140 Mile Stretch:It’s About Family

One moment Tom was in his hotel room folding the new shirts that he had sent up. The next minute, he was in Oscar Minnix’s office. “Hello Tom, I’m glad to finally meet you.” He had seen pictures of the man, but this was their first face to face meeting. The previous, heated communications had been by computer.

“When are we?” Tom asked, not expecting the truth. Minnix laughed, “I’ll tell you where, I’ll tell you why, but you don’t get when.” He was a short man, his hair had been dyed black. It had been dyed, and poorly so. Tom remembered thinking that someone like him could have afforded better. His eyes were blue, he was of average size. His suit was expensive, so was the rest of his outfit. That’s why the hair didn’t make sense, Tom filed this away in his mind.

“Ok, where and why?” “The top of the Flat Iron building in New York. Why is that I want to know what you know.” Tom laughed. “This is where you’re supposed to give me the clue on how to stop you.” Now Minnix laughed. “We know that isn’t going to happen. I’m not expecting you to tell me either.” It clicked.

“You’re keeping me here so your operatives can search my hotel room. That explains Sykes’ real purpose. You won’t find it there.” Minix shrugged.  “It’s worth a try. It also gives me something else. I can test your nerves. I wanted you to stare me in the face and see just how tough you really are. “

Tom shook his head. “If you’re expecting me to lunge at you don’t. You already know that I’m not easily frightened. You found that out when you burned my home down. I’m also not crazy enough to attack you physically. When I hit you, it will be silently, it will be fierce, and it will be significant.”

“Then it’s a battle of equals is it? Or, are you just wanting me to think you are as powerful as I am?” Tom leaned across the desk. “It’s not a question of how many strings I can pull. It’s a matter of patriotism. To me, this is a war for the history of our country, to you, it’s about power.”

Minnix laughed.  “It’s less about power than it is about family for me.  You and I will do almost anything for family won’t we?  If the 140 mile stretch is destroyed, it will alter the balance of power, but that’s an afterthought.”

“New York  will remain the nation’s capital.  My family’s history will be forever altered.  Sadly, you won’t figure out how until I’ve won.  Goodbye Tom.”
Tom set down on the bed in his hotel room.  Minnix wasn’t stupid.  Had his ego let him slip up? Was the comment about New York a red herring?
It was Tom’s chance to laugh now.  He couldn’t have made contact a year later than this one.  Now though, he was very much alive, and it was time to make a phone call.

The Italian Hatmaker: The Jailer Won’t Need

How do you escape a locked prison without a key?  That was the question that Guiseppe and Ethan had to answer.  Fortunately, Ethan was in prison with a hat maker.  If he had been in prison with a tailor, or a cook, he would have been in trouble.

A hat maker fashions hats out of very strange items at times, especially Guiseppe.  It was nothing unusual for him to have had to make a metal ornament for a wealthy client’s hair.  So it wasn’t that hard to fashion a key out of a cot wire.

Guiseppe always kept a spare tool hidden in his shoe.  His Father had taught him this trick. Although he failed to explain to Guiseppe how he had learned it.  Guiseppe figured that out years later when he discovered what his Father had done for a living.  A spy from Milan who vacationed away to spare his life.  So this innocent hat maker was not far removed from the intrigue of court after all.

The two fugitives hid in the best possible place for them.  One where no one would have guessed.  The jailer’s room in the castle.  They reasoned that he would either be searching the grounds or occupying their cell.  This meant that he would have no need of his quarters.

The dock was just under his window.  At midnight, the two stowaways commissioned the king’s ship, and sailed away from their castle prison.  They knew that all of the land exits would be patrolled, and that this was their only way of escape.

It wasn’t until the next day that they figured out that they were actually imprisoned on a small island off the coast of France.  “We have to get rid of this boat.  The king will chase us as soon as he gets to another ship.”  Guiseppe grinned, “Of course my friend, when we dock in Paris!”

Find out what the Italian Hatmaker and his friend find waiting for them in France’s capitol next time.

The Native: And It Came To Pass

Luke2:1

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

We hurry pass them, those first five words, but Isaiah would have paused.  Every Old Testament Saint would have rejoiced with a combination of tears and shouting.  After thousands of years, and numerous prophecies, God was now wrapped in a fleshly body, carried in a Virgin’s womb!

They would have all been at the birth, no one would have missed that night.  Our response is of course, neither would we, but how many calls have we ignored?  We may not be at the manger side, but He has called us to prayer in the night.  At times, we have answered, too many others, we turned over and went back to sleep.  When we say, “I’ll pray for you.”  Do we write it down?  Will we remember it past five minutes later?

Thankfully, though so many overlooked, He still came.  Even though, we have failed at times to heed His invitation, there is still time.  I don’t believe that there is much time left. I believe we are near the end.  If you’re reading this though, let me encourage you. Whether you seek to draw closer, or you’re miles away from His presence, He is still near.

The journey with Jesus starts with a conversation. Like any relationship, there is more to it than that, but it is a beginning.  We call it Repentance.  It’s a first step in every walk with God.  It means that you’re not only sorry for the past sins, since Adam we all have sinned.  It means that you want to leave them behind.  You choose to follow, not the road of man, but the path of God.

Luke 2:10-11

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

If you are scared, for Eternity is a heavy subject, don’t be.  It was the promise of the Angels, “Fear not… For unto you is born this day … a Savior, which is Christ The Lord.” Start your journey today, let Him do for you what He did for Bethlehem.  Christ turned a small, forgotten town into the birthplace of The King Of Kings.  Let Him do the same today for your heart.

The Flop: The Cat’s Eye

Jean Luc jumped into her arms.  He was pleased to meet another person who simply adored him.  The Prime Minister was happy to meet someone whom she didn’t have to worry about how they would vote.

“Hello Augustus, how are you?”  “I am well Madame Prime Minister, how are you?”  She finally looked at me.  “I have a feeling that I am better than I will be in a few minutes.  Why are you with him?”

“Allow me to answer that by first showing you what I found in the cat’s eye.”  Augustus held up the small contact lens that Harris Patel had made.  Inside it were the plans for project Eagle.  It laid out all the protocols, but it’s value wasn’t in the information it held.

The lens was a message to his niece.  It was the only way that she would agree to a, if you’ll forgive me Mr. President, crazy last resort sort of action.  She sighed, “All right, it appears that I have no choice.  One question Augustus, why did the President have to send him?”

Augustus laughed, “He knew how much that you like him.”  She actually smiled.  I smiled back, and then she frowned again.  This was going to test my patience.  We left the hotel room through Augustus’ “special exit”, through the ceiling, just in time.  This was right before the guns went off.

140 Mile Stretch: Hannigan Isn’t Hannigan

The group surfaced in 1986. They stood on the platform of an Amtrak train. Tom looked worried, “This isn’t right, something’s wrong. There wasn’t an Amtrak at the coordinates that we we’re supposed to land at.” Col. Taylor looked like he was processing every aspect of his surroundings. Finally, he headed for the exit.

The group followed as quickly as they could. No one asked any questions, even though their minds were running on overload. Col. Taylor stopped a stranger, “Could you tell me where the nearest three star hotel is?” The man gave him the information, and Colonel Taylor headed in that direction. Each of their group followed behind slowly.

A half hour later, they were having lunch in the hotel dining room. “What went wrong Tom?” Phyllis was furious, “I don’t like mistakes.” Tom alternated between worry and hope, “If I’m right, we have bigger problems than your preferences Phyllis. If I’m wrong, I’ll buy you a new Mercedes. Someone altered our signal.

Cameron thought a moment. “Logistics.” Tom nodded, “The question is, where is he in this room?” Cameron winced, “Too dangerous, he has an operative, probably more than one.” Phyllis wiped her mouth with her napkin, “So he wants us here, why?”

Virginia laughed, “A scene of a maniacal cartoon villain gloating over their plan comes to my mind.  We know that isn’t it, so what else could it be, besides the fact he wants us to know he can make our equipment unreliable.”

Tom smiled, “He can’t make it unreliable, he just wants us to think he can.” Cameron examined the room while talking, “Then how are we off course?”  Tom sighed, “A hard push.  If you want to stop a car on the road, and have no control of that car, what do you do?” Phyllis sighed, “You take another car and ram into it.  He makes a trip the same time as us, and the ripple effect, like a blunt object pushes us here.”

Tom thought about what she said. “No, he set up a road block, he’s transmitting a constant signal from two directions. He’s essentially locking us in geographically.  We could jump in time, but not any location in time, unless we reflected his signals in another direction.  In other words, we smash his roadblock. That’s what he wants to do, sidetrack us.  He wants us to think stopping his counter signal is more important than our mission.”

Phyllis cut her steak, “Since we all agree that were not going to do that, how do we make him think that’s what we are going to do?”  Cameron laughed, “The same way a cartoon hero would, by finding his operative, and punching him in the eye!”  They all laughed this time, as the man at table four sipped his coffee.

He put down his cup and joined them. “My name isn’t Hannigan, but you can call me that. I’m your contact with Mr. Minnix, and he expects to have to eliminate the stubborn ones. So, who isn’t stubborn, who would rather return to their own time and live?”

Tom never flinched.  “Walter Reynolds is in a small apartment somewhere.  If Oscar wants to know where, he can drop the threat. If not, then he can target practice all he wants.”

Hannigan frowned, “I am not a fan of new information.  I expect we’ll see each other again.”  Once he had gone, Cameron commented. “Convincing gentleman, probably an actor.” “Tom agreed. “His name is Sykes, he teaches acting at a small college in Colorado.”

“Minnix knows that I know him, and he’s showing his abilities. That was Sykes years before I met him.  He transported a younger version of him here.  Sykes is good, but not so good he wouldn’t have acknowledged me in some way.”

“What it means is this. He’s telling us that he has an army of resources. That he can not only pull people from time, he can pull versions of them from different times. He’s wanting us to believe that he has limitless power, some sort of Machiavelli. He’s trying to use fear, which tells me he’s not sure of anything.  If he were as powerful as he wants us to believe, there would have been two Sykes, setting side by side.”