The Book That Was Never Published
In walked a steely-eyed bully in an impeccable three-piece suit. The middle-aged man, with broad shoulders and a barrel chest, swaggered in with the cocksure attitude of a mob boss or a New York politician. Two larger, younger bodyguards decked out in black gear followed him. They looked serious.
While Sheridan’s mind raced, trying to remember anyone he could have pissed off badly enough to send this crew after him, the big guy scanned the room. Sizing up the worth of the inventory, he walked past the empty shelves where a hand-carved Huari Bone Flute was all that remained of a prized collection of ancient music instruments.
Brushing back the blond lock that had fallen across his cold green eyes, he crossed the room to a table of oversized books. With the thrust of his pale finger he flipped through the pages of a Renaissance codex before locking eyes with Sheridan. Sheridan cringed, bracing himself for the worst.
The stranger maneuvered toward the counter turning a gold coin between his fingers. Sheridan recognized the coin’s distinct markings.
What kind of man carries a two-thousand-year-old coin in his pocket?
“Are you Sheridan Clark?”
“Yes,” he answered, eyeing the three with distrust.
The suit tossed a large book on the counter. The title of the custom-bound book read Baton of Shambhala: Source of the Lost Music of Heaven.
“That book was never published,” Sheridan said, immediately on the defensive.
“Your research is of great interest to certain members of the UN High Command.”
“Sacred music that has been lost for centuries?”
The stranger turned the pages of the book to a glossy middle section, displaying a drawing of an ornate baton.
“No, we’re interested in this.”
Sheridan knew the drawing well.
“The Baton of Shambhala,” he mumbled. “Once the baton of Lucifer himself.”
Their eyes remained locked.
“Since the beginning of time there was always music, and with this baton, the archangel Lucifer directed the chorus of heaven.” Sheridan continued as he peered into the man’s eyes, straining for a clue to his intentions.
“And when he was cast down from heaven?”
Sheridan began to trace the drawing with his fingers.
“His baton fell to earth, to be lost for millennia,” he eased into it. “Till it found its way to . . .”
“Shambhala,” the visitor added knowingly.