Excerpt 3

January 2nd

Nephi, Utah

Thursday morning came early for Gideon Shumway. He couldn’t stop thinking about the ramifications of the Pope’s speech. He knew it was only a matter of time before his boss asked for a report on the effects the Pope’s speech would have on the current political climate. In one scenario, the combined influence of all the Christian denominations could provide a powerful persuasion in elections. Everyone still remembered how Proposition 8 played out in California. That was one of the reasons Gideon had a job to begin with. Imagine every issue in every state having a unified Christian voice weighing in.

But what woke him up this morning was the worst case scenario. The name Pope Honorius stuck in his brain and he wanted to know why. Popes did not choose their regnal name without forethought. He searched through many websites, gathering little of value. Pope Honorius I was regarded as the least papal of all Popes by anti-Catholics due to his open statements of incorrect dogma. Surely this wasn’t what the new Pope was trying to emulate. Near the bottom was a link about Honorius III and the Crusades. Gideon read the entire site, and decided this was part of the worst case scenario.

The song “Minimum Wage” by They Might Be Giants let him know his boss was calling.

“Hi, George. I’m already analyzing the Pope’s name and speech.”

“Shumway, don’t you ever relax?”

“Not with what’s at stake.”

George laughed. “Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad.”

“Yes it can. It probably isn’t, but it could be.”

“What are you talking about?”

Gideon took a deep breath before continuing. “The Pope chose his regnal name after either the most controversial Pope in the line, or after one who directed the fifth crusade. Add to that his call for Christian unification, I have to suspect he might be trying to start another Holy War.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. How does the Pope attempting to start another crusade affect American freedoms?”

“He could trigger World War III.”

“Again, American freedoms haven’t been at stake in the last two world wars. What would make this one different?”

“Our military is stretched too thin, and with the recent balanced budget amendment, we may not be able to legally draft more soldiers in time. Congress seems deadlocked about everything that costs us more money.”

“So what you’re saying is IF this Pope wants to revive the crusades, it MIGHT trigger World War III, which MAY be too much for our military to handle. Look, Shumway, if you’re trying to get someone’s attention, this is not the way.”

“I understand that, but that’s what my report will read in twenty minutes when I email it to you. File it under ‘Worst Case Scenario.’”

George sighed. “You better present the argument a hell of a lot better than that if you want to be taken at all seriously. This report is going straight to Senator Morgan. There’s no one in the office to clean things up or add references for you this time.”

“No problem, George. But thanks for the heads up. I’ll make sure my work stands on its own.”

“Anyway, that’s not what I was calling about.”

“Really. What else could inspire you to call me?”

“You submitted a request a few days ago for cell phone traffic analysis. With you being out of the office, one of the techs called me.”

Gideon felt confused. The tech team had never called him before. “Why would a tech call you before sending me the analysis?”

“You asked for ten years. He was still working through last month.” George paused for a moment. “Anyway, there was a seventh text message on Christmas morning to the same Pakistani number as the other six.”

“No, there wasn’t. I combed over that data. There was no text from New York.”

“This one didn’t come from New York, Gideon.”

“Then where did it come from?”

“Barcelona.”

“Are you saying the man who planned the bombings on the East Coast was also involved in the destruction of the Basilica?”

“Yes. This could be the biggest breakthrough of your career.”

“Only if we catch him before he does it again.”

 

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