The Bottomless Cup


The Bottomless Cup

Two association executives are shot in Charlotte, NC by Marcus Copley, a recently laid off association employee. Detectives Emil Coward and Andrew Jackson are assigned to the case, which changes from a simple investigation to an international manhunt. As the detectives close in on the perpetrator, he uncovers a secret connection between the association and the hidden remnants of the Nazi empire which is plotting to kill millions with a new bio-genetic weapon.

As the detectives close in, the perpetrator disappears and drops the whole frightening mess of unraveling the post-Nazi terrorist plot in Coward’s lap. Coward brings in the FBI and the Navy, who confront a tanker containing the bio-genetic weapon on the high seas. Does Copley manage to escape the whirlwind he created, or must he drink from the bottomless cup of hatred?

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  • Category: egypt, nazi, germans, charlotte, associations, computers, IT, remote control weapson, FBI, Navy
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  • Salil twitched his switch idly from side to side as he watched his goats graze on the hillside. From his vantage point beneath a large Acacia tree he could see much of the village of Al-KS-Sonja and its fields, the various herds and the huts which sheltered the hundred and twenty or so villagers from the elements. The merciless Sudanese sun had not yet reached its zenith, so both man and beast moved about managing their daily routines. By noon all would be still in the area as they sheltered from the sun.

    Herding the goats provided Salil with ample time to reconcile his teen age hormonal surges with the coming responsibilities the community would impose on him. In the sorghum field across the valley he spotted a bright yellow dress and red head covering. Subin attracted his attention at the festival a week ago. Since then she wasn’t far from his thoughts. Short, lithe and viciously smart, Subin gave him no reason to think that she was interested in him. Salil considered that to be of no matter as he was definitely interested in her. The question was "What to do about it?" At fourteen he was nearly independent of his family and would soon be setting up a household of his own. Either that or he would move into the bachelor hut and pass the time until he found a suitable mate.

  • But Subin was pushing him in the direction of a household of his own. He counted the goats yet again, knowing that the number would be 84. He pondered how to present his need for a bride price to his father. Would eight goats be sufficient for Subin's father to allow Salil to court his daughter? Would five more be sufficient to seal her hand in marriage? Would his father agree to Salil's desires and need for family assets? Salil worked the problem as he watched the red and yellow splotches.

    He pondered the problem. Subin’s dowry would surely repay the bride price he would need to present to begin the courtship. The exchange of animals was designed to improve breeding stock and bond flocks. That, of course, was far beyond Salil’s understanding. His concern centered on presenting the fewest animals to Subin’s father while still being allowed to court the object of his interest.

  • He knew for example that Okot paid five goats to Hiba’s family to begin the courtship which led to a marriage. But Hiba was ugly with a hooked nose and narrow hips. Surely Subin would require a higher price. Yaya’s father received fifteen goats and several hand woven blankets for his daughter. Word was that the only ram in the family now were the ones Abrit traded for Yaya’s hand. Salil smiled. Would Subin’s father demand rams or ewes? Rams could be difficult to integrate into an established herd. Ewes on the other hand would provide lambs for years. Salil weighed the pros and cons of the decision and how he could present it to his father. He pondered the problem for the rest of the afternoon.

    Hours later he herded the goats back to their pen in the village. The temperature rose by twenty degrees slowing the movements of man and beast. The women were returning from the fields and the other herds were all converging on the village center. Salil greeted his contemporaries as they kept their herds separate. Jokes and jibes flew as the young men deftly managed the animals. Within minutes all of the animals were in their places and the herdsmen were wandering to their individual homes.

  • The village was a collection of huts and corals that supported over one hundred and twenty people, prosperous by local standards, and the Muslim/Arab populous lived in peace. The chief made annual payments to the Janjaweed militia which assured them of protection and peace. At least as long as the payments were made. The tiny mosque in the center of the village was both the focal point and the cultural center of the village.

    Salil noticed Subin chatting with another of the village's young women, Faith, in the sparse shade of Subin's hut. Making up his mind, Salil stepped across the central space of the village to the communal well. There he made a show of drawing water and dipping a gourd into the bucket. He slowly drank as he casually looked about the village. A second sip from the gourd and his eyes rested on Subin. He gazed at the two young women with disguised indifference. Subin caught his gaze for an instant and quickly lowered her gaze. Salil noticed a small smile as she averted her eyes. His heart took an enormous leap. Carefully keeping his face neutral, he lifted the gourd in Subin's direction. She hesitated and Salil held his breath. Slowly she walked to the well and accepted the filled gourd from Salil.

  • As she drank, he felt unknown emotions welling up inside him. Subin finished the water and without a word, returned to her conversation with Faith.

    At dinner that evening, Salil sat uncharacteristically quiet. His younger siblings bickered and squabbled as his mother doled out the rice and beans supplemented with spices and small bites of goat meat. His mother noticed Salil picking at his food rather than wolfing it down as usual.

    "Salil is there something wrong with your dinner?" she asked. "Should I throw it out and start over again?"

    "No mother, the meal is excellent." Salil looked up from his bowl. "I just have many things on my mind tonight."

    "Did the goats pose a difficult problem for you to solve today?" asked his younger brother Kerieme.

  • "No Kerieme, they told me that you couldn’t solve their problems. I easily managed the goats." The daily banter between the two brothers was at times light hearted and at times deathly intense. Tonight, Salil appeared dismissive of Kerieme, something to which Kerieme was not used.

    "I am sure that the goats have more common sense than you. Perhaps they need a new herdsman?"

    Salil let the jibe pass as he continued to study his food.

    "Kerieme," said his father, "you should concentrate on your dinner and leave Salil alone tonight. Salil let us take our meal outside." The two gathered their meals and stepped out into the twilight and sat on rocks outside the doorway.

    "Salil, you are troubled tonight" noted David, his father. "Would you care to talk about what is bothering you?"

  • Salil took time to marshal his thoughts. "I ... I have noticed that a young lady, Subin, I have been ..." Salil looked at his father in confusion.

    "Ah, a young lady." David chuckled to himself remembering the same conversation he’d with his father at about this age. "Tell me Salil, what makes you think that Subin would have an interest in a young man such as you?"

    "I don't know father," he replied, "it is a feeling I have."

    "Yes feelings are important. Subin is a lovely young woman. Are you interested in courting her?"

    Salil hung his head and softly muttered "Yes."

    David sat back and thought. He was not surprised by Salil's confusion and his interest in the young girl. David was not overtly familiar with Subin, but knew her family and approved of his son's choice. The question would be how her family felt and what they expected.

  • "Let me talk to Subin's father tomorrow" suggested David. "I understand what you are feeling and will help you. Do nothing until we talk again. It is important that he approves before you approach the young lady. Do you understand?"

    Smiling, Salil nodded his head.

    "Take the goats to the southern graze tomorrow. Your mother will prepare a lunch for you. Do not return until nightfall. We will talk again then." The two finished their meal without another word.

    Salil lay awake for a long time after retiring for the evening. He tossed and turned listening to the soft snores and night noises made by his family. Slowly his eyes closed and he drifted into a fitful sleep. He awoke several times with his mind racing. Once he thought he heard footsteps outside the hut, but he drifted back to sleep before identifying the sounds.

  • After breakfast, Salil moved quickly to gather the goats and head them out of the village. As directed, he spent the day far from the village with the herd. The day was hot and they spent much of it resting in the shade of the occasional and widely separated trees. By twilight they were nearing the village. Salil's heart skipping as he entered the village. He noticed little as he corralled the goats.

    Satisfied that the animals were properly cared for, Salil walked towards the family hut. As he walked, he noticed the unusual quiet of the village tonight. There was no smoke from the huts, no voices or laughter in the village. All was unusually quiet. A puzzled Salil moved directly towards his home. He noticed no one moving around the village, gathering water or carrying firewood. No one visited with neighbors. He reached the doorway and stepped inside.

  • The hut was silent. His eyes quickly adjusted to the dimness and he saw his family lying about in the hut. His mother and father lay on their pallet, his brothers and sisters on their bedding. All appeared to be asleep. Puzzled, Salil put his hands on his hips and said "What a fine greeting this is. I spend all day herding the flock and when I get home everyone is asleep! What have you all been doing today?" He waited expecting derisive responses to his remarks. Silence.

    Perplexed, Salil moved to Kerieme's sleeping body. He reached out and roughly shook Kerieme's shoulder. "Wake up you lazy child!" he said. Kerieme's body shook but he offered no response. Salil felt for a breath and a heartbeat, finding neither. Quickly moving around the hut, Salil discovered that all of his family were dead. Sobbing, he ran outside and called out to the village for help. Over and over he called but no one responded. Frantic, he ran to the chief's hut and pounded on the doorframe. When no one answered, he went in to find the chief and all his family dead as well. Salil screamed in frustration and fear. He ran from hut to hut searching for someone, anyone still alive. Despairing he entered Subin's family's hut. Subin lay on her back seemingly asleep. Salil knew before he checked that she too was dead.

  • Staggered, Salil wandered around the village aimlessly. An hour passed, then two. Eventually, Salil returned to his senses. His entire being was steeped in a deep and unrelenting ache. He found himself sitting on the rock he shared with his father last night weeping quietly. His entire family and his entire village were dead! It happened sometime during the day. Sometime while he watched the goats at his father's direction. Sometime, while the entire village gathered together at one place. Based on the positions of the bodies he saw, they died during the afternoon siesta. Salil shook his head. "What could kill so many, so quickly? How could this have happened?"

    The night crashed around him fully dark. He could hear the sounds of the domestic animals in their pens and the night sounds of the wild animals. What to do? He couldn’t travel by himself at night. At best he would get lost, at worst, an animal would get him. He decided to await the dawn and then hike to the trading post fourteen kilometers away. There he would seek help and answers. Unwilling to reenter his family's hut, he stretched his legs out and leaned back into the still warm rock. In spite of himself, he nodded off to sleep.

  • His sleep was troubled as the faces of all of the people he knew visited him in his repose. Each of them dead. Troubled he awoke. Still dark, still night time. As he stirred, he heard muted voices and movement. Coming wide awake, he hoped against hope that some of the villagers had in fact survived and were returning to the village. He stood and looked around. To his surprise a group of giant white worms entered the village from the north side. He wiped his eyes trying to understand what he was seeing. The worms neared him and he realized that they were not worms but some kind of white animal with legs who walked like a man. Beyond fright, he waited as two of the beings approached him. As they reached him, one snapped on a dazzling light, temporarily blinding him. When his vision cleared he saw that these were indeed men in some kind of suits. He could see their pale faces through the coverings of their helmets.

  • "Who are you? Have you come to help my village? Do you know what has happened here?" His questions spilled from his mouth in a torrent of syllables.

    A third suit approached him. "What is your name?" a brusque voice asked.

    "I am Salil."

    "Salil, what happened here? How did all of these people die?"

    "I do not know! I returned from tending my goat herd to find them all dead. When I left in the morning, all was normal, when I returned, all were dead."

    "Salil, this is important, where did you take the goats today?"

  • "I took them to the south graze as my father directed last night." The memory of his last conversation with his father momentarily overwhelmed him with grief.

    "Pay attention Salil" the brusque voice demanded. "What did you eat and drink today?"

    Salil thought. "My mother gave me a meal of last night's rice and beans. I ate it mid-day. I drank several times from the spring near the graze."

    The brusque voice interrupted. "Did you drink from the well here in the village?"

    "No, I don't think so. No."

    Brusque voice nodded in his suit. Turning he motioned to the two men on either side of Salil. Each took an arm and held Salil gently but firmly. Brusque voice reached into his pocket and Salil saw him draw something out. In the darkness he couldn’t make out what it was until the flame burst from the barrel and illuminated the last things Salil would ever see.


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