Monthly Archives: February 2014

Chapter 29.

Sara’s corpse.

Gwen made sure that Sara did not suffer needlessly and her death was quick, despite the emotional anguish that she had suffered. Gwen did not like to kill, killing only when she had to as she preferred to let others do the dirty work. She did not like the idea of compromising herself but in this case it was best to take care of it. After all, Sara had tried to upstage her and then refused her punishment. She had offended her in front of all the others. This was personal. Her escape could have resulted in everyone knowing about the secret as well as undermining her leadership. She had to be disposed of quietly. Sara was still on the cave’s floor looking like a dislocated doll. Rigor mortis or the stiffening of the body had not occurred yet. Both women were looking at the fresh corpse but only one of them was still in shock, Joanna.

“You killed her. How could you! She was ready to submit.”

“No she wasn’t, and you know it quite well. The only solution was to eliminate her. Only in that way could the secret be protected. We all said the words, all pledged the oath of secrecy. She was going to break that oath sooner or later.”

“You don’t know that, you just killed her!

Gwen approached Joanna quickly and when she was within striking distance let fly a backhand that caught her squarely on the cheek. Joanna immediately put her hands up in a defensive posture expecting a barrage of hits but none came. Gwen then put her hand in Joanna’s hair and holding her tight, brought her head to her ear. “Get a grip on yourself. I had to do what I had to do. I know now that you would not have done it because you’re too soft. That’s why I am the head guardian and you’re not!”

Joanna was still rubbing her cheek from the sting of the blow and was now sobbing quietly. Gwen finally let go of her hair and went to the lifeless body of Sara.

“Now stop this and come help me with her. Take her by the feet.” Gwen took the corpse by the shoulders while Joanna after some reluctance did as she was told. They dragged the corpse near one of the holes that could be found in the cave and then swung it inside, with the body making a low thud as it struck the bottom. Evidently that hole was not bottomless.

“Are you sure that no one will find her?” asked Joanna. She was still quite nervous about the whole affair. “I mean, if someone finds her they might be able to trace the murder back to you.”

Gwen smiled at Joanna. “You forget my dear that as an accomplice you are as guilty as I. But quit worrying, no one will find her. Yes, they might search for her but she will never be found. Let’s get out of here now that darkness has fallen.”

They rapidly left the cave and down the ruins they went walking back towards their hotel at an easy pace. No one was saying much. Joanna was still letting in the reality of the situation dawn on her; she was an accomplice in a murder. Gwen was right, by going along with the plan and getting rid of the corpse she was as guilty as if she had been the one that had strangled Sara. There was no going back now. If she ever went to justice she would be found guilty. Perhaps she could plead that she had no choice, that she feared for her safety. Maybe a sympathetic jury would find her guilty of the lesser charges, but she would still do time.

Gwen on the other hand was not saying much, pointing the way here and there to Joanna so she could follow her. They walked in a nonchalant way as if they had exited from a restaurant or a movie theatre but they had just killed another human being. It weighed heavily on the conscience of Joanna but for Gwen it was survival of the fittest. She had pledged an oath to protect the secret from being divulged and that is what she had done, protecting the secret from prying eyes and ears. Sara knew the consequences of her flight and she must have known deep down that her rebellion would cost her dearly and that she would have to pay the ultimate price. They slowly entered the city, with Gwen going back to her hotel and Joanna getting back in her car and leaving town.

“I will contact you later on with further instructions.” Gwen said. Joanna nodded but said nothing and speedily left the area. Gwen looked at the car that sped away and hoped for Joanna’s sake that she could pull herself together.

Gwen decided to go back to her hotel and reflect on the current state of events. The secret was still safe, mainly because she had taken swift and decisive action. But she had had to compromise herself. And what about Joanna? She did not like her reaction to the murder. She looked more and more like a weak link in the chain of defending the secret. Yes, she benefited from the secret, but her conscience might torture her to the point that she might come clean to someone or worse, she might go to the police. Perhaps she ought to give instructions that Joanna be taken out. Yes she thought, eventually she must be taken out like Sara.

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Chapter 28.

Maria and Pierce in Cusco.

Back in Cusco Maria and Pierce were despondent. They were sipping coffee at a terrace and looking at the pleasant surroundings, thinking but not knowing what to do next.

“What do you think happened to our guys?” asked Pierce.

“Well, several things could have happened. It is possible that they got lost, but somehow I doubt it. Pedro is a good guide and knows the area. The other possibility was that we were double-crossed. They knew something that we did not know or they decided to strike it out on their own in the hope of finding more than us.” Maria thought about that and reflected that Pedro was probably responsible for this. “ I still do not understand why your uncle led us on such a long chase for next to nothing.”

“I know, I don’t understand this myself. I expected much more from the hidden cache.”

“I think that we should go back to where it all started, at Machu Pichu. We might have taken a wrong turn there. Maybe there is more than meets the eye.”

“Are your serious?” asked Pierce. “I thought that there was nothing else to do there.”

“You see, the problem is that it was Pedro who found the second map. What if in fact he tricked us. What if in effect there is another map that shows where all the gold is. That’s what I think. I think that we were duped. Let’s remember that when the rays that went forth from the two sticks crossed to intersect at a certain point, none of us where close to it. Maybe it was Pedro who changed it or maybe it was not him but someone else. I told you that there are people that are active in protecting something. Maybe we were closely watch from afar and when they spotted the two rays intersecting to a certain point someone was ready and substituted another map and in that new location put only a small amount of gold to satisfy us and prevent us for looking for the real pot of gold. What do you think?”

Pierce thought about Maria’s ideas. That made sense to him and yes, it could have happened like that. It was worth the shot of going back to Machu Pichu and trying to find out what when on. An added benefit was that now they were only two to split any treasure that they might find. Going back to Machu Pichu was a logical thing to do, to retrace their steps.

“You know, I think that you’re explanation could be correct, we’ve been had! We have to go back to sort it all out.” Piece said firmly. He was not about to abandon all hope of finding the treasure of his uncle and furthermore, he was still receiving regular payments form Stevens. If he abandoned the chase the payments would assuredly stop. The longer this went on the better for him financially.

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Chapter 27.

The demise of Pedro and Jorge.

Those men that had kidnapped Pedro and Jorge were not innocent bystanders. They had been actively following the expedition with spies reporting to them along the way and they knew what was going on, reporting everything to the head guardian. They were 20 men and all well armed. Pedro and Jorge were in the middle of them, walking in a straight line but swaying here and there around the oxbow lake like a gigantic centipede. But this centipede was intelligent and knew where it was going, deep into the jungle and far from prying eyes. It was Jorge who spoke first, afraid of the turn of events.

“Please, I did nothing wrong, just following orders. I’m like you, really!” For all his pains he got the sharp nudge of the muzzle of a gun behind his back. “We did nothing wrong, just exploring the jungle for stuff, really.”

Suddenly the man ahead of him turned around and took out an enormous knife, seized Jorge by the hair and putting the knife under his chin.

“One more word out of you and I bleed you like the pig that you are, understood?” Jorge looked at him wide-eyed and meekly nodded. The other released him and the long walk continued. After about two hours of walking the group stopped to make camp. They were waiting for someone to arrive and sure enough from the other side of the reserve came some of the guards that were at the entry points.

“So, what do we have here?” asked the guard, looking at the two men.

“These two entered illegally in the reserve under cover of darkness but we found them out soon enough.” said one of the armed men.

“Very well, I will radio for some troops and I will take them away. You guys are lucky, other people who have wandered in the jungle without guides often suffered a worse fate. Sometimes we only find their skeletons.”

Pedro and Jorge waited under a blazing sun and sat by a tree. The troops promised soon arrived, a small group of 25 soldiers. They took in custody the two men and led them to the entrance of the reserve. As they had trespassed in a sensitive zone they were fined but since they did not have enough money on them they were held in a makeshift prison awaiting trial, and this trial would be months away. Pedro knew that they could be locked up for a long time as the wheels of justice turn slowly, very slowly in a poor country like Peru. Pedro’s only chance was a phone call to someone of importance and he knew who to call, his wife Eliza. He knew that she would be unhappy at the turn of events, but he had no choice if he wanted to get out of this jail.

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Chapter 26.

Sara.

Sara ran like a wild animal fearing for her life and away from the clutches of Gwen. She could not remember how far she had run, only that she ran blindly from one avenue to another, running until out of tiredness she slumped to the ground in some back alley. There she crouched and began to sob silently. After a few minutes of rest and some thinking on her part, she decided that she needed to be in a crowd to be protected by the numbers and of course lose herself in the anonymity of it. She ran towards the Plaza de Armas where throngs of tourists mulled around. Walking around the plaza, she sat down at one of the benches looking fearfully to the faces everywhere. Looking around she decided that the safest place for her was the church, the main one called “the cathedral”. In she went along with the tourists sitting down in one of the pews and looking around at the faces engulfing her. For the first time in ages she felt at peace and serene, with the low lights and the smell of incense in the air. She remained there for some time, not knowing what to do and where to go next. Little did she know that she had been followed by one of the other Nine sisters, who promptly left a message for the head guardian.

By that time Gwen had returned to the hotel where the message was given to her. She raced to the church and found the other woman acting as a lookout, waiting patiently on a bench. The mouse had been caught in a trap, and that mouse had to go out by only one opening, the same one that she had entered.

“Well, is she there?” said a tired Gwen. “We must not let her escape”

“Don’t worry she is trapped inside the church. There is no escape.” Johanna was the sister’s name, a rather tall woman pleasant to look at and known for her gentle disposition. Her district was one of the better run and she ran it with a gentle but iron rule. “I propose that I go inside to flush her out for you. I will try to entice her to come out by saying that all has been arranged by me. If she refuses I will try to push her out.” Gwen liked the plan. It was devious and yet quite simple.

Johanna got up from the bench and slowly entered the church, with Gwen near her. She would stay by the door ready to capture the mouse should it attempt an escape. The church was not well lit and seeing was difficult until Johanna’s eyes became habituated to the semi-darkness. And then she saw her, sitting in the pews upfront and looking from left to right. She walked slowly until she was directly behind Sara. Sara had not moved, seemingly oblivious to the danger that lay behind her. Joanna advanced and deliberately put her hand on the shoulder of Sara.

“Sara, what happened?” she asked, whispering in her ear. Sara was startled, turned around and was visibly relieved to see that it was not the head guardian.

“How did you know I was here”

“Well, someone did notice a woman running wildly here and there you know. Again I ask you, what happened?” This time Sara was visibly shaken by the question as well as being suspicious.

“Who sent you, Gwen? Because if it’s her you can forget it, I am not going back, I’m out!” she said defiantly.

“Look, just go back to see the head guardian, admit your errors, accept the punishment and all will be forgiven.” Johanna knew that the truth was otherwise, but she had to say anything to flush her out of the church.

“You really believe that she could forgive me?” Sara was desperate to hear Johanna say so. She wanted to believe this lie.

“Of course,” Johanna said. “The head guardian will be merciful to you if you admit your faults and take the punishment.”

Sara thought about this for a second and embraced the idea that Johanna had deftly planted in her head. But mercy was not part of the plan. Turning against the head guardian meant paying the supreme sacrifice. The whole must be protected against the few who are led astray.

“Alright, let’s go see her.” Sara got up and followed Johanna out of the church into the blinding sun. Gwen was just beside one of the big doors that opened. A cab was waiting beside the church. Everything was ready for the capture of the mouse. Finally she opened the door, only to be scooped up by Gwen, with one arm being taken by her and the other by Johanna. Sara did not have time to scream or think as a hand was placed over her mouth. The cab arrived, the door opened and she was pushed into it with Gwen going in first on one side and Johanna on the other side, pinning Sara in the middle.

“Driver, to the ruins please.” Gwen said.

“Yes Senora. Is your friend sick, should I open my window?” the driver asked, concerned more about someone vomiting in his cab than about the well-being of a passenger.

“She is fine, only drunk. Drive quickly please.” Gwen was anxious to get to the ruins and to deal with the matter for the last time.

The cab took them to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, a stone fortress overlooking the city of Cusco. In the evening few people would wander around these ruins and caves are numerous in the area. Some of these caves have the peculiarity of being so vast that one can be quite lost and forgotten in them, perfect to lose a body. Especially a dead body.

The cab left them at the entrance of the fortress down below it. Both were holding on to Sara. Up the hill they went, zig and zaging across numerous walls until they finally arrived at one of the caves. Sara was pinned down on the ground in the seated position.

“Please, give me another chance!” cried out Sara as she saw where she had been brought, fearing for her life.

“Bitch! You knew what would happen if you didn’t accept your punishment. You knew the rules.” bellowed Gwen.

Joanna looked at the scene and was uncomfortable with what she was seeing. She decided to intervene. “Maybe she should have the chance to explain herself.” she offered.

Gwen looked at her, her face a scowl and wondering what Joanna was up to. “She had her chance and she blew it. She became a rebel and the penalty for being a rebel to the cause is the death penalty.”

At those words Sara put her head down and began sobbing uncontrollably on the floor of the cave. Gwen took out a small thin wire from her watch and swiftly put it around Sara’s neck, pulling tightly around it. Sara’s arms went to her neck, trying desperately to release the noose. She started to gasp for air, her hands still trying to release the iron grip that Gwen had on her. She tried to grab Gwen’s head but was unable. Gwen was holding tight. Beads of perspiration that were coating her forehead began to drip on Sara. Sara was now turning a bright red and then abruptly she stopped moving, the struggle was over. Her hands dropped and her head limped forward. Gwen released her hold on her and Sara crumpled on the cave’s floor like a doll, a thin red circle around her neck.

Joanna looked in horror at the scene, fearful for her life as she had opposed Gwen in this killing. She expected the worst for her now.

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