and leave the room, I can hear them walk into another room nearby. I sit there shivering and thinking about how I got into this mess. My mind goes back to a day four months ago.

The Contract

On a quiet Tuesday morning in March 2005 I receive an e-mail with directions and codes to make a reverse charges international call to the USA. A rich man I’ve heard of wants me to call him; well, it’s his dime. I take the time to make the call, despite the early hour local time.

He has a strange tale to tell. He’s a dedicated ufologist (believes in all things UFO and alien) and has recently come across a lot of material about an alien base hidden under an old church in Scotland. His best friend is some what sceptical and they had a very heated discussion on the matter. They have a bet going on. Does the base exist or not? The main problem is there are many existing investigations that were done by ufologists or their detractors. In each case the people investigating had a pre-set mind about what they would find, and each found exactly what they expected to find. They need an investigator they both can agree on and they both feel will not be prejudiced one way or the other. I’m the first one they can both agree on.

Both know me by reputation, my books, and have had good reports from friends of friends. They want me to do the investigation and report back to them. They’ll split the operating costs and whoever is wrong will pay me and the winner US$100,000 each. They know I believe in aliens, but I don’t believe any of the unproven claims about abductions, bases, etc. Both feel they can trust me to ‘tell it as it is,’ regardless of what ‘it’ is, and I’ll stick to the proven evidence. Despite none of us knowing how we’ll go about it.

Over the following two weeks we have numerous phone calls and e-mails about the matter, and a contract is worked out. Arrangements are made for a local solicitor to represent them. I go to her office to read and sign the finished contract. The following is a simple summary of the contract, because the original is much longer and very complex.

Parties of the first and second parts promise to:

1. Share all operating expenses and provide the party of the third part with reasonable funding for miscellaneous expenses which are to be accounted for after the event.

2. Organise an agent in Glasgow to provide the party of the third part with all equipment, personnel, and help as needed by the party of the third part.

3. Organise cover identity and documents for the party of the third part.

4. Organise all the travel arrangements for the project personnel.

5. Provide the party of the third part with copies of reports on all investigations previously made that they know of.

6. Pay the party of the third part US$100,000 per question when the party of the third part can provide a definitive answer of Yes or No with supporting evidence to each of these questions:

(i) Is there a secret alien base concealed under the church in question?

(ii) If yes to the above, what happens there?

7. The party of the third part to have total control of the project, and full authority over the assisting personnel hired.

8. The party of the third part is to provide a full written report to the parties of the first and second part within twelve months of signing the contract.

I sign as the party of the third part, witnessed by their solicitor and a Justice of the Peace I’d brought along. It’s already signed by the other parties so I take my copy, $20,000 Australia as initial funds, and a large packet of documents. Leaving the solicitors I take my friend (the Justice of the Peace) to a nearby restaurant where we have lunch at my expense.

Later that day I send an email setting out the initial equipment list I want available in Scotland, and the number of helpers I want. I’ll adjust these as I feel the need to after reading the files they’ve sent me.

Investigation Starts

On the Way

While we wait for our lunch to be served I open the large packet the solicitor gave me. Inside is a biography on Jack Campbell, a bookkeeper born in Glasgow on the same day I was born. Migrated to Australia at ten months of age, grew up in Sydney, and became an Australian citizen soon after his twenty-first birthday. This is all very good, same date of birth, same places of childhood and youth growing up, nothing to memorise. There’s also an Australian passport and a British passport in Jack Campbell’s name, both with my photo and details. An open date return Qantas flight to the UK, and an open date Regional Express ticket: Wagga Wagga to Sydney. Instructions on how to contact their Glasgow agent, and a large detailed set of files on the prior investigations.

After lunch I go shopping, stocking up on long shelf-life foods for my son and cat. I take the shopping home, and while I put it all away I tell my son I’ll be going away for some time. The next day I arrange for a few friends to keep an eye on my eighteen year old son to see he has all he needs because he’s on a disability pension. I pay the rent, phone, and electricity for six months in advance. I contact the travel agent for my employer, and we make arrangements to fly out on Monday.

I wake up on the Monday morning a few days later, have a bath, and dress to be comfortable on a long trip: nice warm tracksuit pants, t-shirt with collar, and a long warm coat. I look like an overage student on a back packing holiday. Leaving the house at 7:10 a.m. I’m at the road in time to catch the 7:30 a.m. bus into Wagga Wagga. I take the taxi to the airport and the mid-morning flight to Sydney. I only have the one bag, and it qualifies as ‘carry on’ luggage. A couple of hours later, in Sydney, I get lunch at one of the airport restaurants, and I take my time travelling across from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. Buying a book, some chewing gum, and some jelly beans along the way.

At the Qantas desk I book in, and ask for a window seat. They issue me with a boarding pass, and tell me the gate I need to use. I’ve a two hour wait for the plane to board, so I decide to wait at the gate. Heading to the gate I clear customs. At the gate I show the staff my ticket, and ask them to wake me when it’s time to board. After moving off to the side I sit in the corner to lean back on my pack while I go to sleep.

Some time later I wake up to the feel of a hand in my shirt pocket. Squinting, I see a small child, a girl about six years old, sneaking some jelly beans out of the open packet visible in my pocket. Waiting until she has her hand out of my pocket I open my eyes, and ask, “Do you like the black ones?” She jumps, and lets out a low squeak. Looking at me she nods her head yes. Getting the packet out of my pocket I pour the jelly beans into my lap to pick the black ones out while saying, “I don’t, so you can have all the black ones.” After handing her all the black jelly beans I put the rest back in the packet then put it back in my pocket.

Looking up I see the staff are preparing the gateway for boarding, so I nod to the staff member who’s looking my way. She smiles, and nods back, noting I’m awake and don’t need waking now. Getting up I stretch, and walk to the toilet. Coming back I stop for a drink of water. Standing to the side of the gate I watch most of the people board.

When most have boarded I thank the staff for looking out for me during my nap while I show my ticket and boarding pass. They’re a bit surprised, because I’m a lot scruffier looking than most of the first class ticket holders. They tick me off the list, and send me in. On entering the 747 jet plane I’m directed to my seat in first class, only to find my jelly bean friend sitting in it. When the cabin crew take my bag and coat to put them away in a nearby cupboard I ask for a pillow and blanket. I watch where my things go, and I thank the cabin crew lady for the pillow and blanket she brings me.

Nice Flight

The girl’s mother is busy apologising and telling her daughter to sit in her seat, the one beside mine in the middle between her mother and me. When the girl is settled I step in to take my seat. Once I’m seated I lay the chair back just a little, place the seat belt on, put the pillow behind my head in the corner made between the chair and the aircraft side, then I wrap the blanket around me. Once I’m comfortable I say, “If your daughter wants to look out the window until it’s time to buckle up I don’t mind if she sits on my lap. She can’t be much worse than my son was at that age.” The girl smiles at the offer.

The mother gives me a pensive look, then nods her approval of the temporary seating change. Wearing a big smile the girl climbs into my lap, and looks out the window. The extra height caused by me makes it easier for her to see out the window. I pull out my book, and hold it in one hand while I read. About fifteen minutes later the cabin crew come around checking everyone is seated. I ask to be informed at the last possible moment to seat the child so she can enjoy the view of the airport while we taxi. The smiling cabin crew member says she’ll return when the girl must be seated. The mother thanks her. The girl is delighted to be looking out the window for a little while longer.

Talking to the mother I find out this is the girl’s first flight, so she’s excited about it. I smile, “That’s better than being like me.” The mother looks at me strange, so I reply, “I’m scared of flying, partly from a bad incident in a light aircraft as a kid, and partly from not being in control of the vehicle. That’s why I get a window seat. So I can try to sleep through most of it. When I’m awake I can look out the window to pretend I’m flying in the air by myself and it’s all part of a dream.”

She laughs, and says, “Yes, better to be excited than scared. We’re on our way to visit my in-laws in Scotland, where are you going?”

While smiling I say, “I’m heading to Scotland. After an overnight stay in London I’m taking the fast train to Glasgow the day after the plane arrives at Heathrow.”

The woman replies, “It sounds like we’ve got the same travel agent or package deal. That’s our itinerary, too.”

I grin, “Could be, but I don’t know. A friend wants me in Scotland, pronto, to sort something out for him, so his people made all the travel arrangements. However, I’ve an open return flight, so I can take some time off to look around while I’m there.”

She says, “Oh, you work for your friend and this is a business trip?”

I notice the cabin crew member looking at us while she walks up the aisle, so I tap the girl on the shoulder and point to her seat. Smiling, she moves to her seat, and does up the belt. The crew member smiles, and returns to the front of the section while I reply, “Not quite, I’m a genius trouble shooter who does all sorts of contract work. My friend’s own Mister Fix-it tried and failed to fix this problem, so he asked me to do him a favour. He’s not happy, because I insisted on my usual standard of travel - first class, and he normally sends all his people business class. But he’s accepting the expense since I sent him my usual contract. No result is no pay for me, just the expenses. He’s prepared to pay the extra for a sure fix. Also, he’s more likely to get a final answer from me.”

While the plane accelerates down the runway she gives me a close look, “You must be very sure of yourself to link you payment to success.”

Just as we leave the ground I reply, “Well, all I’m out of pocket is time if I fail. But I find being paid on results makes them happier about paying my high rates. And when I’m working with their staff I make sure they know I get paid only on results. They’re more prepared to work with me to get things done, as they know I’m there to get results that work for them and the business, and not to pad a time sheet the way some people do. Add in my imaginative way of looking at things, and I can usually find a solution. A ninety-nine percent success rate speaks wonders when giving them my rates, because they’re very high.” She laughs.

I tell my cover name and the woman introduces herself, Miranda, and her daughter, Melody. A short time later the seatbelt sign goes off, and Melody teleports back to the window. While we both laugh at her quick move the cabin crew are walking around offering food and drinks. We accept the offerings of our choice, and chat for some time while we snack and sip our drinks. After a while we stop talking, and I go back to reading my book while Miranda reads a magazine she has.

When the night descends I turn off the light above me, and go to sleep with Melody still at the window. Some time later I come half awake because Miranda is tucking a blanket around Melody, she’s fallen asleep in my lap. After a few more hours sleep I wake up, and I signal for the cabin crew. I ask for some more pillows when she arrives. She brings them to me. I gently pick Melody up and put her in her seat after using the pillows to make a nest, then I tuck her blanket around her. Getting out of my seat I ask the cabin crew member if there’s any place where I’ve room to do some exercises.

She shows me to the first class lounge which is nearly empty. Finding a clear spot I proceed to do go through my basic fitness regime, mostly isometric exercises with some sit ups. The few passengers in the lounge watch me with amusement. I just smile back, exercise like this is sure to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis as well as keep me fit for my work. When I finish I’ve some juice and a sandwich before going back to my seat. Wrapping myself in my blanket again I go back to sleep.

Sometime later the cabin crew come through to wake us up, and make sure everything is ready for landing at our intermediate stop. Waking Melody I’ve her sit on the pillows in my seat while I sit in hers, so she can look out the window during the approach and landing, she’s very happy.

Since the plane is only on the ground for forty minutes the people stay seated and chat, except those getting off. Once we’re back in the air and allowed to unbuckle I take my seat back, and go back to sleep with Melody in my lap looking out the window into the dark until she falls asleep again. When it’s time to land at Heathrow I give Melody my seat again, since she’s getting a lot more use out of the window than I am.

London

We land, and go through the usual delays at customs etc. We’re bit quicker than some others, because Miranda, like me and many others, is entering the UK with a British passport. When I arrive at the general concourse I find a limo driver waiting around holding a sign with the agreed upon company name. I offer Miranda a lift into London in the limo, and she readily agrees. I tag the driver, and we all go to get her luggage. When we’re leaving the luggage area the public address system announces a request for Miranda to take a phone call.

Miranda is very upset after answering the phone. It’s from her travel agent. An error by their staff means she has no accommodation for tonight. They’ve tried to rectify the problem, but all the accommodation is booked out. Understandable with the various major events occurring in and around London this week. They’re refunding that portion of her payment, and suggest she see what she can organise on the ground. She’s spitting chips and cursing the travel agent up, down, forwards, backwards, and sideways. A small circle forms around her to admire her command of the English language, and her show of how to use it to abuse someone without being very rude by using a lot of swear words.

When she slows down I say, “I used to think I knew how to abuse people, thanks for the lesson on how to do it properly.” She blushes, and I continue, “Let’s go to my hotel to see what they have there.” She sees the merit in going to the hotel, so we go to the limo.

Melody is beside herself, because she’s being driving around in a limo. At least someone is really enjoying the trip, regardless of the problems. Arriving at one of the better four and a half star hotels I book in, and I explain Miranda’s dilemma. The desk staff explain they’ve already called around everyone for others, and there’s nothing to be had within one hundred and fifty kilometres of the hotel.

Looking up at me the supervisor asks, “Sir, how many more in your regular party?”

I smile while I reply, “Just little ol’ me, why?”

She replies, “Well, sir, you’re booked into the presidential suite, and that has two bedrooms, each with their own en suite. If you don’t mind sharing, your friend can stay with you, and it costs no extra because the room’s already paid for.” Seeing the surprised expression on my face she continues, “I took the booking for your accommodation two days ago. At the time we had nothing else left, so your travel clerk booked the suite. She wasn’t happy about having to book such an expensive suite, but she did so because it was all we had left. I think it was all that was left in London at the time, too.”

Turning to Miranda I raise an eyebrow. She laughs, “If I thought there was any way you could’ve got at my travel agent I’d accuse you of setting this up to seduce me. However, since we never met before today, and I know you couldn’t have got at my travel agent, who’s my sister - by the way, I’ll be glad to accept your gracious invitation on behalf of my daughter and myself.” We’re all smiling by now.

I smile while saying, “Actually, it sounds more like you’re an industrial spy planted on me to learn my most important secrets. I’m not sure I buy that, simply because Melody acts more like a young girl than a midget dressed as a young girl.” Miranda looks stunned for a moment, and bursts into laughter when she realises how ridiculous it sounds and I’m joking with her.

Since I’m providing the accommodation she insists on buying the meals during the stay. After putting our things away in the rooms we go out for food and a bit of sight seeing. Returning to the hotel for an early dinner, followed by going to bed early. Each bedroom has its own bathroom, so I’m able to linger in a nice hot bath to relax while reading.

In the morning we get ready, and go down to have a delicious breakfast. Then await our limo driver. He turns up with lots of time to take us to the train station, where we split up due to being in different carriages. We do meet up again in the lounge car for drinks. It’s a nice trip to Glasgow, all three of us spend most of the time looking out the lounge car window pointing things out while discussing what we see. This is all new scenery for Melody and me, while Miranda is enjoying explaining things to us. The regular passengers are highly amused by our behaviour, since we’re being very touristy, which they think it’s funny.

Glasgow

Arriving in Glasgow we get off the train. I’m helping Miranda place all her luggage on a trolley when a good looking woman in her mid-thirties walks up to her, and hugs her. Winking at Melody I say, with a slight accent, “If that be all, Miss, I be on ma way.”

Looking up at me the woman says, with a laugh, “Now that wouldn’t be ethical, would it? Ducking off without even giving me a chance to get my copy of your book autographed.”

Both Miranda and Melody give me odd looks when I smile while saying, “Yes it would, because I made no promises to you. Anyway, I’m not here, so how can I sign your book?”

She gives me her card, and says, “Will you at least drop by and sign my copy when you’re here, or before you leave.”

I laugh while I reply, “If I can before I leave, I will.”

Miranda says, “I don’t think I want to know what that’s about, but thanks for helping out with the plane and hotel. You made the trip real fun. Oh, this is my sister-in-law, Grace.”

I say, “You’re welcome, I hope you both enjoy your stay.” Then I head off to a person standing around holding a card with my company cover name written on it.

The drive through Glasgow is nice, and I enjoy the sights. Arriving at the office of the local agent I confirm all of the initial equipment is either on hand or arriving soon. It’s all there, except the special acoustic logging equipment that’s due to arrive by vehicle tonight or tomorrow. He introduces me to the other people who’ll be working with me. After we check all the equipment on hand is OK we head off to our various nearby hotels and hostels.

Booking into my hotel I place my bag in my room, and go out to see some of the sights of Glasgow. My first stop is the Glasgow Tourist Information Centre for a map of the city. Followed by a stop at the address where Jack spent the first few months of his life, in case anyone is watching me. Next is a cab driver happy to take me, and two others, around the city for a special tourist trip rate.

I sit in the front to give the young couple some privacy in the back. It’s a nice trip, a bit like a mini-tourist bus, but much more comfortable. A beautiful city which I must see more of it when I get the time. The history is mind boggling to this poor Aussie.

Back to my hotel and a nice dinner, followed by a good night’s rest.

The next morning it’s back to the agent’s office, to find the rest of the equipment is on hand. I check it all over then I parcel it out to place it in the vehicles we’ll be using for the investigation. Following that with a thorough briefing of the assisting staff. I tell them what we’ll be doing on site and their cover stories. I finish up at 3:00 p.m. with a final check they all know how to use the radio and acoustic gear.

Splitting up we head off for our various accommodations, we’ll be setting off in different groups, and at different times, over the next thirty-six hours. We don’t want to arouse suspicions by us all arriving on site at once.

The next day a young lady with a nice vehicle turns up at my hotel asking for me. My ‘tour guide’ (executive assistant) has arrived. We spend the day driving around many of the Glasgow tourist sights I haven’t seen yet. The third morning after my arrival in Glasgow I sign out of the hotel, and we head off into the Scottish countryside.

Taking a nice roundabout and touristy route we arrive in our destination town late on the day after our departure from Glasgow. It’s a pleasant and informative trip. Booking into a local hotel we arrange to join the regular visitor’s trip to the target church the next morning.

On Target

The tour group walks from the hotel up to the church, then we’re shown through the church. Like many others I’ve a carry bag with food and drink for my assistant and I to have lunch on the church grounds. Plus extra coats in case we feel cold. The pack also has a set of the latest miniaturized acoustic logging gear in the bottom of it. All I have to do is set it down then activate it with the remote control in my pocket. On the way there I notice all of my assistants are in place around the church.

Inside the church I check my large fancy watch with the built-in GPS unit, then I move a little to be at the correct spot. Once in place I send the signal to initiate the logging scans. Each of the six units around the church, plus my one in the church, take a turn sending a signal as well as recording the other six signals sent. Each unit sends a very high pitched sound wave into the earth which is ‘heard’ by the other units. When it passes through the earth the signal notes differences in density etc. It’s good for a depth of up to one kilometre.

Having got the first set of signals I move further down the church, and initiate another round. During the tour I get readings from the front, centre, and back of the church as well as from the attached sacristy.

Leaving the church we walk around the grounds, and eat lunch on the front lawn. While we eat one of my assistants walks up to discuss the nice view and church. During the discussion I pass him the memory chip from the acoustic logger, because it has the results of the scans. After a while we pack up and head back to the hotel, stopping to look at all the other touristy type things on the way. We return to the hotel just in time for an early dinner before retiring for the night.

During the afternoon the acoustic expert collects all the scans from the assistants and feeds them into the special computer he has in his camper van. In the program he notes the exact location of each unit during each scan. He has the computer prepare a visual summary of each scan plus a combined scan. He copies the summaries onto a USB drive which he hands to me when we leave the dining room.

In my room I examine the reports on my guide’s laptop computer. The evidence is clear, there’s no secret base under the church, unless it’s more than a kilometre down and there’s no access passage below the church or surrounding grounds. Well, the contract is completed. There’s only one disturbing item of there being a hidden room under the sacristy.

Discoveries

The next morning I take the laptop with me when I go on a visit to the headquarters of the trust which looks after the church. Once there I go through the publicly available records to see what they have to say about the church and the hidden room. Nothing, it seems they know nothing about the room. I check to see what they have about legends and stories about the time of its construction, again - nothing about the room. After asking to speak to the manager I’m soon seated in her office.

I smiling while saying, “Regarding the chapel, I was wondering if there are any legends or old stories about its construction and why it wasn’t finished.”

She looks at me for a moment, and replies, “Why do you wish to know?”

In a calm voice I say, “I’m interested in old stories and legends. And the chapel looks like a perfect one to have many. I already know about the stories concerning the Knights Templar and aliens. I’m more interested in the real people, and those who were involved in its creation and construction.”

She gives me a very close study, and says, “What do you think you’ve found, and what are you after?”

While raising one eyebrow at her I respond, “Maybe nothing, maybe something, but I want more information before I divulge what I know so far.”

We sit and stare at each other for a moment. She makes a sudden decision then she reaches for the phone, and punches in a number. A short pause for it to be answered, and she says, “Hello, Stewart, it’s Jenny. Is Lord Sinclair available for a meeting today?” A pause, she continues, “Good, thank you. Please inform him I’m on my way up with a rather curious gentleman to discuss chapel legends.” After hanging up she stands up, and grabs a coat. Picking up my bag I follow her to a car. We get in, and she drives off.

A short time later we pull up outside a large manor house. When we get out of the car the front door opens, and the butler walks out while saying, “Good morning, Miss. His Lordship is waiting for you in the library.” After walking up the stairs we enter the foyer. We wait for the butler to close the door, and follow him to the library.

In the library a distinguished gentleman is sitting in a comfortable chair reading a journal. Looking up at us he says, “Well, Jenny, what’s the problem?”

Smiling at him she walks over to take a chair nearby while she waves me to one opposite the gentleman, and says, “This fellow is asking questions about old chapel legends. He’s a special investigator, very special, and he’s staying in the inn under a false name.” I look at her with a raised eyebrow, and she says, “I have all your books, and I recognised you yesterday afternoon from your jacket picture. I also checked the inn register.”

I ask, with a smile, “You’ve a first edition print of ‘Hire the Right Investigator?

She smiles, and nods yes while she asks, “How do you know that?”

I reply, “They weren’t supposed to put my photo on it, so only the first run of the first edition has it. About five thousand copies of it.”

Lord Sinclair looks at me, and says, “I’ve read that book, too. So what do you wish to know? And how does that help me?”

With a smile I reply, “I don’t know, for sure, how it’ll help you. But what I’m after is old legends about the time of the construction of the chapel, and why it isn’t finished.”

He gives me a very thorough look over before he says, “Well, it wasn’t finished because they ran out of money. William said he had enough set aside, but he died suddenly and they couldn’t find it when they went looking for it after his death.”

I grin while saying, “Maybe he hid it.” They both sit up straight. I continue with, “In a room under the chapel.” They both stare at me.

In a sad tone Jenny says, “It’s been very thoroughly searched, and they found nothing.”

Grinning like an imp I ask, “Even in the hidden room under the sacristy?” I also wonder why imps are supposed to grin like that.

They both move to the front of their seats, and say, in unison, “Hidden room under the sacristy? We’ve found no hidden room under the sacristy, or anywhere else.”

Smiling, I lift the laptop computer out of my bag and start it. Opening the computer analysis of the acoustic logger I show them the hollow chamber under the sacristy, and say, “My expert says this is an open space lined with rock or stone. Thus, a hidden room. I would need special access to get a more definitive image than this.”

Lord Sinclair says, “Very interesting, and why do you have this to begin with?”

I laugh, and say, “My client wanted verification of the hidden alien base under the chapel. So I made acoustic readings of the area, and found this instead. My client will be upset the aliens aren’t there, unless they’re hiding in this room. All I ask is the opportunity to make better recordings and to be the first to enter the room. I’ll remove nothing. I just wish to be first in to verify what it is and to read any documents that are on hand. I won’t remove anything, just photograph anything I’m interested in.”

Smiling wide he stands up, and says, while reaching out with his hand, “I think we can agree on that.” I stand and shake it. He continues, “How soon can you be ready to continue this?”

I reply with a happy, “Twenty minutes after we return to the inn.”

He says, “Well, Jenny will help you get started on the better readings then you can try to figure out how to enter it. But you’re not to enter the room until I’m there with a few scholars to supervise us. Got it.”

I nod agreement while Jenny stands, and she leads the way out. While I exit the library I see Lord Sinclair on the phone punching a number.

Back at the Chapel

Thirty minutes later I’m standing in the passage way of the chapel sacristy with all my assistants spread around that part of the building, and the computer analysis truck is in the car-park. While Jenny watches we run scans with my unit moving from the sacristy entry hall entrance to the far end of the sacristy. A reading every metre. The memory cards are passed to Steve, my acoustics expert, to analyse.

While the readings are being analysed I give the walls and floor of the hallway and sacristy a very close study. One of the hallway floor stones is much larger than the rest. It’s near the top of the entry stairs. Kneeling on the floor I pull out my torch to have a closer look at it. The cracks between the stones look different to those around the next set of stones. Pulling out a business card I slide it into the cracks. It’s a very tight fit, but it sticks out at an angle, and not straight up. I try the same thing further down the hall where the card is just as tight a fit, but it sticks straight up. Jenny is watching me, and she’s smiling. My guide says she has a brighter torch in the car, and she leaves to get it.

She’s soon back with the torch, and I shine it down into the crack. Crawling along the floor while shining the torch into the crack at an angle I soon find the bulk of the stone has a side that angles back under it. But the last twenty centimetres of it closest to the wall has the crack angled the other way, and the changeover point is blocked. It seems we have a stone with a nice pivot point in it. It’s designed to allow the twenty centimetres near the wall to go down and not pop up, while the rest of it, about one metre long, is designed to pop up and not go below the floor. The stone is about seventy-five centimetres wide, thus it’s no lightweight floor stone. Standing on one leg against the wall I grab a hold of the torch sconce nearby, and jump on the end of the stone that looks like it goes downward. The other end pops up a bit. Proving my theory about the pivot and it being an entrance stone.

Looking at a smiling Jenny I say, “I think we best leave things as they are until Lord Sinclair arrives.” Turning to my guide I say, “You best go get us a few breather masks, cotton gloves, and lanterns. Oh, you better get us all some sandwiches and drinks for a late lunch, too.”

She nods yes before she leaves to get them. She returns about twenty-five minutes later, so we all eat while we wait for Lord Sinclair.

About 4:00 p.m. he arrives with two scholars to supervise things. By the time we’re both set up there are four cameras recording what we do, each from a different angle. A little after that Steve walks in with his analysis. It shows a passageway and a room directly under the room and passage we’re in at the moment.

The Hidden Room

With everything ready I again jump on the end of the stone. Two of my helpers are standing by with crowbars, and they stick them in as soon as the stone lifts. They raise it a bit more. Grabbing a third crowbar I shove it in the gap nearer the pivot, and raise the stone some more. Between the three of us it takes several minutes to raise the stone, a couple of centimetres at a time, to a point where we can lean it back against the wall. Shining the torch into the hole we can see where a counter weight stone had been tied to the entry stone until the rope broke and it fell to the floor below.

Placing a breather mask on my face, as I’m not taking any risks with stale air, I take a lantern then drop about one metre into the hole we’ve exposed. Looking at the edges of the hole I can see where a rusted away locking rod went into the end of the stone. Turning, I drop another half metre, bend, and drop another half metre into a passage way. I’m soon joined by Lord Sinclair, Jenny, the scholars, and two of my helpers. The scholars and I are the only ones not recording events on a camera.

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Fiction / Mystery /