For the previous chapters of Daniel Grant Newton's online book Don't Shoot the Messenger, click below:
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14
Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Jude carefully weaved through the crowd gathering in the square, analysing each sweaty robe for concealed weapons. His eyes searched the surrounding building tops for snipers.
“Yēšûă is about to go up there,” he muttered, staring at the blazing sun. “Where the hell are they?”
A boy in a white cloak smiled at Jude, revealing a set of buckteeth, and put his open hand on the soldier's abdomen.
Then with the other hand, the boy placed a note in Jude's hand, and skipped down a backstreet.
The note simply read:
The message of love, or the one you make love with? You have five minutes.
“Damn,” muttered Jude. “Spider's got Irene.”
Jude raced through the streets, shoving people and objects out of his way.
“Irene,” he screamed, pulling doors open up and down the narrow streets. “Irene.”
“Damn, damn, damn.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Where would Spider...”
Jude’s eyes stopped upon the monolithic dome towering above the buildings of mud and stone. “The temple.”
He sprinted towards the structure, skipping through the crowd shuffling towards the location for Yēšûă's speech, and the aimlessly wandering cows and goats.
Jude galloped up the stairs of the temple and through the arched doorways.
Inside were pews, extravagant religious items, and limestone walls that stretched to the dome above. But no sign of Irene.
The soldier scanned the walls for an imperfection in what was very precise craftsmanship.
He then bounded over a pew, and then another, and dashed to the front of the temple. He stopped before the back wall and traced his hand over a loose stone.
Digging his fingers in he was able to pull it out and reveal a set of stairs that led down into a dark chamber.
“Irene,” called Jude down the hole.
“Jude,” came a faint, groggy voice. “Is that you?”
“Wait there, Irene,” called Jude, shifting the rest of the blocks to get down to her, before bounding down the stairs to her side.
Irene’s body was limp. She was not even being able to lift her head to look at him, but she did manage a small smile.
“You've been poisoned,” he stammered, loosening the rope tied around her. “You'll be okay, Irene. I have something in my backpack that can counteract it. We only bring one type of poison on any given mission, the same tasteless, odourless, untraceable poison, and I’m the one charged with keeping the antidote. I’ll get you to my pack as soon as possible. It’s only a few blocks away.” He repeated, perhaps more for his sake than hers: “You’ll be okay, Irene. You’ll be okay.”
“What's wrong?” she croaked. “Is Yēšûă safe?”
Jude was very still. He gradually lifted himself up off his haunches.
“What's wrong?” Irene became still and her eyes widened.
“The rope is attached to a bomb. Any great force could cause the bomb to detonate early.”
“Early?” gasped Irene.
Jude followed the rope to a large cylinder with a timer on it. The numbers raced down.
“We have two minutes to get out of here,” Jude whispered. “Don't move.”
“Can you cut the red wire or something?”
“This device is much too complex for me to even guess how to disarm it.” He paused, and circled her seat with his eyes transfixed on the explosive device under it. “Every bomb expert has a signature, and I recognise this signature. It was built by a man named Andriy Vashchuk, one of the world's best bomb engineers. His bombs have about four different security 'layers' you need to crack before you can even get to the bomb itself. If you get one wrong, the bomb will explode.”
“How did they even get the bomb here?” Irene asked, her eyes darting about the room. “You know what, I don’t care how they got it here. What on Earth are we going to do?”
“They must've brought it in pieces. But unless Alexander sent reinforcements I didn't even know he had access to, I cannot see how they could have assembled it so perfectly.” Jude glanced at Irene. “Irene, I've undone your knot as far as I can without triggering the bomb. Do you think you could really carefully slip your hands out without pulling at the rope?”
“I'll try,” Irene swallowed. “How long do we have?”
The two were silent, their eyes fixated on each other, as Irene gently tried to wiggle her hands out of the knot behind her back.
As soon as her hands were free Jude tried to pull her to feet, but she collapsed at his feet.
Without saying a word, Jude heaved Irene up into his arms and raced up the stairs, through the hole and to the entry way.
The illuminated digits of the bomb counter fell: 0.03, 0.02, 0.01, 0.00.
Fire balls leapt through the temple, obliterating the walls and roof into a cloud of debris that covered the village.
Jude lifted his head as a shower of soot rained down upon Irene and him.
“Jesus,” mumbled Irene, her consciousness flickering in and out.
“I know,” Jude coughed, “that was bloody close.”
“No,” breathed Irene, shaking her head. “Jesus. You must save Jesus.”
“You need to be treated,” he said, grabbing her sooty forearm to pull her up.
“No,” she said, “I’ll hold on. Save Jesus.”
“Alright, but I’ll get the antidote on the way.”
A close escape! But could this be Jesus' last supper? Will Irene hold on? Can Jude outwit a team of elite soldiers? Keep repeating your prayers and keep your fingers crossed.