Excerpt from Chapter One
Set during the height of the Cold War, Dave Hunt’s second novel focuses on the secret world of global warfare—not only between East and West, but for the ultimate control of planet Earth. Readers will be captivated by this heart-racing, history-based drama which masterfully weaves the perils of international politics with Bible prophecy and spine-chilling manifestations of our spiritual battle. This captivating novel brings the shadowy world of undercover espionage, political intrigue, and demonic deception into razor-sharp focus—in a fascinating plot that could just as easily have been written today concerning present relations between Washington, D.C., Moscow, Europe, Israel, and the Middle East.
Chapter 1: Betrayed
>LEIPZIG, EAST GERMANY
>late April, 1964
From the depths of Ari’s hypnotic slumber, the harsh ringing of the phone sounded, distant and muffled. Still it continued, with unrelenting insistence, growing nearer and louder. The dissonant, repetitive jangling seemed at first to be a part of the strangely familiar nightmare. As always, he was being pursued. Spectral figures, armed men in dark suits—one of whom he instinctively recognized but could never identify—leaped incessantly into the path of his flight from the shadowy recesses of his brain until at last he was surrounded, with nowhere to turn.
From somewhere, an alarm began clanging. As it continued and grew louder, the specters multiplied to become a demonlike horde, with hideous, menacing expressions and powerful arms reaching out to seize him. There was the disturbing certainty that he’d been through all of this before—a certainty that made the experience as much one of bewilderment as of terror. Why must he relive it again and again? The answer to that haunting question always eluded him.
Now, in horrifying slow motion, like a panic-stricken diver with lungs bursting, straining to reach the surface, Ari fought his way back to a groggy semiconsciousness. The phone. . . ! At last, the realization broke through that the jarring noise was coming from a familiar source. Groping for the instrument beside his bed, he knocked it to the floor, groped again, then finally got a grip on the receiver. Tonight, of all nights, when he needed sleep so desperately!
“Hello. . . ?”
“I must speak to Fritz.”
“Fritz. . . ?”
“I’m calling from Berlin for Fritz! It’s urgent!”
“There’s no Fritz here. What number. . . ?”
There was an abrupt click and the line went dead. Ari slammed the receiver down in disgust and turned on a light to glance at his wristwatch: 10:04. Two hours of sleep . . . so far. Somehow he must make up for the almost total lack of rest during the past forty-eight hours. There couldn’t be any more interruptions. He reached over to take the receiver off—then froze.
“Fritz?” The name triggered an instinctive reaction that propelled him out of bed. For a brief moment, he stood uncertainly. His stance bespoke the instant and cat-like wariness of the hunter—or the hunted. Trying to collect his thoughts, Ari ran his fingers through the thick, unruly black hair that hung disheveled over the wide expanse of his forehead. The tightness here and there in his pajamas betrayed the broad shoulders, thick chest, and powerful thighs on a 5-feet 10-inch frame that gave him more the appearance of an NFL halfback than of a German intellectual.
“For Fritz . . . from Berlin!” he muttered aloud, his memory suddenly jolted. No, it couldn’t be . . . but it had to be. No wonder the voice had sounded tense. It wasn’t a wrong number! How long ago had they planned this warning—hoping never to use it? Two years?
In rapid procession, the vivid pictures flashed before him: a peaceful, almost too orderly student protest at Leipzig’s university that had spilled out into the city streets. Jubilant that they had at last found the courage to do something, the marchers, nearly five hundred strong and their ranks gradually swelling, were shouting loudly in unison, “Truth and honesty—free elections . . . truth and honesty—free elections. . . !” How naïve they’d been!
He’d been right in the front, one of the half-dozen determined organizers, an eighteen-year-old idealist who had become the sworn enemy of the Marxism he’d been raised on and had once believed in. Handpicked by the East German regime at the age of ten, Ari had been taken from his tiny village school and transported each day with a dozen other exceptionally bright students to a special science academy in the nearby town of Wittenberg, where he had spent seven years prior to entering university. That was how he’d seen with his own eyes and tasted the delicacies of the luxurious lifestyle of Party leaders—and where his disillusionment had begun.
At first, overwhelmed by the great honor and flattered by the heady promises that made him so special, Ari had succumbed to the seductive elitism that the program bred. Eventually, however, he had come to see—and to despise—the detestable favoritism that spawned the shameful corruption he experienced everywhere at the upper levels in the East German regime. It did not take him long to realize that such corruption was the inevitable result of totalitarian Marxism.
Nor did it take long for Ari to realize that one could fall from the regime’s good graces very abruptly and for the most mysterious reasons. The East German Ministry for State Security had its informants everywhere. The secret tentacles of the Stasi reached even into the school classrooms and the home itself, where students and family members spied upon one another. Survival depended upon never saying anything the least bit derogatory about the government—and being careful not to praise it too highly as well—even to friends and family. The despicable system deliberately destroyed normal trust and made close and confidential relationships priceless—and rare.
With the passing years, Ari’s hatred for all things Marxist had become a passion. The protest at Leipzig University had been the culmination of a frustration and anger that had boiled within until it had to find release. He’d known it would cost him everything. He’d reached the breaking point, however, where he was willing to pay that price. It had been his moment of madness.
Now, in that brief moment of indecision, standing beside the bed, he saw it all again—the horror he had relived countless times. Suddenly, the police! Hundreds of them, charging head-on, hit the front of that peaceful march like vultures attacking and tearing dead meat apart. Cold, derisive faces leered from behind heavy, full-face Plexiglas visors. Long clubs were swinging, splitting heads with a sharp, cracking sound that was still sickening to remember. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw it coming and ducked—a reflex action from his years of training and competition in the martial arts. He grabbed the baton and jammed it into the startled officer’s midsection. With a grunt of satisfaction he saw the man’s eyes bulge and glaze over as he dropped to the pavement.
Something had snapped inside of him at the terrible sight of police beating unarmed students and the sudden, swelling sound of screams of terror and pain. Baton now in hand, he had whirled to do battle with two policemen rushing upon him, when suddenly something totally unexpected occurred—something he could not explain. Someone with unusual strength, whom he hadn’t seen, had grabbed his arm in a viselike grip and irresistibly propelled him through the blur of bloodied heads, flailing arms, and falling bodies. There the memory went blank, beginning again as he found himself running alone down a side street, the burning odor of tear gas and the horrible sounds of mayhem fading behind him.
In the ensuing days and weeks, a reign of terror settled upon the university. Even students with no tangible connection to the uprising disappeared, swallowed up by an evil system that had to make certain that such a demonstration never happened again. Ari waited apprehensively for the inevitable arrest. It didn’t come. Had someone of influence, strategically placed, been protecting him? That seemed the only rational explanation. But who? And why? He finally decided that he’d been chosen by fate to carry on this fight against corruption. That was when he had sworn, with all the idealism and belligerence of youth, that he would never rest until East Germany’s Marxist regime had been destroyed—or it had destroyed him.
From that time on, there was no turning back. Their country was called the German Democratic Republic, but the people had no voice. One day they would! That determination became his driving passion—to lead an uprising of students that would succeed in overthrowing the hated regime. This time they would lay a careful foundation and make no move until they were strong enough to prevail.
At nineteen years of age, with four trusted friends assisting him, Ari had secretly begun to build an organization that eventually stretched across East Germany. Working cautiously, they had uncovered an astonishing number of closet dissidents impatient to vent their simmering rage. Here was an eager revolutionary army that only needed competent and inspiring leadership for its explosive energies to be molded into a cohesive and irresistible force.
Ari had carefully structured the organization so that no one except himself knew more than a small fraction of the picture. Tight controls prevailed at every level. There would be no false start, no move, until the moment was ripe. The next time they marched, there would be hundreds of thousands in the streets. Their oppressors would be overwhelmed with sheer numbers. So he had thought.
After two years of meticulous planning, a nationwide student demonstration tied to a massive workers’ strike had been set for the following week. The intensified preparation had left little time for sleep. Ari had been working feverishly day and night. And now this shattering phone call on the very eve of success! The coded warning they’d agreed upon included several levels of alarm. The key word, Fritz, signaled the worst possible scenario—that they had been infiltrated and betrayed. No questions. No explanations. Underground—everyone—on the instant.
Ari’s mind was racing now. The Stasi is on to us! Arrest—torture! Get out of here! Don’t panic—think, man, think!
Turning off the light, Ari groped his way to the window. Cautiously drawing the faded drape aside just enough to peer out, he searched the dimly lit street six floors below. It was deserted. He would have to work in semidarkness. The dreaded Stasi could arrive at any moment. They must not suspect that he knew they were after him. Make it look like I left earlier—not like I fled in panic. That might buy some time . . . confuse . . . throw them off the scent.
He threw the drapes open wide to let in the muted light that came more from the full moon than from the street below. In the half-darkness, he dressed quickly, then, with trembling fingers, gathered the incriminating papers he had been working on and stuffed them back into his briefcase. It’s got to look tidy . . . no sign of haste. Quickly making the bed, he remembered the Luger on the night stand next to the phone and tucked it into his belt. He would not go like a lamb to the slaughter.
Closing the textbooks on his desk, Ari stacked them neatly, and the school papers beside them. I wasn’t ready for that exam anyway. The thought brought a momentary smile, then an overwhelming sadness followed by anger. Another month and I would have graduated . . . with highest honors. It was an irony he couldn’t ignore, though he was not one to boast of his talents.
The reasons for his modesty went beyond common sense and good taste. He had tried to keep a low profile in spite of his outstanding academic record. Pretending a profound loyalty to the Communist Party, he had professed little ambition beyond one day becoming a subservient physicist who posed no threat to Party leaders and policies. Now they knew the truth. We were so close! He couldn’t stay here, hoping for the same luck he’d had last time. If they didn’t already know that he was directing the conspiracy, they’d soon have enough information to make that deduction. No one could stand up to their torture.
The phone rang again. He turned toward it, then stopped and shook his head. If he answered it and they were monitoring his line, they’d know he was here. He could only hope they hadn’t caught the brief call that had awakened him. What if it were Hans, or Wolfgang, or Karl . . . wondering if he’d heard, wanting to discuss their escape? No, they knew better than that. It was every man for himself, scattering and hiding as best they could, with absolutely no contact between them. But suppose it was Berlin telling him there had been a mistake, that it was a false alarm? He wouldn’t believe them. Not now.
Whoever was calling seemed certain that he was there. The persuasive ringing continued. Ari reached out his hand.
No! He dare not lift the receiver. But what if. . . ? There were a thousand possibilities. It was more than curiosity that gripped him. The call was obviously urgent. It could be the difference between life and death . . . for him or someone else. No, it wasn’t obviously anything.
Forcing himself with great effort to turn away, Ari went quickly back to the worn briefcase resting on the floor beside the small desk. With its precious burden that he carried everywhere, it had become a part of him. Now he hurriedly stuffed into it an extra shirt, a pair of socks, sweater, change of underwear . . . and a box of ammo for the Luger. Silence—except for the pounding of his heart. The phone had stopped ringing and he hadn’t noticed when.
Getting into a warm jacket, he stumbled back to the window and peered out once again. Two cars were just rounding the corner to his left. In frozen fascination, he watched as they pulled over to the curb six floors below and a half-dozen men in plain clothes hurried into the building. The Stasi! I’m cut off from the stairs and elevator!
In desperation, he used up precious seconds for the last task. Feeling around inside the small closet, he lined up the two pairs of shoes he was leaving behind and pulled the suitcase and tennis racket out from under the clothes into plainer view, then hastily hung the crumpled shirts and pants that had been thrown over a chair. Make it look like I’ve just gone for a day or two, like I’ll be back any moment . . . so maybe they won’t be scouring the country for me.
He seemed to be detached from reality, observing himself almost clinically from a distance. Clutching the briefcase, a soft, billed cap on his head, he was in the bathroom now and couldn’t remember how he’d gotten there. Through the surrealistic fog that seemed to envelop him, he heard the phone start up again—then loud pounding on the main door to the hallway, and the dread command, “Polizei! Öffnen Sie die Tür!”
Sweat oozed from under his cap. With a herculean act of the will Ari went through the motions that, thankfully, he had forced himself to rehearse several times, “just in case.”. . .