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Short Story The Secret At Sinister Lake

The Secret At Sinister Lake by James Terry Action short story

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He watched as the undercurrent buffeted the milfoil and hydrillia. He could see an old rusted bicycle moving gently to and fro with the ebb and flow. Old soft drink bottles and beer cans littered the lake bed and silt, like dust in the wind, rose in tiny clouds. The visibility was poor, only a few feet but he could see eerie shadows lurking beyond what seemed a wall of murky greyness.
He didn't know how long he had been sitting in his car watching but the brutal, debilitating cold was beginning to seep into his depths, indeed into his very soul. He knew the loathsome carnivorous scavengers would soon be emerging.

Thunder clouds rolled over head darkening the sky until it was dark as midnight. Lightening arched and flashed brilliantly across the panorama lighting up the inky blackness. The day had begun the same as any other day. He had stopped for his usual, large double, double coffee and donuts at the local Tom Normans then arriving at his office he had opened the door to a scene of utter chaos. It looked as if a tornado had touched down. Books flung from shelves, paper scattered everywhere, chairs and tables overturned their contents strewn about the floor and gashes that looked like gaping grins had been torn into the sofa cushions.

He was immediately aware of what they had been looking for. His senses were on high alert and taking a hasty look around at what he had come to consider his refuge he knew his sanctuary had been violated and he must escape at once. Climbing quickly into the supple leather seat of his black, twelve cylinder Vanden Plas Jaguar he triggered its ignition. The powerful precision engine leapt to life. Setting off through the pounding rain, rumbling thunder and flashing lightening he made his way out of the village.
Fence posts flew by in a blur like spokes on a spinning bicycle wheel. The windshield wipers slapped rhythmically in an epic battle against the massive cascading rain drops. He felt the pooling water on the roadway wrenching the great cat this way and that as it was propelled forward. He was well aware of the ultimate penalty of one wrong misstep on this unforgiving thoroughfare. Although the darkness hid the fact there were no road shoulders it also cloaked the steep cliff face on one side and the sheer drop into nothingness on the other side.
At last he reached the dark and foreboding forest. The first trees at the forest edge loomed like gigantic, brooding, silent sentries as he passed beneath their outstretched branches. Navigating the winding, narrow ribbon of blackness he plunged deeper and deeper into the endless darkness.

His thoughts wandered back the paths of time to a warm, sunlit afternoon when he had chanced to travel the same road in search of a powerful new client's home. He had received a mysterious phone call that morning from a private secretary asking, “Baron Kent C. Detrees wishes to speak urgently with you this afternoon. Would you kindly join him for dinner at his hunting lodge in Updown Forest?” The secretary provided directions.

Arriving at the lodge that afternoon he was greeted by a ravishing copper haired beauty. Her eyes were like limpid pools with flecks of golden sunlight floating in them. She ushered him into a lavishly yet comfortably furnished study where she introduced him to the Peer of the Realm. The Baron, he discovered, was confined to a wheel chair and appeared to be of advanced age.

Baron Detrees waved the secretary out of the room and directed her to close the door behind her. Offering him a glass of Don Nuño Oloroso Sherry. A fine golden hued sherry with penetrating woody aromas, hints of dark chocolate, walnuts and roasted chestnuts.

When the Baron had lingered over the sherry for a time he finally spoke. He told his guest he would like to hire him to protect a terrible secret. He was told to go to the massive stone fireplace that dominated the room. He next instructed him to press the third stone from the top on the right hand corner and instantly, as if by magic, a panel in the wall opened revealing a small wall safe.

After handing him the combination the Baron directed him to open it and take out a dossier of immense importance he would find there.
The visitor did as he was bid. Now I want you to read it and return it to its hiding place. The Baron's guest chose a sunny window seat in a comfy leather wing back chair that embraced him like being enfolded in the arms of his voluptuously plump childhood nanny. The documents he was studying read like a well written suspense novel and as he did so the enormity of the dreadful secret astounded the man.

He replaced the document in the leather wallet and returned it to the tiny vault. Turning to the Baron he asked, “Why did you choose me?”

The old Baron spoke haltingly as he answered, “I selected you --- after doing exhaustive --- research into your background…. I tapped my err sources in the Home Office, the --- Special Air Service and --- The Met. Your Paladin Service came highly recommended.”

“You can't expect me to keep something as heinous as this secret? The public have a right to know. How could you keep this to yourself?” protested the Paladin.

“No, you are only required to protect the secret until the World Health Organization --- convenes a special summit on the subject in August of next year. Then you are to see to it that it is made public.”

The Baron paused as he took a deep rasping breath.

“I've arranged --- introductions for you with several trusted members of the news media around the world. I will --- provide for all of your expenses plus a generous fee for your services.

You must take every precaution. --- Your life will be in danger even now.” He finished with another rasping breath and fit of coughing.
The Baron had passed away not many days after their meeting.

That meeting and those words were now coming back to haunt him as he wound his way through the forest to the Baron's hunting lodge on the shore of Sinister Lake. He had met with all of the news media contacts and had given them all keys to safety deposit boxes in banks in their respective cities. The various banks had been given strict instructions concerning the date and time the boxes were to be opened.

He was just rounding the last curve in the drive along the lake shore when he heard a small thud and experienced the sudden loss of control of the steering. He was headed straight for the precipice. There was nothing he could do but brace for impact with the water. A split second before the car launched into mid air he felt what only could be described as a hot poker crease his forehead. Reaching up to his forehead he detected something warm and sticky. His brain feverishly worked on methods of escape while the machine slowly submerged in Sinister Lake. He removed his seat belt in preparation for escape.

He had never been in a tighter spot. Could this be the end? Surely he could extricate himself from this situation?

Just as darkness was overtaking his mind he felt a hand like a steel vice take hold of his collar wrenching him out of the Jaguar and propelling him towards the surface of the lake like an exploding cork from a champagne bottle.

When he came to his head was throbbing and all of his senses were on high alert. He opened his eyes to find himself in a four poster bed lying on a mattress that felt as if he was floating on a cloud. The room was dimly lit. A disembodied voice from somewhere in the shadows said, “It's over. You can relax now, my friend. You slept through the breaking news.”

“How long have I been out?” the Paladin asked.

“Two days. You took a nasty bump on the head and almost drowned into the bargain.” the voice continued.

“Where am I and who are you? What happened to me? And how do you know about my objective?” Questions were emerging in his mind in rapid-fire succession.

“Whoa there. All of your questions will be answered in due course, sir. First, you are in the Baron's hunting lodge in his bed. My name is Angus MacCoatup and I am Baron Kent C. Detrees' Valet. You may call me Angus.” the incorporeal voice said as a veritable giant materialized from the shadows. For a big man his movements were elegant and as nimble as a cat's.

“The rest can wait, sir. You must rest. I'll see that your breakfast is brought up shall I?”

The paladin made an attempt to rise but his head began to swim, “Alright, have it your way. I'll let the room settle down while I get my legs under me.”

“We will speak further once you have gathered your strength, sir.”

“Stop calling me sir, Angus. My name is Bartholomew Tussilago, you may call me Bat.” he commanded grumpily.

A few minutes later a tray was brought in with a full English breakfast after which he felt invigorated and throwing back the downy comforter he walked gingerly across the icy floor to the wardrobe opening it he found his clothes clean and pressed. He glanced in the mirror and noticed that he had a bullet graze on the right side of his forehead. Dressing quickly he started for the door but before he could reach it Angus entered the room.

“I thought you might be getting restless, sir… I mean um err Bat. We can chat in the drawing room over coffee.”

“Very well, Angus. Lead the way.”

Once settled in the drawing room with their coffees Angus recounted the tail of Bat's harrowing experience of being followed and a sniper waiting in ambush. “Shots were fired. One creasing your skull the other hit the front passenger tyre sending your vehicle careening off the cliff and into Sinister Lake. We were on the lookout for you and heard the shots. I saw you go into the lake and got there as fast as I could to fish you out, so to speak.

I have the highest of clearance levels with the Home Office and the Baron trusted me impeccably. He laid out the entire scheme to me and tasked me with assisting you, should you require it.

I have taken the liberty of obtaining several international newspapers which you will find on the table beside you.”

Bat read the first headline of the British broadsheet The Daily Telegraph, “World Cancer Organization In Crisis: WCO withheld cure for Cancer for years”. Then the New York Times headline read, “WCO Officials Arrested On Corruption Charges: It is alleged the WCO concealed the cure for cancer to keep the money train rolling.” It was splashed all over the front pages of the world's most respected newspapers. There were pictures of the police carrying boxes containing documents and removing computers from the headquarters of the World Cancer Organization and more pictures of the WCO Board of Directors being lead away in manacles.
“That brings us to the Baron's vision.” Angus said with reserve.

Bat challenged curiously “The Baron's vision?”

“Baron Detrees has been working tirelessly for justice. His highly classified status within a top secret international panel made him privy to the existence of certain insidiously evil international organizations. His unit was charged with the identification and elimination of these societies.

Most of the members of the group are of advanced age and a few years ago his Harley Street physician informed him that he should get his affairs in order. It was then he decided to assemble a very special team of Paladins1.

Since then he has selected and vetted, through his panel, exceptional men and women around the globe for an extraordinary mission, The Paladin Project. They have been unanimously deputized into an elite force, the International League of Paladins, by all of the governments of the free world and tasked with seeking out evil and dispensing justice.”

“Well I'm nonplussed. Why are you telling me all of this? What does all of this have to do with me?” Bat enquired.

“You, my friend, have been selected to become part of the team should you accept the tremendous responsibility.” Angus replied handing Bat a beautifully ornate ebony box with an inlaid cross of pure gold. “The Paladins' Creed is in this box not to be opened unless your answer is yes. I must have your answer before you leave the lodge.”

Taking the box Bat answered without hesitation, “I was born and bred for such a calling.” Bat lifted the lid on the box to discover a gold badge bearing a Cross and the following inscription:
“INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF PALADINS”
and inscribed around the periphery The Paladin's Motto: “Confortare et non tradat operi tuo, ei retribuetur” translated as Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. - 2 Chronicles 15:7
And The Paladin's Creed: “Put on the full armour of God so when evil comes you will be able to stand your ground. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and your feet with readiness of the gospel of peace. Take up the shield of faith to defend against attacks of evil. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit”. - Ephesians 6:10-18

1 A Paladin is a class of Warrior that is fully devoted to kindness and the eradication of evil. They are very religious, and have an extremely strict honor code, as well as a soft spot for children and animals. In combat, a Paladin with a cause is almost impossible to defeat. Paladins fear nothing, for evil fears them.

To see more of James Terry, click the link to his Facebook fan page or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view his member details Visit James Terry Fanpage.

Images used for the story are
Visit Pixabay Boat House.

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Short Story written by James D. A. Terry

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He watched as the undercurrent buffeted the milfoil and hydrillia. He could see an old rusted bicycle moving gently to and fro with the ebb and flow. Old soft drink bottles and beer cans littered the lake bed and silt,...

The Paladin by James Terry

A supernatural tale of murder and international intrigue. Filled with subtle humour and cryptic clues.
The Paladin, a veritable superman, works covertly with the aid of a gentle giant with fists like pile drivers, to foil a plot to establish a new world order.
Oh, and did I mention, a search for the Philosopher's Stone? The secret to eternal life is revealed at last.
Dog lovers will enjoy meeting Sara, a golden retriever with a quick wit that isn't afraid to tell Superintendent...



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